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.

Ingredients

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)

Method

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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Sarah Brown’s Spiced Almond Risotto

spiced almond risotto

As I have finally commenced my new year’s resolution to eat completely vegan twice a week, I have been looking up some recipes in my old cookbooks. Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen is one of my favourite go to veggie recipe books, and contains a lot of vegan dishes too. On Sunday I made this yummy dish, as per my flexitarian meal plan. It was really nice with a nice big salad. If you have a meat eater in the house, as I do, it goes well with a roast chicken thigh or two.

Spiced almond risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 clove crushed garlic

6oz brown rice

3 sticks of celery

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 pint boiling water

2 oz sultanas

4 oz mushrooms, sliced

1 red pepper, cut into strips

4 oz almonds

Salt and pepper to season

Method

spiced almond risotto

Heat the oil in a large saucepan or wok and fry the onion, garlic and rice for 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the celery, sliced, along with the spices and fry for 3 minutes more. Pour over the boiling water and add the sultanas, mushrooms, pepper and almonds. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes,, until the rice is cooked. Ideally you want all of the water to be absorbed but keep checking to make sure the rice doesn’t boil dry. Add more liquid if you need to. Season well to taste.

I hope you enjoy this spiced almond risotto as much as we did.

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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

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Ingredients

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

Seasoning

1 0z (25g) butter

8 oz (225g) mushrooms

Method

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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Sarah Brown’s Red Dragon Pie

As I keep mentioning Sarah Brown’s Red Dragon Pie in my meal plans, I thought I had better publish the recipe. The book it comes from is Vegetarian Kitchen, which is out of print now.

I do wish they would do a reprint of this one. It is packed full of great, easy to make and unfussy recipes. I think it is more relevant than ever with the current popularity of vegetarianism and veganism. If you are lucky, you might find it second hand on Amazon.

Red Dragon Pie is the veggie replacement for shepherd’s pie. Just as tasty and delicious with vegetables and vegetarian gravy. I tend to use cans of aduki beans for this as it is much quicker to make. However, if you use dried you will need to soak them over night or in boiling water for 1 hour. Rinse them, bring to the boil and cook for 50 minutes. Drain and reserve the stock.

Red Dragon Pie

Serves 4

Ingredients

110g aduki beans

50g rice

1 tbsp oil

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

25g carrots, diced

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp mixed herbs

Half a pint of stock or the reserved liquid from the aduki beans

salt and pepper

450g potatoes, peeled and chopped

25g butter

Method

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked beans and rice. Mix the soy sauce, tomato puree and herbs with the stock, then pour over the beans and vegetables. Season to taste, adding a little more liquid if necessary. Transfer to a greased 1.5 litre casserole dish.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes until cooked and mash with the butter. Season well and top your bean mixture. Bake in the oven for around 40 minutes until the top has browned.

For more frugal recipes we enjoy, see my Frugal Recipes page.

Cheap and easy vegetable curry

 vegetable curry

I made this vegetable curry as part of this week’s easy meal plan. It involves little more than chopping up some vegetables! My sort of cooking when I am feeling tired but in need of something healthy and delicious.

I actually kept the carnivores happy by cooking up some frozen chicken strips separately and adding them to half of the vegetable curry. You could easily vary the vegetables, depending on what you happen to have lying around.

Cheap and easy vegetable curry

vegetable curryServes 4-6

Ingredients

1 onion, diced

2 crushed cloves of garlic

3 sticks of celery, sliced thinly

3 carrots, sliced thinly

1 sweet potato, halved and sliced thinly

1 large-ish courgette, sliced

1 red pepper, chopped

2 oz frozen peas

1 400g can of chopped tomatoes

1 165g jar of curry paste (I used Patak’s tikka masala)

200ml cold water

Oil

Method

In a large pan (a wok is ideal), fry the onion and garlic in some oil for a few minutes, then add the celery, carrots and sweet potato and fry for five minutes more. Stir in the curry paste, along with 50 ml water. Cook  until the water has more or less evaporated. Add the courgette, red pepper and peas along with the tomatoes and remaining water. Bring to the boil, then simmer. Add some salt to taste, place a lid over your pan and cook gently for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally. (I like to cook it on a low heat for a little longer – about an hour.)

You can eat it as it is with rice if you want a vegan dinner, or add 150ml of cream or yogurt and heat through before serving. We like it with some crunchy poppadums and a bit of mango chutney too.

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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

Method

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.

 

Ratatouille: quick and easy vegetarian

imageI don’t usually make ratatouille out of courgette season. In the summer I always have a glut so it regularly appears on my meal plans. However, they were very reasonably priced in Aldi and they also had some delicious looking red peppers. It had to be added to my meal plan! It is lovely served with rice or pasta and topped with grated cheddar. Healthy, yummy and still good value. I vary this and never use a recipe; however this is roughly what I include this time. Sometimes I chuck in an aubergine too.

Easy ratatouille

Ingredients

Serves 6-8

4 medium courgettes, sliced
2 onions, chopped (as I had red and white I used one of each)
3 fat cloves of garlic
2 chopped peppers – I used one green and one red
2 tbsp olive oil
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried basil
1 vegetable stock cube

Method

Heat the oil and sweat the onions and garlic for 5 minutes until soft. Add the courgettes and peppers for a further five minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and add the crumbled stock cube. Season well with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes and serve.

I had this with spaghetti one night whilst Mr S had Bolognese. Then we had it again the following day with nut cutlets. Ratatouille is quick, cheap and easy.  It freezes pretty well too, if you do happen to have any leftovers.

For more frugal recipes see my page here.

Vegetable bake – quick and cheap

This is a very simple vegetable bake based on Delia’s  Leek, Carrot and Potato Pie, which features in my original copy of Delia’s Frugal Food. It was perfect after a freezing day – warming and comforting. I used tinned potatoes to save time – they are 15p in Aldi and I couldn’t buy fresh for less – and also a packet of bechamel sauce that cost 10p from Approved Food. Half of the leeks were from the garden – the last of them – and the other half came from Aldi from their Super Six range and cost 59p.

Vegetable bake

200g carrots, chopped ( I don’t bother peeling them)
2 x 420g tins of potatoes
50g butter
100g mushrooms
500g leeks, washed and chopped
1 small onion
1/2 pint white sauce
150g cheddar, grated
2 tbsp breadcrumbs, made by whizzing up half a crust of bread with my hand blender
2 pinches cayenne pepper

vegetable bakeCook the carrots in boiling water until cooked but still al dente. Sweat the leeks, onion and mushrooms in some butter until soft. Season well to taste. Drain the carrots, reserving 1/4 pint of water to make up the sauce, then follow the instructions on the packet but replace half the suggested milk with this water (or make a bechamel from scratch so that it can be gluten free if necessary). Slice the potatoes. Arrange the vegetables in layers in a deep casserole dish, finishing with a layer of potatoes, seasoning as you go. Combine the breadcrumbs with the cheese and cayenne and sprinkle on the top. Bake in a medium oven (180C) for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown.

This vegetable bake is cheap and easy comfort food.

Cheap and easy vegetarian

Ooh, should I call myself a ‘cheap and easy vegetarian’? Sounds dodgy!

Cheap and easy vegetarianNow that I have given up meat and gone back to being a veggie, I have been digging out some of my old vegetarian cookbook favourites. They are well thumbed as I never stopped using them. Even when I was eating meat we always had vegetarian food twice a week.

Going back to the greats

Many of my vegetarian cookbooks are practically vintage. The one that provoked the title of this post was Cheap and Easy by Rose Elliot. She was THE veggie food writer when I first gave up meat  in the late seventies. This one appeared in 1988.

I was having a browse through it last night with my vegan lodger. There are many very good recipes in there which, as the title of the book suggests, are cheap and easy vegetarian food and  quite a few vegan recipes as well.

Some old favourites

Some of the corners of the pages are turned over where years ago I marked dishes that looked particularly interesting. I am going to give some of these old recipes a try.

Glamorgan ‘sausages’, made with breadcrumbs, cheese, onions and lots of herbs appear promising and I remember eating lentils and mushrooms au gratin a lot (we called it lentil slop, but it was really delicious!). Vegetable rice with roasted nuts is a kind of veggie paella and easy nut burgers will be worth making in batches for the freezer.

Rose Elliot on the Internet

Finding this old book made me wonder what happened to Rose Elliot. I was delighted to discover that she is still going strong and has her own website.

She still sells lots of books but Cheap and Easy seems to be unavailable there, along with another  favourite, Not Just a Load of Old Lentils (which I have lost). However, she does have a promising looking collection in the Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian . If I am lucky enough to get vouchers for Christmas I am going to buy it!

In the meantime, I had a look on Amazon and found Not Just a Load of Old Lentils, so bought it for a mere £3 including postage. Bargain! If you fancy it, Cheap and Easy: Essential vegetarian collection is on there too from 1p plus postage.

I am really happy to have rediscovered this great writer. Her books will help me to be a cheap and easy vegetarian on a budget.

Does anyone else have recommendations for interesting vegetarian food writers?

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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?

Lentil vegetable stew: A Simple Supper

lentil vegetable stewLentil vegetable stew

I have been visiting my mum in hospital after work and my daughters have been great at organising dinner. Last night darling daughter no 2 made a really tasty lentil vegetable stew with crusty baguettes. She adapted it from a Nigel Slater recipe to suit what she could find in the fridge, as follows:

2 onions
2 tbsp veg oil
2 tsp rosemary
2 bay leaves
3 medium carrots
4 parsnips
2 sticks of celery
125g mushrooms
2 small sweet potatoes
150g red lentils
2 tbsp plain flour
750ml hot veg stock
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Large handful of spinach
tbsp wholegrain mustard

Chop all the vegetables and fry up in some oil until the parsnips are starting to turn golden. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the stock to the pan with the herbs and lentils and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the spinach, mustard and redcurrant jelly and stir then leave for a further ten minutes for the spinach to cook. This lentil vegetable stew would be good with rice but we enjoyed it with some ready to bake crusty baguettes from Aldi.

Update on mum

I was able to take my mum home today. She has a lot of cramp in her new hip joint, but other than that she is doing well. My dad sorted her tea and I left her in bed as she didn’t get much sleep in hospital so needs to catch up. One down, one to go – my dad’s op is on Sunday.

It was a glorious day today with daffodils and primroses everywhere. I love spring! Until tomorrow, bye for now.

Courgette and celery soup  – and beating the rag and bone man

 Last year’s courgette harvest is still feeding us. I am down to the last few bags in the freezer. I thought I would combine them with celery and it made a good combination. If you use frozen courgettes, like me, start with just a litre and a half of stock and add more if you need it. They are quite watery and can make your soup too thin. Here is the recipe I used today:

2 large onions, chopped
5 sticks of celery, sliced
6 tsp of vegetable bouillion power dissolved in 2 litres hot water
2lb courgettes, sliced
4 medium potatoes, chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2tbsp oil

Hear the oil and sweat the onions, celery and potatoes for about 5 minutes. Add the courgettes and fry  for a couple minutes more. Pour on the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer with a lid on the pan for about half an hour. Add the soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste, then whizz in a blender.

This makes a large pan and you can put it into old margarine or ice cream containers and freeze for when you need it.

We had to take our student to meet her bus back to France this morning. She seemed to enjoy her week with us. On the way home we spotted a broken wooden garden bench and a heavy cast iron parasol outside our neighbour’s house. The bench seat was broken but the frame seemed sound so we asked if we could have them. They seemed delighted to be rid and they were close enough to Shoestring Cottage for us to walk them home. The bench is little project for Mr S but it won’t need much repair. With a lick of paint it will be perfect in the garden.

An hour or so later we heard the bell of the rag and bone men. We were lucky to have beaten them to it!

Bootstrap cooking

I am trying to eek out this week’s groceries by being creative and using things up. It’s good to do this every now and then as it makes me look properly at what is in my freezer and cupboards and use ingredients that have been hanging about a bit. I am lucky that we still have broccoli, spinach and chard in the garden too so I haven’t had to buy much veg. I did pop out to get milk from the local Co-op yesterday though and picked up parsnips and peppers reduced to half price. I will make a spicy parsnip soup for lunch today.
I don’t have much meat though so we are eating more vegetarian dishes. The other night I made a stew out of pretty much everything we had in the fridge: celery, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, mushrooms, peas and garlic with a tin of tomatoes, brown lentils, dried herbs and some vegetable stock. It was lovely with brown rice and a bit of grated cheese. I do like easy, no fuss dinners when I have been at work all day.

Last night we had some chicken thighs from the freezer in chicken chasseur as I had red wine that was a bit old for drinking but fine for cooking. I always use the recipe from A Girl Called Jack: 100 delicious budget recipes (my affiliate link). This is one of my favourite cook books ever. I have the second one but it doesn’t appeal to me as much. I have also signed up for her third which was crowd funded through Kickstarter. I should receive a signed limited edition copy for my money next month some time. I know Jack has become a vegan on the last few months so it will be interesting to see how this affects the recipes on offer. It wasn’t billed as a vegan cookbook but I don’t mind as lots of meat makes cooking more expensive. It is called Cooking on a Bootstrap.

As with anything related to Jack Monroe there is an interesting story behind the use of crowd funding to get the book out. It will actually come out with a ‘proper’ publisher in 2017. You can read about the saga  at https://cookingonabootstrap.com.

Off to the garden now as I have more seeds to start for the garden. Happy Sunday!

Low Fat On A Budget?

low fat on a budgetIs it possible to eat low fat on a budget? I think it is. I made this yummy Slimming World recipe over the weekend, crustless bacon and mushroom quiche. The recipe says it will serve two but I would say  three as two of us couldn’t eat it all: recipe here.

So-called ‘slimming foods’ can be expensive in my experience, but all of the ingredients for this came from Aldi and it was quite a cheap supper. We had the left over cottage cheese and bacon over the weekend, so no waste there.

Low fat on a budget is possible

Logically if you are eating less you shouldn’t be spending more. People tend to buy more healthy fruit and veg and lean meat and less of the cheap stuff like sausages and processed food when they are dieting. But if they also purchase fewer treats, less alcohol and gave up the takeaways you would think it would even itself out!

I am encouraged at the number of nice looking veggie meals that are either low fat or can be adapted to be lower fat than usual. A meal based around pulses, vegetables and grains will generally be cheaper than eating meat.

Another nice dish which happens to be vegetarian is vegetable paella, another Slimming World one which is low fat on a budget. Delish and packed full of peppers and other veg so lots of antioxidants too. Replace the saffron with turmeric, use dried parsley and use ordinary rice instead of risotto  rice to make it a bit cheaper. I used mushrooms instead of courgettes as that was what I had. Use frozen instead of fresh peas and beans.
low fat on a budget

1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 pints veg stock
1 red and 1 yellow pepper, sliced
2 courgettes, sliced
454 g tomatoes, skinned and chopped (I used a tin)
349g risotto rice
1 tsp paprika
0.5 tsp saffron, soaked in 2 tvsp water
110g green beans
110g peas
salt and pepper
3tbsp chopped parsley

Put the onions and garlic in a large pan with half a pint of the stock and simmer until the onions are soft. Add the peppers, courgettes and tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and paprika. Pour in the saffron and add the peas and beans. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook very gently, adding stock as it is absorbed and stirring regularly until all the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste and add the parsley just before serving.

I will definitely be making both these again! Do you eat low fat on a budget?

Little vegan number: spicy chick peas with spinach 

 I love chick peas! And I love spinach. Mostly I love frugal healthy food and spicy chick peas with spinach fits the bill on both counts.

Spicy chick peas with spinach

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4-6 balls of frozen spinach
1 bell pepper, chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can chick peas, drained
half to one tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsps cumin
half pint veg stock
oil
salt and pepper

Fry up the onions, garlic and pepper  in the oil until soft, then add the spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the spinach and all the other ingredients and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for at least half an hour, covered. Taste and season.

This spicy chick peas with spinach dish is so easy. It is also low fat and vegan. A simple supper with rice or as a side dish and cheap as chips!

I like to serve this as part of a frugal Indian dinner party for friends. Cheaper than eating out!

Cheesy potato bake with parsley, rosemary and thyme

cheesy potato bakeWe had a cheap and filling late lunch today, a cheesy potato bake served with Aldi sausages and vegetables. As we were going to the cinema I wanted to keep it simple. This is how you make it.

cheesy potato bake900g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Heaped tsp dried rosemary
Heaped tsp dried thyme
Large handful fresh parsley, chopped finely
1/2 pint milk
Salt and pepper
100g grated cheese

cheesy potato bakePlace the spuds, onions and garlic with the milk in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in all of the herbs and season well. Grease a large casserole dish and pour the potato mixture in. Cover with the grated cheese and bake at about 180C for 45 minutes. Eat as an accompaniment to sausages or as a vegetarian main with some vegetables.

This cheap and easy cheesy potato bake is also vegetarian and gluten free.

We saw the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything tonight. What a great story and an excellent film. I really recommend it if you can get to see it!

Vegetable bake and a good day’s work

Before...dirty and rather tatty

Before…dirty and rather tatty

I had the day off today to start the refurbishment of an old dresser. My parents had it made in the seventies and gave it to me when I bought my first house. Back then honey-coloured pine was all the rage – I remember this dresser in the family kitchen with its matching table and benches. At some point I painted it blue, but for the past 3 years it has been at the back of Mr Shoestring’s workshop gathering dust.

 

It is a cute little dresser and is the first part of our planned redecoration (on a shoestring, of course) of our kitchen – Mr S is going to remove the ugly breakfast bar to make space. We chose a chalk finish pale green. Today I sanded it, washed it thoroughly and applied the first coat. It is looking very encouraging so far! Hopefully I will get the final coat on tomorrow and will wax it over the weekend.

Mid transformation!

Mid transformation!

Because I knew I probably wouldn’t fancy cooking when I got in, I prepared the dinner before I went, a very simple veggie bake based on Delia’s  Leek, Carrot and Potato Pie which features in my original copy of Frugal Food. It was perfect after my day freezing in the workshop – warming and comforting. I used tinned potatoes to save time – they are 15p in Aldi and I couldn’t buy fresh for less – and also a packet of bechamel sauce that cost 10p from Approved Food. Half of the leeks were from the garden – the last of them – and the other half came from Aldi this morning from their Super Six range and cost 59p.

200g carrots, chopped ( I don’t bother peeling them)
2 x 420g tins of potatoes
50g butter
100g mushrooms
500g leeks, washed and chopped
1 small onion
1/2 pint white sauce
150g cheddar, grated
2 tbsp breadcrumbs, made by whizzing up half a crust of bread with my hand blender
2 pinches cayenne pepper

veggie bakeCook the carrots in boiling water until cooked but still al dente. Sweat the leeks, onion and mushrooms in some butter until soft. Season well to taste. Drain the carrots, reserving 1/4 pint of water to make up the sauce, then follow the instructions on the packet but replace half the suggested milk with this water (or make a bechamel from scratch so that it can be gluten free if necessary). Slice the potatoes. Arrange the vegetables in layers in a deep casserole dish, finishing with a layer of potatoes, seasoning as you go. Combine the breadcrumbs with the cheese and cayenne and sprinkle on the top. Bake in a medium oven (180C) for about 40 minutes until the topping is golden brown. Serve with a green vegetable and enjoy!tinned spuds

The girls complained at the lack of meat, but since they both presented me with clean plates I don’t think they suffered too much 🙂

Greek Salad

What to take to the Christmas buffet?

We had the work Christmas buffet today. Everybody takes a contribution  and it is always a fantastic spread, with leftovers to last a few days as well. Money seems to be getting sucked continuously out of my purse at the moment with all the Christmas celebrations. I wanted to take something healthy  that wouldn’t break the bank. I decided on this frugal version of a Greek salad.

There are always lots of carbohydrate at these events – sausage rolls, sandwiches, pork pies, crisps, etc – so I thought a Greek salad would be welcome. It was very easy to make last night and the ingredients weren’t expensive. I bought them from Sainsbury’s on the way home from work and the salad cost £3.50 not including the dressing.

greek saladGreek salad

1 med cos lettuce, £1
half a cucumber, cubed, 25p
Half a pack of cherry tomatoes (about 150g), halved, 50p
half a bunch of spring onions, chopped, 30p
1 pack of Sainsburys Basics feta cheese, cubed, 85p
A small jar of black olives, 60p

From the store cupboard for the vinaigrette I used 3 tablespoons of olive oil, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar and salt and pepper.

Combine all of the salad ingredients. Mix the oil, vinegar and mustard together in a jug and add seasoning to taste. Pour over the salad just before serving and mix well.

This Greek salad went down a treat! The feta – cheap because it is made with cow’s milk so isn’t the genuine stuff – is just as good as the real thing at about a third of the price.

I took mine in a lovely big ceramic bowl that I bought recently in my favourite charity shop for £1.50.

Pauper’s Spanish Omelette

Last night’s Pauper’s Spanish omelette was a big success. As ever, if I can produce something quick, tasty, cheap and delicious I am happy. I hardly ever spend long cooking, unless I am entertaining. However that is rare theses days as it can be an expensive business.

Pauper's Spanish omelettePauper’s Spanish omelette

For two people I chopped up half a green pepper and sautéed it gently with 6 chopped mushrooms. I also used 10 small potatoes from a tin from Aldi, sliced. These cost 15p and are incredibly useful – I am sure they must be cheaper than fresh. I will use the rest up in a casserole.

I whizzed up two eggs for each of us in separate jugs with salt and pepper and a little milk then added half of the vegetables to each. I decided to make two separate omelettes rather than one big one as they cook more quickly, but you could do it in a big frying pan if you are making this for more people. I cooked them gently in a small frying pan and when nearly set I added a handful I grated cheese to each and finished them off under a hot grill.

This pauper’s Spanish omelette is perfect for a quick and easy frugal tea.

A rainy Sunday

Today we had planned a drive out somewhere as the girls are all doing their own thing. However it is currently pouring, despite the forecast saying dry with sunny spells. Maybe it will have improved by the time we are ready to go!

Once again the dehumidifier is coming in handy, both drying the laundry and preventing our condensation problem resurfacing. Looks like it may be on all day today as I have washed all the bed linen!

What are you doing on this rainy Remembrance Sunday? I hate the idea of war, and lots of the young men who died in the First World War seemed to be little but cannon fodder. I will spare a thought for them today.
Pauper's Spanish omelette

Simple grub: vegetable gratin

I still haven’t been shopping! We seem to have a glut of unused veg in the fridge so I put off the Aldi trip another day to use them up. This simple cheat’s vegetable gratin will do the job. It is healthy, delicious and, above all, cheap.

vegetable gratinI also took the opportunity to use a couple of sachets of cheese sauce mix that came from Approved Food. I don’t usually use packet sauces, but they were so cheap. The parsley sauces I bought last time were pretty good, so I thought I would give them a try.

vegetable gratinCheat’s vegetable gratin

Method

I used two sticks of celery, a large courgette, a yellow pepper, a head of broccoli and a handful of mushrooms, but you could throw in any veg that needs using up. I sautéed all the vegetables for about five minutes, chopped quite small. If you prefer your veg less crunchy you could parboil it. I made the sauce and mixed it all together, put it in a casserole dish and topped with grated cheese. I then baked it for 20 minutes so that the cheese was golden and bubbly.

vegetable gratinWe had this with baked potatoes and spinach, so most of our five a day in one hit. It went down a treat and the cheese sauce mix was pretty good.

I will do a shop tonight though: I can’t put it off forever ! For more of my favourite frugal recipes, see this page.

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Winter carrot salad

winter carrot saladI should have done my food shop on Tuesday night but went to my parents for dinner instead. Last night Mr S was here for dinner so we made do with what was in the freezer – a lovely cheese and broccoli quiche that was reduced in Asda a few weeks ago, served with chips. As I had nothing in the way of more traditional salad ingredients, I made this yummy winter carrot salad to accompany our meal.

I love this winter carrot salad every bit as much , if not more, than a lettuce based salad. It is easy to make and nutritious too. My kids enjoyed this when they were little, and it is still a favourite.

Winter carrot salad

Ingredients

500g (1lb) carrots, grated
1 tbsp chopped chives or spring onion tops
Vinaigrette:
1 tbsp cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to season

Method

Place the carrots and chives in a salad bowl. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients in a jug and beat together. Pour over the carrots and stir. Season to taste. It couldn’t be easier!

For more ideas for frugal food, visit this page.

 

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Shoestring Macaroni Cheese – doubt you need a recipe, but here is one anyway

Tonight I wanted something easy for tea, and macaroni cheese was perfect. It is so simple yet cheap and delicious, total comfort food on a rainy Autumn day.

macaroni cheeseShoestring Macaroni Cheese

Here is the recipe I use for macaroni cheese, although I vary it by adding bacon, mushrooms, leeks, or sometimes all three:

Ingredients

To serve 4

250g macaroni
2 heaped dessertspoons marg or butter
2 heaped dessertspoons plain flour
500ml milk
half tsp mustard powder or made up mustard
150g cheddar, grated
Lots of ground pepper and salt to taste

Method

Cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling salted water and, whilst it is cooking, make the sauce. Melt the margarine or butter, then add the flour and mustard and cook gently for a minute or so. Whisk in the milk and and bring to the boil, stirring all the time so that it doesn’t catch. Lower the heat and stir until thickened. Add the grated cheese, then season with the salt and pepper to taste. Drain the macaroni and stir in most of the cheese, leaving some to sprinkle on the top. Pop under a preheated grill for 5 minutes until it turns golden and bubbly. Serve straight away with a green salad or some vegetables.

We had runner beans from the garden with our macaroni cheese as we still have plenty coming through.

For more favourite frugal recipes, see here.

Spicy roasted tomato sauce – a great way to use the glut

spicy roasted tomato sauce

Roasted and ready to be whizzed up – I could have eaten these as they were with some crusty bread

I found this spicy roasted tomato sauce recipe on the internet but adapted it slightly. It is delicious and spicy! Because we have lots of lovely ripe tomatoes growing at the moment, it is also very, very cheap.

Spicy roasted tomato sauce

Ingredients

To serve 4-5

500g pasta
1kg tomatoes, halved
70 ml olive oil
Clove garlic, crushed
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
I medium chilli pepper, kept whole
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, gas mark 6. Place the oil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large bowl and stir. Dip each tomato half into the oil mix and place face up onto an oven proof dish with the whole chilli. Sprinkle with a little sugar. Cook for one hour. Allow to cool, remove the chilli and cut out the seeds. If you don’t like your sauce too hot just put half of the chilli in with the tomatoes, but if you can take the heat put the whole thing in, and whizz up with a hand blender.

You can sieve the spicy roasted tomato sauce if you want it really smooth, but I didn’t bother. Mix in with your cooked pasta and top with. Grated cheese.

Mmm, delish!

For more frugal recipe ideas, see this page.

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

 

Brown Rice and Mediterranean Vegetables

Another chuck it together healthy tea. We had this brown rice and Mediterranean vegetables with baked chicken but it is a perfectly good veggie supper with grated cheese stirred in.

brown rice and Mediterranean vegetablesI am still using up the huge courgettes I got in Sainsbury’s! I like the flavour soy sauce adds to these.

Brown rice and Mediterranean vegetables

Serves 6

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
I green pepper, chopped
1 large or 2 small courgette, diced
100g mushrooms, sliced
325g brown rice, cooked with a veg stock cube
600g (1.5 cans) chopped tomatoes
2tbsp chopped parsley (or 2tsp dried mixed herbs)
1 tbsp soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated cheddar to top (optional)

Heat the oil and gently fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the courgettes, mushrooms and pepper and continue to cook for 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes then add the parsley and soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve your brown rice and Mediterranean vegetables with a good sprinkling of grated cheese.

image

We were out getting the best from our RHS membership today. Once it finally stopped raining the sun came out and it was boiling, so we took a drive to Hyde Hall Gardens in Runwell in Essex.

This is the fourth time we have been this year and it has been fantastic to see the garden changing and developing through the seasons. This is one of the four main RHS gardens and we are lucky to have it half an hour’s drive from home. It never fails to inspire!

rose2

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

Method

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.

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

Ingredients

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
Seasoning
1 tsp oregano
2 tbsp chopped parsley
6 oz grated cheddar

Method

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.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

Curried vegetable and chick pea stew

curried vegetable and chick pea stew

Tonight I asked daughter no 3, who is 15, to make dinner as she is still on school holidays. She made a really delicious curried vegetable and chick pea stew. She got a few ideas from the internet, then looked at what we had and threw this together.

 

Curried Vegetable and Chick Pea Stew

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
1 small courgette, chopped
2 small carrots, sliced
chunky clove of garlic, minced
half a pint of stock
1 x 400g can of chickpeas
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
Half a teaspoon ground ginger
half a teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
half a teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of tabasco to taste
Salt and pepper to season

Method

Heat some oil in a large saucepan and soften the onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add all of the spices and stir for a minute or so. Add the courgette and carrot and fry for 5 minutes. Now add the chickpeas, stock and tomatoes and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for around 15 minutes. Serve with some cous cous or rice.

This curried vegetable and chick pea stew is super easy, healthy and cheap!

Teach your kids to cook

Cooking is a hugely useful life skill, especially if you are on a budget, health conscious, or adventurous in your eating habits…

I really can’t understand parents who cook themselves but don’t teach their children, or even worse, parents who don’t cook at all and live off ready meals. I know quite a few teens who are completely hopeless in the kitchen. One daughter went off to uni and was amazed to find one of the boys in her flat had filled the freezer with meals lovingly prepared by his Mum. Very nice of her, but wouldn’t it have been more useful to teach him a few basic culinary skills so that he could do it himself? Is she planning to bring him several months worth of meals at a time so that he never has to cook? I suspect so!!

My children were all up to chopping a few vegetables by the age of three, and we always baked cakes together. DD1 cooked her first full family roast dinner aged 10! They can all cook, and all understand what is healthy food and what is rubbish. I am not saying they don’t eat junk given half a chance, but generally their habits are pretty good.

We always fed them decent food and didn’t allow them to become fussy eaters. I think you lead by example. If you cook good food and eat lots of fruit and veg, then your children will do as you do.

Get your kids cooking as early as you can, and encourage them to try as many different foods as possible. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables yourself to show them how delicious they can be, and to encourage good habits from an early age. Then, when you need them to knock you up a speedy tea, they will be able to and you will reap the rewards!

For more of our favourite recipes, see here.

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

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

Mixed Vegetable Gratin

Mixed vegetable gratin

Sometimes you just need something light and healthy that is quick to prepare. Last night was one such night. Darling daughter no 2 was invited back to her sixth form college for the annual awards evening. I am a very proud mummy as she worked really hard and got an A* and received the English award for academic achievement. It was all a bit of a rush, so before I left for work I made this easy mixed vegetable gratin, which serves 4, and we had it with jacket potatoes, although roasties would be particularly nice.

mixed vegetable gratinIngredients

1.5lb mixed veg (I used a head of broccoli, a handful of mushrooms, 4 carrots and 3 sticks of celery), lightly boiled or steamed
1 pint milk
2 oz margarine
3 tbsp flour
8 oz cheddar

mixed vegetable gratin

Method

Place your cooked veg in a baking dish. Make your cheese sauce by melting the marg then adding the flour and cooking for a few minutes on a low heat. Whisk in the milk and turn the heat up a little until it thickens, then add 3/4 of the cheese. Take off the heat and season to taste, then pour it over your veg. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese. If I was eating this immediately I would stick it under a hot grill until the cheese browns. As I reheated it I warmed it in a medium oven for 25 minutes to half an hour.

You can find more frugal recipes here.

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

Method

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.

Chick pea curry – cheap and cheerful

I would happily stop eating meat if I was just feeding myself, as it is so expensive. I prefer vegetables anyway, especially when I have grown them myself. Sadly, my daughters feel deprived if I don’t give them meat some of the time. Fortunately, there are many veggie recipes that they will all happily eat, and this chick pea curry is one of them.

Chick Pea Curry

chick pea curry We had this chick pea curry tonight and it is a real family favourite. Healthy, delicious, easy and cheap. You could make it even cheaper by using dried chick peas, but I tend to go for the canned variety. I got this recipe from my thrifty mother, and we all love it.

1 lb chick peas (2 cans)
3 tablespoons oil
2 onions (I used leeks I had lying around in the fridge as well)
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons chopped root ginger (I usually buy a piece and freeze the rest, but I’m sure dried will do)
6 cardamoms, split and seeds removed (I rarely bother)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
Half a pint of vegetable stock
Seasoning
Chopped parsley for garnish
Chick pea curry

Chop the onions and fry until soft but not brown.

Add the spices and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.

Tip in the tomatoes, tomato puree and chick peas, then the stock.

Cook for 10-15 minutes on a low heat, seasoning to taste.

Serve with rice. My mum likes to mix in some sour cream or yogurt at the end and it is nice, but not essential.

Roasted pumpkin soup

roasted pumpkin soup

Now that Halloween is out of the way, it is time to make some more soup for the freezer. This roasted pumpkin soup is glorious – smooth and delicious.

We had a veritable bounty of wonderful veg from the garden and greenhouse this year. This was the first year we had put so much effort into growing our own food. Last year we managed a few courgettes in grow bags and some runner beans. This year we have had fabulous tomatoes (thanks to a bargain greenhouse purchased on Ebay and free plants from a friend), peppers, celeriac, onions, carrots, French and runner beans, peas, fennel, rhubarb, various courgettes and squashes, beetroot, leeks, a few currants and berries and best of all, some lovely big pumpkins.  Here is the recipe I use:

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients

One medium pumpkin

2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock

3 large onions

2 sticks of celery

2 tsp of cumin

4 cloves of garlic

Vegetable oil

Plenty of salt and pepper

Method

roasted pumpkin soupThe first thing you need to do is roast your pumpkin. Preheat your oven to gas mark 6, 200C. Peel your pumpkin and cut into large chunks – about 2 inch squares should do. Put into a bowl and mix in a couple of tablespoons of the oil. Roast in the hot oven until the pumpkin begins to soften – about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion and garlic and brown for 5 minutes in a small amount of oil, then add the cumin and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes. Add the roasted pumpkin and the stock, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, seasoning to taste, then puree and cool.

I save margarine, ice cream and large yogurt pots for my mega soup making sessions. I ladle single, double or larger portions, depending on the size of my container, label and freeze. Home-made soup is so much nicer than tinned, and a lot cheaper when you are using home grown veg as well as being a great way of using up a glut. We will be eating this delicious roasted pumpkin soup right through the winter.

You can find more frugal recipe ideas here.