Cake · Little treats · Sweets

Dandelion Shortbread

Ingredients

  • 200g dairy free spread (I use Vitalite)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 30g dandelion honey (if you haven’t made the honey then just use 30g more of sugar)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 300g plain flour
  • 20 dandelions – you just want the yellow petals.

Method

  • In a bowl cream together the butter, vanilla, dandelion honey and sugar.
  • Then add in the flour and dandelion petals.
  • Stir it together, you might need to get your hands in! Until it forms a soft dough.
  • Pop in to a covered dish in the fridge for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 7 / 200c.
  • Take the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out until is is 5mm thick.
  • Cut our your biscuits, we like them small but you can make larger ones!
  • Pop on to a baking sheet and into the oven for 8-10 minutes until they start to turn a light brown.
  • Take them from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack until cool.
  • Store in an air tight container.

Tips and cheats

My children love to make these. They love to pull out the yellow petals into the bowl. They love to dip them into the dandelion honey to eat them too! (Sugar overload!). They keep for a few days but are best fresh and they are just so buttery and light. They look so pretty on the plate too.

Cake · Recipes · Sweets

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 220g self raising flour
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 70ml vegetable oil
  • 200ml oat milk (or any dairy free milk)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp white or cider vinegar

Method

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/180c
  • Put all of the ingredients in to a large bowl and beat to a smooth batter. I always do this by hand.
  • If making cupcakes place 12 paper cases into a cupcake tin.
  • Split the mixture equally between the 12 cases.
  • Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Allow to cool before topping with chocolate buttercream!

Tips and Cheats

If you don’t fancy cute cupcakes you can split the mix between two 7inch cake tins and cook at the same temperature for 25 minutes. or you can pop in to a tray for a tray bake and cook for 40 minutes. It is so versatile! I like to chuck in cherries sometimes or nuts or even dark chocolate chips! As with all cake it is best served fresh!

Cake · Sweets

Cherry and Marzipan Cake

Ingredients

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150g sugar
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 70ml vegetable oil
  • 200ml oat milk (or other dairy free milk)
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp white or cider vinegar
  • 200g marzipan
  • 200g glace cherries

Method

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/160c
  • In a large bowl add the flour, baking powder, sugar, oil, milk, vanilla, and vinegar and beat into a smooth batter. It doesn’t take long so it is super easy by hand,
  • In an 8 inch tin add a layer of baking parchment to the bottom. The tin will need fairly deep sides.
  • Pour in about 1/2 of the cake batter.
  • Roll out the marzipan in a disc the size of your tin and lay over the cake batter .
  • Chop the cherries in half and add on top of the marzipan in an even layer.
  • Pour over the rest of the cake batter making sure all the cherries are covered.
  • Pop the cake into the oven and cook for 50 minutes. It may need a little longer if a skewer doesn’t come out clean.

Tips and Cheats

This cake is so good warm from the oven. It is also good a day old with lashings of custard! (Birds custard powder is vegan!) If you want a more almond taste, or don’t have marzipan you can either add almond essence in place of the vanilla, or you can swap out 1/2 of the flour for ground almonds. This does result in a heavier cake! However, you eat it enjoy it!

Week Night Winners

Alison’s Curry (Saag Aloo)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 onions
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 small sweet potatoes peeled and chopped in to 1cm chunks
  • 2 baking potatoes peeled and chopped in to 2cm chunks
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 ½ tbsp dandelion honey/agave syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Frozen spinach, I used 6 pieces

Method

  • Heat the oil in a pan and add in the cumin seeds, onion and garlic. Sauté on a medium heat until they are starting to go translucent.
  • Add in all of the ground spices and fry off for a minute or two to release the flavour.
  • Add in the coconut milk, tomatoes, water, potatoes, tomato puree, dandelion honey and salt.
  • Stir well.
  • Pop on a lid and cook on a low heat for 45 minutes until the sweet potato has turned almost to mush and the baking potato is soft but not mushy! (You don’t want a bowl of curried mash potato!)
  • Add in the spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Serve with rice!

Tips and Cheats

My dearest friend Alison cooked this for me and my children and there were empty plates. I have honestly craved it ever since! The children even ask for it! It helps that my son is Popeye and loves spinach and curry. This isn’t a spicy dish more flavourful but if you wanted heat by all means add in some cayenne pepper to suit or even some fresh chili. I like to make homemade flat breads with this dish and serve it with nice fluffy rice. It is great the next day to and freezes well. If you do not have frozen spinach you can add in a small bag of fresh spinach (I much prefer this!). Enjoy!

Recipes · Sweets

Victoria Sponge

Ingredients

  • 250g self raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar
  • 70ml vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 200ml dairy free milk (I use oat milk)

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to gas mark 5 or 180c.
  • Put all of your ingredients in to a mixing bowl and beat together. I like to use a Norwegian flat whisk but a wooden spoon or regular hand whisk will be fine too! You need a smooth-ish batter (no lumps of flour thank you!)
  • I then line two 7 inch cake tins (just the bottom) and split the mixture evenly between them.
  • Pop the tins in to the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes.
  • Take the cake out of the oven and leave it in the tin for a couple of minutes then transfer out to a cooling rack.
  • Once the cakes are cooled you can fill with jam. I love strawberry or raspberry jam! If you are feeling luxurious you could even add cream or buttercream!

Tips and cheats

This cake can’t really get any easier! It is a chuck it all in give it a beat and bake kind of cake. I am sure Mary Berry wouldn’t approve but it works and the kids love it too. It keeps for a couple of days in a tin too (if there is any left!) Enjoy!

Recipes · Week Night Winners

Hot Rice Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup onion chopped
  • 2 blocks of frozen garlic or 6 large cloves
  • 2 large tomatoes diced (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 tin of drained chickpeas (or any bean I actually prefer black beans!)
  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard (any but I like Dijon!)
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice (the bottled stuff is mighty fine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Spring onions and fresh herbs to garnish if you are feeling fancy

Method

  • In a large pan with a little oil soften the garlic and onion for 5 minutes.
  • Then add in the tomatoes and chickpeas or beans and cook on a medium heat stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  • Add in the rice and spinach for a further 5 minutes until the spinach wilts.
  • In a small bowl mix the peanut butter, lemon juice and mustard to a paste and then stir it in to the main pan.
  • Finally season to taste and when serving sprinkle on some spring onions and maybe fresh parsley.

Tips and cheats

I love this dish hot or cold but hot it makes a great accompaniment to a vegan burger and gherkins or even just on its own in a big bowl. Rice and beans together make a great protein source and with the added veggies you have some vital vitamins too. Who knew comfort food could be so good for you?!

Recipes · Week Night Winners

Veggie Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onion (I use frozen!)
  • 1 block of frozen garlic (Again I buy it frozen but a couple of fresh cloves will work too)
  • 2 medium potatoes diced into 2cm cubes
  • 2 medium carrots diced in to 2cm cubes
  • 300g mushrooms chopped in to chunks
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 small tin of sweetcorn drained
  • 1 pint of gravy (I like the Sainsburys vegetable one)
  • 1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry. (Most are vegan but do check, I use Jus Roll or Aldi)

Method

  • Pre heat the oven to hot! About gas mark 8/220c
  • Place some oil in a large pan and gentle soften the onion, garlic, potato and carrot. Stir so it does not burn for 5 min.
  • Add in the gravy and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat
  • Stir in the rest of the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Remove from the heat and spoon the mix into a pie dish.
  • Top with the ready rolled pastry and press down on the edges of the dish to make a seal. You can brush with melted vegan butter for a touch of luxury but I don’t usually!
  • Place in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until the pie is a lovely golden brown.
  • I like to serve it with mashed potato and tender stem broccoli.

Tips and Cheats

You can pretty much add anything you want into this pie! My kids love it and we always get empty plates. If you have left over roast veggies you can use those and just chuck into hot gravy and place in the pie dish. You might have gathered that most of my cooking is chuck it in and hope for the best type of cooking and it really is. I hate waste and generally try to use up what is left in the fridge. I would however avoid cabbage inside the pie and opt for it as a side dish!

Soups and lunches · Waste Not Want Not · Week Night Winners

Ramen Noodle Broth

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onions (I use frozen)
  • 2 cubes frozen garlic (2 tbsp. frozen or 3 cloves fresh)
  • 2 medium carrots finely sliced (I like batons)
  • 2 peppers, finely slices (I used red and orange)
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger (or fresh if you have it)
  • 300g Mushrooms (1 box, I like to mix chestnut and a couple of flat ones too for texture)
  • 1 heaped tbsp. white miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. bouillon powder
  • Approx. 1 lire of water
  • 1 packet of pre cooked noodles per person. (I use the Aldi ones and put 4 in this for 4 people)
  • 3 large handfuls of spinach
  • 3 spring onions to garnish

Method

  • In a large pan add a tablespoon of oil (olive or sesame) and heat on a medium heat and add in the onion, garlic, carrots and peppers.
  • Soften them in the pan then add the ginger and mushrooms and stir through.
  • Pour in enough water to cover the mix by a good inch and then stir through the miso and bouillon powder.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes and then add in the noodles and spinach.
  • Serve into bowls and sprinkle with the spring onions.

Tips and Cheats

You can add in anything to this, any veg you like really! Or you can chuck in some vegan protein, in the photo I had added some Linda McCartney Hoisin Vegan Shredded Duck and on other occasions I have coated Tofoo Co Tofu in cornflour and chili and fried it off. If adding some protein then cook it separately and just add it on top or it tends to go mushy!

Christmas · Sweets

Mince Pies

Perfect mince pies

Ingredients

  • 300g Plain Flour
  • 2 Tbs Icing Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 150g Vegan spread (I like the Pure Baking one for this.)
  • 3 Tbs Ice cold water
  • 3 Tbs Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon (or mixed spice)
  • Jar of mincemeat (The Aldi one is vegan!)

Method

  • Heat the oven to GM 7/ 200c
  • In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients and give them a light mix together.
  • Add in the butter and rub it in. This means rubbing the butter and flour together between your fingers until it looks a bit like soggy bread crumbs!
  • Then add in the water and oil and mix together until it forms a dough.
  • Flour the surface and then roll out your dough to about 5mm thick.
  • Using a circular cutter the size suitable for your yorkie tin cut out 12 discs.
  • Pop the discs of pastry in the tin (one in each hole!) and fill them with a heaped teaspoon of mincemeat.
  • I like to put stars on the top but you can do full lids or any shape you like.
  • Once finished pop them into the hot oven for about 10 minutes or until they are a gentle golden brown.
  • You will probably get about 18 mince pies from this mix.

Tips and Cheats

I often make this and freeze some of the pastry or keep it in the fridge for a couple of days as nothing beats fresh mince pies.

You can also not put in the spice and sugar and use the pastry for savoury dishes.

Jams and jars · Recipes

Dandelion Honey

Ingredients

  • 100g of dandelion heads (see note at the bottom)
  • 50 ml of lemon juice
  • 2 apples cut in to 1/4
  • 1 litre of water
  • 3.5 cups of sugar

Method

  • Give the dandelions a good shake, we like to give them a little spin in the salad spinner to remove all the bugs.
  • Add to a large pan with the water, apples and lemon juice. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Make sure the flowers are covered with the water – you may need a little more it depends on the pan and size of the flowers!
  • Strain the flower liquid keeping the liquid, press as mush out as you can. You can discard the flowers and apples the goodness has gone now.
  • Pour the liquid back into a clean pan and add the sugar. The ration is 3.5 cups to 1 litre of liquid so you can adjust accordingly.
  • You can stir the minute once and then don’t stir it otherwise it will crystallise. slowly bring the mixture to the boil then turn to a low heat and let it simmer very very gently.
  • You don’t want the sugar to burn but you also want the liquid to evaporate by about 1/3. The move liquid you evaporate the thicker the honey will be.
  • Once you are happy with the consistency you can pour in to sterile jars and put the lids on.
  • Allow to cool completely before serving.

Tips and Cheats

When picking dandelions it is best to pick them on a sunny day. Later in the day is best but not too late as you want to pick them when they are open. Always leave plenty for the bees. We say pick 1/10 flowers that way there is plenty left. You only need the head of the flower, you can keep the green bit on as if you remove it you’ll remove some of the nectar and this is the bit we want. You can use the stems to make trumpets!

If you give them a little shake the thunder bugs should pop out, we spin them in the salad spinner bit not to hard otherwise the good stuff will come out!

Watch the hot sugar liquid it is super hot and I wouldn’t want you to burn yourselves. Let the children pick the dandelions but adults should do the honey making!

You can also use the flower petals on a salad and even the leaves! Always try to pick from a field where you’re less likely to have dogs and also away from busy roads. They honey is lovely straight from the jar, on hot toast, used as a replacement in baking for honey or maple syrup or in a hot honey and lemon tea.