Friday, January 26, 2018

Lemon and artichoke spaghetti with spinach

Having my parents visit inspired me to make some different meals to those in our usual rotation. This spaghetti dish was adapted from the recipe for lemon, artichoke and baby spinach spaghetti in Adele McConnell's The Vegan Cookbook. I won this book back in 2014 and posted at the time that I wanted to make almost all of the recipes it contains. Four years on and I haven't made even half the recipes, but those I have made have been great.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Spiced courgette fritters

Life is returning to normal in the Bite-Sized household. My parents are now back in Australia, we are all back at work and nursery, and Christmas feels a long time ago (and Spring a long time ahead).

In the middle of winter, it can be nice to eat summery foods as well as relishing warm stews, soups and porridge. These fritters offer a summer feel whilst still being hot and comforting. The only downside is that they are best eaten straight after cooking, as they go a bit soggy if stored over multiple days.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

From 2017 to 2018: Reflections and aspirations

I am not a fan of stereotypical New Year's resolutions, but I do like to use January as an opportunity to reflect on the year gone and the year head. Last year I outlined six goals, which I return to below. This year I have identified four. Before getting to those, here are some general comments on 2017 and a summary of key events and highlights (also some lowlights).

Somerset (March)

2017 was our first full year as parents and I returned to work from maternity leave. We started and ended the year with visits from my parents, and also welcomed my mother-in-law in spring and my sister in summer. We traveled to Somerset and Suffolk. Goodreads tells me I read 40 books, which is less than I'd have predicted (I read 67 in 2016) but is probably an accurate tally. I am fortunate to have reading time on my commute to work, but these days I have little time to read at home. We didn't visit the cinema but watched 19 films at home (10 fewer than in 2016).

Sunday, January 7, 2018

In my kitchen - January 2018

I am linking this into the monthly In My Kitchen round-up, hosted by Sherry of Sherry's Pickings

It is surprisingly easy to write 2018. We are a week into the new year and I am enjoying the freshness that January brings, even as the festive atmosphere of Christmas fades and leaves us with dark mornings and nights that are unadorned by Christmas lights.

In my kitchen this month are old favourites and new products. Berries are high on the 'old favourites' list. With winter fruit options revolving around apples and citrus, they are a welcome alternative.

Also welcome is soup. I have recently discovered the refrigerated range of soups in supermarkets, many of which are vegan. Clearly they are not as good as homemade, but they are much nicer than tinned and very easy for a quick winter lunch. Mini Bite is now able to manage chunky soups on a spoon so they are a useful new lunch option for her too. Sainsbury's lentil dhal soup, pictured below, was a recent favourite and we also love the Glorious Indian cauliflower, chickpea and turmeric option.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Zizzi's vegan eats - Salad and cake

We continue to enjoy my parent's company, although after today they are off visiting other family before returning to us for their final few nights in mid-January. Mostly we have relished the time with them, but an extra bonus last week was the opportunity to head out for dinner with Mr Bite and not Mini Bite. We have never left Mini Bite with a babysitter and this was our first night out as a couple in over 17 months. Quite the novelty!

Being the laid back pair we are, we didn't head anywhere fancy. Rather, we went to the local Zizzi so I could expand my experience of their vegan menu and Mr Bite could enjoy his usual pizza favourite.

Zizzi paved the way for vegan pizza a few years back, offering any of their pizzas with a 'vegan mozzarella alternative' instead of regular cheese. Said 'alternative' is made with coconut oil and I liked it well enough when I tried it, which is significant given I don't usually like cheese or non-dairy cheese. However, for me, I still prefer vegetarian pizza without cheese at all.

More recently, Zizzi has gone a step further and ensured that vegan customers can choose from a range of options for starters, mains and dessert. For some time I've wanted to try their sticky chocolate and praline torte, and last week was my opportunity.

Green goddess salad

To ensure I had room for dessert, I bypassed vegan pizza or pasta for the green goddess salad with broccoli. Despite sounding super-healthy, this is a delicious salad full of flavour and contrasting texture. It includes tenderstem broccoli, cannellini beans, tomatoes, mixed leaves, crunchy 'winter slaw' and a pesto with purple basil, pea shoots and toasted seeds. It's a salad, but a hearty one.

Fortunately, it isn't so hearty that dessert can't fit in too. In addition to the vegan torte, there is a vegan dessert calzone on offer and one day I will try this too (it features banana, berry coulis and crushed honeycomb). However, I had my heart set on torte this time around. It consisted of a super creamy, mousse-like chocolate cake on top of a date, hazelnut and walnut base and it came with coconut and chocolate ripple gelato. Both components were utterly delicious and enjoyed by me as well as Mr Bite.

All in all, it was a wonderful meal out and has motivated us to try Zizzi again before too long - even if the next visit may be a lunchtime with a toddler in tow!

On an unrelated but timely note - wishing all of my readers a very happy start to 2018 and a wonderful year to come.

Have you enjoyed any recent meals out?