The widespread use of words like "rapid", "outbreak", "unprecedented" and "pandemic" as well as phrases like "extraordinary measures for extraordinary times" and "global spread" have led many to run OUTside. Believe it or not. Why? To head for the nearest supermarket, to empty the shelves of tins and dried goods in order to prepare for this indefinite Spring-time hibernation.  

Whether you're one of the (arguably quite sensible) people who predicted the situation we've now found ourselves in and stocked up the cupboards a few weeks ago, or you're one of the "don't be so silly, I refuse to participate in hysteria" crew, now having to get creative with what's left in the hard to reach corners of the kitchen, what's true for both parties is that creative at home cooking will be a big part of our lives for the near future.

So, Barbs, one of our cherished Team UpCircle members, thought she would share recipes for her top 2 tasty meals made from pantry-essentials that you hopefully won't have to venture out to buy, but already have in the safety of your home. 

Without further ado.. we hand you over to Barbs!

 

Vegan bean chili


This chilli is ready in under an hour and is bulk cooking friendly. 


Since adopting a vegan diet, I have tried many different recipes to find the perfect hearty chili without meat. In my research I have gone through some pretty weird ingredients, but keeping an open mind has paid off.
So, here’s my go-to quick, easy and filling vegan chili recipe!

(4 large servings)

Ingredients:


1 tbsp coconut oil (or alternative)
1 small onion
6-8 medium mushrooms
3 cans of beans (or 2 cups of dried beans, soaked overnight) – I use kidney and butter beans and chickpeas
1 small can of sweet corn
1 can of chopped tomatoes (or 2 cups of fresh, chopped)
3 tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened) *
100 ml strong espresso *
1 tsp baking soda **

*About these unusual ingredients: cocoa powder and coffee will give your chili a smokey taste that you would normally get from frying minced meat for your regular dish.
**Adding baking soda at the end will take away most of the acidity of the tomatoes making it easier on your stomach to digest. It will also thicken the sauce. Don’t worry, you won’t taste it at the end!

Preparations:


1. Finely chop onions.
2. Wash and grate mushrooms (you can use a food processor, but it’s very easy with a regular grater too.)
3. If using fresh tomatoes, cut them into small pieces.
4. Drain and rinse beans.

Method:


1. Add oil into a large pan over medium heat, add and cook onions until slightly brown on the edges.
2. Add mushrooms and cook until it releases water, then cook it away. About 5 minutes.
3. Add cumin and cocoa, toss it around in the pan to release fragrance, then add coffee and scrape off any bits from the bottom with it.
4. If using canned tomatoes, you can add them in at this stage with beans, if using fresh, give it a few minutes to soften before adding beans. Pour some water on if needed, but be careful not to make it too watery.
5. Once everything is in, add tomato puree, salt and pepper to taste, and enough water to cover it just about to the top of the beans.
6. Cook for about 20 minutes (twice the time if working with dried and soaked beans) on low heat, covered to allow the flavours to mix. You want to be able to taste the spices throughout, but avoid overcooking the beans.
7. The final touch: still on low heat, add 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda. This will foam up for a minute; cook the foam away and voila, you’re done!

Serve with rice, tortilla or with a portion of steamed veggies for a lighter option.

Enjoy!

Vegan Banana Bread

Banana bread is another big favourite of mine, but every time I get it just perfect, I forget to note down the ratios I used. Arguably, you can’t get it wrong if you like bananas and have a sweet tooth, but still, to achieve the perfect texture that is soft and moist inside and ever so slightly crunchy on the outside – that is a challenge, my friends.
So, in week 1 of my self-isolation, I decided to tackle this challenge and here is the result. A banana bread that is, to my standards, perfect and fool-proof. Best news? I bet you already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. So join me in saving those soggy bananas from going to waste!
For 1 loaf baked in a 24 x 13 cm tin.

Ingredients:


• 3 overripe bananas (spotty brown on the outside and soft inside)
• 3 cups of oats (choose gluten-free to make this recipe free-from)
• 1.2 cup of sugar (can be substituted with an equal amount of honey)
• 2 tbsp peanut butter (I prefer crunchy)
• 2 tbsp flax or chia seeds (ground if you have it)
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
• Pinch of salt
• Vegan butter or coconut oil and a pinch of flour for the baking tin
• Optional: chocolate (bar chopped up or chips), 1/2 cup mixed seeds, extra nuts for garnish

You will need:


• 1 loaf tin
• A couple of mixing bowls
• Fork and spoon
• 1 cup for a measure

Preparations:


1. Roughly ground the oats. I used my smoothie blender, but any food processor or blender should do. If you have none of this equipment, just use them as-is, will taste the same just a bit more crumbly.
2. Add 1/2 cup of water to your flax or chia seed – or a mix of the 2 – and let it soak for 5-10 minutes.
If you don’t have either of these seeds at home, here are some alternatives:
• Mix 1 cup of soy or another dairy-free milk alternative with 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar and let it sit for 5 minutes until it curdles
• Substitute mix with 2 tbsp of corn or potato starch
1. Coat loaf tin with a thin, even layer of vegan butter or coconut oil, then add a large pinch of flour (gluten-free if needed) and toss it around in the tin until coated everywhere.
• you can use baking sheets, but let’s go for the waste-free option if you can!
1. If you’re adding some solid chocolate to the mix, chop it up into small pieces, OR grab a rolling pin and whilst still in its package and give it a whack until it crumbles up (it can be a bit messy but worth the fun!)

Method:


1. Preheat oven to 180-200 degrees.
2. Mix the oats with the baking soda, baking powder, salt and set aside.
3. Mash up the bananas using a fork until smooth, then gradually add and mix in the peanut butter, followed by the sugar and apple cider vinegar.
4. Add soaked chia and/or flax seeds to the mix and combine well.
5. Now gradually add the oat mix to the banana mash, making sure there are no clumps as you stir through.
6. Lastly, add all the optional chocolate chunks and seeds.
7. Pour the mix into the prepared loaf tin, add any additional garnish and pop it in the oven for 40-60 mins.
8. After the first 40 mins, check with a skewer stick or chopstick whether it’s cooked through (stick it in and if it comes out covered in batter then put it back for more time.) Be sure to keep an eye on it after this time so it doesn’t burn.
9. Once baked, rest in room temperature in the tin for 5-10 minutes, then flip it out and rest more until cool before you cut it up.



Enjoy with a cup of tea or my favourite, some hot cocoa!

Bonus tip: it keeps for about 5 days but is freezable, so you can save some for later. When your hunger strikes, just take a slice out, pop in the oven for 10 minutes and enjoy warm!