Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Roasted carrot & chickpea salad with tahini dressing

Oh my goodness, this salad is delicious!  Seriously, you’ll be wishing you made a double batch it’s that good.  We had it for a main course and it was perfectly filling.  I’ve only relatively recently gotten into ‘eating with the seasons’ (which is totally the way to go!) and carrots right now are really easy to come by and on a grad wife budget they are super cheap too! You could also easily make this with sweet potato or butternut squash mixed in or instead of the carrots.

The recipe below was taken from a local organic produce cookbook (Riverford Organics) and it’s perfect for your spring and summer dinner parties ahead!  It was quick and easy too.  Enjoy!


600g carrots, peeled & cut into large chunks (big bag)
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp clear honey
mixed salad leaves packet
1 tin chickpeas, rinsed & drained

for the dressing:

2 tbsp light tahini
2 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Toss the carrots in a baking dish with the oil, chilli, cumin, coriander and paprika.

Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-40 mins, until tender.

Remove from the oven and toss in the chickpeas, coating them with the spices. (I put them back in to roast a few more minutes because I like roasted chickpeas-althought that wasn’t in the original recipe)

Leave to cool slightly. Scatter the salad on a long serving plate, and then put the chickpeas and carrots on top. Make the dressing: stir the tahini with the yoghurt until you have a smooth paste. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients with a few tbsp water, just enough so the dressing has the consistency of pouring cream. Drizzle over the salad.  Enjoy!


Screen shot 2013-05-02 at 3.02.56 PMimage source here


Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Thai Beef Cabbage Cups

I was in the mood for a bit of Thai food the other night, and I ran across this recipe from Cooking Light, so decided to try it. I’m not usually that adventurous when it comes to making Asian food (anything made with fish sauce tends to throw this Midwest Missouri girl), but since I really wanted to try this recipe, I forged on.

It was a huge hit in our house. The recipe is simple, inexpensive, and the leftovers were great!



  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 8 large green cabbage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts


  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beef; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.
  2. Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon oil, sugar, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl. Add beef mixture, onion, and cilantro; toss well. Place 2 cabbage leaves on each of 4 plates; divide beef mixture evenly among leaves. Top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons peanuts.

A couple of notes:

  • If you don’t like cabbage leaves, you could substitute rice. I made both, and it was wonderful.
  • I sauteed the onion before mixing it with the beef.



Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: A Little Bit of Winter Comfort

I am always amazed (and then reminded!) that I start to crave rich, warm food when winter kicks in. I find myself trawling the internet for soups, casseroles, and savoury pies; really anything that will match the chunky sweater and scarf I’m wearing, and well, keep me warm.

One of our go-to winter meals is Chicken Pot Pie. It’s easy to make, it freezes well, and frankly, it tastes good. I received this recipe from one of my friends, and at the bottom of the recipe was this statement: It’s not going to make anyone skinny, but it is good.

And she is right.

Chicken Pot Pie 


  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1-2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 3/4 tsp poultry seasoning (or seasoning salt)
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 3/4 cup carrots, diced and cooked
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas

Melt the butter in dutch oven (or large pot), add the chopped onion, and chopped celery. Saute over medium heat for 3-5 minutes are until veggies are soft.

Add the flour to the butter mixture, along with the chicken broth, milk, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, and hot sauce. Increase heat to just below boiling, then add cooked chicken, carrots, diced and peas. Stir constantly until thick, 3-5 minutes. Pour into a deep pie plate or oval casserole and top with puff pastry, tucking edges into the side to prevent boiling over. (Pie crust is fine too but not as fluffy/yummy – here’s a great gluten free option.) Bake at 400F (200C) for 30-40 minutes.  Be sure and place the pie plate on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow.


What’s your favourite winter dish?


Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Chocolate Brownies

Have you ever had a dessert that was so decadent, that you practically swooned while eating it?

This is how I feel about this brownie recipe.

My friend, Catie, was gracious enough to pass this amazing recipe straight from her own kitchen to our GW readers.  Do you know what the most wonderful thing about it is, besides the chocolate? It’s versatile – so you can make it gluten free, or gooey, or cakey, or really however you like brownies. I guarantee after you’ve made a batch, you’ll never ever ever ever ever again travel the boxed brownie route. I know I haven’t.

And, let’s be honest. It’s nice to have a new, easy, delicious recipe to be used in the midst of a busy holiday season!

Catie’s Brownies


  • Butter (190 grams)
  • 2 blocks of quality dark chocolate (150 grams each)
  •  2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup of flour

Melt the butter and blocks of chocolate in a saucepan. After melted, remove from stove and stir in 2 tsp of vanilla extract. Add in 2 cups of sugar and stir. Stir/mix in 4 eggs, then 1 cup of flour.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, at 325F (163C).

A couple of notes:

1. I typically add in 1 tsp of almond extract in addition to the vanilla. But, you can add in all kinds of things: brandy, rum, peppermint…the sky is the limit.

2. To make your brownies more cake like, add more flour.

3. To make gluten free: use gluten free flour, and 1 tsp of xantham gum.

You’re welcome. (Trust me, every time you make these, people will profusely thank you). And, thanks to Catie for the recipe!

What’s your favourite holiday treat? Would you be willing to share it with our GW readers? If so, send us an email.


Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Pear and Amaretto Cheesecake

A couple of Christmases ago, we decided to stick around England for the holidays, which meant I would be responsible for planning and preparing Christmas dinner. My mind immediately went to ‘What will we have for dessert?’ since I knew my Mother wouldn’t be here to make any of my favorites (funny how my mind went directly to dessert, and not to roasting a turkey, or making stuffing, which I’d never done before).

I began my quest for the perfect dessert and found this:

Pear cheesecake

Behold: Pear and Amaretto Cheesecake.

This is undoubtedly the most decadent cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. Pure bliss.

I’ve posted the recipe below, and wouldn’t change a thing. It’s now become a holiday staple in our house. :) You can find the full recipe here compliments of the fabulous Gordon Ramsay.


For the poached pears

  • 2 large pears
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 1 vanilla pod

For the base

  • 150g digestive biscuits
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp chocolate spread, such as Nutella

For the filling

  • 300g full-fat cream cheese (i.e. Philadelphia-type)
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 550ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp amaretto liqueur
  • 100g amaretti biscuits, lightly crushed

To decorate

  • 120g good-quality dark chocolate
  • Icing sugar, to dust


  1. First, poach the pears for the filling. Peel, quarter and core the pears, then cut into 1cm dice. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds into a large bowl; set aside for later. Add the pod to the sugar syrup and simmer for a few minutes to infuse. Add the diced pears and poach gently for about 3 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
  2. For the cheesecake base, blitz the digestives in a food processor to fine crumbs, then tip into a bowl. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the chocolate spread. Add to the biscuit crumbs and mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over the base of a 23–24cm springform cake tin, pressing down lightly. Chill for at least 20 minutes until set.
  3. For the filling, add the cream cheese and sugar to the vanilla seeds. Using a hand whisk, beat the mixture until well blended. Add 450ml of the cream and the liquer and whisk to soft peaks. Fold in the crushed amaretti and poached pears.
  4. Spoon the filling on top of the biscuit base and level the surface. Chill for at least 30 minutes, or until firm. Spread over the remaining cream to form a thin layer and then chill again.
  5. For the decoration, melt the chocolate into a heatproof bowl over a pan of hot water, then spread in an even layer on a marble slab or the underside of a clean baking sheet. Leave until just set, then draw a sharp knife across the surface at an angle of about 25 to shave off large curls
  6. To unmould the cheesecake, run a hot thin-bladed knife around the edge and remove the side of the tin. Slide a palette knife under the cheesecake and transfer to a flat plate. Arrange the chocolate curls decoratively on top, then dust with icing sugar. Cut into slices to serve. This dessert will keep in the fridge for a day or two.



Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: Paleasagna?

So, lately I have really gotten into the whole ‘gluten-free’ thing.  It all started with a few friends who challenged me to do a sort of ‘detox’ in my diet when I kept complaining of being exhausted all the time.  I tried it out and believe it or not, I started feeling great.  Better than I had felt in years!  Who knew that my energy levels were so closely connected to what I was eating.  And don’t get me wrong, I have always been a pretty healthy eater.  It was on a very very rare occasion that I’d ever buy a bag of chips or a soft drink.  But as I began to take a closer look at what I was eating (even though most of it was deemed ‘healthy’) I realized I could start to take control of my energy levels and start feeling really good with a few easy changes.

I also realized that this new habit of eating had started to directly influence my husband and his work as well!  The less gluten and dairy we ate, the better we slept at night, the more rested we felt during the day, and the less he felt like he was going to crash at 3pm and the more productive he became.  Perfect for our spouses that need the right fuel to keep them going all day in library!

My first thought was, “Man, this is going to be tricky, right?”  I had believed that eating gluten free and dairy free was going to be incredibly expensive and hard work.  There is definitley more ‘chopping’ involved in my meals :) but the trade off of feeling good is so worth it.  Sorry to ramble on, I just had to share the story behind my posting this recipe for today.

Today’s recipe is a pasta-free version of lasagna and it is amazing! Even if you aren’t interested in going gluten-free, the below offers a healthier option to regular lasagna and it is truly delicious.  Good for those chilly Autumn nights ahead!  Enjoy!


Click here for link to full recipe.

Photo Credit:

{note: the dish is called ‘paleasagna’ because the website hosts recipes for people doing the ‘paleo’ type diet.}

Shuga' Mommas

Shuga’ Mommas: French Onion Soup

It’s Autumn in Oxford.

I have been absolutely wishing Summer away this year. I’ve been ready for Autumn since June – I love the cool nights, chunky sweaters, falling leaves, and scrummy apples. However, I do not love gale force winds, torrential rain, or walking to work in gale force winds and torrential rain. I take it all back. Please, Summer, come back. I promise to love you right.


With this wonderful stay-inside kind of weather, I began to think about soup. A friend of mine sent this French Onion Soup recipe to me awhile ago, but I hadn’t had the chance to make it. Since we were inside most of the day on Sunday, I decided to try it.

Oh my.

It was heaven in a bowl. I’m not a huge fan of French Onion Soup, but this recipe was to die for. If you need a yummy-stay-inside-kind-of-weather soup, then make this. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

A couple of notes:

1. Use a good quality bottle of red wine to put into the soup. More than likely, you’ll want to drink the rest with dinner.

2. This recipe will take a full two hours to prepare. So, be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen.

3. I know gruyere cheese is a bit pricey in the USA. Trust me, it’s worth paying the extra $. It makes the soup.

4. You can make this recipe gluten free. Use gluten free flour, and either make or buy a gluten free french baguette. Or if you want to make french bread, some good recipes here: Gluten Free on Shoestring or Gluten Free Goddess.

What’s your favorite soup to eat during Autumn?