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 – 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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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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The countdown to Valentine’s Day begins

Okay, okay I know it’s not Christmas (although looking at the OTT shop displays at this time of year you’d be forgiven for believing otherwise) but I think, in my own selfish way, that Valentines Day is an important gift-giving occasion (hubby, this is a hint for you..!). In fact, it’s the only thing that gets me through January – looking forward to the outpouring of love that February brings. I know I’ve been super-spoilt on my birthday in December and again at Christmas, but I am someone who relies on these special occasions to get the kind of treats that some people buy for themselves all year round. Essentials like bubblebath, books and bed-socks – these are the kind of things that I wait until Valentines, Easter, Birthdays or Christmas for. I don’t buy treats or gifts or anything much for myself during the year and I want my Valentine to spoil me like the sulky little brat I really am! And it goes the other way too. Mr Fairy (hmm, must work on the husband nickname…) doesn’t buy anything much for himself either and I love to buy him treats and goodies. The fact that I went a little overboard with Christmas this year (due to a lot of early buying, wrapping and then forgetting that I’d already bought something) means that there’s not much else on my fella’s wishlist that I can get for him. Plus everyone is strapped for cash at this time of year, am I right?

knitted heart found on a doorknob in cambridge

I saw this knitted heart hanging from a doorknob while walking through Cambridge, so cute!

So if you are trying to woo someone this Valentines Day or if you just want to cheer up your partner after a rotten grey January you might want to read on. Because once again it has snuck up on me and I really DO want to give my husband a lovely Valentines Day but what do I do with less than week to go? What shall we all do for Valentines Day? Here are some of the treats that you can make yourself at home and the links to the tutorial pages on my blog:

valentines day craft sewing card with stitched lettering and heart motif

Make a hand-stitched card for your valentine – this is the one I made for my husband last year

red love heart nails for valentines day nail art polish

Paint your nails with a cute heart design – here’s my mini-tutorial on how to get the perfect heart shape

Jam tart heart cake recipe valentines day

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach (or mine for that matter) – Here’s my recipe for love heart jam tarts

And finally, what about Valentine’s Day activities or that special night out? We have spent a bit of time doing research online this week to try to find somewhere to have a proper Valentine’s date – something that we’ve never done before. Of course we’ve spent time together on Valentine’s Day but have never gone out for one of those 3-courses-Valentines-special meals that all the resturants nearby are advertising. However, I think we might have to scratch that idea because all of the ‘special offers’ I’ve come across would mean spending a small fortune and quite frankly I’d rather buy a new gate for the back garden. So I am taking my own advice about free and cheap date ideas for Valentine’s Day and beyond that I published on the blog last year – check it out here  and hopefully I’ll be doing one of these ideas this year!

Lastly, if you want to communicate your feelings towards your Valentine in more ways than one, here’s a little video from the Makaton Charity, which has been helping me to learn Makaton over the past couple of years, showing the signs for boyfriend, girlfriend, cuddle, date, surprise, friends, February and much more – I can’t believe I didn’t know the sign for ‘kiss’ until I watched it!

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Pieday Friday ~ Warming Caramelised Onion Soup

This week, when hubby had a half-day off work, I cooked us both a yummy soup for lunch. It’s definitely the time of year that I want to have something warm to eat at lunchtime (there was actually frost on the ground here this week!) so I looked up recipes for making one of my favourites; French Onion soup. Most recipes called for white wine and I didn’t really like the idea of adding it into my soup recipe, so I left that out and used brown musc0vado sugar on my onions instead of white sugar. I also cut out some of the butter and oil from the recipe – using fry light instead – so at least I know my soup is the ‘low fat’ version! One final adjustment was adding some red onions rather than all white. These subtle changes resulted in a more caramelised onion soup that was both sweet and salty and was the perfect lunch (accompanied by some traditional cheese-on-toast of course!). Here’s my recipe:

1kg red and white onions, 1 tablespoon light brown muscovado sugar, 1 teaspoon of garlic paste, 2 tablespoons of plain flour, l.5 litres of hot beef stock (made from stock cube).

pieday friday french onion soup recipe method

Slice the onions and cook in Fry-Light for 5 mins and then add a little water to steam the onions and put the lid on for a further 5 minutes until they are soft. Sprinkle in the muscovado sugar and cook until caramelised, adding the garlic paste for the last couple of minutes of cooking. The onions should be really golden before you add in the flour. Stir it around to cook off the flour a little before adding the hot beef stock and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes or however long you can bear to wait! Season to taste and serve in cute bowls with a wholegrain bread roll or this cheeky two-tone cheese-on-toast 😉

pieday friday french onion soup recipe

Thanks to mum for the loan of the retro soup bowls for our lunch – aren’t they so cool with the little house design on the side? I think they are the perfect accessory for my retro living room but hey-ho they are going back to mum’s this week anyway! I hope you have a go at making this soup for yourself – it was as easy to make as it would have been opening a tinned soup and warming it on the hob – but it was so much nicer and I knew exactly what ingredients had gone into it – and probably loads less fat and calories!

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Pieday Friday recipe – roast dinner pie

There’s nothing better than a great big Sunday roast, in my opinion. And Easter weekend is one of the times during the year that I can pretty much guarantee that we’ll be rustling up a roast dinner. We’ll probably have a lovely roast chicken (or even a small Turkey – hey, it’s practically another Christmas!), yummy fresh veg and oodles of crispy roast potatoes. I’ll do my best to eat it all, but inevitably there will be left-overs and you can’t just chuck them away; there are plenty of things you can do with your spare roast items. Of course, you can always have the (christmas classic) chicken and stuffing sandwich for tea, or can rustle up some of my cheesy pastry rolls with your left-over potatoes, but the ultimate re-using recipe is today’s roast dinner pie.

pieday friday recipe for leftover roast dinner pie baking cooking ebook

And really, the recipe couldn’t be more simple: use everything you’ve got leftover and put it in a pie, basically. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Spray a pan with Fry-Light and tear your cooked chicken or turkey into strips before adding to the pan and stir-frying with a sliced onion.
  2. After a couple of minutes, add any leftover veg you have – broccoli, peas, carrots etc – even potatoes and stuffing can be included – and stir-fry for another couple of minutes!
  3. Add a pint of chicken stock and mix up some cornflour with a little water into a paste and add to the pan while its bubbling away to thicken.
  4. Line a pie tin, add the filling and finish with the pastry top. Bake in the oven (following instructions on the pastry packet or recipe) until golden brown and crisp.

pieday friday recipe for leftover roast dinner pie chicken veg potatoes baking


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Pieday Friday recipe – Thrifty spaghetti & meatballs

I think that pasta is one of the cheapest and most filling meals you can eat – especially spaghetti and penne, which are usually priced around 40p in the ‘basics’ supermarket range. You can funk up these carbs with a yummy tomato sauce – again you can normally get a basic Bolognese sauce for around 30p or you can easily make your own with a tin of own-brand chopped tomatoes at around 20p, a squirt of garlic paste and tomato puree (50p for a whole tube), a tablespoon of dried mixed herbs (20p or less for a tub) and salt ‘n’ pepper to taste. I know it might be a bit more fiddly than opening a jar, but at least you know what’s going into your sauce and you can adjust the flavours to your preference. If you have an onion lying around you can finely dice it and fry it off before adding and you can load up the sauce with any yummy veg you like; peppers, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes.

pieday friday recipe for spaghetti bolognese and meatballs cooking pasta main meal

  1. Fry off the onion or veg in a little oil or fry-light for a couple of minutes before adding a squirt of garlic and tomato puree. Frying this off for a little longer then add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and seasoning. Let your sauce bubble and reduce down, ready for your pasta and meatballs. This sauce will probably be enough for 4 people, or 2 greedy folk, like myself!
  2. Take the skins off 2 sausages per person and add a sprinkling of herbs (and even a grating of cheese if you like!), mix together and shape into meatballs. Fry in a little Fry-Light until golden on the outside then pop in the oven to cook through.
  3. Pile the meatballs onto the spaghetti and pour over a nice helping of your homemade tasty sauce.

pieday friday recipe for spaghetti bolognese and meatballs cooking main meal


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I’ve finally published my Pieday Friday recipe book – in time for National Pie Week!

As we all know it’s National Pie Week in the UK this week (I hope you saw my blog post on my favourite pie recipes on Monday?) and I have some more good news to share with you…

I’ve been working on a free recipe book to share all my Pieday Friday recipes with you! It’s been in the pipeline for a couple of months now, and I’m pleased to say that it’s finally finished!

I used the BookSmart programme from Blurb.com to create my book, which gave a novice publisher like me an easy way to create a book from the comfort of my own home! I was impressed with the selection of page layouts and backgrounds, and there’s even the option to customize the pages you’re creating with a custom-theme, which I decided to use so that I could fit in all the images and recipe information that I needed.

blurb book store cassiefairy profile page pieday friday recipe book 2013

I’m always wary of downloading software to my computer – I don’t like to take up precious hard-drive space on my ancient laptop with programmes that I might not need – but this programme was ideal for me to use to create my book. It was surprisingly simple to use, the photo-uploader was fast (I hate waiting around!) and it was so simple to drag-and-drop images into the pages and let BookSmart do all the resizing and resolution-checking for me. You can probably guess from my ramblings-on that I am thrilled with the results of my book and I can’t wait any longer to share it with you!

I’ve decided that National Pie Week is very apt for me to publish my first Pieday Friday cookery book so I am launching it today and want to share the free e-book with you all! No longer will you be searching back through my archives to find your favourite recipe – it’s all there in the book, and it not only contains pie recipes, but all of my favourites including soups and snacks, sweet treats and main meals! Using Blurb there’s the option of selling your books publicly and here’s the link to my profile on Blurb where Blurb sells my book (I only make 2 quid on these eek!) but I want to give something back to my lovely readers so I’ve published it as a free PDF e-book as a ‘thank you’ for sticking with me all this time soooo…  Preview the E-Book here and email me cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk and I will send you the PDF e-book immediately!

blurb book store cassiefairy profile page pieday friday recipe book


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My favourite Friday Pieday recipes for National Pie Week

This week is National Pie Week – what more of an excuse do you need to try out one of my Pieday Friday recipes and treat the family to a hearty and sometimes surprisingly healthy meal?

So I’ve pulled together my favourite recipes and here’s a summary of the best pie recipes below (just click on the pink links for the recipe!):

Traditional fish pie with tasty cheesy topping

IMG_0553

Slow-cooked beefy pie – stew in a crust!

pieday friday beef stewy beefy meat pot pie recipe cooking

Spiced turmeric chicken pie – surprisingly yummy!

pieday friday turmeric chicken pie cassiefairy

Shepherds pie crammed full of veg

steaming shepherds cottage pie recipe pieday friday cooking method


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Pieday Friday Recipe – Tuna Napolitana

This tuna napolitana pasta recipe is tasty, filling  and quick to make. And it comes with the added bonus that it includes healthy tuna fish and a nice helping of veg (that the kids won’t notice!) so it’s an ideal weeknight pasta bake that can be pre-prepared, and then popped in the oven when you’re ready for it.

pieday friday recipe blog post tuna tomatoes pasta cheese

Serves approx 6: 500g packet of pasta (I chose penne, which is the cheapest in my local supermarket at 39p!), 1 tin of tuna chunks in spring water, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 1 large onion (red or white), 2 fresh tomatoes, 2 tsp garlic paste, 3 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tsp mixed herbs, 2 tbsp flour, 3/4 pint milk, 50g cheese, 2 knob of butter, splash of oil.

  • Cook up a pack of pasta according to packet instructions and in the meantime, you can get on with preparing the sauce.
  • Finely chop the onions and fry in the oil until the softened.
  • In a larger pan, melt the butter then add the flour and stir before adding the milk a bit at a time so that the sauce thickens.
  • When all the milk is combined, add the garlic paste, tomato puree and herbs and stir through before adding the tin of tuna, cooked onions and tin of chopped tomatoes.
  • Add in the cooked pasta and stir to combine before adding to an oven-proof dish and arranging sliced tomatoes on top with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese
  • Bake in the oven until tomatoes have softened, cheese is melted and looks golden brown on top

 

I hope you give this recipe a go, and let me know how you get on 🙂

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