Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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Pieday Friday ~ Broccoli & ham quiche

I don’t know why I’ve never made quiche before. My whole life I’ve been too scared to make quiche from scratch – maybe it’s the worry that the eggs won’t set or that the pastry will go soggy or that it’s a complicated process – whatever the reason, I’ve reached this ripe old age and 3 years of recipe posts without ever attempting to bake a quiche. Unbelievable really, considering that (as a savoury lover) one of my favourite baked treats is quiche and I can’t get enough of my family’s homemade quiches – tuna, veggie, cheese and ham – I love them all and could probably eat a whole full-size quiche to myself. Well, the fear has finally been conquered and I enjoyed my very first Cassie-made quiche meal this week… And it tasted gooooood!

pieday friday recipe for low fat broccoli and ham quiche

I went for a standard base of onion and cheese then added in slices of my favourite ham. Broccoli was on special offer at the market this week so we’d bought 6 heads without any plans of what to eat it with so I used up a whole head of florets in this quiche. Lots of recipes call for cream and crème fraiche etc but I stuck with a basic egg, milk and cheese mixture to get a slightly healthier filling. Here’s the recipe:

pieday friday recipe for baked broccoli ham and onion quiche

Make up a batch of pastry (see my recipe for pastry here) and line a pie or cake tin – preferably one with a removable base which will make it easier to get the quiche out when it is cooked. Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam for a few minutes to soften. Dice an onion and sautee in a little Fry Light until golden. Spread the onion over the uncooked pastry base, layer up slices of ham and add the softened broccoli florets. Whisk together 4 eggs with 1 & 1/2 cups milk and 100g lightest soft cheese. Add a little salt and pepper seasoning then pour into the pastry base. Grate a little mature cheddar on top if you like, but it’s just as good without! Bake in the oven at 175 degrees for 30 minutes or until the centre is set.

pieday friday recipe baked quiche

It was so much easier to make than I’d imagined in the past and I’ll certainly be making lots more quiche in the future. Enjoy chilled with a big salad or get stuck in while it’s still warm with baked beans (my favourite way to eat quiche)! Let me know if you have a go at making this recipe.

 


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Pieday Friday ~ British Pie Week

British Pie Week runs from the 3rd to the 9th of March and I see that as the perfect excuse to bake a pie over the coming weekend. I’ve listed a few of my favourite pie recipes so perhaps you’ll try out one of these tasty dishes below and treat the family to a hearty and sometimes surprisingly healthy meal – just click on the pink links for the recipe:

Ham and asparagus pie in a loaf tin

pieday friday ham and asparagus pie recipe on cassiefairy blog

Traditional fish pie with tasty cheesy topping

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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

Leftover roast dinner Cornish pasties – which could easily be a pie in the right dish!

pieday friday recipe for pastry and cornish pasties

Shepherds pie crammed full of veg

steaming shepherds cottage pie recipe pieday friday cooking method

And if you like the look of these recipes, you can find many more recipes on the blog AND in my new Pieday Friday e-book, which I have been working on using  Blurb’s BookSmart programme. I will be launching the book this week completely free and it includes tons of recipes including soups, snacks and sweet treats !


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Pieday Friday ~ Chilli cheese pancakes

Wow it’s Shrove Tuesday next week – how did we get this far into the year already?? I love pancakes and can’t get enough of them, whether it’s Pancake Day or not! So today I thought I’d share one of the ways that I like to use pancakes in a main meal – as a chilli cheese wrap. It’s really easy to make and will impress friends and family if you have any guests over for a Shrove Tuesday meal on the 4th March. Here’s how it’s done:

Pancake ingredients: 100g plain flour, 2 eggs, 300ml milk, pinch of salt

Whisk the ingredients together in a big bowl until you have a thin batter mixture. Use a non-stick frying pan (such as small my copper-bottomed pan from Dunelm) and spray with fry light. Heat the pan before pouring in a couple of tablespoons of the batter. Swirl it around the pan to coat the bottom and cook for about 30 seconds before flipping over (or using a spatula like I did!) and cooking the other side for another 30 seconds – keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. Pile up the pancakes on a plate with another plate on top covering them to keep warm.

pieday friday recipe for perfect pancakes

Chilli ingredients (enough for approx. 10-12 wraps): 250g Beef mince, sliced red pepper, sliced green or yellow pepper, diced white onion, 2 cloves crushed garlic, 2 tbsp mild chilli powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tbsp. tomato puree, 200g tin of red kidney beans or mixed beans, 200ml beef stock, tin of chopped tomatoes

Brown off the mince and cook through the onions and peppers until soft. Stir in the spices, garlic and tomato paste and fry for a minute or two but don’t allow it to stick on the bottom of the pan – when this happens add the tinned tomatoes and beans. Cook off for a little longer before adding the beef stock and allowing to simmer for 20 minutes or slow-cook it in the oven at 180 degrees to bubble away for 30 minutes or as long as you like – this will reduce the stock and make the meat lovely and moist. Get it out of the oven when you’re ready for it and you can serve it at the table for guests to wrap up their own pancake wraps or spoon the chilli into the centre of a pancake, sprinkle with grated cheese and roll up like a sandwich wrap. Serve with rice and sour cream if you like :)

pieday friday recipe for chilli cheese pancakes for shrove tuesday

I hope you’ll have a go at making a savoury dish on Shrove Tuesday and I’d love to find out what your favourite pancake creations are – leave me a comment or tweet me @Cassiefairy.


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Pieday Friday ~ Lamb tagine & tortilla wraps

Today I thought I’d share the recipes for an entire meal with you. This is the very same meal that my husband and I cooked for Valentine’s Day and we’ve since cooked it for the family too and it went down a treat, so I hoping that we’ve got the recipe just right for this lamb tagine! I’ve also had a go at making my own tortilla bread and when you try it out for yourself, you’ll never want to go back to the shop-bought wraps again!

Tagine ingredients: 450g lamb mince, 1 chopped onion, 75g sultanas, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 4 tsp plain flour, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tsp ground ginger, 2 tsp turmeric, 200ml vegetable, lamb or beef stock, 1 tbsp honey, salt and pepper

In an oven-proof pan, brown the mince and onions then add the spices to the pot. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute before adding the stock, honey, sultanas and tomatoes. Stir and season to taste then cook in an over at 180 degrees for around 45 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the mince is tender.

pieday friday recipe - how to make a lamb tagine and tortilla bread

Tortilla ingredients: 800g plain flour, 2 tbsp. butter, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 350ml boiling water.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl then rub in the butter using your fingertips to resemble breadcrumbs or polenta. Add the water a little at a time, mixing it with your hands to make a dough – don’t add all the water at once as you may not need it all. Take a golf-ball sized piece of dough and use a rolling pin to roll it out to the size of your pan. Cook in a dry frying pan until the top is slightly puffy and bubbly then turn over in the same way that you would turn a pancake. These tortillas only take a minute or two to cook in the pan and are much more satisfying to make and eat than the shop-bought version!

We used a packet of mushroom flavoured couscous because we were feeling too lazy to make our own after all the tortilla rolling! It’s easy enough to add flavour to plain couscous – just add the juice of 1 lemon and 450ml of vegetable stock to 250g plain couscous then stir in a handful of freshly chopped parsley and mint before serving.


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Pieday Friday ~ Chicken brick

If you cast your mind back to a couple of weeks ago, you may remember I mentioned that my husband brought home a chicken brick. He’d wanted one for a few years but due to the price we’ve never really been able to justify the cost of one however, he finally found one in a charity shop – brand new and with instructions for under a fiver! I was delighted with his bargain and insisted that we try it out as soon as possible.

If you’ve never seen a chicken brick there’s a photo of it below – and it’s kind of like a big clay easter egg! The brick is soaked in water for around half an hour before baking and the chicken is placed inside the brick with whatever herbs or spices you’d like to flavour it with. We tried the recipe on the instruction leaflet and rubbed garlic, olive oil, rosemary and lemon over the chicken. The chicken brick is put into a cold oven and set at a very high temperate of 250C so that the brick warms through as the oven heats up. The instructions also suggest that you could just rub garlic cloves all over the inside of the clay brick to infuse the chicken with flavour without overpowering it so we are planning to try this technique next time.

Pieday friday recipe for clay roast chicken brick

The moisture within the clay from the soaking process steams the chicken to produce a very moist chicken but, surprisingly enough, the chicken is also browned inside the brick without any basting and the lid is never taken off during cooking. The whole process takes one and a half hours from putting the chicken into the cold oven and made one of the nicest roast chickens I’ve ever eaten – almost like a spit-roast chicken.

There are plenty of other options for roasting the chicken with different flavours, such as using salt and pepper, olive oil along with one of the follow herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, tarragon or rosemary. The instructions suggests using just one herb at a time to get a better flavour into the chicken rather than using a combination. I really like basil and I think this will create a very Mediterranean flavoured chicken so I think this will be my next attempt for Sunday lunch!


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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 hear 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 ~ Get out the solar cooker, it’s bbq weather!

Welcome to another Pieday Friday and this week I’m chatting about the concept of solar cooking. It’s possibly not something you’ve considered before and prior to this month I’d never even heard of solar cooking myself but I’ve been researching energy-saving ways to do everyday tasks around my home and stumbled upon this unbelievable idea and wanted to shared it with you all.

So, we all know about solar lights for the garden and I’m already using some solar-powered fairy lights in my little vintage caravan. My pals use a big black sack solar-shower on camping trips. My husband received a solar-powered windmill for Christmas from my brother which has been turning away on my windowsill ever since. You can charge phones and laptops with solar-charging packs and I even have a lucky cat with a solar-powered wave! You can also use a solar lighter to make a fireBut solar cooking? How does that work?

I’d heard about the idea of solar cooking and couldn’t really fathom how it would work but then found my way onto a website which had examples of solar cookers and it all snapped into focus. From what I can make out, solar cookers are like a space-age version of barbeques, which heat up by reflecting the sun’s rays and can cook complete meals in the garden – pretty amazing huh?

solar-barbecue-cookup200

Images courtesy of IDcook.us (or IDcook.com)

Although it’s a fairly new innovation, the research that has gone into the concept has been going on for the best part of a decade and aimed to find ways of harness the sun’s heat and light in order to develop products which sustainably preserve our planet’s resources. No longer will we need to use charcoal or gas for our summer barbecue cooking nor will we need to fire up a power station when we turn on our electric ovens in order to bake a casserole. And surely that can only be a good thing?

I have looked into the concept and there are two methods of cooking using solar power: concentration – which uses reflectors to direct the sun’s rays into a central cooking point and can achieve temperatures of up to 230°C – and greenhouse – which like a ‘normal’ greenhouse gathers the sun’s warmth and keeps it within a small frame and food is cooked in the centre.

solar-barbecue-cooking

But what about the weather, eh? Apparently this technology can be used in European climates and it doesn’t even need to be the sunniest of days for solar cookers to get up to temperature – if you think about solar lights in the garden, it can be overcast all day and still the lights will gather the sun’s rays and power the lights. The cooking time can be 2-3 times longer than a conventional oven, but does that matter when you’re not paying a penny to power it? Plus we all know that slow-cooking locks in the flavours and steaming is better our food.

Personally, I’d love to have a meal of pulled-pork that has been roasted for a few hours without spending any money on the cooking process!  From full-on BBQ girls and sturdy ovens to low-priced pop-up reflector ovens (which would be perfect for camping…) there’s lots of ways that we can harness the sun’s resources to cook our meals and I’m going to do some more research on the subject right now! Let me know if you’ve already come across anything like this – and what do you really think about solar cooking?

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