Aubergine and Chick Pea Tagine

aubergine and chick pea tagine

I recently made this aubergine and chick pea tagine for one of my vegan days – I try to eat completely meat and dairy free twice a week. This recipe comes from a very old book, The Cancer Prevention Cook Book. Despite its slightly scary title, it is full of nice foodie ideas and healthy too. I don’t think it is still in publication, but you might be lucky and pick it up on Amazon.

aubergine and chick pea tagine

Aubergine and Chick Pea Tagine

This is nice with rice or couscous. Serves 4.


1 small aubergine, diced

2 courgettes, thickly sliced

4 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

150g mushrooms, halved

1tbsp ground coriander

2tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp groung cinnamon

2 txp ground turmeric

225g new potatoes, sliced thinly (I found it best to par boil these)

60ml bottle of passata

1tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp chilli sauce

75g ready to eat dried apricots

400g can of chick peas

Salt and pepper

(I also added 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika and 1 heaped tsp vegan stock powder)


aubergine and chick pea tagine

Sprinkle salt over the aubergines and courgettes and leave for half an hour. Rinse and pat dry. Then toss in 2 tbsp of the oil and grill for 10 minutes, until tender. Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for another minute, stirring to allow the flavours to mingle. Add the potatoes, tomato puree and half a pint of water (add the vegan stock at this point, if you are using it). Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the aubergine, courgettes, chilli sauce, apricots and chick peas. Season and cook, partially covered for 10-15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Add extra water if the tagine becomes too dry.

I really enjoyed this aubergine and chick pea tagine and can see it becoming a regular on my meal plans. Better still, it freezes really well.

For more frugal recipe ideas, check out my Favourite Frugal Recipes page.

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Stir fried vegetables with noodles and toasted cashews

stir fried vegetables with noodles and toasted cashews

This vegan dish of stir fried vegetables with noodles and toasted cashews is simplicity itself, a budget, healthy meal that takes just 15 minutes to prepare. It is also gluten free if you make sure you use rice noodles. You can chuck pretty much any crunchy vegetables into this. I often use carrots or greens, peas and green beans too.

Stir fried vegetables with noodles and toasted cashews

Serves 2-3


2-3 tbsp sesame oil

2-3 tbsp soy sauce

One heaped tsp Marigold vegan stock

1 chopped onion

2 celery sticks, chopped into matchsticks

1 red pepper sliced

Half a head of broccoli, chopped into small florets

200g mushrooms, sliced

100 g cashew nuts, toasted for a few minutes in a dry frying pan


Heat 2 tbsp of sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the onions and celery and stir fry for a couple of minutes, then throw in the rest of your vegetables. Keep stirring and tossing the veg over quite a high heat for a few more minutes, depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables.

Meanwhile, cook and drain the rice noodles. This should only take 4 minutes or so in boiling water. Add your soy sauce and stir, then add the stock dissolved in enough hot water to barely cover your veg. Stir thoroughly and taste. Add the extra spoonful of sesame oil and more soy sauce to taste. Stir in your noodles and serve immediately with your toasted cashews sprinkled on top.

This dish of stir fried vegetables with noodles and toasted cashew nuts is super healthy and easy. If you like you can add some ginger for a bit of a kick too.

For more of my frugal recipe ideas see my recipe page.


Sarah Brown’s Layered Cashew and Mushroom Roast

cashew and mushroom roast

This delicious vegetarian cashew and mushroom roast features in my meal plans from time to time and is always a hit. It is from Sarah Brown’s classic veggie cookery book, Vegetarian Kitchen, which features loads of timeless and reliable dishes.

You could make your cashew and mushroom roast gluten free very easily by whizzing up the ends of a gluten free loaf for the breadcrumbs. Leave out the egg and fry your mushrooms in oil to make it vegan. I am sure it will bind pretty well without it.

Layered Cashew and Mushroom Roast

Serves 6


1 tbsp oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

8oz (225g) cashew nuts

4 oz (110g) fresh breadcrumbs

1 egg

3 med parsnips, cooked and mashed

1tsp rosemary

1tsp thyme

1 tsp yeast extract, dissolved in 1/4 pint boiling water


1 0z (25g) butter

8 oz (225g) mushrooms


Heat the oven to 180C. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil gently until soft. Grind the cashew nuts (I just whizz them in my food processor), then mix with the breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg, then stir in the mashed parsnips, herbs and onion. Mix well and then add the yeast extract dissolved in the hot water. Season with some salt and pepper.

Melt the butter or oil and saute the chopped mushrooms. Grease and line a 2lb (900g) and press in half of the nut mixture. Cover with the mushrooms and then top with the rest of the nut mix. Press down, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. I like to remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to slightly brown the top. Leave it in the tin for another 10 minutes to cool before turning it out and slicing.

We enjoy this with all the usual Sunday roast trimmings and some veggie gravy.

I wish I knew what had happened to Sarah Brown. She has some other books available but nothing very recent. I keep saying it is high time there was another vegetarian TV series, so maybe she will come back?

Check out my other favourite recipes here.

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Mediterranean Fish Stew

Mediterranean fish stew

You can be all fancy about a Mediterranean fish stew and start chucking prawns and mussels in. Delicious but expensive! Here I have used only frozen white fish so include whatever you can pick up at a reasonable price.

Mediterranean Fish Stew

Serves 4


I medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

1 large pepper, chopped

A handful fresh chopped parsley (or use dried, 2 tsp)

A heaped tsp dried thyme

Half to 1 tsp dried chilli seeds, depending on how spicy you like it

A heaped tsp vegetable stock powder

About 12 black olives

Salt and pepper to taste


Soften the onions and garlic in some oil, then add the peppers. Fry for a few minutes and then add the fish. You can defrost it first if you are using frozen, but you don’t need to as it cooks quickly and breaks up in the hot liquid. Mix together and throw in the tomatoes and stock powder. Bring to a gentle simmer, then add the herbs and chilli. Taste the liquid and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  When the fish is almost cooked, add the olives to heat through.

We had this Mediterranean fish stew with rice for an easy mid-week meal. For more of my frugal recipes, see here.

Brown rice cashew nut pilaf

According to Wikipedia, a pilaf or pilau is ‘is a dish in which rice is cooked in a seasoned broth.’ After that, you can chuck pretty much whatever you want into it, making it an easy dish to use up whatever you have lying around. My version is a brown rice cashew nut pilaf. It is both vegan and gluten free, making it great for those with food intolerances.

I enjoy this kind of easy and healthy food. It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and another 25 – 30 to cook through. I don’t eat onions, so just left them out. The vegetables should all be chopped quite small.

brown rice cashew nut pilaf

Brown rice cashew nut pilaf

Serves 4 as a main course


2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or 2 cloves crushed garlic and plain oil)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 medium courgette, chopped

4 heaped tsp medium curry powder

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

300g brown rice

50g frozen peas

50g frozen French beans

600g of strong vegetable stock (I used 4 heaped tsp of Marigold stock)

Black pepper to taste

300g toasted cashew nuts


brown rice cashew nut pilaf

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok then sauté the onions and garlic (if using). Stir in the curry powder and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add the celery, pepper and courgette and fry for about 5 minutes. Throw the rice into the pan and stir well so that it is well coated with the spices and vegetables. Fry for a few minutes more.

Pour in your vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Simmer uncovered until the rice is the consistency you prefer. I don’t like brown rice too al dente so will cook this for about 30 minutes. Add more hot water if it starts to look a bit dry. Meanwhile toast your cashew nuts in a dry pan until just brown and crunchy. Add them to the pilaf as you serve it.

This brown rice cashew nut pilaf is good with a green salad, although Mr S prefers his with a bit of baked chicken!

For more of my frugal recipe ideas, see here.

Cheesy Mushroom Lentil Cottage Pie

On with the veggie fest! This cheesy mushroom lentil cottage pie is an old vegetarian favourite. Easy to make, healthy and tasty.

mushroom lentil cottage pieIngredients

Serves 4

1 tbsp veg oil and 1 heaped tsp butter
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
250g red lentils
250g mushrooms
2 tbsp tomato puree
1.5 pints of veg stock (I used 2 stock cubes)
1 sachet bouquet garni
1tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce

1 kg potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed with a little butter and milk
100g grated cheddar

mushroom lentil cottage pie


Heat the oil and butter together gently and cook the onion, celery, garlic and mushrooms until soft. Add the lentils, stock and tomato puree with the bouquet garni. Bring to the boil then simmer with the lid on for around 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Keep an eye on this mixture and add a little more stock if necessary.

When the lentils are soft, remove the bouquet garni sachet and season with salt, pepper and the Worcestershire sauce to taste. Put in a suitable oven proof container and top with the mash, then the cheese. Bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 4, 180 degrees until browned on top.

We had this cheesy mushroom lentil cottage pie with some  frozen broccoli and gravy. It was delicious!

You can find more of my favourite frugal recipes here.


Not another courgette recipe! Spicy courgette stew with fresh tomatoes

courgette recipeHere is another courgette recipe for the glut! We have a ton of tomatoes in the greenhouse at the moment so this gets rid of those as well. It is a kind of ratatouille invented to use what we had in the fridge.

Spicy courgette stew with fresh tomatoes

1 large onion, chopped

2 sticks of celery, sliced

1 medium aubergine, cut into cubes

About three medium courgettes, sliced

3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed

2lb/900g fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped (or two 400g cans)

2-3 tsp ground cumin

A dollop of tomato purée

2 tsp Marigold vegetable stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Put a good glug of oil into a large wok or frying pan and get it quite hot. This stops the aubergine from absorbing so much of the oil. Throw in all of your veg apart from the tomatoes and stir fry fairly gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cumin and fry for two more minutes, then add the tomatoes, stock and tomato purée. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes more, stirring and adding salt and pepper to taste.

courgette recipeSo easy! We had this simple courgette recipe with some baked chicken thighs and roasted new potatoes, but it would be nice served  with rice.

The courgettes are nearly finished now and I am almost relieved! We still have a few runner beans arriving and the odd cucumber, but the tomatoes are growing at full throttle. They are so nutritious and versatile that I rarely have a problem using them. If all else fails I will make another batch of tomato soup for the freezer.

I don’t use any particular recipe for this. I usually fry up some onion, celery and garlic, add as many tomatoes as I need to use (skinned and roughly chopped) and then cover with vegetable stock. They produce a lot of juice so I don’t add too much, just enough to cover all the veg. I cook it for about 10-15 minutes, seasoning to taste, then blend it.

Do you grow your own and what are you fave seasonal recipes?

Courgette glut recipe: courgette and tomato eggy bake

Courgette glutIt is such a pleasure to grow and eat your own delicious fruit and veg. However, there is always too much of something and we have had a courgette glut for weeks. The freezer is packed with them in various forms. Actually, the courgettes have finally slowed but I am still dealing with the glut. Now the tomatoes are coming thick and fast. This seasonal vegetarian recipe combines the two.  It makes a nice change from courgette soup!

Courgette and tomato eggy bake

Serves 6

2oz/50g butter

1 lb/400g courgettes, thinly sliced

1 lb/400g tomatoes, thickly sliced

2 medium onions, chopped

Two medium peppers, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

Heaped teaspoon dried mixed herbs

Half a pintwhite wine or cider

1 tablespoon Marigold vegetable stock

Pinch dried chilli flakes (optional)

4 or 5 hard boiled eggs, sliced

4oz/100g grated cheddar

Salt and pepper to taste

Firstly, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Heat the butter in a large frying pan or wok and sauté the onions, garlic, pepper and courgettes for 5 minutes or so, stirring regularly. Add the white wine, stock powder, herbs and seasonings and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chilli flakes if liked.

courgette glutNow start to layer up. Place the courgette mixture into a large baking dish. Add the sliced tomatoes.

courgette glut
Finally, add the sliced eggs and top with the grated cheese

courgette glut
Bake for around 30 minutes. This goes really well with some crispy roasted new potatoes.

Anyone else got a glut of anything? How are you dealing with your tomato or courgette glut?

Love your Leftovers: spinach cheese frittata 

Love your Leftovers

This is the second in my occasional Love your Leftovers series.

You know how it is when you cook fresh spinach? You think you have enough in the pan to feed the five thousand then you cook it and it disappears to a small bowlful!

I tend to over compensate for this and cook even more than I think I need. I love spinach and I know there are plenty of ways to use it up. You’ve got to love your leftovers!

love your leftoversUsing up leftover food is also helping me to stick to my £35 a week grocery challenge for August. The spinach, as well as some leftover canned sweet corn, went into this cheesy spinach frittata for a quick and easy dinner. Obviously, you can vary the ingredients for this type of dish, depending on what you have available or what needs using.

These quantities serve 2.

4 medium eggs

A splash of milk

About a cupful of chopped, cooked spinach

A couple of rashers of bacon, chopped

2 tablespoons canned corn

About 2-3 ounces grated cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper


I tend to use my wok for this as it is a good size and is non stick. It needs to go under the grill but obviously not a plastic handled one!

Fry the bacon in a little oil until cooked, then spoon it out and set aside, leaving some oil in the pan to cook your frittata. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together then add the bacon. Pour back into your pan and cook gently until it starts to set. You can push the egg mixture around a bit to speed this up. Don’t allow it to catch on the bottom of the pan. When it has mostly set sprinkle the corn, spinach and finally the cheese on top. Place under a medium grill for around five minutes to cook the top.

This frittata is quick, cheap and easy, and a good way to help you love your leftovers. Have you any good recipes for cooked spinach?

Slow cooked beef and mushroom one pot casserole

beef and mushroom one pot casseroleI managed to make dinner in 5 minutes flat yesterday morning, and threw it in the slow cooker before I left for work. This slow cooked beef and mushroom one pot casserole is no fuss winter grub. This serves 5-6. All of the ingredients were from Aldi.

Beef and Mushroom One Pot Casserole


Pack of three frying steaks (you could use stewing steak but as it happened this was cheaper)
Medium onion, chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
Tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 pint beef stock
Large handful of chopped mushrooms
Tin potatoes
Heaped teaspoon dried mixed herbs
Splash of Worcester sauce
Seasoning to taste

beef and mushroom one pot casseroleMethod

Chop it up and throw it on the slow cooker on medium for 6-8 hours. This beef and mushroom one pot casserole was so easy and delicious, and the meat was really tender. We had some broccoli with ours.

I love my slow cooker! I frequently just tip it all in and rarely follow a recipe and it usually works perfectly.

What are you cooking in yours? For more frugal recipe ideas see here.

Jack’s creamy mustard chicken

creamy mustard chickenI tried another of the recipes from my bargain A Girl Called Jack: 100 delicious budget recipes book yesterday, her creamy mustard chicken. It was a winner. However, I did tweak it – Jack seems to use an awful lot of liquid in her recipes and there was far too much sauce. Although you could plan for this and use it the next day on cooked pasta – that’s what I am having for lunch. I didn’t have fresh herbs so I used dried, and it turned out quite delicious. It tasted nice even before I added the cream, so it would be possible to do a lighter, cheaper version without this. With the cream I think it would even be special enough for entertaining.

Here is my adapted version with less liquid.

Creamy mustard chicken


2 tbsp oil
10 chicken thighs
200g cooking bacon
1 large onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
600ml chicken stock
200ml cream
2 heaped tsp mixed herbs (or a handful of fresh chopped parsley and thyme if you have them)


Heat the oil and brown the chicken with the bacon. Add the onion and carrot and fry for a few minutes, then pour over the stock, mustard and herbs. Cover and simmer for half an hour until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken and keep warm, then add the cream and boil rapidly for a few minutes to reduce the sauce. Return the chicken to the pan and serve with creamy mash or rice.

Jack’s creamy mustard chicken is easy and delish!

For more frugal recipe ideas, see this page.

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Turkey with pasta and blue cheese: Christmas leftovers

turkey with pastaI thought we had used most of our Christmas leftovers, but then Mr S turned up with a great hunk of cooked turkey breast from his brother! Never one to waste such a gift I decided to adapt a recipe I have had for years. The turkey, along with the remaining Stilton and a bit of cream and wine, were combined to  make this delicious turkey with pasta and blue cheese.

The original recipe uses fresh chicken breast, Gorgonzola and white wine, but it worked just as well with the cooked meat, Stilton and a bit of rose wine that had been hanging around for too long in the fridge. If you are using raw meat, fry it in the oil with the garlic for a bit and then proceed as below.

Turkey with pasta and blue cheese


4oz spinach, chopped (or frozen peas, or par cooked broccoli)
2tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
About 8oz cooked turkey or chicken
14oz dried pasta
4fl oz white wine
7 fl oz cream
4 oz blue cheese


Put your pasta on to boil as per the instructions. Heat the oil and gently sweat the garlic then add the veg and fry for a few minutes before adding the meat. Warm through then add the cheese cut into cubes, the cream and the wine. Allow it all to bubble away gently until the cheese has melted and the meat has heated right through. Season to taste then stir into the cooked, drained pasta and serve.

We had our turkey with past and blue cheese with some salad that needed eating but it’s nice with some crusty bread to mop up the juices.

For more ideas for frugal recipes, have a look at my page here.

Changing the subject entirely, I found a great little blog via Instagram yesterday. I will be passing it into my daughters for inspiration. If you know a young person who needs a kick to start saving, send them to Jenni at Can’t Swing a Cat.

Some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.



Chicken and Chorizo Casserole

chicken and chorizo casserole

Fry up the onion, celery and garlic

I mentioned that I went to a friend’s for dinner last week and she made a delicious chicken and chorizo casserole with butterbeans.  I loved it, so recreated it yesterday.

I had a look at a few similar recipes on the internet, then adapted it to what I had. It is amazing how tasty a butter bean becomes when it is stewed with chorizo and smoky paprika. I put mushrooms in to use them up, but think it would work well with a chopped red pepper instead. This is lovely served with plain rice and salad or a vegetable. Yum!

chicken and chorizo casserole

Add the paprika and mushrooms

Chicken and chorizo casserole

Serves 4-6

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

Pack of 8 chicken thighs, skins removed
Large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can butterbeans
80g chorizo, diced
2 dessertspoons of smoked paprika (or just paprika if that’s all you have)
200ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

chicken and chorizo casserole

Ready to serve!

Heat some oil in a large pan, and add the onion, garlic and celery and sweat gently for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and paprika and continue to fry gently for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, butter beans and seasoning and stir. Place the chicken in a large casserole dish and pour the sauce on top. Cover and cook in the oven for about an hour.

This is quite inexpensive for entertaining and I will definitely be doing this again. DD 1 isn’t keen on chorizo, so I might replace that with bacon.

I made double so no cooking for me today – I don’t mind the same thing two days in a row, especially when it is really tasty!

Check out my Frugal Recipes page for other ideas.

Courgettes stuffed with feta: a new recipe for the glut

At this time of the year I am always on the look out for new recipes to try to use up the courgette glut. This recipe for courgettes stuffed with feta makes a change from ratatouille!

courgettes stuffed with fetaI found a recipe in an old student cookbook and I adapted it slightly. I really enjoyed it, but Mr S was looking for the meat! Next time I will add chopped bacon to stop him feeling deprived.

Courgettes Stuffed with Feta


4 medium courgettes
2 cloves garlic
1 red onion, chopped
8oz sweet corn
2 large eggs
2 tbsp milk
3oz feta cheese


Preheat the oven to 180 C. Halve the courgettes lengthways, carefully scoop out some of the insides to make room for the stuffing and arrange in a baking dish.

Put all the other ingredients apart from the feta into a food processor with some salt and pepper and whizz it, then crumble in half the cheese. Stuff the courgettes with the filling then crumble the rest of the feta on top. Bake for about 40 minutes.

I think this courgettes stuffed with feta recipe would be nice served with a tomato sauce or just as it is with salad and new potatoes. We had it with runner beans as that is the another glut ingredient from the garden!

If you have recipes for the courgette glut, please bring them on! You can find more of my favourite frugal recipes here.


Quick and easy pasta with bacon and vegetables

This quick and easy pasta with bacon and vegetables was tonight’s supper and was thrown together from what I could find in the kitchen. I am trying to keep the fat content of our food as low as possible so grilled the bacon and just added a small amount of grated cheddar.

pasta with bacon and vegetablesQuick and easy pasta with bacon and vegetables


Serves 6

500g pasta, cooked
250g bacon, grilled
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large courgette, cut into cubes
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
100g mushrooms, wiped and sliced
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tsp Marigold vegetable stock
2 tsp dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheese to top


Heat the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the courgette and mushrooms and cook gently for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir, then add the stock powder and dried herbs and mix together well. Finally, chop up the cooked bacon and add to the sauce. Season to taste. Cover
and simmer for about 20 minutes, then add the cooked pasta.

This pasta with bacon and vegetables is nice served with a little grated cheese, a green salad and some crusty bread.

For more frugal recipe ideas, see here.


Super Cheap Chick Pea Burgers

chick pea burgers

It being Sod’s Law and a Saturday, I did of course wake up at 5.30 am, so no lie in for me. The up side of being a naturally early riser is that I am quite productive in the mornings. The down side is that I will be fast asleep on Mr Shoestring’s shoulder by about 9 pm … I am nothing if not entertaining! But it did mean I got up and made these tasty little chick pea burgers for dinner.

I need to keep everything as cheap as possible this month as I have had a couple of unexpected bills. So I am planning to eat from the freezer and store cupboard as much as I can over the next few days. This means more veggie meals, which I love but everyone else will doubtless compain about. They will have to cope!

So, since we always have tinned chick peas in the cupboard, it made sense to make some chick pea burgers. They are cheap, healthy and quick (as well as being vegetarian, vegan and excellent if you are on a low GI diet).

Super cheap chick pea burgers

For 10-12 small burgers you will need:

2 cans chickpeas, drained
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
Large handful of fresh coriander if you have it – failing that parsley is good too
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper to taste

chick pea burgers


Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until mostly smooth, although a few lumps of chick pea is nice. Put a little flour on a chopping board and shape the mixture into about 12 little patties. Cover and place in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill. When you are ready to cook them, heat some oil in a frying pan and cook them for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. They are nice with some chilli jam on the side.

Since I was having a clear out, I pulled two chicken carcasses out of the freezer and made them into stock with 3 celery sticks, a large carrot, an onion, 3 bayleaves and 6 peppercorns. This is currently simmering away and I will drain it and use it for soup for lunch. I have saved bits and pieces of leftover cooked veg in the freezer, so that is defrosting, and I will add some onion, celery, carrots, pearl barley and whatever else I can find to make a good veggie soup.

So super cheap chick pea burgers and home made soup makes a good start to my mega cheap week! For more frugal recipe ideas see here.

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Chorizo

I am keeping the holiday feeling going tonight with this Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Chorizo – all ingredients from Aldi! The chorizo adds so much flavour, and is really delicious. It only cost £1.49 for 170g, and I will use the rest later in the week.

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Chorizo

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Chorizo


Serves 4-6

300g pasta bows
2 chicken breasts, sliced
Large white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Large red pepper, chopped
1.5 cans chopped tomatoes or passata (600g)
1 heaped tsp mixed herbs
85g chopped chorizo
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil and fry the onions, garlic and chicken breasts until the chicken is more or less cooked on both sides. Add the pepper and cook for a few minutes or so then add the tomatoes, herbs and chorizo. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and mix with the sauce, and serve with some grated cheese and a nice green salad.

This Mediterranean Chicken Pasta with Chorizo was easy to make, which I needed today as I was unpacking and catching up with laundry. It’s good to be back and I even got the sun today, so can’t complain. What are you cooking?

For more of my favourite frugal recipes, see here.

Shoestring Sausage and Vegetable Ragu

This sausage and vegetable ragu is one to satisfy the meat eaters in my family whilst being frugal and delicious. It is full of a rainbow of different coloured mediterranean vegetables, so is healthy as well. I used Aldi pork sausages, which are very cheap, but can be a bit fatty, so it is important to grill rather than fry them. It could easily be made with vegetarian sausages.

Shoestring Sausage and Vegetable Ragu


Serves 4-6

Sausage and Vegetable Ragu1 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
Half an aubergine, diced
1 courgette, diced
Olive oil
6 pork sausages
500ml passata
Tbsp tomato purée
100 vegetable stock or water
Pinch of chilli flakes
450g pasta


First grill your sausages.  Whilst they are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add all the vegetables. Fry gently for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the passata, tomato purée, chilli flakes, stock and seasoning. Simmer gently and add the sausages, chopped into three or four pieces. Cook for 10 minutes. Cook the pasta in a large pan of water, drain and mix with the ragu. Serve straight away.

I am looking forward to grabbing a bowl of this sausage and vegetable ragu before I shoot off to yoga tonight. An easy supper!

For more of my favourite frugal recipes, see here.

Spaghetti Cheese Casserole

Spaghetti Cheese Casserole

We had this Spaghetti Cheese Casserole yesterday – an old favourite adapted from Marguerite Patten’s Health Food Cookery. It’s my usual type of recipe – cheap, cheerful, and easy after a day at work. It’s an old recipe, so it is in ‘old money’. If you can find a copy of this book it is well worth having. It occasionally pops up for practically nothing on on Amazon.

Spaghetti cheese casserole


Serves 4

8 oz spaghetti
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 sticks celery
2 cloves garlic
3 oz mushrooms
4 large tomatoes (I have made it with tinned in the past)
2 grated medium carrots
1/4 pint cider or white wine
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp chopped parsley
6 oz grated cheddar


Heat the oil and cook the onion, celery, mushrooms and garlic for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, carrots, herbs with the wine or cider and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti. Add this to the pan with the vegetables and grated cheese, and season to taste.

We had this spaghetti cheese casserole with a large green salad. It is supposed to serve 4 but 3 adults scoffed the lot! For more frugal recipe ideas, see here.

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Chestnut, parsnip and mushroom roast: Christmas leftovers

I am still steadfastly working through my meal plan and using up all the leftovers from Christmas, as well as some of the bits and pieces I found at the back of the cupboard.  With this in mind, tonight we have a chestnut, parsnip and mushroom roast, with roast potatoes, carrots and sprouts.

I adapted it from Sarah Brown’s Layered Cashew and Mushroom Roast in her book Vegetarian Kitchen. It is an old book, but very much worth getting hold of if  you every come across a copy. You can often pick a copy up second hand on Amazon.

Chestnut, Parsnip and Mushroom Roast

This is a bit time consuming, but worth the effort. It made a very moist roast, so if you prefer it crunchier add another 50-100g of chestnuts.

chestnut, parsnip and mushroom roast

Chestnut, parsnip and mushroom roast


Tbsp oil
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
250g shelled chestnuts
110g breadcrumbs (whizz the ends of the bread up)
1 egg
3 medium parsnips, boiled and mashed
1 tsp fresh rosemary (or half tsp dried)
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped up
(you could just use a tsp of dried mixed herbs if you don’t have this)
1 tsp yeast extract, dissolved in 150ml hot water

For the mushroom filling:
225 g mushrooms, chopped and fried in a little butter


Fry the onion and garlic for 5 minutes in the oil. Whizz up the breadcrumbs then the nuts in a food processor, and place in a large bowl. Add the egg, the mashed parsnips and the herbs, then the onion and yeast extract. Season to taste.

Grease a 2lb loaf tin and place half of the nut mixture into it, pressing down firmly, then add the mushrooms, drained so that you don’t make the mixture soggy. Add the rest of the nut mixture, press firmly again, then cover with foil.

Cook for one hour at 180 degrees, taking the foil off for the last 15 minutes to brown the top of your roast.

Serve this chestnut, parsnip and mushroom roast with gravy and vegetables. Yummy! For more frugal recipe ideas, see here.

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Leek and Potato Pie

leek and potato pie

So what to do for Saturday tea that is easy and filling? Searching in the freezer this morning, I found a pack of frozen short crust pastry that I must have bought for a specific purpose but didn’t use, so that was my starting point. We also have lots of leeks in the garden. It had to be leek and potato pie!

I am trying to empty the freezer a bit for some Christmas meat that I plan to buy with my Sainsbury’s points. I also need to make room for a new batch of pumpkin soup.

I used up some bacon I had as well, but you could easily leave this out to make it vegetarian.

Leek and potato pie

leek and potato pieIngredients

500g of short crust pastry
4 medium leeks, washed and chopped
Dessertspoon of butter
3 rashers of bacon
450g potatoes, peeled
Tsp of mixed herbs
130g cheddar, cubed


Preheat oven to 180C or equivalent. Cook the potatoes so that they are still slightly firm and chop into cubes. While they are cooking, melt the butter and add the leeks and chopped bacon, with the herbs.

leek and potato pieCook gently for 15 minutes, or until the leeks are soft. Mix them with the potatoes and the cheese. Roll out the pastry and line the bottom of a medium pie dish. Add the filling, then add the pie top. Brush the pie with a little milk. Make a small hole in the middle, then bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

This leek and potato pie served four of us with a pile of cabbage, peas and gravy. For more frugal recipe ideas, see here.

Pork and lentil casserole – a real winter warmer

pork and lentil casserole

I dug out a classic of the kitchen yesterday, The Shirley Goode Kitchen, which inspired this pork and lentil casserole. Shirley was the original queen of the frugal kitchen!

Even though this book is from the 1980s, a lot of her advice is still relevant now. If you can find yourself a second hand copy I recommend it (you can sometimes find it on Amazon). There is a recipe in the book called lamb and lentil casserole, which is great for stretching a small amount of meat. I adapted this and used pork instead, as it is cheaper than lamb. Then I added a few leeks as I am growing them in the garden. I used a bit more liquid than in the original recipe because it seemed a bit dry, and more potatoes to make it more substantial. I think this would work well in the slow cooker so I will use that next time.

Costing it up

Shirley Goode talks about how to cost the food you prepare like a professional chef, so you can accurately work out how much individual meals cost to make. She suggests that when you buy ingredients you take the overall cost and divide it up. For example, if you take a bag of flour, divide the cost of it by the number of grams in the bag to work out how much, say 100g, costs. Then write this on the bag. You can do the same with a single egg, 100g of cheese, 100 ml of milk, etc. You can accurately calculate the cost of every recipe you make and see if you can make it any cheaper! I certainly intend to start doing this from now on.

Pork and lentil casserole


pork and lentil casserole


Serves 4

600ml good beef stock
100g green lentils
1 small onion, chopped
2 small leeks, washed and sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 large potato per person, sliced
350g pork, cubed
Salt and pepper


pork and lentil casserole

Well, Mr Shoestring seemed to enjoy it!!

Preheat oven to 180C. Bring the stock to the boil, put the lentils in a large casserole dish and pour the stock over. Brown the meat in a pan, then add the onions and leeks and soften. Place on top of the lentils with all the other veg. Season and stir, then cover and cook in the oven for about 1 hr 15. Check there is enough stock after 45 minutes and add more if necessary. Serve with a green vegetable.

For more frugal recipe ideas, see here.

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Chilli Chicken: add a bit of spice to your life


Tonight’s dinner had to be simple and warming as I have been really busy. I defrosted some chicken over night, so decided make a chilli chicken. It was really good, if I say so myself, and easy-peasy.

Chilli Chicken


chilli chickenAbout 4 portions of chicken (I used 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks) with skins removed
1 red pepper
1 large onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tins chopped tomatoes
4 oz mushrooms
1 tsp cumin
half tsp chilli flakes
1 heaped tsp mixed herbs
A good dash of Worcester sauce
Plenty of salt and pepper


Brown the chicken in a small amount of oil and set aside. In the same pan, add the chopped onions and garlic and fry for 5 minutes, then add the spices and stir in for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, chicken, herbs and Worcester Sauce and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, add salt and pepper and cover. Cook for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked right through, and serve with rice.

A busy time

Bit shattered today. I started my cleaning late as I had to take kitty to the vet for her second set of vaccinations first thing – she is a bit shaky, tired and sorry for herself now, as she was after the first lot.

Then I went to cover a yoga class at the local golf and country club as they were short of a teacher. I won’t say no to the extra money right now, no matter how busy I am. It was a beautiful morning and there was a lovely view across the golf course. The class members were very welcoming too, so it wasn’t exactly a chore.

Yesterday I told you about my new resolution to clean really thoroughly and more often rather than having a crazy rush round and a just about good enough clean on a Saturday. I started by cleaning about half of the windows – we have a huge problem with condensation in this house, so this involved cleaning a lot of black mould off the window frames first. What a difference sparkling shiny windows make to the look of a room! Mr Shoestring also attacked a bit of mould in my bedroom; it collects in the corner where the wall stands clear of the neighbours. I also cleared all the cobwebs from the downstairs rooms, polished, swept and mopped right through. I will do a bit more tomorrow and then through the week.

So, now you can see why I needed something easy for dinner. I will make this chilli chicken again.

Frugal Fish Pie

I love fish pie, especially made with cod, salmon and prawns….but fish is expensive!! I had the wrinklies over for lunch and I fancied fish pie, so I thought I would have a go at making a budget version. This frugal fish pie went down a treat, and I don’t think anyone would have guessed!

Frugal fish pie

Serves 6

Asda white fish 450g (this cost £2)

100g smart price prawns (I think this was 1.99 for 220g)

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped into quarters

1 kg of potatoes

3/4 pint of white sauce (I cheated today and used a couple of packets of white sauce, 50p each from Asda)

fish pie 1Defrost the prawns and fish and chop into chunks. Peel and cook the spuds with plenty of salt, and mash with a bit of butter and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. While they are cooking make your white sauce and make sure it is well seasoned. Place your fish, prawns and eggs into a suitable dish and pour the sauce on top. Finally spread your mash on the top and place in a preheated oven at about 180 C (mine is a fan and this worked fine) for 40 minutes. We had this with a reduced price cauliflower and some carrots and it was yummy.

I estimate this cost about six pounds all in, which isn’t bad for dinner for six people. A frugal fish pie that was quick and easy too.

Perfect Pasta

The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is start a major cooking event. Weekday food needs to be cheap and reliable and easy. You can’t go wrong with these two perfect pasta favourites to feed the hungry hoards.

Cheesy Pasta with Leeks, Peas and Bacon (serves 4)
12 oz (350g) pasta
2 large leeks, chopped and washed
1 pack of Asda Smart Price bacon or similar (about 6 rashers), chopped
2 oz (50g) frozen peas
2 oz (50g) butter
Cheese sauce, made with a pint of milk, 2 oz (50g) of flour, 2 oz (50g) butter, 6 oz (175g) cheddar cheese and a pinch of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the grill and bribe one of the kids to make a salad.

Cook the pasta in boiling water. Don’t overcook – you want it al dente for perfect pasta. While this is cooking, make the sauce by melting the butter and adding the flour to make a roux. Cook for a few minutes so that your sauce doesn’t taste floury. Add the milk gradually, whisking any lumps out as you go. Keeping stirring as it thickens – don’t have the heat up to high or it will burn. Add about 4 oz of the cheese and stir until melted. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

Fry the leeks and bacon until softened in the butter, then add the peas and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes. Mix with the drained, cooked pasta, then add the sauce. Place in an oven proof container and sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Grill until the cheese browns and bubbles and serve.

Tuna Pasta with Olives (serves 4)
12 oz pasta
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
Olive oil
A 400 gram can chopped tomatoes
10-20 black olives (I find I have to eat the whole jar once opened but you might be more disciplined!)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 can tuna (200g)
4 tbsp white wine (this is almost as dangerous as the olives.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Gently fry the onion and garlic until softened but not brown. Add the wine and tomatoes and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the olives, herbs and seasoning and cook for a further 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook and drain the pasta. Add the tuna to the sauce and mix in the pasta to coat it well. This is nice topped with some grated cheddar or parmesan if you happen to have some.

So there you have it. Two perfect pasta recipes that you can rustle up in no time, which won’t break the budget.