Tuesday 29 January 2013

Banana Raisin Bran Muffins

Vegan Banana Raisin Bran Muffins.

You know, I wasn't going to blog these, as good as they are I suddenly realized just how many banana based muffins I've blogged so far:

Then I figured, what the hell?! You can never have too many yummy vegan banana based muffins, right??

Vegan Banana Raisin Bran Muffins.

I like to think of these as a midway healthy muffin - they are not full on healthy like my Healthy Banana and Dark Chocolate Muffins which have no white flour, added fat or sugar. Nor are they as decadent as the almost cake like Banana White Chocolate Muffins. Rather these have a smaller amount of "all the good stuff" - plus lots of fibre, so are still healthy enough to eat guilt free - even for breakfast.

They taste great, just like you would imagine a banana bran muffin would taste like but rather surprisingly they are light as air - not something you tend to associate with a bran muffin! Lovely texture altogether.

I've not added any nuts here as my son would not go for that but I've left room for you to either add some chopped nuts or more raisins if you like, the recipe could take up to another 1/2 cup of whatever add in you like. Pecans, walnuts, or dates would all go nicely, although, I love them just the way they are.

Vegan Banana Raisin Bran Muffins.

 Banana Raisin Bran Muffins

• 1 cup / 140g white flour
• 1 ½ cups / 80g bran
• 1/3 cup / 60g light muscovado sugar (lightly packed brown sugar)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ cup raisins
• 1 cup / 250ml plain soy yogurt
• 2 Tbsp walnut oil*
• 3 small very ripe bananas (between 230 - 260g total weight)
• demerara sugar - optional

* You can use any oil you like here. I've been loving walnut oil in baking lately as it just has such a nice flavour BUT the stuff is expensive.

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F - Line a 12 hole muffin tin with muffin papers or as I used silicone muffin cases - I love these! Alternatively you could grease the muffin tin with a bit of oil.

Whisk together all the dry ingredients except the raisins then add the raisins and stir them in. You can add up to 1/2 cup more raisins or chopped nuts or dates here if you like.

Mash the bananas really well then add the soy yogurt and the oil and whisk until well blended.

Pour the banana/yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and fold in with a rubber spatula until it all just comes together - do not overmix, be gentle! Note - the batter will be very thick.

Spoon into the prepared cases - fill them right up to the top as these don't rise massively. I now like to sprinkle a bit of demerara sugar on top of each muffin - it gives a lovely sweet crunchy topping. Now pop them in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. They should be golden on top and a toothpick should come out clean.

Let cool in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes then remove from the tin to fully cool on a rack. I love these split open and spread with some vegan butter....a great breakfast with a cup of hot coffee :-)

Vegan Banana Raisin Bran Muffins.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 muffin.

Calories: 144
Fat: 3g
Sat Fat: 0.4g
Fibre: 4.1g
Carbs: 28.3g
Sugar: 11.6g
Sodium: 258mg

Monday 28 January 2013

Cointreau and Whiskey Cocktail

Cointreau and Whiskey Cocktail

This is such a nice cocktail! We had a couple of these after our Burns' night feast, which was a HUGE success by the way, I've updated my post with the changes I made included the incredible Whiskey Gravy I made to go with it - a new favourite for sure :-)

This is based on a recipe on the Cointreau website called the "Silent Third" (haha, great name!) but I've swapped the lemon juice with lime (much better) and upped the Cointreau just a tad which I feel balances out the sweet / sour aspect of the drink perfectly. Just a warning though - they are VERY drinkable and quite the hit!

Serves 1:

• 1.5 fl oz Cointreau
• 1 fl oz Whiskey (I always use Jameson's)
• 1 fl oz fresh lime juice, pulp strained out.

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes and add all the ingredients. Shake very well then strain into a martini glass. Sláinte!

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Vegan BBQ Chicken and Avocado on Crispy Garlic Butter Ciabatta

Vegan BBQ Chicken and Avocado on Crispy Garlic Butter Ciabatta Bread.

Now, I'm going to have to ask you to ignore that the BBQ "chicken" there looks a little bit like steak tartare as this was an absolutely gorgeous sandwich!! (I've tried to "pretty it up" as best I could!) But seriously, saucy BBQ vegan chicken on top of 'buttery' garlic ciabatta with creamy avocado and crisp lettuce....it's a stunning sandwich taste wise ;-)

Naturally the snow, ice, frost and freezing weather had me craving summery food :-/ I'm kidding of course but I have decided there is no point blogging "seasonally" - as it was rightfully pointed out to me, some of my readers are currently sweltering in summer heat right now anyway! Although, in a weird way so am I.... 

You see our house has large south facing triple glazed eco windows and they are VERY efficient  When it's sunny, my kitchen and living room can get up to 26C even if it's snowing and freezing outside without ANY heating on. It's great! Yesterday was just such a day - frosty outside but brilliant sunshine. So, I sat there in my hot kitchen, eating this rather summery dish and sipping iced tea with the windows open and in short sleeves.... I swear my brain must get temperature confused sometimes!

Vegan BBQ Chicken and Avocado on Crispy Garlic Butter Ciabatta Bread.

Anyway, I'm not entirely sure where I originally got the inspiration for this sandwich. I feel I must have seen a meat version while scrolling through Pinterest and thought, hmmm, that would be nice all vegan'd up! I then searched around and found this one on the Baked Bree Blog and knew right away I would base mine on hers. 

First of all it's a stunning blog, the type that gives you pangs of blog jealousy! But crucially, she made hers exactly as I was thinking of making mine - with crispy ciabatta garlic bread - and OMG that makes this sandwich!! I just used my usual garlic bread spread recipe here and added slices of avocado and shredded iceburg lettuce. 

Personally I think the avocado is rather essential, it just goes perfectly with the slightly spicy BBQ sauce and garlic butter. As for the BBQ sauce, just use any vegan store bought one you like. I could have gone a bit fancier with one of those posher kinds you can buy now but I just went common as muck and used plain old Heinz BBQ sauce - with a dash of cayenne to give it a little kick ;-)

I couldn't decide what type of salad to have on the side of this but in the end I was just too swayed by her blog post and also did a cucumber and red onion type salad. I based mine on those vinegary Scandinavian type cucumber salads as I always loved them growing up. It's just thinly slices cucumber and red onion in a marinade of white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, water and fresh dill. It was really good but I think when I make this again I would make my Kohl-Slaw to go on the side. Vegan BBQ Chicken Rolls and Coleslaw? yes please!!! Oh, and don't forget the iced tea ;-)

Some Recipe Notes

♥ I used a 5" long ciabatta roll BUT cut it in half, so my roll was about 2.5" x 2.5".  In hindsight this was a little small but the full size would have been too big. I certainly used to be able to buy ciabatta rolls that were square - they would be the perfect size. Anyway, depending on the size of the ciabatta roll you use you may need to double the chicken filling and garlic butter.
♥ As mentioned above I just used plain Heinz BBQ sauce here but added a pinch of cayenne pepper.
♥ I used Fry's brand Vegan Chicken Style Pieces. As they come frozen you'll have to defrost them first. I just placed mine in a bowl and left them out for about an hour, then kept them covered in the fridge until I was ready to use them.

Vegan BBQ Chicken and Avocado on Crispy Garlic Butter Ciabatta Bread.

Vegan BBQ Chicken & Avocado on Crispy Garlic Butter Ciabatta Bread

Yields 1 sandwich

• 1 Ciabatta Roll
• 15g vegan butter (1 Tbsp)
• 1 smallish clove of garlic, pureed
• pinch of salt, I used smoked
• some finely chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
• 30g vegan chicken strips, defrosted.
• 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
• pinch of cayenne pepper - optional
• slices of avocado
• shredded iceburg lettuce

First make your garlic butter: Simply mix together the butter, garlic, tiny pinch of salt and the parsley (just add enough parsley that it looks nice and speckled). Split open the ciabatta roll and spread both sides with the garlic butter:

Preheat your oven to 200C / 400F. While it's heating up slice up the vegan chicken strips as thinly as you can:

Place the ciabatta on a baking sheet and bake for 7 - 10 minutes. You want the butter to be melted and bubbly and the ciabatta to be lightly golden and crisp around the edges. While they are cooking slice up your avocado and finely chop the lettuce into small strips. 

In a small saucepan add the BBQ sauce and the "shredded chicken" and heat, stirring now and again until it comes to a simmer. I didn't notice how long mine was on the heat here - no more than 5 minutes. If the sauce starts to stick the bottom of the pan you are done, just take it off the heat.

Now simply pile the BBQ chicken onto one side on the roll and the lettuce and avocado on the other. I also added a tiny splash of hot water to the saucepan I cooked the chicken in and stirred and scraped the pan with a spatula to get some of the cooked on sauce off and spooned a tiny bit of this over top of the chicken, just to make it a little more saucy ;-)

Carefully sandwich this baby together and enjoy! Oh, one more thing...you're going to get messy. Don't avoid it just grab a stack of napkins. As well as sitting in my hot kitchen in short sleeves in the winter I was also sitting there with BBQ sauce all down my face and all over my hands. Embrace it. It's ok!! Just don't make these for a date ;-)

Vegan BBQ Chicken and Avocado on Crispy Garlic Butter Ciabatta Bread.

Nutritional Information: will vary depending on size of roll used.

Calories: 361
Protein: 12.6g
Fat: 22.8g
Sat Fat: 5.5g
Fibre: 5.6g
Carbs: 30.4g
Sugar: 1g

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Sunday 20 January 2013

Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Soup with Orzo

Creamy Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Soup with Orzo. Vegan.
Perfect with some crisp 'buttery' garlic toasts!

Here's another creamy soup to warm you up this winter, with summery flavours to boot! It's gotten particularly cold here in Ireland, we may even see some snow this evening - I hope so as I haven't actually seen a single snow flake yet this winter! The Canadian in me is in withdrawal :-(

I've been making this soup for quite a while now, you'll have seen it months ago on the daily blog. It gets it creaminess from adding a little potato, a great little trick in making creamy vegan soups! It has great flavour from the lemon and dill and the orzo in there really helps give this soup some body. It's become one of our favourite soups and is particularly handy if you find yourself with a few zucchini's that need using up.

Some recipe notes

♥ I made my vegetable stock with 3 teaspoons of Marigold Vegan Bouillon.
♥ You don't have to be overly exact with the weight of zucchini. I've made this with up to 750g of zucchini and when I've only had about 550g. 
♥ I've given a measure of garlic instead of cloves as the size of cloves can vary wildly. This would be about 5 or 6 small to medium size cloves. The soup is not overly garlicky though.
♥ If you have leftovers the soup will get very thick the next day. Simply thin down with a bit of hot water while reheating and re-season with salt and pepper. All of these photos were actually taken of my leftovers :-)

Creamy Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Soup with Orzo. Vegan.

Creamy Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Soup with Orzo

Serves 4

• 750g zucchini, sliced and quartered (about 3-4 medium)
• 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 160g onion, chopped (about 1 large)
• 200g potato, peeled and sliced thin (about 1 medium)
• 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
• 1 tsp dried dill
• 800ml vegetable stock (3 1/4 cups)
• ½ tsp lemon zest
• 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• Black pepper
• 100g orzo (dry weight, or 1/2 cup)

Heat the oil and fry the onion with a few grinds of black pepper until soft, stir in the garlic and potato and fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock, dill and zucchini, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes and zucchini are really soft, the potato should be falling apart. Stir in the lemon and zest and juice. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile get the water on for the orzo then cook in salted water according to package instructions until tender. Drain well.

Transfer the soup to a blender and blitz until smooth. Return to the pot and bring back to a simmer. Stir in the cooked orzo, taste and season with salt/pepper/lemon juice as you see fit.

This soup goes beautifully with these pan grilled garlic toasts. Simply slice a French baguette on the diagonal, spread with vegan butter on both sides and place on a hot grill pan, cooking both sides until golden then remove and rub a clove of garlic all over one side.

Creamy Zucchini, Lemon and Dill Soup with Orzo. Vegan.

Nutritional Information: based on 1 serving (just soup)

Calories: 249
Protein: 7.6g
Carbs: 40g
Sugar: 7.3g
Fibre: 4g
Fat: 8.3g
Sat Fat: 1.3g
Sodium: 769mg (will vary depending on stock cube/granules used)

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with Orzo

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Creamy Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato and Dill Soup with Butter Grilled Garlic Rye Crisps

Creamy Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato and Dill Soup with Butter Grilled Garlic Rye Crisps

 So I had a very large sweet potato lurking in my vegetable basket for like a month, undecided in what to do with it. The current weather situation (freezing cold) had me warming to some soup, especially as I've never made a sweet potato soup before.

Next was what flavour to make it and I was instantly drawn to the smoked paprika sweet potato fries I make every Thanksgiving, they really are gorgeous and the flavours go so well together. So I decided to roast the sweet potato with the onion and garlic and smoked paprika first as it really brings out the flavour in everything. I then deglazed the pan and added all those yummy juices to the soup, which also means you don't need to use any stock powder or cubes here as it's pretty packed with flavour all on it's own!

The dill was a last minute decision however. In the final tasting I just felt it was calling out for it and I always feel paprika, dill and rye go beautifully together.

Creamy Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato and Dill Soup with Butter Grilled Garlic Rye Crisps

The 'butter' grilled garlic rye crisps go so well with soup I wouldn't dare make it without them! I've simply grilled rye bread which has been spread with vegan butter then rubbed a cut clove of garlic over them once out of the oven. They are crisp, buttery and garlicky and counter the sweet smoky soup perfectly. 

Creamy Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato and Dill Soup with Butter Grilled Garlic Rye Crisps

 Creamy Smoked Paprika and Dill Sweet Potato Soup with Butter Grilled Garlic Rye Crisps
Serves 2 - 4

• 400g prepared weight sweet potato
• 1 large onion
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1½ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 - 1½ tsp smoked sea salt
• 600ml water
• 100ml soy cream
• 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 tsp dried dill
• plain soy yogurt or vegan sour cream to serve - optional
• 2 - 4 slices of dark rye bread (1 slice per person)
• vegan butter
• 1 clove garlic

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F. Peel and cube the sweet potato and roughly chop the onion. Place in a roasting tin with the whole cloves of garlic (skins left on).

In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, smoked paprika and 1 tsp of the smoked sea salt. Pour this over the veg and toss really well until everything is nicely coated.

Pop into the preheated oven and roast for 30 - 40 minutes. Give everything a stir a couple of times. They are done when the sweet potato is soft and some of the onions are charred. Some of the veg should be stuck to the pan as well with no liquid left.

Remove the garlic cloves and squeeze the roasted garlic filling out, stir this into the veg. Scrape the veg into a large pot then deglaze the pan with 100ml of hot water. Use a spatula to scrape all the burnt bits off, you should have a gravy coloured liquid now. Pour this into the pot with the veg and add 500ml of hot water. Stir well and bring this mixture to the boil, stirring often.

Turn off the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Puree in a blender until really smooth and return to a pot.

Make sure you taste it now before adding the lemon juice. I felt it was too sweet for my liking at this stage and added the lemon juice to counter that. You, however may like it just fine as it is. I also added another ½ teaspoon of smoked sea salt at this stage but again, that's down to personal taste. While bringing to heat stir in the dill and soy cream until well blended, taste and adjust per your liking. 

Note - you can of course use fresh dill here. Dill is just one of those herbs I don't find a huge difference in between fresh and dried. Just chop up some fresh dill and add enough that it looks nice and speckled with dill :-)

Ladle into bowls then place a dollop of plain soy yogurt or vegan sour cream on top, if using. I then dusted that with a really HOT smoked paprika I have, just for a little extra kick.

Creamy Smoked Paprika Sweet Potato and Dill Soup with Butter Grilled Garlic Rye Crisps

To make the butter grilled garlic rye crisps: put your oven grill on then cut a slice of dark rye bread into triangles. Grill on one side until crisp and golden, remove from the oven, flip over, spread with vegan butter and pop back under the grill until bubbly, golden and you have charred edges.

Remove from the oven and generously run a cut clove of garlic over the butter side of the bread. Make sure you use the cut side of the clove of garlic as well.

Nutritional Information: based on soup only, 1 out of 4 servings.

Calories: 197 
Protein: 2.6g
Fat: 9.7g
Sat Fat: 1.4g
Carbs: 26.3g
Sugar: 6.3g
Fibre: 3.7g
Sodium: 943mg (for the full amount of salt)

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Tuesday 15 January 2013

A Plethora of Granola!

Vegan Almond Joy Granola

Ok, well, I've decided I can "blog as I learn" regarding this camera. For some reason these pictures look much better on my computer than when inserted into blogger...I'll look into why later, for now here's a few happy and healthy granola recipes for you :-)

If you read the daily blog you'll know that I really overdid it over the holidays, have put on a bit of weight and am trying to eat lighter and healthier. Both these recipes fit the bill perfectly and are so easy to make. They are based on my Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Granola recipe but are even easier as these ones use maple syrup instead of requiring you to make brown sugar syrup first. Further like that recipe none of these are overly sweet which is nice as you can add a bit of chocolate, guilt free ;-)

I should explain to UK/IRE viewers that Almond Joy is an American chocolate bar - just think of a Bounty Bar with almonds and I was inspired by that here. It's a simple maple sweetened granola with toasted coconut, toasted flaked almonds and dark chocolate chips. Absolutely lovely and goes perfectly with some ice cold coconut milk (the tetra pak kind like Kara brand, not the tins) and sliced bananas on top.

Vegan Almond Joy Granola

Almond Joy Granola

• 300g oats ( 2 3/4 cups)
• 150ml maple syrup (2/3 cups)
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 2 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
• 50g desiccated coconut (2/3 cups) can be sweetened or unsweetened
• 50g flaked almonds (1/2 cup)
• 80g vegan chocolate chips (1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. In a small saucepan heat the maple syrup and coconut oil until the oil melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the oats to a large bowl and pour over the syrup. Stir well until everything is well coated. Spread out on a large or 2 med/small baking sheets lined with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes. Give it a good stir then pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes. Tip it back in a bowl then add the coconut and almonds, stir well, spread it back onto the baking sheet and pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes. Stir then return to the oven for a final 5 minutes. Let cool fully then stir in the chocolate chips. Store in a ziplock bag or airtight container.

I used these Belgian chocolate drops in mine as they were a cute little button shape and appear to be vegan BUT I don't actually recommend them. They just don't taste that great. I can see them being perfect for decorating with but you want a really good tasting chocolate in this so use a dark chocolate bar that you really like and chop that up or use chips you know you like :-)

Nutritional Information: based on a 1/2 cup (60g) serving, using unsweetened coconut, no banana or milk.

Calories: 293
Protein: 7.2g
Fat: 13.6g
Sat Fat: 7.6g
Fibre: 5.3g
Carbs: 37.5g
Sugar: 13.6g
Sodium: 4.1mg
Calcium: 42mg (162mg with fortified dairy free milk)

Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Granola

Furthermore, I made a ridiculously simple Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Granola. Simple, but delicious. I often find a lot of granola out there has way too much going on. Like manufactures have tried to jam in every nut, seed and dried fruit there is in them. I prefer to keep things simple making sure the flavours compliment each other. Maple, cinnamon and blueberry are 3 flavours I love together, especially with oats, that being said some almonds would also go great in this. I prefer this one with rice milk.

Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Granola

Maple Cinnamon Blueberry Granola

• 300g oats (2 3/4 cups)
• 150ml maple syrup (2/3 cups)
• 2 Tbsp vegan butter
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• fresh blueberries to serve.

Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. Heat the maple syrup and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts. In a large bowl mix together the oats and cinnamon. Pour over the syrup and stir well until well coated. Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes. Stir then bake for another 15 minutes. Stir and if it feels like it needs it bake for another 5 minutes (I usually do) it should be getting lightly golden brown and feel crisp. Let cool and store in either a ziplock bag or an airtight container. Serve with your favourite dairy free milk, I love rice milk with this one, or some soy yogurt and fresh blueberries.

Nutritional Information: based on a 1/2 cup (60g) serving with blueberries but no milk.

Calories: 283
Protein: 6.4g
Fat: 5.8g
Sat Fat: 1.1g
Fibre: 6g
Carbs: 53.1g
Sugar: 18.2g
Sodium: 32.8mg
Calcium: 50.6mg (168mg with 100ml fortified rice milk)

Vegan Raspberry Almond White Chocolate Granola

Lastly, I made this Raspberry Almond White chocolate Granola as I love those 3 flavours together. Like the previous granola's this isn't overly sweet either so don't fret about adding a little bit of chocolate to it. I've gone for vegan white chocolate buttons here snapped in half but dark chocolate chips would equally go nicely here, and of course, it's still good without the added chocolate! You could also use dried raspberries here, I just preferred the texture of soft fresh raspberries against the crispy granola. Also, this one goes perfectly with almond milk :-)

Raspberry Almond White Chocolate Granola

• 300g oats ( 2 3/4 cups)
• 150ml maple syrup (2/3 cups)
• 2 Tbsp vegan butter
• 1/2 tsp almond extract
• 50g flaked almonds (1/2 cup)
• 80g white chocolate, buttons snapped in half or a bar chopped (1/2 cup)
• fresh raspberries to serve.

Preheat the oven to 150C / 300F. In a small saucepan heat the maple syrup and vegan butter until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Add the oats to a large bowl and pour over the syrup. Stir well until everything is well coated. 

Spread out on a large or 2 med/small baking sheets lined with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes. Give it a good stir then pop it back in the oven for 10 minutes. Tip it back in a bowl then add the almond flakes, stir well, spread it back onto the baking sheet and pop it back in the oven for 5 minutes. Stir then return to the oven for a final 5 minutes. Let cool fully then stir in the white chocolate chip. Store in a ziplock bag or airtight container. Serve with fresh raspberries and ice cold almond milk.

Vegan Raspberry Almond White Chocolate Granola

Nutritional Information: based on 1/2 cup (60g) serving with raspberries but no milk. 

Calories: 305
Protein: 7.9g
Fibre: 7.5g
Carbs: 46.6g
Sugar: 17.5g
Fat: 10.6g
Sat Fat: 2.8g
Sodium: 24.8mg
Calcium: 55.2mg

Saturday 5 January 2013

Happy New Year!!

Well, no recipe for you today but I thought I better touch base as it's been so long since my last post :-) As you can see from the above picture I got a DSLR camera for Christmas!!!! I am so excited as I've wanted one for so long but dear God I have a lot to learn!! 

To be honest with you, I never actually learned how to use my point and shoot. I simply found a system that worked and stuck with it for every single photo I ever took. Seriously, every photo on this blog was taken with my point and shoot on "auto cuisine" mode. I never changed it. So I know nothing about f-stops or lenses or shutter stuff or anything.... see? I even called it "shutter stuff"... Sigh. 

I've got myself some good books though and I've spent most of my free time post Christmas here reading up on it all and hopefully I'll be able to take some acceptable photos for the blog soon. I have LOTS of recipes lined up to both blog and experiment with, my little notebook is crammed full of ideas but until I learn how to use this thing I will hold off so please bear with me :-)

Until then here are a few I took with it so far (just in auto as I don't know what I'm doing yet):

This was just a simple mushroom and spinach quesadilla I had for lunch, not something I was ever going to blog but just to try out the camera. Happy enough with this one, I even managed a little bit of depth of field there!

I then experimented with some "rullepolse buns" - I've taken the filling from my rullepolse and spread it on bread dough then rolled it up and sliced and baked. The raw dough photo here is ok, a little blurry though as I still don't have a tripod for this camera, my old one won't work with it.

Then I staged a photo hoping to get that coveted depth of field shot all nice and blurry in the background and the opposite happened! Well, I suppose the camera was more interested in the basket of rolls than the one on the plate ;-) Haha, anyway, I clearly still have a lot to learn! 

The buns were very good but not quite "bloggable good" so it didn't matter that these didn't turn out but I'll need to know what I'm doing for future posts, that's for sure.

Back to Christmas, we had a wonderful time! My brother-in-law (also vegan) and his girlfriend were over and I had 11 people for Christmas Eve dinner which featured:

Puy Lentil Tourtiere
Mushroom Gravy
Sage and Onion Stuffing
• Roasted Carrots and Parsnips
Brussel Sprouts and Petite Pois in Lemon Hazelnut 'Butter'
Sweet Potato Rolls
• Mashed Potato

...and for dessert:

Grand Marnier Chocolate Mousse Dome Cake (used chocolate cake this time and it was the best yet!)
• Pumpkin Pie with Gingernut Crust and Coconut Whipped Cream - I have finally got a pumpkin pie recipe I am happy with!

THEN for Christmas Day dinner I made another main dish of Mushroom Wellington (the same one I made for Thanksgiving this year) it's delicious!! We took that up to my in-laws for dinner there and she made all the sides vegan. For the record I use a slight variation on this recipe for the wellington. Everything turned out really well but I was pretty exhausted, hence the blog holiday!

Why do ipod's take such bad photos?!?! Anyway, you get the idea, it's stunning up there! This was the view from our guest house.
We then all went up to beautiful Cornamona, Galway for a few days before New Year's Eve visiting loads of cousin-in-laws then drove back down on New Year's Eve to ring in the New Year at home. 

We had everyone over again and just ordered a load of vegan Chinese food from Aroma in Cork City - they have a dedicated vegan menu and it's always very good, especially when washed down with Champagne ;-)

So, that was my holidays! I hope you all had a good Christmas and New Year's Eve and do stick around while I learn how to use this new camera, like I said, I have a LOT to blog this year :-)

I further want to take this time to thank you all for following, commenting, pinning and tweeting and a huge welcome to all my new followers. Here's to a delicious 2013!!