Saturday, 4 February 2012

Something's Cookin'

For someone who moans quite a lot about how much food costs I rarely write anything about what I actually do with it once I've forked out all my money. Inspired by Karen's great blog I thought I'd give you an insight into what we'll be eating during the next few weeks chez Keshling.
I have been tidying my kitchen cupboards over the last couple days, partly because I have something of a stockpile of food and cleaning stuff (10 boxes of 52 Finish Powerball Dishwasher Tablets, special offer at Lidl - £3.75 instead of £7.50. Should last a year. 10 packs of 300g Extra Mature Cheddar from Lidl - £1.64 each. 24 packs of Strawberry Supreme Dessert at 10p each. 4kg of popping corn at 99p a kilo. And so on.) and partly because my cupboards are a frightful, disgraceful mess. However, hoorah!!! Some are tidy now and I will post 'before and after' pics just as soon as I take some, and before they get filled to the top with crap again. I haven't allotted specific days to my menu plan - I just cook whatever I remember to take out of the freezer the night before, which is usually what the cook feels like eating. And two of the meals have been eaten already. The puddings are made from things I came across whilst turning the cupboards out.

Cheese and Onion Flan with Chips and Beans
Spicy Mince and Carrots with Feta Crumble
Fish Pie with Peas
*Minced Beef Cobbler
Roast Pork with all the trimmings
Cheese, Ham and Potato Omelettes with Beans
Mole Chicken with Savoury Rice
*Prawn Curry, Pilau Rice, Onion Bhajis and Naan Bread
Meatloaf, Spuds, Vegetables
Chili and Rice with Cornbread
Cheese and Potato Pie with Beans
Crab Chowder with Cornbread
Jambalaya with Prawns and Chorizo

Sernik (Polish Cheesecake)
Lemon Meringue Pie
Mango Fool
Irish Cream Cake
Pancakes with Maple Syrup
Cream Cheese Frosted Carrot Cake
Bakewell Pudding and Custard
Blackberry Crumble and Custard
Fudgie Wudgies
Gingerbread and Banana Trifle
Mincemeat Tart with Meringue Topping
As much Strawberry Supreme Dessert as you can eat lol!

We already ate the Minced Beef Cobbler; the Spicy Mince thing is a recipe from the Daily Mail - we've had half last week and still have half frozen; and the Prawn Curry was really quick, easy and pretty economical. It was just half a bag of Lidl prawns with four big potatoes cut into cubes and parboiled (thanks for the idea Saphy!), a jar of Lidl Jalfrezi Sauce and a tin of Asda Chickpea Dhal thrown in. The rice was microwaved in 90 seconds and I was surprised to see it was marked best before 2007...ooops! Tasted fine though (famous last words!!!). The onion bhajis were yellow stickered from Sainsbury's, 74p from £3; and the naan breads were found in the bottom of the freezer and won't have been full price either. There's still about a third of the curry left so I've frozen it. My Mr Charming is coming home from Uni for a few days on the 11th so I'll make the Fudgie Wudgies (his favourite Brownies) and the Crumble for when he's here.

You can see that almost everything is made from scratch - I often really don't feel like setting to and cooking when I get home from work at 4pm, yet it's so nice to have home-cooked food. I feel very sorry for people who can't cook, or won't try to cook. They don't ever get the satisfaction of putting a meal in front of their family and thinking 'I made that!'. I know it's not a very feminist attitude but it gives me a lot of pleasure to produce something delicious from a few ingredients. I think some women wear as a badge of honour the fact that they don't cook or 'just don't have the time to cook!' As if they're so busy with their important and glamorous lives whilst the rest of us bovines skivvy away at our inconsequential little pin-money (if only!) jobs. I remember when Red was baptised we threw a party afterwards and I'd worn myself out, gone totally over-the-top with the food. French patisserie, a fantastic (I won't deny it, it was) cake in the shape of a cradle, quiches, croquembouche, dips...I'd gone crazy. And the wife of Big Man's sea daddy turned to me and said 'I don't know how you do it, I wouldn't have the time'. Because everybody knows, being a childless legal secretary whose husband is mainly at sea is SOOOOOO much harder than cooking up a 'party-food-for-fifty' storm and coping with a tiny new baby when your family are 250 miles away. That woman never knew how close she came to a smack in the chops that day, and I could have easily blamed my hormones.

So there you have it, the kind of things we eat. The best part is that I either found the ingredients in the back of the cupboards and realised that I could make whole meals from them, or I bought the makings last month, when I overspent on my £250 food budget by about £140 (eeek!!!). I haven't so far bought any food specifically to make meals with. And yes, I DO realise it's only the 4th but I'm pretty sure we can go to maybe the 20th without buying anything other than milk and probably bread. I have a breadmaker but I'm the only one who likes homemade bread....yep, the others here are just weirdos, I know. I'll keep you posted about how we go on.

Just for SP, Spinach and Ricotta Bake

908g frozen spinach, defrosted
340g ricotta cheese

4 medium eggs, beaten
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
cannelloni tubes
2x400g cans chopped tomatoes
handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease a lasagne dish. Squeeze any excess water out of the spinach then put in a bowl with the ricotta and garlic and mix together. Stir in the eggs and nutmeg and season.
Using a piping bag squeeze the filling into the cannelloni tubes one by one. Place them in one layer into the dish. Mix together the tomatoes and basil. Season. Pour the tomatoes over the cannelloni and bake for 25-30 minutes. Serve with a green salad or whatever turns you on.

This is an old Slimming World recipe that we've had and really liked stacks of times. What I sometimes do is buy fresh lasagne sheets, cut them into three, put the filling in and roll up like cannelloni - they cook much faster. You can also substitute a carton of passata with basil plus 1T of sugar for the tins of tomatoes. Bon appetit SP!!


  1. Bless you Keshling.

    I'll give it a sounds, (and looks) pretty damn good!


  2. It all sounds delicious - I have to show my ignorance here though, what is Mole chicken?

    I wasn't going to make a pudding tonight, but after reading through your list I think I may just have to!

  3. It certainly doesn't sound like you're starving them!I've spent the afternoon in the kitchen baking - real comfort food when it's rainy and grim outside - and there's only sport on the tv apparently!

  4. I was drooling over your desserts. That's a lot of dishwasher tablets, it's saved you quite a bit buying while they were on offer. Our dishwasher broke at the beginning of last year and we haven't replaced it yet, it's quite a novelty washing up.

  5. You guys eat well. That's a varied menu. I love food and I love to cook - pretty much everything I eat is made from scratch. Note, though, what I eat. Hubby generally prefers ready-made food. From tins, packets, or frozen. It's a juggling act to compromise between our hugely different tastes. He is also very suspicious of things he doesn't know and doesn't like trying new things. Which can scupper my meal plans and annoy the pants off me. (He likes to think he eats anything but he doesn't. He is very fussy.)

    We also rarely eat dessert - since I hit my 40's I have really struggled to keep my weight down - so if anything I have fruit or low-cal ice lollies or fat-free fruit yoghurt. Boring. Your desserts are the stuff my dreams are made of. In this house that kind of stuff is only for special occasions, sadly.

  6. Oooh that spinach and ricotta bake looks lovely - I will definitely be having a go at that next month. Menus look great - sounds like you are doing really well with the frugal challenge x


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