Tag Archives: champagne

Cheap Champagne and Purse Pleasing Prosecco

5 Jul

First of all, my apologies for the slight pause on the blog. I have been diverted by the sheer panic of trying to offload 3 years of clutter, cleaning the new to us but old and in need of tlc house, meeting with architects, builders and the like.

But priorities, priorities, I just had to sit down tonight to the season finale of Desperate Housewives, and my head was turned by the Sainsburys ad for a whopping 25% off Wine and Champagne.

Too Good to be True?

And while I was there I noticed that they have some fab recipe ideas for the kids (that may also keep the mums pretty happy too). Here are a few ideas

Its the last week of the Ocado World Cup Recipe competition, and my contenders, while out of the World Cup, could still be winners, so if you have the chance please click the following links

French Apple Tart

New Zealand Kiwi, Lime and Ginger Cheesecake

Back soon….

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Bananas about Bananas

2 Jun

The Best Banana Muffin Ever?

 

There are very few people I have come across in life, that don’t like bananas. I love them. They are amazing. The ultimate fast food that come in their own biodegradable packaging.  

Even the peel is useful. Did you know the peel makes a great fertilizer for plants? Apparently its very good for rose bushes. Next time you are planting or pruning your rose bushes, dig a hole next to the bush and bury the banana peel. Then cover the whole back up. Not a tip I have tried as I am more of a ‘swingseat’ gardener than a get your hands dirty type, but maybe worth a try?  

There is no good reason why you should ever throw away a banana ever again. Ever been faced with a half-eaten/blackened banana and thought there was nothing else for it than the bin? Well stop right there. I say this with someone who is used to having half-eaten bananas discarded by my 2 year old at will.  

Did you know they freeze well? So you can freeze them with or without skin, for use at a later date in a smoothie, as ‘faux’ ice cream, or to put in banana bread.  

Put them in the bin? No chance!

 

Today I was faced with a glut of ‘decaying’ bananas, that were transformed, in under 10 minutes, into a muffin mixture awaiting a breath of life from my *blush* not too clean and slightly temperamental oven. 25 minutes later, and they were resplendent on the cake rack, awaiting almost certain instant demolition from my two little treasures.  

INGREDIENTS LIST  

  • 4.5 medium bananas, mashed
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 75g unsalted butter, melted
  • 175 g plain  flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Almost good as new

 

So heres what we did. Whilst still in our pyjamas, the kids washed hands, jumped on their stools and got ready for some ‘we can cook’ time with Mummy.  The banana pile, it has to be said, would not be one to get your heart racing. In fact, I am sure in most houses this would have ended up on the composting pile. However, fearless thrift warrior* that I am, we used the bananas, after checking they were just black from being bruised and not mouldy. Skin off and inside they were almost good as new.  

So we mashed bananas, melted butter and just mixed all the ingredients together in a very haphazard way. The trick with muffins is that you don’t overmix. I seem to have been drawn to a few streusel recipes of late.  That inspired me to sprinkle some crumble mixture that I found in the freezer, on top of the muffins. I then finished them off with a tiny sprinkle of caster sugar and cinnamon. but you could leave them plain. They still work!  

Then into the oven on 180 degrees for 25 minutes. And result, the perfect portable treat for our day trip to the farm.     

Keep your hands off!

 

Now don’t get me started on banana bread which I love. I make it in big batches then slice it and freeze it, ready for breakfast on the run, and packed lunches. Recipe to follow.  

If you too are bananas for bananas, then I would love to hear your tips and recipes. If you fancy something a little more decadent, maybe involving frosting, then try the Banana and Carrot cake by Mummy Mishaps 

Too good not to eat

 

*When I say thrift I have no intention of implying hardship. Its not a matter of being cheap. More, making sure every penny counts, so there is room left for a few of lifes essential pleasures. Like lipgloss, and champagne.  

 

Supermarket Sweep 4 May 2010

4 May

Where did the last week go?  Here it is then, my weekly round-up of  supermarket best buys.

Starting in alphabetical order with Asda. This week you can stock up on your breakfast basics at bargain basement prices.  Activia yoghurts, 4 for £1, Tropicana Smoothie – mango, passionfruit & pineapple £1 for 750ml, and 2 for £3 on weetabix cereals, and 2 packets for £1 on Warburtons crumpets. They are also offering lunchtime deli wraps for £1 a packet.

Lidl.  Love it or loathe it you can’t knock their prices. This week there are the usual unbelievably low prices on a range of vegetables, the best one being cauliflowers at only 49p each. Add some cut price cheddar and you are halfway there to a cauliflower cheese, 500g Pilgrims Choice extra mature cheddar is only £2.99. Childrens favourite spread, Nutella is down to £1.25 a jar, and if you fancy a warm weather treat for the freezer, they are offering Bounty, Mars and Snickers Ice Creams at an ice cool £2 for a packet of 8.

Morrisons, are offering every mums’ emergency staple, Birds Eye fishfingers, at £1 for a packet of 8 and the obligatory (in this house at least) Heinz Ketchup for £1 (570g squeezy size). They also have lunchbox fillers Petit Filous Frubes down to £1 for a packet of 9, and emergency child bribe of choice for many, cadburys chocolate fingers at 74p a packet (these have also been found to work well on grown-ups).

If you are shopping at Sainsburys this week, take advantage of this weeks deals and invite a friend for lunch. Serve one of a selection of Sainsburys own brand soups at only £1 for a 600g carton, complemented with the Taste the Difference Gruyere and Garlic Fougasse, half price at £1.09. While you finish up with a home made cappuccino, and a selection of Lindt Chocolate bars (only £1 for 100g) the dishwasher can clean up for you with Finish all in one lemon tablets  down to £4.49 for 45 (10p a wash…..come on, at that price who wouldnt use a dishwasher?).

Tescos are also offering half price Finish dishwasher tabs, and Jacquart Champagne for only £13.49 a bottle. They have also added their Tesco Finest Premier Cru Champagne at £25 for 2. I haven’t tried their bubbles recently, but it usually attracts favourable reviews in the press. They also have some fantastic offers on a wide range of fruit and veg, the best ones in my book being vine ripened tomatoes at 99p a pack or satsumas at 99p a pack.

Last but by no means least, is Waitrose. Aside from 1/3 off Sirloin and Rump Steak there is no change from last weeks best buys, so I have included a link back to that post here.

Happy Shopping!

Cut price champers…offer ends 4 May

28 Apr

Although the recent sunshine has put a spring in my step the past week or so, as with life, the British Summer is bound to be unpredictable.

There is however, one thing that always brightens my mood. A glass of perfectly chilled, crisp dry champagne. Now couple that with cut-price bargain and I am halfway to heaven! Imagine my delight when I walked into Sainsbury’s this afternoon and discovered they are doing one of their fabulous 25% off all wine and champagne offers. The only catch is that you have to buy a minimum of 6. Oh, the hardship. I sometimes like to buy a few half bottles when they are on discount, as it doesn’t feel quite as decadent for a midweek treat.

The best deal on budget bubbly is the Sainburys own brand extra dry champers (already down to £14), and with the discount ends up at £10.50 a bottle. If you are happy with New World bubbles there is Jacob’s Creek , or Valdo Prosecco which you can pick up for £5.25 a bottle including the discount.

If you want to order online, or just to have a look at what’s on offer, you can look online at

http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/sol/index.jsp

À votre santé

Pesto Presto

27 Apr

Hands up those of you that get your pesto out of a jar? For years I used to buy the slightly muddy green coloured stuff that’s sold in the supermarket for less than a cappuccino. It’s quite nice, if you haven’t tasted the real deal. But once I had tried the delicious fresh version sold in deli’s there was no going back. There is only one snag, which now I am not working is quite a big one. It’s very expensive. At the place I used to go to it now costs £4.50 for a tiny container which I think is about 150g worth. Now I may have champagne tastes, but at the moment I am definitely living on a Cava income.

I have to confess that I might be slightly keener on Pesto than most. In fact, when my son David’s gorgeous Australian godmother stayed with us in spring 2007, at the end of the trip she remarked ‘if there is one thing that I’ve learned on this trip, it’s that I didn’t know you could use pesto in so many different ways! Ok ok. At the time I was working. I had 3 different varieties in the fridge and it was a great and quick way to add flavour to a dish. So we had, various types of fish with pesto, chicken with pesto, pasta with pesto, quick home-made bruschetta with pesto…you get the idea.

A few months ago, when I wandered past a couple of large bags of basil going cheap, I decided to take the plunge and make my own. It is amazing. And for the same price as a small pat of the fancy stuff from the deli, I can make a large jar at least 3 times the size. It takes less than 5 minutes. So what are you waiting for?

Don’t be too worried if you don’t have the exact amounts of all the ingredients here. I vary the combinations depending on what I happen to have to hand. Sometimes a few less pine nuts or a bit less cheese. It still works.

Method

Approx 1/2 packet pine nuts (around 50g). I toast them by dry frying them in a pan, but if you don’t have time then miss out this step.

150ml extra virgin olive oil

1 dessertspoon of ready chopped fresh garlic (I buy it frozen)

80g basil (this just happens to be the amount in a packet sold at the supermarket). Wash. Give a quick twist to the bunched stalks and remove the majority of stalks in the middle.

teaspoon natural sea salt flakes

approx 50g hard cheese like parmesan, finely grated. I use a variation of any of the following, parmesan, pecorino,grana padano

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz (by pulsing). Be careful not to over process.

Place in sterilized jar and cover with a layer of extra virgin olive oil. This should last for at least a week in the fridge.

Tips

Make sure that the jar you use is clean and sterilized. On one occasion I didn’t bother to sterilize the jar and had mould growing within days. What a waste!

Once you have put it in a jar, cover it with a layer of oil to stop the top of it oxidising and going brown.

If you are not sure how quickly you will use it and worry about it going off, then freeze it in an ice-cube tray. It freezes brilliantly and then you can just get a small amount out at a time.

If I don’t have fresh garlic (or I cannot be bothered to peel and chop it) I reach for the bag of helpfully, peeled and chopped frozen garlic in the freezer (most supermarkets sell this).

Money savers

Basil can be quite expensive, as can pine nuts, so for a bit of a change make a rocket pesto. Replace the basil with rocket leaves (I still add a little basil for flavour), and use walnuts instead of pine nuts.

If you like something a little fiery  instead of basil use sun-dried tomatoes with a sprinkle of chillies (again I buy the frozen jalapenos)

Pesto Ingredients

The finished product. My home-made pesto

Supermarket Sweep 25/4/10

25 Apr

For those of you that have missed the ad campaign, Waitrose are trying to woo you with Delia and Heston. They have introduced a weekly free paper, available in store, with recipes, offers etc. This week they seem to be concentrating on all things Italian. Storecupboard staples, including their own brand risotto rice, pasta sauce and pasta, mini mozzarella and frozen pizzas are all 1/3 off. If you fancy a treat the frozen fruits de mer are also 1/3 off so stock up now.

They are also offering some great BOGOF’s (buy one get one free) deals.) Pampers wipes, Nivea sunscreen and fairy dishwasher tabs are all on BOGOF this week.

Morrisons are continuing with the baby specials that were on offer last week, the best buy being 9 Pampers wipes for £7.

In addition they have lunchbox favourites Petit Filous at 75p for 6, Ben and Jerrys at 2 for £5 and both Cornettos and Del Monte Mango Smoothies both half price so stock up now for the summer.

Supermarket stalwart Sainsburys are also offering big discounts on Nivea Sunscreen at 50% off. If you are looking for a cosy night in, without breaking the bank then why not try Cordiniu Brut, the classic spanish cava, on offer at £5.99.Wild Salmon Fillets are also half price at £2.99, as are Fresh King Prawns, and Taste the Difference free range whole chicken is down 50p a kilo (so probably £1 saving on a large chicken).

Asda are continuing with their big discounts on all things baby. So stock up on the cut price nappies and smuggle a bottle of bubbles in with your weekly shop.

Now for the marmite of supermarkets, Tesco. Stock up on the Finish dishwasher tabs a box of 60 half price at £6.65. In fact buy 2 and you will have  saved enough to justify a splurge on this weeks best offer, (in my opinion of course), the Jacquart Champagne which is being offered at better than half price £13.49. It’s a great champagne that I have tried before. For quality control purposes I feel obliged to try some more, just to ensure standards are being maintained! Tesco finest cooked and peeled Canadian Prawns are also half price at £3 for 300g, and Haagen-Dazs is on offer at a fairly unbelievable £1.99. So next weeks Saturday evening dinner sorted. Lime and ginger prawns, champagne, Haagen-Dazs and the dishwasher can do the cleaning assisted by the half price  dishwasher tabs. Result.