Saturday, 31 January 2015

Frugal fun: a web site or two

Thinking of using up storecupboard stocks after watching Eat Better For Less last week, I found this little selection of recipes, several of which I want to try out.
(this looks really interesting)

I think their idea of storecupboard is different to mine but that's only to be expected.  There are quite a lot that I would like to try at some time.  Such a shame I'm usually just feeding me, isn't it?

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Frugal fun: using up rice

I had half a packet of rice left over, the ready cooked kind that I find so very useful and not too horrendously expensive when it's Morrisons own!  Yes, I know I ought to use proper rice but it's the time factor and the can I be bothered? syndrome!  This is a bits and bobs idea, not to be taken too literally, a use up stuff recipe, add any veg you fancy.
This is what I used.

small knob of butter
two rashers of back bacon, chopped
one medium-small onion, peeled and chopped
some frozen mixed peppers
some frozen mushrooms
a leftover slice of turkey thigh, chopped
half a tsp crushed garlic
some runner beans, (from freezer), chopped
half a packet of ready cooked rice (I happened to use basmati)
some vegetable stock or bouillon, or some chicken stock, or whatever.
some cooked chick peas (from freezer)
mixed herbs
salt and pepper


Heat the butter and fry the onion and bacon (which should release some fat).
When that's nicely done and browning, add the peppers and mushroom with the garlic and continue to fry more gently.
Add the turkey and mix well.
Add the beans and the rice with some vegetable bouillon (I suppose I used about 1 tsp), some salt and pepper (be careful with the salt, you can always add more later), some mixed herbs and some boiling water.  Bring to a boil and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are cooked and everything is nice and gloopy.
Check the seasonings and adjust, if necessary.
Eat straight away or cool quickly and freeze.

This made two portions.  They will both go in the freezer but one is on this week's plan and the other is for next week.  I think I will shake over some soy sauce before enjoying.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Loopy with lentils: Spanish style lentils: Thermomix

Adapted from a recipe on mumsnet, found here.

I only have red lentils so that's what I used.

Ingredients to serve 2
half an onion, chopped
olive oil
a handful of Morrison's soup mix vegetables
some mixed peppers, chopped
some mushrooms (I used some frozen mushrooms)
some crushed garlic (out of a jar)
2 mini chorizo sausages, sliced
125g red lentils
1 bay leaf
chicken stock (because I had some in the freezer.
(Very optional:  I also added some little bits of turkey because I had some!)

Put a small glug of oil in the bowl and add the chopped onion.  Saute on 100, reverse speed 2 for about 5 minutes, maybe a little longer, until the onions are softening.

Add the other vegetables and coat them in oil with a gentle stir.

Add the chorizo and continue to saute at 100, reverse speed 2 for a couple of minutes until the chorizo has released all its lovely flavoured oil.

Add the lentils and bay leaf and enough stock (or water) to cover plus a bit more.

Simmer on 100, reverse speed 2 for 15 mins.  Check that it hasn't dried out too much: it needs to be a bit sloppy.  If it is too sloppy, take off the MC.

Check/add seasonings (salt, pepper) and, if necessary, cook a little longer.

Serve with fresh, crusty bread to dunk.

I've made it and it's good next time I would make some changes.  The chorizo is nice but it did all break up and there's not enough.  I don't get that intense paprika taste (so added some smoked paprika) and the 'zing' that I expected.  It could be that the chorizo is old (it has been in the freezer for a while now) or perhaps it was a mild one to start with - I don't remember.  I might add chili too, next time.  Some added sun dried tomatoes would be wonderful but more chorizo and sundried tomatoes would move it very firmly out of the frugal bracket which is not the idea at all.

So, all in all, very tasty, one to do again but next time it needs more ooomph.  These comments in no way reflect badly on the original recipe because I did adapt it.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Loopy with lentils: lentil bake

So, this little series is called 'Loopy with Lentils'.  Sorry - daft, I know, but there you go.  It's my blog and I can . . . etc . . .

The original recipe I found here.

Of course, I adapted it to what I have in the cupboard and fridge so made it my own.  I also used Thermione, althougb it would work just as well in a saucepan.  The lentil mix is truly delicious and I would be more than happy to have it with rice or with pasta.  However, I am topping it with mash (instant mash, sorry) rather than sliced potato.

I will say what I used and then how I did it in Thermione.  The conventional way is described in the link.

I made half amounts (but with more veg, I suspect) and it has made two single portions in the oven dishes I use for this sort of thing, which seems about right.

I used:
half a medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
a splash of vegetable oil
a third of a manky old red pepper I had in the fridge, finely chopped
about a fifth of a Morrisons bag of soup veg (leek, carrot and swede, I think)
a third of a medium sweet potato (lentils go SO well with sweet potato!), finely chopped
half a tsp crushed garlic
300 mls boiling water
one knorr vegetable stock pot
a squidge of tomato puree
some mixed dried herbs
some ground white pepper (but no salt because the stock pot has salt)

I put the oil and the onion in the bowl and sauted at 100 for five minutes, reverse speed 2
Then I added the rest of the veg and the garlic and continued to saute as before for another five minutes.
Then I added the rest of the ingredients and cooked it on Varoma (still reverse speed 2) for about twelve minutes or so.  I took the MC off for the last few minutes.  It wasn't too dry but, if it was, a dash of water would sort that out.

Then I tasted and wow!  Very tasty.  A bit of curry flavour would be lovely but not this time.

I intend to make up some cheesy mash and to top the mixture with the mash before baking for about 30 mins in the oven at around 180.

I have no idea of cost but even with the cheese it can't be dreadfully extravagant and it tastes wonderful.

Edited to add that with cheesy mash on top and baked in the oven at avout 180 for half an hour it was delicious and filling.  Some green veg on the side would work well but it was plenty filling enough on its own.

Still not a recipe

Maybe everyone round here reads this blog.  When I went to Morrisons they were totally out of red lentils!!!  Fortunately, I have some in the cupboard.

Not a recipe!

I've felt a little lacking in inspiration since Christmas.  It's all been very dull and, as a result, expensive!  I need some motivation.  I need to get back some frugality.

I saw that one can now register for the 2015 Live Below the Line.  I haven't registered but probably will, although I might extend it and make is something like 21 days rather than just five.  That would make it 'easier', daft as it sounds.  Have £21 for 21 days is easier than £5 for five days.  One could buy a turkey leg and spread the meat out over many meals, not to mention the wonderful stock and the dripping.  Or a bag of lentils would make some great meals and would be right for 21 days whereas five days would either see you with loads left over or you'd have lentils coming out of your ears.
All of the above would depend if Beth does it with me or not, mind you!

I thought I might just try something now though - buy a bag of lentils and base at least one meal a day around it until the bag has gone, also accounting for most other ingredients.  Not spices and condiments though because, as before, there's no way I can work out the cost of a pinch of this or a dab of that.  Other things could be counted pro rata, so to speak.  Will it be boring?  No idea, perhaps, I will see.

Anyway, I'm spending my Saturday morning on a lentil recipe hunt.

Watch this space!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Cream of celery soup: Thermomix.

This is the original recipe, seen on Food and Drink.
The recipe also includes soda bread and a poached egg to pop into the soup.

Of course, I have slightly adapted it to match what I have in and used Thermione.  Mainly I used less celery because I didn't have 1k of celery.
This is what I did.

a glug of oil
1 onion, peeled and rouchly chopped
half a tsp lazy crushed garlic
3 small floury potatoes (King Eds, left over from Christmas), peeled and cubed
1 Knorr chicken stock pots with 1 litre hot water
some dried mixed herbs (because I didn't have parsley)
some celery (nearly 700g, finely sliced)

To be added later:
some double cream and seasonings to taste

Into the bowl pour the oil.  Add the onion and briefly pulse.  Push down the sides with the spatula.
Saute on 90 for five minutes, reverse speed 2.

Add the potato and the garlic and continue to saute as above for a further 5 minutes

Add the hot stock and the sliced celery.  Cook on Varoma, speed 3 for about 20 mins until the celery is soft (press a fork on it to check).

Blend on top speed for around 90 seconds.  Check the salt and pepper and add more if needed.  I didn't.

The recipe says push through a sieve but I found it came out perfectly smooth and there was no need to do this.  That's Thermione for you!  Without a Thermomix you could do it the normal way but it might need the sieve to make it totally smooth.

It's rather good just as it is and would be a great part of a 'healthy' diet.  With added cream it would be luscious.
I have partitioned it into three good portions for freezing and one for lunch today.  I will add cream to today's but not to the ones for freezing.  They could have milk added when reheating, if I wanted.

Because I didn't use the parsley, it didn't come out that wonderful shade of green but I really don't care.  The taste is good and that's what matters.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Brussels sprouts hash

This is delicious.  I've never roasted sprouts before but I will do so in the future.  It's not my recipe at all so please follow the link to find it.

Brussels sprouts hash

I reduced the amount - one medium potato and enough sprouts to look right, plus half a smallish onion.  I use butter rather than oil.   Also, after the water had all disappeared, I bunged it all in an oven dish with a drizzle of olive oil.
As a result it was not vegan, sorry, but I love the flavour butter brings.

One to make again, maybe with other veg too - parsnips, sweet potatoes, for example - and with grated cheese on top.

Go on, take a look.  It's very easy and trouble free.

Edited on 4-1-15
Today I made it with onion, sprouts, potato, parsnip, muchroom and chick peas with grated cheese over and it was absolutely gorgeous.  As daughter remarked - tasty soup without the liquid!