30 Minute Vegetarian Chilli Bowls

Regarding today’s recipe, nothing could be easier. Even calling for takeout. Because that involves scanning the menu, deciding what you want, calling the takeout place, waiting 30 minutes for the delivery- and even then, it might not be as good as you anticipate. In that same space of time, you could have prepared these easy peasy chilli bowls. They are packed with protein, loaded with nutrients and crammed with flavour. They are all kinds of good for you- gluten free, meat free, cruelty free. In case you missed my big announcement, check out this post.


These bowls are absolutely perfect on a cold winter’s eve, as leftover lunch at work the next day or a post-workout meal. You can prepare this in bulk and freeze individual portions to eat over the course of the week. These are incredibly versatile in the sense that they can be served as comfort food whilst still being formal enough to be served at a dinner party. And with the festive season approaching, these would be perfect for any vegetarian guests who might find themselves at your dinner table this Christmas.

30 Minute Vegetarian Chilli Bowls                                                                                     serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil + extra

1 yellow onion, diced

½ red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup butternut squash/pumpkin, chopped into ½ inch cubes

1 medium baby marrow, chopped into ½ inch cubes

1 medium carrot, diced

1 red pepper, sliced thinly

1 green pepper, sliced thinly

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika (or less if not comfortable with spice)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp rosemary

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp oregano

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp brown sugar

1 14 ounce tin of red kidney beans- any other kind of bean will work e.g butter beans, sugar beans, even a mix of beans is fine

1 14 ounce tin of chopped tomatoes

about ½ cup cheddar for garnish

about ¼ cup mozzarella for garnish

a handful of fresh rosemary for garnish

Method

  1. In a large cast iron pot on high heat, fry the red and yellow onion in the olive oil, until the yellow onion is translucent, about 2 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the butternut squash, baby marrow, carrot, green and red pepper to the pot and cook for 10 minutes, or until the squash has softened, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the black pepper, salt, paprika, coriander, cumin, rosemary, thyme and oregano to the pot. Stir to coat the veggies with spices and cook for about a minute before adding the tomato paste and brown sugar to the pot and cooking for another minute.
  4. Add the red kidney beans and tinned tomatoes to the pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. At this point you can choose to serve immediately, continue to simmer for another hour if you’re not ready to serve, or you can freeze individual portions to serve later. To serve: spoon the desired amount of chilli into a bowl, top with cheddar, mozzarella and rosemary. Can be served with crusty bread and rice.


 

 

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No Bake Mini Lemon Mini Cheesecakes 

Who doesn’t love a good cheesecake? Dessert does not get better than this. And with the holiday season upon us, there’s no need to be counting calories and jumping on the scale. Now is the time to celebrate, to eat, drink and be merry!

I know a lot of people get intimidated by the idea of cheesecakes (me especially) because it always seems like a hassle. Firstly, I don’t own a springform pan: so any kind of traditional cheesecake is officially out of the question. Secondly, baking a cheesecake could lead to a multitude of problems, from cracks as deep as the Grand Canyon forming, to having the water leak into the crust from the water bath to yielding a cheesecake drier than the Sahara Desert. Thirdly, dressing up a cheesecake can be tricky. Honestly speaking, I think that dressing up your food is the best part of cooking, but when there’s a considerable disparity between the image in your head and what’s sitting in front of you, one tends to get discouraged easily. 

So my friends, I abstained from the art of cheesecake making until I realised that it didn’t have to be difficult at all. This recipe scores a 10 on the easy scale. It requires minimal effort, all you have to do is combine the ingredients in a bowl, whip them together, leave it to set in the fridge overnight, and you’re on your way to cheesecake goodness! If you’re too lazy to bake the crusts in the oven, no problem! Leave the crust out completely and scoop the cheesecake mixture into glasses instead. Top with lemon curd and crushed biscuits and you’ve got a killer dessert on your hands. Happy indulging! 

No Bake Mini Lemon Cheesecakes                                                             makes 9 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the crust:

About 15 Marie biscuits/Graham crackers/whatever takes your fancy (or 1 cup crushed biscuits) 

¼ cup melted butter 

¼ cup castor sugar

For the mini cheesecakes: 

2 packages full fat plain cream cheese (12 ounces) – at room temperature

1 cup icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence 

2/3 cup fresh cream 

¼ cup lemon juice 

1 tsp lemon rind + extra for decorating

About 1 cup lemon curd, homemade or storebought 

Method

Make the crust: 

Preheat your oven to 180°. Line 9 cupcake tin spaces with paper wrappers, or if you have a mini-cheesecake pan, grease 9 of the available spaces. Add the Marie biscuits to a Ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush them until they’re fine crumbs. Alternatively, you could add the biscuits to a food processor and pulse until they form crumbs but that isn’t as fun.

Transfer the cookie crumbs to a small bowl, add the melted butter and sugar and stir until combined. Add about a tablespoon of the crust mixture to each of the prepared cupcake liners, and use a shot glass or the back of the tablespoon to smooth it into an even layer. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to the fridge immediately to cool and switch off your oven. 

Make the mini lemon cheesecakes: 

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Don’t feel bad about overmixing, try and make sure that you get all the lumps out. 

Add the vanilla essence, fresh cream, lemon juice and lemon rind and beat again until incorporated.

Once the baked crusts have cooled, pour the cheesecake mixture into each of the moulds. Don’t be afraid to fill the mould right up to the brim, there is no risk of the cheesecake overflowing. Refrigerate for 4 hours (I just went overnight to be safe) or until set. Top with lemon curd and extra lemon rind when ready to serve. 


Tis the season for sharing, so if you’re feeling inspired by this recipe, tell a friend! Subscribe below to receive an email every single time I post a new recipe! 

Peach Strawberry Iced Tea

In case you haven’t noticed yet, strawberries are my favourite fruit. They’re available all year round, affordable, small and easy to grab on the go, affordable, deliciously juicy and sweet, easily adapted into any recipe and did I mention, AFFORDABLE?! Blueberries are just as wonderful but at $5 a pound, they’re a fruit that was not made for the poor man. 


Peach Strawberry Iced Tea

Ingredients

3 cups water + 3 Green tea bags

1 cup sugar

1 cup cold water

2 large peaches, sliced into wedges + another peach for serving

1 cup strawberries, hulled and quartered + another 6 strawberries, halved for serving

mint leaves/rosemary sprigs for garnish

Method

  1. Start by bringing the 3 cups of water to rolling boil before adding the teabags and allowing it to steep. After 4 minutes, discard the tea bags and refrigerate the tea for about an hour or until cold.
  2. Add the sugar and 1 cup of water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil to make a simple syrup. Add the chopped peaches and strawberries and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jug to remove any fruit pieces and leave in the fridge to cool, about an hour.
  3. To assemble, add a couple of ice blocks to a 3 quart/3 litre pitcher followed by a couple of peach slices and halved strawberries. Top with chilled tea followed by the fruit infused syrup. Stir with a long handle spoon until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with mint and rosemary when serving.

 

 

Caramel Apple Buttermilk Scones

Now I know what you’re thinking: scones are what Victorian ladies had at high tea back in 1907 and they have no place in today’s modern society. Well I’m here to tell you that scones can be cool too. Especially when you load the dough with apples and drizzle them in a yummy caramel sauce. WINNING.

Caramel Apple Buttermilk Scones

Ingredients

Scones: 

3 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cinnamon

¾ cup castor sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

 Caramel: 

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup fresh cream

4 tbsp butter, cut into cubes

1 tsp vanilla essence

pinch of sea salt

Method 

Make the scones

  1. Preheat you oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two 9×13 inch baking pans with parchment paper. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb, cinnamon and sugar into a large bowl and stir to distribute. Make a well in the centre and add the buttermilk, egg and vanilla essence. Use a rubber spatula to fold the dry ingredients into the wet, and stop mixing when just incorporated. Add the chopped apples and stir gently. Be careful not to overmanipulate the dough.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it into an 8 inch circle. Use a sharp Chef’s knife to cut it into 8 parts (like a pizza). Transfer the scones to the baking pans, leaving them a distance of 2 inches apart (they spread A LOT). Bake for 25 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool.

Make the caramel:

Add the brown sugar, butter and fresh cream to a saucepan over medium heat and warm together, stirring constantly until combined and is a deep golden colour. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla essence and salt. Store in glass jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. Can be kept sealed airtight in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and reheated in the microwave when needed.

Assembly:

When the scones have cooled, drizzle the caramel over them. Serve immediately! Can be kept up to 2 days in a sealed airtight container.

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Hola!

I am glad to announce to the world that I am still alive. I’d love to catch you up on what’s been going on in my life but I’m afraid that’s going to have to wait for the next Actuellement post. You can imagine that after close to 3 months of inactivity, I’m a bit rusty to this blogging thing. My sincerest apologies if any of my followers feel as though I have forsaken you, leave me a comment and let’s catch up!


I thought I would ease back into the swing of things with this simple recipe for Strawberry Chia Seed Jam. 5 ingredients. 10 minutes of your time. Vegan? Yes. Paleo? Yes. Delicious? OH YEAH. This jam is a perfect accompaniment for any cheeseboard, the sweetness of the jam works wonderfully for a creamy cheese such as brie (which I used in these photos) or cream cheese. This is so much better than anything you would find on any supermarket shelf that you can guarantee is full of sugar and preservatives and all sorts of other nasty things. As a bonus, you can gloat to all your friends at the next wine and cheese gathering that you tackled this all on your own. I’ll raise my glass to that.

Strawberry Chia Seed Jam

Ingredients

1 ½ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp lemon juice

2 tbsp chia seeds

a pinch of salt

Method

In a medium saucepan, combine the strawberries, honey and lemon juice. Cookover medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes, the honey should have completely blended with the strawberry juices. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender* to purée the strawberry mixture until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the chia seeds and salt and transfer the jam to a glass jar.

Refrigerate for at least an hour.Serve on toast, on crackers with a side of brie or with your yogurt and granola at breakfast.

*If you like a chunkier jam with fruit pieces, there’s no need to use a blender. If you don’t own a blender, you can also use a potato masher to crush the strawberry pieces.

Spinach Pesto Braided Bread Wreath

Stop the presses- I’m alive!

I know it’s been over a month since my last post, my sincerest apologies, and I would love to tell you about all the wonderful adventures I’ve had since then, but today, let’s focus on this beautiful braided baby. Ain’t she a beaut?

To all of you who are declaring November ‘No-Bread Month’, I’m begging you to stop and end this madness. Who decided to give bread a bad name? What did she ever do to you? Carbs are your friends. Don’t believe me? Read the article I wrote for Purple Lipstick on why food is your friend and not your enemy. *Rant over*

This recipe starts with a simple bread dough that is then rolled out into a rectangle and spread with spinach pesto and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. You can use homemade pesto or you can use any store bought pesto (I’ll avert my eyes). If you’re going the homemade route, check this recipe I have for the best pesto you will ever have in your entire life.

Then the rectangle can be rolled out into a long, similar to the process of making cinnamon rolls

Slice the rectangle longitudinally and braid the two sides over each other and shape into a wreath

Bake for 30 minutes in the oven and ta-da! 

For the visual learners, here’s a time lapse of me braiding the wreath:


If you want to get extra-fancy and take this recipe up a notch, you can try steaming your bread for the first 10 minutes of baking. The process is simple, whilst you’re preheating your oven at 200°C you’ll adjust your oven rack to the lowest level and lay a baking sheet right on the floor of your oven. When you’re ready to bake, set the baking pan with the bread on the rack, and throw a couple of ice cubes onto the preheated baking sheet. This exercise has to be completed as quickly as possible to avoid losing heat. After 10 minutes, you’ll remove the now empty baking sheet from the bottom shelf and leave the bread to continue baking.

Steaming your bread has several benefits:

  • Steam has a high heat capacity. This means that the steam will hold a much greater quantity of heat energy than the bread. So when the steam comes into contact with the bread crust, it will donate all that heat energy and the temperature of the dough increases much faster than it would have originally. This gives us beautifully crunchy crust
  • The steam also helps to dissolve any simple sugars on the surface of the dough that will caramelise during baking, vastly improving the quality of the crust
  • It helps reduce the amount of moisture lost by the bread during the first 10 minutes of baking, keeping the crust soft and pliable. The yeast will still be active in those first 10 minutes of baking, metabolising any sugar to carbon dioxide and water. These will escape as gases, helping the bread to rise further forming that lovely dome shape. This is known as ovenspring. (Un)Fortunately, the yeast dies shortly after due to the high temperature of the oven.

It’s up to you whether or not you’d like to steam your bread first but I would strongly recommend it.

Spinach Pesto Braided Bread Wreath

Ingredients

1 ½ cups lukewarm water (roughly 35° if you have a thermometer)

1 tsp yeast

2 tsp granulated sugar

3 cups of flour (bread flour would be preferred but self raising or all-purpose would work perfectly)

1 tsp salt

¼ cup olive oil

3 heaped tbsp of spinach pesto

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese + an extra 2 tbsp

6-8 ice blocks + ½ cup of cold water (optional)

Method

  1. In a large measuring cup, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and leave to proof for about 10 minutes. The mixture should be frothy and bubbling.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water with the proofed yeast, and the olive oil. Mix to form a shaggy dough. Once the ingredients are combined, turn the dough over to a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed. You should knead the dough for at least 8 minutes. Turn the dough into a well-oiled bowl, cover with a towel and leave to rise until doubled in size, which should take 60-90 minutes.
  3. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto an oiled surface and roll it out into a 10 in ×13 in rectangle. Preheat your oven 200°C and adjust your rack to the lowest level. *Lay a baking tray right on the floor of the oven. Grease and line a 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Spread the pesto evenly over the surface of the rectangular dough, leaving a border of about 1 in. Sprinkle the ¼ cup of parmesan over the pesto. Starting from the long end, roll the rectangle into a log, similar to shaping cinnamon rolls. Using a sharp chef’s knife, slice the log down the long end. As you’re slicing, be careful not to pull the dough. Cut from a 90° angle, directly above the dough. Separate the two halves and lay them pesto side up. Braid the two dough pieces, laying one side over the other until you reach the end. Knot the end. Bring one end of the braid over to meet the other and shape into a circle. If you’re confused by the instructions, see the video above.
  5. Grease a ramekin with butter/oil and lay it in the baking sheet. Gently lift and transfer your wreath to the baking sheet and adjust it so that it fits around the ramekin. Sprinkle the other 2 tbsp of Parmesan over the dough. Transfer the dough wreath to the oven rack. *Wasting no time, add the ice cubes and cold water to the preheated baking tray. You’ll need to do this as quickly as possible to avoid losing any heat in the oven. Close the oven door and set a timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove the now empty baking tray from the oven and allow the bread to continue baking for another 25 minutes. The bread is done when the crust is a deep golden bread. Allow to cool until it is barely warm before carefully removing the ramekin. Serve warm/room temperature. If there are any leftovers, keep them tightly sealed at room temperature for up to 3 days.

* If you choose not to steam your bread, it’s totally okay, my feelings aren’t hurt at all. Ignore the steps that are marked with an asterisk.

Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle

Confession Time: I have loathed peanut butter since I was 7 years old.

Before I was 7, I loved peanut butter and put it on virtually everything I ate. From crackers to sandwiches to rice (it’s a Zimbabwean delicacy along with kale and peanut butter) I could not get enough of the stuff. Until one unfortunate occasion when my peanut butter addiction punished me with an upset stomach. From that day onward, peanut butter was my mortal enemy. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups stopped being enjoyable, my PB & J sandwiches were PB deficient and Heaven knows what I would do when presented with a stir fry drizzled with peanut sauce.


I was perfectly happy to condemn myself to a nut butter-less life until I came across the most wonderful granola bars ever. And the worst part is: they were peanut butter flavoured. You can only imagine how confused my taste buds were. All the work I had put into disliking peanut butter in the previous 10 years had gone to waste. Feeling guilty, I decided to give it another chance.


And that opportunity led itself to where we are today, with these wonder-bars. With an apricot jam filling, every bite is jam-packed (haha) with that sweet fruity flavour and you don’t have to feel guilty because there is NO SUGAR in these bars. Bonus: they’re also paleo, vegan and full of everything that could ever be good for you on Planet Earth. We got almonds, we got chia seeds, we got oats, these bars will make your tummy so happy. The bars are the perfect balance of chewy and crunchy, so your teeth won’t break when you bite into them, but your jaw won’t get tired from chewing them. Have I got your attention yet?


Apricot Almond Chia Granola Bars with Yogurt Drizzle                                        makes 8 bars

Ingredients

Granola Bars:

2 cups oats

1 cup almonds, sliced or whole is fine, you could use pecans if desired

1 cup dried apricots, any other kind of dried fruit is okay

¼ cup chia seeds

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup peanut butter

½ cup honey

1 tsp vanilla essence

½ cup apricot jam (optional)

Greek Yogurt Drizzle: 

½ cup Greek yogurt

2 cups icing sugar

1 tbsp honey

Method

For the granola bars:

  1. Grease an 8×8 baking pan and line with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the granola bars and stir until well combined. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat together the peanut butter and honey, stirring often until blended together. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla essence. Pour the peanut butter and honey mixture into the dry oat mixture and mix well until fully coated. You’re welcome to use your hands to make sure to really incorporate the wet ingredients.
  3. Press half of the granola bar mixture into the greased baking pan. Make sure that the base is fully covered. Press down to make sure you have an even layer. Microwave the apricot jam on high for 30 seconds to make sure it’s pourable. Pour the hot jam over the first layer of the granola bars and use a butter knife to make sure it’s spread evenly. Cover with the remaining granola bar mixture and press down to make sure you have an even layer. Freeze for 2 hours, then slice into 8 bars and return to freezer.

For the Greek Yogurt Drizzle:

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Greek Yogurt Drizzle and mix until combined. After cutting the bars, drizzle the drizzle (fo’ shizzle) over the bars and freeze for 30 minutes or until set. If desired, you could dip the bars into the drizzle and let set, drizzle side up. Store these bars in the refrigerator for up to a month.


This recipe was adapted from these Blueberry Vanilla Greek Yogurt Granola Bars by Half Baked Harvest.