Tag Archives: Recipes

How to make amazing food when your cupboards are almost bare

When I was growing up my mum was a housewife and the cupboards were always stocked with ingredients, the fridge filled with food but I’m sure she wont mind me saying this – dinners were often bland and not inspiring at all. Things have changed a lot from back then in my house.  I no longer have a pantry cupboard since moving house and I don’t have nearly enough space in my cupboards or undercounter fridge for my liking.  For some people, their reality is pantries and kitchen cupboards bursting at the seams with enough ingredients to last for weeks at a time and sadly for others they don’t know what they will be eating that week until they visit the food bank.

Most households have ingredients in cans, bottles and jars.  I use a lot of dried beans and pulses, granted they are not as convenient as cans but they are a lot cheaper and take up less space when kept in a glass jar.  I also like to have tinned tomatoes on hand and of course a good selection of dried herbs and spices (purchased from asian supermarkets as you get so much more for your money).  Having a few things in the cupboard if you can means that you can put something together quickly if the need arises.

If I’ve got a really busy week at work I do tend to run out of things or lack inspiration when it comes to making lunch or dinner.  Sometimes a cupboard or bottom of the fridge lucky dip ends up being one of the tastiest meals we have had in a while.  I can never recreate these type of meals though as nothing gets measured and herbs and spices get thrown in haphazardly. I do consider myself to be a pro at the amalgamation meal as I like to call it and I always pretend that I know what I’m doing.

Here are my simple ideas on how you can cook with what is left in your kitchen and how you can serve some amazing meals that your guests will enjoy, it just takes a bit of creativity.

1 – Always have some dried rice or pasta in the cupboard, this can be the base for lots of dishes.
2 – Keep some dried herbs and spices to add amazing flavour to dishes
3 – Have a carton of UHT milk in the cupboard for “emergencies”
4 – Keep the stock off boiling vegetables or boiling ham/chicken in the freezer to use as stock cubes if you run out of stock cubes.
5 – Stock cubes are a great way of adding instant flavour to dishes
6 – A packet of homemade or shop bought pastry in the freezer can be a lifesaver
7 – When you bake a cake, double up on the cake batter and freeze one (I do this a lot for drizzle cakes)

My top five dishes using leftovers, bottom of the fridge items or cupboard staples are:

Cous-Cous Salad
Cous-cous is my families favourite’s and I’m really bad for buying a packet before the previous one is finished so end up with a lot of 3/4 empty cous-cous packets in the cupboard. Cous-Cous is so quick and easy to prepare and it goes with everything. I add it to a bowl with a stock cube and some boiling water and leave to soak up the liquid.  Once it’s ready I add chopped celery, peppers, grapes, iceberg lettuce, spring onion, a spoonful of pesto (red or green) and either chopped turkey bacon or crumbled feta cheese.  I top it off with a handful of toasted almonds.

Fried Rice
Leftover rice is great for this recipe (fresh cooked works too but you really need to chill it). I add some onion, mushrooms, peppers and whatever else I have at hand into a frying pan, pop in the rice and cook through, crack in an egg if you wish and sprinkle with soy sauce to taste.  Instant fried rice.

Pasta and sauce
If I have fresh tomato I’ll add that to a frying pan with some garlic until it starts to break down, add some dried herbs and stir through pasta.  If I’m out of fresh tomato but have some tinned I’ll add them to a pan with a sprinkle of sugar, dash of balsamic vinegar, some garlic and dried basil and simmer then stir it through pasta.

Noodle Soup
This is like a really bad version of a Chinese noodle soup but my children love it so who am I to complain.  If you have any leftover miso you can use that as a base or a stock cube will do.  I usually add miso, tin of sweetcorn, dried noodles, pak-choi, leftover chicken and a splash of soy sauce and there is never a scrap left in the bowl.

Spanish Omelette
If you have some eggs and leftover or fresh vegetables, a Spanish omelette won’t be far behind.  I usually start off by frying the potatoes so they get nice and cripsy, I add the rest of the veg (usually onions, green beans and mushrooms), add beaten eggs and when it’s cooked through on the bottom/middle I pop under the grill to cook the top.  I really don’t like cheese in an omelette but feel free to add some if it suits your taste.  I like my omelettes sprinkled with chilli sauce!

What are your favourite cupboard or bottom of the fridge dinners?

Cook Your Way To A Healthy Smile

When I plan my meals for the week I don’t just have to think about myself I have three other people to consider.  I need to make sure that what I’m cooking is both healthy and nutritious and something my family will like and enjoy – sometimes that isn’t always easy.  Over the past week I’ve been cooking my way to a healthy smile and my family have been eating their way to a healthy smile, I’m going to show you how to eat your way to one too.

healthy smile

So what foods can help our dental health?  I think we all know that tea, coffee, red wine, sugary foods and fizzy drinks are a no no or at least that’s what my dentist always tells me.  I always seem to get told what I shouldn’t be consuming but not what I should be which I would find far more beneficial.


The infographic above lists some great ingredients that are not only healthy but have some great properties that can help your teeth and I’ve included some of them in my dishes below.  I will be publishing all of the recipes during the week so please subscribe if something takes your fancy so you don’t miss it.

celery Soup

The first dish I made was Celery Soup, this is incredibly simple to make and all of my family including Baby Gourmand love this soup.  It might seem strange to have apple in a soup but it adds a sweetness which works incredible well with the heat of the pepper.  The best thing about this soup is you can pop it all in a slow cooker and leave it until you’re ready to blend and serve.

To make this soup you will need:
1/2 bunch of celery including leaves
2 Potatoes
1 Apple
1 Red Onion
2 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Mixed Herbs
vegetable stock to cover

Roughly chop the vegetables and place in a slow cooker, add the herbs and black pepper, cover with vegetable stock and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Just before serving blend the soup with a hand blender. Adjust pepper to your own taste.


Curried Fish Pie

This curried fish pie is very different to anything you will have eaten before.  I used a mixture of salmon, cod and smoked haddock and added onions, peppers and spinach to the curry to make a very tasty and nutritious dish.

Smoked Fish with Spinach Mash

Spinach featured heavily in my main meals as you can probably tell. I’m very lucky that both of my children love spinach in all of it’s forms but this particular mash always goes down well. The smoked fish is baked in the oven which in itself is quite plain but when served  with a garliky spinach mash it transforms the dish into something special.

Cheese, apple and potato pie

I took a bit of a risk when making this cheese, apple and potato pie,  I wasn’t sure if it would work, I think adding the fresh thyme to the filling really helped and my family couldn’t get enough of this.

Olive and Walnut Bread

Olive and Walnut bread was a huge hit!  I’ve been baking a lot of bread recently and I actually made 4 loaves before finding this taste combination which really worked well together.  I had originally wanted to make a soft top tin loaf but it just didn’t work, this was my final attempt and is probably one of the best loaves I’ve made.

Apple, Cheese and Brazil Nut muffins

Mini Gourmand made these apple, and brazil nut muffins, we decided to pop some nuts in a food processor so that the muffins would be soft rather than crunchy.  They made a great after school snack and Baby Gourmand had a couple as his mid morning snack.

Spiced Sausage pasta

The spiced sausage pasta was made for Baby Gourmand and Mini Gourmand, I used fresh tomato and herbs to make a sauce and added a little green chilli for a bit of a kick.

Apple and Plum pie

The apple and plum pie I made only lasted two days, now I can’t be sure who it was who kept going into the fridge for more but I know it wasn’t me or Baby Gourmand!

I also made fruit and nut stuffed chicken legs but my family are so greedy they didn’t give me a chance to take a picture before delving right in and devouring them.

Everything that I made with the Abel & Cole meat and vegetable boxes was a huge hit with my family.  By cleaver planning I made a pack of sausages, two chicken legs and a whole host of vegetables last for a whole week which I never would have thought possible!  Not only did my family eat some amazing dishes they also ate food which helped keep their smile healthy.

Were you aware that any of these vegetables could help you have a healthy smile?

*Abel & Cole vegetable box was provided by SimplyHealth for the purpose of this post


You may have noticed a new page has appeared at the top of this blog underneath the header, I’ve finally added a Recipe file to make it easier for you to find my recipes, I’ve alphabetised everything and will add to it each time I add a new dish to this blog.

In the next couple of weeks I will also add a Review page so restaurant reviews can be found easily, these reviews will be listed by area to make it easier to use.

I recently purchased a slow cooker so you can expect to see a lot of slow cooker recipes appearing on the blog in the next few weeks, I didn’t think I would like slow cooking but surprisingly I’ve been able to convert a lot of my tried and tested recipes that I thought wouldn’t work into delicious slow cooked meals.   Once I get round to adding more of my recipes on to my blog (I have over 300 pictures on my phone) I will put the page into sections.

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Caramel Apples – Actifry Style

apples (1)

I love my Tefal Actifry, in fact I adore my Tefal Actifry and I’m always looking for dishes to cook in it as I find it the most easiest thing in the world to operate and of course clean.

I had a handful of cooking apples in the bottom of my fridge, not enough to make an apple pie or crumble with and it was annoying me trying to come up with a recipe.  My best ideas come to me while I’m walking around waitrose and after picking up some salted caramel ice cream I figured some sticky caramel apples would go so well with it.

You will need:

4 cooking apples, 8 tablespoons of dark brown sugar, 50g of butter

Chop the apples into bite size pieces and pop everything in to the bowl of the Tefal Actifry, set the timer to 15 mins, you probably wont need this long but the cooking time does depend on the size of the apples and the size of your chunks.

Caramel Apples

I wanted my apples to be quite mushy so I left them for 12 mins to cook and for a delicious sauce to form.

I find that when using the Actifry, cooking times vary quite a lot, I can make the same dish twice and each time it will take a different amount of time to cook so it’s best to keep checking on the item.

tefal Innovation Panelist

*Disclaimer – I am a Tefal Innovation Panelist, I was provided with the Actifry free of charge, this has in no way affected my opinion of the brand and as always my thoughts are my own and are honest and impartial*

Where do you store your recipes?

I’ve been storing my recipes for nearly 10 years now, some are adaptations from my favourite books, others are cut from magazines and the majority are from trial and error in my kitchen.

I do understand that it’s probably easier to keep my recipe collection on my computer or on a usb memory stick but I prefer to flick through a book rather than scroll down a word document.

I currently have 8 filled books in my collection, I love finishing a book and starting a new one, I probably should have written them in some sort of order but I guess it makes reading one of my books fun and interesting as you don’t know what you might find.

My latest purchase is a Recipe folder from Paperchase, I love the pattern, there are lots of useful sections and plenty of pages for me to scribble on.

The printed pages make writing up a recipe so much easier, I do admit that some of my other books are very messy!

The tabs ensure that the recipes in this book will be organised unlike my other pick and mix books.

How do you store your recipes?