Challenge Month 30 Minute Meals – Cheeseburger Pasta

I have done so much soul searching about this blog and where it needed to go. And after a much needed posting where I expressed to you my feelings I felt inspired by the responses enough to come to a decision. I am continuing to blog, doing what I love but in doing so I am going to set things up a bit different. You see my purpose for starting this blog was initially a challenge to improve our food budget and eat healthier. One of the many things I loved about this blog is how it felt to be challenged and even more so how it felt to succeed. I also loved when I would hear from readers how I had inspired them to change their spending and cooking habits.

So I have decided two things, one I won’t be blogging quite as often as I was per month so as not to overwhelm myself but secondly every month I am going to give myself personal challenges and sometimes asking you to challenge me so focusing on quality postings rather then quantity. So every month with my new challenge I will post within the rules of my challenge and push myself to grow even more. As I am about to become a mother again one recurring challenge is going to be how to make sure I continue to provide us with meals that are easy to put together so it fits into our crazy lives. Along with the new focus I am hoping to launch a new redesign which is going to be very recipe orientated to make it easier for people who use this blog as their cookbook, like I do, to find the recipes they want. Thank you everyone for your impute over the past month and I hope you enjoy the journey with Small Wallet, Big Appetite.

So Challenge number 1 for October is going to be 30 minute meals. This month I want to focus on meals that from start to finish take only 30 minutes or less because lets face it when you have a family and/or a busy career you don’t always have the time to assemble more complex meals. This pasta dish was very kid friendly and makes enough for 6 portions which for us is perfect because that means it fed us for two nights in a row which gave me a night off from cooking. Served with a different vegetable side each night it satisfied both the toddler and the adults in the family.

Cheeseburger Pasta

500g (1 lb) lean minced beef
1 medium onion, minced
1 garlic, clove
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
225g (8 oz) uncooked pasta any shape
750mL (3 c.) reduced-sodium beef stock
150mL (3/4 c.) milk
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 tsp mustard*
80g (1 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
*If using English mustard like I was be aware you might want to use less as it will be very hot. I use about 1/3 tsp of English mustard

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Bacon-wrapped Toad in the Hole

Toad in the hole is a very traditional English dish and one that until recently I just couldn’t perfect. I am not really sure why it didn’t turn out the last few times because once I put this together it was actually pretty easy. One key to the dish is making sure you don’t skip adding the oil to the pan while you are cooking the sausages. You need the oil nice and hot before you pour in the batter. To Brits this is a big comfort food dish and more often eaten in cold weather but I was so proud of my success with this one I just couldn’t wait to share.

Bacon-wrapped Toad in the Hole

100g (3/4 c.) plain flour
1 egg
150ml (2/3 c.) milk
150mL (2/3 c.) water
8 rashers streaky bacon
8 good-quality pork sausages
1 Tbsp
Recipe from BBC Good Food

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Roasted Aubergine and Tomato Gratin {Gluten-Free}

I talked earlier this year about us testing to see if hubby was gluten-intolerant but I never did follow up on that. After taking it out of his diet completely we saw a little change but nothing significant which has led us to feel it isn’t an intolerance to gluten. I have friends and family that have true allergies to gluten and for their sake I refuse to allow myself to get caught up in fads that make it trendy. You might think it is no big deal but it is, because people have made it trendy to say they are gluten-intolerant, when they probably aren’t, it causes others to not take others who have a serious condition serious. You will still see gluten-free recipes on this blog from time to time because one sometimes recipes are naturally gluten-free and also I do have friends, family and even readers with serious conditions. But I wanted to make it very clear where we are.

This is an example of a recipe that I found that I feel in love with and the fact that it was gluten-free was only by chance. This was like a healthier version of one of my favourite aubergine dishes, Aubergine Parmesana.

Aubergine Gratin

Roasted Aubergine and Tomato Gratin

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tin 400g (15.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
Ground black pepper to taste
1 large aubergine (about 1 lbs / 450 gr in total)
grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp almond meal
1 Tbsp olive oil
Recipe from The Iron You

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Cottage Pie with Parsnip Mash

Finally the sun is shinning and we are getting the much needed spring weather that we have so needed. I have been desperate to get cracking on my neglected gardening. This weekend I pretty much stayed covered in dirt and loved every minute of it. I just finished putting in broccoli, curly kale, beets, cauliflower, french beans, peas, 3 types of tomatoes and peppers. So far my tomatillo, courgette (zucchini) and squash seedlings haven’t sprouted like but I am hoping this weather will help encourage them.

Do you do much gardening? I remember for years thinking I had a black thumb because I just seemed to kill everything I tried to grow. But I know understand that I just didn’t know what I was doing. Learning more about growing and taking care of plants has shown me that I can do it. And I love it so much. I would spend every day out in my garden if I could. Feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and my hands in the soil is so therapeutic.

The one thing that I struggle growing are parsnips and carrots. My soil is very rocky and things like carrots and parsnips really do better in less rocky conditions. I made an attempt last year but I have decided to hold off on trying again until I can either build an above ground garden with soil without rocks or we finally sift out some of the rocks. So until then when I want to enjoy amazing dishes like this cottage pie with parsnip mash I am going to have to sick to the parsnips I get from the market.

If you do garden what is the one thing that you struggle to grow in your garden?

Cottage Pie with Parsnip Mash

250g (1/2 lb) lean minced beef
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic, minced
4 carrots (about 450g/1lb), peeled and coarsely grated
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp tomato purée
2 beef stock, cubes dissolved in 425ml/ 3/4 pint boiling water
1 tsp cornflour
350g (3/4 lb) potatoes peeled and cubed
350g (3/4 lb) parsnips, peeled and chopped
2-3 Tbsp skimmed milk
Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

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From Scratch Tater Tot Casserole Without Using Canned Soup

So as you know I love taking recipes that are normally very processed and making them home made. So when I happened upon a recipe for home made tater tots from Seeded At the Table I knew it was time to tackle an old favourite from my childhood, Tater Tot Casserole. This dish is what I would call a perfect example of a classic American recipe. Until I moved away from the US as an adult I never realized how much we love casseroles and using cans of condensed soups. When it comes to American style casseroles it is incredibly difficult to find any recipe that doesn’t use convenience items like tinned soups. But the thing is it really isn’t that difficult to put together a home made sauce as a substitute for tinned soups. It is not only healthier but it is tastes better.

While this dish is often thought of as a kids meal, this from scratch version is sure to satisfy the adults too.

Tater Tot Casserole

500g (1 lb) minced beef
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
­278mL (3/4 c.) chicken stock
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
178mL (3/4 c.) milk
120mL (1/2 c.) greek yoghurt
25g (1/4 c.) cornflour
125g (1/2 c.) grated cheddar
370g (3 c.) Tater tots (from recipe below)

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