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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!



Cooking with Panasonic Induction Hobs at Hartnett Holder & Co

My last post was all about my visit to Hartnett Holder & Co Backstage on their Season Entertaining cookery course. The course was absolutely fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys cooking and wants to learn something new. Among other things, I learned how to make pasta from scratch, fillet sea bream and prep a live lobster.

Hartnett Holder & Co Backstage, or HH&Co Backstage, is a brand new cookery school set in the stunning Limewood Country House Hotel located in the heart of the New Forest. Led by well-known chefs Angela Hartnett, Luke Holder and Iain Longhorn, the style of learning at HH&Co is fun, relaxed and hands on. "It's more like being behind the scenes in the kitchen of the HH&Co restaurant rather than a school, so we call it backstage" explains Chef Iain.

Rather than gas, induction is the choice of hob for the chefs at HH&Co for the resturant kitchens as well as the cookery school, specifically Panasonic. As well as the performance and technology, the chefs wanted subtle, simple and clean looking built-in appliances which would blend in with the rustic look, without compromising on functionality. 

"We aim to wow guests with simple and consistent cooking" says Chef Luke. "With Panasonic induction hobs, we can help visitors to cook things they never thought they could cook – like braised beef cheeks and truffle baked bream – as they are so easy to use, and the results are the same every time. We want visitors to challenge their cookery skills and achieve restaurant-style dishes at home, which is why we wanted them to be able to do it on the best appliances."

"I love cooking on these hobs" says Chef Iain. "They heat up quickly, they cool down quickly, and there's no heat lost to the air, so the kitchen stays nice and cool." He put his hand on the hob which he had turned off minutes before. "It's still warm, but I can touch it without getting burned. "Induction hobs cool down far more quickly than a gas hobs, so they are much safer as well."

I have only cooked on an induction hob twice - the second time was at HH&Co. I was expecting them to be similar to an electric hob but they are just as responsive as gas. They did take a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of it, they are very easy to use.

With my own limited experienced of induction cooking, I was keen to do a bit of research to find out what makes induction hobs so brilliant, and more importantly, the science behind it all. We currently have a gas hob in our house which we moved into 9 months ago, but we're getting ready to change the kitchen soon, and I'm wondering if we should switch to induction. Induction hobs are generally more expensive than gas to buy, I don't mind investing in one, as long as it's worthwhile. What makes induction better? Here's are my findings:

They are more energy efficient

This little picture illustrates how induction works. Magnetic field lines are created by electricity passing through the coil located under the top of the hob. Eddy current is induced in the pan base when the magnetic field lines pass through it (hence you need a magnetic pan). Heat is generated in the pan by electrical resistance in the pan base and the pan base is heated.

So, because the pan base creates the magnetic field almost all of the energy (around 90%) is transferred into the pan. With gas, around 40% of the energy goes into the pan, so up to 60% is wasted. As you can see in this video and the image below, the only area of the hob which gets hot is the part the pan is on - the surrounding area stays completely cool. The other benefit is that the kitchen will stay cool. No more 'slaving over a hot stove' as they say.

They heat up quick and cook fast

Because of the way induction works, it is far more efficient than gas or conventional electric, so much quicker. According to internal tests, a Panasonic induction hob can bring a pan of water to the boil twice as fast as gas and three times more quicker than an electric hob. Panasonic induction hobs also feature an Autoboil function which brings water to the boil with one touch. 

They have many smart functions

The Genius Sensor, patented by Panasonic, assures precise temperature control - even if the temperature suddenly lowers when food is turned over or ingredients are added, it rapidly returns to the set temperature. There's also 5 preset temperatures for pan frying ranging from 140-230°C.

Some models of Panasonic induction hobs also have the Genuis Sensor Plus which keeps the pan at a constant low temperature, 65-120°C, ideal for stews and curries.

Panasonic induction hobs also have functions to keep food warm using a pause button and timer controls which switch off the hob if you wish. I've mentioned the Autoboil function above, which brings water to the boil with one touch. 

I can't help but get a little excited at the thought of having all these functions to hand. They just make life a bit easier, which would give me one less thing to think about and save me from running back and forth to the kitchen. 

They are safer

Because the heat source is effectively in the pan and not in the hob, induction hobs cool down really quickly, so there's far less chance of getting burns. Panasonic induction hobs also have a Child Lock, which disables the control panel and also an Automatic Shut Off feature. The Control Panel Lock feature disables the control panel for 20 seconds to allow for cleaning spills quickly without affecting the settings.

This is an obvious one, but there's no chance of kids accidentally switching gas on with induction. I'm always a bit nervous about that. I've turned on the gas lots of times just by leaning on the knobs by mistake, because they are at a 45 degree angle to the worktop.

They are easy to clean and look cool

Induction hobs are very easy to clean as they are essentially a sheet of glass - unlike gas hobs which have so many bits to take apart, clean and re-assemble. My gas hob is permanently filthy because I cook so much and I don't have time to take it apart and clean it every day.

Induction hobs are neat, subtle and un-imposing, so perfect for any style of kitchen. They would obviously suit a very modern kitchen, but they equally looked great in the rustic style kitchens of HH&Co.

Fuel Bills

I have to say something about the cost of running an inducton hob compared with running a gas hob. I have literally scoured the internet looking for articles about this, but there's nothing I can find which simply compares one to the other. Its a tricky thing to do as they are measured in different units. However, what I have found from reading many articles and forums (some are here, here and here) is that people who have switched from gas to induction say that have not noticed an increase in their fuel bills.

I have found one article which calculates that cooking with gas costs 64.7% more than cooking with induction, but this is the only article I found which gives actual any figures. However, with fuel prices differing from area to area in the UK it's tricky to say how accurate this is.

So it seems like a no brainer really. If we're going to change the kitchen anyway and spend a great deal of money in the process, it makes perfect sense to invest in an induction hob at the same time. However, there's a couple of things which also need to be taken into consideration - these are not negative points - just things to think about:

You might need to invest in some new pans

You need magnetic pans for an induction hob. Go through your pan collection with a fridge magnet to determine which ones you will need to replace. You don't have to spend lots on new pans, many inexpensive pans are ferrous and can be used on induction.

If you're crazy about cooking with a wok

You need to use flat pans on an induction hob, so no woks! You can however buy a wok with a flat bottom, if you're happy to compromise.

Power supply

Just something small but something I would probably overlook. If you have a gas hob, you will need to shut off the gas supply and make sure you have an electricity point (or get it routed) if you are installing an induction hob. So you may need to get someone in to do that. Just something small, but needs to be thought about.


This is a sponsored post. All words apart from quotes are my own. All images are my own apart from the last three which are from Panasonic. Sources below:






Hartnett Holder & Co Backstage Review: Cookery School

You could do far worse than book a night or two at Limewood - a five-star boutique country house hotel in the heart of the New Forest. The architecture is stunning, the rooms luxurious and the service excellent in every way. It's full of character and charm, and a great deal of thought has gone into every little detail like the staff uniforms, rows of Hunter wellies and twig pens. 

The gardens and grounds surrounding the hotel are stunning - rustic and wild but very well looked after. Huge pots of lavender line the beam-covered paths and lillypads float on the deck-surrounded ponds. You could spend a day at Limewood visiting the luxury spa and having afternoon tea in the courtyard or dinner at Hartnett Holder & Co.

Hartnett Holder & Co - or HH&Co - is headed up by Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder,. Their style is "chefs’ home-cooked food not chefs’ food cooked for restaurants" which certainly comes across. The food is relaxed, fresh, stylish, down-to-earth but beautifully presented and completely delicious. It's a very big attraction at Limewood, and the restaurant was packed when I had dinner there on a Wednesday night in July.

Angela and Luke, along with Chef Iain Longhorn, run a cookery school based at Limewood which they call HH&Co Backstage. "We don't call it a school because we don't want people to think they have to sit and listen and be bored - it's not like that at all." explains Chef Iain. "It's more like being behind the scenes in the HH&Co kitchen, so we call it HH&Co backstage."

There are many courses at HH&Co backstage. I did the "Seasonal Entertaining" course which essentially teaches you how to make an really impressive three course meal, as well as a pasta masterclass with Angela. The dishes taught on the course are all served in the restaurant - many of them are HH&Co signature dishes.

The school itself is beautiful with granite work tops, butler sinks and chunky wooden cabinets. It's rustic and charming but kitted out with clever taps and the latest Panasonic ovens and induction hobs. "We use the same hobs in the kitchen as well as they are so efficient. They heat up quick, cool down quick and there's no heat loss to the air, so the kitchen stays nice and cool." explains chef Iain. It was lovely and cool in there.

The school comfortably fits up to 10 people per course. The style of learning is fun, relaxed and informal. Each recipe was first demonstrated by one of the chefs on the main bench before we were able to have a go ourselves at one of the workstations. There were plenty of opportunities to ask questions and chat to the chefs who were mingling throughout the day.

Buttermilk panna cotta was the first recipe we learned to make. I've really been getting into making panna cotta recently (I usually swap the cream for yoghurt to make it more healthy!) so it was great to find out how to make it the proper Italian way with condensed milk and buttermilk.

The learning curve steepened suddenly as we swiftly moved onto crustaceans. Chef Iain took a dozy lobster from an ice bath and sent him to lobster heaven before preparing him for a yummy salad with smoked salmon and mango. "OK, each of you grab a lobster, it's your turn now" he said, nonchalantly.

My heart was thumping as I carried my little buddy from the sink to the chopping board. The lobsters had been soaking in an ice bath for over two hours, which shuts down the nervous system, so it's very humane. I won't go into details but it was quick and involved a sharp knife. It was a great skill to learn, much easier than it looked and something I feel confident to do again at home. The tail and claws were simmered for 7 minutes before the flesh was removed from the shell and chopped up.

I had a great chat with Chef Luke as I chopped up my lobster to add to his signature smoked salmon salad. He's such a nice guy and extremely down to earth. "I'm dyslexic, and when I was at school my teacher said I would never make it in life" he told me with a smile. "Lots of chefs are dyslexic" he continued "so we teach them just like this - hands on teaching - it's the best way to learn."

Chef Iain then demonstrated how to fillet a sea bream before we were each let loose on our own. The same principle applies to any similar sized fish so it's a great skill to have. I've never done this properly before at home but since the course I have gutted and filleted whole trouts using the same technique. All you need it a sharp flexible knife, some scissors and tweezers to remove stray bones.

We made a delicious tomato and truffle butter sauce in a cast iron pot which we popped the bream into. It was then baked in the oven, but with a dough crust instead of a lid. This is another signature HH&Co dish, and a real show-stopper. When cooked, the pot is brought to the table with the golden bread crust on top. The crust can be eaten with the fish and the sauce. It's really clever, but very simple and fun. "It's about fun-dining, not fine-dining" said Chef Luke. There's nothing stuffy about HH&Co, the atmosphere is very relaxed but the food is outstanding.

For lunch we sat at enjoyed the fruits of our morning labour - the delicious lobster salad followed by the bream, accompanied with fine wines. It was nice to sit and chat with everyone. A group size of 10 was perfect and the chefs sat with us as well. It was so lovely to get to know them. Chef Iain chatted about his little girl "She loves me to cut mango like a hedgehog" he said with a grin "it gets her every time!"

We were feeling a bit full and sleepy from the food and wine after lunch, but a coffee and a slice of delicious tiramisu on the sunny patio helped to wake us or an afternoon of pasta making with Angela Hartnett.

Angela showed us how to make "rich mans pasta" which contains 9 eggs yolks! It's surprisingly easy - make the dough, chill the dough, roll the dough, feed the dough through pasta machine and make shapes. I made spaghetti, farfalle (bows), tagliatelle and ravioli which was filled with a delicious pean, broadband, mint and ricotta filling.

After making pasta we were given a tour of the smoke house which is a big part of what HH&Co are about. They smoke their own salmon, which is absolutely superb, as well as pancetta, coppa, chorizo, salami and other meats. Limewood is the only hotel in the New Forest with it's own smokehouse.

We had goodie bags to take home with the panna cotta, some lobster salad and pasta we had made as well as copies of all the recipes from the day. The course was a full day, 9am-5pm, but the time just flew by. I learned so much and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

A stay at Limewood is perfect for a special occasion and one of the cookery courses would make a lovely gift for a special birthday for any food enthusiast. A full day cookery course at HH&Co backstage ranges from £195 to £260 (for celebrity guest chef days). Half day courses start at £120. Double rooms at Limewood start at £315 room only which includes use of the spa.

This is a sponsored post. All words, opinions and images are my own.


Golden Oreo Panna Cotta 

I have received products from Oreo for this post. It is an entry to the Foodies100 Wonderfilled recipe challenge sponsored by Oreo, which marks the launch of two exciting new flavours: Peanut Butter and Golden. The delicious new flavours are available in all major supermarkets at an RRP of £1.08. To find out more, visit https://www.facebook.com/oreo

Panna cotta is so easy to make - and adding Golden Oreos give a lovely rich biscuity-vanilla flavour. This recipe isn't very traditional at all. I swap cream for Greek Yoghurt which makes it much lighter. Served with some fresh berries and crushed Oreos gives a lovely range of textures and flavours. It also looks so cute served in a jam jar.

A little note about gelatine - there's nothing scary about it at all. Dr. Oetker sell 3 x 12g sachets of powdered gelatine for 99p in the baking aisle of the supermarket. You only need 6g or half a sachet for this recipe. Ignore that the sachet says 12g sets 550ml of liquid, you'll end up slicing it. 6g is more than enough.


Golden Oreo Panna Cotta: Serves 4:

Time:  15 minutes plus chilling time
Cost:  45p per serving
Calories:  289 per serving

  • 10 Golden Oreo Cookies 
  • 400ml whole milk
  • 6g gelatine powder (see note above)
  • 300g Greek Yoghurt
  • 1-2 tsp caster sugar (optional)
  • To garnish: fresh berries and extra Golden Oreos, crushed
  1. Put the 10 Golden Oreos in a bowl and pour over 300ml of the milk.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining 100ml of milk in a saucepan over a medium heat and warm it a little. Sprinkle over the gelatine and whisk over the hob until it's dissolved.
  3. Turn the heat low and add the milk and oreo mixture. Whisk everything really well together until the oreos have dissolved. Removed from the heat before the mixture starts to thicken (if it does thicken, remove from the heat immediately add a tiny splash more milk).
  4. Add the Greek yoghurt to the pan (not over the heat) and whisk until everything is well combined. Have a little taste and add a little extra sugar to taste (I didn't think it needed it).
  5. Pour the panna cotta mixture into four clean jam jars or glasses. Leave to cool before covering with clingflim and placing in the fridge until set. This will take up to 8 hours.
  6. Before serving decorate with fresh berries and a few crushed Golden Oreos.

Ten Tips for Cooking with Kids

Getting kids involved in the kitchen is a sure fire way to encourage them to explore a wider variety of food. Even if they are just playing, it can contribute to a healthy relationship with food as an adult. They will also pick up lots of skills from just watching adults. Here's a few tips for cooking with kids:

1) Give them choice

Kids love to be in control. Give them options. For example, if you're making pizza, give them a choice of tuna or ham and then a few different veggies. They'll feel proud they got to choose, but they will still eat well. Everyone's a winner.

2) Don't worry about the mess

Mess happens. Clear the surfaces of anything you don't want to get messed up, wear aprons, even use newspaper on the floor if you must, but don't worry. It's mess to grown ups but for kids it's exploring and part of forming a healthy relationship with food. Allow them to explore.

3) Use all the senses

Children’s food expert for Organix, Lucy Thomas, advises children to explore food by feeling, smelling and licking. Encourage them to describe the sensations, for example strawberries feel bumpy. My kids love to do this, even with food they don't like. They are exploring those foods, without feeling forced to eat it.

4) It will take longer than you think

Factor in the extra time. It's going to take ages. Choose a simple recipe and perhaps do some of the boring prep work in advance. Chopping half a pepper might be fun, but not three. Some kids lose interest quickly.

5) Wash your hands

Teaching kids about food hygiene is just as important as teaching them about food. Teach them to wash their hands properly and especially after touching raw meat, fish and eggs. I taught my kids this so young, but they really got it. They hold their hands up after handling raw eggs and say "I have eggy hands" on their way to the sink.

6) Have your tablet ready 

You Tube is amazing for clips of where food comes from or how it's made. Mine have learned so much without leaving the house! Some of their favourites include, how olives are pitted, where pineapples come from and how carrots grow. It's so brilliant. 

7) Keep it simple, light and fun

Pick an easy, quick recipe, like whizzing up houmous - kids love gadgets. They can choose their own crudités. Make it fun, like half a jacket potato made into a boat with a slice of cheese sail and grated carrot sea.


8) If at first you don't succeed

Kids are fickle. They love something one day and hate with a passion the next. Be consistent - little and often is the key. Don't feel discouraged or guilty if it's not worked out the first time. Don't force them.

9) Get the right kit

The right equipment can make all the difference. There's a little knife you can get from pampered chef which is super-safe but great for kids to cut vegetables with. Some kids might like their own special apron or baking kit. 

10) Explain why

If your child is old enough, explain to them why certain foods are good for us. I have this great little book which explains why apples are healthy, because they contain 'boron for bones' to make us strong. You don't have to be an expert, just the odd little fact can encourage healthy eating for life.


Organix has launched its Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families. It’s packed with advice and tips for parents on providing a healthy diet for little ones as they continue their exciting journey with food through the early years and beyond.  You can download your free copy here: www.organix.com/lovegoodfood



For lots more advice on toddler foods and tasty, healthy recipes for all the family please visit www.organix.com. To download a copy of The Organix Little Book of Good Food - Toddlers & Families visit www.organix.com/lovegoodfood and you can watch the Love Good Food video at: #lovegoodfood. Join the conversation at #LoveGoodFood.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.


Tips and advice for healthy eating for toddlers

The toddler years are a key point for establishing lifelong healthy eating habits and a love of food. This makes it all the more stressful if your child starts to become a fussy eater! If your little one is going through a picky phase then read on.

Organix has launched its #LoveGoodFood campaign for toddlers, designed to help little ones love good food in these early years, so they grow up to be healthy, little food explorers. 

Together with children’s food expert Lucy Thomas, and dietician Dr Frankie Phillips, they have put together their 'Little Book of Good Food – Toddlers & Families'. It’s packed with advice and tips for parents on providing a healthy diet for little ones. Download your free copy here.

Organix is also launching a series of Love Good Food short videos, with Lucy and a group of toddlers exploring, enjoying and sharing the wonderful world of fruit and vegetables, from broccoli to bananas, through play, rhymes, song and storytelling. You can watch them here: #lovegoodfood

Lucy has some great advice for encouraging your little ones to explore and enjoy fruit and veg:

  1. Encourage a wider interest in food, without asking them to eat or taste anything.  Get them to smell, kiss, lick or crunch.  You can show your child how to smell strawberries and lick one to feel the bumpiness of the seeds on the outside.  

  2. Give them lots of opportunities to touch and handle fresh fruit and vegetables, whether out shopping, at home cooking or even growing food.  This will help them be more relaxed and interested in food.

  3. Get a little messy - let your little one squash a tomato or squeeze an orange while you are cooking. If they feel comfortable handling a food they are more likely to want to eat it.

  4. Let your child explore different textures of food by juicing, blending, grating or mashing foods with your help.

  5. Explore vegetables raw as well as cooked, it’s a great way to overcome a dislike of a vegetable. For example, small crunchy florets of cauliflower for dipping are delicious - and taste very different to cooked cauliflower. 

Dr Frankie Phillips also has the following tips for giving young children a healthy diet:

  • Regular healthy meals and snacks – toddlers need to snack as their tummies aren’t big enough to take on board enough energy and nutrients from just three meals a day.

  • Plenty of choice and balance – a varied diet containing a selection of foods will provide the essential nutrients they need.

  • Each day aim for 5 portions of starchy foods, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 3 portions of dairy foods and 2 portions of meat, fish, eggs, nuts and pulses (3 if vegetarian).

  • Lots of tastes in a range of different fruit and vegetables.

  • Different colours, tastes and textures to add variety to the diet.

  • ‘Me-sized’ portions.  There’s no such thing as an ideal portion size for all children, as size, growth and physical activity levels vary.  

  • Not adding extra sugar or salt – too much salt isn’t good for toddler’s kidneys and sugary food encourages a sweet tooth and can cause tooth decay.

  • Enough healthy drinks to keep them well-hydrated. 

For lots more advice on toddler foods and tasty, healthy recipes for all the family please visit www.organix.com. To download a copy of The Organix Little Book of Good Food - Toddlers & Families visit www.organix.com/lovegoodfood and you can watch the Love Good Food video at: #lovegoodfood. Join the conversation at #LoveGoodFood.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.


Aubergine No Pasta Lasagne

This aubergine no-pasta lasagne is perfect for gluten or wheat free diets - or for people who just avoid carbs like the plague, which is most people I know these days. It's really easy to make - just a simple ragu meat sauce (I used turkey thigh mince but any mince would work) layered with griddled aubergines and a cheats cheese sauce - using cottage cheese which takes a minute to make! Enjoy with crusty bread, without the guilt, or salad for the carb dodgers.

Aubergines are one of those vegetables I always wonder what to do with, but they are perfect in this recipe. They are really easy to cut into thin slices and take no time at all to griddle quickly. If you don't have a griddle pan just use a hot frying pan.

If you have never made a quick cheese sauce using cottage cheese you will be amazed at how quick, easy and tasty it is. It really works a treat, and so much less effort than a full on bechamel sauce during the week. Swap the meat ragu for a beany version for a veggie dish.

Aubergine No Pasta Lasagne: Serves 4:

Time:  25 mins prep + 20 mins cooking
Cost:  £1.25 per serving
Calories:  439 per serving

For the pasta free lasagne:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 500g turkey thigh mince
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 150g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 400ml chicken stock
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce (to taste)
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 medium aubergines, cut into 1-2mm thick slices

For the cheats cheese sauce:

  • 300g tub cottage cheese
  • 75g mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp milk
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and carrot until soft.
  2. Add the turkey mince and stir fry until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
  3. Add the garlic, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, stock, soy sauce and black pepper to taste.
  5. Stir well, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the liquid had reduced.
  6. Meanwhile, heat up a griddle pan and brush it with the remaining 1 tbsp oil.
  7. Griddle the aubergine slices for 30-60 seconds on each side in batches. Put to one side.
  8. In a bowl, blend the cottage cheese, cheddar and milk until smooth to make the cheese sauce.
  9. To assemble the lasagne: use an ovenproof dish roughly 26 x 20 cm in size. Spoon in a third of the turkey mince and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish. Arrange a third of the aubergine slices on top of the mince, slightly overlapping. Dot half the cheese sauce evenly over the aubergine slices. 
  10. Repeat another layer of mince, aubergine and cheese using the same quantities. Top the second cheese layer with the remaining mince and finish the lasagne with the final layer of aubergine slices.
  11. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 C / 160 fan / gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until bubbling around the edges and piping hot.