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.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Lightly Spiced Fruit Loaf - Great with a cuppa!

First of all you'll need to indulge me a little whilst I say Hello and give big hugs to Rachel, Natallie, Nwabisa, Lucy, Abi, Sue, both Ruths, Christian, Elizabeth, Debbie, Amanada (in Wales), and the other members of my amazing Friday Group that I may have forgotten.  Love ya ladies!

Anyway, on to the recipe.  This recipe is perfect for a shared morning or afternoon tea.  It reminds me of my Friday Group - it's traditional with a twist, warm and spicy, somewhat fruity, sweet enough but not OTT, comforting, easy to make, never fails to cheer you up, and great with a cuppa LOL 

This recipe is a fab way to use up dried fruit you may have left over from Christmas baking, is really cheap, and really easy to make.

Makes 2 loaves, because 1 isn't emough and it's good to share ;oP

500ml water

500g dried fruit (I used a mixture of sultanas, apricots, cranberries and dates)

50g butter

1½ cups sugar

2 heaped Tblsp golden syrup

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp mixed spice

1 free range egg, beaten

3 cups plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Preheat your oven on to 170°C.

Measure the water into a fairly large saucepan and put it over a moderate heat, before you add the dried fruit and other ingredients.

I normally add the sugar and syrup to the water and stir it until the sugar has dissolved.  Then I add the weighed fruit, butter, salt and spices and give it a good mix.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Take the saucepan off the heat and cool the mixture to room temperature in a sink of cold water. Stir the mixture occasionally as it cools.

Whilst the mixture cools measure the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl and mix well.  Line two loaf tins that can each hold 1 litre (4 cups) of water with non-stick baking paper or bought premade liners.

When the boiled mixture is at room temperature, stir in the beaten egg, then add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, all at once.  Gently fold everything together until there are no more streaks of flour left.  Don't beat the mixture or the loaves will the tough and look like a mountain range.
Spoon the mixture into the loaf tins and level the top.  Bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until the centre of the loaf springs back when pressed gently, and a skewer comes out clean.  Leave the loaves to cool on a rack. You can eat the loaves warm or cold.  If you want to keep them for a couple of days (WHY?!) then keep them in the fridge or freeze them in airtight plastic bags to eat later.

Apologies for the photo, was taken on my phone just before school run LOL

I shall now get ready to be ambushed on the school run!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I completed the "Shake Up Your Wake Up Challenge"

I must confess that I normally struggle to have breakfast before leaving the house in the mornings.  I of course make sure that my 3 daughters and my husband have a good breakfast and some fruit to fuel their morning but I usually eat a banana or apple on the school run and then sneak a cuppa and breakfast when I get back from the school run.


However, I was lucky enough to be sent a hamper of breakfast goodies to help me get through the Shake Up Your Wake Up Challenge.  There are loads of delicious breakfast recipes on their website to inspire you to eat a healthier and more filling breakfast to set you up for the day.

I did manage to eat breakfast before leaving the house every day for the whole 5 days.  I tended to have wholemeal toast with vegemite or Breakfast Bars with a piece of fruit as they were easy to eat and fit in with the morning routine.

Having breakfast earlier gave me more energy and I was less fuzzy headed and better able to cope with the sometimes hellish joys of the school run.  Will I carry on eating breakfast before the school run everyday? I will try my best as it did make me feel better and is a much better example to my children than eating on the run.  I proved to myself that I can do it if I make the effort so will need to carry on making that effort.

Check out the Shake Up Youe Wake Up website they have 5 different Breakfast Planners for Mums and Free Resources to help inform you and your children about the importance of breakfast and help with healthy and tasty breakfast recipe choices.

You can also follow them on Twitter or check out their Facebook page.


I was sent the hamper of goodies in the photograph free of charge to help with the Shake Up Your Wake Up Challenge. All views expressed are my own and were not influenced by the provision of free food.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Our Family Meal Plan For This Week - 30/01

This is the Meal Plan that my family will be following this week. It cost £62.77 from Asda online today, and I used My Supermarket to check which supermarket was the cheapest to purchase my trolley of groceries from. The same trolley of groceries would've cost £73.40 at Tesco and £82.39 at Sainsburys.

As always, I bake all our bread and rolls myself so have included the cost of flour and yeast instead of premade loaves of bread and bread rolls. This plan will feed my family of 5, all our meals, for an entire week. My 11yo eats the same portion size my husband, despite being reed thin, so the plan could be for 3 adults and 2 children - or 2 adults and 2 older children.

Please note: I am not a nutritionist or dietitian.  See a professional if you want a calorie controlled, super nutritious Meal Plan suitable for specific dietary needs. I'm a Mum and wife who uses Meal Plans to try and manage our grocery spending whilst giving my family decent quality, tasty, and healthy food - with the occasional homemade treat.


Vegetable and Lentil Soup – Meatfree Monday

1 onion, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 swede, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tblsp ground cumin
115g (1/2 cup) red lentils
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1.25 Litres (5 cups) vegetable stock

Put a large saucepan on the hob over a medium heat. Sauté the vegetables and garlic in a little oil until they begin to soften. Add the cumin and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

If I can be bothered I whizz up the soup a little with a stick blender. I serve this with cheese on toast or crusty bread rolls.



Creamy Bacon and Vegetable Pasta - Tuesday

500g spaghetti
300g unsmoked back bacon
400g frozen chopped spinach
Handful or 2 of frozen mixed vegetables
300ml pot crème fraîche

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook following pack instructions. When the spaghetti has about 3 minutes left to cook toss in a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan, fry the bacon until the fat starts to run and then add the garlic, fry until the bacon is lightly golden. Add the chopped spinach and 2 tablespoons of water, then cover and cook until the spinach has defrosted.

Remove the lid, stir everything together, season to taste, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Drain the spaghetti and vegetables and add to the bacon and spinach mixture with the crème fraîche. Stir to thoroughly combine and serve immediately.


Spicy Rice with Chickpeas and Spinach - Wednesday

This is a quick, healthy and delicious family dinner for a Meatfree Monday. My daughters like it with some poppadoms on the side and mango chutney. Give it a go, it works well as a side dish too.

1 ½ cups basmati or long grain rice
1 Tblsp olive oil
3 carrots, roughly diced
1 pepper, roughly diced
1 leek, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Handful of raisins or sultanas
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp mild curry powder
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400ml vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
300ml water
200g spinach (fresh or frozen)
2 Tblsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Natural yogurt and more chopped fresh coriander leaves to serve

Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold running water until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the roughly diced carrots, pepper, leek, garlic, raisins/sultanas and spices. Cook, stirring it occasionally for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the vegetables, especially the carrots, are tender.

Once the vegetables are tender add the chickpeas, rice, stock, and water. Bring everything to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook everything with the lid on the saucepan for 12 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and put the spinach over the top of the rice. Replace the lid on the saucepan and stand for 8 minutes. Uncover the saucepan again and add the chopped fresh herbs. Stir everything together until well combined. Serve topped with some yoghurt, chopped fresh herbs and the remaining almonds.


Spicy Sausage Hotpot - Thursday

450g pack good quality sausages
1 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, sliced
1 pepper, diced
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tin chilli beans
2 cups/handfuls frozen mixed vegetables

Grill or bake the sausages until they are cooked. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then slice into pieces around 2cm thick. Set aside.

Add oil, onion and garlic to a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for a few minutes then add the carrots, leek and pepper. Sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and chilli beans. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Add the sausages to the saucepan with the frozen mixed vegetables. Cook for a final 5 minutes. Serve with cooked rice or mashed potato/sweet potato.


Fish Pie – Friday

1 onion, finely chopped
1 pepper, diced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
600ml water
1 vegetable or fish stock cube
1 tsp mild curry powder
200g rice
1 large tin of tuna or salmon in spring water (drained)
4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
100g grated cheese
5 potatoes, cooked and mashed
400g mixed vegetables to serve

Preheat oven to 180C. Sauté onion, pepper and garlic in oil. Mix water, stock cube and curry powder then add to onion, pepper and garlic mixture. Add rice, stirring occasionally until rice has cooked through. Season. Pour in fish and mix until combined. Put the mixture in a casserole dish. Cover with the egg quarters and spread over the mashed potato. Groove the mash with a fork. Sprinkle over the cheese and put in the oven for around 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the fie pie is piping hot. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.


Vegetable Lasagne - Saturday

2 or 3 cubes of frozen spinach
300g mushrooms
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp dried oregano or a handful of fresh oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
200ml milk
100g cheddar cheese)
2 tsp plain flour
6-8 sheets dried lasagne
1 tsp olive oil

Turn the oven on to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Put the oil into a saucepan on a moderate heat, add the crushed garlic, chopped onion and sliced mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, a good grind of pepper and either fresh or dried herbs. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the frozen spinach and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes until well heated through.

Whilst the tomato and vegetable sauce is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Grate the cheese. Put the flour into a saucepan and stir in a little milk, about 1 Tblsp, until you have a smooth paste. Pour in the rest of the milk and stir well.

Put the saucepan onto the hob on a moderate heat, stirring constantly so the sauce will thicken without going lumpy. When the sauce is thick and smooth, take it off the heat and stir in the grated cheese until it melts.

When the tomato and vegetable sauce and the cheese sauce are both ready, layer up the lasagne into a rectangular ovenproof dish. First, put a thin layer of tomato and vegetable sauce in the bottom of the dish, then a layer of lasagne sheets and repeat until all the tomato and vegetable sauce has been used up. Finish with a sheet of lasagne and top with the cheese sauce. Grate a little extra cheese over the top if you want to.

Bake the lasagne in the oven for 45 minutes until the cheese sauce has started to brown a little. Serve with a side salad or cooked mixed vegetables.


Toad in the Hole - Sunday

125g plain flour
2 free range eggs
150ml milk
450g pack good quality sausages

For the gravy:
2 Tblsp oil
1 Tblsp plain flour
1 onion, peeled diced
300ml vegetable stock
Serve with 500g frozen mixed vegetables, cooked of course.

Preheat the oven to 220C/ 200C fan/Gas Mark 7. Make the batter by mixing the flour with the eggs and milk.

Put 1 tablespoon oil in a roasting tin and heat in the oven for 1 minute. Brown the sausages in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes. Pour over the batter and arrange the sausages. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

If you want to make your own gravy, heat 2 Tblsp of oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft and golden. Stir in 1 Tblsp flour and cook for about a minute. Remove from the heat and stir/whisk in the stock. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the gravy has thickened. Stir in 1 tsp of mustard then serve.



Lunches

Sandwiches/rolls/wraps: either cheese and chutney, ham and chutney, or egg – all with lettuce included and cucumber sticks as well.  All packed lunches will have a small pot of yoghurt and either a pear or an apple.

Mixed Bean Salad – Weekday Lunches

Cover the Salad Bean Mix in plenty of cold water and soak for 8-12 hours, I soak the beans overnight. Rinse the beans thoroughly in plenty of cold water and put them into a large saucepan. Cover the beans with plenty of fresh water. Bring to the boil then boil for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 90 minutes. Drain well and then the beans are ready to be used.

500g cooked mixed beans
300g can sweetcorn
3 sticks celery, finely sliced

Dressing:
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp chopped fresh chives
2 Tblsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tblsp lemon juice
5 Tblsp olive oil

Mix the beans, drained can of sweetcorn and celery together in a bowl. Set aside and make the dressing

Squeeze the lemon juice into a mug and add the olive oil, chives, parsley and garlic. Whisk with a fork to thoroughly combine. Alternatively, put everything in a jar with a lid and shake until thoroughly mixed.

Pour the dressing over the salad and mix through so that everything is well combined. Put into containers and then into lunchboxes.


Weekend Lunches:

Homemade Pizzas - Saturday

Baked potatoes with baked beans and cheese - Sunday

Breakfasts

Weekdays breakfasts will be either cornflakes/porridge with milk and a banana or toast and spread (jam, honey or vegemite) and a banana.

Bacon butties – Saturday

Toasted Tea Cakes (recipe by The Pink Whisk) – Sunday

Treats
Afgans

200g butter
25g cocoa
75g sugar
50g cornflakes
175g flour

Preheat oven to 180C and line a couple of baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Soften butter then add sugar and beat to a creamy light fluffy consistency. Sift in the flour and cocoa, then pour in the cornflakes. Mix well to combine.  Put spoonfuls on a greased oven tray, flatten gently with a floured fork, and bake for about 15 minutes. When cold, ice with chocolate icing.



Oven Baked Doughnuts

My daughters love these donuts and they're easy to make, especially with loads of kids about as there's no deep frying involved. They taste delicious and my daughters friends like them as a treat when they come over to play, I get nagged for them a lot! I usually either make them quickly in my stand mixer or get my daughters and their friends to help knead the dough.




Chocolate Anzac Slice

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour, sifted
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
25g butter, chopped
1 Tblsp golden syrup
2 Tblsp boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/3 cup raisins
200g dark chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 160°C. Lightly grease an 18 x 28cm swiss roll tin. Line the baking tin with non-stick baking paper, with a decent overhang above the top of the tin.

In a bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar and coconut. In a small saucepan, combine butter and golden syrup. Stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes until melted.

In a small jug, combine the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda. Quickly pour this into the butter mixture and then into the dry ingredients. Mix in the raisins.

Press the mixture very firmly into the prepared tin using a fork or potato masher. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool in the tin.

Melt the dark chocolate then spread it over the cooled mixture and chill until set.  Using a hot knife, cut the slab into squares. Store in an airtight container.


Shopping List

Cost of 45 items from Asda: £62.77

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g) 46p
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 25p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 99p
1x ASDA Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) 60p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Plain Flour (1.5Kg) £1.10
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Lasagne Sheets (250g) 39p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g) 98p any 2 FOR £1.50
1x ASDA East Bake Yeast (42g) 64p
1x Great Scot Salad Bean Mix (500g) 98p any 2 FOR £1.50

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x Branston Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (4x410g) £1.00 was £1.50
1x ASDA Wild Pacific Pink Salmon (418g) £1.57
5x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) 38p
1x ASDA Chilli Beans (290g) 54p
1x ASDA Naturally Sweet Sweetcorn in Water (326g) 48p
1x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 70p

Frozen
1x ASDA Chopped Spinach Leaves (1Kg) £1.00
2x ASDA Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.00

Dairy and Eggs
1x ASDA Crème Fraîche (300ml) £1.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Salted Butter (250g) £1.19
2x ASDA Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt (6x125g) £1.12
4x Marybelle Fresh Semi Skimmed Milk (2L) £1.25 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15) £2.00 was £2.50
2x ASDA English Medium Cheddar (400g) £2.48 any 2 FOR £4.00
3x ASDA Low Fat Autumn Fruit Yogurts (6x125g) £1.12

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
2x ASDA Conference Pears (800g) £1.00
15 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) 10p
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) 6.8p
10 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) 8p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.35
7 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 7.6p
3 ASDA Swede by Weight (100g) 8.5p
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber 80p
2x ASDA Round Lettuce 57p
1x ASDA Celery 83p
1x ASDA Trimmed Leeks (500g) £1.00 was £2.00
2x ASDA Garlic Loose 30p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.47
2x Albert Bartlett Rooster Potatoes (2Kg) £1.00 was £1.97

Meat, Fish and Poultry
5 ASDA Deli Carved Ham by Weight (100g) 75p
2x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g) £2.00 was £2.38
2x ASDA Smartprice Unsmoked Middle Bacon (350g) £1.68

Frugal Fruit Puddings

I do like a good pud, great for cold nights in Winter when we're all feeling rather dreary.  I like rich, elaborate puddings but can't be bothered faffing most of the time.  I want to feed myself and my family a decent pud that won't cost much, has a bit of fruit in it, and doesn't take forever to prepare.  Here are a couple of my favourite puds, both can easily be doubled.  You could also adapt the crumble to be gluten free, just use ordinary flour and gluten free cereals.

Tinned Fruit crumble - Serves 4

2 tins of sliced fruit in juice (I usually use pears or peaches)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup muesli

1/2 cup wholemeal flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 Tblsp butter

Preheat oven to 180C.

Drain most of the juice (I drain it into cups for the kids to drink) from the tinned fruit but save 2 - 3 tablespoons.  Put the drained tinned fruit into a baking dish. Sprinkle over the reserved juice, cinnamon and ground ginger.

Mix the rolled oats, flour, muesli and brown sugar in a bowl until well combined. Rub in the butter with your fingertips.  The mixture will become lumpy and crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping over the fruit.

Bake for 25 minutes or until crisp and golden.  I normally serve this with homemade custard or s drizzle of cream.



Baked Apples - Serves 6

6 apples

1 cup mixed dried fruit, eg sultanas, dates, apricots

1 Tblsp brown sugar

1 Tblsp butter, melted

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup (125ml) water

Preheat oven to 180C.

Core the apples, but leave the base intact to hold in the filling.  If you want to you can score a line through the apple skin all the way around the apple, about half way up, this will help stop the apples from splitting in the oven.  Mix the dried fruit, brown sugar, melted butter and cinnamon together in a bowl.  Carefully spoon the dried fruit mixture into the apples.  Put the apples in a baking dish with the water.  Bake for about 35 minutes or until the apples are soft.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Sainsbury's 5 for £20 Meal Plan is Back - and I've done my own 5 for £18.33 Meal Plan


This month Sainsbury’s is launching a new online meal plan to provide a family of four with five meals for £20.  Following the previous success of Feed your Family for £50, and other plans this has the added advantage that customers can click on the ingredients needed and send them straight to their online basket. The weekly meal plan will be available online at www.sainsburys-live-well-for-less.co.uk/meal-planning from 25th January featuring five mid-week evening meal suggestions and recipes including: Creamy pork with mash, Turkey chilli with rice and Cheesy jacket potatoes with bacon and pepper ratatouille. 

Annie Denny, Special Diets and Health Manager at Sainsbury’s said: “The menu ensures the recipes include 1 to 2 portions of your recommended five a day with all ingredients meeting our high quality standards including British Turkey and Pork.  We've chosen simple, everyday items to make balanced and flavoursome mid week meals for four people at just £20.” 

Check out the Sainsbury's 5 for £20 Meal Plan, great if you can't/don't/won't Meal Plan but still want to save some pennies.

The Meal Plan promotion runs from 25th January-14th February and the menu consists of:

Monday - Cheesy Jacket Potatoes with Bacon and Pepper ratatouille
Tuesday - Creamy pork and mash
Wednesday - Simple Sausage Supper
Thursday - Tomato and Broccoli Risotto
Friday - Turkey Chilli with Rice

And . . . . . .Now for my turn!

Every week so far this year I have blogged Our Family Meal Plans and thought I would rise to the challenge and see if I could do 5 dinners for cheaper than the Sainsburys Meal Plan.  I also thought the Sainsburys Meal Plan didn't have as many vegetarian meals as I would like.  I'm sure Sainsbury's have have spent weeks formulating their Meal Plan.  I formulated mine in 2 hours on a Tuesday evening LOL.

And guess what?! I succeeded in creating a cheaper Meal Plan, using My Supermarket as usual, and the following 5 meals that would feed my family of 5 cost a total of £18.33 at Asda, £20.64 at Tesco and £22.66 at Sainsbury's.  The cost of the Sainsbury's Meal Plan is usually formulated using products on offer at the time the plan is launched, this was the case for their Feed your Family for £50 plans.  My plan isn't dependent on offers, in fact, it probably could be cheaper if I had've selected cheaper (lower quality) sausages.  I am not promoting or advocating the use of any specific supermarket.  I'm just stating how much the Shopping List for my Meal Plan cost at various supermarkets.  My Shopping List is at the bottom of this post after the recipes.


Vegetable and Lentil Soup

I love this soup, so warming and tasty on cold winter nights.  It is really filling and a great low cost dinner.  It also freezes well and  is fab for lunches too.
1 onion, finely diced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 swede, peeled and diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 Tblsp ground cumin
115g (1/2 cup) red lentils
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1.25 Litres (5 cups) vegetable stock

Put a large saucepan on the hob over a medium heat. Sauté the vegetables and garlic in a little oil until they begin to soften. Add the cumin and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

If I can be bothered I whizz up the soup a little with a stick blender. I serve this with cheese on toast or crusty bread rolls.


Creamy Bacon and Vegetable Pasta

I can have this dinner on the table in under 20 minutes from whine to dine LOL Great for those nights when you are really tired or really busy with a low tolerance for faffy dinners.
500g spaghetti
200g unsmoked back bacon
350g frozen chopped spinach
Handful or 2 of frozen mixed vegetables
300ml pot crème fraîche

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the spaghetti and cook following pack instructions. When the spaghetti has about 3 minutes left to cook toss in a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables.

Meanwhile, in a deep frying pan, fry the bacon until the fat starts to run and then add the garlic, fry until the bacon is lightly golden. Add the chopped spinach and 2 tablespoons of water, then cover and cook until the spinach has defrosted.

Remove the lid, stir everything together, season to taste, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Drain the spaghetti and vegetables and add to the bacon and spinach mixture with the crème fraîche. Stir to thoroughly combine and serve immediately.


Spicy Rice with Chickpeas and Spinach

This is a quick, healthy and delicious family dinner for a Meatfree Monday or any day of the week. My daughters like it with some poppadoms on the side and mango chutney. Give it a go, it works well as a side dish too.

1 ½ cups basmati or long grain rice
1 Tblsp olive oil
3 carrots, roughly diced
1 pepper, roughly diced
1 leek, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp mild curry powder
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
400ml vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
300ml water
200g spinach (fresh or frozen)
2 Tblsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint leaves
Natural yogurt and more chopped fresh coriander leaves to serve

Put the rice in a sieve and rinse it under cold running water until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the roughly diced carrots, pepper, leek, garlic, raisins/sultanas and spices. Cook, stirring it occasionally for about 8 – 10 minutes or until the vegetables, especially the carrots, are tender.

Once the vegetables are tender add the chickpeas, rice, stock, and water. Bring everything to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook everything with the lid on the saucepan for 12 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and put the spinach over the top of the rice. Replace the lid on the saucepan and stand for 8 minutes. Uncover the saucepan again and add the chopped fresh herbs. Stir everything together until well combined. Serve topped with some yoghurt, chopped fresh herbs.


Lentil Bolognese

This is so versatile! It can be served with pasta, baked potatoes, polenta or homemade gnocchi.  Freezes well and if you really have to you could add some beef mince or soy mince to bulk it out more. 
1 cup red lentils, uncooked
2 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp tomato paste
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste

pasta and 2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables (cooked), to serve.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Pour in the lentils and stir them around to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Boil the lentils for 8-10 minutes or until soft.

Heat the oil in a medium pan and sauté the pepper, onion and garlic until softened. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and herbs, then stir in the lentils. Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes until the flavours develop.

Serve with pasta cooked according to packet instructions. When the pasta has about 3 minutes left to cook toss in a handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables.


Spicy Sausage Hotpot

This recipe makes a pack of sausages go a long way.  You can use whatever vegetables you have available and also use vegetarian sausages if you like.  It's a recipe that can be easily bulked out if you have unexpected dinner guests.

450g pack good quality sausages
1 Tblsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 leek, sliced
1 pepper, diced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins chilli beans
2 cups/handfuls frozen mixed vegetables
4 baking potatoes, cooked and mashed - to serve

Grill or bake the sausages until they are cooked. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then slice into pieces around 2cm thick. Set aside.

Add oil, onion and garlic to a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for a few minutes then add the carrots, leek and pepper. Sauté for another couple of minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes and chilli beans. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Add the sausages to the saucepan with the frozen mixed vegetables. Cook for a final 5 minutes. Serve with cooked rice or mashed potato/sweet potato.

Shopping List

Cost of 21 items. £18.33

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Spaghetti (500g) 25p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 30p
1x Great Scot Red Split Lentils (500g) £1.10

Frozen
1x ASDA Chopped Spinach Leaves (1Kg) £1.00
1x ASDA Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.00

Tins, Jars and Cooking
5x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) 38p
2x ASDA Chilli Beans (290g) 68p
1x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 70p

Dairy and Eggs
1x ASDA Crème Fraîche (300ml) £1.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g) £2.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Unsmoked Middle Bacon (350g) £1.68

Fruit and Vegetables
5 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) 8p
5 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 7.6p
3 ASDA Swede by Weight (100g) 8.5p
1x ASDA Baking Potatoes (4) 60p
1x ASDA Celery 83p
1x ASDA Trimmed Leeks (500g) £1.00
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 30p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.47

Bakery
1x ASDA Cheese Topped Baguette 40p

So what do you think? Do you like both Meal Plans, will you try any of the meals or entire Meal Plans?  Do you think that supermarket produced Meal Plans are helpful and a good idea? Let me know!

Monday, 23 January 2012

McCain Ready Baked Jacket Potatoes - Review


Last week I was sent some McCain Ready Baked Jacket Potatoes to review.  According to McCain "The Ready Baked Jacket is bought part-baked and drizzled in sunflower oil and it is these two elements that give it the texture of a traditional spud in the oven."

Erm, OK then!  Being rather curious to taste these new fangled baked spuds I jumped at the chance to try some for free.  They were sent to me in a special 'keep things frozen' box with some cute microwave oven mits and loads of recipes I could try if I wanted to.

However, I wanted to taste the spud without faffing about and disguising the flavour so I could tell exactly what it was really like.

The McCain Ready Baked Jacket Potatoes come in a 2 pack for £1.29 or a 4 pack for £1.99. Not particularly cheap, you could get 2.5kg of baking potatoes from the supermarket for £1 on offer last week.

They're easy to prepare, you just take them out of the freezer, liberate them from the packaging and microwave them.  It took 7 minutes for 2 potatoes cooked at the same time.

The potatoes are already cut slightly so I just cut them a little deeper and tucked in.  I ended up adding a sprinkling of cheese after the first couple of bites because my spud just wasn't the same without it. LOL

So what did hubby and I think of them?  Well, they tasted fab and fluffy on the inside - pretty good but not quite as delicious as totally oven cooked jacket potatoes.  However the skin was floppy, not crisp and not that great at all to be honest.  The potato skin had the colour of an oven baked jacket potato but I was disappointed there was no crispy skin and not quite the depth of flavour that oven baked spuds have. 

I quite often make my own convenient baked potatoes by baking them in advance, freezing them and then whipping them out to microwave when we need them.  I'm sure some people will buy them who want a quick dinner or lunch on the run but probably won't be us buying them.

Overall Verdict:

McCain have produced a fairly decent microwave baked spud but the skin lets it down.  The skin was softer and saggier than a traditionally baked potato and consequently didn’t have the depth of flavour you get when a baked potato is fresh from the oven.

The inside of the spud was lovely but they are expensive and I can't say that I would buy them for our family.  They're expensive for what they are and I can't bear not having a crispy skin on my baked potatoes.  However, if you’re stuck at home or work, with minutes to spare and only a microwave to hand, they’re worth a try.  Much better than some of the dire, cremated and tasteless baked potatoes that I have had the misfortune to purchase from High Street chains cafes. 

Here's one of the recipes I was sent with the McCain Ready Baked Jacket Potatoes:


Cheesy Stuffed McCain Ready Baked Jackets with Ham

Serves: 2

Preparation and cooking time: 10 minutes or less

2 McCain Ready Baked Jacket Potatoes

3 or 4 spring onions, sliced

75g cooked ham, diced

50g grated mature Cheddar

50g soft cheese

Follow the instructions on the pack to cook the McCain Ready Baked Jackets. Then cut in half and allow to cool.

Scoop the flesh from the cooked potato and mix with the ham, cheese and spring onions. Use the mixture to refill the potato skins then you could grill the four halves until golden and crisp. Serve with side salad.

Tip: This is a great recipe for using up leftover cheese, so experiment with your favourites. Blue cheese or Parmesan are great options.


I was sent, for the purposes of this review, a frozen delivery of the McCain Jacket Potatoes which retail at £1.29 for a twin pack and £1.99 for a 4 pack.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Hotel Chocolat Valentines Giveaway! - Now Closed

Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching (Tuesday 14th February) and Hotel Chocolat have a fantastic range of  Valentines Day Gifts that can be ordered online and delivered to your Valentine's door.  Who said being romantic was difficult!

I was sent The Be Mine Collection to try and OMGness the chocolates were divine! My husband is a chocaholic and he taste tested the contents of the box, occasionally sharing some with me.  I don't blame him for scoffing most of them though, the chocolates are very hard to resist.  The contents of the Hamper were so delicious that there are barely enough polite words for how good they tasted.

In the interests of spreading some love, and chocolate, about for Valentines Day I requested another Be Mine Collection, worth £30 to giveaway to my fab blog readers.

According to the Hotel Chocolat website, the Be Mine Collection contains " the smoochiest chocolate goodies specially chosen for the dreamiest night in – with mellow vanilla truffles, engraved chocolate sweetheart, creamy raspberry chocolate slab, melt-away caramel buttons and more."

Photo courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

The contents of the hamper are: A 70% Dark Chocolate Heart, A box of 6 Praline Hearts, 6 Vanilla Truffles, A Raspberry Riot 100g Slab, A bag of Caramel Chocolate Buttons, A Milk Chocolate Heart Lick.

To enter, leave a comment telling me which item from the Hotel Chocolat Valentines Range you would most like to receive this year, and why - please paste a link to the product in your comment.

For a second chance to win please tweet this post using the tweet button below and comment telling me you have done so and your twitter username.

This giveaway is open to all readers over 18 with a UK mailing address. The winner will be chosen using an online randomiser and announced in a subsequent blog post. You need to leave either an e-mail address or twitter name in your comment so that I can contact you if you're the lucky winner.

Competition will close at 10pm on Monday 6th February 2012. Winner will be notified on Tuesday 7th February 2012.  Should the winner fail to reply to notifications that they have won within 3 days, the giveaway shall be redrawn using an online randomiser.

Very best of luck everyone!

Our Family Meal Plan for This Week - 23/01

This is the Meal Plan my family will be following this week. It cost £62.30 from Asda online today, and I used My Supermarket to check which supermarket was the cheapest to purchase my trolley of groceries from.  The same trolley of groceries would've cost £72.97 at Tesco and £73.80 at Sainsburys.

As always, I bake all our bread and rolls myself so have included the cost of flour and yeast instead of premade loaves of bread and bread rolls. This plan will feed my family of 5, all our meals, for an entire week. My 11yo eats the same portion size my husband, despite being reed thin, so the plan could be for 3 adults and 2 children - or 2 adults and 2 older children.

I am not a nutritionist or dietitian so see a professional if you want a calorie controlled, super nutritious Meal Plan suitable for specific dietary needs.  I'm a Mum and wife who uses Meal Plans to try and manage our grocery spending whilst giving my family decent quality, tasty, and healthy food - with the occasional homemade treat. 

Dinners

Vegetable Pasta Bake – Meatfree Monday

This recipe is cheap, filling and tasty. Just what you need when feeding a crowd. I usually serve it with a side salad or some steamed greens. I add a handful of frozen peas and sweetcorn or mixed vegetables to up the amount of vegetables, you could add some wilted spinach if you wanted to.

500g bag pasta

50g butter, plus a little extra

1 pepper, diced

200g small mushrooms, halved or larger mushrooms sliced

small bunch spring onions, finely sliced

50g plain flour

500ml milk

1 large handful of frozen sweetcorn

1 large handful of frozen peas

150g mature cheddar, grated

Cook the pasta according to pack instructions, or al dente to your liking. Drain the pasta well. Heat up your oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6, and then melt a little butter in a large saucepan. Fry the mushrooms and pepper for a couple of minutes, then scoop out and set aside. Use some paper towel to wipe out the pan.

Melt the remaining butter in the pan, stir in the flour for a minute or two, and then gradually stir in the milk until you have a lump-free sauce. Increase the heat and bubble the sauce, stirring for a few minutes to thicken. Turn off the heat, stir in the sweetcorn, peas and most of the cheese, then season to taste.

Tip the pasta, pepper and mushrooms into a large ovenproof dish, then pour over the sauce and mix well in the dish. Scatter over the remaining cheese and spring onions, then bake for 10 - 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown on top.


Salmon and Rice Bake

1 onion, diced

400g can chopped tomatoes

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 pepper, diced

1 1/2 cups long grain rice

500ml cups water

1 handful or two of frozen sweetcorn or peas

1 large tin of salmon, I used approx 400g tin

Preheat oven to 180°C. Chop the onion and pepper.

Put the onion, pepper, chopped tomatoes, mixed herbs, frozen vegetables, water and rice into an ovenproof baking dish and stir well to thoroughly combine. Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 40-45 minutes, until the rice is cooked.

Use a fork to fluff up the rice, season to taste, then stir through the salmon and drained tin of corn. Let stand for 5 minutes or so to heat through. Serve.


Slow Cooker Beef Casserole – Wednesday and Thursday

This is a fab, low faff warming stew that is cooked in a slow cooker. It makes enough to serve us 5 generously for 2 nights. Great for nights when I need a dinner that is guaranteed to be eaten without fuss. This casserole is perfect for that. It tastes even better the second night. Sometimes I freeze the other portion but more often than not I just serve it the next night with different vegetables on the side.  You can add other chopped root vegetables to the casseroles if you want, such as potatoes, parsnip. pumpkin, sweet potato, etc.

1kg beef braising/stewing steak cut into chunks

1 tsp ground ginger

1 onion, sliced

2 sticks of celery, finely sliced

2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

2 x 400g cans of kidney beans, drained and well rinsed

2 peppers, roughly diced (any colour will do)

3 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks

2 bay leaves

2 Tblsp brown sugar

2 Tblsp red wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce

If you have time, brown the meat in a non-stick pan, use a little oil if necessary.

Put the beef and everything else in the slow cooker. Stir well and cook for 7-8 hours on low, or 4 hours on high. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. If the casserole needs thickening, stir 2 Tbsp cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 Tbsp water into it. Serve with mash and greens or mixed vegetables.



Quick Vegetable Curry - Friday

Cooked rice, to serve

1 Tblsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 pepper, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground turmeric

300g pumpkin or butternut squash, cut into 1 inch dice

2 large potatoes, peeled and diced (same size as the pumpkin)

400g can chopped tomatoes

400g can lentils, drained

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Soften the onion and pepper in the oil and then add the garlic, cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cumin and turmeric, cook them for about a minute or until they are fragrant. Add the pumpkin, potatoes and chopped tomatoes to the pan and mix everything together well. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes then add the lentils and cook for a further 5 minutes until the pumpkin and potato are cooked. Serve with rice.


Roast Chicken and Vegetables - Saturday

I prefer to buy free range chicken, it is more expensive but I make it stretch to at least a couple of meals so it’s worth getting a decent chook. Roast chicken with roast potatoes, sweet potatoes and pumpkin with mixed vegetables on the side. Cook a few extra roast vegetables for Sunday lunch frittata.  I usually also make use of the chicken bones to make my own stock for soup or risotto.


Sweet and Sour Chicken and Vegetables – Sunday

1-2 tbsp oil

400g leftover roast chicken

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

500g sliced fresh vegetables (celery, peppers, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms)

1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup vinegar (rice-wine vinegar or malt vinegar)

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp cornflour mixed to a paste with 2 Tbsp water.

Freshly ground black pepper.

Heat oil in a wok or large heavy frying pan and stir fry the ginger for a minute before adding the vegetables and water to help steam and cook them.

When the vegetables have almost cooked to your liking, add the brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce and chicken to the pan. Simmer gently to warm through. Thicken the sauce with the cornflour and water mixture if necessary. Season to taste and serve on rice or noodles. This week we’re having it with rice.


Lunches

As usual lunches for adults will be leftovers or the same as what the children are having. Packed lunches will have an apple and either a pear or satsuma and a small portion of flavoured yoghurt with whatever else is for lunch that day.  I will also put in a muffin or a couple of Anzac biscuits as a treat.


Super Quick Couscous and Chickpea Salad for Lunchboxes

This is a fab salad to put in lunchboxes and can even be made in the morning before rushing off to work. It's also a quick fix salad if you're having a BBQ or picnic. You could add tinned tuna or salmon, leftover cooked chicken or ham if you want it to be more substantial.  It's a great midweek dinner side dish if we're having sausages (meat or vegetable) or grilled fish. This salad will be made twice this week and will feed all 5 of us for those days packed lunches.

3/4 cup couscous

3/4 cup boiling water

1 tin of chickpeas, well drained

juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 Tblsp olive oil

2 cups salad greens or lettuce (roughly 2 large handfuls)

2 Tblsp mixed seeds and chopped dried fruit (apricots, dates, raisins)

Pour the boiling water over the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate or clingfilm and set aside for 5 minutes while you chop up the other ingredients and open the tin of chickpeas.

After 5 minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork, add all the other ingredients and toss well to thoroughly combine. That's all there is to it! Pack it into lunchbox containers, refrigerate until needed or serve immediately.

I’ll also be making a batch of these for the rest of our lunches for the week:


Calzone

You can use whatever filling you like with these versatile bread parcels, just make sure the filling isn't too wet. Leftover Bolognese or casserole/stew from dinner also works well if the sauce is nice and thick.  They're great for using up lefover cooked vegetables too, just mix with some diluted tomato paste, a crushed clove of garlic and some grated cheese.  I usually double or treble this mixture depending on how many hungry mouths there are to feed.

7g sachet instant dried yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon caster sugar

3/4 cup warm water

2 cups plain flour

2 tsp dried mixed herbs (optional)

2 1/2 Tblsp olive oil

250g thinly-sliced ham (optional)

1 onion, finely diced

1 pepper, finely diced

200g mushrooms, sliced

100g cheddar cheese, grated

1 small bunch spinach, shredded

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons salt

Combine yeast, salt, sugar and warm water in a jug. Stir with a fork to mix it well. Cover with clingfilm and set it aside in a warm place for 5 minutes or until bubbles form on surface. Sift flour into a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, the dried mixed herbs and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix it all together to form a soft dough.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover it with clingfilm. Set aside in a warm place until doubled in size.

I do the mixing, kneading and proving in my stand mixer. It's loads quicker and I can get on with other things whilst it does the job for me.

Preheat your oven to 220°C. Brush a large baking tray with the remaining oil. Knock the dough back and then knead it gently on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 4 pieces. Knead each piece into a ball and then roll out each ball into a 10 inch (25cm diameter) circle.

Arrange a some of the filling over half of each round, leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) border around the edge. Brush the edge with water. Fold the dough over to enclose the filling and firmly press the edges together to seal each round.

Put the calzones on the oiled baking tray. Brush the tops with egg which gives them a nice glazed top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if you want to. Bake the calzone for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve hot or cold.


Vegetable Fritters with homemade salsa – Saturday Lunch

The “Whatever You've Got” Fritter Recipe

This is one of my favourite basic recipes for lunch, after school snacks or a super quick dinner served with salad. You can make the fritters either sweet or savoury using "whatever" is available. We’ll be having corn fritters with homemade tomato salsa and salad.

1 cup “whatever” filling you like (banana, diced apple, sweetcorn, grated vegetables, leftover ham - not all together!)

1 cup plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 egg, lightly beaten

about 200ml milk

Sift the dry ingredients in to a bowl then add egg and enough milk to make a smooth batter. Stir in 'whatever' filling you like.

Brown in a pan with sizzling butter. Banana or apple fritters are great for a breakfast treat. Savoury fritters can be served a salad for lunch or dinner.


Leftover Roast Vegetable Frittata – Sunday Lunch

1 pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

8 eggs

1 handful frozen peas

1 handful frozen sweetcorn

1 or 2 cups leftover roast vegetables, chopped

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas 6.

Put a 25cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan on the hob over a moderate heat. Add a little oil to the pan and sauté the onion and pepper until softened.

Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and the softened onion and pepper. Carefully fold in the leftover roast vegetables and frozen vegetables. Pour the frittata mixture back into the frying pan and cook over a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until it has cooked through and is set. Serve with salad.


Breakfasts

Weekday breakfasts will either be porridge with chopped banana or toast with spread (jam, honey, peanut butter) and a banana.

Lovely Crumpets (A Fab Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Recipe) - Sunday Breakfast

This is the recipe that I always use to make crumpets. The recipe is so easy to whip up on a weekend morning and never fails to deliver a delicious, wholesome and comforting breakfast.

You can find this recipe and other fab Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipes for breakfast treats from an article in the Guardian here.

450g plain white flour

350ml warm milk

350ml warm water (approximately)

5g powdered dried yeast

10g salt

1 tsp baking powder

A little sunflower or vegetable oil

In a bowl, whisk the flour, milk, water and yeast into a rather runny batter the consistency of single cream. Cover with cling-film and leave for an hour until really bubbly.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan or flat griddle over a medium-high heat. Whisk the salt and baking powder into the batter. Lightly grease the crumpet rings and pan. Put one ring in the pan, fill to just below the top – the batter should stay in the ring and lots of holes should appear on the surface after a minute or two. (If it dribbles out underneath, it is too thin, so whisk a little more flour into your batter mix. If lots of holes don't form, it's too thick, so whisk in some water.)

Assuming your test crumpet is OK, after five minutes or so, when the surface is just set, flip it over, ring and all. (If the cooked base seems too dark, turn down the heat.) Cook for two to three minutes, until golden on the other side. Repeat with the remaining batter in batches. Butter and eat at once, or cool on a wire rack for toasting later.

A pikelet variation: If you don't have rings, whisk an extra 50g flour into the batter, to stiffen it, dollop spoonfuls into a greased, warmed pan and cook for a couple of minutes a side.


Pikelets/Pancakes

300g self raising flour

2 eggs

50g sugar

375ml milk

Mix all the ingredients together well and then cook ladlefuls of mixture in a greased frying pan over a moderate heat. Serve with chopped bananas and drizzle with golden syrup, spread with jam or brushed with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar.


Treats

Lemon Muffins

These usually get eaten in no time at all so I normally make a double batch.  They're fab for cake stalls, shared morning teas, a treat with a cuppa or in lunchboxes.  You can leave off the topping if you want but it makes the muffins taste even better, like mini lemon drizzle cakes.
2 cups self raising flour

¾ cup sugar

75g butter

250ml milk

1 egg

zest of 1 large or 2 small lemons

Topping:

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 200C

Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl. Melt the butter, add the milk, egg and lemon zest. Beat well to combine, Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients. Mix gently but thoroughly and divide evenly between lined muffin tins. Bake at 2000C for 10 minutes. Check the muffins are cooked, if not put them back in the oven for a couple of minutes more.

As soon as the muffins are out of the oven, mix together the topping ingredients and spoon over the muffins whilst they are still hot. Leave in the muffin tins for 5 minutes or so, then remove them to cool on a rack.


 Anzac Biscuits

My girls love these biscuits and I've been making them since I was a child.  My 8yo can whip up a batch by herself, although I do watch her carefully around the hot oven.  They are great with a cuppa and a good energy boosting snack in lunchboxes or after school for both adults and children.

1 cup flour

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup rolled oats

125g butter

1 Tblsp golden syrup

1 tsp baking soda

2 Tblsp boiling water

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line 2 baking trays with non stick baking paper.

Put the flour, pinch of salt, sugar, and rolled oats into a bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Make a well in the dry ingredients.

Melt the butter and golden syrup together in a saucepan. Once the butter has melted and is well combined with the golden syrup, dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water then quickly add to the melted butter mixture. Pour it all into the well you made in the dry ingredients. Mix everything together until well combined.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and put onto the prepared trays, leave room for the biscuits to spread. Flatten them with a floured fork.

Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until the biscuits have flattened out and have become a reddish-brown colour.

Carefully transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool. They will crisp up as they cool. Once the biscuits are cold, store them in an airtight container.



Shopping List

44 items. £62.30

Packets and Cereals
2x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 92p
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g) 25p
1x ASDA Wholefoods Cous Cous (500g) 68p
1x ASDA East Bake Yeast (42g) 64p
1x ASDA Wholefoods Bread Brown Flour (1.5Kg) £1.10

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x ASDA Wild Pacific Pink Salmon (418g) £1.57
3x Napolina Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g) 50p was £1.00
1x ASDA Naturally Sweet Sweetcorn in Water (326g) 43p
2x ASDA Smartprice Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g) 24p
2x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 70p
1x ASDA Green Lentils in Water (400g) 47p

Dairy and Eggs
6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £1.18 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15) £2.00 was £2.50
1x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £2.00 was £2.48
2x ASDA Low Fat Toffee Yogurt (450g) 50p
2x ASDA Strawberry and Wholegrain Yogurt Fat Free (450g) 50p

Meat, Fish and Poultry
3 ASDA Deli Carved Ham by Weight (100g) 75p
2x ASDA British Diced Beef Casserole (505g) £4.00 any 2 FOR £7.00
18 ASDA Free Range Whole Chicken by Weight (100g) 45.8p

Fruit and Vegetables
1 ASDA Ginger by Weight (100g) 21.1p
1x ASDA Conference Pears (800g) £1.00
1x ASDA Baby Spinach (180g) £1.00
15 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) 10p
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) 6.8p
3 ASDA White Cabbage by Weight (100g) 8.9p
10 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) 8p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.35
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £1.35 any 2 FOR £2.00
5 ASDA Tomatoes by Weight (100g) 19.9p
7 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) 9.7p
6 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) 11.1p
2x ASDA Round Lettuce 57p
1x ASDA Celery 83p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.47
1x ASDA Spring Onions 70p
1x ASDA Fruit & Seed Mix (100g) 67p
1x ASDA Unwaxed Lemons (5) £1.37 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Great Stuff Satsumas (500g) £1.20 any 2 FOR £2.00

Frozen
1x ASDA Smartprice Sweetcorn (907g) 94p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peas (907g) 85p

Friday, 20 January 2012

Dumplings in Syrup

In our house we love a good pud. This one is an occasional treat because it is isn't a particularly healthy dessert.  Everything in moderation though! LOL My Nan used to make this for me when I was a girl so it always reminds me of her when I make it.  It's cheap to make and filling too.  You don't have to serve this with bananas, you could use drained tinned fruit or cooked apple slices.  You could double the recipe and serve it without fruit, whatever suits you.  

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour

2 Tblsp caster sugar

2 Tblsp butter

1 free range egg

about 6 Tblsp milk

1 or 2 bananas, sliced

Sauce

1 1/2 cups water

6 Tblsp honey or golden syrup

1 Tblsp butter

1 Tblsp brown sugar

Sift the flour and caster sugar into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.  Make a well in the middle and then add the beaten egg and milk.  Mix quickly to form a dough.

Put a large saucepan onto a moderate heat and put all the sauce ingredients in to it.  Bring everything to the boil.

Make 10 dumplings out of the dough and put them into the boiling syrup.  Cover with the saucepan lid, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes without lifting the lid off.

Serve with chopped banana and cream or yoghurt.


Thursday, 19 January 2012

Anchor Butter is bringing back Elevenses! - Giveaway Now Closed


Elevenses seems to have been forgotten and been lost in the general rushing around that is a fact of life for most of us.  Anchor want to inspire people who feel the need to have a nice little sit, with a cup of tea and a snack, at around 11 o’clock.

I find that a biscuit or two, or perhaps a little slice of cake at this time of day is just what’s needed to recharge and round off the morning nicely.

Anchor want people to embrace this mid morning snack, in all its glory and want you to join them! To help bring Elevenses back Anchor would like to offer all the readers of Utterly Scrummy Food For Families the chance to win a full set of Anchor memorabilia! That’s a butter dish, a pair of egg cups, a cake stand, a cake tin, a tea towel, an apron and a toy van!


To enter all you have to do is leave a comment below to tell Anchor and I what your favourite elevenses snack is.  Please leave your email address or twitter name in your comment so I can contact you if you win.

For a bonus entry you can tweet "I want to bring back #Elevenses and win goodies with @Anchor_dairy and @utterlyscrummy http://bit.ly/AevdsW."  Remember to leave a second comment if you tweet the giveaway otherwise your extra entry won’t be counted. The competition closes at 10pm on 18 January 2012 and the winner will be notified on 19th January.

In the meantime, why not hop over to Anchor’s Facebook and Twitter for a chat about all things cake and Elevenses.

To help inspire you to bake some treats for Elevenses you can check out these posts on my blog that are my favourite Elevenses treats:

Quick and Easy Banana Cake

Gingernuts

Lemon Drizzle Cake or Plain Sponge Loaf

Quick and Easy Chocolate Loaf

Peanut Butter and Choc Chip Biscuits

These biscuits are SO easy to make and contain no flour so may be suitable for Coeliacs, check the peanut butter to make sure there's no wheat or gluten in it.  These are my favourite emergency biscuit when there is little time to whip up something delicious but I NEED something tasty with a cuppa. *Wipes crumbs from chin* These disappear in seconds whenever I take them to coffee mornings or on the school run.  Make sure there is nobody with a nut allergy about though when you are enjoying these, keep everyone safe.

1 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Beat the peanut butter and sugar together in a bowl. Mix in the beaten egg thoroughly, then mix in the chocolate chips. The mixture will be quite stiff.  I usually use my hand held electric mixer.

Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and put on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Flatten firmly with a fork.

Bake at 180C for 15-18 minutes until the biscuits are cooked and lightly browned. Transfer to a cake rack to cool and then keep in an airtight container.

THE WINNER OF THE GIVEAWAY WAS DRAWN USING A RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR:


The 11th comment was made my Clare Trevor, congratulations!

I shall be in touch so the PR can send you your prize.

Thank you to all those who entered the giveaway.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Slow Cooker Pea and Ham Soup

I love this soup, it's really cheap to make and a really tasty Winter warmer when the weather outside is really cold.  It's great for lunches or dinner and so easy to prepare in the slow cooker.

1 large ham or bacon hock

1 large onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 carrots, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

3 bay leaves

500g yellow or green split peas

1.5 litres water

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker, add the water last.  Put the lid on and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8-10 hours, until the peas are very soft and the ham falls off the bone. Take the ham bone out of the slow cooker.  Take any remaining meat and fat and fat off the bone. Throw away that fat, roughly chop the ham and put it back in to the soup.  
 
Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.



Saturday, 14 January 2012

Our Family Weekly Meal Plan - 16/01

This is the Meal Plan that my family will be following this week. It cost £61.49 from Asda online today, and I used My Supermarket to check which supermarket was the cheapest to purchase my trolley of groceries from. The same trolley of groceries would've cost £71.31 at Tesco and £77.78 at Sainsburys.


I bake all our bread and rolls myself so have included the cost of flour and yeast instead of premade loaves of bread and bread rolls.  This plan will feed my family of 5, all our meals, for an entire week.  My 11yo eats the same portion size my husband, despite being reed thin, so the plan could be for 3 adults and 2 children - or 2 adults and 2 older children.


Simmered Mince Many Ways – Cook this Sunday Afternoon

This is my basic simmered mince recipe that I can transform into loads of different meals and can feed us well for several dinners and a lunch or two. It makes 1kg of mince stretch a long way and is great if you are counting pennies after an expensive Christmas or are starting to use Meal Plans to cut your household spending.

3 Tbsp oil

3 onions, finely chopped

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped into smallish chunks

3 celery sticks, finely sliced

2 peppers, chopped into smallish chunks

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 kg beef mince

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1 Tblsp Worcestershire sauce

3 beef stock cubes dissolved in 1 litre of boiling water

Heat half of the oil in a large pan over a high heat. Add the onions, garlic, herbs, carrot, celery and pepper. Sweat until softened. Put into your slow cooker. If you're not using a slow cooker, just take the pan off the heat and set it aside.

Brown the mince in a large pan over a medium heat, about a third at a time. Fry until there are no pink bits left. Don't brown all the mince at once or you will crowd the pan and it will take longer to brown. Put the browned mince in your slow cooker. If you aren't using a slow cooker, add the vegetables you sweated off earlier to the mince at this point.

Add the tinned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and stock to the mince and vegetable mixture, either in your slow cooker or in a large saucepan on the hob, mix until well combined.

Either simmer uncovered on the hob for one hour until the volume of liquid has reduced slightly and the sauce has thickened or cook in your slow cooker for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. You can thicken the sauce with a little cornflour mixed with cold water then stirred into the sauce.

Dinners

Cottage Pie - Monday

Spoon about a third of the above mince mixture into a baking dish, top with about 750g mashed potato and bake at 190C/375F/Gas 5 for 30 minutes, until bubbling and golden-brown on top. Serve with mixed vegetables or peas.


Chilli Con Carne - Tuesday

Use 1/3 of the simmered mince mixture and stir a tin of kidney beans in chilli sauce, or a tin of kidney beans and enough chilli powder to suit your taste, into a third of the mince mixture and warm through. Serve with rice or tortillas topped with little soured cream.


Spaghetti Bolognese - Wednesday

1 pack bacon lardons or 4 rashers finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

300ml red wine

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

1 beef stock cube

300ml boiling water

1/3 batch of simmered mince (recipe above)

500g dried spaghetti

Heat a saucepan and add the lardons, let the fat run out and then sauté the garlic for a couple of minutes. Drain off as much oil as you can and then add the red wine. Boil the wine until it has reduced to about 2 Tblsp of liquid and then add the tinned tomatoes, braised mince and stock.

Simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour or until the mince has thickened to Bolognese sauce consistency. Whilst the mince is thickening, cook your spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack. Check the mince mixture for seasoning then serve over cooked spaghetti. Top with grated parmesan if you want.


Bacon and Vegetable Bake – Thursday

350g (6 slices) thickly sliced bread, crusts removed

4 bacon rashers, chopped

120g grated cheddar cheese

2 peppers, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

handful or two of frozen mixed vegetables

6 large free range eggs

500ml milk

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce or dried mixed herbs

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Cut the bread into cubes. Put the bread in a 1.5-litre/6-cup capacity oven-proof dish.

Add the bacon and onion to a non-stick frying pan and cook, stirring it around, until the onion has softened and the bacon has browned. Drain the bacon on absorbent paper. Sprinkle the cheese, bacon and pepper over the bread in the ovenproof dish then sprinkle over the frozen mixed vegetables.

Whisk the eggs in a large jug with a fork until well combined. Add the milk and Worcestershire sauce or dried mixed herbs, then season with salt and pepper before whisking everything again until well combined. Pour over bread mixture in the dish.

Bake for about 35 minutes or until the egg looks set. Serve with a salad.


Hotdogs and Salad – Friday

Cook 5 good quality pork sausages and serve each sausage into a wholemeal bun topped with homemade tomato salsa accompanied by a side salad.


Vegetable Frittata - Saturday

1 pepper, diced

2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

10 eggs

300g frozen mixed vegetables

500g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/ gas 6.

Simmer the potatoes and pumpkin in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and leave to cool slightly before slicing thinly.

Meanwhile, put a 25cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan on the hob over a moderate heat. Sauté the onion, pepper and garlic in a little oil for about 5 minutes until the onion and pepper has softened.

Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl and the softened onion, pepper and garlic. Carefully fold in the potatoes, pumpkin and frozen mixed vegetables. Pour the frittata mixture back into the frying pan and cook over a low-medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until it has cooked through and is set.


Sausage and Lentil Bake - Sunday

5 good quality pork sausages

2 celery sticks, cut into small chunks

4 carrots, peeled cut into small chunks

1 onion, cut into wedges

1 pepper, deseeded sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 vegetable stock cube

500ml boiling water

1 tsp Dijon mustard

410g tin green lentils, drained & rinsed

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas Mark 6. Put the sausages in an ovenproof baking dish. Bake for 10 minutes before adding all the vegetables and garlic. Return to the oven to cook for 10 minutes.

Mix the stock cube with the boiling water and mustard then pour over the sausages and vegetables along with the lentils. Stir everything together. Cover with foil and cook for 20 minutes, taking the foil off for the final 10 minutes. Serve with mixed vegetables.


Lunches

Weekday lunches will be egg, sweetcorn and mayo sandwiches or falafel with herb and yoghurt dip. All packed lunches will have an apple, carrot and cucumber sticks and a cookie/flapjack in them. Adults will have leftovers of previous nights dinner or same packed lunch as children.


Easy Mini Falafel with Yoghurt Dip

I was given this recipe by one of the of the Mums at school and it's now a firm favourite in our house. The falafel can be eaten as a lunch in a wrap with salad, taken on a picnic or served as a weeknight dinner with couscous and salad leaves. The falafels are also freezable for up to 6 months in an airtight container. Great for make-ahead lunchbox treats or emergency dinners.

2 (400g) tins of chick peas

1 large onion, very finely chopped or grated

3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

4-6 Tblsp plain flour

Salt and pepper

Oil for frying

Put the chickpeas in a bowl with the very finely chopped onion, crushed garlic gloves, cumin, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Use a potato masher or pestle and mortar to lightly mash the mixture until it begins to stick together. You can quickly pulse it in a food processor but don't be too over enthusiastic, you don't want a mushy puree.

Take walnut-sized blobs of mixture and and shape them into small flat rounds about 1/2 and inch thick. Roll the falafel in the flour ensuring they are well coated. Chill them for 15-30 minutes, this makes them much easier to work with. Heat some oil, about 1 inch deep, in a frying pan. When it's hot add a few falafels and cook over a medium heat for about 5-6 minutes, turning them frequently. Carefully take them out of the oil and drain well on kitchen paper.

To use the falafels from frozen: Put them on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper and warm in the oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for about 10 minutes or until piping hot.

Serve with a dip and crudités, in a wrap with salad leaves, or as a dinner/lunch with couscous salad.

Yoghurt and Herb Dip

150ml natural yoghurt

2 Tblsp mayonnaise

2 Tblsp chopped fresh mint or flat leaf parsley leaves

Pinch of salt

Put the yoghurt, mayonnaise in a bowl and whisk together well with a fork. Add the chopped fresh mint or parsley. Mix together well and, if you think it needs it, add a pinch of salt.

Cover the dip with clingfilm and leave in it the fridge for at least 1 hour to allow the flavours to mingle before you serve it.


Savoury Bacon and Cabbage Swirls - Saturday

These are quick and easy to make, perfect for an easy weekend lunch or after school snack.

Make up a basic scone recipe:

3 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper

25g butter

About 1 cup/250ml milk

1 Tblsp chopped fresh coriander

Sift dry ingredients together then rub in butter.  Mix in chopped coriander and enough milk to make a  soft dough. Knead onto a lightly floured board and roll out to about 1cm deep. Cover and set aside.

Filling:

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 Tblsp freshly chopped parsley and coriander

Olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cups finely sliced green cabbage

4 rashers of bacon finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 230C

Heat a little oil in a large frying pan.  fry the onion until it begins to soften before adding the chopped bacon, coriander seeds, salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.  Then add the finely chopped cabbage and fresh coriander to the pan.  Fry until soft.  You might need to add a little water to keep the filling it moist as it cooks in the pan. The filling should take around 5 minutes to cook. Once cooked make sure it is drained really well.

Spread the cabbage mix filling on top of the scone dough, and then roll up to form a log. Use a sharp knife to cut into 2cm wide slice. Put the slices cut side up onto a baking paper lined tray and bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown and well risen.

Serve hot with home made onion marmalade or tomato chutney


Twice Baked Potatoes – Sunday

Sufficient large potatoes to allow one or two halves per person, scrubbed well until clean

Milk

Butter, if you want

Selection of additions: grated cheese, leftover shredded chicken, diced ham or cooked bacon, tinned tuna, chopped spring onion or chives, corn kernels, baked beans, whatever you have available and is to your taste.

Wrap the cleaned potatoes in foil and bake at 180C for about one hour or until a skewer or knife goes in easily. Take the potatoes out of the oven and allow to cool. If necessary, you can refrigerate them until later at this point.

When you are ready to carry on with the recipe, halve the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the cooked flesh. Be careful not to puncture the skin and leave enough potato on the skin to form a bowl for the fillings.

Mash the scooped potato and add any fillings you like, then season to taste. Gently spoon the mixture back into the shells of the potatoes, piling it up generously. Sprinkle grated cheese on the top if you like.

Return the potatoes to the oven and bake at 180C for a further 30 minutes or until golden brown and well heated through.

You can serve the stuffed potatoes as a dinner with salad, on their own as a lunch, or as a side dish.


Breakfasts

Weekday breakfast will be cereal or porridge with a sliced banana. Weekend breakfasts are as follows:

Savoury Eggy Bread – Saturday

5 Eggs


5 Tbsp Milk 


Pinch of cinnamon


1-2 Tblsp Butter

10 - 12 thick slices of bread

Pinch of salt and grind of pepper

Mix 5 eggs and 5 tablespoons of milk in a bowl with a pinch salt and a grind of pepper until well combined.

Cut 10 - 12 thick slices of bread, you can then cut them in half or quarters if you want to. Heat a little butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.

Dip the bread into the egg and milk mixture. Coat both sides well.

Put the coated bread into the frying pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. You should be able to cook 2 to 4 pieces at a time depending on the size of your frying pan.

Repeat with the remaining slices of bread (add a little more of the margarine if needed between batches) until they have all been cooked. Serve while they are nice and hot.


Homemade Fruit Bread - Sunday

2 tsp mixed spice

3 1/4 cups plain flour

2 tsp instant dried yeast

1/4 cup sugar

375ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water

2 cups of mixed dried fruit

1 Tblsp milk

1 Tblsp each cinnamon and sugar mixed together

Sift mixed spice and 3 cups flour into a bowl. Stir in yeast and sugar. Make a well in the centre. Add water then mix to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Add remaining flour. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. I use my stand mixer to knead my bread if I'm not in the mood to knead it by hand.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. I leave my dough in the stand mixer, with the plastic shield on it the dough proves quite happily. Grease a 6cm-deep, 9cm x 19cm loaf tin.

Using your fist, punch the dough down. Knead until smooth. I just knead a little in my stand mixer. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface. Gradually knead in the dried fruit. Again, I just use my stand mixer. Shape then put in to the prepared loaf tin. Cover with lightly greased cling film and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes or until the dough rises to the top of the tin.

Meanwhile, your preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. Once the dough has risen, brush the top of it with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 170°C/150°C fan-forced. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when tapped on top. Stand in tin for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Serve with butter and jam.


Snacks and Treats

Flapjacks

225g butter

170g sugar

340g porridge oats

3 Tbsp golden syrup

100g sultanas or mixed fruit

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 28cm x 18cm x 3cm or 11in x 7in x 1.2in baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Gently heat the butter and golden syrup in a large saucepan on the hob until the butter has melted, stir well to mix. Don't let it boil!

Once the butter has melted take the saucepan off the heat and add the oats, sugar, sultanas and pinch of salt. Thorough mix everything until well combined and the oats are completely covered by the butter mixture.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth evenly into the corners. Bake in the oven for approximatly 15minutes, turn the tin around and bake for another 5 minutes until golden brown.

Once cooked remove the baking tray from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. With a bread and butter knife lightly mark out about 16 pieces before the flapjack completely sets. Cut up into pieces when completely cold.


Peanut Butter and Choc Chip Biscuits (I'll make 2 batches)

1 cup peanut butter

3/4 cup caster sugar

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup chocolate chips

Beat the peanut butter and sugar together in a bowl. Mix in the beaten egg thoroughly, then mix in the chocolate chips. The mixture will be quite stiff. I usually use my hand held electric mixer.

Roll tablespoonfuls into balls and put on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Flatten firmly with a fork.

Bake at 180C for 15-18 minutes until the biscuits are cooked and lightly browned. Transfer to a cake rack to cool and then keep in an airtight container.


Rice Pudding (Lunchbox treat, afterschool snack or pudding)

600ml milk

65g long grain white rice

pinch of salt

50g white sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

50g sultanas or mixed fruit (optional)

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice with a pinch of salt. 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.

When the rice is tender (al dente) take the saucepan off the heat and sugar, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon. Mix well to combine. Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the sultanas if you are using them. 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. To make this into more of a Mullerice type treat add some jam or golden syrup to swirl through the rice pudding. You could also add dried apricots or dates instead of sultanas if you have some in your store cupboard.


Shopping List

Cost of 40 items was £61.49 from ASDA on 14/01/12.

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (500g) 61p
1x ASDA Plain Chocolate Drops (100g) 55p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg) 40p
1x ASDA East Bake Yeast (42g) 64p
2x ASDA Wholefoods Bread Brown Flour (1.5Kg) £1.10
1x Sunnybisk Wheat Biscuits (48 per pack - 864g) £1.59

Frozen
1x ASDA Freshly Frozen Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Peas (907g) 85p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
4x Napolina Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g) 50p was £1.00
3x ASDA Naturally Sweet Sweetcorn in Water (326g) 43p
1x ASDA Good for you! Mayonnaise (500ml) 79p
2x ASDA Smartprice Crunchy Peanut Butter (340g) 92p
2x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) 70p
1x ASDA Green Lentils in Water (400g) 47p
1x ASDA Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g) 42p

Dairy and Eggs
6x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £1.18 any 2 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Salted Butter (250g) £1.19
1x ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g) 55p
2x ASDA Free Range Mixed Weight Eggs (15) £2.00 was £2.50
2x ASDA English Medium Cheddar (400g) £2.00 was £2.48

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
1x ASDA Salad Tomatoes (750g) £1.57
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) 10p
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) 6.8p
3 ASDA White Cabbage by Weight (100g) 8.9p
20 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) 8p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.35
10 ASDA Onions by Weight (100g) 7.6p
5 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) 7.5p
2x ASDA Whole Cucumber 80p
3x ASDA Round Lettuce 57p
1x ASDA Celery 83p
2x ASDA Baking Potatoes (2.5Kg) £1.00
3x ASDA Garlic Loose 30p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.47

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Unsmoked Back Bacon Thick Cut (12 per pack - 530g) £4.00 any 3 FOR £10.00
1x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (10 per pack - 756g) £3.90 any 3 FOR £10.00
1x ASDA British Beef Mince (900g) £3.75 any 3 FOR £10.00