Lemon Drizzle

A great recipe that costs pennies to make.

I made a bit of a booboo with the recipe, but overall, it turned out great.  Afterall, making mistakes when baking makes some of the best recipes known to man.  I also burned my finger rather badly when taking the tin out of the oven, so please, please, please, be careful!

Ingredients

2 eggs

3oz self-raising flour

3oz caster sugar

3oz butter

1/2 tsp baking powder

Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon

For the drizzle

2oz caster sugar

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180C / 160C for fan assisted ovens.
  2. Line your loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
  3. Combine the eggs, flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and lemon zest in a large bowl, until creamy.
  4. Pour in to your lined tin.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and springy to the touch.
  6. Remove from the oven, and whilst it’s cooling, measure out your sugar for the drizzle, and stir thoroughly with the juice from 1/2 a lemon, until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  7. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, pour the mixture over the top of the still warm cake, and spread all over with the back of a metal spoon.
  8. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  9. Slice up and enjoy!

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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!!

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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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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Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart

This, was rather an easy make, and I am VERY impressed with how it turned out.  For one full tart, it cost me about £3 to make…  I suppose you can say that this was a frugal make, because the richness of the chocolate and caramel meant that you can only have a small piece!  Ha ha.

I had my little Gning help me make this…  He broke up the chocolate for me, and because the final result had lots of chocolate, he loved eating it afterwards!

Pastry Ingredients

225g plain flour

100g butter

pinch salt

2-3 tbsp water

Caramel Ingredients

210g caster sugar

112.5ml (or there abouts) water

112.5ml (or there abouts) double cream

70g butter

1tsp salt

Chocolate Ingredients

112.5ml (or there abouts) double cream

120g dark or milk chocolate (dark works best, but it’s up to you)

Sea salt crystals

Method

  1. Make your pastry by sifting the flour in to a large bowl.  Add the butter, and rub in with your fingertips, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the salt, then add a little water at a time to mix in to a firm dough.
  3. Knead the dough slightly, on a floured board, wrap in cling film, and place in the fridge for half an hour or so.
  4. Roll out the dough to a size to fit your tart tin, and about a pound coin thickness.  Place in your greased tin, with a slight overhang on the sides…  Don’t bother to trim, as the pastry will shrink a little when in the oven.
  5. Lightly prick all over the bottom of the dough with a fork, and line with baking / greaseproof paper.  Add baking beans, and “blind bake” on 170C (fan assisted) for 20 minutes.  After this time, remove from the oven, remove the beans and paper, then return to the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until the pastry is a golden colour.
  6. Wait until the pastry has completely cooled before turning it out on to a serving plate.  Place this out the way…  You won’t need it for a little while now.
  7. To make the caramel, add the caster sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed pan, and slowly bring to the boil – WITHOUT STIRRING.  When the sugar water has started to boil, turn the temperature down a little, and “swirl” the pan around – still without stirring.
  8. Now it is time for a fair amount of patience…  You have to wait for the sugar water to turn in to a caramel colour…  This can take 10-15 minutes.  Do not stir!
  9. When the sugar water has turned in to a lovely golden colour, remove from the heat, and stir in the cream.  Return to the heat for a further 2 minutes, constantly stirring.  Be careful at this point, as the mixture will bubble up and may “spit” when you add the cream.
  10. Remove from the heat again, and stir in the butter until fully melted.
  11. Allow to cool slightly (about 5 minutes), before pouring in to the pastry that you made earlier.
  12. Place the caramel tart in the fridge for about 3-5 hours, or so, until the caramel has ‘set’.
  13. When your caramel has set, it’s time to make the chocolate!  Break the chocolate up in to a bowl, and leave to one side.
  14. Place the cream in a heavy-bottomed pan, and slowly bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer gently for about 2 minutes or so…  You don’t really want to ‘cook’ the cream, so don’t have a high temperature.
  15. Pour the cream over the chocolate, and leave for about a minute.  After a minute, stir the cream and chocolate together…
  16. Allow to settle slightly, then pour over the top of the caramel tart.  You may need to scrape, and smooth out the chocolate.
  17. Return to the fridge for a further 1-2 hours, or until set.  Please be aware that the chocolate will NOT fully set.
  18. Before serving, sprinkle a small amount of coarse sea salt on the top of the tart, and serve any which way you like.  Good enough to eat on its’ own, or with a strawberry and mint leaf!

Enjoy!

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Homemade Cottage Pie – Pic Heavy x

I bought a 5kg sack of potatoes last week, and so far we’d only used a small handful out of it.  Usually when I buy spuds, they end up growing roots all over them, and sometimes I forget about them completely, and end up having to chuck them out.

I wanted to use up some of the potatoes, so I wandered around Asda earlier today, wondering what I could make with them.

There’s a shelf hidden away that stores all the reduced fresh foods…  The foods that have the “eat by” (todays) date on, and sometimes you can get a real bargain there.  In the past, I’ve managed to get a beautiful rump steak for only 60p!

Scouring the shelf this afternoon, I looked through the reduced fish, quiches, yogurts…  And there it was.  Hidden at the back, under a pile of macaroni cheese ready meals…  A 500g carton of lean beef mince.  It had a price tag of £4.99 on the carton, but a yellow sticker placed on top, saying £3.42.  Not a huge saving, but I was in a bit of a rush at this point.

The dilemma of what we were going to have for dinner was solved.  Cottage Pie.

Now, you may be surprised when I tell you that there are so many people out there who do not know the difference between a cottage and a shepherds pie (seriously – I’m not lying!!).

It’s easy to remember…  What do shepherds do?  They look after sheep!  A shepherds pie is made with lamb.  A cottage pie is beef.

So, here’s my take on the classic cottage pie.  It’s so family friendly, that even my 4 year old had seconds!!

Ingredients

Beef mince meat

Potatoes

Peas

Carrots

Beef gravy granules

Cheese (I used red Leicester)

BBQ sauce

Salt

Oil (for frying)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 200C (180C for fan assisted ovens), and get an ovenproof dish ready.
  • Peel and quarter your potatoes, then place them in a large pan.  Add a sprinkle of salt, and cover the potatoes with water.  Bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a splash of oil in it.  I usually use my wok because of its’ size.  I love my wok, ha ha.  When the oil is almost bubbling, gently place the mince meat in to the oil, and separate with a wooden spoon / spatula.

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  • When the meat has all browned off, squirt a bit of barbecue sauce on top of the meat, and stir in well.
  • This is the part that I cheat on…  A little bit anyway.  Now you can do it with fresh peas and carrots, but due to a certain little man annoying me for his dinner, I opened a tin of petit pois and carrots and threw them in.

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  • Next up is to make yourself about 3/4 of a pint of gravy.  If you’ve never done this before (which I’m sure you have), simply add two large spoonfuls of gravy granules to a jug, and pour in boiled water, whisking constantly.  When you’ve made your gravy, pour it over the meat and veg, and stir thoroughly.

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  • As soon as the meat mixture has been stirred thoroughly, scoop in to an ovenproof dish, and set aside until you’re ready for the potatoes.

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  • Your potatoes should almost be done now.  To check if they’re ready, simply prod a couple with a fork, or knife.  If the utensil slips in to the potato easily, then they’re ready to be mashed.  Drain the excess water from the pan, add a big blob of butter (or marg), and attack it with your masher!

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  • When it’s all mashed, use a large metal spoon (or wooden – whatever you like) to scoop the potatoes on top of the meat mixture.

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  • Phew!  We’re almost there now…  If you haven’t already, now’s the time to get your cheese of choice grated.  When that’s done, sprinkle as much (or as little) as you want on top of the potatoes.

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  • Ok!  Be careful here, as I’m sure you’re aware; ovens are hot!!  Place your dish in the middle of the oven, and set your timer for 20 minutes.
  • It’s time for the waiting game now.  You can do whatever you want at this point.  I decided I was going to have a Diet Coke break (I have not been paid to advertise them, lol).

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  • What’s that I can hear?  It’s the timer!  It’s dinner time!!

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  • Enjoy!