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Savvy shopping, seasonal eating and thrifty recipes. Spend less on groceries and enjoy better tasting, easy to prepare meals your friends and family will love – all on a budget.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Fresh From The Oven Round-up - Salted Caramel Focaccia

The Challenge for this month was set by Signor Biscotti and was Salted Caramel Focaccia.  Thank you so much to Euan for hosting the Challenge and thanks also to all of those who took part in the Challenge, the breads look delicious! 


© salted caramel focaccia take 1 Salted Caramel Focaccia
Tandy from Lavender and Lime

Moya from Food and Tools


Sally from My Custard Pie

Claire from Things {We} Make

Valentina


Moya

Keep a look out for the October Challenge which will be posted tomorrow, check out my Fresh From The Oven Page for details of who will be hosting the Challenge.

Scrummy Ginger and Pear Cake with Toffee Sauce using Whitworths Sugar

As I previously mentioned, I was recently sent a lovely hamper of sugars from Whitworths Sugar which sugars so that I could take part in their Baking Challenge. The new range of sugars consists of six high quality baking sugars - fine caster, superfine icing, fine demerara, crunchy demerara, light soft brown and dark soft brown sugar, all in sturdy re-sealable packs that stand up on a sturdy base to make it much easier to measure out the sugar. There is also a Twist and Sprinkle icing sugar duster with built in sieve which is brilliant for dusting a work surface when rolling out sugar paste to cover cakes or for adding a sprinkle of icing sugar to the top of cakes or bakes.  I was very excited about the Twist and Sprinkle, fab idea and so handy, saddo baking and cake decorating addict that I am.




The Baking Challenge was to bake one of the Whitworths Sugar recipes included in the pack and also bake one of my recipes using the sugar provided.  I decided to make the Whitworths Sugar recipe in the pack that used as many of the sugars as possible.  I baked a Pear and Ginger Cake with Sticky Toffee Sauce for pudding and it was delicious.



I didn't have any dates so I used prunes and used an extra pear as I had 4 that needed using up.  The cake was lovely and moist and the toffee sauce was lovely and rich without being too sweet.


Here is the recipe (reproduced with kind permission):

Scrummy Ginger and Pear Cake with Toffee Sauce

150g ready to eat dates
250ml boiling water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g WHITWORTHS FINE CASTER SUGAR
50g WHITWORTHS DARK SOFT BROWN SUGAR
125g butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp ground ginger
3 ripe pears peeled, cored, cut into 2cm pieces

Toffee Sauce
100g WHITWORTHS LIGHT SOFT BROWN SUGAR
100g butter
150ml double cream
WHITWORTHS TWIST AND SPRINKLE ICING SUGAR

Preheat oven to 180°C / Gas Mark 4. Line a round 22cm cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

Coarsely chop the dates, place in a heatproof bowl and add the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda. Set aside to cool and then coarsely mash with a fork.

Beat the WHITWORTHS FINE CASTER and WHITWORTHS DARK SOFT BROWN SUGAR and butter in a large bowl until pale and creamy.

Add the egg and continue to beat for 1 minute.

Sift the flour and cinnamon into the bowl with the date mixture and pears.

Using a large metal spoon fold until well combined.

Pour into the tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Check the cake after 50 minutes and if the top is browning too quickly, cover with a piece of foil and continue to cook.

Toffee Sauce

Place the cream, WHITWORTHS LIGHT SOFT BROWN SUGAR and remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

Serve the warm cake with a drizzle of toffee sauce and decorate with TWIST AND SPRINKLE ICING SUGAR.





I'm working with Whitworths Sugar, whose www.whitworths-sugar.co.uk site includes ideas and recipes for baking with sugar. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the #bakingS0S hash tag and @WhitworthsSugar.



**This is a Sponsored Post**



Chocolate Chip Cookies using Whitworths Sugar

I was recently sent a lovely hamper of sugars from Whitworths Sugar so that I could take part in their Baking Challenge. The new range of sugars is made up of six high quality baking sugars - fine caster, superfine icing, fine demerara, crunchy demerara, light soft brown and dark soft brown sugar, all in sturdy re-sealable packs that stand up on a sturdy base to make it much easier to measure out the sugar. There is also a Twist and Sprinkle icing sugar duster with built in sieve that dispenses a lovely dusting of icing sugar over your baked goods to add a flourish, or disguise any imperfections, on the top of cakes. ;o)


The Baking Challenge was for me to bake one of my recipes using Whitworths Sugar and also to bake a recipe chosen from the ones included in the pack I was sent.  I decided to use the sugars to bake one of my recipes first to see how they performed in a recipe I use often. 

One of the recipes I am asked to bake the most, especially for lunchbox treats and class birthday treats/parties, is my Chocolate Chip Cookies.  They are not too soft, or too crisp, and just big enough to satisfy a cookie craving without seeming greedy.

Here's the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
185g butter, melted
1 cup light soft brown sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar/granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 free range egg
1 - 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips, smarties or fudge chunks

Preheat your oven to 170C.  Line several baking trays with baking paper.  Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and make a well in the centre.  In a bowl or jug mix the melted butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined then pour into the flour and mix well.

Gently mix the chocolate chips then put spoonfuls onto the prepared trays, leave room for the cookies to spread a little.  Bake for 15 minutes then leave to cool on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.






I'm working with Whitworths Sugar, whose www.whitworths-sugar.co.uk site includes ideas and recipes for baking with sugar. Follow the conversation on Twitter with the #bakingS0S hash tag and @WhitworthsSugar.


**This is a Sponsored Post **

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tesco Real Food - Afternoon Tea Masterclass

I recently attended an Afternoon Tea Masterclass held at the gorgeous cookery school Food at 52.  I had been there before to spend the day with James Martin, as you do. LOL It is a superb venue and the owners and staff are incredibly friendly and helpful.  They are legends!

I could gladly set up residence in their kitchen, it is amazing!  John, one of the owners and our tutor for the evening, was knowledgeable, very lovely and tolerated our nattering and spoon licking exploits. Don't ask!

Great care has been taken to create a homely and relaxed environment to learn how to cook in
The gorgeous kitchen at Food at 52 (photo courtesy of Food at 52)

It was a fabulous evening and much fun was had by all.  We baked a selection of Afternoon Tea treats which were all delicious, we even managed to take some home.






Tesco Real Food have launched their Real Food Baking Challenge which is running for six weeks until 21st October. They're asking customers to upload their best baking recipe to be entered into a weekly prize draw and a grand prize draw, which includes a luxury stay and cooking class at Eckington Manor, a KitchenAid mixer, kitchen utensils, an Eric Lanlard Home Bake cookbook and Persil washing up liquid products.


Photo Courtesy of Tesco

For more information on the baking challenge, visit the competition page: http://realfood.tesco.com/recipes/customer-recipes.html


**I received a Tesco goodie bag and had my travel expenses covered for attending this event.**

Monday, 24 September 2012

Family Meal Plan For Week Of 24/09 - £62

I am relying rather heavily on my slow cooker this week as I need a week of low faff comforting dinners because the weather has turned colder and there are a few school related events that we need to attend in the evening.

Our breakfasts, with the exception of pancakes on the weekend, will be cereal with fruit for afters.  Lunches will be Savoury Swirls with crudités, fruit and yoghurt with a small baked treat for afters.

I will be baking all our own bread, wraps, etc and also some cupcakes, muffins, flapjacks and other baked treats to see us through the week.
As usual I used My Supermarket to complete my shopping and compare the cost of the items I require at the major supermarkets.  The cost of my shopping list at Asda this week was £62.24 and was delivered on 23/04.  The items on my shopping list would've cost £71.87 from Sainsbury's and £74.48 from Tesco.


Honey Mustard Chicken One Pot

1 Tblsp oil
500g diced chicken breast
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 Tblsp wholegrain mustard
1 Tblsp honey
500ml chicken stock
1 Tblsp cornflour
2 handfuls frozen mixed vegetables

Heat oil in a medium size frying pan, over high heat. Cook chicken in 2 batches, until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add garlic, sweet potato, mustard, honey and 375ml (1 ½ cups) chicken stock to pan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return chicken to pan and cook for further 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked.

In a jug or bowl, combine remaining ½ cup stock with cornflour then add to chicken with the mixed vegetables. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until sauce thickens and sweet potato is tender.


Chickpea and Pumpkin Curry

2 Tbsp dried garlic granules
2 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp brown sugar
400g can chopped tomatoes in juice
400g can coconut cream
3 cups cooked or tinned chickpeas
500g pumpkin chopped into 2cm cubes

Add the dry ingredients to the slow cooker, stir to combine.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir to combine and cook on high for 3 hours.


Sausage and Bean Hotpot

1 Tblsp olive oil
500g good quality sausages
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 peppers, diced (any colour)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
2 x 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tblsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 170°C.  Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat.  Add the sausages and brown all over, this should take about 2-3 minutes.  Remove the sausages from the pan and  set them aside.

Add the onion, carrot, peppers, celery and garlic to the casserole dish. Saute for 5 minutes or until the onion starts to soften.

Add the chopped tomatoes and stock then bring everything to the boil.  Return the sausages to the casserole dish and put the lid on. Bake in oven for 30 minutes at 170°C. Remove the casserole dish from the oven, stir through the beans then bake for another 5 minutes to warm through the beans.  Check the seasoning and then serve with crusty bread and steamed greens.


Macaroni Cheese with mixed vegetables


Slow Cooker Beef Curry - makes enough for 2 nights

1kg diced stewing beef
2 Tblsp mild curry paste
250ml beef stock
125ml coconut milk
1 pepper, diced (any colour)

500g sweet potato or pumpkin, peeled and diced
300g packet of spinach
cooked rice to serve

Season the beef with salt and pepper and brown in a dash of oil in a hot frying pan. Transfer to your slow cooker.

Mix together the curry paste, beef stock, coconut milk then pour over the beef. Scatter in the sweet potato or pumpkin, and cover.

Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-5 hours. Stir in the spinach leaves, cover and cook a further few minutes until the spinach has wilted. Serve with steamed rice.


Chili Bean Stew

1 onion finely chopped
2 sticks celery, sliced finely
2 carrots finely chopped
1 pepper, diced (any colour)

1 clove of garlic, crushed
250ml vegetable stock
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp dried coriander
¼ tsp ground cumin
440g can chopped tomatoes in juice
440g can mixed beans

Add all ingredients to slow cooker, stir to combine, cover and cook on low 4 to 6 hours or until the onion is tender.

Check the seasoning and then serve with crusty bread and steamed greens.

Lunches

WeekdaysSavoury Swirls with crudités, fruit and yoghurt

Weekend - Twice Baked Potatoes, Baked Beans with toast


Shopping List

Cost of 38 items: £62.24 from Asda using My Supermarket and delivered on 23rd September2012.


Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g) 46p
1x ASDA Smartprice Crispy Rice Cereal (440g) 70p
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 88p was 98p
2x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.20
2x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £2.56
1x ASDA Smartprice Plain White Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Easy Cook Long Grain Brown Rice (1Kg) £1.61
1x ASDA Chosen by You Wholewheat Fusilli (500g) 95p any 2 FOR £1.50
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x ASDA Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce (4x410g) £1.42
4x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) £1.24
2x ASDA Cannellini Beans in Water (300g) £1.28
2x ASDA Chick Peas in Water (400g) £1.40
1x ASDA Mexican Style Bean Mix in Water (400g) 53p
1x Kingfisher Coconut Milk (400ml) £1.40

Frozen
2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) £1.50
2x ASDA Chosen by You Diced Casserole Beef (454g) £5.00

Dairy and Eggs
5x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £5.00 was £1.18
1x Stork (500g) £1.09
3x ASDA Chosen by You Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt (6x125g) £3.00
2x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £4.00 any 2 FOR £4.00
1x Suffolk Farm Medium Free Range Eggs (6) £1.00

Fruit and Vegetables
2x ASDA Spring Greens (500g) £1.94
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
20 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.60
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.15
7 ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g) 63p
1x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £1.50 2 FOR £2.50
12 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) £1.28
15 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) £1.92
1x ASDA Celery 89p
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 27p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.37
1x ASDA Spinach (350g) £1.50
1x ASDA Green Beans (240g) £1.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g) £2.00
1x ASDA Free Range Skinless Chicken Breast Fillets (450g) £3.70

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 23rd September 2012.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

National Cupcake Week - Art you can eat!

This week is National Cupcake Week which is the prefect excuse to indulge in some cupcake baking, decorating and eating. 

I was recently sent a copy of this book to review:


You can purchase this brilliant book here.  The book perfect for both beginners and experienced bakers alike.  It contains a collection of over 30 fun cupcake projects to bake at home, featuring modelled sugarpaste characters and designs.  The instructions are really easy to follow and the cupcakes are perfect for children's parties, rainy days or school cake sales.  There are also delicious recipes with comprehensive instructions and clever tips to help give your cupcakes a professional look.  You can learn some cake decorating techniques, including piping buttercream and creating character features with sugarpaste and fondant.

There are instructions to create fun cupcake designs from barnyard animals, nurses and firemen, pirates, mermaids and space aliens.  There are also various cupcake recipes included in the book such as Banana and Macadamia, Blueberry and Almond, Chocolate Brownie, Double Chocolate and the classic favourite Vanilla with many flavour variations.

If you're hunting for a cupcake book for decoration ideas, this is the book for you! It contains loads of cute and fun ideas that you don't need to be an expert to make yourself.  The decorating ideas, fab photos and comprehensive instructions mean that your creations can end up looking just like those in the book with little effort and stress.     Here's some cupcakes that we baked and decorated in one afternoon:

party cupcakes kids birthday animals sugarpaste flowers


If you need more inspiration check out this fab new website:



Our gardening adventure, with 3 other families.

Growing vegetables is a great way to save money, eat the freshest produce and get exercise whilst learning about seasonality and sustainability.  It is brilliant for kids to learn where their vegetables come from and how to grow their own.  It is also much cheaper than the gym as an effective way to fight flab and banish bingo wings, with the added bonus of a healthy supper afterwards.

My friend Lucy is a lovely lass whose son attends the same school as my youngest two daughters.  She has has generously offered to share the 5 vegetable beds in her backyard with us and 2 other families.  Her garden had been neglected for some time as it is far too much work for Lucy to tackle on her own.  After a hearty lunch and a hot cuppa we set to work.

At the beginning of this afternoon the garden looked like this:


We then set to work, 4 women and a toddler, and after 3 solid hours of hard work the garden now looks like this:


Three out of the 5 vegetable beds have been double dug and the hard, heavy soil has been aerated and broken up.  We are all exhausted!  It was loads of fun though and Alfie the toddler had loads of fun spotting all the creatures in the garden.  Aside from worms, snails, slugs and the occasional centipede there were 7 frogs found throughout the afternoon.


Frogs can be a little bit scary if you've never seen a real one up close before.

We also unearthed a large amount of spuds which we will all be having as part of our dinner this evening.

We ended up with a pile twice as big as this in the end.

It was a brilliant afternoon, great conversation, lots of strenuous exercise and fresh spuds for dinner.  What's not to like?!  We shall be getting all of our children to help out with the garden now that the site is relatively clear and much safer than it was.  My 3 girls cannot wait to don their wellies and get gardening.

We need to get planting for the winter now that the beds are ready for planting.  Any recommendations for what we should/could plant would be brilliant.  They will need to be fairly hardy vegetables, and feed lots of hungry mouths.

Another friend of mine with a double allotment needs a hand to manage her vegetable plots too so we shall be visiting there once a week to help her out as well.  Bring on the exercise, vegetables and fun for all the families involved!

But wait there's more . . . . .

Inspired by our session this afternoon I worked hard for an hour and cleared some of our vegetable beds at home.  There is no before photo as I was too ashamed at the state of them. LOL



I now have 3 deep 1m x 1m beds and 2 shallow 1m x 1m beds ready for planting.  I still have greens throughout the rest of the garden, strawberry plants, raspberry canes, rhubarb and herbs growing happily.  What should I plant in my garden beds?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Stuffed Marrow

As I mentioned in my previous post, I helped out a friend with her garden.  It was a brilliant day and we helped her harvest produce and formulate a plan of attack so that all 4 of us Mums can work together to help out each other and also share produce from one large garden.

Her courgettes had run wild and we were each given a marrow to take home.  It was a rather sizeable beast, some was made into chutney and the rest we had for dinner.  

My 5yo with the aforementioned marrow. Yup, it was HUGE!
The recipe I used was:

500g beef mince
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup long grained rice
2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 - 2 tsp dried mixed herbs, or 1 - 2 Tblsp fresh mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the mince and onion then add the tomatoes and rice.  Season to taste.

Cut the marrow in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

Fill the marrow with the mince mixture.

Wrap the marrow snugly in greased kitchen foil. Put the wrapped marrow in a roasting dish and bake for approx 90 minutes at 180C.

Once the marrow is tender mix a handful of grated cheese with a handful of breadcrumbs  Sprinkle this over the top of the marrow then grill until the breadcrumbs are crispy and the cheese is bubbling and golden.


The marrow was so big I couldn't fit it all into the photo LOL

Friday, 14 September 2012

Creamy Pasta with Bacon and Greens

I had a fab morning with 2 other Mums helping a friend with her garden, there was a huge haul of produce for each of us to take home.  I bought home a lot of rainbow chard which is one of my favourite greens.  I used some as a side dish to a casserole and with the rest I made this quick pasta dish for dinner.  You could use spinach or kale instead of chard if you prefer.

500g pasta
2 large bunches of chard leaves, washed
300g lean bacon, trimmed and diced
4 spring onions, sliced
375ml can light evaporated milk
1 Tblsp cornflour

Cook the pasta following the instructions on the packet. A couple of minutes before the end of the pasta cooking time add the chard to the pasta.  Once the pasta has cooked and chard has wilted, drain the pasta and chard.  

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a frying pan for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the chopped spring onion and cook for a minute or two more.

Combine the evaporated milk with the cornflour.  Add to the cooked bacon and stir until the mixture  thickens.  Pour over the cooked pasta and chard then stir until heated through. Serve immediately.


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Bake Me I'm Yours - Sweet Bitesize Bakes


I was very excited when fellow blogger and friend Sarah from Maison Cupcake published her gorgeous book entitled Bake Me I'm Yours - Sweet Bitesize Bakes .

I of course ordered a copy straight away and it was invaluable in the holidays as a source of lovely bakes to keep my daughters amused and give treats to friends dropping in for a cuppa.

Small bakes are fab, so dainty and delicate yet saitisfying.  It's great to be able to have a little treat sometimes without devouring a huge wedge of cake.  These morsels are perfect for when you want to appear civilised and/or are watching calories too.

Sarah's book showcases 25 bitesize cake decorating projects with accompanying baking recipes. All the instructions are clear and easy to follow.  You will also learn how to transform pastries and cakes with sugarcraft and fondant icing techniques as well as whipping up delicious fillings such as buttercream, chocolate ganache, marshmallow fluff, lemon curd and crème patissière.

The book makes alll the projects seem achieveable and easy with gorgeous photography and really clear instructions.  Whether you are an experienced cake decorator (like me) or a complete beginner there are recipes and techniques in the book that will prove very useful indeed. 

Some of the delicious recipes and treats featured in the book are: Banana Whoopie Pies, Fondant Fancies, Macarons, Gingerbread Cookies, Madeleines, Red Velvet Cakes, sweet and choux pastry along with many more.

We made the Vanilla Cookies recipe and used teapot, crown, heart and butterfly cutters to add a touch of girliness.  There were avalanches of sprinkles to decorate them with and the biscuits kept really well in an airtight tin for a few days.  We also tried out a few other recipes which I shall blog later.

Here's the recipe (reproduced with kind permission):

Vanilla Cookies

Cookies made from this dough are super easy to roll out and keep their shape in the oven.

This recipe makes 45–65 cookies, depending on their size and shape.

175g (6oz) unsalted (sweet) butter, very soft
200g (7oz) caster (superfine) sugar
2 large (US extra large) eggs, beaten
5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
5ml (1 tsp) baking powder
5ml (1 tsp) salt
500g (1lb 11/2oz) plain (all-purpose) flour plus extra for rolling out

Using an electric mixer with a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy then blend in the eggs and vanilla extract.

Stir the baking powder and salt into the flour and gradually mix into the batter to become dough.

Form the dough into two discs and chill for one hour wrapped in cling film (plastic wrap).

Towards the end of the chilling time, preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.  Grease and line several baking sheets with baking parchment.

Sprinkle a little extra flour on your work surface and rolling pin, and roll out each disc of chilled dough to an even 5mm (3∕16in) thickness.

Cut into shapes as desired, placing them 3–4cm (1–11/2in) apart on the baking sheets.  Bake for 8–10 minutes until lightly golden. 

Allow to cool on the sheet slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Deep Freeze…
If you don’t need as many cookies, you can freeze half of the dough for up to two months.

Easy Does It…
If you use too much extra flour when rolling out, the dough will be less pliable – just a light dusting is all that’s required.


The lovely photo from Sarah's book

Photos from our making and baking session, apologies for the poor quality photos taken on my phone.

I totally adore this book!  It is such a useful addition to my cookbook collection and my daughters love baking recipes from it.  All the recipes that we have tried so far have worked well.  The instructions are so clear and easy to follow which makes it an ideal book for kids as well as adults to cook from.  A fab birthday or Christmas gift for those who love to bake or will love to bake given the right recipe book. ;o)

Sarah blogs over at Maison Cupcake and you can also follow her on Twitter.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Spicy Chicken with McCain Spicy Wedges - Review

I was recently sent some McCain Spicy Wedges and a few other ingredients to try out a recipe from their recipe collection.

I chose American Southern Fried Chicken served with Coleslaw and Spicy Wedges.

For the Spicy Wedges:

•300g McCain Mexican Wedges

•1 pinch of cayenne pepper

•1 pinch of smoked paprika

For the Southern Fried Chicken:

•200g plain flour

•1 tbsp salt

•1/4 tsp black pepper

•2 tsp hot paprika

•2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

•1 tsp English mustard powder

•2 large free-range eggs

•150ml vegetable oil

•8 free-range chicken thighs & drumsticks

For the coleslaw:

•1/2 white cabbage

•1 small onion, peeled

•1 small carrot, peeled

•3 tbsp mayonnaise

•2 tbsp natural yogurt

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan 200/Gas mark 7

Sift the flour into a bowl and mix in the salt, black pepper, hot paprika, sweet smoked paprika and English mustard powder.

Beat 2 eggs in a separate bowl.

Dip the chicken thighs and drumsticks in the flour mixture, then in the egg, then in the flour mixture again.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan until very hot and fry the chicken in batches, until golden brown all over. Place on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil and then place on a roasting tray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking in the oven make the coleslaw by shredding the cabbage, carrots and onions. Put them in a big bowl, add the mayonnaise and yogurt, mix well and set aside.

Toss the McCain Mexican Wedges with cayenne pepper and smoked paprika and cook as per pack instructions.

Serve the chicken alongside the coleslaw and a pile of spicy wedges.

Here's how it turned out:


I added some tomatoes to the meal and would normally have baked the coated chicken rather than fried it.  The meal was really tasty, although the wedges were a little too spicy for my 5yo.  It went down well with all the rest of my family who happily devoured the meal without complaint.

There are many other recipes to try on the McCain website, you can also follow them on Twitter and fined them on Facebook.

Thanks to McCain for sending me the ingredients in order to try out this recipe.

**This is a sponsored post**

Friday, 7 September 2012

Mermaid Cookware Review


Photo courtesy of Mermaid
I was recently sent some fabulous Mermaid Cookware to review.  I found the products to be excellent quality and much better than the bakeware I had already.  The bakeware is made from hard anodised aluminium which means great heat distribution and reduced cooking time which saves money too. 

Of course the cookware withstands high temperatures (the cookware is oven safe to 240oC/475oF/Gas Mark 9), don’t buckle or warp when used on the hop top and are scratch resistant too.  Hurrah!  I thoroughly enjoyed testing out the roasting tray and pie dish, as did my family who enthusiastically devoured all the recipes that cooked to properly put the bakeware through its paces.

Mermaid Cookware is available at John Lewis with prices starting at around £19 and at the moment there is a giveaway here on Holly's blog should you want to win some.

Photo courtesy of Mermaid

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

GBBO Inspired Flatbreads

One afternoon in the holidays my 3 girls were hungry and restless so we decided to make some Flatbreads inspired by those we saw on The Great British Bake Off.  Here's how we got on.

Mix together the following ingredients in a large bowl:

6 cups plain flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 sachet instant dried yeast (7g instant yeast)
2 Tblsp olive oil
625ml warm water (approximately)

Mix everything together to form a soft dough, turn it on to a lightly floured surface, adding more flour if necessary, then knead until the dough is smooth and springy.  It took us about 8 - 10 minutes with each of my 3 girls having a turn to knead the dough.

Put the dough in a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover the bowl with greased cling film.  Leave aside in a warm place until doubled in size.  Alternatively if you are impatient and really hungry you can use the microwave dough rising method.  Microwave the bowl of dough on low power for 1 minute. Rest the dough for 10 minutes then repeat this process once more.  After the second rest the dough should have doubled in size. 

Knock the dough back and then knead it lightly on a floured surface.  Divide into however many pieces you like.  Roll and stretch each piece of dough into rough rectangles or ovals then transfer to lined baking trays.  



Add the toppings of your choice and bake in a preheated oven at 210°C for 20-30 minutes. We used cinnamon sugar for the sweet ones and tomato paste with grated mature cheddar for the savoury ones.  Once baked your flatbreads should be golden and sound hollow if you tap their bottoms. *snigger*


 
Other flavour combinations that we have used in the past include:

Thyme, bacon and goats' cheese: Spread the shaped dough with tomato paste, scatter over some finely chopped bacon, crumble over goats' cheese then sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.  Bake as above.


Fruity Flatbreads: knead through some mixed dried fruit and 1 - 2 tsp of mixed spice then bake as above.

Many thanks to my 12yo who took the photos and took charge of the making of these flatbreads.  She was a star, albeit a rather hard taskmaster. lol I think she'll make a fab teacher one day, not sure her younger sisters would entirely agree with me though! ;o)

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Our Family Meal Plan - Back to School Edition - £61

All 3 of my girls will be going back to school this week, hurrah! It has been fab having them home for 7 weeks but it will be nice for them to get back into the routine of school and for me to be able to get stuff done during the day when the house will be silent.

To make things easier this week, as not all 3 kids go back to school on the same day, they will all be having school dinners.  I will be in London at least one day this week and working a couple of times so we need a low faff week as far as dinners go.

However, I will of still be baking all our bread, bagels, rolls, wraps, etc as needed. I have included the cost of apples and greens in the Shopping List but we have an abundance of both from our back garden so I'll be using those.

The cost of our Meal Plan for this week was £61.31 from Asda online shopping delivered on 01/09/2012. I used Money Supermarket to check how much it would've cost elsewhere and the cost from Sainsbury's would've been £69.78 and from Tesco would've been £70.17.

Dinners

Roast Chicken with Roast Vegetables

I will cook extra roast vegetables to use in the Mini Chicken Lattice Pies later in the week.

Goulash

Any leftover Goulash will be made into calzone so that hubby and I can eat them for lunch.

2 Tblsp oil
1kg stewing/casserole steak
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tblsp paprika
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 peppers, diced (any colour will do)
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tblsp fresh thyme
Bay leaf
1 litre beef stock
cornflour, to thicken gravy

Heat the oil in large saucepan and brown the meat in and onion.  Add the paprika and stir to coat the meat with it, taking care not to burn the paprika.  Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, pepper, herbs and stock.  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1.5hrs.  Once the meat is tender, thicken the gravy with a little cornflour mixed with water and stirred through the stew.  I usually serve this with mash and steamed greens.


Mini Chicken Lattice Pies

1 large leek, finely sliced
handful of mushrooms, sliced
25g butter
2 Tblsp plain flour
250ml milk
300g leftover roast vegetables cut into cubes
1 Tblsp fresh thyme, or 1tsp dried thyme
300g leftover roast chicken, shredded
salt and pepper to taste
3 sheets/500g puff pastry

Preheat your oven to 200C.  Saute the leeks and mushrooms in the butter until they are soft.  Stir in the flour, cook for a couple of minutes, then gradually stir in the milk to make a thick sauce.  Add the cubed cooked vegetables, thyme and shredded cooked chicken.  Season to taste.  Allow this mixture too cool to room temperature.

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin.  Use a cutter to cut circles from the pastry big enough to line the holes of a muffin tin.  Grease a muffin tray and line each muffin hole with pastry.  Using the pastry trimmings but strips to make a lattice for the top of each mini pie.  Seal the lattice strips to the pastry cases with a little water.

Brush the tops of the pies with a little beaten egg if you want, then bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.


Bangers and Mash with Vegetables


Homemade Pizzas

2 cups self-raising flour
2 cups natural yoghurt
2 tsp dried oregano or mixed herbs

Preheat your oven to 200C.

Combine the ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.  Knead for about 5 - 7 minutes either by hand or using a stand mixer on low speed.

Roll out the dough, put on a lined baking tray then top with your toppings of choice and finish with some grated cheese.

Bake until the base is cooked and the cheese is melted and bubbling.


Sausage and Lentil Hotpot

This makes enough for 2 dinners which will save me having to cook on Sunday night.

1 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 cooked sausages, sliced into chunks
1 garlic clove, crushed
750g root vegetables, peeled and chopped into chunks of the same size
320g green lentils
500g tomato and herb sauce
750g vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube

Lightly saute the onion and garlic, add all the chopped vegetables and saute for 5 minutes.

Add the green lentils, tomato and herb sauce and stock and sausages to the saucepan.

Cover and cook on a low heat for 30 minutes or until everything is tender and cooked through.  I usually serve this with some spring greens.

Lunches

All 3 girls will be having school dinners for lunch this week.  Hubby and I will have leftovers from dinner for lunch.  On the weekend our lunches will be:

Macaroni Cheese

Twice Baked Potatoes

Breakfasts

We will have boiled eggs and soldiers on the weekend and also pancakes or crumpets.  Weekday breakfasts will either be toast, porridge or cereal and milk with fruit for afters.


Baking and Treats

I'll probably make these at least once throughout the week, even though I am rather busy this week there will be a riot (mostly from hubby) if there's not a baked treat to snack on or a pudding at least once during the week. 

Sponge Pudding

Fruity Flapjack Slice


Shopping List

40 items: £61.31

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g) 46p
1x ASDA Smartprice Porridge Oats (1Kg) 75p
1x Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg) 88p was 98p
1x Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg) 60p
1x ASDA Wholemeal Bread Flour (1.5Kg) £1.28
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg) 52p
1x ASDA Chosen by You Wholewheat Fusilli (500g) 95p
1x ASDA Chosen by You Ready to Roll Puff Pastry (500g) £1.00
1x Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g) 64p
1x Great Scot Green Lentils (500g) £1.29

Tins, Jars and Cooking
1x ASDA Pasta Sauce - Tomato and Chunky Vegetable (560g) £1.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g) 31p
1x ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g) 48p

Frozen
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg) 75p

Dairy and Eggs
2x ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £2.00 was £1.18
2x ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L) £2.00 was £1.18
1x ASDA Free Range Medium Eggs (12) £1.98
1x Stork (500g) £1.09
1x ASDA Smartprice Low Fat Natural Yogurt (500g) 55p
2x ASDA Chosen by You English Mature Cheddar (400g) £4.00

Fruit and Vegetables
1x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Fruit (500g) 64p
1x ASDA Spring Greens (500g) 97p
2x ASDA Tenderheart Cabbage £1.00
20 ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g) £2.00
20 ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g) £1.36
20 ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g) £1.56
3 ASDA Leeks by Weight (100g) 60p
1x ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g) £1.15
7 ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g) 63p
5 ASDA Parsnips by Weight (100g) 75p
2x ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg) £2.50 2 FOR £2.50
20 ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g) £2.14
10 ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g) £1.28
1x ASDA Garlic Loose 27p was 30p
1x ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g) £1.37
1x ASDA Spinach (350g) £1.50
1x ASDA Great Stuff Soft Citrus (500g) £1.00

Meat, Fish and Poultry
20 ASDA Free Range Whole Chicken by Weight (100g) £7.16
1x ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (10 per pack - 756g) £3.90 any 3 FOR £10.00
2x ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Stewing Steak (571g) £7.00 any 2 FOR £7.00

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, as detailed on MySupermrket.co.uk and are correct as of 1 September 2012.