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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, 27 August 2014

Asian Potato Cakes and Salad with Zingy Dressing/Sauce


I was recently sent a hamper of products from Amoy and challenged to give a British classic dish an Asian twist.  The challenge is to celebrate the Amoyzing Meals in a Minute campaign – a series of recipes that have been created by celebrity chef Ching He Huang, which help busy Britons on the go to make authentic Asian dishes, without the fuss.  You can check out her fab recipe videos on the Amoy YouTube Channel.

I chose to make Potato Cakes accompanied by salad and an delicious, flavoursome sauce.  This recipe is fab for a lunch or light supper, great for using up leftover mashed potato, and was an adaptable and tasty addition to our Meal Plan last week.

Asian Potato Cakes

Leftover mashed potato
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 or 2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 small tin sweetcorn, drained
1 pepper, finely diced
1 or 2 Tblsp fresh coriander, finely chopped
1 chili finely diced, optional
1 free range egg, beaten
plain flour
breadcrumbs

Mix the mash, garlic, spring onion, sweetcorn, pepper, coriander and chili (if using) together until well combined.  Form into potato cakes then coat in flour, dip in beaten egg and coat with breadcrumbs.

Heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the potato cakes for a few minutes each side until warmed through and crisp on the outside.

Zingy Dressing/Dipping Sauce

2 Tblsp syrup from a jar of stem ginger or 2 tsp grated ginger and 2 Tblsp caster sugar
2 Tblsp soy sauce, I used Amoy infused with Kaffir lime and lemongrass
2 Tblsp rice wine
4 Tblsp rice wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together well. Use as a dressing for salads or dipping sauce for Asian Potato Cakes.



** Disclosure: I was compensated for my time, expertise and ingredients used when creating this recipe for the Amoy campaign. **

Friday, 22 August 2014

Strawberry and Lime Cheesecakes

I made these treats on a Sunday afternoon last weekend for our pudding that evening.  We'd had a busy day gardening and tidying up the house so a tasty pudding was well deserved.  This recipe serves 4, as I didn't have any due to my strict gestational diabetes diet.


Strawberry and Lime Cheesecakes

100g digestive biscuits, crushed 
50g melted butter
6 Tblsp/90ml sweetened condensed milk (not the light version)
250g mascapone cheese
zest and juice of 2 limes
150g strawberries, sliced

Mix together the crushed biscuits and melted butter.  Divide evenly between glasses or ramekins and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. 

In a bowl, mix the condensed milk, mascapone, juice from both limes and zest from 1 lime together until thoroughly mixed and creamy.  Spoon into glasses or ramekins on top of the crushed biscuit base.  Chill until ready to serve, or for at least 15 minutes.  

Just before serving top each cheesecake with some sliced strawberries and the zest of a lime.


I'm entering these cheesecakes into Dead Easy Desserts, created by Sarah and hosted by Slice Off Me for August.  The theme this month is Strawberries.  

dead-easy-desserts

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mega Veg Pizza/Pasta Sauce

I was sent an Optimum 9400 from Froothie to try out.  It is brilliant! I will be blogging more about this fab gadget along with a few smoothie recipes, a chocolate mouse recipe and several soups all made in the blender.  I thought I would blog this delicious and versatile pizza/pasta sauce first though as I made a huge vat of it to freeze.  This recipe is great for hiding vegetables, should you need to, and also useful for using up vegetables languishing in the vege draw of the fridge.  

We use this sauce as a pasta sauce, pizza sauce or thinned down with a little vegetable stock to make a delicious and flavoursome tomato soup.



I decided to soften the vegetables before blending, however you can make a sauce or soup by putting raw vegetables in the blender as Jac from Tinned Tomatoes has done with her delicious Rich Tomato Blender Soup.  

Mega Veg Pizza/Pasta Sauce

2 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 peppers, diced
2 celery sticks, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 courgettes, finely diced
1 large sweet potato, peeled and finely diced or grated
1 Tblsp dried Italian mixed herbs
1 Tblsp light soft brown sugar
1 Tblsp Balsamic vinegar
4 Tblsp tomato paste
2 x 400g can crushed tomatoes

In a large saucepan over a moderate heat, saute the prepared vegetables until softened.  Add in the herbs, sugar, vinegar and tomato paste along with the tinned tomatoes.  Mix really well to combine then cover and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.  Cool the sauce for a few minutes.  Blitz the sauce up and use on pizza bases or mix through cooked pasta.  This recipe makes a large quantity of sauce which freezes well and is perfect for a quick supper option.  

I used the Optimum 9400 from Froothie to blend the sauce in two batches, so much easier than a stick blender which I previously used.  


I'm linking this recipe up with No Waste Food Challenge as we used up the remaining vegetables in our fridge before before our next weekly shop was delivered.  The challenge was created by Elizabeth and is being hosted this month by Laura.



I am also joining in with Extra Veg, a monthly blog challenge devised by Helen and I and hosted this month by Sarah.  Extra Veg encourages us all to add extra vegetables to our meals.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Quick and Easy 5 Vegetable Dhal

As I mentioned in this post, I was sent some Clearspring Quick Cook Grains to try out.  I cooked the Millet, Peas and Lentils pack which contains Millet, Green Split Peas and Red Split Lentils which took only 10 minutes.

These packs of quick cook grains are so handy to have in the pantry for when you want a nutritious meal in next to no time.  Just add herbs or spices and vegetables to the cooked grains and dinner is on the table in around 20 minutes from whine to dine.  I served ours with homemade Naan bread.  This Dhal freezes well too so I have made an extra batch to stash in the freezer for after bubs is born.



Quick and Easy 5 Vegetable Dhal

2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 peppers, diced
2 courgettes, diced
2 carrots, finely sliced or diced
2 sticks celery, finely sliced or diced
4 tsp curry powder
4 tsp turmeric
1 pack cooked Clearspring Quick Cook Millet, Peas and Lentils or 250g cooked lentils

Heat a little oil in a large saucepan.  Add the garlic and vegetables then saute until vegetables have softened.  Stir through the spices and cook until fragrant.  Add in the cooked pulses and 500ml vegetable stock.  Simmer until warmed through and Dhal thickens.  Serve with Naan bread.


Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Seven Vegetable One Pot

Quick Cook Organic Grains & Pulses

I was sent some Clearspring Quick Cook Organic Grains and Pulses to try.  The combination of cereals, peas and lentils are designed to provide a delicious yet healthy addition to any meal. Steam and hot air are used to precook the grains and reduce cooking time by two thirds whilst retaining the nutritional content.  Each pack takes only 10 minutes to cook.

We are used to eating quite a lot of wholegrains and pulses normally but I have been including even more in our meals since being diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes a few weeks ago.  These Clearspring Quick Cook Grains are so handy to have in the pantry and very versatile too.  Whether you are making summer salads, autumn stews or hearty thick soups the Quick Cook mixes are so convenient and tasty.

I used up quite a few vegetables from our fridge in this recipe, a perfect way to ensure you clean out the vegetable drawer before shopping day.  My children loved this hearty yet light dinner, which fed 5 of us generously, and provided two lunches as well.

This is a fab meal which also freezes well, great for stashing in the freezer for those nights when you can't face cooking but want a wholesome dinner.  I've frozen a batch for when bubs is born so I can serve a dinner packed with vegetables and protein with very little effort. 



Seven Vegetable One Pot

1 pack Clearspring Quick Cook Grains and Pulses or 250g cooked lentils/pearl barley
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 leeks, finely sliced
2 courgettes, diced
1 aubergine, diced
2 peppers, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
500ml pasta sauce, I used homemade

Saute the vegetables in a little oil until softened.  Add the cooked grains and pulses and pasta sauce.  Simmer for a few minutes then serve. 


Monday, 11 August 2014

Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

My husband and daughters love a good pudding, I'm having fruit and natural yoghurt for mine as I'm still on a diet for Gestational Diabetes.  However, I don't want to totally deprive my family of delectable puds so I still make them, I just don't eat them.  

We had some double cream that needed using up in the fridge and a couple of lemons that also looked like they needed to be used so I decided to make a quick cheesecake.  I assembled the cheesecake before dinner, chilled it in the freezer whilst dinner was cooked and eaten and it was ready by the time my family were ready for their pudding.



Easy No Bake Lemon Cheesecake

250g digestive biscuits, crushed
100g butter, melted
300ml double cream
2 lemons, zest and juice
225g sweetened condensed milk (not the light version)

Mix the biscuits and melted butter together and press into the bottom of a lined 20cm/8 inch cake tin.  Put in the freezer to chill whilst you make the filling.

Put the cream, lemon juice and zest and condensed milk in a bowl.  Mix with an electric beater until thick and creamy.  Remove the chilled base from the freezer.  Pour the topping over the chilled biscuit base, level the top, then chill in the freezer for half an hour.  Remove from the freezer and serve.

There was enough cheesecake leftover for another couple of nights so I sliced it and froze individual portions.  Should you wish to freeze the cheesecake in portions, take the cheesecake portions out of the freezer about 30 - 60 minutes before you want to eat them so they can defrost. 



Here are some other delicious cheesecake recipes from blogger friends of mine:


No Bake Cheesecake from Cakeyboi

Gingerbread Cheesecake from A Mummy Too

No Bake Summer Fruits Cheesecake from Elizabeth's Kitchen

Rhubarb No Bake Cheesecakes from Maison Cupcake

Banoffee Cheesecake from Greedy Gourmet

Instant Orange Cheesecakes from Fab Food 4 All

Deep Chocolate Cheesecake from Tinned Tomatoes

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Mini Picnic Bakes

I baked these for our lunch today and they disappeared in seconds.  In fact, despite the recipe making 12 muffin sized and 16 mini muffin sized morsels, there were demands for even more of them.  

Perfect for a picnic or as canapes, these Mini Picnic Bakes are packed with vegetables and very moreish.  You could vary the contents, use whatever vegetables you have on hand, these are great for using up vegetables lurking in the fridge.  We enjoyed these morsels with crudites for lunch but next time will probably have them with potato or pasta salad and a green salad for dinner.



Mini Picnic Bakes

2 courgettes
2 peppers, finely diced (any colour will do)
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 small tin sweetcorn, drained (we use no added salt and sugar variety)
100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
250g ricotta cheese
100g Parmesan or other strong flavoured hard cheese, finely grated
4 large free range eggs
2 cloves garlic, crushed
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.

Grease 12 holes of a muffin tin and 16 holes of a mini muffin tin.  Use a vegetable peeler to make long ribbons from one courgette and lay one ribbon across the bottom of each muffin hole.  This makes them much easier to remove from the tins once baked.  Finely dice the other courgette and mix with all the other ingredients.  Spoon the filling evenly in to the prepared trays and fold any over hanging courgette ribbons over the top.  Grate a little extra Parmesan over the top then bake the larger muffin sized morsels for 20 - 25 minutes and the smaller mini muffin sized ones for 15 - 20 minutes.



I'm linking this recipe up with No Waste Food Challenge as we used up the remaining vegetables in the fridge and made sure nothing was wasted before our next weekly shop was delivered. The challenge was created by Elizabeth and is being hosted this month by Laura.


I am also joining in with Extra Veg, a monthly blog challenge devised by Helen and I and hosted this month by Sarah. Extra Veg encourages us all to add extra vegetables to our meals.


I am also submitting this to Alphabakes, the blog challenge created by  The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, Caroline is hosting this month and the letter is P. These Mini Picnic Bakes contain pepper so fit the guidelines.


I'm also linking up with Speedy Suppers, created by Sarah and Katie, the theme this month is Picnics.  Sarah is hosting this month.

speedy suppers

This recipe is also suitable for Simple and in Season as almost everyone with an allotment has a glut of courgettes at the moment and they feature in this recipe.  Simple and in Season, was created by Ren and is hosted this month by Elizabeth.

simpleandinseason

I'm also joining in with Family Foodies, created and hosted alternately by Eat Your Veg and Bangers and Mash, the theme this month is The Under Twos and Eat Your Veg is hosting.  These Mini Picnic Morsels would be perfect toddler picnic food, particularly the mini muffin sized ones.




Friday, 8 August 2014

Mini Victoria Sponges with Blackberry Cream

My 14yo loves to bake and is getting rather good at it, I may be in for some competition soon!  She wanted to bake something inspired by the first episode of the latest series of The Great British Bake Off and chose Mini Victoria Sponges as they were lovely bite sized morsels.

We went foraging at the allotments yesterday and picked some wild blackberries, they were huge!  Clearly all the sun with intermittent downpours this summer has resulted in a bumper crop.


Mini Victoria Sponges with Blackberry Cream

Makes 6

75g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
75g self raising flour, sifted
1 large free range egg, beaten
1 Tblsp milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
200ml double or whipping cream
200g (or more) fresh blackberries

Grease a non-stick 12 hole muffin tin and preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.

Put the butter, sugar, flour, egg, milk, and vanilla into a bowl.  Beat together with an electric beater until pale and creamy.

Spoon the mixture evenly into your prepared tin and bake for 8 - 10 minutes until golden.  Keep an eye on them, they over bake really easily.  Once baked, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Keep back some blackberries for serving and decoration then lightly crush the rest.  Whip the cream and fold through the crushed blackberries.  Join the sponges together with the blackberry cream and serve immediately dusted with icing sugar or with a little more cream and a blackberry on top.


I'm entering this bake into The Great Bloggers Bake off hosted by Jenny on her blog.  Each week bloggers will bake their interpretation of a recipe featured on The Great British Bake Off and link up their bakes.


I'm also entering this bake into Simple and in Season, created by Ren and hosted this month by Elizabeth.

simpleandinseason

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Quick and Easy Swiss Roll, inspired by The Great British Bake Off


My 3 daughters love to bake and cook, it is one of their favourite activities.  They watched the first episode of the new series of The Great British Bake off and nagged mercilessly asked to bake a Swiss Roll.  

After some discussion and negotiation it was decided that we would make a classic vanilla Swill Roll filled with raspberry cream using raspberries picked from our allotment.  On the show there were decorated ones, some with decoration baked into the sponge, and most were covered in rather OTT adornments.  Again we went with basic and classic decoration, a few raspberries and a generous sprinkling of icing sugar.


We usually also favour a low faff approach to baking and separating eggs seemed like way to much hassle, and extra washing up, when we wanted a quick bake.  Our sponge was still lovely and light even though we didn't separate the eggs and beat the yolks and white separately. 

Quick and Easy Swiss Roll

3 large free range eggs, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
100g self raising flour, sifted
200ml double or whipping cream
200g fresh raspberries

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Line a Swiss Roll tin with non-stick baking paper.

Put the eggs and sugar in to a bowl and beat with an electric beater until you reach the ribbon stage.  The ribbon stage is when the whisk or beater leaves a ribbon-like trail of the mixture as it's lifted out, and the ribbon or trail lingers for a couple of seconds on the surface of the mixture before sinking back in.  Gently fold in the flour and pour into your prepared baking tin.  Bake in the preheated oven for 10 - 12 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.

Whilst the sponge is baking, lay a large piece of non-stick baking paper on top of a tea towel then sprinkle with 2 Tblsp caster sugar.  Turn the sponge out onto the sugar coated baking paper and peel away the paper from the sponge base  Roll up the sponge quite tightly, using the tea towel to help, whilst the sponge is still warm from the oven.  Leave to cool for a few minutes whilst you prepare the filling.

Retain a few raspberries for decoration then lightly crush the rest.  Whip the cream and mix with the crushed raspberries.  Unroll the Swiss Roll and ensure it has cooled completely before you fill it and re-roll it.

Spread the filling over the Swill Roll, roll up tightly then sprinkle with icing sugar and place a few raspberries on top.  Slice and devour immediately.



I'm entering this bake into The Great Bloggers Bake off hosted by Jenny on her blog.  Each week bloggers will bake their interpretation of a recipe featured on The Great British Bake Off and link up their bakes.


I'm also entering this bake into Simple and in Season, created by Ren and hosted this month by Elizabeth.

simpleandinseason


Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Sesame Chicken Stirfry

My 3 daughters love to cook and help out in the kitchen often.  Once a week our eldest cooks dinner and the following night our younger two do, sometimes with a little bit of help depending on the meal.  This meal was cooked by all three!  There were some tense negotiations about who was in charge of which task but they all eventually managed to agree and co-operate to create a delicious dinner for us all.

This is a great recipe for using up vegetables before the weekly shop or ones that have been lurking in the fridge for a while.  We're having a new fridge delivered today (at long last, as old one is knackered!) so needed to use up as many things as possible to empty the old fridge the day before the new one arrives.

You could use pork or turkey instead of chicken, vary the vegetables and serve it with noodles instead of rice.  It is quick to make and very tasty.

All 3 girls took turns preparing the vegetables, 14yo prepared the chicken and cooked the stirfry on the hob. Younger two cooked the rice and served it up.  My husband washed the dishes and I enjoyed a night off. 

Sesame Chicken Stirfry

500g skinless and boneless chicken breasts or thighs cut into thin strips
2 Tblsp cornflour
1 Tblsp soy sauce, we use a low salt version
2 Tblsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
1 Tblsp oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 peppers, diced (any colour will do)
300g courgettes, sliced thinly or diced
200g mangetout
1 or 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
125ml water
Noodles or rice to serve

Put the chicken in a non-metallic bowl.  Mix the cornflour, soy sauce, sesame oil and honey together.  Pour over the chicken and toss to coat, leave to marinate whilst you prepare the vegetables.

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan over a moderate heat.  Stir fry the onion and peppers for 3 - 4 minutes until starting to soften.  Add the courgettes, mangetout, ginger and garlic.  Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until courgettes and mangetout soften.

Add the chicken and marinade to the pan and cook for a few minutes then add the water and simmer for a few minutes more until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.  Serve with rice or noodles.



I'm linking this recipe up with No Waste Food Challenge as we used up the remaining vegetables in our old fridge before it was taken away and made sure nothing was wasted before our next weekly shop was delivered.  The challenge was created by Elizabeth and is being hosted this month by Laura.



I am also joining in with Extra Veg, a monthly blog challenge devised by Helen and I and hosted this month by Sarah.  Extra Veg encourages us all to add extra vegetables to our meals.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Low Sugar Fruit Muffins

Despite being on a low sugar and low GI diet for Gestational Diabetes, I do like the occasional baked treat.  I've been adapting recipes to lower the sugar content and using wholemeal flours.  My family haven't minded the changes, they would certainly let me know if they did! 

These muffins are filling and tasty, you can use whatever fruit you have on hand.  This batch was apple and blueberry, using apples from our tree in the back garden and reduced for quick sale blueberries from the supermarket. I baked a second batch using over-ripe nectarines that needed using up and they were delicious.  The only sweetness comes from a little honey and the natural sugars in the fruit so ripe or almost over-ripe fruit is best as it tends to have more flavour.



Low Sugar Fruit Muffins

200g ground almonds
100g plain wholemeal flour
2tsp baking powder
4 free range eggs
60 ml olive oil
1 or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tblsp of warm honey
200g fresh blueberries or other prepared fruit

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.  Line a muffin tray with paper cases.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Make a well in the center then add the eggs, oil, vanilla and warm honey.  Gently mix to form a batter but don't over mix or beat the mixture otherwise your muffins will be heavy and tough.  Stir through the blueberries or whatever other fruit you are using.  Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden outside and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean from crumbs.


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Spiced Salmon Bites

I whipped these up for a quick supper the other evening from store cupboard and fridge ingredients because our online grocery delivery was a disastrous shambles with quite a bit of it having to be redelivered the next day.  Thank goodness we were able to get some vegetables and salad greens from the allotment.  These tasty morsels went down very well with my hungry family and we'll definitely be having them again.




Spiced Salmon Bites

300g cooked salmon, or tinned salmon well drained
100g cooked rice, I used half a pouch of microwaveable brown rice
2 spring onions, finely sliced or 1 red onion, finely diced
1 free range egg
2 Tblsp finely chopped fresh coriander or 1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch of chilli powder (optional)
2 Tblsp or more plain wholemeal or white flour, enough to bind the mixture
a little oil for frying

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until a stiff mixture forms.  Using wet hands divide the mixture into patties or balls, I made 15 from the mixture.  Heat a little oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and cook the patties for a few minutes each side until heated through and golden.

I served these with salad, crudites and garlic and herb yoghurt dip.  They would also be fab in a wrap.




Here are a few other lovely recipes for fish morsels from my blogger friends:

Mackerel Fishcakes or Kebabs from Mumta's Kitchen

Polenta Crusted Luxury Fishcakes from Laura

Trout Fishcakes from Elizabeth's Kitchen