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Carrot Cake Baked Oats

If left to my own devices, I would very much be a ‘cake for breakfast’ person almost all of the time. My favourite thing about birthdays is that they usually leave a good few days of cake for breakfast in their wake.

Carrot Cake Baked Oats give off big cake for breakfast energy without having to commit to the sugar high or the urgent need for second breakfast (a slice of birthday cake needs a toast chaser, at the very least, to keep one going until lunchtime).

This isn’t one of my super-quick-on-the-table-in-two-seconds recipes, I’ve found that during the lockdowns I’ve enjoyed taking a little bit more time over my breakfast now that I’m not trying to get to the gym, do my hair, slap on a full face of make up and somehow shove some food down my gullet before arriving at my desk for 9am. It’s not a three hour stew, but there’s certainly more chopping and grating and washing up than you might be used to at breakfast time.

A note on amounts: they might need to vary ever so slightly depending on your preferred ramekin or baking receptacle, because the amounts I use here are designed specifically for the perfect fit in mine. I just looked up their exact specifications and they are: H6.2 x W10.8 x D11.5cm. But play with it and see how you go!

Serves 1

65g rolled porridge oats
Small handful (15-20g) walnuts, chopped
Small handful (15-20g) sultanas
1 carrot, grated finely (not the coarse side of the grater)
2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
50ml milk
1 tbsp yoghurt
1/2 tbsp maple syrup (adjust according to your preferred sweetness)

1 – Pre-heat your oven to 160 (fan).
2 – In a mixing bowl, add all dry ingredients (oats, walnuts, sultanas, carrot and cinnamon).
3 – In a measuring jug or mug, beat together all wet ingredients (egg, milk, yoghurt and maple syrup) then pour into the dry and mix until combined.
4 – Pour into a small oven-safe dish (I use my little heart-shaped Le Creuset ramekin) and bake for 30 minutes.

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Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup For One

To my fellow waifs and strays eating lunch on their own every day of their sad locked down little lives, this one goes out to you.

I often catch myself having a hankering for something like tomato soup but simply cannot be arsed with the obligation to eat soup every day for a fortnight having made it in family-sized quantities.

If you find yourself in the same position, I’ve got you. This is delicious. It makes one single serving, it took me half an hour and (as with pretty much everything I ever do) very little effort.

Note before starting: you’ll need a stick blender or similar

For the soup:
1/2 an onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 cherry tomatoes, chopped
300ml veg stock
Splash of cream (optional)

For the grilled cheese:
2 slices bread (whatever you like best)
A little slather of mayonnaise
1 handful grated cheese (your fav, I used vegan smoked cheddar)

1 – Begin by starting the soup. Cook the onion in a teaspoon of butter on a low heat for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil then take right down to a simmer and let that do it’s thing while you start on the grilled cheese.

2 – Spread each slice of bread with a thin layer of mayonnaise on one side. Heat a non stick frying pan and put one slice of bread, mayo side down, in on a medium heat.

3 – Top your bread with your grated cheese, and lay on the second slice of bread, mayo side up. Press down with a spatula. Cook low and slow until the underside of your sandwich is golden and crispy, pressing down with the spatula from time to time. This could take up to 15 minutes, so be prepared to be patient.

4 – Once you’re happy with the golden-ness of your underside, flip the sandwich with a spatula, press down again and repeat on this side. This should be much quicker, check her after 5 minutes.

5- Whilst your sandwich is finishing up, take the soup off the heat, add your splash of cream and blitz with a stick blender.

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Red Pepper + White Bean Orzo with Saffron + Paprika

This recipe should, I hope, encapsulate everything you ask me for most frequently. Vegetarian (vegan, in fact), but not relying on pretend meat for its protein (not that I’m averse to pretend meat, as you know). A small list of ingredients, not a particularly labour intensive affair and – everybody’s favourite – cheap.

I’d say this would comfortably serve three for lunch. In my sad little locked down case, of course, that means one serving is poured into a bowl and two are portioned away in plastic boxes for later in the week. I tend to serve it with greens on the side, too, because I am just that sort of person these days.

Serves 3

175g orzo
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 can cannelini or butter beans
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
700ml stock (I use chicken but feel free to use veg)
1 tbsp paprika
Large pinch of saffron
Salt, to taste

1 – Heat 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add your pepper and onions. Sprinkle with salt then cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes (stirring occasionally).

2 – Uncover and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the garlic and give it 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

3 – Add the orzo, closely followed by the stock, paprika and saffron. Drain your beans and get those in there too.

4 – Simmer, covered, on a low heat for 40-45 minutes – stirring every now and then to avoid sticking – or as long as it takes for the stock to be mostly absorbed and the orzo fully cooked.

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