Your favourite recipes this week:

Afghan aubergines with yogurt...

I'm very hesitant when it comes to buying aubergines, mainly because I still have to be really, really convinced by someone or some brilliant dish, that it can be really good. But, recently I gave in, mainly because it was on  a huge sale in a local supermarket. I was going through my recipes and I've notice that I cooked it two years ago, time to give it another try.

So, after having a quick look through my many cookbooks, I decided to trust, again, The Hairy Bikers. The dish might have a rather long list of ingredients, but it all comes together beautifully. I was really surprised how good it turned out! Oh, one word of advice -> that minty jogurt on the bottom of the plate, makes all the difference! Tried it without it, and it wasn't that good anymore, it definitely missed something, some kind of a "kick", "lift me up" thing ;)

afghan aubergines by hairy bikers recipe

The whole dish gave me a little bit of faith into aubergines and I'll be trying to cook with them again soon. How do you cook yours? Any tips, ideas? :)

The below recipe comes from a great cookbook "Great Curries" by The Hairy Bikers.

How to make it...

Beetroot and chocolate cupcakes...

Chocolate cupcakes, I know I might not be very inventive, but... how about chocolate cupcakes with an addition of beetroot? I promise you won't even know it's there! And how about sneaking that one of "five a day" to your children? Or maybe even yourself? ;)
If I haven't baked those myself, I wouldn't have a faintest idea that there's anything unusual about them, that in fact, there's a beetroot in my cake! The result is fantastic - moist, but not stodgy, slightly sweet, not over chocolaty cupcake, with a nice crumb to it.

beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

I hear you - "I don't want to cook and peel beetroots, it's a messy, messy job!". Yes, it is, but I'm not asking you to do all that. How about buying those funny looking packs of pre-cooked, already peeled, vacuum packed beetroots? I don't know if that's a case in other countries (I presume it is), but in Ireland those are one of the cheapest vegetables you can buy! Half a kilo of beetroots already prepped for you! All you have to do is grate them, or even better - blitz, if you have means of doing that.

halloween beetroot and chocolate cupcakes

Those chocolate cupcakes are perfect not only for Halloween, but seeing as beetroot is that bloody red in colour ;) and it's an Autumn veg, I believe it's a perfect match for that spooky holiday! Some cheap cupcake cases and ghost cake decorations from Euroshop/Dollar store and you have yourself a brilliant idea for a Halloween party! But... it's so easy to make any other decoration on top, or simply sprinkle it with some icing sugar and it's perfect afternoon treat for any day of the year :)

How to make it...

Homemade pumpkin pie spice... and ways to use it...

Autumn IS my favourite time of the year. The sun isn't so "sharp" anymore, its light is more mellow and heat more pleasant. The leaves turn to all the different colours - from golden brown to orange, rusty, yellow and even some ruby red. I love walking down the pathways covered with dry leaves, the sound of them "crunching" under my boots, the smell of Autumn in the air... And I won't pass by a laying chestnut either, I just have to pick it up! :)

pumpkin pie spice

Nature is very generous for us too this time of the year - with all the blackberries, elderberries, mushrooms and other things to gather before winter comes. And when it comes to home grown crops - pumpkins of course!

Nothing says Fall better than a big, round, orange pumpkin (not necessary with a scary face on it ;) ). I love all things pumpkin - pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin latte, pumpkin cookies and also pumpkin pie spice, which you can add to almost anything and everything! Unfortunately it's quite difficult to buy ready made pumpkin pie spice here in Ireland, but it's so easy to make your own!

Below a very simple mix of spices (which you may all have already sitting in your cupboard). When using the pumpkin pie spice I usually add some freshly grated zest of orange to all my baked goods, it gives them that extra zing, lifts it up.

Because pumpkin pie spice is so versatile you can use it in many ways:
* Add it to your coffee - mix it with your coffee grounds and brew your coffee as usual, or sprinkle it on top of your latte or cappuccino
* Mix it into whipped cream - perfect accompaniment to pies and other desserts
* Stir it into a pancake mix
* Sprinkle it on a tray with roast vegetables - make a tray of your usual roast vegetable mix, season with salt, pepper and olive and add a bit of pumpkin spice. This time of the year use seasonal vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots.
* Add it to your oatmeal or granola mix
* Add a bit of it to your cookie dough or cakes
* Add it to your pasta dishes
* Season your popcorn with it!

If you have any more ideas/uses for pumpkin pie spice please share them with us in the comment section! :)

How to make it...