Top 5 Low Cost Ideas to Have Fun This January

January is not the most fun month of the year.  The weather is gloomy and it can be very cold.  The bank balance is looking rather depleted after Christmas and the January sales really haven’t done much to help this.  But think of it another way, you are going out far less so saving that money you hadn’t been paid yet and may have otherwise spent.  This is the perfect opportunity to catch up on fun activities that maybe you didn’t have the chance to before.

Here are my top 5 low budget ideas to have fun this January without having a drastic effect on your bank balance.

Go out for Dinner using Restaurant Vouchers

We all love going out for dinner, I know I do but it can be a costly pastime.  Going through websites that provide discount vouchers such as Buyagift or My Voucher Codes can give a reasonable saving plus you may discover some wonderful new restaurants that you might not have otherwise.  For example Buyagift has a 2 for 1 on a 3 course meal at The Hilton on Park Lane costing only £49.  Naturally I couldn’t resist and had to look at the menu – it’s what I do lol I AM food obsessed!  The menu is varied and I must say looks good enough to entice me out on a freezing cold winters day / night.

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The rest of my suggestions will be based from home making them equally as fun but also a little lighter on the pocket.

Dinner with Friends

This can be pretty pricey if one person foots the bill and that is not what we are looking for.  Each guest will bring a dish (prearranged so you don’t all bring a main and miss out on dessert as that would be a disaster).  Don’t forget to ask them all to bring a bottle of something alcoholic or not.  Avoid pot luck as I’ve been invited to these before and once you have tried the 3rd persons offering of a potato salad you can get pretty fed up and it’s not so much fun.  Everyone tends to have a speciality dish which they can whip up fast or at least easily and tastes great.  Another option that leads on from this is a theme night.  These can be petty fun (don’t forget you also have the option of fancy dress too here for those so inclined) and you can try some delicious dishes without is costing a fortune.  For those that lack confidence in the kitchen you have two options either buy a dish or simply arrange a few evenings with friends where they can teach you how to make various dishes as in my last suggestion.  Not only is it great fun it also increases your cooking range and makes meals far more exciting as you can improvise with ingredient the next time you make the dish to create other dishes.

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My Courgetti, Tomato, Chorizo and Olive recipe is easy to make, low calorie and very tasty.

Movie Night at Home

Movie night can be great fun and pretty inexpensive too.  I love to snuggle with my daughters and little boy on the sofa and watch cartoons or animated movies whilst nibbling on homemade popcorn and a share bag of chocolate.  Alternatively, once the kids are in bed it’s always nice to snuggle up to my husband and watch a movie.  If we are feeling social then I tend to grab the phone and invite a few friends over.  We love to sit around the tv watching movies and munching on snacks and drinking wine or hot chocolate or one of my homemade cocktails (I have enough alcohol to stock a bar it’s great! – surprisingly I don’t drink very often).  Again the expense is minimal if all contribute and this can often be a fun night in catching up and enjoying a great film.  I am hoping to have some friends over soon for one of these nights in – for my friends reading this, whatssap message coming to your phone soon!  PS. I have a new dessert you simply must try!!!!!!!!!!!

PPS.  Can you let me know which of these you want to watch???

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For any of my readers that might like to watch any of the above movies they are very well priced on Amazon.  I found The Hobbit for £4.49 on there, bargain!

Games Night at Home

This has got to be one of my favourite things to do along with watching movies with anyone that will watch them with me and dining in or out with friends and family.  Whether I am playing board games with the children or with our fabulous Marble Run (I love this it’s fabulous!!!!!) which is perfect for children and those like me that are very young at heart.

You have to see this in action it’s so much fun!

Want an adults night games night instead.  Not a problem again you can grab your board games and interactive games and have a great time.  My friends have various versions of Scene It and one recently bought a Disney one.  I can’t wait for her to bring it so we all have a play I think my chances are pretty good if the questions are about the movies and nothing too complicated!  That is definitely something that will make a fun evening in.  There are other versions of Scene It including a Harry Potter one, Friends, Music, Movies and others.

Baking / Cooking with Friends

As I mentioned we all have dishes we are fabulous at making and that our friends would love to learn to make too.  An evening in teaching each other how to make them would be something that I would really enjoy and would be beneficial to all.  I have been promising one of my friends that I would help her learn to make my pavlovas.  I will agree they are brilliant and that’s not me tooting my own horn – you simply must try one to fully appreciate how good they are.  These are a favourite amongst my family and I am always asked to bring one to family get-togethers.  Why not take a look at my Black Forest Fruits Eaton Mess, or my Eaton Mess with Pimms recipes to get a simple and delicious pavlova recipe.  Eaton Mess basically includes a broken up pavlova with some kind of fruit and cream added and is a lovely recipe.

    It is of course easier to see them being made than to follow instructions which are not always clear.  Having taught people / trained staff in the past I learnt that that the best way to learn is to do it yourself so having friends over or going to them and talking them through a recipe can be the best way to teach them how to make it plus it’s fun.  The best part is that they might let you try it after too, yum!!!!!!
 
What do you think of my low budget ways to enjoy January 2017?
Do you have any suggestions that you might add?

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Courgetti with Tomato, Chorizo and Olives

As some of you may be aware I have been playing with a new spiraliser from UK Juicers.  This is a great gadget for making vegetable pasta and ribbons.  Using vegetables in place of pasta is a great way to not only cut your calorie intake but also to increase your fibre intake and nutrient intake.  With the new year and the time of new years resolutions approaching many of us are looking for inspiration for low calorie meals that do not compromise on flavour.  This dish does just that, my latest recipe comprising of courgetti, garlic, tinned tomatoes chorizo and more not only gives a pasta style dish with lower calories it also provides antibiotic qualities – garlic, anti-ageing effects – tomatoes and iron from the chorizo as well as a wealth of other vitamins and minerals.

Courgetti with Tomato, Chorizo and Olives

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Serves 2

Ingredients

4 courgettes

1 clove of garlic, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

100g cooking chorizo

400g tinned tomatoes, chopped

16 pitted kalamata olives (66g) sliced into 3 or 4 pieces

150-200ml water

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Method

Spiralise the courgette and set aside.

Slice the chorizo into bite sized pieces and pan fry without out as it will release oil as it cooks.

Remove the chorizo from the pan.  Soak up some of the oil with a kitchen towel.  Leave a little of the oil and throw in the red onion and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes then add in the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add in the tinned tomatoes, salt, pepper and water then throw the chorizo back in and cook for a few minutes for the flavours to infuse.

Add the courgetti and stir in well to thoroughly coat it.

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Cook for a few minutes and serve hot.

Enjoy x

Courgetti Carbonara

I was a little worried about whether this would work when I first decided to make this and even more concerned about whether my husband would like this recipe.  Thankfully it worked well and he loved it, so much so that when I said I was considering making it again the following day he said he would love to have it again which goes to show it’s pretty good.  As an added bonus even Mr Squishy approves which is great as the more that can eat the same meal the better.  This is a low carb dish that is not only delicious but also quick and super simple to make.

First of all you will need a spiralizer to make this.  I got mine from UK Juicers and have made another great recipe with it including my Crispy Duck, Hoisin and Cucumber Salad. (Hurry on over to that post as I have a giveaway for one lucky reader to win one of these super spiralisers!!!!) Should I let slip I have another fab recipe too come, just keep it between us for the moment though!!!!!  This is a great gadget and is well priced as it is very sturdy and leaves very little waste.

Courgetti is a great pasta substitute as it contains far less calories and you don’t have the worry of gluten that quite a few people are allergic to.

This alternative to conventional spaghetti carbonara is not only much healthier it has the added benefits from the vitamins and minerals found in courgette.

Courgetti Carbonara

Serves 2

Ingredients

3 large courgettes

300g lean unsmoked bacon

Olive oil

1 clove of garlic

3 medium egg yolks

70ml double cream

60g Grana Padano plus extra for sprinkling

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Spiralise your courgettes using the small spiralising blade that comes in the box.

Set the courgette aside and remove as much fat from the bacon as possible, cut into small pieces and pan fry in a little olive oil until cooked well.

Chop the onion and garlic and pan fry in a little olive oil.

Grate the cheese plus the extra.

Separate the eggs yolks in one bowl and white in the other. In the bowl with the yolks add the cream and give it a stir.  You can save the egg white for a pavola or egg white omelette or scrambled eggs.

Add about 1.5tbs of olive into a heated pan, toss in the courgetti and cook for a few minutes until it softens slightly.  Add in the bacon, onion, garlic and pour over the egg and cream mix and the cheese (not the extra) and stir well.  Add some salt and pepper to taste.  Separate between two bowls and then add a sprinkle of the extra cheese on top.

Serve fast whilst it’s still hot.

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Enjoy!

Courgette Pasta with Homemade Green Pesto

It’s #NationalVegetarianWeek so I decided that I should make a vegetarian dish.  This can be classified as vegetarian depending on how strict you are as it contains cheese (I know plenty of vegetarians that eat cheese) but you can always substitute for a vegetarian cheese.  My fabulous Courgette Pasta (I’m calling it courgetti) with Homemade Green Pesto tastes good even if I say so myself.  Having gotten to grips with my fabulous spiralizer from Eddingtons I decided to branch out and get a bit more adventurous.  I have seen various recipes for making courgetti before but as far as I am aware they generally boil it and then complain about the courgetti being soggy which really didn’t seem particularly impressive to me.  I decided it might be better to whip out my frying pan instead and see what happened.  This is a FAB recipe in that it is exceptionally healthy and super simple to make which is a bonus in anyone’s eyes.

Courgette is rich in magnesium and potassium which help normalise blood pressure.  It also has anti-cancer properties that inhibit cell mutations and prevent colon and lung cancer.  It is low in calories with just 17 calories per 100g and does not contain saturated fats or cholesterol.  The peel is a great source of dietary fiber .

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I was a little unsure about courgetti at first but I was extremely pleased with the results.  Even Mr Squishy agreed that it tasted finger licking good and didn’t want to waste any of it.  In fact Mr Squishy had seconds and would have had thirds if mummy hadn’t eaten the rest of it.

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Serves 1-2 (2 if accompanied by a side dish)

Ingredients

3 courgettes

For the Pesto

2 cloves of garlic

50g Grana Padano / parmesan whichever you prefer

70g basil leaves

120ml olive oil

40g pine nuts

Sea Salt to taste

Pepper to Taste

Extra cheese for a sprinkling on the top

Method

On a low heat warm the pine nuts and stir until they become a golden brown colour.  Set aside to cool.

Place the garlic, basil leaves, cheese, olive oil and cooled pine nuts into a blender and blend.  You can have either a rustic or smooth version depending on how long you blend it for.

Spiralise the courgette.  Heat up a frying pan and then add the spiralised courgette tossing it so it doesn’t burn.  After about 3 minutes add in about 3tbs of the pesto or more if required and stir in well.  Serve with a sprinkle of cheese a touch of freshly ground pepper and a sprinkling of freshly ground sea salt.

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Thankfully using a pan frying worked very well and I have now made it a few times since getting my new toy.  Loved this recipe using my spiralizer?  Then why not take a look at my

Carrot & Red Cabbage Salad (Fun with a Spiralizer) post.