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Healthy, tasty & easy recipes on a budget

Ahoy there busy mums! You don't need bags of time, experience & money to make great meals. Check out my easy-to-follow tasty and easy budget recipes. When you feel the pinch look out for 'Credit Munch' recipes. Delicious, nutritious and easy budget recipes below £1.25 per serving!

 

Monday
Dec012014

10 Christmas No Junk Recipes

Here are 10 easy Christmas recipes you can make with help from your little ones. From a great alternative mulled wine and chocolate truffles to warm up your Christmas parties to cheese straw canes and Christmas biscuits to give out as gifts or to hang on your tree. They are not all super healthy, but being homemade you can be sure they are junk free. Enjoy! 

1. Christmas Chestnut Houmous

I love this festive twist on a staple from Organix, and it could not be more simple to make. Blitz 250g roast chestnuts (either shop bought or you can roast your own) in a food processor until they form a fine powder. Add 125ml tahini, 125ml water, the juice of one lemon, 60ml olive oil and 5 sage leaves before blitzing again until smooth. Add additional water to thin if desired.

 

2. Chocolate Truffle Christmas Puddings

Kids can easily make these delicious Chocolate Truffle Christmas Puddings with you. They are also a great way to use up leftover or stale cake, which can be frozen and defrosted when needed for this recipe. Roll them in nuts or sprinkles. To make them look like Christmas puddings, decorate them with melted white chocolate and holly sprinkles

 

3. Cheese Straw Christmas Canes

Using two types of flour, Organix have cleverly created some stripy Cheese Straw Christmas Canes. Tie them together with ribbon to make Christmas gifts or to hang from the tree. 

You will need to make two batches of dough separately. To make the first batch, rub the 50g unsalted cold butter into the 100g plain white flour with your finger tips, until it resembles bread crumbs. Stir in 75g grated cheddar and 2 tsp thyme. Create a well in the centre and add a whisked egg or 3-4 tbsps cold water a little at a time, combining the wet and dry ingredients to create a smooth dough. Knead the dough just a little to bring it together, then place onto a lightly floured surface. Roll lightly into a rectangle and cut into 12 even squares. Roll each square into a long sausage about the thickness of a straw. Make the second batch of 12 dough 'sausages' in exactly the same way as the first, but substitute the white flour for wholemeal.

To make the canes, twist together one white sausage and one brown sausage. Make a curve at one end and place on a lined baking sheet. Repeat to make 12 canes. To give a golden shine, brush each straw with a little whisked egg. Bake in a pre heated oven at 200°C / 180°C fan / gas mark 6 for approx 15 mins until golden. 

 

4. Almond Topped Filo Mince Pies

These Almond Topped Filo Mince Pies are so easy to make and  have around half the calories of a regular mince pie. Kids can help cutting filo pastry and layering it up to make star shapes as well as mixing and filling. 

 

5. Mulled Grape Juice

This Mulled Grape Juice from eat like you love yourself is a wonderful alternative for mulled wine at Christmas, and it looks just like the real thing. Perfect with an almond topped mince pie for a guilt free Christmas! In the past I've made mulled juices which is very similar but sweeter, so kids may prefer it. I'm not so keen on sweet drinks so I'll be brewing mulled grape juice when it's my turn to drive!

 

6. Christmas Pudding Fudge

This Christmas Pudding Fudge recipe from Ruth at The Pink Whisk makes a lovely gift for teachers at school and only requires five ingredients. Follow her straightforward instructions and step by step photos to make this easy festive fudge. Kids can help to cut it into squares and wrap up for their teachers.

 

7. Candy Cane Rocky Road

Katie from Feeding Boys and a Firefighter has a fabulous no bake recipe for Candy Cane Rocky Road. Requiring only a handful of store cupboard ingredients and 15 minutes of prep, it's a great one for kids to help with. It also looks very festive and impressive.

 

8. Cranberry and Orange Christmas Biscuits

Perfect for hanging on a tree or giving away as gifts, this Christmas biscuit recipe from Organix is perfect for little chefs. In a large bowl mix 1/2 tsp baking powder into 200g plain flour, then rub in 60g butter with your finger tips. Add the zest of an orange and 60g chopped dried cranberries. Add 60ml orange juice a little at a time and mix to create a smooth but not sticky dough. Roll on a lightly floured surface, cut out Christmas shapes and add a hole to hang biscuits on the Christmas tree. Use a palette knife to carefully lift the biscuit shapes onto a lined baking sheet. Bake in a pre heated oven at 180°C / 160°C fan / gas mark 5 for 10 - 15 minutes until golden. For a 'snowy' topping, simply spread the top of each biscuit with a little maple syrup or coconut oil and press sticky side down into a pile of desiccated coconut.

 

9. Christmas Granola

I love this Christmas Granola from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary - a Christmas twist on an everyday staple which is also super healthy too. How beautiful does it look in these jars with a bow on? Kids can also help as it's so easy to make.

 

10. Christmas Turkey Burgers & Parsnip Chips

I like to think of Christmas Turkey Burgers with Parsnip Chips as a sort of Christmas dinner in fast food form! These homemade turkey burgers are full of festive flavours, super healthy and delicious. The parsnip chips make a lovely change as well. 

 

This post is in association with the Organic No Junk campaign which aims to help families to reclaim healthy eating by pledging their commitment to No Junk and to say ‘yes’ to healthy, natural and simple food for the family. Christmas is a great time to sign the pledge and join the conversation using hashtag #NoJunk.

Thursday
Nov272014

Corned Beef and Sweet Potato Cakes

Here's a cracking little recipe for corned beef and sweet potato cakes which I put together for Princes this week. They are quick, easy, inexpensive and one the kids can help with too. Joshua and I made a video to show you how easy they are - by the way, I'm 39 weeks pregnant so fairly large!

Warm, comforting and made with mainly store cupboard bits, corned beef and sweet potato cakes make a great winter recipe. They are not too heavy or stodgy either, especially when served simply with some steamed green vegetables and a poached egg. They are also really versatile - swap the sweet potato for leftover mashed potatoes, or mix it up with any leftover mashed root veg. Swap the leek for fried onion or just raw spring onion for quickness. Add a chopped chilli for a kick or any herbs you fancy.

Corned Beef and Sweet Potato Cakes: Makes 4:

Time:  20 mins prep + 35 mins cooking
Cost:  95p per corned beef and sweet potato cake
Calories:  440 per corned beef and sweet potato cake

For the Corned Beef and Sweet Potato Cakes:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Small to medium leek, top, tailed and finely sliced
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, baked and flesh scooped out (to make around 400g mash)
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • Pinch smoked paprika or ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • 340g Princes corned beef, chilled in the fridge overnight
  • 3-4 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs, plus extra for coating

To serve (an ideas):

  • 4 large eggs, poached 
  • 350g steamed green beans
  1. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the leeks over a medium heat for around four minutes until soft and translucent but not brown or coloured. Leave to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the flesh of the cooled baked sweet potato until smooth. Add the cooked leek, egg and a little paprika or pepper. Mix until well combined.
  3. Open the tin of chilled corned beef. Using a sharp knife, cut the corned beef into cubes roughly 1cm square. Stir into the sweet potato mixture.
  4. Add enough breadcrumbs to stiffen the mixture and then divide it into four. Shape into four patties and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C / 180 fan / gas mark 6 for around 25 minutes turning once half way through until golden.
  6. Serve each corned beef and sweet potato cake on steamed green beans and top with a poached egg if liked.

Princes are currently running a brilliant promotion on their 340g tins of Corned Beef. Check labels to win one of 20 weekend break prizes, a Kindle Fire tablet, £20 supermarket vouchers and more. Details of the promotion can be found at www.winaweekendbreak.co.uk

More easy recipes on a budget

This is a sponsored post.

Thursday
Oct092014

Authentic chilli con carne

Call me sad (it is a bit really) but I have been researching authentic chilli con carne recipes, the kind of original 'Tex-Mex' style chilli recipes with a thick brown - rather than thin tomato - sauce. I don't know if it's the pregnancy or the cold weather, I just really fancy some decent homemade spicy food.

So, here's a little chilli history lesson for you. Chilli con carne originated in Texas in the 1800's. Originally, it didn't have beans, but I had to add them to my recipe to be more healthy - plus I love them. I use a mixture of kidney beans and black beans or black eye beans. Tinned tomatoes are also not in traditional Texan chilli, but I found that adding tomato puree definitely improved the flavour without making it too watery or acidic.

You may or may not know, but chocolate, coffee and oregano are key original flavours of Tex-Mex cuisine. If you have never added them to a chilli before definitely try it - the flavour is incredible! You'll never make a chilli without them again. And of course chillies - I love chopped fresh chillies with the seeds left in but use hot chilli powder if you don't have any. You can freeze fresh chillies and use them straight from the freezer?

I've used diced beef but the recipe works just as well with mince beef. Cook it for the same length of time and the mince will be mouth-wateringly tender. Make your chilli extra special by serving with all the trimmings, which in our house means rice, tortilla chips, sour cream, gucamole, salsa and fresh coriander.

Authentic Chilli con Carne: Serves 4-5:

Time:  Around 25 mins hands on time + 2 1/2 hours cooking
Cost:  £1.70 per serving (based on 4 servings)
Calories:  501 per serving (based on 4 servings)

For the Chunky Authentic Chilli Con Carne:

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying
  • 600g lean diced casserole beef / chuck steak (all white fat trimmed)
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1-2 large red chillies, chopped (de-seed if you're not keen on heat) or hot chilli powder to taste
  • 1 teaspoon each of: ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon & dried oregano
  • 1 heaped teaspoon good quality instant coffee
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 30g plain chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 x tins kidney beans or black beans
  • Salt to taste
  • Boiling water
  • 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika

To serve (some ideas):

  • Rice
  • Tortilla chips
  • Fresh coriander
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Gucamole
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large lidded saucepan or casserole dish (you can cook the chilli on the hob or in the oven later on, whatever you prefer). Brown the beef over a high heat (in batches if you need to) and transfer to another bowl.
  2. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and let it bubble up, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go to remove any sticky brown bits from the bottom. Pour the water into the bowl with the beef. It contains a great deal of flavour.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and stir fry the onions for around 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chilli, oregano and dried spices. Cook for one more minute, stirring all the time. Put the beef, along with any juices back in the pan.
  4. Add the coffee, stock cube, chocolate, tomato puree, bay leaves and beans to the pan. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and give everything a really good stir so the chocolate has melted and the coffee and stock cube have dissolved. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Bring to the boil and pop the lid on the pan. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook for around 2 1/2 hours until the sauce has reduced and the beef is very tender. Stir occasionally. Alternatively cook in pre-heated oven on gas 3 / 160 C / 140 fan for the same length of time.
  6. When the chilli has cooked, add 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika to taste. Stir well and serve. The chilli will keep for 3 days in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer.

More easy recipes on a budget

Tuesday
Oct072014

10 Recipes for Weaning Babies

Our third baby- our first little girl - is due in seven weeks time. Even though it's a little way off, I have already started thinking about weaning and how we will handle it this time. My eldest happily chomped down everything but mealtimes were a battle with child number two, which was a nightmare.

I have been asking the mums and dads on my Facebook page their advice, based on their experiences, about weaning. The overall opinion was that the best thing to do is to follow your child and offer them lots of different flavours and textures as soon as they are ready. 

This week, Organix launched 'The Little Book of Weaning' which is packed with with advice and top tips on every stage of weaning to help make it an enjoyable experience for everyone. Organix put this together after speaking to mums and dads about their worries, concerns and experiences of weaning their own children. The advice is very practical, very helpful and very real. 

You can download a copy of The Little Book of Weaning for free. I've got mine already, and even as a third time mum I'm finding it interesting and helpful. There's also lots of weaning recipes and information on the Organix website as well as a helpful food planner

If you're about to wean your baby, here's 10 recipe ideas which you may find helpful. I have included some nice purée recipes from the Organix website for the early stages as well as more textured and finger food for older babies.

 

1. Carrot, Red Lentil and Garam Masala Purée

This carrot, red lentil and garam masala purée recipe from Organix is great for introducing spice to your little ones. Red lentils are a great souce of protein, inexpensive and very easy to use. Top, tail, peel and slice up two carrots into 1cm slices and place is a saucepan with 50g of rinsed red lentils. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until tender. Blend together with the garam masala until smooth.

 

2. Roasted Butternut Squash, Sage and Quinoa Puree

This roasted butternut squash, sage and quinoa puree recipe from Organix offers an interesting new texture for your little one. Peel and dice the half a butternut squash into 2cm size pieces and place on a baking sheet with a few fresh sage leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 25-30 minutes until roasted. Place 50g quinoa in a saucepan, cover in boiling water, simmer for about 15-20 minutes until cooked and drain. Blend the butternut with a few sage leaves until smooth and stir into the quinoa.

 

3. Minty Pea and Goat’s Cheese Purée

This minty pea and goat’s cheese purée from Organix has is a fantastic colour and is a great recipe for introducing sharp flavours to your baby. Simmer 100g frozen peas in water for about 10 minutes or until cooked and blend with 50g soft goat’s cheese and 5-6 fresh mint leaves. This puree is ideal for mixing into a risotto halfway through cooking. You can add some whole peas and grated parmesan for additional textures and flavours later on.

  

4. Spiced Apple and Pear Puree

This spiced apple and pear puree from Organix is a great recipe for early weaning. Peel, core and quarter 1 apple and 1 pear, steam or boil for around 15 minutes until soft and then blend with 1 tsp cinnamon until smooth. To make a simple crumble, mix together 170g oats, 50g melted butter and 3 tbsp maple syrup or fruit syrup to make a crumble mix. Put the puree into the bottom of a 10x15cm dish, sprinkle over the mix and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

 

5. Strawberry and Greek Yoghurt

Mixing strawberry and Greek yoghurt is so simple and a much more healthy choice than sugar-crammed shop bought yoghurts. Wash and hull a handful of strawberries and blend with three tablespoons of Greek yoghurt. Make it as lumpy or as smooth as your little one would like. Swap strawberries for mango or raspberries for a change. Sieve out the seeds if your little one is not keen. Recipe from Organix. 

 

6. Tuna and Sweet Potato Cakes

This recipe for tuna and sweet potato cakes from The Gingerbread Mum makes great nutritious finger food for the next stage of weaning. Bake a medium sized sweet potato and mash the flesh together with half a small tin of tuna, 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs and a beaten egg. Shape into 12 balls and dry fry over a med-low heat for a few minutes on each side until cooked through. Flatten the balls in the pan as you cook them. Swap tuna for salmon or add veg such as sweetcorn to vary flavours and textures.

 

7. Two Ingredient Banana Cookies 

I make these two ingredient banana cookies all the time with brown bananas and the kids can't get enough of them. They also make great finger food for weaning babies to suck on. Mash two ripe bananas with 100g rolled oats until smooth. Roll into 8 balls and flatten. Pop onto an oiled baking tray and bake for at 180 C / gas mark 5 for 15 minutes until firm but springy and a little coloured. Eat within 24 hours or freeze. Check out the full recipe for variations older kids will enjoy.

 

8. Broccoli Pasta

This broccoli pasta recipe from the lovely ladies at Crumbs (who have recently published The Crumbs Family Cookbook which is fantastic) is a quick and easy meal for babies moving onto more chunky textures. You literally need broccoli, pasta, grated cheese, garlic and a dollop or Greek yoghurt to make it. Snip it up with scissors or mash to the desired consistency for your baby. Add some finely chopped chicken for older babies.

 

9. Veg-packed Cottage Pie

My easy cottage pie recipe has lots of vegetables mixed in with the mince as well as a sweet potato topping which kids love. It's very healthy and also a recipe the whole family can enjoy. Cottage pie is great for batch cooking and freezing. It can be pureed for younger babies or mashed for older babies. Vary the vegetables you use to allow your little one to explore new flavours and textures.

 

10. Quick Chicken and Leek Risotto. 

This quick chicken and leek risotto is lovely and creamy and also very easy to make. It's a nice recipe for older babies but it can easily be pureed and used to introduce protein at the earlier stages of weaning. Simply pan fry chicken, leeks and peas before mixing with soft cheese and cooked rice. Use flavoured soft cheese for new flavours and add a splash of milk for a looser consistency. Grown ups will enjoy this too.

 

 

This is a sponsored post in in association with Organix

Tuesday
Sep302014

Tried and Tested: September 2014

This month we tried some delicious spicy sauces from a family run business just down the road from us in Reading. Chancham sauces and marinades are made in Britain using 100% natural ingredients from authentic Bajan and Sri Lankan recipes. We just love them.

 

Chancham pepper sauce was originally created using a secret family recipe served in the Chancham Reading café, but when more and more customers starting asking for bottles to be filled to take home, a family business then evolved to meet the demand.   

It has real depth of flavour and we just love it. It's really versatile and can be used in the same way as any other hot sauce, so you can add a to splash to spag bol, burgers, chilli, stir fries, soups and so on. We love it with cheese on toast, mixed up with mayo or blended with sour cream to make a spicy dip.  

Chancham marinades come in four varieties – Hot Jerk, Zingy Chilli, Spiced Tamarind and Mild Smokey. They are very versatile and there's lots of recipe ideas for the marinades on their website. We simply marinated some chunks of turkey breast threaded onto skewers in the Spiced Tamarind sauce before grilling to make the most delicious turkey kebabs. We were really impressed with the delicious, homemade flavour and we will certainly be trying out the other flavours. The recipe for slow roast hot jerk belly pork looks completely divine.

I am loving these new Fruyo yoghurts from Fage - the people behind Total Greek yoghurt. Think chunks of fruit mixed with creamy fat free Greek yoghurt. They come in peach, cherry, vanilla, strawberry, lemon and blueberry. Cherry is my favourite but they are all really good. And only 137 calories per pot. 

John West sent me some goodies to try which Joshua made them into a train! Aside from tinned tuna & salmon, they do lovely little tins of smoked mackerel and sardines which I whizz up with some lemon juice and soft cheese to make a quick healthy pate.  

They also have some instant lunch products - 'light lunch' tuna pasta salads and 'steam pots' with flavoured cous cous. I have to say, these are definitely not products I would usually buy but I was really impressed with how tasty, healthy an filling they were.

I'm really impressed with the new 'Infusions Tuna' - little tins of no drain tuna infused with flavoured oil. They come in five flavours - lemon & thyme, chilli & garlic, soy & ginger, coriander & cumin and basil. The flavours are great - nothing synthetic about them. One tin is just the right amount for one person. Ideal stuffed in a pitta for a quick, healthy tasty lunch.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products and decided to write about them because I like them.

Saturday
Aug302014

10 Healthy Kids Lunchbox Ideas

Here's 10 healthy kids lunchbox ideas to inspire you at the start of this new school year. The recipes are quick, easy, healthy and versatile enough for hopefully every child to enjoy.

Click to read more ...