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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Krispie cakes - the no-bake party cake

How to use leftovers to make no-bake party cakes

Krispie Cakes. Credit: SimoneySunday
Cakes. Who doesn't love them? Likewise, marshmallows, Rice Krispies and sprinkles. What's not to like?

Now combine all these winners together and you get: Krispie Cakes!

Breakfast cereal always creeps past its use-by date in our house. We rarely eat breakfast (our morning food is a late porridge or a coffee at work).

Therefore, we have boxes of cereal which need to be used up as I love food but hate waste. And Krispie cakes are a wonderful way of using up spare or leftover Kellogg's Rice Krispies (or their no-name or store equivalent).

You will need:
1 bag of marshmallows
Rice Krispies
A saucepan
A few sprinkles for dressing (optional).

I used this massive bag of marshmallows from Lidl, which gave a nice colourful sheen to the cakes - yellowy pink. It cost just 69p.

To make:
Place marshmallows in a saucepan on a low heat and stir gently for a few minutes until all the marshmallows have melted.

Turn off heat immediately.

Slowly pour in the Rice Krispies and stir until all the Krispies are covered with the melted marshmallows.

Spoon out scoops of the mixture into paper cupcake holders and leave to cool. Sprinkle with Hundreds and Thousands or any cake sprinkles. I used some multi-coloured sugar balls from Tesco which looked pretty and added extra crunch.

Serve and enjoy!



Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nutella cheesecake - the no-bake treat!


Nutella Cheesecake - pic from my guest Maribel (who declared the cake 'delicioso')

This post could have been called: 'How to make a Nutella Cheesecake in 20 minutes (and eat it in three)'.

I love this Nutella dish. It is easy, quick to make, always looks amazing and takes little to no time to make. It is also not as rich as you might think, which means it is perfect for a naughty treat.

We tend to use low-fat Philadelphia cream cheese and low-fat Flora Light spread, as my way of making it a little healthier - although if you're going to use an entire tub of Nutella as I do, perhaps that negates the healthy effort!

You will need:
For the base:
200g butter or Flora Light
100g brown or muscovado sugar
1 pack of digestive biscuits

For the topping:
1 400g jar of Nutella
1 300g tub of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 small bag of blanched whole hazelnuts to decorate (optional)

How to make:
Melt the sugar and butter together in a saucepan on a low heat. Stir until smooth, then turn off the heat.

Crush the biscuits and grind them until all the large chunks have gone. I have a kitchen gadget now that does this for me - basically a little hand-held, hand-powered grater thingy, but before that I just used to wrap the pack of biscuits in a clean tea-towel and beat the living daylights out of them with a rolling pin. Good therapy.

Anyway, I digress. Add the ground biscuits to the sugar/butter mix, and stir. The mix should be firm - like cookie dough - so that you can press it into a greased flan dish (or in my case, the lid of a large casserole dish).

Leave to cool slightly. In a clean bowl, empty the entire jar of Nutella and blend it with the cream cheese until there is no white cheese visible and the mixture is smooth. Spread it evenly over the top of the biscuit base and leave to set.

For decoration, sprinkle with cocoa and place the blanched whole hazelnuts on top. 

Serve and enjoy! 

*In the meantime, since making this for my friends Dave, Maribel and William, Dave has tried this recipe at home and he has added a layer of peanut butter between the biscuit base and the Nutella topping. My own husband thinks this is a step too far, and quite a few more calories too far, but according to Dave and Maribel, it tastes of Reece's peanut butter cups. Which sounds delicious.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pumpkin Pie - easy recipe

Pumpkins are fun, let's face it.

Not only do people love playing with pumpkins come October, carving them into ever-intricate caricatures, but they also love the versatility of pumpkins, which can be used for sweet and savoury dishes.

Having posted a photograph of my no-baked pumpkin pie on Facebook last year, I was asked repeatedly to post the recipe - which I promised.

Now, three months later, here it is: No-Bake Pumpkin Pie.

No-bake pumpkin pie. Source @simoneysunday
You can either use condensed milk or, which I prefer, 300g (approximately 11oz) low-fat cream cheese, such as Philadelphia.

You will need: 
One can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk or 300g low-fat cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg and some for sprinkling on top.
1 sachet Dr Oetker vegetarian gelatine (one sachet sets 1 pint of liquid)
1/4 cup water (approx 60ml)
16oz of soft pumpkin (453g)
Whipped cream for the topping (if you like)
Some pumpkin seeds for decoration
1 sheet of pre-cooked puff pastry*

How to: 
After chopping up the pumpkin (save a good hour or two for this - cutting and chopping a pumpkin, I have found, is a job for lumberjacks), reduce it in a pan with a LITTLE bit of water until soft. Not too much water - you will have too much liquid and you'll need to strain it.

Clean and save the pumpkin seeds.

When you've got 16oz of softened pumpkin, blend it gently until it is smooth.

Add gelatine to water in a medium-sized saucepan. I tend to use half a pint of water as the pumpkin is quite liquid (as is the condensed milk).  Leave it to stand for 1 minute, before cooking on a low heat for two to three minutes until all the gelatine is dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk together the condensed milk (or cream cheese), cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg until smooth. Add this to the gelatine/water mix in the pan, and stir constantly.

Cook for a further 5 mins or so until the mixture is slightly thickened. After removing from heat, stir in the pumpkin until blended.

Pour it into the pre-cooked pastry dish and leave to set in the fridge until firm.

When cooked and cooled, spoon the pumpkin mixture into the crust. Put in the fridge for 3-4 hours or until firm. Decorate with a sprinkle of nutmeg and pumpkin seeds.

Serve with whipped cream if desired.

*Cooking the pastry
I use ready-roll pastry as it's so much easier, but it will need to be cooked before using.

Put the pastry into a suitable pie case, press down the edges with a thumb or spoon to make a pattern, cover the bottom of the pastry with baking beans (to make sure the pastry base doesn't rise in the middle), and bake according to instructions.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Happiness in a pan

Let's clear two things up. You cannot actually find happiness in a pan, and this recipe is made in a rectangular casserole dish, but if happiness could be found at the bottom of a glass receptacle, this recipe comes close to it.

It is basically home-made three-layered party dip, and I got the idea from a family friend who is called Helen, and who served a version of this several years ago, to my great delight. Helen actually calls it something else, but this is a family blog, so I can't repeat what she calls it.

This makes an excellent and filling party dish, serving approximately 10 people, and can be made for very little cost.

Bottom layer: spicy chunky salsa
Two tins chopped tomatoes (25p each from Tesco), strained to remove superfluous juice.
1 red pepper, diced.
One finely diced red onion
Some fresh parsley, chopped.
3-4 small dried chilies, finely chopped. Use more or less according to taste.

Mix everything and set aside in a long dish. I use one nine inch by 21 inch 'pan' so it is fairly big.

Second layer: cool cream and chive
2 pots of sour cream
1 pot of cream cheese
Chopped chives.

I grow my own chilies, chives and parsley in wee pots on my kitchen windowsill - if you have the motivation to water and tend to these regularly you can save a lot of money.

Top layer: grated cheese
I buy mature cheddar in bulk to save money and grate it myself. It lasts much longer and is more cost-efficient than buying bags of pre-grated cheese.

Sprinkle the top of the cheese with paprika or freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Buy some corn chips/nachos to dip into it. I tend to use various supermarkets' own brand or budget bags of corn chips, as these are really good value for dipping and you can buy several big bags for £2, which works out in terms of volume and cost to be much better value than spending £2 on one bag of Doritos.

And that's it - just get dipping, right down through all those layers!

The teenagers I often have round really love this - they are always asking me if I am going to make it. And I love it too. Which is why I'm fat. Well, one of the reasons anyway...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pan-fried chicken with spinach and pine-nuts

I love the versatility of chicken, and I am addicted to spinach. So this recipe of mine is a way to use two of my favourite ingredients for a healthy and filling meal.

The best thing is this can be made for approximately 90p per portion, so it is perfect for someone on a budget who only has the use of a hob-top, and it takes only 20 minutes maximum to cook.

This should serve four people.

Chicken, spinach and pine-nuts
You will need: 
1 large, deep frying pan (or wok)
4 chicken breasts - we use Tesco frozen chicken breasts, 8 for £3.25. These are perfect for families on a tight budget as it works out about 40p per chicken breast.
1/3 bag of fresh baby spinach (£1 per bag) - approximately 30p worth
2 tablespoons of pine nuts (£2.80 for a bag - lasts for ages).
1 brown onion
Dried herbs if available
Salt, pepper, butter/spread.

How to:
Defrost the chicken breasts.
Chop the onion and fry in a little butter/spread. Add the seasoning and herbs. Stir well.
When the onions are beginning to brown, dice the chicken and add this and a little more butter/spread to the pan. Keep stirring until the chicken is well-cooked (and not pink in the middle). It will take about 15-20 minutes depending on the heat.
Add the spinach and pine nuts, stir on a low heat.

This can be served with potatoes (served various ways), rice, other grains such as cous-cous or salad.

I used to make this and similar meals when I was a lowly student living on a very tight budget, and it always has a lovely 'wow' factor, despite how simple it is.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Award win for Crunch Munch tweeter

Afternoon all!

I've just found out that I have won an award for my usefulness on social media.

I have been awarded the following accolade from PanaceaAdviser for the money-saving hints, tips and tweets I regularly put out throughout the day.

This is quite an honour, given that I beat a prominent journalist on the Financial Times to achieve this Twitter Tweeter award!



Monday, April 11, 2016

Pizza. With Fruit? It must be - Fruit Pizza


I am not a great fan of doing any unnecessary work in the kitchen. Most of us live extremely busy lives, balancing work, family and social events so the idea of having to slave over a table making pastry or labouring to create the perfect icing is simply unappealing.

While I am all for doing things on a budget – and making pastry or icing from scratch is cheaper in the long-term – there has to be a limit to being a domestic goddess. Not all of us have kitchens the size of a supermarket, despite what TV chefs would have you believe.

Not all of us are so wealthy that we can afford not to work so live a life of baking luxury. There has to be a line drawn between doing it yourself and doing yourself in.

And this is where my fruit pizza comes in. It’s simply called Fruit Pizza. I believe I made this up out of my own head, having tried a recipe for making my own savoury pizza, and deciding that I could make a dessert along the same lines. I certainly have never seen this recipe anywhere else!

Fruit Pizza
This recipe will have your friends, family and even children oohing and aahing and getting all excited, despite the fact they are basically eating fruit – lots of it.

It looks amazing when it comes out of the oven, in all its sizzly, sweet, sticky glory and tastes divine. You can mix and match fruits to your heart’s delight – but a word to the wise, oranges, clementines and satsumas do not sit well with the other fruit. Leave the strong citrus fruit alone and stick with berries, bananas and orchard fruit.

You will need:
1 large, flat pizza tray, circular or square, lightly oiled
1 sheet of Jus’Roll puff pastry OR BETTER STILL make it yourself - recipe for this is elsewhere on this blog.
2 large apples
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of strawberries, sliced lengthways
1 cup of blackberries
1 cup of raspberries
½ cup of custard – pouring custard will do but you can make it yourself and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Don’t allow it to be too thick-it has to be spreadable.
Two tablespoons of icing sugar to dust
Some cream – Elmlea low-fat pouring cream does the trick

What to do:
Roll the pastry out over the pre-oiled tray – whether square, round or rectangle, it doesn’t really matter. Score a distinct line about 1cm away from the edge of the pastry all round – this will help the edges to rise up in puffy goodness and go all brown.

Don’t make the base too thin – the fruit juices will penetrate the pastry base otherwise.
Take the cold custard and spread it over the base as if you were spooning tomato puree over a savoury pizza base. Sprinkle some nutmeg or Allspice if you like.

Start laying the fruit onto the custardy base. Have fun creating faces, patterns or just being liberal-handed. It doesn’t matter.

Cook it for 20 minutes on gas mark 6 or the electric equivalent. Personally, cooking with gas is just the best thing in the whole wide world, until the government announces that we’ve run out. I’ll cross that ecobridge when I come to it.

When the edges are all puffy and goldeny brown, take it out of the oven, dust it with the icing sugar and serve immediately at the table, using pizza cutters and a slice. If you leave it too long before you get to the table, the icing sugar will have dissolved.

Serve with low-fat Elmlea double pouring cream (30% less fat than normal cream) or go the whole hog and serve with vanilla ice-cream.

How to be extra:
People at school used to say I was “being extra” if I drew in the margins of my essays. If you want to be extra, crush a meringue nest into pieces and put that over the top. These usually come in packs of eight and you can use the other seven for another fabulous dish like cherry meringues or Eton mess. Or just eat them by your own, when nobody but the cat can see. And he can’t tell a soul…..

How to save money
1) Berries freeze brilliantly if you are using them for baking or for smoothies. So I tend to buy bulk whenever there is an offer on for blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. So if you freeze these – and they keep for ages – you can save money and time when you make this in the future. Apples can also be cut up into nice slices and, if sprinkled with a little lemon juice to prevent oxidisation, can also be frozen. However, strawberries do not freeze well AND keep their shape afterwards, so best to buy these fresh.

2) Make your own custard – but not from scratch, using vanilla pods and all that. Who has the time? Insanity. But do always have a tub of custard powder and granulated white sugar in your cupboard. This will help you save lots of money as buying a carton of pouring custard is exceptionally costly – you use it once and it’s gone.

And that's basically it! Enjoy.