Another baking post for you! Anyone would think this is turning into a food blog, but that isn’t really the case…much as I love food I still want to keep this as much of a lifestyle blog as I can manage. Food is just a big part of my lifestyle…
Anyway, this recipe has quickly proved to make a favourite baked good of mine. These brownies are rich, gooey, crunchy from the snickers, with a savoury hint coming from the peanut butter. Wonderful on their own, but spectacular warned with Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. Diet = ruined.
I will say is that the snickers did make this very unstable and virtually impossible to cut. The crunchiness of the nuts is a pretty key part of the finished bake, but I’m not sure whether Snickers bars is the best way to achieve this. I plan to make another batch trialling a slightly different method, which I will blog about in due course. I will also add my method of using tins is slightly odd – I always line with tinfoil and grease this, then add greaseproof paper. Mainly as it eases the washing up…
So, here is the recipe for some of the best brownies I have ever eaten. Gooey, crunchy, chocolatey and salty. If you ever bake one thing from this site, make it these!
I made these as part of a bunch of presents for my lovely old boyfriend, for our third (yep, third – sickenly loved-up couple alert – but happy anniversary again my lovely!) anniversary of being together. His reaction was pretty impressive, so I think he liked them. They have been greatly appreciated by parents and housemates alike (and also travelled the five, yes five, thanks Southeastern Trains, hour journey to said boyfriend in a suitcase relatively unscathed) so would be great to make when meeting new people, having family visit, or for sending home in the hope of a fund relieving cheque in return…
Brownie mix (I used this recipe, as it is my go to for brownies. I also like this slightly healthier one, but I admit to using Tesco’s “just add water” mix on occasion, as baking ingredients can be expensive!)
Peanut Butter (around two tablespoons, smooth seems to work better in baking)
Snickers bars (I used three snack sized bars)
Preheat your oven to around 180C.
Chop your snickers into rough chunks.
Once your brownie mix is made up, stir through your chopped up Snickers, and add roughly half the mix to your prepared tin.
Warm your peanut butter slightly in the microwave to make it a little runny (photo is before microwaving!).
Add around half of your peanut butter over your brownies, trying to drizzle it evenly over the mix.
Add the rest of the brownie mix, and drizzle over the rest of the peanut butter. Smooth the top down.
Bake for 20-25 mins, turning if your oven cooks unevenly. If it is slightly underdone when you check it, my tip is to turn the oven off and leave to cool in the oven. It should finish it off nicely.
Leave to cool completely before removing from the tin and cutting. If you do this while they are still warm, so know from experience that you will just make a mess.
Now sit and eat, preferably with a class of milk or a cup of tea. Oh, and although the snickers might make the base sticky, it means great pickings for the baker…
This is a great recipe, one of my favourite meals, and a complete British classic. It is wonderfully simple to make, the basic recipe is ridiculously versatile, and yet so many people shy away from it as (1) they say it is “difficult to make” and (2) apparently it uses “expensive ingredients.” I’m hoping this post will blow both of these concerns out of way!
Firstly, it is so, so, so easy to make, and my recipe requires no scales, no measuring, just a jug, spoon, fork, and a tin. And an oven of course. If your kitchen doesn’t have these, its not really a kitchen.
Secondly, a lot of the ingredients are really basics that you would already have. 1.5kg of flour (ASDA smart price at 45p) lasts me more than a term, salt and pepper at also cheap (and realistically every meal needs them, so I haven’t included them in my costings per portion), milk lasts my house of four a week (6 pints at £1.48). Eggs are £1 for six, and that’s buying free range, as I utterly refuse to buy intensively farmed eggs. I use lard for my toad, but any flavourless oil such as sunflower is fine. Then sausages need not be expensive. Buy the best you can afford, obviously, as the best you buy the better your meal will taste. But you can get 8 decent sausages for under £2. You can get away with using two per person in this recipe but I was greedy and used three for me (but I bought my sausages from Waitrose heavily reduced – 8 for 90p!). I’m going to attempt to include some rough costings within this recipe, but I apologise if these are wrong. I’ve based everything on ASDA prices, using smart price flour, but their standard range everywhere else. My costing will also include some vegetables and gravy (and I use Bisto, so this could be a lot cheaper for you – although Bisto is available in the £1 shops!) I will also include the cost of EVERYTHING if you are making from scratch with an empty kitchen. I hope none of you are doing this though! My estimations are very generous, so the recipe will probably be cheaper!
I hope I have convinced you to give this recipe a try. It takes little to no time, a tiny bit of pre-planning (although if you are really pushed it isn’t necessary!) and results in a filling and tasty meal that really does remind me of home. Definite comfort food for this dreary, rainy, grey weather. By the way, the photo above is an old one, but the recipe is still the same!
The batter recipe can also be used for individual Yorkshire’s (cook in a muffin tin, for around 5 minutes left), fritters (add your ingredient, I like sweetcorn, and fry in a pan until crispy), or pancakes (leave out the salt and pepper, and fry in flavourless oil for around 1 minute on each side). So it is definitely a good recipe to learn!
Ingredients (I would eat this amount on my own, but with mashed potatoes would serve two!)
2 eggs (£1 for six, 33p in recipe)
2 spoons of flour (45p for 1.5kg, approx 5p for amount used)
Milk (£1.48 for six pints, approx 15-25p for amount used)
Salt (29p for 750g, negligible in recipe)
Black pepper (29p for 25g, roughly 1p in recipe)
2 sausages (based on £2 for 8, 50p in recipe) – ignore me being greedy and having three!)
A chunk of lard, or some oil, around 25g/ml (39p for 250g, approx 5p)
Gravy – I use Bisto’s Onion (£1.75 for 170g, approx 30p in recipe)
Vegatables – I would have around 1/5 of a cabbage, 1/4 of a broccoli head, and a handful of frozen peas (roughly 50p maximum)
Total cost of recipe – £1.99 including vegetables and gravy, per portion. Starting from scratch would be around £10, but this would leave plenty of ingredients left for other dishes. Scaling up this recipe wouldn’t double the cost, particularly if you just made mashed potatoes instead of extra batter.
Take your two eggs and crack into a jug. Ignore my bloody, plastered finger – I decided to slip with a knife earlier in the day and have badly sliced my finger. Typically I am left handed and it is very painful to write, so am instead drafting lots of blog posts (lucky readers!).
Add two rounded tablespoons of plain flour to your eggs, beating between each spoon, and trying to beat out all of the lumps (though lumps don’t hurt!).
Add in around 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of black pepper. The batter will go a funny colour if you use ground pepper, but I find it gives a better flavour.
Add enough milk (no more than 1/2 a pint – I used two ‘splashes) until you have a thick but pourable consistency that coats the back of a spoon, similar to this next photo.
If you have time, cover the batter with cling film and leave in a cool place. I like to make this on days (i.e. Wednesdays) when I finish at lunchtime. I will make it as soon as I get in, winding down from lectures, then get on with some work until dinner time. Come then my batter is nicely rested and I have very little prep to do. Here’s my batter resting by the window, with our pretty little garden – we got lucky for a student house!
When you are ready, heat your oven to about 200 degrees.
Throw your lard in the pan, and let it melt in the oven.
Once melted add your sausages, and throw back in the oven. If you are using oil, add the sausages straight away.
Cook your sausages until browned all over. This takes about 10 or so minutes, and you may want to poke them with a spoon to ensure they brown evenly.
When your sausages are browned, removed the tin from the oven then quickly pour in your batter.
Put back in the oven, and set your timer for 15 minutes – do not open the oven in this time, or you will end up with a soggy bottom (to your Yorkshire!).
Try and time your veg and gravy to be ready at roughly the same time (cabbage wants 4-6 minutes boiling, broccoli 2-5, peas 5-6). You can prep your veg whilst it is cooking (here is what I had tonight!)
Occasionally your Toad may stick to the tin slightly – if it does then add some washing up liquid and pour in boiling water before it cools, and it should just scrub off easily. Mine stuck tonight – it is a rare but annoyance!
Serve up your toad, add your veg (drain it well) and cover in gravy. Then devour and enjoy!
Does anyone have any tips for making the perfect Yorkshire Puddings or Toad in the Hole?
As you all know from this post, I have a touch of Fresher’s Flu. And what does this student do when ill/stressed/annoyed/grumpy/all of the above? She bakes! My house had lots of very brown and mushy bananas to use up, but I wanted a change from the usual Banana & Nutella Muffins (much to some of my housemates disgust!). Thanks to Wahaca and Hula Cafe (a lovely little place in Edinburgh that do the best smoothies – I’ve not blogged about my summer holiday, but maybe I should!) I have a rather strong addiction to cinnamon, so decided to incorporate that. My brainwave was these Cinnamon Swirl Banana Muffins, some with a hidden surprise!
Next time I personally would double the amount of cinnamon, and possibly use another banana and lose an egg (thrifty tips here guys!). But definitely err on the side of caution when it comes to cinnamon – you can always dust with more after baking, but can’t take it away. I used this recipe as a brief guide, but didn’t really follow it at all – but I’d thought I’d show you as there are some great recipes on the site!
I haven’t costed this recipe exactly – but relying on the fact that you may have cinnamon in your cupboards (it is a useful spice to have, mainly because I like spoons in porridge, but a little does add a nice fruity note to a curry) and some baking powder (if you bake a lot, it really is useful – I ran out and all I could get were stupidly expensive sachets, so it is worth buying a pot) it shouldn’t be too expensive, as there are no special ingredients. The soft brown sugar can always be substituted with generic sugar you throw in your tea if you don’t want to splash out anymore.
Anyway, here’s the recipe!
Ingredients (Makes 12 big muffins)
2 eggs (medium)
115-125g butter (about half a pack, I used salted)
225-240g (I have very unreliable scales at the moment!) plain flour
100-120g sugar (I always use the cheapest I can find here)
1 tsp baking powder
Optional – a handful of oats, some dark chocolate
For the swirl/topping – 50g soft brown sugar (or normal if you prefer), and 1+tsp of cinnamon (to taste)
Preheat your oven to around 180 degrees.
Peel your bananas and mash into a bowl.
Add your eggs to the bananas and beat up.
Melt your butter, let cool slightly (we don’t want scrambled eggs!) and add the the mixing bowl.
Add in your flour, sugar and baking powder, and mix to combine.
If you are using them, throw in your handful of oats. If the mixture gets a bit stiff and sticky cooking, beat in a splash or two of milk.
Make your cinnamon mixture – mix the brown sugar (or alternative) in a bowl with the cinnamon.
Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cases (I bought some really pretty ones from Wilkinson’s recently – and don’t use silicone ones with banana recipes as they tend to stick more).
Add a tablespoon of the muffin mixture to each case.
Sprinkle over some of the cinnamon sugar.
Add another tablespoon of mixture to the cases (they should be almost full – the actuary in me estimates around 5/6 full).
Swirl your mixture slightly with the top of a teaspoon – they won’t swirl as readily as the nutella version, so don’t worry.
If you are making some with a chocolatey surprise, push a square of dark chocolate (I used ASDA’s own smartprice version) into the centre.
Sprinkle more of the cinnamon sugar onto the top.
Put in the oven, for 20-25 minutes. I turned mine round halfway as the oven in this new house cooks unevenly.
Cool before eating, although they are good blasted in the microwave too.
Perfect as a pick-me-up when you realise that going into second year is a big jump in terms of workload (one class test and piece of coursework already done, AND they count towards my actual degree!).
This is going to be a really rushed and vague recipe. I didn’t take any photos of the making, didn’t note down ingredients or timings, as I wasn’t going to be sharing it – I did not expect it to be good. It actually turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve ever cooked! I have slight Fresher’s flu, made worse by the recovery from my operation, and all I wanted was something comforting, fragrant, and easy to cook for my lunch. This fitted the bill perfectly, and I will definitely be making it again. I really recommend anyone suffering to try it!
Ingredients (to serve 1, with a huge greedy helping):
Chicken (maybe half a breast, I used uncooked but you could just use cooked if you have any) – you want this is small pieces
Chicken stock (around 500ml)
Garlic (I used powder)
Chilli (I used crushed dried chillies)
Sweet chilli sauce
Peanut butter (no more than a teaspoon)
Noodles (1 nest)
Any other vegetables/seasonings you fancy, although for comforting purposes I felt these ingredients were fine
Put the stock in a pan and bring to the boil. Add the seasoning as its warming, and stir in the peanut butter.
Once boiling, throw in your small bits of chicken.
If using raw chicken, simmer for around 10 or so minutes (check to make sure your chicken is cooked – I recommend cutting to large marble sized pieces in this recipe).
Add in any extra vegetables where necessary to ensure they cook.
Break up your noodles (I know this is apparently bad luck, but I don’t fancy crunchy ones!) so they fit fully submerged in the pan.
Add your noodles and carrots to the pan, and cook following the noodle instructions. Mine involve turned the heat off, so I just covered my pan and left it for 5 minutes.
If you want to jazz up this recipe to impress, I suggest a scattering of something crunchy (sesame seeds, or cashew nuts), some fresh coriander, and maybe a squeeze of lime.
Now just serve up, slurp up the noodles, and let the spicy warmth sort out your Fresher’s Flu. Or any other kind of cold.
If you are unfortunate to have the dreaded Fresher’s Flu (and don’t try to avoid it, most people get it!), I suggest drinking lots of orange juice, eating well, keeping warm and maybe having a few early nights. And definitely try this soup!
Hope you enjoy this recipe! What do you cook when you need comfort food?
I came out of a two-and-a-half hour exam earlier. Knowing I had another (4 hour!) exam on Monday, what did I do? Put my head down and revise? Drown my sorrows in alcohol? No, I turned to baking.
I’ll be completely honest with you, I have no choice but to bake at the moment. For one thing, both the making, the eating and the giving away to friends is a great stress reliever. But the main reason is that it’s coming to the end of the year and I have a LOT of food to get through.
I currently have just under a kilogram of flour, lots of various different sugars, and a selection of flavourings. Last week I made brownies (not as successful, so they don’t get a blog post – my halls oven is failing rapidly). This week I wanted something fresher, to reflect what I thought was sunnier weather – again something that is also failing rapidly. I knew I had a bottle of lime juice and a bottle of lemon juice to use up. I recommend always having some lemon juice – I love it. Over pancakes, as a simple salad dressing, or over fish fingers (hey I’m a student!) it’s really useful at perking things up. Lime juice is less of a necessity. I only have it because of my addition to Mexican food, which I have street-food restaurant Wahaca to blame for. I make refried beans a lot of the exam period, and they always benefit from a splash of lime juice. But anyways, lots of lime juice to use up.
I decided to make citrus cupcakes. I have a cupcake ‘recipe’ I use, that I’ve used for years, that I don’t know where it came from, and that I usually flavour with vanilla. I decided to use that, but ditch the vanilla in favour of a citrus mix. I then swapped out my usual buttercream icing for a drizzle type concoction. It seemed to work. I definitely over cooked the cupcakes, but I had enough mixture left over for a ‘cake’ in my Le Cruset baking dish. This isn’t so dry, and is much better – so keep an eye on these little cakes, especially if you have a dodgy student oven.
Citrus Drizzle Cupcakes
Here’s the recipe. It made 12 cupcakes and a reasonable size cake – I’d guess you’d get at least 18 cupcakes out of it. Note that in the picture one is missing. Someone had to sample it didn’t they…
Oil (vegetable) – 6 tablespoons
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup of sugar – I used standard granulated for this
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (or just use 1.5 cups of self raising flour)
1/2 cup milk
Lemon and Lime juice – good splashes of both, preferably to taste though I take no responsibility for any illness from eating raw cake mixture (it’s not a good idea, but just about everyone I know does it)
For the drizzle – more splashes of lemon/lime juice, and granulated sugar, just enough so it stops dissolving and feels grainy
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Beat together the oil, sugar, and the salt, until fully mixed.
Add the eggs gradually, the mix should go light in colour, and reasonably fluffy.
Sift together (I’ll admit I didn’t do this – due to lack of a sieve) the flour and baking powder. Add this to the mixture, alternating between a cup of flour and some milk. Mix until you have a smooth batter.
Stir through the lemon/lime juice – again, use your own judgement as to how much.
Add to muffin cases in a tin (fill about 2/3 full) and bake for 15-18 mins, probably towards the shorter end of the cooking time.
While they’re cooking, prepare the drizzle mix as specified in the ingredients.
As soon as they’re out, spoon the drizzle mixture oven. Let cool, and eat! Simple as that!
Let’s face it, students have to watch their pennies. Or in my case, watch their pennies leave their pockets as quickly as they’ve made it there (damn Canterbury rents being so expensive they swallow up my entire loan, and more…). So I thought I’d do a post on good-for-the-pocket-and-the-mouth food buys. And maybe some household and cosmetic items too.
So here it is, my cost-saving guide to shopping!
First of all, my first point is to always check the clearance shelves. You can normally find things that you would have considered out of your budget there – like two plaice fish fillets (fresh fish is SO good for you) for £1.20 as apposed to nearly £6. Okay, still not the cheapest meal option. But perhaps having a ‘treat’ meal on your shopping day will keep you satisfied with cheaper items.
I would also advocate looking in ‘cheap’ shops. Aldi is my favourite, along with Poundland, simply because I can easily get items from them.
My parents bring me my favourite from Aldi, seeing as the one here is unhelpfully located in terms of bus stops. I love their own-brand cereal and instant hot chocolate. Their branded bread tends to be far cheaper than other shops too. And according to my parents, their meat is the best quality they’ve had in the last few months. I’m unable to vouch for this, having not tried it.
Poundland is great for things like cereal bars, branded cereal (because who doesn’t like Chocolate Minibix…), and crisps.
I’m now going to completely contradict myself. PLEASE don’t avoid shops deemed as ‘expensive.’ And by that I mean Waitrose and M&S. They can have some seriously good buys, and in some cases work out cheaper than Tesco.
Who knows the much-longed-for Tesco deal of 3-for-£10 meats, mix and match? Its on for a couple of months, spread about throughout the year, or it is as far as I’ve noticed. Well Waitrose does the same deal. But it’s on permanently And the choice is much greater. You can buy turkey breasts (healthier than chicken, unfortunately out of stock this weekend), and various cuts of meat. There is more weight in the mince and chicken included (550g mince as opposed to 500g). This weekend I purchased two packs of mince, and one of mini chicken breast fillets; this has made two portions of chicken/mushroom casserole (along with two portions of the sauce for pasta), two portions of chicken curry (two portions of the sauce made into vegetable curry), four portions of chilli, three cottage pies, and four portions of bolognese. I personally find some of their vegetables bigger and cheaper than Tesco too, though do check before buying – I notably saved money on the cabbage from Waitrose, and it was far nicer than Tesco! I also must mention that Waitrose do the best dried noodles ever!
M&S is less useful, and I mainly use it for their tomato-free curry paste (the Tandoori is lovely, the Balti is yet to be tried!). However, their Dine In For £10 is excellent, and is the monthly treat when my man comes to visit!
Now…(Own) Brand Winners!
Tesco Value (30-something pence a loaf, serves 3) is lovely, cooks great, not too strong, not bland, not greasy or dry – its a winner! Just avoid ASDAs equivilant…
I must confess I have only tried Tesco’s, but it is very yummy. Their standard ones are the right size for a single portion, the garlic and coriander flavour is just enough, and they are 6 for £1 and freeze really well.
For individual pots, ASDA is great. I like their 6x125g pots of low fat vanilla/toffee for £1. They do packs of 4 for a £1 too, with slightly more variety in flavour. For bigger pots, I like Tesco’s lemon, as it has just the right amount of bitterness.
Tesco is the clear winner here, at 24p for four value mousse, that are absolutely yummy. They’re also great frozen!
I recently ‘risked’ some Tesco Value Scampi Bites, at £1.25 for two portions. I say risked, as cheap seafood scares me. However, despite oozing some dubious looking liquid during cooking, and having to be turned regularly to prevent going soggy, these were surprisingly nice, and definitely worth buying – I won’t bother with more expensive stuff until I can afford it! That said, if you don’t need to cut pennies too much, go for more expensive versions.
Southern Fried Chicken
Aldi and Tesco’s (both frozen) is very good, as is Waitrose (also frozen, and considerably more expensive).
Now, nothing beats a Pukka pie. Especially as they’re tomato free. Most other supermarket deep-filled ones are, so I tend to buy (when I’m not treating myself) the shallow puff pastry ones. They’re usually priced at around 2 for £1.10, and whilst they aren’t full of meat, they’re okayish. The chicken ones tend to be far nicer than the steak.
I love ASDA’s Lemon and Lime double concentrate. Be warned it is very strong, and tastes very nice with vodka. ASDA’s Blackcurrant high juice is another favourite and has been for several years – I don’t drink normal Ribena, only this.
Curry Sauce (Korma)
As I am allergic to tomatoes, I only have a few options here. Tesco Finest Royal Korma sauce has a very, very odd texture – it tastes floury. It is also very expensive! ASDA normal brand Korma is a bigger jar, smells amazing, and tastes okay. It is a little bland, but I tend to marinate my chicken in Mark’s and Spencer’s tandoori paste, which helps. As does adding onions, peppers and chillies. Yes it perhaps bumps the price up a little, but it also bulks it out, so the meat goes further – bulking out meals is something I really, really suggest when cooking on a budget.
Bit of an odd one. Philadelphia is lovely, lovely, lovely, and you can honestly tell the difference. But at 1/4 of the price, Tesco’s value version isn’t too bad, just buy the full fat!
The best packet of cookies I have ever, ever bought is from Aldi. They are around 30-45p a packet for 20 cookies, and honestly taste far superior to Maryland. They stand up well to dunking into drinks too….
Hair Styling Product
One for the girls. If you have curly hair, humidity is a nightmare, and causes a lot of frizz (and tears). Boots Curl Creme (it is pink) is the only thing that helps me. Apply to wet/damp hair. Only use a tiny tiny bit and rub in between your hands first, so it goes white. It’s very, very cheap and lasts for ages. I have about 5 tubs as a few years ago there was a discontinuation scare.
ALDI for the win! Their big tubs of hot chocolate are £1.09, as opposed to a more general price of £2+, and it does taste very nice. However their individual sachets are really not pleasant, and for here I reccomend Options, which are very pricey. I only buy sachets for taking to work, so it’s not too much of an issue, but definitely wouldn’t ‘live’ off Options hot chocolate as I do the Aldi stuff.
I personally would never, ever buy Value range washing up liquid, there’s something so sad about getting so little bubbles in the bowl. However, ASDA’s own Lemon washing up liquid is my current favourite. Very bubbly, cuts through grease well, and smells gorgeous (although coming from a family where citrus products are banned, maybe I’m just addicted to the scent!).
I love Yorkshire tea. It’s my absolute favourite. I can’t afford it. Even after my student loan comes in, I know perfectly well that if I buy it I’ll drink a huge pack in a week, and that’s just too expensive. So I stick to Tesco’s standard brand, or Aldi’s. They are stronger though, so brew for less time.
Please, please don’t waste your money buying cheaper stuff. It is awful, and really doesn’t taste nice. More expensive cheese really is the only thing to go, and thats why I save it for a treat (or when the parents pay for shopping!). If you eat a lot of meals that include cheese in the cooking, buy a packet of ready grated parmesan, provides cheesy flavour for a much lower price!
Things to AVOID
ASDA Smart Price Garlic Bread – just horribly strong tasting, but not strongly of garlic!
Own-Brand White Lasagne sauce – I’ve never found anything close to Dolmio!
Own-Brand Chocolate – it’s alright to cook with, but not for eating.
ALDI flour- makes Toad in the Hole soggy and watery, and makes pancakes sticky.
ASDA Smart Price chocolate mousse – so bitter its inedible!
I’ve been keeping a meal diary since I moved to university, and I want to prove that not all students live off of ready meals, toast and noodles. Admittedly two of my housemates seem to, but I honestly think I can cook better meals and save money. For a start, many ready meals are upwards of £2. Considering I spend less than £10 in total on my weekly shop, I’d be spending a fortune more if I survived on ready meals. Basically, what I’m going to do here is to write a list of all of the dinners I have eaten since I have been here. If I can, I’ll give a rough estimate of cost, and maybe a brief description of how I made it. Some might even have stomach-rumble-inducing photos too…so here goes:
Day 1: Cereal in a mug. Yes naughty of me. Yes my mum would go mad. But I had half an hour in which to eat and get ready to meet newly-made friends. I had no clean pots out. I couldn’t find any of my food I’d brought. So cereal it was.
Day 2: Nothing. Yes I know that was bad. BUT I went to ASK with the family before they left, and had a huge plate of risotto and garlic bread.
Day 3: Chilli con Carne. I portioned out a 500g pack of mince, made cottage pie, bolgnese mix and chilli – and got six meals. This was the first, and very yummy it was with rice, cheese and tortilla chips. Because I’m severely allergic to tomatoes, I use a substitute which due to p&p is very expensive. Not ideal for a student, but I use it sparingly and it does enable me to keep eating a varied diet.
Day 4: Cottage Pie (see above). All I can remember about this is that it was deconstructed as I couldn’t get the oven to turn on. I have, thankfully, solved that problem now. I had this with carrots, peas, brocoli and sweetcorn, as well as extra gravy – yummy, homely and healthy!
Day 5: Prawn Stir fry. I have written about my stir fry recipe on here before – all I did was add frozen cooked prawns. I discovered Sharwoods noodles are awful – the best are Waitrose own, the ones that only need soaking. They’re surprisingly cheap as well, but then I’m hugely defensive about Waitrose prices.
Day 6: Chicken Kiev with Couscous Salad. Had a bit of a kitchen war with my housemates on this night (which gets repeated around once a week – a group take over the kitchen cooking using the oven and all four gas rings for several hours). It was 8pm by the time I got into the kitchen, and I needed something quick. This was the answer.
Day 7: Lasagne. I used the mince mixture I’d made up previously, and half a jar of Dolmio white sauce (the same one my mum used back in the days where I could eat tomatoes). This was amazing; served with a salad it was home on a plate.
Day 8: Pasta Bake, made with ham, mushrooms and the leftover Dolmio from the day before. Again served with salad, this was an amazingly quick meal, but definitely needed more pepper in the sauce.
Day 9: Sausage Casserole. One of my most prized possessions at university is a Le Cruset dish, which is the perfect size for an individual pasta bake or lasagne. Coming a close second is my Le Cruset casserole dish. I love stews and casseroles, and they’re perfect for batch cooking. I buy the most amazing sausages from Waitrose (2 packs for £5 – I get at least 8 meals out of this, which I think is great), they are spicy with chorizo, and they make the most amazing casserole. I also buy their Cumberland sausages for toad in the hole, and meatballs. I also insist on having Waitrose cheese. And to be honest, their meat is almost always on 3 for £10, exactly the same deal as other supermarkets. And call me a snob, but I can tell the difference.
Day 10: Carbonara. This is something I’ve mastered at university. I haven’t managed to take a photo, as its something that needs to be eaten immediately. But basically cook pasta, try chopped bacon, mix cooked pasta into bacon pan, season and turn off heat. Beat eggs with lots of finely grated cheese, and gradually add to pan, stirring constantly. If needed add heat to thicken sauce. It shouldn’t scramble, especially if you add the egg gradually. I occasionally substitute the bacon with mushrooms, courgette or even sausage meat, or a combination of all three. Mushrooms and sausage is my favourite combination – like a full English pasta dish!
Day 11: Prawn, Courgette, Chilli, Lemon and Garlic Pasta. Just something quick and delicious I threw together.
Day 12: Toad in the Hole, Onion Gravy, Spinach, Cabbage, Brocoli and Peas. One of my favourite meals. I use Nigellas recipe for Chinese yorkshire pudding, in which you add flour to eggs and milk rather than the other way round. I make a huge portion, and scoff the lot. I’m hugely greedy when it comes to this dish.
Day 13: Chilli con Carne, with rice and tortilla chips. Another one of my batches from the first few days.
Day 14: Courgette carbonara. Seasoned with lemon juice; not advised with eggs, but I enjoyed the lift it gave.
Day 15: Scrambled egg on toast. This was the night I rushed to the boyfriends…to be fair we had stopped for lunch on route…I had a massive plate of chips, peppercorn sauce, grilled mushrooms and a very rare and bloody steak. Nom nom nom…
Day 16: Nothing. It was an emotional day with my man, and leaving him again made me cry for virtually the whole of my four hour train journey. I didn’t fancy a thing.
Day 17: Carrot Stir fry. It was quick and easy, and used what I had in. Still hated Sharwoods noodles though!
Day 18: Sausages, mash, and green vegetables. Reasonably easy and homely. Not impressed with my cheap potato masher though – its very bendy…
Day 19: Cheesy Ham Potato Bake. My usual pasta bake, with parboiled potatoes cut into slices replacing the pasta. Again served with a salad. I really enjoy this dish, its definitely going to be a staple over the winter!
Day 20: Sausage Casserole, mash, and vegetables.
Day 21: Cheesy Pasta Bake, again with salad.
Day 22: Steak Pie, homemade chips, and vegetables. Pukka pies can be bought and frozen in tesco, and are often on offer for £1. I always stock up as (1) it is rare to find pies without tomato in, and (2) I just love them. They do unfortunately take 50 minutes from frozen, but they’re so good I don’t care!
Day 23: Mushroom risotto, garlic bread and salad. Yes, I cooked risotto. Yes I’m not a normal student. But it was so good! I just made up the recipe, and I’ll probably do a specific blog post about it at some point as it just was so very very yummy. Risotto is actually quite quick, and good for leftovers (one day only) or freezing. Purists would frown on reheating it, but I find it works quite well. Better than reheating pasta anyway.
Day 24: Cheesy Pasta Bake and salad.
Day 25: Creamy Mushroom chicken, with rice, peas and brocoli. I love chicken tonights creamy mushroom sauce, its one of my favourite things. Yes jarred sauces are quite expensive, but I think this is worth it. I get four meals out of a jar of sauce, so its reasonably economical – its chicken thats hugely expensive.
Day 26: Sausages, Mash, and veg.
Day 27: Chilli potato bake. An experiment which didn’t exactly work. I layered chilli with potato slices, topped with cheese and tortilla chips and then baked. The textures were awful, and it was a waste of good food.
Day 28: Cheesy Pasta Bake. Needed something quick and easy as my man was coming down that night and I needed to meet him at the station!
Day 29: Carbonara and garlic bread, requested and devoured by the boyfriend. We also shared a whole chicken and four sides in Nandos…and had chocolate pudding made in the slow cooker (which unfortunately looked rather a lot like poo…). The chocolate sauce was very yummy, the sponge very odd.
Day 30: Sausage Casserole, eaten in tears having said goodbye. Good comfort food, served with mash and veg. And bread to mop up the gravy. And then the last of the chocolate pudding, which was better having rested for a day, and then heated in the microwave.
Day 31: Jacket potato with cheese and salad. Nothing much to say about this really.
Day 32: Mushroom risotto, salad and garlic bread. Not as good as my first attempt, but I was making two batches with a small amount of mushrooms, and no bacon.
Day 33: Leftover mushroom risotto.
Day 34: Pukka Steak pie, and vegetables. Yummy yum.
Day 35: Ham and Mushroom Pasta Bake – with salad. Accidently added too much garlic to the mushrooms, but it was reasonably yummy.
Day 36: Sausage casserole, with garlic bread. I spent a long day at work, got home at half eight, and needed something quick. This was the answer; and as my casserole recipe is quite spicy, it works with garlic bread.
Day 37: Chips, garlic bread and chocolate cake; celebrating a friends birthday.
Day 38: Breaded plaice fillet, new potatoes, and peas, with butter and lemon. Managed to get the plaice on a whoops in tesco – £1.25 for two fillets, instead of four pounds something, it was lovely.
Day 39: I was violently ill with a stomach bug, as was everyone else in the house. Somehow I think this might be related to one filthy housemate who continues to chop raw meat anywhere and everywhere without ever wiping down. Anyway, I didn’t eat anything.
Day 40: Luckily I was feeling better. Attended a careers event in London, where I had canapes and wine, following my a dinner date with my dad (who works in the city) – bread and balsamic, mushroom and truffle risotto to start, then braised rump of lamb with mash and green beans. Some of the nicest dinner I’ve had, although the lamb was well done rather than the medium I’ve asked for. We went to Cafe des Amis, near Covent Garden, and whilst it was lovely it was overpriced – even with 50% off using our taste card, we paid £60. Okay value at this price; full price it would have been a disappointment. But I’ll happily go back there again, maybe for a romantic dinner with the boyfriend.
Day 41: Mushroom and chicken pasta bake, using one of my Chicken tonight bag of frozen leftovers. Tasted very much like the dish on ASKs menu, I was impressed with myself. Served with garlic bread and salad. Word on the garlic bread; tesco values baguettes are 30-something pence, and are lovely. I split them into three. ASDA smart price are cheaper, but the garlic is too overpowering.
Day 42: Plaice fillet, with new potatoes, and chilli lemon garlic spinach. The last of my fish, which was very much enjoyed.
Day 43: The family came down for the weekend, and I was treated to pate and baguette, steak en croute (which I didn’t enjoy) chips and peas. Followed by two tubs of Hagen Daz split between the four of us.
Day 44: I’d been out for Sunday Lunch with the parents, so only had a bowl of cereal.
Day 45: Out for dinner with the parents before they headed home. Found an amazing pub in a village just outside Canterbury – so nice we’ve already booked a table for my birthday lunch in December. I had a chicken, leek and ham hock suet pie, with mash, courgette and cabbage (the cabbage was the best I’ve ever eaten) followed by an amazing sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. I felt feeling totally stuffed and happy.
Day 46: Toad in the hole, mash and veg. Had potatoes to use up, so had a massive, massive dinner that night.
Day 47: Cheesy Pasta Bake for lunch, crisps for dinner; I was working the late shift.
Day 48: Faggots with mash, and veg. I love faggots, but they only seem to sell them up North. I got my parents to bring several loads down from our local butcher – they are 60p each, and one is more than enough for one meal.
Day 49: Spaghetti carbonara for lunch, nothing for dinner. I was heading up to the boyfriend after three long weeks apart. Actually, I lie. I bought a Chicken & Bacon sandwich from M&S at St Pancras – it was the worst £3.25 I’ve ever spent. Very soggy, very fatty bacon, and gristly chicken. I ate two bites.
Day 50: Cheesy Pasta Bake with salad.The boyfriend makes it so much better than I do. Also had a hazelnut hot chocolate and a ‘chocolate egg and soliders’ at his local chocolate chip, preceded by cheese and ham toasties (with chips) at the local greasy spoon!
Day 51: Nothing for dinner, but me and the boy did made cheese stuffed chicken breasts, with homemade chips and chilli/garlic spinach for lunch – delicious. Didn’t make the M&S mistake on the return journey.
Day 52: Fish fingers, new potatoes, prawns, peas in a lemon garlic butter sauce. Youngs fish fingers are by far the nicest and the best quality, and at £1 for 10 I couldn’t resist a box to pop in the freezer. I have two at a time, bolstered with some sauted frozen prawns. This made for a very yummy meal.
Day 53: Carrot Stir Fry – and yep the noodles are still horrible, but they have finally all gone now!
Day 54: Mushroom pasta bake for lunch, with salad and garlic bread, crackers for dinner – another late night shift at work.
Day 55: Toad in the hole, spinach, cabbage, brocoli and peas. Was the best toad I’ve ever made. A very yummy dinner, even if I did cause the smoke alarm to go off.
Day 56: Sausage carbonara – simple and quick. Had with yet more garlic bread.
Day 57: ‘Homemade’ curry. This was a huge triumph. I finally found a curry sauce that doesn’t contain tomatoes, but tried some out of the jar and oh god it was bland! So I fried off two onions and one pepper in curry powder, and various spices. I marinaded my chicken in the same mixture of spicies, and I added three garlic cloves and two chillis, plus virtually a handful of black pepper. Two chicken breasts made three meals like this; to the one I ate tonight I also added spinach. Yes it looked liked sick, but it was the first curry I have eaten for two years, and it was delicious. I served with rice, and some naan bread.
Day 58: Cheesy Potato Bake, with garlic bread and salad. I need stodge and comfort food, as I didn’t feel great.
Day 59: Fish fingers, peas and homemade ‘chips’ – I had frozen some pre-boiled potatoes (I always tend to cook too many) so defrosted them, threw them in the oven tossed in oil, thyme, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. They were a little burnt, but tasted great, and the texture was as close to chips as I think you could get them. Will definitely have an experiment with making more like this.
Day 60: Mushroom Stroganoff. This was a bit of an experiment, and it paid off beautifully. I knew I had loads of mushrooms in the freezer – they seem to fry better from frozen – and I have a huge amount of rice, so I just bought some soured cream and raided my spice cupboard. I fried off some onion, then mushrooms, and added garlic and a little chilli. I stirred in a spoonful of paprika, added a bit of veg stock, simmered whilst the rice cooked…then stirred in a 3-4 teaspoons of soured cream and served. The sour cream did split a little – I heated it for too long – but it tasted good! Would have been better with some steak, but thats virtually impossible on a students budget! Another dinner that looks a little like sick though:
Day 61: Stir fry with rice. For some reason, my usual yummy stir fry recipe wasn’t great that night. The spring rolls I bought (50p down from £2 – and 4 more in the freezer) were great though!
Day 62: Homemade mushroom risotto – I seriously love this, isn’t become one of my favourite meals! Had with garlic bread and salad.
Day 63: Mushroom risotto again – it reheats beautifully as long as the leftover portion is undercooked. Had with salad, after coming home at 10pm from work and then picking the boyfriend up at the station. He wasn’t as impressed as me – but then he heavily dislikes mushrooms.
Day 64: Chicken and sausage casserole, with mash and veg. This was delicious, and a bit of a treat as the boyfriend was round. No photos unfortunately, as it was just to yummy to risk getting cold. We also split a whole tub of Karamel Sutra – haven’t been so full since I started university! I was especially full as we’d found an amazing cafe in Canterbury that lunch – Christmas Dinner baguettes are the best sandwich invention ever!
Day 65: Reheated chicken curry. Yes, it still looked like sick, but it froze and reheated really well. I again added spinach, and served with rice and naan. Great comfort food after the train station goodbyes!
Day 66: Cheesy Pasta Bake, with salad.
Day 67: Faggots, mash, cabbage, brocoli, peas and lots of onion gravy. Delicious on a very cold and rainy day!
Day 68: Nothing for dinner, as I was working late, but for lunch I made bubble’n’squeak, with sausages, bread, and sweet chilli sauce. This deserves a blog post of its own!
Day 69 (que immature giggle): More cheesy pasta bake and salad. I have this far too often, but its so good! Served with a massive plate of salad, I didn’t feel toooo gulity when I ate this entire huge portion!
Day 70: Steak pie, mash, gravy and vegetables.
Will try and keep this post updated – and post more regularly.