Two Winners for the Price of One

Yes, in an unprecedented move, we will be awarding two bloggers the coveted No Croutons Required winner's badge and our congratulations this month.

They were neck and neck throughout voting with their tasty, frugal soups and I can see why they were so popular. One of them didn't even have a photo, but the sound of the soup still tickled the tastebuds.

So a big congratulations to Saranya over at Saranya's Kitchen for her Hawaiian-Style Mixed Veggie Soup and to Nic over at Nip it in the Bud for her equally delicious Green Tomato Soup.

Well done you guys and here is another look at Nic's yummy soup.

Head over to Lisa's Kitchen at the beginning of November for the next No Croutons Required challenge and thanks again to everyone who took part this month or dropped by to leave a comment or to vote. As always it is much appreciated by Lisa and myself.

Quick & Easy Banoffee Pie

I haven't made banoffee pie for years. It is a great dessert, but making the toffee sauce for it was always a chore. The best way to make the toffee was to take a can of condensed milk and boil the unopened can in water for a few hours. The result was the most luxurious, thick toffee sauce imaginable, but as I said, a chore. So when I stumbled on a new variety of condensed milk, made by Nestle, the first thing I thought was, "I must make some banoffee pie!". The new condensed milk flavour is Dulce de Leche caramel, so there is no fiddling about boiling a can for hours. With a flick of the can opener or the squeeze of a bottle it oozes over you choosen dessert. Yum!

Quick & Easy Banoffee Pie

10 digestive biscuits or graham crackers (not sure if these are approximately the same size or not, so you may have to adjust the quantity if you are using graham crackers)
75g butter, melted
200g carnation caramel
75ml double cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 banana, sliced

Crush the biscuits finely and then pour in the melted butter and stir until well combined. Press the biscuit mixture into 2 small loose-based flan dishes. My flan dishes are 12cm diameter. Leave to cool in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Pour the caramel in each biscuit base and smooth over before adding some sliced banana.

Whip the cream until thick, adding the sugar as you whisk. Spoon the cream over the pies and top with more banana.

Leave to cool in the fridge for another 20 minutes before removing from the flan cases. The biscuit base should have set enough to remove easily.

I would say serves 2, but realistically you could half these quite easily and there would still be enough for one. So lets say .....

serves 2 -4

Here is another slice for you to enjoy.


No Croutons Required - The Frugal Roundup

The challenge this month was to create a soup or salad using store cupboard ingredients. No nipping out to the shops, although you were allowed to pop out to the garden.

I asked you to have a look in your cupboards and fridge and see what you could come up with and you didn't disappoint. Here are the entries:

Our first entry is a Hearty Tuscan Bean Soup made by Claire over at The Hungriest Hippo. Claire based her soup on a tin of tomatoes, a tin of butter beans and leftovers from her weekly organic vegetable box. The end result is a lovely rich soup, flavoured with a parmesan rind, oregano and thyme. Just perfect as a winter warmer.

(Edinburgh, Scotland)

Next we travel to Canada to visit Val from More Than Burnt Toast who has made us an Apple Orchard Salad. I think you will be impressed by Val's store cupboard. Val put together her salad using walnuts, apple cider vinegar, olive and grapeseed oils, dijon mustard, dried rosemary and parsley, dried cranberries and blueberries. Sounds delicious doesn't it?

(British Columbia, Canada)

Sheetal from Life is Beautiful, used my favourite ingredient to make her soup. Yep, you know me by now, I am talking about mushrooms. Sheetal teamed her mushrooms with scallions or spring onions as we call them here in Scotland to make a Creamy Mushroom & Scallion Soup seasoned with oregano and nutmeg. This gorgeous concoction was made as a get-well-soon soup. Wouldn't you love to have someone like Sheetal around when you are feeling poorly?

(Indiana, USA)

Time for another bowl of soup. This time a Chinese-Style Noodle Soup with Tatsoi courtesy of Rachel over at The Crispy Cook. Rachel went into the garden and plucked a bunch of crunchy Tatsoi, which was the only thing left from her spring planting and decided to make a chinese style soup, flavoured with garlic, ginger and soy sauce then bulked up with a good serving of rice stick noodles. Tasty and frugal!

(Saratoga County, NY, USA)

The next soup is a lovely thick and chunky bowlful of temptation, which is more like a stew and was dreamed up by the lovely Johanna over at Green Gourmet Giraffe. Johanna had beans and barley left over from making a hearty baked beans and chulent dish and based her stew on these two ingredients. To this she added kale, lima and cannellini beans, onions, garlic & tomatoes and then filled out the flavour base with red wine, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and mustard. She served her Bean, Barley and Tomato Stew topped with grated cheddar cheese. Mmmmmmm!

(Melbourne, Australia)

We travel to Paris next for a colourful Rajma(Red Kidney Beans)& Mixed Veggies Salad put together by Priyasuresh over at Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes. Red kidney beans/Rajma, tomatoes, carrots, french beans and mozzarella topped with a yoghurt dressing. Such a lovely combination or flavours and textures that would make the perfect lunch. I can just imagine the jealous glances now.

(Paris, France)

Next up is a Dhania Rassa (Spiced Tomato Coriander Soup) made for us by SE over at Denufood-Delicious & Nutritious Food. SE has made us a spicy tomato soup flavoured with coriander seeds, chilli powder, asafoetida, turmeric and fresh cilantro/coriander leaves and all tied up with some lovely memories of living in Tamil Nadu in India.

(Baltimore, USA)

We go all fruity next with another colourful salad, this time a Pineapple Salad made by Sadhana over at A2Z Vegetarian Cuisine. Fresh pineapple, red onion, green & red bell pepper lemon juice, jalapeno pepper, fresh ginger and fresh Cilantro (coriander). A lovely fresh salsa style salad, packed full of flavour.


Now it is time for Sweatha's entry. Sweatha blogs over at Tasty Curry Leaf and has made us a Balila which is a Lebanese Chickpea Salad. The chickpeas are mixed with salt, cumin powder, crushed garlic and olive oil, which forms the dressing and then pine nuts are fried in butter and added to the dish to give it a crunch. An exception side dish salad, I think you will agree.

(Bangalore, India)

For my entry I had a rake in the fridge to see what I had to work with and came up with a few carrots, a bit of celery and an onion. Not much, I know, but a good base for a Lentil Soup. I called my soup Leftovers Lentil Soup and spiced it up with chilli powder. I also added a splosh of balsamic vinegar. I seasoned it and had a taste, but decided it could do with something else. Coconut milk, that was just the thing and some cayenne pepper to sprinkle on before serving. It was very yummy, although a little hot, which pleased Graham no end.

(Dundee, Scotland)
not in vote

Next up is another salad. It is about time we had a salad with potatoes as a main ingredient and Lata from Flavours and Tastes kindly provided us with just that. Lata made us a Stuffed Tomatoes & Potatoes Salad. The tomatoes and potatoes are stuffed with onion, carrots, peas and yellow spilt lentils and seasoned with salt, paprika and dry mango powder. A pretty and appealing presentation on one seriously gorgeous plate.

(Accra, Ghana)

I would usually say we are off to the allotment next to visit my Scottish friend Mangocheeks, but this young lady has decided to plunder her store cupboard instead of her veggie patch for this dish. Mangocheeks serves up a rich Chickpea and Sun-Dried Tomato Soup. A tin of tomatoes and a tin of chickpeas were joined by onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, cumin, cayenne pepper and parsley to make this deletable tomato soup.

(West of Scotland)

We have another stuffed vegetable salad next. This time the vegetable or should that be fruit in question is the pepper, a green bell pepper. This one, a Roasted Pepper Couscous Salad was served up by Yasmeen over at Healthy Nut. The pepper is stuffed with a healthy mixture of edamame(baby soy beans), onion, tomato and turnip greens. Seasoned with chilli powder ,turmeric and cumin and topped with a sprinkling of fresh herbs.

(Columbus, Ohio, USA)

Our next entry is a Hawaiian Style Mixed Veggie Soup, brought to us by Saranya over at Saranya's Kitchen. This is a true leftovers soup. Saranya looked in her fridge and used all the veggies there to make this unusual soup, which turned into a great success, so great in fact that Saranya had eaten it all up before she remember about taking a photo. We will just have to use our imagination to picture this veg-packed soup. Tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, peas, pineapple, turnip, onions, garlic and ginger.


We are visiting New York next to see Suzy over at Strong Arms for Kids. Suzy has made us a Squash, Sweet Potato Soup. Butternut squash and sweet potatoes are joined by onion, garlic, ginger, soy milk and soy sauce in this family favourite. If you want a soup that won't disappoint, in fact one that will impress, then this is the soup for you.

(New York, USA)

Next, we say hello to Kirsten over at From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours. Kirsten has made us a Thai Carrot Ginger Soup. Such a pleasing colour and texture. The carrots, red potatoes and ginger are further flavoured with lime juice, coconut milk and cilantro (coriander). I know how good this soup is because it is very similar to one I make. I urge you all to give it a go and if you have sweet potatoes, even better as Kirsten suggests.

(Ojai, California, USA)

We are heading off to the Deep South next to visit Astra over at Food for Laughter. For our frugal round-up Astra has come up with a Rice Noodle Salad with Tamarind Sauce. Astra started off her mission by having a look in her cupboard and coming out with a jar of tamarind paste. She hasn't been sure what to do with it, but she had a chef sitting in her living room. Just sitting there, on hand to give her advice and so she came up with this. I too am grateful that Donald was visiting as I too have this same jar of paste languishing in my cupboard with no idea what to do with it. This isn't the most colourful salad in this roundup, but boy does it sound divine. You really have to head over and have a look at the ingredients. It is one amazing dressing, coating noodles and tofu and onions with the crunch of peanuts. Yum!

(The Deep South, USA)

My co-host and close friend Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen is up next and she always knows how to make my mouth water with her dishes. This round she is putting forward for your delight a Wild Rice Chowder with Fresh Coconut and Mushrooms. I think I have died and gone to heaven! Wild rice, bay leaves, green onions, a shallot, jalapeno peppers, turmeric, lobster and chanterelle mushrooms, freshly grated coconut, celery seeds, milk and yoghurt. How's that for an ingredient list?

(london, Ontario, Canada)
not in vote

Our next entry is from a new food blogger called Spice over at Spice Buds. Spice has put together a Lentil Salad for us, which is her husband's favourite lunch dish. Red Chorry lentils, onion, tomato, carrots, salad greens, cucumber, red chillies, cilantro (coriander), raisins and roasted nuts. Sounds tempting doesn't it? I can see why it is hubby's favourite.


We are headed down south, well down south from me anyway and visiting Nic over at Nip it in the Bud. Nic has the most wonderful allotment, but for this challenge she also plundered her fridge and freezer. To make her Green Tomato Soup she cooked the last of her green tomatoes, the most humungus carrot you have ever seen (honestly, you could feed a family four with this!), a single bulb garlic (something I have never come across before), red chilli, coconut milk from the freezer, frozen into portions (great idea Nic!), the last dollop in a tub of creme fraiche and pitta bread from the freezer for dunking. Well, that sounds like one great soup to me, in fact I would love to dip into a bowl of that right now!

(Gloucester, England)

Our last entry comes from Cool Lassi(e) over at Pan Gravy Kadai Curry, another new food blogger, who has made us a Motley Mix Salad and a colourful salad it is indeed, very appetising! Mixed greens, roma tomato, red onion, cucumber, carrot, strawberries, tangerine, corn kernels, and walnuts all dressed in a lovely balsamic dressing. Mmmmmm!


And so we come to the end of another tasty round-up of recipes and I think you will agree, it is going to be hard to choose between such an array of dishes, but choose you must! So please place your vote in the poll or if you have any trouble with that then leave your vote in the comments box.

The winner will be announced on the 31st October 2009 and then it will be onto the next challenge with Lisa over at Lisa's Kitchen at the start of November, Eek! I cannot believe it is so nearly November. Where has the year gone?

Good luck everyone!

Chocolate Tiffin

A no bake slice and a massive chocolate hit all in one scrumptious little square.

Chocolate Tiffin

225g/2 sticks butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
50g/½ cup cocoa powder, sieved
½ cup raisins
300g digestive biscuits/ graham crackers, crushed (uneven size pieces make for a more interesting tiffin slice)
400g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Melt the butter in a pan along with the golden syrup and cocoa powder, until amalgamated. Take of the heat and stir in the the crushed biscuits until well combined.

Pour the mixture into a cake or brownie tin, which has been greased or lined. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Once the chocolate has melted, pour it over the biscuit mix and smooth over.

Leave the mixture in the fridge to set, before cutting into squares with a sharp knife.

These go down a treat with children and adults alike. They are so easy, they would make a good choice for Hallowe'en. The dark chocolate can be substitued with milk chocolate, if you prefer, but I love them with dark chocolate.

Leftovers Lentil Soup

This is my entry for this month's No Croutons Required, where leftovers reign. After a quick perusal of my fridge and cupboards, I realised I would have to shop soon, but I had enough store cupboard essentials to get me by for a few days. I had a few carrots and a bit of celery left in the salad drawer, but that was about it. Throw in an onion and I figured that would make a good base for a lentil soup.

Leftovers Lentil Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely sliced
4 carrots, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli powder
4 pints/ 8 cups vegetable stock
1 ¼ cups red lentils
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
¾ cup coconut milk
salt and pepper

Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil until softened, then add the carrots. Cook gently for a few minutes. Sprinkle in the chilli powder and the stir in the vegetable stock before adding the red lentils. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 20 - 30 minutes, until the lentils have softened. Make sure to stir the soup occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the pan. Add the balsamic vingear and coconut milk, then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper before serving.

Serves 6-8

The chilli has a bit of a kick. If you are nervous of adding it, then just add half a teaspoon to begin with and add more at the end if you would like it hotter. If you have made it too hot, you can cool it down with more coconut milk, milk or soya milk.

There is still time to submit an entry to this month's No Croutons Required. You have until close of day on the 20th October 2009. So why not have a look at what you have sitting in your fridge and store cupboards and see if you can whip up a vegetarian soup or salad. The full rules can be found here.

In other news, I now have a shiny new laptop to replace the one that died. Yay! Having no pc for a week and a half was not pleasant, but I do so love my new laptop. I decided to upgrade to a Sony VGN-NW11SS and it is fab.

Mango & Orange Peel Jam

When I saw some mangoes being sold at a bargain price, I just had to buy a few. My plan was to make Hot Mango Chutney with them, however I was overcome with the urge to attempt a mango jam. So here it is:

Mango & Orange Peel Jam


5 ripe mangoes, cut into chunks
2 cups water
3 cups caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
finely grated peel from 3 oranges


Firstly place a saucer in the freezer in anticipation of the wrinkle test, to see if the jam is ready.

Bring the mango and water to the boil, in a large pan over a moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the mangoes are tender. Whizz the mango mixture smooth in an electric blender, food processor or with a stick blender. Return the mango juice to the pan and add the sugar, vanilla extract and orange peel. Boil for 30 to 40 minutes, until the mango mixture is the consistency of jam.

Do the wrinkle test to see if the jam is ready. Drop a little jam onto your cool saucer and after a few seconds push the jam gently with your pinky, if it is set, it will wrinkle slightly. Pour into hot sterilized jam jars and seal.

I sterilize my jam jars in the dishwasher just before I am about to use them and only take them out when I am ready to pour, being careful not to touch the inside of the jar or lid.

Makes 2½ x 400g jam

Isn't it the most gorgeous colour?

It's just so luscious! It is a good jam and a great consistency. Everyone has their own preference, but I prefer a jam to ooze slightly, rather than one which needs to be cut into.

I was a bit disappointed by the mango flavour however. The taste of mango is subtle and not the punch of the exotic that I expected. All in all, I am glad I decided to add the orange peel, which adds another dimension to the flavour. Perhaps my mangoes were a little under-ripe for my jam.


No Croutons Required - The Store Cupboard Round

For this month's No Croutons Required I would like us to be frugal. So the challenge this month is to create a soup or salad using store cupboard ingredients. No nipping out to the shops, although you may pop out to the garden, if you are growing vegetables or herbs there. Have a look in your cupboards and fridge and see what you can come up with. Let's get creative this month and remember, the soup or salad must be suitable for vegetarians. You will find the rules here.

Congratulations to Priya over at Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes who won the September edition of No Croutons Required with her traditional Moroccan Harira Soup. Looks good doesn't it?
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