Love Your Leftovers: One Pan Mac’n’Cheeseboard with Gammon

Its a little bit late for Christmas leftovers I know, and I had originally planned to do a couple more posts (I made and devoured a fabulous goose stew, but it just wasn’t attractive to photograph so I didn’t dare post it!), but I couldn’t resist sharing this little recipe alteration to an existing recipe with you. It’s an adaption of my One Pan Mac’n’Cheese, which of course was based on The Londoner’s fantastic post.

My experiments for this post confirmed my suspicions – you could add a variety of things to the basic recipe. Its perfectly versatile, would take pretty much any cheese, as well as work with plenty of meats. I’m thinking of doing a lighter vegetable version in the summer, so watch this space!

Also – Don’t forget to vote for me in the National UK Blog Awards 2014, in the following three categories; Food; Lifestyle; and Young Persons (18-25) 

2014-01-02 13.46.04You will need:

  • 90g of pasta
  • 1/2 a mug of vegetable stock
  • 1/4 of a mug of milk/cream (I used soya cream – you could indeed use up scraps of ordinary cream here too)
  • Slice of leftover gammon (thrifty tip – the Aldi smoked gammon joint is one of the best I’ve ever bought/eaten, and a lot cheaper than anywhere else)
  • Any leftover cheeses, around a handful or so – here I used cheddar, red leicester, and some type of blue cheese that was stinking the fridge out

Now to turn these simple ingredients into a bowl of yumminess:

As in my original recipe, add the pasta to a saucepan with the milk/cream and stock, stir, cover with a lid, and put on the lowest heat possible. Remember to stir every now and then.

Meanwhile, cube/grate your cheeses, and chop the gammon into large-ish but bitesize chunks.

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Resist giving scraps of cheese to any waiting soulful eyes.

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After about 12-15 minutes or so (as I’ve said before, keep stirring every few minutes!) your pasta should be cooked to your liking, in a thick creamy sauce.

2014-01-02 14.03.17Add your cheese and your gammon. I would add that I’d like to try adding the gammon earlier, as I reckon it’d impart more of its flavour.

2014-01-02 14.04.29Allow the cheese to melt, stirring constantly, then tip into a bowl, curl up on the sofa, and enjoy.

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How did you use your Christmas leftovers?

Baking: Easy 17/170 Cupcake Recipe (with a Sprinkle of Glitter)

A little bit late perhaps, but I couldn’t resist sharing what is one of my favourite recipes with you! I think a good basic cake recipe is something everyone should know, and this is mine. I like it because it is easy to remember, always works, and tastes delicious no matter how it’s decorated – I’ve had it topped with nutella and covered in a simple runny icing. I have to admit though, that this is my favourite way! Topped with a simple vanilla buttercream, they taste delicious and (as long as your piping skills are okay) look impressive. And if your piping skills are similar to mine, just claim they are meant to look rustic…and sprinkle with some edible glitter.

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Ingredients

  • 170g butter
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 170g self-raising flour
  • 2 large eggs (should weigh around 150g)
  • Vanilla extract
  • Some milk, if needed, to loosen the mixture
  • For the buttercream – 125g unsalted butter, and 250g icing sugar (again, you may need a little milk to loosen)

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Method

Preheat the oven to around 170C.

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth, light, and fluffy. It’s easier to use very soft butter and an electric mixture (though I did use the old-fashioned combination of wooden spoon and elbow grease!).

2013-12-23 15.08.01Add the vanilla extract in. I used about a tablespoon…but I like my vanilla flavour to be strong. Most recipes use about 2 teaspoons.

2013-12-23 15.08.42Beat in your eggs until smooth. I would suggest not doing what I did, and instead beat them in one at a time. My mix curdled and split everso slightly.

2013-12-23 15.10.47Then slowly mix in the flour until it is just combined. Don’t overmix or your cakes will end up dry and tough.2013-12-23 15.21.05As you can see, my mix was a little thick, so I added a little milk. Then spoon your mixture evenly into 12 cupcake cases (this amount should make the perfect amount for perfect sized cakes).

Now put in your preheated oven for 17 minutes (note: there is a lot of 17/170 in this recipe – hence why it is so easy to remember!). After 17 minutes they should be lightly golden, and still a little sticky looking on top, but should spring back when pressed lightly. Take out and leave to cool completely.

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Now time to make the buttercream! Beat the butter until soft, then beat in half the icing sugar. Add vanilla extract, followed by the rest of the icing sugar. Thin with milk if needed.

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Now time to decorate. If you don’t have a piping bag, you can just use a knife to smear the buttercream over. I got lucky and was given my boyfriend’s piping bag to play with – it was my first time, so please bear that in mind when dismissing these shoddy results!

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And there we have it – creamy, not-too-sweet, vanilla cupcakes that don’t look too bad! I then added a sprinkle of edible silver glitter (the cheapest I have found this is in Tesco). I had also used a Festive Cupcake set which included pretty cases, and stickers on cocktail sticks, which I used to adorn my cupcakes. Along with birthday candles, for a Christmas birthday.

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What’s your favourite simple bake?

12 Days of Christmas (#6): A Budget Dinner

As you might know from this post, my housemates and I decided to a do a Christmas dinner (on a “school” night no less!). None of us are particularly full in the bank department right now, so we had to do it on a tight budget. I think in the end we each spend under £5, and we had an amazing dinner. Here’s how to copy us and do it on a budget!

Note: we have moved our main shop to Aldi, so that’s where I’m pricing from today (due to having receipts) unless stated otherwise. For all of my other recipes I tend to price using ASDA online, disregarding special offers. That said, all of my costings are very rough (and generally rounded up) anyway!

2013-12-12 18.39.23What we bought (specially) for this dinner:

  • A stuffed chicken breast joint (£2.99 – you can get turkey versions too!)
  • Pigs in Blankets (£2.50 for 12, from Tesco)

We then added:

  • Potatoes (both mashed with black pepper, and roasted with garlic) – £1
  • Homemade Yorkshire puddings (see here for recipe) – £1
  • Gravy – 20p
  • Sweetcorn – 50p
  • Roasted carrots – 20p
  • Broccoli – £1
  • & whatever other veg people had lying around that they fancied (hence I added red cabbage, savoy cabbage and curly kale)- 50p

2013-12-12 19.16.08We even managed to find 8 crackers for a £1 in Poundland! Okay, they didn’t have exciting plastic gifts, but they did include some rather lame festive jokes, obligatory hat, and even some cute stickers!

2013-12-12 18.39.56We finished off the meal with syrup sponges (£3 for four) and gave out our Secret Santa presents (although that’s another post!).

2013-12-12 18.40.28This was a fabulously festive night with my girls, the best antidote to a horribly stressful week. I really do suggest all student houses give this a go, even if it is the only time they cook together.

What’s your tips for Christmas dinner on a budget?

Love Your Leftovers: Gnocchi

This is a bit of a strange one. My recipe of these wasn’t entirely successful (though I think I did better than most of the guys on Professional Masterchef a few weeks back!), but it was certainly yummy, and certainly something I’d do again. Not sure I preferred it over Bubble & Squeak, but it made a nice change, and the very wet mash I was gifted by a housemate was far more suited to this! I think the next time I make this I will brown the gnocchi for longer, and then add the bits (bacon, cheese, sauce etc) as the texture might improve. I’d cut down the butter in the pan too, as it was very greasy! But none-the-less, here we go!

What do you need?

  • Mashed potato
  • Flour – about half the amount of your potato, plus extra for rolling
  • Seasoning – I used garlic powder, and plenty of black pepper
  • Butter
  • What you want to serve it with – I went for sausage balls, bacon and cheese.

And what do you need to do?

Mix the flour, seasoning and potato together, quickly but gently, not overworking the mixture. Roll lightly into sausage shapes.

2013-12-05 19.27.09Cut into bite-sized pieces with a knife. Then drop into a pan of boiling salted water. Make sure you have a wide frying pan with your butter melted and hot on the heat too.

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Once the gnocchi start to float, transfer them to the hot butter, and fry until the edges are slightly crisp. Add your toppings, and serve immediately. Here’s my attempt:

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Has anyone tried making gnocchi before?

Recipe: One-Pan Mac’n’Cheese

I made this only two hours ago, and I’m already writing a blog post about it. That says a lot about this recipe! It was just lovely, and so, so easy. I adapted The Londoner’s recipe, making it more student friendly (because to be honest, I really can’t afford loads of different cheeses – I stick to basic cheddar and the cheapest parmesan I can find!) and less irritating to my minor dairy intolerance.

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If you want the best photos, and the actual method, do check out Rosie’s blog. I love all of her recipes, my version of her Banana Nutella muffins are a huge favourite amongst my friends, and I can’t wait to try out these.

I will add a point about the one-pan-ness. I chose to top mine with extra cheese and shove it in the oven briefly, so used an extra pan. To be honest, I wouldn’t bother with this step next time as it was cheesy enough, so it really is one-pan. I mean, just look at this fabulous (fail) photo of the stringy cheese!

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What do you need to make this cheesy goodness? My amounts make one (BIG!) serving:

  • Bacon (1 rasher – 20p)
  • Some spices – I went with a Cajun mix, which I always find works great with cheese (prince negligible)
  • 100g of pasta, any tube-type shape is good (10p)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (7p) – made up to 1/2 mug of stock
  • 1/4 mug milk/soya cream (10p)
  • 75-100g cheddar cheese (75p)
  • A sprinkling of parmesan, though I didn’t find I needed it (10p)

Total cost per serving is £1.32 – with salad you would have a great meal for under £1.50. And hardly any washing up to – win win!

Let’s get cooking!

Chop up your bacon into cubes, and fry in the pan you will be using. You want one with a lid! Once the bacon is browned, sprinkle in the spices, fry for a couple more minutes, then tip into the bowl you will be serving in, or the dish that you will grill the pasta in.

2013-12-07 19.05.37Tip your stock and milk/cream into the pan, add your pasta, stir well and cover.

2013-12-07 19.04.53Cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few, until the pasta is cooked to your liking, and the sauce has thickened. Grate your cheese whilst this is cooking, or read some of your reading list. Or bloglovin‘…You should have something like this in your saucepan by the end:

2013-12-07 19.19.05Add your bacon back in, and stir in your cheese. If you want to grill it, keep some back.

2013-12-07 19.22.15Now eat as it is (I personally will do next time), or transfer to a grill-proof dish, and top with more cheese.

2013-12-07 19.23.10Throw under the grill while you prepare a healthy accompaniment. I went with salad, but I think some cauliflower would work well.

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Mmm salad! I was lazy and just ate my pasta out of the grilling dish. I won’t judge if you do the same!

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Curl up in front of your favourite TV-show (I’m currently weeks behind watching Masterchef, but enjoying it immensely!) and enjoy this winter warmer, knowing you’ve hardly any washing up to do. Perfect for lazy days.

Have you tried any of the Londoner’s amazing recipes?

What’s Cooking Wednesday (#7)

I must say, I think last week’s post went better that Week 5’s! This week I am attempting to use up all of my fresh food, so (1) we have a bit of a mish-mash, and (2) it is very likely to change!

This is also the last What’s Cooking post for a few weeks. Next week is the last week of term, so I’m planning out all meals til I go back, and then I’ll be at home (and so not having to meal plan too much). I’ll be back with this series in January!

Wednesday – Southern Fried Chicken, with Homemade Wedges & Coleslaw

I’ve had a craving for homemade coleslaw for weeks, I have red cabbage to use up, I had money off breaded chicken. Win win, craving = sorted. This dinner is the kind of dinner I really enjoy, but don’t let myself have too often. Homemade coleslaw = the best!

I’m afraid I didn’t get a picture of this – but my coleslaw was good!

Thursday – Christmas Dinner

As you know, my house does a Sunday dinner, and this weekend it was due to be our Christmas one. However I have an important event on Monday which I need to prepare for, so we’ve moved it to Thursday. I’m excited for all the trimmings!

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Friday – Dinner In London: WAHACA Time!

I’m meeting my boyfriend in London (because, well, I miss him!) so its to our favourite restaurant. I need to email them tonight to re-check their menu for tomato-free ness!

Saturday – Sausage & Chicken Pie, Mash and 3 Types of Cabbage

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Sunday – Mushroom Risotto, Salad, & Garlic Bread

Monday – Leftover Risotto

I possibly might do this in a bake-form, which a crunchy breadcrumb and cheese topping.

Tuesday – Sausage & Mash with Vegetables

Wednesday – Curry Night

It is a housemate’s birthday, so we’re ordering a take-away. Obviously I can’ risk ordered too much off-menu, so I’ll be cooking my own curry sauce and just buying rice and naan. This also marks the last day of proper lectures and assignments, so a bottle of cider may be in order!

Thursday – Home Time!

I’m hoping to be home by Thursday night, so that is the end of my ‘week’ – Merry Christmas meal planners!

What recipes do you have for using up ingredients?

Birthday Thanks

It was my birthday a few quite a few days ago, and I’ve been meaning to do this post since to show you all what fabulous friends I have. Now, I now we are all in the same boat, all on a very tight budget, and so I really don’t expect gifts at all, let alone some of the wonderful things I received. Everything I was given was just totally ‘me’ and I love it all – it shows what great friends you have when everything they buy you is perfect!

2013-12-05 10.27.41Here’s just a selection of what I got!

  • First up is the canvas at the back. Amazing, my housemate actually painted that herself. When I realised she hadn’t bought it, I feel in love with it that little bit more. It’s absolutely stunning, and will look good in both my student room, and my dream-bedroom I’m planning for when I finally have my own house.
  • Then there’s the apron in the corner, which another housemate asked her mum to make for me (seriously wish I had a mum that could sew, let alone wishing that I could sew something like this!). Between this and another friend gifting me a recipe binder, you’d think they were hinting at me doing some baking! But honestly, I love both of the gifts, and they will be so, so  useful. Not to mention that a floral apron was actually on my Christmas list!
  • Lots of chocolate, which is helping me get through a period of stressful assessments and placement applications (I so wish there were more actuarial industrial placements available!). Plenty of fluffy socks, which are vital as we have a cold kitchen floor. Plus I love fluffy socks, and wear them pretty much constantly. I have been known (accidently of course) to shower in them…
  • A 2014 calendar, which will go perfectly in my room. And it’swipe clean, so great for tracking assessments and important to-do’s. Looking forward to using this!
  • A new Cath Kidston mug. I love my Cath Kidston mugs, they’re a perfect size for hot chocolates, so I love that I now have two at university!
  • Libby was shocked to hear this year that despite wearing dresses/skirts with tights a lot, I’ve never tried Primark’s super-cosy tights, so she treated me to a pair. Once this horrible wind dies down, and I’m not in danger of flashing anything, I’ll be trying these. Is is weird to be so excited about a pair of tights?
  • I was also treated to some new make-up, and related bits-and-pieces, including a MAC blusher I’ve wanted for five long years. It’s been worth the wait!

But what was my best present? Well, we all went out for a meal for my birthday, and it turns out that everyone had been secretly talking behind my back. It turns out that one of the people I had invited had deliberately agreed, despite knowing she wasn’t coming. Because my wonderful friends had arranged to get my boyfriend down to my university town and surprise me. They’d been planning for WEEKS, everyone knew (including my mother, who nearly let it slip a few hours beforehand!) and they managed to keep it a total surprise, although I did start getting a little suspicious at various points. To everyone who was in on this and made this happen – thank you so much, you will never know how grateful I was to spend my birthday, and an extra few days, with my boyfriend. Those in long-distance relationships will understand!

So that’s it, a quick round-up of my wonderful presents, and my even-more wonderful friends. Thank you guys – I love you all!

 

Love Your Leftovers: Bubble & Squeak

I was shocked when I moved to university (apparently I’m seen as a Northener down here, despite only being from the Midlands!) as no-one, absolutely no-one, seemed to know what bubble-and-squeak is. To those who don’t know – it’s leftover mashed potatoes, mixed with leftover finely chopped green vegetables and bacon, fried until crispy, and you need to try it. For those who do know, it always seems to be a favourite. I know it is for me!

We have this quite often at home on a Monday (which reminds me – meatless Monday’s make no sense to me, as it’s the day you have meat leftover from a Sunday roast. I get the meatless thing, just not the Monday for sake of alliteration!), and it’s a Boxing Day staple in my house. It never fails to remind me of home, even the smell just seems so homey. It’s also a fab way of using up mashed potatoes and vegetables if you’ve cooked too much, or if you have vegetables going past their best, it’s great to cook them fresh and use them in this rather than chucking them away.

Granted, this isn’t a sophisticated dish (especially when serving the potato mixture on top of good crispy bread smothered in butter…) but it sure tastes good! Like this ‘leftovers’ post I won’t be writing a proper recipe, but here goes…

Take some leftover mashed poatoes, some leftover green vegetables (I have savoy cabbage and curly kale here), and some diced bacon.

2013-11-25 18.34.42Fry the bacon in a little oil until crisp.

2013-11-25 18.40.32Meanwhile mix the potato and greens together with a fork. When the bacon is done, add a small knob of butter to the pan to melt.

2013-11-25 18.36.17Tip the potato mixture into the bacon-y-butter-y pan, and mush together into a cake, making sure the bacon is distributed throughout.

2013-11-25 18.45.23Fry on a medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring up to get lots of crispy bits.

2013-11-25 19.01.56When done, it should look something like this:

2013-11-25 19.10.31I served mine with sausages and sweet chilli sauce (I loved ketchup with this dish, but that’s a no-no now!). It’s also good with pickles, and good cheese and bread, with leftover cold meat (my Boxing Day meal!) or grilled gammon. Yum yum!

How do you use up leftover mash?

What’s Cooking Wednesday (#6) – AND What Went Wrong Last Week

Time for another week!

You might be able to tell from last week’s post that I didn’t keep it updated very well! Here’s my excuses – firstly, the ‘beginning’ of the week was busy for me, as I was trying to get uni work done so I could enjoy my weekend at home. Once home I didn’t really want to start taking photos of all my meals, as I just wanted to dive in. Readers, chipotle ribs are amazing! Then, arriving at my birthday meal on Monday, my housemates surprised me hugely. They’d arranged for my boyfriend to travel down and stay for a few days. They’d been planning it for weeks, I knew nothing about it, and so had no food in. I pulled together a pretty decent meal though, cooking some of the pies I’d frozen a few weeks ago.

Hopefully this week’s post gets updated more successfully!

Wednesday – Tomato-Free Bolognese

2013-12-04 19.23.54Boyfriend went home today, but took a late train, so I needed something quick for when I got back in – relying on my freezer again I pulled out a serving of Tomato-Free Bolognese, served with spaghetti, stirred through some fresh spinach, and added a bit of garlic bread too. I really enjoyed the addition of the spinach!

Thursday – Something with Leftover Mash

A housemate gifted me some leftover mashed potatoes, and I’m not too sure what to go with. I quite fancy being inventive, so may give gnocchi a try!

2013-12-05 19.38.28I did end up giving gnocchi a try, and I think it turned out quite well, although it was a little too greasy. It definitely wasn’t perfect, but I think I did better than most of the professional chefs on Masterchef a few weeks ago! I served it with bacon and sausage balls, and plenty of cheese – I think it would have been better with the addition of some wilted spinach too!

Friday – Cottage Pie

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I ended up moving this from Saturday – and making six meals! I will be posting a recipe shortly!

Saturday – Mac’n’Cheese

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I tried a new recipe, and it was amazingly good. There is already a blog post scheduled!

Sunday – House Dinner

It’s K’s turn to cook, and I think we are getting Toad in the Hole. It’s one of my favourite meals, so really looking forward to it!

Monday – Sausage Casserole  Cottage Pie

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Due to an emergency doctor’s appointment I didn’t have time to make my casserole (moving it to tomorrow instead!) so reheated a cottage pie, and served with; curly kale, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, and broccoli. With the veg already in the pie too, it felt like a very healthy dinner!

Tuesday – Sausage Casserole

I didn’t take a photo of this, nor did I photograph the lovely Pear & Raspberry Hazelnut crumble I made. I think that’s an excuse to make another just so I can share it with you!

How do you cope with cooking when circumstances unexpectedly change?

Love Your Leftovers: Pizza Pinwheels

If you made my Chicken & Sausage Pie recipe, or indeed any pie recipe, you might find yourself with some spare pastry hanging around. I certainly did! Rather than throw it away (I have a ‘thing’ about throwing perfectly edible things away) I decided to make something, and raided my fridge/freezer for other things to use up. I have to admit though, I was very, very tempted to just make some Cinnamon Swirls

I found some Pesto (from my Tomato-free Bolognese recipe), chorizo, and cheese, and so some version of Pizza was going to be born. I also decided I wanted something portable, so I could use it for lunch the next day, so had a little google and found this recipe…and improvised. Here’s my very quick version, which taste delicious. They are easily adaptable for your own tastes, and whatever you have in too!

I’m not going to write this properly, with a full ingredients list, because it depends on what you want to include, but I’ll outline what I did and the basic method – the rest is up to you!

2013-11-25 16.15.40Take your strip of leftover pastry, and roll in out a little, so it’s long and thinner. Spread with the pesto.

2013-11-25 16.17.30Sprinkle with grated cheese, and top with the chorizo slices. This did make it quite greasy, so next time I’m going to try ham instead.

2013-11-25 16.18.58Roll up tightly – a bit like this:

2013-11-25 16.19.38Then cut into slices – mine worked well at around 1 cm width. Place on a foil covered baking tray.

2013-11-25 16.21.52Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, the cheese should be bubbly, the pastry golden and crisp. All totally yummy!
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Try to resist eating, if you can. These would be great served with a salad as a main meal, but I’m going to enjoy them instead of a sandwich in my lunch box. This is definitely an idea I’ll be trying again, with lots of possible variations!

 

How do you use up leftover pastry?