Category Archives: The Frugal Kitchen

Recipes and yummy tip!

The Frugal Kitchen: Easy Butternut and Leek Risotto

risotto finishedTesting and trying new recipes is one of my favourite things to do.  I love rustling up savoury and, of course, sweet treats for us to try and cooking healthily has taken on a new dimension with the babe to feed too.

I have been thinking of a ‘Frugal Kitchen Essentials’ Post, as I ‘think’ I’ve managed to really cut back on our food spending and cook delicious food on a budget.  I say ‘I think’, I am the only one who has judged this so far!

One thing I am forever keeping stocked, is butternut squash.  I love cooking and roasting the stuff, blending it up in soup form and, if you like your veg, it’s great for going a long long way in the kitchen.  It’s a great cupboard staple for the winter months, is very low in calories and very high in Anti-Oxidants, Vitamin A and Vitamin B-6.  For between £1-2, depending on where you food shop, a large Butternut Squash can be a great base for 2 or even 3 meals……such as this one.  Today I thought I’d share my recipe for an easy Butternut and Leek Risotto!

butternut heavenrisotto close upIngredients (to serve 4):

1/3 Large Butternut Squash – skin removed and diced

1 Leek – chopped finely

1 Onion – chopped finely

1 Pint Chicken or Vegetable Stock

About 100g Arborio Risotto Rice

50g grated cheese.

S&P to taste

Method:

In a steaming pan, place your diced butternut squash and leave to steam, with the lid on for about 20-25 mins.

In a frying pan, heat up a dash of oil and pop your onions in to soften, but not brown.  Meanwhile, boil some water and mix your stock, keep in a sauce pan over a low heat to keep the stock at a good temperature.

When the onions are softened, add your arborio rice to the pan and allow to fry for a minute or so.  Slowly, add your stock and keep stirring the rice until the liquid condenses.  Keep repeating this process, until the rice begins to absorb and soften.  Taste test – the rice should be soft but with a slight bite to it.

When the butternut has been steaming for about 20 minutes, add the chopped leeks and replace lid for a further 5 minutes.  When the vegetables are soft and cooked through, remove from the steaming pan and add to the rice mixture – add the final bit of stock, Herbs, Salt and Pepper to taste and the Grated Cheese and allow to cook for a few minutes until all combined.

Serve either on its own or with some indulgent warm bread for a cosy, evening supper!

This is a great evening meal and costs less than £3 for something nutritious, warming and great for adults and kids.  Steaming the butternut squash and leeks also help to keep more of the nutrients where they should be plus, leaving the seasoning until last, means you can put some aside for your little one!

daisy risottoSo there you have it, a simple meal from The Frugal Kitchen and one I rely on time and again.  Do you have any great Butternut recipes to share??

Stay Peachy x

Frugally Ever After: Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Cupcake FinishedWhat’s life without a little sweet treat every now and then?  I might have been treating us all with a little too much sweetness of late…BUT here’s another lovely recipe and an idea for The Big V.  I’ve been trying to watch the cals this year and, to be honest, I’m missing baking something chronic!  So, with Mr J’s Birthday at the start of the month, I took this as perfect timing to try a new recipe – inspired by old-fashioned movie dates, teamed with a love of a good cupcake! I give you…Salted Caramel Cupcakes!

The sponge is a basic recipe I use for all my cupcakes and cakes.  It’s light, fluffy and easy to add to – not to mention the use of simple ingredients makes them relatively cheap as well.  For this recipe,  I’ve used tinned caramel and added my own rock salt for a really nice, contrasting tang; you can of course make your own caramel too, but tinned caramel is sold in most large supermarkets costing £1.59 for one tub.  These are a great twist on the old caramel popcorn taste – so I’ve tied them in with the idea of a stay-in movie date!  Fancy giving them a go??

Ingredients (to make 12)

For the Sponge:

280g Golden Caster Sugar

240g Self Raising Flour

80g Soft Salted Butter

1 tsp Natural Vanilla Extract

240g Semi Skimmed Milk

2 Large Eggs

Pinch of Salt (optional)

Approximate 100g Tinned Caramel

For the Frosting:

500g Icing Sugar

140g Soft Salted Butter

Approx 35-40g Tinned Caramel

25ml Semi Skimmed Milk

Pinch of Salt

(Remaining Tinned Caramel for drizzling)

Method

Preheat an oven to 160 C (approximately 150 C for a fan) and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cases.

In a mixing bowl, using a food mixer, whisk the sugar, flour, pinch of salt and butter, until combined into a breadcrumb consistency.

Cupcakes CollageIn a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk and vanilla extract and pour, slowly, into the dry mix.  Mix until combined and smooth.

Using a scoop or deep spoon, fill each cupcake case about 1 third full.  Then spoon about a teaspoon of the tinned caramel into each case, finishing by filling the cases with the rest of the cake mix.  The cases should be about 2/3 full.  Pop in the oven for 15-18 mins, remove when the cakes are golden brown and springy to touch.  Oh, and they pass the knife test! Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

To make the frosting, use the food mixer to beat the icing sugar and butter together until sandy-textured with no big lumps.  In a jug, mix the milk and tinned caramel and slowly add to the icing mixture, combining until the icing is creamy but can stand stiff in peaks.

Once the cakes have cooled, use a piping bag and medium nozzle to pipe the icing on each cake.  Using a smaller, writing nozzle, pour the remaining tinned caramel into a separate bag and drizzle lightly over each cake – don’t be too precious about this, perfection isn’t necessary!  Finish by sprinkling with a little salt (rock salt adds a wonderful crunch).

Serve in retro candystripe tubs with a choice of your all time favourite movies!!  Snuggle on the sofa and eat to your heart’s content!  This Frugal Valentines Day, it really is the little things!

Stay Peachy x

The Frugal Kitchen: Easy Nutella Brownie Bites

brownies finished

If, like me, you felt a little cheated at finding out yesterday was ‘World Nutella Day, just a little too late; then I have JUST the frugal solution for you!

I am a huge fan of baking but, with watching my weight and all that, I tend to keep baking sweet treats to a minimum.brownies nutella  I think baking should always be simple and I’ve pratted about in the kitchen enough to be able to put together a simple cake or brownie recipe, adding bits to it when I fancy mixing the flavours up.  And that’s just what I’ve done with the THIRD OFF Nutella I picked up from the local Co-op this morning!

Not content with missing the ‘World Nutella Day’ event – obviously just an excuse to crack open the jar and eat straight from it – I thrashed together these simple little brownies which use very few ingredients and look FANTASTIC stacked with a little ribbon.  Are you thinking?? Yup – how about a little lunch box surprise for The Big V!  Why not give them a go yourself?  They’re easy to bake – just keep an eye on them in the oven as they cook pretty quickly!  Note: I have used the whole jar, partly because I can’t be trusted with it in the house!

I’ve popped a few prices down too – most ingredients are great to have in the house, in case of a sudden baking attack or the appearance of an unexpected guest!

Ingredients

1 x 400g Nutella (currently £1.56 at Co-op)

170g Caster Sugar (small 500g bag costs £1)

3 Medium Eggs (1 box of six costs 95p from Lidl)

50g Salted Butter (£1.02 basics range)

85g Self-Raising Flour (own-brand costs around 45p for 500g)

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract (£1.59 approx from local supermarkets)

PInch of salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a square baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Over a saucepan of water, in a heatproof bowl, heat the butter and half the Nutella over a medium heat.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, whisk the caster sugar, vanilla extract and 2 eggs until combined and smooth.  Once the Nutella and butter have melted together and softened – remove from heat and add, slowly to the sugar mixture.  Use the whisk to combine the mixtures together until smooth.

brownies collage

In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt, then add, slowly to the mixture.  Fold together until the mixture is combined.  Spoon in most of the remaining Nutella and combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  The brownie should be ready once it’s dark brown and a knife remains clean when stuck through the middle.

Leave to cool on a rack for a short while then, using a palette knife, spread the remaining Nutella on top of the brownie and cut into small sections.  If you want to pop these into a lunchbox or give as a little gift, why not stack a few and wrap with a pretty ribbon?

If not…sit back, enjoy with a hot cuppa and bask in the fact that World Nutella Day, in fact, is not yet over!!!!

Stay Peachy x

The Frugal Kitchen: Apple Pie…In A Jar

make it in a jarQuite a while ago, the lovely folk at Parragon Publishing sent me a fabulous book to review, called ‘Make It In a Jar’.  Recently, there has been something of a trend in concocting both sweet and savoury recipes in jars – I’ve been ogling some of the jar-based creations, from the cake businesses I follow on Instagram and I have been quite eager to try something for myself. 

The book itself is a gem – loads of gorgeous recipes, from pizzas to cookies, sponges to salads and cakes to themed-food inspiration for all year round.  Just flicking through the lovely images, I was inspired to immediately plan a dinner party – with Jarred starters, mains and desserts, tipped off with cocktails in Jars and embellished with Jar chandeliers.  Go hard or go home, I say.

Failing that dream, I opted to make a simple Apple Pie in a Jar – only substituting the shop-bought short-crust pastry for home-made, I’ve popped the recipe below for you.  Apple Pie is a such a delicious, warming antidote to the cold winter storms we are dealing with right now – what a perfect way to start my baking year!

I didn’t possess the right tempered jar, as featured in the book, but I have become a hoarder of regular jam jars, which are heat treated, so decided to use these for my creation; rather than purchasing new ones – which worked perfectly though (alongside the owning the fastest oven of all time) sped cooking time up by about 20 mins.

apple pie collageI started by making my shortcrust pastry – just like mum makes!

Ingredients:

125 g Plain Flour

30g Salted Butter (room temperature)

30g Lard (cubed)

Approximately 4 tbsps Cold Water

Method: Simply place the flour in a bowl with the butter and lard and rub together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs – all lumps of butter and lard should be rubbed through.  Then slowly add the cold water by tablespoon, to the mixture and mix to bind the mixture together.  In a ball, place the pastry dough in some clingfilm and refrigerate for about 20 minutes before using.

After the pastry was prepared, the apple mixture was easy enough to mix together – simply using 2 large cooking apples that I had lying around, a pinch of brown sugar, a little granulated sugar, some nutmeg, cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon juice, I followed the recipe to create a wintry, fragrant apple mix.  I then used cutters to make pastry bases and tops for each jar, filled the jars with mix (being careful to seal the pastry bases in place), put the tops on and placed in a loaf tin on the middle shelf for 15 minutes on 220C.  I then switched the oven down to 190C for a further recommended 35-40 minutes – though my jars were done in about 20 minutes more on the lower temperature.

I really enjoyed making these little apple pies, the filling was a deliciously, spicy take on a classic apple pie recipe, whilst the frugal nature of the dessert really worked too – it was made entirely from ingredients I had lying around the kitchen cupboards.  Not only that, the book itself has given me lots of ideas for gifts – gorgeous food, beautifully presented in jars, who could ask for anything more?  Even the use of non-regulation jars didn’t seem to matter too much – I think if I was to pick another recipe from ‘Make It In a Jar’, I would want to try something aesthetically challenging – the Rainbow Cake for example!  Overall though, the recipe gets a thumbs up from me, and I suggest my friends and family make way for some jar-shaped goodness coming their way in the future!

apple pie 2

How To Be….A Low-Key, Gin-Guzzling Fabulous Host

gin 1gin 3

I know we are all sick and tired of Happy New Year’s BUT, today I thought I would share a little recipe and a bit of my Frugal New Year with you!

It is my strong belief that New Year tends to be something of an anti-climax for anything that’s overplanned.  I’ve done the pub crawls, house parties and over-priced nights out; this year we wanted low-key and channel flicking with Jools Holland.  This sort of half-nod to celebrating any kind of event cannot be argued with; good food, good drink, good company, good…God is it really 2014???

The key to a Frugally Fabulous celebration is, really, the company.  A fancy bar or club is only as good as the people in it and, trust me, I’ve had some great nights and some really awful ones.  Luckily for me, my best chum BFA, lives about four minutes away from us, so the three of us traipsed over for an American Diner-inspired evening with sparkling cocktails, homemade burgers and a homemade sign – my little ode to the sexiest best programme on TV; True Blood.

new year collage

Using authentic sesame-seeded baps (6 for 99p), lean mince and ‘plastic cheese'; we made gorgeous farm-assured lean beef burgers served with a little salad, a little relish AND traditional curly fries (£1.50 for 2KG bag).  Mr J had his with some of the leftover Christmas wine, BFA knocked back a few ciders and Daisy, bless her, slept through the entire evening!  I chose to try some gin cocktails – it had been a while since I’d indulged in a gin and tonic and I wanted to make something tasty, but not so tasty I would forget my parental duties and wobble off to the nearest nightclub, demanding Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Might Real) on loop.  The result was sweet, tasty and trickled down the throat just nicely, smooth as Jools’ Jazz jams themselves!  Topped off by serving in old, recycled jam jars with a little zesty orange and sugar frosting decoration, they are bound to please the cocktail-drinkers among your guests.  So, if you’re thinking of hosting a little something similar, here’s the recipe…

Ingredients (To make 4 Tall Jam Jars)

Approximately 4-8 shots of Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire – on offer at the time for £20 – and believe me, as a mother of a young child in practical hibernation, this is a going to go a looooonnnggg way)!

2 Litres of Tonic OR Basics Sparkling Water (approximately 39p for 2 Litre bottle)

4 Oranges

2 long Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary (plus extra for stirrers – any extras are great for flavouring that Hangover Roast)

4 tbsps Sugar

Method: In a saucepan, over a medium heat, bring about 500ml of water to simmering with the sugar – this creates the syrup.  Once the sugar has completely dissolved into the water, remove from heat.

Meanwhile, using a squeezer, squeeze the juice of the oranges into the saucepan and add the skin to infuse with the syrup.  Add your sprigs of rosemary and leave until the mixture has cooled.  Strain orange peel and rosemary before adding to the serving jars.

Once the syrup is cooled completely, fill 4 jam jars or glasses with ice to about a third full and pop your shots of gin in each jar.  Equally add your syrup and top up with sparkling water/tonic water accordingly.

Et Voila! Serve with Rosemary Sprig Stirrers and Orange Peel decoration, smudge a little bit of sugar around the top of each jar for a sweet hit.  Do kick back, do do a little bit of stupid dancing to Lady Gaga’s Telephone, do enjoy watching other, more drunk people failing at Guitar Hero and do enjoy your Low-Key, Sparkly, American-Diner-Shoehorned-Themed Low-Key celebration!

gin 2

Stay Peachy x