Pumpkins were one of the successes on our allotment this year, although we didn’t grow a gigantic prize winner we did get a lot of smaller, more edible types, I grew 2 varieties this year Bon Bon which was a small variety and Musquee de Provence. Actually after buying my seeds I realised both were classed as squash, but squash or pumpkin they are used in the same way and any kind of pumpkin or squash will work here. I decided to try a Bon Bon first, its only small so was easy to use up, I simply sliced and roasted it. On its own served as a vegetable it was great, a really good tasting pumpkin with a nice texture. Even though it was only a small pumpkin there was still enough for several meals so the next day I made up this salad, it was so good I made it the day after too!
I love pumpkin in salad it lends itself to any flavour dressing and adds some autumn richness, salads feel as they ought to be more substantial now the weather is colder. I used za’atar in my dressing. Za’atar is a middle eastern herb blend containing marjoram, oregano, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. As well as using it in salad dressing I like to scatter it over roasted vegetables. It’s also lovely sprinkled over hummus. Za’atar is a handy herb blend to have in your cupboard.
This salad is great for lunch with the pumpkin either warm or cold. It would make a great starter served on a large platter with the pumpkin still warm from roasting. The feta cheese is an option but if you want to cut some calories or make this salad more paleo/vegan friendly leave it out.
Roasted Pumpkin Salad with a Za’atar Dressing (serves 2)
- 100 grams spinach leaves, rinsed and well dried
- 1/2 a small red onion, diced
- 150 grams roasted pumpkin/squash
- approx 6 cherry tomatoes sliced into halves
- 30 grams feta cheese, cut into cubes (optional)
for the dressing
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp za’atar herb blend
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Roast the pumpkin by de-seeding the pumpkin and slicing, drizzle with olive oil salt and pepper and roast on 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6 for around 30 minutes until the pumpkin is tender,
- Place the spinach, onion tomatoes and pumpkin in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the dressing place all the dressing ingredients into a small jug and whisk quickly with a fork to combine the ingredients, stir until liquid becomes slightly thickened.
- Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to coat. Serve the salad and place little bits of feta onto each salad, I don’t mix the cheese with the dressing as it breaks up.
So much in our lives is down to timing. People we meet, opportunities that happen just because you were in the right place at the right time or things that don’t happen because you just missed out. Spare a thought for the person that was just before or just after the person that did win the lottery! Timing can also affect so much of what we eat. As much as I love my cook books it’s often what I happen to see while looking at Pinterest or food blogs that now ends up on my plate!
That’s where this recipe idea came from, I follow a blog called smarterfitter by Monica Shaw and a few weeks ago she did a detox during which she made the most amazing soups and salads (smoothies too, if unlike me you like smoothies!). One post that stayed with me was where Monica describes making “cream of” celery soup made creamy by using cashew nuts rather than cream. I’m so glad I saw that post as it really set a light bulb off in my head. It just so happens that I used to love Cream of Celery Soup! I also just happen to be growing celery at the allotment and I just happened to have cashew nuts in! Making this soup was meant to happen!
There was actually no recipe in that blog post for the soup so I made up my own. It turned out great and is one I will be making again! I have always loved celery soup and its amazing how like the one I used to have from a can this turned out! Its got lots of celery flavour and its creamy without been heavy. Those cashews give a good dose of protein to the soup too which is great if following the Whole30 or Paleo diets where protein at each meal is advised but not always easy if you aren’t a big meat-eater. The first time I made this I found the nuts added a little grainy texture to the soup. This wasn’t unpleasant, just noticeable. I’m sure if you have a fancy blender like a Vitamix that wouldn’t happen. Now I add the cashews just before the end of the cooking time to soften them and the soup has a much smoother texture. My soups shade of green varies each time depending on the celery, as its home-grown its tends to be a darker green!
Creamy (without cream) Celery Soup (serves 2)
- 300 grams celery, washed and chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 500 mls vegetable stock
- 40 grams cashew nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan then add the celery and onion, stir to coat with oil. Turn the heat low and put the lid on leaving the vegetables to sweat for 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, give a quick stir then add the vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the cashew nuts to the saucepan and simmer for another 5 minutes or until the celery is cooked through.
- Tip the soup mix into a blender and purée until smooth.
- Season with the salt and pepper and serve.
Some time this month is/was national kale day and as I’m in my first week of doing my 4th October Unprocessed it seems only fitting to celebrate such a healthy day! This post was meant to be timed with that day but sometimes life gets in the way of such plans.
I have been trying to think of ways to use up kale as my crop keeps coming from the allotment! I’ve had lots of kale salads and one of my favourite quick dinners is stir fried kale with fried eggs. One of the pod casts I enjoy listening to is the Splendid Table and while perusing their website I came across a recipe for Kale and Sweet Potato soup. I happened to have both sweet potatoes and kale so set about making this soup for a healthy lunch. I wondered why there was no picture of the soup on their website, strange not to have a picture with a recipe especially on a food site. Well once I made the soup and took approximately 60 pictures trying to get the soup to look like anything other than bile I understood why they decided not to include a picture! The soup certainly does taste nicer than it looks, but don’t let its vivid green appearance put you off! Unfortunately that did happen to my husband, I couldn’t help but laugh hearing his worried shout up the stairs “this soup isn’t for me is it?” No, he could not be persuaded to share any!
I really like this soup, the sweet potatoes lend their typical sweet tones and the toasty cumin and heat from the chilli combine to make a very tasty, warming soup. It’s quick to make and good for you too with both kale and sweet potatoes been high in vitamins, fibre and iron. To avoid the bright green colour you could blend the soup a little less or adjust the sweet potato/kale ratio.
Kale and Sweet Potato Soup (inspired from this recipe)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet potato, approx 350 grams
- 225 grams kale, I used curly kale but any is fine. Remove tough stems and roughly chop leaves
- 750 ml vegetable stock plus a little more to thin soup at the end
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp chilli pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add the oil to a large saucepan and sauté the onion and sweet potato over a medium heat until the onion is softened.
- Add the stock to the potatoes and onions and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the cumin and chilli , stir to combine then add the kale and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes until the potatoes are soft and the kale cooked through. The kale will sit right on top of the soup, if you put a lid on the pan the kale on top will steam.
- Carefully pour the contents of the pan into a blender and blend until desired consistency is reached. If necessary add a little more stock if a thinner soup is preferred.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For years my only experience of pumpkins was carving faces into them at Halloween, my sister and I used to get one each and were left (at a surprisingly young age!) to carve them ourselves, after such fun we would roast the pumpkin seeds but that was all we ate of the pumpkin. I was all grown up before I would taste pumpkin pie and if I’m honest it’s not my favourite thing although there is something about it that has me craving it and trying again each autumn. I’ve decided that it’s the flavour of the spices that keeps me coming back. You can buy pumpkin pie spice although its only available here at inflated import prices so I thought Id try to make my own.
If you bake you are likely to already have the spices you need for this, it will take mere moments to make. You will the then have the perfect spice for your autumn baking regardless of whether pumpkin is involved!
tip: Saving an old spice jar is perfect for this if you don’t already have a little tin or jar. While you are at it why not make extra to give as a little gift?
Pumpkin Pie Spice
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- a pinch of cloves
- Measure all of the spices into a small bowl, stir to combine.
- Keep in a small tin or jar.
I saw these on Pinterest last year, pumpkin time had passed for me so I kept the idea stored and now that “pumpkin time” has returned these were, of course, the first thing I wanted to make!
Please do make these! They are good, seriously good! The recipe was by the Blue eyed bakers and they say you will need “comfy pants”, indeed this is true! These cute little donuts are sweet and spicy with a hint of pumpkin pie, just perfect for kicking off autumn and pumpkin time!
Making baked donuts was a first for me, I wonder why have I never tried baked donuts before? I guess I’m not usually not a great donut fan as I find half way through you begin to taste the oil and the whole thing is reminiscent of fries! However with baked donuts they are more cakey and not oily. With mini baked donuts they are cute and the small size means less guilt (kinda, sorta!)
The recipe was in cups so for all those here in the UK I made the recipe and weighed all the ingredients in grams so you too can share in the delight that is the mini baked donut!
These donuts, as delicious and cute as they are do not store well, in fact not at all. You have a couple of hours at the most to enjoy these little treats, after that the sugar begins to melt! You can make the donuts ahead of time but don’t coat with the sugar until just before serving.
I pretty much followed the Blue Eyed Bakers recipe so have linked to that and just included the measurements in grams below. The only change I made was to leave out the cloves (husband is a hater) and I coated half of my donuts in plain sugar as cinnamon is not as popular here! I love cinnamon everything (does anyone remember those cinnamon toothpicks years ago?) but I am aware that as strange as it may be to me not everyone likes cinnamon as I do and actually the donuts themselves are quite cinnamon-y so the plain sugar-coating was equally good, these mini donuts really are my new favourite thing!
Mini Pumpkin Donuts
- 250 grams plain flour
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 90 mls vegetable oil
- 75 grams light muscovado sugar
- 1 egg
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 170 grams canned (or fresh, pureed) pumpkin
- 125 mls milk
for the sugar-coating (for half cinnamon sugar-coated donuts and half plain sugared donuts)
- 100 grams melted butter
- 130 grams sugar
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
For a mix of cinnamon sugared and plain sugared donuts mix 70 grams of the sugar with the cinnamon to coat one half of the donuts. Use the remaining sugar to coat the other half of the donuts.
- To see how to make these delightful donuts see here on the Blue Eyed Bakers blog
This post is because of my husband. My husband is not straight forward to cook for, when I first met him he ate no vegetables at all, sorry a slight exaggeration, he ate peas, but the peas had to be from a can and called mushy! Can that be called a vegetable? Id say no so return to the statement that my husband ate no vegetables. This wasn’t such a problem when we were young and didn’t worry about health concerns, I just left any vegetables off of his plate. I tried over the years to sneak healthier things into my husbands food, lots of times very successfully although there were times after he learned to be suspicious when I got caught out! In more recent years, tastes and health have changed and including vegetables is now not so difficult, although that does not include any kind of brassica!
I look after and cook for children so often times if I make something that turns out to be popular with all 3 children (a very rare event!) I will try it out at home on my husband! This pie is one such thing, thumbs up from the kids and my husband! In the beginning my husband would pick out the carrots but now he eats it all! Pie is a favourite of my husbands, he says he particularly likes mine and was concerned one day that if anything happened to me he may never get to have that pie again! It’s true that a lot of what I cook is made up at the time and no recipe is followed, luckily I have a food blog to record these things! I have been meaning to get this recipe written down for a long time so just for my lovely husband here it is!
I do tend to use store-bought pastry but get the all-butter kind so no other weirdly named ingredients are added. This recipe works just as well with puff or shortbread pastry. I don’t have pastry on the bottom as I can’t face the worry of soggy bottoms and it cuts down on the calories.
Despite many attempts taking a pretty picture of a pie proved impossible!
- 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tbsp oil
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
- 1 medium leek, cleaned and sliced
- 1 sheet of ready to roll short crust or puff pastry
for the sauce
- 225 ml milk plus a little extra for brushing the pastry
- 20 grams plain flour
- 20 grams butter
- 1/2 heaped teaspoon dried tarragon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6.
- Add the stock to a sauce pan and add the sliced carrots, briefly cook for a few minutes until jut softened. Turn off the heat and set aside, keep the stock as you made need some to thin the sauce later.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the chicken pieces, stir to coat in oil until chicken begins to colour. Add the leeks and fry gently until leeks are softened. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- To make the sauce add the milk, flour and butter to a saucepan, heat over a medium heat whisking constantly until mixture comes to the boil and has thickened. When this happens remove from the heat and add the tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken and leeks and also add the carrots, stir together. If you would like a thinner sauce use some of the reserved stock from the carrots to thin to the consistency you like. Tip into a pie dish.
- With a piece of paper towel wipe the edge of the pie dish with a little milk so the pastry will stick.
- Put the prepared pastry sheet over the pie dish and press firmly around the edge of the pastry so it sticks to the dish and seals all the way around it then trim any excess pastry away with a knife.
- Brush the pie with a little milk and bake for 25 minutes.
Like it or not in these parts of the world summer seems to have given over to autumn. There is a distinct chill to that breeze and the sun is sitting a little lower, not to mention those darker mornings! I’m not too sad though as autumn brings its own treats, one of which is blackberries! There are lots of blackberries around at the moment, certainly you can buy them but the ones I find a real treat are the free ones found in so many hedgerows! It’s so lovely to pick your own blackberries if you can find them. This is something I did very recently, I ended up with quite a few blackberries and I cooked some with apples but the rest made it into these muffins.
I have been trying to focus more on salad than cake recently but these blackberries needed using so combining together a couple of recipes I tried to make these a little healthier, I used the most unrefined sugar I could, they only have 1 egg and use a small amount of olive oil rather than butter. I know, who am I kidding? Muffins are not a health food but I like to think this recipe is slightly healthier than some muffin recipes! I will update here as next time I’m making these I will try wholemeal flour and less sugar.
I like making muffins as they are so easy, not too much mixing is required so a good old bowl and wooden spoon will do here, just mix together the dry ingredients, then the wet and add together. It’s as easy as that! These muffins were lovely and light, nice and cinnamony with little bursts of delicious blackberries. In 30 minutes you have a lovely autumn treat!
Blackberry Oat Muffins
- 175 grams self-raising flour
- 50 grams porridge oats (I used old-fashioned, larger oats)
- 140 light muscodavo sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- 150 ml buttermilk
- 90 ml olive oil plus a little for greasing tin
- 150 grams blackberries, rinsed
- Preheat your oven to 200 C, 400 F, Gas 6. Grease a muffin tin with a little olive oil and place a muffin case in each one.
- Put the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda into a bowl and mix together.
- In a separate bowl beat together the egg, buttermilk and oil.
- Lightly mix the wet mixture into the flour mixture.
- Gently fold in the blackberries.
- Divide between the prepared muffin cases and bake for 20 -25 minutes.