Monday, 20 August 2012

Important update! 20th August until ?

I am currently in the process of moving, so I unfortunately will not have internet for a short while. Sorry for the interruption this will cause in my blog posts.


Friday, 17 August 2012

Day 18 and 19

Sorry about not posting yesterday, I was out of the house from 8:30 am until well after 9 pm! Due to that, we ended up having frozen pizza. I also donated blood, so this (and my immediate exhaustion afterwards) is the main reason we had pizza last night instead of tonight. It's quick and easy. Unfortunately, it can also be budget crashing. Even on sale, the pizzas costed £1.25 each, so £2.50 for both of us to eat. It doesn't sound like much, but considering that is only one meal, if every meal in one week (3 per day, 7 days) costed that much, you'd spend £52.50 in ONE week!

Anyway, tonight I'm making homemade tuna 'helper' with canned tuna and broken spaghetti pasta. Add in a bit of milk, cheese and spices as well as broccoli or peas and you've got a one pot meal that takes about 30 minutes to make. I'll post a recipe as soon as I can update again!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Day 17

Last night I made lasagne. I ran out of leeks, so I needed to use some of the lasagne sheets that I had, but I didn't know how many I would need, so I cooked what I had. Around half of a box. Turns out I only needed 3 sheets to finish the lasagne. So, what to do with the leftover sheets? I blotted them dry on a clean tea towel, placed a small spoonful of some chicken that I had cooked in nacho cheese dip and salsa in the slow cooker the other day on one end and rolled them up! I then lightly greased a baking dish and laid the rolls in them. Then I made a mock cheese/spice sauce to pour over them with a bit of milk, cornstarch, home made fajita seasoning, crushed red chillies, Italian seasoning, paprika and black pepper. I cooked the sauce on the stovetop until it was just starting to thicken, then I poured it over the rolls and finely shredded some cheese over the top of the dish. As I pulled out the lasagne, I put the dish of lasagne sheet roll ups into the oven and let them cook for about 20 minutes. We haven't tried them yet, but this means that most of dinner tonight is already finished!

I also soaked the rest of the black beans that I had in water last night and cooked them in the slow cooker today. I have drained them and have them out cooling at the moment so that I can put them into the blender with a bit of garlic and some shallot and make "refried" beans to go with dinner tonight.

I'm baking bread at the moment as well (and the entire flat smells like a bakery!). I used a really simple recipe (that can be found here) and ended up using around 400 g of flour because it was a bit dry here today. The amount of flour that you use in bread making recipes will vary due to the weather in your area and especially the humidity.

I like to keep the windows open in the flat, otherwise the air gets stale and sometimes stifling. Since bread needs a warm moist environment to rise (yeast breads anyway, quick breads are for another day), I've figured out that I can place the bowl or pan into my oven, place a baking dish on the bottom (or on a lower rack if you have a heating element on the floor of your oven) and add boiling water to the baking dish. Then close up the oven (do NOT turn the oven on!!!) and let it rise for the allotted time in the recipe. Most recipes call for a first rise of 45 minutes to an hour, then after shaping and placing in the pan, a second rise of another 30 - 45 minutes.

*Update on the bread: I'm still not accustomed to baking bread here! Back in the States I had a stand mixer with a dough hook. Here in the UK I do not. Therefore I'm having to learn how to feel how much flour needs to go in for making dough. I don't think I used enough flour today. The bread still tastes wonderful though, so no harm done. :)

Since I didn't really follow any recipes this time I don't have any recipes to type up. I do however have photos!

Chicken and lasagne sheet roll ups

Black beans soaking in water

Bread dough

Bread dough, first rise

Separating the dough

Starting the second rise

Finished bread. The results of not using enough flour!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Day 16

I discovered this morning that we have already went over budget by £13... This is after only two weeks! I'm going to do my best to not buy anything but the absolute essentials for the rest of the month. With a lot of creativity, I think that we can get through the next two weeks fine for food. I believe that things will be better once we move, since we will have an actual freezer there and space for a chest freezer that someone has offered us (yay!). Since I do not own a pressure canner/cooker (and I don't really want one either), I cannot safely can and preserve meats and low acid meals. This is why the freezer space is vital to us only using £50 per month. Once we have decent freezer space, I'll be doing more "once per month" cooking. This way, if I'm sick or too tired to cook, we can still have a homecooked meal.

Having Jethro stop by the store on his way home is a bad idea for us, but I have been keeping up with what we use the most vs what we use the least so that I can better plan for the following months.

We are down to 1 egg, so we ended up having oatmeal this morning. Jethro picked up some bacon (darn our cravings!) yesterday, so we each had a piece of bacon as well for some protein. I sent a piece of the healthier cottage pie and a creole chicken leg to work with him for lunch, and I had a piece of the healthier cottage pie with a yoghurt and 2 slices of wholemeal toast for lunch.

For a mid-afternoon snack, I had homemade strawberry jam and a bit of "no nut" chocolate spread on 2 slices of wholemeal toast. If you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, try a chocolate spread and jelly sandwich! Even though I am allergic to some nuts, luckily hazelnuts are not on my allergy list, so I can have things like Nutella. We bought the "no nut" stuff because it was on clearance a while back for 75 pence for a bigger jar than the Nutella comes in for £2.15. I had honestly forgotten that we had the stuff! It ended up getting pushed to the back of the refrigerator where I couldn't see it.

What I've found by researching our food intake is #1, we eat far too much for one meal, #2, we go through cheese and milk like crazy! I may splurge and buy the strongest (we like cheddar) that I can find next month so that we won't need to add so much to our meals and salads to still get the flavour. Once we have a freezer, I'll probably end up freezing milk to keep from getting sucked into the store because we are out. As you are probably far too aware, it is very difficult to get only one item at the store! Impulse buys stack up, and the fewer trips to the store you can make, the better.

I'm doing more research, gathering up cheaper (and still healthy!) recipes, and I'm really looking forward to having freezer space again next month. I'll also be growing some of our own food from scraps after we move, since we will have a small back garden. I have already started a leek root, 3 carrot tops, and an eye/sprout from one of the potatoes we had yesterday. The new house also has a walk in pantry under the stairs, which I am super super excited about!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Days 14 and 15

I'm sorry that I've been fairly absent for a few days here. We decided to take it easy this weekend and just enjoy it, so blogging was unfortunately pushed to the back burner for a day or two. Anyway, I did manage to cut Jethro's hair and cook a healthy version of cottage pie this weekend! I have nearly caught up with the cleaning from over the weekend and I also have apples with a bit of sugar and water in the slow cooker becoming apple sauce now. My new cookbook and my study guide for my Life in the UK test came through the post this weekend and this morning, so I have a bit of reading to do soon. I am really looking forward to perusing the cookbook though. It's the one from the Hairy Bikers, their "The Hairy Dieters" cookbook. The apple sauce that I made costed a grand total of £1.61 for 12 servings (a serving is approximately 4 ounces/115 grams). This means that each of the six jars that I preserved of the apple sauce costed me £0.27, whereas the same size jar in the store would cost twice that, minimum! Plus making my own means that I know that there aren't any artificial ingredients, colourings, flavourings, or preservatives in my apple sauce.

Anyway, here are some recipes:
Healthy cottage pie
Homemade slow cooker applesauce (external link) - Dump all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook for 4 hours to make this in the slow cooker!

Healthier Cottage Pie

This recipe was adapted from a recipe for healthier shepherds pie, which can be found here. 

1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
450 g (1 lb) minced beef and pork
1 large onion, finely chopped 
1 1/2 carrots, finely chopped 

1 leek, thinly sliced 
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 
360 ml (12 fl oz) beef or vegetable stock, preferably home-made 
100 g (3½ oz) split red lentils 
3 tbsp chopped parsley  (or 1 tbsp dried chopped parsley)

Potato and parsnip topping 
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks 
1 head cauliflower, cut into chunks 
75 ml (2½ fl oz) semi-skimmed milk 
25 g (scant 1 oz) butter 
salt and pepper 
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the mince and cook over a high heat, stirring well with a wooden spoon to break up the meat, for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Push the meat to one side of the pan and add the onion. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and lightly browned.
2. Add the carrots, pepper and leek and stir well, then add the Worcestershire sauce, stock and lentils. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Partially cover with a lid, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. While the meat mixture is cooking, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, gas mark 6) and prepare the topping. Place the potato and cauliflower chunks in a saucepan and pour over boiling water to cover by 5 cm (2 in). Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the potatoes and cauliflower are very tender. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until hot.
4. Drain the potatoes and cauliflower well, and return them to the pan. Pour the hot milk over them, then mash them until they are completely smooth. Beat in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Remove the meat mixture from the heat, add the chopped parsley and seasoning to taste and stir well. Spoon into a large ovenproof dish, about 2.6 litre (4½ pint) capacity. Top with the mashed vegetables, spreading in an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned.

This turned out quite well and made 6 servings for us. Enough for three meals essentially. I would have added sliced mushrooms if we would have had any and then I would have used half of the meat. When cooked, most mushrooms have a texture similar to cooked mince. Jethro and I both really liked the potato and cauliflower mash, but it did make enough to have leftovers, even after topping the pie! This recipe is definitely a keeper here, although next time I will probably sprinkle some shredded cheese over the pie right before placing it into the oven for an extra little flavour kick.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Days 12 and 13

Yesterday was day 12. After posting on Thursday I was racked with stomach cramps and pain. No fish pie was cooked that night, although I am still planning on cooking it in the following week or so. We unfortunately took the easy path for the past two days, fish and chips from the chippy on Thursday and frozen pizza yesterday. I was able to keep the pain at bay yesterday long enough to go down to Morrisons for milk and apples, but that was it for my day. I am feeling ok at the moment, so I used some of my energy to prepare vegetables that I'd like to use in a cottage pie and a lasagne (a la Hairy Bikers recipe) that I'm hoping to cook tonight. If I can get both cooked tonight, we can cut them up into pieces and freeze them, making for an easy microwave meal if and when I get sick again and cannot cook.

For the topping of the cottage pie, I will be using half mashed potatoes and half mashed cauliflower. Mix the two together and it makes a tasty topping with nearly half the calories and way less carbs!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Day 11

I wasn't feeling well this morning, but since about noon I've been driving myself crazy cleaning! I've gotten the dishes washed, the kitchen wiped down and I've washed the outside of our windows! It's in the tenancy agreement that we had to before we moved out, so I went ahead and got it over with. Just told Jethro that I feel like a mix between spiderwoman and superwoman!

We were supposed to have homemade "tuna helper" tonight, but we have cauliflower that is beginning to turn brown that we need to use. I'm going to attempt my take on a fish pie tonight. Instead of using just potatoes for the topping, I'll be steaming and using cauliflower mixed with the potatoes. Uses the cauliflower and makes the pie healthier. I'll post the recipe later on tonight when I'll be able to update everyone as to if it is good or not.

Have a wonderful day! :)


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Day 10

I'm still not feeling completely well today, but we are having beef curry. I'll also be making fragrant rice, red lentils, onion bhajis and naan.

I sliced the beef for the curry yesterday while I was slicing the beef for the philly cheesesteak soup. Once I finish cleaning the dishes from last night (we have a tiny sink and draining board here!) I'll start to prep my vegetables for the curry. I'm just using a prepared sauce this time, but the curry will contain beef, mushrooms, peppers and onions. This means I have a lot of onions to cut! *cue the crying*

I'll do my best to take photos of the recipes I make tonight, but no guarantees. Jethro is typically too hungry to wait on photos! I don't blame him, he needs to eat after a long days work.

Here are links to two things I'll be making tonight:

Onion Bhajis

*Note: Feeding your husband curry without fennel is signing an order for gassing yourself! We don't joke about "rumble britches" after a curry for nothing!


250g/9 oz plain flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
110-130ml/3 1/2 - 4 1/2 fl oz milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the milk and oil.
2. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the well to make a smooth soft dough. Knead well for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.
3. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Form the dough into 5 balls.
4. Preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking sheet on the upper shelf of the grill to heat.
5. Roll the dough balls out quite thinly. Sprinkle over any toppings you wish to add and press them into the dough. Place the naans onto the hot baking sheet and grill for 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush with butter to serve.

Onion Bhajis

2 eggs, beaten
3 onions, sliced
120g/4 oz plain flour
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seed
3 tbsp vegetable oil, plus more if required

1. Add the onions to the beaten eggs and mix well.
2. Add the flour, ground coriander and cumin seed and stir well to combine.
3. Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add spoonfuls of the bhaji mixture and fry one side for 30 seconds or until golden brown. Flip them over and fry for another 30 seconds. Drain on kitchen roll (over newspaper if possible).

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Day 9

I'm not feeling quite up to par today, but I did make it up to ALDI to get a few little things. Spent £3.44 on a bag of flour (£0.52), a carton of 15 eggs (£1.25 - £0.08 each), a bag of shredded reduced fat cheddar (£1.49) and one can of red kidney beans (£0.18). I haven't eaten yet and it's already 10:45. I just don't feel like eating yet. I really hope that I haven't caught what Jethro had over the weekend.

Anyway, I am switching around some meals on the menu to accommodate me not feeling well as well as the fact that we have slightly over half a kilo of meat that has a best by date of tomorrow. I will be making philly cheesesteak soup tonight. I found this recipe over on 365 Crockpot (and I'll link to it as soon as I have permission to do so). It is wonderful! Beef, sweet bell peppers, chicken or beef or veggie broth and cheese! I'm not feeling up to making more homemade bread today, so I'll be slicing the last bit of a loaf I cooked last Sunday for Jethro. I'll probably go without bread tonight honestly.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Day 8

I can honestly say that I am near exhausted after doing a number of sinkfuls of dishes as well as folding and putting away nearly every bit of clothing we own! It had been a while since I had caught up on those two things. Well, I can at least say I'm caught up on them. I can also say that I'm really looking forward to the dinner that we have planned for tonight. Spam and cheese sandwiches! We will also be having a salad, just to get some veggies in there.

Slice the spam and either pan fry it or grill it, then place it on bread and put cheese on top. If you're like me and enjoy your cheese fully melted, stick it back under the grill until the cheese is all gooey and bubbly! This recipe *is* high in sodium though, and as such this will probably be the only time we eat it. With that being said, it's a no or one dish meal, and after a day like today, it is very welcome!


Whole Wheat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe can be found here.

3/4 cup (70g) rolled oats (I used packets of sweet cinnamon oatmeal)
1 cup (120g) whole-wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (55g) butter, softened
1/4 cup (60ml) canola or olive oil
1/3 cup (75g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (70g) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (180g) chocolate chips (I used a 100g pack and there was more than enough chocolate in them!)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Grind oats in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients, beating on low speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until firm around the edges and golden on top, about 15 minutes. Cool the cookies for 2 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

These can be made ahead of time and can be frozen for up to 2 months.

These were very good. Too good. The two of us ate the entire batch (12 decent sized cookies)!

Day 7

I know, I'm posting this a day late. I always feel completely overwhelmed on Sunday nights. The second law of thermodynamics (everything tends towards disorder) seems to rule here over the weekends! Sunday nights and Mondays are always a struggle to put everything back where it's supposed to be and make sure everything is clean. We also move in two weeks (starting on the 20th of August).

Jethro still wasn't feeling his best yesterday morning, despite sleeping for 13 hours. I made a simple breakfast of eggs, mushrooms, yellow bell pepper, and shallots for us yesterday morning. I made whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and whole wheat herb bread yesterday and we ended up eating the entire batch of cookies (12) and most of the bread! At dinner time I made chicken marsala (although I used Pinot Grigio instead of Marsala wine) over spaghetti with cheesy mashed potatoes and honeyed carrots. I will say one thing, I still hate carrots on their own...

I'll type up the recipes for the above mentioned foods shortly and update this post, but for now, there is a sink full of dirty dishes and a load of wet laundry calling my name!


Whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
(US Measurements) Original recipe for Whole Wheat Garlic Herb Bread

(US Measurements) Original recipe for Healthy Chicken Marsala 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 piece of chicken
enough water to cover the chicken
about 100g of broken up spaghetti pieces
black pepper

Place chicken into a pot and pour on just enough water to cover it. Bring water to a boil then turn down the heat to a simmer and put on a lid (if your lid is like mine, you may need to sit it on the pot crooked so that the steam won't make it pop liquid all over the kitchen). Let the chicken simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove chicken to a bowl or plate to let it cool, then add your spaghetti pieces. Turn off the heat. Let everything sit for 15-20 minutes for the pasta to absorb some of the liquid and to let the chicken cool down. Once the pasta is al dente, tear the chicken off of the bone (if needed) and add back to the pot. Sprinkle on as much black pepper as you'd like, and if needed, a bit of salt.

Day 6

Jethro and I went walking today and we ended up at Morrisons (about a mile away). I bought some red pepper flakes so that I can make homemade sausage next month. I wanted to get it before I forgot about it! Anyway, we stayed in town for a few hours before Jethro started feeling bad. His allergies had been acting up all day, but about 3 pm they really started kicking him. We ended up getting a taxi home since it was pouring rain. I made chicken noodle soup for him, which is a very simple recipe with no preservatives nor salt.

Chicken Noodle Soup

This is what I normally ask for or make when I'm feeling sick, and it has relaxed Jethro enough that he has fallen asleep, at before 8:30! He needs his rest to heal though, so it's good for him.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Day 5 - Part Two

5:20 pm - arrived back home about half an hour ago with shopping. My three splurge items were: a single bottle of beer for Jethro (£1.75), a bottle of salad dressing and a container of "Yoomoo" a type of frozen yoghurt (£2.49 for 750 ml - less than a pint of Ben and Jerry's and much healthier!).

Anyway, here is my list of items I bought and where I bought them:
1 Leek (£2.59/kg) - £0.53 (these were marked as £0.79 each, so yay!)
1 pack red gem lettuce - £0.50
1 pack reduced red currants - £0.89 - expensive, but I've never had them before
1 pack salad tomatoes (4 to a pack, right at 450g) - £0.50
1 pack shallots (400g) - £1
1 bundle of asparagus - £2.75 (these were marked as £2.99 per bunch, so yay!)
3 broccoli crowns (1.97/kg) - £1.56
1 head cauliflower - £0.59

Total at Morrisons: £8.32

2 cartons of 1% milk (4 pint) - £2
Yoomoo strawberry frozen yoghurt - £2.49
Beef steaks (£5.50/kg) - £3.15
Chicken legs (1.78/kg) - £1.80
1 bottle Hobgoblin beer - £1.75
Carrots (1.5 kg bag) - £0.75
1 bag bell peppers (600g = 5 big peppers) - £1.29
1 bottle Newmans Own ranch dressing - £1.50
Pack of "Living Salad" on markdown - £0.69

Total at Sainsbury's: £15.42

Total for today: £23.74

With that being said, our fridge is completely full of good, healthy foods that I'm looking forward to cooking with and eating. What I bought today will more than likely last us for at least two weeks, if not longer.

Day 5

9:45 am – After deciding to eat healthier last night, we had oatmeal (made with water) with a spoonful of stewed apples and a sprinkling of cinnamon along with a clementine, a small glass of milk and a cup of tea for breakfast this morning. I do have to say, I am very full after eating all of that. I’m on my second cup of tea now, since tea helps remove toxins from the body and provides water so the body can more easily metabolise fat. I am also taking a vitamin D supplement because here I do not get enough sunlight which can cause me to become depressed, which causes me to eat more. I’m trying to pre-empt this cycle by keeping my vitamin D levels up.

This morning I asked Jethro if he would rather have chicken pot pie or homemade pizza. He asked for chicken pot pie!!! I love making chicken pot pie because it is a wonderful way to use up some leftover vegetables, and subsequently, is a wonderful way to get us to eat more vegetables. I use frozen vegetables due to them reaching the correct texture (fresh sometimes don’t finish cooking before the pie is ready) and their lower salt content. Canned is fine, so long as they are canned in only water. We are not only trying to watch our calorie intake, but also our salt intake. I will be relying more on fresh and frozen foods (not processed!) and various herbs and spices to help cut our salt intake.

I’m going to go ahead and post the recipe for the chicken pot pie to keep from becoming too tired to post it later tonight! Sorry again for posting so late last night.

Mom's Chicken Pot Pie

(original recipe)

Place the meat from one cooked chicken into the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch pan.

Put 2-3 cups chicken broth, 1 can veg-all (mixed vegetables) – drained and 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup in a pot. Bring to a boil and pour over chicken.

For the crust: Make a batter of 1 ½ cup self-rising flour, 1 ½ cup buttermilk, ½ stick butter, dash of onion salt and a dash of black pepper. Pour over other ingredients and bake at 400F for 45 minutes to an hour.

Revised Recipe

Cooked chicken – shredded or diced
2 cups (470ml) chicken broth
1 can (400g) mixed vegetables, drained (or 400g frozen mixed vegetables – carrots, potatoes, corn, etc.)
1 can (295g) condensed cream of chicken soup – I typically use leftover chicken and dumplings for this bit. You can also use the homemade recipe for cream of chicken soup.

For the crust:
1 ½ cups (190g) self-rising flour
1 ½ cup (350 ml) buttermilk (or 1 ½ cup/350 ml milk plus 2 tbsp lemon juice)
½ stick (2 oz/55g) butter
Dash of onion granules
Dash of ground black pepper

Place the chicken into the bottom of a baking dish (you may need two baking dishes, depending on their size). Place the chicken broth, vegetables and soup into a pot and bring to a boil. Pour over the chicken.

Make the crust by making a batter of the flour, buttermilk, butter, onion granules and black pepper. Pour over the other ingredients.

Bake at 400F/200C/gas mark 6 for 45 minutes to an hour.

*Note: to help cut calories, I will be attempting to use half of the amount of butter in the crust. I’ll update after dinner as to how it went. 

Update: The no butter worked quite well! The top browned a bit more than I expected and was a bit chewier than normal, but it worked. Next time I'll probably do a meet in the middle type thing and use half the amount of butter called for in the recipe. 

Day 4

Sorry for this update being late, but dinner tonight was awesome! We had chicken and dumplings. Today was a fairly good day. Did a bit of cleaning, watched the neighbours cats play and beg for cuddles from everyone who passed in the courtyard and did a bit of research. We just finished watching a show titled The Hairy Bikers. They are on a mission to lose weight without sacrificing flavour. I do need to cut back on our portions. Not only will this help our waistlines, but it will also help our budget. With that being said, I will be visiting the store tomorrow for fresh vegetables. One thing that I'm definitely going to use: when cooked and mixed with minced beef or lean minced pork, mushrooms take on the meats flavour and has a very similar texture.

Tonight's dinner definitely wasn't that good for our waistlines, but it is a super comfort food (and I will do my best to make it healthier the next time I make it).

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Chicken and dumplings

If there is a more comforting one pot meal, I have yet to discover it. Chicken and dumplings was the meal I always asked for on my birthday and it harbours many wonderful memories for me.

1 cup (125g) plain flour
1/4 cup (55g) shortening (I use Cookeen brand)
Enough cooled chicken broth to make a semi-dry dough
Cooked chicken
At least 4 cups (960ml - 1L) of hot chicken broth

The amount of chicken you use is up to you. I'm using one breast, which equals out to one serving of meat for each of us. You could probably get away with using turkey in this as well, but light meat only if you use turkey, the dark meat is generally too stringy.

Cut up your cooked chicken and place into hot chicken broth and bring to a steady boil. While waiting for the broth to boil, make your dough. Add the shortening to the plain flour and work it in with either a pastry cutter or your hands until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add just enough of the cooled broth to form a dough that sticks to itself, but is still dry enough to not stick to the bowl. (If you'd prefer thin dumplings, add a bit more flour and work into an elastic dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4 inch/0.60 cm thick. Cut into squares with a pastry wheel or a pizza cutter.) For the thicker "pillow" type dumplings that I'm accustomed to, take your dough and tear off a small amount and slightly flatten with your fingertips. Pick a spot in the now boiling broth and carefully lay in the dough. Wait a few seconds between each addition and continue putting in more dough balls until you either run out of dough or cannot see an open space to add another. Gently push the dumplings down into the broth, but do not stir or the dumplings will fall apart! Keep gently pushing the dumplings down and around to create pockets of broth that you can add more dough to until you run out of dough. Place a lid on the pot and turn heat down to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to let the dumplings cool a bit in a bowl before eating as they will be extremely hot!

Depending on the amount of broth, amount of chicken, and amount of dough that you make, this can serve 4 and upwards.

Flour with shortening and measuring cup with broth
Working the shortening into the flour

Add enough broth to pull the dough together

Pot of cooking chicken and dumplings

Finished product!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Day 3

Ah, another rainy day here in England! What I have planned for dinner tonight is going to be wonderful! I’m planning on making salmon patties (like my dad taught me how to make), homemade macaroni and cheese and steamed mixed vegetables.

I really hope everything turns out as well as I’m hoping for, because yesterday’s chilli didn’t exactly go over well with Jethro (my husband). Turns out he doesn’t like beans unless they are cooked nearly to mush… Anyway, I’m eating the rest of the chilli for lunch over the next few days to use it up.

The sponge cake however was a big hit. I have half of a container of strawberries still left in the fridge, and, since we are so horrid at using fruit before it spoils, I sliced some of them and sprinkled just a bit of sugar over them and put them over a slice of the sponge cake. One word: divine!

I also learned yesterday that if you add sugar to double cream and try to whip it with a whisk you end up with sweetened butter… Oh well, that just means I’ll need to add a few things and make chocolate chip cookies with it. :)  Not exactly a loss in my book!

I have also discovered that Aldi has fresh mushrooms for £1.15 per 750g, making them only £1.53 per kg! That’s even less than the cheap frozen ones that I’ve used in the past with varying success. I also purchased 250g of unsalted butter for £1.25 and a 2.5 kg bag of potatoes for £0.99 while I was at Aldi. Total spent today was £3.39, which when added to my total from earlier this week equals £10.17. Only £0.17 over what I had planned to spend this week, and I’ve purchased quite a bit for meals to come in the next few weeks. I have requested that Jethro purchase some cheese on his way home from work today (I’m not walking 3 miles just for cheese).

Anyway, enough rambling and more of what you’re probably here for, recipes!

The salmon patties cost £0.48 per serving (6 patties = 6 servings) and the pasta and cheese costs £1.88 per serving (8 servings per recipe) if I've done my calculations correctly.

Have a wonderful day!

Emily W.

Salmon Patties the way Dad made them

These were the first thing that my dad taught me to make.

1 can (15 oz, 418g) can salmon, undrained
1 egg
1 cup ( g) self raising flour
Oil for frying

Mix everything together using just enough flour to form a mixture that will hold it's shape. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the salmon patties until they are golden brown. Drain on newsprint covered with kitchen roll.

Salmon patties with spirals and cheese and steamed mixed veggies

Alton Browns Pasta and Cheese

Makes 6-8 servings

1/2 pound (225g) pasta
4 tbsp  (57g) butter
2 eggs
6 oz (170 ml) evaporated milk (I didn't have evaporated milk, so I used coconut milk)
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp kosher salt (or sea salt flakes)
fresh black pepper
3/4 tsp dry mustard
10 oz (284g) sharp cheddar, shredded

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat, continue to stir for three minutes or until creamy.

Note: I really do not know how using the coconut milk will turn out. I'll update this recipe tomorrow on how it went!

Update: Jethro loved this recipe and said he couldn't tell that there was coconut milk in it. Me on the other hand, I ate one serving of it, but the coconut taste was too strong for me. Regular milk would probably have been better than the coconut milk, but you live and you learn.

Spirals and cheese, steamed mixed veggies and salmon patties