Sunday, 30 November 2014


Recipe: Vegan-Oatmeal-Choc-Chip-Peanut-Butter-Banana-Bread
(I kid you not)

Adapted and Britishized from the original ‘Baker Bettie’ recipe which can be found here:
Time Taken: 1 hour
Ingredients: 250g porridge oats, 3 bananas, 120g peanut putter, 100g dark brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon & 200g chocolate chips.

Good evening readers,
Todayyyy it’s Sunday! The day of rest. The day of the week where you literally are required by the world to expect nothing of yourself. And then even less. The day when putting clothes on… that’s optional. Normally I work on Sundays, but due to my lurgy tonsils I’m not allowed to serve food! So I’m on a holiday from going to work. Cue a mini rave n PARTAY.
And this isn’t the only reason that today is special. Also, this Sunday is the last day in November. There are 3 reasons why this is spectacular…
 1) Our advent calendars begin tomorrow. Mine is a Frozen calendar and I’m very excited to open the first door. And eat chocolate.
2) Tomorrow the cleaning rota flips to a new month and we all switch responsibilities. I’m sad not to be in charge of stairs and hallways anymore (total piss-take), but it’s nice because everyone’s tidying their zone ready to hand it over. So the house is LOOKIN’ GOOOOD.
3) We’re putting our Christmas decorations up! With just ten days until flat Christmas, we’re going to go for it tonight and we’re going to deck the halls!
In such high spirits I decided to treat the house today and bake a banana bread! This is always cause for celebration and some light Hayley-worship, so I never mind the cost or the time taken to prepare it or anything. They donate elderly bananas. I love to bake, and I love to eat banana bread as much as my flatmates do. All is good.
For a while, my flatmates having been calling for me to try out a special new banana bread recipe that they found on Pinterest, so I caved to demand and checked it out. It took some converting of ingredients from US cups to UK grams, and it was a bit of a botched job in the kitchen after a major oat spill and some blender troubles, but this has turned out really well. SO WELL. IT TASTES LIKE HEAVEN. YOU HAVE TO DO IT.
Here’s how…
1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C and use some kitchen towel to wipe a little oil around the edges and bottom of a loaf tin in order to grease it the vegan way.
2. Peel your bananas, place them in a bowl and mash them to a pulp.
3. Put your oats into a blender and pulse to a fine crumb until the oats look almost like flour.
4. Add all your remaining ingredients MINUS THE CHOC CHIPS to the blender. Splash a little tapwater over the top so you mix isn’t too dry and blenddddddddddd.
ChefBeHere Top Top: If, like me, you only have a small smoothie machine not a proper blender, halve all of your ingredients and blend half first and then the other half afterwards.
5. Pour your loaf mix into a mixing bowl and tip in three quarters of your choc chips. Save a quarter for now.
6. Stir it up! Pour this finished loaf mix into your prepared loaf tin.
7. Smooth the top of your loaf so that it’s surface is even and then sprinkle your remaining choc chips over the top of it.
8. Safely transport your loaf into the oven and leave to bake for half an hour.
9. After half an hour, test the middle of the loaf by stabbing it with a knife. If the knife comes out clean then remove your loaf from the oven. If it has mix on it still leave your loaf for another five minutes and keeping checking it every five minutes until it’s baked all the way through.
10. Leave your loaf to cool in its tin for twenty minutes. Then run a sharp knife around the edge of the tin and either shuffle your loaf onto a cooling rack to cool fully, or slice your loaf up and feed it warm to hungry flatmates! Tuck in!
And you should be feasting on something that looks like THIS!
Up close and personal with my loaf :P
Plated! Not for very long… Muahahahaha...
Do you love it? Loaf it? Has your life been changed? I know mine has. Peanut butter goes with banana so well there just aren't words. I have no words.
And what do you think of the veganness of the recipe? I did not mind the lack of flour, butter or eggs. I didn’t really notice. Didn’t miss them whatsoever. What wasn’t there? I could literally be vegan if it meant I could eat this loaf everyday forever. It’s my eternal loaf.

Blend n bake safely kids,

Saturday, 29 November 2014


Recipe: Broccoli al Spinach Tortellini con Pesto (it’s Italian!)
Time Taken: 15 mins
Ingredients: Broccoli, green pesto, spinach & ricotta tortellini

It’ssss the WEEKEND. And it’sssss WINTER so it’s 8pm and it’s been dark for HOURS. Readers, literally hours. Daylight’s suddenly become this luxury. Did it go dark this early last year?? I don’t think it did. And where have all the leaves gone? Who MOVED the leaves? What is happening?
Today, my throat has STILL BEEN SORE. But (touch wood) I’m on the mend! Also today readers I BOUGHT MY CHRISTMASS DRESSSSS. So much excitement! I bought it I bought it I bought it. I seriously bought that thing, I did. I bought it good. BIG STYLE. I shopped!
My baby <3 <3 <3

This is the dress that’s going to carry me through multiple Christmas do’s with family and friends and coursemates and flatmates and goodness know who else. It has a lot of work to do. This dress has to define my Christmas 2014. No doubt, this dress has got a lot of eating and a lot of drinking to endure and a lot of me wobbling about Northern England in skyscraper heels!  I wish it luck.
After so much shopping today I was knackered. I needed a dinner that would give me a boost. But I lacked any motivation to cook. Hmm. AND THEN GENIUS STRUCK.
I chucked some stuff together and, for once, came up with something that I really enjoyed eating. And this was a dish that took under 15 minutes to whip together, it counted towards my 5-a-day, it was filling and indulgent, it cost about £1.25 to make a portion, and it was SO GREEN.
Read all about it…
1. Take your head of broccoli and cut off half of its little stalks. Put the rest of the broccoli back in the fridge for another day. Put your chopped broccoli pieces into a sieve.
2. Boil a kettle of water. Shallowly fill the bottom of a saucepan with water and place over a heat.
3. Rest your sieve-full of broccoli over this saucepan of boiling water and place a saucepan lid over the top of your sieve, covering your broccoli. Leave to steam for ten minutes.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Make sure the bottom of your sieve rests above the boiling water and isn’t submerged in it. Otherwise, you’ll boil your broccoli and it will turn soggy. Steamed broccoli has more of a crunch. Far superior.
4. After a five minute break, boil the kettle again. Tip half of your pack of tortellini into a saucepan, pour boiling water over this and heat on a hob for two minutes. Heat a plate in the microwave.
5. Drain your pasta using a colander and return it to its saucepan. Stir a tablespoon of green pesto into the pasta. Serve onto your warmed plate. Add the broccoli from your sieve to the plate. Tuck in!
Here’s how mine looked…

And a close up of the goodness!

I know this recipe isn’t moving mountains, readers. It’s very simple and has probably been done a million times. Maybe you’ve done it yourself a million times! But I just enjoyed this so much. And it cost barely anything and filled me up to the brim. I think this is the perfect way to finish off a day of rugby-scrum Christmas shopping.
Give it a try? See what you think? In my opinion, never has an entirely green plateful of food tasted so good. In your opinion, ….? Comment what you really think! Can anyone make anything tastier for this little money?? Can it be done?

Eat your greens safely,

Friday, 28 November 2014


Recipe: Pumpkin Soup
Time Taken: 1 hour
Ingredients: Oil, 2 onions, 1 kilogram of pumpkin or squash, 700ml of vegetable stock, a 142ml pot of double cream, bread for serving.

Hello lovely readers,

Remember how I was really down and miserable yesterday? It turns out it was my tonsils that were the cause of it all! They’re really unwell – I have tonsillitis for the first time ever.

Tonsils are like these strange things at the back of your throat. Look, you can see Miley’s here…

So this morning was awful. My throat was epically sore. I couldn’t get through to the doctors for ages. Finally did and they had no appointments. Cried on the phone. Walked to the pharmacy but they just gave me painkillers and Tyrozets. My flatmate shone a torch in my mouth and my tonsils had white spots. Got the Metro to the hospital. Had to spell my surname (don’t ask) multiple times, which hurt my throat. Cried again. Saw a nurse who advised hot drinks and refused all pleas for antibiotics. Not when I’m “young and fit”. Back home.
And then I pulled my shit together! Literally, I’m not going behind on my work schedule for this. No way. So this afternoon’s been better. Constant hot drinks have done my throat some good. I’m still QUITE ILL and bloody contagious (fun), but powering on.

And managing to eat! I microwaved some Weetabix into pulp for breakfast and stirred in a killer amount of sugar. It hit lunchtime and I thought: I’m ill so… soup? And, you know what, I had homemade soup in the freezer. I’m not joking. Homemade soup.  A cure!
Basically, at Halloween I bought A LOT of pumpkin intending to try loads of pumpkin recipes out. But then I didn’t. And I had all this pumpkin and wanted something easy to use it up in just to get rid of it all without being wasteful. I made soup and it tasted MIGHTY.

Here’s how to whip up your own pumpkin soup in ten easy steps:

1. Cut your pumpkin in half. Hollow out all the seeds and goo from its centre. Throw that away. Cut the pumpkin’s flesh into chunks, slicing off the orange skin. Throw the skin away. Weight out 1kg of pumpkin cubes and keep these for soup-making. If you have extra, save them for another recipe??

2. Cut the tops off your two onions, peel away their skin and then finely chop them.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a big saucepan. Gently cook your onion for 5 minutes until it’s soft but not coloured.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: When choosing a pan, look at how much pumpkin you have. This all has to fit in the pan. You need a BIG PAN.

4. Add your pumpkin to the pan and carry on cooking for ten minutes, stirring/prodding/shaking up until your pumpkin starts to soften and turn golden.

5. Make up 700ml of vegetable stock. You might need multiple stock cubes or stock pots in order to make this much stock. The packet of whichever you have should advise you of how many cubes/pots you will need if you’re mixing them with 700ml of boiling water.

6. Pour your vegetable stock into the pan and season everything with salt and pepper. Bring the contents of the pan to the boil. Then simmer it for 10 minutes until your pumpkin is very soft.

7. Pour your pot of double cream into the pan and stir this into the soup mix.

8. Now, either use a hand blender to puree the soup, or (if you don’t have one of these like me) put your soup mix into a proper blender and whizz it up! It took me several runs to do this as the blender we have is quite small, so afterwards I collected it all back into one pan and stirred the soup together again over a low heat for a few minutes.

9. Divide your soup into three. I poured one portion into a warmed bowl for me to eat immediately, and then poured the other two portions into plastic tupperwares that I froze to eat another time. Leave these to cool for a little while before placing them in the freezer. Try to eat them within the next two months or they might not taste so good after that much time.

10. Serve your pumpkin soup with warm, crusty bread!

Like this…

What do you think to pumpkin soup? I think it’s really tasty! As a veggie, I used to like chicken soup and so I think because this is very creamy and savoury, and a similar colour to chicken soup, that it reminds me of that. But it tastes different!
I don’t really KNOW exactly what pumpkin tastes like. To be honest. But I like the taste of this soup. I do and it’s low-calorie and counts towards your 5-a-day and it’s a top warmer on a winter day. So I rate pumpkin soup! In my opinion, it’s worth a shot.
And the feeling of tucking into soup that YOU MADE YOURSELF is the bomb. You’re like, somebody, pat me on the back. Right now.

So, c’mon readers, soup it up! I challenge you. I know pumpkins are hard to find after Halloween, but you can use squash instead and they’re always around. Don’t like pumpkin or squash? Make any frigging soup you like, just give it a go. For me.

Soup safely my souperstars,

Thursday, 27 November 2014


Recipe: Winter Plum Porridge
Time Taken: Half an hour
Ingredients: Porridge oats, milk, honey, cinnamon, 3 plums, a smidge of butter
Good evening readers,
It’s Thursdayyyyyyyy. Literally, I’m losing enthusiasm for this week altogether. I hope today, on this Thursday, you’re significantly more cheer-filled than me! That you’re hogging all the cheer and this is the cause of my gloom. Someone deserves a cheerful Thursday.
I hope you're feeling like this little hero
I’m writing from Newcastle University’s Robinson Library and no one here seems to be having a cheerful evening. No one. ‘Cheer’ isn’t the word to describe the atmosphere here. General mood = tired, fed up, depressive, bleak. Cheerless, some might say.
It’s like the setting for a terrible event after which people look back and say “Oh, don’t you wish they’d all been living for the day and they were off somewhere spending their last moments being free and just running and living life to the full”. I sincerely hope to be out of this library, alive and well, sometime soon. And everyone else stuck here, too. There is (fingers-crossed) life post-library.
But meanwhile, I’m taking a study break to share with you the breakthrough I had earlier! It has been, by far, the best part of my day. I’d transcribed an interview by about noon (yay!) and needed food. I wanted plums again, but also I fancied porridge. A dilemma. UNTIL I thought…. Can you put plums on your porridge?
Answer? Hell yes.

Here’s the recipeeeeeeeeeee…

1. Heat your oven to 200˚C.
2. Take three plums, slice them in half, remove the stones and throw those away.
3. Grease a little ovenproof dish you arrange your plums inside.
4. Sprinkle them with cinnamon and drizzle with a teaspoon of honey.
5. Pop the dish into the oven and take a ten minute breather.
6. Measure half a cup (I use a McDonald’s LEGO cup) of porridge oats.
7. Tip them into a bowl and pour milk over the oats until they’re swimming and the bowl is about full to about the level of porridge you can imagine yourself being able to eat. Stir this up.
8. Microwave on full power for two minutes, then take your bowl out and stir before popping it back in the microwave to heat for abooooout just shy of a minute more.
ChefBeHere Top Tip: Keep an eye on the bowl through the microwave door. Your porridge will expand, but you don’t want it to spill over the edges of the bowl. Stop it if it looks like this is about to happen. Your porridge is ready early.
9. Safely remove your dish from the oven and cut each plum-half into quarters.
10. Sprinkle some cinnamon and drizzle a teaspoon of honey over your porridge. Use a spoon to mix these in, before tipping your plums over the top of your porridge. Tuck in!
Here’s my gorgeous lunch (I miss it loads!)
I LOVE THIS COMBINATION. Literally, it’s so, so rich and indulgent. This is the recipe for someone looking for a big treat. Is this you? Get on it!!
How do people feel about putting plums on porridge? Yay or nay? This recipe gets my yes vote any day, every day, in a heartbeat, without a doubt, to infinity and beyond. Does it get yours?

Spoil yourself safely,


Wednesday, 26 November 2014


Recipe: Plum Power Smoothie
Time taken: Ten minutes tops
Ingredients: 2 plums, 1 banana, 1 tablespoon of porridge oats, 150ml of vanilla yoghurt

Hi readers!
It’s Wednesdayyyyy! The half way mark of the week. You’ve made it half way, you can DEFINITELY make it the rest of the way now. Today, for me, Wednesday’s been pretty busy. I had a big push this morning to transcribe an interview, having lost the entire of yesterday to hangover-gate. And I did! Interview Number Ten is in the bag!
To celebrate, I needed a midday boost before I headed out for more action-packed student stuff. It was time to blend something! And what do I have in great quantities right now? PLUMS. I sort of went crazy and bought a lot of plums. A big lot. So I made up a plum smoothie recipe, to use some plums up and so I could get my daily plum hit!
Here’s how to recreate the smoothie magic, in 5 easy steps…
1. Chop up your plums and your banana.

ChefBeHere Top Tip: Make sure to take the stones out of the plums. Choking on a plum stone is not what you want in life. Because you want life.
2. Chuck them in your blender.
3. Add a tablespoonful of porridge oats.
4. Add about 150ml of vanilla yoghurt.

5. BLEND IT UP. Serve in a tall glass.
Here’s how my baby looked!

Up close, you can seeeeee the goodness.

Now, I must say, this smoothie turned out thick. It was potentially thicker than a McDonald’s milkshake. I’m talking THICK. In the end I ditched my straw and switched to glugfuls. I loved this but if you don’t enjoy thick smoothies, maybe switch some of the yoghurt for milk instead or just use a teaspoon of oats rather than a whole tablespoon.
And enjoy your fruity, pink smoothie! What do you think to plums in a smoothie? Success? Sublime? Super fantastic? Or… sort of gross? SHOUT IT OUT.

And smoothie safely,

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


Good evening!

Is it a good evening? Of course it’s good evening! I hope you’re having a wonderful, relaxed, chilled out time. Well deserved after a hard day’s work, I’m sure. You’re worth it. Today’s been a funny one for me. Having had a night out last night, I woke up in a pretty poor state today.
A definite hangover gremlin.

I decided to take the morning for recovery. This turned into ‘working from home’. Then a blatant acknowledgement that me surviving the day would be achievement enough. Today was not the day for moving mountains. Shifting my headache would do.  Its day’s like these, of self-inflicted gloom, that I wish for certain things.
Like family…

… A dog …

… Just a hug! ...
… And (weirdly today) curtains.
Student houses don’t have them. I’d really like to draw together some heavy, velvet, floor-sweeping drapes. Oh satisfaction. But home days are also good. They don’t ask too much of you and you can take the time to appreciate little things.
Like socks…

… Tealights…

… Cuppas…

… And a good book :)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I realised that CHRISTMAS IS A MONTH TODAYYYY! Wahooo!

I also realised that I was mooching about a house filled with baked goods!! So, yesterday, I thought that I was going to be helping to host a charity bake sale today. It got called off, I’m afraid, but not before I did my baking for the sale!! Yesterday I was being a busy bee but I still found the time to get my bake on. And baked on a big scale.

Here are some twenty four girly cupcakes I baked!

I ALSO baked up one of my two signature recipes. Now, these recipes are my ULTIMATE best things to bake. They’re the recipes that I know off my heart without a book. And this is good because the book pages are long since stuck together with mix! My flatmates usually get to enjoy one or the other of these recipes at least once a month. I love to spend time baking these, they aren’t hard to bake, and they taste really good! No fancy ingredients needed and no high-tech equipment. None of that. My two signature recipes are… Banana bread! …. And Oat Crunchies! And yesterday I baked some Oat Crunchies. :) This is a recipe I originally found in the ‘Vegetarian Nosh for Students’ cookbook and it TASTES SO GOOD.

Want to bake some Crunchies yourself? Here’s how, in ten easy steps…

Recipe: Oat Crunchies
Time taken: Half an hour
Ingredients: Porridge oats, desiccated coconut, self-raising flour, sugar, butter & golden syrup

1. Preheat your oven to 180˚C.

2. Find a mug. Measure a mug of oats, a mug of coconut and a mug of flour into a mixing bowl.

3. Add half a mug of sugar and stir this all together with a wooden spoon.

4. Melt 100g of butter in a saucepan on a low heat.

5. When this is all melted, add a tablespoon of golden syrup and three tablespoons of water.

6. Stir until this all combines together, then add it to the bowl of dry ingredients and give it a good stir until the mix comes together into one modge.

7. Use a little bit of butter to grease a pair of baking trays.

8. Take a small handful of the mix at a time and squeeze it into a ball in your hands. Place this on the baking tray and squash it down gently.

9. Keep repeating this and spacing your Crunchies a little apart on the baking trays, since they tend to spread when they cook. I usually make about 8-12, depending how big they are.

10. Carefully escort your baking trays into the oven and bake your Crunchies for 10-12 minutes until they’re golden brown and you can safely take them out. You can enjoy these warm, or leave them to cool and decorate them any way you like!

ChefBeHere Top Top: When your Crunchies are in the oven, it’s a good idea to swap the trays around after five minutes. I know in our oven things on the top shelf bake more quickly than things underneath them on the bottom shelf. You don’t want to over bake one tray and end up with Crispies rather than Crunchies!

And there you have it, a batch of sweet, oaty, mouth-welding treats! I’ve yet to find a person who doesn’t approve of my Crunchies. I certainly enjoy them and our house is filled to the brim with them! Not for long….

Here are the Oat Crunchies I made yesterday

And some I made a different day

Aaaaand a close up shot  from another day to drool over

Tempted yet? Go bake! What are you waiting for?? You need these in your life. And these earn you some BIG LOVE from friends and family. Suddenly they like you again. They want to know when to expect the next batch. You have a purpose in life.
In my case, my faith in my baking has been restored following the Peach-Related Meltdown I had last week (see my blog post from Sunday, go on). I’ve still got it! And Oat Crunchies have been a much-need remedy today to one hell of a hangover.
This has been me alllll day…

What do you think of Oat Crunchies?? Are you in love? Can you unstick your jaw enough yet to speak?? I want to hear what you think. Shout it out!

And crunch safely,



Monday, 24 November 2014


Hi readers,

My day today has been BUSY. It's been quite a way to start the week! I'm. Shattered. Beyond. Belief. But hopefully Monday has been more forgiving for you! I hope you've had a special day in some way or another :) Was anything special today? Something, surely? Even just a little thing?

I've been so busy today that quite a few things overtook Chefbehereing prioritywise. Sorry. Until I REALISED . . . I couldn't call it a day without mentioning the marvellous throwing-together-of-things that occurred this lunchtime! I wouldn't call it cooking, or even remotely a recipe. But it tasted good and made for a very decent plateful of food!

Recipe: Falafel & lemon pepper couscous salad

Time Taken: 20 mins

Ingredients: Ready-made frozen falafel, dried couscous, houmous, pitted black olives, cucumber, lemon juice, paprika & black pepper.

I placed the frozen, ready-made falafel in an oven preheated to 200 degrees C for a quarter of an hour. Meanwhile, I depotted my couscous into a lovely ramekin and tapped a dash of paprika over the top of it. I sliced my cucumber and then quartered the slices into bite-sized amounts. I fished a dozen olives from my jar. I filled half of a second ramekin with couscous grains, a pinch of pepper and a dash of lemon juice. I added boiling water until the dish was full, covered it and left it for a few minutes. I tipped my couscous onto a plate, along with the houmous, olives and cucumber that I'd prepared. I safely removed my falafel from the oven and added them to this plate. I served it up.

And tucked into this!

This made for a gorgeous lunch for an on-the-go day when I new I wouldn't get much by way of tea later on. It worked out well! And you can throw together any combination of things you have in the house, I imagine, with a similarly successful result. Lacking anything green? This would have worked just as well with tomatoes or peppers, rather than cucumber. No fresh ingredients at all? How about you try out tinned sweetcorn to replace the cucumber? Be creative!

Readers, even on days when you're so harried you're formulating to-do lists on the loo, this is proof that you can still magic up something edible and fun. I know you can.

Keep it up!