Tag Archives: value

Happy Chickens Moroccan Style (Day 5 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

22 May

Todays Menu  

  • Breakfast. Cereal and yoghurt and fruit
  • Lunch. Wraps with cream cheese for the kids. Leftover pizza heated in toaster for mummy
  • Snack. Banana Iced Yoghurt
  • Dinner – kids – chicken thighs with couscous and broccoli
  • Dinner adults – Spicy chicken legs, chickpea and coriander couscous, morrocan style carrot salad.

 

 

 Banana Iced Yoghurt  

Did you know you can freeze bananas? I didn’t until I had a glut last year and threw a few in the freezer to see what happens. They freeze brilliantly. You can even leave the skin on. It will go black, but keep them all pristine inside, and ready for action when you want to bake banana bread or, some banana iced yoghurt.  

While I was rummaging in the freezer looking for inspiration for dinner, I came across some long ago frozen bananas. So, when the kids wanted a mid afternoon snack, it was delivered, courtesy of the blender.  

INGREDIENTS  

  • 4 medium sized bananas, broken into chunks (they should break easily, no kit needed)
  • 200ml plain yoghurt/greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • juice of half a lemon
  1. Blitz banana using ice function on the blender.
  2. Add yoghurt/vanilla and juice until you have a slightly melting ice cream consistency.
  3. Serve

    Slightly melting Banana Iced Yoghurt

     

  

Total prep time. About 2 minutes. From the taking of the bananas out of the freezer to the placing the used blender in the dishwasher. Now that’s what I call fast food! The bananas are so sweet you don’t need to add sugar. My kids love this as a snack. I tell them its ice cream, while secretly feeling quite pleased that they are eating just a piece of fruit with some pro-biotic yoghurt.  

DINNER  

The food stocks are getting low, as is this weeks kitty, so I was getting a bit concerned about dinner. Then I remembered one of my staple after work meals when I was working. Seasoned chicken legs, Couscous, Salad. Very little prep time required, and on the whole a very thrifty dish. M&S quite often do a promo on their organic chicken legs at 4 for a fiver, so not really a budget buster. In fact, this is a great dish to serve up if you are feeding a large group, as the preparation is minimal, and the ingredients are not too expensive.  

Happy Chickens  

Chicken with Ras El Hanout

 

I was vegetarian for over 20 years until about 5 years ago. When I gave up meat, ‘free-range and organic’ were nowhere to be seen in my little corner of South-West London. When I finally started to eat meat again I vowed only to eat meat where the animal welfare standards were high. That raises a bit of a dilemma when you are invited to lunch and are asked if you have any special requests. Its sounds a more than a little picky and snooty to say ‘I’ll eat your meat but only if it’s up to my standards’. So unless I know people well, I either say I am veggie or offer to bring some food along.  

Which brings me on to todays food. Happy Chickens. The Organic Free Range kind are not cheap. So when I see them on offer I tend to stock the freezer. Obviously I took this step 9 months ago, with a batch of chicken legs that I found, this morning, lingering in the back of our ‘spare’ freezer. Sell by date 29 August 2009. Eaten by date, today 21 May 2010!  

If like me, you are using previously frozen chicken, do make sure it has defrosted fully. I left mine out on the worktop today (I am sure the health inspectors would be tutting) and it was still cold but thoroughly defrosted.  

I have a selection of spices in the cupboard like Cajun, Sumac, and todays choice, Ras El Hanout. Its a lovely, fragrant moroccan spice blend. To prepare the chicken you need do nothing more than to rub a little oil on the chicken legs. Sprinkle with the seasoning. Cook for about 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees. Thats it.  

The couscous  

I love couscous. I always keep a supply of this in the cupboard. Boil the kettle. Pour on water. A few minutes later and its ready. What could be easier? Today I decided to add a few ingredients and flavourings from the cupboard, but it was simply an add, mix and cover with boiling water exercise.  

I have made this, and variations of it so often, that I tend to just add, mix and taste rather than following any strict recipe.  

INGREDIENTS  

  • Couscous. Enough to fill the bottom of a soup bowl by about 1cm. Maybe 300g
  • Vegetable bouillon. A dessertspoon. Add and mix
  • Raisins. A large handful
  • Chickpeas. A standard tin, drained and washed.
  • Cumin (seeds not ground). 1 dessertspoonful
  • Pine nuts (toasted if you have time) 25g
  • Chopped coriander (from freezer)1 tablespoon
  • Butter. About 25 g

METHOD  

  • Mix all ingredients in bowl
  • Pour over boiling water until mixture is just immersed a little in the water
  • Agitate mixture with a fork
  • Cover with a cloth or plate for 5 minutes or so
  • Fluff with a fork and serve

Moroccan Style Carrot Salad. Inspired by Stephanie Alexander.  

Moroccan Style Carrot Salad

 

If you have not yet discovered the cookery genius that is Stephanie Alexander, then you have been missing out. I was introduced to her only last year by my foodie friend Annmaree. This is not a glossy, picture filled cookery book. It is a tome. A reference book filled with a lifetime of cooking knowledge.  It is arranged alphabetically by ingredient (why aren’t all cookery books organised that way?). So, when you have a weird or wonderful, or perhaps just a very boring ingredient that you want to use up, look it up, and Stephanie will provide you will a selection of ideas and recipes for it. Today I was wondering how best to use the carrots in the fridge, when Stephanie came to the rescue, and gave me the inspiration for this dressing.  

INGREDIENTS  

  • about 500g carrots, grated
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 dessertspoon toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 dessertspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Large glug of olive oil (1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 dessertspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chopped chillis

METHOD  

  1. Place cumin, garlic, salt, sugar in pestle and mortar and crush to a paste
  2. Add olive oil and lemon juice. Mix until you have a glossy dressing.
  3. Check taste and adjust seasoning
  4. Grate the carrots.
  5. Add the coriander and chilli and mix throughly
  6. Add dressing making sure salad well coated
  7. Serve

The biggest effort today, was not the cooking. Each dish probably took about 5 minutes preparation. The real effort was putting a little thought and imagination into the food available, and making an appetizing meal from it. The carrot salad exceeded all my expectations. It was not something I had tried before, but will definitely be one to use again.  

Dinner is served

 

DAY 5 SUMMARY  

A great use of some very neglected food from my freezer. 2 days of the challenge left. I am missing chocolate, and not at all optimistic that I wont go over budget. Food (or chocolate) donations anyone?  

Chickpea Couscous

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Happy Eggs and Fabulous Fishcakes (Day 3 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

20 May

Keeping a close and slightly anxious eye on the challenge budget, last night I decided to bring the bread maker out of retirement, and before I went to bed put in the usual flour, yeast and water and left it to work its magic while I dreamed of a night of unbroken sleep. It was just a dream!  

This morning I descended the stairs, half asleep, nose in the air like the bisto kid,  inhaling the irresistable aroma of freshly baked bread. Every time I use the bread maker I am struck by its genius, and wonder why I don’t use it all the time.  

Breadmaker Bread

 

Dippy Egg and Soldiers

 

LUNCH – Dippy Eggs and Soldiers  

The fresh bread was a helpful head start to our quick and thrifty lunch of ‘dippy eggs’ (soft-boiled eggs to the uninitiated). This is one of my favourite midweek lunches with the children and is on our menu at least twice a week. Quick, easy, nutritious. A sure-fire winner for any busy person.  

The Egg Cooker

 

I am, I confess, a bit of a kitchen gadget collector, but in my defence, I only keep the things I use. One of my favourite and most used pieces of kit is the egg cooker that I bought from Lakeland last year. I am eggstatic about it! While I know that in theory, it doesnt take a genius to boil an egg, I used to always get distracted and get the timings wrong. Since the egg cooker found a home here we always have perfectly cooked eggs.  

Now for a little word about the eggs. For eggs that I am poaching, or soft boiling, or putting in a salad, I favour those from Clarence Court above all others. We usually have their pretty pastel coloured Cotswold Legbar eggs, or alternatively Burford Browns. They are unrivalled by any other brand I have tried. They have the most incredible deep orangey yellow yolk. They tend to induce a fit of nostalgia, reminding me of the eggs my Gran used to serve up in my childhood.  

I prefer to use freshly baked bread (from a bakery or the breadmaker) for the ‘soldiers’. With butter. Lots of butter.  

Smoked Mackerel Fishcakes

 

   

DINNER – Smoked mackerel fishcakes  

My fridge was looking very bare this morning, and I was starting to suffer from ‘almost empty fridge’ anxiety. A quick chat with a good friend, Rita, gave me the inspiration for using up the half  bowl of mash left over from Monday. Smoked mackerel fishcakes. Cheap, tasty, and full of good stuff.  

A quick dash up to Sainsburys after lunch found me in possession of 252g of mackerel for only £1.87. Could I be any more thrifty?!!  

I can honestly say I have never made these before. I had gained a rough idea of the framework for Rita’s recipe, then adapted that to suit the fridge contents. It took about 10 minutes in total to make them, then probably another 10 minutes or so to fry them in the pan.  

INGREDIENTS  

Fishcake Ingredients

 

  • 560g cooked mash
  • 250g smoked mackerel
  • 10g wilting chopped parsley (the fresh unwilting kind will do just as well!)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 dessert spoons chopped chives
  • 2 dessert spoons crème fraîche
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • breadcrumbs (from freezer). If you don’t have any, or are short of time, you can miss these out
  • 1 egg, beaten with a dash of milk
  • I almost forgot. I had half a cooked salmon fillet from yesterday left over so I added that in too)

METHOD  

I get the kids to wash their hands while I am gathering the ingredients together. They take a while and it gives me a chance to get everything out before they start bickering!  

The mix

 

  1. Take skin off fish, and using fingers check for bones. Then rub the fish between your fingers until it flakes.
  2. Put fish in large bowl with mash (or split between 2 bowls if you have 2 kids to save arguments)
  3. Mix the mustard with the crème fraîche, then add and mix to the potato/fish mixture
  4. Combine all the additional ingredients, tasting as you go
  5. Shape into patties, then dip in egg and coat with breadcrumbs
  6. Fry in a little oil and butter on a gentle/medium heat for 5 mins each side.

This made 11 medium-sized patties. Enough to fill a few hungry stomachs.  

I served this with broccoli and cucumber for the kids. Mr Mummyinahurry and I ate ours with the remains of the spinach and beans from Monday, some beetroot (the vacuum packed kind) , a couple of lemon wedges and a generous dollop of mayo.  These freeze well so you can always make a double batch and freeze them ready for a quick supper another day.  

Fishcakes, bean salad and beetroot

 

The children loved making these, and despite my reservations about the overly fishy taste, they literally licked their bowls clean when we had finished the prep, then ate all their dinner and asked for seconds.  

So, day 3, a great success. But the kitty is not looking so good, and I am wondering if I can really do this….  

  

 

Haddock with a herb and parmesan crust

12 May

This dish is one that satisfies both fussy children and demanding adults, and is a perfect way to engage the children in a little activity on a cold or rainy afternoon.

My inspiration for this recipe comes from Donna Hay, who sets the standard when it comes to the preparation of fresh, flavourful meals that are simple to prepare, and don’t leave you spending hours in the kitchen. And thanks to the fantastic offer at the fish counter at Sainsburys today, which allowed me to buy a very large (over 500g) haddock fillet for £2.58, this is a great choice if you are keeping an eye on the family food budget too.

First of all a few words about the buying of the fish. Sadly I don’t have a local fishmonger, as he has gone out of business. I have, however, been making use of the fish counter in the supermarket which has been the best alternative I can find at the moment.

Take a close look at the choices on offer. Often (as I did today) you can save yourself quite a bit of money just by choosing an alternative cut and asking the ‘fishmonger’ (?) to do the work for you. Today I had the following choice. Skinless haddock loin, boned, £14.99 a kilo. Haddock fillet £4.99 a kilo (it was on special). So, I chose the latter, and asked the friendly assistant to skin and pin-bone it for me, which he did without a second glance. Result, I saved £5 on the total spend, and bought myself strawberries and chocolate for dessert.

INGREDIENTS (SERVES 2 BIG PEOPLE AND 2 LITTLE PEOPLE)

All this fish for only £2.58!

500g approx haddock, or any firm white fish

200g fresh breadcrumbs

70g Parmesan, grated

10g chopped fresh parsley

1 or 2 dessert spoons chopped chives (to taste)

zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

2 dessert spoons plain flour, lightly seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and pepper

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp sunflower oil

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees (180 for a fan oven)

Herb and Parmesan breadcrumb mixture

Mix the breadcrumbs, herbs, lemon zest and parmesan together. Set aside half the mixture into a freezer bag and pop it in the freezer for another day.

With the remaining mixture, add the oil and mix so that the breadcrumbs are thoroughly coated.

Set up a conveyor belt type operation with 3 bowls in a row. The first with the

The conveyer belt

seasoned flour, the second with the egg and the last with the breadcrumbs.

Chop the fish into desired sizes. I used the thin end for the children’s chunks and fingers, and left two large fillets for me and Mr Mummyinahurry.

Fish fingers and fillets

Get the children to dip the pieces, first in the flour (dusting off any large clumps), then into the egg, then into the breadcrumb mixture, pushing the mixture gently onto the fillets. Follow the same process for the larger fillets.

Kids at work

Place on a baking tray. and cook for 15 minutes, turning once. (This cooking time holds good for the adult portions, in case you are cooking them separately)

Serve

The finished product

I often cook the childrens serving first, reserving the adult portions for a later evening meal. This a a great dish if your other half is working late, as you can leave theirs in the fridge, uncooked and covered in cling film ready for a late supper.

I tend to serve this with one of my favourtie sides, fresh spinach with garlic. A bit more salt and pepper to season the adult portions, some lemon wedges on the side (from the lemon I zested) and a dollop of good quality mayonnaise. Yum!

Feeding time for mummyinahurry

TIPS

The Breadcrumbs

I make these myself. Shop bought are generally overly dry and extortinately priced They are so quick and easy to make, and you can freeze them in small portions. If you are watching the pennies, then just pick up a fresh baked loaf at the supermarket when its reduced to clear, let it dry out a little for a day or two, then tear into chunks and blitz in the processor or liquidizer until you have breadcrumbs. If you dont have stale bread, cut the bread into thick slices and place in a low oven for about 15 minutes to dry it out.

Fresh spinach with garlic

This is sooo easy and sooo good. Rinse spinach. Heat frying pan and on a low heat soften 1 dessertspoon of chopped garlic (I used the ready chopped frozen variety). This will take a minute or two. Turn up heat, add spinach, and turn regularly for a minute or two, until it is wilted. Strain. Add a little butter, and salt and pepper. Serve.

All in all, the activity time of this with the children was about 10 minutes. It was a bit more mess than if I had done it alone, but they loved it, and they ate all their dinner too. For the adult meal, while the fish is cooking, lay the table, and pour a glass of wine. Relax for 10 minutes. Take fish out and leave to rest for 5 minute. Plates can go in oven to warm while you make the spinach. Thats it. And having made an extra serving of breadcrumbs ready for the freezer, you can make some more soon, in even less time.

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

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.

? Which ?

23 Apr

One of my secret pleasures is the monthly arrival of Which? Magazine (like I said, doesn’t take a lot to keep me happy these days).

I used to think it was a bit middle-aged, but after a recommendation by a friend, I signed up for a trial period.  It’s brilliant. When you are pushed for time, this will guide you in the right direction for almost any purchase related to the home, be it big or small.

I find that consumer choice these days can be throughly overwhelming, and when you are juggling a million different things, often the last thing you have time to do is then spend hours wondering which new washing machine is the best value/most reliable etc.

Which thoroughly product tests and review everything that is featured in their magazine. Quite a random selection. Best supermarket, new kitchen products, cars, lipsticks, washing powder, electrical goods, big and small, baby stuff. The great thing about them is they are completely impartial and funded by subscribers not adverts, and they have a convenient online tool that you can use to check past reviews so you don’t have to search through all your old magazines when you need a new washing machine but can’t remember which month had the review in. Quite often they offer a free or £1 trial of the online service.

If you haven’t tried discovered it yet, then give them a whirl. What have you got to lose?

http://www.which.co.uk/