I’ve done a fair bit of cooking over the past few days and wanted to share some of my recipes with you as all these dishes have turned out so delicious. Most of them could be made any time of the year, not just at Christmas. Enjoy!

Easy Mulled Wine

  • 1 cup of fresh orange juice (not from concentrate)
  • 2 tablespoons of natural caster sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 satsumas studded with whole cloves
  • 1 bottle of good red wine

Begin by combining all ingredients apart from the studded satsumas and wine in a pan. Heat until the sugar has melted and the syrup is simmering. Add the wine and satsumas then allow to simmer for 10 minutes then serve. Alternatively make this up a couple of hours early to allow the flavours to infuse before reheating. Serve with assorted snackies:

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This was a pretty straightforward mix of store cupboard ingredients and it tasted fantastic!

Leek and Roasties Soup (serves 4 – 6)

  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 4 small leeks washed and sliced
  • Around 8 medium potatoes, piled and chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • Hot veg stock

Begin by parboiling the potatoes in salted water for 5 – 10 minutes, drain and set aside. In the meantime heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a roasting tin in a hot oven. Add the drained potatoes to the olive, along with the rosemary sprig and roast the potatoes for 40 – 50 minutes until crispy and tender. In a large pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the knob of butter. Fry the leeks on a medium heat until they start to become soft. Add the roast potatoes, rosemary and enough hot vegetable stock to cover the vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes then blend until smooth. You may need to add additional stock to thin out the soup if its too thick.

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This is a great version of the standard leek and potato soup with the addition of a deeper creamier flavour from the roasting and the rosemary.

Laura’s Delicious Veggie Loaf (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 2 cups vegetable stock, plus extra
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and fry the garlic and onions on a medium heat until softened. Add the carrots and continue to fry for a few minutes. Add the brown rice, lentils and stock to the pot. Simmer until the stock has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender (about 45 minutes – you may need to add more stock until the rice is done). The mixture should be thick and soupy but not too watery.

Mash the mixture with a potato masher or a folk so that the carrots and lentils are broken down.

Pre heat the oven to 180C and prepare a loaf tin with spray oil and grease proof paper. Mix together the soy sauce, nutritional yeast and ground flax seeds into a thick paste and add to the lentil and rice mix along with the tomato paste.

Ground the pecans in a food processor until fine, also blend the oats until they are broken down into smaller pieces. Add to the lentil and rice mix along with the dried herbs.

Mix well then pour into the prepared loaf tin. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour – the surface of the loaf should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack. Slice into inch thick pieces and serve immediately or can be kept in the fridge for a few days or wrapped in grease proof paper and frozen.

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The sage in this makes it taste like stuffing! Really filling with a lovely dense, moist and meaty texture, there’s no way any veggies or vegans at the table would miss the turkey with this as an alternative. Makes great leftovers too – I’ve just had some with chilli jam and melted cheese!

Chocolate Orange Cake – adapted from Nigella’s Store Cupboard Orange Cake (serves 6 to 8)

  • 125 grams of unsalted butter
  • 100 grams of dark chocolate (I used Green and Blacks 70%)
  • 300 grams of good quality orange marmalade (I used a free from peel type)
  • 150 grams of sugar (I used natural caster sugar)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150 grams of wholemeal self-rising flour
  • Double cream, whipped
  • 1 teaspoon of natural orange extract
  • zest of 1/2 orange
  • Grated Green and Blacks Maya Gold Chocolate or another orange flavoured chocolate

Pre heat the oven to 180C. In a pan melt the butter over a low heat. Off the heat, add the dark chocolate and stir into the warm butter until melted and combined. Add the sugar, marmalade, eggs and salt and combine. Add the flour gradually until combined. Grease and line a 20 cm round cake tin. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 45 – 50 minutes until the cake is firm, a few crumbs should still come out on a tooth pick. Whip the cream and add the orange extract. Top the cake with the whipped cream and decorate with orange zest and grated orange chocolate.

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This is a really simple cake to make but it looks and tastes stunning! It has a wonderful dense, fudgy texture that goes so well with the cream, and a perfect balance of chocolate and orange flavours. Yum!