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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.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

3 Ingredient Berry Ice Cream Slice

I usually don't make ice cream as we don't have a machine and I can't be bothered taking a bowl out of the freezer to mix the contents every so often.  I inevitably forget and it turns into crystallised lumps due to my neglect.  

I decided to try a different method, one that is totally low faff, and only needs mixing once at the beginning of the process.  I altered a cheesecake recipe that I'd developed and tweaked it to be freezable without going rock solid.  After some experimentation, this recipe was born.  This a great base for using up any berry gluts you might have and the ice cream was enthusiastically devoured by my family, even bubs had some.  

You could use stone fruit instead of berries, the recipe is a great base for experimentation with flavours.  I discovered condensed milk now comes in a squirty bottle, much easier than having a partly used opened tin languishing about.



3 Ingredient Berry Ice Cream Slice

600ml double cream
300ml condensed milk
300g blackberries
400g strawberries
a dollop of vanilla bean paste (optional)

Beat the double cream and condensed milk together until thick and holding it's shape.  Divide the mixture into thirds.  Blitz the berries and add each to a third of the mixture.  Pour each flavour into a lined 23cm cake tin, taking care not to mix the flavours unless you want a marbled look, and gently smooth the top.  

You could freeze each layer before adding another layer but who has time for that?!  This is meant to be a low faff recipe after all.  Put in the freezer overnight, or for at least 6 hours, then slice and devour.



Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Boozy (or not) Cherry Fizz

I love Summer! I dread the gloomy Winter months of endless grey skies and rain.  Having said that, the great British Summer can be a real mixed bag weather wise and you can bet that it will either be a scorcher or a washout - there never seems to be an in between.

When Waitrose asked me to develop a Summer recipe as part of their Taste of Summer Campaign, I immediately thought of a thirst quenching drink with the fruity flavours of the season that can be either a mocktail or cocktail for casual picnics or special summer gatherings.


Boozy (or not) Cherry Fizz


250g frozen or fresh pitted cherries
handful of fresh mint leaves
4 Tblsp/60ml lime juice (I used 3 limes)
zest from one lime
3 handfuls of ice, if using fresh cherries
500ml sparkling water/soda water or lemonade
sugar to taste, I used 2 Tblsp
150ml - 250ml rum or vodka (optional)

I used my Froothie power blender to make this drink.  If you're using a normal blender, just be sure to break the ice up a bit before adding it to the blender and add it gradually.  Blenders can be damaged by trying to blend too much ice at once.  

Put the cherries, mint leaves, lime juice and zest and half of the ice along with the sparkling water/soda water.  Blend well until completely combined.  Add rum/vodka if using, the rest of the ice and the sugar if needed.  Blend until mixed, then serve.



Throughout the summer months, Waitrose are asking people to share their favourite summer flavours on social media.  Whether it’s an ice cream at the seaside, burgers on the BBQ or a cold crisp glass of wine, they're are going to be celebrating the nation’s diversity of tastes this summer and providing inspiration all summer long.

Waitrose will be rewarding lucky members of their community for sharing their favourite tastes with a number of exclusive food experiences – including an invite to a barbecue event with Heston Blumenthal at one of his pubs in Bray, a cocktail and canap├ęs course at the Waitrose Cookery School in London and a complete summer party menu catered for by the Waitrose Entertaining team.

All you have to do is tell Waitrose about your favourite #TasteOfSummer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the chance to win one of their exciting summer food experiences.  Happy sharing, and enjoy the summer!


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

Monday, 22 June 2015

WW2 Rations Family Meal Plan - Week 2

So far we're doing well with the WW2 Rations Challenge, apart from really missing bananas, peppers, melons, mangoes and avocados.  There are so many delicious seasonal fruit and vegetables available at the moment that doing without imported items isn't too much of a hardship.  I imagine that living on WW2 Rations and seasonal produce over the winter would be considerably more difficult and challenging without the Summer bounty we are able to enjoy.

I must confess I cheated and enjoyed a Chocolate Fondant Pudding with Vanilla Icecream last night.  A 12hr night shift followed by little sleep with 8yo needing an emergency dental appointment meant a pudding treat was much needed and very much enjoyed.

Back on the wagon today though!  Breakfasts will be Weetabix with apple and rhubarb compote and milk or toast with jam.  Packed lunches are ham sandwiches with crudites, fresh fruit salad, and a small baked treat - scones with jam are a favourite at the moment along with Tea Loaf.  Bubs and I will have soup/cooked vegetables and a scrambled egg each.  Weekend lunches will be twice baked potatoes, using some of our cheese ration and some of the bacon ration, and Mini Frittatas using bacon, eggs and cheese from our ration.


After school snacks are Flapjacks or Anzac Biscuits, fresh fruit and a large glass of milk.



I've sourced some beef and pork bones and some chicken frames from a local butcher so will make good use of them this week.  

Our Rations

Or ration allocation is based on a family with 1 adult, 1 nursing mother, 3 children over 5yrs and 1 child under 5 years. I researched several sources to try and find an accurate ration allocation, please do politely correct me if my values are wrong so I can amend them for next week. I've calculated that our rationed food for the week should be as follows:

16 litres milk
460g cheese 
460g bacon/ham 
330g butter 
330g cooking fat 
330g margarine 
1350g sugar 
460g jam 
450g sweets 
100g tea 
Approximately 350g of minced beef or meat of an equivalent value £8.40 for 6 people 
15 eggs 
3 eggs as dried egg powder
We are also allocated points for extra rations and have decided to use our 36 points as follows:

Rolled Oats 1kg = 8 points 
Sultanas 1kg = 16 points
Rice 500g = 8 points 
Green Lentils 500g = 2 points
Red Lentils 500g = 2 points

Thankfully coffee wasn't rationed, hurrah! Neither were fruit, vegetables and fresh fish. Bread, honey and flour weren't rationed either. I am also allowed orange juice as a nursing mother so will have one glass (330ml) per day.

Dinners


Red Lentil Bolognese with Baked Potatoes and Steamed Greens - using fresh tomatoes instead of tinned.

12 Muffin Tin Chicken Tarts - using the meat from the chicken frames and using half vegetable shortening and half butter in the pastry.


Toad in the Hole using sausages which weren't on ration, served new potatoes and lots of steamed seasonal vegetables

Simmered Mince using our meat ration which will be turned into Cottage Pie, Mince on Toast and Mince and Lentil Hotpot 

The beef bones and chicken frames have made a delicious stocks and will be used for soup, with cooked lentils, for lunch for me and to cook vegetables in for bubs lunches, served with bread and fresh fruit salad.  

Puddings will be Rice Pudding and fresh fruit or fruit compote.

Waitrose "Pick Your Own Offers"

Waitrose have launched a new scheme called “Pick Your Own Offers” which lets customers pick which groceries they would like to save money on every time they shop. myWaitrose members can choose ten products from a list of nearly a thousand that they’d like to save 20% on. The products range from everyday buys like toilet roll and eggs to treats like selected biscuits and ice cream. The products chosen will have 20% off every time you shop from now until the end of the Summer.

My Picks are:

Waitrose Aberdeen Angus beef mince,15% fat 454g - great for homemade burgers, koftas, meatballs, spicy lettuce cups, stir fries - so versatile.

Essential Waitrose British small whole chicken 1.2kg - another versatile item, joint then marinate, roast whole then use leftovers for salads and stir fries or pasties/tarts for picnics.

Waitrose LOVE life mixed nuts 400g - great for snacking, salads, nut butters and for making energy bars to take out and about.

Essential Waitrose aubergines - great for grilling, stuffing, putting in salads and of course making Baba Ghanoush.

Waitrose Duchy Organic salad potatoes 1.5kg - baked, roasted or boiled these spuds can be cooked and served many ways with lots of different flavours added.

Essential Waitrose Frozen wild caught cooked & peeled prawns 350g - great for a quick dinner with pasta, in a stir fry or in/with salad.

Capricorn English goats cheese 100g - great versatile ingredient for use in salads, on tarts or pizzas or in vegetable bake.

Waitrose British Blacktail large free range eggs 6s - great for breakfast, lunch or dinner dishes. Hard boiled for picnics, sliced in salads or sandwiches, make quiche or frittata too.

Belvoir elderflower cordial 500ml - the taste of summer in a bottle, great for mocktails and cocktails too.

Waitrose continental plain chocolate 100g - great for snacking on, making puddings or baking with.


What will your picks be? Pop over to Waitrose and take a look! 


*Sponsored Post* 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

WW2 Rations Meal Plan for this week


We are so lucky that we can go to the supermarket or order food online and have an abundance of food available should we wish to purchase it.  In war time strict rationing meant long queues, limited supplies and making the best of what you were allowed.

This week and next we will be attempting to live on WW2 rations, or as close as we can manage.  Thankfully fruit and vegetables were not rationed, neither was coffee, bread or flour.  All will be very helpful in getting us through the next couple of weeks.  We will be eating seasonal UK produce which means we will miss bananas, peppers, chillis, lemons, melons, mangoes, avocados, aubergines and other imported fruits and vegetables that we are usually able to obtain easily without thinking about seasonality and food miles.


Our meat ration has enabled me to purchase 1kg of beef mince and some lamb neck chops, I was also given some sausages which are not rationed in exchange for homemade jam.  I will try and stretch out the meat to as many meals as I can, hopefully using some next week too.  I have some beef and pork bones and chicken frames to make stock and soup from as well which were free from local butchers.  I will definitely be using the stock next week as well as the soup for lunches for me this week.


My daughters and husband will be having ham sandwiches for lunch with cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks and a small baked treat, made from our rations.  Bubs and I will have leftover dinner for lunch or soup for me and steamed vegetables and scrambled egg for bubs, with some bread of course.

Snacks will be fruit, all the children will have a large glass or two of milk each day.  I will bake some scones and other treats as well using our rations and post the recipes later in the week.

Breakfast will be overnight porridge with grated apple and topped with homemade rhubarb compote or toast and jam from our ration.

Here are our first 5 dinners for the week, in no particular order:


Sort of Bubble and Squeak with Poached Eggs

500g new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
500g spring greens, shredded
6 rashes bacon, diced
4 spring onions, finely sliced
25g butter
6 eggs, poached or fried

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until tender.  Whilst the potatoes cook, put a frying pan over a moderate heat and add the bacon.  Cook the bacon until it begins to render it's fat and become slightly coloured, about 3 - 5 minutes.  Add the greens and spring onions, cook until greens have wilted and cooked through and the bacon is starting to turn slightly crisp.  Drain the potatoes, lightly mash, add the butter and season.  Stir the bacon and cabbage mixture through the potatoes.  Spoon onto plates then top with a cooked egg.  I'm serving ours with halved cherry tomatoes on the side.


Fish and Vegetable Traybake

700g new potatoes, scrubbed and halved
2 Tblsp oil
300g cherry tomatoes
300g asparagus, trimmed
3 handfuls green beans
5 fish fillets, approx 150g each

Preaheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.

Put the potatoes into a large, deep roasting tin, drizzle over the oil and ensure the potatoes are evenly coated.  Season the potatoes then bake for 20 - 25 minutes.  Take the roasting tin out of the oven and turn over the potatoes before adding the tomatoes, asparagus and beans.  Place the fish on top of everything else and spread each fillet with a scraping of butter. Put the oven tray back into the oven and cook for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.  We'll be having steamed carrots and peas as well with this dinner.


Slow Cooked Meatballs

500g beef mince
1 or 2 handfuls uncooked long grain rice
1 handful chopped fresh herbs (parsley, chives, oregano, etc)
2 large onions, peeled and finely diced
3 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
500g homemade tomato and herb sauce
350ml beef stock or water

I usually turn my slow cooker on to high to warm up whilst I'm preparing the ingredients.  

Mix together the mince, rice and herbs. Roll tablespoonfuls of mixture into balls and set aside.  Put the prepared vegetables into the slow cooker with the tomato sauce.  Pour in the stock and mix until combined.  Put the meatballs into the slow cooker, don't push them down, put the lid on and cook the meatballs for 6–7 hours on low or 3–4 hours on high.  We'll serve ours with new potatoes, peas, beans and spinach.  

If you want to cook the meatballs in the oven instead, saute the vegetables until softened, add 600ml of beef stock instead of 350ml and cook in a covered dish in the oven for 60 - 90 minutes at 180C/160C Fan.


Cowboy Hotpot - enough for 2 nights

500g beef mince
1 onion, roughly diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 sticks celery, finely diced
2 tins baked beans, I use reduced salt ones
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
Grated cheese for serving

Heat a medium-sized saucepan. Add meat and stir until browned. Add onion, carrot and celery and keep stirring until softened.

Mix in the baked beans. Worcestershire sauce and tomatoes.  Simmer for 20 minutes then serve topped with a little grated cheese.  I'll serve ours with steamed spring greens and thick sliced bread one night and steamed greens and mashed potatoes the second night.


Saturday, 13 June 2015

WW2 Ration Challenge - What can we eat?


I recently received an email from my local WI advising me of the the Cambridge Carbon Footprint WW2 Ration Challenge, of course I was keen for our family to take part.  It's hoped that the WW2 rationing challenge will encourage us all to explore the common ground between a diet from the forties/fifties and eating sustainably today.  You can read more about the challenge here.


We will be eating seasonal UK produce, which will consist of some of the following:


Apples
Asparagus
Broad beans
Cabbage
Celery
Chicory
Cherries

Courgettes
Cucumbers

French beans
Garlic

Globe Artichokes
Lettuce
Mangetout

Muchrooms
Nectarine
New Potatoes
Peas
Potatoes
Radishes
Raspberry
Rhubarb

Rocket
Spinach
Spring onion
Strawberry

Tomato
Turnips
Watercress
White Onions


Fresh herbs grown in our back garden and as much allotment and locally grown produce as possible from the above list.


Or ration allocation is based on a family with 1 adult, 1 nursing mother, 3 children over 5yrs and 1 child under 5 years.  I researched several sources to try and find an accurate ration allocation, please do politely correct me if my values are wrong so I can amend them for next week.  I've calculated that our rationed food for the week should be as follows:

16 litres milk
460g cheese 
460g bacon/ham 
330g butter 330g 
330g cooking fat 
330g margarine 
1350g sugar 
460g jam 
450g sweets 
100g tea 
Approximately 350g of minced beef or meat of an equivalent value £8.40 for 6 people 
15 eggs 
3 eggs as dried egg powder


We are also allocated points for extra rations and have decided to use our 36 points as follows:

Rolled Oats 1kg = 8 points 
Sultanas 1kg = 16 points
Rice 500g = 8 points 
Baked Beans, 2 tins = 4 points

Thankfully coffee wasn't rationed, hurrah! Neither were fruit, vegetables and fresh fish.  Bread, honey and flour weren't rationed either.  I am also allowed orange juice as a nursing mother so will have one glass (330ml) per day.

Food ration for one week for one adult
I'm busy working out our Meal Plan for this week. I shall publish it tomorrow, we're all excited about it, I hope that lasts for the whole fortnight. Fingers crossed! 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Bready, Steady, Go - May Round-Up

Lovely Jen from Jen's Food and I started Bready, Steady, Go a couple of months ago and are delighted that you're linking up your delicious bread creations. The theme last month was "Bread with Bits" and there were of course delectable breads linked up to our challenge.

Tales from the Kitchen Shed made Mutigrain Bread with great step by step instructions, perfect for those who would love to bake their own bread but perhaps were a little nervous about the process.

Home Made Multigrain Loaf with easy step by step instructions, you can't beat homemade bread !

Allotment to Kitchen made a delicious and creative Mango, Pineapple and Coconut Soda Bread, great to see experimentation with flavours.



Penny from Penelope's Pantry baked a dairy free enriched dough for an Easter Tsoureki.



My co-host, Jen's Food, made Smoky Cheddar Rolls. I have to give them a go, my daughters would love them in their packed lunches and they would be great for a weekend breakfast with scrambled eggs. 

smokey cheddar bread rolls

BakingQueen74 baked a stunning Rosemary and Sage Loaf, great as a side with dinner.

IMG_3217-0.JPG

Farmersgirl Kitchen baked a delicious Date and Coconut Bread, perfect with either savoury or sweet accompaniments.


Onions and Paper created an impressive Fougasse with Almonds and Fennel, perfect for dunking in some locally sourced flavoured oil.


Thanks so much to all those who entered, your bakes look amazing and I'm sure they tasted great too!  Should you be inspired to bake your own bread this month, the linky is over on Jen's blog.

  

Monday, 8 June 2015

Yoghurt Berry Pots

I made these over half term for afternoon treats.  They are flavoursome, packed with fruit, and contain no added sugar - other than the sugar that's naturally in fruit.  We were lucky during a recent trip to the supermarket and picked up some berries and peaches in the reduced bin at a very cheap price so I was able to make these for pennies per serving.


You could vary the fruit according to taste and make these bigger or smaller depending on appetites.

You will need:

Fresh fruit, berries or stone fruit work well
Yoghurt, we used Greek yoghurt

Blitz the yoghurt with some of the fruit to flavour the yoghurt.  Layer fruit and yoghurt into pots, either disposable ones or use silicone muffin cups.  Freeze until set then remove from the fridge to soften slightly and devour.


Thursday, 4 June 2015

I'm blogging for BabyCentre

I know my blogging here as been a bit quiet lately.  Bubs top two teeth have finally cut through, half term holidays were fun with all the kids home, and now bubs has an ear infection.  Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging.  I've been working on several recipe development commissions too.  

Recently, I was delighted to be asked to blog for BabyCentre, a fab resource that I have been checking out for tips and help with all things baby and parenting.

You can check out my first post here, it features some delicious dinners for under £5.  Perfect for when time and money are short.  I shall be posting there weekly so do stop by and check out my posts.  


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Breaded Courgette Batons

I picked up some very cheap courgettes in the reduced section of the supermarket and I was thinking about making courgette fritters but my 3 daughters weren't keen on fritters and suggested we have something else for lunch.  I decided to make breaded courgette batons as an experiment, they were delicious,  Bubs enjoyed munching on a couple along with the rest of us.  I served them with carrot and pepper sticks and salad leaves for lunch.


Breaded Courgette Batons

3 courgettes, cut into batons
1 cup breadcrumbs
½ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 or 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 free range egg, beaten

Preheat your oven to 220C.  Line a large baking sheet with non-stick baking paper.  

To cut the courgettes in to fingers I cut in half widthwise, then cut each half in half lengthwise,then each quarter in half or thirds, depending on how wide your courgette is.  I ended up with 8 or 12 barons from each courgette.  

Pour the beaten egg on to a shallow plate.  Mix the breadcrumbs, mixed herbs and Parmesan together on a separate shallow plate.  Dip each courgette baton in the beaten egg to coat it then roll in the breadcrumbs mixture to coat.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes until golden and cooked through.  We served ours with a garlic and herb yoghurt dip and some spicy tomato sauce.


I'm entering these delicious morsels into Extra Veg, the monthly blog challenge created by Helen and I to encourage us all to add extra vegetables to our meals.  Helen is hosting this month.