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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.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Muesli Cookies

I baked these cookies to use up some muesli that my girls had decided they didn't want to eat for breakfast.  Not wanting to waste anything, and in need of a morning tea snack, I added the muesli to cookie dough.  The cookies are delicious, filling, and very moreish but not too sweet.


Muesli Cookies

250g muesli or 150g oats and 100g dried fruits
100g wholemeal flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tblsp light soft brown sugar
75ml golden syrup
75g butter, melted
1 large free range egg

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Line two oven trays with non-stick baking paper.

Put the muesli, flour, cinnamon and sugar into a bowl and stir well to combine.  Melt the butter then add the egg and golden syrup.  Stir until completely incorporated.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until well combined.

Dollop tablespoonfuls of the mixture on to the trays, leave a little room for spreading.  Bake for 12 - 15 minutes.  Leave to cool on the trays for 5 minutes before carefully transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Thursday, 24 March 2016

Slow Cooker Lamb Rogan Josh

We love a delicious curry in our household, it is a regular feature on our Meal Plans.  Instead of buying expensive takeaway versions or using pricey prepared sauces, I usually make it from scratch.  Cooking the curry in our slow cooker means it is ready when we are and it is a very low faff dinner, great for a Friday night when we are all tired and are tempted by a takeaway.  

I'm taking part in the Simply Beef and Lamb #LivePeasant campaign which is encouraging us all to embrace a rustic and simple one pot style of cooking using cheaper cuts of meat that are perfect for slow cooking.  When they suggested I try this recipe, how could I say no?!  A low fuss and tasty curry that basically cooks itself, result!  

Image supplied by Simply Beef and Lamb
My family thought this curry was delicious and have asked to have it again very soon.  Such a quick and easy dinner option, just measure everything into the slow cooker and turn it on.  That's it.  Our Friday night dinner was scrumptious and a very welcome easy meal after a long and difficult week.


Slow Cooker Lamb Rogan Josh
500g/1lb lean lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch cubes2 medium onions, peeled and diced or 500g pack prepared diced onions
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 x 2.5cm/1 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chilli powder
1 Tblsp ground coriander
2 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp tomato purée
450ml/¾pint hot lamb or vegetable stock
8 small new potatoes, halved
100g/4oz cauliflower florets
Natural yogurt, to garnish
Freshly chopped coriander leaves, to garnish

Put all the ingredients except the yogurt and coriander in large slow cooker.  Mix well to combine.

Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.  When ready to serve, garnish each plate of Rogan Josh with a dollop of yogurt and sprinkle of fresh coriander.  Best eaten accompanied by cooked basmati rice and poppadoms or naan bread.

Image supplied by Simply Beef and Lamb
Simply Beef and Lamb support the support the Red Tractor Mark and the Quality Standard Mark for beef and lamb so we can be confident about the welfare and quality of meat we are purchasing. Do check out their Pinterest, Facebook and You Tube channel for more recipe inspiration, and their website for information about understanding different cuts of meat, advice on cooking and carving and of course even more recipes to enjoy.

**Sponsored Post**

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Easter Roast NZ Lamb

I am a proud expat New Zealander and we usually enjoy a taste of home, in the form of NZ Lamb, on special occasions such as Christmas and Easter.  I was delighted when New Zealand Lamb asked me to try out their Easter Roast Lamb recipe and share it with you.

There's nothing quite like a Sunday roast to bring family together, and Easter Sunday is a special day of celebration for us, so I thought why not cook a feast for us all to enjoy with friends.  I purchased two half legs of New Zealand Lamb as there were quite a few of us to enjoy the Sunday lunch, and basically doubled the recipe I was given.


The lamb was delicious and flavoursome, the vegetables were roasted to perfection and the meal was thoroughly enjoyed by my family and friends.  If you're planning an Easter Sunday roast, give New Zealand Lamb a try.

Easter Roast NZ Lamb

A half shoulder or half leg of New Zealand lamb at room temperature
450g potatoes, roughly chopped
250g chantenay carrots
350g squash, peeled, seeds removed and cut into chunks
2 red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated but still in their skin
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp fennel seeds
a few sprigs of rosemary
150ml white wine
1 tbsp warm water
Foil

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.

Par boil the potatoes for 5 minutes.  3. Place the lamb in a large non-stick roasting tin, scatter around the carrots, squash, potatoes and red onions. Drizzle over the oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Add the wine and water to the bottom of the roasting tin.  Place the roasting tin in the oven for 10 minutes and then turn the oven down to 180°C.

After another 30 minutes add the prepared garlic and fresh rosemary sprigs to the roasting tin and scatter the fennel seeds and lemon zest over the lamb.  Add a splash more wine or water to the pan if it is looking very dry.  Continue roasting until the vegetables are soft and beginning to caramelise, and the lamb is cooked to your liking (approx 20-30 minutes more for medium).

 Once the lamb is cooked to your liking, take the roasting tin out of the oven, cover with foil, and rest for 15 minutes before carving.  Carve the lamb and serve with the roasted vegetables, and wilted Spring greens if you wish - and don't forget the gravy.


Do take a look at the NZ Lamb website for more recipe ideas, wine and beer matching suggestions, a meat cuts and carving guide, and competitions.  You can also find NZ Lamb on Facebook and Pinterest.

**Sponsored Post**

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

YumBox and Lunchbox Love Notes Review

My youngest daughter was sent a Yumbox by EatWell-UK to review and she absolutely loves it! There's two designs, Classic and Panino, we tried the Panino as she thought it would suit her school packed lunches better than the classic design.

The Yumbox comes in a wide variety of colours and is very sturdy, as well as being easy for small hands to open.  It also fits into most standard insulated lunch bags.

The Yumbox has a removable tray which has an illustrated guide to help you pack healthy portions of different foods.  Handy for ensuring a balanced lunch when in a rush, and also good for avoiding a lengthy debate with children about how much of each food group they should be having.

The Classic Yumbox tray is divided into five ½ cup portions of the key food groups: Fruit, Vegetable, Grains, Protein, Dairy. Plus a small well for a dip or a treat.

The Panino Yumbox tray is divided into a large (2 cups) portion (perfect for a sandwich or salad), 2 (1/2 cup) portions and a dip well.

Even better, the Yumbox has a leak proof lid that also means that food will not cross the portion sections.  I am so glad that it means there's no need for numerous plastic bags, multiple containers, clingfilm and snack packs, everything is contained in the one leakproof box. 

The Yumbox can be packed the night before, the silicone lid keeps everything fresh, if it is stored in the fridge overnight.


We were also sent some LunchboxLove notes. The handy 12 pack of cards has positive messages and trivia on them, you pop them into your child's lunch bag to remind them you are thinking of them throughout the day.  I thought my 9yo might be a bit old for the cards but she was delighted with them, as was one of my older daughters.



Eat-Well-UK was set up by Bouncy Jam who are importers and distributors of a range of unique and stylish products including Yumbox (the leak-proof lunchbox) and the Tidy Table Tray (bringing babies to the table).  There's a fab blog on their site along with a wealth of useful lunch and dining products for both adults and children alike.  Do take a look.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Quick Vegetable Tagine with Couscous

My daughters like a filling and delicious packed lunch, and I like them to eat healthily and well, but we are inevitably short of time and patience on weekday mornings.  We need a delicious lunch option that will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days, or one that is easy to whip up on a busy weekday morning.


This cheap and easy vegan lunch option keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, the flavour improves on keeping too.  We just make a large batch of couscous each night for the next morning.  It is delicious warm or cold, my daughters have taken it to school warm in flasks as well as in a lunchbox accompanied by an ice pack to keep it cool.  We've also had it for dinner with some steamed greens for a quick and light supper option.  You can vary the seasonings to suit your taste and the vegetables according to what you have available.

Quick Vegetable Tagine with Couscous

1 Tblsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 onions
3 carrots
3 courgettes
2 peppers, any colour will do
1 tsp each cumin and allspice
1/2 tsp chilli powder (to taste)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

300g couscous
600ml hot vegetable stock

Roughly chop the vegetables into a small dice, around 1.5cm/0.5 inch dice.  Add the oil to a large pan over a moderate heat and cook the prepared vegetables for a few minutes until they start to soften.  Add the spices and cook for a minute until fragrant before adding the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas. 

Simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Season to taste then serve over couscous.  Put the couscous into a bowl and pour in the hot stock.  Stir to combine, cover with cling film and leave to stand for 5 - 10 minutes then fluff up with a fork to separate the grains.




Thursday, 17 March 2016

Comforting Lamb and Pearl Barley Stew

I was delighted to be asked by Simply Beef and Lamb to take part in their #LivePeasant campaign and share a recipe using a cut of beef or lamb suitable for easy one pot slow cooking.  One pot stews and casseroles are one of the simplest, most traditional forms of cooking, and also tend to use more affordable cuts of meat.


I decided to share my recipe for a comforting and hearty Lamb and Pearl Barley Stew, perfect for chilly evenings and busy families such as ours.  We had some wilted greens and crusty bread with this stew, it needed nothing more as it is very filling indeed.  The stew requires minimal preparation and then gently bubbles away on the hob whilst you get on with family life.  Come dinner time you've a delicious and filling meal without a lot of effort.  Like more casseroles this stew freezes well  which is great for stashing leftovers for another time or cook a batch on the weekend then defrost and enjoy when a comforting meal is needed during the week.  My youngest daughter was home from school poorly and we had leftovers for lunch, with extra stock added, and it made a delicious soup.

Comforting Lamb and Pearl Barley Stew

2 Tblsp plain flour
1 kg/2.2lb lamb neck fillets, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch slices
2 or 3 Tblsp oil
2 leeks, washed and sliced into 2.5cm/1 inch slices
3 sticks celery sliced into 2.5cm/1 inch slices
4 large carrots halved then cut into 2.5cm/1 inch chunks
1 swede peeled and cut into 2.5cm/1 inch cubes
1.5 litres vegetable stock
150g pearl barley
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Toss the lamb in the flour to lightly coat it.  Heat the oil in a large heavy based casserole pot over a moderate heat and brown the lamb in batches then set aside.  Add a little more oil if necessary then add the vegetables, cook for a few minutes until they start to soften.  Return the browned meat to the pan then add the stock, pearl barley and herbs,  

Bring to a gentle simmer then leave to cook for around 2 hours until the lamb is very tender and the pearl barley is cooked.  Season to taste and serve with steamed greens and bread rolls.  



Simply Beef and Lamb support the support the Red Tractor Mark and the Quality Standard Mark for beef and lamb so we can be confident about the welfare and quality of meat we are purchasing.  Do check out their Pinterest, Facebook and You Tube channel for more recipe inspiration, and their website for information about understanding different cuts of meat, advice on cooking and carving and of course even more recipes to enjoy.



For more #LivePeasant inspiration, you may also like to try: 

Kavey’s Beef Goulash
Michelle’s Laal Maas
Marbintu's Beef Goulash


** Sponsored Post **

Monday, 14 March 2016

Stem Ginger and Date Hot Cross Buns

I always bake our Hot Cross Buns, it means I can vary the spices and flavours to suit our tastes.  I like to experiment as well, nothing too out there though, Hot Cross Buns are a delicious classic for a reason.


From 14th - 20th March Waitrose are going to be running an Easter competition to discover a new flavour of Hot Cross Bun to stock in their stores and asked me to come up with a new flavour combination.  I had thought about Pear and Almond, with small chunks of fresh pear and raisins soaked in Amaretto, but decided on Stem Ginger and Date after a quick poll of my family and friends.  I will probably still give the Pear and Almond flavoured Hot Cross Buns a try though, I'm sure the school run Mums would appreciate taste testing a batch for me.

Waitrose have got a number of new delicious Hot Cross Bun flavours in stores this year including toffee and a Cherry Bakewell Hot Cross Bun created by Heston and are asking their social media communities to share with them which new flavour suggestion the public think would make a delicious addition to the range. Entrants have the chance to win gift vouchers towards their food shop, and one of the flavours entered into the competition will be turned into a product that will go on shelves next year! 


Waitrose judges will narrow down the entries into a final three and then it will be put to a vote across their social media communities to determine the winner. The winner will be announced by the end of May 2016 and the first prize winner will receive £500 Waitrose vouchers with the two runners up getting £100 Waitrose vouchers each.

To enter, simply share the Hot Cross Bun flavour that you think Wairtose should add to their range on Waitrose social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using @Waitrose and the hashtag #WaitroseHotCrossBun. You can also find out more by visiting the Waitrose Easter  webpage.



Stem Ginger and Date Hot Cross Buns

This recipe makes 12 Hot Cross Buns.

250ml/1 cup lukewarm water
2 Tblsp caster sugar
1 sachet instant yeast
375g/2.5 cups plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
25g softened butter
1 free range egg
3 pieces stem ginger, very finely chopped
100g moist dates, finely chopped
syrup from stem ginger jar, for glaze

You can make these buns by hand or using a stand mixer. Stir the water and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the instant yeast then make a well in the centre.  Pour in the water, add the eggs and the softened butter. Mix until combined with a wooden spoon and then turn out onto a floured bench and knead the dough lightly. 

This is a fairly moist dough so add extra flour if you need to during the kneading process. Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic.

Or put all the dry ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Start the stand mixer on a low speed to mix the dry ingredients before slowly adding the water, eggs and softened butter. Knead on a low speed until everything is well combined and then knead for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth.

Put the dough into a greased bowl and cover with greased cling film. Leave in a warm place till dough doubles in size, this should take around 45 minutes to an hour. 

Once the dough has risen, knock it back by kneading through the ginger and dates.  Divide the dough into 12 portions and shape into buns. Put the shaped bun onto an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper and cover with the greased cling film.  Leave them to rise for around half an hour, whilst your oven preheats to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6/400F, the buns should almost double in size.

Remove the cling film from the risen buns.  Mix together 3 tablespoons of self raising or plain flour with 4 tablespoons of water and mix to form a paste.  Pipe a cross on to the buns then bake for 15 - 20 minutes until deep golden and cooked through.  Brush the buns with syrup from the jar of stem ginger whilst still warm.  Leave until cool enough to eat then devour with a cuppa. 



Check out some of the other delicious recipes created for the campaign:

Dairy Free Hot Cross Buns from The Hedgecombers

Coconut and Mango from Recipes from a Pantry
Banana & Chocolate Chip from Eats Amazing

Dark Chocolate, Orange & Ginger from Feeding Boys
** Sponsored Post **

Sunday, 6 March 2016

'5 A Day' Cake

This is basically a banana cake with a whole lot of extras added.  I decided to use up as many items as I could in one cake, the result was delicious, thank goodness!  I used two of the carrots in our Wonky Veg Box in this cake, along with a large courgette from our veg draw in the fridge which needed using up, and 4 spotty over ripe bananas from our fruit bowl.  I decided to add some dried fruit as we had various part packets that were leftover from Christmas and I wanted to use them up too.  

This cake was a definite hit with my family and it was a welcome treat in lunchboxes for a couple of days.  I'm sure there must be at least a couple of your 'five a day' in this cake as it is packed with fruit and vegetables.  I was wondering what to call this scrumptious creation when my 9yo declared it to be "5 A Day Cake!" and who am I to argue.



'5 A Day' Cake

150g grated courgette
150g grated carrot or sweet potato
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g caster sugar
75g sultanas
75g dried cranberries
75g dried apricots, finely chopped
3 medium free range eggs
300g mashed banana, use over-ripe ones if you can
150ml oil

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 6.  Grease and line a 23cm/9 inch round springform cake tin.  

Squeeze as much moisture out of the grated courgette as you can using your hands.  Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl.  Mix in the sugar and dried fruits.  Add the eggs, mashed banana and oil to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Add the grated courgette and carrot then beat the mixture for a minute or so until the vegetables are evenly distributed through the cake batter.

Pour the batter into your prepared cake tin.  Bake for an hour then check if the cake is done by inserting a skewer into the centre, it should come out clean.  If not, turn the oven down to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4 and bake for a further 10 - 15 minutes.  Test again with the skewer.  When the cake is cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 15 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  



I am entering this delicious cake into Credit Crunch Munch, created by Helen and Camilla, hosted this month by Travels for Taste.


I'm also entering this cake into Extra Veg, the blog challenge created by myself and Helen to encourage us all to eat extra portions of vegetables.  Helen is hosting this month.



Friday, 4 March 2016

Parsnip Loaf

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were fortunate to be able to buy a Wonky Veg Box from Asda.  In our box was a very large parsnip which I decided to use in a cake.  I altered a Carrot Cake recipe that I have used for years and the cake was delicious! It was sweet without being overly so and the parsnip kept the cake moist but still light in texture.

The cake was scrumptious with a cuppa and we had a slice for pudding too, with custard of course.  You could use carrot instead of parsnip, or even sweet potato if you wanted to.  It is very quick to make and you don't even need to use a mixer.



Parsnip Loaf

150g light soft brown sugar
200ml oil
3 medium free range eggs
60ml golden syrup
200g grated parsnip
250g self raising flour
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4.

Grease and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with non-stick baking paper.

Measure the sugar, oil, eggs, and golden syrup into a bowl.  Stir to mix until completely combined before adding the grated parsnip and stirring once again.  Add the flour and cinnamon then mix until just combined.  Do not beat the mixture or the cake will be heavy and tough.  

Pour the mixture into your prepared cake tin and level the surface.  Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes or until cooked through, there should be no crumbs on a skewer inserted into the cake and the top of the cake should spring back when lightly pressed.  Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.




I am entering this cake into Simple and in Season which has a new home, it's being hosted by Katie over at Feeding Boys.  If you're blogging a delicious seasonal recipe, do pop over and link it up! 



Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Caramelised Onion and Cheddar Swirls - Bready, Steady, Go March Linky

We were fortunate to be able to purchase an Asda Wonky Veg Box, they were very popular and sold out rather quickly in our local branch. It was good value and the vegetables were hardly wonky at all, there were a great many onions in the box however and I developed more than a couple of recipes to use them up.  I made a large batch of caramelised onions in my slow cooker and used them as a base for French Onion Soup, Onion Gravy which we had with Toad in the Hole and I used some in these delicious bread swirls for lunch last Sunday.



Caramelised Onions (Slow Cooker)

50g butter
2 Tblsp oil
2kg white onions
1 Tblsp light soft brown sugar (optional)

Put the butter and oil into the slow cooker and turn the heat to high so that it will melt the butter whilst you prepare the onions.  Peel the onions and cut off the top and bottom.  Slice the onions in half then slice each half lengthwise into thin slices, about 0.5cm/0.25 inches thick.  Put the prepared onions into the slow cooker, stir around so they are coated in the oil and butter mixture then put the lid on and turn the heat down to low.  Cook on low for 7 - 8 hours.  If you are in a hurry cook the onions on high for around 4 - 5 hours.  The onions will become soft and golden and delicious.  Add the sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste.  If not using the caramelised onions within a few days, freeze in portions.

Caramelised Onion and Cheddar Bread Swirls

500g strong white bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
1 tablespoon oil
330ml luke warm water
200g carmelised onions
200g grated cheddar cheese

Put flour into a large bowl with the salt and yeast, make a well in the flour and add the oil and luke warm water. Mix until a rough dough forms then knead, either in a mixer with a dough hook fitted or by hand, until smooth and elastic.  Put into a lightly greased bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove until doubled in size.  

Knock back the dough then roll into a large rectangle about 30cm x 40cm.  Sprinkle with a handful of grated cheddar then evenly spread over a the caramelised onion followed by the rest of the grated cheddar.  Roll up the rectangle from the longest side to form a tight log.  Cut the log into slices about 5cm thick.  Place the slices cut side up on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper.  Cover with cling film and leave to rise for half an hour.

Preheat your oven to 220C/180C Fan/Gas Mark 7.  Remove the cling film and bake the swirls for 20 - 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.  Leave to cool for 10 minutes then devour.



Bready, Steady, Go! Challenge Guidelines

Bready Steady Go! will run from 1st 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 yeasted bread or cake recipe.  Only yeasted breads please, either natural yeasts (sour dough) or commercial yeasts. No yeast free quick breads or soda breads.  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 Baking Queen 74 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 @BakingQueen74 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 rather than copying full recipe.



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