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

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Versatile Muffins




I made muffins quite often as they are so quick to make and great to put in lunch boxes, for afternoon tea, after school snacks or coffee mornings.  They are so easy to mix and quick to cook they are brilliant for cooking with kids.  Great tasting treats from start to finish in under half an hour!   

This is my generic sweet/fruit muffin recipe, you can use milk instead of yoghurt - just add an extra ½ cup of self raising flour.  Two batches of muffins were baked today using this recipe.  It only took me 5 minutes to make the batter and 20 minutes to bake the muffins.  

I mixed fresh pear chunks and blueberries into one batch, then mixed grated apple and sultanas into the other batch.  I peeled the pears but didn't peel the apple before I grated it.  You could put a dollop of jam, lemon curd or chocolate spread into the middle of each muffin should you want a change from using fruit or use frozen fruit, dried fruit or well drained tinned fruit instead of fresh fruit.  Leave out the mixed spice or cinnamon if it is not to your taste or vary the spice according to the fruit you are using - ground ginger with peach or pear works rather well.    


Versatile Muffins

2 cups self raising flour 
1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
½ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) oil
250ml (1 cup) natural yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 free range eggs

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4.  Line your muffin tin with paper cases.

Sift the self raising flour and cinnamon/mixed spice into large mixing bowl, add caster sugar then stir to combine.  Measure the oil, yoghurt or milk, vanilla extract and eggs into a jug.  Mix until totally combined.  

Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Don't be tempted to beat the mixture or over mix it or your muffins will be tough and not light.  

Stir through whatever fruit you are using then spoon the mixture into the paper cases.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean.  If you have put a dollop of jam or filling into the centre of your muffins lightly press the top of the muffin and it should spring back if cooked through.



Monday, 25 February 2013

Quick Chocolate Cake



I made three of these cakes at once, two were for paying customers and one was for us to devour.  This cake is quick to make and bake, great if you need to whip up a cake stall or afternoon tea treat in a hurry.  You could ice and fill the cake with buttercream but I used ganache as I needed something more decadent and  delicious.

I used my usual 2, 2, 2, 4 sponge cake recipe (200g butter, 200g sugar, 200g flour, 2 tsp baking powder and 4 eggs) but changed the flour measurement to compensate for the addition of cocoa to make a rich chocolate cake.  

Quick Chocolate Cake

140g plain flour
60g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar
4 large free range eggs

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.  Grease and line a 20cm/8in round deep cake tin with baking paper.

I used my stand mixer to make this cake but you could use hand held electric beaters instead or make it by hand if you want a good arm workout.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together.  In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time with 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls of the dry ingredients, beating well after each addition.  Fold in the rest of the dry ingredients until well combined. 

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.  Bake for 30–40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Once the cake has cooled completely you can ice and fill it with either buttercream or ganache.

Chocolate Ganache

Bring 200ml of double cream to the boil then take it off the heat and stir in 300g of chocolate broken into pieces.  Keep stirring until a smooth mixture forms.  Chill in the fridge until thickened then spread or pipe onto the cake.

Chocolate Buttercream

125g butter, softened
250g icing sugar
50g dark chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

Put the butter and icing sugar in a bowl and whisk together until light and fluffy.  Add the cooled melted chocolate and whisk again until fluffy.  Spread or pipe on to the cake.




Sunday, 24 February 2013

Our Family Meal Plan For This Week 25/02/13 - £56

This week will be very busy.  I have several afternoon, after school and evening school governor meetings to attend and am also working a couple of nights too.  It is the sort of week where I need low faff dinners, preferably prepared in advance, which are also comforting and nutritious.

I've already baked our bread and baked treats for this coming week, I had a marathon baking sessions on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. We'll be having fruit muffins, flapjacks or tea loaf as our baked treat.  There will be some Rice Pudding, with fruit for after school snacks too.

Because of my busy week we'll be having porridge for breakfast to set us up for the day.  There will of course be fruit for afters.  Weekend breakfasts will be pancakes and homemade crumpets.

Lunches will be school dinners for the kids whilst hubby and I will have cheese, chutney and salad sandwiches or portions of soup from the freezer with homemade rolls - there will also be a piece or two of fruit and a small baked treat in our lunches.

Weekend Lunches will probably be Macaroni Cheese with added vegetables one day, then Twice Baked Potatoes or Homemade Pizzas the other.

The cost of our 32 grocery items from Asda on 24/02/13 was £55.91.  I used My Supermarket to compare the cost of our shopping at other supermarkets and our items would've cost £66.65 from Sainsbury's and £67.29 from Tesco.


Dinners

Simmered Mince Many Ways - Monday (Cottage Pie), Tuesday (Pasta Bake) and Wednesday (Chilli Con Carne)


Bangers with Mash and Vegetables - Friday

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Saturday, and as pasties on Sunday

1 kg casserole beef
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 peppers, chopped
2 Tblsp plain flour
2 Tblsp tomato paste
250ml beef stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 Tblsp dried oregano
400g can cannellini beans, well drained

Cut beef into 2.5cm-3cm pieces and season the beef with salt and pepper. Brown the meat in a frying pan over a high heat and transfer to a slow cooker.

Scatter in the onion, garlic and peppers. Stir the flour, tomato paste and beef stock together to make a smooth paste and pour over the beef. Add the tomatoes, scatter in the oregano and cover.

Slow Cooker:  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-5 hours. Add the cannellini beans, stir to mix and allow to heat through before serving.

Oven Cook:  Prepare the casserole as above, adding an extra 250ml of beef stock. Cook in a lidded ovenproof dish at 180ÂșC for 120 minutes.

Hob CookingPut the browned beef and other ingredients into a heavy-based pot. Partially cover, and keeping the heat low, simmer until the meat is very tender. Stir occasionally, adding water if needed during the cooking time to keep ingredients just covered. In the last 30 minutes of cooking time, add the tomatoes and cannellini beans


Shopping List

Cost of our 32 grocery items: £55.91                                                                                                                                           

Packets and Cereals                                                                   
                                                                                                    
1x   Mornflake Superfast Oats (2Kg)                                              £1.88 
1x   Silver Spoon Granulated Sugar (1Kg)                                      88p   
1x   Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                80p   
1x   ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                            45p   
1x   Lyle's Golden Syrup Bottle (454g)                                           98p   
1x   ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                 40p   
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Wholewheat Fusilli (500g)                     £1.00 
1x   Great Scot Pearl Barley (500g)                                                58p   
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   ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                        £1.28 

Frozen                                                                                        
                                                                                                    
2x   ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                              £1.50 

Tins, Jars and Cooking                                                              
                                                                                                    
5x   ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)                          £1.55 
1x   ASDA Cannellini Beans in Water (300g)                                   64p   
2x   ASDA Chosen by You Chilli Beans (290g)                               £1.36 

Dairy and Eggs                                                                           
                                                                                                    
5x   ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                     £5.00 
1x   ASDA Free Range Medium Eggs (12)                                      £1.98 
1x   Stork (500g)                                                                           £1.09 
1x   Cathedral City Mature Cheddar (2x350g)                                  £4.00 

Fruit and Vegetables                                                                  
                                                                                                    
1x   ASDA Smartprice Sultanas (500g)                                           98p   
3     ASDA Mushrooms by Weight (100g)                                       80.4p
20   ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g)                             £2.40 
20   ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)                                            £1.36 
15   ASDA Carrots by Weight (100g)                                              £1.35 
10   ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g)                                       90p   
2x   ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                                                £3.80 
1x   ASDA Celery                                                                          89p   
2x   ASDA Garlic Loose                                                                60p   
1x   ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                           £1.57 
1x   ASDA Extra Juicy Oranges (1.8Kg)                                         £2.25 

Meat, Fish and Poultry                                                               
                                                                                                    
2x   ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Mince (500g)                £4.00 
2x   ASDA Butcher's Selection British Beef Stewing Steak (571g)    £8.00 

Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket, and are correct as of 24 February 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.


If you want to see more Meal Plans do visit: At Home With Mrs M



Thursday, 21 February 2013

Muffins Galore - Random Bakes of Kindness

I decided to embark on a baking marathon and take some delicious goodies to my younger daughters Primary School as there was a visit from the HMI on Thursday.  Staff needed a morale and sugar boost so I was only too happy to oblige.  All the muffins went down well as did the double batch of chocolate brownies which accompanied them.

Date and Ginger Muffins

1 free range egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 ml milk
125 ml oil
3 heaped Tblsp Dark or Light Soft Brown Sugar
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup dates, roughly chopped

Preheat your oven to 220C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

In a jug mix together the egg, vanilla extract, milk and oil.  Sift the sugar, flour, baking powder and ginger in to a large bowl then and add the chopped dates.  Pour in the wet ingredients and mix until just combined, don’t over mix or beat the batter or your muffin will be tough.  Spoon the mixture evenly into the muffin cases and bake for approx 20 minutes, until risen and golden.  Brush with a little honey whilst still warm.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  



Spiced Apple Sauce Muffins

3/4 cup white or caster sugar
1 cup wholemeal flour
1 cup plain flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 cup sultanas, raisins or dried cranberries
1 free range egg (lightly beaten)
1 cup apple sauce, stewed apple or apple puree
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 180C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Combine the wet ingredients in a jug then pour into the dry ingredients.  Add the dried fruit then mix everything together until just combined.  Don’t over mix or the muffins will be tough. Evenly spoon the mixture into the paper cases.  Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until lightly golden brown. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.



Lemon Drizzle Muffins

2 cups self raising flour
3/4 cup white or caster sugar
75g butter, melted or 75ml oil
1 cup/250ml milk
1 free range egg
Grated  zest of a large lemon
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

Preheat your oven to 200C and line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Mix the flour and first measure of sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl or jug, melt the butter then add milk, egg, lemon zest and beat to combine. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combine everything. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake at 200C for 12 - 15  minutes.

Whilst he muffins are hot from the oven, stir the lemon juice and sugar together without dissolving the sugar then drizzle this mixture over the hot muffins.  Leave to cool in the muffin tray for a few minutes, but remove them to cool on a rack before sugar/juice drizzle hardens and sticks the muffins to the tins.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Banana and Chocolate Chip Mini Loaves or Muffins



I made these with 3 bananas which were looking rather spotty and over-ripe in the fruit bowl.  As a change from muffins I decided to bake the mixture in disposable mini loaf liners.  They went down very well with a cuppa after the school run this evening.  

These mini loaves would be fab for cake stalls, coffee mornings or a Mother's Day treat.  I might just bake more and give them to friends as a surprise treat.

Banana and Chocolate Chip Mini Loaves or Muffins

3 ripe bananas, mashed
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
1 free range egg
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tblsp milk
1½ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g packet of chocolate drops

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.

In a bowl mash the banana then add the oil, egg , sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and milk.  Stir well to combine.  Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda over the top of the wet ingredients.  Mix everything gently until combined.  

Spoon into muffin cases or mini loaf cases.  This recipe made 10 mini loaves, and usually makes 12 muffins.  Bake at 180C/160C Fan for 20 - 25 minutes.



Sunday, 17 February 2013

Lemon Meringue Cake on a lazy Sunday


My husband LOVES Lemon Meringue Pies, almost as much as he loves chocolate.  He cannot go half a day without eating chocolate, so you get the idea how much he likes it.  I can't always be bothered making pastry case for a Lemon Meringue Pie/Tarts so decided to make one with a sponge base instead.   

I wanted a light sponge as there is plenty of sugar and fat in the lemon curd and meringue so used half the amount of flour and sugar I would normally put in the sponge and left out the butter entirely.  The result was a light as air sponge which complimented the lemon curd and meringue perfectly.  You could use a jar of good quality lemon curd instead of making your own, it will still taste fab.

The cake went down very well indeed.  My 6yo said "It's like eating a cloud with a zingy bit in the middle".  There is now none left, my husband devoured a third of the cake before declaring he felt a little full. Oh dear!  I gave some to the neighbours to spread some joy and also make sure we didn't eat it all.



Lemon Meringue Cake

Lemon Curd
200g butter
225g caster sugar
Grated zest and juice from 3 lemons
4 free range eggs

Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat.  Whisk the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and eggs into the butter until well combined.  Keep whisking continuously whilst the curd thickens and comes to the boil.  Remove from the heat just as it is about to boil vigorously.  Pour into a bowl to cool for a couple of minutes then put a piece of clingfilm over the curd, touching the surface so that a skin doesn’t form.  When the curd has reached room temperature, transfer it to the fridge.  You can store the lemon curd in a the fridge, just keep it covered.  I put mine into sterilised jars topped with cellophane and a band.  The curd will thicken considerably in the fridge and will keep for 2–3 weeks.

Sponge
4 free range eggs
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
100g self-raising flour

Meringue
4 free range egg whites
250g caster sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar

To bake the sponge:
Line a 23cm springform cake tin with baking paper or a liner.  Preheat your oven to 180C/fan 160C.  In a stand mixer or bowl using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla together for at least 5 minutes until the mixture very thick and pale.  I whisked mine for about 8 minutes to the ‘ribbon stage’.  Sift in the flour then gently fold it through, keeping as much air in the mixture as possible.  Pour the mixture into your prepared tin and bake for 30 minutes.  The sponge should be risen, golden, and should spring back when pressed lightly in the middle.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the sponge has cooled preheat your oven to 200C/fan 180C.  Put the sponge cake onto a baking tray and spread the lemon curd over the top.

To make the meringue:
Make the meringue by whisking the egg whites with half the sugar until stiff peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining sugar and the cream of tartar whilst whisking.  You should end up with a very stiff meringue mixture.  Carefully spread the meringue over the cake, make sure you cover the lemon curd completely and that the meringue forms a seal around the edge of the cake.  Rough up the meringue with a spoon to make peaks on the top.  Cook for about 8 minutes, until the meringue is golden.  Keep an eye on it as it can go from golden to burnt very quickly.  Cool for 10 minutes then chill in the fridge for half an hour to an hour before you serve it as this makes it much easier to cut neat slices.



Our Meal Plan For This Week, Back To School Edition - £62

Our Meal Plan for this week is fairly low faff, perfect for getting back to routine after Half Term Week.  I have a couple of meetings this week which mean dinner will have to be quick and easy due to time constraints and the likelihood that I will be rather weary on those evenings.

The cost of our groceries from Asda on 17/02/13 was £61.98.  As usual I used My Supermarket to compare the cost of our shopping elsewhere and our groceries would've cost £72.30 from Tesco and £76.29 from Sainsbury's.

Breakfasts will be either porridge or toast with fruit for afters.

Our packed lunches will be leftovers, savoury bread swirls or cheese/tuna and salad sandwiches/rolls/wraps.  Lunches will also include a pottle of yoghurt, a piece of fruit, crudites and a small baked treat.

Dinners

Meatfree Monday Minestrone

This is fab for using up part packets of pasta and is a really quick, nutritious and fulling soup for a busy weekday dinner.

150g pasta, I used fusilli
1 clove garlic, crushed
2tsp Italian mixed herbs
1 litre vegetable stock
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
400g frozen mixed vegetables

Break up the pasta into small pieces.  Heat a large saucepan over a moderate heat.  Saute the garlic for a couple of minutes in a little oil, add the mixed herbs.  Pour in the stock and tomatoes then bring everything to the boil.  Add the pasta and boil for 5 minutes, add the frozen vegetables and boil until the pasta is tender and the vegetables are cooked. Serve with crusty wholemeal bread rolls.


Sticky Chicken Drumsticks

8 chicken drumsticks
2 Tblsp soy sauce, I use the reduced salt one
1 Tblsp honey
1 Tblsp oil
1 tsp tomato paste/puree
1 Tblsp Dijon mustard

Slash each drumstick a few times, this helps the marinade work better and also helps the chicken to cook faster.

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and leave the chicken to marinate for about half an hour at room temperature or all day in the fridge.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan.  Tip the chicken into a non-stick roasting tin and cook, turning once or twice, for 35 - 40 minutes.  We'll be having ours with rice and mixed vegetables.


Chorizo and Vegetable Stew

200g chorizo, thickly slice
1 onion, dice
1 pepper, deseeded and diced
700g squash, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
500g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2cm dice
500g tomato passata
1 x 400g tn chopped tomatoes

Heat a large saucepan over a high heat.  Add the chorizo and cook for a couple of minutes until it starts to release a delicious spicy oil.  Take the chorizo slices out of the pan and set them aside.

Add the onion and pepper to the saucepan and cook in the red oil until they start to soften.  Return the chorizo to the pan and add the squash, sweet potato, passata and tinned tomatoes.

Bring to the boil then cover and turn the heat down.  Simmer the stew for 15 - 20 minutes until the squash and sweet potato are tender.  You might need to add a little water towards the end of the cooking time if the stew looks dry.  Season to taste then serve.  We're having ours with mixed vegetables.  This stew freezes well should you want to make double or freeze leftovers.


Vegetable Pie

3 large potatoes peeled, cooked & mashed
50g butter
50g flour
600ml milk
1 tsp mixed herbs
200g mature cheddar cheese, grated
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
200g frozen mixed vegetables

Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan and then add the flour.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add the milk gradually, stirring, until a smooth creamy sauce forms.  Take off the heat and stir through 3/4 of the cheese.

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan.  Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the cauliflower, broccoli and frozen mixed vegetables for 3 - 5 minutes.  Drain well.

Stir the vegetables into the cheese sauce.  Tip the vegetables and sauce into a large ovenproof dish, top with mashed potato then sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is lovely and golden and crisp.


Homemade Pizzas  - low faff Friday night dinner


Sausage and Apple Bake

6 rashers bacon, rind removed
6 good quality pork sausages
2 eating apples, cut into 8ths

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan.  Wrap each sausage in a rasher of bacon and put them in a large ovenproof dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.  Add the apple wedges to the ovenproof dish and bake for another 10 minute.  Remove from the oven and serve with mash and mixed vegetables.


Chicken Casserole

1 Tblsp oil
500g chicken thighs (boneless and skinless)
2 onions, diced
2 peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tblsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
750ml chicken stock
2 x 400g tins cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
180g spinach, washed

Heat large saucepan over a moderately high heat.  Brown the chicken then add the onions, peppers, garlic and thyme.  Cook for another 2 - 3 minutes.  Add the stock then simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  Cover and simmer for a further 20 minutes.  Add the cannellini beans and spinach then cook for a further 5 minutes until the beans are heated through and the spinach has wilted.  Season to taste then serve.

Shopping List

Cost of 40 items from Asda on 17/02/13 was £61.98. 

Packets and Cereals
1x      ASDA Wholegrain Scottish Porridge Oats (500g)                    65p        
1x      ASDA Smartprice Cornflakes (750g)                                     46p        
1x      Asda Wholefoods Strong White Bread Flour (1.5Kg)               80p        
1x      ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                40p        
1x      Asda Home Baking Easy Bake Yeast (6 per pack - 42g)          64p        
2x      ASDA Wholefoods Brown Bread Flour (1.5Kg)                        £2.56     

Frozen
2x      ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                             £1.50     

Tins, Jars and Cooking                                                                      
2x      ASDA Smartprice Chopped Tomatoes (400g)                         62p        
2x      ASDA Cannellini Beans in Water (300g)                                £1.28     
1x      ASDA Smartprice Mayonnaise (500ml)                                  45p        
1x      ASDA Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (200g)                  48p        
1x      ASDA Extra Special Passata Chunky (700g)                           £1.28     
1x      The Reel Fish Co Pole and Line Tuna  Water (3x185g)            £3.00                  

Dairy and Eggs
5x      ASDA British Semi Skimmed Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                    £5.00     
1x      Cathedral City Mature Cheddar (2x350g)                               £4.00     
1x      ASDA Low Fat Peach, Pineapple Mandarin Yogurt (6x125g)       £1.00                  
1x      ASDA Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt (6x125g)                            £1.00     
1x      ASDA Smooth Fruit Yogurts Low Fat (6x125g)                        £1.00

Fruit and Vegetables
1x      ASDA Smartprice Pears                                                       90p        
1x      ASDA Baby Spinach (180g)                                                 £1.00     
20     ASDA Smartprice Apples by Weight (100g)                            £2.40     
25     ASDA Bananas by Weight (100g)                                         £1.70     
1x      ASDA Cauliflower Loose                                                      50p        
1x      ASDA Smartprice Mushrooms (750g)                                    £1.49     
10     ASDA Red Onions by Weight (100g)                                     90p        
2x      ASDA White Potatoes (2.5Kg)                     £3.50   2 FOR £3.50
7       ASDA Butternut Squash by Weight (100g)                             74.9p     
6       ASDA Sweet Potatoes by Weight (100g)                               76.8p     
3x      ASDA Whole Cucumber                                                       £1.50     
3x      ASDA Round Lettuce                                                          £1.71     
1x      ASDA Celery                                                                      89p        
1x      ASDA Garlic Loose                                                             30p        
1x      ASDA Smartprice Peppers (700g)                                         £1.57     
1x      ASDA Carrots (1.2Kg)                                                         £1.00     
1x      ASDA Broccoli (335g)                                                         50p        

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x      ASDA Extra Special Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 454g)           £2.98 
1x      ASDA Butcher's Selection Unsmoked Back Bacon (300g)         £2.00     
1x      ASDA Butcher's Selection Boneless Chicken Thighs (515g)       £3.00 was £3.58
1x      Banham Poultry Chicken Drumsticks (1Kg)                            £4.00     
1x      ASDA Chorizo Cooking Sausage (200g)                                 £2.50     
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery website My Supermarket, and are correct as of 17 February 2013.  Prices may vary in different in-store locations.


You can check out loads of other Meal Plans over at the Meal Planning Monday linky.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

Cheddar and Chive Choux Puffs



I made these the other day when I had 6 children wanting an afternoon snack.  They were all gone in seconds.  These delicious light and savoury choux puffs are really addictive, and would go down well with a glass of wine, making them perfect for canapes.  

I made a tomato sauce for the kids to dip them into but they are just as delicious without.  The recipe is simple, relatively low faff and can be made in a hurry with load of hungry children about.

70g plain flour
1/4 tsp musard powder
50g butter cut into cubes
150ml water
100g mature cheddar, grated
2 free range eggs, beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped chives

Tomato Dipping Sauce
2 tsp oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 Tblsp tomato paste/puree

Preheat your oven to 220C/200C Fan.  Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.  Sift the flour and mustard powder into a small bowl.

In a small saucepan over a moderate heat bring the butter and water to the boil.  Tip in the flour and mustard all in one go.  Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and beat until it forms a thick paste and comes away from the sides of the saucepan.  Beat in 3/4 of the cheese then leave to cool for 5 minutes.

I transferred mine to my stand mixer but you could easily carry on by hand.  Gradually beat in the egg, then stir through the herbs.  You should have a smooth and glossy mixture.

Put teaspoonfuls on to the prepared baking trays, leaving space between for the puffs to rise.  Sprinkle over the remaining grated cheese and bake for 20 - 25 minutes until puffed up, crisp and golden.

Whilst the puffs are cooking make the dipping sauce.  In a saucepan cook the garlic in the oil for a couple of minutes then add the rest of the sauce ingredients.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until rich and thick.



Friday, 15 February 2013

Chocolate Cornflake Cookies - aka Afgan Biscuits



These biscuits are a kiwi classic.  Great for baking with kids as there is no egg in the recipe, this means that it doesn’t matter if the mixture is ‘sampled’ before baking.  If you decorate them with a glace cherry they would be perfect for a Red Nose Day fund raising cake stall or bake sale.

I used a recipe from my late Nana and converted the measurements from imperial to metric.  Afgan biscuits have been around for generations.  It has been the first recipe in the biscuit section of the Edmonds Cookery Book since its 7th edition in 1953.  My Nan’s recipe dates from long before that.  The only alterations I have made to her recipe are the addition of vanilla extract to bring out the chocolate flavour, and a little baking powder to make the biscuits a little lighter - I hope she would approve.

You can mix these in a bowl, no mixer required, as long as the butter is soft.  The icing is lovely and fudgy, well worth the faff.  However, you could make an icing with cocoa, icing sugar and a little milk or water if you prefer.

175g butter, softened
100g light soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
180g flour
35g cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
60g cornflakes, lightly crushed

Chocolate Icing:
45ml/3 tbsp water
45g caster sugar
45g butter
200 g icing sugar
30g cocoa
walnut pieces (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan and line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.  Sift in the flour, cocoa and baking powder.  Mix until combined then gently stir through the cornflakes.

Put teaspoonfuls on the prepared trays, leaving a little space around each biscuit to allow them to spread.  Flatten them slightly with a fork and bake for 12–15 minutes.

Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes before transferring  to a wire rack to cool completely. 



Put the water, caster sugar and butter into a saucepan over a low heat.  Gently heat, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.  Then turn up the heat and simmer for 1 - 2 minutes until the mixture forms a syrup.

Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl.  Gradually add the syrup, stirring all the time, until a smooth and fudgy icing forms.  You can add a little hot water if the icing is too thick.  

Top each biscuit with 1 tsp of warm icing.  Put a walnut half on the top, if you are using them.  Leave the icing to set firmly then serve.  We decorated ours with rinsed glace cherries and sprinkles instead of walnuts.

These biscuits keep well for 3 to 4 days if kept into an airtight tin.  

Thrifty Sausage, Vegetable and Pearl Barley Hotpot


I created this recipe for Vanesther’s new Recipes for Life event, run in partnership with Swallow which is a Somerset charity supporting adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives.  



As part of its Fit for Life programme, Swallow runs cookery courses, helping members learn to prepare simple, inexpensive and nutritious meals.  Swallow are looking for new recipes for its members to cook on the course, and ultimately to include in its cookbook.  They need recipes that use a few easily obtainable ingredients and are quick and easy to make.

This month the theme is sausages, onions and tomatoes so this frugal and tasty dinner fits in perfectly!  It certainly went down really well in our household and you can freeze leftovers – if there are any.

This recipe is also fab for using up leftover cooked sausages or cooked chicken.  You could add some spinach with the sausage slices at the end and cook until the spinach wilts.  

Sausage, Vegetable and Pearl Barley Hotpot - serves 5 generously.

2 Tblsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed (optional)
3 carrots, finely sliced
3 celery sticks, finely sliced
2 peppers, deseeded and finely diced (any colour will do)
1 cup pearl barley
750ml chicken or vegetable stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 Tblsp tomato paste
6 good quality pork sausages

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan.

Heat the oil in a deep saucepan over a moderate heat.  Add the onion, garlic (if using), carrot, celery, and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes until the onion and peppers start to soften.  Add the pearl barley and stir to combine.  Add the stock, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until well combined.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low.  Cook, uncovered, for 30 - 40 minutes or until the pearl barley is tender.

Put the sausage onto a non-stick oven tray and bake for 20 – 25 minutes.



Let the sausages cool slightly then slice them thinly.  Add the sliced sausages to the pearl barley mixture.  Cook for a couple of minutes until the sausages are heated through.  Season to taste.  We stirred some spinach through ours before serving.



I am also submitting this recipe to Credit Crunch Munch the blogging challenge co-hosted by Helen and Camilla.  This month's host is Camilla.