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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Spicy Seven Vegetable Stew

This stew is quick to make, packed with flavour and full of vegetables - prefect for a cold winter night and a comforting lunch the next day.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand, courgettes, carrots, onions and kale would also work well in this stew, perfect for clearing out your vegetable draw before shopping day.  You can leave out the chorizo and pepperoni for a vegetarian version, just add a tablespoon of paprika for an extra flavour kick.

This recipe is part of Leftover Lunches, a campaign by Voucher Codes to encourage us all to be creative with what we eat at lunchtime, making and eating tasty lunches that cost much less than store bought ones.  The challenge was to come up with a meal for under £10 which could also be used as leftovers for lunch the next day or two.

I’m lucky that I can normally eat lunch at home as I work during the night, this still means I need a decent ‘midnight lunch’ to take to work with me as the canteen food is rather grim.  If I am out at lunchtime I am amazed at how expensive it is to purchase a decent sandwich or salad.  I’m really picky about the pre-made sandwiches/salads that I buy because I know I can make something more nutritious and tasty at home that would cost much less.

Spicy Seven Vegetable Stew

200g chorizo, diced (optional, add 1 Tblsp paprika if not using)
100g sliced pepperoni (optional)
2 sticks celery
1 leek
1 pepper, I used a yellow one
200g butternut squash, peeled and diced
200g sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 carton chopped tomatoes with added garlic
1 carton chopped tomatoes with added pepper and chilli
500ml vegetable stock
2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
300g cavolo nero or 4 cubes frozen spinach

Put a large  pan over a moderate heat and add the chorizo and pepperoni, cook until the oil starts to run from the chorizo.  Add the celery, leek and pepper.  Stir to coat in the oil and cook for a few minutes until the vegetables start to soften.  Add all the other ingredients apart from the cavolo nero or  spinach.   Cover and simmer for around 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Add the cavolo nero or spinach and cook until heated through and wilted.  Serve with a granary bread roll.



Leftovers for Lunch

For lunches I turned the stew into pasties using store bought shortcrust pastry.  Cut a rectangle or circle of pastry the size you would like your pasty to be, put filling in the middle, fold over the pastry and crimp the edges to seal.  Cook in an oven preheated to 200C/180C Fan for 25 minutes.  I made four large pasties from the leftover stew.



Costings from Asda
1x Chopped Tomatoes with Garlic in Tomato Juice (390g) 50p
1x Chopped Tomatoes with Chilli and Peppers (390g) 50p
2x Tins Chick Peas in Water (400g) £1.20
Leek (Approx 250g) 50p
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes (400g) £1.50
2 sticks Celery 20p
Danish Pepperoni (120g) £1.00
Chorizo Cooking Sausage (200g) £2.00

300g Cavolo Nero 75p
Shortcrust pastry £1.00

Total £9.15 for a dinner to feed 5 generously and four packed lunches.

This is a Sponsored Post.  Voucher Codes commissioned me to create a recipe for their #LeftoverLunches campaign. I was compensated for my time and ingredients.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Our Family Meal Plan, Another Super Frugal Edition 27/01/14 - £40

We're still in super frugal mode this week.  It's also a largely Vegetarian meal plan this week as I've not been feeling well and have gone off meat, amongst other things.  It's also a low faff meal plan as I'm not feeling much like cooking either, a shocking state of affairs for a food blogger. Hopefully I shall be back on form soon.

Breakfasts will be porridge with dried fruit for a little sweetness and extra flavour.  On the weekend we will have pancakes and homemade crumpets.

Lunches this week for my daughters will be calzone with a piece of fruit and a baked treat for afters, my husband and I will have leftovers from dinner for our lunches.  Weekend lunches will be homemade pizza and twice baked potatoes.

Mince and Vegetable Calzone

Filling:
250g beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 peppers, diced (any colour will do)
200g frozen mixed vegetables
4 Tblsp tomato paste
125ml boiling water
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tblsp fresh chives, finely chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Dough:
1  x 7g packet instant yeast
1 Tblsp sugar
150ml - 200ml lukewarm water
450g bread or plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed herbs

Make the dough first so it has time to rise whilst you make the filling. Mix the yeast, sugar and water together then add the flour, salt, a couple of hearty grinds of pepper and mixed herbs.  Mix the ingredients together well, and add more warm water or flour if necessary, until the dough mixture forms a large ball.

Knead the dough gently until it is elastic and smooth.  Grease a bowl with a little oil, put the dough into the bowl and turn it n the oil.  Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside in a warm place to rise for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170 Fan.

Now make the filling.  In a frying pan over a moderate heat, saute the onion and peppers until they start to soften then add the minced beef.  Brown the mince well, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add the frozen mixed vegetables, tomato paste, water and chives then simmer gently for 10–15 minutes. Remove the filling fron the heat.

To make the calzone, take a small piece of dough and roll it out into a small circle shape. Put a large spoonful of mince mixture on one side of circle, leaving a 1cm clear edge. Top with a tablespoon of grated cheddar cheese.  Fold the empty side over the filling to make a crescent shape then pinch the edges together to seal the calzone.  Repeat until all the dough and filling has been used.  I can usually get about 18 - 20 small calzone from this recipe. 

Put the calzone onto lined baking trays. Brush with a little oil and bake for 10 - 15 minutes or until they are golden and crispy.

Dinners

Monday Night Frittata

1 pepper, diced
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
10 eggs
300g frozen mixed vegetables
500g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas 6.

Simmer the potatoes and pumpkin in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and leave to cool slightly before slicing thinly.

Meanwhile, put a 25cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan on the hob over a moderate heat. Saute the  onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil for about 5 minutes until the onion and pepper has softened.

Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and the softened onion, pepper and garlic. Carefully fold in the potatoes, pumpkin and frozen mixed vegetables. Pour the frittata mixture back into the frying pan and cook over a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until it has cooked through and is set.

Family Sized Vegetable and Kidney Bean Pastry Roll

1 Tblsp olive oil
300g mushrooms, sliced
120g spinach, frozen is fine
1 finely chopped fresh pepper
2 x 400g cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp mild curry powder
2 Tblsp mango chutney, plus extra to serve
375g block puff pastry, defrosted if frozen
60g (1/2 cup) finely grated cheddar
1 free range egg, beaten

Heat oil in a pan over a medium heat. Cook mushrooms and fresh pepper if you are using it, for a couple of minutes until they soften slightly. Add the spinach, drained and rinsed lentils, curry powder and mango chutney. Season everything to taste and then cook for 2-3 minutes until everything is well combined and the spinach has started to wilt. Allow this mixture to cool completely.

Whilst the mixture is cooling, preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to form a 40cm x 30cm (12 inch x 16 inch) rectangle. Spread half the lentil mixture down the centre of the pastry, top with the grated cheese, then put the remaining lentil mix on top. Brush the pastry edges with water, and then fold it over to enclose filling. Press it well to seal it and put it on the baking tray seam-side down. Brush the with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little extra cheese if you like.

Bake the pastry roll for about 30 minutes or until its golden brown. Slice the pastry roll and serve it with some plain yoghurt, salad greens and extra mango chutney.

Vegetable Pie

I love making this for dinner, it's quick, easy and filling. Just what you need for a stormy weekday evening. You can use whatever vegetables that you have available, even leftovers work well. The cheese sauce is quick to make and you cover everything with tasty mash.

Creamy Sauce:
50g butter
2 tsp mustard powder
50g flour
600ml milk
200g grated mature cheddar

Vegetables, use what you have available:
1 head of broccoli, cut into fairly small florets
400g frozen mixed vegetables
small bunch of chives, finely chopped
3 or 4 large potatoes or sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 min. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth with no lumps, then keep stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and thickens to a creamy sauce. Remove from the heat, then stir in the grated cheese, leaving some aside to sprinkle on the top.

Heat your oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7 and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Cook the broccoli for 5 minutes then add mixed vegetables and cook for a further 3 - 5 minutes. Drain all the vegetables well. Add the cooked vegetables to the creamy sauce with the chives. Cook and mash the sweet potatoes or potatoes and season to taste as this will cover the top of the finished pie.

Tip the mixed vegetables and sauce into a deep ovenproof dish, carefully cover with the mash and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake for 20-25 mins until the topping is golden and the cheese is bubbling, then serve.



Macaroni Cheese

Vegetable and Lentil Soup

I love this soup, so warming and tasty on cold winter nights.  It is really filling and a great low cost dinner.  It also freezes well and  is fab for lunches too.

1 onion, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 swede, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tblsp ground cumin
115g red lentils
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1.25 Litres vegetable stock

Put a large saucepan on the hob over a medium heat. Sauté the vegetables and garlic in a little oil until they begin to soften. Add the cumin and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  If I can be bothered I whizz up the soup a little with a stick blender. I serve this with cheese on toast or crusty bread rolls.

Shopping List

31 items: £40.60

Packets and Cereals
1x Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                £2.18
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g)                            20p
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg)               45p
1x Jus Rol Puff Pastry Block (500g)                               £1.10
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g)                     29p
1x Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g)                                  64p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g)                            £1.28
1x ASDA Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 pack - 42g)  65p

Frozen
3x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                £2.25
1x ASDA Whole Leaf Spinach (1Kg)                              £1.39

Tins, Jars and Cooking
3x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)            £1.02
2x ASDA Smartprice Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g) 54p

Dairy and Eggs
4x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)        £4.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Salted Butter (250g)                       98p
1x ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15)               £2.00
1x ASDA English Medium White Cheddar (450g)            £2.50
1x ASDA English White Mature Cheddar (450g)              £2.50

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)                             84p
2kg ASDA Bananas                                                       £1.39
1 ASDA Swede (Approx 760g)                                       76p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                   £3.00
1 ASDA Butternut Squash (Approx 850g)                       80.8p
1x ASDA Celery                                                            80p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose                                                  25p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                             £1.56
1x ASDA Smartprice Brown Onions (2Kg)                      98p
2x Natural Selection Chopped Apricots (200g)                £1.00
1x ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                               £1.00
1x ASDA Broccoli (335g)                                               50p
2x ASDA British Apples (650g)                                      £2.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (250g)  £1.75

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket, and are correct as of 26 January 2014.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

As usual I compared the cost of our shopping which cost £40.60 from Asda on 26/01/14.  Had I shopped at Tesco my shopping would've cost £47.82 and had I shopped at Sainsbury's I would've spent £50.03.

Don't forget to check out all the other Meal Plans on the Meal Planning Monday Linky over on At Home With Mrs M.


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Sweet Soft Pretzels

My daughters love these as an after school snack, so do the other kids and Mums on the school run.  I sometimes make smaller ones for their lunchbox treats.  They are really easy to make and you can shape them however you like.  My 3 daughters made, shaped and baked them today which kept them amused for a while and also meant a rather tasty afternoon tea.


Sweet Soft Pretzels

350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
225ml lukewarm water

Topping:
2 or 3 Tblsp caster sugar
1 or 2 tsp cinnamon

Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.  Put the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a bowl.  Make a well in the centre, add the water and mix until a soft dough forms.

Knead the dough for around 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, I usually do this in my stand mixer.  Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and set aside until the dough has doubled in size.  Knock back the dough then divide into 12 equal portions.  

Roll each portion of dough out like a long sausage until it is about 40cm long.  Twist into the traditional pretzel shape or into a figure of 8.  Put the shaped dough portions onto the prepared baking trays.  Cover and prove for about half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.  Mix the caster sugar and cinnamon together then sprinkle over the pretzels.  Bake the pretzels for 15 - 20 minutes until golden and cooked through.  Cool on a wire rack.


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Knights Shield Pizzas

I’ve created these Knights Shield Pizzas to celebrate the release of the animated children’s movie Justin and the Knights of Valour.  


These would be fab for a kids party or a fun dinner or lunch to cheer up a rainy day.  You can have different toppings on each section of the shield shaped pizza, use store bought pizza dough if you want or need to.  My 3 daughters had a great time making, rolling and shaping the dough then decorating their own pizzas according to their taste.  My girls will eat anything that doesn't move fast enough to escape but these fun pizzas would be a great way to encourage picky eaters to try something new.

Knights Shield Pizzas


You will need:

Homemade or store bought pizza dough
A selection of toppings: tomato paste or pesto, grated cheese, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes, sweetcorn, pepperoni - use whatever is to your taste

Put your prepared pizzas onto a lined baking tray then bake in a preheated oven at 220C/200C Fan for 15 - 20 minutes.


Justin and the Knights of Valour is out on DVD/Blu-ray from 3rd February.  To see what it's all about check out the trailer clip below:




This is a Sponsored Post.  I have been paid to develop this recipe and to promote the release of this film on DVD.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Our Extra Frugal Meal Plan for this week 20/01/2014 - £40

I've tried to make our Meal Plan as cheap as possible this week.  Our washing machine was condemned on Tuesday last week and we're waiting for the Property Management Company that looks after the house we rent to provide a new one.  So far I spent £10 on washing and drying our washing at the local laundrette on Friday and spent another £21 doing the same today. Taxi fare there and back today was £11.20.  That's a grand total of £42.20 we didn't budget for, hence the need for a very cheap Meal Plan.

Breakfasts will be porridge, with a little homemade jam for sweetness, during the week and perhaps pancakes or Floating Bread on the weekend.

Lunches

Weekend lunches will probable be Vegetable Pasties, Omelettes or Crustless Quiche using up any vegetables we have left.  Weekday packed lunches for my younger two will be Versatile Scone Swirls made with Vegemite and Cheese with vegetable sticks, a piece of fruit and a baked treat.  Packed lunches for myself, husband and eldest (accompanied by a cheese scone) will be:

Carrot and Coriander Soup

Slow Cooker Spicy Root Vegetable Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tblsp oil
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Tblsp plain flour
2 tsp mild curry powder
1 pinch ground chilli (optional)
2 tsp paprika
1 litre vegetable stock

Heat the oil in a large pan over a moderate heat.  Add the onion and garlic then cook until softened.  Add the prepared vegetables and the flour and stir to coat the vegetables in the flour.

Pour the vegetables into the slow cooker.  Add the spices, stock and seasoning to taste.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.

When the vegetables are tender, blend the soup until smooth.  I remove the soup from the slow cooker to blend it with a stick blender.  You can do this in batches in a blender or use a stick blender.  Add more liquid if you wish until the soup is the consistency you like.  Serve.


Dinners

Salmon Pasta Bake

500g pasta
300g mixed vegetables
425g tin salmon, drained
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
Handful or two of breadcrumbs
100g grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C/160C Fan.
Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook according to packet instructions.  When the pasta has 3 minutes of cooking left, add the frozen mixed vegetables and cook for the final 3 minutes. Drain pasta and vegetables.
Add the drained salmon, tomatoes and mixed herbs to the pasta and vegetables. Stir to mix.  Pour the mixture into a large baking dish,  sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the topping is crispy and golden.

Mince and Lentil Onepot (using kidney beans instead of lentils)

Vegetable Bake

400g frozen vegetables
150g grated cheese
4 free range eggs
180ml milk
75g self-raising flour
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Put the vegetables and cheese in a greased baking dish.  Lightly beat the eggs and milk together in a bowl.  Sprinkle over the self-raising flour and herbs, then add some salt and pepper.  Mix well until you have a lump free mixture.  Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese.  Bake at 200C/180C Fan for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown and set.  Serve either hot or cold with a salad or steamed greens.

Egg and Vegetable Fried Rice

Bean Patties with Potato Wedges and Vegetables

2 cups cooked mixed beans, I'm using a tin of kidney beans and a tin of pinto beans
1 onion, finely diced
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
100g fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

Sauté the onion and pepper in a little oil for a couple of minutes until it softens then leave to cool for a bit. Mash the mixed beans with a potato masher, leave it a little lumpy – not too smooth. Add the cooled sautéed onion along with the breadcrumbs to the mixed beans and mix everything together thoroughly. Shape into 5 burgers and fry in a little oil for a couple of minutes on each side, until they’re golden brown. Then put them in the oven at 180C for about 10 minutes until completely cooked through. Serve with homemade potato wedges and cooked frozen spinach or a salad.

Macaroni Cheese with Mixed Vegetables

Shopping List

23 items: £40.06

Packets and Cereals
1x Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                  £2.18
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                45p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                     40p
2x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g)                       58p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
2x Princes Wild Pink Salmon (213g)                                 £2.50
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)              £1.36
3x ASDA Smartprice Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g)   81p
1x ASDA Pinto Beans in Water (300g)                              48p

Frozen
3x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                  £2.25

Dairy and Eggs
4x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)          £4.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Salted Butter (250g)                         98p
1x ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15)                 £2.00
2x ASDA English White Mature Cheddar (450g)                £5.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g)    £2.00

Fruit and Vegetables

12 ASDA Bananas (Approx 170g)                                    £1.39
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                     £3.00
2kg ASDA Sweet Potatoes                                              £2.36
3x ASDA Whole Cucumber                                              £1.50
2x ASDA Celery                                                              £1.60
1x ASDA Garlic Loose                                                    25p
1x ASDA Smartprice Brown Onions (2Kg)                        98p
2x ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                 £2.00
2x ASDA British Apples (650g)                                        £2.00

Our groceries cost £40.06 from Asda on 18/01/14. I compared the cost of our shopping had I shopped elsewhere using My Supermarket, had I shopped at Sainsbury's my groceries would've cost £44.91 and had I shopped at Tesco my groceries would've cost £45.39.  If we had a car and I could get to Aldi our shopping would've cost £38.99.

Don't forget to check out all the other fab Meal Plans over on 
At Home With Mrs M.


Gran Luchito - Honey and Mayo

I was sent some delicious Gran Luchito products to try out and develop a recipe for their #spicyvalentines campaign. I found them to be delicious and slightly addictive. The Gran Luchito Honey is smoky Oaxacan chillies combined perfectly with the sweetness of honey. A little goes a long way and it is a fab glaze for chicken or salmon. The Gran Luchito Mayo is a great way to add flavour and zing to sandwiches or used as a dip, with vegetable sticks or potato wedges.  Just mix a little with your usual mayonnaise if you want to tone the heat down a little.

I decided to use the Gran Luchito Honey as a glaze for salmon, served with rice salad and salad greens.  I used the Gran Luchito Mayo as a glaze for trout fillets, served on rice salad and kale.  My recipe is easy and bound to impress your dearly beloved, a great way to spice up your Valentine's Day.

Salmon with Gran Luchito Honey Glaze

2 salmon fillets
1 - 2 tsp Gran Luchito Honey
100g cooked rice
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 pepper, finely diced
100g tinned sweetcorn, drained
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
Salad, to serve

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Put the salmon fillets on a foil lined baking tray, skin side down, and spread with the Gran Luchito Honey.  Cook in the preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes until the salmon is cooked through.  Combine the rice and prepared vegetables in a bowl, stir through a little more Gran Luchito Honey if you wish.

Divide the rice and salad leaves evenly between two plates and place the cooked salmon fillet on top.  Serve with a wedge of lime.



Trout with Gran Luchito Mayo

2 trout fillets
2 - 3 tsp Gran Luchito Mayo
100g cooked rice
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 pepper, finely diced
100g tinned sweetcorn, drained
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
Steamed kale, to serve

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Put the trout fillets on a foil lined baking tray, skin side down, and spread with Gran Luchito Mato.  Cook in the preheated oven for 12 - 15 minutes until the trout is cooked through.  Combine the rice and prepared vegetables in a bowl, stir through a little more Gran Luchito Honey if you wish.

Divide the rice and kale leaves evenly between two plates and place the cooked trout fillet on top.  Serve with a wedge of lime.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Cinnamon Tea Ring - Afternoon Tea Treat

I decided to bake something delicious for afternoon tea this afternoon to cheer us up and distract me from the ton of dirty laundry piling up due to the Property Management Company taking longer than expected to replace our condemned washing machine.  I will be traipsing to the local laundrette again tomorrow.

This Cinnamon Tea Ring was sweet but not overly so and went down very well indeed with a cuppa.  I baked a second one so I can take some along to the laundrette with a flask of coffee.



Cinnamon Tea Ring

225g strong white bread flour
25g butter, cubed
25g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
75ml/5 Tblsp milk, lukewarm
1 free range egg, beaten

Filling:
30g/1Tblsp butter, melted
50g light soft brown sugar or caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Icing:
100g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 or 2 Tblsp water

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub the flour into the butter.  Stir in the sugar, salt and yeast.  Make a well in the centre an add the milk and beaten egg.  Mix until a soft dough forms.

Either in a mixer or by hand, knead the dough until smooth and elastic.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with clingfilm or a shower cap.  Leave to  prove until doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and roll it out to a 40cm x 25cm rectangle.  Leaving a 1cm border around the edge of the dough, spread the melted butter over the dough then sprinkle over the cinnamon and sugar.

Roll the dough up tightly like a Swiss Roll from the long edge.  Put the dough log onto your prepared baking tray.  Seal the join well and then squish the ends together to form a ring.  Use scissors to cut into the dough every 2 inches or so, stopping about 1cm from cutting all the way through to the middle.

Cover the dough and leave to prove until once again doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6 and bake the tea ring for 15 - 20 minutes until golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool then ice.

To make the icing: Put the icing sugar and vanilla bean paste into a bowl, add enough water to form a spreadable icing.


Friday, 17 January 2014

Vegan Fruit Loaf

I baked this before dashing off to work, it is very easy to throw together and get in the oven whilst the dreaded witching hour with overtired children is in full swing.  It went down very well with the ladies at my usual Coffee Morning the next morning and my 3 daughters are asking for it to be part of their packed lunches next week.  Result!

Vegan Fruit Loaf

300g of dried fruit, I used 160g sultanas, 70g chopped dates, 70g chopped dried apricots
250ml boiling water
2 Tbsp oil
150g sugar, use white or light soft brown
1½ tsp cinnamon
1½ tsp mixed spice
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line a loaf tin. I use paper liners available from most supermarkets.

Put the dried fruit in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and leave to stand until room temperature. Measure the oil and sugar into the bowl and mix until combined. Add all the remaining ingredients and fold everything together gently but thoroughly. Do not beat or overmix. Spoon the mixture into your prepared loaf tin and level the top.

Bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until a skewer in the centre comes out clean. Cool completely in the tin. Once cool, wrap the loaf in cling film and put in the fridge overnight. The next day slice and serve, store leftovers in an airtight cake tin.



Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Wholemeal Cheddar and Bacon Baps

I baked these one afternoon when I needed to get rid of the frustration of our washing machine breaking down.  Kneading bread dough really helps when I am grumpy!  These would be a fab accompaniment to soup, or filled with salad for lunch.  Leave out the bacon if you want, I just had some that needed using up.



Wholemeal Cheddar and Bacon Baps

300g wholemeal bread flour
50g butter
150g white bread flour
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 free range eggs, beaten
175ml lukewarm milk
200g grated cheese
100g fiely diced cooked bacon.

Put the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter.  Stir through the sugar, salt and yeast.  Make a well in the centre and add the eggs and milk.  Mix until a soft dough forms.

Knead the dough using a stand mixer or by hand until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with clingfilm or a shower cap and leave to prove until doubled in size.

Line a couple of oven trays with non stick baking paper.  Knock the dough back and divide into 10 equal pieces.  Knead a little cheese and bacon into each portion of dough.  Form into a round then squish with the heel of your hand so each bap is about 4 inches, 10cm across.  Press the bap into some grated cheese, this ensures a decent coating of grated cheese on the top of the bap, then put on prepared oven tray.  Leave space between the baps on the oven tray to allow room for them to double in size.  Leave to prove until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.  Bake the baps for 15 minutes until golden.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack.  Cover with a clean teatowel until cool which will ensure a soft crust. 


Sunday, 12 January 2014

Our Family Meal Plan 13/01/2014 - £55

It is the second week back in routine, everyone was really tired at the end of last week.  Hopefully this week will be less hectic for me and the rest of my family will settle back into routine a little more too.  I'm using my slow cooker a couple of times this week, it's much easier for me on busy days to know that dinner will be ready for us when we get home with little faff required.

Breakfasts will be porridge with homemade fruit compote during the week and pancakes/crumpets on the weekend.

Lunches will be Vegetable and Lentil Soup and a wholemeal roll for my eldest with a piece of fruit and baked treat.  She is enjoying using her flask and having a hot lunch.  My younger two have requested their favourite Wholemeal Savoury Swirls so that is what they will be having along with crudites, a piece of fruit and a baked treat.  Weekend lunches will be Twice Baked Potatoes and Crustless Quiche.

Vegetable and Lentil Soup

1 onion, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 swede, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tblsp ground cumin
115g red lentils
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1.25 Litres vegetable stock

Put a large saucepan on the hob over a medium heat. Sauté the vegetables and garlic in a little oil until they begin to soften. Add the cumin and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.  If I can be bothered I whizz up the soup a little with a stick blender. I serve this with cheese on toast or crusty bread rolls.

Dinners

Spicy Rice with Chickpeas and Spinach - Meatfree Monday

1 ½ cups basmati or long grain rice
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 pepper, diced
3 carrots, roughly diced
1 leek, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp mild curry powder
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400ml vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
300ml water
200g spinach (fresh or frozen)
2 Tblsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Natural yogurt and more chopped fresh coriander leaves to serve

Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold running water until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the roughly diced carrots, pepper, leek, garlic, raisins/sultanas and spices. Cook, stirring it occasionally for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the vegetables, especially the carrots, are tender.

Once the vegetables are tender add the chickpeas, rice, stock, and water. Bring everything to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook everything with the lid on the saucepan for 12 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and put the spinach over the top of the rice. Replace the lid on the saucepan and stand for 8 minutes. Uncover the saucepan again and add the chopped fresh herbs. Stir everything together until well combined. Serve topped with some yoghurt, chopped fresh herbs.

Creamy Bacon and Vegetable Pasta - Tuesday

500g spaghetti
200g unsmoked back bacon
350g frozen chopped spinach
Handful or 2 of frozen mixed vegetables
300ml pot crème fraîche

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook following pack instructions. When the spaghetti has about 3 minutes left to cook toss in a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan, fry the bacon until the fat starts to run and then add the garlic, fry until the bacon is lightly golden. Add the chopped spinach and 2 tablespoons of water, then cover and cook until the spinach has defrosted.

Remove the lid, stir everything together, season to taste, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Drain the spaghetti and vegetables and add to the bacon and spinach mixture with the crème fraîche. Stir to thoroughly combine and serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew - Wednesday

2 onions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pepper, diced
1 Tblsp oil
2 tsp cumin
2 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
500ml tomato passata
2 sticks celery, finely sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and finely sliced
1 sweet potato, cut into small dice
2 tsp dried oregano
250ml red wine
500ml vegetable stock

Soften the onions, peppers and garlic in a little oil then stir in the cumin and cook for about a minute until fragrant. Put in the slow cooker with all the other ingredients. Stir well. Cook on low for 3 hours. Season to taste before serving with crusty bread.

Slow Cooker Meatballs - Thursday

500g beef mince
½ cup uncooked long-grain rice
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, etc) or 3 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 large onion, finely diced
1 pepper, diced
3 carrots, finely diced
2 sticks celery, finely sliced/diced
500g homemade or store bought pasta sauce
375 ml beef stock or water

Turn the slow cooker on to low to preheat whilst you chop all the vegetables.

In a bowl, mix together the mince, rice and fresh herbs with a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and set aside for a few minutes.

Put the onion, pepper, carrot and celery Into the slow cooker. Mix together the cook-homemade pasta sauce and beef stock then pour into the slow cooker. Stir to mix thoroughly with the vegetables.

Put the meatballs on top of the sauce in the slow cooker and then cover with the lid. Cook on low for 6–7 hours or on high for 3–4 hours. Serve with mash/pasta/baked potatoes and steamed mixed vegetables.

Bean Burritos - Friday

8 tortillas/flat breads
2 tins chilli beans
3 fresh tomatoes, sliced
diced cucumber
lettuce leaves
small pot of low fat sour cream
120g grated cheese

Heat chilli beans in a pot whilst tortillas are warming in the oven. Put chilli beans onto tortillas and top with tomato, cucumber, lettuce, a little sour cream and a sprinkling of cheese. Fold up and serve.

Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole - Saturday

8 chicken drumsticks, skin removed
500g pumpkin, skin removed and chopped into bite-sized chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp paprika
1 can chopped tomatoes with 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (I use a casserole pack)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Place all ingredients, except chickpeas and frozen vegetables, in slow cooker and cook on LOW for 7 - 8 hours.  Add the chickpeas and frozen mixed vegetables and cook on high for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Or if you don't have a slow cooker, put all of the ingredients into a casserole dish and cook in your oven at 180 degrees for about 1 hour. Remove from  the oven, add the chickpeas and frozen vegetables, and cook for another 30 minutes.

Baked Rice with Salmon - Sunday

1 onion
1 Tblsp chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 pepper, diced (any colour will do)
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
200g tin salmon, drained
310g tin corn, drained
1½ cups rice
500ml water

Preheat your oven to 180C. Dice the onion, celery stalk and pepper.

Put the oregano, onion, rice, water, tomatoes, celery and pepper in an ovenproof baking dish.  Stir everything together.  Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

Use a fork to fluff up the rice then season with pepper.  Stir through the salmon and sweetcorn. Leave for 5 minutes to heat through.  Serve immediately.

Shopping List
40 items: £55.69

Packets and Cereals
1x Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                    £2.18
1x ASDA Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)    80p
2x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                       80p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g)                               £1.28
1x ASDA Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast                          65p
1x ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg)              £1.28

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x Dolmio Bolognese Sauce - Chunky Med Veg (500g)      £1.00
1x Princes Wild Pink Salmon (213g)                                  £1.25
6x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)                £2.04
2x ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g)                     96p
1x ASDA Smartprice Sweetcorn (326g)                              35p
4x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g)                                 £2.40
1x ASDA Chosen by You Passata (500g)                          44p

Frozen
2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                    £1.50
1x ASDA Chosen by You Casserole Mix (1Kg)                  £1.00
1x ASDA Whole Leaf Spinach (1Kg)                                  £1.39

Dairy and Eggs
1x ASDA Crème Fraîche (300ml)                                       90p
1x ASDA Soured Cream (150ml)                                       60p
4x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)           £4.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)           45p
2x ASDA Chosen by You Mature Grated Cheese (250g)     £3.00
1x ASDA Mixed Weight Free Range Eggs (6)                    97p

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g)      £2.00
1x ASDA Butcher's Selec Unsmoked Back Bacon (300g)    £2.00
1x ASDA Butcher's Selec Chicken Drumsticks (1.1Kg)        £4.00

Fruit and Vegetables
2kg ASDA Bananas (Approx 170g)                                    £1.39
1 ASDA Swede (Approx 760g)                                          76p
1x ASDA Salad Tomatoes (6)                                           75p
1 ASDA Butternut Squash (Approx 850g)                          80.8p
1 ASDA Sweet Potatoes (Approx 460g)                            58.9p
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber                                               £1.00
1x ASDA British Iceberg Lettuce Loose                             50p
2x ASDA Celery                                                               £1.60
1x ASDA Trimmed Leeks (500g)                                        £1.00
2x ASDA Garlic Loose                                                      50p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                 £1.58
1x ASDA Smartprice Brown Onions (2Kg)                          98p
2x Inspire Premium Baking Potatoes (2Kg)                        £3.00
2x ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                  £2.00
2x ASDA British Apples (650g)                                         £2.00

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 12 January 2014.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

As usual I compared the cost of my groceries which cost £55.69 from Asda on 12/01/2014, had I shopped at Tesco my groceries would've cost £61.10, had I shopped at Sainsbury's my groceries would've cost 68.78.

Don't forget to check out all the other Meal Plans over on At Home With Mrs M.