Sunday, 21 September 2014

Cooking the Bargains: Vegetarian Mushroom Recipe for One

Tips on Budget Cooking with Vegetarian Mushroom Recipe

mushroom recipe
Mushroom stew in taco
Alongside this tasty recipe for mushroom stew with tacos, I include tips on budget cooking. This low fat recipe for one has only 276 calories and costs only 59p! That's right, a tasty, filling meal for well under £1 when cooking the bargains. 

Everyone is feeling the financial punch and when you are cooking for one it can seem an impossible task to find ways to cut your food bill. After all, supermarkets encourage people to buy in large amounts. Often their bargains are 'Buy 3 get 1 Free' or large packs of foodstuffs which are useless for one person. But you can beat them at their own game by using up the bargains when they suit you.
In my article, How to cook for one on a budget, I said that budget cooking starts with frugal shopping. Supermarkets are geared to entice you in with daily bargains, knowing full well that once they have your attention, you are likely to buy more. The trick is to buy the bargains and NOT give in to impulse buying. Make sure you know what you are shopping for and resist the temptation to buy - "just in case".
portobello mushrooms
Portobello Mushrooms
So... go straight for the bargains. For example, to write this article I bought one packet of 4 large portobello mushrooms that were on offer for 69p. From these, using staples from my stock cupboard I made:
  • 1 made a mushroom stew I served in tacos
  • 1 made mushrooms and garlic with a bread roll
  • 1 was added to courgettes for a pasta sauce
  • 1 was added to a green salad I had with a baked sweet potato.

Let's start with 

How to Make a Tasty Mushroom Stew

This is a really great recipe that you an adapt to use in loads of ways:
for example 
  •  like here serve it as a wrap with tacos
  • serve it on a bread roll
  • serve it with potatoes and vegetables
  • place it is an oven-proof dish, cover with mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potato and bake.
  • place in an oven-proof dish, cover with pastry and bake.

I love using these flat-cap mushrooms because they give the stew a lovely dark colour. 
The flour is used as a thickening agent - you can reduce the calorie content of this by using cornflour instead - you need to add this at the end though, not when I tell you in the instructions using plain flour. 


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large portobello mushroom
  • 1 onion, cleaned and diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • 3 quarters pint vegetable stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large tacos
    cook time

    Approximate Preparation and Cooking Time

    Prep time: 5 min
    Cook time: 30 min
    Ready in: 35 min
    Yields: serves one


    How to make Mushroom Stew

    1. Prepare your vegetables: Clean the mushroom - I like to peel them but it isn't really necessary. Chop them into large chunks. Remove outer skins of onions and chop into small pieces.
    2. Heat vegetable oil in a small pan. Test by leaving one or two small pieces on onion in the oil. When they start to sizzle, add the rest of the onion and fry until soft and transparent.
    3. Add garlic and herbs and stir well to mix and cook for 1 minute.
    4. Add the mushrooms. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 2 or 3 minutes.
    5. Add the flour to make a paste. Cook for one minute. 
    6. Stirring continually, add the stock so the flour is absorbed and there are no lumps in the sauce.
    7. Season to taste - I don't usually add extra salt as the stock cube tends to have quite a bit of salt in it.
    8. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the mushroom chunks are soft when prodded with a knife.
    9. mushroom stew in tacos
      Mushroom stew in taco wraps
    10. Make into a wrap with tacos and serve with green salad.
    If you prefer to use cornflour instead of flour - 
    • when the stew is cooked - 
    • in a cup, make a paste with 1-2 teaspoons of cornflour in water. 
    • Stirring all the time, add the paste to the stew until it begins to thicken.  

    Nutritional value and costs

    1 portobello mushroom
    1 onion
    2 cloves garlic
    1 tablespoon flour
    vegetable stock
    You can reduce the calorie count by using cornflour to thicken - add this at the end.
    More recipes coming soon so be sure to join me. 

    Wednesday, 3 September 2014

    Cooking for one: Broccoli, Cheese and Egg Bake

    This is a delicious, filling, healthy and cheap vegetarian recipe for anyone who is cooking for one. The broccoli, cheese and egg dish is easy to prepare and is delicious hot or cold.

    Broccoli Cheese Bake

    Cheap and Healthy Vegetarian Egg Dish: Low Fat Recipe

    If you like cheap and healthy, this tasty broccoli, cheese and egg bake is one for you. It is really easy to make, tastes delicious and is very filling. It is great served hot with crusty bread and a salad or cold with salad. It is a bit like quiche without the flan. You can cook it in advance if necessary - just cover the top with foil so it doesn't burn. This will freeze very well so you can cook several at at time and freeze them to provide tasty and healthy ready meals right from your freezer.
    This version is a low-fat one but you can use full fat cheeses if you prefer. I've included some nutrition facts for you too. This might be of most interest to those of us who are watching our weight and watching our health.
    When you are cooking for one it only takes a little effort to cook cheap and healthy dishes. You might need to do a little more advance planning but that is actually a good thing - it stops you making impulse buys that are costly and, as often as not, unhealthy. I like to know what is going into my food so cooking for scratch rather than buying expensive ready-made meals wins for me every time.
    What you need for a broccoli cheese bake

    Broccoli Cheese Bake

    Broccoli Cheese Bake
    Broccoli Cheese Bake
    Source: photography by annmackiemiller

    Approximate Preparation and Cooking Time

    Prep time: 10 min
    Cook time: 40 min
    Ready in: 50 min
    Yields: serves one


    • 125g Broccoli florets
    • 2 spring onions, cleaned and diced finely
    • 1 egg
    • 1-2 tablespoon soft cheese, Philadelphia light is ideal
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 2 or 3 cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 oz grated cheese, use low fat cheese for topping

      How to make Broccoli Bake

      1. Clean and separate the broccoli spears. Steam lightly for around 10 minutes until the stems start to soften. If you steam the florets stem down will cook first. Drain and set to one side.
      2. Pre-heat your oven to 220/gas mark 7
      3. Place your broccoli with the spring onions and tomatoes in an oven-proof dish.
      4. Whisk eggs together with garlic and soft cheese.
      5. Pour over the broccoli.
      6. Top with grated cheese.
      7. Cook for 30 minutes until the egg is set.

      Nutritional Values

      broccoli cheese and egg bake
      1 egg
      Philly light cheese per 30g
      spring onions x 3
      cherry tomatoes x 3
      1 oz low-fat grated cheese
      For me the three most important facts are calories, fat and protein. For other values check any good calorie counter.

      A word about calorie counting

      I've included a table with the three most important factors for me when I am watching my health, calories, fat content and protein. You'll see the highest calorie count is actually in the grated cheese you put on top of this dish. To further reduce the calories use breadcrumbs with a tiny sprinkle of parmesan. Parmesan also has 90 calories per 1 oz but you need much less of it for taste. Personally I don't think 300 calories is excessive for a meal and the fat and protein content are important for maintaining optimum health.

      Mini casserole dish

      single serving earthenware dish

      Cooking with earthenware

      I prefer cooking with earthenware or stoneware rather than anything else. I just feel it spreads the heat much more evenly than china or porcelain. For baking an egg dish like this, it is excellent as it ensures the egg bakes evenly and all the way through.
      It is easy enough to find single-serving sizes that are great when you are cooking for one and the joy is you can freeze them and then reheat straight from freezer to oven.

      Low Cost
      The total cost of this dish was £1.88. I always look for the bargains in supermarket and I was lucky enough to get two gorgeous heads of broccoli for 39p in Aldi - that made this dish, a dish of penne with broccoli and mushroom and broccoli soup - not bad eh? You can see some of my ideas for frugal shopping on an article I published elsewhere - How to Cook For One on a Budget.


      Tuesday, 2 September 2014

      Introducing 4 SQUARE meals: cooking for one vegetarian recipes

      What is 4 Square?

      the 4 square logo by annmackiemiller

      Healthy: Cheap: 

      Vegetarian: For One

      4 square is the name of my new ebook which will be published soon. The idea is to create tips and recipes for vegetarians who are cooking for one. Of course the recipes can be adapted to more than one. All the recipes are tried and tested and all of them are cheap and healthy. 

      When you see this logo against a recipe you know what to expect.