Payday Millionaire- Cheesy Potato Pie.

img_0903A few weeks ago  PaymentSense  approached me,  along with several other food bloggers to see if we could help.  The idea was for us to come up with a recipe to serve four people that would cost £5 to make. It could also be a meal which was able to be divided up and either serve 2 people over 2 days or be ideal for eating as four individual portions. asked some food bloggers if they would like to share their favourite go-to recipes. These had to be created with a budget of no more than £5 for 4 people in mind, Payment Sense  provide card payment services benefitting small businesses with their special rates and better customer services. We were not paid for our contributions.

 On their website PaymentSense also have some interesting and thought provoking articles. One article which is very relevant to my post is this one:

10 Truths About The Rise And Fall Of A Payday Millionaire

A few weeks ago  PaymentSense conducted some research into looking at how fast people are spending their disposible income once they have been paid and what their own situations can be like as they get closer to the end of the month.  The term “payday millionaire” means that once you are paid, people tend to act like money is no object, going around splashing the cash on unnecessary purchases and buying rounds of drinks.  I’m guilty of this, how many times have I gone out and bought a new pair of shoes or treated myself to a new Nordicware Bundt tin when I’ve just been paid. What was interesting was that the research showed that about one third of the people changed their eating habits in order to help budget their money until payday. So they would scrimp and scrape cooking on a budget or some may even attempt a diet!

I was approached, along with several other food bloggers to see if we could help.  The idea was for us to come up with a recipe to serve four people that would cost £5 to make. It could also be a meal which was able to be divided up and either serve 2 people over 2 days or be ideal for eating as four individual portions.

It didn’t take me long to choose which meal I would submit to the campaign. My Cheesy Potato Pie has been a firm favourite for many years.  I first started making it as a student about 25 years ago.  I also cooked it frequently for my own family as my two children were growing up. Now it has turned full circle and my daughter is now making the pie at uni.  Money was tight at home when my children were very young and I often behaved like a payday millionaire.  I still do but nowadays I have to be more careful.  I work as a supply teacher in my day job and the money comes in dribs and drabs according to when there is a demand for a supply teacher.  When it is the school holidays when I don’t have money coming in or when it is close to payday I rely heavily on meals like this.

My Cheesy Potato Pie is simple and quick to make.  It is served with a layer of baked beans on the bottom of the dish. The baked beans don’t have to be an expensive brand like Heinz. I only had Heinz in the picture as I’d bought a pack of 4 cans which were on special offer in the supermarket a couple of weeks before.  The same goes for the cheese topping. I  sometimes use the budget cheese or whatever’s on special offer at the time. To add a bit of  extra something to the pie, you can serve it with a side of bacon or sausages or even veggie burgers which my daughter prefers.  I even like eating the pie on its own and it’s a perfect choice of comfort food.  I know I’ll be making this lots once all the Christmas food has been eaten up, until our bank balances have had a chance to recover!

CHEESY POTATO PIE

Ingredients:

5-6 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks

1 x400g can of baked beans

100g grated cheddar cheese

butter and/ or milk to mash the potatoes with

8 sausages/ rashers of bacon or other accompaniment.

  • Put a large pan of water onto boil.
  • Peel and chop the potatoes and put into the pan of boiling water. Boil until soft.

  • Mash the potatoes with a knob of butter or with milk if you prefer. Or even use both!
  • Put the baked beans into a large ovenproof dish and spread them around, covering the bottom of the dish.
  • Preheat the oven to 180oC or Gas 4.

 

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Put the baked beans into an ovenproof dish.
  • Spread the mash evenly on top of the baked beans.
  • Grate the cheese and sprinkle it on top of the pie.
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Here’s the pie ready to be popped into the oven.
  •  Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the topping is crispy and golden brown.
  • While the pie is in the oven, cook the bacon or sausages in your preferred way.
  • Serve immediately.

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I chose to cook some sausages with my cheesy potato pie. The ones featured in the picture are frozen Slimming World ones which I found in Iceland a few weeks back.  I tend to get the best quality sausages I can find for the cheapest price but these were bought while I was following Slimming World leading up to Christmas.  Back to it in the New Year!

This pie could be made in four individual dishes or in two smaller ones which serve two people. It keeps well in the fridge overnight and can be frozen.

The cost of this dish is roughly about £4.00 including the sausages which makes this a very economical meal.

Annabel Karmel’s Busy Mum’s Cookbook- A Review.

The Busy Mum’s Cookbook is the latest publication from food writer Annabel Karmel and was published a couple of months ago. My family have grown up with Annabel’s recipes right from when I started weaning my daughter back in 1998 using purees from the Baby and Toddler Meal Planner. I’ve bought several of her books over the years from her Family Meal Planner, to her Kids In The Kitchen inspired books, to her party recipe one. I’ve kept all the books though I don’t think my kids would appreciate butternut squash purees now! Having said that, I regularly go back to recipes from the Family Meal Planner, which has been my lifesaver in the kitchen for the past 16 years.

So, when Annabel brings out a new book which isn’t directed at babies and toddlers, I’m always keen to buy it. I was very impressed with the Busy Mum’s Cookbook as it fits into my lifestyle. I work most days as a supply teacher, a job I love but I’m always shattered when I get in from school.  All the recipes I have tried out of the book so far have fitted into the slot of being suitable for busy parents and not just Mums!

The introduction states: “Many of us stick with what we know and trust when it comes to cooking, especially when our lives are busier than ever! Yet the result is often a collection of six or seven failsafe recipes that families rely upon week in week out!” 

I have easily fallen into that trap. I think I’ve cooked chilli con carne or chicken curry every week for the past year but I do it because I know my son will eat it. Annabel Karmel’s own children have always been a massive part of her cookery career, she tests recipes out on them and there used to be photos of them in her earlier books. Now they are grown up but they still influence her recipes, just like I do when I try to recreate my own dishes at home. 

The Busy Mum’s Cookbook is split up into seven sections each featuring a stack of recipes to suit all lifestyles. 

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Pasta.
Chapter One is called “20 Minute Recipes” and features plenty of recipes which can be cooked in a very short time. Last Monday evening I tried out the Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Pesto on my family. It says the cooking time is 10 mins and the preparation time, 8 minutes. I had to roast the cherry tomatoes in the oven with garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar which took all of 10 minutes. While the tomatoes were roasting the pasta was cooking on the hob. When it had cooked I added pesto sauce to the pasta and mixed it with the tomatoes and mozzarella pieces. Ideal for a a quick weeknight supper.

Golden Syrup and Ginger Loaf Cake
Annabel’s baking recipes are just divine and I must admit I always looked at the baking and dessert chapters first when I bought her earlier books. For every special occasion dinner I must have made Annabel’s naughty but nice version of Tiramisu and baked a lot of her cakes and cookies  for children’s parties. I know sweets and desserts get a bad press but to be honest I can’t see the problem in having the odd treat here or there. So it was great to see a handful of delicious recipes at the back of the book in the Sweets chapter.  Last Sunday I tried out the Golden Syrup Ginger Cake which is described as a “deliciously moist, gently spiced cake (which is) perfect for an afternoon tea treat.” 

 To me it sounded like McVities Jamaican Ginger Cake which I used to eat as a child for tea at my Nana Margaret’s house. I’ve not had it for years. So I was tempted to try baking the cake to see if it was the same. I used my Nordicware Gingerbread Man Loaf Bundt pan which has only been used once before, great to give it another outing. I greased the pan well with Wilton Cake Release.  Flour, caster sugar, cinnamon and ginger were combined in one bowl. In another in went eggs, sunflower oil and golden syrup. They were then mixed together and the batter poured into the tin.  It tasted lovely even though I could have done with more mixture to fill the tin! It looked very small! 

Three Tomato Bruschetta, although only one type was used in my version.
Last Friday night was perfect to sit out and enjoy the gorgeous sunny weather. I had loads of tomatoes to use up and had the idea of making the Three Tomato Bruschettas for my family. Though we only had one type of tomato, this recipe was a lot more fiddly than I thought. I had to peel and de-seed a whole punnet of cherry tomatoes which took a lot of time. The Bruschetta recipe is in the Lunchboxes and Snacks chapter.  Lunchboxes is something I never get right. When my kids were at primary school they had Lunchboxes and I used Annabel’s own Lunchboxes book for ideas when my daughter first started in Reception. Her pasta salads and fruit salads with dips would come back untouched and she used to say “Why can’t I have fruit winders in my lunchbox?” Or “……has Cheesestrings in hers, why can’t I?” I tend to be a bit disorganised with my own lunches, I end up with half a carton of soup or a noodle pot. If I’m feeling really lazy then I buy a sandwich from a local garage with an M&S food shop attached to it. Same goes for my husband, when he’s working in his office, he’s across the road from a fantastic bakery so he nips there for a sandwich or a pasty. The kids follow what their friends are doing in town. So unless I sort myself out, I can’t see myself using the lunch box recipes much!

Chocolate and Oat Cookies

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love baking biscuits, hence my blog name SmartCookieSam. Last Friday I had some spare time and decided to bake some of Annabel’s Chocolate and Oat Cookies. My son is going through his GCSEs at the moment and my daughter has been busy in her college course. What better than a sweet treat to start half term off? The cookies were very simple to make using butter, brown sugar, flour, an egg, some vanilla extract, baking powder, a small amount of ground ginger, porridge oats and dark chocolate cut into chunks.  No sooner than they had been put on the cooling rack, then half of them disappeared! That’s a good sign. If they’re still there in the biscuit tin a few days later that’s when I start getting worried. 

Pasta Arrabiata

My son and husband aren’t massive pasta fans but they liked the Pasta Arrabiata recipe. It was a perfect standby storecupboard supper to knock up after a busy day at work. It went very well washed down with a couple of glasses of wine! I forgot to tell hubby that Arrabiata sauce has chillies in it! 

There was another chapter in the book dedicated to Entertaining. Well I can’t remember the last time I had friends round for dinner. It was probably about 10 years ago. Ever since I went back to work doing dinner parties is the last thing on my mind. Though I have had several parties and get togethers. This usually ends up being buffet food or a BBQ or maybe cakes and lots of drink though! I can’t see me cooking any recipes from the Entertaining chapter soon,  though! 

So, to sum up I was extremely impressed with Annabel’s book. It is going to be well used in the next few years I bet as it was the case with her baby and toddler feeding books. I can wholeheartedly recommend it! 

Happy Cooking!

Love Sam xx

Family Mealtimes with Dr Oetker Pizzas

I was really looking forward to my pizza tea.

One pizza for each of my family minus hubby who was away working
 This is a blog post I was meant to write about last month and due to all my crazy commitments it never got written. Now half term is here I’m beginning to catch up with myself again. Blogging ends up being pushed to the back of the queue when I’m trying to get everything else sorted.
Anyway, I was contacted by Brazen PR who asked me if I would like some vouchers to try out Dr Oetker’s new product, their Calzone Speciale. I said yes, all my family love Calzone if we go out for an Italian meal. We also love the Dr Oetker Ristorante Pizzas which to me are very useful if you are having a busy week and don’t have much time to cook.
Dr Oetker Calzones are only available in Asda at the moment. I don’t often go to Asda, as both local Asdas are about 12 miles away from me and I find them far too crowded. I can never get a parking space when I go to Asda!  I do like Asda though, don’t get me wrong. It’s just I have other supermarkets nearer to me. The vouchers could also  be used with the Ristorante Pizzas so that’s what I decided to do as they were more widely available.  I found these in my local supermarket which is Morrisons.

I chose three different flavour pizzas, two of which my children had already tried and loved. According to Dr Oetker’s website they are “the nation’s favourite thin and crispy pizza” which cooks “to perfection in  about 10 minutes” I must admit I don’t buy pizzas that often, they’re usually something I enjoy when eating out. But I was keen to try the Pollo flavour, which had chicken and sweet corn on the top. I knew my kids would scoff down their favourite, the Pizza Mozzarella which is like a Margarita pizza with basil on top. Another winner in our house is the Pepperoni Salami one.

One busy Thursday night last month I had just the opportunity to use the pizzas. Hubby had been in London working for the day and had eaten out. I had been at work all day and as soon as hubby got back I was on the road to my mum’s overnight about 2 hours away. So a quick but tasty dinner was needed. Usually I try to share out the flavours but my kids said “Ugh no!” to the chicken one. So I ended up with it.

I would give my pizza 3 stars out of 5. Even though it had been in the oven for the recommended time and temperature it tasted doughy to me. I don’t like deep pan pizzas and much prefer thin and crispy bases. The topping was ok, but I’m not really a fan of chicken on pizza. My kids enjoyed their pizzas and they loved the bases. They also thought there were plenty of toppings. 

pollo, pepperoni and Mozzarella pizzas from Dr Oetker Rstorante range

Thankyou so much again to Brazen PR who very kindly sent me the Dr Oetker vouchers. I’m hoping to try the Calzones in the fur when I can get to my nearest Asda.

Love Sam xx

Cheese? Yes Please! Cooking with Pilgrim’s Choice Cheddar.

A couple of weeks back I was contacted by Pilgrim’s Choice to see if I would be interested in trying out some of their cheeses and to use them in my baking and cooking.  I was only too happy to agree as we love eating and cooking with cheese in our house.

So I was sent a voucher for two large packs of cheese which I took along to my local Sainsbury’s when I was doing my weekly shop and chose two sorts of cheddar. To be honest this was the only variety of Pilgrim’s Choice cheese available in my nearest Sainsburys but this was perfect to fit around what I would be able to cook and use with my family.  It was great to think about how I could use the cheese.  I tried to think of as many different ways of using it as possible.  Also, I love to see how far I can make products go using a minimum of waste or money.  Many thanks to Pilgrim’s Choice for giving me the opportunity to try out their cheese.  I know there are many more varieties to taste which I do hope to try out in the future!

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Although I was keen to get started, it wasn’t until the following weekend that I actually got started on my “Cheesy Challenge”.  I was very busy at work and it was very tempting to hack into the cheese and just use it for sandwiches.  Though you can’t beat a gorgeous mature cheddar and pickle sandwich! But that wasn’t the point, I had to think and be creative.  My friends on Facebook and Twitter came up with some great suggestions and my mouth started watering, especially at the thought of baking cheese scones!

Here is what I did get round to cooking with my delicious Pilgrim’s Choice cheese:

One Sunday lunch we had a large bacon, leek and cheese quiche served with the mature Pilgrim’s Choice cheddar.  This had new potatoes and salad with it.  The following day we sneaked the leftovers for lunch. I adapted Holly Bell’s “Man Quiche” recipe from her fabulous book “Recipes From A Normal Mum”,

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To make a Bacon, Leek and Cheddar version of Holly Bell’s Man Quiche I grated some Pilgrim’s Choice mature cheddar and added it to the quiche filling. This went really well with the leeks, bacon, tarragon and double cream.
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The uncooked “Man Quiche” about to go into the oven to be baked.
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The cooked Man Quiche.

I love using cheese as part of a snacky lunch on a cold winter’s day.  I was on my own one Saturday lunchtime and wanted something comforting, yet filling. I had some leeks still to use up after the quiche and knew they went well with cheese so thought I’d try and put them in my cheese on toast lunch.

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I softened some leeks using some Frylight spray in a small saucepan.
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I grated some Lighter Pilgrim’s choice cheese and added it to a beaten egg in a mixing bowl.
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The cheese and leek mixture was spooned onto a couple of pieces of toast and put under the grill to melt.
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The Cheese and leeks on toast was absolutely delicious and kept me warm. It was very filling and I really enjoyed my Saturday lunch.

I was absolutely rubbish at my Home Economics classes at secondary school, such a long time ago back in the 1980s!  But one dish I remember cooking was a very economical Cheese and Potato Pie.  You mixed cooked mashed potato with grated cheese and put it in a dish on top of a layer of baked beans.  This was then put in the oven and cooked until crispy.  I loved this meal and made it a lot when I was single and also as a student as it was so cheap to cook.  I decided to cook it one Wednesday evening as it had been a busy day at work and I didn’t have much left in the fridge.  I cooked it with some gorgeous bacon from the local farm shop and my children absolutely loved it.  My daughter asked me why I didn’t cook the Cheese and Potato Pie more often.  I don’t know why but I need to cook it more often, there were clean plates all round!

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Cooked creamy mashed potato to which I added grated Pilgrim’s Choice lighter cheddar.
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A layer of baked beans was added to the bottom of the pie dish.
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Grated cheese being added to the mashed potato.
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The Cheese and Potato Pie was baked in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the top became all crunchy and crispy.
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The cheese and potato pie served with a couple of rashers of crispy bacon.

My final bake with the Pilgrim’s Choice Mature Cheddar was by making these absolutely massive Cheese Scones. The recipe I used was adapted from one of Paul Hollywood‘s recipes.  It should have been a Cheese and Chive Scone recipe but I added paprika instead of chives and made the scones twice as big as they should have been.  They contained a chopped red onion too and gave the scones a delicious sweet taste to them.  I baked them last Tuesday during half term week for us to have instead of a piece of bread or a roll with some soup at lunchtime.  I discovered that they tasted much better warm, slathered with butter and were at their best when they were totally fresh.  My daughter and I loved them but my son wasn’t so keen on them.

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My enormous Cheddar Cheese and Onion scones based on a Paul Hollywood recipe.
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Cut in half and waiting for some butter to go on top of them. Just delicious!

I was very impressed with the two large packs of Pilgrim’s Choice cheese I used.  The packs were resealable and kept well in my fridge.  I know I will buy more in the future as the large packs were tremendous value and were perfect for my family and our needs.

Happy Cooking!

Love Sam xx