Winter Warm Risottos

Unless your living in Brisbane you probably don’t believe me that I am freezing right now. Winter in the sunshine state is has become bone chilling. To stay warm I’ve been drinking lots of herbal teas and warm meals of roasted vegetables, soups and risottos. These are a couple non traditional risotto’s that I have been enjoying over the past week.

I’ve never added quinoa to a risotto before. But I often cook a quinoa brown rice blend which is delicious and a pain to clean out of the rice cooker. Quinoa gives an extra protein kick to this risotto and doesn’t compromise the taste at all.

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Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1/4 kent or butternut pumpkin, sliced into thin pieces

1/2 large or 1 small head of garlic

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

1 cup quinoa

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to taste

italian parsley to garnish (optional)

Method:

1. Preheat oven 200 degrees.

2. Place pumpkin and garlic head in an baking tray and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until both are soft.  Once both are cooked well place in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Keep it aside to add to the risotto.

3. Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

4. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion. Cook till it softens

5. Add aborbio rice and quinoa to pot and let it toast for a few minutes.

6. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

7. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock to the rice and constantly stir. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice and quinoa is cooked

8. Add the mashed pumpkin and garlic. Stir through and then add baby spinach. Continue to stir until the baby spinach has wilted.

9. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and season with extra seasalt and black pepper. Serve with some chopped parsley.

*Serves 4

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Cauliflower has historically been one of my most hated vegetables from birth. My mum use to steam or microwave it with cheese and bechamel. I never liked cheese and always found cauliflower to be strange in texture and bland in taste. But I have a new love for cauliflower now. I love using it in Italian pasta dishes to coat pasta. It also tastes amazing in soups, on pizza, roasted and in a pie.  Here are some of my favourite cauliflower dishes that get the Marco tick of approval.

Pasta al Cavolfiore

Penne al Cavolfiore

Cauliflower Red Onion and Garlic Pizza

Roasted Cauliflower, Beets, Capsicum and Chickpeas with Tahini Sumac Dressing

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Steak

Broccoli & Cauliflower Pakoras

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and Corn Soup

Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie

For this Cauliflower Risotto I used both the stalks and florets of the cauliflower.  I diced the stalks and sautéed them with the onions and added the florets to the vegetable stock which I ladled to cook the risotto. I stole this idea from Jamie Oliver’s Cauliflower risotto (Risotto ai cavalfiori). Its a great way not to waste any of that cauliflower goodness.

Oh and by the way in case you haven’t tried Kale with Pine nuts and Raisins put it on your to do list. The bitter, sweet and nutty flavors make it one of my favourite side dishes and goes great on top of this Cauliflower Risotto.

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Cauliflower Risotto topped with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins 

Cauliflower Risotto (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups arborio rice

1 medium onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 medium cauliflower, dice stalks and chop the florets, keeping each separate

1/2 cup white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

handful italian parsley leaves, diced

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

sea salt & black pepper

Method:

1.Take a pot and fill with the vegetable stock and cauliflower florets and leave to boil, then place on a simmer.

2. In the meantime take another large pot and heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add the onion, garlic and diced cauliflower stalk. Cook for a couple of mintues.

3. Add aborbio rice and let it toast for a few minutes.

4. Add the wine to the pot and cook until its been absorbed.

5. By this time the liquid stock should have boiled. Begin by ladling a spoon full at a time of the hot liquid stock with the cauliflower florets to the rice. Stir constantly and mash the cauliflower florets as it cooks. Once one spoon full has been absorbed into the rice, add another spoon full. Continue for  cooking for 15 mins or until the rice  is cooked

6. Take off the heat, then add the nutritional yeast and italian parsley. Season with extra sea salt and black pepper.

7. Serve with Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (recipe below)

*Serves 4

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Sautéed Tuscan Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins (vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1-2 garlic cloves, diced

bunch tuscan kale, chopped into ribbons

1-2 tablespoons golden raisins

1-2 tablespoons pinenuts

Method:

1. Heat olive oil in a pan. Then add the garlic cook for about a minute

2. Add the kale, raisins and pine nuts. Saute until the kale has wilted.

3. Serve on top of the Cauliflower Risotto or as a side dish.

*Serves 2-4 as a side

For more risotto recipes check these out:

Sweet Potato Sage Risotto with Hazelnut ‘Parmesan’

Green Spring Risotto

Risotto alla zucca (Pumpkin Risotto)

Risotto ai funghi porcini (Mushroom Risotto)

Red Wine Barley & Brown Rice Risotto with Mushrooms & Spinach

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Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling

After that lovely living lasagne yesterday I was really in the mood for one of my favourite things I use to prepare with Marco before I stopped eating dairy. We use to often make spinach & ricotta or pumpkin & ricotta cannelloni together. I was originally going to make a spinach tofu filling with a creamy bechamel, but I had no unsweetened plant milk in the house. So I tried to make a filling of ‘ricotta’ using cashew and tofu with some fresh spinach and topped it with a home made tomato sauce. It definitely had the texture of ricotta. I was convinced it tasted like ricotta. Marco not so much, because he still indulges in dairy products, but he said it was still very delicious. He had seconds, so that’s always a good sign. Unfortunately I was not able to get a good picture of the cannelloni, but trust me what it lacks in aesthetics it made up for in taste. Looking forward to having leftovers again tonight!

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Cannelloni with Cashew Tofu ‘Ricotta’ Spinach Filling (vegan, gluten free option)

Ingredients for Sauce and Pasta:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, diced

750ml passata sauce

350ml water

2 pinches raw sugar

sea salt & black pepper to taste

10 basil leaves, diced

250g cannelloni shells (use gluten free cannelloni if you prefer)

Ingredients for Filling:

1 cup cashews (raw/soaked)

1/2 cup water

250g firm tofu, cubed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt to taste

4 cups chopped english or baby spinach leaves

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

2. Prepare the sauce first. Heat olive oil in a medium size pot and then add onions and garlic. Saute for 3-4 minutes or till transparent.

3. Add the passata sauce, water, raw sugar and season. Bring to a boil and then leave on a simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

4. If you haven’t soaked the cashews, cook in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water.

5. Place cashews in a kitchen processor. First break down the cashews a little, then add water while it is running. I used my processor instead of my Vitamix so that there would still be the texture of ricotta, rather then cream.

6. While it is running add tofu cubes.???????????????????????????????

7. Once tofu has broken down a bit add olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, while the processor is running.???????????????????????????????

8.  Add 2 cups of spinach leaves to the ricotta and let the processor run until they break down into the ricotta. Then add the next to cups but don’t break down the spinach too much.???????????????????????????????

9. The sauce should be ready now, so add diced basil leave and leave to the side.

10. Put a couple of ladles of the sauce into a large baking tray, so that you can’t see the bottom.

11. Fill the cannelloni shells with the filling and place into the baking tray. I managed to use all the filling except for two shells.

12. Top with with the sauce and place into the oven for 40 minutes or until the cannelloni shells are cooked. If you have plenty of leftover sauce use to reheat leftovers the next day.

*Serves 6

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Pasta with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions, Capers and Pine nuts

Over the past week I have managed to get back on the juice train and juice everything in my fridge. This is how my latest favourite pasta dish was born. With only green beans and onions I tried to make something appetizing enough, that keep me away from my mums Rigatoni Bolognese. I ended up making this again for Marco and I. Even though he though he would hate it, he ended up liking it.

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Pasta with Green Beans, Caramelized Onions, Capers and Pine nuts (vegan, gluten free option, soy free)

Ingredients:

2 serves penne or other short pasta (use gluten free pasta if you prefer)

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium brown onion, diced

2 garlic, diced

2 handfuls of green beans, topped,tail and cut into thirds

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1-2 teaspoons capers

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

1. Heat olive oil on medium heat in a non-stick pan, then add the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 mins till they are slightly browned. Turn down the heat while cooking so it doesn’t burn.

2. Add the green beans and cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. Add the capers and pine nuts. Continue to cook until the green beans are tender.

4. Take off the heat then add the hot pasta, nutritional yeast, sea salt and black pepper.

*Serves 2

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Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie

Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was pretty quiet. I was pretty hungover all Saturday after work drinks on Friday night. I haven’t drank more then a glass for over a year so I was a bit out of practice. I did go on one vegan adventure last night to Freestyle Tout. Last time I had a vegan dessert there I wasn’t too impressed. My chocolate avocado mousse was so dark, it was uneatable. But this time was a big difference. I had a Vegan Hazelnut Cake with Hazelnut Chocolate Sauce, Vanilla Cocolusious Vegan Ice cream. It was amazing and on pare with the regular desserts they offer.

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Tonight I wanted to make some kind of pie, because its so cold here. I decided on cauliflower because I had two and a half of them in my fridge. Why so much? Well I already had a half and then both mum and I went shopping again with out telling the other. So expect to see more cauliflower recipes this week.

I have never liked cauliflower, but they are growing on my. Marco still doesn’t like them. But we both loved this cauliflower pie. All three of us had seconds and I am looking forward to taking this to work. Marco even commented that it looks like something he would have at a vegan restaurant with the sprout salad. This can be made gluten free and soy free with gluten free puff pastry and almond or oat milk. The nutritional yeast isn’t essential, but definitely makes it more cheezy and delicious.

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Cauliflower Cheezy Thyme Pie (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more to brush pastry

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1/2 large cauliflower, chopped

1 large potato, grated

1 cup unsweetnered plant milk (rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2-3 teaspoons sea salt

black pepper to taste

2 sheets of frozen puff pastry (or gluten free puff pastry)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.???????????????????????????????

2. Heat a nonstick pot with olive oil, then saute onion and garlic for a few minutes or until it softens.

3. Add cauliflower and grated potato and saute for a 5 minutes. Stir continuously so the potato doesn’t stick to the bottom.

4. Add soy milk, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower has softened.???????????????????????????????

5. Add nutritional yeast and stir through. Add more salt if you need.???????????????????????????????

6. Place a defrosted puff pastry sheet in the base of a 9 inch pie pan.

7. Fill the pastry with the cauliflower mixture.

8. Top with another sheet of puff pastry and tick in the edges around the sides.

9. Brush pastry with olive oil and then bake for 30 mins or until pastry is cooked.

*Serves 6

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Panzarotti Night

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Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts

We haven’t had Panzarotti for a while. Marco is always asking for it, but I usually say no for one reason or another. However, we compromised tonight, he made the dough and agreed that we baked them.

I discovered Panzarotti in Milan on my trip last year and a relative taught me to make them while I was there. Check out my other posts with different fillings, Baked Panzarotti with Mushrooms, Sun-dried tomatoes & Pine nuts and Baked Panzarotti with Tomato, Onion & Cavolo Nero. My dream is to open a Panzarotti store, so perhaps in a few months when I graduate I might try something, but until then I will just be practicing at home.

Tonight I tried two new fillings: Tomato, Vegetarian Pepperoni, Roasted Capsicum, Garlic & Cheezy Bechamel; and Mushroom, Spinach &  Cheezy Bechamel. I used Sanitarian Vegetarian Pepperoni, which I didn’t realize until just now that it is not vegan as it contains eggs. The writing is so small on the packet that I didn’t see that. So it is a great tasting product if you vegetarian, but otherwise use a vegan pepperoni, like Tofurky Pepperoni Slices or Redwood Cheatin’ Pepperoni Style Slices, which are available in Australia. I haven’t tried them, but I hope to soon. 

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Baked Panzarotti with Tomato, Vegetarian Pepperoni, Roasted Capsicum, Garlic & Cheezy Bechamel  and Mushroom, Spinach &  Cheezy Bechamel (vegan, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients for Basic Pizza Dough-

3 cups Italian Tipo 00

1 teaspoon dry yeast

1.5 cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt

1 pinch raw sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil & more for brushing (makes 8)

Ingredients for Cheezy Bechamel:

1/2 cup unsweetened oat milk (or almond or soy if you can tolerate)

1 tablespoon arrowroot/plain flour

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon nutlex/vegan butter

sea salt to taste

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (enough for 4 panzarotti)

Ingredients for the Filling 1:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 handfuls of sliced mushroom

2 tablespoons chopped parsley/basil

4 handfuls of baby spinachs roughly chopped

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons Cheezy Bechamel (enough for 2 panzarotti)

Ingredients for the Filling 2:

1 tablespoon olive oil,

2-3 tablespoons tomato pasta sauce

8 slices vegan pepperoni

2 roasted capsicum from jar, sliced in 4-6 pieces

2 whole garlic cloves, with skin

sea salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoon Cheezy Bechamel (enough for 2 panzarotti)

Method:

Prepare the dough:

1. Take a large bowl & brush with oil.

2. Take a bowl and add warm water and yeast. Put some plastic wrap over the bowl and leave it  to sit for 5 mins.

3. Add flour salt and sugar to the large bowl and mix it through.

4. Slowly add water to flour and mix. (add more flour if to stick)

5. Place dough on board and knead for 10 mins.

6. Place dough in a large bowl, place somewhere warm and leave for 1 1/2-2  hours to rise.DSC04984

Prepare Cheezy Bechamel:

1. Combine oat milk, arrow root and garlic powder in a small bowl. Whisk until combined.

2. Melt vegan butter in a small pot.

3. Add oat milk to the pot and heat on medium to low heat until it thickens. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Add nutritional yeast and stir through until dissolved, then take of the heat.

Prepare fillings:DSC04982

1. First heat a pan with olive oil, then add mushrooms, and garlic cloves. Saute for 3-4 mins or until browned.

2. Then add parsley, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook until spinach as wilted.

3. Remove the mushrooms and spinach out of the pan, but leave the garlic cloves.

4. Heat more olive oil if you need and add pepperoni slices. Cook for a 1-2 minutes on both sides until it has a nice color.DSC04987

5. Then add roasted capsicum and cook on both sides (less then 30 sec on each side)???????????????????????????????

6. Remove the filling from the pan and place in another small bowl. Peel the garlic, as it should be nice and soft, diced and add to bowl.

Assemble Panzarotti:

1. On a floury board, roll out you dough balls into a flat circle shape.???????????????????????????????

2. For mushroom fillings, add 1 tablespoon Cheezy Bechamel, then top with the saute mushroom and spinach. Add another tablespoon of Cheezy Bechamel and season with salt & pepper. Fold the dough over like a half moon shape. Close the ends with your fingers or with a fork. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make a second on. ???????????????????????????????

3. For pepperoni filling, add 1.5 tablespoon of tomato sauce and then add 4 slices of pepperoni, 2-3 slices of roasted capsicum, diced garlic, 1 tablespoon Cheezy Bechamel and season with salt & pepper. Fold the dough over like a half moon shape. Close the ends with your fingers or with a fork. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make a second on.

4. Cook in the oven for 15 mins or until the dough is cooked and golden brown.

*Dough make 8 panzarotti, the filling  ingredients makes 2 of each, but both can be doubled for more.

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Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale!

Hi all, happy Worldwide Vegan Bake Week! I have been looking forward to this day all week. Today we went to the new Green Edge store in Lutwyche, Brisbane, for their Bake Sale. I don’t eat baked sweets that often, so I was really looking forward to eating a whole lot of sweetness in the name of  our furry friends. I took along Marcos little nieces and ???????????????????????????????nephew and spent a small fortune on brownies, cupcakes and cookies. Here is just some of what we bought today, which included Berry Patch Brownies, Fairy Bread Cupcakes (GF, SF), Pecan Slices, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. We managed to eat it all between 4 1/2 of us and now I am feeling a little sick, but it was so worth it.

Was their a Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale in your city? What did you eat?

I can’t believe how many people showed up this year. Last year their weren’t as many people, at least when I was there. We??????????????????????????????? had a wait in line for a while and tried to keep those sticky little fingers away from the sweets which we hadn’t purchased yet. While I was there I bought a couple of dry goods that I haven’t tried before. I got a few organic spices for 50 cents each, The VEGG, All Natural Custard Powder, Texas BBQ Primal Strips (meat free jerky) and more Nutritional Yeast (can never have enough). I can’t wait to try out The VEGG, as I have heard its very good. Also I am looking forward to using the Custard Powder to make one of the only desserts I ate as a kid, custard with fresh fruit. I’ve never liked jerky, but it was at the counter so I thought I would try it out.

This dish below is something I made a couple of nights ago. I have been staying at Marco’s house, to keep the dogs away from my house and spend time with the kids, which has been great, but I didn’t bring much supplies with me. This was something I came up with, after it got to dark and cold to walk to the local supermarket. The sauce I made was more like of a soup consistency, as the bar mix I used didn’t blend very well and I ended up just placing half the gnocchi into the sauce. Marco didn’t like it when he first saw it, but it grew on him. He said it tasted more like a Serbian dish that his mother use to make, which was probably why his parents and niece loved it. I would have liked to use vegan chicken stock, but without any the nutritional yeast gave the sauce nice flavor.

With the leftover Gnocchi, I frozen them on trays and then used them the next day in a spicy tomato sauce with spinach. Marco much preferred this as it he loves tomato sauces better. I liked both ways. I did also find that after the gnocchi had been frozen they were more firm and cooked much better.

Another Gnocchi dish I made a while ago is Butternut Pumpkin Gnocchi, which was really delicious! The gnocchi from this batch was also really good, after it had been frozen and cooked. I hope to experiment with some more different recipes soon. I much prefer making my own gnocchi, as store bought have so many preservatives and ingredients that I really prefer not to eat.

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Gnocchi with Creamed Pea Sauce (vegan, gluten free option, soy free nut free)

Ingredients for Gnocchi:

6 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 cup unbleached plain flour, plus more for dusting (use gluten free flour if you prefer)

sea salt to taste

Ingredients for Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

500g frozen peas

2 cups unsweetened plant milk (oat or rice, soy or almond if you can tolerate)

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast or more to taste

sea salt & black pepper to taste

Method:

To make Gnocchi:

1. First boil potatoes in a large pot of water for 20 minutes or until they are soft enough to mash.

2. Strain potatoes and mash with a potato masher. Make sure their are no lumps Season with plenty of sea salt.

3. Add 1 cup of flour and work into a dough on a floury board. If its easier split dough into 2 or 4 batches. Add more flour if the dough is too soft.

4. Roll  dough into logs about 2cm-diameter and 30cm long. Cut dough into pieces with a lightly floured knife. Then form small balls and place on a tray with baking paper. Press a fork on the top of the balls so that they form an oval.

5. Bring a pot of  salted water to the boil, then cook gnocchi for 3 mins or until they are floating on the top of the water. Strain and add to the sauce.

*If you are not using straight away place in the freeze on trays until they harden, then place into airtight bags until ready to use.

*Makes 8 Serves

To make Sauce:

1. In a large pot heat olive oil, then add onion and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes or until onion has soften, but not browned.

2. Add frozen peas and saute until the peas have lightly cooked.

3. Add milk, then blend with a bar mix or processor. Leave it a little bit chunky or puree.

4. Add nutritional yeast, sea salt and pepper  and bring to the boil. Then let it simmer for 5 to 10 mins.

5. Add cooked Gnocchi and serve.

*Sauce makes 6 serves with Gnocchi, or 8 if you want a bit thinner consistency.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetables

Happy Easter Sunday everyone! It doesn’t really feel like Easter for me. Without chocolate or gifts its just another weekend. We use to celebrate by having a picnic and gorging on chocolate, but this year everyone’s been busy. In a way I am happy I didn’t get any unwanted chocolate. No one ever buys me dairy free chocolate. I don’t know if I should just be grateful that people think to give me something or I should be annoyed that they know I can’t eat it and give it to me anyway. Marco usually eats any dairy gifts I get so he’s happy either way.

Since Marco has had a couple of days off with me, we finally watched the new documentary Hungry for Change (trailer). If you haven’t seen it, I really recommend trying to get a copy and taking the time to watch it. If you know me personally I would be happy to give you a copy. According to their Facebook page “HUNGRY FOR CHANGE exposes shocking secrets the diet, weight loss and food industry don’t want you to know about; deceptive strategies designed to keep you coming back for more.” If you need some guidance or a refresher to get you back in the right direction it is really motivational. I really needed a refresher to get back into a routine of increasing my fruit and leafy green vegetable intake and exercising more. Marco needed a reminder to stop eating so much sugar and consider eating more fruit and vegetables.

???????????????????????????????So after watching this doc, Marco and I decided we need to start juicing. I haven’t pulled out my juicer for over a year. I originally got it to make cocktails, when I use to love to drink, then I started using it to make juices to loose weight. Now I really want to juice so I can get more vegetables and fruit into my diet for overall wellness. It really doesn’t take long to do, so I am making a commitment to start juicing more. Its back on my counter top now, so no more excuses.

This morning I made a delicious juice for us, made of watermelon, apple, carrot, lime and ginger. It was so refreshing. Still it didn’t have a lot of vegetables, but I am going to work us up to it. I felt really great after and didn’t need my usually morning coffee. In fact I am trying to cut down on coffee, if not for the sake of my insides, but for the sake of my teeth. I noticed about a months back I didn’t have coffee for a few days and my teeth were looking so much whiter. So it was incentive to consider cutting back. I don’t drink a lot of coffee, only one flat white once day, but I shouldn’t be relying on that boost. I should be getting from enough sleep, more nutrients and not forgetting to take my pyroluria medication.

Although it was raining all day we still managed to get some exercise  We went to Forest Lake to walk around the lake. Even though it rained the whole time it was really worth getting out of the house. After that we were quite hungry, so I made this comfort dinner. Marco begged me not to add in the vegetables to the pumpkin ‘cheese’ sauce, since he loved it so much, but in the end he was happy he ate them together, rather than apart. This is a great dish to sneak in some vegetables for your kids or veggie hating partners. It is also low fat and gluten free. I also baked the seeds from the pumpkin for some extra Vitamin E. For more info on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds check out WHFoods.

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Spring Vegetable (vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

500g thinly sliced pumpkin (I use kent and butternut)

4 serves of gluten free macaroni or other short pasta

olive oil

1 tablespoon vegan butter (I used nutlex)

1 tablespoon corn flour (or arrowoot flour)

2.5 cups plant milk (oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric

8 tablespoons nutritional yeast

sea salt & pepper to taste

1 head of broccoli, roughly chopped

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups baby spinach

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place slices of pumpkin in a tray and toss with olive oil. Cook pumpkin for 30 mins or until soft.???????????????????????????????

2. In the meantime prepare the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large pan on low heat. While it is melting combine the almond milk and corn flour and whisk. Then add the plant milk to the pan with the melted butter.???????????????????????????????

3. Add the dijon mustard, garlic powder, tumeric and whisk until it thickens.

4. Add the nutitional yeast, salt and pepper and whisk.

5. Cook the macroni according to packet directions.

6. Add the roasted pumpkin to the cheese sauce. Use the whisk or potato masher to blend it through. Alternativly you could put it in the processor if you want the sauce to be smoother.???????????????????????????????

7. Heat another pan with olive oil, then saute the broccoli and frozen peas until tender.

8. Add the broccoli, peas and spinach to the cheese sauce. Heat through until the spinach has wilted.

9. Stir through the macaroni then serve.

*Serves 4

*I garnished mine with pumpkin seeds from the butternut & kent pumpkin. Just coat in canola/olive oil, salt & pepper and bake for 5 mins or until golden. Also makes a great snack.

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Minestra di zucca alla milanese with Buttery Biscuits and Chocolate gelato with choc chips

Today we had the kids stay over again. Marco had to work for most of the day. So we had fun eating, swimming, painting, watching movies and playing with the dogs. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but for the most part they were very good. I am so tired now. I never realized how much kids eat and snack a one day. There were so many dishes to do. To be honest, since I cook, Marco usually does the dishes, so I usually get off easy. But today I had to do it all myself and I really realized how many things I use it one day, then times it by 3.

For breakfast I made the kids Vanilla Maple Breakfast Polenta with topped with Blueberry Vanilla Chia Seed Jam. This jam is sensational! It is by Angela, from the blog Oh She Glows. When strawberries where cheap I made it with Strawberries, which was also really good. Strangely enough the kids didn’t like the warm jam. They rather more maple syrup to make it sweeter. For lunch one wanted sushi and one wanted fried rice. At least it was the same grain I was preparing. I separated the cooked rice and made half sushi rice and left the rest for fried rice. However, I didn’t realize I didn’t have any tuna until I was about to make the sushi. The little boy only eats tuna cucumber sushi and was very upset that I ‘lied’. Luckily he ended up eating the fried rice.

For dinner I made the recipes below. They didn’t like the pumpkin pasta soup, but they did love these biscuits. Marco and I both liked both. I think they are not use to the taste of nutritional yeast, which would be strange for anyone trying it for the first time. The soup didn’t really turn out like a soup. I suppose I could of added more water, but to be honest I was in a hurry trying to get it all ready. When kids are hungry they are relentless in telling you. Luckily I redeemed myself with dessert. After walking the dogs and hunting for Christmas lights this was a nice way to cool down.

The Minestra di zucca alla milanese is a veganised version from the Italian website, Giallo Zafferano. This is an ancient Milanese dish that uses a few simple ingredients to create something truly delicious. I never saw this on any menus while I was in Milan, so it must be a dish that is made at home. Its similar to pumpkin mac’n’cheese. I used butternut pumpkin, which made it quite sweet. I only needed to change the milk to soy, butter to vegan butter and Parmesan to nutritional yeast. I wanted to serve it with focaccia bread, but I completely forgot and then it was 6pm. So I made these Quick Buttery Biscuits from Chloe’s Kitchen. This was my first time making them and they are wonderful. The only thing I did differently was use wholewheat flour instead of plain flour.  I am so happy I  have tried this recipe as it is a good way to bring more comfort to a soup, stew or a grate snack with jam.

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Minestra di zucca alla milanese (vegan, gluten free option, nut free)

Ingredients:

600g butternut pumpkin

2 cups soy milk

sea salt to taste

40g vegan butter (nutlex)

200g lumache/ditali/other short pasta/gf short pasta

25g nutritional yeast (more to taste)

Method:

1. Wash and cut pumpkin into small pieces, remembering to remove the seeds and skin.DSC01000

2. Place pumpkin with a pinch of salt, in a steamer or boil in little bit of water, till soft. Then strain. DSC01001

3. Place pumpkin into a processor and blend till smooth.

4. Take a large pot and bring to the boil the soy milk. Then add mashed pumpkin and salt to taste.

5. Add the pasta and cook until pasta is cooked.

6. Add vegan butter and nutritional yeast. Adjust seasoning and serve. DSC01005

*Add more water for a more thinner consistency.

*Serves 4

Quick Buttery Biscuits (adapted from Chloe Coscarelli) (vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)

Ingredients:

2 cups wholewheat flour (or unbleached plain flour or gluten free flour)

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon herbamare/salt

1/2 cup vegan butter + more to brush and serve

3/4 cup unsweetened plant milk (coconut, rice or oat; almond or soy if you can tolerate)

Method:

1. Take a large bowl and add flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk so it is all combined. DSC01003

2. Add vegan butter (don’t mix it too well). Then add soy milk and stir roughly with wooden spoon. (Chloe recommends not to over work it, so that butter is a bit lumpy)DSC01004

3. Place on a flourly board and roll into 2 oblong shapes. then cut them into pieces.DSC01012

4. Place pieces of dough onto a baking tray and brush with melted vegan butter (about 1 tbsp).

5. Cook in the oven for 12-15 mins then place on cooling rack, before serving.

* I made 10 biscuits.

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Chocolate Gelato with Choc chips (vegan, gluten free, nut free)

Ingredients:

4 frozen bananas

1/2 can coconut cream (or just the solid cream part)

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

maple syrup to taste

vegan chocolate chips to taste (I used Sweet Williams)

Method:

1. Place banana and coconut cream in the processor and whiz till smooth.

2. While it is running add the cocoa powder and maple syrup.

3. Lastly add the chocolate chips so that it doesn’t get too blended. Serve with more chocolate chips.