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Breakfast Cookies

Wednesday, 25 November 2015
Time can be short in the mornings and whilst I always ensure that my family have a good breakfast, I find myself sometimes forgetting to eat or waiting until after the school run to have breakfast at which point I am ravenous.

To solve this conundrum, on the mornings when I can't manage a decent breakfast, I baked these Breakfast Cookies and eating one is enough to get me through until after the school run.  My daughters like them in their lunchboxes for an energy boosting snack.  They are also great for an afternoon pick-me-up.  

These are also much cheaper than the breakfast biscuit offerings in the supermarket, and I know exactly what is in them.  I vary the dried fruit depending on what we have in the cupboard and also add some seeds for extra texture and nutritional value.  You can use vegetable or rapeseed oil instead of coconut oil if you prefer.  

Breakfast Cookies

150g rolled oats (use gluten free if necessary)
70g unsweetened dessicated coconut 
60g toasted slivered almonds
100g dried fruit, roughly chopped if necessary
30g mixed seeds
3 medium over ripe bananas, mashed 
1 Tblsp coconut oil, warmed 
1 Tblsp honey or maple/golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Heat oven to 180C/160C Fan. Line two oven trays with non stick baking paper.  Combine the oats, coconut, slivered almonds, dried fruit, and mixed seeds in a large bowl. In a separate bowl or jug combine the bananas, oil, honey/syrup and vanilla.  Pour into the dry ingredients then mix until totally combined.  

Roll tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls, put onto prepared trays and flatten slightly.  I made approximately 15 - 18 cookies.  Bake for approx 10 - 12  minutes, or until golden on top.

FoodCycle Breadline Challenge

Sunday, 15 November 2015

FoodCycle is brilliant, I have volunteered several times at my local branch cooking a three course lunch for the local community from food which would otherwise go to waste.  There are FoodCycle hubs around the UK and I wholeheartedly encourage you to check them out and help out if you can.   For information on all things FoodCycle, browse their website.

I was asked to compile a Meal Plan to promote the FoodCycle Breadline Challenge 2015 which will entail supporters living off a food budget of £2.86 a day for one week.  The Challenge will run from 16th – 22nd November and is aiming to raise awareness of rising UK food poverty and also raise vital funds for FoodCycle's work across the country.

My budget was £20.02 for 7 days worth of food, I overspent by 7p.  Here's my shopping list:

29 items: £20.09

Packets and Cereals
1x ASDA Smartprice Muesli (1Kg)                                                    £1.18
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Pearl Barley (500g)                             64p
1x Whitworths Granulated Sugar (500g)                                           49p
1x ASDA Smartprice Self Raising Flour (1.5Kg)                                45p
1x ASDA Lemon Juice (250ml)                                                         55p
1x ASDA Smartprice Long Grain Rice (1Kg)                                     40p
1x ASDA Smartprice Pasta Shapes (500g)                                       29p

2x ASDA Smartprice Mixed Vegetables (1Kg)                                   £1.54
1x ASDA Cook from Frozen Pollock Portions (368g)                         £1.75

Tins, Jars and Cooking
2x ASDA Chopped Tomatoes with Garlic in Tomato Juice (390g)      80p was 50p
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Black Eye Beans in Water (300g)        40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Chilli Beans (290g)                              40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Smartprice Dried Mixed Herbs (18g)                                  25p
1x ASDA Smartprice Strawberry Jam (454g)                                    29p
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Green Lentils in Water (400g)              40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Red Kidney Beans in Water (400g)      40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00
1x ASDA Chosen by You Vegetable Stock Cubes (12x10g)               75p
2x ASDA Chopped Tomatoes with Chilli and Peppers (390g)             80p was £1.00
1x ASDA Good and Balanced Mixed Bean Salad (290g)                    40p Buy any 5 FOR £2.00

Dairy and Eggs
2x ASDA British Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                                      £1.78
1x ASDA Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                                    85p
1x ASDA Mixed Weight Free Range Eggs (6)                                   85p
1x Anchor Grated Mature Cheddar (200g)                                         £1.00 was £2.38

Fruit and Vegetables
3 ASDA White Baking Potatoes by Weight (430g)                             86p
7 ASDA Grower's Selection Bananas by Weight (170g)                     69p
300g ASDA White Cabbage by Weight                                             17p
1x ASDA Grower's Selection Carrots (1Kg)                                       49p
1x ASDA Brown Onions (1Kg)                                                          74p

1x   ASDA Smartprice Instant Coffee Granules (100g)                      47p

My Meal Plan is as follows:

Muesli, with grated carrot, a banana. and milk

Onion Soup with Cheese and Herb Soda Bread x 2
Mixed Vegetable, Herb and Pearl Barley Soup with Cheese and Herb Soda Bread
Pearl Barley and Mixed Vegetables Risotto x 2
Black Eyed Peas Patties with Rice, Cabbage, Carrot Stir Fry
Rice, Chilli Beans and Vegetable Bake

Fishcakes with Mixed Vegetables
Mixed Bean and Vegetable Stew with Pasta
Egg Fried Rice with Vegetables
Fish and Chips with Vegetables
Kidney Bean Patties with Vegetables and Champ Mash
Twice Baked Potato with Cheesy Chilli Bean Topping and vegetables
Lentil Bolognese with Pasta

Rice Pudding
Oat and Fruit Soda Bread with Jam

Soda Bread

300g/2 cups self raising flour
30g butter
1/2 cup grated mature cheddar cheese (leave out if making sweet version)
1 or 2 tsp dried mixed herbs or a handful of muesli
250ml milk
2 tsp lemon juice

Mix the lemon juice and milk together and leave to stand whilst you grate the cheese and measure out the other ingredients.  Sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter. Add the grated cheese, herbs  if you are making a savoury version or muesli if you are making a sweet version.  Add milk then mix until mixture forms a sticky dough.

Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth, don't over knead it or your bread will be heavy. Form into a round loaf then mark into four with the handle of a wooden spoon. Dust with a little flour.

Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked. Serve warm or cold.

Mixed Bean and Vegetable Stew

Heat one tin of drained mixed beans with one pack of Chopped Tomatoes with Chilli and Peppers and 100g of frozen mixed vegetables, add a pinch of mixed herbs if you want.  Simmer until the vegetables are cooked then serve over 100g of pasta cooked according to packet instructions.

Kidney Bean Patties

1 tin kidney beans
1 carrot, grated
1 onion, grated
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 Tblsp flour

Drain and rinse the kidney beans then add mixed herbs, grated onion and carrot.  Mash together until a lumpy puree mixture forms.  Mix through the flour then form into patties. Chill in the fridge for half an hour to firm up if you have time.  Cook over a moderate heat in a frying pan for 3 - 4 minutes each side. 

Mixed Vegetable Pearl Barley Risotto

Rice Pudding

600ml whole milk
65g long grain white rice
50g white sugar

In a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan combine the milk and rice.  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 to taste.  Return the saucepan to the heat and cook until the rice pudding thickens, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon the pudding into a bowl to cool, cover with clingfilm to stop a skin forming. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days. To make into a Mullerrice type treat mix in some jam.

What are your favourite budget meals?  Will you be taking part in the Challenge? 

English Muffins

Friday, 6 November 2015
I was asked to try out Clover spread and see how my family liked it. So that we could taste the flavour of the spread I baked some English Muffins using Clover instead of butter, and spread them liberally with Clover, so we could properly taste test the spread. 

Clover spread tasted buttery and full of flavour. It contains buttermilk and no artificial ingredients, with half saturated fat of butter, so is great for those wanting a buttery taste with less saturated fat when making family meals. 

I shall be creating a delicious recipe using Clover over the next couple of weeks, so do pop back and keep a look out. In the meantime, why not bake some English Muffins and enjoy them for breakfast on the weekend.

English Muffins

675g strong white bread flour
7g instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
50g Clover
500ml milk
1 free range egg, beaten

To make fruited muffins add:
75g dried fruit, soaked in hot water to plump up, then drained well
2 tsp mixed spice or cinnamon

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Heat the milk in a saucepan over a low heat or in the microwave with the Clover spread.  Once the milk is lukewarm remove from the heat, the Clover should be just melting.  

Make a well in the flour mixture in the bowl, add the egg along with the milk and butter mixture.  Mix until a soft dough forms.  Knead for 5 minutes then put into a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling film.  Leave to prove until doubled in size.  

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6.  Line two large baking trays with non-stick baking paper.

Knock back the dough then roll out on a well floured surface until 1cm/0.5 inch thick  Cut our muffins using a large circular cutter, mine measures 10cm/4 inches in diameter.  Roll out the trimmings and cut out as many muffins as you can, I usually end up with approximately 12 - 15 muffins.  Put the muffins on to lined oven trays and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Back the muffins for 5 - 7 minutes then remove from the oven, turn them over, and put back in the oven for a further 5 -7 minutes.  They should be slightly golden and cooked through.  

If you bake some of these delicious morsels or any other yeasted bread bake, don't forget to link up with Bready, Steady, Go this month.  The linky is here!

I'm also entering these English Muffins into Credit Crunch Munch, the thrifty food challenge created by Helen and Camilla, hosted this month by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.  This recipe makes 14 - 16 English Muffins for far less than the cost of purchasing them from the supermarket.

** Sponsored Post **

Quick Sweet Pumpkin Bread

Tuesday, 3 November 2015
I had a pumpkin that needed eating so roasted it and baked Pumpkin and Chorizo Bread with some of the delicious cooked pumpkin.  I also wanted something quick to bake using cooked pumpkin that was a sweet treat, suitable for afternoon tea.  

This loaf was delicious, spread with some butter and drizzled with a little maple syrup.  It was also great sliced and plain, with a cuppa of course.  My 3 girls took some in their lunchboxes for an after lunch treat and the friends they shared it with liked it too.

Quick Sweet Pumpkin Bread 

50g butter
450g self raising flour
100g light soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 large free range egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
125 ml buttermilk, or 115ml milk with 10ml lemon juice added
200g cooked pumpkin, roasted or steamed and cooled
2 Tblsp light soft brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 210C/190C Fan/425F/Gas Mark 7.  Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Stir through the sugar, baking powder and spices.  In a separate jug measure the buttermilk and beat in the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin.  Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix until combined.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a 20cm/8 inch round.  Transfer to a lined baking tray.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of light soft brown sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

I'm entering this delicious bake into Extra \Veg, the blogging challenge created by Helen and I to encourage us all to eat extra servings of vegetables.  Helen is hosting this month.

Pumpkin and Chorizo Bread - Bready, Steady, Go November

Sunday, 1 November 2015
It's my turn to host Bready, Steady, Go this month and I cannot wait to see all of your fabulous yeasted bread bakes! 

I have some chorizo in the fridge that needed using up and also a pumpkin that needed to be eaten so I thought, rather than make a risotto or soup, that I would attempt a pumpkin bread with chorizo chunks dotted through it.  I baked the recipe three times, to make absolutely sure it the recipe worked, and because it is rather delicious and we wanted to eat more of it.

This recipe makes a 2lb/1kg loaf so make sure you use a large loaf tin so the dough doesn't overflow the tin.  You could steam your pumpkin but I decided to roast it because I find it easier to cook pumpkin that way, no need to peel and faff about cutting it into chunks.  Just cut your pumpkin or squash in half, scoop out the seeds, then roast until tender.  I also cooked the chorizo and left it to cool before mixing it into the dough.

Pumpkin and Chorizo Bread

200g cooked pumpkin or sweet potato
500g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fast action/instant yeast
2 tsp sugar
300ml lukewarm water
100g finely diced chorizo, cooked and cooled

Mix all the ingredients, apart from the chorizo, together in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer until a dough forms.  Knead the dough, either by hand or in a mixer, for 5 - 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.  Leave the dough to prove in a lightly greased bowl, covered in cling film, for an hour or until doubled in size.  

Knock back the dough and knead through the chorizo.  Put the dough into a greased 2lb/1kg loaf tin and leave for 45 - 60 minutes until almost doubled in size again. 

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas Mark 6 and cook the loaf for 40 minutes.  To check if the loaf is cooked, carefully slide it out of the tin and tap the bottom which should sound hollow.  If the loaf does not sound hollow when tapped, return it to the oven for another 10 minutes.  

Challenge Guidelines
Bready Steady Go! will run from 1st until the 28th of each month and then a round up will be posted by the hosting blog at the end of the month.
You can link up any bread recipe, sometimes we may also run themed challenges, and feel free to join in with other challenges if your post also meets their guidelines. If you really love baking bread then you can add multiple entries up to a maximum of 3 per blog each month.
Please link back to Jen’s Food and Utterly Scrummy Food For Families and include the badge to help spread the word.
We’d prefer to see entries from new blog posts where possible but you can also add old posts if you add the badge and link back to our blogs as well.
You can tweet your entries to @JensFood and @UtterlyScrummy using the hashtag #breadysteadygo and we will retweet all that we see.
All entries will also pinned to our new Pinterest board as they come in.
If you make a recipe from a book/magazine/website etc please respect copyright and do not reproduce the recipe verbatim. Instead of copying out the recipe from the book, describe it in your own words and if it’s from an online source please link to the original content rather than copying full recipe.

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


A Pavlova to #CelebrateTheNations

Saturday, 17 October 2015
We're huge rugby fans in our household, it's kind of expected in NZ where we're from, and we are loving watching all the Rugby World Cup games.  It's like total rugby overload in our house, and my poor husband, who is not as enthusiastic about the sport as the rest of us, has been very tolerant of our need to watch every game and shout at the TV rather a lot.

I was delighted to be asked by Tesco to cook a NZ recipe as part of their Celebrate the Nations campaign to celebrate the Rugby World Cup. I asked my family what I should cook and they unanimously shouted "Pavlova, of course!" so that's what I baked.  It was delicious and as soon as the photographs were taken there was a stampede of hungry family towards the pav, similar to an All Black scrum.

I made two pavlovas but one cracked so instead of a double layer pavlova I created a single layer, coated with plain/dark chocolate (so it wouldn't get soggy all covered in cream and sitting around being photographed) and a double layer Eton mess with blackberries on top, separated by a layer of kiwi fruit, and topped with more blackberries.


This recipe makes one pavlova 25cm/10 inches in diameter

220g/1 cup caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp wine vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 large or 4 medium free range egg whites
I use my stand mixer to make a pav, sometimes I use my hand held electric beaters but find it much easier in the stand mixer.  Make sure the bowl and beater is completely spotless because any trace of grease will stop the eggs from beating and aerating well.  

Measure the caster sugar, cornflour, salt, vinegar and vanilla in to the bowl and then add the egg whites.  Make sure there is absolutely no yolk at all in the mixture as this will stop the egg whites from beating up well.  

Beat all the ingredients at high speed for about 15 minutes, until a thick meringue forms. Make sure the mixture is not gritty and that all the sugar has dissolved.  When you lift out the beater blades, the meringue should form peaks that stand up stiffly. 

Draw a circle 25cm/10 inches in diameter on a piece of non-stick baking paper large enough to line your oven tray.  Turn the baking paper over and secure it to the tray using a little meringue dotted under each corner.  Pile the mixture onto the circle on the baking paper and smooth the surface.  If you have the time or inclination you could pipe the mixture into the circle.   

Bake in a preheated oven at 100C/90C Fan for 60 - 70 minutes, then turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven for another half an hour.  Take the pavlova out of the oven.  Leave for an hour then top and fill as you wish.

Phil Vickery, ex England rugby player and 2011 Celebrity Master Chef winner has also created a delicious recipe for Pork, Pinto Bean and Sweet Potato Stew.

You can find the delicious Tesco #CelebrateTheNations Pork Stew recipe here.

Has my dish, or Phil's dish inspired you? Why not create your own culinary masterpiece and #CelebrateTheNations this Autumn! For more ideas and inspiration, visit realfood.tesco.com/celebratethenations.html 

** Sponsored Post **

Bready, Steady, Go! Round Up for September

Sunday, 4 October 2015
It was my turn to host Bready, Steady, Go! Round Up in September and as always it is a pleasure to see all the delicious bakes linked up.

Onions and Paper baked these stunning Turkish Bread Twists.

Fuss Free Flavours created an ingenious loaf to use up leftover sourdough leaven, delicious!

Family, Friends, Food baked gorgeous Rosh Hashanah Spiced Apple Challah Bread shaped 3 ways.

Baking Queen 74 baked Wholemeal Olive Focaccia, a scrumptious lunch.

Sarah's Tasty Buds baked delicious Bublik, Russian Bagels

Sarah's Tasty Buds also baked some scrumptious Armenian Lavash, great as a side dish

Sarah's Tasty Bubs entered a third delicious bake, Yeasted Banana Sandwich Bread, perfect for peanut butter sandwiches.

Thanks so much to all those who baked and linked up this month.  I cannot wait to see what you come up with next month!  Lovely Jen is hosting.

Vegetable and Cheese Bites

Saturday, 3 October 2015
I'm joining in with Jo who blogs at Slummy Single Mummy and The Co-Operative to promote the Co-Op 21 Day Food Challenge which aims to encourage families to eat better and healthier.  

I am very fortunate that none of my children are fussy eaters and happily eat a wide range of fruits, vegetables, pulses and grains without complaint.  Our eldest went through a fussy eating phase when she was around 3 years old but that was brief, thankfully.  So far there haven't been any teenage food fussiness phases, fingers crossed.  It did make me think about how I would persuade my teen, and preteen, to go back to their previously unfussy ways should they suddenly develop aversions to their usual varied diet.

Here are the tips I came up with:

Appeal to their vanity, let them know that fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are great for healthy hair, nails and skin.

Mix familiar and unfamiliar vegetables.  Why not mix some sweet potato with normal potato mash, or add some extra vegetables to stews and bolognese.  You may need to be sneaky and blitz the vegetables into sauces, depending on the level of aversion and fussiness.

Smoothies are great for getting fruit, and sneaky vegetables, into our diets.  I usually use at least two portions of vegetables to each portion of fruit and add dates for sweetness rather than honey or refined sugar.

Let children help with meal preparation.  If they help make it they are much more likely to eat it.

Try raw, steamed, roasted or stir fried vegetables.  It may be that children prefer the taste and texture of vegetables cooked a certain way or uncooked. Experiment to find what suits and go from there.

If you have other great tips and pearls of wisdom I would love to hear them, please leave a comment below.  Lovely Jo is hosting a Twitter party on this very subject with prizes to be won!

Vegetable and Cheese Bites

My 3 daughters and I baked these as lunchbox fillers, packed with vegetables they are a flavoursome and healthy snack.  Even baby boy enjoyed one for his lunch, fab for baby led weaning too.

70g butter, cubed
110g self-raising flour
60g grated cheese, I used mature cheddar
80g grated courgette
80g grated butternut squash
1 pepper, finely diced, any colour will do but I used red
1 free range egg
1 tsp dried mixed herbs

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan.  Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix in the vegetables and cheese so they are coated in the flour mixture.  Add the egg and mix until completely incorporated.  Make 8 - 10 patties from the mixture and place on your prepared baking tray.  Sprinkle a little extra grated cheese over the top.  Bake in  your preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through, and the cheese on top is bubbling and melted.

Follow The Co-Operative on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for recipe inspiration and latest food news.

** Sponsored Post ** 

Beetroot and Autumn Vegetable Soup

Friday, 2 October 2015
I was delighted to be asked by Waitrose to create an Autumn Warmer recipe to celebrate the season. This autumn Waitrose are celebrating Britain’s warmest dishes, and they would love to see what you’re cooking! Whether it’s homemade comforting soup, a delicious apple crumble or a traditional Sunday Roast they would be delighted for you to share your makes and bakes with them. 

Simply post photos or tell them about your favourite autumnal food and drink on social media using @Waitrose and #AutumnWarmers for a chance to win a range of prizes, including a baking bundle, a Sage by Heston Blumenthal multicooker and a ultimate roast dinner for you and your friends!

The leaves on the trees are currently turning lovely colours and there is a crisp chill in the air.  I decided to be inspired by the lovely colours of autumn leaves and make a soup a vegetables that mimic those colours.  

I created this Beetroot and Autumn Vegetable Soup which is vibrant and delicious, packed with vegetables to ward off any sniffles.  Our baby boy and I enjoyed this soup for lunch, and my older 3 daughters enjoyed some as an after school snack.  It went down very well indeed, a scrumptious serving of Autumn produce.

Beetroot and Autumn Vegetable Soup

1 Tblsp oil
1 large onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
300g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
300g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch dice
200g pack cooked beetroot in natural juice, roughly chopped
700ml vegetable stock
juice of 2 lemons

Put a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the oil, onion and celery.  Cook until softened.  Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.  Sprinkle in the mixed spice, add the squash, sweet potato and vegetable stock.  Bring to the boil, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Add cooked beetroot and juice.  Cook for 5 - 10 minutes util the beetroot is tender.  Add the lemon juice and stir to mix.  Leave the soup to cool for at least 10 minutes before blending with a hand held stick blender or blending in batches in a jug blender.

Check out all the other delicious #AutumnWarmers by following Waitrose on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. You can also find recipe inspiration on their website.

** Sponsored Post **

Wholegrain Rice, Quinoa, and Vegetable Bites

Wednesday, 30 September 2015
I was recently asked to be part of the Veetee Blogger Community and create recipes using VeeTee Microwave Rice products.  I decided that I would create a lunchbox or after school snack rather than use the rice as part of a dinner, given my fondness for being non-conformist, and my family's need to for new and interesting lunch box fillers.

These Wholegrain Rice, Quinoa, and Vegetable Balls went down well with the entire household, from bubs and the older children to my husband and I.  They freeze well too, thaw then reheat until piping hot in the oven, if you microwave them they do go a little soggy, still tasty but not as crisp and appealing.

This recipe made approximately 28 delicious morsels and I served them with a homemade tomato sauce, a garlic and herbed soured cream or yoghurt dip/sauce would work well too.

Wholegrain Rice, Quinoa, and Vegetable Bites 

1 cup roasted butternut squash, I roasted half a large butternut squash
1 courgette, grated
200g cooked Wholegrain Rice and Quinoa, I used Veetee
75g grated cheese, I used mature cheddar
2 Tblsp homemade or store bought chutney or 1 Tblsp finely chopped fresh herbs
1 or 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs, I used Panko breadcrumbs for extra texture and crunch

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line 2 large oven trays with non-stick baking paper.

Scrape the cooked butternut squash flesh from the skin and mash in a large bowl.  Mix in the grated courgette, cooked wholegrain rice and quinoa mixture, grated cheese and chutney.  

I used my ice cream scoop to measure bite sized portions to roll in breadcrumbs then place on to lined oven trays.  Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through and the outside is crisp.  Cool on trays then devour once cool enough to safely eat.

You can follow Veetee on Twitter and Facebook for product updates, competitions and giveaways.

For more inspiration check out the following fab posts from other bloggers involved in the campaign:

Fuss Free Flavours created delicious Baked Rice Samosas
Emily cooked scrumptious Paneer and Pilau Fritters
Lucy whipped up a Nasi Goreng with Prawns
Vikalinka created a tasty Peri Peri Rice and Chicken Wrap

** Sponsored Post **

One Pot Chicken Casserole

Monday, 21 September 2015
The weather has definitely changed to blustery and much cooler as we usher in Autumn.  Comfort food has been craved this past week and will continue to be a feature on our Meal Plans until the Spring.  I do love dinners that can just bubble on the stove, or cook in the oven with minimal preparation and fuss.
Evenings are busy in our household with after school activities, homework, and the general humdrum of weekdays.  Dinners of course need to be nourishing and also quick and easy.  This casserole is comforting and suitable for us all, including bubs, and takes a little preparation before it bubbles away on the hob until we are ready for dinner.  Perfect!

Chicken Casserole - Serves 6

1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons oil
8 - 10 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine
400ml chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
2 tsp dried mixed herbs 

Put a large casserole pan over a low heat. Add the oil, garlic. onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens and the carrot and celery have started to soften. Increase the heat to medium/high then put the chicken into the pan, skin side down, cooking for 5 minutes (or until the skin is golden and crispy), before turning over and cooking the other side for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, wine, stock, and add the herbs. Bring the pot to the boil, increasing the heat if necessary. As soon as the pot comes to the boil, put the lid on, reduce the heat, and simmer for 60 - 90 minutes. Should you want to thicken the sauce, put 1 or 2 tablespoons of corn flour into a small cup and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cold water, stir until smooth then add to the casserole. Stir gently and the sauce should thicken. I usually serve this casserole with a large helping of steamed greens and mashed potato.

Courgette, Sausage, and Rice Stuffed Squash

Sunday, 13 September 2015
I was delighted to be asked by Debbie and Andrew's Sausages to create a harvest themed recipe to celebrate their #MakeMySausage Competition.  

They're inviting everyone from food bloggers to sausaholics to describe their perfect sausage – something out-of-this-world fantastic – a sausage dreams are made of, following Andy Bates mantra of ‘quality ingredients, freshness and superb taste’.

Debbie and Andrew's will choose their favourite entry and get to work making the winning sausage dream come true, using only the best British meat, made from farms that meet the Red Tractor standard.

The winning sausage will be sold during the 2016 roadshow, reaching 500k people around the UK. The winner will also receive one pack of their winning flavour, and a years supply of Debbie and Andrew's sausages of their choice! Enter here or post your entry on twitter with the hashtag #MakeMySausage

Our favourite Debbie and Andrew's sausage is the Harrogate 97% Pork Sausage which is wheat, gluten, and dairy free.

We have had rather a lot of courgettes to use up in our late Summer harvest and I was fortunate to be able to purchase a couple of small round squash from the local market for a very good price.  I decided to combine the two with some other delicious ingredients to make Courgette, Sausage and Rice Stuffed Squash.  A delicious dish to usher in the start of Autumn whilst using up the last of some Summer produce.  

My husband and I devoured this dish for a hearty lunch, with plenty of leftovers stashed in the freezer, so it would easily feed all 6 of us for dinner.  Quick to make, filling and thrifty, a great weeknight or weekend dinner option when it's chilly outside and comfort food is required.

Courgette, Sausage, and Rice Stuffed Squash

2 or 3 small round squashes, depending on how many people you are feeding
6 good quality pork sausages
2 large courgettes, finely sliced
2 peppers, finely diced (any colour will do)
2 tins chopped tomatoes, I used 440g tins with added chilli but plain would be fine
1 pouch microwave rice, I used wholegrain brown rice

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C/Gas Mark 6/400F.  Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.  Slice your round squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in the centre.  Rub a little oil onto the cut surfaces of the squash then place face down on the baking tray.  Bake for approximately 30 - 45 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Whilst the squash are baking, make the filling.  Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins into a large pan set over a moderate heat.  Break the sausage meat up as it cooks, you want a fairly fine mince like consistency.  Once the sausage is no longer pink, add the finely sliced courgette and diced pepper, cook until tender.  Pour in the tinned tomatoes and add the pack of cooked rice.  Cook for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.

Spoon the filling into the squash halves.  Sprinkle over some grated strong cheddar then bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling, the filling has heated through, and the squash are really tender.  We served ours with a large helping of steamed greens.

** Commissioned Post **

Our #thriftyorganic Meal Plan for this week

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I was delighted to be asked to compile a thrifty Meal Plan for Organic UK to celebrate Organic September which is part of the Organic Trade Board’s ongoing ‘Organic. Naturally Different’ campaign I've joined in with their #ThriftyOrganic challenge and swapped my regular weekly shop for an organic one, to see how much of a difference there is in cost and taste.

We grow as much of our own organic produce as possible and it does taste better, perhaps due to the work that went into producing it, or maybe because it has been freshly picked.  At the moment we've got an abundance of late summer produce so I have included some of that in our Meal Plan this week.

A budget of £80 was set to feed all 6 of us this week, using as much organic produce and products as possible. I have supplemented our shop with homegrown produce such as greens, salad, herbs, and foraged berries and other fruits.

Breakfasts will be porridge with apple compote, made with apples from the trees in our back garden.

Packed Lunches will be Versatile Vegetable Pasties with homemade hummus and vegetable crudites, yoghurt with homemade fruit compote and a small baked treat.

Bubs and I will be having Root Vegetable and Red Lentil Dhal and Red Lentil Bolognese for our lunches at home.

Weekend Lunches will be Mini Frittatas and Twice Baked Potatoes.


Green Goddess Pasta - Meatfree Monday

500g organic wholewheat pasta
380g organic chickpeas, drained (reserve 80ml chickpea water)
80ml olive oil
juice of 1 organic lemon
200g orgaic spinach
100g organic kale
2 handfuls fresh basil leaves
4 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
75g grated cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to packet instructions.  Whilst the pasta is cooking make the sauce.  Put all the ingredients in a power blender or food processor in the order listed then blend until smooth.  Add a little of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if necessary.

Drain the pasta, pour over the sauce and mix to combine.  Serve with a little finely grated parmesan and sliced cherry tomatoes if you wish.

Roast Chicken with steamed greens and roast vegetables

Chicken Soup packed with vegetables and added brown rice to fill us up

Muffin Tin Chicken Tarts with steamed greens and baked potatoes

Sausage, Summer Vegetable and Potato Traybake 

Onepot Vegetable and Chickpea Curry

Brown Rice and Vegetable Bake

Shopping List

32 items: £80.20

Packets and Cereals
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Porridge Oats (750g)                                          £3.20
1x   Doves Farm Organic Fine Plain White Flour (1Kg)                              £1.75
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Fairtrade Golden Granulated Unrefined Cane Sugar (500g)       £1.10
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Brown Rice (500g)                                              £1.45
1x   Crazy Jack Organic Red Split Lentils (250g)                                       90p
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Wholewheat Fusilli (500g)                                   £1.05

Dairy and Eggs
2x   Sainsbury's Organic 2% Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)                              £2.40
4x   Sainsbury's Organic Fresh Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                         £7.40
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                      £1.60
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Grated Cheddar (200g)                                       £3.70
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Woodland Free Range Mixed Eggs (12)              £3.70

1x   Sainsbury's Organic Garden Peas (750g)                                           £2.20

Tins, Jars & Cooking
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g)         80p
3x   Sainsbury's Organic Chick Peas in Water (380g)                                £2.25
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Naturally Sweet Sweetcorn (150g)                       65p

Fruit and Vegetables
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Full Flavoured Garlic Bulbs (3)                            90p
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Salad Spring Onions (100g)                                85p
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Mixed Peppers (3)                                              £5.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Savoy Cabbage                                                  £1.40
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Courgettes (3)                                                    £4.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Lady Balfour Potatoes (2Kg)                               £2.50
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Sweet Potatoes (750g)                                        £2.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Baby Salad Potatoes (750g)                                £1.50
1x   Sainsbury's Lemons Loose                                                                 35p
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Carrots (750g)                                                    £2.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Leeks (400g)                                                      £2.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Butternut Squash Loose (Approx 655g)               £1.24
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Celery                                                                £1.20
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Cucumber                                                          £2.50
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Medium Flavour Red Onions (500g)                    £1.00
3x   Sainsbury's Organic Fairtrade Bananas (Approx 800g)                        £2.88

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 350g)                     £3.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Whole Chicken (Approx 1.75Kg)                          £11.73
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 6 September 2015.
Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

We shopped at Sainsbury's this week, mostly from their So Organic range. At the moment Tesco have a 3 for 2 offer on organic vegetables.  Keep a look out for other supermarket offers which make shopping organic more affordable.

You can also check out Organic UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with their campaigns and find out more information about organic farming and produce.

** Commissioned Post **
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