Chestnut & Pecorino "sausage" rolls

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Firstly, let me start by saying the only thing sausage about these sausage rolls is the shape. There is no pork in these bad boys! The usual cheese and onion roll substitute is undeniably delicious, however these are, well, a little more meaty and make good use of a couple of key seasonal ingredients.

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I used two 180g bags of cooked chestnuts, grinding one bag up with the grinding blade of my nutribullet and roughly chopping the other. I mixed these with wholemeal breadcrumbs made from two slices bread, two crushed garlic cloves, a wedge of pecorino cheese grated, salt (although be sparing as the cheese is quite salty), pepper and a handful of chopped parsley.

Mix the ingredients together and then bind them with a couple of beaten eggs. Tip the mixture onto a sheet of clingfilm and roughly shape into a a sausage.

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Wrap the clingfilm around it, rolling as you go until you get a long sausage shape.

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Chill in the freezer for half an hour. I had to chop mine in half to make it fit.

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In the meantime take one of two shop bought pack of puff pastry packs out of the fridge and roll out into a rectangle if it’s not pre-rolled. After half an hour take half of the mix out of the freezer and slice lengthways down the sausage to create two long half moon shapes. Lay them on top of the pastry as down on the pic below. Slice the pastry so each half of sausage as it’s own pastry rectangle.

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Spoon some cranberry sauce over the top.

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Egg wash around the side and fold the pastry over the top of the sausage crimping with a fork to seal.

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Trim the excess edges off to neaten, put on a tray and repeat with the other side. Chill in the fridge for another half an hour, then slice into inch wide pieces, score or prick the tops and brush on an egg wash.

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Bake at 200oC for about 20 minutes or until golden. Repeat with the second pack of puff, and the other half of the sausage which should still be in the freezer!

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Enjoy!

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Frugal February week 4

Where has this month gone? I can’t believe it has flown by so fast and we’re in our last week of Frugal February. This week is going to be slightly different, as the hubby and I are going away for a couple of nights by ourselves, the first time since before our daughter was born. In fact it’s going to be the first time in her (almost) four years of life that we’ve ever left her overnight with anyone! Some friends of ours from church very kindly bought us a couple of nights away as a Christmas present. We’re so blessed! We’re all very excited, as are my parents who are driving five and a half hours to babysit for us! Anyhow, I only need to plan two meals this week as a result:

Monday: Throw it all in veggie mac & cheese. Using up veggies left in the fridge, a simple homemade cheese sauce and crispy breadcrumb topping.
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Tuesday: Roasted veg and salmon tray bake. Using half a side of salmon we have in the freezer and veggies already in the fridge.
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Wednesday & Thursday we’re away.

Friday: Kubbah hammute. I made extra and froze them last time I made them, so mum is going to make the soup and poach them for when we arrive home.

You might notice I haven’t put any prices on, the reason being I haven’t actually had to buy anything, so actually in one sense this is an extra frugal week, although no doubt hubby and I will enjoy a couple of meals out while we’re away.

What will you be eating this week?

Whole baked cauliflower cheese

For me, a Sunday roast just isn’t a Sunday roast without a cauliflower cheese. Usually I segment the cauli, but yesterday decided to leave it whole.

I took the tough outer leaves off, leaving the more tender smaller ones in tact, and steamed the whole head for around 12 minutes. 

While it was steaming, I made the cheese sauce by melting a generous knob of butter in a saucepan and whisking in a couple of dessert spoons of pain flour to form a roux. Season with pepper and a small pinch of salt (the cheese is salty, so don’t go overboard). Then I whisked in milk, stiring continuously until I had a smooth and thick sauce. At this point I threw in a large handful of strong cheddar.

I set the sauce aside and removed the cauli from the steamer, letting it dry off a little.  While it was drying, I made a simple crumb by blitzing a piece of wholemeal bread up with salt and pepper. If you have any parsley and pine nuts to hand you could throw them in too. Mix with a bit more cheddar and some parmesan.

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Put the head of cauli in a large oven proof dish and pour the sauce over it. Sprinkle the crumb over the top and bake for about 35-40 mins in a 170oC oven.

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Slice to serve and spoon over some of the delicious sauce. 

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Phoebe’s Scones

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Thankfully there are very few things my daughter refuses to eat. Since she was weaned she has eaten the same as us, and enjoys a broad and varied range of meals, however there’s one thing she just doesn’t seem to like… Sandwiches. So I find myself looking for new ideas to put in her nursery lunchbox to avoid the monotony of pasta salad, cheese and biscuits and deconstructed sandwiches.

A friend suggest I try savoury muffins, so I had a look at recipes but actually settled on a basic cheese scone, amped up by a few basic ingredients chosen by Phoebe. When I asked her what she wanted in them she said “olives, cheese, bacon and orange peppers”! I thought spring onions would work better than peppers so subbed them out. We baked them together yesterday afternoon and Phoebe seems to love the results. You’ll need:

450g self raising flour
110g butter (I used unsalted as I was adding olives and bacon which add the salt element)
300ml whole milk
70g grated strong cheddar cheese
6 rashers of smoked Streaky bacon cooked to a crisp so you can crumble them.
3 spring onions very finely sliced.
A handful of pitted and chopped olives of your choice.

Rub the butter into the flour to make a breadcrumb consistency. Throw in the cheese, olive, bacon and onions and mix. Season with black pepper, then gradually mix in the milk until the dough comes together. Cut out desired shapes and sizes of scone and place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Brush the tops with milk and bake at avoid 200oC for approximately 15-20 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool slightly before eating and serve with butter.  I actually wrapped these in foil individually and froze them so I can take them out the night before nursery and they’ll have defrosted in time for Phoebe to enjoy at lunchtime.

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Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup

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Isn’t wonderful how just a few quality ingredients can produce such a tasty outcome? Today was a dreary, drizzly day and I wanted something wholesome and warming to brighten it up. After a little digging around in the fridge I concocted this simple soup using a leek, a couple of sticks of celery, a head of broccoli stalk and all, some stock, seasoning, a teaspoon of crushed garlic and a few cubes of frozen spinach.

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Soften the leek and celery in a pan with some oil, adding in the garlic after a couple of minutes. Throw in the broccoli and add the stock. I used some chicken stock and also some water I had frozen after cooking red cabbage earlier in the week.  I figured anything that turns this vivid purple colour naturally must contain some goodness!

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When the broccoli was tender I whizzed the soup up and realised that it was a revolting mushroom colour due to the blending of the green vegetables and the purple stock, so threw in a few cubes of frozen spinach to try to remedy the colour failure, along with the crumbled blue cheese.

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Thankfully it worked and some vibrancy was restored! I served this with a few Slow Roasted Herby Cherry Tomatoes and some chopped garlic chives.

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A bag of quorn, one hour, three meals.

I am a busy mum and pastor’s wife. I love to cook, but some nights I simply don’t have the time or inclination to prepare a healthy, toddler friendly, pescatarian friendly meal from scratch. This is where my freezer comes in handy. I often find myself making double portions and freezing half so I always have a go-to homemade dinner ready to whack in the oven.

Mince is brilliantly versatile. I use quorn, mainly because the husband doesn’t eat meat, but also because it’s healthier and cheaper than its beefy counterpart.

With a bag of quorn, a load of veggies, beans, herbs, spices and a spare hour I can whip up a lasagne, a chilli and smokey bbq beans. Here’s how… Gather your ingredients.
I used, 5 small onions, 3 carrots, 3 sticks of celery, a handful of mushrooms, 4 cubes frozen minced garlic, a large handful of frozen chopped spinach, a tin of kidney beans, two tins of baked beans, fresh bay leaves, thyme and rosemary, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, fresh chilli, smoked paprika, Worcestershire sauce, two cartons of passata, tomato puree, dark chocolate, cheese, butter, milk, pasta sheets, a splash of red wine, a couple of stock cubes, an egg and of course salt and pepper, oh and a bag of quorn. This sounds like a lot of ingredients, but trust me it’s more methodical and easier than you think.

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Dice all the veg, and saut√© in olive oil in a large pan. Add in minced garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and a couple of stock cubes before adding in a splash of red wine if you have a bottle open. 

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After about 15 minutes of sweating them down pour in two cartons of passata, one of water and the bag of quorn mince.

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Add in a good dollop of tomato puree and season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. While it’s simmering make the cheese sauce for the lasagne. Melt a large knob of butter (approx 50g) in a  pan, and whisk in a couple of tablespoons of plain flour to make a roux.

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Pour in milk, stiring all the time until you get a desired consistency. Throw in a handful of cheese and stir until it melts. At this point I whisk in a beaten egg as I like how it sets the sauce on top if the lasagne, but it will work without too.  Now layer up the dry lasagne sheets with the sauce in an oven proof dish, before pouring the cheese sauce on top and sprinkling over some extra cheese. Et voila, one down, two to go.

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Now, in another oven proof dish pour in a tin and a half of regular baked beans in tomato sauce. Sprinkle over some freshly chopped rosemary, a teaspoon of smoked paprika and some Worcestershire sauce.

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Now add in a couple of ladels of the sauce, mix well and sprinkle with cheese.

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Now, to the remaining sauce in the pan add in the other half tin of baked beans, a tin of kidney beans, some chilli, cayenne pepper and a few squares of dark chocolate.

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I portioned out some of the chilli for Phoebe before I added too much heat.

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So there you have it. Three different meals, from one bag of quorn, some veg and beans.

I baked the smokey bbq beans in the oven for about half an hour, and served with sweet potatoes. They were delicious and a hit with both the hubby and toddler.

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The lasagne is for tomorrow night and I’ve frozen the chilli food a rainy day.

Field mice for the bbq

No, not the rodent type; the super easy, three ingredient, creamy, smokey, firey type. Yes, with three simple ingredients it is actually possible to create a taste sensation. All you need is the following:
Cream cheese
Chillis of your choice
Streaky smoked bacon

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Slice the chillis in half and de-seed.

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Stuff with a dollop of cream cheese.

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Wrap in bacon.

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Bbq until the bacon is cooked and the chilli is slightly softened. Watch in amazement how fast they disappear off the plate! My guests were so fast, in fact, that I didn’t manage to get a pic once they were cooked! Apologies. Enjoy!