Quinoa risotto

Quinsotto? Risottoa? I think I like quinsotto.

This week I received a lovely package from the super folks at Delamere Dairy.

Lots of goats cheese- yum! They asked me if I would share some of my goats cheese recipes on here, and I was very happy to help!

So on Wednesday this week I made a butternut, beetroot and goats cheese quinsotto (serves 2).

I roasted a peeled butternut squash previously (from my squash box yay), so the pieces were in the fridge. But if you were making it you would need to roast it first- takes about 30 mins, and I like to sprinkle on some rosemary.

Step 1- cook the quinoa. I only had 60g left, but would probably have used 100g if I had any more. Put it in water (about twice the amount of water, but top up if it gets dry) and add a tsp vegetable stock (I used vecon). It takes about 10 mins until the quinoa goes “squiggly).

Step 2- chop up half the butternut squash, and mash the other half.

Step 3 – Add 2 or 3 chopped beetroots (cooked).

Step 4- Add the choppped and mashed butternut. Leave to cook for about 10 mins so it all heats through. Add some dried rosemary.

Step 5- serve topped with crumbled goats cheese- I used the log with herbs.

This was delicious!

I also made black bean goats cheese wraps earlier in the week- very similar to kidney bean wraps.

In the pan- one chopped red onion, 1 yellow pepper chopped, 1 drained tin black eyed beans, 2 tbs tomato puree, 1 tsp easy chilli, 1 small drained tin of sweetcorn.

Then spoon the mixture onto a wrap, and sprinkle some goats cheese on the top (I used the honey goats cheese).

Either roll up and place on a greased dish and bake for 10 mins.

Or leave the wrap open and place in a smaller dish. I like this option as I get more filling and less wrap! Again bake for 10 mins.

Serve with some salad (and raspberry basil dressing yum). Delicious 🙂

I have lots more recipe ideas which will be appearing over the next few weeks 🙂 What do you love goats cheese with? I think it goes so well with beetroot, squash, caramelised onions, figs…

WIAW- pumpkin obsession

Hey peeps. Gosh half way through half term already- doesn’t time fly when you are having fun?

Last night (in case you missed it) I went to see Ash play in London. They have always been on of my fave bands, and I have seen them several times- I even did my first crowd surfing at an Ash gig (and we saw them supported by Coldplay who just before playing “Yellow” said “this is going to be a massive hit”- how right they were)! This gig was Free All Angels (one of their albums) so they played the whole album (which was weird as there are some brilliant tracks, but some not so brilliant ones)- they totally funked up Submission which was very cool. Charlotte was back as a special guest (she joined the band when they did A Life Less Ordinary and Nu Clear Sounds and I love her- she is so cool!)which was brilliant as she adds an extra guitar to the mix as well as lovely vocals. Then they had a break (can’t take the pace?) and played a sort of best of (Oh Yeah, Life Less Ordinary, stuff like that, although nothing off their First album – I was hoping for Petrol ), went off and came back on again, for a couple more songs including Kung Fu(which has the coolest single cover ever in my opinion- check out that link if you want!). Anyway it was brilliant, although my ears were ringing so much! I used to go to gigs all the time- think my ears are already damaged from that!

Anyway, it is time for WIAW!

Thanks to Jenn for hosting the party. If you have not joined in, then check out the how to.

I chose Sunday as my day this week. It was a rest day, as on the Saturday I had run 10 miles. I did have a nice walk in the afternoon and the weather was so warm.


Pumpkin pancakes- these did not turn out well- too squidgy, although they tasted fab. With some apples cooked with a little pumpkin puree and spices. Topped with whole earth caramel chocolate swirl spread. (Red onion squash out ready for later)


Rice pudding (flaked rice cooked in Kara coconut milk) topped with more cooked apples + pumpkin puree mixture. I think (?) I had a slice of toast too, maybe with hummus? And a pear. I think! Yeah let’s change the name to what I think I ate.

Post walk Snack;

One of the almond date fudge bars. So delicious- make them now!


Red onion squash and chickpea stew, topped with goats cheese and served with sweet potato fries. Sooooooo good!

I also had some mint tea and a mini pumpkin pie cheesecake thing.The cases stained the pie mix though- not so good.

So I basically managed pumpkin/ squash for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a late night snack! 🙂

Do you have days when you get obsessed by a particular ingredient? I could happily have apples for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks but I try to get some kind of variety!

Do you love going to see live bands? I used to be obsessed- living close to London meant we could go to see most bands when they toured- I love it when bands change up and rock up the songs live- I saw an amazing Foo Fighters gig where Dave Grohl went and did an awesome drumming solo which went on for about 5 mins and was amazing (he used to be the drummer in Nirvana) and then the most rocking Muse gig at a tent at Reading festival. I just love it when they rock or change stuff up- I would much rather that than just hear exactly what it sounds like on an album- I could just play it loud at home. 🙂

Squash loving!


Today has started well! I did some yoga before breakfast (long overdue- I need to get back into the habit of this) and then Levels 1 and 2 of the Shred a bit later- I kept this really for winter days when I could not run, and tonight we are off to see Ash in London (woo) so I will be missing aerobics. It was pretty hard but I suppose as the weather gets worse I will be doing it more again.

I am loving my squash box!

On Sunday I made a lovely roasted squash and chickpea stew.

First up I sliced and roasted a red onion squash. This was easier said than done. I need a sharper knife! I left the skin on but next time I might take it off. I sprinkled rosemary on, as I think it goes so well with pumpkin/squash.

In a pan I cooked 1 chopped red pepper and one chopped carrot (in a little olive oil).

While that was cooking away I got the onion squash out of the oven.

And chopped it up.

Then I added 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1/2 tin of water, the squash, chilli flakes and a little more rosemary to the pan.

I also added some chopped dried figs (it was a suggestion on the packet- I had bought them for my Christmas cakes but had some left over).

Then add a tin of drained chickpeas.

Leave to simmer for a while- maybe 20 mins?

I topped mine with Delamere goats cheese (one disc crumbled up went a long way). It melted and tasted amazing. The figs were a good addition as they plumped up and added a bit of sweetness- the flavour did go with the squash too.

Plus some sweet potato fries. Mmmmmmm soooo good!

I made 4 portions of the stew, so I have 3 left which I have put in the freezer for another day. Did I mention before that I love batch cooking?

The Big Blogger Budget challenge is also going well. You can see my original post here.

big budget buttonbig

So far :

I cancelled the milkman milk. That was an easy one to tick off quickly!

Today I made my own almond milk! It was amazing and actually easy (everyone said it would be easy but I didn’t really think it would be). I will put the how to at the bottom.

I have checked my bank this week (the saving thing is already done for this month though).

I have started to get some Christmas presents- ordered some very cool things for my Mum 🙂

I have made some Christmas cakes (which I always do) but I also made some chocolate covered almonds to see how they would turn out, so I might make them again nearer Christmas for gifts. They are super tasty- not sure I want to give any away!!

I got the squash box (not technically a veg box) with the fruit bag too. I think the fruit bag was really good value for money.

I was sooooo tempted this week to order some Clinique things- I got an email and I would have got free mini perfume and lipbalm- it took me thinking of the challenge to make myself not order something! Told you I loved mini + freebies!

So thanks to the challenge I managed to resist more expensive skincare (for the sake of a few freebies) and make my own milk! Woo!

Almond milk. Makes half a big jug 🙂

First up, soak 1 cup of almonds in water. I left them overnight but according to millions of websites I googled, it could only be left for an hour.

I also got a jug ready with a sieve, cheesecloth on top, ready for straining later.

Then rinse and drain the almonds, and put in a blender with 3 cups of water.

Then whizz it up baby! It did not take too long. Watch it churn.


Then pour into the strainer and leave to drip through.

At this point I realised my jug was way too small! So I got out a bigger jug and transferred it over.

Much better size for the job!

A lot of the recipes I read said to sweeten with agave or vanilla, but I prefer the natural Ecomil to the sweetened version- I find it sweet anyway, so I left it alone. I have already had some in a half latte- I heated up half a cup, then topped up with spiced tea.

It was so delicious! Now I need to find some recipes to use up the pulp- yum.

Finally I got a lovely surprise in the post.

I ordered some bits from Planet Organic, but when the order arrived, this chocolate was missing as it was out of stock (Conscious Cherry Christmas, with wild, sundried golden & sweet cherries- how good does that sound?)- I emailed and asked if it could be sent when it came into stock, but they had already refunded me, so I was going to have to add it to my next order. But they actually sent it to me- how kind! 🙂

Right, off to check on my baking.

Not convinced it is going to work! I am trying to make gluten free pumpkin spiced bars (for my friend as I am seeing her tomorrow)- I had read that coconut flour soaks up a lot of liquid, so I reduced the amount of flour. Seems like I did not reduce it enough as I had to add loads of milk to make a proper batter. Hmm. I did look at some of the recipes you guys recommended to me, but then if they require chocolate then she is never sure if the chocolate is gluten free and so on, so I thought these would be simple. It is a learning curve I suppose!

 Can anyone recommend to me a good mat for exercise/ yoga? The one I have is so slippery and has no grip, so things like press ups are hard as my arms and feet constantly slide away from me. Are those thin roll up ones any good or are they too thin?

Also do you like the new look? Andy has been very busy helping me (well, doing 90% of it) and is still designing a new header photo, so well done Andy!

Anyone else an Ash fan? They were (are) one of my fave bands, and me and Andy met going to an Ash gig when we were in sixth form (we had mutual friends who were going, so the groups of friends mixed into one..) and I still love their compilation to listen to when running a race- Kung Fu speeds me up and makes me overtake people! 🙂

Christmas cake- bake along with me

To the tune Shakermaker by Oasis

Hooray- it is time for my favourite half term activity!

Bake along with me if you wish! My recipe is based on the Rachel Allen Bake recipe, but I have changed it a bit.

First up, soak the dried fruits overnight/ as long as you want! This year I used 225g raisins, 225g mixed dried fruit, 100g cranberries, 50g dates, 25g crystalised ginger, 100g cherries, 50g figs. I chopped up the larger fruits so they were all roughly the same size, then covered in 125ml brandy/ whisky/ something like that.

The fruit will plump up the longer you leave it. I changed up the dried fruit from the recipe- it included dried apricots, sultanas, mixed peel (I find it easier to add mixed dried fruit)- this year I added figs as well as cranberries and cherries to the mix. You could use currants etc too.

Preheat the oven to 150C, and line the tin/ tins you will use. This mixture does make one big cake, but as I give them away I prefer to make 2 smaller ones with it.

Then in a big bowl (it does need to be a big bowl!) cream the butter (275g at room temp- I left it out while I went on a run + had a shower + lunch).

Then add in 275g soft brown sugar and mix again. I tried it with my mixer but I prefer it by hand, so got out my wooden spoon for the rest of it!

Add 5 eggs, one at a time, and mix each one in well.

Then add 2 tsb molasses (I added this to give it a richer more treacley flavour) and mix in again.

Then add some grated orange zest and 50g ground almond.

Then sift on 275g plain flour and whatever spices you like. I added 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/t tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp ginger and a little grated nutmeg. Be careful not to drop your nutmeg into the bowl. Ahem.

Then add the dried fruit and any liquid left in the bowl. Mix some more!

Yum! You will have a dark coloured smooth mixture filled with bright jewels of dried fruit. Give it a special stir and make a wish! 🙂

Spoon into the pans. I had a lot of batter, so I made some in mini loaf cases too (this also may stop Andy from buying them from Aldi!).

The little ones took 40 mins before a skewer came out clean- for the last 10 mins I cover them in silver foil.

After an hour I took the big ones out and covered them in foil.

I used baking beans to hold the foil down- last year I had trouble with the warm air pushing the foil off.

In total these took about 2 1/2 hours, but a larger tin will take longer, up to 3 1/4 hours. Just check every now and then. And enjoy the lovely smell.

Keep them covered in foil until they cool (this helps to stop them drying out). Then store in an airtight container until you want to ice them.

I get to do it all again tomorrow with the other lot of dried fruit too!

I might practise my sugarcraft on these cuties this week 🙂

Join me later in the year when I cover them in marzipan, icing, decorations or almond paste. (That should be read out in a sort of voice over voice- you know, like on the TV).

I love love love making Christmas cakes. When I was little we always made hampers for our grandparents-things like home-made jam and marmalade, and of course a home-made Christmas cake (which my Mum let us decorate with coloured icing!). So doing it at this time of year makes me feel quite nostalgic. As I make a few of them for gifts it also gives me time to think of the people I am making it for (and the people I used to make them for who are no longer with us).

See my posts from last year with my previous cakes if you fancy it.

Do you love making Christmas cakes? Anything you do which makes you feel nostalgic?

Pumpkin pie cheesecake

Well sort of.

I really really really fancied pumpkin pie this weekend.

Andy’s family were coming over so the perfect excuse (or reason) to make one. But I am not really a fan of pastry, so decided to make a sort of cheesecake pie instead- based on the Hummingbird recipe. Here goes! I made one big pie and 6 cupcakes with the mixture as it does make a lot. So line the pan you are going to use/ get out cupcake cases etc.

Then make the base.

Whizz 300g gingernut biscuits in a food processor (or bash with a rolling pin) then mix in 150g melted butter ( I used pure spread).

Then press it into the case/ pie dish etc.

Preheat the oven to 170C and make the filling.

In a bowl whisk up 1 tin (425g) pumpkin puree, 1 egg, 230ml evaporated milk, 220g caster sugar, 1 tbs plain flour, and the spices you love. I chose 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground cloves and some grated nutmeg. You could also use ginger/ mixed spice.

Carefully spoon onto base and then  bake in the oven.

The little ones took about 20 mins, and the bigger one took about 40 mins. It should not wobble when it is cooked. Then put on a plate and take a beautiful photo of it outside with some autumn leaves. I skipped that step.

Yum! The ginger base was a lovely addition and complemented the spices in the pie mix.

The only problem is that the cupcake cases have stained the pie blue! Not so good! Oh, and we have lots to eat now, although it was popular last night it does make a big pie! Do you think this would freeze? I might try a couple and see.

I also made pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.

These did not go so well! I used spelt flour, baking powder, kara coconut milk, molasses, vanilla and pumpkin puree, but the batter was too runny and the first lot had to be binned. The second lot tasted amazing but still not very photogenic! I served it with some whole earth chocolate caramel spread (love this- my weekend treat!) and some apple/pumpkin sauce- I basically chopped 2 apples (from the fruit bag) with a little water, tsp agave, cinnamon, and a tbs pumpkin puree (actually because I could not fit the rest of the tin into the plastic tub for the fridge, what a happy accident) until the apples softened a little. This was yum!

I had the rest of the apple pumpkin sauce for lunch with some rice pudding- 30g flaked rice and 150ml kara coconut milk and a tbs maple syrup all cooked in the microwave. Sooooo yummy and autumnal 🙂

Aaaaaand I have started on the squash box! The photo above was a clue!

I went for the red onion squash and it is currently roasting in the oven with some rosemary-mmmm.  Am going to make some kind of stew- chickpeas will be involved. Possibly with a baked sweet potato. We shall see. I feel my fingers turning orange as we speak!

And the most exciting news of all!

I have started on project Christmas cake 2011. My fave half term project! In that bowl is a lot of dried fruit- raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, cranberries, cherries, dates, figs, chopped crystallised ginger, and also a big glug of some kind of alcohol. The recipe says it needs to soak for 2 hours, but I am thinking the longer the better, so it is going to soak overnight. Just the smell makes me cough! 🙂

Pumpkin pie- yay or nay?

Fave pumpkin recipe?

Pie crust or cheesecake base? Or another suggestion?

It is too early to mention Christmas? 🙂