Cheapskate Puttanesca

Hi everyone,

In a bid to use up my stores I discovered a tin of plum tomatoes that expired in September. Knowing that I have the house to myself tonight I decided to make a puttanesca sauce, but wanted to do it on the cheap.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t usually look for reasons to not eat anchovies and capers, but after introducing sardines to my diet back in the summer (when I realised how cheap they are) I noticed they had an extremely similar taste to anchovies, but are generally half the price.

Next time you make a puttanesca sauce, why not give sardines a go? A tin is 33p in Lidl (I am now obsessed with Lidl).

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A Tale of Two Biscuits: Spiced Christmas Cookies

I tried to make gingerbread, and this is what happened the first time I made it today:

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So, just like the Boy was when I told him I made gingerbread, you’ll be wondering what the hell that is.

I don’t really make biscuits. And I was going half on remembering how I made gingerbread when I went to visit my sister and her kids, and half on a recipe in Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook for fiery ginger biscuits.

I also ran out of baking parchment and decided that the cookies would all be fine on the same baking tray.

Instead they all melded into a big gingery blob, and since they had no semblance of the original Christmas Cookie Cutter shapes I had carefully cut them into, well I just started tearing them into little pieces until they resembled kindling.

They were delicious, but I knew I needed to go back to the recipe and tweak it. The dough was far too sticky and couldn’t be saved. So I had a second go at them.

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They turned out better.

This is not a recipe for Gingerbread, because gingerbread typically involves an egg, and these didn’t. These are very spicy ‘ginger influenced’ biscuits that can be cut into the shape of gingerbread men, if you wish.

These are very spicy, so if you have a cold then chow down as these will definitely clear your sinuses. You may want to adjust the measurements to something that is more reasonable, but I say it’s Christmas, go bold.

INGREDIENTS

3 tsp Ground Ginger

1 tsp Cinnamon

0.5 tsp Mixed Spice

1.5 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda

150g Self Raising Flour

75g Butter, diced

3.5 balls of Stem Ginger, cut into tiny diced pieces

60g Soft Light Brown Sugar

2 Tbl sp Molasses*

1 Tbl sp Golden Syrup

*You can use either all Golden Syrup, or honey, or anything really, I just wanted to use up my molasses.

METHOD

Sieve the ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice, bicarbonate soda and flour into a mixing bowl. Add the butter pieces and mix with hands until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add the molasses, sugar and the diced stem ginger, and combine with a fork. It may be at this stage you will have to add the golden syrup, but go carefully. You want a dough that is combined and mixed well and soft, but not sticky, otherwise it will be a nightmare and you will end up with this:

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Either cut into whimsical festive shapes, or roll into little balls and flatten. Place across two lined baking trays and bake at Gas Mark 5 for 10-15 minutes.

 

Mystery Squash Curry

So you know the squashes I picked up on OLIO this week? Well, it inspired me to add some stray items I had in my cupboards that I wasn’t going to use, and funnily enough one of them was picked up by the squash lady. And she said that the striped squash would be very sweet taste wise.

To remind you here is a picture of the squashes I picked up.

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I decided that the best thing to do with them was to turn them into a curry.

They are very sweet as well, they smelt a bit like melon when I was cutting them.

Anyway, the curry was absolutely lovely.

MYSTERY SQUASH CURRY

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons Ginger Garlic Paste

1 teaspoon Mild Curry Powder

1 teaspoon Turmeric

1 teaspoon Garam Masala

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Onion

1 Carrot, diced

2 small Squashes (or 1 large), diced

400g tin of Chickpeas

400g tin of Coconut Milk

400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes

400ml Vegetable Stock (optional)

A little Rapeseed Oil

METHOD

Make a cheats curry paste with the ginger garlic paste and spices.

Start to cook the onion in the rapeseed oil. When covered in oil and cooking lightly add the curry paste and mix with the onion.

Add the rest of the vegetables and then the coconut milk, the stock (if using) and chopped tomatoes. Bring to the boil, and then simmer until the vegetables are cooked.

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Realise you now have a ton of curry and will be eating it for the next week.

Add ‘make best curry in the world’ to your to do list, so you can cross it off, because this was a mighty achievement.

The Rum ‘n’ Coke Tropical Cake

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Last night whilst waiting for the boy to get his butt to bed I was flicking through/salivating over the recipes in Matt Tebbutt’s ‘Guilty Pleasures: Your Favourite Sweet and Savoury Indulgences in 130 Easy Recipes’. 

I had been thinking about doing something with a free fridge pack of pineapple I was given in a Morrison’s food delivery, and wanted to combine it with rum (after the success of my Banana, Date and Rum Bake )

Plus, as usual, I had a million bananas in the fruit bowl that needed eating.

Matt Tebbutt’s book is great, full of new and interesting ideas, and it got the cogs in my brain thinking about what delights I could combine in this recipe. Why stop at rum when I could add coke to the mix as well?

I didn’t add dried fruit to this as I go a bit heavy on dried fruit but feel free to add some, but I recommend soaking in rum for a little while first.

INGREDIENTS

50ml Rum (You will definitely taste this, as I am half pirate I can handle it)

50ml Coke (I used coke zero because it is what we had to hand, feel free to use any type and brand you like)

3 ripe bananas

220g Pineapple chunks, cut into small pieces

200g self raising flour

2 eggs

70g Demerara sugar

METHOD

Preheat oven to gas mark 5 and grease a cake tin. (I used a 22cm one)

Place the cut pineapple chunks in a bowl and pour over the rum and coke. Give a little stir.

Mash up the bananas and mix in the bowl making sure everything is combined.

Add the sugar, flour and eggs and mix all together.

Place in your lined/greased cake tin and bake for 50mins or until a skewer comes out clean.

Immediately text the boy telling him he can take the leftovers into work so you are not tempted to eat it all.

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I was thinking of maybe doing a coke and stem ginger icing, but decided to leave it plain this time, next time I make this maybe I will.

 

Apple and Almond Flapjacks

Inspired by the 5 ingredient flapjacks I made last week from Bowl of Delicious and a colleague at work bringing in an apple and almond cake which was quite frankly one of the nicest things I have ever eaten, I decided to give an apple and almond flapjack a go.

I will warn you, this is far from my cheapest recipe. I was feeling fancy. To compensate it is very easy to make.

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INGREDIENTS

3 Apples, grated (I used Braeburn’s as they are my favourites)

1 Cup Almond Butter

1/2 Cup Honey

1 Cup Flaked almonds (or almonds chopped up)

1 Cup Dried Apple Rings, cut into little pieces

2 Cups of Porridge Oats

1 Teaspoon Almond Essence

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

METHOD

Grate the apples and add to a large mixing bowl.

Add all the other ingredients and mix.

Spoon into a lined baking tray.

Bake for 30 minutes on Gas Mark 5.

Cool down.

Eat.

Say ‘Damn that’s good.’

If you don’t do the previous step then you have ruined them.

Rustic* Festive** Fruity Parcels

  • *Rustic = A euphemism for ‘looks like they were assembled by a toddler’.
  • **Festive = I wanted to use the seasonal ‘C’ word but felt I might get beaten up by scrooges if I did.

Hi everybody.

I haven’t been feeling 100% all week. Each day brings on a new symptom and today at work was tough.

The boy was going to a gig. I wanted to go to the gig but couldn’t afford it. Normally I would use a night in without the boy as a good excuse to get my bake on, but I felt so shattered after work that all I could muster the energy to do was to put anchovies on my pizza.

Then I saw in the fridge was a packet of frozen puff pastry I had taken out to defrost on Sunday with the intention of using it on Monday.

And the packet recommended using within 24 hours of defrosting. Aye Aye Aye.

So after a quick energy boost (double shot of fake Baileys) I got to it.

INGREDIENTS

1 x 500g Block of puff pastry

4 Apples

1 x 400g Jar of mincemeat

Caster Sugar

RENEGADE SUGGESTIONS

My cooking often involves a random ingredient that caught my eye. So at step 2 I also threw in 4 apple & rosehip tea bags and a bit of orange juice. You don’t necessarily have to copy me.

  1. Defrost your puff pastry the night before according to packet instructions and then roll out into a large square/rectangle shape and cut into 4 equal shapes.
  2. Cut your apples into small pieces and place in a large pot with the sugar (I didn’t give a measurement because, well, I just threw it in. If you like to be exact I would say 75g is enough). Cover with boiling water and bring back to the boil.
  3. Cook until tender.
  4. Once cooked, drain, and mix in the jar of mincemeat (true story, mincemeat used to contain meat, but generally doesn’t now, but I thought it did and didn’t eat a mince pie until I was something like 17 because I thought it would compromise my at the time vegetarian beliefs).
  5. Divide the mix across the four puff pastry squares and then pull up the edges until you have little parcels (or you could be really neat and bring out a protractor or something and have something a bit more professional looking).
  6. BONUS STEP! I meant to do this, but then forgot. Lightly brush the parcels with a milk and/or egg wash.
  7. Bake in the oven on gas mark 4 for a very long time because you are watching the new episode of your favourite show ‘Eat Well For Less’ and don’t want to miss any of it (The episode was an hour long)
  8. BONUS STEP! Turn off the oven but leave the parcels in to stay warm and then go to the shops to get ice cream because the boy refused to do this for you earlier. What a d***.
  9. Watch today’s episode of Neighbours whilst eating the parcel. And then watch Eat Well For Less again.

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5 Ingredient Banana and Peanut Butter Flapjacks: From Bowl of Delicious

Once again lack of time has prevented me from eating my bananas before they went ripe.

At this stage you are probably thinking ‘How the f*** do you lack time to eat a banana? They are the natural convenience food?’

Trust me, when you lack the time during the week to keep up with basic hygiene levels (TMI?) then you also lack the time to eat a banana.

I felt like using up my peanut butter too, for sh**s and giggles, and you can never go wrong throwing in a few seeds, nuts and dried fruit.

So I found this recipe and got my bake on (by the way, one of my catchphrases is ‘Get Your Bake On’ and I sing it to the tune of ‘Get Ur Freak On’ by Missy Elliot).

I am now very happy as I have something tasty for my on the go breakfasts this week. And I now have to buy more seeds, nuts and dried fruit which always makes me happy.

The boy was very unhappy that I made Banana, Peanut Butter, Seeds, Nuts and Dried Fruit flapjacks when Banana, Peanut Butter, Seeds, Nuts and Dried Fruit are some of his most hated foodstuffs. So I am now making him Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Cupcakes and is he grateful? No, he is now complaining that we have had to delay dinner.

Grrrr.