Green Salad with Garlic Mushrooms

Vegan
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Guys! Big news. I’ve decided that once a month I’m going to do a “fun things you should add to your salads post.” It’s going to be epic! I know, right now it sounds kind of boring. But trust me, lately I have been KILLING the salad game. My uni schedule this semester means most days I got home at 2.30pm, with half an hour before I go to work. What does that mean? Salad!!

The best lunch ever.

Salad can easily be the worst meal, or the best. It all depends what you put in it and how you make it. For me, the most important thing is the salad base. If you don’t have a strong base, the rest of your salad will never be able to shine like the star it should be.
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Take careful note of the photo above. Today I used two types of lettuce, washed and whizzed completely dry in my lettuce washer. It must be completely dry! Otherwise your salad will be sad. Two big handfuls for each person please. Next I added half a finely chopped shallot, for some zing. You could add finely sliced red onion if that’s your thing for this element.

Select two of your favourite herbs. Today I used basil (heaps of basil!) and coriander. You can add parsley, mint, dill (although I can’t be your friend anymore if you add dill because I HATE dill irrationally), or any other soft herb you like. Use a small palmful of leaves, and finely chop.
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Now it’s time to add your crunchy elements! I like to add a stalk of celery, half a chopped apple, half a chopped capsicum, and/or some cucumber for the crunchy part of the salad. Today I just used apple and capsicum because that’s all we had. Chop everything into 1cm chunks and throw into your salad bowl.

Next, time for some substantial greens. The best by far is broccoli, but today for the first time maybe forever we were out of broccoli, so I added steamed baby peas and zucchini. If you have time, you can roast the greens in the oven, but today this is an under half an hour salad so steaming will have to do! Chop in half an avocado for creaminess too.

And now for the secret: mushrooms!! Get out your pan, crush a garlic clove in there, add a drizzle of olive oil and fry up a huge handful of them. Mushrooms make an ordinary salad an extraordinary salad. Only add them at the last second because the heat might wilt the lettuce.
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For dressing mix 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp seedy mustard, and the juice of half a lime. Toss all the ingredients well. I drizzled over a tbsp of tahini as well for extra protein.

YUUUUM. There you have it. The best 20 minute salad in existence. Enjoy! And get excited for next months salad adventures!

One Year Ago: Coconut and Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwiches

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Chocolate and Vanilla Flecked Cream Cake

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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Last weekend, my cousin decided to do the 40 hour famine with his school. In a moment of madness, I decided to do it with him. In my memories the 40 hour famine was never very hard. To be honest all I could really remember is the end of the famine, where I would either make and eat an entire pizza, pot of macaroni and cheese or possibly tub of ice cream, much to my shrunken stomach’s regret. Nothing tastes quite as good as homemade macaroni and cheese when you haven’t eaten for forty hours 🙂

So I started at 8pm, and settled in for a night of babysitting. Babies went to bed, I started binge-watching all their recorded movies, things were looking good. And then…I saw they hadn’t eaten their dessert pizza. It wasn’t just any kind of dessert pizza, it was an Elvis Presley pizza. Layers of caramel sauce, nutella, roasted banana and chocolate crumble, covered in sugar. A little voice in my head said ‘no Lil! You’re only forty minutes into your famine!’ But a much louder voice said ‘NOOOOM NUTELLA BANANA ERMAGEEEERD’ and the next thing I knew, half that pizza was chilling in my tummy.

I wasn’t even hungry! I don’t even like dessert pizzas (except this one was pretty good). It just goes to show that deprivation never works. Especially if you haven’t actually raised any money, and therefore have no reason to continue the famine…
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That story doesn’t really have much to do with this chocolate cashew cream cake, I just had to alleviate my conscience somewhere. I did warn you all with my rhubarb cinnamon cream cake that there would be many more cashew cream cakes to come now that I’ve discovered how good they are. And to be honest, what with dumpling month going on this past four weeks, there has been a serious lack of chocolate on here.

This cake was inspired by that nutella pizza in a way, because I continued with the hazelnut and chocolate theme, sans banana. If I was Elvis Presley, there would also be caramel and peanut butter involved, and I would have to deep-fry the whole thing as well…when I was eating it I actually imagined how good it would taste with peanut butter, so I’ve made a little recommendation in the recipe if you want to take it down that route!
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Sorry this is so late by the way! This post took me a lifetime to actually put up once I’d planned on making it. Normally I post every weekend, by the latest Monday morning. I had grand plans to finish all my uni work and go to bed early on Friday, waltz in to my kitchen on Saturday morning and blend this up in no time, chill it, cover it in ganache, go out and get myself a new job, and photograph this cake on Sunday morning, possibly drinking a green smoothie at the same time.

But…Friday night ended up being Beyonce night and I ended up not getting home on Saturday morning until 5am…I got out of bed at 10am, dragged myself to a job interview, zombie-stumbled home, fell on my bed on the way to the shower, ended up falling asleep for five hours, fell off my bed on to my phone which thankfully alerted me to wake up, washed my face, stumbled to babysitting and died on their couch.

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And then it rained for three days and the light was so terrible I had to wait until Tuesday to photograph the cake! That’s why there’s no process shots, the light was literally so dark my camera couldn’t even find a focus point. So anyway! Here it is. It is seriously delicious. I just ate a huge piece instead of going to the gym, and it was perfect. You can keep it in the freezer or the fridge, both are seriously yummy. 

I had cocoa butter in the fridge, which I used to make my own chocolate both for the filling and topping. If you want a short-cut version, buy a good-quality vegan sugar free block of dark chocolate. (But making your own is super easy!) After eating the different layers, I realised you can’t taste the difference strongly enough to warrant the extra mixing bowl! But if you like the look of layers by all means, take out a few scoops of the filling before mixing in the melted chocolate 🙂 Have a great week guys!!

One Year Ago: Banana Chai Cupcakes 

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Chocolate and Vanilla Flecked Cream Cake:
For the Base:
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly crushed
1 packed cup pitted dates
1 tbsp coconut oil

For the Middle:
3 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in cold water
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil
1/2 cup raw honey or maple syrup, for pure vegan
Juice from 1 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
Optional: 100g smooth peanut butter

50g cocoa butter, melted
50g raw cacao
50g raw honey

For the Topping:
100g cocoa butter, melted
100g raw cacao
100ml raw honey
200ml coconut milk (organic and full-fat is best)

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Start by lining a 23cm tin with baking paper. Blend the ingredients for the base until a smooth dough forms. If your blend is crappy like mine, make sure to crush the nuts and cut up the dates first, and blend in batches. Press into the bottom of the tin and keep in the freezer until ready to fill.

Wash your cashews under cold water and drain well. Blend with the coconut oil, honey, lemon and vanilla bean seeds. Either remove a few scoops now to make separate layers, or just make one chocolate layer.For a peanut butter layer, blend the peanut butter with half the mix now and set aside. Mix the 50g cocoa butter, cacao and honey together until smooth and runny. Blend this into the cashew mix and pour into the tin. Smooth over and leave in the freezer until ready to top.

To make the ganache, melt the cocoa butter slowly and stir in the cacao and honey. Stir until smooth. Stir in the coconut milk and pour over the cashew cream filling. Now keep the cake in the fridge for at least 4 hours, until ready to serve. It’s very rich so serve in small slices! Enjoy 🙂
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Dumpling Month Part 4 – Pumpkin and Beetroot Dumplings

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Are you guys ready for the next instalment of dumpling month? Because it’s pretty darn exciting. I swear each new flavour I’ve tried has been better than the last ones. These are possibly, *dare I say it* the best so far!

They kind of happened by accident. The other day I was roasting a pan of vegetables with vague plans of eating them for lunch/dinner/as a random morning snack, and I had a lightbulb moment. How good would these be in a dumpling?! Maybe dumpling month has got to me and sent me a little bit crazy. Maybe you’ll see me trying to squeeze all kinds of terrible things in dumplings from now on (is it just me or is nutella a fantastic idea) but luckily this time I was right!

I made a little soy dipping sauce to go along with them and they were so perfect. I had a pack of wonton wrappers in the fridge as I am still experimenting with different brands, but you could easily make your own dumpling dough from my first post.
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These are super easy to make even for dumpling amateurs like me. As long as you can use an oven and do some simple folding you’re sweet. When I was making these I had a little realisation that so many cuisines have some form of dumpling. If you rolled the dough slightly thicker and replaced the ginger and chilli with ricotta, these would be undeniably Italian tortellini. I guess great minds just think alike!

You can mix up the vegetables you put in there, and even just use pumpkin. I made these planning on putting them in a miso soup but ended up eating them all prematurely. If you wanted to do that though I bet they would be delicious! Have a great week everyone 🙂

One Year AgoCinnamon, Dark Chocolate and Berry Ice Cream Cake
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Roast Vegetable Dumplings (vegan)
1 shallot, finely minced
1 tsp ginger, finely minced
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into big pieces
2 beetroots, peeled and chopped
1 cup pumpkin, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper
olive oil, to drizzle

1 packet wonton wrappers (30-40)
soy sauce
1/2 red chilli
1 shallot, chopped
ponzu vinegar
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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Put the chopped vegetables on a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Mash them with the ginger, shallot and chilli and allot to cool.

Put a small spoonful of the mashed vegetables on a wonton wrapper and lightly wet the edges. Pull the top half over the bottom half like you’re folding a piece of paper, and seal all the way around. Pull one side over the other side and slightly wetting one edge, crimp it closed in a circle to make a round shape. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings.

Mix the soy, chilli, shallots and vinegar to make a dipping sauce. Steam the dumplings from fresh for about 8 minutes, or from frozen for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through. Makes about 35 dumplings.
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Dumpling Month Part 3 – Spicy Eggplant Dumplings

Vegan

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Brace yourselves for the most amazing dumplings so far! (Possibly the best dumplings…I’ve ever eaten!) Seriously. I made these, I ate one, I died. They are so. yummy. I made thirty that first day, I very nearly ate thirty in that same day.

The filling is just spicy eggplant fried until soft. There’s a dumpling place near my uni that has eggplant dumplings as one of the vegetarian options, and they’re so awesome. I have a theory that eggplant is kind of a magical vegetable. How does it become so good when you cook it? Have you ever tried to eat raw eggplant? It’s disgusting. But cooked eggplant is like a whole different universe.

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Apologies for the horrendous photos today! I’ve been trying to not get so hung up on photos recently because that’s the major blocking point for so many of my posts. I always feel like if the photos aren’t up to scratch I can’t post it at all, but that’s silly right?! RIGHT?! (You’re all looking at your screen and these horrendous pictures thinking no Lilli…just no…)

Regardless what they look like, these are definitely the favourite dumplings so far. They are also basically the easiest, with hardly any ingredients. You can buy pre-made dumpling wrappers, or you can make your own. Pick your own adventure. Just make sure your eggplant is 100% cooked before you fill the dumplings because it won’t cook anymore when you’re steaming them. Enjoy!!!

One Year Ago: Lavender and Lemon Tarts (gluten free)
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Eggplant Dumplings:
Makes 30
Filling inspired from this recipe
1 large eggplant, cut into 1 inch wide strips and salted liberally
2 tbsp chilli oil (or 2 tbsp vegetable oil mixed with 1 tsp fresh chopped chilli
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 small red onion, sliced thinly
1 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp raw sugar

1 quantity dumpling dough or bought wrappers
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After salting the eggplant slices, wash the salt off and pat dry. Slice the eggplant into 1 cm strips and then 1cm squares.

Heat the oil and chilli in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and shallots until soft and slightly brown. Add the eggplant, soy and vinegar and fry until the eggplant becomes soft. Add the sugar and season well with pepper (no more salt) to desired taste. Set aside and let cool completely.

Take a small dessert spoon of filling and place on a dumpling wrapper. Slightly wet the edges with your finger and fold the wrapper towards you, pressing down the edges to seal in the eggplant. Either bring the edges together and join to make a round shape, or leave as pillows. Can be frozen and steamed for fifteen minutes, or cooked straight away until wrappers are soft. Serve with vinegar and chilli oil.
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Dumpling Month Part 2 – spring vegetable and mushroom

Vegan

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Are you guys ready for the second instalment of dumpling month?! I know I’m ready. This time round I tried to channel my absolute favourite dumplings from a local Chinese restaurant. Every time we go there I go a little bit cray cray over them. They’re full of vegetables and mushrooms, which makes them kind of…meaty? That sounds gross, but you know what I mean. They’re hearty!

This time did the moneybag shape, which worked well and was super easy to store and steam. Plus it was faster than the crimping method in last week’s spinach and tofu dumplings, which was helpful. I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen‘s recipe to use a mix of seasonal vegetables, so you can kind of add what you like to these. I used a mix of fresh pea, cabbage, spinach, mushroom and tofu. This time round I lightly stir-fried the vegetables first before putting them in the dumplings. This made the flavours much more intense and tasty so I will definitely keep doing this step.

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For the sake of experiment (code for laziness) this time round I didn’t make my own dough, I bought some pre-made dim sum squares from the local Asian grocer. It did save a lot of time, but the dough was really hard to work with. Any moisture that got on them would disintegrate it into pieces. They did steam fine, but I think they would be too delicate for pot stickers. If you know any good brands for dumpling wrappers let me know in the comments!

This week I’m going to Splendour in The Grass music festival, so I may be a little slow with comments and questions. My third dumpling recipe will be going up some time in the week though and it’s my favourite by far! So make sure you check it out 🙂 I’m loving all the dumpling suggestions I’ve been getting so keep telling me your favourite flavours! May dumpling month never end!

One Year Ago: Lemon Berry Poppyseed Cake (gluten free)
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Spring Vegetable and Mushroom Dumplings: Inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 30 dumplings
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 cup finely shredded wombok (Chinese cabbage)
1 cup finely shredded English Spinach
1/2 cup baby peas (frozen ok)
3 large flat mushrooms, chopped finely
100g (3.5 ounces) firm tofu, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp black vinegar

1 quantity dumpling dough or 30 bought wrappers
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In a hot wok, fry the shallots, garlic and ginger in the oils until transparent. Add in the mushrooms and tofu and stir fry until slightly brown. Throw in the greens and just slightly cook. Pour off any excess liquid that comes out in the cooking process and discard.

Once the mix has cooled a little, use a spoon to put a small amount (about 3cm, 2 inches) of mixture in the centre of the wrapper. slightly wet (not too much!) the edges with a bit of water and fold the dumpling over towards you, in half. Press down the edges. Slightly wet one edge of the dumpling and fold over the front, pressing it together with the other side. Keep on a plate with baking paper whilst you make the rest of the dumplings.

To cook, place each dumpling about 1cm apart from each other in a steamer. Steam for about 5 minutes, until the skin is shiny and translucent in places. If you freeze them first you will need to cook them for longer. Enjoy! Serve with chilli and vinegar
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Chocolate, Blueberry and Banana Ice Cream Cake (raw and vegan!)

Raw, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free, Gluten Free
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I’ve been eating ice cream cake and listening to this song on repeat all morning. Faded pajama pants, woolly socks, green tea and Thelma and Louise – one of those kind of mornings. It’s a beautiful day outside too. I can see the sunlight literally pouring through my window, catching the dust. I know I should go outside and do something productive, but it’s just one of those days.

One of those ice cream cake and woolly sock days.
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I’m one of those people that likes to be active literally all the time. I like to fill my days with work and nights with fun and fall into bed exhausted at the end of the week, drifting to sleep instantly.

I like to ignore the parts of life that are not so pleasant by distracting myself; by filling my life with “things.”

A few weeks ago something ended with a special someone, and instead of crying with Adele playing and eating ice cream by myself for a week, I just shoved my heart deep down inside and got on with life – more than that, poured myself in to each day so that was barely time to pause and think.
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As a tactic it actually did work quite well, for a while. Until I had one of those woolly sock days. And now I guess I feel a little…lost. Not sad, no. No regrets or anger. Just a little disconnected, drifting. So I’m eating ice cream cake. And listening to Bon Iver. And watching Thelma and Louise, which I personally think is possibly the best movie ever.

I think we all forget that sometimes, you need to eat ice cream and watch movies. It’s good for spiritual health, and for discovering which of your socks are the warmest and which are sneakily not very warm. This ice cream cake is so good, I keep squirrelling away slices to eat at every hour of the day and night. I couldn’t get a complete photo of it because I ate a slice in the middle of the night before it was even frozen!

The bottom is a rich and creamy avocado chocolate cinnamon ice cream, followed by a blueberry and coconut cream layer, followed by vanilla flecked banana. Soooo good! And you can sub in cashew cream for the coconut to make it completely raw and vegan! You can have your cake and eat the whole thing too 🙂

One Year Ago: Black Bean Avocado Fudge Brownies

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Chocolate, Blueberry and Banana Ice Cream Cake:
2 perfectly ripe avocados
4 tbsp raw cacao
4 tbsp maple syrup or soaked dates
2 tbsp almond milk
1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup either coconut yogurt, cream or cashew cream
2 tbsp maple syrup

2 frozen bananas
1-2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp almond milk

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Line a 20cm cake tin with baking paper, to make it easier to remove later. Blend together well the avocado, syrup or dates and almond milk. Blend in the cinnamon and spoon in to the ice cream tin. Smooth the surface and freeze for at least 20 minutes before pouring on the next layer.

Blend together the blueberries, coconut or cashew cream and maple syrup. Pour over the avocado chocolate layer and freeze for at least two hours.

Blend together the frozen bananas, milk and vanilla until creamy. Pour over the blueberry layer and freeze the whole cake for at least 4 hours before cutting and serving. Serves 8-10.
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Chocolate Bliss Balls two ways (vegan and raw)

Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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 It’s been one of those post-exam weeks where I have literally achieved nothing with my time. I spent the first day sitting in front of the heater eating sultanas and staring at the floor. I spent the second day sleeping and playing with my dogs ears. The rest of the week has gone much the same way. It has been awesome. 

I had grand plans to share a new zucchini noodle recipe with roast tomato sauce, but alas I ate all the zucchinis. I also ate all the tomatoes, and the avocado as well. I’m sorry! I have a good feeling that next week will be zucchini noodle week. So instead this week turned into bliss ball week because you can never have enough recipes for these protein balls, and also cafe’s these days are selling them for like, $3 a ball. That’s not cool guys. You could make twelve balls for that amount of money! (And it would taste better. Sshh). 

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 Something exciting did actually happen this week. I got a tattoo! It’s a little sun on my left shoulder drawn by my friend Lilli, who designed the title here and is an amazing artist as well. I’d wanted to get a little sun tattoo for a year at least and when my friend said she would get one too, I thought yolo! It’s tattoo time! 

It didn’t really hit me that I’d got it until a few days later, but I’m very happy with it. The sun as a symbol means a lot to me and now every time I look over my shoulder, there it is sitting there. A little ray of sunshine. There’s a picture of it on instagram if you want to see, although I have to warn you I am a little bit nakey in that photo. (Please don’t report me!)

Ok, bliss ball time. Also, I promise I will quit with the dark lighting after this post! I’m going through backgrounds in colour phases to learn about my camera settings, which is why things are looking strange and repetitive lately ❤ Have a great week! 

One Year Ago: Apple, Quince and Walnut Crumble Pie

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 Basic Bliss Ball Recipe:

1 cup dried fruit: either dates, apricots, sultanas or a mix

1.5 cups nuts: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews or a mix 

Coconut and Vanilla:

Soak 1 cup sultanas in water for half an hour. Bash up 1.5 cups walnuts in a mortar and pestle. Add 3 tbsp desiccated coconut, and the seeds from half a vanilla bean. Blend everything together. Roll the balls in more coconut and store in the fridge. 

Chocolate and Cinnamon:

Soak 1 cup apricots in mandarin or orange juice for half an hour, and chop finely. Bash up your nuts in a mortar and pestle. Blend with the drained fruit, 1 tsp cinnamon and 4 tbsp raw cacao powder. 

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