Well, another week has hurtled past in the blink of an eye. I’m pretty glad as this is probably my least favourite time of year. As I write this the wind is blowing a gale and it appears to be raining horizontally. The temperature has dropped. Almost every other person I meet has a cold, virus or bug. As I wrote this I, myself, am in the grip of a rather unpleasant bug topped off with the beginnings of a cold. Delights aplenty! Still, it’s better to get it out of the way now and be healthy and ready for when spring leaps out to surprise us again. I hope you’re keeping well and fighting off the abundant army of pre-spring germs.
I am very much looking forward to seeing more sunshine. We had a ray of sunshine visit us at QVC last week in the form of Amanda Holden. Although I have met her backstage in passing I hadn’t had the opportunity of working closely with her until Friday when we celebrated International Women’s Day with our own Inspirational Women of QVC. Amanda is such a fun lady. I loved her sense of humour and youthful outlook on life. She spoke to me of her dearly departed nan who had always been, and continues to be, an inspiration to her. It’s clear to see strong women run in their family.
Amanda is a hardworking, fun-loving person who has many strings to her bow. I find her to be inspirational. Especially as a busy, working mother trying to juggle it all. Not to mention her eye for interior design. I’m pretty good with building work, I can knock down walls and lay driveways no problem, but I’m less skilled when it comes down to the finishing touches that make a home uniquely personal. BundleBerry is Amanda’s own range, made for QVC, which marries practicality with contemporary flair. I love it! You can check it out online.
Although I’ve said interior design may not be at the top of my list of skills I must say that I’m quite proud of the work I’ve done renovating my home. A few weeks ago I posted a blog featuring some tiling I was doing in my kitchen. Thanks to my friend, Greg, I have learned so much as we have worked together on this phase of the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen now looks like this and it has really encouraged me to spend more time making home cooked meals.
I find cooking a truly meditative process. It’s a way of focussing the mind, diverting it away from outside distractions such as social media or sitting in front of the telly. Best of all, you get something at the end of it for your troubles. This is particularly satisfying when it’s comfort food.
My diet is now completely vegan which means I don’t consume any animal products such as meat, fish, dairy or eggs. People often ask me how I cope. I wondered, too, when I began my vegan food journey in January of 2018 but I can honestly say it’s about 100 times easier than I could’ve imagined. I’ve learned to become more culinarily creative and have also become much more educated when it comes to nutrition.
On the weekend I decided there was just one thing I fancied. A good, old fashioned, hearty cottage pie!
Ok, so how was I going to create it without meat, butter or cream? Well, I just made it up as I went along from ingredients I already had in the house. So easy!
It turned out beautifully tasty. It wasn’t actually going to be featured on the blog but it was too good not to share. If only there had been a plan I could’ve taken photos along the way for you to show, step by step, what I did.
Still, it’s really easy and I’ll explain the recipe below.
- 1 pack of meat free vegan mince (I use the meatless farm company)
- 500g potatoes (boiled or steamed)
- Approx half a mug of oat milk
- 4tbsp vegan cream cheese (I used Sainsbury’s free from cheese)
- 2tbsp non dairy spread (my favourite is ‘Pure’ olive)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 punnet of button mushrooms, sliced
- 1 punnet of cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Approx 1 mug of frozen peas
- 2 tbsp vegan friendly gravy granules (I used Bisto)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp sun dried tomatoes
- 2tbsp tomato purée
- 1 tbsp mustard
- 200ml red wine
- 2 tbsp oil of your choice… I used the oil from the jar of sun dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp of dried mixed herbs
- Salt and pepper to season
- Approx half a mug of grated non-dairy cheese (I cut cheese slices extremely thinly as I didn’t have any other hard cheese but it took ages so I recommended using grated)
- Preheat the oven to 180C or 350F
- Place the oil in a pan and soften the onions over a medium heat. Next, add the mince and cook for a few minutes until browned off (the mince, not you, hee hee). Add the mushrooms, peas and tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes until the peas have thawed. Add the wine and gravy granules and turn the heat up a little to cook off the alcohol and thicken the mixture.
- Either finely chop or (as I did) place the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, tomato purée, mustard, dried herbs and seasoning into a chopper until blended. I used the Ninja. You can find our range of Ninja products online, I use mine loads. Add the chopped ingredients to the pan and mix well. Turn down the heat and stir occasionally.
- In a separate pan mash the cooked potatoes, oat milk, non dairy spread, cream cheese and some more salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mince mix into a suitable baking dish (or as I did when I realised I’d made so much, two dishes) and carefully spoon the mash mix on top. Use a fork to even out the surface and create a nice stripey effect. Place in the oven until the potato topping begins to brown.
- Remove dish from oven and sprinkle grated cheese on top (as much as desired). Place under a pre heated grill until cheese begins to melt.
- Place on side and invite everyone nearby to come and admire your fine work then serve with veg of your choice. I steamed some broccoli and purple cabbage to go with mine and then poured a lovely thick gravy over it all.
Oooh it was so delicious!! Sometimes the best dishes are made when you just go to the cupboards and make it up on the spot rather than making plans. This was certainly one of those times! I hope you enjoy if you decide to make it.
Thanks for reading and have a great week.
Lots of love,