Recipe: Vegan Bircher Muesli

I’ve known about bircher muesli for years but have only just recently discovered how amazing it is. If you don’t know, let me fill you in. You mix together oats, fruit, nuts and seeds with some kind of liquid such as milk, yogurt or fruit juice, then leave it in the fridge overnight. What you get in the morning is a delicious, creamy cold porridge that you can then top with berries and yogurt for a complete, healthy balanced breakfast. Plus, it can be made to be totally vegan so good for you and for the planet. If you’re not sold, make a small batch to test out and I promise you you’ll be converted.

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 50g oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp mixed seeds
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp sultanas
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 grated apple
  • pinch of salt
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • yogurt (dairy free to be vegan) and berries to serve

What you do:

  1. Very simply, mix all of the ingredients except the yogurt and berries together in a bowl and stir well. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. To serve, top with some yogurt, any kind is fine but the vegan coconut yogurt is amazing, and then some mixed frozen berries that have been defrosted. Tuck in!

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This is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment and I’m really pleased that I’ve been able to create a recipe that is so easy yet so tasty. Do let me know if you make this one!

Recipe: My Famous Lime Cheesecake

I’m putting myself out there here: This is the best cheesecake ever. Big-headed? Me? Don’t be silly!

No really, this has a buttery biscuit base and is topped with the most creamy mixture bursting with sweet and zesty citrus flavour. It’s my mum’s favourite and I think mine too. Plus, it’s so quick and easy to make, the hardest part is resisting it whilst it chills in the fridge overnight.

Serves 8. Or at least it should, but never goes that far in my house.

What you need:

  • 200g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 350g full fat cream cheese at room temperature
  • 115g caster sugar
  • zest and juice of half a lemon
  • zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 175ml double cream

What you do:

  1. Mix together the crushed biscuits with the melted butter and spices until you have what resembles wet sand, then push it into the bottom of a springform tin. Leave this in the fridge to chill whilst you make the filling.
  2. Beat the cream cheese and sugar together along with the zest and juice from the citrus fruits until the mixture is smooth and creamy. This won’t happen if your cream cheese is too cold so plan ahead!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until it reaches a soft peak consistency then add this to the cream cheese mixture and fold in thoroughly.
  4. Pour and scrape this mixture on top of your biscuit base and flatten and smooth it with a spatula or pallet knife then chill in the fridge, ideally overnight or at least for a few hours. When ready, devour with glee.

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A Vegan Food Shop

So I decided to join in with the current trend and become a vegan. For a week. I love my food and the thought of having to cut stuff out of my diet filled me with fear, but I wanted to try a different kind of food lifestyle and figured it can’t be too hard if I only have to sacrifice some of my favourite things for just a week. Right?

‘Why bother?’, I hear you ask. Well, veganism is on the rise as more people learn of the damage caused to the planet by consuming animal products. There is also a belief that following a plant based diet is better for you health wise. So if we can help the planet, save a few animals and nourish our bodies in a better way surely it’s worth trying. I don’t think there is any scientific proof behind the vegan health claims but if people feel better for eating this way then good for them. I’m trialling it to see if I feel any different from cutting out all animal based products. I keep getting a mental image of a little lamb skipping away from the slaughter house saying ‘Thank you Tania!’ as it bounds into freedom.

The first thing I did in preparation was a food shop to stock up on the right kinds of foods. I’ve already got a huge stash of cooking ingredients such as grains and loads of spices and condiments so it was mostly fresh fruit and vegetables I needed as well as some tinned goods. Tyler, my partner, has decided to meet me halfway and will be eating some of the food I make along with fish and has a few emergency meals planned for if he just can’t take it. I thought about making the cat vegan too but she begged me not to, so she’s eating the rest of the ham that’s lingering in the fridge from last week. Our food shopping, including Tyler’s cheat additions (not pictured) came to just under £80.

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Here’s what I bought:

  • Mixed leaf salad
  • Baby plum tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Jersey Royal potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Mixed peppers
  • Spring onions
  • Cucumber
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Courgettes
  • Mushrooms
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Strawberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Bananas
  • Medjool dates
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Pecan nuts
  • Maple syrup
  • Mixed herbs
  • Gherkins
  • Coconut milk (tinned)
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Butter beans (tinned)
  • Kidney beans (tinned)
  • Chickpeas (tinned)
  • Black beans
  • Beetroot juice
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Bean burgers

So I’m all ready to tackle a week without meat or dairy. I’m OK to forgo meat for a while, I like meat but actually don’t have that much of it, but cheese. Oh God. Cheese. And to be super helpful, my food processor has just broken so I can’t make the raw brownies from Deliciously Ella which I think would have made this week so much easier! Never mind. I will let you know how I find my week as a vegan in a later blog post, stay tuned!

 

 

Recipe: Rocky Roads

I’ve been experimenting with recipes for rocky roads for years now and everyone I feed them to loves them. I honestly think my rocky roads are the only reason I’ve had a marriage proposal. If you don’t know, rocky roads are like chocolate bars full of yummy things, usually some kind of biscuit with marshmallow, nuts or fruit. They are very naughty but very delicious.

Makes 16 bars

What you need:

  • 450g milk chocolate
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 2 x 37g packets of Maltesers
  • 50g mini marshmallows

What you do:

  1. Break the chocolate into pieces and throw it into a large saucepan along with the golden syrup and butter. Put the pan on a low heat and leave the mixture to melt, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, put the biscuits and Maltesers into a sandwich bag or similar and use a blunt, heavy object (meat mallet, rolling pin, frying pan, boxing glove as you pretend the biscuits are your bosses head…) to smash them into pieces. You want a mixture of crumbs and chunks.
  3. Once the chocolate mixture is melted and combined, remove it from the heat and stir in the biscuits and Maltesers as well as the mini marshmallows. Make sure you combine the ingredients thoroughly.
  4. Tip the lot into a suitable sized tin that has been lined with foil and press down firmly with a spatula. Leave the mixture in the fridge to set for at least a few hours before cutting into bars and distributing to anyone who you need to get on the good side of. Keep any leftovers (pah!) in the fridge and eat them cold for the best experience.

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I dusted these with cocoa powder to make them more photogenic. There’s really no need, just eat them and avoid the faff.

Recipe: 3 Ingredient Chocolate Bark

Oh dear. What have I discovered? The easy route to an early grave perhaps? Chocolate, sweets and pretzels all in one gloriously sweet and salty mouthful. It’s like fireworks going off with every bite and is entirely worth the blocked arteries that are due to follow. Just drink some green juice after and go for a brisk walk, you’ll be fine. Hey, what is life if we can’t live it on the edge? There was a time in my life that living on the edge was going out drinking and dancing three nights a week and still managing to hold down a job, now I consider it exciting when I can stay up late enough to watch the 10 o’clock news in my jimjams.

This recipe is the second in my three ingredient series. If you missed the first instalment, featuring a very naughty Oreo milkshake then give yourself a telling off and go see it here. These recipes are proving to be rather devilish and I like it.

Makes a decent sized slab, i.e. enough for two people to eat during the opening credits of a movie.

What you need:

  • 200g chocolate (I used milk chocolate, use whatever takes your fancy)
  • a big handful of M&Ms (I used the Crispy ones because, frankly, they are the best, but again, use whatever. The world is your oyster, so they say)
  • 30g salted pretzels, smashed up a little bit

What you do:

  • Melt the chocolate whichever way you prefer. I use the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until solid becomes liquid. You could temper the chocolate, but really, why would you prolong the gratification of eating this just to give it a nice shine and whatever else tempering does. Suck it up. Spread the melted chocolate onto a lined baking sheet, making it as thick or thin as you like.
  • Scatter over the M&Ms, then the smashed pretzels, ensuring the goodies are evenly distributed. Pop it into the fridge to set for as long as you can bear.

Now, admire the beauty that is chocolate bark.

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Smash it up and dish it out to anyone who needs a little extra love in their lives. You will be everyone’s best friend after this. Kid having trouble making friends at school? Send them in with a lunchbox full of this. Girlfriend mad at you for spending all of Friday night on the X-Box? You know what to do. Mad at yourself for being too fat to fit into any of your dresses? Sod it, just crack on and worry about it later.

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I will leave you with this gloriously chocolatey post as I am now on holiday for a week. See you next Sunday!

Tania x

What’s In My Fridge?

Some people are just plain nosey and want to know the ins and outs of other people’s lives, including what they ate for breakfast, lunch and dinner and even what’s lurking in the corners of their fridge. I am one of those people, and proudly so. If you too are one of those weirdos, read on with great pleasure then head over to YouTube where you can even watch people giving you fridge tours! If you are of the more ‘normal’ variety, perhaps this post isn’t for you, but you can check out some of my lovely recipes while you’re here!

So, not gonna lie to you, I cleared my fridge out before this post. Indeed, it was the clearing out of my fridge that inspired me to let you in. I do try to keep it clean and organised as it helps me make sure I’m eating the food within and not wasting stuff, but as with most things in life that require a bit of time and effort, I do sometimes let standards slip. An hour before these photos were taken there was a cucumber hiding in my salad drawer that was more liquid than solid and only held together by the wrapper. Anyway, my lovely Smeg fridge is really roomy and has loads of compartments in the door which is great for keeping things handy. There’s a small freezer section but we don’t use it and have a separate freezer next-door to the fridge. So here’s what’s in my fridge at the moment.

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In the door:

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  • Eggs
  • Garlic
  • Unsalted butter
  • Anchor spreadable
  • Milk
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dark chocolate
  • A McVities Gold bar
  • Lemon oil
  • Squirty cream
  • Coconut milk
  • Apple and Rhubarb juice (so good!)
  • Innocent smoothie (not mine, waste of money in my opinion as I make my own!)
  • Apple juice
  • Water
  • Tomato Puree
  • Garlic in a jar
  • Ginger in a jar
  • Chillies in a jar

I wouldn’t cope without those four holy grail ingredients in the bottom of the door. Jars of garlic, ginger and chilli are absolute lifesavers and I use at least one of them every single day. Tomato puree too is an easy way of adding flavour to dishes and I always make sure I have it to hand. My cheese stash is surprisingly small at the moment. I always have cheddar and parmesan but also like to have other cheeses available as quite frankly I just love cheese. Admittedly, I did have to throw away some mozzarella and some kind of blue cheese (or maybe it wasn’t always blue) because they had gone way out of date.

Top Shelf (jars and whatnot):

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  • Salted caramel spread (AH-MAY-ZING)
  • Morello cherry jam
  • Orange marmalade
  • Strawberry conserve
  • Cranberry and port sauce
  • Wholegrain mustard
  • English mustard
  • Red onion marmalade
  • Mayonnaise (must always be Hellmanns)
  • Horseradish sauce
  • Preserved lemons
  • Baby gherkins
  • Crinkle cut gherkins
  • Jalapenos
  • Salad Creme (Heinz, always)
  • Flaming Cajun sauce

I don’t think I’ve told you about my mustard obsession. I absolutely love it, all kinds. Whenever I go anywhere that makes different kinds of mustards (you know, farm shops etc) I have to buy one. The wholegrain mustard I have at the moment was picked up on a recent visit to Norfolk and is made with some Norfolk beer. It’s really good. I’ve just run out of Dijon mustard so will be replacing that right away. I like to have lots of jarred condiments as they are a great way to add flavour to dishes, like preserved lemons with roast chicken or horseradish sauce in a beef casserole.

Second Shelf:

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  • Nando’s peri peri sauce
  • Pizza Express light house dressing (the only bought salad dressing I like)
  • Roasted red peppers
  • White wine (only in there as I was cooking with it)
  • Beer (not mine)
  • Activa yogurts
  • Fat free natural yogurt

I urge you to always have a jar of roasted red peppers on hand, they’re so delicious and much easier than having to char and skin your own peppers. I use them a lot. They, along with the salad dressing and peri peri sauce, really belong on the top shelf in terms of category but are annoyingly too tall to fit.

Third Shelf (meat, mostly):

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  • Chicken breasts
  • Chorizo style sausages (literally the only sausages I will eat)
  • Lamb shoulder
  • Streaky smoked bacon
  • Ham
  • Some leftover baked beans

Granted, my meat shelf is a bit ‘red-meat heavy’. Soz. It was full of fish but I used that in my aforementioned fish pie recipe. We freeze some of our meat and fish every week too so that we don’t have to rush to use it. The lamb we have now is for a roast dinner, with the leftovers to be used in burritos (excited much) and the chicken breasts will cover two dinners. I don’t eat ham as a rule, that’s Tyler’s, but the bacon is a joint passion. A fridge without bacon is no fridge of mine.

Fruit and Veg Drawers:

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  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Mixed leaves
  • Pointed cabbage
  • Spring onions
  • Red peppers
  • Green pepper
  • Cucumber
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • New potatoes
  • Red onions
  • Avocado
  • Carrots
  • Parsley
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Blueberries

I love vegetables so always make sure I have a good stash ready to cook with or have as a salad. What we have in the fridge will of course depend on what we are planning to cook, but I always have loads of onions (red, please), tomatoes and some kind of green veg. Our freezer always contains peas, sweetcorn and spinach and currently also has some cauliflower in there. I like to have apples and pears as I use them in my smoothies along with spinach, which I always use frozen and sometimes avocado too, but don’t tend to snack on too much fruit unless it’s the height of summer when strawberries and peaches are at their best. We do have an obscene amount of bananas resting in our fruit bowl at the moment though, some of them destined to become banana bread.

And that folks, is my fridge. On any other given day you will normally find some lemons and limes in there too but I had just used the last of them up. I do always have bottles of lemon and lime juice in my cupboard too for emergencies, not sure if that’s frowned upon or not? Maybe I will give you a tour of my cupboards next!

I would love to know what you think of my fridge contents – is there anything I need to add or takeaway? Leave me a comment!