On Jamie and Jimmy's Friday Night Feast the other week Jamie showed a great cheap and easy way to make a fab gravy, which can also double up as a rather delicious Cook-In-Sauce
Jamie's recipe is part of his meatloaf dish
The ingredients are:
Then on Monday I made some more, only this time I used some left over red wine I had frozen into ice cubes instead of the jam. I then added a mixture of dried and fresh herbs I had around the kitchen, although I could have added some frozen herbs instead. I needed a little more tomato puree to thicken up the sauce then poured it over the left over chicken and vegetables from Monday.
So thank you Jamie, you have helped turn my leftover Sunday lunch into a great tasting casserole which will keep my lot going until Wednesday!!!
I have recently discovered Quinoa. It is similar to couscous and very easy to make. Just boil it in a saucepan as directed on the packet. Quinoa is cheap and versatile. I make it and add it to salads, curries and stews to make them go that bit further.
If you fancy some complex carbs to keep the hunger at bay also add it to whole grain rice or use it as a rice substitute if you are being really healthy.
You can also add it to homemade burgers or use it as an alternative to oats when making porridge. https://www.thehealthychef.com/2012/02/quinoa-power-porridge/
Quinoa can also be used to make deserts and biscuits this little gems uses are endless, cheap and good for you!!!
Winter is a great time of year to make a hearty soup for all the family and the good news is that most of the ingredients are cheap and easy to find.
This week I made two soups, a Pea and Spinach and a Root Vegetable.
Ingredients for the Pea and Spinach were:
1 small onion
1 large bag of spinach
1 large bag of peas
2 vegetable stock cubes
I followed the same method for the Root Vegetable soup using carrots, sweet potatoes, a small onion and a swede with two vegetable stock cubes.
Both warming and good for you and will feed the family for the fraction of the price of ready made bought soup - a real winner!!!
My family still insist that I do a Sunday lunch, to be honest we usually have it around 5pm in the evening otherwise it eats into the whole of Sunday. However it is neither cheap nor always particularly healthy.
My husband and youngest son love roast potatoes but as an alternative for me I also do roasted vegetables cooked in olive oil (usually the £1 a pack variety)
I also use granola and nuts as a substitute topping for my fruit crumble
I also add some granola and nuts with fresh or frozen fruit to Ice Cream, to make a really simple but tasty desert.
Another great way to save time and eat healthily is a meal in a bag. A few thinly sliced vegetables with either fish or chicken wrapped in grease proof paper and cooked until tender. It cuts down on the washing up and makes for a hassle free Sunday lunch. You can spread some marmalade or plum jam on the meat or fish and then you don't have to worry about gravy either. Simple, cheap and healthy!!!
My job means I do a lot of travelling to client offices which often involves early mornings and late evenings. It is so tempting to grab breakfast on the way and also buy lunch rather than making it and taking it with me. As I am still trying to lose weight and lower my cholesterol I am having to become creative about how I manage my meals, making them interesting, healthy and inexpensive.
This is what I typically put in my rucksack before I leave the house.
All I need is some hot water and these are my meals for the day
Mixed seed porridge with banana for breakfast and miso soup with noodles and an orange for lunch. Breakfast cost less than £1 and lunch is only slightly more.
I do miss my packets of crisps and things that go crunch so for dinner on Friday night I cut up some vegetables, dipped them in an egg and covered them in some mixed grain breadcrumbs I had in the freezer. I then sprinkled them with olive oil and popped them in the oven on for half an hour. Again a meal for 2 for less than £5.00! Living healthier for less.
I'd also like to thank Tom Kerridge for the inspiration for dinner on Saturday night after watching him on his series Lose weight for good.
His dinner in a bag looked delicious, so I improvised using ingredients I had in my fridge; salmon steaks, courgettes, left over Christmas chutney, black beans in white wine vinegar (courtesy of my neighbour Sunny and her Chinese recipe for lowering cholesterol) and some sauerkraut, with fresh ginger and lemon. My husband said it was the best meal I had ever made him. So thanks Tom and Sunny!!!!!
Keep checking for other dinner in a bag recipes coming soon!
Happy New Year!!!
Finally the Christmas decorations are down and 2018 is now in full swing
If you are looking for tips on what to do with any remaining Christmas leftovers remember you can freeze more than you think:
I now only eat complex carbs i.e. mixed grained bread, porridge and rice. If I cook with oil it is always Olive Oil.
I have cut out the lattes and use soya or almond milk as an alternative to cows milk from time to time.
This week when in the supermarket I picked up some reduced over ripe fruit and made a large jug of smoothie. This helps fight off winter colds and flu bugs as well as helps with any sugar cravings.
I have also replaced nibbling on crisps on a Saturday night to nibbling on nuts and raisins or some of my roasted tomatoes with extra large olives. Proving you can live on a budget, eat well and lose weight!!!
I wanted to share with you a great tip I tried this week. I love sun dried tomatoes, but they are expensive to buy. Recently I got told a really great way of making them yourself. All you need is a warming tray, I have an electric one I use mostly at Christmas. Lay some tinfoil or baking paper on it. Slice some cherry tomatoes in half (cheapest you can find and no problem if they are over ripe). Place on the tray and leave until the tomatoes have dried out. Covering them with more tinfoil or baking paper will help speed up the drying process.
These look great added to olives, covered with olive oil. I added some chopped garlic, chillies and fresh herbs. In jars these make great gifts and I added mine to the hampers I have been making for friends and family.
Below shows the last few months have paid off as I have been able to create some great gifts at a fraction of the price you would pay in the shops
This will be my last post until the New Year but for some great ideas on how to use Christmas leftovers please see my earlier blogs:
In the New Year I will be giving you some ideas for healthy low fat recipes and how I reduced my cholesterol count from 7.2 to 4.2 in a matter of weeks!
Have a great Christmas and I will see you all in the New Year!!
A really easy way to make Gravy for Christmas in advance is to buy some Chicken or Turkey stock cubs, dissolve in boiling water as per instructions on the packet and then pour into a saucepan adding a finely chopped carrot, a potato and a small parsnip. Boil on the hob until all the vegetables are tender and then blend with a hand blender. If it is too thick add another stock cube dissolved in water until it is the consistency you prefer, some people like their gravy thick whilst others less so. You can add a few chopped herbs and a splash of white wine to taste and then pop it in the freezer. I usually take it out of the freezer before I go to bed on Christmas Eve.
Mulled Wine Sachets
Mulled Wine Sachets
I love mulled wine at Christmas, this Christmas we are having neighbours round for mulled wine and mince pies on Christmas Eve. However mulled wine sachets can be very expensive. To make things less expensive and stressful I made my own mulled wines sachets in advance.
As a child we always had the instant add boiling water stuffing which I have grown really fond of. So I prepare my childhood favourite in advance.
So those delicious Christmas drinks have all started becoming available at most high street coffee shops. Now, whilst I do love my Gingerbread Latte I also know it piles on the pounds and hits the pocket. So I have created my own version for home. I make my coffee as per usual (I use one of those expresso makers for the hob as they are cheap and also make the best coffee) then I mix in some of my honey and ginger syrup.
This is simple to make, combine some grated fresh or powdered ginger with some honey. Use the ratio that suits your taste buds and keep some ready made in a jar for the next time you want a coffee with that festive feeling. Ginger and honey are a much more healthy alternative to what you buy in the high street coffee shops. As well as tasting great they will help fight off all those nasty pre-Christmas bugs and viruses.
Yesterday I put the slow cooker on and started the main course I will be serving up on Boxing Day. I cooked some chopped braising steak and onion in a red wine sauce. This has now been frozen. I will take it out of the freezer on Christmas Eve and pop it in the fridge. Come Boxing day morning I shall put it in a pie dish and roll out some pre-bought puff pastry to pop on top. With some roasted vegetables this should be enough to feed all the in-laws on Boxing day without me slaving away in the kitchen all day!
Before writing this I had just finished making my Cranberry sauce for Christmas day and to give away as gifts. For the recipe please go to:
I will re-publish my count down to Christmas blog next week as it is my bible at this time of year to remind me of everything I need to do.
On a final note for this week. Last night I bottled and sampled some of the homemade Christmas Liqueur I have been making over the last few months. Cheers everyone!!
Cooking for Christmas can be time consuming and expensive.
Here are a couple of ideas which are not just easy to make, but also easy on the pocket, especially when cooking for large groups of people.
Millionaire's short bread
This is a great easy to prepare recipe and can be made in advance
1. Remove the label and pierce the lid of the condenses milk before placing it in a saucepan of boiling water for a couple of hours making sure the tin remains at least half way submerged in the water.
2. Once the condensed milk has cooled remove the lid and place a teaspoon of caramel at the bottom of each pastry case.
3. Cover with chocolate mousse or melted dark chocolate
4. Serve with a sprinkling of golden brown sugar
Store in an airtight container in the fridge, removing half an hour before serving
When looking to prepare nibbles and canapés for parties Olives are always an easy and inexpensive option especially when drizzled with olive oil and chopped basil. Adding some grated garlic is also a nice touch or some fresh or roasted tomatoes and/or sliced roasted vegetables. By buying the jars or tins of olives (I usually go for the extra large variety) and adding your own accompaniments this is much cheaper and tastier way to serve them, rather than buying the more expensive pre-pared variety. They can also be prepared and stored in the fridge days before the guests arrive.