Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca + Sticky Marmalade Chicken Wings + Mango Chilli Margarita + New Cookbooks

Happy Sunday guys!

Hope everyone has had a good week. We’ve had a wet, moody week (which I somehow absolutely love!) and so the food was hot soups and curries on most nights. It was a bonus round of autumn in the middle of Spring. And we made the most of it.

But now, just in time for the weekend, the weather is bright blue skies and warm sun (translation – perfect to spend time outdoors!). So I am going to keep my musings to a minimum and go out on that long walk I have been dreaming of since morning.

But first, some pictures from around the garden – hydrangea bushes have exploded overnight. This year the bush has gotten taller than me and I am very excited for all the big blooms that I will no doubt cut and put all around my kitchen in vases in the coming weeks. This year, I am also going to try and take cuttings of the bushes, So I can grow them elsewhere (because amazing as they are, they are going to be taken out in a reno project soon!). If you have any hydrangea grafting tips, please do share.

The pomegranate tree is covered with flowers and we have our first peaches on the dwarf peach tree. Yay!


Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca - Cook Republic


You are going to love this delicious classic Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca recipe made without anchovies. A few delicious, secret, plant-based ingredients add the same umami hit making this comforting pasta dish a weeknight winner!

How To Make A Vegan Puttanesca Sauce?

If you have made my Classic Homemade Puttanesca Sauce, you already know how delicious it is. This Vegan version that I share today is equally delicious. The Puttanesca sauce originated in Italy in the mid-twentieth century and was made up of tomatoes, olives, capers, garlic and lots of olive oil. A name with a coloured history, it is believed by many a food historian that Puttanesca (derived from the word “puttana” meaning prostitute) was a sauce that was first cooked up in the brothels of Naples.

Despite the origin of the name, the dish itself has humble pantry/store-cupboard origins. And a few variations. Within the different regions of Italy, a Sicilian version of this sauce has green peppers and one from Palermo that has anchovies, raisins and olives. The most famous Neopolitan version has anchovies and oregano. The base is always the same – lots of fragrant, umami, salty and briny flavours from olives, capers, tomatoes and garlic.

I have made this Puttanesca sauce without anchovies. Instead, I added miso paste and nutritional yeast. Although it was delicious, I felt it lacking in the umami department. Anchovies are a pretty strong flavoured ingredient and taking them out made the dish feel incomplete in a way that miso and yeast couldn’t make up for.

Key Ingredients For Vegan Puttanesca

Dulse – So, I started experimenting with sea-flavours. And I found gold with seaweed. Dulse is a red seaweed found in ….

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Easy Sticky Marmalade Chicken Wings for a quick and satisfying weeknight dinner. Inspired by Asian flavours, these delicious chicken wings cook very quickly with just pantry ingredients. Another great way to use up that bottle of marmalade in your fridge!

Easy Sticky Chicken Wings Inspired By A Famous Chinese Dish

A soy-glazed orange duck with Chinese 5-spice is often very popular at Asian restaurants. I don’t know what the origin of this dish is but it sounds suspiciously like an Asian riff on the famous French Duck a l’orange dish. I have taken all those flavours and the delightful mix of cuisines and put them in a quick 30-40 minute dinner recipe that basically cooks itself and saves the day when I have very little time after work….

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A blast from the past, a decadent twist on a classic chocolate caramel slice; this Burnt Butter Caramel Slice was the result of a happy accident and quickly became the most baked treat on my blog! Anyone who has it, CANNOT stop talking about it.

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It is amazing how we need to be reminded of small things to do for our physical and mental health. There aren’t hard to do, but because we are bogged down by so much stuff (both tangible and conceptual) that we often forget to do them. When I find a piece of information that is profound and valuable, I file it in one place so I can access it whenever I need to. I also have a daily Manifesto, a mantra that I repeat to myself. It could be as simple as remembering to drink water throughout the day or to have a hot shower. But by telling myself that and being mindful of it, I remember to do it and it becomes a slow, steady, daily habit. This in turn has started making really positive changes in my physical and mental health.


Food For Thought »

” The eye muscles are the most active in the body, moving more than 100,000 times a day! Hence, it is really important to help your eyes relax and recharge throughout the day.

How »

Palming – Make the palms of your hands warm by rubbing them vigorously together for a few seconds.  Then, cup your hands over your closed eyes.  Rest your cupped hands on the tissues surrounding your eyes and breathe in and out deeply.  Meditation during palming will help you relax even further.  Palm for five-minute periods throughout your workday.

Cover the Eyes – Cover your eyes with an eye mask or some kind of soft material to block out all light.  While sitting or lying down in a relaxed position (but not sleeping), imagine the world around you is black.  By “relaxing into the blackness,” you are teaching your brain that your eyes do not have to always strain.  Your eyes will function better through relaxation techniques rather than stress.

Warm & Cold Water Compresses – Warm and cold compresses are easy ways to relax your eye muscles and strained eyes.  For this method, dip a soft and clean cloth into warm (not hot!) or cool water and place it over your eyelids for a couple of minutes.  Warm water will relax your eye muscles and cool water (or even ice cubes wrapped up in a cloth) will help reduce puffiness around your eyes caused by eye strain.

Eye socket massage
A gentle massage is very relaxing for the eyes. Using the tips of your thumbs, massage the area beneath your eyebrows – from the top of your nose to the edge of the eyelid – in circular motions.

Trace an Eight
This eye exercise will increase the flexibility of your eye muscles and improve your vision. Visualize a gigantic 8 almost 3 meters away from you and turn it on its side. Now sketch it with your eyes slowly for a few minutes – first clockwise and then anticlockwise. Be perseverant with this and it will help maintain a clear vision.

Follow the 20-20-20 rule
To keep your eyes from getting tired at work, take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on something that is located at least 6 meters (20 feet) away from you. This exercise helps prevent digital eye strain and eye damage in the long run. (I love looking at tall trees in the distance)

on my cooking list this week ……

Marion’s Thai Curry Puffs! Yum!

Rice Pilaf With Lemony Brown Butter Mushrooms

Really quick Crispy Cauliflower or a Spiced Cauliflower Burger or a Cauliflower Shawarma With Pomegranate Pinenuts & Rose

Sweet Potato And Kale Fried Wild Rice

Garlic Mushroom Cauliflower Skillet

Creamy French Onion And Mushroom Soup

These Lemon Sunshine Bars

These incredible Chocolate Chai Cheesecake Bars

Vegan Banoffee Cookies


Currently watching ….

Sex Education Season 1 (This show has been around for a while and I only recently started watching it. It is quirky, very heartfelt and really grows on you. A slightly exaggerated look at young adults trying to navigate the journey to adulthood amidst today’s charged climate of political correctness)

I never knew about Palm Cockatoos until I saw Robert Irwin’s post on this now endangered species. They are beautiful creatures and apparently the only known animal (besides humans) to craft and use tools musically. How amazing!


And in the spirit of getting organized for Christmas, here are More Favourite Aussie Brands ….

Pony Rider have that beautifully understated wanderer/wilderness theme going. They also create their canvas range from all recycled materials. A nice Christmas advent calender in that range if anyone is looking!

Award-winning Jasper & Myrtle Chocolates (my absolute favourite is their Black & White Sesame Chocolate)

Kara Rosenlund’s Stunning Australian Prints

One Of Twelve (beautiful Indigenous Art silk artwork, scarves, ties)

Upswitch (spectacular one-of-a-kind lamps created out of old, vintage treasures)



Makes – 1

1/2 fresh mango pulp
30ml (1oz) tequila blanco
15ml (0.5 oz) triple sec
juice of half a lime
1/2 cup ice
extra lime, crushed salt & Shichimi Togarashi – to rim


Add mango pulp, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and ice to a jug of a small blender. Blend until smooth.

Run a lime wedge around the rim of a small 250ml tumbler. Crush some sea salt flakes and Shichimi Togarashi in a flat bottomed bowl. Roll the rim of the glass in the bowl to coat it with the seasoning.

Fill the glass with the margarita. Enjoy!

note – Shichimi Togarashi is a spicy Japanese condiment. You can swap this with sweet paprika.


Now that’s what I call a good stack! I love this time of the year. It is literally raining new cookbooks and for me, it is like Christmas arriving early as I get busy stocking up my shelves with new books. (from top to bottom)