Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


Pieday Friday – Using herbs in juicing + mojito juice recipe

I think you can probably guess from my recipe posts this year that I’m getting into juicing. I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve decided to live a more healthy lifestyle and want to reinvigorate my body, but that’s not really the reason. It’s as simple as ‘I don’t like fruit’. Sure, berries and dried fruits are fine with me; I’ll pop a handful on my soaked oats in the morning and get a little dose of goodness that way. But ‘proper’ fruits, y’know, the ones you have to chew (apples, pears, pineapple, peaches, oranges, plums etc) I just don’t like. I think it’s the texture that puts me off. I don’t mind the flavour of these fruits but I don’t like to eat them. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. If you cook them, I’m quite happy. Apple pie? Yum! Stewed plums and custard? Yes please! ANY fruits in a crumble? Mmmm! But that’s not a healthy way to eat fruit, is it? With added sugar and a dollop of ice cream on the side, you can see why I enjoy cooked fruits so much. So my solution to get some much-needed vitamins into my body is juicing.

I’m happy to guzzle down juice all day long, but who knows what goes into the cartons you buy in the supermarket? I’d rather see the whole fruit go into the juicer and lovely fresh juice come out so that I know what I’m drinking, and I know that it’s good for me. I’ve been inspired by the #ExperienceFresh campaign and want to eat more raw and organic foods as a result.

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Pieday Friday – A collection of fruit pie recipes

There’s no better pud than a pie, I reckon. A generous slice of hot fruit pie served with slowly melting vanilla ice-cream is a dream come true. Or on chillier days, a steaming stream of custard poured on top of the crisp pastry is just what the doctor ordered. And when you’ve finished your pudding, you know that leftover slice is going to taste amazing cold out of the fridge the next day. Fancy baking a fruit pie? I do!fruit pie filling pieday friday cooking recipe pies-3In fact, I did make a fruit pie for Sunday lunch last week. These photos are the result of a few minutes of pastry-making and about as much time cutting out the letters with my new cookie cutters! So after enjoying a tasty sliver of my deep-filled fruit pie, I decided that I couldn’t keep it to myself and conjured up a way of sharing it with you via this ‘collection’ of fruit pie recipes. Read on to get some filling inspiration and tips on getting the crispiest pastry.fruit pie filling pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-2Filling 1 – Apple and mixed summer fruits. This is the filling I used in my pie last week. We simply peeled and sliced the apples and popped them straight into the pie case – no pre-cooking needed here. We then threw in as much frozen mixed berries as possible and covered with the pastry lid.fruit pie filling pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-3

Filling 2 – Blueberries and ginger. I found this recipe (and many other fruit pie fillings) on This one calls for 2lbs of blueberries, 1 and a quarter cups of sugar, a quarter of a cup of cornstarch to thicken, a tablespoon of grated ginger and lime zest, a quarter of a cup of lime juice. Mix together and pour into the pie crust uncooked.fruit pie filling pieday friday cooking recipe pies-2

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My GBBO European week recipe ~ Apple strudel

This week’s theme for The Great British Bake Off (and therefore The Great Blogger Bake Off!) was European cakes so I chose to make that German classic, apple strudel. Or Apfelstrudel if you want to order it in Germany. Although, I have some news for you – it’s not a German recipe. Oh no, the fruity pastry that we all enjoy at the annual Leeds Christkindlmarkt – the traditional German Christmas market – is in fact Austrian. It’s actually the national dish of Austria and thanks to Wikipedia I now know that it originates from Vienna in 1696. Amazing huh? I also know that strudel is traditionally made with filo pastry but I don’t have any and wouldn’t have a clue about how to make it, so puff pastry will just have to do!

I picked some apples from the tree in my mum’s garden and set to work creating my Austrian masterpiece. I used just four ingredients for the filling: apples, brown sugar, sultanas and cinnamon. It’s a really easy filling to make – just dice apples and stew them in a pan for about 10 minutes. Again, my recipe is a little bit hit ‘n’ miss because I didn’t measure out any quantities – I just threw in some brown sugar to sweeten the apples (which really depends on how tart your apples are), a handful of sultanas and sprinkled on cinnamon until it tasted Christmassy. I’m sure there are plenty of recipes out there that would recommend lemon juice, butter, nutmeg etc but I just tasted my filling and added more sugar or cinnamon until it tasted yummy!

I rolled out the puff pastry into a large square, then spread the filling all over the middle, leaving a gap around all the edges. Then I rolled the strudel up. Recipes will tell you to roll it up ‘like a cigar’ but I’ve never rolled a cigar either, so I went for rolling the longest edge in, folding the ends in and then continuing to roll until the top edge of the pastry is underneath. I’d say it was more like wrapping up fish and chips really! I transferred the rolled-up strudel to a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper before brushing the top and ends with milk and sprinkling on caster sugar. I baked it for about 25 minutes in the oven until it was a lovely crispy golden brown colour. Serve with a big blob of vanilla ice cream, cream, custard or pretend you’re in a Viennese café and serve with a glass of champagne! As they say, when in Austria…easy apple strudel recipe for the Great British Bake Off-7easy apple strudel recipe for the Great British Bake Off-8easy apple strudel recipe_

Lots more fabulous bloggers have shared their bakes for #TheGreatBloggerBakeOff and here are the links to their posts too:

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The Great Blogger Bake Off ~ Apple Crumble two ways

The theme for this week’s Great Blogger Bake Off was (as always) inspired by The Great British Bake Off, and I’m pleased to tell you that it is one of my favourite things to make; desserts!

I went for a stroll this weekend and picked some blackberries that have ripened particularly early this year. There was a good handful that were already ready to be picked but not enough for my yearly jam-making session, so I decided to make the most of this early crop by adding them to one of my favourite puds of all-time – apple crumble.

I actually made two crumbles this week; one apple and blackberry and one apple with cinnamon and sultanas. It was such a simple recipe that I didn’t even follow a recipe to make this dessert, I went more on how the crumble topping looked rather than by measurements. Here’s a photo of my approximate meaasurements which were about 2 tablespoons of butter (or margarine), 4 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of sugar, which makes the topping for a crumble for approx. 2/3 people in my deep oval dish.

Similarly, with the apples I just filled the dish with peeled, sliced apples until it looked like there were enough in there for the base, threw in a handful of blackberries with a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar. In the second crumble I added a sprinkling of cinnamon and a few sultanas along with the apples and sugar. I then added the crumble topping and sprinkled each top with sugar (brown or white, either is fine!) and a bit more cinnamon on the sultana crumble. I always feel like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle when I peel apples because she peels a whole massive apple in one long curly strip and I try to recreate that!

apple cinnamon and sultana recipe for the great blogger bake off-10

apple cinnamon and sultana recipe for the great blogger bake off-9

The crumbles took approx. 30 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees and I enjoyed them with a scoop of ice cream, although when I watch tonight’s Great British Bake Off, I’ll probably add a blob of extra thick cream to the cinnamon apple crumble instead!

 I still can’t believe that has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes THIS WEEK on 29th August – thank you SO much!

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Pieday Friday ~ Making chutney for Christmas gifts

This week I have been in the kitchen making my very own stash of preserves ready for the winter. But I’m not only making them for my family’s table, I am also making a few jars to give to my foodie friends as gifts! I’ve had a huge harvest of apples on my tree this year and have been thinking up ways to use them – after stewing and making into pies, I was quickly running out of ideas! But my thoughts soon turned to preserving them and I wanted to share the recipes I used to turn my sack of apples into beer chutney (great with cheese for Christmas!) and apple and blackberry jam.

cooking beer chutney recipe

Beer Chutney ingredients: 4 cups chopped apples (cored and peeled), 1 cup raisins, 1/2 cup white sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 cups diced onions, 1 cup beer, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 cup brown vinegar.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the ingredients are softened. Prepare some jars to put the chutney in by cleaning them in the dishwasher or washing by hand with hot soapy water and giving a final rinse with boiling hot water to sterilize them. Pour the slightly cooled chutney into the jars and seal immediately with lids. Leave to cool and later label them with a handmade tag to tell your friends what a delicious treat is inside and wrap for Christmas!

making preserves - blackberry and apple jam recipe process

Apple and Blackberry Jam Ingredients: 1 pound blackberries, 1 pound chopped apples (cored and peeled), 4 cups white sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 lemon juice.

Combine all the ingredients in a large pan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until the fruit has softened and the mixture has thickened. To test whether the mixture has become a jam, put a plate in the freezer and when you’re ready to test the mixture, drop a teaspoon of the jam onto the cold plate and leave for 30 seconds. Push your finger through the jam blob and if the surface of the jam wrinkles, it is ready and will set. If it doesn’t wrinkle, carry on simmering the mixture and test at 5 minute intervals until the wrinkling is achieved. Prepare your jars in the same way as for the chutney recipe above and allow the jam to cool slightly (to be safe) before pouring into the jars and allowing to set.

chutney and jam foodie gifts for friends and family

I hope you enjoy eating your preserves over the festive period and be sure to give a few jars away to your food-fan friends and family, who will really appreciate a home-made foodie gift!


Pieday Friday ~ Blackberry & apple recipes for the Inspiration Challenge

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

This month’s Inspiration Challenge theme was ‘apples’ and luckily enough I’ve since been given loads of apples from my mother’s apple tree which had bumper-crop this year. So I had a think about what I really wanted to make (after crumbles, of course!) and the answer was blackberry and apple jam. So I headed out into the cold, forraging in the hedgerows to find juicy blackberries in order to make some yummy jam – here’s the recipe I used:

making preserves - blackberry and apple jam recipe

This recipe makes enough for 4 x 500ml Kilner jars: 1kg blackberries, 375g cooking apples after peeling and coring, 1.3kg granulated sugar, 360ml water. Cook the blackberries and apples seperately, adding half of the water to each pan and allow to bubble away and simmer until soft. Add the blackberries and the sugar to the pan of apples. Stir to make sure the sugar has completely dissolved, then allow to boil and bubble until it reaches a jam consistency (around 20 minutes) but don’t allow it to boil over. The best way to check this is to put a couple of saucers in the freezer and test the jam by putting a small blog onto the cold saucer. Leave it for a minute and then push your finger through the jam. If the jam wrinkles, it’s ready and will set once it’s in the jar. If it doesn’t crinkle, boil the mixture for another 5 minutes and test it again. Sterilise your jars and while still hot carefully add the jam into them and seal immediately.

making preserves - blackberry and apple jam recipe process

As I was researching how to make jam, I came across this recipe for apple and blackberry flavoured vodka. I’m not a big fan of vodka but I AM a big fan of jam, and I thought that this sounded delicious – and really, it can only make the vodka taste better! So I headed back out to pick some more blackberries (there were loads on the hedges around the fields!) and created a fruity apple and blackberry syrup (basically another jam) to add to the vodka:

This recipe makes enough syrup to go with a 700ml bottle of vodka: 400g blackberries, 250g apples after peeling and coring, 600g caster sugar, 300ml water, 700ml vodka. Boil the blackberries and apples in the water, then add the caster sugar and simmer on a low heat until the apples are soft and mushy and the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool and then add to a large steralised jar before stirring in a whole bottle of vodka. Seal the jar and leave to infuse in a dark place, shaking it occasionally to release more jammy goodness into the vodka. After a couple of weeks (or months) strain off the liquid and bottle it up ready for Christmas!

Blackberry and Apple Vodka Making Fruit Alcohol Recipe

Luckily enough, the theme for October’s Inspiration Challenge was ‘apples’ so making these apple-based recipes fitted in nicely! Some of the lovely Inspiration Challenge contributers have sent in their autumn makes based on the apple theme and here’s what they came up with:

Andy from AndyGTheArtist blog created this piece of artwork – a charcoal drawing of an apple on an old map. I think that the composition of the image is great, with the apple just peeking into the frame.


If anyone else has made something apple-based for the inspiration challenge (a craft, food, sewing project, art etc) please get in touch and I’ll share it on the blog, along with your links – email me with your photos to I thought that next month’s challenge would simply be “anything Christmassy” as I’m sure we’ll all be busy preparing for Christmas anyway, so on the 1st December I will share any festive projects that are sent in to me 🙂


Pieday Friday ~ National Chocolate Week

Did you know  it’s National Chocolate Week? I had no idea until my friend Jenna gave me a heads-up yesterday afternoon. Are you telling me that I could have been legitimately scoffing chocolate all week, and I didn’t know about it? I guess I’ve got a lot of choccie-eating to make up for over the weekend then! So, not wanting to disappoint my Pieday Friday readers with just any old recipe, I rustled up some chocolate apples for this week’s blog post. Okay, okay, I know there’s not a lot of ‘recipe’ required for dipping apples in melted chocolate, but here are a few of the tips I’ve learnt while making them:

chocolate apples recipe for national chocolate week pieday friday for halloween 2013

  1. Melting chocolate is harder than you think. I was going to make white chocolate apples too, perhaps with a cute drizzle over the top, but when I melted my white chocolate in the microwave, I didn’t check it often enough and it burnt in the middle, creating a gloopy, grainy, beigey mess. So my first tip is to keep an eye on your melting chocolate – whether it’s in the microwave or over a steaming pan – and don’t let water from the pan touch the bottom of your melting bowl, because the chocolate will be sure to burn.

  2. Adding a small amount of oil to the melted chocolate is a good way of keeping the chocolate more liquid for longer while you dip the apples in. When making the smooth-running chocolate for a chocolate fountain you need to add oil, but I’d still like my chocolate to set onto the apples, so only a teaspoon is needed.

  3. I added a drop of vanilla essence into my chocolate for a little added flavour, which went nicely with the apples, creating a kind of apple-and-ice-cream-and-chocolate combination. You could even add a drop of cheeky booze for adult chocolates – maybe an amaretto or Baileys?! Not too much though – you still want the chocolate to set!

pieday friday recipe for chocolate apples for national choc week

  1. It can be difficult to get the skewers into the centre of the apples (I had a breakage) so use the point of a knife to get the hole started before poking the skewers, lollipop sticks or apple sticks into the top of the apples and push them right in so that there’s no chance of the apple plopping off into the bowl of chocolate.

  2. Any kinds of sprinkles, nuts or sugar will adhere nicely to the chocolate coating, so put out plates of toppings for the children to dip their chocolate apples into.

  3. Feel free to drizzle away – just because my white chocolate didn’t successfully melt, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t melt a contrasting chocolate and drizzle it over the top of the apples. Instead of melted chocolate, I used Dr Oetker chocolate flavour writing icing for my drizzles (it was on  special offer in B&M discount store), which looks and tastes just as lovely! And don’t be afraid to double-dip, allowing the first chocolate layer to set completely before dipping into the melted white chocolate – yum!

chocolate apples recipe for national chocolate week

Not only is it important to eat chocolate-coated apples during National Chocolate Week, but they would be a good idea to for an activity to do with the children over half-term or you could make them for your Halloween party – so much easier to eat than a traditional chewy toffee apple (I always get fed up half way through!). Here are some more of my favourite chocolate recipes below so check them out for your weekend baking 🙂


Pieday Friday ~ Spiced caramel apple cake

I’ve been out picking apples this week – they are perfectly ripe and ready to be included in one of my Pieday Friday recipes. I think we can officially call it autumn now, and I want to celebrate this by making a cake that is spiked with festive spices and includes the fruit of the season – the caramel apple!

I decided to chop my apples into small chunks and mix them through the cake batter, which resulted in soft pockets of fruit throughout the cake. I wanted to create a carrot-cake-esque flavour so I added a few spices and it tasted extra-yummy with the cinnamon mixed in. This also dictated the cream cheese topping which was a slightly sour contrast to the sweet caramel-coated apples. Here is a three-part recipe for the cake, the icing and the caramel apples:

cassiefairy pieday friday recipe for spiced caramel apple autumn cake

To make the caramel: Melt 75 grams of butter in a non-stick pan, then add 50g soft light brown sugar and 50g caster sugar. Allow to melt into the butter then add 50g golden syrup and let the sugary mixture simmer for a minute. Give it a stir and make sure the sugar has completely dissolved then add in 125 ml double cream and mix together to make a light brown caramel sauce. There will be plenty of sauce to coat slices of apples which can then sit on a tray lined with greaseproof paper until ready to add to the top of the cakes.

pieday friday spiced caramel apple cakes for autumn

To make the cakes: Mix 250g of softened butter with 200g light soft brown sugar. Add in 3 eggs and a tablespoon of table apple sauce (or another egg if you dont have apple sauce) and 200ml milk. Mix together with a whisk then add in 280g self-raising flour, 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of mixed spice, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Peel and core 3 or 4 apples then chop into small chunks and add to the bowl and mix together to create a lumpy cake batter. Put into cupcake cakes (like these silicone flower pots from Dunelm Mill) or onto a greased/lined deep baking tray. Bake at 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for around 25 minutes for cupcakes and 35-45 minutes for the tray – keep an eye on them and check with a cocktail stick and if it comes out clean, they are cooked!

pieday friday spiced chunky caramel apple cakes recipe for autumn

To make the icing: Mix 100g softened butter with 300g soft cheese and 100g of sifted icing sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract if the mixture is too firm, or even a squeeze of lemon juice would be good to thin it down a little. Spread on top of the cakes and add a swirl of caramel apple slices to decorate.

You may well have some caramel saucer left over that you can enjoy on ice-cream or on drizzled into porridge (my favourite!) and you might have some cream-cheese topping left after you have decorated your cakes, and this can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container ready for the next batch, or can be spread onto crumpets for a tasty, sweet snack. I hope you enjoy making these seasonal apple cakes and that they get you in the mood for more festive baking! Let me know how you get on the with the recipe by leaving me a comment below 🙂

I’m participating in the 1st Edition Tiendeo cooking competition “Seasonal Recipes” and I’m entering this recipe – fingers crossed! Please vote for my recipe via their Facebook page thanks! 🙂

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