Tag Archive | Pasta sauce recipe

What Do You Do With Hundreds Of Courgettes?

I always look forward to the first courgette of the year as it means summer really is here.  I get excited watching it grow, waiting for the day I can pick it:

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When I do pick it, I nearly always use it in a lovely courgette, onion and cheese omelette and we always comment on how lovely it is to have the courgettes at last, as it seems such a long time since we last picked them the year before.

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The first couple of weeks are like a ‘courgette honeymoon’, as it’s so lovely to use them in our summer meals.

Every day I check for more courgettes on my plants and the plants keep producing them.  They just keep coming…

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…and coming…

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…and coming…

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…and coming!

In fact by mid-summer they seem to be laughing at me and ‘popping out’ overnight from where they have been hiding and every basket of goodies havested at the allotment has a least a couple of courgettes in:

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So what on earth can you do with all the courgettes that you pick?

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I have read quite a few articles in books and magazines on this subject, but half the recipes I’ve read are not really realistic for everyday meals, or are really time consuming recipes (and I haven’t got too much time to cook the courgettes as I’m too busy picking them).

So I thought I would talk about what I do with the millions of courgettes that I grow:-

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I use courgettes in everyday meals like pasta bolognaise, curries and chilli’s…

Pasta Bolognaise

Pasta Bolognaise

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I also use them in pies like my Chicken, Courgette and Broccoli Pie.  You can find the recipe here.

Chicken, Courgette and Broccoli Pie

Chicken, Courgette and Broccoli Pie

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Courgette Frittata’s are nice too.  The recipe is here.

Courgette Frittata

Courgette Frittata

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I also add them in the Pasta / Pizza Sauce recipe I make.  After it is cooked I whizz the sauce up with my stick blender and no one ever knows and then I use my sauce as normal.  You can find my pasta / pizza sauce recipe here.

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Courgette chutney is one of my favourite chutneys.  I use this recipe, but replace the scallopini’s (patty pans) with courgettes.  It keeps for ages and is lovely served with cold meats and on sandwiches.

Courgette Chutney

Courgette Chutney

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I also use courgettes to make savoury scones.  Cheese and courgette scones are absolutely delicious and can be frozen ready to pop into lunch boxes in the morning, before work and school.  The recipe for cheese and courgette scones is here.

Cheese and Courgette Scones

Cheese and Courgette Scones

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One of the favourite things I make with courgettes is a Chocolate Courgette Tray Bake Cake.  No one ever knows the cake has courgettes in and this way the kids get a few extra vitamins, without realising it.  The recipe is here.

Chocolate Courgette Tray Bake Cake

Chocolate Courgette Tray Bake Cake

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One other thing I do with my courgettes is to freeze them.  I have a bag of sliced courgettes and diced courgettes which I open freeze on trays before bagging up, so they don’t stick together.  I never blanch my courgettes first and they always seem to be ok for use over the winter.

I also bag up grated courgettes in the exact quantities ready to make the courgette cheese scones.  This way I can just take a bag out of the freezer the night before, to defrost ready to make the scones.

Courgettes sliced and diced ready for freezing

Courgettes sliced and diced ready for freezing

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Finally, I use the courgettes in different soups.  A particularly nice soup is a Courgette, Potato and Cheese soup.  The recipe is below:

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Courgette, Potato And Cheese Soup

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500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into small pieces

1 pint of vegetable stock

1 kg of courgettes, washed and chopped into small pieces

1 bunch of spring onions, washed and sliced small

100g grated cheese

Salt and pepper

Ground nutmeg to serve.

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Put the potatoes into a large pan, cover with the vegetable stock and bring it to the boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the courgettes and simmer for a further 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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Put a few spring onions aside to garnish the soup when you serve it.  Put the remaining spring onions in the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

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Add the cheese, stirring it until it has melted.

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Take the pan off the heat and use a stick blender or liquidiser to smooth the soup.

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Return the pan to the heat and bring back to the boil, adding salt and pepper as required.

Serve the soup with a sprinkling of ground nutmeg and garnish with the remaining spring onions.

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I hope you enjoyed my blog today.  If you do anything different with your courgettes, it would be lovely to hear from you, so please leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

I’ll be back on Friday at 4pm.

Have a good week.

Sowing Broadbeans, Batch Baking & A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10

Today I sowed my overwintering broad beans. They are a variety called ‘Aquadulce claudia’ which are really good for autumn sowing.  I sowed them into the inside of toilet rolls, as I find it is a more reliable method to get them to germinate, as when I sow them directly into the ground, either mice eat the seeds or the seeds rot when the ground is too wet.

After I sowed them, I watered them and then I put them into my cold greenhouse, until they germinate.  When the weather is suitable, I will transplant them.

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Batch baking

Every weekend I spend a couple of hours batch baking ready for the week ahead.  I find if I do this, then we don’t run out of things during the week, which would inevitably lead to a trip to the supermarket to buy tasteless equivalents that usually cost twice as much to buy, not to mention the added chemicals, preservatives and e-numbers the foods contain.

The things I usually batch bake at the weekend are bread rolls, cakes, biscuits, scones, etc. for the week ahead.  I then freeze them so they stay fresh.

So by just spending a couple of hours each weekend, I save money by not buying the equivalent at the supermarket, but I also save money on our gas bills because I cook more than one batch of things in our gas oven at one time.  For example, on Saturday I made ginger biscuits and chocolate brownies and twenty bread rolls.  The biscuits went in the oven, two baking trays at a time with the chocolate brownies, while the rolls were rising on top of the oven (they rise quicker with the warmth).  Then the bread rolls went in.

Another way of batch baking is to make double portions of a meal you are cooking anyway.  A good example of this is the pasta sauce I cooked for tonight’s tea.  I made a double portion so we could eat one portion tonight and I have frozen the other portion for another time.  So this not only saves money on cooking expenses, but it also saves time, as all I have to do another day is defrost the sauce and microwave it for ten minutes to heat it up again.

I always make double portions of pasta sauce, chilli and spaghetti bolognaise and freeze them.  Once the meals are defrosted, they must be reheated until they are piping hot.

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A Week Of Main Meals For Under £10.00

This week I thought I would set myself a challenge of cooking seven main meals for my family, for under £10.00. If I can do this, it will show people that we can and do actually live well on less’. So watch this space Jamie Oliver!

To keep the costs down, I have been using my home grown vegetables and in the style of ‘Ready Steady Cook’, I have free use of store cupboard items, which can be found on Mondays post.

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Today I made a Tomato Pasta Sauce.  You can find the recipe here.  All the ingredients I used were from my store cupboard and even my passata was made from home grown tomatoes.  I mixed the sauce with value spaghetti and sprinkled it with cheese.

I served this with salad from my polytunnel and garlic bread which was made from store cupboard items and home grown garlic and frozen home grown parsley.  You can see how I make my garlic bread here.

So this meal cost just an amazing £0.63 (the cost of the value spaghetti and cheese).

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So, the total I have spent so far this week is:

Sunday = £ 3.33

Monday = £ 0.87

Tuesday = £0.00

Wednesday = £0.63

So my total spent so far this week is £ 4.83

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Below is a really easy recipe for the chocolate Brownies that I made at the weekend.  It uses Weetabix and I buy the cheapest ones that  I can find for this recipe.

The brownies freeze really well and they are good for lunch boxes.  I take out a frozen Brownie and pop it straight into my daughter’s lunch box in the morning and it has defrosted by lunchtime.

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Chocolate Brownies Recipe

8  Weetabix

8 oz. caster sugar

8 oz. self-raising flour

4 tablespoons of coco powder

8 oz. margarine

2 eggs

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Preheat your oven Gas Mark 4 / 350F / 180C

Crush the Weetabix in a bowl.

Add the caster sugar, flour and coco powder and mix together.

Melt the margarine.

Add the eggs and the melted margarine and mix until it completely combined.

Put the mixture into a baking tray, approximately 23cm x 33cm, that has been lined with greaseproof paper.  (I find it’s easier if you use a metal spoon to press the mixture into the corners).

Bake for 30 minutes.

Put the brownies, still on the greaseproof paper, onto a cooling rack.

Cut into squares while they are still warm.

(You can add sultana’s or raisens to the mixture if you want to).

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Thank you for reading my blog.

Pasta Sauce, Cheap Seeds and Planting Spring Cabbage

This morning at my allotment I planted some cabbages ready for spring.

The cabbage I picked yesterday

Two weeks ago I prepared the ground, by hoeing the weeds away and put a sprinkling of ‘Blood, fish and bone’ organic fertiliser down.

This area had my broad beans in previously.  When I removed the old bean plants, I left the roots in the ground.  The root nodules of the broad beans fix nitrogen into the ground, which is good for green leafy growth, which I knew would benefit my cabbages.

I gave it another hoe this morning and then planted the spring cabbages fairly deeply, 30cm apart.  As brassica’s like very firm ground, I always tread firmly around my cabbages with my boot.

I then gave them a quick water just to settle the soil around the roots.

The pigeons love brassica’s at my allotment (they actually seem to like anything at the moment), so I needed to net the cabbages.

You can buy those round balls with holes in, that support your canes, but I think they are expensive.  I choose to make mine out of old drinks bottles or hand wash bottles, as they are free and can be used several times before the plastic goes brittle.  You can see below how the canes fit into the bottles:

The netting I bought ages ago and I have reused it loads. The holes in the netting are small enough to keep cabbage white butterflies out and the netting is thick enough to stop the netting from ripping or becoming so tangled you can’t use it.  It was a good investment.

This is my finished cage:

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This morning I also pulled up some carrots from one of my two raised beds.

I have never been able to grow carrots outside in my soil before, so this year I was even more determined to do this.  I used a mixture in my two raised beds of homemade compost, leaf mould and horticultural sand and have grown them under environmesh, to stop the carrot root fly.

Finally, I am glad to say…. I HAVE CARROTS!  I am very pleased.

I know that I went to a great big effort to grow these carrots, especially as carrots are so cheap to buy, but home-grown carrots do taste wonderful compared to shop brought carrots.

We will be having them for tea tonight.

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I had a tip off today, that Wyevale Garden Centres were selling their seeds cheaply, if you are a gardening club member.  I joined Wyevale Garden Club as it was free to join and they have good offers every so often.

Today I found all the seed packets had been reduced to 50p, so I stocked up ready for next year, as every one of the packets were ok to be used in 2013.

50p Seed Packets

I bought the 21 packets of seeds, that you can see in the picture above.  They would normally cost £50.75 to buy, but I paid just £10.50 .  That’s an incredible saving of £40.25!

I love a good bargain.

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Following on from my post on Friday regarding child poverty, (which you can read here), I have another cheap and easy family recipe.

I think a lot of people will make this simple meal anyway, so apologies to you, but if I help just one person who doesn’t usually cook, to feed their family more cheaply, then I will have achieved my aim.

Today I am writing about a basic Pasta Sauce.  A good quality jar can cost you anything up to £2.45 to buy and yet it is such an easy thing to make.

I cooked this sauce on Radio Leicester back in March, to demonstrate how you can make a simple cheap meal.  Back then I worked out that this sauce cost me just 80p to make when I bought all the ingredients, but as I grow most of the ingredients myself,  it only cost me 20p to make!

The recipe also doubles up as a Pizza sauce too and my pizza’s taste very similar to the pizza’s you eat at the large chain of pizza restaurants that you see on the high street (with far less salt though).  It certainly does NOT taste like the cheap pizza’s that you buy from the supermarkets.

My Olympic Pizza

When I cook this recipe I usually make a great big batch of it.  We have some of it for tea and I freeze a portion for another day.  After it has defrosted, it only takes ten minutes to heat up in the microwave, so it’s a really quick meal.

I also freeze some of it in little pots, to use on pizza’s another day.

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Pasta Sauce

A drop of olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 garlic clove

500 grams Passata

(or a 400g can of tinned tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of tomato puree instead of passata)

190mls of vegetable stock

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon oregano

Fry the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes.

Add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes more.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes

I toss some spaghetti into the sauce and I serve it with a nice homegrown salad and some homemade garlic bread.

A sprinkling of cheese on the pasta makes it even more delicious.

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The recipe above is the basic pasta sauce,  but I always add vegetables to my sauce, e.g. broad beans, runner beans, courgettes etc.  My daughter doesn’t like vegetables in her sauce, so I puree the sauce before I serve it and she doesn’t know she is eating them and it’s full of vitamins.

If you like a sweet and sour sauce, you can add some pineapple pieces and leave out the herbs.  Also add a drop of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of sugar.

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It’s such a cheap and easy meal to cook.

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Calendula grown to attact bees

Thank you for reading my blog today.