Welcome to my blog!

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.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Live Below the Line - How it's been going


This is the 3rd year we've taken part in Live Below the Line.  Today is the 4th day.  It has been tough for me the last couple of days because I have caught a nasty head cold.  Being sick and being on a severely restricted budget is grim.  I would dearly love a bowl of homemade chicken soup or spicy vegetable broth to sooth my cold but alas this week there will be neither.  I am grumpy and miserable and thankful that tissues are not included in the budget.

Breakfasts have been going down fairly well.  My family enjoy porridge and fruit compote so this hasn't been a major source of complaint, the slightly smaller portion sizes than normal have been mentioned at each meal. 

Our breakfast of porridge with apple and sultana compote
My 12yo made the Savoury Scone Swirls for lunches after school.  The preparation of scone swirls for lunches each evening has taken my girls mind off their usual after school snacks not being available.  

Our lunches for the week
After school snacks have been a small pot of homemade rice pudding.  It has been devoured in record time and the only complaint is that there is not more of it.  We've struggled with the lack of fresh fruit and yoghurt to snack on.

Rice and Vegetable Bake, one of our dinners
We've enjoyed the dinners too, no puddings at all for us this week.  The lack of puddings is a good thing for our waistlines but not so great for morale.  We don't eat pudding every night but 2 nights a week we usually have some sort of pudding.  When the kids are tired after dinner is when the challenge really hits home.

Pearl Barley Risotto with herbs from our garden
What we've learned:

Sometimes you need to experience something to truly appreciate the challenge.  Getting enough of each food group is difficult, as is maintaining strict portion controls to make the rations last. We get to go back to our normal shopping habits after this week.   There are millions of people living on less than a £1 a day who do not have a choice.  Some of those abroad walk long distances to collect drinking water, which may not be particularly safe or sanitary, or work very long shifts in factories or fields and still not have enough to feed themselves and their families.  There are people in the UK for whom a very low food budget is the norm, and whom also struggle to find having enough money for gas/electricity to cook with and heating their homes is an expensive luxury.

We eat a lot, probably too much. Normally we spend approximately £60 - £70 on food each week, twice what we spent this week.  We missed fresh fruit the most and yoghurt.  I also missed good coffee and my husband missed his chocolate stash.

Shopping on a very limited budget is stressful and frustrating.  Making sure we have enough food, and enough food in each food group has been a challenge.  Fluctuating supermarket prices would make shopping on such a strict budget each week even more challenging.

I am really proud of my children.  They have done well this week, it is our 4th year taking part in the challenge so they know what to expect.  If any of then hadn't wanted to take part then I would've done it alone, or with those who wanted to.  They were not pressured to take part in any way, it was their choice as well as my husband and mine.

People are supportive, helpful and generous.  We've been very grateful to those who have emailed, tweeted and phoned to offer encouragement, especially those who have also donated.  Raising money for Save the Children has made the hard times on this challenge totally worth it.  If you also would like to donate, you can do so here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/utterlyscrummy

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Live Below the Line Meal Plan

We're once again taking up the Live Below the Line Challenge as a family raising money for Save the Children UK.  We'll be living off £1 per person per day for food.  As bubs is on solids now and I'm still breastfeeding him I've included him in the person count.  This means we will have £30 to spend on food for 6 of us for 5 days.  It is SO much easier for us with this amount than it is for one or two people who would have £5 or £10 to spend of food for 5 days.  Total respect to those people as it requires much more savvy planning and work to live on that little food money.  I have managed to include coffee in our shopping.  If I did without coffee for 5 days, as I did last time we took part, it would be hellish for my family as coffee is what keeps me going and helps me be a polite and functioning human.  It is however budget instant coffee so hopefully it will at least be drinkable. I shall once again embrace my cafetiere and freshly ground coffee once the week is over. 

Please support us by making a donation here!

Our 5 Day Meal Plan

Drinks will be either water, milk or cheats cuppa soup made with some vegetable stock cube dissolved in hot water. There is no tea, juice or squash in this Meal Plan. I have included coffee though.

Breakfast

We'll all be having porridge with bramley apple and sultana compote.  I'll also bake scones with sultanas in should we need/want them.  Bubs will have porridge as well, blended/mushed slightly to be smoother and easier for him to eat. 

Lunches 

These Versatile Scone Swirls will be served with carrot and cucumber sticks and salad leaves with a piece of fruit.  Bubs will be having some scone swirl along with steamed carrot sticks and some fruit, steamed and mashed if necessary.  This is double the usual recipe to last us for 5 days lunches.

600g self-raising flour
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
100g butter
360ml milk
1 Tblsp tomato paste, diluted with 1 Tblsp water
2 peppers, finely diced
1 onion, very finely diced
100g grated cheddar cheese

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. 

Put the flour and mixed herbs into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and add the milk. Stir everything together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough has formed. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured surface to a rough 30cm/12 inch square. 

Spread with the tomato paste, finely diced peppers and onion, and half of the cheese. Starting from the side closest to you, roll up the dough firmly to form a log. Cut the dough into even portions. Put the swirls cut-side up on to the baking paper lined tray. Sprinkle the swirls with the rest of the grated cheddar cheese. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until they're lovely and golden.

Snacks

Flapjacks

125g butter
125g sugar
175g rolled oats

Preheat your oven to 160C/140C Fan and line a 20cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper. Put the butter and sugar into a large saucepan over a moderate heat and stir until the butter has melted and everything is well combined.

Take the saucepan off the heat then tip the rolled oats and stir together ensuring that the oats are thoroughly coated with the melted butter and sugar mixture.

Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and press down firmly to form an even layer, I use a potato masher to do this bit but you could use the back of a spoon.

Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and score slices to make cutting the flapjacks easier once they have cooled. Leave the flapjacks to cool completely in the tin.


Rice Pudding

600ml milk
65g long grain white rice
50g white sugar

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice. Place saucepan over a fairly high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the rice is tender. This usually takes about 25 minutes. Stir the milk mixture frequently using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stop the rice from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.

Once the rice is tender, cook for a further 5 - 10 minutes until the rice pudding thickens. Spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool and cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Dinners

Vegetable Pie

Creamy Sauce:
50g butter
50g flour
600ml milk
150g grated mature cheddar

Vegetables, use what you have available:
500g frozen mixed vegetables
1 pepper, finely diced
small bunch of chives, finely chopped (from our garden)
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 mixed vegetables for 3 - 5 minutes. Drain the vegetables well. Add the cooked vegetables to the creamy sauce with the diced pepper and 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.


Baked Fish and Potato Wedges with Mixed Vegetables


Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto – 2 nights

50g unsalted butter
500g pearl barley
1 vegetable stock cube
500g frozen mixed vegetables
2 peppers, finely diced
Handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, tarragon or sage, chopped (optional)
150g grated mature Cheddar, a vegetarian alternative

Melt a knob of the butter in a medium pan. Add the pearl barley, stir it around so it's coated with the butter, then cook gently for 2-3 minutes. Dissolve the stock cube in 600ml of boiling water, then pour over the pearl barley.

Simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until the pearl barley is tender. Keep topping it up with another 800ml hot water, ensuring the barley is covered. When the pearl barley is cooked, remove the saucepan from the heat, taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add the frozen mixed vegetables and diced peppers, then set aside with a lid on for about 10 minutes.

When you're ready to serve, combine the pearl barley and vegetables with the cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, then spoon into bowls.


Rice and Vegetable Bake

2 cups cooked rice
2 onions, finely sliced
1 Tblsp butter or spread
300g frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted
6 eggs
100g grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180ÂșC. Grease a large baking dish.  Cook onions in the butter until soft and slightly caramelised.

Combine all the other ingredients and half of the cheese. Spoon into prepared dish and flatten. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until firm in the middle and lightly browned.

Shopping List

24 items: £29.94

Packets and Cereals
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Wholegrain Scottish Porridge Oats (500g) £1.36
1x   Whitworths Granulated Sugar (500g)                                           49p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                               45p
1x   ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                    40p
1x   ASDA Good and Balanced Pearl Barley (500g)                            64p

Frozen
2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                                  £1.54
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Cook from Frozen Whitefish Fillets (500g) £1.97

Dairy and Eggs
4x   ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                                     £3.56
1x   ASDA Smartprice Mild Grated Cheddar (500g)                            £2.21
1x   Wood Farm Free Range Medium Eggs (6)                                   89p
2x   ASDA Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                                   £1.76

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x   ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g)                                 25p
1x   ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g)                       49p
1x   OXO Reduced Salt Vegetable Cubes (12 per pack - 71g)             £1.19

Fruit and Vegetables
1x   ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)                                              84p
25   ASDA Bananas                                                                            £2.20
2x   ASDA Carrots (1Kg)                                                                   £1.14
3     ASDA Red Onions by Weight (130g)                                           29.3p
1x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                                     £1.69
3x   ASDA Whole Cucumber                                                              £1.47
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                               £1.17
1x   ASDA Bramley Apples (800g)                                                     £1.10
3x   ASDA Smartprice Pears (500g)                                                   £2.37

Drinks
1x   ASDA Smartprice Instant Coffee Granules (100g)                        47p
Prices and  special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and  are correct as of 26 April 2015.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.


I undertook a price comparison of our shopping using My Supermarket:


Please support us by making a donation here

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Baked Eggs, a delicious light supper or snack


I have been asked to share this fab video recipe by Lucy and Claire from Crumbs Food which shows how eggs can be used in interesting quick dishes that are innovative and tasty.  Claire and Lucy show how to make easy, delicious and fast baked eggs in tomatoes, Parmesan and basil.



All you need:

cherry tomatoes
red pepper
basil
olive oil
black pepper
Parmesan
garlic
2 eggs

A handy tip is to cut the red pepper nice and small so that your kids will eat it! Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods money can buy and are a natural source of many nutrients including high quality protein, vitamins and minerals. They’re also super quick to prepare meals with!

“This is the kind of thing you can really rustle up quickly. Just takes a few minutes to prepare. So it’s perfect for those nights when your busy and on the go...They keep you fuller for longer. It’s one of those things you can eat at lunch and you don't need to snack before dinner time” Crumbs Food

For further information and lots of exciting recipes head over to Egg Recipes - the spinach, feta and pine nut omelette also looks like a good one to try.


** Sponsored Post **

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sunshine Lunchbox Loaf - The sun will come out tomorrow!

When I was a small child I had bright red hair, much the same as Annie, a character from the musical of the same name. Thankfully as I got older my hair lightened, although it is still rather ginger. As a result of being called "Annie" for years throughout my childhood, I have always had a soft spot for the musical Annie and still know the words to most of the songs.

I was asked to come up with a recipe to celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray launch of the re-make of the classic musical Annie, starring Jamie Foxx and Cameron Diaz. The musical is available on Digital HD on April 20 whilst the Blu-ray and DVD are released on April 27.

Annie, Blue-ray, DVD, release 27 April 2015

The sun has been out here intermittently this past week, we had a mini heatwave that lasted two days.  Mostly the Spring weather has been bright but rather chilly.  I must say that I was humming the song "Tomorrow" whilst I was baking this loaf, hopefully we'll have a few sunny and warm days soon so we can enjoy this loaf on a picnic.


This loaf is very easy to make and perfect for getting the kids in the kitchen to help prepare it.  There's measuring and mixing and grating to be done, all things kids can help with.  My 3 could probably whip this recipe up with minimal supervision, something I will test out soon I am sure.



Sunshine Lunchbox Loaf

170g instant polenta
80g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp English mustard powder
150g mixed vegetables, defrosted if frozen (I used peas, corn and carrots)
1 pepper, finely diced
2 spring onions, finely chopped
60g mature cheddar cheese, grated
juice of 1 lemon
200ml milk (I used whole milk)
2 medium free range eggs
4 Tblsp oil (I used sunflower oil)

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.  Grease and line a loaf tin, I used a 2lb/900g loaf tin.  

Measure the dry ingredients into a bowl and stir to mix well.  Add the prepared vegetables and mix to coat them with the dry ingredients, this will stop them from sinking to the bottom of your loaf.  Stir through the cheese.

Put the lemon juice in to a large jug then make up to 250ml with whole milk.  Let stand for a few minutes, you want the mixture to curdle and make buttermilk.  Add the eggs to the milk mixture and mix to combine, then add the oil and stir once again.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently mix until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35 - 45 minutes until cooked though or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the loaf comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy! We devoured ours with cherry tomatoes and cucumber slices for a light lunch.



I am adding this loaf to Credit Crunch Munch, the blogging challenge created by Helen and Camilla, which I am hosting this month as I used leftover vegetables in the loaf, spring onions from our garden and made my own buttermilk substitute.


This loaf is also perfect for No Waste Food Challenge, created and hosted by Elizabeth this month.  I used leftover vegetables in my loaf and also a lemon that was slightly passed its best to make the buttermilk substitute.



I'm also submitting this loaf into Extra Veg, the challenge created by myself and Helen, hosted this month by Jo from Jo's Kitchen.  There are 5 different vegetables in this loaf so it more than qualifies.



** I was compensated for my time, expertise and ingredients used when creating this recipe **


Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Chocolate Fudge Bread Buns - Bready, Steady, Go!



I was asked my Jen from Jen's Food if I wanted to resurrect a monthly bread baking challenge, of course I said yes without hesitation!  I bake our bread, baking almost every day, so jumped at the chance of a monthly challenge to encourage me to develop new recipes and try out new types of yeast based bread bakes.

Jen is hosting the challenge this month and I am joining in with this recipe I baked to use up some micro Easter eggs we had left over after Easter, I also added some fudge chunks for extra flavour.  These buns disappeared in record time and my family are already asking when I shall be baking them again, using chocolate chips instead of micro Easter eggs.


Chocolate Fudge Bread Buns

450g strong white bread flour
50g sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fast action dried yeast
300ml semi skimmed milk
50g butter
80g pack fudge chunks
100g micro Easter eggs or chocolate chips

Put the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Measure the milk and butter into a microwave safe jug and heat until the milk is luke warm and the butter is starting to melt slightly.  Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms. 

Knead the dough for 7 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Cover and prove in a warm place until doubled in size.  Line a couple of baking trays with non-stick baking paper.  Knock back the dough then knead through the fudge and chocolate chunks.  

Divide the dough into portions, we made 16 buns, and place the shaped dough portions onto the prepared trays.  Cover and leave to prove again until doubled in size.  Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.

Bake the buns for 10 - 12 minutes or until golden and cooked through.  Cool on a wire rack.



Head on over to Jen's blog to link up your bread baking blog posts! 

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Simnel Cake

I don't normally make a Simnel Cake, my husband dislikes fruit cake and marzipan, and my girls have never asked if we could bake one.  A friend asked me to bake one to take on her regular visit to an aged care home as one of the residents mentioned they would really like a piece of Simnel Cake over Easter.  I used my usual fruit cake recipe, spiced slightly differently.




Simnel Cake

175g caster sugar
175g butter
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
225g plain flour
3 medium free range eggs
1 tsp ground mixed spice
500g mixed dried fruit
50g glace cherries, finely chopped
1 or 2 Tblsp milk
250g marzipan

Preheat your oven to 150C/130C Fan.  Grease and double line a 7 inch/18cm cake tin.

Knead the marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar for a couple of minutes until it softens and is pliable.  Divide the marzipan into three, cut two 18cm/7inch diameter circles then divide the third portion into 11 and roll into small balls.  Cover the prepared marzipan with clingfilm and refrigerate or set aside until needed.  

Next make the cake.  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, add a tablespoon of flour with each egg, beating well after each addition.  Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl and add the dried fruit.  Make sure that the dried fruit is coated in flour.  Gently but thoroughly mix the fruit and flour into the creamed mixture, add the milk if the mixture seems too stiff.

Put half of the mixture into your prepared tin.  Place one 18cm/7inch circle of marzipan on top of the mixture.  Carefully put the rest of the cake mixture into the tin and level the top.

Put the cake into the preheated oven and bake for 2 hours to 2 and a half hours until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool completely in the tin.

Once the cake has cooled preheat your grill to a moderately high heat.  Not maximum heat or the marzipan will burn instead of toast.  Heat some jam in the microwave or a small saucepan until it is runny, I used about 3 tablespoons of jam.  Brush this over the top of the cake then place the marzipan circle on top.  Use a little jam to adhere the 11 balls of marzipan to the marzipan disc.  Place the cake under the grill for a few minutes until the marzipan toasts slightly.  Do keep a close eye on the cake under the grill, it can burn very quickly if not watched carefully.  Once the cake has cooled you can tie a ribbon around the middle if you want.  

My daughters decided to decorate the top marzipan disc by rolling it over a patterned icing mat to make a diamond pattern. This was done before the final grill process.  Once the cake had cooled they decorated it further by putting sugar flowers and micro Easter eggs on top.


Friday, 3 April 2015

Actifrydays Challenge - Actifry Kebab

Beef and Vegetables Stir Fry with Noodles, recipe, takeaway, healthy, Actifry Express
Actifry Express XL RRP £249.99

I was recently sent the new ActiFry Express XL by Tefal to try out and asked to recreate one of their recipes, an Actifry Kebab.  Tefal’s have launched an ActiFryDays challenge to encourage us to cook a dish in their Actifry instead of ordering a takeaway.  

Tefal undertook a survey of 2,000 people and found that their favourite takeaway option was Chinese.  Apparently, as a nation we eat 12,000 tonnes of fat each year from takeaways alone, this is of course very worrying as obesity levels are high in the UK population.

Unsurprisingly, according to the survey, Friday is the most popular night when we crave a takeaway.  Unfortunately most of the time we tend to order too much and also ignore the fat and calories in takeaways.  I know that I am always exhausted by Friday so always Meal Plan a low faff option as we can't afford takeaways, either from a financial or dietary point of view.    

I was delighted to be asked to try out the Actifry as it air fries with a very small amount of oil which means dishes are cooked with little added fat and therefore dishes will be much lighter on the waistline and wallet than traditional takeaways.



I cooked the Actifry Kebab and it went down very well indeed with my family.  I amended the recipe slightly as it served 4 and there are 5 of us.  I used lamb instead of veal, added 2 chopped peppers, an extra carrot, added 500ml of passata, cooked the dish for 5 minutes longer, and served the kebab on cooked Basmati rice.  The only preparation is chopping the vegetables and lamb, the Actifry does everything else.  You could serve the kebab in a wrap or with couscous if you didn't want to cook rice.  


We found that the carrot, although it was fairly finely diced, was still quite firm.  I would substitute the carrot for some diced peppers, courgette or aubergine, this would be easier to soften in the cooking time.


The ActiFry Express XL comes with a recipe book filled with delicious ideas which we will try out in due course.  You can cook so much more than chips in the Actifry! That said, we do enjoy some spicy sweet potato wedges cooked in the Actifry and accompanied by a homemade (reduced fat) sour cream and chive dip.


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Brioche Hot Cross Buns

I decided to make a brioche version of Hot Cross Buns because my daughters repeatedly asked me to.  These Brioche Hot Cross Buns are rich and buttery and packed with fruit, perfect with a cuppa or lightly toasted and smothered with butter and eaten for breakfast.  

Now I do like Brioche but it is a right faff to make and most recipes take an age and require overnight chilling of the dough in the fridge.  I don't have the time for that faff so I used my speedier version.  


Brioche Hot Cross Buns

450g strong white bread flour
50g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
100g unsalted butter,diced
90 ml warm water
7g sachet active yeast
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 medium free-range eggs
200g dried fruit, we used seedless raisins 

Put the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl, rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre.

Add the yeast to the water then whisk in the eggs and vanilla bean paste. Pour this mixture into the flour and mix until a rough dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for 10 – 15 minutes by hand, or knead for 7 – 10 minutes in a stand mixer with a dough hook, until it becomes soft and elastic.

Put the kneaded dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with cling film then leave dough to prove until doubled in size. 

Once risen, remove the dough from the bowl and knock it back to its original size. Knead in the dried fruit until evenly distributed throughout the dough.  Divide the mixture into 12 portions and shape each into a ball.

Grease a 12 hole muffin tin and place a dough ball into each hole.  Cover with creased clingfilm and leave to prove again in a warm place for 45 minutes.  Whilst the buns are rising, preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4.  Remove the cling film then carefully pipe a cross onto the top of each of the buns.  

Top the Hot Cross Buns with crosses made by combining:

1/4 cup/40g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder 
1 Tblsp butter
2 or 3 Tblsp of water

I make the crosses mixture whilst the buns are rising. Mix the butter with some hot water so that it melts and combines. Leave for about 10 minutes to cool and then mix into the flour and baking powder.

The mixture needs to be soft enough to be piped but not too runny, add a little extra flour or water to if necessary to get a good consistency. If you haven't got a piping bag, put the mixture into a plastic bag, squeeze it down to one corner then snip a tiny bit off the corner of the bag. Squeeze the mix through the hole making crosses on the top of each bun.

Bake the buns in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. Leave the swirls in the tin until cool enough to handle then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.  


Froothie Optimum 9400 Blender - My favourite kitchen gadget!


A while ago we were sent a fab Froothie Optimum 9400 blender.   We've always had cheaper, much less powerful blenders.  This blender is the best I have ever tried by far!  It is really powerful and very easy to clean.  It is also quieter than some of the cheaper models we've had in the past.  

You can see how the Froothie compares to the Vitamix here.  You can also check out how it compares to the Nutribullet here.


We have used the Froothie to make smoothies, soups, nut butters, dressings and sauces.  It came into it's own when bubs started weaning as I could whip up super smooth purees very quickly.  The Froothie is also fab at making a quick and healthy soup for my lunch, everything goes into the Froothie and gets whizzed for around on high speed until you have a piping hot soup.  You can check out my 5 Minute Soup recipe here.


Speaking of recipes, you do get a fab recipe book supplied in the box and it gives a lovely range of recipes that will get you started with your blender  Very handy if you're new to power blenders and are unsure what they are capable of.  I’ve also used the Froothie Optimum 9400 to make fruit couli, caramel and chocolate sauces, passata and other savoury sauces such as a smooth hidden vegetable lentil Bolognese, Hollandaise and cheese sauce.  A great tool to have in the kitchen when a quick dinner or lunch is needed.  

Here's a clip showing just what the fab Froothie Optimum 9400 is capable of:



Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Picnic Lunch Bread Cases - Credit Crunch Munch for April



I'm delighted to be hosting Credit Crunch Munch this month.  The challenge was devised by Camilla and Helen as a way of sharing frugal, thrifty and delicious recipes each month.  Link up your scrumptious budget conscious recipes using the linky at the bottom of this post.

It is school holidays here for us and my lovely children are bottomless pit at the moment.  Keeping them fed and watered without them over eating or indulging in too many treats is a challenge.  I baked these tasty morsels for us to take to the park for lunch.  Playing at the local park is a fun, free, boredom busting school holiday activity, and a great way for them to burn off energy and get rid of grumpiness.

These tasty morsels are great for using up veg lurking in the fridge and bread that may be passed it's best.  I used diced ham leftover from a ham roast, chives from our garden and some peppers that needed using up from our veg drawer in the fridge.  I've used grated carrot and courgette in the past, the recipe is easily adapted to whatever you have in the fridge or cupboards.  You could also use tinned or frozen veg, just defrost the veg before using. 



Picnic Lunch Bread Cases

3 spring onions, finely sliced – green and white parts or some chives
4 slices of ham, diced (optional)
1 pepper, finely diced – any colour will do
handful or two of frozen vegetables (optional)
12 slices wholemeal bread, crusts removed
8 medium free range eggs
150ml milk
grated cheese for topping (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan. Spray a metal 12 hole muffin tin with non-stick baking spray.

Push the bread into the muffin tin holes then spoon in the ham and vegetables.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and some salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture evenly into the prepared bread cases. When pouring in the egg mixture into the cases, pour until it reaches the top of the muffin hole. The egg mixture will absorb into the bread a little so pour all 12 first then you can go back and add more if you have egg mixture left over.

Bake for 20 minutes. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before removing from the tin. Serve.



How to enter Credit Crunch Munch

To take part, blog about a food related money saving idea and add your post to the Linky.  Thrifty ideas include:

Dishes using cheaper ingredients – cheap cuts of meat or vegetarian
Meals using leftovers
Meals using up the ends of packets
Substitutions of cheaper ingredients
Packed lunches
Meals that use less energy to cook
Pressure cooking
Slow cooking
Faster cooking – less oven time for example
Batch cooking for the freezer
Sustainable foods
Food you have grown yourself
Meals from reduced food in the supermarket

The list is endless! 

We do do a full round up so I will be mentioning and linking back to all the recipes that are submitted in my round up at the end of the month.

There are a few rules:

Please link to the Credit Crunch Munch pages on Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All
Please link to the current host (ME!)
Please use the Credit Crunch Munch Badge above
Tweet using #creditcrunchmunch
Closing date – last day of the month – so 30th April 2015
You are welcome to link up one or two old posts, but please republish them
By entering you are agreeing to let us use an image from your entry on this site, and to pin to Pinterest
If blogging a recipe from elsewhere on the internet or a book please be mindful of copyright.
But feel free to send your entries to as many other blogging challenge events as you like, let’s help everyone save money!

Tell me about your money saving ideas on the linky below! I am also making this a blog hop, so feel free to grab the code and add to your post too. Let’s spread the money saving ideas!

We’ll be looking for guest hosts later in the year, so please mail Helen if you are interested. helen at fussfreeflavours dot com