Mexican Inspired Arancini

I hate food waste. When we make big meals we batch cook to freeze half or eat it for lunches during the week. Yesterday I attempted to make a Fakeaway KFC Rice Box because I really had a hankering for one but it wasn’t in the budget to go to KFC. I ended up making something similar but it left me with some leftover mexican rice.

I really didn’t want the same meal again so I had a quick Google and decided to make some Arancini, the trouble was I only had the left over mexican rice and cheddar. Behold this beautiful creation was born but warning it is MESSY to make!!

Makes 4 Balls serves 1 as a meal or 2 as a starter

100g Mexican Rice – £0.30
20g Golden Breadcrumbs – £0.09
1 Medium Egg – £0.13
30g Grated cheddar cheese – £0.13

Total Cost – £0.65

1) Place the cooked mexican rice in a bowl, add in the cheese and egg and stir until mixed

2) Grab a spoonful of rice and roll into a ball. It will keep trying to fall apart but try and move it from one hand to another as quickly as possible.

3) Add 5g of the breadmix to a bowl (or your hand) and move the ball across it trying to coat it as much as possible. Place the finished ball on a baking tray. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

4) I cooked these in a Ninja Airfryer for about 15 minutes turning once but you can cook in an oven for 15-20 minutes at 200c.

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.

#wonderfulwednesday

Good Morning. Each #wonderfulwednesday i like to sit and list to myself things I am grateful for. When life feels so heavy on your shoulders it helps to remember the little things you enjoy or appreciate that often get pushed aside with all the doom and gloom.

1) My home. However stressful being a homeowner can be sometimes, I adore my little house and I am so very fortunate to have a place to safely rest my head each night.

2) Early dark evenings. I have to say I do love summer where the nights stretch into eternity but I enjoy shutting the curtains on a dark winters evening, switching the fire on for ambiance and snuggling down with a good book.

3) Eggs. How great are eggs? They are so versatile and can be used in so many different foods… Scrambled, poached, fried, boiled, cakes, pancakes, pastry glaze, scotch eggs, quiche, omelette, frittata, baked eggs, egg muffins, hollandaise sauce, Yorkshire puddings, shakshuka the list could go on.

What are you grateful this #wonderfulwednesday? Let me know in the comments.

Flipping Delicious Pancakes

I know, I know..its not Shrove Tuesday but I personally think pancakes should be enjoyed all year round.

A long time ago there used to be a restaurant in Manchester City Centre called ‘The Dutch Pancake House’… oh my goodness…I loved this place. I used to go with my sister when we were younger. The pancakes were humongous and the plates portrayed Dutch scenes in blue and white. It was heaven.

You could have any topping you wanted, I always opted for cheese, tomato and pineapple. It was my go to concoction for pancakes and pizza (still is) i remember they had all sorts to choose from, probably hundreds of options. Bacon and maple syrup, no problem! Chicken Curry, sure why not! You could have sweet, savoury or both! Anything your heart desired.

Sadly The Dutch Pancake House shut down many years ago and the building was demolished. It is now just a happy distant memory in the eyes of many mancunians.

Which brings me back to pancakes, most people when discussing pancake day only have pancakes as a pudding. It has always baffled me because if you haven’t tried savoury pancakes you haven’t lived but thats just my humble opinion.

Pancakes are cheap to make and you probably have everything you need right there in your cupboard. Go on, have a quick look i won’t go anywhere whilst you check… do you have everything in? The recipe can easily be scaled up or down depending on how many you need to feed or how many pancakes you want.

Now i don’t often say you need a specific piece of kitchen equipment to make something but in this instance there is one thing you need to invest in, a good non-stick frying pan. You can use oil/butter/fry-light to grease the pan to your hearts content but if your pan is not non-stick, then chances are your pancakes will not freely come out of the pan. Its frustrating when this happens and a good non-stick pan will help with this tremendously.

Makes 6 Pancakes

100g Plain Flour – £0.04
2 Medium Eggs – £0.24
300ml Milk – £0.15
Pinch of Salt – £0.01

Total Cost – £0.44

Cost per pancake – £0.08

1) Sift the flour into a bowl, add the eggs, milk and pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. If you prefer you can use a blender or stand mixer, just make sure your batter is smooth before moving onto the next step.

2) Pour a little oil into your pan. Technically with a non stick pan you don’t need the oil but it makes the pancakes look more aesthetically pleasing. The oil gives those little brown and black patches on the pancake against a lighter background.

3) When your pan is hot, pour the batter into the centre of the pan, pick the pan up (please be careful) and swirl the batter over the base of the pan.

4) It will take about 30 seconds to 1 minute for your pancake to cook so keep an eye on its progress and lift up the side of the pancake to have a sneak peak at how it is cooking. Once ready using a large slotted turner to flip the pancake over in the pan and then give the pan a quick shimmy to move the pancake to the centre

5) Whilst the second side is cooking add your toppings along the centre line of the pancake. Using the slotted turner, remove the pancake from the pan onto a plate. Lift the edge of the pancake and roll. This can be done on the pan but tends to end in burnt fingers so its best to put on a plate first.

6) To keep your pancakes hot roll with the filling and place in the oven on a low temperature whilst cooking the remaining pancakes.

Pancake Ideas…

For those with a savoury side…
Cheese and tomato
Cheese and ham
Bacon and maple syrup
Smoked Salmon
Spinach and Ricotta
Bacon and avocado
Pancetta, chicken and spinach
Vegetable Chilli and Cheese
Crispy duck

For those with a sweet tooth…
Sugar and lemon
Mars Bar and ice cream
Nutella and honey
Maple syrup
Banana and toffee sauce
Fresh berries and whipped cream
Ice cream and strawberry sauce

There are so many more possibilities.  What do you have on yours? Please let us know in the comments.

Please remember costs are rough estimates and these will change depending on time of year or where you shop. Where possible supermarket own foods are used for costing purposes.

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.

Cheese & Smoked Bacon Turnovers

I woke up this morning absolutely ravenous, I had a big lunch yesterday and by the time dinner rolled by I wasn’t hungry. My 7am alarm boomed out of my phone and my insides were suddenly awake rumbling at the thought of food.

I have been trying to be good, to lose a few pounds but this week I have fallen off the wagon, rolled down a hill into a ditch and into a muddy puddle. After a quick weigh in I decided I need to haul my bottom back up the hill and get back on track.

The problem this morning was that I didn’t want eggs, they just had no appeal, do you ever get that? You look at food and there is no joy? No desire to eat it….so I resorted to a quick rummage in the fridge. Ah ha! I exclaimed to one of the cats who had absolutely no interest in what I was saying “puff pastry!” A quick rummage further and I found some delicious thinly sliced smoked back bacon and some lighter mature cheddar. 20 minutes later voila.

This is a very cheap and cheerful breakfast for adults and kids. It feels like a delicious treat but cost wise it is only 60p per serving. It can be easily turned into lunch or dinner served with a salad or some homemade chips and vegetables. The possibilities are endless.

80g slice of ready rolled lighter puff pastry – £0.21
15g Grated Mature Cheddar Cheese – £0.07
2 Rashers of Smoked Back Bacon (fat trimmed) – £0.31
2 tsp tomato puree – £0.01

Total cost per portion – £0.60

1) Preheat oven to 220, place bacon on baking tray and cook in preheated oven turning twice. Depending on the thickness of your bacon it will take between 10 and 20 minutes so its important to keep an eye on it as bacon turns from uncooked to cooked very quickly!

2) Measure out a 80g slice of ready rolled puff pastry. Approx 16 x 10 cm. Keep the pastry on the greaseproof paper it comes wrapped in to cook or transfer to a fresh sheet of greaseproof paper, your pastry will not stick and it also makes cleanup easy.

3) Spread the 2tsp of tomato puree across the puff pastry, add the cooked bacon and grated cheese.

4) Fold two opposite corners towards the centre of the pastry overlapping one slightly over the other. At this point you can choose to lightly coat the pastry in egg, I didn’t do this as I feel like its a waste of an egg in this instance as the pastry tends to go golden brown anyway.

5) Turn the oven down to around 200 and place the turnovers in the oven. They will take around 10-15 minutes so keep an eye on them & enjoy!

Please remember costs are rough estimates and these will change depending on time of year or where you shop. Where possible supermarket own foods are used for costing purposes.

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!

Vegetarian Chilli & Jacket Potatos

I don’t eat mince meat, not for any belief or reason other than I despise the way beef mince smells when cooking, its always bothered me.

When I met my now husband nearly 10 years ago he was horrified, absolutely horrified that i made all mince dishes with Quorn or Soya Mince. Truthfully if i hadn’t told him I doubt he would have noticed.

The problem i have always faced is I love so many foods that are made with mince, I love lasagne, I love bolognase (particularly with garlic bread in both instances) and now I adore vegetable chilli. I make mine in the slow cooker, it doesn’t taste any different really but I love Love LOVE being able to switch it on first thing and have an easy dinner ready 8 hours later.

The recipe i have based my vegetable chilli on was actually from the NHS Change for Life. If you are not based in the UK the NHS is our wonderful health service who during 2020 have been the true soldiers of the pandemic and we are so grateful for each and every person that works for them.

But I digress… this recipe doesn’t seem to be part of the change for life campaign any more which is such a shame as I think it is a fantastic starting recipe and it makes about 8 portions. I make a huge batch and freeze it and then make all sorts of dishes, all of which will feature on this blog throughout the year.

The below recipe is my adaptation of the NHS Change for Life recipe. I have upped the quantities on some ingredients and substituted part of the mince for red lentils to bulk out the chilli to save on costs.

200g Soya Mince / Quorn Mince – £1.34
100g Dried Red Lentils – £0.23
2 Small Onions – £0.18
2 Large Carrots – £0.17
300g of Frozen Peppers – £0.43
800g chopped tinned tomatos – £0.56
4 tbsp tomato puree -£0.13
1 tbsp lazy garlic – £0.07
1 tbsp lazy chilli – £0.07
400g tin of Kidney Beans – drained £0.30
1 x vegetable stock cube -£0.03
100ml Boiling Water
1 tsp Mixed chilli flakes £0.10
Generous helping of Black Pepper – £0.10

1 x Baking Potato per person – £0.25
20g Cheddar Cheese per person – £0.09

Total Vegetable Chilli Cost – £3.71

Price per portion of Chilli – £0.46
Price with a Jacket potato – £0.71
Price with a Jacket Potato & Cheese – £0.80

1) Peel and chop the Onions and Carrots. If you have a food processor, I pop mine in and give it a couple of 5 second blasts to chop properly. If you don’t have a food processor have no fear! Just finely chop the onion and then chop the carrots so they are all roughly the same size.

2) In a pan, cook the lentils as per the instructions on the packet.

3) In a separate pan heat a splash of olive oil and fry the onions, after a couple of minutes add the lazy chilli and garlic. Fry for a minute or so.

4) Boil the kettle, measure 100ml in a cup and add the stock cube – stir until disolved

5) Add the frozen mince, frozen peppers to the onions and, garlic and chilli and give it a good stir. Add the drained kidney beans, tinned tomatos, tomato puree, cooked lentils and vegetable stock. Mix thoroughly.

6) Bring the contents of the pan to the boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 25/30 minutes stirring occasionally.

7) When the timer has gone off give the chilli a final stir, season to taste add a few more chilli flakes for good measure and the chilli is ready to be served.

Note – if serving with a jacket potato, I like to nuke mine in the microwave for 10 minutes (remembering to stab your potato with a fork before it goes in!) And then I put in a hot oven for around 45 minutes to 1 hour to get the skin nice and crispy, if I am feeling adventurous I drizzle with a bit of oil and sprinkle over garlic salt and black pepper before it goes in the oven.

If you are pressed for time or don’t particularly like a crispy spud… I hear some people don’t… a microwaved spud with certainly do.

Please remember costs are rough estimates and these will change depending on time of year or where you shop. Where possible supermarket own foods are used for costing purposes.

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!

Winter Warming Soup

Let’s talk about soup. Lovely hot, winter warming soup. The first soup on the menu is carrot and corriander. Look at that colour, doesn’t it just look delicious.

There are so many recipes out there for this soup but most of them are similar to one another. I used the below ingredients to make 6 portions of soup. Thats 6 meals if you serve with a slice or 2 of your favourite bread.

Its full of good nutrients, no additives and more importantly its filling & the soup itself is low in calories, if you (like me) are trying to keep on top of your weight whilst counting the pennies.

800g Carrots – 41p
2 Small Onions – 22p
2 medium Potatos – 25p
1tsp Ground Corriander / Corriander Leaf – 10p
1 Bunch Corriander – 39p
5 Stock Cubes – 16p
1200ml Water

Total Cost – £1.53

Price per portion – 26p
Price per portion with 2 slices wholemeal bread – 32p

I used a Morphy Richards soup maker to make this but it can easily be done in a pan too and then blended using a stick blender.

1) Peel and slice the onions.

2) Chop the carrots and potato, try to make the slices as similar in size to one another to make sure they all cook evenly

3) Dissolve 5 stock cubes (I used chicken you can use vegetable if you prefer) in 1200ml of boiling water

4) Put the pan on the hob and heat a dash of oil, fry onions on a low heat for 10 mins until they become see through.

5) Add the carrots, potato’s, stock and ground Corriander/Corriander leaf to the pan and bring to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer for 15 minutes. Check the vegetables after 15 mins, if you can easily put a sharp knife through both the carrots and potatos then the soup is done.

6) Being VERY careful and using a stick blender, blend the soup into a smooth mix. Making sure all lumps have been blended.

7) Chop the fresh Corriander and add to the soup, I give it another cursory blend at this point to shred the Corriander a little more & thats it you are done!!

This soup easily makes 6 large bowls and can be frozen. To freeze pour into suitable one portion containers and allow the soup to cool before freezing otherwise ice will form on the top of the soup from the condensation! To defrost simply take the pot of soup out of the freezer the night before and defrost in the fridge overnight. To Reheat place in a microwavable bowl and heat for 2 minutes, stir and then heat for a further 2 minutes or place in a pan on the hob and heat until hot.

Please remember costs are rough estimates and these will change depending on time of year or where you shop. Where possible supermarket own foods are used for costing purposes.

A little introduction

The world has gone to hell in a handbasket,  i am sure that is a saying… many people are losing their jobs, businesses are closing and we are reaching a crisis.  People can’t afford to feed their children and foodbanks across the world are being utilised more than ever. 

I have always cooked for pleasure, I have cooked things that tickle my taste buds and looked delicious but I never really had to think about cost, that has had to change.  I am now batch cooking meals, costing out food shops and having to stick to a budget. 

This isn’t a tale of oh woe is me… I am lucky but now I have to think… really think how much will this cost,  can I feed my family for £25 a week?  Can they still eat healthy and nutritious meals and be full until the next meal?

I love to cook and bake and this blog is all about the trials and tribulations of doing so, exploring healthy low cost meals and low cost treats and sharing the wins and the epic fails!