You are NOT alone

So that is Christmas 2020 done, its been a weird one this year normally we have 9 people over for Christmas day, this year there were just 3 of us due to local restrictions. It was a lovely day but I missed the big gathering of family. We managed a mini zoom call with everyone and although that was slightly confusing at times with the grandparents it made Christmas that little bit more normal. I can honestly say Christmas 2020 will definitely be a Christmas i will never forget.

I know Christmas isn’t a joyous occasion for everyone. This time between Christmas and New Year isn’t always the best, people have suffered loss, are alone or simply are struggling with life.

Please remember you are NOT alone, if you are struggling this Christmas and New Year period and you need to talk to someone. There are plenty of people out there who can help. I have posted some details below and if this helps just one person it is worth posting.

https://www.samaritans.org

Call – 116 123 – Samaritans open 24 hours a day 7 days a week & it is free to call.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/

The Fry Up

Good morning. How are we all this Sunday? Here at Quids In Cooking Towers we are still in T3 lockdown so not much to do other than relax today.

This morning I had a bit of a treat and I had a full English fry up made by Mr Quids In Cooking himself. It was delicious. And i do believe things always taste better when they are cooked by someone else!

What makes a fry up for you? This was not a planned breakfast so we were missing a couple of things but it was delicious non the less. Normally we would go all out and have mushrooms, potato cakes, hash browns, bacon, beans, eggs, sausages, tinned tomatoes, toast and of course Mr Q would have black pudding. Fry ups are funny things as I would quite happily have one at any time of the day. Sometimes we even have it as a dinner if we have left over bacon and sausages from the week.

The great thing about the fry up is you can customise it to your tastes, if you are a vegetarian, try omitting the meat and adding some halloumi and avocado. If you don’t like eggs, you don’t need to have them. Cook what makes you happy! Cook what makes you finish your plate, put your knife and fork down and think that was right blooming delicious.

The key to a good fry up is the timing. Making sure everything comes out hot and at the same time. Its a bit like making a roast dinner in that aspect. So if you are struggling with timing the Quids In Cooking top tip of the day is to write a list of all the ingredients and work back how long each item takes. Use your phone to set timers for each item to help you make sure everything comes out perfect.

The Fry Up – Poached eggs, chilli beans, tomatoes, smoked back bacon, chipolata sausages and wholemeal toast.

Serves 2

4 Rashers Smoked Back Bacon – £0.59
4 Chipolata Sausages – £0.43
1 Tin Baked Beans – £0.31
1 Tin chopped or plum tomatoes £0.28
4 Slices wholemeal bread toasted & buttered – £0.20
4 eggs – £0.48
Pinch of Chilli – £0.05

Total Cost – £2.34
Price per serving – £1.17

1) Preheat the oven to 200c

2) Prepare your ingredients.
2.1) Open baked beans and tomatoes and empty contents into two pans.  Place on hob
2.2) Cover a baking tray in foil and add your bacon. 
2.3) Add a dash of oil to a roasting tray and add your sausages
2.4) Crack your eggs into 4 separate ramekins
2.5) Place your bread in the toaster so you can push the leaver down when you are ready. 
2.6) Boil the kettle

3) Place the roasting tray with sausages into the oven and set a timer for 10 minutes.

4) At the 10 minute mark, turn the sausages by giving the pan a shake and then add the tray of bacon to the oven. Set another timer for 7 minutes.

5) Once your 7 minute time has sounded, turn the bacon, feel free to give your sausages another shake and set a timer for 5 minutes.

6) Ignite your burners (or turn them on if electric) and turn to a low to medium heat. Cooking your tomatoes and beans through. Don’t forget to stir occasionally. If you want to add a kick to your beans add a pinch of chilli flakes whilst cooking.

7) Take a shallow frying pan or wok and add around 2 inches of the boiling water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a very low simmer. Holding your ramekins close the water slowly drop the eggs into the water one at a time equally spaced apart. They should take around 5 minutes to cook, and every now and then take a spoonful of the boiling water and gently pour over the top of the eggs to cook the surface.

8) Press the toaster leaver down and get your plates ready to serve your meal.

9) Once the timer has gone off remove bacon and sausages from oven, checking both are cooked thoroughly. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel allowing the water to drain off. The egg whites should be cooked through. Plate up the beans and tomatos and butter your toast. Remove eggs from paper towels and place on plate. Voila. Breakfast is served.

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Homemade Brioche Bun Chicken Burgers

Do you remember a while ago I was having a bit of a rant about mince meat and my dislike. Which leads to one problem that I don’t eat Beef Burgers. In my house its all about the chicken breast burger. 100% chicken topped with cheese, in a beautiful brioche bun filled with lettuce, tomato, bacon and pineapple. Served with a side of homemade chips.

I will be posting the brioche bun recipe later in the week. So for now I will cost this meal based on shop bought buns.

This is a more expensive meal than the usual options i post but it feels like a delightful naughty treat.

1 Chicken Breast – £0.98
2 Tbsp Seasoning – £0.14
1 Brioche Bun (or bun of your choice) – £0.22
2 Rashers Smoked Back Bacon – £0.29
1 Pineapple Ring – £0.16
30g Cheddar Cheese – £0.13
1/4 cup Lettuce – £0.05
1/2 Tomato – £0.05
1 Potato – £0.11

Total Cost – £2.13

The beautiful thing about this meal is you can customise it any which way you want. Need to save a few pence, omit the bacon and pineapple which will bring the cost below £2.

1) Cut the chips into even sized pieces. I cooked mine in my ajrfryer for 25 minutes with a drizzle of oil.

2) Season Chicken, this can be done with herbs and spices or chicken marinades. Its your choice, of course you can always opt for a plain chicken breast. For the purpose of this i used cajun chicken spice.

2) Place a heavy pan on the hob and heat to a high heat. After 2-3 minutes reduce the heat to medium and add a splash of oil making sure the oil coats the pan. Place the chicken breast into the pan and cook on a medium heat for 5-6 minutes.

3) When your timer has gone off turn the chicken and cook the other side for a further 5-6 minutes. At this point i add my cheese to the cooked surface. Allowing it to melt whilst the other side is cooking.

4) When cooked ensure chicken is cooked thoroughly either with a meat thermometer or by cutting the chicken and checking the meat is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

5) If cooking in a cast iron skillet or similar place under the grill for a couple of minutes to finish melting the cheese.

6) Slice your Brioche Bun and assemble your toppings. I chose lettuce, tomato, smoked back bacon and pineapple. Place your cooked chicken breast on top and apply any sauces you may desire (BBQ is particularly tasty in this combo)

Don’t forget to drop in later in the week when I will reveal how to make the delicious brioche buns

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Gingerbread Biscuits

Smell that, do you smell that? That my dear readers is the 1st of December. The time of holiday cheer and goodwill to all men.

Christmas is my favourite time of year. The lights, the trees, the decorations and the snow .. OK the small bit of snow we potentially get in March but I do dream of a White Christmas and this year would be perfect as we can’t go anywhere!

Nothing speaks more of Christmas than the sweet smell of gingerbread biscuits baking in the oven. They cost pence to make as they are all staple store cupboard ingredients. I bought some cheap Christmas cutters from the pound shop and away i went.

Makes 12 medium sized biscuits

175g Plain Flour – £0.06
1/4 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda – £0.01
1 Tsp Ground Ginger -£0.05
1 Tsp Cinnamon – £0.05
57g Unsalted Butter – £0.13
87g Soft Light Brown Sugar – £0.28
2 Tbsp Honey – £0.04
1/2 Egg (crack egg, weigh and divide by 2) keep remaining egg as you may need more to bind the mixture – £0.12

1) Sift Flour, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl. Mix well.

2) Cube butter and add to flour mix. Rub flour and butter together until it resembles breadcrumbs.

3) Stir in the soft brown sugar and begin to add the egg, mixing until the dough begins to form.

4) Tip dough out onto a lightly floured worksurface or non stick mat. Kneed the dough until smooth and roll out until it is around 1/2 cm deep. Cut out the shapes using your cutters and place on a non stick baking sheet.

5) Roll remaining dough and repeat the process until all the dough is used

6) Place in a preheated oven 180 C for 8-10 minutes. The biscuits will catch easily so keep an eye on them. They are ready when they are golden brown but still squidgy in the middle.

7) Once cooked, remove from oven and leave to cool in place for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Total Cost – £0.74
Cost per Biscuit – £0.06

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FUNDAY SUNDAY – Kitchen Gadgets

Happy Sunday to all, I hope everyone is having a good one, whatever you may be doing.

You don’t need many kitchen gadgets to be able to cook healthy low cost meals. But I love them…. I am a bit of a kitchen gadget and appliance fiend. You name it I probably own it or have done over the years.

As a bit of #FundaySunday fun here are my top 5 kitchen gadgets and appliances.

1) Slow Cooker. I think even if you are not a gadget person you should have a slow cooker. You can pick them up for less than £15 during the year and they can be a life saver when it comes to cooking healthy low cost meals. Plus you can come home to a delicious hot meal ready to eat. What can be better than that?

2) Stand Mixer- i was very fortunate about 8 years ago my then parter (now husband) clubbed together with my family and bought me a Kenwood Barcelona K Mix. It is my one true love in the kitchen. Sadly it has stopped working 😦 but I am sending it off to be hopefully repaired (everyone please cross your fingers as its my pride and joy) It is a beast of a machine and I use to it make delicious cakes, cookies, pizza dough and so many other things. I hope it can be repaired otherwise I will have to start saving my pennies for another!

3) Mandoline Slicer. Its such a fantastic & cheap item but it is so useful. The blade is ridiculously sharp to which I can attest as I sliced my knuckle off once 🤢. Its a great kitchen tool to make uniform thin slices.

4) Electric Grater and Slicer. Another gadget i have had for about 10 years now. This is a Tefal Fresh Express. It has 5 cones – a course and fine grater, 2 slicers and a hard cheese grater. I use it mainly as an electric cheese grater because it is so much cheaper to buy a block of cheese and grate it rather than buy pre grated cheese, but you can use it to slice or grate vegetables too. As you can see it is falling apart a bit now, the graters are starting to crack and the paint is flaking off but I will continue to use this until the day it decides enough is enough. Let’s hope its not any time soon.

5) Airfryer – I have a Ninja Airfryer. And it is amazing. I have had other brands over the years but I liked the different features the Ninja offered so when it came to that time to upgrade I jumped ship to the Ninja range. I particularly like the fact that it has a dehydrate option. I love crisps but they are so bad for you! I chop up a potato, season and layer in the airfryer. It takes about 4-5 hours and voila….homemade crisps. I also cook, bacon, sausages, chips, garlic bread, roast potatoes, roasted tomatoes….basically anything that can go in the oven I have cooked in this air fryer.

And thats it. My 5 favourite gadgets. Let me know in the comments what your top 5 kitchen gadgets are.

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The Humble Potato

Potatoes are a thing of wunder. I don’t mean to sound too theatrical but they are. How many other vegetables out there can you use in such an multitude of ways? Chips, baked, hassleback, mashed, loaded, gratin, roasted, dauphinoise…. this list goes on. I just read an article that said “potato is the kitchen gift that keeps on giving” and you know what. They are not wrong.

Soft vs Crispy – Baked or Jacket Potatoes for me need to be crispy on the outside and utterly soft and delicious on the inside.

White vs Sweet – For me it depends on the topping! If I am having Beans and Cheese, its a bog standard white potato. If I am having pulled pork, it has to be a sweet potato.

Toppings – The great thing about jacket potatoes is the endless toppings you can have on them. Beans and cheese, tuna and mayo, coleslaw, pulled pork, chicken curry, vege chilli and salsa, creamy garlic mushrooms the list could go on and on.

I am going to cost out both options today, both the white and sweet with Cheese and Beans.

1 Large Baking Potato – £0.11
200g Baked Beans – £0.15
30g Cheddar Cheese – £0.13
Knob of butter – £0.03

Total cost per serving – £0.42

1 Large Sweet Potato – £0.25
200g Baked Beans – £0.15
30g Cheddar Cheese – £0.13
Knob of butter – £0.03

Total cost per serving – £0.56

Let me know in the comments your favourite baked potato topping!

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Soft Boiled Eggs and Soldiers

Apparently the phrase Bolied Egg and Soldiers has only been about since the 60s. Whether you are young or old this is a perfect dish for breakfast. Takes minutes to prepare and eggs are full of filling protein to help keep you going until lunch.

This is not a fancy meal, it is not meant to be. Its meant to be simple, tasty, filling and cheap.

Credit for todays dish actually goes to Mr Quidsincooking who made breakfast.

2 Medium Eggs – £0.24
2 Slices of Bread – £0.06
Butter or Spread -£0.03

Total Cost per Serving – £0.33

1) Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add the eggs and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat.

2) Toast the bread to your preference, butter and slice into uniform strips.

3) After 5 minutes remove the egg from the boiling water with a slotted spoon, carefully and quickly remove the top of the egg. If you do not do this quickly the eggs will continue to cook within their shells.

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Cheesy Mushroom Parcels

Cooking at home doesn’t need to be difficult, you don’t need to be making recipes with a million and one ingredients to feed the family. Don’t get me wrong I love trying out new recipes, pushing myself to try new dishes that are out of my comfort zone and to learn new techniques in the kitchen. But honestly there are times when I really cannot be bothered. After a long day of work sometimes I just want to pop something easy in the oven, put my feet up and relax.

Then comes the big question. Do i buy an easy ping in the microwave ready meal or make something? I am not a fan of ready meals, and I am not being a snob there, honestly I am not! They are an amazing invention…if I enjoyed eating them I would buy them for nights when I am feeling like this, a few minutes in the microwave and ta-da a piping hot meal ready to eat. But if I am truly honest I generally don’t like the taste of them. When it comes to meats I am fussy about the way they are cooked and if you have ever experienced that rubbery bit of chicken one time you will know what I mean. Which then leaves me with vegetarian options and in the world of ready meals, good ones are few and far between.

If you google mushroom and cheese parcels there are hundreds of recipes. From recipes that use oyster mushrooms to wild mushrooms to chestnut mushrooms that have goats cheese or camembert, emmental or gruyere cheese.

Today I decided I would use what I have in. I always have mushrooms and cheese in my fridge they are staple items to me and i eat one or the other with most meals. Today i used white mushrooms, mixed with porcini dried mushrooms and cheddar cheese. I am using the porcini mushrooms as I have then in the cupboard. I bought them once for a recipe and haven’t used them since!

This recipe is easy as it uses condensed soup as a base sauce. Condensed soup is a brilliant handy cupboard staple. I always try and put a couple of tins on the shop when I remember as you can use it in a pie, as a base for pasta bakes and as part of the stock for risotto to give a creamy texture. There are so many possibilities. You can even add a few herbs and use it as a steak sauce. Its an easy win for long days at work when you don’t have the time or patience to make a full sauce. Plus it’s fairly priced.

Ready Rolled Puff Pastry – £1.00
1 Tin Condensed Mushroom Soup £1.00
25g of Dried Porcini Mushrooms – £1.64
50g white mushrooms – £0.10
1 tsp lazy garlic – £0.07
120g of Grated Cheddar Cheese – £0.35

Total Cost for 4 Parcels – £4.16
Cost per portion – £1.04

Need to cut the cost? Then just remove the dried mushrooms and double the amount of white mushrooms. Total Cost £2.62
Cost Per Portion – £0.65

1) Rehydrate the porcini mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. Drain and squeeze out the excess moisture.

2) Unroll the puff pastry, cut into 4 equal rectangles.

3) In a bowl empty the condensed soup, add the chopped mushrooms, porcini mushrooms and garlic. Mix throughly.

4) Add a heaped tbsp of the mixture in the centre of each rectangle of pastry until all mixture has been used.

5) Top with 20g of cheese in each parcel

6) Fold the corners of the rectangle to the centre. Creating a parcel shaped pie. Brush with a beaten egg if desired to give the pastry a glossy finish (not required if you don’t have an egg in)

7) Cook in a preheated oven at 180 for 30 minutes until golden brown.

The great thing is about these parcels is that they can be made up in advance and frozen, not that they take long to make at all. Or if like me there are only 2 of your in the household you can make for 4, freeze 2 and cook 2. All you need to do is defrost in a fridge and cook as per the above instructions. To freeze I wrap in baking paper and then cover in a freezer bag with a quick sticker applied stating what it is.

I hope you enjoy reading the blog and trying out the recipes. If so please give me a like on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to sign up on our contact us page for updates to the blog

FUNDAY SUNDAY – What is in your camera roll?

I am a bit of a worrier. I always worry that I am going to say the wrong thing or post the wrong picture to the wrong group on Facebook or in particular on this blog. I don’t know why! It is an irrational fear I guess, that one day I will post a food pic to a DIY group and people will be so confused but too polite to point out what I have done. Or that moment when I accidently post quidsincooking dishes on my own personal timeline and don’t realise until someone comments and I recoil into the depths of my brain as however much I love writing this blog I like the anonymity it brings.

It turns out there are 3 main things I tend to take pictures of, granted there are lots & lots of screen shots of food ideas, potential house decorations, new kitchen gadgets I want to buy and funny memes but looking at the current 1300 pictures on my phone there are definitely a few common themes!

Food – Of course, I would not have started a food blog if food was not a passion of mine. Even if I am not going to post it I often snap a picture or two to remember a delicious meal for the future.

Cats – I have 2 cats with my husband and they are spoilt rotten every day. But I love them both with all my heart…. my husband isn’t bad either.

Walking – When we moved we were fortunate to move to an area that is full of fields, hills, pathways & woodland. Its beautiful and I love nothing more than getting out for an hour, to clear my head and admire the views.

What are your top picture groups? (Nothing rude please 😂) let us know below.

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Cheese & Chilli on Toast

Breakfast. Simple cheese and chilli on sourdough toast. Normally I wouldn’t have sourdough in, this recipe doesn’t require any speciality bread. You could do it on a bagel, on a slice of wholemeal or white bread, on a crumpet if you wanted to. Its about using what you have in.

We only have the sourdough as we were on a hunt for advent calendars after they were not in stock on my weekly shop. Yes I am thirty cough-cough years old and yes I still insist on an advent calendar! We stumbled into M&S and the smell of the bakery wafted across the store. It honestly smelt divine. We walked out with this delicious crispy sourdough.

2 Slices Sourdough – £0.40
30g Cheddar Cheese – £0.13
1 x Chilli – £0.13

Total Cost – £0.66

If using normal bread (cost 6p for 2 slices) the overall total cost comes down to £0.32 a serving.

1) Lightly toast the sourdough/bread both sides in the toaster.

2) Top with grated cheese and chopped chillies.

3) Cook under the grill until the cheese melts and starts to turn golden brown in places.

If you want to throw caution to the wind, try adding a soft boiled egg on top too for a protein rich breakfast.

I hope you enjoy reading the blog and trying out these recipes. If so please give me a like on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and don’t forget to sign up on our contact us page for updates to the blog.