Thursday, 25 February 2016

What Vegan Kids Eat

Here's some of the meals my vegan toddler Hal has wolfed down over the past couple of weeks!
Oatmeal made with almond milk, topped with strawberry jam, raisins, cinnamon & hemp hearts.

PB&J, Veggie Sausage, Avocado & Blueberries.

Oatmeal made with soy milk and topped with peanut butter, hemp hearts, raisins & dark chocolate chips.

Tofu fingers, roasted cauliflower, tomato & raspberries.

Chickpea peanut stew with mashed potatoes, cucumber sprinkled with chia seeds & tinned pineapple.

Wholemeal toast with almond butter, chia seeds, hemp hearts & strawberries.

BBQ Tempeh, brown rice & hummus sauce, nectarines with coconut cream & cinnamon and pink slaw.

Mini Pizza, clementine segments & blueberries.

Freeze-dried peas & sweetcorn!

Wholemeal toast with almond butter, chia seeds & molasses, golden kiwi, toffee fruit & nut nakd nibbles & banana rice cakes.

We're really into green smoothies at the moment! I usually make a big one for me and fill a couple of Squooshi pouches for Hal. My favorite combo is banana, passion fruit, orange juice, frozen mango & pineapple and loads of spinach!

Vegan Lunchables! Vbites Cheatin' Ham Slices, Violife Original Slices, Ritz crackers & strawberries.

Wanna see more of what vegan kids eat? Click 'What Hal Eats' in the sidebar!
Pssst...I also post a lot of vegan kiddo food stuff over on my Instagram!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Mini Kitchen Tour

Today I thought I'd give you guys a mini tour of my little kitchen! It's definitely my favorite room in the house, and it's my own special place - my happy place!

The kitchen is really quite small, and there isn't a huge amount of storage space so as someone with a LOT of kitchen equipment, baking paraphernalia and pretty clutter it took me a little while to find the right fit for everything. Pete was kind enough to put these shelves up for me, and I've used them to display some of my prettiest clutter and my most-used baking bits and bobs.

Just part of my teapot collection is on the upper shelf (how cute is the kitty teapot!? I found it in a charity shop on our honeymoon!) along with some of my salt & pepper collection and some other random bits and bobs I like to look at. I love my sprinkle jar - I made it a year or so ago when I had lots and lots of sprinkle bottles with hardly anything left in them so I just dumped them all in together. Pete gave me the KitchenAid timer last Christmas and it's one of the best gifts I've ever received, and my lovely friend Kelly made me the little crochet macaron! Isn't it cute?

This section is probably my favorite bit of the kitchen. I taped up postcards and pictures on the cupboards and just had to add the row of pompoms along the bottom! It just makes everything so bright and cheerful! 
 I'm obsessed with my beautiful storage jars, and I'm so glad I went to the effort of finding each of the Orla Kiely Coffee Jars when they were special edition in supermarkets a while ago. They are perfect and they hold what I believe to be the vegan trinity - Cashews, Nutritional Yeast and Cornstarch! 

I love my little coffee corner, complete with the espresso machine we got as a wedding gift. I have so many mugs (too many mugs) and when we moved we decided that my Arabia Finland Moomin Mugs would be for display purposes, and I love to see them hanging on the wall. I keep resisting buying more by telling myself there's nowhere to put them! 
I was really excited when I found the storage jars with the polka-dot lids in Asda just before Christmas. They're shaped so that you can have them upright or tilted, and they were really cheap (£3 if I remember correctly) If I ever see any more I will definitely grab a couple more, they're so handy! (Here I've used them to store my Soy Milklets and some sweeties!)

As we have very little storage space we decided to have our pots and pans hanging up, which has actually made life much easier. It's so easy to find the pan I want rather than rifling through drawers and cupboards, searching for the right thing. 
My oven is an electric (which is really annoying to someone used to a gas hob) but it does the job! I had to get creative with my spice-rack as a regular one wasn't big enough to hold all my spices and seasonings! I ended up buying a cheap shower caddy from Wilkos and spray painting it pink, and all of my spices fit perfectly! 

Our fridge was given to us second-hand by a kind family friend when we moved into our house, and we decided to try to liven it up a bit by covering the front of it. We used temporary wallpaper which we picked up at the local hardware store, and I love it! One day I definitely want to cover the sides of the fridge too, but we just haven't got around to it yet! The fridge is always covered in magnets, photos and scraps of paper, including our menu for the week and my Jamie Oliver Bingo (Pete and I played it on date night a few months ago...wild times, I know.) 

I love the little wall space next to the fridge - it's so hard to get a good photo because the fridge is totally in the way, but hopefully you can get an idea of what it's like from the photo above. I hung my 'Pumpkin Everything' sign there after taking it down after Autumn, I just couldn't bare to put it away in the loft! And of course I'm proudly displaying my incredible Macaron Recipe Illustration by the ever-talented Brittany Ketterman. 

The small space next to the fridge is taken up by my Tea Trolley! I have a bit of a tea obsession (a bit!?) and own over 70 different kinds of tea! Tea-riffic! (Sorry...can never resist a good pun!) When we got married I decided to invest in an Ikea Trolley as my teas were taking up way too much cupboard space. (Although it looks like I might need another tea trolley soon, huh!)

And finally the ceiling! My bestie Jess recently gave me some glittery glow-in-the-dark stars and I decided to stick them all over the kitchen ceiling, because - why not!? 

So there you have it! My little kitchen, full of character and definitely my favorite room in the house!

How have you added character to rooms in your house?
Which is your favorite room?

Monday, 15 February 2016

Mermaid Macarons

You know when you try to do one awesome thing, and it doesn't work out exactly as you planned but you end up with another awesome thing instead? Well that's what happened with these macarons. These were my second attempt at making Galaxy Macarons, but the colors were much more pastel than I had hoped they would be...but that just made them into Mermaid Macarons! 

I chose to sandwich the mermaid-shells together with vanilla buttercream sprinkled with a little sea salt. Uniquely delicious.

Mermaid Macarons
Recipe by Charis Mitchell
Makes 15

For the macarons
3/4C aquafaba (water from a can of chickpeas) (180ml)
1/2C sugar (100g)
1C ground almonds (100g)
1/2C powdered sugar (65g)
1tsp each purple, black & blue food coloring gel
1tsp gold edible shimmer
1tsp mini edible pears
1tsp mini star sprinkles

For the buttercream
1Tbsp vegan butter spread
3C powdered sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
2Tbsp almond or soy milk
1/2tsp blue food coloring

1tsp flaked sea salt

First make the macaron shells
Pour the aquafaba into a small saucepan and allow to simmer over a medium heat until it has reduced to 1/3C (80ml). This usually takes around 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Pour the reduced chickpea water into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment and whisk on medium to high speed until soft peaks form. Add half the sugar and whisk until well combined, then add the remaining sugar and whisk at high speed until the meringue is glossy and thick - it should be the consistency of thick marshmallow fluff. Set aside while you prepare your dry ingredients.

Pulse the ground almonds a few times in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and process for a few seconds, until well combined.
Sieve the almond-sugar mixture and discard any large pieces. Pour half the dry mixture into the meringue and use a spatula to mix the ingredients together, pressing the dry ingredients down into the meringue until everything is incorporated well. Add the remaining dry mixture and fold into the batter.

Now it's time for a crucial step - the macaronnage. Firmly press the batter against the side of the bowl and then scoop it up and turn over. Repeat this process a further 19 times. After macaronnage the batter should be thick and glossy but should fall slowly off the spatula like a ribbon and then settle/spread slightly in the bowl. If the mixture is too thick you can add up to 1Tbsp of water, but be careful not to add too much or the mixture will be too thin. 

Turn the piping bag inside out and paint stripes of coloring gel covering the bag. Carefully turn it back the right way and spoon the macaron mixture carefully inside. Seal at the top and you're ready to pipe!

Line two large baking trays with grease proof paper and carefully pipe 15 circles onto each, in one smooth motion holding the piping bag directly above the center of each macaron. Drop the baking sheets twice onto a hard surface (this helps to get rid of air bubbles and develops the 'pied') 

Top the macarons with the shimmer and sprinkles and leave them to dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours. Once ready to bake, place the first baking tray into a COLD oven, and then immediately set the oven to just under 100 degrees Celcius. Bake the macarons for 20 minutes (some ovens you may have to bake for longer but don't bake for more than 30 minutes) you can check that the macarons are sufficiently baked by gently lifting up a corner of the grease proof paper and lightly peeling it from a macaron shell. If it comes off easily and the macaron doesn't stick then you can turn your oven off!
Turn off your oven and leave the macarons inside with the door shut for 10 minutes, then open the door and leave them to cool inside the oven for a further 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely on the baking tray at room temperature.
Once the oven is COMPLETELY COLD you can repeat the baking process with your second tray of macaron shells. Once the shells are cooled, gently peel them from the baking paper and place them on a tray or rack, ready to fill.

Make the frosting
Cream together the butter spread and one cup of the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla, food coloring and a teaspoon of milk and mix until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix well, adding more milk as needed until you have a thick and creamy frosting. Spoon into a piping bag and seal at the top.

Pipe a circle of buttercream frosting onto each base macaron shell, sprinkle them with the sea salt and then sandwich together with the top shells.

Place the macarons in the fridge for 24 hours or overnight before eating (this allows the flavors to develop and gives the desired chew) 
Macarons keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for months.

To see more vegan macaron recipes, click 'macarons' in the sidebar.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sweet Sunday Snapshots - 14/02/16

There are lots of sweet moments to look back on from this week, one of which is that Pete got a new job! Hurrah! It's going to be an adjustment as it's more than double the hours he's been working, so things might be a bit quiet around here for a few weeks as we adjust. With my two boys there's always so much to be thankful for, so here are some of the sweet snapshots from the past week.

-We got to church! With a baby, a teething toddler and my ME relapsing lately it's been really tough to get to church, but this morning we were able to make it and we all had a great time. Hal fell asleep during the worship music, he was so relaxed! And Ezra enjoyed playing in the ball pool in the creche!
-Pretty Macarons. After a failed batch of galaxy macs earlier in the week I was really happy with how these macarons turned out. I'm a real perfectionist so I like everything to look just perfect!
-Yes Mum Cards. I ordered some of these affirmation cards and I have to say that they are really a great encouragement on those days when life's a bit of a struggle!
-Crochet! I decided to learn to crochet this week, I tried to learn a few years ago and it was a hilarious failure! I found this YouTube video on how to crochet a granny square and now I've mastered it and am making a few a day! I plan to make them into a snuggly blanket when I've got enough!

Sweet links
-My gal pal Britt (you may remember her from my Boss Babes post earlier in the week) has finally set up a blog! I can't wait to see what she has in store!
-These Unicorn Pins from Sparkle Collective are crazy adorable.
-How gorgeous are these Valentines Day Cookie Pops by Wallflower Girl!? I might try making some this week.

What are the highlights of your week?

Friday, 12 February 2016

Mini-Scrapbook DIY

 For my January Crafternoon I made my girly guests Mini Scrapbooks as favors. I had seen a few different styles of little scrapbooks browsing Pinterest, and decided to use paint swatches as the base pages to work with.

The nice people at B&Q didn't seem to mind that I was taking oh so many swatches home with me! (Thank goodness!) I picked lots of lovely bright colors but also picked up some greys and blacks so that I had a nice variety of pages to choose from.

I got lots of stickers, stamps, sparkly bits and scrapbooking supplies from my local craft store, and I found binder rings on eBay for pennies! I used lots of paper scraps and craft bits that I had already, so it was actually a very cheap gift to make. However it did take me two weeks of evenings to get them all done.

 I made 20 pages for each book, and because I had six whole books to make I chose to make a lot of the pages for each book very similar, just using different colors or stickers. But I did make sure the pages had personal touches for each of my guests, and added photos and memories to make the scrapbooks really special.

My favorite pages are definitely the 'Emergency Sparkle' pages! I made little packets filled with sequins, stars and glitter by cutting up some of the cellophane packaging that my stickers came in! I just filled them with the sparkle-bits and then carefully secured the sides with gold, glittery tape! 

It was tiring work, but seeing the reactions of my friends when they opened them made it all worthwhile. 

Why not make a mini-scrapbook for someone you love?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Ferrero Rocher Cookie Bars

These Ferrero Rocher Cookie Bars are good...maybe too good! So good that I wanted them out of my house as quickly as possible so that I wouldn't eat them all! (Spoiler alert: I ate four...)

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie dough, dotted with whole hazelnuts and baked to chewy-perfection, then topped with a generous layer of dark chocolate hazelnut spread. Finished with a layer of dark chocolate and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts.

Perfection. Chocolatey-hazelnut-peanut-perfection.

Ferrero Rocher Cookie Bars
Cookie Dough Recipe adapted from Kelly Peloza's Vegan Cookie Connoisseur 
Makes 12 bars

For the cookie dough
1/4C vegetable oil
1/2C smooth peanut butter
1/4C sugar
3/4C light brown sugar
1Tbsp maple syrup
3Tbsp soy milk
1/2tsp vanilla extract
1C plain flour
1/2tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4C dark chocolate chips
1/2C whole hazelnuts

1C vegan chocolate hazelnut butter or vegan chocolate spread
250g dark chocolate, melted
1/2C chopped hazelnuts

Grease a square cake tin and preheat the oven to 175/350.
In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the oil, peanut butter, sugars, maple, milk and vanilla until you have a smooth, caramel-like mixture. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well. Fold in the dark chocolate chips and press the cookie dough into the tin using your fingers (make sure it's nice and even.) Carefully press the hazelnuts into the top of the cookie dough, space them about an inch apart. Bake the cookie bars for 15-20mins, until they're golden brown and don't jiggle if you shake the pan. Leave to cool in the tin before moving on to the toppings.

Spread the hazelnut butter evenly over the cookie bars. Pour the melted dark chocolate over the top and use a knife to smooth it over. Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts over the top and place the cookie bars in the fridge to set for a few hours or overnight.

Once set turn the bars out and cut into 12 slices. I find it's easiest to cut them with the bars upside down on a chopping board (chocolate side down) as the cookie part is softer than the chocolate so cuts easily. 

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Sweet Sunday Snapshots - 07/02/16

This week has been difficult, as I had a bit of a CFS relapse. even though I've not been able to do much, I've still had plenty of sweet moments to highlight!

-How amazing is this BB-8 cushion!? Hubby found a couple of these great cushion covers in a clearance sale online - we only had to pay the postage!
-Saying goodbye to my favorite jeans. I must admit this was bittersweet for me! As much as I'm happy to be slimming down, I absolutely love these jeans! 
-Matching boys! I can't believe my boys are almost in the same sized clothes! Hal has always been a size down from his age and Ezra is two sizes up!
-Kitchen organizing. I spent some time sorting stuff out in my little kitchen yesterday, as I'm going to do a little tour on the blog this month. I love it when everything's organized!

Sweet links
-The rainbow-fairy Flora Fairweather's simple but beautiful Doll House DIY is definitely something I want to try making for Hal!
-Cat's 'Blessed are the cracked' post over on Kitty Cat Collar 
-Elora's post about Bootin' Gluten over on Elorasaurus

What sweet things have happened to you this week?

Friday, 5 February 2016

January Crafternoon

Last Saturday I held my monthly craft party (or Crafternoon as we like to call it!) and as the first one of 2016 it was so brilliant! We didn't have a theme, but I chose to decorate with a theme of pink, green and gold - I'm in love with that combination at the moment!

I made the table fairly simple this time, but made sure there was lots and lots and lots of sparkle by using gold table confetti, sequins, little stars and glitter. I don't usually buy or use plastic cutlery but when I saw this seafoam cutlery in the pound shop I fell in love! (And I haven't thrown them away and will definitely use them again!) 

I made the Meaty Beany Chilli from Isa Does It for lunch, and it was delicious! We had our usual little sweet buffet table filled with tasty treats including PB & J Macarons, Party Rings and Pink Fizzy Laces! YUM! 

I set up a cute little station with the gift swap basket ready to be filled with everyone's beautifully wrapped prezzies, and I was super excited to display the incredible light box that my bestie Jess got me for Christmas! (I can't wait to use it for everything!)

I picked up a few cute bits and bobs for my gift swap gift. I thought the Caroline Gardner heart notebook was adorable and handy for shopping lists! Pretty cloud tissues and of course some vegan sweets. And when I saw these Tsum Tsum stickers I just couldn't resist! 

This month's craft was Paper Craft - so scrapbooking, Bible journaling, journaling and everything inbetween! I made sure we had plenty of crafting supplies to use, and everyone brought a book to work on. 

I don't know why I'd not thought of doing a scrapbooking crafternoon before because this was one of the best activities we've done. Not only was it really relaxing, but everyone brought different things to work on and each person's individual style came through. I know I really enjoyed watching the other girls work!

It was so calming and lovely, and I think I'll do another scrapbooking crafternoon this year, everyone enjoyed it so much!

I decided to make mini-scrapbook favors for the girls this month, and I must admit that it was quite a task making 6 of them! It took me every evening for two weeks, but when the girls opened them it was all worth it! I'll be sharing a little DIY on the blog soon so you can make your own!

I finally started to work on our Wedding Album! Only a few years late! I'm really enjoying looking back on that incredible day and creating a beautiful scrapbook full of memories.

I can't wait until next month's Valentines themed crafternoon!

See more of my crafternoon's by searching #ffcrafternoons on Instagram, you can also read about previous events by clicking the 'crafternoons' tab in the sidebar!

Nicola blogged about this month's crafternoon over on Hello Its Nicola!