Thumbprint Biscuits

This is such a simple recipe, and perfect for kiddies to make.  Try your hand at this frugal, and exceedingly yummy recipe.  All in all, I think it cost approximately 45p to make 12 biscuits…

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Ingredients

50g butter – softened
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cap vanilla essence
100g plain flour
Jam / Nutella / Lemon Curd
Method
 
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, and line your baking tray with greaseproof paper.
2. Using the back of a large, wooden spoon, cream the butter in a large bowl, then add the sugar. Continue to cream together.
3. Add the egg yolk, and vanilla essence, and continue stirring with the wooden spoon.
4. Add the flour, part by part, and combine thoroughly. When it becomes difficult to mix, get your hands in there to form a dough ball.
5. “Pinch an inch”, and roll in to ball shapes. Place on the lined baking tray.
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6. Use your thumb, and press down in the middle of each ball, creating a well.
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7. Add a teaspoon full of your jam (or Nutella / lemon curd), ensuring that the mixture doesn’t overflow too much.
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8. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
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9. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the baking tray for approximately 5 minutes or so, before placing them on a cooling wire rack.
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10. Enjoy!!
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Christmas Biscuits – no eggs

I have made this recipe time and time again, and when I come to make them again this morning, I realised that my eggs were TOTALLY out of date, so I decided to mix up the recipe a little to make them without any egg yolk.  They’ve come out a treat, and according to the hubby, these are the “best” I’ve ever made.

If I have calculated this correctly, the ingredient amounts below should make approximately 20 biscuits, and cost about 60p ($0.75).

Perfect for those family members and friends who have an egg allergy, try this out.

Ingredients

8oz (225g) butter – softened

4oz (115g) sugar (I used caster sugar, but standard, granulated is ok too)

Vanilla essence

5tbsp water

12oz (340g) plain flour

Hard boiled sweets (or hard boiled candies, if you live in the US)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C for fan assisted).
  2. Line your baking sheets with grease proof / baking paper.
  3. In a mixing bowl, cream your butter.  You should really use the back of a wooden spoon for this, but I continually used my electric hand mixer on a slow speed.
  4. Add the sugar, and cream in to the butter.
  5. Add the vanilla essence – I really went overboard with the amount I used, because we all love vanilla, but you should only really use a cap-full; and the water.  Mix thoroughly.
  6. Start to combine the flour, bit by bit, until it becomes almost impossible to continue mixing, then combine the rest thoroughly with your hands.  Knead the dough a little in the bowl, to ensure it all sticks together.
  7. Turn the dough out on to a clean and floured surface, and roll out to approximately 1cm depths.
  8. Using your cookie cutters (I used a large gingerbread man cutter), cut out your biscuits, and place carefully on to the lined baking tray.  Repeat until you have used up all of your dough.
  9. Using a small cookie cutter (I used a small star this time), remove the “belly” / middle of each large man shape / biscuit.  With using the small star shape, I was able to use these for some regular, star-shaped biscuits for my Donut.
  10. Place a hard boiled sweet in to the middle of the cut-out you have just done (i.e. my star shape in the belly).
  11. Place in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
  12. Remove from the oven, and – keeping the biscuits on the grease proof paper, remove the trays on to a cool surface.
  13. Allow to cool for approximately 30 minutes – or until the melted sweet has reset, and you now have the choice to either scoff the lot, or decorate!

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Peanut butter bites

I have to admit, I am not a fan of peanut butter.  Peanuts are ok, but when they’ve been made in to a spread, I’m not keen.  My husband and eldest son, on the other hand, love the stuff.

Several months ago, I tried out a recipe for peanut butter truffles, but they just weren’t the same as a regular truffle should be, so I changed the name to peanut butter bites.

This recipe is SO simple, and can be made using vegan friendly products (if you are a vegetarian / vegan).

There’s no baking involved, and very little “heat” needed, so give it a go.  I think it took me about an hour to make them – from start to finish; and the whole outcome cost less than £2.

If you have any fancy boxes, you could even pop a few of the bites in to a box, tie a ribbon around, and you have an amazing, homemade, frugal gift.

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Ingredients

270g (9.5oz) peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

40g (1.4oz) unsalted butter

140g (4.9oz) icing sugar

Chocolate (I used 300g / 10oz, but I had some left over)

Sprinkles (optional)

Method

  1. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. Ensure that you have enough room to fit the baking sheet in to your fridge – this is very important!
  3. Put your peanut butter and butter in to a microwavable bowl, and heat on full power for 15-30 seconds.  I checked after 15 and 20 seconds, but needed longer, so I allowed for the full 30.
  4. Transfer the butter mixture in to a mixing bowl, and mix thoroughly, until the butter and peanut butter have combined.
  5. Carefully sift in the icing sugar, bit by bit, and mix well.  I used about a third at a time.  Ensure that you have thoroughly mixed in the icing sugar to the butter mixture.
  6. Using your hands, break off a little of the peanut dough, and roll quickly in between your palms to make a ball, approximately 1 inch in diameter, and place each ball on to the lined baking sheet.  If, like mine, towards the end of the dough, it stops wanting to stick together, squeeze it a little in your palms to soften, and roll into a ball again.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
  8. After about 20 minutes, break up the chocolate in to small pieces, and place in a glass bowl – be sure that the glass bowl can sit on the top of a pan of water.  The base of the bowl should not touch the water.
  9. Bring the pan of water to the boil, and allow the chocolate to melt completely.
  10. When the chocolate has fully melted, switch off the heat, and bring out the peanut butter bites from the fridge.
  11. Roll each bite in the melted chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off.  I used two forks, and gently tapped the fork on the edge of the glass bowl to allow the excess chocolate to come away.
  12. Place the now chocolate covered bites back on to the baking sheet, and repeat until you have covered all peanut bites.
  13. When you have completed covering the bites, if you wish, you can cover them in sprinkles, or (as I did) just sprinkle a couple on the very top.
  14. Return to the fridge for approximately 20 minutes, or until the chocolate has set.

Enjoy!

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Bath Bombs Galore!

Over the past few years, it seems bath bombs have been popping up at every skincare shop out there. Bath bombs leave your bathwater cleansing, soothing and delightfully fizzy. With their soothing scents and fun fizzy effect, it’s no wonder bath bombs are such a huge hit. .However, boutique bath bombs can be expensive and include a fizzing ingredient called citric acid that can be harsh on your skin.  .

It’s easy to make on your own using ingredients found at your local supermarket, and you can omit the citric acid. This recipe calls for cream of tartar (which is sold in the baking aisle in Asda!), which, when combined with baking soda, will give you the same fizzy results.

Ingredients & Materials Needed

256g (9oz / 2 cups) of bicarbonate soda

128g (4.5oz / 1 cup) cream of tartar

50g (1.6oz / 6 tbsp) of Epsom salts

Essential oils of your choosing

Coconut or olive oil

Water or Witch Hazel – in a spray bottle

Large mixing bowl

Large metal spoon

Silicone ice cube tray or mould

Method

  1. Combine the bicarb soda, cream of tartar and Epsom salts in a mixing bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Add up to 20 drops of your choice of essential oil (or up to your desired scent) and two teaspoons (7g / 11ml) of coconut / olive oil.  If you have any dried lavender or any other dried flowers, you can add them at this point.
  3. Once all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, test the mixture by squeezing a small amount in your hand.  If the powder easily compresses together without separating, it is ready to place in the moulds.  However, if the mixture crumbles apart, add a single spray of water / Witch Hazel at a time until you can compress it into a ball.  You shouldn’t have to add more than five sprays of water / Witch Hazel.
  4. Now pack the mixture tightly into the silicone moulds.  You will find that the back of a metal spoon will help compact the mixture in to all corners of the mould.
  5. Leave the mixture in the mould for a full 24 hours to dry.
  6. Once the bath bombs have dried for 24 hours in the mould, carefully remove them and allow them to air dry undisturbed for another 24 hours.  Then, drop one in your bath and enjoy the fizz!

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Chicken and Smoked Sausage Alfredo Pasta

It’s been quite a while my last post, and I thought it was about time I started blogging again.  I don’t think I could have chosen a better time than to post a new recipe!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 smoked pork sausage

1 courgette (for those who live in the USA, you would call this a zucchini)

1 small(ish) unsweetened double cream (Elmlea is perfect.  Again, if you’re in the US, you may call this heavy, or whipping cream)

A couple of handfuls of cheese – I used 1 handful of white Cheddar, and 1 handful of red Cheddar

1 small pot of garlic paste, or if unavailable, 2 garlic cloves – crushed / chopped…  Whatever your preference

A good shaking of smoked paprika

Pasta – I used five handfuls of fusilli

Tablespoon of olive oil – for frying

Method

  • Dice your chicken breasts, slice your sausage, and ‘stick’ your courgette.

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  • Add your pasta to a pan, and cover with water.  Put on the heat, on the hob.

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  • Warm your wok / frying pan up, and add the oil just as the pan begins to smoke.
  • Add the chicken, and fry until fully cooked, stirring occasionally.

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  • When the chicken has cooked, add a decent shaking of your smoked paprika, and add your garlic paste / cloves.

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  • Stir thoroughly, and allow the paprika & garlic to be absorbed just a little.
  • Add the sliced smoked sausage and sticked courgette, and allow to fry – stirring occasionally – until the courgette has started to soften slightly.

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  • Pour in the cream, and stir thoroughly.

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  • Ignore the look of it now…  It’s gone from “pretty” to a mess in less than 5 seconds.
  • Add the cheese – about half a handful at a time – and use the ‘lift & stir’ technique.  (If you don’t know what this is, it’s simple.  Push your wooden spoon / spatula under the mixture, then lift – as if you’re folding the mixture – then stir around, until all the cheese has melted.)

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  • Turn down the heat completely, and sort out your pasta…  I usually drain off the pasta, pour boiling water over it, then redrain.  Add a small amount of butter (small – ha ha!!) and stir until the butter has melted.

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  • Turn off the heat to the cheese sauce & meat mix, and add the pasta directly to the pan.

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  • Give it a good stir, then turn out in to a fancy (if you have one) serving dish.

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  • Help yourself, and enjoy 🙂  I served this with a couple of garlic baguettes, straight from the oven.  Yummy.

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Shortbread & Coconut Shortbread

It’s Gnings’ last day in school tomorrow, as he is breaking up for Christmas.  I can’t believe how quickly it has come around!

I’ve been struggling for ideas on what he should give to his teacher, and two teaching assistants, as a gift for Christmas; and with money being a bit tight too (I’m still on maternity leave), I didn’t really want to spend a lot.  So I thought, everyone loves biscuits, so that’s what we’ll do.  And that’s what we did!

I think I managed to make about 50 stars, and 35 “gingerbread” biscuits.  The stars cost approx. 50p, and the “gingerbread” ones about 75p.

Here’s the recipe:~

125g butter, softened

55g caster sugar

180g plain flour (all-purpose)

OPTIONAL – (1tbsp desiccated coconut)

Drop of water

  1. Preheat your oven to 190C (170C for fan assisted).
  2. Line a baking tray (or two) with greaseproof paper.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and cream together, using the back of a large, wooden spoon.
  4. Sift in all of the flour, in one go, and stir it all together using the spoon (this is also the part where you will add the coconut – if you are going to.  This worked absolutely wonderfully).  When you’re unable to stir any more, use one of your hands to start “bringing the mixture together”, in to a dough.
  5. Add just a drop or two of water – just enough so the mixture starts to meld nicely.  Don’t add too much, otherwise it’ll end up all sticky, and icky.
  6. Once the dough has formed a lovely ball, turn out on to a work surface, that has had a ‘scattering’ of icing sugar (powdered / confectioners sugar), and roll out with a rolling pin, so that it’s about 1cm thick.
  7. Cut out your required shape(s) – squares, rectangles, circles, stars, etc. – and place on the lined baking tray.
  8. Lightly prick the top of the biscuits with a fork, and sprinkle a little more caster sugar on the top of each.
  9. Throw them in the oven (well, not literally) for 15-20 minutes, or until a golden brown colour.
  10. Allow to cool fully before digging in.  Be careful though!  They are incredibly moreish.

Excuse the pics – my camera is playing up a little 😦

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And this is how I packaged them up – all ready for Gningy to take in to school tomorrow:

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Homemade Toad in the Hole

Ooo, you’re in for a treat today, stalkers.  Today I’m making a ‘Toad in the Hole’ from scratch…  No cheating here!  I have even made the batter from scratch today 🙂

If you’re curious as to what a “Toad in the Hole” is, simply keep scrolling…  Or, you can always Google for pictures.  No, it’s not an actual frog in a hole…  It’s pork sausages baked inside a Yorkshire pudding.  And it’s so easy and cheap to make…  It’s also a family favourite.

Ingredients

8 pork link sausages

Oil (vegetable, olive, sunflower…  The choice is yours)

100g plain flour

1 egg

150ml water

150ml milk (full fat / whole milk is best)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 220C (200C for fan assisted).
  • If required, separate your sausages, and line in the base of an oven proof dish, ensuring enough of a gap in between each sausage.
  • Drizzle about a tablespoon of oil over the sausages.

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  • Place in to the oven for about 20 minutes or so, until the sausages have started to brown.
  • Now it’s time to make the batter!  Sieve the flour in to a mixing bowl, and make a ‘well’ in the middle.
  • Crack the egg in to the well, and mix lightly.
  • Add the milk and water slowly to the flour mixture, stirring constantly.  I put the water and milk in to a jug, and poured in to the flour mix whilst using an electric whisk.  The mixture should be of a creamy texture when it’s all combined.

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  • When the sausages are cooked, quickly pour the flour mixture over the top of the sausages, and return to the oven for a further 30-40 minutes.

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  • The batter mix should be a lovely golden brown colour when done.

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  • Serve one its’ own or with a yummy gravy.  Enjoy x

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