Friday, 30 October 2015

Pumpkin Risotto

Fun fact: this year is only the second time I've celebrated Halloween.  Last year, I went to my university's media areas Halloween social in the bar of our local theatre.  I was supposed to be dressed up as a naughty fairy princess (legitimate thing.  She's called Esmeralda.  I also dressed up as a younger version of her when I was 5 and a half for a school disco), but when I arrived at my friend's house to get changed for the social, I couldn't find my necklaces and headband in my bag.  Panicking that I had lost the black and gold sequin necklaces and headband that my mum made for me when I was 5 forever, I quickly rang her and much to my relief, I'd actually left them in my pencilcase on my bed.  I still went as a very unglamorous naughty fairy princess (black top, black tights and gold skirt) though.  This year (tomorrow) for Halloween, I'm going to archery in the morning, and then to a friend's to watch a couple of films (much like I did 2 weeks ago, and this week's choices are Repo! The Genetic Opera and the Rocky Horror Picture Show, both also being musicals).  We're then going with our friends to perform at the Red Ribbon Society's open mic night, where we will sing songs such as This is Halloween from The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Time Warp from Rocky Horror.  Finally, we're going to another friend's house for a little Halloween social.  The plan for my costume is a magic broom similar to the ones seen in the Sorcerer's Apprentice sequence of Fantasia, but if I don't manage to borrow a yellow skirt, I'm going to go as Jafar from Aladdin!  What/who is anybody else dressing up as for Halloween?  If you're hosting a Halloween party, maybe you need something savoury to serve to your guests before you eat all the chocolate.  I found this pumpkin risotto recipe on the BBC Good Food website and it seems easy enough for me!


1 small pumpkin or butternut squash - after peeling and scraping out the seeds, you need about 400g/14oz
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a drizzle for the pumpkin
2 garlic cloves
8 spring onions
25g vegan margarine, such as Pure
200g risotto rice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 litre hot vegetable stock, plus an extra splash if needed
small handful coriander, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius OR 160 degrees Celsius when using a fan oven OR gas mark 4.  Chop up the pumpkin/squash into 1.5cm cubes.  Place the cubes onto a baking tray, drizzle over some oil, then roast for 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, to make the risotto, put the garlic into a sandwich bag, then crush lightly with a rolling pin.
  3. Cut up the spring onions with a pair of scissors.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the margarine in your pan over a medium heat, but ensure it does not get too hot.  Add the spring onions and garlic.  Once the onions are soft but before they begin to brown, add the rice and cumin.  Stir well to coat in the buttery mix for about 1 minute.
  5. Add half a cup of the vegetable stock, and stir at intervals until it has all been absorbed by the rice.  Continue to add the stock and stir it in until you have used up all the stock - this should take about 20 minutes.
  6. Check that the rice is cooked.  If it isn't, add a splash more of the vegetable stock, and continue to cook for a few more minutes.  When the rice is soft enough to eat, gently stir in the chopped coriander and roasted pumpkin.

P.S. I managed to go to the UBU Green Thursdays pumpkin-carving event after my RamAir show and a group project meeting, and carved a pumpkin for the first time.  I soon found that it was a very messy affair once I started trying to scoop the flesh out with my fingers.  I didn't do a particular specialised design on my pumpkin, while one of my friends (Emma) did the face of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas on one side of her pumpkin, and the Deathly Hallows symbol on the other side (she's a big Harry Potter fan).  Rachel from archery did a bat on one side of her pumpkin and a witch riding on her broomstick past the moon on the other side.  I'll be bringing a few more pumpkin-based recipes from my new recipe cards soon!

    Friday, 23 October 2015

    Oreo Chocolate Cupcakes

    A few weeks ago at RamAir's 35th anniversary party, unknown to me at the time and the guest of a friend of a friend, was Yasmina Magdy.  I later learned via good old Twitter that she is the vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle Newcastle blogger of The July Journal.  Having a peak through her blog, I found some posts on food, most recently including a recipe for vegan-friendly chocolate cookies, a guide to a vegan barbecue, and the below recipe for vegan Oreo chocolate cupcakes, which Yasmina adapted from a recipe posted by Sarah from The V Nice Life.  A lot of the time, I want to try recipes but struggle to find time to gather together the ingredients to make one of them or I just don't quite have time.  Luckily, it didn't take me too long to be able to try this recipe as I decided to (almost secretly) make a batch to take to a friend's house for a lazy Saturday afternoon of watching Rent and playing card games.  My family also tried a few and actually liked them, despite being surprised at the lack of eggs or any other animal-derived ingredients!

    Ingredients (to make 12 cupcakes)

    100g vegan margarine, such as Pure
    100g caster sugar
    1 banana, mashed
    75g self-raising flour
    25g cocoa powder

    For the frosting:
    225g icing sugar
    100g vegan margarine
    4 teaspoons cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    5-6 crumbled Oreos


    1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.  Line a tin with medium-sized paper cupcake cases.
    2. Whisk together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy.  Use a fork to mash up a banana, and whisk in the mashed banana with the self-raising flour and cocoa powder.
    3. Divide the mixture into 12 cupcake cases and bake for 10-14 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  Transfer the cupcakes onto a cooling rack.
    4. For the frosting, whisk the margarine and icing sugar together.  Add the cocoa powder and vanilla extract and whisk until the mixture reaches a smooth, buttery consistency.
    5. Once the cupcakes have cooled, spread the icing onto the cakes and crumble the Oreos over the cakes.

    Friday, 16 October 2015

    Homemade Cocoa Delight Nakd Bars

    On Monday morning, when I arrived for my 9am lecture, I realised that I had completely forgotten to check if I had a water bottle in my bag or not, and found that there wasn't one.  At first, I thought I'd be fine without one for a day, but then I changed my mind because I like feeling hydrated and ran at 8:53am to the main building to buy myself a bottle of water.  I've also been feeling pretty tired lately, especially having had 24 hour show last weekend, and so when I saw the display of Nakd bars in the shop, I instantly picked up a bar in the Cocoa Delight flavour for a snack to eat on top of my own sandwich and fruit.  Nakd bars are a range of raw vegan, gluten and wheat-free wholefood snacks made with minimal ingredients.  This one contained only dates, raisins, cashew nuts and cocoa, and a couple of the other flavours contain things like orange or mint extracts or strawberries.  The sugars in Nakd bars are naturally-occurring from the fruit, and they taste pretty great too.  Unfortunately, they were being sold at 80p each, so if I want to eat them often, it's probably best that I make batches of them at home to eat whenever.

    Ingredients (to make about 12 bars)

    2 cups of dates
    1.5 cups of cashew nuts
    2 tablespoons of cocoa
    1/2 a cup of raisins


    1. Use a blender or food processor to mix all the ingredients together for a few minutes until quite dry and crumbly.
    2. Press mixture into a Clingfilm-lined baking tin, spreading evenly and making sure it is well-compressed.  Refrigerate for an hour.
    3. Remove baking tin from the fridge and cut mixture into 12 bars.

    Tuesday, 13 October 2015

    DIY Chocolate Body Scrub

    This week is National Chocolate Week, so I have a couple of posts this week to do with chocolate.  The first of those was inspired by a chat with Yasmina from about making a vegan and cruelty-free gift pack inspired by chocolate.  We were both sent an up-to-date list of vegan-friendly products by The Body Shop for reference at a future time.  Then I remembered this morning that I have a recipe for a DIY chocolate body scrub that also uses vegan and cruelty-free ingredients that you can easily find in your kitchen.  I found this recipe in The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls by Rosemary Davidson and Sarah Vine.  I've been pretty tired over the past few weeks due to uni coursework, stress over my health, and worrying about friends, so this would be a good thing for me to use to relax and finally unwind when I've finished my project proposal later this week!


    5 tablespoons sunflower oil
    4 tablespoons soft brown sugar
    1 heaped tablespoon cocoa (NOT drinking chocolate)


    1. Mix ingredients thoroughly in a bowl.
    2. The chocolate scrub will be quite runny, so it's best to use it all over your skin while in the shower and to be careful when applying.
    3. Wash it off thoroughly with your favourite soap or body wash for very soft skin!

    Friday, 9 October 2015

    Mint Chutney

    So a week after the BBC Radio 1Xtra's Academy workshops, I think I'm finally back down to Earth (and lectures).  I loved spending two days having the opportunity to both learn tips from those in the social media, blogging radio and other industries as well as network with other young people.  I exchanged social media details with two girls called Vanessa and Saphire, who are both trying to get their music (both originals and covers) out into the world.  The workshops also gave me plenty of inspiration for blogging and led me to my decision to change the name of my blog to Rainbow Sunshine Blogs.  The reasons behind this change are that I'm wanting to blog more than just about food (for example, on Monday, I posted about the 1Xtra event, and I did the travel series in August), and I'm wanting to post more often and limiting myself to a Friday just won't cut it anymore because so much is always happening.  Fridays will always be about food though.

    This evening, I'm heading to the Bradford Playhouse for the 24 hour show.  A 24 hour show is a musical where before the night before the show, only the production team know what the musical will be.  Participants arrive on the Friday night with sleeping bags, food, etc. (but no caffeine is allowed) for 24 hours, and are told what musical they will be performing on the Saturday night.  During the 24 hours, all auditions, rehearsals and set-designing and building take place.  Last year, we did The Rocky Horror Show, which was brilliant.

    For this week, I'm going to share another of the recipes from the card I picked up at the UBU Green Thursdays stall 2 weeks ago, and this one if for mint chutney.  The recipe originally called for natural yoghurt, but as usual, you can use dairy-free yoghurt to make the recipe vegan-friendly!


    3 tablespoons mint leaves, about 10g
    1 teaspoon caster sugar
    150g tub of low-fat dairy-free natural yoghurt
    a squeeze of lime or lemon


    1. Blend the mint leaves, sugar and yoghurt with some freshly-ground black pepper until well-blended.
    2. Add the lime or lemon juice before serving.