Friday, 21 October 2011

Harvest Thoughts

What do you think of when you think of harvest time?  Golden fruitfulness, abundance of produce or people whoa re less fortunate than we are.

It was Maxi's harvest festival this week and the children gave thanks for all that they have received and the produce that they have, but they also took the time out to think of the people so much less fortunate than them r as Maxi said in his little speech
Let us not forget the people in this world without food due to famine or war
Whist you think about that, why not take a look at this video by the Red Cross all about food insecurity and be thankful for everything we have.

This is NOT a sponsored post

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sausage Pie....

Sausage pie is one of our favourite meals, it's easy to make and works out to be really good value - especially if you manage to pick up some sausages in the reduced section of your local supermarket.
Sausage Pie
2 packets of whatever sausages you have in
1/2 chopped onion
Tomato puree
Pastry / Mashed potatoes
Worcester sauce to taste (optional)

  1. Lightly fry the onions and while you’re doing that squish the sausages out of their skins into a bowl.
  2. Add the onions and the sausagemeat into a bowl and add in tomato puree and worcester sauce to taste.
  3. Line a lightly greased pie tin with pastry, pour the sausage mix into the dish and top with another layer of pastry or you can pour the mix into a casserole dish and top with mash and grated cheese.
  4. Bake in the oven at about 180 c for about 30 – 35 minutes.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Coffee on a budget

MadDad is an unashamed coffee lover (although it has to be from coffee beans) and he used to regularly be found in one of those coffee places grabbing an extra shot latte to go, however, as part of Zero waste week and our future friendly challenge, we made the commitment to try and reduce our footprint and this meant no longer grabbing a takeaway coffee in a disposable coffee cup.  

So I picked up two china coffee mugs for £4 in a local store and we have been using them to make delicious and frugal coffee from real coffee beans, saving ourselves around £10 a week in the process.

Becky from Family Budgeting has a great post about how to afford great coffee on a budget and I agree that in today's hard financial climate is is nice to be able to find something that you feel is an affordable treat and for MadDad this is coffee.

I was lucky enough to win a Philips Senseo machine in a blog competition last year and I have to say it is an amazing machine and a real treat to have a home made latte without the fuss.  We have also discovered recently that Lidl make coffee pods that fit the machine at 50% of the cost of the branded ones making real coffee as affordable for us as instant.

What is the one thing that you refuse to scrimp on, even though times are tough?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Microwave Sponge Pudding....

I may be in the minority here but this is my favourite time of year.  I love the cold snuggly nights when it's dark outside but we're all snuggled up at home with our hot chocolates and marshmallows and I love the slow cooker casseroles and stews that we eat followed by delicious puddings covered in custard ;-)

The only problem with the delicious puddings covered in custard is that I can't always be bothered to cook one!  Which is why this is one of my favourite recipes.  Easy, quick and gorgeous....
Microwave Sponge Pudding
100g sugar
100g butter / margarine
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
A couple of drops of vanilla essence
4 tbsp of milk
Some jam or syrup
  • Cream the sugar and butter together then beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla.
  • Fold in the flour until it’s the mixture is light and fluffy.
  • Layer the bottom of a microwave proof bowl with jam or syrup, add as much or as little as you like but I use about seven spoonfuls.
  • Pour the cake mix over the jam and pop the bowl in the microwave for about five minutes.  I check it after three and a half minutes and then every thirty seconds until it’s cooked.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Meal Planning at The Mad House w/c 17 October 2011

I am trying to use up things that we already have in The Mad House this week, as we are away for most of half term, so a pretty boring and simple meal plan for us this week.

Monday - Meatballs, bubble and squeak cakes and roast parsnips

Tuesday - Chicken Curry and Home made naan breads (parents evening)

Wednesday - Jacket potatoes with beans and cheese (swimming lessons)

Thursday - Pot luck (what ever is in the freezer)

Friday - Fish and Chips

Saturday - We are out for lunch at the National Railway Museum York.  Pizza for dinner

Sunday - Lasagna from the freezer

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Blog Action Day and World Food Day - #BAD11

Today is Blog action Day and this year it coincides with World Food Day, as this is a food blog all about frugal food, I thought I would provide some thoughts, statistics and ideas about food waste in the UK.

On Average a family of four throws away £680 of food a year

This is a socking statistic, which equates to about £50 a week, which is the amount that I can feed my family of four on when we have a very tight week financially.  

Way to Save money and cut food wastage

Meal Plan, Planning your meals is the most effective way to cut costs and wastage.  Make sure you keep an inventory of store cupboard goods and always write a list to take with you when you go shopping.  Buy what you need rather than what you don't have.  I menu plan weekly and can often be found on a Sunday night with the cook books out.   If you are looking for inspiration that the Gorgeous Mrs M hosts a weekly link up for meal plans.  

Love your freezer.  Your freezer is your friend, it is a great place to store any food which you think will go off before you have time to eat it.  You can freeze left over ham for carbonara, grate left over cheese and freeze to use in lasagna you can even freeze butter and milk.  I also freeze any potions of food that I have at the end of a meal and use them as lunches for myself during the week.

Learn about food labels. Know the difference between best before and use by. Learn to use your eyes and nose to check how food looks.  By storing food correctly ion your fridge you can make it last longer and stay fresher.

Love your leftovers.  One of the concepts I use when meal planning is to use a bedrock meal and then use the left overs for the nest couple of days to create different meals.  Roast chicken on a Sunday becomes, chicken curry, chicken risotto or chicken pie.  The left over veg are not wasted either, they can go in to the curry or I make bubble and squeak cakes. Economy Gastronomy is a great book using this concept.  Try having a pot luck night, where you use previous cooked and frozen meals.

Over at The Mad House, I have talked about the fact that dough is a natural disaster, but famine is man made, please check it out and sign the petition.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Smoked Mackerel Pate....

Fish has never really featured much in my weekly meal plans, probably because I thought it was quite expensive to but and difficult to cook but recently when I attended the Seafish bloggers event I was taught otherwise.  Apart from the obvious health benefits that we're all aware of, fish can be great value for money and is not difficult to cook at all - I even learned how to fillet a fish!

So today I'm going to share with you one of my favourite recipes from the day, Soked mackerel pate.  It's really easy to prepare, cheap and delicious and quite versatile.  I'm having it tonight on oatcakes but on the day we also had some halved cherry tomatoes and some feta cheese with it on a panini, it's also fab on a jacket potato.

Smoked Mackerel Pate
1 smoked mackerel fillet - I bought 2 for 1.49 tonight
1tbsp full fat cream cheese
1 tsp creamed horseradish
1tsp dijon mustard (I just used normal tonight and it tasted just as lovely)
1/2 a lemon zest and juice
1tbsp chopped fresh chives (no fresh chives in tonight so I used dry)

Remove the skin from the mackerel and flake the flesh into a bowl.

Add the cream cheese, horseradish, mustard and lemon and break the mix down with a fork - you can have it as coarse or as smooth as you like it.

Serve however you like it, topped with fresh chives.

Healthy, frugal and yummy.

Total Greek Yoghurt Scary Stories and Wacky Recipes Competition

Halloween will soon be upon us and to celebrate this time of year Total Greek Yoghurt have announced their scary stories and wacky recipe competition.

Be as inventive as possible with your scary stories and put your culinary genius to the test with your wacky recipe, whether it be petrifying pumpkin soup, creepy chilli con carne or terrifying toffee apples.

It’s easy to enter, simply upload your scary story or wacky recipe below and post your accompanying picture on Total Greek Yoghurt's Facebook wall.

If your scary story or wacky recipe, and picture are selected by TOTAL Greek Yoghurt as our weekly favourite then you will be featured as our Facebook profile picture and viewed by thousands! 

They will be giving away one Halloween gruesome goody pack every week which will include: A month’s supply of Greek Yoghurt plus a Spectacular BOO Box containing ferocious foods and petrifying props.

To give you some inspiration I present you with our Halloween Hairy 
Hot dogs or scary Sausages

 This is not a sponsored post

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Crock Pot fajitas

I have had a slow cooker for pretty much all of my married life, which is eek 17 years!  Initially I had a small one which the pot didnt come off, but we soon moved to a larger crock pot bought from Costco when they first moved to the UK.  So when Crock Pot offered me a new slow cooker I couldnt say no as I am well aware of just how durable and versatile they are and what a life saver slow cooking can be to a busy mum.

So why does mum in The Mad House  love her crock pot slow cooker so much?
  • The pot is removable and can be used on the stove to brown your meat or in the oven if you want to add dumplings or even under the drill if you want to brown the top of a dish.
  • The pot goes in the dishwasher
  • Inexpensive cuts of meet are delicious when slow cooked
  • It is so versatile, you can use it for sweet and savory recipes. Rice pudding in a slow cooker is fanbloodytastic
  • It is time saving.  I bung all my ingredients in and turn it on and then forget about it.
  • They last and last, my old one was 10 years old.c

I find that I can adapt a lot of standard recipes which would noramally go in an oven for my slow cooker and we recently had fajitas and they were delisious and all melt in the mouth.

Recipe (adapt for your family, this served us two nights, one with wraps and one with rice, but you could always freeze a potion)
  • 6 peppers slices
  • 4 large onions slices
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • half a jar of pasata
  • 2 teaspoon of Schwartz fajita seasoning (my boys like it mild and the seasoning intensifies when slow cooked)
  • Meat or quorn.  (Quorn pieces are perfect for this as it left over roast chicken or other left over meats)

Put everything in the slow cooker  and stir.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low all day.  Serve with wraps, sour cream, guacamole and salsa.

Crock Pot have a fab competition running called Crocktober , where you could win prizes up to the value of £3500, so why not take a look at their facebook page.
Disclosure: I was provided with a crockpot

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Nigel Slater's Turmeric Tomatoes with self filleted haddock

We are huge Nigel Slater fans in The Mad House.  Both the boys insist in staying up to watch his TB show and he never fails to inspire me to try out his dished.

After watching this Friday and returning home from my fish cookery day with some self filleted haddock I made an homage to his turmeric tomatoes and added my haddock to the pan and it was delicious and very spicy, but just what I needed as I am  and was full of cold.

Recipe (full recipe on BBC food site)

Ingredients (I adapted it to use what I had in the cupboard after a non shopping week)

Fry off the onions in oil until soft and then add the spice until they start ti release their aroma.  Them add the tin of tomatoes and cook down for 10 mins.  I then added the fish fillets and cooked for approximately 6 minutes on a very low heat with the lid on the pan.

I used source cream to temper the heat of the spices as that was what I had in, but Rachel's organic cocout yogurt would be a delicious way to mellow this dish.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Meal Planning at The Mad House w/c 10 October 2011

Last week both Cass and I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the Sea Fish team in Edinburgh for a fab couple of days of eating and cooking with sea fish.  It has really inspired me to up my family's intake of fish each week and I am aiming to try and get two potions in them at home, however, I do know that my boys eat fish at least one a week at school too.  Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks for the new Sea Fish, Fish is the Dish website for some fab, fast, family fish recipes.

Monday Left overs (roast beef, bubble and squeak and asparagus)
Tuesday Smoked haddock risotto
Wednesday Sausage Cassarole
Thursday Jacket potatoes with Beans and Cheese
Friday Fish, chips and peas
Saturday Home Made Pizza
Sunday Roast Chicken dinner
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