Picnic · Week Night Winners

Pizza Dough

Picture of a cooked mini calzone on a cooling wrack.
Calzone

Ingredients

  • 500ml of warm water
  • 1 packet of instant dried yeast
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 900g bread flour (we use white but you could use a mix of half and half)

Method

  • In a large bowl add the water, yeast and sugar.
  • Stir and leave it for 10 minutes until it is all frothy!
  • Add the remaining ingredients and bring it together into a dough. It will be a little sticky
  • Kneed the dough until it is smooth and has no lumpy bits. It shouldn’t take more than 8 minutes. I do it in the bowl as the bowl we have is huge but you can tip it on to your workbench. Just don’t add too much extra flour.
  • Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or clingfilm.
  • Leave it somewhere warm for 3 hours.
  • Take the dough out of the bowl and kneed for 30 seconds to knock it back.
  • Cut the dough in to 8 balls (for large pizza/calzone) or 16 small balls for lunch box sized.
  • Oil a large tray and pop the balls on the tray with room for them to double in size.
  • Cover them with a damp towel or clingfilm and leave for 2-3 hours until they have doubled in size.
  • You can then roll them out and make either calzone or pizza.
  • For calzone you pop the filiing in the middle then fold over and twist the edge together. Pop on a tray in to a hot pre-heated oven (200c/gas mark 6) for 20 minutes until golden.
  • For pizza roll out your pizza and place on the tomato sauce. Pop into a hot oven (200c/gas mark 6) for 4 minutes then take out and add all your toppings. Pop it back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until it is the level of crispness you like!

Tips and Cheats

If you want to make the dough in advance you can freeze it before the second proving or pop it in the fridge overnight after the second proving. Just bring back to room temperature and carry on from where you left off. You can add so many different toppings and fillings from savory such as mushrooms, and sweetcorn through to sweet calzone with vegan chocolate spread and banana (these are addictive so be warned!) The cooked calzone will last 2 days in the fridge and are really good cold on a picnic! To make the sauce we use 1/2 vegan red pesto to half tomato ketchup or we just use vegan green pesto (my favourite!). Enjoy!

Sweets · Cake · Little treats

Lemon Cake Bars

2 lemon cake bars stacked on a vintage plate on a wood worktop.
Lemon Cake Bars

Ingredients

  • 250g Self raising flour
  • 150g Caster sugar (plus 2 tablespoons for glaze)
  • Zest and Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1tsp Baking powder
  • 70ml Sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 200ml Oat milk (or any milk you fancy)

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5/180c.
  • In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, lemon zest and juice of 1 of the lemons, baking powder, oil and milk.
  • Beat until smooth. I use a whisk but you can use a wooden spoon.
  • Line 2 loaf tins (or use the same tin twice!) with baking paper.
  • Pour half the mixture in to each tin. You can pour it all in to 1 tin if you want a thicker bar.
  • Place into the hot oven for 25- 30 minutes until golden brown on top.
  • Whilst the cake cooks mix 2 tbsp of caster sugar with the juice of 1 lemon.
  • Once the cakes come out of the oven, whilst still in their tins, prick all over the top with a cocktail stick (about 20 times).
  • Drizzle over the glaze (half over each cake or all over 1 cake).
  • Leave to cool in the tin and then remove and slice in to bars. You should get about 6 bar from each tin.

Tips and Cheats

You can make this mix any flavour you want. If you want chocolate remove 30g of flour and add in 30g of cocoa. Just mix the cocoa to a paste with some of the milk before adding to the cake and remove the lemon! You can swap the lemons out for 1 orange or you can use vanilla or almond essence instead of the lemon. You want about 1-2tsp of essence! I wrap the cakes in a little baking paper and pop them in the children’s lunch boxes. Enjoy!

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!

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.

Recipes · Week Night Winners

Cowboy Casserole

Cowboy Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 onions sliced
  • 1 tin baked beans
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin butter beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 tin kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 tin cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sauce
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 vegetable stock cube and 300ml water

Method

  • Saute the onions in a pan until they are soft (about 10 minutes).
  • Add in all the other ingredients and stir well.
  • Cook on a low heat for 1 hour stirring frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  • Serve with fluffy mash potato or crusty bread or even some shroomdogs!

Tips and Cheats

I made this in my food technology exam at 16, back then I finished it off with some grilled fresh tomatoes but it really doesn’t need them. If you don’t have Dijon you can use English or American mustard just alter the quantity to taste as it is often stronger. The dish does make quite a lot but it is easy to freeze.