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Homemade Vegetarian Bolognese with a (Chipotle) Twist

So, I never really thought of myself as a good cook. But it turns out that when I put my mind to it I’m actually pretty good at mixing flavours together in a hodge podge kind of way – go figure!

This is what we ate last night – Veggie Bolognese with a (chipotle) twist.


And it was really rather delicious. So much so that TJ has taken the rest of it to work today for lunch. How’s that for success?

The idea for this came, as most of my meals do, from a need to use what was in the cupboard and some very random decisions along the way. But I like that – I think cooking is very much an artistic kind of activity – I’m just no good at following a recipe properly (mostly because I never have all the ingredients to hand). But that doesn’t mean I don’t use recipes for inspiration…

The basis for this particular sauce goes back a few weeks ago when I decided to make a vegetarian bolognese and realised we didn’t have any pre-made sauce. I searched online for ideas on how to use the ingredients I had available and came across this recipe by The Pioneer Woman which struck a chord. The addition of grated carrot to the sauce was new to me, but the addition of milk was something I had seen when in Germany – I was keen to try both!

We don’t generally have much cow’s milk in the house though, prefering dairy alternatives, so I decided cream of tomato soup would suffice for the creaminess aspect of the milk and went with it. Thankfully it worked beautifully, and I knew I wanted to try it again.

That’s when yesterday’s recipe happened. I started off by preparing all my fresh ingredients first, having realised that it really is easier if you chop and grate everything before you turn on the heat (rather than simply creating more washing up as I always thought!)


In went the (very) roughly chopped onions (because I wanted some extra chunks to the sauce) followed closely by the grated carrot and courgette. I had planned to document each stage, but at this point I discovered a jar of chipotle paste in the cupboard whilst searching for some seasoning and my mind wandered elsewhere…

I sent out an image on instagram and twitter asking if anyone thought adding chipotle paste to a bolognese would work and I got a very excited response from Mummy Whiskers. So I thought, “what the heck” and threw some in. TJ loves a bit of a kick to his food (hence us having chipotle paste in the first place) and I knew he would like it – but would I?

I wasn’t sure how much to put in, and I made the mistake of tasting a tiny bit of the paste before adding some to the pan. This meant all I could taste was chipotle and couldn’t tell if I’d put enough in to the sauce or not. Oh well, you live and learn!

I continued adding my ingredients: diced courgette and roughly sliced bell pepper; tinned tomatoes and finally tomato soup. I put the frozen peas, sweetcorn and fresh mangetout in a pan with some tiny wheat-free alphabet pasta shapes and boiled some wheat-free penne in another pan. Finally, I added salt and pepper to the sauce and let it reduce down as it was rather “wet” after adding a whole tin of tomato soup!

It reduced beautifully though and so I strained the peas, sweetcorn, mangetout, tiny pasta shapes combo and added that to the sauce. It looked lovely…


All in all I would call this meal a success and I think it may become one of our family favourites. Now that I am working full-time from home, I am able to make sure I finish work in the evening in time to start cooking more adventurously (rather than taking an hour to get home and making it too late to really do anything more than a very basic meal). I’m looking forward to where this will take me!

Do you want to know how I did it? Well, I’m not good at recipes but here goes…


  • 2 carrots (grated)
  • 2 courgettes (1 grated, one diced)
  • 1 large onion (roughly chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (roughly sliced into bite sized pieces)
  • a handful of fresh mangetout (chopped into bite sized pieces)
  • a cupful of frozen peas
  • a cupful of frozen sweetcorn
  • a cupful of small pasta shapes (optional)
  • approx. 2.5 tsps of chipotle paste (can be substituted with normal tomato paste)
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tin of cream of tomato soup

Of course, the lovely nature of this recipe is that aside from the basics of tinned tomatoes, cream of tomato soup, tomato paste, onions and the grated veg you can mix and match the rest of the ingredients depending on what you have in your cupboards the time! Don’t want mange tout and bell pepper? Why not try mushrooms and broccoli!

The method

  1. Heat around a tbsp of oil in a large pan
  2. Add the roughly chopped onion and leave for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the grated carrot and courgette and allow to soften for about 5 mins
  4. Add the chipotle paste and mix in with the onion, carrot and courgette
  5. Add the diced courgette and bell pepper, allow to soften for another 5-10 mins
  6. Add the tinned tomatoes and mix
  7. Add the tomato soup, half a tin first and then the other half when it has reduced a little
  8. Leave on steady heat and boil pasta along with the rest of the veg
  9. Once veg and pasta is cooked, strain and add veg to sauce, then dish up
  10. Enjoy!

This went down a treat not just with us but also with the dinosaurs…


Roasted Veg, Hummus and Baked New Potatoes


Mmmmmmm… just looking at this picture reminds me how very tasty this dish was, and it is so easy to make that I thought I would share it with you all.

Roasted vegetables is something that Tim and I regularly eat. I find raw vegetables hard to digest and boiled ones often rather tasteless. But stick them in the over to roast and they become magical.

We eat them alone as a light and tasty meal, as a side to meat and even cold the next day as part of a salad. They are so versatile and make use of any vegetables you might have hanging around in your cupboard and starting to look a little sorry for themselves.

So, when I came across a recipe for baked poatoes, hummus and roasted vegetables and I knew we had to try it. However, with it being summer and us having a lovely supply of new potatoes in our cupboard, I decided to have a go at baking them instead of the more usual baking potatoes. I wasn’t sure how well they would turn out, but they were incredible!

So, without further ado, here’s how you do it:

Roasted Vegetables, Hummus and Baked New Potatoes


New potatoes (I baked 6 per person)
Vegetables of your choice

When choosing vegetables to roast, I have found the following work really well:

Butternut Squash
Sweet Potatoes

Cooking oil
Salt and Pepper
Herbs for seasoning (good options include rosemary and thyme)


The Recipe

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200oC, 400oF or Gas Mark 6.

2. Wash the potatoes, pat them dry with kitchen towel, then rub a thin layer of cooking oil over their skins. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over them and place on a baking tray. Put this tray on the top shelf in your oven.

3. Wash and chop your vegetables. I find that cutting the most of the vegetables into thin slices ensures a much more even roast in the oven and makes the end product that much more satisfying. However, mushrooms, tomatoes, leeks and onions do better if cut into slightly larger chunks.

4. Layer the vegetables in one or two baking trays, so that they are all mixed in with each other but the layers aren’t so thick that the middle vegetables won’t turn golden brown as they roast. Drizzle oil over the lot, season to taste, and place on a lower shelf in your oven.

5. Leave everything to roast for approx. 30 minutes from the time you put your vegetables in (putting the potatoes in first gives them a bit longer to bake). You will know everything is cooked when the potatoes have crispy, golden skins but are soft and fluffy when cut open and the vegetables are browned on the edges but soft and tender when bitten.

6. Place the potatoes onto a plate, cover with a generous dollop (or two) of hummus, and top with the vegetables.

7. Enjoy!



Summery Salads – Tomato and Mozzarella


I was never really an adventurous cook before I met Tim… in fact, I had a bad relationship with food, sticking to “plain” and “safe” foods thanks to a kind of “eating disorder” as a child which made me believe certain foods would make me ill…

But, since meeting Tim and also since having such lovely neighbours who enjoyed social evenings, I have developed a keen desire to come up with foods we will love to eat again and again. In fact, entertaining is one of my favourite things, and this simple salad is just perfect for a summer get-together.

I’m not going to give yo exact quantities, because the salad is so simple and flexible, you can make it suit any number of guests. We have eaten it just the two of us as a quick lunch (using just one large ball of mozzarella, and a handful of tomatoes), to a starter for six (using three large mozzarella balls and a selection of tomatoes picked fresh from the vegetable stall). As a rough guide, however, ensure you have at least one large mozzarella ball between two people for a main course and between three as a starter.



Tomatoes (try and mix it up by having a selection of different types)

Fresh Basil

Olive Oil

Red Wine Vinegar

Chilli Flakes

Lemon (juice and zest)


  1. Start by cutting up the mozzarella into round, thick slices. Then, tear each slice up into several chunks and place, haphazardly, across your plate.
  2. Cut your tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and scatter over the mozzarella on your plate
  3. Pick a large handful of fresh basil leaves, the more you have the better the flavour, and then put a dozen leaves to one side. Rip the rest of the leaves between your fingers to release their flavour and scatter over the tomato and mozzarella. Place the whole leaves you put to one side around the plate as decoration.
  4. Sprinkle a few chilli flakes over the plate
  5. Grate some lemon zest over the whole lot, then cut your lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the top.
  6. Pour a small amount of red wine vinegar into the bottle’s lid and drizzle over the cheese and tomato
  7. Finally, drizzle good quality Olive Oil over the whole lot

Simple – and so incredibly tasty!

You may also want to serve a bowl full of olives, and some toasted Ciabatta with bowls of dipping oils as complementary additions to this Mediterranean inspired feast, and I’ve listed a few of our favourites below:

  • Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil and crushed Basil Leaves
  • Chilli infused Olive Oil

The choice is yours and the varieties endless. What a lovely dish for summer…