Spaghetti with tomatoes and poached eggs

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Cheap, quick, easy and yummy – four of
my favourite things!
This fed two adults and a child (approximately 1/2 a tin of tomatoes per person and an egg each).

Ingredients:
1 Onion, chopped
1 Clove garlic, crushed
A few mushrooms, chopped
Black pepper
1 tsp Oregano
1 & 1/2 Tins tomatoes
A couple of squirts of tomato puree
3 eggs
A handful of grated cheese
Spaghetti

If I had them I might also have included bacon or anchovies, olives or capers.
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Method:
Fry the onion, garlic, black pepper and herbs in olive oil until beginning to soften. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and mushrooms and simmer until the mushrooms have cooked.

While the sauce is simmering away put the spaghetti on to cook, following the instructions on the packet for the quantity and cooking time.

When the pasta is nearly done crack an egg into a mug, make a little well in the sauce and pour in the egg; repeat so that there is one egg per person. Note, if your pan is not non-stick you will probably need to put a bit of oil in each well before you add the egg.

After about a minute, turn each egg with a spatula and then sprinkle the cheese over the sauce.

Drain the pasta and divide between shallow bowls. Put an egg onto each serving of pasta and then share out the rest of the sauce.

Enjoy!

Nutella Biscuits

This is a fantastic store cupboard recipe with very few ingredients. These particular yummy looking (and, I can report delicious tasting) biscuits were made by my favourite little neighbour and she would like to share the recipe with you in her own words.wp-1453045864132.jpeg

Ingredients:

  • 200g Butter (softened)
  • 150g Plain Flour
  • 100g Granulated Sugar
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Method:

Preheat heat the oven to 180C.

Then, cream the butter and the sugar until smooth.

Add the flour and mix to a soft dough, you may have to add more flour to get the right texture.

Next, make the dough in to little balls about the size of a walnut. Put about half of them on a greased baking tray and push down with the back of a tea spoon, making a dent for the Nutella .

In the dent put about a third of a tea spoon of Nutella and cover with another piece of flattened dough. Sprinkle with some demerara sugar.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and put on a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with a cup of tea and Doctor Who.

£4.88 well spent

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It’s that time again already – my weekly trip to Sainsbury’s (other supermarkets are available!) to spend my allotted £5 on food.

I went shopping and I bought…

  • 6 free range eggs (mixed sizes);
  • a big bag of carrots (reduced);
  • some new potatoes (reduced);
  • a British lamb shank (also reduced!); and
  • frozen peas

… all for the princely sum of £4.88.

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Buying mixed-sized eggs is a lot cheaper than buying either medium or large eggs; in the same way, cheaper vegetables tend to only differ from the more expensive ones because they are not in perfect uniformity. Who needs perfect uniformity?!

The lamb shank had today’s sell-by-date. It is already in my slow-cooker along with some onions, miss-shaped carrots (of course!), more frozen cider, frozen redcurrants from my mum’s garden, a little bit of ham stock from my freezer, pink pepper corns, a bay leaf and a little bit of wholegrain mustard. My kitchen is going to smell fabulous in the morning!

Finally, it is probably worth mentioning what I have left over from my £5 shop last week which will ‘carry over’ into this week. As you have probably noticed I still have onions; there will be enough to last me another week. I still have quite a few mushrooms which look as good as the day I bought them, so I must have done something right with how I stored them! There are also still two of the sausages and most of the loaf of bread in the freezer.

I hope I am beginning to convince you that, with a well stocked storecupboard, it is possible to eat rather well with a small weekly expenditure. I will write a post before long on what I have in my storecupboard and what the ‘upfront cost’ would be to stock the core things; once those magic ingredients are in your cupboards it won’t cost you much each week to keep your kitchen well stocked with the ingredients for some fantastic meals.

Happy cooking! If you have a go at any of my recipes please please do send me some feedback on how easy (or otherwise) they are to follow, and do send me pictures of your creations!

ta ‘ra for now,

Kitty x

Carrot, Lentil and Cider Soup

It’s time to use up the rest of the carrots before my next shop, so it’s soup time again! This particular pot of soup fed me for two meals.wp-1452710058423.jpeg

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion/ a couple of small ones
  • 5 carrots (approx)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • approx 1 cup of cider (I used some frozen home made cider; made into ‘ice-cubes’ in the same way as the turkey stock mentioned previously)
  • almond milk (you can substitute in any other type of milk)
  • seasoning

Method:

Peel and chop the onions and carrots and cook in some olive oil (just enough so that they don’t stick) along with the spices for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring occasionally.

Add the cider and cook on a medium heat for another 5 minutes.

Add the lentils and stock and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, adding more liquid if required.

Transfer to a blender and whizz until smooth, adding almond milk until the soup is nearly the right consistency. Pour the soup back into the pan, using some more of the almond milk to swill out the rest of the soup from the blender so you don’t waste any.

Bring the soup slowly up to temperature. Taste. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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Store-cupboard cereal bar

As promised, here is a healthy-ish snack (‘healthy’ because it is full of oats and nuts which give nice slow-release energy, ‘-ish’ because of the sugar!);  it is based on a flapjack recipe but is slightly different every time (like the leftovers soup!) because it uses up odds & sods in my baking cupboard. So, not only is it healthy-ish but it is also pretty cheap and helps with the tidying up!

In this version I included prunes, pine kernels and the tail-end of some muesli; as mentioned previously I am not very good at breakfast so this recipe is rather good for using up cereal which I haven’t managed to get through.

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Basic Recipe:

  • 6 oz /175g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
  • 6 oz /175g Butter or margerine
  • 1 ½ dessert-spoons Golden Syrup
  • 9 oz /250g Oats
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Fruit and Nuts

Variations/ Substitutions:

The fruit and nuts can be pretty much anything you like; the joy of this recipe is that if you already have a few baking ingredients you don’t need to go shopping because you can use whatever dried fruit & nuts you happen to have in the cupboard. My particular favourite combination is date and walnut; however I have also been known to add sunflower seeds, pecans, crystallised ginger or, as in this example, prunes and pine kernels.

If you have cereal such as muesli that you want to use up I would suggest that you substitute it for about 1/3 of the oats; you may find that you need to then add a few more oats (~ a tablespoon) at the end so that the mixture isn’t too gooey.

Method:

Preheat the oven to 150oC. Line a 11″ x 7″ tin (or similar) with greaseproof paper.

Put the butter, syrup, sugar and ginger into a large saucepan and melt slowly over a low heat. When completely melted stir in all of the dry ingredients.

Transfer to the lined tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 40 – 45 minutes.

Lick the spoon.

Remove from the oven and let it cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before transferring it, still on the greaseproof paper, to a cooling rack. While it is still warm take a knife and score it into portions to make it easier to break up later on.

Puy Lentil and Mushroom Lasagne with Winter Salad

I love Puy Lentils. If you are a non-vegetarian who wants to cook for vegetarian friends and doesn’t know where to start Puy Lentils are fantastic, because you can substitute them in for minced beef in familiar dishes and get something which has a slightly ‘meaty’ texture and quite a rich, almost nutty, taste. As well as being great in lasagne they are also rather good in Chilli and in Bolognaise.

Puy lentils come either dried or cooked in bags (a little bit like microwave rice) and I tend to have both in my storecupboard; dried lentils are much cheaper but the ready-cooked ones are much better if you are in a hurry!

This yummy lasagne fed two adults and two children. I had thought that there might be enough left for my lunch the next day, but no such luck!

20160108_184442.jpgIngredients:

for the lasagne…

  • one or two cloves of garlic
  • a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • a generous squirt of tomato purée
  • 1 microwave bag of Puy Lentils
  • a good splash of red wine (I used frozen wine again)
  • Dried lasagne sheets (approx 1/2 a pack)
  • approx 3/4 pint of milk
  • heaped tablespoon of cornflour
  • approx six mushrooms, sliced
  • two generous handfuls of grated cheese

for the winter salad…

  • 1/4 of a red cabbage
  • 2 or 3 carrots
  • good olive oil
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper

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Method:

Preheat the oven to 180oC.

Fry the onions, garlic, ground black pepper and oregano in olive oil (not fancy olive oil if you have it – save that for the salad!). When the onions are beginning to become transparent add the tinned tomatoes, the wine, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the puy lentils. Allow to heat through and reduce a little (5-10 minutes), taste and add more salt and pepper if required.

While the above is cooking get started on the white sauce. First, heat the milk slowly in a pan. Put a heaped tablespoon of cornflour in a measuring jug with a little extra milk to make a paste, trying your best to ensure that it is lump free. Next, and this is important, add the warm milk to the paste (not the other way around!), mix well and then put it back into the pan to heat through and thicken. Keep an eye on it and stir frequently, and when it has started to thicken add half of the grated cheese. When the cheese has melted set the sauce to one side.

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Now it is time to layer up the lasagne. Put half of the tomato mixture into the bottom of a rectangular dish and cover with a layer of lasagne sheets; you may need to break up one of the sheets into smaller pieces to cover it evenly. Next, put the sliced mushrooms on top of the lasagne sheets and cover with half of the white sauce and a generous grind of black pepper. Cover with another layer of lasagne sheets, add the rest of the tomato mixture and then add a final layer of the lasagne sheets. Finally, top with the rest of the white sauce, the cheese and more black pepper. Put in the top of the pre-heated oven for 30 – 40 minutes. To check if it is done, put a skewer in it and if you only get a little bit of resistance you are good to go.

For the salad; chop the red cabbage (half way between chunky and fine if that makes sense!) and use the biggest bit of your cheese grater to finely slice the carrot. Be very careful not to grate your knuckles! Put in a dish with a generous slosh of olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, a good few grinds of pepper and a couple of pinches of sea salt. Try. Add more lemon, salt and pepper if you think it would improve it. Simples!

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Stewed Apple with Oats, Walnuts, Sultanas and Ginger

I have to say that I am usually pretty rubbish at making myself eat breakfast, so I am rather pleased with this little number which I made up last week when I realised that buying a pastry on the way to work wasn’t an option with my £5 a week budget! The apples I used came from my parents apple trees – hence the winter wrinkles.

Ingredients

  • One cooking apple
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/3 cup sultanas
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger

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This can be made either in a pan on the hob, or in the microwave. The  first time I made it I (somewhat miraculously) had time to make it on the hob before I left the house. The following morning was a bit more ‘situation normal’ however, so I took all the ingredients with me and made it in the microwave at work and had a number of rather jealous people peering over my shoulder.

Method:

Chop and peel the apple and put it in either a small saucepan or a microwave-proof bowl. Add a splash of boiling water, the fruit and the dried ginger and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the oats and chopped nuts, stir, and cook for another couple of minutes adding a splash more water if it looks a bit dry.

Taste and add a little sugar if necessary (depending on the sweetness of the apple and your tastebuds) and enjoy with a steaming mug of coffee.

The spare 45p

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I have found something to spend my spare 45p on – hurrah! So I can now say that I have spent exactly  £5 on feeding myself this week.
I get through very little bread, so buying it reduced and then freezing it works really well for me. I mostly toast it from frozen; on the rare occasions that I make sandwiches to take to work I make them Australian style – i.e with frozen bread so that they are just right by lunchtime  (it also stops me eating them for second breakfast!).

In case you were wondering,  I have cooked some rather fabulous things over the last couple of days but have been too busy doing ‘real life’ to share the recipes with you. I will get on to it over the weekend, in the meantime see below a little sneak preview.

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My first £5

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So I have finally got around to spending  (most of) my first  £5. I had already parted with 50p whilst pursuing my other New Year’s resolution of joining the knitting group at my local pub – since when has lime & soda been 50p?! I’m sure that it used to be no more than 20p but what would I know, I’m not very good at soft drinks.

‘I went shopping and I bought’:

  • 400g Mushrooms, £0.85
  • 1kg Carrots, £0.60
  • 1.5kg Onions, £0.90
  • 6 sausages, £1.69

£4.05 well spent I reckon!  The sausages were from the reduced section and are made from British outdoor-bred pork – yum!

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So what next?
First, and this may be stating the obvious, deal with the reduced meat. I have just put three of the sausages (two for tonight and one for my lunch tomorrow) in the oven with garlic, onions, carrots & herbs from the garden and the rest are in the freezer for another week.
The onions will last me a good couple of weeks – so I’ll be able to buy something more interesting next week :).
I find that carrots go nasty quite quickly if I’m not careful; make sure that they are out of the plastic bag so that they don’t ‘sweat’ and keep them in a cool, dry place. Mushrooms can also sweat and get damp if they are kept in plastic so I always pierce the plastic film.
If you get towards the end of the week and think that the veg aren’t going to last much longer, cook them up and freeze them for soup later.
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And finally…

The beady eyed amongst you will notice that I have some additional fresh stuff in my veg basket; this is still left from Christmas – don’t worry, I’m not cheating! Also left are some eggs and some cheese, so if you catch me cooking with them you’ll know that I haven’t been doing some cheeky shopping on the side.

Over and out,

Kitty

on top of spaghettiiiiii, all covered in cheeeese…

… I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed!  (aarrgg, I’m going to be singing that all week now!)

So, I haven’t had a chance to spend my first £5 yet so this is a true store-cupboard/ freezer recipe. I quite often seem to end up with burgers at the back of my freezer left over from the BBQ season and I enjoy being a bit creative with them. This is the first time I have made them into meatballs to go with pasta though, so this is a true Kitty’s Store Cupboard experiment. I have rather unfortunately run out of onions so I will have to make up for it by using lots of garlic!

The amounts given below served two adults and two children.

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Ingredients:

  • a couple of burgers from the freezer, completely defrosted
  • a tin of tomatoes
  • 2/3 cloves of garlic
  • dried mixed Mediterranean herbs
  • dried oregano
  • tomato purée
  • a splash of red wine
  • dried spaghetti
  • a handful of grated cheese

Ingredients that I could have included if I had them: onions, courgette, mushrooms, fresh basil.

Cut the burgers into quarters and shape into meatballs. Fry these  for approx 5 minutes in just enough oil so that they don’t stick, along with the garlic (crushed or finely chopped) some black pepper and the dried herbs. Turn frequently and add more oil if required.

Next add the tin of tomatoes (making sure that you swill it out with a little warm water so that you don’t waste any), a good squidge of tomato purée and the wine. I tend to freeze wine if I have some left in a bottle that has been open a little too long (yes, it does happen sometimes!) and then scoop out as much as I require.

When the sauce is warmed through, taste and add salt and pepper if required. Cook the spaghetti as instructed on the packet and serve with cheese on top. I like to add chilly flakes to tomato-based pasta sauces – but depending on who you are serving it to it can best to put it on the table so that people can help themselves.

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