Frugal Smoky Bean Stew with Feta

I haven’t blogged ALL YEAR. I don’t think that’s too bad to say it’s February though. Anyway let’s get into it, I hate those posts that just complain about how long it’s been etc etc.

What have I been up to so far this year? Well me and Gary have been settling into our new house, making it ours and it’s finally starting to feel a bit more normal and like it’s our home. I’m typing this out sat in front of the fire, it’s such a treat to have a log burner though we are still getting the hang of keeping it lit. It’s a bit of an art!

I’ve also been keeping to my two new years resolutions really well which were:

  1. Drink more water
  2. Stop buying meat in our weekly shops

I’ve not been missing the meat at all, and our weekly shops are a heck of a lot cheaper. I’m still eating it if we go out, but largely trying to be as veg-based as possible to do our bit for the planet.

The water drinking is going great, I’m drinking a pint before I leave the house every day, and then at least three 500ml bottles while I’m at work. I never realised the effect staying fully hydrated can have! I feel more awake, alert and not as groggy in the mornings.

Anyway onto the recipe! I made this up one evening based on what we had in the cupboards. It’s really easy and quick and the leftovers make a delicious lunch. Recipe after the jump!


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Slow Cooker Classic Beef Bourguignon

I love a beef bourguignon. Have you ever seen the film Julie & Julia? The main character makes a beef bourguignon in that that literally cooks for 24 hours. It’s a bit overkill, but I do believe in giving this dish as long as you possibly have to cook, and using lots and lots of good French wine.

It tastes like luxury but isn’t expensive at all to make. Meat-wise you can use any old cheap stewing steak, as it cooks so long that it will be really tender by the time you’re finished. Don’t invest too hard in the wine as well, just buy the best you can afford. It’s not really a veggie friendly dish, but if you wanted to have a go then you could take out the meat completely and step up with the mushrooms.


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Lentil Quorn Mushroom Shepherds Pie

Lentil, Mushroom and Quorn Shepherd’s Pie

Guys. WHAT a couple of weeks. I’ve had quite a bit going on (including a NEW JOB YAY) so the blog has taken a bit of a back seat, but I’m back now with this yummy veggie shepherd’s pie recipe I made not too long ago. On reflection feels a bit out of place now we’re getting into summer weather! Ah well. I’d eat shepherd’s pie all year round, wouldn’t you?

I love a good mash-topped pie. More than pastry, actually. I love sprinkling a bit of parmesan onto it and making sure it gets nice and crisp under the grill (use veggie parmesan or cheddar to keep it veggie). Those little crispy bits of mash are so oooommpphhh. Delicious.

Lentil Quorn Mushroom Shepherds Pie

Generally I find pies really hard to take pictures of once they’re served, but here’s an attempt. We ate it with wilted garlic spinach (soften garlic, oil and butter in a pan for 4-5 mins until the oil/butter goes all garlicy and nice and then toss the spinach through it) but any nice green veg you have will do.

Lentil Quorn Mushroom Shepherds Pie

TBH I’m not fully sure if I should even be calling this shepherd’s pie seeing as it contains no meat whatsoever, but I guess it’s an interpretation of it! I used quorn, lentils and mushrooms topped with lots of mash and extra gravy to serve. Meat-free, cheap as heck and pretty easy to rustle together if you’ve got an hour or so. You can speed up the cooking time by making the filling ahead of time, or use a pressure cooker to cook those lentils super quick.

Recipe after the jump!


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Warming Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

I made this on a very, very snowy weekend and it was the ultimate comfort food cuddle. Crispy flaky pastry, oozy creamy sauce and slow cooked chicken. Heaven. It’s actually a bit of an adaptation on previous recipe you can find here for my Wintery Chicken Casserole – I just omitted the pasta (y’know, double carbs) and used the stock to make a thick sauce. I wish I could make my own flaky pastry but sadly, I’m really not gifted in the baking department, so this recipe features ready-made puff pastry. You could also use shortcrust, but puff is my favourite.


I hate my worktop btw.


I put a heart on it, obvs, because I REALLY heart pie. Also yup, that’s my pjs in the background.


I served this with winter greens (purple sprouting broccoli and kale) but you could easily up the stodge with some mash, which would be really good with that creamy sauce. This is such a good cold weather dish I feel warm even writing about it! Recipe after the jump 🙂



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Pressure Cooker Spicy Chickpea and Chorizo Stew

This is such an easy, cupboard essential meal. You don’t necessarily need a pressure cooker to make it either but it does cut down the cooking time and makes the chickpeas nice and soft. You could easily whack this in the oven for an hour or two or do it in a slow cooker.

I absolutely love chickpeas at the moment, they’re so cheap and bulk out any recipe, as well as being all good for you and stuff. I keep trying to find new ways to cook them and this is a brilliant way as they’re almost star of the show.

You can make a big batch of this and freeze it too, imagine coming home to a big steaming bowl of spicy, tomatoey goodness on a cold autumn night. And it will be autumn soon so that dream isn’t very far away!

Note I put kale in this which just kind of turned to green mulch in the pressure cooker. Spinach might be better, or if you really want kale, leave it out until five minutes before the end.


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Colcannon with Smoked Haddock and Pancetta

Happy St. Patrick’s day! I have to be honest, I don’t think I’d actually eaten colcannon until I made this recipe, but now I’m HOOKED. It’s not really healthy, what with all the cream and butter, but if you’re in the mood for treating yourself once in a while this is a really great way to indulge.

It was my first time using Albert Bartlett Elfe potatoes too, which I found in Lidl the other week. I’m a keen fan of their Rooster potatoes, they’re so consistent. These took a while to cook, maybe a little longer than a rooster, but mashed beautifully.

I was wondering what to eat this with and then found some smoked haddock fillets in my freezer. I usually keep these for risottos, soups or fish pies rather than eat as fillets, but I thought, what the heck. Let’s eat it as a fillet.

At first I was going to add a sauce but I was in two minds about what it would be. With no white wine in the house (sadly) the only other option would have been a creamy sauce which would have been a bit overkill with the mash. If I made it again, I’d maybe include a buttery white wine sauce just poured over the fish but honestly this was delicious just as it was.


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Comforting Cheesy Broccoli, Cauliflower and Leek bake

Doesn’t this just look like a hug on a plate? I absolutely love making this comforting bake, it’s so delicious and warming on a cold winters night.

I’ve used macaroni to bulk it out but if you’re looking for low-carb you can just use the vegetables. I also add pancetta but this is completely optional. Make sure you do have some good cheddar as the sauce is the star of the show!!



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Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

When you’re scraping ice off your car and wearing a fur coat, you know it’s winter. Which means slow cooker EVERYTHING.

One of my favourite meats to cook in the slow cooker is beef, mostly because you can get stewing steak so cheaply, and because the long slow cooking turns it into a wonderful melt in your mouth texture.

Goulash has a bit of more fruitiness than brown stews (probably because of the tomatoes, no surprise there), it’s a bit less rich and lends itself to a bit of spice, if you’re that way inclined. I love it with some mash on the side and some sour cream or yoghurt.

Be warned, you will need lots of paprika for this recipe, and lots of peppers!

Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash

  • 3 large red peppers
  • 500g stewing steak
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 large jar passata or 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 glass red wine
  • Beef stock cube
  • Bay leaf
  • Rapeseed or vegetable oil for frying
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To skin the peppers, slice into chunks and remove seeds. Grill under a hot grill until the skins blister and burn, and then place in cold water to soak off the skin. Once skinned, slice into fine ribbons about 1cm thick.

Meanwhile, chop the garlic and onion and soften gently in a pan with some oil until the onions are translucent. Set to one side. In a large pan (or in your slowcooker base if you have a searing one like me), sear the beef all over until around 75% of the meat has changed colour.

Place meat, onions, garlic and peppers into slow cooker and add the tomatoes, paprika, cumin, bay leaf, splash of wine, beef stock cube and stir. At this point you could add a little chilli powder if you wanted a bit of a kick. Check for consistency, you don’t want it to be too wet as it is tricky to reduce down in the slow cooker.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and set it cooking for around 6 hours on low heat. Serve and enjoy!

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Slow cooker Hungarian goulash

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Black Bean, Chorizo and Sweet Potato Chilli

It’s taken me ages to find black beans. They’re like the unicorn of UK supermarkets, yet they seem to be readily available in the US. Pretty much every supermarket I go in I like to take a quick wander down the canned vegetables isle but no luck, until I came across them in the ultra posh Booths in Ilkley and was so giddy I immediately bought two cans even though they were an eye-watering £1 each. That’s pricey for beans, come on.

Anyway. The first thing I’ve made with these is this chilli, it felt like most natural dish for them but I definitely want to try using them in stews, maybe with some beef, y’know… Anyway, this was gorgeous. The sweet potato and spicy chorizo work so well together, and then the beans added a really savoury bulkiness that meant you can comfortably eat this without a carby side. Or you can if you want. Either way it’s really good.

I find when you cook chorizo for a long time, it can loose its texture and taste and kind of go to mulch. So this recipe puts half the chorizo into the pan at the start, and then adds the remaining half at the end, so you can get the flavour payoff of the slow cook without losing the nicer texture.


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Cullen Skink – Scottish Smoked Haddock Soup

Smoked haddock. Leeks. Creamy potato. There’s so much to love about this soup, I can’t believe I’d never attempted it before!

This story starts (as all good soup stories should) in a pub in Edinburgh where I saw Cullen Skink on the menu and noted down the name to look up when I got home, as we weren’t eating (read: we were very much drinking).

And I’m glad I did! After some research I made this using smoked haddock, leeks, onion and potatoes and this is hands down the most delicious soup I’ve ever tried. Just look at it, it’s full of your hopes and dreams. And fish, lots of fish.



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