Avocado, Pea & Goats Cheese Bruschetta

Pea and avocado bruschetta

I've not been around much. Have you missed me?

My laptop has been AWOL. An update to Windows 8.1 wiped most of the contents of my computer, so my laptop has been on vacation at not one, but two repair shops. It came back to me working, but an empty shell, so I'm now playing catch up and trying not to think of all the work I've lost.

photo: Elizabeth's Kichen Diary
I'm back with a simple lunch idea. Avocado and pea bruschetta. It's a quick and healthy meal that you're bound to enjoy as much as I did.

Lightly toasted bread rubbed with a clove of garlic, then topped with peppery mashed avocado, lightly cooked peas, salty goats cheese and a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

I used a shop bought balsamic glaze I keep in the fridge, but If you would like to make your own, check out Elizabeth's tutorial.

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Avocado and Pea Bruschetta
A light and healthy lunch dish.
  • 2 thick slices of bloomers bread
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 50g frozen peas
  • a few sprigs of fresh coriander
  • 30-50g goats cheese
  • a drizzle of balsamic glaze
1. Lightly cook the peas. While they are cooking toast the bread.2. Mash the avocado, with the lemon juice and black pepper. The lemon juice will prevent the avocado from discolouring.3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the toast and rub with the clove of garlic.4. Once the peas are lightly cooked, drain and mix through some coriander.5. Spread the soft avocado over the toast, top with the peas, then crumble some goats cheese over the peas and finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.6. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 2

Here are a few more lunch ideas for you to try:

tasty lunch ideas
  1. Cheesey Bean Wraps
  2. Falafel, Beetroot and Goats Cheese Wraps
  3. Rocket and Mozzarella Farfalle Salad
  4. Carrot, Leek and Mustard Seed Soup

 I'm submitting my bruschetta to two challenges.

  1. Extra Veg - Hosted this month my Elizabeth from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. This challenge is the brain child of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy.
  2. Credit Crunch Munch - Hosted this month by Sarah over at Maison Cupcake. This This challenge is the brain child of Helen from Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

Win an Optimum 9400 Blender worth £329

You'll have heard about my love affair? If you've been reading my blog you'll know what I'm talking about. 

It's my own personal sous chef. My Optimum 9400.

He's a powerful beast and he looks ever so handsome sitting on my worktop. He helps me out every day,  cleans himself and he's ever so quiet. 

Every morning I throw a selection of fruit, vegetables, some water or fruit juice and ice in my blender, hit the switch and a few seconds later we each have a slurpilious smoothie for breakfast or to take with us to work or school. Then a quick rinse at the tap, some hot water and a few drops of washing-up liquid and back on to whizz himself clean.. Smoothies made and a clean blender in a couple of minutes. Perfect for busy mornings.

There's so much more you can make in the Optimum 9400. Here are a few recipes:


You can also knead bread or pizza dough, make pizza sauce, pasta sauce, pesto, dips, milkshakes, slushies, nut flours, peanut butter, ice cream, sorbet, pancake batter, guacamole, nut milks, rice milk, jam, cheese sauce, salad dressings and mayonnaise.

So would you like one?

I thought so!

To enter leave me a comment telling me what you'll make first in your blender, if you win one, then enter via the rafflecopter below. This giveaway will run until 31 October 2014 to readers who live in the UK (although after the election today, we may be talking of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales.

Disclosure: I have an Optimum 9400 which I was sent for review a few months ago. I love it and I am happy to promote the brand on my blog. 

Roast Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad with a Creamy Pesto Salad

Roast Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

Roast vegetables are just so tasty. 

They really perk up a dish. Add them to wraps, pasta, risotto, as a topping for burgers in a bun or between the layers of a veggie lasagne.

This time I've used them to make an Autumnal salad. Lots of beautiful colours and textures tossed through salad leaves and topped with mozzarella pearls and a good drizzling of creamy pesto dressing.


Of course I didn't add mozzarella to Graham's salad as he is vegan, but I personally love it in salads. I like adding fresh mozzarella to pasta too, just before serving. 

Cooper? Well no. He just doesn't want to try mozzarella. He's happy to add it when he's making a pizza, but will he taste it? NO! I don't know why, but he won't budge on it. The only acceptable cheese to him are smoked applewood or cheddar to eat on it's own, veggie style parmesan on pasta and mozzarella cooked on a pizza. Full stop! I couldn't even persuade him how wonderful a delight roasted cheese (cheese on toast) is. Children, sigh!

Roast Vegetable Salad

For the dressing I combined pesto, yoghurt, a squeeze of lemon juice and olive oil. Just the right flavour to compliment this salad.

Oh now, you may be admiring my salad bowl. I got it some time ago and mentioned it in one of my New in my Kitchen posts. Just in case you are wondering (I know I would be asking), it's a Spode salad bowl. I think it is a thing of beauty, but then I am sad that way. The small Turkish glass I picked up in a cheap shop for pennies years ago, but I think they are quite easy to pick up.

I hope you enjoy the salad.

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Roast Vegetable and Mozzarella Salad with Pesto Dressing
A colourful and statisfying salad of roast vegetables on a bed of salad leaves, topped with little mozzarella pearls and a drizzle of creamy pesto dressing.
  • 1 aubergine, sliced
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 2-3 bell peppers, sliced
  • ½ butternut squash, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • a large bag of salad leaves
  • 125g mozzarella pearls
  • 2 tsp pesto
  • 1 tsp Greek Yoghurt
  • a good squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4-5 tbsp olive oil
  • a good grinding of black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 220 °C /200°C fan/ gas mark 7.2. Toss all the cut veg in a bowl with the oil.3. Spread the veg out in a roasting pan and cook for 25-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and charring at the edges.4. Whisk together the pesto, yoghurt, lemon juice and olive oil and season with black pepper.5. In a large salad bowl, start with a layer of salad leaves, top with the roast veg and then the mozzarella and finish with a drizzle of the dressing. Leave the rest on the table so your guests can add more if they like.6. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4

Here are a few more ideas of what to do with roast veg:


21 Quick Vegan Meals for Midweek Dinners

21 Quick Vegan Meals for Midweek Dinners

I don't know about you, but I live my life at top speed. I know it's not healthy, but that's just how it is. I have a day job, my blog to run as well as writing for various online and in print magazines and developing recipes for brands. On top of that I have a family to look after, a house to keep and meals to cook. Believe me I'm always in a rush.

Meals often have to be a speedy affair too. We're home late a few times a week, with a small window of opportunity for dinner before our wee boy needs to go to bed. It's all very tiring and it can be stressful too.

As I try to organise myself for the week (this doesn't always happen), I need interesting meals I can get to the table quickly, but they still have to taste good and be relatively healthy. No huge lists of ingredients either or any weird ingredients. It has to be simple, healthy and filling.

I've been searching the web for some of the best quick vegan recipes and I've found lots to share with you. I've also included some of my recipes too, which have been tested out and approved by my family before I share them.  

I hope you try some of these recipes and they inspire you to make your busy midweek dinners more varied.

21 Quick Vegan Meals You'll Love

4. Garden Biryani - Little Miss Meat Free
5. Spicy Three Bean Sausage Rolls - Tinned Tomatoes
6. Maple-Orange Roasted Chickpeas and Carrots (& brown rice bowl)- Coconut and Berries

9. Moroccan Style Potato Bake - Tinned Tomatoes

11. Minestrone Soup - Tinned Tomatoes


15. Eat the Rainbow Pasta - Tinned Tomatoes

17. Quick and Easy Five Vegetable Dal - Utterly Scrummy Food For Families
18. Fridge Lentil Soup - Tinned Tomatoes 

19. Black Bean Quinoa Chili - Food to Glow 

If you need more inspiration....



This is the chip supper you would love to order from your local chip shop, but will be very lucky if it's on their menu.

It's a real winner but easy to make. Creamy tofu is coated in thick, crisp, spicy beer batter. Serve this chip shop battered tofu with chips, peas and tomato ketchup. I'm not keen on mushy peas but I know a lot of you out there love them, so you could serve them with those if you like or even baked beans.


I hope these meals have inspired you to try some new recipes.  Thanks to everyone who contributed a recipe. Do share this post as a thank you to the contributors and save it for later.


pin it for later

Meals often have to be a speedy affair midweek. Speed things up with 21 tasty and quick vegan midweek meals. #veganuary #vegan #veganrecipes #quickveganrecipes #easyveganrecipes


Cooper's First Day of School Chocolate Cake

First day of school chocolate cake 

First Day of School

As you probably know my wee Cooper has just started school.  I don't know were the time has gone. It just whizzed by.

So first day of school. An excited little boy had breakfast, a shower and dressed in his smart new school clothes before setting off. Graham and I both took time off to take him along. We got there early, so he had time to play before being taken in to his class. It was a quick goodbye to us and we were headed home a little shell shocked, although there were no tears. At lunchtime we both went along to pick him up and waited excitedly with the other parents. He came out of the door and ran to us like a bullet. Big hugs all round.

Graham headed back to work and Cooper changed out of his school uniform so we could have some fun together. I thought it might be nice to start our own tradition. First day of school chocolate cake.

Cooper made our favourite chocolate cake and we filled it and topped it with chocolate buttercream, chocolare buttons and white chocolate nibs. I always have a tub of chocolate buttercream,, just in case of last minute cakes or buttercream disasters, so I decided we would use that.

First Day of School Chocolate Cake

1. Preheat oven and grease two cake tins
2. Measure the plain flour into a bowl and sieve.
3. Add the caster sugar and  bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and a pinch of salt.

4. Sieve in the cocoa powder, then stir gently with a metal spoon to combine.
5. Melt the butter in a pan.

6.  Crack eggs into another bowl, as demonstrated by Cooper.


7. Whisk the eggs.
8. In a jug measure out the coffee granules then top up with boiling water (Mummy will help with this) and set aside.
9. Carefully pour the melted butter into the egg mixture. It should have cooled a bit by now.

10. In a fresh jug measure the milk and top with a good squeeze of lemon juice and set aside for a few minutes. This is in place of buttermilk, which I never have in the fridge.
11. Pour the milk into the egg mixture and whisk.
12. Add the vanilla extract and whisk again.

13. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and whisk in a stand mixer (or with an electric whisk) until smooth and thick.
14, Pour in the coffee and fold in carefully with a spatula or metal spoon.
15 Pour the batter into the prepared cake tins and bake in middle of the oven for about 35 minutes. Do the skewer test. If it comes out clean the cake is ready, although chocolate cake can benefit from coming out a little early for an extra moist cake.
16. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before decorating.
17. Decorate then slice a piece and enjoy!

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First Day of School Chocolate Cake
A moist chocolate cake that's just perfect for a special occasion like first day of school
  • 225g plain flour
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs, whisked
  • 250ml buttermilk (1 tbsp lemon juice of vinegar, topped up with milk to 250ml and left for at least 5 minutes)
  • 115g butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200ml strong coffee, still hot
1. Preheat oven to 180c/160c fan/350/gas mark 4. Grease two 18 cm cake tins and line the bottom of each with baking paper.2. In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, add the flour, cocoa, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Give it is good stir with a metal spoon until it is well combined.3. Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla and pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk until velvety smooth with either a stand mixer or an electric hand mixer. Next pour in the hot coffee and mix in with a spatula, until you have a runny mixture. (don’t panic, it will work)4. Pour the batter into the cake pans and bake in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes. A skewer should come out clean.5. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for a while, before tipping carefully onto a wire rack to continue cooling. 6. Fill and top the cake with homemade or shop-bought chocolate frosting and chocolate buttons.
Total time:
Yield: 1 chocolate cake

Three more chocolatey treats for you to try:

Malteser Fudge Brownies                Oreo Chocolate Tiffin                   Mars Bar Slice

Frozen POM Orange and Tequila Cocktail and Top 10 Party Tips

I recently made Fresh Blackberry and Apple Slushies in my Optimum 9400. They were so indulgent and such fun to drink, the thought of making some alcoholic slushies was in my mind. Wouldn't they be great to serve at a party? So I set to work and came up with these Frozen POM Orange Tequila Cocktails.

Oh my! I must encourage you to try them, they were delicious. Dangerously so. They weren't overly sweet, but the sweetness they did have needed salty nibbles, so I served the cocktails with Wonderful Roasted Salted Pistachios. Mmmmmm, they worked so well together. Happy Days!

Just in case you haven't heard of POM, it is a wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice in the kookiest bottle. Great for adding to smoothies and cocktails, without all the faff of trying to juice pomegrante seeds.

Oh and my tip for drinking these luscious cocktails? Fat straws!

Top 10 Party Tips 
Balsamic Tomato and Pesto Canapes

  1. Make a list. In fact make at least 10 lists and tick things off as you go You can't be too organised.
  2. Give yourself time to do a Spring clean in the house before the party, you'll be more relaxed inviting guests into a clean and tidy house. Also be prepared for spills during the party and buy stain removal products, just in case.
  3. Mini Veggie Haggis and Mustard Bites

  4. Buy some fresh flowers the day before the party and place in vases around the house.
  5. Prepare as much as you can in advance. Have plenty of party food made and sitting in the fridge or the freezer ready to be heated and served on the day.
  6. Make sure your party food is small and easy to pick up when holding a drink. You are looking for bite-sized pieces.
  7. Prepare a drinks area, with drinks, glasses, a bucket of ice and slices of citrus fruit for garnish.
  8. Put together some mix CDs or playlists on your MP3 player ahead of the party, so no one spends the party trying to find music. Start off with upbeat numbers, then slow them down as the evening goes on.
    Mint Chocolate Truffles

  9. Give yourself an hour to get ready, if you don't you could be answering the door all sweaty in your lounging-about-the-house clothes.
  10. Aim to be ready for your guests a good half hour before they are due to arrive. This means you won't be running round like an idiot with high stress levels and you'll be ready to calmly greet that early guest. There's always one!
  11. Relax and enjoy!
Now you're ready for your guests to arrive you need some cocktails:

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Frozen POM Orange Tequila Cocktails
An alcoholic tequila slushie with fresh orange and pomegranate juice. Perfect to sip with friends.
  • 150ml (3 shots) tequila
  • 100ml (2 shots) cointreau (or other orange liqueur)
  • 100ml (2 shots) POM pomegranate juice
  • 2 large oranges
  • lots of (I used half a bag) ice cubes
1. Juice the oranges.2. In a blender, add all the ingredients and whizz until you have a slushie texture.notes: If you don't have a power blender like mine, do not add the ice as it will burn out the motor.3. Serve with a salty nibble and enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Makes 6-8 cocktails

Here are a few more mocktails and cocktails to get your party started:


Disclosure: I developed this recipe for POM and featured Wonderful Pistachios. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

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