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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.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Creamy Mushroom Tart

Now that we have 4 children life can be rather busy and dinners need to be quick and low fuss to prepare, as well as filling and tasty.  I was delighted when Just Add Mushrooms asked me to come up with a speedy recipe suitable for a family.

I made this Creamy Mushroom Tart for lunch, we enthusiastically devoured it with salad, it would be equally good for a dinner with steamed greens and mixed root vegetable mash or roasted new potatoes.

Using store cupboard and fridge ingredients, this is a deliciously quick meal, packed with flavour and substantial enough to satisfy a hungry family of 6.



Creamy Mushroom Tart

1 Tblsp oil
2 peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
300g button mushrooms, sliced
375g sheet puff pastry, pre-rolled
1 free range egg, beaten
200ml creme fraiche
3 Tblsp pesto, homemade or store bought
100g grated mature cheddar

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.

Put a large frying pan over a moderate heat and add the prepared vegetables.


Cook until softened and the liquid released by the vegetables has evaporated.  Remove the pan from the heat and leave the vegetables to cool slightly whilst you prepare the pastry. Remove the pastry from the packaging but leave it on the parchment it comes on.  Place the pastry, still on the parchment, onto a baking tray then score a border about 2cm in from the edge of the pastry.  


Prick inside the border well with a fork, this will stop the middle of the pastry rising.Brush the beaten egg over the entire pastry sheet.


Mix the creme fraiche with the pesto, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Stir through the vegetables then spread the mixture evenly over the pastry within the border.  Sprinkle over the grated cheese.


Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp and the topping is bubbling.  Serve warm or leave to cool to room temperature.  Serve with salad or additional vegetables.



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

Friday, 15 May 2015

Credit Crunch Munch Round-Up for April

I was delighted to host Credit Crunch Munch in April, there were so many deliciously frugal recipes and ideas for thrifty meals.

Many thanks to those who joined in, Credit Crunch Munch this month is being hosted by BakingQueen74.

Here are the 24 fabulous entries:


Cinnabunnies - The More Than Occasional Baker
Chana Masala with Wild Garlic - Tortillas for Tea
Pecan and Vanilla Coffee Cake - Coffee and Vanilla


Cheese and Leek Pudding - Tin and Thyme
Vegetable Croquettes with Cheese  - My Little Italian Kitchen
Chhole Bhature - Herbs, Spices and Tradition
Banana and Berry Muffins - The More Than Occasional Baker



Jamaican Saltfish Fritters - Food Glorious Food
Potato and Leek Soup - Jo's Kitchen


Slow Cooker Goulash Soup - Onions and Paper
Strawberry and Coconut Milkshake - Fab Food 4 All
Sunshine Loaf - Utterly Scrummy Food For Families
Quick and Easy Pizza Dough - The More Than Occasional Baker


Pan Con Tomate - Roast Chicken and a Country Walk
Carrot and Ginger Soup - The Taste Space
Cheese and Onion Oemlette Muffin Bites - Family, Friends, Food
Apple Marzipan Dumplings - Fab Food 4 All


Homemade Tomato Soup - Cooking By The Sea
Citrus Curd - The Gluten Free Alchemist
Magic Chocolate Mousse - Food To Glow
Breakfast Apple Oat Muffins - Free From Farmhouse

Thanks so much to Camilla and Helen for asking me to host the linky.  If you would like to guest host Credit Crunch Munch please get in touch with Helen via email: Helen (at) fussfreeflavours (dot) com.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Flatbreads, Crackers and Drop Scones - Live Below the Line

In my Live Below the Line provisions I included 500g of plain white flour.  I made it stretch as much as I could by making Flatbreads, Crackers and Drop Scones to see me through the 5 days.  The Drop Scones could also be fritters if you had some tinned corn to use instead of grated apple, or you could use drained tinned fruit.  

Flatbreads

200g plain flour
100ml water/milk

Mix together until a dough forms then knead for 5 minutes.  Leave to rest for half an hour then divide into 10 potions.  Roll out very thinly then cook in a frying pan over a moderately high heat until browned on both sides.


Crackers

150g plain flour
100ml water, mixed with 1/4 of a stock cube

Mix together until a dough forms.  Knead for 10 minutes then rest for half an hour before rolling out to the thickness of a £1 coin.  Cut out crackers then re-roll the scraps and cut out more crackers until all the dough has been used.  Bake on lined trays in an oven preheated to 180C for 15 - 20 minutes until crisp.



Apple Drop Scones

150g of the flour
1 free range egg
180ml milk
1 grated apple

Mix everything together until a smooth mixture forms. Cook dollops in a frying pan over a moderate heat, turn over when bubbles form on the surface. then cook other side until browned.



Mixed Vegetable Hummus

400g tin value Baked Beans, drained
200g frozen mixed vegetables, defrosted
1/2 stock cube, or more to taste

Whiz up everything in a food processor until smooth.  Keeps in a container in the fridge for a few days.


Day 5 - Live Below the Line, done for another year

The end of my Live Below the Line 5 days!  Despite living on £1 per day for food for the last 5 days I have no idea what it is like to live in extreme poverty. We are housed, have comfy beds to sleep in, we have reliable gas and electricity supplies which we can afford.  There is free access to healthcare.  
Those in extreme poverty live on £1 or less each day, which not only has to pay for food but for all other living costs.  I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult this is, there is no way this campaign can show is what the reality of their lives is like.

However, taking part in Live Below the Line is an invaluable life experience in terms of the challenge of lack of choice, much less food, and how limiting it is socially not being able to participate in get together because you're unable to afford it.  It shines a light on the plight of those with much less than us and helps raise money to help them.

We take so much for granted.  I don't need to worry about where my next meal is coming from, or how I am going to cook it.  What got me through the 5 days was being organised and portioning out my provisions.  I realised we can get by on much less food than we think we can, and it took a great deal of stubbornness and determination to get through the 5 days.  

What I missed most was coffee, and the choice of what to eat and when.  We Meal Plan each week but there are snacks, drinks and a level of choice built into that.  I didn't miss sweet treats, I missed cheese and salads, and steamed greens.

My milk supply held up fairly well but I think if I had to live below the line consistently it would gradually diminish or not be of sufficient quality to sustain bubs.  No wonder those in poverty have a higher use of formula to feed their babies.  Both bubs and I will be relieved that the 5 days is over.  

Tomorrow I shall drink a very large coffee and when I do I will reflect back on a hard but worthwhile week.  It's never a bad thing to try and help others and see what life is like for those less privileged than ourselves.


Thursday, 7 May 2015

Live Below the Line - Days 3 and 4

I am REALLY missing coffee.  I am dreaming about coffee. I have also heard my tummy rumble more in the last 4 days than I have in a long time.  Other than that things are going well.  I have resisted temptation and stuck to my provisions.  Bubs has been teething and awake 4 times a night for the past two nights so I am now counting the hours until I can have coffee.

I helped my children make Banana and Chocolate Drop Scones after school on Day 3 and Apple, Cinnamon and White Chocolate Drop Scones after school on Day 4.  That was hard!  The smell of delicious drop scones cooking, the temptation to nibble on a couple of stray chocolate chips, oh my word it was tough!

Banana and Chocolate Drop Scones, how I wanted thee!
Having my dinner and lunch premade is great, there's much less temptation and it's easier to gobble it down between bubs feeds and naps.  On Day 3 I decided to make eggy bread with my morning allocation of wholemeal bread and use the flatbread to have an open banana and peanut butter sandwich instead. I can see eggy bread being the go to breakfast for my last couple of challenge days.  It felt so much more decadent than scrambled egg on a flatbread.

On Day 4 I used the peanut butter and banana with some UHT milk in a smoothie to tide me over until after the school run when I had more time to make eggy bread.  It meant I could have the flatbread with my lunch along with soup, crackers and hummus.

Eggy Bread for breakfast
Mixed Vegetable Peal Barley Soup for lunch, with a flatbread

Pearl Barley Risorro with flatbread for dinner
Tonight I made my family Roast Chicken, Roast Potatoes, Streamed Greens, Yorkshire Puddings and Gravy. I ate my Pearl Barley Risotto and Flatbread. It was so hard watching them eat a feast whilst I had my carefully measured portion.

At this point I know the end of the challenge is in sight for me.  Many in extreme poverty do not have an choice. That is why we do this challenge as a family and I've taken it on solo as well.  

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Live Below the Line - Days One and Two

I think the key to success for me this week will be organisation.  I am normally a very organised person and am approaching the 5 day challenge in the same way.  I have made the flatbreads, pancakes/drop scones, soup and risotto and frozen them in portions so I have food ready for me each meal time each day.  I will of course make the scrambled eggs fresh each time, and the "hummus" in two batches to keep it fresh, but other than that everything else will be done in advance.

My 10 flatbreads for this week
I showed my provisions and Meal Plan to a friend at work who is a dietician and she said that as I am breastfeeding I would need more calories each day than my provisions would allow in order to maintain a good milk supply for bubs.  She also said a few other words about me being too stubborn for my own good, which I won't repeat here.

We decided that a peanut butter sandwich morning and afternoon, using basics wholemeal bread and peanut butter and a banana each day, would add enough calories for her to be OK with me complete the challenge whilst breastfeeding, along with taking a multivitamin each day to ensure a decent quality milk supply for bubs.  I'll be consuming an average of 1471 calories per day.

My extra provisions
These extra items add money to the total food spend.  I could, I suppose, have counted bubs as a person and spent £10 for 5 days but wanted to be as close to the £5 spend as possible.  The bread, peanut butter and bananas add £1.63 to the grocery total for the 5 days making my spend £6.56.

My revised Meal Plan is as follows:

Breakfast
Scrambled or poached egg on flatbread

Snack
Peanut Butter sandwich and a banana

Lunch
Pearl Barley and Vegetable Soup accompanied by 3 crackers and Mixed Vegetable Hummus

Homemade crackers with Mixed Vegetable Hummus
Snack
3 Apple Drop Scones accompanied by an apple on days 1, 3 and 5

My 15 Drop Scones for the week 

Dinner
Pearl Barley Risotto accompanied by a flatbread

Pearl Barley Risotto, a hearty and filling dinner

Snack
Peanut Butter Sandwich

I'll blog the recipes for the Flatbreads, Crackers and Drop Scones tomorrow.

Please donate if you can here: https://www.livebelowtheline.com/me/utterlyscrummy

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Live Below the Line - again!


We lived below the line last week as a family. It was tough, but apparently not tough enough.  We raised £100 for Save the Children UK, thanks so much to those who generously donated.  This week I'm doing it again!

I said at the time it was much easier to do it as a family spending £30 on food over 5 days than a single person spending £5 on food.  After the comment "Why don't you do it on your own then?! Doing it as a family is WAY too easy!" along with similar comments by several other people, I've decided to take up the challenge and complete another 5 days of Live Below the Line.  This time I'm doing it solo.  I've never been one to refuse a challenge, I'm really stubborn in that way.

Serving up our usual fare to the family whilst living on rations myself is going to be a challenge, but a challenge that is well worth it to raise money for those much less fortunate than us and who don't have the choices we do. 

Here are my supplies for the 5 days:

1x   ASDA Smartprice Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (410g)        24p
1x   ASDA Chosen by You Vegetable Stock Cubes (12x10g)         75p
 1x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                             77p
 1x   ASDA Smartprice UHT Skimmed Milk (1L)                             49p
1x   ASDA Free Range Medium British Eggs (6)                            85p                    
1x   ASDA Plain Flour (500g)                                                        40p
1x   ASDA Good and  Balanced Pearl Barley (500g)                      64p
 1x   ASDA Smartprice Apples (500g)                                            79p

TOTAL £4.93

I will be doing without coffee. This means it is going to be a very tough 5 days.  I'm not bothered about not having sugar, chocolate or other goodies. Coffee is what fuels me, perks me up and brings me joy.  I love a good quality coffee and I am addicted to caffeine, withdrawal will be unpleasant.  I'll also undoubtedly miss fruit and salads and wholemeal seeded bread too.



 What do I plan to make?

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs using an egg each day and some milk to bulk it out
Flatbreads made with 200g flour and 100ml water/milk

Lunches
Vegetable and Pearl Barley Soup using 200g pearl barley, 300g vegetables and stock cubes
"Hummus" using drained baked beans, 200g vegetables and stock cube
Crackers made with 150g flour and 100ml water/milk

Snacks
Apple Pancakes using 150g of the flour, an egg and some milk.
An apple on 3 of the days

Dinners
Pearl Barley Risotto using 300g pearl barley, 500g vegetables and stock cubes

I will make a cuppa soup with stock cube and water if I need a tasty cuppa, otherwise I'll be drinking tap water.


Friday, 1 May 2015

Bread with Bits for Bready, Steady, Go!


Last month was the inaugural month of "Bready, Steady, Go!" the monthly bread baking challenge created and hosted alternate months by me and Jen from Jen's Food.

I bake bread several times a week, we don't buy bread any more, we make it all at home.  One of our favourite breads, especially for after school snacks, is Fruit and Seeded Wholemeal Bread.  A slice or two of this bread spread with peanut butter, and accompanied by a glass of milk, will take care of hunger pangs until dinner time.

Deciding that the challenge for Bready, Steady, Go in May would be "Bread with Bits" was clearly influenced by our fondness for bread with flavourful additions.  You could add fruit, nuts, seeds, cheese, vegetables, herbs, meat, pulses or other flavourful culinary additions.  I can't wait to see what you make! Here's our favourite bread recipe at the moment, it is so easy, just one prove then bake.



Fruit and Seeded Wholemeal Bread

175g strong wholemeal bread flour
175g strong white bread flour
75g porridge oats
75g dried fruit
75g mixed seeds
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp fast action instant yeast
2 Tblsp oil
2 Tblsp golden/maple syrup
250ml milk, or soy/almond milk

Grease a 900g/2 lb loaf tin.j

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Make a well in the centre, add the liquid ingredients and then mix until a smooth dough forms.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth then shape and put in the greased tin.  Cover with greased clingfilm and leave to prove until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas Mark 7.  Remove the clingfilm from the proved loaf and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.  Leave to cool in the tin then remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.  The loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom when it's cooked.



Challenge Guidelines

Bready Steady Go! will run until the 28th of each month and then a round up will be posted by the hosting blog at the end of the month.

You can link up any bread recipe, sometimes we may also run themed challenges, and feel free to join in with other challenges if your post also meets their guidelines. If you really love baking bread then you can add multiple entries up to a maximum of 3 per blog each month.

Please link back to Jen’s Food and Utterly Scrummy Food For Families and include the badge to help spread the word.

We’d prefer to see entries from new blog posts where possible but you can also add old posts if you add the badge and link back to our blogs as well.

You can tweet your entries to @JensFood and @UtterlyScrummy using the hashtag #breadysteadygo and we will retweet all that we see.

All entries will also pinned to our new Pinterest board as they come in.

If you make a recipe from a book/magazine/website etc please respect copyright and do not reproduce the recipe verbatim. Instead of copying out the recipe from the book, describe it in your own words and if it’s from an online source please link to the original content.

So what are you waiting for? Bready, Steady, Go bake some bread!