Thursday, 30 September 2010

Oven Baked Risotto....

Until recently, I’d never made risotto, mainly because I didn’t fancy all the faffing about having to constantly stir the pan.  However, I do love eating it so I had a look round t'internet and found a few recipes for an oven baked version which is much more my style.

Since I made this the first time, I've tried loads of different versions but they all start off the same.

Lightly fry a chopped onion with two cloves of garlic.

Add the onion and garlic to a large casserole dish with 250g of Arborio rice and 1 and a half pints of chicken stock.

That's it for the base of the risotto really, you can do what you want from there.

You could add chicken and mushrooms with the onions and garlic or we tried it with sausages and tinned tomatoes with chilli.  Last week, I got a pack of Boursoin cheese reduced to 30p so I made a chicken risottto and stirred that through it and it was gorgeous!

I cook it for about twenty minutes or so at about 200 c but to be honest you can easily tell when it’s done as all the liquid has gone. 

Monday, 27 September 2010

Home made Pizza's

My fail safe recipe for pizza dough is an adaptation from Food to Die for by Kay Scarpetta.  it is a really great dough and makes just as well by hand as in a read machine.

540g of strong white flour - Lidl do a really reasonably priced one
1 sachet of yeast
1 tablespoon on oil
1 tablespoon of honey
pinch of salt (you can leave this out, but it helps it prove)
350ml of warm tap water.

You can get 4 thin bases from the above amount and you can also freeze whatever you do not use, either pre rolled or in a bag.

We use pasatta and herbs for the tomato base and pretty much use whatever toppings we have.  Ham, peppers, sweetcorn, salami, mushrooms or whatever we have in  the garden or fridge.

Sainsburys do a really inexpensive pre grated mozzarella, but we do tend to use the balls from Aldi, just make sure to drain them well.

The finished results are wonderful, so tasty and this is a great meal to make with children or if you have older ones to let them make themselves.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Homemade Tortilla Wraps....

I first blogged about my homemade tortilla wraps here and I still get e mails and tweets about how people love the recipe. 

Homemade Tortilla Wraps
350g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of salt
30ml of olive oil
130ml of warm water

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and knead them together for about five minutes.

Separate the mixture into 8 balls and roll them out into thin circles.

To cook, rub some olive oil into a frying pan and cook each tortilla lightly on both sides - you'll know when they're done as they'll have little brown spots on the surface.

We tend to serve them as a DIY dinner, which usually involves bowls of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and sweetcorn with ham and cheese for the kids and cajun chicken for the grown ups and we just let the kids make up their own wraps.
If there's any left over, you can make wraps for lunch the next day....

Enjoy x

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Apple Scrumble (that's a cross between scone and crumble)

This is one of our favourite Autumn deserts, it is great with just apples (we used the windfalls from the garden), but you can also use blackberry's, in fact this original recipe is about 4 years old from an old waitrose magazine.


1kg Cox's apples, peeled, cored and cubed
Approx 300g blackberries
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
50g butter
125g light brown muscovado sugar
140ml soured cream (I didn't have any this time, so used milk with some lemon juice in)
1 medium egg, beaten
50g hazelnuts, roughly chopped (optional)


  • Place the apples in a pan with the some lemon juice and a little water and cook until the apples have softened.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Place the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips.  My top tip for rubbing in butter is to grate it in to the flour with a cheese grater straight from the fridge.  
  • Stir in 100g of the sugar, the soured cream or milk and lemon and beaten egg.
  • Spoon the softened apples and their juices into an ovenproof dish and stir in the blackberries. Spoon over the topping – don’t worry if it doesnt cover the filling completely and there are a few small gaps.
  • Mix together the hazelnuts and the remaining sugar and sprinkle over the top.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes until the topping is risen and golden, and the juices are bubbling (cover the dish loosely with foil if it is getting too dark).
  • Leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving with custard.

This is also fab cold the next day.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Toad in the Hole....

Toad in the Hole is quite possibly one of the most frugal meals around as well as being one of the tastiest....

I remember when I was little, having Yorkshire Pudding (Toad in the Hole without the sausages) every Sunday before the Sunday dinner was served.  My dad says it's because Yorkshire Pudding was traditionally made to fill you up a bit before your meal so that when times were hard, you wouldn't need as much meat to fill you up.

The batter mix that I use, passed on from my dad, who is Yorkshire Pudding King is:

100g plain flour
300ml milk
2 eggs
pinch of salt.

I just stick it all in a bowl and whisk it together and voila.... Done.

To turn your batter into Yorkshire Puddings, heat some oil in a bun tray until it starts to give off a bit of a haze, I usually have the oven at about 220c. 

As soon as you remove tray from the oven you need to pour in your batter mix before the oil cools as one of the secrets to good Yorkshires is the fact that the batter starts to cook in the hot fat as soon as the mixture is poured in, which is what makes the sides rise up to make a little well in the middle for your gravy. 

Put the tray straight back in the oven and cook for about 10 - 12 minutes (it depends on the size puddings you are making). 

Don't be tempted to open the door for at least 10 minutes  as that can cause your puddings to sink - Disaster.

Serve smothered in gravy - Mmmmmm

I usually make our Yorkshire Puddings in small bun trays but for Toad in the Hole I use larger sandwich tins and the mix above makes two large ones although if I'm only making tea for the kids, I quite often make half the pudding batter mix and use smaller bun trays. 

You make Toad in the Hole exactly the same as the Yorkshire Puddings except you need to add chopped up sausages to the baking tin at the same time as the oil, that way while the oil is hotting up, your sausages are starting to cook.

When your oil is hot enough, pour your batter over the sausages and cook as above - don't forget if you're making larger ones, you'll need to cook for a little longer.  

Toad in the Hole is gorgeous served with mash, roasties and veg for a frugal Sunday dinner.  The picture above has just chips and veg as it was a midweek meal and I had no potatoes in but it was just as lovely.

Enjoy x

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Just like your Mum used to make....

I'm a bit of a novice at this cooking lark and even though I have a rather large collection of cookbooks, I very rarely get any inspiration from them.  So I asked my lovely bloggy friends to share some of their favourite recipes with me so that I could spice up my menu plans a little bit and I got a brilliant response so I thought I would share the recipes and ideas I got over here.

Kicking us off, Karen from Brighton Mum - Teenage Angst (who has possibly the prettiest blog header around) shows us how to make takeaway style chicken korma which looks gorgeous and as it has the word takeaway in the title I'm pretty sure it will go down well round here.

Melaina from Transatlantic Blonde shared her husbands version of Greek Nachos and her Great Grandma's Luchen Kugel.  Both of which are on my list to try as they look yummy.

English Mum suggested I tried making rice pudding, which I did after I finished drooling over her Sunday Lunch post.  I've made it a few times since she suggested it and it's now a family favourite. 

Not such a Yummy Mummy shared her recipe for lemon curd with me, although she did point out that it was nothing like her mother used to make ;-D.  I've tried this one as well and it's lovely - and a lot easier than you might think.

Cathy from Nurture Store told me about the quesadillas she makes for her family which is another one of the recipes I have tried.  They were a big hit with everyone and will definitely be on the menu again in future.

SuperLittleMen at Mad Life told me about her Grandma's buns which are ideal to make with the kids and also her chicken and bacon lasagne which is gorgeous.

There's also a few other ideas in the comments section of the post if you want to pop over and check them out aswell.

That's all from me but I'm sure that Jen has some recipes to share with you as well so I'll be off for now.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Nice Easy Basic Curry Receipe

We are big fans of Curry in TheMadHouse.  In fact due to my bad planning MiniMad had curry twice yesterday as he chose it for his first school lunch.

So here is my fail safe go to curry recipe, which is adapted from Floyds India.  You can use any meat at all, but I tend to use any leftovers we might have rather than buy meat for a curry.


2 Onions (sliced)
1 or 2 chillies (deseeded and chopped) or dried chillies if it is all you have
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped (you can freeze any spare)
half teaspoon of ground turmeric
half teaspoon chilli powder
5 tomatoes or tin of tomato or pasata (I use what ever we have in)
1 teaspoon garam Marsala


Fry the onions until they are golden brown and then add your tomatoes and gently cook.  Add the chillies, garlic, turmeric, chillies, chilli powder and ginger and stir.
Add the meat and continue to slowly simmer for 10 minutes (if your meet is precooked) or 30 mins if it is raw, adding any water to make the sauce the consistency you require.

Before serving sprinkle with garam Marsala and coriander leaves.

I always serve this with some natural yougurt which the boys stir in to make it the heat that they are happy with.  I also serve with boiled rice and homemade Naan bread.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Cass' Meal Plan....

I've been looking forward to this week all Summer, not because the kids have gone back to school but because this week is the week that I am going to get properly back into meal planning.  It's a case of necessity really as I've cut my hours down at work (at least in the short term) so we'll have less money coming in but also, I do like the feeling of being organised.

So here's this week's plan:

Monday - Rice with chicken, peas, sweetcorn and brocolli (I just mix it all together in a bowl)

Tuesday - Toad in the hole with veg and mash

Wednesday - Macaroni cheese

Thursday - Chilli cheesy pasta bake

Friday - Home made tortilla style wraps served with ham, cheese and salad for the kids and cajun chicken for the grown ups with home made potato skins on the side.

I'll post the recipes for everything I'm making this week so don't forget to check back....

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Jen's Meal Plan

This week the boys start school, so my meal plan only includes family lunches for the weekend, the boys eat school dinners, which cost £9.25 for the week.


Chicken Curry with home made naan bread


Sausage casserole with veg and potatoes from the garden


Jacket potatoes, with beans, cheese and salad


Pasta and sauce (made from mince and tomoatoes from the garden)


Home made fish, chips and peas


Hot dogs and potato wedges
Home made pizza and garlic bread


Sausage, beans, poached egg and muffins
Roast Dinner

Friday, 3 September 2010

Fruit Cobbler....

Anyone who knows me from my other blog will know that I don't do complicated recipes, I'm just not capable of it (it wasn't that long ago that my signature dish was a ready meal from Marks and Spencers).  So when I tell you that this recipe for fruit cobbler is from my pre learning to cook days, you know that it's going to be a super easy one.

I love cooking this on a Sunday afternoon to use up any fruit we have left over from the previous week and even if we don't have any left over, I just use some tinned peaches or something in it.  I've even made it with frozen forest fruits before and it was delicious.

The recipe uses the American cup measurement but it doesn't matter if you have an American cup measuring thingy (surely they have a technical term lol) because you can use anything - a coffee cup is fine.  The main thing is that the measurements of the ingredients in the batter are equal.

1 cup plain flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
2 cups of fruit  (I used apples and plums today)

Chop up your fruit and and put it in a baking dish.  I usually use quite a big one for this (about 8 inches square) but Mr Frugal is at work tonight so I just used half measures in a smaller dish tonight.

Mix the flour, sugar, milk and baking powder together and pour over the fruit - it's OK if it doesn't look too appetising, just wait....

Pop in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes, although mine tonight only took about 20 minutes because of the smaller measures.  When it's a nice golden brown colour and the fruit has risen to the top, then you know it's done.

Apples and plums are a gorgeous combination in this, we've had apples and cinnamon before and even a pear and chocolate button version when we were feeling adventurous one afternoon.

So there you have it, a super easy recipe for fruit cobbler.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Macaroni Cheese....

I'll be honest, I don't have an actual meal plan this week because I haven't had a chance to go shopping since the weekend. I could have gone after work this afternoon I suppose but I couldn't be bothered so I'm going to try and make meals from the ingredients we have in for the rest of this week and go shopping on Friday night.  

I have mountains of pasta in the cupboard so tonight's tea was Macaroni Cheese which the kids love.  It's easy to make, cheap and very filling so we have it quite often.

Here’s my recipe:

300g (ish) Macaroni
800ml Milk
50g Butter
50g Plain flour
300g Grated Cheese
Ham (Optional)

While you are cooking the macaroni in one pan, melt the butter in another over a low heat. When the butter's melted, mix in the flour and whisk them together. Gradually whisk in the milk and stir constantly until it starts to thicken.
When the sauce has thickened, take it off the heat and add most of the cheese to the pan and stir the sauce until all the cheese melts.

Add the drained macaroni to the sauce and stir together. You can add some chopped ham at this point if you want to be posh ;-)

Pour the Macaroni Cheese into an ovenproof dish and top with the remainder of the grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes until the top is crispy and yummy (we always fight over the crispy bits as that's the best bit).

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