We spend last week in Devon to celebrate Lukas birthday and I was blown away by a beautiful scenery once again. I was thinking yeah yeah, I been here before and blogged about it as well. Surely there is nothing new to see and share. But guess what? I changed my mind! Initially I was taking pictures with my phone not planing to post it and only on our last walk I took my DSLR with me when I realised this beauty needs to be captured properly. So forgive me for some pics that does not have such a great quality, I included some pics from my older walks when I was not prepared. You would think Devon is coloured with Autumn colours right now, but thats not the case. It turns out the grass is still green (very very green in fact), then there are evergreen plants such as my beloved ferns ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ . Even the pond is green in Autumn because of green algae, who could have thought! Lukas liked the muddy puddles the best and I decided to chillax and let him enjoy the Devon properly. He even took his cars to have a wash :D. And of course there were bees. Joni's dad said I was brave to go and take pics of them so close so I could share these pics with you ;-). Luckily I did not get stung! I wonder what the bees are up to in Autumn. Hope you are enjoying Autumn wherever you are :-).
Although we celebrated Lukas birthday together with Granny birthday last weekend he is officially turning 2 today (wow, where does the time go!). It was good to get together with the family in Devon, staying here a little longer with the kids while Joni is sorting out our new kitchen (hopefully will share about it more soon).
As for a birthday cake I am very very pleased that I was not asked to bake him a cake in Paw Patrol theme (or something along those lines), so I chose to make woodland themed one. Which is much prettier and tasteful in my opinion. I really dislike heavily iced cakes! I also decided to keep it simple as I am quite busy these days (bringing up baby and toddler at the same time is no joke).
DAIRY AND GLUTEN FREE CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE
(for the cake)
- 6 eggs
- 300ml oil (I used olive oil)
- 400g caster sugar
- 300g ground almonds
- 3tsp baking powder
- 50g cocoa powder mixed with 125ml boiling water
(for the frosting)
- 1 avocado
- 85g dairy-free sunflower spread
- 200g dairy-free chocolate, melted (do it carefully if doing in microwave)
- 50g cocoa powder mixed with 125ml boiling water
- 150g icing sugar, sifted (+100g extra for thicker frosting)
(for the decoration)
- woodland themed gingerbread cookies
- rosemary stalks
1. First bake a cake. Whisk the eggs with sugar and oil until you have custard like consistency. Add almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder liquid. Mix everything again to combine. 2. Pour equal amount of cake mixture into two lined baking tins. Bake in 18C oven for 40-45min.3. While waiting for the cake to bake, prep gingerbread cookies. You may be able to buy yours in store, but I needed dairy free ones at least so I ended up baking my own. I used this recipe and replaced butter with sunflower spread. 4. Finally, time to make the frosting. Place all the ingredients (only 150g icing sugar at this stage) into electric mixer/processor and whizz. The mixture should turn into smooth frosting . Spread half of the frosting in between the cake layers, top and sides. Use pallet knife to smooth the frosting on the cake. 5. To decorate add 100g more icing sugar into the remaining frosting to make it thicker. Pipe it on top to make a decorative texture. Top the cake with woodland themed cookies and rosemary stalks to represent trees/bushes. Hope I inspired you ;-)
So the soup season is continuing here and I am trying to explore more and more flavours to stock up with (for the freezer). I find these soup portions very handy for lunches (super kid friendly too!!).
Apple and butternut squash seemed like a great match, was very eager to go and try it out as soon as I saw it on Pinterest. Made few changes, because I needed dairy free option as well as keeping it rich in flavour (I am talking about butter here). Hope you like it too as much as I did. Scroll down for the recipe ;-). APPLE AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP adopted from Foodess
serves 6 adults (you are welcome to double it up!)
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
- 1 large cooking apple, cored and chopped
- 1tbsp fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried
- olive oil for roasting and frying
- 1 onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1l chicken stock
- double cream (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
1. Place butternut squash and apple into the baking tray, sprinkle with sage and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the veg for 25min.2. In large pot fry the onion for 5 min and add the mixed spice. 3. Add roasted veg (and fruit) together with chicken stock. Bring everything to boil and simmer for 20min.4. Puree soup using a blender. Stir in cream, if using, and return to a simmer (although it tastes totally wonderful without the cream as well). Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
So the chill is on and I thought to better start the soup season (well... I have started it a while ago actually). Joni cooked this soup last year for Lukas dedication and I have been revisiting it ever since. Its my favourite soup at this moment! Whats not to like, its flavoursome (sorry to say it is better than stilton and broccoli soup), kids love it, packed with all the green veg and its freezable (lunches sorted in advance). It's found on Pinterest but it is not challenging at all ;-).
BROCCOLI CUMIN AND YOGURT SOUP adopted from Trois Fois Par Jour (thank goodness for Google Translator)
serves 12 adults or makes many many portions for kids lunches
- 50g butter
- 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 large potatoes, sliced or cubed
- 1-2 tsp cumin
- 2 large handfulls spinach
- 2 large broccoli heads, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
- 2l vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- salt and pepper to taste
- 200ml yogurt
1. In the largest pot you can find, melt the butter and fry the onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add potato and cumin, continue cooking for about 3 minutes.2. Add broccoli, spinach and garlic then mix well so that broccoli is soaked in spices and spinach has wilted. Cover everything with vegetable stock, then add maple syrup and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
When in Lithuania we were eating loads. No wonder I gained so much weight! Never the less I am missing Lithuanian food, especially the cheesecake (technically it's a curd cake) that is fit to eat for breakfast. I was so eager to try and make one myself that as soon as I got home I tried making it using more available alternative, Ricotta (so it is a cheesecake after all!). I would personally say that I could not notice any difference between two. I love that it is not too sugary and can be dressed up as you like. I love it with cream fraiche and pureed strawberries. Next time I shall try with honey me thinks ;-).
makes a very small cheesecake that makes up breakfast for two (feel free to double up)
- 2tbsp semolina
- 4tbsp full fat milk
- 50g butter
- 2tbsp sugar
- 2 eggs, separated
- 250g ricotta cheese
1. soak semolina in milk for at least 30min or overnight in the fridge.
2. Cream butter with sugar than gradually add egg yolks, soaked semolina, ricotta cheese and mix everything to combine well. Carefully fold in whisked egg whites.3. Spoon the cake mixture into lined spring form. Bake in 180C preheated oven for 25-30min.4. Meanwhile prep your toppings. I pureed strawberries with a little sugar (you need it somewhere sometimes).5. Serve it warm or cold the next day. Enjoy!
We have been traveling lots lately (I am talking day trips not an actual holiday) and to have something handy for lunch is essential (unless you want to spend the money at the cafe or something). This is why these muffins are amazing for obvious reasons. They are dry meaning the mess don't stick to clothes, they are full of hidden veg (so hard to make Lukas eat veg these days) and they can be frozen for whenever you need them. Besides, they are carbs that children love to eat, su no fuss here ;-). FULL OF VEG SAVOURY MUFFINS
makes 12 muffins
- 2 handfuls of chopped veg of your choice (I had broccoli and cherry tomatoes)
- 230g plain flour
- 3tsp baking powder
- 140g grated cheese
- 200ml milk
- 3tbsp olive or sunflower oil
- 1 egg, beaten
1. First, finelly chop all the veggies. Especially broccoli as it needs to cook through when baked. 2. Combine the veggies with the rest of ingredients. 3. Mix everything well before spooning the mixture into 12 hole muffin tin (all lined and ready). Bake for around 30min in 180C preheated oven. Enjoy your lunch!
Lately we have been very tired. One moment I thought we were handling our lot as parents of two really well, the next day I feel like I am back at square one. Tomas is going through a bad sleep patch (hope thats temporary) and I for the first time ever have got a painful back.
At least one thing have not changed! We are still having our luxurious breakfast every Saturday that have become a tradition in our family. We always start our weekend with something special ;-). Here is what we had last weekend, savoury waffles with blue cheese and bacon, from Pinterest of course! I thought they were little rich so serving it with tomato salsa or salad is perfection. SAVOURY WAFFLES WITH BLUE CHEESE AND BACON adopted from What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today
serves two exhausted parents
- 130g flour
- 1 egg
- 250ml buttermilk (or 125ml milk mixed with 125ml yogurt)
- 3 slices bacon, fried and cut into small pieces
- 50g blue cheese, cut into small pieces
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 30g butter, melted
- tomato salsa or salad to serve (optional)
1. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl2. Heat the waffle iron pan or the waffle maker, grease it liberally (I do it with butter) and pour the waffle mixture in ready to fry (1-2 spoons at the time). I use fork to detach the waffles from the pan but this probably would not work with the non stick pans, so be careful. Hope you all have a fab weekend!
After drowning my post pregnancy sorrows in sugar (as I often say) for past few months, I finally feel like ready to go sugar free again. Ok, maybe not totally cutting out sugar just yet, but definitely reducing it by at least removing added sugar. Here is what I have been having for most of my breakfasts past two weeks, which is a simple porridge that is sweetened with just dates and bananas. Chocolate for breakfast have not been more satisfying than this, yum!
CHOCOLATE OAT PORRIDGE WITH DATES AND BANANAS serves one
- 1 sachet of 27g oats porridge + milk according to package instructions
- 1 tsp coco powder
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 3-4 dates, chopped
- 1 banana, sliced
1. Place all ingredients into microwavable bowl (except dates and banana) and mix briefly to combine.
2. Microwave for 2min or according to the oat porridge package instructions
3. Top the porridge with chopped dates and banana
Last weekend we headed down to Devon again to celebrate my sister in law Nicola's 30th birthday and I was asked to bake a cake (what a privilege!!). It had to be gluten and dairy free so it was a fun challenge to accept. If you have been following me on social media then you probably have seen me doing bake tests over the past few weeks. I originally wanted to make a matcha cake, but was not sure if that would have been a crowd pleaser. At the end I decided to go with more simple flavours such as lemon and poppy seed. I used a very similar method to this chocolate orange cake which essentially uses citrus fruit pulp instead of butter or oil. This method has never let me down producing a very moist and tasty cake. I just need to find a way to reduce the amount of sugar (hmmm...a tough one to do in cake!). GLUTEN AND DAIRY FREE LEMON POPPY SEED CAKE WITH COCONUT BUTTER FROSTING
(for the cake)
- 16 lemons
- 18 eggs (it's a very large cake!)
- 750g golden caster sugar
- 750g ground almonds
- 6tsp baking powder
- 4tbsp poppy seeds + for decorating
(for the frosting)
- 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil (butter)
- juice from 2 lemons
- about 1kg icing sugar
1. First things first, cook the lemons as that takes the longest. Peal them and try to pick out any pips out of them (I know I know this might take forever, but its worth it as your cake might end up tasting a little bitter). Boil the lemons for about 30 min. Once they are cooked, drain them and check any leftover pips. By now your lemons should look like puree, but whizz them anyways with the hand processor just to get it extra smooth.
2. Whisk the eggs with sugar till its pale and creamy. Add the rest of ingredients into eggs (including lemon puree) and mix to combine everything well. Split the cake mixture into three lined baking springform tins. Bake the cakes in 150C preheated oven for 1.5h.3. Meanwhile make the frosting. Sift the icing sugar into the coconut oil and add lemon juice. Mix everything using electric mixer until smooth and creamy.4. As for frosting the cake I did it very lightly. I applied thin layer of frosting between the layers and more on the sides so I could scrape it off later (still keeping a natural "naked" cake look). 5. Decorate it with poppy seeds, berries and flowers in keeping with the "au naturel" look ;-). Hope you are feeling inspired.
A week or so ago we had a pleasure of visiting Devon again. This time in spring! This is one of the benefits of having family somewhere far and dreamy (many negative aspects as well unfortunately). Like everywhere else in spring outdoors are filled with many bright coloured flowers like daffodils and bluebells, however here I found primroses as well (strangely it reminds me of Teletubbies scenery... hmm). Although we stayed in Honiton we have been lucky to explore further in Devon. We took a tramway to Seaton through dreamy marshes... ...and explored the seaside :). We also had a chance to visit Escot Park that happen to have this lovely cafe. Hope you all had a lovely Easter break too ;-)
Since the pancake day is approaching soon (the day surely not to be missed) I have been practicing making pancakes the French way. I of course were learning from the best, Rachel Khoo and her book “Little Paris Kitchen”, that I am reading right now. It turns out that French don’t only live on crepes but also galettes, which is tricky type of pancake made purely from buckwheat flour. While I have made similar pancakes to crepes before, I was clueless about the galettes. This is why I decided to share the recipe with you here.
GALETTES adopted from Rachel Khoo book "Little Paris Kitchen"
- 200g buckwheat flour
- a pinch of salt
- about 600ml water
- melted butter for frying
1. Mix the flour and salt in the bowl (or jug). Gradually mix in the water, adding only enough for the batter to have consistency of double cream. Don't overdo as this will make rubbery galettes. Place the bowl into the fridge for an hour at least.2. Melt the butter in well heated frying pan. Pour one spoonful of batter and immediately start swirling round the pan to get nice even layer. Loosen around the edge with a spatula once the top "dries up", then turn the galette and cook for further 1 minute.These can then be eaten with sugar and cinnamon, or any other filling, I think savoury ones suits best. Like the cream cheese with salmon, Yum!Happy pancake once it comes!
It's becoming to look like Christmas and I decided to share a recipe for a salad that is traditional to have for Christmas Eve. It is that simple and tasty that my brother used to voluntarily go on salad making duty because of that. Hope you like it as much as we do! GARLIC RYE BREAD AND BEAN SALAD
Makes one medium serving bowl (I made half portion here)
- 1 medium rye bread loaf
- 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
- generous amount of oil for frying
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 onions, finelly chopped
- 2tsp caraway seeds, soaked in water
- 2 cans of butter beans or cannellini beans, rinsed under cold water
- bunch of parsley, finelly chopped (optional)
1. Slice the bread and then chop the slices into 1cm cubes.2.Fry the bread together with garlic in generous amount of oil (very necessary, sorry for dieters). Season to taste and put it aside.3. Fry the onion together with caraway seeds until onions are nice and slightly transparent. Add the beans and take the pan off the heat. 4. Mix everything together. Hope you don't miss this humble salad at your Christmas table ;-).
Last week we celebrated Lukas birthday and today I would like to share with you the recipe of the cake I made for him. I aimed for something sugar free of course that is suitable for a baby. I made sure to include banana in it just because Lukas loooovesss banana very much (maybe he is a minion who knows :D) and also because it adds some sweetness. The cake of course wasn't very sweet. I would say it was a brioche sweetness level. I also thought that it is better eaten warm, but I had to cool it down unfortunately to decorate it and make it look a little bit more festive ;-). For "butter cream" I just used whipping cream, so it wasn't sweet at all, but actually Lukas liked it very much so I guess it's ok ;-). BABY BIRTHDAY CAKE
(for the cake)
- 150g banana (about 1-2 bananas depending on size)
- 1 egg
- 60ml oil (I used refined olive oil, but rapeseed oil would probably be better)
- 330g plain flour
- 27g oats (I used pack of portioned porridge oats that actually comes in 27g)
- 2tsp baking powder
- 125ml milk
- 3tbsp yogurt (I used greek style yogurt, but natural yogurt would work fine too)
- whipping cream, whipped till stiff (one tube of 300ml will do)
- no added sugar chocolate (there is no such thing as sugar free chocolate my friends!)
- blueberries (or any type of other berries that are sweet)
1. Whizz bananas, egg and oil in the food processor. Add all other ingredients and mix everything to combine.
2. Spoon the cake dough into small lined spring form tins (mine filled 4 tins).
3. Place the tins into preheated 180C oven and bake the cakes for 20min or so.
4. Meanwhile I made chocolate cake decorations. I must admit I got little rusty, because I have not done it for aaaaages! I melted some chocolate, poured into pouch I made out of backing paper and cut the hole in it so I could pipe the chocolate out. I lined a metal baking tin with backing paper and piped chocolate on it in the leaf shapes. Placed it in the freezer for few minutes to set. Done!5. Next up is decorating! Sandwich the cake by spreading whipped cream in between and then spread more on top and around to ice the cake. My tip is to really wait till the cakes are cool and trim the tops off, that really helps to make the cake square and therefore easy to ice.Once the cake is iced, decorate it by piping some more whipped cream on top, sprinkling with blueberries and arranging some chocolate decorations on top if you wish.Hope your baby likes it too ;-)
I don't know if you heard of a term "cake smash" (I am sure if you google it it would give you plenty of examples), but I wanted to try it on Lukas real bad! I thought it would be sooooo much fun for both of us, because I believe Lukas enjoys making mess :D. So Lukas birthday comes up (I can't believe he is now 1 year old!) and I finally come up with a plan of how its going to work. I found a few baby friendly recipes to combine (sugar free of course!) for the cake, which I was very pleased with in the end. I worked out where we were going to do this messy act (in the sitting room on the floor covered with the blanket). I chose an outfit (very important!), although I did not put too much thought in to that as it just had to be something simple. I also read a few tips on how to do such a photo shoot, they all suggested make it relaxing (not rushed) and make sure the baby is in good mood (fed and napped). The result? Not quite what I expected! I failed on napping Lukas well that day, so I had to bake and decorate the cake while he was awake. I was rushed and definitely not relaxed. I finished the cake very late and was worried about the lighting (oh those early autumn evenings!). As I have mentioned in other photography post in the past, when there is poor light you need to compromise with a slower shutter speed which means I had to hold camera steady to avoid blur. But try telling a one year old to stay still, so I ended up with many blurry pics (which is ok I guess as it captures the movement). On top of everything Lukas did not destroy the cake, but picked out the decorations and sampled them. If you are interested, here is a video that Joni took during photoshoot. So my advice if you want to take cake smash photos is to first relax, and pick a day that is completely activity free. Pre-make the cake perhaps? Take picture after babies first nap or something. And most importantly, enjoy!