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 – 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 – 3 healthy juice recipes

It’s all about the juicing this year. Or at least it is in my household because we’ve got a new juicer! As someone who has never tried combinations of juice before (seriously, orange juice is as adventurous as it got!) I’ve been really intrigued to start reading up on juicing and looking into recipes. There are SO many options out there; savoury juices, fruity juices, herby juices and even spicy juices. I wanted to make a healthy swap for my sometimes not-too-healthy shakes and smoothies, so I gave juicing a go for the very first time.I’ve read plenty of recipes where one or two of the ingredients were things that I’m not too keen on (like mango or parsley) so I decided to come up with my own combinations to test out my new juicer and to see whether or not I was going to enjoy fresh juice at all! Today’s Pieday Friday recipe post is the result of my experiments earlier this week and, if you’re a keen juicer yourself, I’m pretty sure that you’re going to like them.  The juicer I’m using is the Phillips Avance Collection Centrifugal Juicer, which is a pretty darn effective piece of equipment. When I started using it for the first time, I was rather surprised by how fast and easily it juiced the fruit and veg that I was putting through it. Sure, I guessed that soft grapes and pears would be easy to juice but who knew that so much moisture could come out of a carrot? Seriously, my carrots were pretty dry when they went in, but boy did they make a lot of juice! And, come to think of it, the pulp that came out was really dry too. I guess the machine got every drop out of the bunch.

So, here are the ingredients for each of the three juices I made last week. I went for a crowd-pleasing fresh fruity drink (the purple one), an exotic juice with tropical flavours (the yellow one) and a nutritious spicy savoury juice (the orange one – yes, the one with the carrots in). Of course, the instructions for each recipe is pretty-much “juice the ingredients” so I won’t bore you with that! Just know that it’s a good idea to remove rinds and skins from fruits like the pineapple, papaya, oranges and kiwi fruits.

One of my experiments that ended in disaster was juicing kiwis with their skins on. I read online that it was fine to eat the skins and while it may be possible to eat the skins, it’s not the nicest texture. So if you don’t want to drink a furry juice, I’d recommend taking off the skins before juicing!

Juice 1 – Cooked beetroot, apples, pears, white grapes.

Juice 2 – Pineapple, papaya, kiwi, oranges

Juice 3 – Carrots, celery, tomatoes, chilli

These juices make a pretty looking bunch, don’t they? I really enjoyed the purple beetroot-based juice and could drink that all day long. And the ‘bloody mary’ style veg juice was delicious too, in a savoury kind of way. I had a bit leftover that I heated up at lunchtime to try it as a soup. If you’re a fan of thin soups, this might be one for you. Tropical flavours aren’t really my thing, by my husband liked the exotic juice, so everyone’s happy with our new juicer!  Do you already make your own juice or will you be starting as part of a healthy habit swap this January? I know I’ll be trying to keep it up during the year so let me know your ideas for recipes or fruit ‘n’ veg combinations by leaving me a comment below or by tweeting me @Cassiefairy.


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Healthy Sunday brunch recipe – Fruity soaked oats

Sunday is the one day of the week when you don’t necessarily have to be up early, you’ve got nowhere to be rushing off to and you can take your time chilling out at home all morning long. For me, it’s my brunch day. I eat pretty much the same thing for breakfast every other day of the week, but Sunday is the day that I take more time over my food and come up with something a little different. It the day of the week when eating breakfast in bed is 100% acceptable, and enjoying a bowl of something on your lap in front of TV is perfectly fine. If you can’t have a little fun with your breakfast on a Sunday, when can you??sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-7This week I’ve been blinging up my usual soaked-oats breakfast with some delicious fresh toppings. Here’s a little step-by-step of what I added to my overnight oats to make my healthy breakfast a little more exciting this Sunday morning:sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-8

  1. Soak your oats in milk for at least an hour, or overnight if you like to plan ahead.sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe
  2. Peel and slice a fresh kiwi and layer around the edge of the bowl. I’ve used a Zespri SunGold yellow flesh kiwi to add a different colour to my usual bowl of oats.sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-2
  3. Slice up plenty of in-season strawberries and add to the bowl beside the kiwis.sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-3
  4. Drizzle an arc of golden honey around the bowl.sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-4

5. Sprinkle on some good-for-you seeds – I’ve chosen some honey seeds from Munchy Seeds for my recipe but you could use any seeds that you like to add a little crunch to the dish.sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-5You may remember that I’ve blogged some other breakfast recipes including my French toast waffles, a healthier breakfast wrap and an on-the-go breakfast smoothie recipe. I also wrote all about how cereal can improve your health earlier this week. So I think you can gather than I place a lot of importance on breakfast!sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-9 sunday brunch breakfast soasked oats fruit seeds healthy recipe-7Sunday is definitely the day of the week to try out something different so let me know what you would do to jazz up your breakfast on the weekends by leaving me a comment below.


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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 drinks recipe – Fruit cubes for sparkling cocktails

Today’s recipe is a great one for adding a little bit of excitement to your party. If you’re planning a wedding, hen party, birthday or are even gathering together to celebrate the Queen’s 90th at a street party, this little fruity recipe would be a great addition to a glass of something bubbly. Whether you’re drinking soda, lemonade or a sparkling wine, these little cubes of fresh fruit add a little kick to any glass of fizz, turning it from a basic drink into something special for your big occasion. Read on find out how to make fruity cubes for your very own party and how you can WIN a case of sparkling wine from Premier Estates for yourself!wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-32 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-28 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-21Freezing pureed fruit into ice cubes is a simple enough idea, but it’s the fruity combinations that add the wow factor. Popping a couple of cubes into a champagne flute before topping up with fizz creates a cocktail-in-a-glass. The cubes bubble and roll around in the glass before gradually dissolving to turn your glass of wine into a bellini. It’s a no-fuss drink, with no need to pour measures of puree, so guests can easily add their own fruit flavouring to whatever they are drinking.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-35 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-20Recipe 1 – Peach & apple. I used tinned peaches for this recipe because they are easy to blend but you can use very ripe fresh peaches if you prefer. I used half a tin, which made enough puree for at least 24 cubes, which is enough for 12 drinks, so you can adjust the quantities if needed. I drained away most of the syrup and added 100ml of apple juice instead. Blend into a pulp and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-2 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-3 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-36Recipe 2 – Mixed berries & cranberry. For this recipe I defrosted a bowlful of frozen mixed berries but you can use fresh strawberries, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries for this recipe if you like. I added a sprinkling of sugar to sweeten slightly and then poured over 100m cranberry juice. Blitz the fruit and juice together before pouring into the ice cube tray and freezing. You can sieve the seeds out of the puree if you like, but I wanted to keep them in, so that the floating ice cubes would resemble berries themselves. Again, this made 24 ice cubes, enough for 12 drinks.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-4 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-5 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-6 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-7Recipe 3 – Lime & mint. This is a flavour combination that would work best in a soda or lemonade (you can add vodka or whisky if you like) rather than a sparkling wine. In this instance, mix the juice of a whole lime into 100ml lemonade, and add a big handful of fresh mint leaves. Give it a quick blend to mash in the mint and then pour into the ice cube trays and freeze.

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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 BonAppetit.com. 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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Tend your garden in Spring to create a healthier, low-cost Summer

It’s a common misconception that fruit can only be grown in ‘warmer’ climates. Okay for some fruits this is true but there are so many fruits that you can actually grow yourself in your own garden, even in the British weather! With Spring finally upon us, now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting the most out of your garden. How exciting would it be if you could use your own home grown fruits or vegetables for baking, drinks and other concoctions all summer long? You’ll be able to enjoy the gardening aspect (and therefore get more exercise and fresh air!) as well as the delicious taste of your home grown fruit or veg.DIY plant markers for garden-4Growing your own fruit and veg is not only satisfying, but very healthy. Having constant access to all kinds of fruit and veg will encourage you to be more adventurous with your meal planning and have healthier snacks throughout the day. Try and focus on growing fruit and vegetables that you and your family like, and eat a lot of. This way you’ll be sure everyone is happy and you’ll all be able to enjoy freshly grown seasonal produce. Along with the health benefits you’ll also be saving yourself some money, as it costs little to grow your own in comparison to the prices you pay at the local supermarket.spring garden veggit patchBefore you start buying seeds and raking over the soil, think about what types of fruit and veg would work well for you this summer, that way you’ll enjoy lots of fresh produce with minimal wastage. You could grow yourself some strawberries, apples, blackberries or grapes to use in homemade crumbles or pies. You could even use your fruit to create some exciting summery cocktails or fruity drinks to enjoy in the glorious sunshine. There are also so many different types of veg you could grow, from tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, carrots or even artichokes! Think of all the dishes you’ll want to make with your home-grown veggies; homemade pies, fresh salads and even home-grown pesto..! You can save so much money on family meals by growing your own produce at home and it’s really fun to do with the kids too.

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How does your garden grow? Strawberries

On the last day of April I wrote about my mini greenhouse makeover and today I wanted to share with you the progress of our plants. You may remember that we used an old piece of industrial venting that we found in a skip to make a DIY strawberry planter. We lined it with cardboard, filled it with compost and popped some tiny strawberry plants in the holes. Well, nearly two months on I’m happy to report that the strawberry plants have taken root and are becoming bushier by the day.

We’ve even already been able to harvest a batch of strawberries to eat, and there are even more on the way! Having never successfully grown more than one strawberry on a plant before I am really chuffed with the progress of my plants.

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Pieday Friday ~ making your own festive booze

A few weeks ago I shared my recipe for using apples and blackberries to create a flavoured vodka and this got me thinking about creating other types of fruit flavoured alcohol using my hedgerow finds. The first and most obvious choice was to make sloe gin and after a rummage through the hedgerows nearby, hubby and I also found plenty of damsons, which lend themselves well to being combined with brandy. So we popped to the shops to stock up on supermarket-own-brand basic gin and brandy and a couple of packs of sugar – here’s how we got on.

pieday friday sloe gin recipe method freezing

The first step for creating both of these flavoured drinks is to collect and wash the fruits that you want to use. The sloe gin tradition is to pick sloes after the first frost so that they have burst open and will release more of their flavours into the gin. But you don’t have to wait for the first frost – simply pick them and pop them in the freezer after washing. They will pop open in the same way and you can add them straight to the gin without defrosting. If they haven’t burst by themselves, give them a helping hand to release their flavours by pricking the frozen berries with a cocktail stick before adding to the jar. The freezing/pricking can be done for any other soft fruits you’re using the flavour the alcohol so we prepared our damsons in the same way.

pieday friday sloe gin recipe method sugar and fruit in kilner jar

Next, add 400g of fruit to a large sterilized jar and tip in 200g of caster sugar before pouring in the gin or brandy you want to infuse with fruity flavour. Seal the jar tightly and shake well to help the sugar to dissolve. Store in a cool, dark place and shake every other day for a week. Then shake once a week for a months or two. We just give our jars a quick turn everytime we remember to do so! It’s fun to watch the liquid slowly turn more purpley in funky ombre-style, and it’s even more fun to shake it up and muddle it all together. When you’re ready to bottle up the fruity booze, strain out the fruit and pour into sterilized bottles – it’s a good idea to keep hold of the bottles you emptied into the jars, plus you’ll need a couple more bottles as the volume of liquid will have increased. Our brandy has definitely been improved by the damsons – it’s more of a bright red, medicine-like syrup now – imagine the medicine that Mary Poppins pours out for the children and you’ve got it! The sloes gin is a purpley-red colour at the moment but you can leave them in the gin for longer and they will turn the liquid a more golden colour, which is a tawny sloe gin.

pieday friday sloe gin recipe method kilner jars

Let me know if you give this a go, and maybe you can bottle it up in smaller bottles as gifts for your friends and family this Christmas?! Although these festive drinks may taste like heaven and as if they are non-alcoholic, it most definitely IS boozy so please drink responsibly, because I don’t want any of you lovely folk getting into trouble over the festive period!


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Pieday Friday ~ Christmas cake

It’s that time of year again to make your own Christmas cake. Even though I know I can buy a cheap fruit cake from the supermarket and decorate it for Christmas, I love making my own cake and knowing exactly what yummy ingredients have gone into it – so I know what I’ve got to look forward to eating! I know lots of families who bake their Christmas cake during the half-term holiday, so I’m sorry if I’m a little too late with my recipe for some of you!

I have used the leftover boozy fruit from my homemade apple and blackberry vodka – when we strained the vodka into bottles, we kept the juicy infused fruit in a tub in the fridge, ready to add to our Christmas cake – waste not want not and all that! So where I’ve used this ‘steeped’ fruit, you can replace this with fresh diced apples, prunes blackberries, cherries or anything you fancy, and add in a shot of brandy, whisky or sherry to make it more boozy if you like! I’m happy with the level of booziness in my fruit, so I won’t be adding any more alcohol to the mixture.

christmas cake baking recipe using boozy apple and blackberry

Ingredients: 225g plain flour, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp mixed spice, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence,  200g butter, 200g brown sugar, 2 tbsp black treacle, 1 tbsp marmalade, 4 eggs, 1kg mixed fruits made up of fresh or steeped fruit, dried fruits, cherries etc

Cream the sugar and butter together in a large bowl before adding the eggs, treacle, marmalade and vanilla. Mix before adding the flour, salt and spices, then stir until combined. Finally, add the fresh and dried fruits and mix thoroughly. Tip into a large cake tin and smooth it down, making a shallow well in the centre to allow the cake to rise while cooking. Cook in the oven for 2 and a half hours at 150 degrees and test with a skewer, if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked, or if not, return it to the oven and check every 20 minutes until it is done. Store in an airtight container and ‘feed’ with booze or fresh fruit juice once a week to keep it moist. Take some time to think about your plans for decorating the cake and get it out to decorate just before Christmas!

baking christmas cake boozy fruit recipe

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