Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

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


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Pieday Friday – The Hairy Bikers’ coffee cake for Red Nose Day

Today’s recipe post comes directly from The Hairy Bikers, who have shared this recipe in aid of Comic Relief. The fundraising spectacular takes place on 24th March this year so you’ve got plenty of time to perfect your sponge cake before the big event! Without further ado I’m handing over to Si and Dave  to share their recipe – enjoy!
A deliciously moist, old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is one of our very favourite treats and we like to make it with Camp chicory and coffee essence. If you can’t track this down in your local stores, use very strong black coffee instead. Make sure the walnuts you use are nice and fresh.

SERVES 12 – 65g walnut halves, 225g softened butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing, 225g caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence

Icing – 150g softened butter, cubed, 300g icing sugar, sifted, 4 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence,12 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

  1. Butter two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with discs of baking parchment. Put the walnut halves in a food processor and blitz them into fairly fine crumbs, but don’t worry if there are a few larger pieces remaining. Tip the walnuts into a bowl.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee essence in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until well combined and creamy. You may need to remove the lid once or twice and push the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Take care not to process for too long or you will end up with a heavy sponge.
  3. Add the blitzed walnuts to the batter and mix until just combined. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the nuts, tip all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then beat like hell!
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased and lined tins and smooth the surface. Bake on the same shelf in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the sponge is well risen and just beginning to shrink back from the sides of the tin.
  5. Remove the tins from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cakes and turning them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool completely.

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Pieday Friday – Chocolate gingerbread skeletons recipe for Halloween

A slightly different take on the classic festive gingerbread man, this cookie dough contains cocoa powder so it produces a dark, crisp biscuit. When cut out with a gingerbread cutter they’re the perfect shape for icing a skeleton design for Halloween. The darker colour biscuit emphasises the spooky shape and tastes even better than normal gingerbread thanks to all the chocolate in the recipe!diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-12I think that these homemade biscuits would be great to give out to trick-or-treaters or could be the dessert for your spooky Halloween party. Here’s how to make the dough and bake the perfect chocolate gingerbread skeletons:diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-11Ingredients for around 18 biscuits (depending on the size of your cutter): 300g plain flour, 50g cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 120g butter, 120g brown sugar, 140g golden syrup, icing sugar for icing the skeleton shape.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-puddingdiy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-2Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa, ginger powder and butter together in a bowl. Either use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, like a crumble recipe, or put into a food processor and pulse together until it forms a crumbly consistency. Drizzle in the golden syrup and continue pulsing the processor until it forms a dough, or mix with a knife if you’re doing it the manual way.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-3Step 2: Divide the dough into quarters and place between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough then peel away the top layer of paper.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-4 diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-5diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-6Step 3: Use a gingerbread man cutter to press shapes into the dough. Peel away the excess dough, leaving the gingerbread man shapes on the greaseproof paper.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-7diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-8

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Pieday Friday – Bottomless Harvest Pie

After going foraging on a blackberry walk last weekend, today’s blog post is the result of that walk. I decided to combine the blackberries with apples (cooking apples are abundant in the garden at the moment) and make a bottomless pie. What does that mean? It means that I made a blind-baked pie base and it shrunk so much that I couldn’t use it! I therefore went for just a pie crust on top of the filling in a pie dish. Don’t worry, it tasted just as yummy and actually it’s a little bit of a healthier pudding, because there’s about half the amount of pastry!diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-7 diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-3Ingredients: 225g plain flour, 100g butter, 25g caster sugar, 2 tablespoons water, a pinch of salt, 100g sugar, a dash of amaretto, plus as many cooking apples as it takes to fill your pie dish and as many blackberries as you can gather!

The pastry: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl and rub in the butter using your fingertips. Add the cold water and stir with a knife until it comes together into a stuff dough. Roll out on a floured surface to the thickness of a pound coin. By the way, my pretty rolling pin is from The Caravan Trail if you’re interested. I like to use it for pastry as it’s ceramic so stays cool – very important in pastry-making!diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-2The filling: Peel, core and slice enough apples to fill your pie dish. Put the apples in a pan over a medium heat and add 100g sugar to sweeten the tangy taste of the cooking apples and a splash of water (or a dash of amaretto if you like the flavour). Allow to cook down (keeping some chunky bits) and allow the apples to become a little mushy. Taste the apples and add more sugar if needed. diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-4 diy-recipe-baking-harvest-pie-cooking-apple-and-blackberry-pastry-dessert-pudding-5

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Pieday Friday Recipe – Pressure cooker beef & Guinness stew

Last weekend I cooked Sunday lunch for the family. But it wasn’t just any Sunday lunch, oh no. It was the ultimate autumnal stew recipe, with the flakiest beef and the tastiest gravy you’ve ever tried. And it only took 30 minutes to cook. How? I used a pressure cooker for the first time and boy was I impressed. Of course, if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can let this stew blip away in the oven or you could even load it into your slow cooker for a few hours. Either way, the flavours will be just as amazing and will be a real treat for all the family to enjoy. Here’s the recipe I used:pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-11Ingredients: 1.2kg beef, 60g plain flour, 3 crushed cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of tomato puree, 2 diced red peppers, 2 diced onions, 200g sliced mushrooms, 4 sliced carrots, 2 tablespoons of fresh (or dried) thyme, 1 can of Guinness, salt and pepper, olive oil, served with mashed potato.pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-3pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-2Step 1. Turn on the pressure cooker and use it as a pan to sauté the onions, peppers, garlic and mushrooms in a little olive oil until softened. Set aside.pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-5pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-6Step 2. Put the flour and seasoning into a freezer bag and add the beef. Seal and shake the beef around in the bag until coated with a thin layer of flour.

Step 3. Use the pressure cooker pan to brown the beef in two batches.pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-7Step 4. Add the sautéed vegetables back into the pan and stir in the tomato puree.

Step 5. Add the carrots, fresh or dried thyme and pour over a whole can of Guinness.pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-8Step 6. Turn the pressure cooker onto ‘stew’ setting for 30 minutes. If you’re cooking in the oven, test the beef after an a hour and a half – it should flake apart and have no chewy fat left.pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-9Step 7. Season to taste and serve with mashed potato and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.pieday-friday-guinness-beef-stew-slow-cooker-recipe-pressure-king-pro-10Let me know if you try this recipe for yourself and which method you use to cook it by leaving me a comment below. I used the Pressure King Pro cooker from Debenhams for the first time and this is a recipe from the recipe book that comes with the machine. I’m so pleased I tried it out because it took considerably less time to cook the stew than in an oven or using my slow cooker. Plus, the inner pan was big enough to cook for 6 people easily. In fact, you can see from these photos that I could have fit even more stew in that pan and it wouldn’t have been a problem. Let me know if you have any top tips or great recipes for pressure cookers that I can try. I’ve seen a YouTube video where someone cooks a whole chicken in one of these pressure cookers so I’d love to give that a go!


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Hands up – Who is a fan of the Great British Bake Off?

Unlike other TV competitions like Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Sewing Bee, which I have followed from the very first episode, I was a bit late to the GBBO party. Yes, I admit it. I only started watching Bake Off three seasons ago. And that’s quite late in the day really. In 2013 I had no idea who Paul Hollywood was, and only had a passing knowledge of the queen of the kitchen Mary Berry. I hadn’t heard of a technical challenge and my only knowledge of the contestants was that one of them once took something out of the fridge. And that’s just because I heard it reported on the radio. I’m ashamed to say that I was not a Bake Off fan. But in summer 2014 that all changed because I went to Blogstock.Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-9There I met lots of lovely bloggers and over the course of a (rather giddy, popcorn-filled, coffee-fuelled) weekend, we got to chatting about what projects we were each working on. My new friends told me about #GBBO. No, not the bake off itself, but the Great Blogger Bake Off. It was a weekly challenge to recreate the recipes from the ‘actual’ Bake Off in our own kitchens, and you KNOW how much I love a blog challenge! Having still not watched a single episode, I actually had to tweet my blogging pals to find out what the theme was that particular week so that I could get started. It was biscuit week, and chocolate chip cookies was the first recipe I baked to take part in the Great Blogger Bake Off.
Apple StrudelIt was so much fun, I loved being part of the Blogger Bake Off community and it was good to have a focus to my recipe articles for the summer. After that first attempt, I simply had to watch GBBO every Wednesday in order to find out what the theme was, and I diligently cooked along with the contestants every single week. I made an apple strudel for European week, I baked a blackberry tart with home-picked blackberries for pastry week, a giant donut for advanced dough week and apple crumble two-ways for pudding week.Apple Crumble Two WaysI even attempted the most famous technical challenge of all; the schichttorte. I completely surprised myself as this recipe turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever made in my kitchen. It probably helped that I was following the instructions to the letter, whereas I usually mess around with recipes to make them my own. Layer by layer my schichttorte took shape, and an hour of careful cooking later I had something that looked almost exactly like the one on the Great British Bake Off. Even though it turns out that I don’t like the flavour of schichttorte (it’s just like pancakes but without the lemon and sugar!) at least I found out that I CAN make it, woo!Step by step recipe for GBBO schichttorte-5

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Pieday Friday – Cherry & Strawberry Sponge Cake

This week’s Pieday Friday recipe was created quite by accident last weekend. I had an afternoon to myself and was feeling a little ‘meh’. Not down-in-the-dumps but definitely unmotivated. So what better way is there to cheer myself up than by baking a cake, eh? I dragged myself off the sofa and started to gather my ingredients together ready to bake. Having determined that I did already have everything I needed to bake a cake (for once!) I set to work finding my baking equipment. fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-6 fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-10This was the first stumbling block; my cake tins were nowhere to be seen. I’ve probably not baked a cake for a good few months, and I must have tidied the pans away into my caravan to stop them from cluttering up my kitchen. But could I find them now that I wanted to use them? Nope. Instead I had to use one larger tin than usual and hope for the best. I figured that I could cut it in half and sandwich it back together rather than baking two 7 inch cakes like I usually do. You might already be able to tell from the photos that this plan didn’t really work as my larger tin produced a much flatter cake!fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipeI had lots of strawberries in the fridge thanks to a rather fruitful patch growing in the garden, which had all ripened at once in the hot sun. I’d also picked up a couple of punnets of cherries in the supermarket, now that they are in season and are on sale at bargain prices. When I say ‘a couple’ I mean four in a week. So after days and days of munching on fresh cherries, I was starting to think about other ways of eating them up that didn’t involve breakfast cereal. So I decided to use up all my lovely ripe strawberries and cherries in this cake.fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-2 fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-3

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Pieday Friday – Mediterranean chicken & bean stew

I wasn’t sure what to call this recipe when I rusted it up for the family earlier this week. As we tucked into our Mediterranean dish – and mopped up the tomato sauce with our homemade garlic bread – some recipe name suggestions were thrown about. We couldn’t decide if it was Spanish, Italian or something else, whether the beans made it a cassoulet, or whether the slow-cooked chicken created a casserole. Can we just call it a surprise stew? In the end, I decided to name it ‘Mediterranean chicken and bean stew’ as that seemed to sum up most of the flavours and ingredients well.mediterranean italian chicken and bean stew recipe cooking slow cooker casserole-2mediterranean italian chicken and bean stew recipe cooking ingredients-2The plan was to create a Mediterranean-inspired recipe and I think the lovely fresh ingredients in this dish create a rather ‘eat-al-fresco-under-the-olive-trees’ result. I’ve use chicken, tomatoes, peppers, olive oil, basil, olives, garlic and beans in this recipe so I was hoping that this combination of flavours would result in something that tasted rather Mediterranean, even if I didn’t quite know what that was when I started to cook! Thankfully, it turned out really well and after a second-helping (some of us even had thirds) we were all really rather stuffed, and very happy. A siesta seemed to be calling us…mediterranean italian chicken and bean stew recipe cooking slow cooker casserole-5italian chicken and bean stew recipe cooking ingredientsIngredients (serves 4): 1 cup of beans (about 300 g – I used red kidney beans, borlotti beans, black-eyed beans, green beans, leftover baked-beans and sweetcorn but you could throw in any other kinds of beans you have in the store-cupboard and even chickpeas or a handful of lentils), 8 chicken thighs, 1 red onion, 300g fresh tomatoes or one tin of chopped tomatoes, 200g button mushrooms, 2 peppers, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 2 cloves of garlic or 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, handful of basil or a tablespoon of mixed dried herbs, olive oil, 1 litre chicken stock, salt and pepper.mediterranean italian chicken and bean stew recipe cooking casserolemediterranean italian chicken and bean stew recipe cooking flavours-2 Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Mediterranean chicken & bean stew” »


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Early Pieday Friday – Baked chocolate cheesecake for Easter

It’s the 1st of March and I’m ready for Easter. Bring it on. There’s none of that lets-wait-until-April business this year. Easter falls on the last weekend of the month (I should know, my bestie is getting married that weekend!) so as soon as Valentine’s Day passed I was already preparing for the next big holiday. And so were all the supermarkets; tempting me in with slabs of chocolate and bags full of mini eggs. What’s a girl to do? Bake, that’s what! easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipe primula 1easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipe primula 2Today I’m sharing an early Pieday Friday recipe post with the intention of making you as excited as I am about the impending 4-day holiday. Is it the chocolate that I love? Is it seeing family and friends when everyone has a bit more time to spend to together? Perhaps it’s the pretty daffodils bursting into bloom that lift my spirits so. Whatever it is, I think that having a teacher for a husband means that I DO tend to arrange my life around the holidays, and our next break starts on Good Friday. Woo!easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-7 easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-12So without further waffle, here’s today’s recipe post. It’s a baked vanilla cheesecake with smooth chocolate ganache topping and crumbly biscuit base. Piled high with mini choccie eggs. It’s a practice-run for Easter lunch and I’m completely thrilled with how it turned out. Creamy and cheesy and chocolately. And, because I used fat-free quark and light Primula cheese, it was a littler healthier than a classic cheesecake. What more would anyone want?

Ingredients: 12 digestive biscuits crushed, 50g-75g melted butter, 75g Primula cheese, 250g fat-free quark, 1tsp vanilla extract, 100g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 100g chocolate, 50g double cream.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-3Start by bashing up the digestive biscuits into crumbs and mixing with the melted butter. I used 50g to start with but it didn’t seem moist enough (texture should be like damp sand) so I added some more. This may have been too much, but it tasted good, so I’m happy. Press the biscuit base into a loose-bottom cake tin with the back of a spoon until you have a flat base. Chill for about 15 minutes. The base I mean, not you.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-4 easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-5Whisk 2 eggs, the tub of quark, vanilla, sugar and Primula together – you could use 100g of this if you like your cheesecake really cheesy. I chose to use Primula Light but the original tube would work just as well. I just fancied a healthier cheesecake base to counteract all of the chocolate, cream, butter and sugar. Ahem. There are lots of sweet recipes online that use Primula as an ingredient so check them out and bake something a bit different today.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-6 easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe ganachePour the cheese mixture onto the base and bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until risen, set and golden. Allow to cool and take out of the tin. Position it on a pretty cake stand or plate so that you’re ready to decorate it with lots of mini eggs and the chocolate ganache.easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-7 easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipeTo make the chocolate topping use 100g chocolate of any kind you like. I chose milk chocolate. Break it into a dish and melt. This could be over a pan of water, or pop it in the microwave on a really low setting like I did and check it lots. Once the chocolate has melted, pour in the double cream and quickly mix until combined into a fudgy sauce. Add more cream if it’s a bit solid – you want it to run down the edges a little as you spread it over the cheesecake. Pile high with mini eggs and MINI mini eggs (yes these do exist, I found them at B&M) and shavings of chocolate. easter eggs baked chocolate cheesecake recipe-10 easter baked chocolate cheese cake recipe-2The texture of the cheesecake is much firmer and more dense than that old classic out-of-the-packet set cheesecake everyone remembers from childhood (mmm, I love that stuff – do they still make it? Leave me a comment below if you know). So it’s easier to slice and serve. It could be a refined plate-and-fork pud, but I wanted to smother it in cream so I went for the bowl-and-spoon option.

Let me know if you bake this cheesecake for yourself by leaving me a comment below and tweet me your photos of finished bakes to @Cassiefairy.


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Pieday Friday – My top 3 healthy cookbooks for 2016

I can’t be the only one that feels the urge to make a little bit of an improvement to my diet at this time of year, can I? Even though I start out with good intentions in January, I always tend to leave making any changes until a little later on, and now that March is in sight, I think it’s time to get out my healthy-eating books and start cooking. Today I wanted to share a review and some recipes from three of my favourite new cookbooks – and they all happen to have a particularly healthy focus.recipe cook book review healthy eating cakes baking meals_I think it’s the shift towards nicer weather and the longer hours of sunlight that make me feel like eating fresh, good-for-you meals rather than the plates of stodginess I’ve been scoffing all winter. That’s why Hungry Healthy Happy called out to me this week and I decided to flick through the pages of inspiration for healthy main meals, snacks and treats. cook book recipe review hungry healthy happy dannii martin cook book recipe review hungry healthy happy dannii martin chicken tikka masalaWritten by blogger Dannii Martin, a normal girl who simply wanted to change her diet for the better, it’s a really approachable tome of recipes. There’s nothing too difficult to make, no ‘never-heard-of-that’ ingredients, and no specialist equipment need. It’s just a girl like me, in her kitchen, making delicious recipes a little lighter while still keeping all the flavour. So you can probably see why I was attracted to this book, especially as the tag line reads “How to nourish your body without giving up the food you love”. That’s my kind of cooking!HHH_Moussaka-3
The recipe that I’ve chosen to share with you today is Dannii’s moussaka bake. I’ve never made moussaka before reading about it in Hungry Healthy Happy, but now that I am a firm fan of this recipe. It seems so creamy and cheesy, yet it barely has any fat in it – that delicious-looking topping is all yoghurt and eggs with just a sprinkling of feta. I also really love how each recipe has it’s nutritional content broken-down beside it, so that I can see at a glance the protein, fat and fibre content, as well as calories and carbs – making it ideal to use alongside any healthy eating-plan you might be following. The is genuinely one of the most useful healthy recipe books I’ve come across in a long time and I can see myself baking from it all year round. Click here to access a PDF of the Moussaka recipe from Hungry Healthy Happy
grow your own cake recipe cook book review holly farrell grow your own cake recipe cook book review holly farrell bakingThe next cook book I’d love to tell you about is Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell. It’s illustrated with stunning photos by Jason Ingram and every single bake looks delicious. As you’d expect from a recipe book with the tag line ‘recipes from plot to plate’ the book is based around all the things you can bake with just one fruit (or vegetable!) that you’ve grown in the garden. While the cakes might not be the low-fat, low-sugar version you’ll find in the other two cookbooks, growing your own fruit and veg is certainly a more healthy way to eat all year round. You’ll be using ingredients when you’re in season and at their most tasty. Plus, you can be sure that they’ve not been in contact with any nasty chemicals if you’re growing them yourself.

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