Kitty’s Cereal Bar Recipe

I am notoriously bad at eating breakfast, but one of these with a cup of tea in the morning gets me going. Not the healthiest of breakfasts, but at least there are slow-release sugars to keep me going for a while as well as the sugar and syrup. The proportions are based upon my favourite flapjack / oat slice recipe but with half the amount of sugar.

cereal bar

Ingredients

  • 4oz / 110g Dark Soft Brown Sugar
  • 8 oz / 220g Butter
  • 2 rounded dessertspoon Golden Syrup
  • 8 oz / 220g Oats
  • 2 oz / 55g Bran Flakes
  • 2 oz / 55g Rice Crispies
  • heaped teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • generous handful of Dates
  • generous handful of Chopped Nuts, I used brazil nuts. Pecans or walnuts would also be good.

Note, you can substitute in different types of cereal depending on what you have in the cupboard – as long as the total dry ingredients adds up to 12 oz / 350g. If you want to add flaked almonds I would advise including them as a proportion of the dry ingredients rather than substituting them for other nuts, otherwise they will dry out the mixture.

Method

Line a square tin (8 inches approx) with greaseproof paper, and preheat the oven to 150oC.

In a large pan, gently melt the butter, syrup and sugar. When melted add the ginger, fruit and nuts followed by the dry ingredients. Mix well and then put in the prepared tin, flattening it with the back of a spoon.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes. When it is cooked, let it cool in the tin before turning it onto a board and chopping it into squares.

cereal bar

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

As usual, I am starting the year cooking in a very frugal fashion. My aim is to get to the back of my cupboards and to the bottom of my freezer by the end of the month and to have spent very little on food.

Today I was very organised; I cooked my dinner in the slow cooker, using beans that I had soaked overnight, before I left for work. Those of you who have experienced my severe aversion to mornings will be very impressed!

This is very different from the way that I would usually make chilli; because I am in serious fridge-emptying mode I used the remains of a jar of spicy tomato salsa dip and finished off a bottle of peri peri sauce for the base.

The chilli was incredibly cheap to make. However, I did spend money in the co-op on some (very unseasonal) salad, wraps and soured cream (which was in the reduced section). Steve is very good at making Tortillas, I will ask him to share the recipe with you sometime.

There was enough the next day to make enchiladas – yum.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

Ingredients

  • Slow cooker bean chilliTwo cups Black-eyed Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Kidney Beans – soaked overnight
  • One cup of Puy Lentils
  • 1/2 pot Tomato Salsa
  • approx 3rd bottle Peri Peri Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli & Lime Flakes (you can use chilli flakes without lime – I happened to already have this and am in using-up mode)
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Vegetable Stock powder
  • an Onion, finely chopped
  • a few cloves of Garlic, chopped
  • Water, enough to cover the beans

Method

Soak the beans the night before. Drain before using.

Put all of the ingredients into the slow cooker on it’s lowest setting. Leave to cook for at least eight hours.

Serve with wraps or rice.

For the enchiladas – put a large spoonful of the Bean Chilli into the centre of a wrap, fold two ends inwards and then roll up. Place in an oven proof dish. When you have got as many wraps as you want into the dish put sour cream on top (I didn’t measure it out, I just used the remains of the pot from the previous day) and cover with grated cheese. Bake in the oven at 180oC for approximately half an hour.

Slow Cooker Bean Chilli

enchiladas

Ginger and Coconut Flapjack

I have learned something new today – in America Flapjacks are called Oat Bars. Who knew? To make matters more confusing, an American Flapjack is a pancake.

This isn’t a pancake recipe. It is delicious. Enjoy!

Ginger and Coconut Flapjack

Ingredients

  • 3.5 oz margarine
  • 1.5 oz coconut oil
  • 8 oz soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 dessert spoons golden syrup
  • 1 oz desiccated coconut
  • 11 oz oats
  • Handful chopped crystallised ginger

Method

Preheat the oven to 150oC / 300oF.

Put the margarine, coconut oil, syrup, and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat; when melted and well combined stir in the dry ingredients.

Put the mixture into a lined square tin, flatten the top but don’t compress too much.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 40 – 45 minutes.

Simples.

ginger and coconut flapjack

 

Salmon Pinwheels

I have found that I am not very good at blogging in summer – I am too busy enjoying my garden! So I was rather chuffed when this little recipe dropped into my inbox from the fabulous Michelle, who has guest-blogged for me before and who coined the wonderful phrase ‘fridge gravel‘. This is a true storecupboard recipe and I will be giving these pinwheels a try next time I need to make canapés at short notice  (yes, that does happen).

Thanks Michelle!  salmon pinwheels

This is something I do when I fancy something a little different – salmon pinwheels.

It is quite a simple dish. The omelettes are just one egg, a little salt and pepper and a pinch of tarragon beaten together and cooked gently in a small egg pan in a knob of butter.

Spread the egg out until it covers the base of the frying pan and cook until set on one side, flip over and cook on the other side for about one minute.

Slide out of the pan onto a chopping board to cool.

Once cold, spread the omelette with a mix of tinned pink salmon that has been mixed with a bit of mayo and apple cider vinegar.

You could use any filling you like – chopped cooked chicken and mayo, leftover minced beef etc.

Roll up the omelettes into a cigar shape and slice into bite sized pieces. Delicious!

Adding the tarragon to the omelette works really well with fish, but that could be subbed for other herbs.

Simples!

 

 

Chocolate and Almond Bread & Butter Pudding

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Bread and Butter Pudding is a good old-fashioned frugal recipe, which uses up dry bread which would otherwise go to waste. The traditional recipe uses bread and butter, dried fruit, sugar, eggs and milk.

There are many little twists that can be made to this basic recipe; for this one I used Almond Milk instead of cows milk and mixed coco-powder in with the demerara sugar to make nice chocolatey layers.

Ingredients

  • Dry sliced bread (about 1/2 loaf)
  • Butter
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coco powder
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 or 3 eggs (I only had 2 which was fine, but 3 would have been better)
  • 1 pint almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon flaked almonds
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 180oC.

Mix the sugar and coco powder in a bowl.

Place a layer of buttered bread in the bottom of your dish, as closely fitting as possible. Cover with a layer of the chocolate mixture and a sprinkle of raisins.

Repeat until you have at least three bread layers.

In a jug measure out a pint of milk and beat the eggs into it.

Pour the mixture onto the bread layers; all but the top bread layer should be covered. Add more milk if necessary.

Sprinkle flaked almonds and some nutmeg on the top and bake in the centre of the oven for about half an hour.

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Sticky Beer and Ginger Fruit Loaf

I made this recipe up yesterday.

I came back from a lovely wedding at the weekend armed with some delicious Shropshire Ale from Hobsons Brewery left over from the festivities (we were far too well behaved!), which the groom kindly decanted into a pop bottle for me. I used most of the beer on the day I returned home to bribe my neighbour James to cut my lawn and shift some topsoil for me; however, a few days later there was a half pint still remaining which was a little beyond drinking but which I didn’t want to waste.

I had a little brainwave that I could use it to soak fruit in; a little bit like tea-loaf but richer. The muscavado sugar made it richer still and, well, you can’t go wrong with lots of ginger.

Ingredients

  • 500 g / 1 lb of mixed dried fruit
  • 200 g / 7 oz dark muscavado sugar
  • 300 ml / 1/2 pint of Ale (the darker the better)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250 g / 8 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ground ginger

Method

Put the fruit, sugar and beer into a bowl, cover with a tea-towel and leave for at least 4 hours (overnight if possible).

Stir  the egg, flour and ginger into the soaked fruit mixture and pour into a lined 2 lb loaf tin (or, if like me you are short on time divide it between two tins so that it cooks more quickly).

Bake in the centre of a pre-heated oven at 170oC for 1 & 1/2  hours. To check whether it is done put a skewer in and if it comes out clean it is cooked, whereas if the skewer still has cake mixture on it needs cooking a little longer.

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Odds and Sods Soup

I have decided that it is time to go back to my £5 a week food budget – I have become lazy recently, and although I have maintained the discipline of not wasting food it has become too easy to spend more than I need to and to do ‘lazy cooking’.

I have not yet spent my £5 this week, and I did not top up my storecupboard before commencing my budget cooking – no cheating! Before I spend my £5 I need to use up some fresh ingredients; my lovely lodger is working away for a week and has left me with a fridge full of yummy things which I cannot let go to waste, so what I have to start with is:
– a couple of rashers of bacon
– a bag of green salad
– an avacado
– salami & parma ham
– red peppers

Thanks Amy!

I also have carrots which very much need using up, onions, garlic, a lonely potato, a lonely tomato, fresh bread, and of course my trusty spice cupboard.

image

So of course I started with soup.

Ingredients

– one onion
– one potato
– one big tomato
– one red pepper
– six carrots
– 2 cloves of garlic
– smokey paprika
– stock from the freezer (or a vegetable or chicken stock cube)
– salt and pepper to taste

Method
Finely chop all of the vegetables apart from the tomato. Fry in a large saucepan with the paprika and a little oil or butter.
Put the tomato in a bowl of boiling water straight from the kettle; when it has been in there a few minutes you will find that the skin peels off easily.
Add the tomato to the other vegetables along with a pint of stock – I used my turkey stock from the freezer, but you could equally use a vegetable stock cube.
Simmer until the vegetables feel soft when you put a fork in them – about 20 minutes – then blend using a food processor or hand blender.
Return the blended vegetables to the saucepan and continue to cook on a low heat, adding more liquid (water or milk) if you think that the consistency is too thick.
Taste, and season with salt and pepper if required.
Serve with toast and lots of butter.

… and I have plenty left for lunch tomorrow – hurrah!

Easter Nests

Easter Nests

Easter nests; a firm family-favourite and as far as I am concerned the only good use of shredded wheat!

This recipe made nine nests.

Ingredients
100 g bar 70% Dark chocolate
1 tablespoon Golden syrup
25 g Butter
150 g Shredded wheat

(at least) 16 ‘mini-eggs’ or similar – I used Traidcraft little speckled eggs which are delicious and ethically sourced.

Method

Line a muffin tin with paper cases – pretty ones if you have them.

Slowly melt the chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a bowl over boiling water. The bowl shouldn’t touch the water.

When the above is melted and combined, crumble the shredded wheat into the bowl a bit at a time and stir in until well coated with the chocolate mixture.

Spoon into the paper-cases, making a little ‘well’ in the middle for the eggs.

Place in a cool place; try not to scoff them all immediately  so that the has time to chocolate set!

Dairy-free Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Biscuits

These Peanut Butter Biscuits are dairy free, delicious, and pretty healthy as biscuits go.

As you may be aware I have given up supermarket shopping for Lent. This has in general been a positive experience so far; however, right now when I haven’t been shopping for a few days it it is a bit of a pain because I have run out of what I usually consider to be a ‘basic’ baking ingredient – butter. Biscuits are required this evening because I have people coming over for a meeting, and having nothing to offer would be plain rude! However, every challenge is an opportunity and having successfully baked using olive oil in little cakes a few days ago I decided to trawl through my recipe books to find something I could easily adapt.

I used groundnut oil for this recipe because I happened to have some in the cupboard and I thought it made sense with the peanut butter, you can substitute in different oil if you like. Whilst on the subject of substitutions, the recipe which I (loosely) based these biscuits on asked for brown bread flour whereas I used Rye flour, again, because that is what I happened to have in the storecupboard.
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Ingredients

Makes about 20.

  • 3 tablespoons Peanut Butter
  • 140 ml Groundnut Oil
  • a few drops of Vanilla Essence
  • 1 Egg
  • 125 g / 4 oz demerara sugar
  • 125 g / 4 oz White Bread Flour
  • a pinch of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 125 g / 4 oz Rye Flour (or wholemeal)
  • 100 g Dark Chocolate, chopped

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Whisk together the peanut butter, oil and vanilla essence and then beat in the sugar. Add the egg plus a teaspoon of flour and beat well.

Sift in the white bread flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and fold in.

Mix in the chocolate followed by the rye flour and knead until the dough holds together.

Roll small pieces of the dough into balls and place on oiled baking tray, leaving room for spreading. Flatten with a fork in a criss-cross pattern and bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

peanut butter cookies
peanut butter cookies

January Challenge ‘de-brief’

I am almost exactly a month into my life as a food blogger, and I have to say that this is definitely the most difficult post that I have written so far. Those of you who have been following me for the last month will know that I set myself a challenge at the beginning of January to ‘cook using only what I already have in my cupboards and freezer, plus what I can buy for £5 a week’;  you will also know that I like to communicate what I have been cooking with minimal ‘waffle’. Now that February has arrived it is time to reflect on my January Challenge and I really hope that I can do so in a concise and interesting way. Please leave me a message if you make it all the way to bottom!

Most importantly, I must say that I have really enjoyed giving myself a ridiculous budget for a month; it reminded me of how much fun it is to be creative with my cooking, and in addition it ‘reset’ my shopping habits and prevented me from producing any food waste.

What I would really like to get across to you is how well you can eat on a small weekly budget if you keep a few ‘core’ things in your storecupboard. If you are not used to this style of food shopping and cooking then there will be some upfront expenditure (but not much, see below how much I spent on topping-up my cupboards at the end of the month); but once you have initially stocked up there will just be a small ‘rolling cost’ as you replace things.

So here goes a short retrospective on my January Challenge:

What did I buy with my £5 a week?

My first £5 was spent on onions, carrots, mushrooms, some good British sausages, a lime & soda from my local pub, and some reduced bread for my freezer.

Lesson #1 – lime & soda is totally pointless and a waste of money!

During the second week I spent the princely sum of £4.88 on free range eggs, carrots, new potatoes, frozen peas and a British lamb shank.

Lesson #2 – a box of mixed-sized eggs is considerably cheaper than buying a box of identical eggs, and unless you are doing high-precision baking they are just as good.

For the last couple of weeks of the challenge I was more ‘bitty’ in my shopping (I didn’t have time for a ‘big’ £5 shopping trip!) and I was not quite so disciplined in writing up what I had bought; in summary I topped up the onions, potatoes, mushrooms and carrots, and I had a cup of tea at a church coffee morning for a whole 80p – decadent!

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What are my new favourite recipes?

As I mentioned above, one of the best things about giving myself a ridiculous budget was re-discovering my creative ‘make-it-up-as-you-go-along’ cooking flair! I think that my favourite was probably the Roasties with Garlic & Coconut Dip – this was a very spur of the moment ‘snack’ using some coconut yoghurt that a friend had left in my fridge, I will certainly be making it again.

If I had to choose another top creation it would be a difficult choice between the vegetable curry and spaghetti with tomatoes and poached egg.

Lesson #3 – if you don’t allow yourself to ‘pop to the shops’ for additional ingredients you will discover new and exciting (or sometimes just ‘interesting’) recipes!

Please do let me know what your favourite recipe has been so far, and do do do give them a try and let me know how easy or otherwise they are to follow!

What did I run out of?

Early Grey tea – disaster! Tonic water – disaster! Garlic – disaster! Cheese, milk, almond milk, vegetable stock, pasta…

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… and, as the observant amongst you will note, cheap gin! Don’t worry, I haven’t yet stooped to cheap gin; the reason I require it is to make Cranberry Gin… a recipe for another day. (Retrospectively, here is the Cranberry Gin recipe)

Despite making a show of being organised, I actually managed to forget the shopping list when I went for my ‘top-up shop’ – so in the end I forgot a few things, got a few extra things, and spent about £30 (including the gin). Not bad.

What is in Kitty’s Storecupboard?

Having set myself a ridiculous budget for a month I have concluded that the following constitute the ‘core’ storecupoard ingredients which I would be hard-pressed to do without (although I’m sure I’d cope!); I hope that I have demonstrated over the last month that very little is needed in addition to these things to cook some rather delicious meals.

‘Dry Goods’

  • Lentils (Puy and Red-split lentils)
  • Rice (brown and white)
  • Pasta
  • Couscous
  • Oats

Tins / jars / cartons

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tomato purée
  • Chickpeas
  • Butter beans
  • Pesto
  • Milk (‘cow’ or otherwise – I am rather fond of Almond Milk)

Baking ingredients

  • Plain flour
  • Self-raising flour
  • Margarine
  • Sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Baking powder
  • Bicarbonate of Soda
  • A selection of nuts and dried fruit

Freezer

  • Peas
  • Stock
  • Cooked vegetables for soup (from when I got portion sizes wrong!)
  • a bit of meat and/or fish, usually from the reduced section of the supermarket

Spices

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What can I say? A picture says a thousand words!

However, I would say that the ‘core’ herbs and spices for me are:

  • black pepper;
  • chilli flakes;
  • mustard seeds;
  • cumin seeds;
  • ground coriander;
  • mustard powder;
  • cayenne pepper; and
  • oregano, or some kind of mixed green herbs.

Garlic and onions are also very important!

and for my next challenge? I’ll keep you posted. In the mean time I have a number of January recipes to share with you which I ran out of time to write last month.

Well done for getting to the bottom of the page!

‘over and out!

Kitty