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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Scotch Eggs #SundaySupper

Today Sunday Supper is celebrating 4th of July with some fantastic picnic ideas. I hope everyone will forgive me for bringing a very traditional British picnic dish to a American 4th of July party but it is one of our favourite picnic foods and one I have been wanting to make at home forever.

These are so filling and tasty, they make a perfect picnic food item as they are good warm or cold. Traditionally these are fried but I wanted to lighten things up and bake them. Sadly this seems to have caused it to split it in the oven. I didn’t have time to make them again before this event but twist my arm it just means I have to make them again soon. But that is what happens sometimes when you try new dishes so I wanted to still share it with you. Hopefully I will be able to update this posting with a reason why it didn’t work out well for me.

What is your favourite picnic dish? Is it traditional or a little outside the box?

Scotch Eggs

4 large eggs (as fresh as possible)
400g (14oz) sausage meat
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
125g (1 c.) plain flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
125g (1 c.) breadcrumbs

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Gluten-Free Corn “Bread” Stuffing #SundaySupper

This Sunday Supper we are talking about what we are thankful for. For me this could be a very long post because there are so many things in my life that I am grateful for. But I decided to dedicate this post to my very special father-in-law and mother-in-law both for whom I owe so much to. They have blessed my life in so many ways, of course first of all by raising such an incredible man whom I fell in love with and am blessed to be spending my life with. I am also very thankful they have so welcomed me into their family. I know not everyone gets on with their in-laws and so I am thankful I have a family I married into that I get on so well with.

But while all those things are very special and I am grateful for I want to talk about something more specific. You see I always dreamed that one day I would be able to show case my cooking abilities in a way that I would also provide an income for my family. But fear has always prevented me from doing anything about it. When I moved to the UK I was in the middle of a career crisis. I was doing freelance video editing work but I wasn’t happy with it and the constant hunt for new clients was getting me down. I knew I wanted to do something different but not sure what. Chris mentioned to me that I should open a restaurant, and since Mexican food isn’t commonly found here he thought that would be a good thing to serve. Now I was 7 months pregnant when he suggested this and while it sounded so exciting I couldn’t see how it would work. But time went on and I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I eventually came to the idea of starting off small in a market stall. I have an incredibly supportive husband and he has been so helpful in setting this up but I think he would agree with me when I say this would NOT be possible without my in-laws. They have and continue to do so much for me and my business. From watching my daughter when we are busy, to running to a store that is 30 minutes away to pick up something I forgot the night before an event. They are even allowing us to borrow their large vehicle until I can afford to buy one for my business. My business is slowly growing and I am really starting to see that there is a future in store for it even if the growth is slow. My dream is coming true and all I can say is thank you John and Sue for your unwavering support and love. I am beyond blessed to call you mum and dad.

Okay now to wipe the tears from my eyes and talk about food. I decided to feature this fun recipe because it is a perfect quick recipe for Thanksgiving. On my stall I serve tortilla chips with my meals as well as a way to sample my salsas. I am always left with crumbs at the bottom of the bag that I can’t use and sometimes portions will go stale before I can serve it. I hate waste and so I was trying to come up with an idea to use it. One thing that I do is crush up the chips until it is as small as breadcrumbs. I then use it as a substitute in any dish that calls for breadcrumbs, like breaded chicken or in meatballs. But one night while I was laying in bed I thought, “could it be used as a base for stuffing?” I did some research and found I was not alone with my idea. So I decided to give this recipe from Gluten Free Easily. I tweaked it a little to fit our taste and added mushrooms. Any of your favourite stuffing ingredients could be added. This recipe is so easy that it could easily be whipped up if you discovered a guest was gluten-intolerant and didn’t have much time to prepare. Even if you don’t need to eat gluten-free this is such a tasty stuffing I dare you to not eat seconds.

Gluten-Free Corn “Bread” Stuffing

400g (14 oz) Tortilla Chips
1 medium onion, finely chopped
960mL (4 c.) vegetable stock
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
*Additional ingredients if desired, like sausage, mushrooms, chestnuts
recipe adapted from Gluten Free Easily

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One-Pot Lentil Chicken #SundaySupper

I am so excited about this weeks theme. When I think of one pot meals I don’t just think about how much easier it is to make but how little clean up there is. I hate cleaning up, if I was wealthy I would pay someone to clean dishes as I went so my kitchen never got into that crazy messy state that it does after dinner preparations. In my dream world, right?

This recipe was both a huge success and a bit of a failure. In order to try and be healthier I chose a boneless, skinless chicken. I also used too large of a pan and this resulted in the chicken being pretty dry. But on the other hand the lentils ended up being the best lentil dish we have ever eaten. Seriously we made just a big bowl of the lentils the next night because we loved it so much. The other thing I loved about this recipe is it made just enough for two and was healthy.

I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Sunday Supper crew have come up as I am in need of more simple one pot dishes. What is your favourite one pot dish?

One-Pot Lentil Chicken

1 tsp vegetable oil
2 rasher lean dry-cure back bacon, trimmed and chopped
2 large pieces of chicken*
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tsp plain flour
2 tsp tomato purée
150ml (2/3 c.) dry white wine
240ml (1 c.) chicken stock
50g (1/4 c.) dried brown lentils
1/2 tsp dried thyme
85g chestnut mushrooms, halved if large
*The recipe calls for chicken thighs, I used chicken breasts, this might have been why it was drier

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English Baked Beans #SundaySupper

Sorry things have been a bit quite here. I am studying to take my Life in the UK test to get my permanent leave to remain visa in the UK. Between that and other craziness of life it can be hard to keep up with blogging sometimes. But today’s Sunday Supper theme was one so close to my heart that I knew I had to make the time. Today we are talking about budget meals. Budgeting is what first got me into blogging. Discovering that I could live on a tight budget while still enjoying good, healthy food that was cooked from scratch ignited a new passion in my life.

So what makes a meal a budget meal? Each person has different requirements for a recipe to qualify as a budget friendly recipe. For the most part it is a recipe that uses ingredients that you are likely to already have around the house.

Because nothing out of a can is good for me or my family I work really hard to avoid them. But one weakness we have is for baked beans. But if you have never had English baked beans then let me tell you they are nothing like American baked beans. American baked beans are a lot sweeter, more brown sugar based, where English baked beans are tomato sauce based. In the UK a tin of store brand baked beans are so cheap it is almost cheaper to just buy it in the tin. But for us what we put in our bodies, especially the tiny body of my daughter, is so much more important then cost. All in all this recipe is still cheap to make, and it cooks up a large batch. I keep the beans in a large glass jar in the fridge and use within 3-4 days, but you can also freeze it.

In the UK baked beans is the pinnacle of cheap meals. We eat it with our fried breakfast, over jacket potatoes (baked potatoes) but the even more common is beans on toast. It is the simple meal parents throw together for their kids on crazy days and it is a high protein and fibre snack, especially when served over wholemeal toast. My American family things the idea of beans on toast is strange, but don’t knock it until you have tried it. It was the only thing I can honestly say I did crave when I was pregnant.

English Baked Beans

250g dried white beans (haricot or navy)
1/4 tsp baking soda
400g (14oz) crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large onion, diced
1/2 Tbsp thyme
2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tsp hot sauce
25g (2 Tbsp) sugar, or to taste
2 Tbsp Tomato paste
Salt to taste
adapted from The Tiffin Box

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