Vegetarian/ Vegan Shepherds Pie

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Recently I have decided to heavily cut back on the amount of meat I eat. I do not possess any where near the requisite will power to become a vegetarian full time but I have pretty much stopped buying and therefore cooking with meat. This is in part a money saving venture but predominately I just enjoy being able to smugly reflect on the microscopic sacrifice I am making for the good of the environment every time I get on a plane or accidentally put some plastic in the normal bin.

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Actually cooking without meat is pretty hard, especially if you like trying out new things in the kitchen. At first it was an exciting challenge, but after about a month of the same 5 vegetables variously disguised as curries, chilli and stew, I was starting to get pretty bored. This shepherds pie, despite not exactly reinventing the wheel, does provide a bit of a contrast. The lentils are a good alternative to mince and give a fairly similar texture and the whole dish is comfortingly familiar; perfect for a chilly winter night.

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Chorizo Skillet

Skillet2So its really really cold at the moment. I don’t know why it is but the idea of winter becomes so much less appealing after Christmas, the frosty mornings and air so chilly that your breath condenses as you talk is no longer charming, it is a nuisance. As the rest of the country experiences the first snowfall of 2015 and spends their weekends reliving a scene from a Victorian Christmas card, the Manchester skies are a flurry of dismal unidentified slush. I have never seen anything so depressing.

Skillet1After Christmas I felt so sick I could barely eat for weeks but now with the advent of this weather a small part of me is longing for buttery mashed potatoes and pies and sponge puddings and roast dinners and ah everything that would screw up any hope of being able to fit through my front door by my forties. This is also seriously challenging my need for easy, cheap food, created by a mixture of essays, exams, a post christmas overdraft and some serious January sales bargains! As a result I have been trying my best to find interesting recipes that are comforting, healthy, quick and inexpensive, because at this time of year a salad just won’t cut it.

Skillet3This skillet is a great example. Its more summery than wintery but it is a perfect hot lunch that won’t break your bank or rip your jeans and best of all it can be eaten straight out of the pan! The chorizo gives it a fiery, smoky hit and the oozy egg yolk brings a silky delicious texture. An added bonus is that you can chuck just about anything in it. If you don’t have potatoes this is really nice with just a handful of quinoa stirred through. Equally you can use half a tin of tomatoes instead of fresh ones. It also tastes great with spring onions, courgette, parsley or sweet potato so its a great one for cleaning out the odds and ends of your fridge. Enjoy!

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Classic Fish Pie

P1030868It seems that in the last week the thermometer has plummeted. We were said to have had the warmest halloween ever and yet this week has seen me lusting after winter coats online as frost and fog has suddenly set in. This kind of weather is fantastic though because it excuses proper warming, filling dinners and allows any thoughts of weight-loss to be pushed out of the brain in favour of dreams of mince-pies and mulled wine.

Fish PieOne of my favourite winter-warmer style dinners is fish pie. Nothing fancy just classic, hearty, british food. You might think this a bit of a luxury especially those of you who are starting to feel the pinch in the no mans land between loan payments. But this is actually a fairly cheap dinner and you can get a few portions out of it so, if you’re not in the beans on toast stage yet, give this a go and it will definitely help you get through the next few hypothermic months! Continue reading

Souper easy Leek and Potato Soup

Soup1Isn’t it horrible the way that winter has that habit of slowly creeping up on you. It starts with the first christmas displays in late august which you dismiss as the false cheer of money grabbing chief execs fa-la-la ing at the thought of huge christmas bonuses. But then the weather gets suspicious dreary and soon you find yourself recovering from near pneumonia in front of Strictly Come Dancing of a Saturday night. And then the Bake Off ends and you know it’s happened. It has arrived. ( I would hate for everyone to think that my life is entirely dependent on TV, it’s not really I just love competition based shows on the BBC.)

Soup2Anyway as of this week Summer is actually, irrefutably over and winter is near so I have been making nice wintery food this week. Also, as expected I remain jobless and therefore penniless so am scrimping a bit on food. This Leek and Potato soup is a twist on a french onion soup that will really warm your cockles as the torrential rain sets in (just as a side note lost my umbrella last week just as the weather forecast switched to black clouds for the foreseeable future, great!). Back to the soup… it is simple and delicious and cheaper than any fresh soup you can get in the supermarket! Continue reading