Posted in Food, Recipes

Cheap & Cheerful: Lightly Spiced Meatballs & Pasta

Image by PublicDomainPictures and Manfred Richter from Pixabay

From student life to raising a family on a tight budget, pasta dishes have to be something special to tickle my taste buds. This one was quick and easy to make, a comfort to eat, and for less than a fiver put on a smile at the checkout. I always recommend making your own meatballs, getting more for your money and the chance to experiment with flavours. This recipe feeds four as a snack or two as a main meal.


  • 500g mince beef
  • 1 crust of bread (or 1/4 cup of dried breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 200g dried pasta
  • tomato and mascarpone pasta sauce jar (or whatever favour you have available)
  • 1 broccoli head
  • 200g grated cheddar


  1. Preparing the meatballs takes no time at all. They can even be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. Add the mince beef to a large bowl and break down with your hands or a wooden spoon. If making your own breadcrumbs simply blend in a food processor or using a stick blender. To the meat add the parsley, basil, cumin and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Stir in the egg until thoroughly combined. If the mix is a little sticky add a few more breadcrumbs. Make into 18 meatballs and place on a baking tray.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200C°/Fan 180°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Add the pasta to a medium pyrex dish. Pour the sauce on the pasta. Fill the jar to the top of the label with water and add to the dish. Lightly combine and cover with foil. Place the pasta bake and the meatballs into the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the head of broccoli into florets and steam for 10 minutes. Then grate the cheese.
  3. Remove the pasta bake from the oven and take off the foil. Add the broccoli, cooked meatballs, and cheese. Place back inn the oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Serve on its own or with crusty bread and side salad.

Lip smacking delicious!

Posted in Food

Mash Up Sausage Sunday

With a newborn in the house we are all snatching sleep when we can. A must on the menu is quick and easy comfort food. In the fridge stands a packet of sausages nearing their sell by date: sausage and chips, toad in the hole, sausage and mash. Out of eggs for toad in the hole, chips a no no – trying to shed a few pounds. Sausage and mash it is then.

Oh wait, the potatoes in the veg rack are growing new potatoes, and turning a shifty shade of green. The green is caused by chlorophyll a naturally occurring plant pigment. Chlorophyll is tasteless and harmless. But be aware not to consume to many green potatoes and their shoots, because it is a sign of another more sinister substance. Solanine begins to form once a potato is exposed to light. It is toxic with the sole purpose of protecting the potato from insects and other animals. With a bitter taste, it causes stomach pain and vomiting, if ingested in large quantities can even be fatal.

Now what?

Time for a little bit of creative food thought. Disposing of the inedible potatoes, I notice other vegetables starting to wither and look sorry for themselves. Keen to spare them from the compost heap I decide upon a vegetable stir fry. And tagliatelle with tomato and mascarpone sauce.

I begin by adding the sausages to cook in the oven, on a medium oven.

Vegetable Stir Fry


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of Kale
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1cm piece of Ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dash of Olive Oil
  • Dash of Balsamic Vinegar


Peel and slice the onion. Deseed and slice the peppers. Halve the cherry tomatoes, and slice the mushrooms. Peel and grate the ginger, and crush the garlic.

Add a dash of olive oil to a frying pan on a medium heat. Saute the onions until soft, but not brown. Add the peppers and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the rest of the veg and stir until softened. Season to taste and then add a generous dash of balsamic vinegar.

Turn off the heat.

Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce

Image by Olga Kropman from Pixabay


  • 1 Can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Tomato Puree
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • handful fresh Basil
  • handful Parmesan
  • 125g Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil


Over a medium heat fry the garlic in the olive oil until golden but not burnt (approximately 1 minute). Pour in the chopped tomatoes and half a can of water. Add the tomato puree, and oregano. Season to taste. Stir well and then turn down the heat. Simmer for 8 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions. When the pasta is al dente add a tablespoon of the cooking water to the mascarpone sauce, before draining the tagliatelle.

To complete the sauce stir in the mascarpone and add freshly chopped basil. Stir once more and switch off the heat.

Plate up the sausages, stir fry, tagliatelle and sauce. Add grated mozzarella or cheddar over the pasta.

Posted in Food

Quick and Easy Crossing Carbonara

Moving home and a stay in hospital, has had a profound effect on my cooking and eating habits. Time: I haven’t had any. Motivation: I haven’t had any. And appetite: I haven’t had any.

Crossing Carbonara came about as a pantry leftover meal. The unusual name is in reference to the red bell pepper, green courgette and pedestrian crossings.

Pasta versus rice: my daughter and I have always sat on different sides of the fence, but this meal bought us together, it was a hit.

Oh! The low fat creme fraiche makes it dieter friendly too.

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