Creamy Leek Pasta Bake

The last day of Vegan Mofo! I’m not sure if it’s gone quickly or slowly. September has been a pretty long month in my book, and I certainly feel like I’ve done a lot of blogging. I didn’t quite manage every day, but I did a lot of posts and I’m proud of that. I never really blogged before and I now have so much appreciation for those who do do it full time, every day. How on earth do you find things to talk about? I’ve been finding myself a little lost for words in my blog posts recently! But I will continue after Mofo, not so regularly, not so often, but I won’t let this blog die. And I now have an awesome collection of blogs to follow, recipes to try…etc.

For my final Mofo Meal (probably, unless I’m ambitious and post tonight!) I made a creamy leek pasta bake. I had a giant leek that my Granny gave me at the weekend and needed to use it up, and I fancied something nice and creamy.

This meal does use several pots and pans but it’s very worth it! You have to make a bechamel sauce (which is a super useful talent to know – I can now make one without looking at any recipes!) and breadcrumbs, and cook the pasta, and saute the leeks, but it creates a super creamy meal. If you have any vegan cheese you could grate it into the sauce and I’m sure it’d be delicious!

A bechamel sauce is actually pretty easy to make. You need some form of vegan butter – this time I used Pure – and some milk – I used Oatly – and some plain (all purpose) flour. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and then stir in the flour, and keep stirring until the mixture seems to “froth” a little. Then stir in the milk, little by little, until you get a thick and creamy sauce. I like to add salt, pepper, and mustard to mine.

I sauteed the leeks with a bit of onion and garlic, cooked the pasta until nearly soft, and mixed it all together. Then just transferred it into an oven dish, poured breadcrumbs on top, and baked until golden brown on top!

Creamy Leek Pasta Bake

Ingredients

    For the Breadcrumbs

  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • For the Bechamel

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • approx 400ml milk
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Everything Else

  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 180g pasta
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
  2. Begin by putting your pasta on to boil. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, add the breadcrumbs ingredients and blitz until you get breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  4. Fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the leeks and seasoning and cook for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan. When melted, add 2 tbsp flour and cook until it goes slightly frothy.
  6. Slowly add the milk until you get a smooth sauce. Add in the mustard and seasoning.
  7. When all steps are completed, combine the pasta, leeks, and bechamel and mix well.
  8. Pour into an oven dish, and cover in the breadcrumb mix.
  9. Cook in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown on top.

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Simple Supper: Pea & Garlic Soup

So this meal may not be the prettiest. Bright green soup? Well, I don’t know if green is the most appetising colour, but it’s certainly tasty. And healthy! It’s actually packed full of protein and is pretty low calorie to go with that!

So while it may not look the prettiest – give it a go! The peas lend a slightly sweet taste but the garlic keeps it a nice and warming supper!

Pea & Garlic Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 650g frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp boullion powder/1 stock cube, crumbled
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Fry the onion and garlic until softened.
  2. Stir in the frozen peas and stock powder, and pour over water until it just covers the peas.
  3. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the peas are thoroughly cooked.
  4. Either use a stick blender, or transfer the soup to a food processor, and blend until smooth.
  5. Season well with salt and pepper and serve!

Sandringham & Hunstanton

Sorry for the lack of post yesterday – we’ve gone away for the weekend to my Granny’s in Norfolk. It’s lovely here but the internet is certainly sporadic!

We started off the day by heading to Hunstanton Beach – which was really quite foggy and overcast! But still a lovely beach, we go there again and again.

After heading back for lunch, we went to Sandringham woods for a walk with my Great-Uncle David and his two dogs, Hetty and Florence.

That’s Hetty there running on ahead!

Sandringham is such a beautiful place – and the sun had decided to show it’s face so it actually became lovely and warm!

We also went to the orchards at Sandringham where they sell Pick Your Own apples.

We got some eating apples (Cox’s) and some cooking ones (Bramleys) so hopefully I’ll be doing some sort of apple baking soon!

Finally, we headed back to Granny’s and spent the evening sitting infront of the fire. Yes it is only September – but her house is several hundred years old and gets very cold in the evenings!

Indian Style Pasta

Curry and pasta may not sound like it goes together. It’s certainly not traditional – but I see no reason why that should be a problem! As a Brit, things like curry on chips are pretty common, so why not pasta? And it works really well.

I used chickpeas in this one, but sometimes I add peas, or other beans if I like. You could also add spinach if you wanted to make it greener!

The sauce is all made in one pot so there’s not too much hassle there, and you can easily change the spiciness by adding more chilli or not, if you like.

Indian Style Pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp soya milk
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Fry the onion, chilli and garlic until softened, and then add the spices.
  2. Once the spices are stirred through, add in the chickpeas and tomato puree, and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Stir through the chopped tomatoes, milk, and flour, and cook for five minutes until the sauce becomes thick and smooth.
  4. Season and serve with the cooked pasta!

Thanks to Simple Indian Recipes for the inspiration!

Smoky Chickpea Stew

I suppose most of my meals I post here could be classed as “quick and easy”. I feel like I must be getting a bit repetitive when I write that a meal is so easy  to make. But you know, pretty much everything that I’ve been blogging are meals that we cook for ourselves on a regular basis, and we don’t usually make meals that take a whole lot of effort and time to make.

stew3

This one is no exception. The idea came from a small paragraph on Serious Eats halfway down the article, and I’ve adapted it into a full meal.

You have to start by “toasting” breadcrumbs. I make my own by blending 3 slices of bread in the food processor, then tossing them on a high heat in a little oil until they’re crispy.

stew1

These then get put aside, while you cook up all the other ingredients into a stew, and then right at the end you add the breadcrumbs back. The softness of them absorbs the moisture and thickens the stew, but you still get the crisp from the toasty bits which makes it delicious.

Smoky Chickpea Stew


Ingredients

  • 3 slices bread, blitzed to make rough breadcrumbs
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan until hot. Add in the breadcrumbs and toast until browned. Put aside.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic until softened, and add in the spices and seasoning.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and chickpeas and cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Stir through the breadcrumbs and lemon juice, and heat through.
  5. Serve!

Creamy Courgette Pasta & “The Liebster Award”

So this recipe is super simple. It’s one you can whip up in no time if you can’t be bothered to do much cooking. It does use a few ingredients that you may not have “to hand” (courgettes, soya cream) but they aren’t that expensive. Literally chop a few ingredients, bung them in a pan to cook, and cook up some pasta…and you’re done. I served it with spaghetti, but regular pasta is cool too. I don’t really know enough about pasta to recommend certain shapes!!

Creamy Courgette Pasta

Ingredients

  • 180g spaghetti/pasta
  • 3 small courgettes (zucchini), sliced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 100ml soya cream
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the courgette and cook until starting to go translucent.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta.
  3. When the pasta & courgettes are cooked, stir the soya cream into the courgette mix. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Drain the pasta, mix with the courgettes, and serve!

The Liebster Award

So I had no idea what the Liebster Award was when Rosie from Vegan In Wales nominated me. But she has a cool blog and so I checked it out! It has a set of rules which are as follows:

 Here’s what you do when you get nominated for the Liebster Award:

1. Answer the questions given and then come up with 10 new ones to ask your nominees.2. Nominate 8 other blogs, let them know you have nominated them and put a link to their blog in your post.3. No tag backs.4. Nominees must have under 200 followers on any platform.5. You must tell all the blogs that you nominate that you have nominated them.

Seems simple enough, right? Well, I’ll do my best. Here are my answers to Rosie’s questions!

1. If you could bring any one animal back from extinction, what would it be?

Perhaps because I’ve been playing too much Skyrim recently, but I’d say the Mammoth. Yes they’d be absolutely terrifying but I think it’d be really cool to see an animal of that sheer size about. 

Spooky!

2. What would you say is the dish you cook most often?

I think possibly this would be my Rosemary & Bean Soup – we make it maybe once a week or a fortnight when it’s not Vegan Mofo time! So simple and easy to make.

3. If a zombie apocalypse was imminent and you could only take 5 store cupboard staples in your bag before fleeing, what would they be?

Haha, I’m imagining there being zombies at the door and I’m there like “hold on, let me search my cupboards!”. But I guess you’d need things that wouldn’t go off, so anything fresh is out. Rice would be good, if I could figure out how to cook it my exile. Lentils too, although they take time to cook they are super healthy! How about spices? Does “spices” count as one or can I only choose one spice? If just one, probably a trusty garam masala mix, or just cumin if you’re being really picky. That’s three…two more. I think I’d take some canned tomatoes, assuming I could also take my can opener, because that’s not food right? I use a ton of canned tomatoes. Also chickpeas, canned chickpeas. I’ve never used dried chickpeas and wouldn’t know how, so canned would be best!

4. Tell me about your favourite restaurant, and your favourite dish there.

This made me realise I totally don’t go out to eat much at all. I’m not even sure I have a favourite restaurant. One place we do like going is Mithaas on the Narborough Road in Leicester. I’ve never eaten in there but they do nice Samosas and Bhajis, and they actually know what a vegan is!

5. Are you a cat or a dog person?

I gotta say…I’m a cat person. I grew up with cats – my parents bought kittens shortly before I was born and I spent most of my life with them! Dogs can be cute too, but I’ve never really known any dogs, not as well as cats!

Flopsy & Mopsy, my childhood cats!

6. What animal do you think you are most like in personality?

Heh, I had to answer this one for a job application the other day. My answer was, I’m like a cat because I’m happy being social and stuff but also happy being alone, and I’m adaptable and inquisitive etc etc etc…complete rubbish of course! Actually I am like a cat because I like sleeping and eating and sunbathing and that’s about it!

7. What new ingredients have you discovered that you love since going vegan?

I love nutritional yeast. I only really started having it pretty recently, but I love sprinkling it on pasta, or stirring it through a bechamel to make a cheesy sauce! 

8. What are your favourite resources for getting inspiration for vegan food?

Oh the internet definitely! I love this month of the year because there are so many good blogs out there with new recipes, but the rest of the year I often use Finding Vegan to find new recipes and drool over pretty pictures.

9. What has been your biggest fail in vegan cooking and have you managed to resolve said fail?

So a couple of years ago I attempted making mince pies…and had a complete fail. Have I resolved it? Come again at Christmas to see!

Attempt 1: Mince Pie Mess. Attempt 2: Mince Pie Ravioli…

10. Do you have a non-vegan childhood favourite food that you have managed to re-create to be sfv?

I made millionaires shortbread once! It was super tasty. Really hard to make, but I used soyatoo whipping cream, and lots of patience, and trial and error, and managed to make it! I have only ever made it once though, but hopefully I will again one day.

So, those are my questions. My job now is to nominate 8 people with less than 200 followers (I go by feedly, because that’s what I use) and ask them questions.

My nominees:

Charis from Floral Frosting whose blog is beautiful and food looks delicious!

Sal from Alien on Toast whose blog is hilarious and also contains awesome food.

Abi from Bake Eat Love who not only blogs but bakes too, and also posts some lovely family food.

Faye from Veganopoulous whose theme of “will my kids eat it” is wonderful.

Rachel at Thistle & Yellow Rose who not only posts nice food, but also has a super cute cat.

Caitlin at The Vegan Word who is on holiday at the moment (sorry!) but has wonderful travel stories!

Jasmine at Self Sufficient Cafe who has some lovely, healthy recipes on her blog!

and Amy from Boltonian Vegan who recently got engaged and that’s awesome! 🙂

Now I know probably loads of you have been nominated before, and that’s ok, no pressure! I am kinda new to the whole blogging scene so don’t want to push in or anything :p

But here goes, My Questions:

1. You can eliminate one vegetable from the world. Which one?

2. What is your favourite food-related memory?

3. Have you ever created some awesome food “by accident”? What was it?

4. Do you have a go-to meal for when you are feeling lazy?

5. If you won several million pounds/dollars, what would you do with it? 

6. What is your favourite drink? Booze or not, doesn’t matter!

7. Where would you travel if you could travel anywhere?

8. Do you prefer to cook sweet or savoury dishes? 

9. What is your absolute favourite recipe you’ve ever made?

10. It’s getting towards winter. Do you have any seasonal traditions that you do every year?

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Fudge Icing

Time for another sweet! Baking is what I really love. I like to cook new savoury meals but there’s just not the enjoyment that you get from baking something, and having it turn out wonderful. I would never make it on a show like the Bake Off, purely because my presentation skills are disastrous, but I’d like to think I’m not too bad at the taste side of things.

I’ve always loved fudge and like to experiment with ways of making vegan caramel/fudge things. I successfully made vegan millionaire’s shortbread a year or so ago – I was going to do it for vegan Mofo again but seeing as I used soya whipping cream, it became a bit too expensive. I’ll be sure to post it if I ever get round to it again though! I’ve never really found a perfect recipe, so I always made it similarly to how I made dairy fudge, by boiling the sugar mix, then beating it for ages to make it fluffy and smooth. However, as I found making these, you don’t need to have whipping cream (or any cream) to get the fudgy taste!

Initially I was going to make a caramel flavoured buttercream for these cupcakes, but it turned out that I’d ran out of icing sugar (powdered sugar for you non-Brits) and couldn’t be bothered going to the shop, so I made the best of what I had, and made this fudgey topping instead.

I also made little decorations to go on top! These were super fun and easy to make. I just melted up some dark chocolate in the microwave (sorry, no fancy tempering here!) and put it in a piping bag with a small tip. Piped out swirls and stars and hearts freehanded onto baking paper – but if you wanted to, you could always pencil in a design and trace over it with the chocolate! I put it in the freezer for a few hours before I made the cupcakes so they hardened up.

The cupcake recipe I used was adapted from my current favourite cake recipe in the Divine Vegan Desserts book. I got this book last year and have to admit I’ve not made a whole ton of recipes from it. They all look wonderful but a lot of them are big recipes and there’s only so many occasions in the year to make them for! But the cake recipe has pretty much become my go-to.

This time I added chocolate chips to the mix because chocolate chip cupcakes are awesome. I think my oven must be tilted because all my cakes ended up leaning in the same direction, so, that kinda didn’t help with the presentation thing.

I left the cakes to cool and went back to making the icing. This is when I realised, woah, I don’t have icing sugar. So I had to come up with something else. My dreams of perfectly piped creamy icing were gone. But fudge to the rescue! I was going to make a small caramel anyway, so why not a larger one?

I melted 1 tbsp of vitalite (vegan butter) in a saucepan and added 2 cups worth of brown sugar. I measure this in cups because I didn’t actually weigh it and kinda did it by eye, but I want to give some sort of instruction! I brought this to a boil, where it looks kinda crazy.

Some recipes will say to stir, some won’t. I say, do stir it, but be careful because this is VERY HOT. Hot sugar is hotter than hot water, hot sugar will hurt you veeeeery badly if it touches you.

Anyway after that warning. Let it bubble for 4 minutes or so, then take it off the heat and start stirring. Beat it with a spoon for another five minutes while it cools. I then added a couple of tbsp soya milk and mixed that in to loosen the icing up a bit. After this, use a knife or a spoon to spread it on the cupcakes and..voila…done!

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 240g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 250ml soy milk
  • 1.5 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 75ml sunflower oil
  • 125g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 130g chocolate chips (or however many you want)

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 170C/325F

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients except the chocolate in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. In a jug, measure out the soy milk and add the cider vinegar. Leave for a couple of minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.
  3. Add the oil and vanilla to the soy milk mixture and whisk well.
  4. Mix in the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until there are no lumps.
  5. Stir through the chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases – which should be about two thirds full.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until risen and turning golden.
  8.  

Thanks to Divine Vegan Desserts for the recipe!

Fudge Icing

  • Servings: enough for 12 cupcakes
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vitalite (or alternative)
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soya milk

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan until completely liquid.
  2. Add in the sugar and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Boil for 4 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  4. Bring off the heat, and stir constantly for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir through the soya milk until it reaches a smooth consistency.
  6. Ice and decorate the cupcakes!
  7.  

Spicy Bean Burgers

Does this recipe ring any bells? Well, maybe not, but if you read my first Vegan MoFo Post they were the first recipe I had planned to post here. But as often happens, life had other plans and my camera wasn’t working, so I promised to blog about them another time. And here they are!

OK, maybe they aren’t the prettiest of burgers. I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous looking burgers on other MoFo blogs and I have no idea how you all do it but you manage to get your food looking beautiful. I don’t have that skill I’m afraid… but I can make tasty food, at least! These burgers are adapted from this recipe which is a super cheap and easy recipe for bean burgers.

A lot of recipes for bean burgers use things like black beans, which aren’t so easy to get in the UK, but this one uses kidney beans which are much easier (I can get 4 cans for £1 at most supermarkets!) and it also doesn’t use anything like breadcrumbs which’d involve getting the food processor out. Such simple ingredients for such a tasty meal!

You have to fry up the onions, garlic, chilli, and carrot first with the cumin, before mixing it into the oats/beans/tomato/mustard mixture, but you can then use the same pan for frying the burgers in so it doesn’t make too much mess.

Then just squish them together into four balls:

Fry them up in the pan until they’re crispy on each side, and serve – I like to put them in a cob with onions, mustard, and ketchup.

Spicy Bean Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 chilli, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 heaped tsp mustard
  • 1 heaped tsp tomato puree
  • 75g porridge oats
  • Cobs to serve

Directions

  1. In a frying pan, fry the onion, garlic, and chilli with some seasoning until softened.
  2. Add in the grated carrot and the cumin and fry for another couple of minutes until the carrot softens.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mash the kidney beans with a potato masher. Add in the mustard, tomato puree, and oats and stir.
  4. Add the carrot & onion mixture to the bean mix and squish together with your hands (careful – hot!)
  5. Form the mixture into 4 even sized patties.
  6. Fry the burgers for about 4 minutes on each side, or until crispy and brown.
  7. Serve in the cobs with toppings of choice!

Thanks to vegan recipe club for the recipe!

Moroccan Chickpea & Lentil Soup

So, yesterday was a looong day and I just wanted to rest when I got home. My husband volunteered to make dinner, which is awesome because I felt like being lazy! This is a recipe we usually make in winter time because it’s pretty hearty but it’s certainly starting to feel more like autumn here.

Don’t overdo it on the cinnamon in this recipe – too much and it starts tasting a bit like dessert – but it’s definitely needed to give the “Moroccan” hint. I can’t even remember where we got this soup recipe from – my mum makes it and puts batches in the freezer to have for lunch during the winter so I guess I got it from her sometime!

Moroccan Chickpea & Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml passata
  • 100g red lentils
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • Salt & Pepper

 

Directions

  1. Fry the onion and garlic in a saucepan until softened.
  2. Add the spices and seasoning, and cook with the onion for a couple more minutes.
  3. Add in the tomatoes, passata, lentils and stock, stir, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add in the chickpeas, and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with bread or pittas

Pea Pesto Pasta

You may have gathered by now that we use a lot of peas in our food. I love mixing them through sauces or curries to bulk them up a bit, and they are so healthy. Did you know peas have quite a lot of protein in them?

But this sauce is all about the peas. It’s called a pea ‘pesto’ but there are no pine nuts/ other nuts in it, so it’s super cheap and easy. I originally found the recipe on Tasty Kitchen but I adapted it quite a bit to make it vegan and budget friendly.

I used nutritional yeast in this recipe – I get it from my local health store but it’s also available online – wherever you get it from it’s usually pretty cheap here in the UK – £3 for a big box that lasts quite a while! It’s also fortified with vitamin B12 which is something that people who don’t eat animal products often have a deficiency of. B12 deficiency can lead to tiredness, feeling ill, and lots more so it’s important to make sure you get some. Nutritional yeast has a kind of cheesy/nutty flavour and when added to this dish gives a cheesy hint (my husband even said this and he is used to regular dairy cheese!).

It’s super simple to make – just fry up the onion and garlic, boil the peas, and put all that as well as lemon juice, nutritional yeast, and seasoning in the blender…whizz it up, heat it through on the stove, and mix with pasta!

Pea Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • 180g pasta
  • 400g frozen peas
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions

  1. Start off by boiling the peas until they are just cooked – about 4 minutes. Drain and put aside.
  2. In a pan, fry the onion and garlic along with seasoning until softened.
  3. Put the peas, fried onion and garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast in your food processor, and pulse until finely blended.
  4. Transfer the sauce back to the pan, adding water to thin if necessary, and heat through.
  5. Meanwhile, cook your pasta until ready.
  6. Drain the pasta when done, and stir into the sauce.