Vegetable Thai Red Curry with Spinach, Udon Noodles and Toasted Cashews

What a hectic couple of weeks we have had and such a great time meeting up with friends and family. There have been birthday parties, quiz nights (of which we were the victors!) family gatherings, shopping, beautiful walks, and exploring places including London, Cambridge and Ely. I’m exhausted now and need a rest!

Food wise, I think the highlight had to have been finding a falafel van in Cambridge which served the most delicious falafel, the wraps they had were gorgeous with hummus, harissa paste and mango chutney, my mouth is watering! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I took my beautiful niece out for a day and we ventured into Pizza Express as they have a new vegan pizza called Pianta that I was looking forward to trying, well, words fail me, it was out of this world delicious, a spicy arrabbiata sauce topped with spinach, artichoke, chestnut mushrooms, pine kernals and rocket and I got them to throw in some capers for good measure. I can highly recommend it!

Now we’re nearly back to our normal routine I thought I would share this quick and easy Thai red curry that I made a couple of weeks ago. It was fast and delicious, great when you’re in a rush and want something tasty.

Thai coconut curry with udon noodles sm

Vegetable Thai Red Curry with Spinach and Toasted Cashews and Udon Noodles (vegan with gluten free option)
MyInspiration Feel The Difference Range
Serves 2 – Ready in under 30 minutes

For the Thai Red Paste

  • 3 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1” cube of fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tbsp red chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 kaffir leaves
  • 1 ½ cups canned coconut milk (give it a shake before opening)

Veggies

  • 3 large button mushrooms sliced
  • 2 carrots peeled into strips
  • 2 packed cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup bamboo shoots
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts
  • 2 bundles of Udon noodles (cooked as per instruction – add boiling water then simmer for 3 minutes and drain) For gluten free use rice noodles or your favourite GF noodles.

Garnish

  • ¼ cup cashews – toasted
  • Spring onions (scallions)
  • Sesame Seeds

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients for the Thai red paste from garlic to chilli flakes into a food processor (or use a stick blender) and pulse until smooth.
  2. Add 2 tbsp of water to a large sauté pan or a wok over a medium heat and add the paste from step 1 and cook for 2 minutes before adding in the tomato paste, soy sauce, lime juice, kaffir leaves and coconut milk, stir together.
  3. Now add in all your veggies, stir everything together and let this cook for 12 – 15 minutes until everything is nicely cooked.
  4. Prepare your Udon noodles according to pack instructions
  5. Toast the cashews by adding to a dry sauté pan over a medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and again to avoid them burning.
  6. Add the cooked Udon noodles to the Thai curry mixture and toss together, pop in a nice big bowl and top with sliced spring onions and sesame seeds.

Simple Homemade Mushroom & Lentil Pie

I don’t often cook with pastry but when I think of homemade comfort foods, a cheeky puff pastry pie is usually high on the list. Normally there would be a jug of gravy too but the filling in the pie is really moist and juicy that we didn’t really need it, but by all means, you make a batch of gravy up if you like a little extra sauce with your dinner, team it up with some roast potatoes and fresh veggies and you’ve got yourself a nice Sunday dinner there.

I’ve decided that while we’re back visiting the family I am going to hunt out some kale. I still haven’t had any kale and I need to know what it tastes like and what I can do with it. I am also going to find some lucuma to make some homemade chocolates and I think I might also try some plantains. Yep, that’s my shopping list for while we are away and I can hopefully get my mitts on all these products.

I’ve packed my rucksack (with some room left for whatever purchases I make whilst shopping) my niece has already booked me in for a shopping spree in Edinburgh and I think a visit to the cinema may also be in order, I just need to check what’s on that I like the look of. So, I’m off now to do some last minute preparations and to get an early night as we’re off at 5am tomorrow morning, it’s going to be a very busy day!

mushroom and lentil pie csm

Simple Homemade Mushroom & Lentil Pie (Vegan)
MyInspiration Feel The Difference Range
Serves 4 – Ready in an hour

  • 2 cloves garlic finely sliced
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • ½ tbsp thyme
  • 4 large button mushrooms chopped
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 3 small carrots chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • ½ cup cashews (pulsed to crumbs in a food processor)
  • 200g vegan puff pastry (I use Jus Rol)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) and prepare a casserole dish
  2. Add 2 tbsp water to a large deep sauce pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, onion, tomato paste, basil and thyme, cook this for 2 minutes before adding in the mushrooms and stirring to coat in the herbs. Add the chopped tomatoes, carrots, lentils and peas and stir this all together. Lastly add in the ½ cup of cashews and stir through.
  3. Spoon the mixture into your casserole dish and then roll out enough puff pastry to top your dish, pinch the edges of the pastry to seal it with the casserole dish, pierce a small hole in the centre of the pastry lid and then pop the whole thing in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the pastry is lovely and golden.

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Serve with roast potatoes and fresh veg like broccoli or cauliflower.

Chilli Crepes stuffed with Moroccan Chickpeas and Apricots topped with a Spicy Sauce

I thought I’d try something a bit different and I haven’t made savoury crepes before and this dish just seemed to come together very nicely. It’s a very simple recipe that’s also pretty cheap so is ideal for dinner parties or a tasty family meal. One small addition I would make next time is to mix some spinach through the chickpea blend to add a few more nutrients, unfortunately I left it off my shopping list and forgot all about it. A great excuse to make this again.

I’m going to be without the use of a kitchen while I’m visiting the family, but quite looking forward to trying out some vegan cafes and restaurants in the London and Edinburgh areas, I’ve already got in mind an afternoon tea with my nan after being recommended a place where they happily accommodate vegan dietary requirements, she’s going to love it, I cant wait!

Also going to head through to Glasgow hopefully, grab a bite to eat there and then shopping on Sauchiehall Street. These next couple of weeks are going the be jammed packed, I’ll need a holiday from this break away!

Chilli Crepes stuffed with Moroccan Chickpeas bsm

Chilli Crepes stuffed with Moroccan Chickpeas and Apricots topped with a Spicy Sauce (Vegan with Gluten Free Option)
MyInspiration Feel The Difference Range
Serves 2 – Ready in 40 minutes

For the Chickpeas

  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers (capsicum/bell pepper) chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 5 dried apricots chopped
  • ¼ cup raisins

For the Spicy Sauce

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (pop through a colander to get rid of the liquid)
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • 2 hot red chillis chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • !/2 tsp Demerara sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander

For the Crepes

  • 1 cup wholewheat flour (for GF use Gluten free plain flour)
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tbsp vegan margarine (split into 4)

Chilli Crepes stuffed with Moroccan Chickpeas sm

Method

  1. For the Chickpeas – Add 2 tbsp water to a large deep sauté pan over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes before adding in the cumin, cinnamon, ground coriander, turmeric, black pepper and paprika, stir this all together then add in the chickpeas along with ¼ cup of water, green pepper, apricots and raisins, turn the heat down to low and cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally (this should be quite a dry mixture, you don’t want it all slushy).
  2. For the Sauce – Add all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, pour into a sauce pan and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remember to taste the sauce and if you like, add a little more lemon juice or black pepper to suit your tastes.
  3. For the crepes – Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and whisk together, you want it to be a nice runny consistency, a touch thicker than say coconut milk. Heat a large sauté pan over a medium/high heat, add a little vegan margarine to the pan and ladle in a quarter of the crepe batter, it’ll spread right out in the pan, so it’s nice and thin, cook for 60 – 90 seconds on each side. You want to get 4 crepes from the mixture.
  4. To serve, spoon the chickpeas into the crepes and fold over and pour over the spicy sauce and serve immediately!

 

Chana & Lentil Masala with Homemade Spicy Garlic Flatbreads

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love spicy food! If there is one thing in my herb and spice cupboard that needs constantly restocked, it’s chilli flakes (along with cumin and chilli powder of course, so that’s 3 things!) I don’t think I could get by without those little treasures and now that I’ve started adding turmeric into a lot of my dishes that too will to go on the list so going to have to start buying in bulk!

When I first started cooking I was a little reserved with the spices, maybe adding a tiny bit here and there, but now I know what I like and what spices need a little more than a pinch to taste them I can thrown them in with wild abandon. That’s not to say there aren’t still a few kitchen disasters, I was perhaps a little heavy handed with some ground cloves in a dish I made last week and I just want to state here and now, too much ground cloves is not a good thing!

This recipe is really easy to prepare and the flatbreads take about 10 minutes start to finish so there’s no excuse not to make your own! You can omit the garlic topping if you like, it’s an additional option, maybe just chop up some garlic very finely and mix through the dough instead, up to you.  I served our dinner with a little mixed pickle on the side, perhaps a little mango chutney as well if you have it in.

chana lentil masala and flat breads sm

Chana & Lentil Masala with Homemade Spicy Garlic Flatbreads (Vegan with Gluten free option)
MyInspiration Feel The Difference Range
Serves 2 – Ready in under an hour

For the Chana & Lentil Masala

  • 1 large onion finely chopped 
  • 1” cube fresh ginger finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 hot red chillies finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (approx 1 ½ cups)
  • 1 cup passatta (pureed tomatoes)
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 ½ cups cooked lentils

For the flatbreads (makes 4 small)

  • 1 cup wholewheat flour (for GF use GF plain flour or even chickpea/gram flour)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp madras curry powder
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ cup water

For the flatbread topping

  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • ½ tbsp vegan margarine

Method

  1. In a food processor blitz together the ginger, garlic, chilli, tomato paste and just half the chopped onion, pulse until a smooth paste forms.
  2. Add 2 tbsp water to a large sauté pan over a medium heat and add the cumin seeds, cook for 1 minute before adding in the paste from step 1, cook for 2 minutes then add in the turmeric, garam masala and ground coriander, stir, then add in the lentils, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and passatta, mix this thoroughly together, cover, reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may need to add a little water if the mixture becomes too dry or starts to stick.
  3. For the flatbreads, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding the water last, you might not need it all, just enough to form a stiff dough. Separate the dough into 4 balls and on a floured surface roll out into flat circles about 2mm thick. Heat a sauté pan over a medium/high heat pop in one flatbread at a time cooking for a 90 seconds on each side until cooked through.
  4. Preheat your grill and once all 4 flatbreads are finished, mix together the margarine and chopped garlic and smear a little on top of each flatbreads, pop under the grill for 2  minutes and you’re done (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn as they may not need a full 2 minutes under your grill).

Serve your chana lentil masala with a couple of flatbreads and some Indian pickles.

 

Deliciously Decadent Chocolate Date Brownie

I have, what I can only describe, as the mother of all bruises on my right leg. It’s just come up today and I assume it’s from Saturday’s exertions. I’m still a little stiff but thankfully managed to get through my yoga class this morning and I was showing off my battle scars to my gym buddies like a big kid!

We’re off to see the family next week and I am very much looking forward to a little socialising and trying out some new restaurants in the London area. I might even treat myself to a little shopping at one of the markets as I’m looking for a nice silver ring, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a bargain! Meeting up with old friends who live in the area so will hopefully get a nice tour around some good eateries and bars. Then up to Edinburgh to see my clan, it’s the Easter holidays so I should, hopefully, see a little more of them this time around.

To the Brownies we go. These are so good I’ve made 3 batches already and that is very unlike me. They are one of the easiest things I’ve ever made and they taste awesome. The chopped dates are like little bits of fudge and give the brownie an added sweetness which is yummy. I am already thinking of some brownie variations, maybe throw in some walnuts or pecans, or even make some peanut butter fudge to mix through it, or chocolate and cherry, or hazelnut and dark Belgian chocolate, oh my goodness, mouth is watering, too many fabulous things!

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Chocolate Date Brownie (Vegan with Gluten free option)
MyInspiration Feel The Difference Range
Serves 8 – Ready in 45 minutes

  • 1 ½ cup wholewheat flour (For Gluten Free, use your favourite flour blend eg buckwheat, GF plain flour etc)
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 cup non dairy milk (I used coconut)
  • ½ tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (or ground flaxseed) mixed with 5 tbs water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 dates chopped
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) and rub a little vegan margarine over a 10″ square cake tin
  2. In a small bowl combine the milk with the apple cider vinegar and leave for 2 minutes before adding in the vanilla and maple syrup. In another bowl/glass mix together the chia seeds and water and leave to set for 3 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, chopped dates and chocolate chips, then add in the milk and chia seed mixtures and fold everything together until well combined. If the mixture feels too dry & sticky add ½ tbsp of coconut milk at a time until you are happy with the consistency.
  4. Pour the batter into your cake tin, sprinkle a ½ tbsp demerara sugar over the top (optional) and pop in the oven for 25 – 30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cool completely.

chocolate brownie bsmEach brownie is 130 calories – 2.8g fat – 3.2g protein

 

Chilli Falafel with Paprika Sweet Potato Wedges and a Cherry Tomato Chutney

We did it, we completed our first Legion Run on Saturday in Larnaca and all my nervous rants are now a distant memory. It was an amazing day and we can’t wait to sign up for another. I took on obstacles that I thought were impossible for me, my excuse of not having strong arms went straight out the window as I hauled my backside over the cargo net wall, pulled myself up a steeply inclined wall. I will admit though that I chickened out of the very first vertical wall obstacle, it was the first one I came to, it was 20ft high and I started to panic, I tried to get up the the first few feet but came over a little light headed and was certain I was going to fall. I now wish I’d just calmed myself down and went for it. So that particular obstacle is the one I will conquer next time.

I waded through ice water, crawled through mud, got my hair stuck in barbed wire, climbed over wrecked cars and hay bales and ran 5km and I loved it, absolutely loved it. I know it’s just ab obstacle race, but having taken part, I feel stronger and strangely more care free than ever. There’s nothing like running around soaking wet covered in mud all scraped and disheveled to break down those barriers. You really feel like you are part of something with the 4000 other runners. I want to go do it again now!

But let’s get back to food shall we. These falafel are silly easy to make, don’t be shy to double the ingredients and make a big batch to keep in the fridge for lunches or pasta dishes later in the week, they are so versatile and cheap to make. I served mine with the usual sweet potato wedges and made a quick tomato chutney to go along side it. A dollop of hummus would also be a nice accompaniment and perhaps a little chili sauce, you can never have enough chili sauce!

Chilli Falafel bsm

Chilli Falafel with Paprika Sweet Potato Wedges and a Cherry Tomato Chutney (vegan & gluten free)
MyInspiration Feel The Difference Range
Serves 2 – Ready in under an hour

For the falafel

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed (approx 3 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 red chillis finely copped
  • 2 cloves garlic finety chopped
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard (or your favourite kind of mustard)
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tbsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tbsp oregano
  • 1 small red pepper (capsicum) finely chopped

For the wedges

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Chilli flakes

For the tomato chutney

  • 8 large cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
  • 1 clove garlic finely sliced
  • ½ red onion finely sliced
  • Black pepper

Chilli Falafel sm

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) and prepare 2 baking trays.
  2. Peel and chop your sweet potatoes, place on a baking tray, sprinkle over the paprika and chilli flakes and pop in the oven for 30 minutes, turning the wedges occasionally.
  3. Add 2 tbsp water to a large sauté pan over a medium heat, add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook for 2 minutes before adding in the mustard, cumin, turmeric and chili flakes, stir and cook for another minute.
  4. Pop this mixture into a food processor (or use a stick blender) along with half the chickpeas and pulse until a thick paste is formed. In a separate bowl mash the remaining chickpeas and add in the chopped red pepper and the onion/chickpea paste and mix this all together.
  5. Using your hands, grab a palm full of the mixture and form into 10 patties, pop on a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes – to finish off, heat ½ tbsp vegan margarine in a large sauté pan and cook each falafel on each side for 30 – 40 seconds until slightly crisped.
  6. While the falafel are in the oven you can make the chutney. Just add all the ingredients into a small sauce pan over a medium heat and cook for 15 minutes until the tomato has broken down. Turn off the heat and it’s done.

Any left over falafel, just pop in some tupperware and keep in the fridge.