Cinnamon & nutmeg baked oatmeal with plums & toasted hazelnuts

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Porridge divides our family. On the one side, mum adores it. On the other, my dad thinks it’s the foodstuff created by the devil (I’m really not exaggerating). As with plenty of other things, such as coffee versus tea or even rainbow trout, I sit firmly in the middle. I don’t love the stuff, but I don’t hate it either. A little bit of sugar, milk and a sprinkle of raisins is good enough for me, but I only eat porridge a couple of times a year, mostly in the winter.

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That being said, I adore baked oatmeal. Why? Well, if you’ve never had baked oatmeal, you’re missing out, even if you despise it as much as my dad. Baked oatmeal is basically the child of a flapjack and a cake. Take a slice and warm it up in the microwave, add a bit of milk or even a bit of caramel sauce, and it’s probably one of my favourite sweet breakfasts (but not too sweet, cause that’s not my thing (unless we’re talking caramel, of course…)). On top of that, it’s super customisable; don’t like hazelnuts? What about almonds, pecans? And the plums? I love raspberries and blackberries in my baked oatmeal, but apple and pear slices are always a great substitute. Nutmeg and cinnamon could be swapped to cardamom or allspice — or even everybody’s seasonal favourite, pumpkin spice!

The handy thing with baked oatmeal, is that it’s delicious fresh out the oven, but it keeps well in the fridge for a few days. However, my favourite method when I’m making baked oatmeal for myself at university is to slice it up when it’s cold, wrap it in greaseproof paper and place in a container in the freezer. Then all I have to do is take out one slice in its paper, place it on a plate, defrost it in the fridge overnight and microwave it in the morning for a few minutes — tastes good as new (seriously)!

Makes about 6 large servings.
Adapted from here. Read More

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Vegetable okonomiyaki

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It’s not easy to find the time to cook properly in amongst my hours for university. Lunch is pretty easy, since most of my classes are in the evening, but that does make dinner a bit of a pain when I don’t get home until after 8, even 9 on Tuesdays.

Even more annoyingly (for me), it makes trying to make recipes that are recipe-photography-worthy nearly impossible since of course the sun makes its exit around 5 o’clock and then it’s pitch black. I’ve become pretty strict with myself with the whole natural-light-is-a-must, because nothing else quite compares in my opinion, particularly with the artificial lighting I have at my disposal (and budget). That’s why lunch these days has become my recent labour of love, which feels a little strange to me still considering I used to just fry up some dumplings from the freezer last year (oh, the benefits of having a Korean superstore really close to campus!) or even just skipping lunch altogether.

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This, like the shakshuka before it, is a very versatile recipe. Okonomiyaki is what I consider the Japanese version of a Swedish flaskpannkaka of my childhood, whereby a pancake is fleshed out to make a more considerable meal by adding various veg and cooked meats. This version uses carrots, leeks, and kale, fried in a pancake batter and cooked until crisp, before being coated in hoisin sauce and a soy + chilli dressing (though I wish I had had siracha chilli sauce at the time, instead of hoisin–next time). Even just soy sauce would be great.

The end result? A delicious, filling, healthy start to the day (or for lunch, or dinner).
Serves 1 as a very filling meal, or 2 for a lighter breakfast-lunch. Read More

Sweet potato, butternut squash and kale shakshuka

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Shakshuka is one of those dishes that’s been having a bit of a moment, and it’s obvious why. Bar the fact that it’s delicious, it’s easy to make and versatile enough to customise nearly every aspect of its ingredients (bar its arguably two most important ingredients–canned tomatoes and eggs) to boot. Did I mention it’s delicious? Because it is.

It’s not a new dish in the slightest, but as part of my own little shakshuka craze (I’ve even written about them before on studentjournals.co.uk), I’ve shared with you a vegetarian version, complete with yummy cubes of butternut squash, sweet potato and shredded cavolo nero (a dark, leafy type of kale).

So, let’s get cracking, eh?

This is such a perfect meal — for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. I even like to slice avocado to layer on top, particularly if I’ve bucked the rules a bit and added chicken to mine.
Serves 2 as a lunch or light dinner. Serves 1 if you’re seriously hungry.

Note: I am not a fan of bell peppers, or any peppers if they’re not of the chilli variety, so feel free to stay more traditional and add one half of a chopped bell pepper when you add the onion.  Read More

Trip to Naples, FL, USA – Dec 2014.

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You may well have noticed I’ve been AWOL for a while. I have to admit, in amidst everything going on, I completely forgot to check my posting schedule. Oooops. However, part of that blip in posting has been due to being away for quite a while in Naples, Florida, just a few hours away from Tampa and on the opposite coast from Miami.

In case you were interested in catching up on all the good food I ate (there was SO much), I sincerely recommend checking out my instagram (there’s a link to the right that should help, and my username would be emmasarahax), and scrolling a little bit down to see all the delicious plates.

And, man, I get the hype about Florida now.

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I mean, it’s just gorgeous. Blue sea, blue skies, so green, and errr….gators? Great times. But to get back to things, it’s such a beautiful state, full of good food and good sceneries. I totally see why it’s a retirement haven. So in amongst all the outlet shopping and lazing like a gator on the beach, I did have some killer food. Those chicken, avocado, three cheese, salsa and veg quesadillas? Killer.

This lobster roll?

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Fab. Enough lobster to feed an army. I’ll tentatively say I get the love for lobster rolls now. It’s pretty damn good.

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We stayed right by the beach in Naples, but most of the place is just so lush and green. I’m totally in love.

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And to have a quick glance at some other things I ate, here’s a few other snaps (but like I said, instagram’s gonna be the best catch-up around for my trip. Just scroll down a little until you hit mid-Dec–you’ll be able to tell by the palm trees!)

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A fantastic dulce de leche sponge cake. So fluffy!

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Some brown-rice sushi from the Whole Foods Store for breakfast in bed. This was just a normal store in Naples, but it kicks the butts off the ones in London for sure! I wonder what the giant flagship ones would be like…

So all in all, I’m a bit like this gator right now…can’t…move…after…eating. Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas, and have a wonderful New Years!

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Spiced Coconut Milk Porridge

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I woke up super late this morning, at around 1 o’clock. Ooops! No more late nights for me apparently, not if I actually want to see some daylight. I woke up pretty hungry, but a bit disappointed–I’d already decided that I would make this lovely porridge the day before, and then I woke up too late…!

That is, until I decided I was an adult and could have breakfast for lunch if I wanted 😛

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I hated the taste of rose when I was younger, but now love it (I realise I love a lot of things I hated as a kid, apart from peas, and tomatoes–no change there!) in a number of ways. Rosewater/essence, edible rose petals, rose-flavoured Turkish Delight…that last one used to be a real object of my hatred when I was little.

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This is like a bowl of comforting luxury. The coconut milk makes the porridge creamy, almost like a dessert, and the pistachio nuts and rose petals add a lovely crunch and sparks of flavour. Agave syrup adds a little bit of sweetness. And the cardamom pods and cinnamon make it smell like Christmas. I’m in love. Yeah, with porridge, I know. But love does work in mysterious ways…
Serves 2-3, generously Read More