Guest Blogger: Esmé’s Butternut Soup

Soup greens cut into small pieces – leeks, onion, celery, potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots and quite a lot of Butternut cut into also small cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable stock powder (I use Kosher Feigels or Thelma vegetable cubes – 2)
1 tablespoon onion stock powder (Feigels)
Salt and pepper

Put into big pot on stove (I use a quick boil non spill lid) to make the process quicker.
Fill with water till covering all the vegetables plus about 2 cups extra.
Let boil until vegetables are soft. A lot of the liquid will boil away.
When ready, I use a blender stick to blend all together till smooth.
Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
For 2 of us, this makes enough for 5 meals so I decant into Tupperware x 5 and freeze and take out when needed. It is yummy.

Guest Submission: Esmé’s Kale, Butternut and Beet Salad

Kale, Butternut and Beet Salad

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 large beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 very large onion, sliced into large pieces
5 cloves garlic, sliced into long slivers. I actually use a very large tablespoon full of minced garlic – we love garlic! ♥
2 bunches kale, cut into bite-sized pieces, stems removed
Fresh ground black pepper
Brown sugar
Extra Olive oil as needed
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dried thyme (fresh will also work)

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place the butternut in a baking tray lined with tinfoil, in a single layer and sprinkle with oil, then season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
Repeat the previous step with the beets, but here I sprinkled it with brown sugar.
Bake both trays in the preheated oven until tender, ±20 to 30 minutes. We prefer the veggies to still have a bit of crunch to it, so be cautious not to over cook it.
Set both baking trays aside to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, heat ±1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Cook the onion and garlic until it starts to caramelize. Continue to cook while stirring until golden brown, at least 15 minutes and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Now add the kale to your skillet (add oil if needed) and cook until wilted and tender – it only takes about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave the kale to cool to room temperature.
In a large serving dish, add the butternut, beet and onions in three separate heaps and then add the kale and gently mix till combined.
Mix the apple cider vinegar with a bit more pepper and the thyme and pour over your veggie mixture.

If you prefer you can use yams instead of butternut, and any type of vinegar you prefer.

Guest Submission: Esmé’s


The best ever salad, with fresh figs and yummy beetroot topped with all the healthy goodness of pumpkin and sunflower seeds!!
6-8 medium sized beetroots, peeled and cut into wedges
125ml sugar
125ml balsamic vinegar
125ml boiling water
60ml olive oil
100ml pumpkin seeds
100ml sunflower seeds
1 bunch radishes, well rinsed and leaves trimmed off
8-12 ripe purple figs, broken open (we could not get fresh purple figs, so used store-bought dried figs)
2-3 handfuls rocket or baby salad leaves
100ml dried cranberries

Parmesan shavings (omit for vegan, or as we did, only add to the one side of the salad)

Boil the beetroot in the sugar, vinegar, and water until tender and syrupy.
Allow cooling completely. Season with salt & black pepper.
Heat half the olive oil and roast the seeds slowly until they start to puff up.
Remove from the heat and season with coarse salt. Allow cooling.
Mix the radishes with the remaining olive oil and season with salt & pepper.
Roast for a few minutes under the hot grill, it gives them a lovely texture.
To assemble, arrange the beetroot, radishes, and figs in-between the leaves, then sprinkle the cranberries, seeds and Parmesan cheese on top.
Serve with olive oil & extra balsamic vinegar.

Guest Submission: Esmé’s Eggless Spiced Pumpkin Cake with Cinnamon Butter Cream Frosting

Flax egg  used for those who have allergies and must follow an egg-free diet

When I first read the ingredients I was scared, I won’t lie, because the recipe asked for pumpkin puree and I have never seen it anywhere in the local supermarkets, but thanks to my all-time faithful good friend google, I discovered that I can make my own homemade puree, by steaming pumpkin cubes in a little water until soft and then use a masher, and mash it until there are no lumps and hey presto I have homemade pumpkin puree.

Ingredients for the cake batter:
2 cups cake flour.
1 cup caramel brown sugar.
½ cup castor sugar.
1 tsp baking powder.
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda.
½ tsp salt.

2 tsp cinnamon powder.
½ tsp nutmeg powder.
½ tsp ginger powder.
½ tsp cloves powder.
337g pumpkin puree.
1 tsp vanilla essence.
¼ cup vegetable oil.
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar.
1 flax egg.

Make the flax egg (1 x tbsp. crushed linseed mixed with 3 x tbsp. boiling water and set aside).
Sift the cake flour into a bowl.

Add the spices and both sugars and give it a good stir.
Add the pumpkin puree, vanilla essence, cooking oil, white wine vinegar and your flax egg.
Whisk till well combined.
Pour into a lightly greased 20cm cake pan.
Tap to remove any bubbles.
Pop into a preheated oven and bake at 180 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until the cake tester comes out clean.

Ingredients for the butter cream icing:
450g sifted icing sugar.
112g margarine.
1 tsp vanilla essence.
2 tbsp. soy milk.
1 tsp cinnamon powder.

Cream the margarine, add a little icing sugar in at a time and whisk till it starts to resemble bread crumbs.
Add the vanilla essence, soy milk and cinnamon powder.
Whisk until well combined and the mixture comes together.

To assemble to cake:
Cut the cake into two layers.
Place one layer down on your cake board and generous layers the icing.
Place the second layer of cake on top of the icing.
Generously ice the top layer of the cake and decorate with chopped walnuts.

Thank You Guest Food Bloggers

img_1878Another month has ended and a new one begins! Thank you so much for all of you who submitted pieces for this past month! It has been fun to feature you and hopefully boost traffic and views to your websites and writing! You are all extremely talented and truly wonderful people! Thank you, thank you!

Stay tuned for this new month’s theme, and for when I’ll be taking more guest posts on with a new monthly challenge! If you’re interested in looking at other guest submissions that have been featured on the Ink Owl, feel free to look under the guest blogger tag. Again all of you it has been a wonderful experience!

-M.E. InkOwl

Guest Submission: Es’s Gluten Free with Pumpkin Seeds and Apricot Biscotti

You have to try this tested recipe made of GF flour with Pumpkin Seeds and Apricot Biscotti.  Although I have to say so myself, this is the best ever I have managed to make GF.

1 c Gluten Free 1-to-1 Baking Flour – Bob’s Red Mill
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ cup white sugar
½ cup salted pumpkin seeds
½ cup sliced dried apricots
2 XL eggs
¼ cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 320F
Line cookie tray with parchment paper.
Mix flour, baking power and sugar.
Add seeds and sliced apricots.
Whisk eggs together with the milk till combined.
Form a log of ±3-4″ wide and place on baking tray.  Leave some space down the length of your tray in order for some spreading of the dough.
The mixture is rather wet, so make sure to cover your hands and the board you work on with a good helping of flour while shaping the dough into a log.
Bake for ±30 minutes, or till you have a slight golden crust
Let it cool down properly before you cut the log into biscuits, about ½” thick.  If you prefer, as I did, cut it again into half or you will end up with a very big and unmanageable biscotti.

Turn down the oven 300F
Place the sliced biscotti on a cooling rack (cut side up) and continue to bake for ±10 minutes.  Turn the biscotti over and repeat this process on the other side.
Leave it in the oven and place a spoon in the door to keep it slightly open.
I prefer to add this extra step in order for the biscotti to completely dry out for ± ½-1 hour.
Store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.
I can promise you, this is the best ever GF biscotti I have ever concocted, and it’s so easy and quick to prepare.  I only made a small batch, as I had to test it out, but believe me, next time I will make more of same.

Guest Submission: Farmer’s Market


“Come and get your roasted almonds! Come step over here!” Bright morning sunlight streamed through tall sycamore trees as the crier held out his wares for the passing crowd.

“Mmmm.” Was all I could say as I breathed in the warm spicy scent. I felt my hand reaching for my wallet when a sharp voice whispered in my ear.

“You’re not seriously thinking about blowing your money on that junk are you?” My eye snapped open as she squeezed me around the waist.

I looked at the vendor, and he looked at me. “I’ll pass, thanks though.”

My stomach rumbled as we walked past vendor after vendor. Stalls sat with tables full of fresh produce, baked goods, noodles, and spices. Cool morning air twisted between our feet as we wove around huddles of people, laughing and eating. Beautiful dogs with sleek coats either struck out into the crowd with their masters or were carefully tucked at their owner’s side, willing a morsel of food to drop onto their waiting nose.

My wife pulled me forward, and I felt the sun begin to sizzle on the back of my head. It was going to be a hot day.



Guest Submission: Cupcakes



There are few things in life that are as satisfying as the perfect cupcake.  The moist, dense crumb contrasted against the smooth, sweet frosting.  When you peel back the paper from the cupcake, the world nearly pauses in anticipation for something amazing.  The next step of eating a cupcake is up to the eater.  How will he or she approach the task?

  1. Top First: Eat the frosting first, coating your tongue with the sweetness that will complement the cake, which is eaten last.  This method appeals most to the cake lover.
  2. Bottom First: The cupcake is dissected horizontally, pulling the top of the cake with frosting off.  The cylindrical piece of cake is eaten in 3–4 bites before being chased by the cupcake top with frosting.  This method appeals best to the frosting lover– The best is saved for last.
  3. Straight: The cupcake is approached from the side, eating bite after bite of cake balanced with frosting.  Each bite is the same and equally exciting.  Most often, those that have no preference for frosting over cake approach the life-changing moment this way.
  4. Sandwich: The cupcake is again dissected horizontally, pulling the top of the cake with the frosting off of the rest.  The top of the cupcake is then inverted and placed on top of the cupcake cylinder, creating a frosting sandwich.  This approach appeals to those that prefer not to make a mess, and bookend the frosting with bites of cake.

Es’s Gluten Free Lemon and Maple Syrup Mini Bundt Cake

200g soft/room temperature unsalted butter
½ cup super fine/berry sugar
75ml maple syrup
5ml pure lemon extract
Grated rind of 2 lemons
4 XL eggs
200g Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour (I used Enjoy Life)
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
30ml lemon juice (½ lemon)
±15-20 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
Icing/confectioners sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease a 6 well mini Bundt pan.
Cream butter, sugar and maple syrup until light and fluffy with a hand mixer.
Add eggs one at a time, mix well after each addition.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt and mix into wet mixture.
Add lemon juice and zest and mix until combined.
Spoon ±½ cup into prepared mini Bundt pans and smooth the top with a spoon.
Bake 20-25 minutes till firm to the touch and you have reached a nice baked color, or until skewer inserted comes out clean.
Cool for ±10-15 minutes in the pans before turning them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Dust only once cold with icing sugar.

Guest Submission: Parfait Mornings

There’s nothing I love more than yogurt parfait in the morning. Something about watching the sun rise over the mountains as a spoon slides into thick and flavorful yogurt. With a light dusting of sweetly seasoned granola, I sit at my kitchen table and watch as the sun glides up over the buildings around my house.

With a satisfying crunch, the cinnamon and brown sugar encrusted oats fill that empty space associated with a spoonful of yogurt. And to top off the experience, a burst of blueberry juice seals the deal, giving me the start I need to greet this new day with a smile.

Now the only question is, what combination are you going to try?