Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Pulling rabbits out of hats

Remember how I said in a recent blog that we couldn't afford to have someone else live with us?  As it turns out it's pretty much ended up happening anyway!  After years of living in a male dominated household, Nawtypoo Cottage has recently become the second home to a little pocket rocket called Hayley - Ali's girlfriend.  She lives over half an hour away but they both go to the same school in the same town and she does a lot of after-school activities here so a lot of the time it just makes sense both logically and economically for her to stay.  She loves our dogs and cats (which is a huge bonus because they are 'eccentric' to say the least) and nicer still, she loves my food.  Which I'm extremely thankful for as on the one hand it's a pleasure to have someone to cook for who really appreciates it - however on the other hand I have to be even more creative than ever at making delicious and filling meals which are made out of next to nothing!  But it's a good thing, it's got me brushing up on my skills and digging out long forgotten recipes as well as trying out new things.  I thought I would share a few favourites from the past week which have all been given the Ali and Hayley stamp of approval!

'Algud Pizza'

This is what I make when I have bugger all meat in the house and not much more than a tin of spaghetti in the pantry but don't have the time or the budget to go to the supermarket.  It's super easy (the scone dough contains no yeast so no mucking around waiting for it to rise) super cheap and surprisingly tasty considering you can actually make it contain so little.  Or in Ali's words 'This pizza is algud!' (teenage speak for 'all good' - high praise indeed) - hence the name!  The recipe below makes one large pizza so multiply the quantity to make however many you need.  I managed to stretch three rashers of bacon, a single onion and two tins of spaghetti into three huge pizzas for Ali, Hayley and me and we could all only eat half each, oops!  Fortunately they refrigerate and reheat really well!


1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup cheese, grated
1 tsp mixed herbs (or whatever you have; basil, oregano, sage and marjoram all work well)
Approximately 1/4 cup of milk 
Toppings of your choice, whatever you would normally use to make pizza or just chuck on a tin of spaghetti for a kid friendly version (which incidentally adults love too!)


Mix together the flour and herbs in a large bowl.  Slowly add the milk and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until you have a firm scone dough (feel free to add a little more milk or flour as necessary until you get a consistency you're happy with).  Roll out on a floured surface to around 25cm, then pinch all around the edges to make a 'lip'.  Preheat your oven to 220C and carefully place your pizza base onto a greased baking sheet.  Put all your toppings on however you want them, then sprinkle with the cheese and pop into the oven for around 10 minutes until the toppings are cooked and the base is golden brown.  

Sausage Casserole

Apologies for not having a picture to go with this, we ate it all before I thought of sharing the recipe! But as far as recipes for sausages go, this one is actually quite posh and respectable and certainly 'good enough' to serve to guests. My mum came home from work one day when I was a youngster to find I had gone through her recipe books to find something I could make for dinner with the sausages she had left out to defrost.  I thought I was helping, she thought I'd gone mad!  Fortunately my brave experiment paid off and the result is a dish which is really economical and simple, yet full of flavour. Don't leave out the sage though, it really makes it!


6 sausages (or thereabouts) I like the pre-cooked ones but any will do
Splash of oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 - 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 - 4 sliced potatoes (or more, enough to cover the top of your dish)
Salt and pepper
Large pinch sage


First preheat the oven to 200C.  Heat the splash of oil in a frying pan and brown the sausages.  Leave to cool a little, then cut each one in half and place in the bottom of a large casserole dish.  Scatter the carrots and onions on top of the sausages, then layer the sliced potatoes on top of that.  Pour your tin of tomatoes over the potatoes and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and sage.  Cover and bake in the oven for around 45 minutes to 1 hour until the potatoes are cooked through.

*Note - Sometimes when I'm feeling lazy and want the dish to cook faster I leave out the sliced potatoes and just cook and mash them separately then serve with the rest.  Either way it's yum!

French Shepherd's Pie   

I made this for dinner last night and was chuffed to bits when Hayley presented me with her empty plate and said 'That was AMAZING!  Honestly it was SO good!'  And, I have to say it is, this is one of Liam's favourites from way back but I definitely can't take credit for the recipe.  As many Simple Savings members will know, this was originally shared by much-loved and very savvy member Poppet.  As you can see it makes a BIG pie! It’s the perfect example of how far you can make a little meat stretch and is also a wonderful way to use up any leftover sour cream or cream cheese in the fridge.  I haven't met anyone who doesn't love it!


500g minced beef or lamb (or thereabouts)
6 large potatoes, cooked and mashed
Splash of oil 
1 onion, chopped 
2 cloves (or 2 tsp) garlic, crushed 
250g sour cream (or cream cheese – or however much you have, less is fine) 
Handful of grated cheese 
Large pinch mixed herbs

First, bring a large pot of potatoes to the boil and cook until tender. Drain and mash and set aside. Next, preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the oil over medium heat in a separate saucepan. Throw in your onions and garlic and fry gently for a few minutes until softened. Add your mince and brown all over, stirring frequently. Then add the mince and onion mixture to your cooked, mashed potatoes. Mix together well, then add your sour cream (or cream cheese) and mix well again – don’t worry if it looks a bit runny! Pour everything into a large, rectangular dish and sprinkle the grated cheese over the top. Scatter your mixed herbs over the top to finish, if using. Pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden on the top. Serve with vegetables or salad. Too easy!

I think that's enough recipes for one day, we all know I'm no talented food photographer!  But I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!  And for those of you who missed my Facebook post the other day, you can see a photo of Liam and his gorgeous girlfriend here at their recent uni ball.  I have to take my hat off to Tiana; in just a few months she has succeeded where I failed for 18 years - getting my beloved eldest to cook!  


  1. Wow french shepards pie sounds delish, will have to try this one, thanks Jackie

  2. Great recipes Jackie. I love the sound of spaghetti pizza, must give it a try :)