You don't have to be a vegetarian to love vegetarian food.

Cinnamon spiced hot chocolate

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 11:37 pm December 5, 2009

December has arrived and for most of us the calendar change signals that a month of hardcore cooking and baking is on the horizon.

I have a huge stack of cooking magazines and recipes I have printed out from the internet sitting on my desk as I try to widdle them down to decide what exactly I will be cooking and baking for the Christmas period. You would think after all that foodie focused research I would be settled on a menu by now. The problem is that the more I see the more I want to make but I want to be careful of not biting off more than I can (literally) chew.

One thing I do know is that Christmas cooking period is going to be one of those times where I won’t be sticking strictly to a vegetarian diet. However, I do really want to try as much as possible to be cooking and serving mostly vegetarian Christmas recipes.

The good thing though is that it really isn’t very hard to do that. When you think about it, most of the Christmas cookies and cakes we will munch over the holiday period are vegetarian by their very nature. Then, the normal Christmas dinner trimmings are also largely vegetarian. At least that is the case if you skip doing your roast potatoes in goose fat. Frankly, even when I wasn’t so focused on vegetarian cooking that never appealed to me anyway.

As I make my way through a largely vegetarian Christmas, I will check in and share my vegetarian cooking adventures. Hopefully, it will give some of you also trying to eat mostly vegetarian over the Christmas cooking period of bit of inspiration.

For now though, it is on to finally forming a solid Christmas cooking schedule. So, time to settle down with that stack of Christmas cooking magazines and make my mind up. At least until I change it again.

Of course, I can’t do that research without having a good hot beverage by my side. This month for the vegetarian swap I participate in over at Recipezaar, I picked out this Mayan Hot Chocolate recipe posted by Recipezaar member the80srule

spiced hot chocolate recipe

It turns out this hot chocolate recipe is the perfect partner to planning my vegetarian Christmas cooking. Firstly, the big sell for me, is that it is actually made with soy chocolate milk. I am lactose intolerant so whenever I make a creamy drink like hot chocolate I have to weigh up the consequences. I could make a normal hot chocolate recipe with water, I suppose, but any lover of hot chocolate knows that is simply never the same. Amazingly though, I had never thought of using soy chocolate milk as the base of a hot chocolate recipe but it really did work.

What really makes this hot chocolate recipe special though are the spices that go into the mixture. First in the pot, is a bit of cinnamon which gives a real Christmas feel to the hot chocolate recipe. Then comes the real surprise, a pinch of cayenne pepper. You would think that would make it hot and spicy but really it just adds a back ground warmth to the hot chocolate.

So, make yourself your own mug of this spiced hot chocolate and pull up your own pile of Christmas recipes and join the foodie December ritual of planning your holiday baking and Christmas cooking. Let the games begin!

Chunky broccoli slaw with apricots

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 11:28 pm November 28, 2009

These days, two topics dominate both media coverage and personal conversations. Seriously, have any of us gone one full day in the past year without hearing anything about either the budget crisis or what is called the obesity crisis? Well, here is a recipe that, in its own way, addresses both issues.

If you want to save money on your food budget, one the best ways to do so is to make the most of your ingredients. A great deal of what most people normally throw in the trash could actually go towards making meals.

For example, instead of throwing away your carrot and onion peels, keep them in the freezer until you have filled up a freezer bag. Then use all those trimming to make a vegetable stock. Not only have you made the most of something you have already bought but you save yourself having to pay for store bought stock or stock cubes.

When, I was in the States, I discovered broccoli slaw. I guess this is something that became popular after I left the States to move to the UK because I hadn’t even heard of it until recently. Basically, it is just like coleslaw but instead of cabbage the main ingredient is shredded broccoli. It turned out to be really very tasty. Also, depending on the dressing you use for the broccoli slaw recipe it can be very healthy. Broccoli is, after all, a super food.

Upon my return to the UK, I decided to try to figure out how to make my own broccoli slaw recipe since it isn’t available in British supermarkets. When I investigated what went into making a broccoli slaw I found out that the broccoli used is actually the broccoli stem. How great is that? Something which the vast majority of us just chop off and throw away can be used to make something so tasty and healthy. You simply use a vegetable peeler to take off the top layer of the broccoli stem and then you are ready to make your broccoli slaw recipe.

So, in one full swoop you can take on both the budget and obesity crisis by making this tasty low fat and healthy broccoli slaw recipe. I cut the vegetables chunky because that way I can have it has a side dish when I want but I can also have it as a lunch salad all on its own if I desire. Plus, I am usually too lazy to pull out the food processor to shred them.

Chunky broccoli slaw with apricots


45 grams broccoli stem
85 grams carrots
70 grams green cabbage
55 grams law fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon skim milk
25 grams dried apricots


1. Peel the carrots and broccoli stalk and then cut them into matchstick sized pieces.
2. Use a knife to shred the cabbage and put into a large bowl with the carrots and broccoli.
3. In another bowl, mix together the mayo, mustard, onion flakes and milk until well combined.
4. Fold the vegetable mixture into the mayo mixture until all of the vegetables are covered in the dressing.
5. Slice the dried apricots into thin slices and fold into the slaw mixture.
6. Chill in the fridge for an hour or so and then serve.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

Chive and ricotta stuffed mushrooms

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 11:21 pm November 22, 2009

Have I mentioned before how much I love mushrooms? Well, I really love mushrooms! Whenever somebody tries to go a ‘getting to know you’ thing where they ask what your last meal would be, I always answer “I don’t know but there would be mushrooms”.

Truthfully, I haven’t met a variety of mushroom that I haven’t enjoyed. However, I may have to hide my face in foodie circles when I say that I think the good old fashion variety of mushrooms such as button mushrooms, flat mushrooms and chestnut mushrooms are the favourite. Sure, I will happily enjoy wild mushrooms or portobello mushrooms but I really think the ‘boring’ variety of mushrooms are the best for my tastebuds. Once more, they are far easier on the budget.

I think from this point forward, I am going to make a point of showing the vast array of wonderfully tasty thing that can be done with the traditional mushroom varieties. To begin this championing of classic mushrooms, I thought I would start with showing there is more that can be done with large mushrooms other than doing them in the pan as part of a fry up.

Stuffed mushroom recipes always sound daunting as a concept. I worry that they are going to be too fiddly to be worth the effort. However, that really doesn’t have to be the case at all. These chive and ricotta stuffed mushrooms are pretty darn simple to throw together and they cook fast enough to fill a sudden mushroom craving.

Really, any herbs you have around could go into this mixture. Even a slight change up of the herbs can actually make it a whole new dish. So, experimenting to find your favorite combination is very much encouraged. You will also notice, that I used dried herbs in the recipe. Fresh herbs are fantastic but I feel that the foodie world can get a bit too snobbish about using dried herbs. Most home cooks rely on dried herbs and I think anything that gets people cooking should be encouraged. Plus, the taste good when used properly. So, why not use them?

This chive and ricotta stuffed mushroom recipe works great as a light lunch. They would be at home at an evening meal too either as a starter or alongside a hearty salad for a vegetarian main course. I have made the recipe for two mushrooms. Even though I have said that is two servings, my mushroom related greed would most likely result in me eating both. Don’t worry if you need to make for larger numbers because the stuffed mushroom recipe is very easily scaled up.

Chive and ricotta stuffed mushrooms


2 large flat mushrooms
1 teaspoon olive oil
65 grams ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese, divided


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (gas mark 6, 200c).
2. Take the stems out of the mushrooms. Reserve these because they can be chopped up and used in things like omelettes.
3. Brush the outsides of the mushroom with the olive oil and then placed on a lined baking tray.
4. In a bowl, mix together the ricotta, garlic, chives, parsley, onion and half a teaspoon of the parmesan.
5. Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Divide the mixture between the two mushroom caps, filing each with as mush as you can.
7. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining parmesan.
8. Put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese has started to go golden.
9. Serve.

Makes: 2 mushrooms

Ricotta and pesto toast recipe

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 5:36 pm October 13, 2009

If you are anything like me, you can often find yourself with a fridge littered with jars and tubs with just a little bit left in them. There isn’t enough to actually use it in a meal but too much to think about throwing it away. Especially, when we all know we have to be careful about food wastage.

My default in these situations has become to figure out how I can combine some of these little bits and bobs and put them on toast. After all, just about anything can go okay on toast – just about.

This time I really lucked out and found a pairing that turned out to be a culinary marriage made in heaven – ricotta and pesto. I had just a couple tablespoons left of both and just spread them both on toast. It was *so* good that I was seriously tempted to run out and get more ricotta and pesto right there and then just to have an excuse to make it again.

Ricotta and pesto toast recipe


2 slices bread
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons pesto, fresh is best


1. Toast the bread.
2. Spread each slice with one tablespoon of ricotta cheese.
3. Smear a teaspoon of pesto over the ricotta on each slice and enjoy!

Serves: 1 to 2

Sun dried tomato and olive tortilla pizza recipe

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 5:32 pm October 10, 2009

Who doesn’t love pizza? I sure know that I do but ordering takeaway pizza is just a no no on my diet. When I have a lot of time on my hands, I am not adverse to trying making a homemade pizza dough recipe. Truth is though, I rarely think that far ahead. Even if I did, a homemade pizza dough recipe is still going to have more calories than I am likely to have spare.

Lately, I have been indulging my pizza craving moments by throwing together quick and very easy tortilla pizza recipes. It really is as simple as using a tortilla in place of the normal pizza dough and piling it high with the cheese and toppings of your choice. They are so easy and simple to make that I have taken to having them instead of a sandwich for lunch. I suppose, really they are an open faced sandwich or a an inside out quesadilla anyway.

You really can put just about anything on them and make a whole new tortilla pizza recipe each and every time. They are great for anybody following a vegetarian diet because the pizza topping options really are as varied as the types of vegetables you can find.

My recent favourite topping combination for my tortilla pizza recipe is sun dried tomatoes and a mixture of green and black olives. If I use reduced fat mozzarella I can pile those olives high and not worry too much about the fat. It is all good fat anyway, right?

Sun dried tomato and olive tortilla pizza

1 flour tortilla
1 tablespoon pasta sauce
1/3 cup reduced fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons green olives, sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons black olives, sliced


1. Preheat oven to 400F/Gas Mark 6
2. Put the tortilla on a baking sheet and spread with the pasta sauce.
3. Scatter the cheese evenly over the tortilla.
4. Put the sun dried tomatoes and olives all over the top of the cheese.
5. Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes until the cheese melts. Watch it very closely during this cooking time as it can very quickly go from golden and melted to very burnt.
6. Put onto a plate and eat sliced into pizza style slices.

Serves: 1

Baked ricotta-stuffed tandoori potatoes

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 5:27 pm October 7, 2009

Ah, the humble spud. As much as we love the potato, it can get a bit samey if you have them often. Luckily, one of the best thing about potatoes is that they are so adaptable and you aren’t likely to run out of new potato recipes any time soon if you allow yourself to get a bit creative. There is always a potato recipe that is something totally new to try and that is exactly what I thought when I saw Anjum Anand’s recipe for Baked ricotta-stuffed tandoori potatoes in a recent copy of Good Food Magazine.

I won’t lie, the recipe is a bit fiddly because you have to hollow out the potatoes just enough to stuff them with the ricotta mixture. However, I found that once I figured out that an apple corer was the right tool for the job it went much more smoothly. Once you are past that bit it is just a matter of making up the ricotta mixture and the tandoori yoghurt glaze for the outside of the potatoes. Both are pretty darn simple. After that it is just letting them cook in the oven.

Since I am a bit of a spice wimp, I used less chilli in the ricotta mixture. I also left out the cashews to save calories and because my husband isn’t a lover of nuts. I don’t think the dish really missed the nuts, if I am honest. I suppose they add texture but I didn’t eat the potatoes and think ‘hmm, this needs nutty crunch’.

Sliced thickly, these look pretty impressive on the plate and served along with some steamed veg made a great light meal. I think the tandoori glaze would be excellent on chicken or fish too for the meat eaters in the family. As it uses Greek yoghurt as the base, it isn’t even really too calorie loaded either.

Coriander and green olive hummus recipe

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 5:21 pm October 4, 2009

Hello, my name is Sarah Jayne and I am a hummus addict! Seriously, I can’t get enough of the stuff. If I had the choice between really good hummus and chocolate, I wouldn’t have to think twice about snatching the hummus out of the hands of the person asking such an odd question. However, until recently, I have usually been guilty of buying hummus from the store rather than trying my hand at making my own hummus recipe.

Just like with the pesto the other week, I just always thought it would be too complicated for me to learn how to make hummus. Once again, I was wrong. I stumbled onto an easy hummus recipe that I really love because the base recipe doesn’t even use olive oil. Which means that I don’t feel at all bad about using tahini on my diet. It is such an easy hummus recipe that ever since my discovery of it, I have been playing around adding all sorts of things to it to come up with new hummus recipes.

Lately, I have also been “suffering” from a bit if an olive addiction. The little green and black gems have been finding their way into just about every meal I put together. So, when it was time to put together my latest hummus recipe I couldn’t resist the temptation to throw in some olives and see what happened. I also had a bunch of fresh coriander – cilantro for our American friends – that needed to be used. So, I threw that in too.

Boy did this turn out to be a seriously yummy hummus recipe! So, good that I simply topped it with a couple more olives (told you I am addictive) and ate it with warm pitas and made that my entire lunch!

Coriander and green olive hummus recipe

coriander and green olive hummus recipe


1 (400g) can chickpeas, drained but the liquid reserved
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fresh coriander
1/3 cup green olives, pitted
freshly ground pepper, to taste
sea salt, to taste


1. Put the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, coriander and olives into a blender or food processor. I use my mini chopper to make it extra easy.
2. Blitz in short bursts, pushing the mixture down when needed until everything is combined.
3. Add a little bit of the reserved bean liquid and blitz again. Add more if you need more to get to the hummus texture you desire.
4. Serve in a bowl topped with olives.

Serves: 2 to 4 (or just 1 hummus addict like me!)

Avocado toast topped with poached egg

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 3:59 pm October 1, 2009

The morning before I go grocery shopping it is never certain I am going to have any of my normal breakfast foods still kicking around. On these days, my breakfast choices can get more than a bit experimental. Usually, I take a look at what odds and ends I have left over from the last week and attempt to put together a vegetarian breakfast recipe that can hopefully claim to be at least a bit healthy.

The day that I came up with this recipe, I really had just about nothing left in the fridge and what was there wasn’t jumping out as working well together. I had once slice of wholemeal bread, one egg and half an avocado. Ack! I decided not to give into defeat that easily though and crossed my fingers as I attempted to make this breakfast recipe work.

You know, it wasn’t bad at all!

I have had a mashed avocado mixture on toast before but usually I would have mashed it with a bit of lemon juice and garlic. I was totally out of any sort of lemon or lemon juice though. So, I reached for some garlic infused white wine vinegar I bought at a craft fair in Wales a few months ago and used that to mash up the avocado. I think I will do that again for another avocado recipe because the slight sharpness of the vinegar worked well with the creamy avocado.

I felt like I needed a bit of something else on top of that toast and avocado recipe. With just the one egg around and not wanting to add a ton of calories onto the recipe, I poached the egg and put it on top. When the poached egg yolk spilled out over the avocado it really was yummy.

Not only did it taste pretty good for a recipe put together with such haste, but all of the good fats going on in the recipe meant that just the one slice of the avocado toast filled me up and kept me full until well into the afternoon. Tons of time for Tescos to deliver my grocery shopping and make lunch so much easier!

Avocado toast with poached egg


1 slice wholemeal bread
1/2 of an avocado
1/2 teaspoon garlic infused white wine vinegar or white wine vinegar and 1/2 clove crushed garlic
1 poached egg


1. Put the bread into toast.
2. Meanwhile, scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl.
3. Add in the garlic vinegar and mash until it is roughly mashed and everything is combined.
4. Spread the avocado mixture on top of the toast.
5. Place the poached egg on top and enjoy.

Serves: 1

Baked bean and veggie burgers

Filed under: Other's Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , — Sarah Jayne @ 3:45 pm September 29, 2009

Beans, beans, the more you eat the more you….erm, feel full? When I decided to start eating less meat, I knew that I still had to get my protein from somewhere if I was going to be eating a healthy diet. This is where my love affair with beans and other legumes began.

I quickly discovered that if I made beans and pulses the main feature of my evening meals that I would feel satisfied and full all the way through the evening and feel no need at all to snack or nibble for the rest of the evening. The reason for this is because they are slow burning and low gi which means that it takes your body longer to break them down for digestion. All of this regulates insulin levels and helps you to feel fuller and sustain energy for longer. All of which is fantastic for me since I am insulin resistant.

Something else I discovered was that beans and other legumes are very flexible and you can get really creative with them in your cooking. Everything from a bean casserole to a bean burger can be whipped up and be both tasty and healthy. What’s more, is you don’t have to be an actual vegetarian to enjoy these dishes, either.

When I saw the My Legume Love Affair food blog event, it sounded like a perfect event for me and the Weekend Carnivore blog. The event is run by The Well Seasoned Cook and is this month hosted by Monsoon Spice.

I thumbed through my cooking magazines looking for a legume based recipe to make and the veggie bean bakes found in a recent copy of BBC Good Food Magazine caught my eye. In the past, my husband has been really receptive to bean burgers and so I was fairly sure he would eat these without much complaint.

I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter apart from using panko breadcrumbs instead of fresh ones. That did indeed work well but I think next time I would try the fresh breadcrumbs to see if it makes any difference. I also chopped up some fresh parsley and added it to the mix. For the mixed beans, I used a can of mixed beans that included adzuki beans,cannellini beans and a few other types.

Once the potatoes are boiled, the rest of the bean and veggie patties recipe comes together very quickly. At the stage in which I was forming the patty, I thought that this would actually make a really tasty mashed potato. In the patty form, it wasn’t dissimilar to a bubble and squeak cake. Nothing that I am going to complain about!

The original recipe, calls for them to be served with salsa. We didn’t have any in the house, so I simply served them with a green salad and they went down hubby’s hatch without complaint. Next time, I will try putting some spices into the bean and potato mixture to try to pep them up even more.

Fresh pesto and tomato salad

Filed under: My Vegetarian Recipes — Tags: , , , , , — Sarah Jayne @ 3:29 pm September 28, 2009

Often it is the recipes with the most simple of ingredients that really pop. I came up with this zippy fresh vegetarian salad idea nearly straight after I made a homemade pesto recipe for the first time ever in my life. Honestly, I don’t why I waited this long to learn  how to make my own pesto sauce. I guess, I am conditioned to think that sauce you buy in a little jar on the supermarket shelf is going to be too complicated to make at home.

Fresh pesto tomato salad

Boy, is that wrong when it comes to making your own pesto recipe ! For guidance, on how to make my own pesto sauce, I went to the recipe collections of one of the cooking gurus of Recipezaar – Kittencal. As well as having nearly 4,000 (!) recipes posted on Recipezaar, Kittencal also has her very own Kittencal’s Kitchen blog.

I knew she had a pesto recipe, so I went looking for it on her blog and found Kitten’s Best Pesto recipe. It was only me in the house and I wasn’t sure if I would mess up making my own pesto sauce. So, I decided to only make a half batch of the pesto. I followed her recipe to the letter with the only difference being that I toasted my pine nuts in a pan just before putting them into the recipe.

Want to know how easy it was to make my own pesto? I stuck the basil, pine nuts, garlic and olive oil into my mini chopper. Yup, I didn’t even have to get the actual food processor out. Which is great because I truly hate cleaning up my big food processor after I use it. Then I wizzed it up for a bit before opening it up and chucking in the cheese, some salt and some pepper and giving it maybe about 30 seconds of whizzing. Done! I mean, seriously that was too easy.

Of course, the proof is in the tasting. So, I dipped my spoon in and tasted my first ever homemade pesto recipe. I swear, as the pesto sauce hit my tongue it was as if my taste buds came alive and started to dance the can-can. No store bought pesto sauce ever tasted that good. The only problem was that if I was going to stop myself eating the whole batch of pesto sauce with a spoon (which I totally would have done!) then I needed a recipe for it.

I took a look in my veggie drawer and really, I couldn’t get past wanting to pare the fresh pesto sauce with the ripe vine tomatoes I had. For a while, I was leaning towards doing a tomato and pesto sandwich on granary bread. I still think that would taste really good but instead I went for this super fresh tasting pesto and tomato salad.

Try this but really, if you don’t make your own fresh pesto for it then you aren’t getting the full impact of the recipe. Try making your own fresh pesto recipe. It really is stupid easy!

Fresh pesto and tomato salad



1 medium tomato, sliced fairly thickly
1 tablespoon pesto sauce, fresh is best
1/2 teaspoon pine nuts, toasted


1. Lay the tomato slices out on a plate with the ends just overlapping.
2. Drizzle the fresh pesto liberally over the tomato slices.
3. Scatter with your toasted pine nuts and enjoy.

Serves: 1

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