Posted in food

Mummy’s Sausage Hot Pot

I love a one pot dish. They are so simple to make, and yet can have many complexities to them. My sausage hot pot is a kind of casserole. This is a recipe that my mum used to make for me on a cold winters night, she would put it on first thing in the morning, we would all go to work and school, and when we get back we have a wonderful dish to eat for dinner.

Sausage casserole was one of my favourite meals that my mum would cook. It’s super tasty and really easy to make. You can add or take away any of the veg that you throw into this dish, and the more you play with the sauce the better the dish becomes.

I always love to cook with Isabelle and this is one dish she absolutely loves to make with me. As soon as she sees the slow cooker come out she is right there by my side ready to throw all the veg into the pot for me and stir. This recipe is so simple that even a three year old can make it. Getting children to cook from an early age is a brilliant way to set them up with the skills they need for life, they learn where their food comes from, that it takes time to make a good meal, and that they should be eating at least ONE hot meal a day. Ever since Isabelle could walk she has been assisting me in the kitchen, and I will be making sure that she continues to do so until she is old enough to cook dinner herself.

My Sausage Casserole Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 6 sausages
  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped, or crushed)
  • 1 Veg stock cube (Or chicken as an alternative – I used chicken in the video)
  • 3 carrots (chopped small)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of baked beans
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms (chopped)

I don’t really measure the ingredients as I like to cook by eye. It means that there is no right or wrong with the amount of ingredient you put into the dish, but you can put in as little or lot as you like.

Method:

  1. Start of by browning the sausages, this will only take a few minutes, and you just want a little bit of colour on each side of the sausages.
  2. Add in the onions, garlic and leek and cook a little until soft.
  3. Once the veg is softened slightly add in the remaining ingredients and leave to cook for 1 hr on the slow cooker. (Alternatively you can cook in the oven on the lowest setting, cooking times may vary in the oven so keep an eye on your hotpot!)
  4. At about 1 hr add in any herbs and seasoning you wish to have in your casserole, and anything else you think it may need (we sometimes add in a drizzle of wine, or Worcestershire sauce, and once we tried mango chutney which was quite nice!) Leave for another 30 mins to 1 hr
  5. Make sure the sausages are cooked through, and serve with mashed potato

There you have it, the simple tasty sausage casserole that I make nearly every fortnight. It is great for those busy days where you haven’t really got a lot of time to cook dinner, as you can make it first thing in the morning and keep it on a low heat until you are ready to eat.

Enjoy!

Much love xx

Posted in Diary

Feeding my Family for £40 a Week

How much should we spend on our family food shop? How can I save money but still eat well? How can I survive on a tight budget every week? Is it possible to shop locally and still keep to a budget?

Absolutely!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Food shopping doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg, in fact it can be rather “cheap” and you will be surprised how much food you can get for your doe.

I have managed to do each food shop every year for around £30-£50 every week, which has saved me hundreds of pounds a year and we haven’t really seen a change in the quality of food which we have purchased.

How do I do it?

Costly Loyalty

One of my biggest tips for saving money on your food shops is to shop around. Staying with just one retailer or using a familiar brand every single time costs you money in the long run.

However sometimes loyalty can help save you money. Downloading the loyalty apps for the shops you go to is a great way to save money. They produce coupons and deals especially for their returning customers and the more points you earn the better deals you get. But don’t think that it means you have to only shop in one place every week. Sometimes the products you need for the week might be cheaper else where.

I have about 4 apps on my phone for the different shops I go to – Lidl and Aldi included and this is brilliant! It means I am always able to save money and shop where ever I desire.

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

List it up

Making a list of the food you want to buy for the week is absolutely crucial! If you don’t do anything else that I suggest then please at least take this one away with you.

Making a list ensures that you only get the products on your list. You don’t get anything that’s not on the list, even if you have a sudden desire for that extra packet of crisps.

I always organise my list in the order of the store to make sure that it is easy for me to follow and less likely that I am going to forget something or miss something from the ingredients needed for the week. Making a list literally only takes about 5 mins of your life and will save you soo much money as long as you stick to it. Plus this also ensures that you know what is in your cupboards, fridge and freezer as you check you haven’t already got the product before shopping.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Ignore offers

Unless you actually need 2 packs of whatever is on the BOGOF offer, don’t touch it. Double check the prices per 100g or 1l, and check out what product really is saving you money.

Only buy what you need.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

So many times I have heard from customers at my shop “I’m buying 4 packs so I can put 2 in the freezer”, or “most of this will probably end up in the bin (awkward laugh)”. The problem is, if it goes into the freezer and it’s not already frozen you don’t need that product. If the product is probably just going to go to waste, then again you don’t need that much.

We all have different requirements for our food needs and buying more than we need is just throwing our money away.

Eat before the shop

NEVER shop on an empty stomach. Doing this for me adds about £20 onto my shop. When you are hungry you are more likely to buy snacks and food you didn’t intentionally go out to buy.

Having a snack or going out after your meal (any time of the day) is probably the best way to go shopping in order to save money. I always make sure that I am not food shopping on an empty stomach as going out hungry has resulted in me purchasing items to eat “now” but ending up with 2-3 weeks worth of snacks and food instead. It isn’t worth it.

Write your list, stick to it and eat before you go shopping. x

Know what’s in your cupboards

This is important as you don’t want to end up purchasing food you already have. This also includes checking your fridge, freezer and fruit bowl as you don’t want to end up with too much food, resulting in a lot of food waste.

I usually check my cupboards when I have done my meal plan for the week as it is part of my routine for planning my food shop, it ensures that I know exactly what I need for my meals for the week and what I have surplus off in the cupboards so I can plan a meal to use up all the food in my cupboards.

Planning Ahead

This is something I have always done. I plan my meals for the week, and I make a list of the ingredients I need. Having a plan means that you are less likely to end up buying a takeaway, as you know what you are going to make for your meals.

To see how I plan my weekly meals out see my post My Weekly Meal Plan.

Planning ahead has really been a life saver for me, it saves me time during the week as I don’t need to think about what food I am making, and it saves me the arguments of “I want this” or “I don’t want this” as I can ask whether my plan sounds good, or even leave at least 1 day as a day for others to choose the meal.

Budget

Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

Set yourself a budget and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to buy items that are in the reduced to clear section, as most of the time the products have a day or 2 on them and can be used a little past their date too. (Things like bread don’t go out of date just mouldy, and veg can last a lot longer than their best before dates)- knowing the difference between a best before and a use by date is important when looking at items in the reduced to clear section. You can bag yourself some real bargains from these sections.

I’m not saying to bring a calculator with you when you go shopping, but just to be conscious of how much you are spending on products, a 20p can of baked beans is just as good as a £1.09 can, sometimes healthier with lower salt/sugar levels.

I hope that my tips help you in saving money for your food shop.

Please let me know what you think. Or anything extra that you do to save money.

Much love

Emma xx

Posted in food

Mum’s Carbonara

Yum, back to pasta. A wonderful invention set to make amazing meals in no time at all, and yet they are healthy and super tasty. So yes, this blog will be full of many different pasta meal ideas. Sorry.

Carbonara is an Italian classic that everyone has heard of and probably tried. I have managed to find a way to make this dish super easy and tasty every time. I have tried hundreds of different methods to make a carbonara and this is the one that is the winner for me.

Ingredients

  • 350g dried tagliatelle
  • 150g smoked bacon chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 150ml double cream
  • 50g parmesan
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

How I make it

  1. Cook pasta and drain
  2. Fry bacon for 4-5mins
  3. add to drained pasta and 1tbsp olive oil
  4. Put eggs in a bowl, add cream, whisk together
  5. add to pasta (while pasta still warm) and add cheese
  6. mix well
  7. serve with parsley on top

This is a very simple and easy meal to cook and goes down a treat with my daughter and household. I usually serve with a herby bread and salad followed by a fruity dessert.

I hope you find this as easy and tasty as I do.

Enjoy! xx

Posted in food

Lasagne

Photo by Anna Guerrero on Pexels.com

Lasagne is the single most favourite meal in my household. Seconds? “Yes Please!” they all shout. This is one of those meals where I have to make it big or hear the moans that there isn’t enough for all.

It is a rather simple recipe really. You just need to know how to make a white sauce, and bolognaise. Once you have them down, you are well on your way to making the perfect lasagne.

For more information on how to make a bolognaise please see my earlier post Spaghetti Bolognaise.

Ingredients:

For the Bolognaise:

  • Minced meat (or vegetarian alternatives)
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 onion (i used red)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pepper (I used a yellow pepper)
  • handful of mushrooms (or as many as you like)
  • tinned tomatoes
  • 1x veg oxo cube
  • 1x beef oxo cube
  • mixed herbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Tomato puree

For the White Sauce

  • 1x knob of butter
  • 2 tbsp Plain Flour
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Cup of Milk

To Make Up

  • Lasagne Sheets
  • Grated Cheese

How to Make

  1. Preheat Oven to 200c/ 180c fan
  2. Make the Bolognaise as per my post (Spaghetti Bolognaise)
  3. Fry onions, and garlic together, add peppers and meat. Once Meat is almost cooked add mushrooms. Once softened make red sauce by adding tomatoes, stock and herbs. Finish with adding in courgettes, carrots and puree.
  4. To make the white sauce. Melt butter over medium heat, whisk in flour, small amounts at time until smooth.
  5. Gradually whisk in Milk, and bring to boil. Simmer until thickened. Take straight off heat.
  6. Make up the lasagne. Put 1/3 of meat mix into an oven proof dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, then top with 1/3 of white sauce.
  7. Repeat the above until all meat and sauce mixtures have been used.
  8. Top Lasagne with grated cheese, place in oven for around 30mins, or until golden on top.

Serve this up with a side salad or garlic bread for the perfect meal. Healthy and simple.

I hope that you enjoy this recipe. If you wish for more information on how to make it then please feel free to contact me anytime.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do.

Much love x

Posted in food

Chicken and Ham Pie

This recipe has been handed down to me by my mum and each time we add something to it to make it our own. This is something I make when I have a fair amount of time as it can take a little time to make (especially if you make the pastry yourself).

What I love about this pie is that it is jam packed full with ingredients and so you only need a small amount of it before you are full. Paired with mini roast potatoes and fresh veg this is a great dish for a cold winters day, it’s warming and filling and that’s exactly what you need when you have hungry mouths to feed that never seem to be full.

I recommend you make the filling for this pie the day before you are going to cook it as that ensures that the meat is infused with the different flavours, making for a tastier dish that you just won’t be able to resist.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
  • 100g cooked ham
  • 150ml double cream
  • 75ml chicken gravy
  • 2 tbsp fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp cornflour
  • 1/2 tsp english mustard
  • 250g ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 med egg beaten
  • black pepper

Method

  1. Put chicken, ham, cream, gravy, tarragon, cornflour, mustard and pepper in a large bowl.
  2. Mix well
  3. Leave to marinate over night
  4. Spoon filling into a shallow baking dish.
  5. cover with pastry, trim to fit
  6. brush with beaten egg
  7. cook for 30-35mins
  8. serve hot with veg and potatoes.

You can also blind bake some puff pastry with baking beads for about 10 mins before putting the filling inside it. This makes it a bit more of a traditional pie, rather than a hot pot with a topping.

I hope you enjoy this recipe

Much love xx

Posted in food

Nan’s Fish Pie

A Fish Pie is full of protein, veg and yummy goodness. This is something that my dad used to make all the time when I was little, and when I asked him where he got the recipe from he told me it was from my nan.

Since having the recipe I have adapted it and moulded it to my tastes and to something that my little one is more likely to eat. I have now got my fish pie to an almost perfect state, but I know it is missing something, and I hope to one day find out what that is and then share it with you.

Ingredients

For the Mash
  • 5 med potatoes
  • milk
  • butter
  • ground black pepper

For the Filling
  • Fish pie mix (defrosted)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 3 hard boiled eggs (cut into 4)
  • Grated cheese
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • A knob of butter
  • Pinch of pepper

As I said at the beginning of this post there is something missing from this ingredients list and I still haven’t worked out what it is. But that’s what cooking is isn’t it? one big experiment with food.

Method

  1. Peel and chop the potatoes into small pieces. Put them on to boil.
  2. Boil the eggs for 12 mins ~(to get hard boiled)
  3. Once boiled leave the eggs to cool for 10mins then peel and cut into 4 pieces
  4. Once the potatoes are soft drain the water and add a knob of butter and splash of milk
  5. mash the potatoes and add more milk or butter to the consistency you like, set aside for later
  6. Pour a cup of milk into a pan and bring to boil.
  7. Add the fish, let simmer for around 5-10 mins.
  8. remove fish and add flour and parsley to the milk, mix well until smooth and it thickens
  9. add in the peas, simmer until they are heated through
  10. add in fish, and eggs
  11. set into a pie dish (I used a lasagne dish)
  12. layer the mashed potato on top, run a fork in the potato to make ridges
  13. top with cheese
  14. bake in the oven at 200c for 25-30 mins or until golden brown

Serve with veg of your choice.

This is dish very simple to make but does require a bit of your time, however if you have older children they could help you make the sauce or for a better result prepare the filling the night before you wish to make the pie so that the flavours are really infused.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, if you have any ideas on what could be missing please let me know.

Enjoy xx

Posted in food

Quick ‘n’ easy Quiche

Quiche is one of our summer go-to’s. It is a light and tasty dish which is perfect for a warm summers day paired with a wonderful salad. My salads usually consist of a selection of lettuce, tomatoes, celery, pepper and cucumber. I don’t use a dressing as I usually mix it with the products that I am pairing it with.

There are so many fillings that you can add to a quiche to make it your own, I am going to share with you the fillings that I used to make the one photographed. However the world is your oyster when it comes to the fillings that you can add to a quiche.

Ingredients

  • 280g plain flour
  • 140g cold butter
  • 50g parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 300ml double cream (or creme fraiche for a lighter filling)
  • 1 Pepper
  • a handful of tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 50g grated cheese (I like to use a red cheese like red leister)

Making the Pastry

  1. Rub flour and butter together until crumbs are made
  2. Slowly add water until a dough is formed
  3. Roll out pastry until desired size and put into the tin
  4. leave in fridge for 20 mins
  5. Heat oven to 180c
  6. Prick base of tart, line with greaseproof paper and put baking beads on top.
  7. Blind bake for 20 mins with beads then 5 mins without.

To make the filling

  1. Prepare and cook filling items so semi cooked. (onions and peppers slightly softened)
  2. Beat eggs, gradually add cream and seasoning (the mixture wont go thick but will stay a runny consistency)
  3. Sprinkle parmesan over the base,
  4. add filling ingredients
  5. top with the cream mixture and cheese
  6. Bake for 20-25 mins, until golden brown
  7. leave to cool and remove from tin
  8. serve.

While this is a slightly more complex recipe in terms of time it takes to make, this is an absolutely tasty delight once the recipe has been perfected. Since making this dish I have found that adding the cheese into the cream mixture makes it have a fuller taste. We have also found that bacon and other seasoning items such as pepper, basil, and parsley also go really well with a quiche.

I hope you enjoy this meal and have fun adding your own fillings and experimenting like I have been doing and still am!

Enjoy!

Much love xx

Posted in food

One Pan Risotto

In my previous post Easy peasy paella I posted about how we love a good rice dish in our household and often swap between these two very similar dishes.

So here is my absolute fave (against what everyone in the household feels) my vegetable risotto. I love the diversity that you get with a risotto as you can literally use anything that you find in the cupboard or fridge to make it something rather special. This is usually a dish that gets created at the end of the week right before we need to do a food shop.

Ingredients

Theres very little use me putting up an ingredients list as every risotto I make is different from the last, as I use whatever I have left in the fridge. Here is a list of the most commonly used ingredients in my risottos.

  • 1 cup risotto rice per person
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1 veg and 1 chicken stock cube (mixed in the water)
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup peas
  • mushrooms (usually about half a punnet)
  • half leek
  • salt and pepper
  • mixed herbs
  • cheese (any cheese you have left, cheddar works best with parmesan for topping)

Again, literally anything you can get your hands on to use up will work well. I have even used spinach, peppers, bacon lardons, left over chicken and prawns before and all taste great in a risotto.

In this Risotto I added some ham at the end just to give it a little extra colour.

How I made it

First and most importantly you want to prep your food and make sure it is all ready to be cooked. chop the onions and garlic, mushrooms, leaks and any other ingredients you might have that need to be cut (like bacon and chicken).

Once your food is prepped and ready to go then you can start.

  1. fry the onions and garlic until the onions are softening,
  2. add in the leeks and mushrooms (and any other ingredients you might be using, NOT frozen veg yet though)
  3. pour in the rice (no stock yet) and cover in the butter
  4. once covered slowly pour in the stock, making sure that the rice is covered with the liquid.
  5. stir thoroughly and continuously. you don’t want the rice to stick to the sides. stirring continuously also allows for the edges of the rice to break down which will allow for the sauce to become creamy.
  6. before all liquid is absorbed add in the frozen products (if you have any) like peas.
  7. If rice is still quite hard add a splash of water
  8. add in the cheddar and herbs/spices constantly mixing the mixture.
    • The mixture will become creamy right before your eyes.
    • taste it at this point so you can add in more herbs/spices or cheese as needed.
  9. once the water has evaporated and been absorbed, the risotto is ready to be served.

I serve my risotto up with a mixed salad on the side or sometimes a garlic bread. I find it is a lot of fun to ask my little one to help me with the stirring, it allows me to have a free hand so I can add in the ingredients, and she gets to see the magic of the creamy texture happen right before her eyes.

I hope you enjoy this recipe!

much love x

Posted in food

Spinach and Chicken Spaghetti

I went a bit over the top with the cheese lol x

Ah, Spaghetti and pasta in general. I love love love making pasta dishes as they are so quick and easy to make, and you can trick your lovely little ones into eating a whole host of vegetables. Psst, just don’t tell them what’s in there! Or if you do getting them to help prepare dinner somehow makes them more likely to eat the veggies which are put into dinner. I don’t know how but it’s MAGIC!

This dish is one that I whipped up with barely anything left in the house. I was very proud of myself and what’s more, it was a very tasty dinner.

I am one for using up everything we have in the house BEFORE doing a big shop, as I don’t like the idea of getting in new things to cook when you still have a freezer, or fridge or cupboard completely full of food. I personally think it’s wasteful as the reality of you ever using the products that are already there are slim to none, as you end up using the new products and forgetting about the old.

For this dish I had the option of using Spaghetti or Fusilli, and I find both pastas work in different ways. For this dish I wanted a pasta which sticks to the sauce and spaghetti seems to stick best to the sauces I have found. Also my daughter has an obsession with noodles, so if she is being particularly stubborn on not eating her food I will whip up some spaghetti (but call them noodles) and most of the time she will eat.

Ingredients I used

  • Spaghetti (enough for 3 people)
  • Cheddar cheese
  • parmesan cheese
  • Handful of tomatoes
  • 1 Chicken breast sliced and cooked (left over from the day before)
  • 1/2 bag of fresh spinach
  • Rocket and salad to serve (Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, sweetcorn, no dressing)
  • (since making this recipe I have also added broccoli)

How I made it

  1. Boil the pasta
  2. While the pasta is boiling oven bake the tomatoes for about 10 mins (this is when I also steam the broccoli)
  3. when the pasta is cooked, take about 2 mugs of water from the pan before draining – you will be using the water in a bit.
  4. pour all ingredients into a bowl (spaghetti, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, chicken, 1 cup of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of parmesan, and the pasta water) add any herbs and spices to taste – basil and pepper are what I tend to use.
  5. Mix until a smooth creamy cheese sauce has been created. (I sometimes add a splash of milk, but find the water and cheese is perfectly good enough)
  6. serve with a side salad and some rocket and parmesan on top.

and Voila! a super easy yummy treat for the family in under 20 mins

Your welcome!

I hope you enjoy this meal and have fun adding in your own ingredients and making the food your own. As all I am doing is giving you ideas of easy and quick meals to do with a busy family, and these are created to me and my families tastes, so of course you can add in your own flavours to make them your own.

Have a wonderful Meal!

Enjoy! xx