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?





Recipe: Chicken & Sausage Pie

This seems like a bit of a strange recipe to write on a student blog, as it seems so expensive – and I must admit the price did make me wince slightly when buying ingredients. But actually it makes a huge amount, and the cost spreads out. Each portion of pie is roughly £1.50, and whilst that’s not the cheapest meal around, its far cheaper than buying a ready meal.

Pies are so fun to make too! There’s so many different stages, but none are complicated (unless you are attempting to make your own pastry, with a cling-film roll instead of a proper rolling pin), and you can tailor the flavours to your own tastes completely. They are perfect for crowds – I made this when it was my turn to cook the house Sunday dinner and it was very well received. Not only did I make enough to feed four hungry girls, I made four individual pies for my freezer too – 2 hours work (and a lot of washing up) but I filled my freezer, relaxed from revision, and generally made a mess in the kitchen. Something I recommend!

2013-11-24 19.16.25And who wouldn’t want a dinner like that?! Served with plenty of mash and veg, this would have actually served at least another person, so I got at minimum nine servings out of this recipe, and I can’t wait to eat some of the ones I have stashed away in the freezer! I originally made a similar recipe from a Times magazine – I no longer have that recipe, so improvised with what was in my cupboard and what I remembered!


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  • Four chicken breast (£7 from Tesco)
  • 6 sausages (I bought 16 for £5, also in Tesco, working out at £1.88)
  • 1 slice of bread, this recipe is perfect for using the ‘end bit no-one wants’ (5p)
  • Two regular onions (40p)
  • A large knob of butter (20p)
  • A handful of the cheapest mushrooms, optional (20p)
  • 2 chicken stock cubes (10p)
  • Two tablespoons of flour (5p)
  • Some herbs and seasoning (5p)
  • 1-2 packs of ready-rolled puff pastry (£2 from Sainsburys)

Splitting the recipe into eight servings, this works out at £1.49 per serving.

Let’s make pie!

First of all, cook your chicken – preheat the oven to 200C, and get four large squares of tin foil ready. Spread each with a little oil, place a chicken breast in the centre, and season with salt and pepper (I also added a bit of thyme). Wrap the foil into a parcel, it should look a little like a Cornish pasty in shape. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then leave to cool.

2013-11-23 16.20.42Meanwhile, finely chop the onion, and sweat down with the butter until soft.

2013-11-23 16.44.00And while that is going on (see, we’re multi-tasking here!) remove the sausages from their skins. Pulse the bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs, and mix this into the sausage meat – a kneading movement works well here. If you want, add a bit of lemon juice to this mixture – but don’t worry as it’s far from essential. Shape the mixture into balls – it makes lots, the picture below shows half of mine…

2013-11-23 17.03.57By now your onions should have sweated down. Make the stock up (you need 1.5-2 litres). Add the flour to the onions and stir to make a roux, then slowly add the stock whilst stirring. Once it’s all in the pan, add some herbs, salt and plenty of pepper, and your mushrooms (if using). You could also add vegetables at this point, I imagine some chopped carrot would work well.

2013-11-23 17.06.11Leave your sauce to simmer on a low heat for a bit, whilst you brown the sausage balls in a little oil. Make sure the pan is hot when they go in, or the bread will absorb oil and the final result will be greasy.

2013-11-23 17.34.48Back to the chicken. Remove it from it’s foil parcels, and drain any grease on a piece of kitchen towel. Cut up into bite sized pieces.

2013-11-23 17.43.15Once all of your elements are prepared, put some chicken and sausage in the bottom of your chosen dish.

2013-11-23 17.49.14Ladle in the sauce until it is roughly this full…

2013-11-23 17.49.19And bake for around 30-45 mins at 160C. If you are making a day in advance, keep the filling in the fridge, top with pastry when ready to cook, and bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, and then uncovered for 30 minutes. If freezing, use pastry that has NOT already been frozen (I made my own for my individual ones), defrost fully before cooking, cover and bake for 40 minutes, and then uncovered for 30 minutes. Remember to only use my timings as a guide – everything should be fully cooked and piping hot.

2013-11-24 19.10.14If you want, you could get fancy with your pastry and make some pretty shapes on top…mine was a little rough looking though!
2013-11-23 19.17.58Serve with plenty of green vegetables and mash, and you have a filling dinner for under £2.

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Having made this, I’ve been inspired to make more pies – I’m planning on making some steak ones over my Christmas holidays! Does anyone else make double portions and freeze meals to save time?

What’s Cooking Wednesday (#5)

Can you believe it is Week 5 already? Weeks are just flying by! I used to think people were being cliched when they said univesity will go quickly, but it truly does…check out last week’s updated post here.

Anyway, here’s this weeks menu:


2013-11-27 19.40.26After this disaster, I wanted to prove I could cook Toad in the Hole again. Thankfully I can!

Thursday – Bacon Carbonara


I’m heading home for the weekend as it’s my birthday on Monday, so expecting to be spoilt rotten with lots of yummy food! My boyfriend is cooking for me on Friday night, then I’ve chosen to have Spicy Chipotle Ribs on Saturday, with a big Roast Beef dinner on Sunday. Looking forward to it!

Monday – Birthday Meal

As it’s my birthday, me and a few friends are heading out to Prezzo for a meal. I’ve already salivating at the menu!


I haven’t really thought that far ahead, but depending on the amount of vegetables I have left it will be either a pie or some form of pasta. Maybe. I reckon this will be a ‘decide on the state of my fridge’ meal!

Do you have any celebration meals planned this week?

Domestic Goddess? Or Not…

I’ve always seen myself as a pretty decent cook. I’m hoping from the recipes on here that most of my readers will agree with that! However I have a problem, and it seems to be a pretty big one – I cannot cook anything for my boyfriend!

The first time I cooked for him I blew the electrics in the house after putting the oven on. As it turned out, the oven died its least death that night (it had been threatening it for a while!) and so it wasn’t technically my fault, but it still happened, and it’s still brought up pretty regularly.

I had numerous disasters whilst cooking for him at other times – overcooked rice, a particularly sloppy mince-potato-bake thing, too-spicy chillis and bland curries. But since moving into my second-year house I don’t think I’ve managed to cook him a single meal where everything has been faultless, or even edible.

  • I bought a ready-made pie from the butchers (see here). Didn’t notice that one of my housemates had turned the oven to 250C, so I served up burnt pastry and cold filling.
  • Trying to redeem myself, I bought another pie. This turned out to be a mushroom instead of a ham one (and he hates mushrooms!). Not only this, I managed to boil the broccoli to slop…
  • I scrambled a carbonara, although luckily he really enjoyed it. He claims I always undercook egg though, so maybe it was properly cooked?!
  • Somehow (and I really don’t know how!) I managed to burn potatoes that were boiling in water. The pan didn’t boil dry, there was plenty of water, but the spuds were stuck to the bottom. The mash that night tasted distinctly chargrilled…

Whilst all of the above were bad, the other night really took the biscuit. I know, and everyone else knows, that I can cook a pretty damn good Toad in the Hole. I can do it without measuring, without checking cooking times, with my eyes closed basically. But one Friday night I decided to follow a recipe. Bad plan. Resulting in this (ps – the featured image at the top of this post is how it is MEANT to look!):

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Yes, that is the ‘batter’ of my cooked Toad in the Hole. It was hideous! Completely doughy and flour-tasting, and utterly inedible. Thankfully we bought amazing sausages from the butchers, infused the gravy with cooking liquor from a twice-cooked pork belly dish, and I managed to make decent mash. Moral of that night – don’t follow a recipe when you know what to do!


Does anyone else have the inability to cook for someone they are trying to impress?


Baking: Mayonnaise Brownies

Remember this brownie post, where I compared some of the brownie recipes I’ve tried? And this one, where I made amazingly good peanut butter brownies? Well tonight I whipped up some healthy-ish brownies for a friends birthday treat, using her favourite food – mayonnaise. I’ve made these multiple times before, and they are a pretty fail-safe recipe. As long as you don’t overcook them (a hideous crime to brownies!), they always seem to work well.

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I’ve based mine on this recipe, but made it a little more budget friendly – what student really has several types of sugar (even though I do quite a bit of baking, I only ever buy cheapy cheap granulated and soft dark brown types) and buttermilk. You can make your own buttermilk by ‘curdling’ normal milk using lemon juice but (1) I’ve never tried it, (2) it doesn’t really appeal to me, and (3) I’m trying to avoid *too much* dairy at the moment.

If you are a brownie addict and looking for a less-sinful version to snack on, look no further. If you have mayonnaise to use up, try this. If you just want an easy no fuss, no beating with electric whisks (as in my all time favourites) brownie recipe, then this is definitely one for you. Let me know if you try it!


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  • 100g of (preferably dark) chocolate
  • 80g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 1/3 of a mug of coffee – made black, and very strong (I used two teaspoons)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g of mayonnaise (I bought  big jar of Aldi’s own brand for 40p)
  • Extras – chopped nuts, or chopped chocolate (or anything else you fancy) – I went for chopped milk chocolate as that’s all I had, but white chocolate works very well

Turning these rather odd ingredients into yummy brownies…

Preheat the oven to 180C. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then leave to cool slightly. Weigh out the other ingredients whilst it cools, or do some of the reading you’re meant to be doing.

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In another bowl, mix together the flour and cocoa powder.

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By now your chocolate should have cooled! Add the sugars to the chocolate, mixing well. It will look gritty and not particularly pleasant.

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Gradually add the coffee and it should look something like this:

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Then add your beaten egg and mayonnaise. Mix in your extras at this point too. Mmm chocolate…

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Gradually sift in the flour/cocoa mix. In between siftings, fold the mix together gently. Eventually it will look all fudgy and yummy;

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Put the mix into a baking tin I should have told you to prepare earlier (it needs to be greased/lined). Ease into the corners and smooth down the top. I recommend NOT licking out the bowl in this recipe – you will taste the mayonnaise in the raw mix.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes (there should be a slight wobble in the middle). Then turn the oven off, and leave to cool in there. This works perfectly for me everytime when making brownies, especially with a temperamental oven.

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Once completely and utterly cool, remove from the tin and cut into pieces – I got 12 good size pieces out of this amount of ingredients, but this recipe is excellent for scaling up. I’ve made it for parties before and it’s gone down very well!

Now all that’s left is to enjoy, and feel slightly smug that you’ve made a healthier version of something totally yummy.

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Do you have any tips for making ‘naughty’ recipes healthier?

Recipe: Tomato-Free Spaghetti Bolognese

Please note, this recipe has been revised and reposted here – it’s taken nearly 5 years, but I’ve finally developed the best no-tomato spagheti bolognese. Super easy (and easily made vegan with mushrooms and lentils) and so, so tasty!
 photo Nomato Sauce_zpsxouvsbyd.jpg

Has anyone else managed to recreate recipes they thought were ‘no-goes’ due to allergies?