Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Garlic!!!!!!! On Bread???.......and Cake!

A very busy day for me today, lots of errands and absolutely berluddy freezing! I nearly cried riding my bike to Seren's nursery today. My fingers were like ice! So lots of cups of tea were consumed (after my run....which was good but hard!). I wanted something quick, easy and comforting tonight. So I found this in one of my vegetarian cookbooks. Aubergine (Eggplant) Cake. Its savoury don't worry! Inside is a pasta feast! You can put any pasta and sauce in here but I wanted Tuna Pasta as its one of my faves!!!

Aubergine Tuna Pasta Bake (Cake)
203 Calories per serving!!

1 Aubergine
50g of Dry Pasta Per Person (I used wholewheat)
1x tin of tuna (preferably in brine or spring water to keep cals down)
1 x tin of tomatoes
One onion diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 celery stick diced finely
1 carrot grated finely
2 tsps mixed herbs
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 x dessertspoon of grated Parmesan

- cut the aubergine into long strips and place in a saucepan. Place boiling water on top and cook on the hob for around 5 minutes. Then take off the heat, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
- Grease a cake tin with a little bit of olive oil. Line the bottom of the cake tin with the Aubergine slices so that they are layered and there are no gaps.
- Preheat oven to 180degrees
- Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions. Usually around 15-20 minutes
- In the meantime, add the olive oil; garlic, onion, celery and carrot and cook on the hob for around 5 minutes until softened.
- At this point add the tomatoes and mixed herbs. Simmer for around 10 minutes until the mixture is no longer 'watery'. When that happens stir in the tuna.
- Your pasta should now be cooked. Drain and add to the pasta sauce. Stir to ensure that everything is combined thoroughly and then place on top of your aubergine layers in your cake tin. Compress it so the top is flat, sprinkle a bit more parmesan or cheddar on and then place in the oven
- Cook for around 20 minutes and then take out. Place a plate on top of the cake tin and then using a cloth or tea towel turn it 'upside down' so that the plate is on the bottom and the tin is on top. Carefully take off the cake tin and you should be left with a lovely compressed pasta 'cake'
I served this with salad and garlic bread and a sprinkling of Parmesan on top of the pasta. Yums.

For my Homemade Garlic Bread I melted a tbsp of butter with two crushed garlic cloves (I like garlic....can you tell?). I then used Warburtons Sandwich thins. These things are great, they are only 100 calories each and they split in two. So I split them and then brushed on the butter garlic mixture and placed in the oven for a few minutes until they were crispy. Absolutely delicious and less than 100 calories per slice!! (84 to be precise!)


Monday, 30 January 2012

Oh (ba)na-na whats my name.....

I like food. I can't deny it. I adore it, its my passion and takes up much of my thought processes. I get excited when I try new recipes, I get enthused when I taste something amazingly delicious, I love drawing from other peoples experiences with food and tweaking it to my own tastes. HOWEVER and here is the Crux of the matter......... it comes at a price......I could eat and eat and eat and eat and then of course follows the weight gain. I have lost ALOT of weight and I'm now on the 'home straight' to lose the last 2 odd stone. I do love healthy food and I'm enjoying creating new things in the kitchen to suit my new lifestyle, however sometimes I really crave carb loaded sweet things or cheesy piles of wrong!
So recently I've been re-creating my favourite dishes or trying new ones that do not compromise on flavour but are still relatively healthier than the originals.
I wanted Cake today. A yummy cake that doesn't taste of artificial sugar and soothes the little sugar monster inside me who screams in a Little Shop of Horrors voice 'Feeeeeeed me Danniiiii, Feeeeeeeddd meee!'. So I decided to shut the little bugger up!
Banana and Lime Cake......only 122 cals per slice. Perfect! Now this is the first time i've tried this recipe, and even though it was lovely it was quite 'heavy' I think next time I'd increase the bananas to two or three and maybe add a few tbsps of applesauce (to add extra moisture....applesauce is often used to replace oil in recipes)

Banana and Lime Cake


300g Plain Flour
1tsp Salt
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
175g Light Muscovado sugar
1tsp Lime Rind, Grated
1 Medium Egg, beaten
1 Banana, mashed with 1 tbsp Lime Juice
150ml Low fat Natural Yogurt
115g Icing Sugar
1-2 tsp lime juice


- Bang the oven on to 180Degrees to preheat and grease and line a cake tin, I used quite a deep 7 inch one.
- Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar and lime rind
- Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the egg, banana, yogurt and mix until thoroughly incorporated.
- Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface. Bake for 40-45 mins until firm to the touch or use the skewer test (it comes out clean if inserted in the centre)
- Leave to cool on a wire rack.
- To make the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lime juice to form a soft but not too runny icing, then drizzle over the cake letting it run down the sides, oozy yummy goodness!!!

Cheesy Yogurt Scones (86 cals each)

225g Plain flour (plus a bit more for rolling out and dusting)
1tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Baking powder
60g Unsalted Butter
1 egg
6 Tbsps Low fat natural yogurt
45g Lower fat Cheddar cheese (I used 'I cant believe its not Cheddar')

-  Preheat oven to 180degrees
- Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the dry ingredients until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then stir in the sugar.
- Beat together the egg and yogurt and stir quickly into your flour mixture. mix to form a thick dough and knead until it is smooth and free from cracks.
- Lightly flour your work top and roll the dough out to a thickness of around 3/4 inch.
- Cut out rounds, then gather up the trimmings roll them out again and cut out some more. I managed to get 17 out of mine.
- Grease a baking tray with butter and then add the cut out scones onto it. Lightly dust them with flour.
- Bake for 10 minutes until they are well risen and golden brown, then let them cool on a wire rack.

NB You can substitute the cheddar for 60g Caster Sugar instead to make sweet scones. Just add 1tsp of cinnamon to the flour and then you can have scones with jam and cream (or natural yogurt if you're not naughty!! ;p)

Leeks with Ham and Cheese (348 Cals per two leeks)

Leeks, Only the white parts (trim the root) two per person is plenty I find
Ham 2 slices per Leek (I used Turkey Ham for fewer cals)
Laughing Cow Extra Light Cheese Triangles x 4 (add 2 per person if cooking for more than two)
100g Soft Cheese (I used the lighter version with Onion and Chives... you could add your own herbs or garlic if you wanted a different taste)
Lower Fat Cheddar around 50g
1tsp Dijon Mustard
Milk (Semi Skimmed or Skimmed) 100ml or just enough to 'loosen' the sauce.

- Preheat the oven to 200degrees
- Boil the Leeks for 5 mins. Drain and run under cold water to prevent them from cooking any further,then leave to drain again.
- Make your cheese sauce. Place all the cheeses, mustard and milk in a pan and heat gently until they're all mixed thoroughly and you have a smooth sauce.
- Wrap your ham around the leeks and place in an ovenproof dish. Top with your cheese sauce, sprinkle some more cheddar and place in the oven.
- Bake for around 20 minutes until your topping is bubbling and starting to turn golden brown.
- Serve! I served mine with a big salad with a vinaigrette dressing and one of my cheese scones.

A lovely comfort food dish and incorporating all my thrifty principles. Cheap as chips!!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Slow cooked brisket and butter me up beans!

Its freezing, the temperature has dropped sooooo much, also factoring in two hard workouts means only one thing. Comfort food. In my mouth. Yes please.
I had quite a few food-gasms yesterday. In ASDA....of all places! ASDA is what I like to call a necessary evil. I'm broke at the moment so didn't want to spend more than £20 on the weeks shop....including toiletries which I'd run out of! (I am not willing to have greasy matter how thrifty I like to be!! ;p). But imagine my surprise when ASDA decided to answer all my prayers and reduced practically everything!
If you ever want lots of deals pop along to supermarkets around 5pm, 7pm and 9pm and you'll find lots of reductions. However when I went at 3:00pm they had crates upon crates of reduced meat at the front of the store. I have such a stocked freezer now I won't need to buy meat for a month! For less than £15 I got around £60+ worth of meat. I got Brisket joints; Lamb shanks, Lamb Burgers, Turkey breast fillets with Jalapeno cheese topping, Pork joints, 1kg pack of mince, Minted Lamb steaks, Sirloin steaks, Casserole Beef etc etc Just take my word for it, my freezer is freaking stocked to the max. Love it. Plus it'll certainly help with the thriftyness this month!
Ok so first recipe from my lovely stockpile was slowcooked rolled brisket. I served it with a butterbean mash as I fancied something different. It was absolutely delicious and I can use the leftovers to make a pie. I'll strain the veg out of the leftover gravy and add it to the meat and then top with Carrot and Swede Mash or potato slices depending on how I feel. I'll then pour over the leftover gravy when its ready. Heaven.
So here we go:

Slow Cooked Rolled Brisket of Beef served with Mashed Garlic and Rosemary Butterbeans

Beef Brisket
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x glass of red wine (More if you want it boozy)
2 tsps mixed herbs
1 x bayleaf
2 dessertspoons worcestershire sauce
2 Beef stock cubes
A sprinkling of thickener or cornflour OR if you want to cheat like I do pop in a few tsps of Gravy Granules!
For the butterbean mash:
A can of butterbeans
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1 garlic clove crushed
2 tsps dried rosemary 

- Ideally Beef brisket should be slow cooked for 8-9 hours on Low setting in your slow cooker. 
- Pop all of the ingredients (except the butterbean mash ingredients) into your slow cooker. Add around 1/2 a pint of boiling water and stir to ensure the beef stock cubes have dissolved. Pop the lid back on, whack on low and leave for 8-9 hours.
- When you come home from work, or Uni or wherever you have been your home will be filled with the beautiful smells of dinner. Inviting you in and warming your soul knowing that dinner is less than 10 minutes away!
- When you're ready to eat put the butterbeans including their water into a saucepan and heat gently for 3-4 minutes. Drain.
- Pop back on the heat and add the olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Then mash until you have a smooth consistency. Add more olive oil if you think the mixture looks too dry, or some nice salted butter instead.
- Take your beef brisket out, try and carve it.....its so succulent it literally falls apart so you're left with beautiful chunks of mouthwateringly tender meat. Serve up with some of the gravy and the veg and your butterbean mash and devour. Easy. Simple. Tasty. Perfick. Enjoy!!!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Enter the Dragon!

Knackered. Two good workouts today, just under 700 calories burned so boy oh boy was I craving tonight's dinner!!!
Since its Chinese New Year (The Year of the Dragon), I thought I would do a Chinese inspired meal so I chose a Jamie Oliver recipe I usually do for Christmas leftover turkey and tweaked it to my personal tastes. If you want the original recipe this is it: I love this recipe its gorgeous, however for me the onion was so overpowering it took away from the other delicate flavours in the dish. I served it with my healthier egg fried rice and both myself and my daughter wolfed it down!

Chinese Five Spice Chicken and Healthier Egg Fried Rice
(Entire Meal is less than 500 calories)

For the Chicken:
1 inch piece of Ginger peeled and grated finely
1Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
Juice of one clementine
Juice of one lime
Cooked Chicken (This serves four and I used less than 300g of chicken)
Dried cranberries ( a good handful....around 50g)
Cashew nuts (natural not salted) another handful (50g)
1 Tbsp Clear Honey
2 tsps Five Spice powder (add more or less according to your tastes)
For the Rice:
Enough Rice to feed 4 people (around 200g)
Splash of olive oil (or sesame oil if you have it)
4 Spring onions, white and green parts chopped finely
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 whole egg
2 egg whites
A few tsps of Soy Sauce
(I usually chop up ham and add peas to this too but didn't have this at home!)

- Put the Rice on to boil (Brown rice takes longer than white, so around 30 minutes), then drain the rice and run under cold running water until cool in a colander and then leave to drain whilst you prep the other ingredients.
- Shred the chicken into strands and leave to one side.
- Mix together the clementine and lime juice, Soy sauce, and ginger and put to one side.
-  Add the oil to a pan and cook the spring onions and garlic until softened but not browned. Mix the eggs together and add to the pan. Leave to cook for a few seconds and then start to 'scramble'. When its nearly done add the cold rice and stir to combine the eggs with it. Now heat and stir occasionally until the rice is heated through. Splash in a few tsps of soy sauce and stir again. Now take off the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.
- Heat a frying pan on high and add the chicken, cranberries, cashews and five spice powder. Stir to combine everything and cook stirring often to heat the chicken through.
- At this point add the Tbsp of Honey and stir to combine. Cook until the chicken starts to crisp up as the sugar in the honey caramelises. Add the juice mixture and cook again on high until absorbed and crispy.
- Serve straight away on the egg fried rice, and top with shredded spring onions.

NB. You could serve the chicken with Asian pancakes (which are really easy to make!) or to make it healthier you could wrap the mixture up in lettuce leaves. Serving with Plum or Hoisin sauce. Both would compliment the chicken perfectly.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Venison's 'Dear'?!

Another successful week on operation fat cow, 2lbs lost! Inches are falling away too! Woop Woop!! And I even get to eat gorgeous food like I did last night!!
Now I cannot pretend that this recipe is my own, yea sure I tweaked it but not much. Nigella, I bow before your domestic goddessy alter! I just love her! I love her sumptious, chuck it all in, put more on, eat more attitude! (unfortunately for me I can't do it that often due to her dishes being ridiculously calorie laden!).
However yesterday my dearly beloved partner (who i'm sure was sick of healthy food) asked me if I wouldn't mind cooking him something extra special. A nice romantic night in (as we are both a bit brassic post Crimbo!). I of course took up the challenge with relish! (not literally....but I could do a recipe if you like? ;p). I fancied doing something different, so I picked up a few cook books for inspiration. Halfway through Nigella's 'Express' Cookbook I spied with my little eye a perfect dish. Griddled Venison Steaks With Pink Gin Sauce. Amazing. My fella is an avid Gin drinker, in fact I think he may have been a reincarnated drunkard from the early 18th century when the 'Gin Craze' was occurring! So as soon as I saw this recipe I was like ding dang doo that's the recipe for me!!
Venison. Extremely lean and actually quite cost effective! I went to my local butchers and got two big venison steaks for just over a fiver. Yes that's right £5!!! You can't even get a decent sirloin for £5!
I had gin in the house so I didn't have to buy anything else really! I will post the recipe below. I have to say it was absolutely stunning. It was mouthwateringly tender (due to marination time and also quick cooking time, plus resting) and went down an absolute treat. We both absolutely loved it. It also looked very impressive so would be nice for dinner parties!!!!!

Griddled Venison with Pink Gin Sauce, Smashed Garlic and Rosemary New Potatoes and Tenderstem Broccoli

For the Venison:
2 x Venison Steaks
125ml Gin
2xtbsp Olive Oil (I put slightly less in as I was using steaks rather than loin)
1 Onion peeled and quartered
2 Garlic cloves bruised
Star Anise (I personally hate aniseed so I left this out, but if you like it.....bung it in!!)
2tsps worcester sauce
Tenderstem Brocolli (I used a whole pack from tesco, i'd say it was enough for 3-4 people)
For the Pink Gin Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
5 spring onions finely chopped (whites only....I used around 8 as the spring onions were small)
Pinch of salt
3 Red Delicious apples
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon gin
Juice of 1 lemon
1 long red chili, left whole (I forgot to get a chilli so I used chilli flakes instead)
For the smashed potatoes:
New potatoes ( I don't know weights i'm sorry as I chucked the whole packet in to have leftovers for today!)
2x tbsp olive oil
2 x garlic cloves crushed
2tsps of rosemary (dried) or a few springs of fresh. 

- For the venison, put all ingredients (except the tenderstem broccoli!) into a freezer bag and leave to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, 2 hours would be perfect at room temperature (not in the fridge please!)
- Whilst the venison is marinading prepare the apple sauce.
- Melt the butter in a sauce pan and then add the salt and spring onions. Cook on a low heat until the onions are softened but not browned.
- Chop the apple in half (dont worry about coring or peeling them as the red skin gives the pink colour) then chop each half in quarters.
- Add to the pan along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well, cover and let simmer for around 20-30 minutes until the apples have softened.
- If you have used a whole chilli, remove it at this point.
- Pass the sauce through a fine sieve or if you have a potato ricer then use this, You will be left with a delightfully pink apple sauce. Cover and leave at room temperature.
- 40 mins before you want to eat, pop the new potatoes on to boil for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200degrees.
- When the potatoes are ready drain and put into an ovenproof dish. Use a fork to 'smash' them. You don't want them to be mashed you want them to retain some shape but still be smashed down.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan (or very carefully in the microwave), add garlic and rosemary and pour over the potatoes, making sure they are all coated. Then pop them into the oven to crisp up and become gorgeously golden and crunchy on top.
- 20 minutes before dinnertime, put a frying pan or ideally a griddle pan (to get those luscious scorch marks over the meat!) and when hot add the venison steaks.
- Cook to preference. I like Venison and any red meat in fact quite pink so I cooked mine for 10 minutes turning frequently. Using the touch test. For rare touch the meat with your finger and it should have the same 'spongy softness' that your cheek does. If you want medium it should feel the same as touching your chin does, if you want well done it should feel the same as pressing on your forehead.
- After cooking put onto a board or plate and cover with foil to keep warm and rest. Resting is so important with meats! It means all those lovely juices stay in the meat and keep it so tender.
- By this time your potatoes should be nearly ready.
- Put your tenderstem broccoli on to boil for 5 minutes. When its ready, drain and toss it in a splash of lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.
- Carve the meat at a diagonal and spread on the plate. Top with the apple sauce, serve up your potatoes and tenderstem brocolli and eat! Yummy!

NB - I have to say I used way more than two tbsps of gin......because we love gin, I think I must've put in around 6!!! But it was soooooooo good and not overpowering at all. Tweak it to your own tastes. Add sugar if you think its too tart, I think I added 1 tsp! 

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Past'a the time away! (And make some berluddy lasagne!)

Hello you lovely lot, another busy day in my household. I had a whole lot of 'get up and go' today so I took advantage of it as tomorrow I may be in vegetation mode!!!
I started the day with some lovely crumpets with marmite YUM. Then whilst that was going down I did a 'mock-up' of a cake I am doing at the beginning of February. My friends little boy is turning three and he has an obsession with the film 'Cars'. So I am making him a Lightening McQueen Car cake. Today I just wanted to try out the shape I wanted to do, headlights, fender, windscreen etc but on a very small scale. This weekend or next week I will do another mock up but of 'true size'........i'm looking forward to it!
Here is said mock up. VERY rough draft, just quickly tried out the dimensions etc. Will be a lot neater on final draft don't worry!! ;)

Then two workouts were completed and I also finished my little sisters Bday cake........I say little sister but she's now reached the grand old age of 23!!!! All grown up! So I made her a lovely victoria sponge (as this is one of her faves) and decorated it with buttercream roses. This was my first attempt at this and i'm kinda pleased with the results. It needs tweaking, so looks like i'll have to make more cakes.......oh drat!! ;)

Today I made a low fat version of one of my favourite dishes; Lasagna.....I can't really call it low fat as its still quite high in fat BUT lower calorie and considerably healthier than the original recipes!!! I quite liked it, there were a few things I might tweak though: Firstly the white sauce was nice but slightly tart (due to the quark), personally I quite like that but if you're looking for something creamier then I would perhaps substitute the quark for Ricotta OR do half and half. Secondly I am on a thrifty week this week so I used Beef and Pork Mince already combined. However if I had slightly more dosh I would have bought extra lean beef mince and added weight watchers or reduced fat sausages instead and the calorie count would be even less!
But in essence I enjoyed this lasagna, I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything and as a true lasagna addict it hit the spot, plus its less than 400 calories per portion! Bonus! Almost low enough to add a few slices of garlic bread!! ;)
Ok so here goes!

One onion diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 stick of celery diced finely
1 carrot grated finely
1/2 apple grated
450g pack of Pork and Beef mince OR 500g Extra lean beef mince
1tbsp Tomato Puree
2tsps worcestershire sauce
1 beef stock cube
1 tin of tomatoes
2tsps mixed herbs
Wholemeal lasagne sheets
White sauce ingredients:
1 x cottage cheese tub (250g)
1 x tub of Quark (250g-300gish)
1tsp mixed herbs
1tbsp semi skimmed milk
1 egg lightly beaten
Seasoning, lots of pepper!
2tbsps of parmesan

- Sweat off the onions and celery in frylight or a tbsp of lower fat butter, when soft add the garlic and cook out for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and apple and cook for a few minutes until soft.
- Add mince and brown
- Add tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes, then sprinkle over the stock cube, worcester sauce and herbs and mix
- Finally add the tin of tomatoes and simmer gently for 15 minutes
- Whilst the meat mixture is simmering preheat oven to 180degrees
- Mix all the white sauce ingredients together
- Layer the meat mixture with the white sauce and lasagne sheets. I used 9 sheets in total 3 levels of 3. Top the dish with the remaining white sauce and sprinkle on some more parmesan
- Bake in the oven until the lasagne sheets are soft and the top is bubbling nicely and starting to turn a slight golden colour. This can take anything from 25-40 minutes depending on your oven.
- Then serve it how you like, I always like mine with a nice crisp salad with a lovely vinaigrette dressing (I love the way the vinaigrette mixes in with the lasagne, I think it tastes lush! Weird but true! ;)
 NB. Almost forgot! This serves 6!!  :)

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Go on....bung in some mushrooms! They're such fun-guys! ;)

Firstly apologies about the title. It sucks. I know. But i'm tired and Funghi related puns are all I could muster!
Secondly I am brassic. More brassic than a brass thing on brass day. (For Non Brits this simply means I am broke, bank account is drier than the sahara, diddly squat, zilch etc etc). So this coming week I am going to have to be a lot more thrifty than I have been in a while!
So everybody, purse strings are tightened.....thrifty hat is on and i'm ready to go! Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin!
I went to my cupboard umming and ahhing and pondering like a great big ponderer about what to cook tonight with minimal fuss and at the same time being oh so satisfying......hidden behind some Smart Price Beans and half a pack of cornflakes I spied a corner of a packet......I had no idea what it was, so like a trooper I stuck my hand right to the back of that cupboard hoping it wouldn't get chewed off by a pre-pubescent tin of tuna or a Manic Depressive sprouting potato and pulled out a pack of risotto! Perfick!
Tonights dinner was Mushroom Risotto. Delicious. Easy. CHEAP and helped me use up the rest of the mushrooms in my fridge which wouldn't last many more days.

Mmmm steamy!

Oh did I forget to mention? This recipe serves four AND (wait for it....) it contains less than 300 calories per serving!!! Bonus!


1 large onion diced OR a bunch of spring onions chopped finely (I used spring onions as this is what I had in my fridge!
1-2 Garlic cloves crushed (I love garlic so I used two. One would be perfectly fine though)
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or more if you want more heat)
1 large glass of white wine
250g Risotto Rice (Arborio)
2 x vegetable stock cubes dissolved in a litre of hot water
Frylight OR a tbsp of butter (I used a lower fat butter to keep calories down...ran out of frylight!!)
200g Mushrooms (or whatever you have left in your fridge!)

- Melt butter in either a risotto pan or large frying pan. When it is beginning to foam add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes and cook slowly until the onions have softened.
- Add the rice and stir to ensure all the grains are coated in the onion/garlic mixture
- Pour in your glass of wine and mushrooms and stir until the wine has been absorbed.
- Pour in the stock....a ladleful at a time. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and when the rice has absorbed the liquid add another ladleful....and so on and so forth until the rice is oozy and creamy and scrumptious!!! You may need more may need less. Each risotto is different! Just taste it and see if it needs anymore.
- I squeezed a little bit of lemon juice on my end product as I love the sharpness of the citrus against the creaminess of the risotto.

So there it is! I hope you enjoy making it as much as I do. So yummy and SO easy!!!

Monday, 16 January 2012

The Thrifty Cat who got the cream.....

So this weekend was a bit of a quiet one, I just exercised and chilled out with the fella and his family. It was a lovely one but I didn't get much cooking done. I ate healthily but didn't do much cooking from scratch, more like chicken wraps on the go etc so it was lovely to get back into the kitchen today and experiment with a recipe.
On my previous post I asked for peoples suggestions for 'healthier' versions of their favourite dishes. On Facebook I received some fabulous ideas and today was my first try.
A friend of mine LOVES Pollo alla Crema (chicken in a cream sauce), but at a restaurant or a homemade version the calories from vary from anything between 390 to 500+ calories! Not even factoring in the rice or pasta to serve it with you could be looking at 700+ calories for a meal!
So my challenge was to cut the calories and try and keep the taste as close to the real thing as possible. I have managed to cut down the dish to a mere 275 calories! If you serve with brown rice or brown pasta then you are going to have a meal for less than 500 calories, which although not suitable every night (due to the cream) is certainly worth banging out now and again!

The following recipe will serve 4. (Please note I have no idea if this is an authentic recipe however most recipes I found included all of the same ingredients and that's what I 'tweaked')

Pollo Alla Crema

Diced Turkey Breast or Turkey Steaks diced (I used a 434g pack from Tesco. Less than £3. I also chose Turkey over Chicken as its slightly leaner and more cost effective)
100ml single cream
200ml weight watchers reduced fat creme fraiche 
1 large onion diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 x chicken stock cube dissolved in 500ml boiling water
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Mushrooms 200-250g (depends on how much you like them! I found 200g was fine)
1 tsp sugar
175 ml white wine

- Spray some fry light into a large frying pan and seal the chicken/turkey pieces, transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Spray pan with fry light again and on a very low heat add the onions and the tsp of sugar. Cook until soft and caramelised  (around 10 minutes)
- Stir in the garlic and cook on a low heat again for a few minutes. Re-add the chicken at this point along with the mushrooms.
- Add the wine and simmer and reduce until its practically disappeared.
- At this point add the chicken stock and reduce again (takes around 10 minutes) then stir in the dijon mustard.
- Stir in the creme fraiche and single cream and simmer until the sauce thickens. When it has thickened enough (it takes inbetween 5-10 mins) then take off the heat and slowly stir in the egg yolk. Put back on the hob and simmer for a few mins. 
- It is now ready to serve. You can have this with either Pasta (Tagliatelle would be nice) or Rice. I served mine with Brown Rice and it came in at 490 Calories. A good few hundred less than the original recipe and still very creamy and nice.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Thrifty needs YOU!!!!

Hello beautifuls,
Well since i'm health kicking it recently i've been looking at all my favourite recipes and in my recipe books to see how I can adapt and change some high-fat recipes into thrifty low fat ones!!!

This is where you come in!! I would love your ideas on what you would like to de-calorify! What do you LOVE to eat but can't eat too often due to the fat content. If I can help in any way then i'll practice and change the recipe to cut the cals.

So please send me your favourite recipes and i'll get cracking, either comment here or on my facebook! :)

Lots of love to you all xxxx

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

There's a 'rat'atouille in the kitchen whatcha gonna do.....

Hello lovely lot,
Lots of calories burned today.....over 1000!! Boom!! So knackered now though, so wanted a quick easy and most of all delicious dinner! I could've wolfed down a whole chicken the way I was feeling but practised some restraint (god i'm boring). So tonight's post is about my din dins this evening. Chicken with steamed brown rice and homemade Ratatouille.

I'm on an economy drive at the moment (thrifty broke!) so I went to Iceland (gasp!!!) I'm not a fan of them usually, but sometimes I go in there for frozen veg and milk etc. Today I went in for chicken, Birds Eye chargrills to be exact. I can't afford a big pack of chicken breasts at the moment so I got the original chargrills which are pretty yummy and best of all....CHEAP! 6 breasts for £3, cant say fairer than that!

Now for the recipe!
Chicken per person or two if you're super hungry
Brown rice 50g per person is usually recommended BUT it all depends on how much you want.
1 yellow pepper cut into chunks
1 red pepper cut into chunks
an aubergine (half if super big) NB I didn't have any Aubergine in my fridge so I left it out this time
1 large onion cut into chunks, you don't have to be that precise its all about texture
1 garlic clove crushed
1 x tin of tomatoes (I didn't fancy it being really tomatoey today so I omitted them and used a pack of cherry tomatoes instead and some tom puree)
1 x tbsp tom puree
1-2 courgettes cut into rounds
2 tsps dried mixed herbs

- Preheat oven to 180degrees
-Pop all the Ratatouille ingredients into an ovenproof dish with a spoonful of water (if not using tinned toms, if using tinned toms then don't worry). Give it a good stir and put into ovenproof dish or baking tray (I prefer ovenproof as the onions don't tend to burn as easily). Put in oven
- Put the brown rice on to boil/steam, it takes longer than white rice so you're looking at around half an hour
- After ten minutes have elapsed, check the Ratatouille giving it a good stir and then pop the chicken breasts into the oven too (you can place them on top of the Ratatouille if you like)
- After 30/40 minutes everything should be cooked and ready to serve up just how you like it.

I worked out the calories for this and for 1 cup of brown rice( like the picture...sorry don't know the gram version for this) 1 chicken breast and 200g veg its around 430 calories. Nice!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Mmmm how swede it is!!

Berluddy freezing outside!!! Sod salad tonight, I wanted something filling, cockle-warming and delicious (plus healthy of course!!!) to take the chill away from these dark dreary nights.
Cottage pie.
I adore it. Absolutely adore it. Buttery mash, thick oozy gravy, tender mince! Heaven!! However the way I usually make my cottage pie would probably break my diet. Lots of butter and wrong!
So today I decided to make a healthier version. This recipe feeds 4 (+ 2 little ones at a stretch) and was absolutely devoured by both me and my daughter.
I have worked out the calories for you and for one serving there is only 360 calories! Awesome!

Cottage Pie topped with Carrot and Swede mash

Lean beef mince (or turkey mince if you want to be super healthy) 450-500g pack would be perfect. For this recipe I used 450g.
A pack of carrot and swede diced veg (all supermarkets do these and they are very cheap, cheaper than buying seperately) the pack I used was 600g.
Half a garlic clove or 1/2tsp garlic puree
1 large onion chopped
1 courgette grated finely (secret veg hiding!)
2 x dessert spoon of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1 x tsp Marmite or bovril
1 x tsp tomato puree
1x tsp mixed herbs
1 x beef stock cube
If you want a thick gravy you can add gravy granules too. I added 4 dessert spoons of reduced salt beef bisto granules. Makes the gravy gorgeous and thick! If you have leftover gravy from your sunday roast that'd be even more perfect!

- Set the carrot and swede on to boil
- Sweat off the onions in fry light or minimal oil
- Add the garlic and courgette and cook out for 2 minutes
- Add the mince and brown off, usually 5 minutes
- Add the tomato puree, lea and perrins, marmite, oxo cube and gravy granules if using.
- Add some water, around 50mls should do it.
- At this point preheat oven to 180degrees
- Cook the mince mixture on a nice low heat for around 5 minutes
- The carrot and swede should now be cooked, take off the heat, drain and mash.
- Pop the mince into an ovenproof dish, top with the mash and spread out so it covers it evenly.
- Put in oven until the mince is bubbling beautifully and the mash has started to crisp up. It all depends on your oven but it usually takes about 10 minutes in mine.
- Dish up and delight in its easiness and health benefits (vs. a traditional cottage pie!)

Turkey and 'Cor'Blimey' Burgers!

Well "Operation Fat Cow" has gone very well this week. I feel better for it already! 2lbs and 3 inches lost (over my waist/belly and hips) since last Monday!
But apart from the exercise, the thing i'm loving most is the food! Yes me! Mrs comfort and stodge and yummy McYummerson is really enjoying lean meats, and LOOOOADDDSSS of veg!!
So when I did last weeks shop I chose lots of lean proteins and fish fillets. One item I chose was turkey mince. I often substitute chicken for turkey as its so much cheaper! And if cooked correctly can be really yummy AND nutritious at the same time!
Even though i'm not following the Slimming World diet, I do sometimes cook some of their recipes as they're really nice! One recipe I saw was for Turkey and Courgette burgers. Knowing how fussy my daughter is with vegetables this seemed perfect to hide and get some much needed veg inside her!
I adapted the original recipe though to add more flavour and tailor it more to 'my' tastes.

450g pack of Turkey Mince
50g Turkey ham chopped very finely
2 spring onions chopped finely (greens and all)
1 courgette grated finely
1 garlic clove crushed
Pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2tsp ginger
1/4tsp cinnamon

- Mix ingredients altogether, get your hands in there and sqwudge it altogether! Messy but fun!
- Divide into six burgers (or less if you want them bigger) and place on lined baking tray and leave in fridge for half an hour to firm up.
- preheat oven to 190degrees
- Place in oven for 20-30 minutes

I served mine with Healthy chips (using my Actifry) and a big salad. I have leftovers for tomorrow's lunch where i'll have it in a wholemeal roll.

They were SO yummy!!! I tried to keep them as low fat as possible so no egg yolk or breadcrumbs to bind. They didn't need it they weren't sloppy and usually turkey mince can go quite dry but the use of courgettes kept them wonderfully moist! PLUS and this is a major advantage it gets veg in the kids without them realising! Seren wolfed down her burger not realising she was eating 'greens'! hehe
The use of turkey ham was an addition by myself as I like the smokiness and it really added a nice touch to the burgers it was quite subtle but really nice.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

What thrifty did next....ok what I PREVIOUSLY did.....

Hello all my lovely readers, even though I didn't post lots in ok try zilch! I still did lots of baking and cooking! So this post will cover some of the stuff I did in that period.
I am obviously not a millionaire and I had a lot of people to get presents for so I decided to do hampers for most of them instead. A nice personal idea and cheaper than buying lots of individual presents!
Firstly I needed hampers.....they are so berluddy expensive!!! I couldn't believe my 20/20 vision eyes! So on a whim I went to my local charity shop and had a scrounge. They had loads! For 10p each! Bargain! Big ones small ones....some as big as your not quite! Anyway I was able to satisfy all my hamper needs in one fell swoop, Gott sei dank (thank god) for charity shops!!
Next stop....Cellophane, £1 a metre from my local florist, they even had special Christmas themed ones, I got some lovely gold cellophane and also some with Christmas trees on.
You can ask your friends/neighbours for all their jars after they've used them. I had a huge stack from last year as I meant to do hampers for Crimbo 2010....but didn't! :O
Contents of my hampers:
Spiced Nuts
Flavoured Vodka
Lemon Curd
Biscotti (Cappuccino and chocolate flavour! Yums!)
Chocolate filled Macaroons
Chocolate Truffles
Mulled Wine (£2 each from Asda)


Spiced Nuts

A big bag of mixed nuts (Lidl and Aldi were the cheapest)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of lea and perrins worcestershire sauce

- Toast nuts in a dry frying pan for a few mins to toast them 3-4 mins should do, take care not to burn them
- Add the butter and cook for a min or so until its all melted and the nuts start to darken a little
- Add all the spices/salt and sugar and a dash of water
- Cook for around 5 minutes until all ingredients are well combined, nuts are coated and the sauce begins to thicken.
- Line a baking tray with foil and pour the mixture in, leave to harden in a cool place. Once cool and hard place in an airtight container or your jars. These will keep for around a week or so.

For the chocolate macaroons I used this recipe. It was fab!

For the Chocolate Truffles I used this recipe (Brilliant too as they are freezable so I made them a week before Christmas, I just stored them in tupperware in the freezer) I also did half coated in Icing Sugar and half coated in Dessicated Coconut.

For the shortbread I used this recipe, in my opinion it wasn't sweet or buttery enough so will try a different one next time I think!

I used this recipe for the Lemon Curd.........amazing!!! So yummy! Will definitely use this one again and again!

And for the Biscotti I used this recipe, it was so easy to make and oh so delicious!

Flavoured Vodka

One pack of Frozen Fruits (I prefer to use frozen, gives a better flavour) I used Frozen Forest fruits from ASDA which included raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and redcurrants.
A bottle of vodka
Sugar (not exact as it all depends on tastes)

- Sterilise your bottles, either use on a very hot wash in a dishwasher or wash in hot soapy water and then put in a 140degree oven upside down for around 10minutes. Leave to cool.
- Pour the vodka in a extremely clean tupperware container, add all of the fruits and a couple of tbsp's of sugar. Stir and leave in a cool dry place. Every day shake the mixture gently, do this for a couple of weeks. After 3-4 weeks decant into two bottles. You can leave the fruits out but I personally like to put them in as I think it looks so beautiful with their jewel like goodness peaking through the glass!
- This is fab for those summer months too, take it as a gift to your friends BBQ and they'll soon be extremely merry and giving you the best steaks off the grill! ;)

With the leftover Shortbread Biscuits I made a few Shortbread 'Christmas Trees'...only small ones and gave them to the ex in-laws, and one for my daughter too of course! :) I just used the same cutters I used for the shortbread to cut out green fondant icing and topped each shortbread star with them. Then dusted with Icing Sugar and wrapped in Cellophane

And here are the finished results of the hampers:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Dust anybody??

I'm ashamed to say its been well over a month since my last post!!! The excitement and run up to Christmas took over and I didn't have time! Now that all the dust/glitter/baubles/Cadburys Roses are settled i'm getting back on track!
So for the month of January my posts will be mostly Thrifty and Healthy related! I am back on 'Operation Fat Cow' as I call it. I previously lost over 4 stone last year but i've put on 12lbs since October! Nightmare! So i'm back on the 'wagon' and hoping to lose that plus another 2 stone by my daughters Birthday in May.
So I am currently working out every single day sometimes twice and eating very healthily.....but of course with my thrifty principles!!!

Tonight's dinner was simple, healthy, delicious and most importantly very cheap to make! Recipe follows:

Tandoori Cod with Jacket Potato and Salad

Cod Fillet (1 per person....less or more depending on size)
Tandoori Powder (you can buy this in most lasts ages so is very cost effective!)
Natural Yogurt (Low Fat) OR Low fat Soft Cheese like philadelphia (I use the supermarkets own value brand....tastes the same!!!)
A squeeze of lemon juice
One jacket potato per person
A HUGE salad, as much as you a low fat vinaigrette, I used Asda's good for you vinaigrette.

- If you have time marinate the cod fillets overnight....but it can be done just before cooking too.
- Mix one generous tablespoon of tandoori powder with a few tablespoons of the natural yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- rub the marinade all over the fish fillets, making sure to get into the slashes you made. Leave to marinate overnight in a covered bowl or leave in the fridge for a few minutes whilst you heat the oven up.
- Heat oven to 190degrees
- Cut up some foil squares, place one fillet in each foil square and wrap up so the marinade stays can add more marinade at this point if you like.
- Place on baking tray and put in oven and cook for 15-20 minutes depending on size/thickness of your fillets.
- In meantime cook Jacket Potatoes in microwave for 10 minutes until cooked. Then bung them in the oven either on another shelf on the same baking tray as the fish parcels. They will then crisp up a bit before serving.
- Make a salad however you wish and add your own vinaigrette.
- Plate up and enjoy!!

NB you can use frozen fish fillets for this too......don't marinate overnight just plop the marinade on top, wrap in foil and cook from frozen for around 20minutes. You will get excess water with this but its easily poured away.