Pumpkin and carrot soup

As I sit here typing, the rain is falling steadily outside. It was, of course, raining most heavily right at the school drop off – where I am sure my attempts to wrangle 3 kids, 3 bags and 3 umbrellas was met with more than a few laughs.

But I have well and truly warmed up after tucking into a big bowl of soup that I had stashed away in the freezer. A perfect go-to lunch on days such as this, when the day is dreary and the temperatures have lowered.

I actually made this pumpkin and carrot soup a while back, but realised I never shared it on the blog. And what a shame that would be – for what a soup it is!

Simply – onion, garlic, carrots and pumpkin, simmered with stock and given a golden hue by the addition of turmeric. Finished with a dollop of natural yoghurt, and a sprinkle of pepitas and parsley.

And, as is always a plus with dishes such as these, the recipe yields enough to store some away in the freezer for easy re-heatable lunches on days such as this!

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Pumpkin and carrot soup
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  1. Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and stir until starting to soften.
  2. Add the pumpkin, carrots and turmeric, stirring to coat in the spice mixture. Add the stock and 500ml water, and bring to the boil.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Puree the soup using a stick blender until smooth. Divide among bowls, and top with a dollop of yoghurt and a sprinkle of pepitas and parsley.
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GF chicken snitzel with carrot swede salad

We are in full blown sleep regression (?) here, with Miss C waking every 2 hours over the last few nights. A result of the two teeth that have sprouted perhaps? All I know is that I am one sleepy lady at the moment. A sleepy lady who is crazy busy at work too. Ahh when it rains it pours eh? At least there have been some tasty meals to look forward to at the end of the day. Including this one, inspired by the carrots and couple swedes that arrived in our Aussie Farmers Direct vegetable box a little while ago. IMG_8694 (Swedes are also known as rutabagas I think….) Initially I was going to roast them, but decided to do something a little different. And with the help of ginger, GF soy sauce and some sesame oil… IMG_8695 We soon had ourselves an Asian-style carrot and swede salad. IMG_8697 Warmed in a pan, with a cup of frozen peas for some green. IMG_8699 And our salad was done. IMG_8700 For protein, we ‘breaded’ some thin chicken schnitzels with polenta (using this technique but without the parsley and lemon zest). IMG_8702 And what a meal it made! IMG_8703 I really enjoyed the crunch of the salad, which had soaked up the lovely ginger / sesame / soy flavours. IMG_8701 While the schnitzel itself was also a nice GF take on an old classic. What about you? How do you like to cook swedes?

Gourmet Garden – Sweet potato, carrot and thyme soup

When I heard that Gourmet Garden were having a “Blog Off / Cook Off” competition, well it took me oh about about 2.4 seconds to  sign up. blog The challenge? Experiment with Gourmet Garden’s range of herbs, spice up some everyday meals and blog about them. Sounds right up my alley?! Not long after signing up, a nice courier dropped off a collection of herbs at my doorstep. IMG_6892 And I wasted no time in getting to work, with Mother’s Day providing the perfect opportunity for me to spice up my first meal using two of the Gourmet Garden herbs. IMG_6893 Garlic and thyme. On the menu… soup Sweet potato, carrot and thyme soup. The dish itself could not have been any easier to make. Just sweet potatoes, carrots, lemon and onions, flavoured with the garlic and thyme, and simmered with vegetable stock and water until tender. Then pureed into a luscious thick soup. IMG_6935 And when drizzled with a little cream, and served alongside some chewy spelt sourdough I picked up at the markets over the weekend, we had ourselves quite a tasty Mother’s Day lunch. IMG_6958 IMG_6937 I was pleased to discover that the thyme and garlic added just the right amount of flavour to the soup, without overpowering the naturally delicious sweet potato and carrot. IMG_6945 I only wish that I had made a bigger batch, for there was not a drop left after lunch was finished. IMG_6950 (ie. no leftovers for my mid-week lunches!) IMG_6951 Sweet potato, carrot and thyme soup (serves 8)

  • 1tbs olive oil
  • 1.5kg sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1.5 tbs Gourmet Garden chunky garlic paste
  • 1 tbs Gourmet Garden thyme paste
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1L water
  • Cream to serve *
  1. Heat oil in a large stock pot. Add sweet potato, carrots, onion garlic and thyme and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add lemon zest, juice, stock and water and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes or until soft.
  3. Process soup until smooth.
  4. Divide among serving bowls and drizzle with cream.

Stay tuned for my other “Gourmet Garden- inspired” meals. I have a few in mind to share with you throughout the week!

Pineapple and carrot spelt cupcakes

IMG_5849 Wanting to contribute dessert to our recent Good Friday lunch, but also being mindful of the chocolate overload that inevitably occurs over the Easter weekend (well for me anyway), I went in search of a non-chocolate baked treat. And with a newborn taking up most of my spare time, the dessert also needed to be relatively quick and easy to prepare. Enter….cupcakes. Pineapple and carrot spelt cupcakes to be precise. Just mix… IMG_5835 Spoon… IMG_5836 And bake. IMG_5838 IMG_5839 But we all know that cupcakes are really about the icing. I had initially planned to top the cupcakes with a lemon cream cheese icing, however as I was making them quite a few hours in advance, I wasn’t convinced that the icing would hold its shape when travelling to our lunch destination. I knew that vanilla buttercream, on the other hand, was a good stable icing that would travel well. IMG_5841 So buttercream icing it was. Coloured with a splash of pink food dye, piped onto the cupcakes, then topped with a pre-made fondant flower for no other reason than they looked pretty. IMG_5845 And who doesn’t love pretty?? IMG_5846 I really quite enjoyed the addition of the crushed pineapple, which added both a hit of pineapple flavour but also kept the cakes moist. IMG_5850 And, although the cakes themselves were not overly sweet, the icing certainly was – and provided the requisite afternoon sugar rush. IMG_5848 Good Friday dessert….success! Pineapple and carrot spelt cupcakes (makes 12)

  • 3 eggs
  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1.5 cups spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 350g grated carrot
  • 180g drained crushed pineapple
  • 150g butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tbs vanilla essence
  • Few drops food colouring
  1. Preheat oven to 180C, and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Combine eggs and oil. Add flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, carrot and pineapple, and stir until just combined. Divide among cases.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely.
  4. To make the icing – beat the butter until pale and creamy. Add the vanilla, food colouring and the icing sugar (half a cup at a time) – and continue to beat until smooth. Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.

Lemon chicken rice

We are all a tad sleep deprived over here, with Miss Charlotte being a little unsettled throughout both the day and night at the moment. A newborn’s prerogative I believe Smile We have, however, continued to eat well – with a view to keeping our bodies fuelled with healthy and nutritious food during these unsettled periods. Particularly with dishes that are simple and easy to prepare, and that provide lots of leftovers for quick ‘heat and eat’ lunches the next day. Such as this lemon chicken rice. IMG_5444 Just carrots and capsicum… IMG_5437 Basmati rice and stock… IMG_5438 Chicken breast (that I had poached and shredded)… IMG_5439 Frozen peas… IMG_5440 Lemon rind and juice… IMG_5441 Simmered until the rice was cooked… IMG_5443 And our one pot dinner was done. IMG_5444 Simple, easy and healthy. IMG_5445 And the perfect meal to prepare when time is lacking… IMG_5447 Delish! What about you? Do you ever cook with basmati rice? I normally only cook with brown rice, but it was a nice change to use a different variety this time.

My new equal favourite – Carrot and coconut cake

cake4 Remember when I said I had a new favourite cake? Well I think I have found another new favourite. Actually… I cant decide which I like more so I shall call them equal favourites. You know, so as to avoid any allegations of cake discrimination?! IMG_4407 This little beauty graced our countertop after a craving for carrot cake had me trawling the inter-web for that ‘perfect’ recipe. Something a little different, and something a little healthier than the usual ‘heavy on the sugar and oil’ variety. IMG_4395 Then I came across this recipe and I stopped searching at once. It had all the right features of a good carrot cake. cake  Moist, flavoursome and sweet. IMG_4403 And not to mention pretty. IMG_4432 And delicious! IMG_4437 I am 100% certain that I will never use another carrot cake recipe again. Carrot and Coconut Spelt Cake (adapted from here) This is a delightful moist carrot cake, without being oil laden or loaded with sugar. I used spelt flour as the base, however you could easily make it with regular wheat flour or even gluten free by using a gluten free flour mix. As I  made this cake on a warm day, after icing, I kept it in the fridge until 15 minutes prior to serving. This made it easier to slice without the icing melting.

  • 3 large organic free-range eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vanilla yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup moist coconut flakes
  • 1.5 cups grated carrot*

For the maple cream cheese icing

  • 2 tbs butter (softened)
  • 250g cream cheese (softened)
  • 2-3 cups icing sugar (to taste)
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (for topping)

* I grated 4 carrots, then pulsed them in my food processor a few times to break them down a little more.

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line the base of a round spring form pan, and grease the base and sides.
  2. Beat the eggs, then add oil and sugar and continue to beat until fluffy. Add the yoghurt and vanilla and beat until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in batches, and beat until combined.
  5. Add the carrot and coconut and stir until just combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. When the cake has cooled completely, use a serrated bread knife to carefully cut the cake crossways in half. Place the bottom layer on a plate and spread with half of the cream cheese mixture. Top with the remaining cake layer and cream cheese, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.

For the icing: Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the icing sugar, a little at a time, and beat until smooth. Add extra icing sugar to taste. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before spreading onto the cake. In pictures… IMG_4345IMG_4347 IMG_4348IMG_4368  IMG_4372IMG_4371IMG_4375IMG_4376  IMG_4383IMG_4382 IMG_4393IMG_4415IMG_4412   What about you?  Are you a fan of carrot cake? Happy Baking :)