Maggie Bob Gets: Creative With Leftovers

I read an article in the Guardian last week that said millennials waste more food than their grandparents generation. The article lays some of the blame on Instagram (which if you remember from an earlier post of mine is also apparently the reason none of us read any more), but whatever the cause I don’t find it surprising that we are wasting more food these days. In fact, the most surprising thing in the article was the revelation that apparently I count as a millennial!

So why do so many of us waste food? There’s definitely a lack of education when it comes to cooking. I know I’m fortunate in this respect as not only did I grow up with two parents who cooked – and had both done so professionally at various points in their lives – but my school offered a well rounded food technology syllabus. We had fully equipped kitchens at our disposal and I was even able to achieve my basic food hygiene certificate as part of my GCSE in the subject.

Harissa chicken and garlic couscous
Taking leftovers in for my lunch

Not only are many of us not taught how to cook, we’re also not shown how to manage a store cupboard; my dad always taught me to move old tins to the front and put the newer ones behind for instance. There’s also lots of bad information out there on use by/best before dates, and many people are overly cautious or afraid of eating something that will make them sick.

Surplus veg makes great soups

I think the final issue is a timing/planning one, and I know this is where I often fall down. Living with a spoonie makes it difficult to make a plan and stick to it at times. I know the virtue of meal planning, making sure everything gets used while it is fresh and incorporating one ingredient over a number of meals to use up whatever I’ve bought in. I do this to an extent, but try and reach a compromise where the mental health of those in the house comes first of course. Luckily I can afford to do this, but it still niggles at me when I have to throw something out because our plans have changed.

So how do I combat food waste? There’s a couple of great resources I refer to regularly: Jack Monroe has plenty of cheap recipes on their website which are ideal for using up bits of things, and I especially like the guide on how to shop for your kitchen store-cupboard.  I’m often to be found hanging around the Old Style board of the MoneySavingExpert forums where there’s always good suggestions for what to cook from what you have in. I would also recommend the Storecupboard Challenge on Penny Golightly for inspiration on using up all those last little bits in the cupboard instead of letting them go to waste.

Turning spoiling fruit in to jam

Here’s some of my top tips for reducing waste without sticking to a rigid or unimaginative menu like The Guardian suggests our grandparents did (Tuesday was always gammon and eggs, Friday was always fish etc).

  1. Learn to love leftovers: I’ve talked before about my love of leftovers, and being prepared to eat whatever I had for dinner again for lunch the next day has served me well. It’s obviously important that you store leftovers properly and reheat anything thoroughly before eating if you’re having it hot.
  2. Have plenty of recipes at your disposal: I have at least 10 recipes I love to make with butternut squash, so if I have one that needs using up, but I don’t fancy butternut squash lasagna, I could make soup, or curry, or roast it whole and top it like a jacket potato. This means I’m less likely to waste something because I wasn’t in the mood for a particular meal that day.
  3. Be soup-er inventive: Almost anything can be turned in to soup. I definitely feel like I’m ‘hashtag winning’ when I look in the kitchen to find a solitary carrot, some wilting leeks and a sad potato and – voila! – 30 minutes later we are enjoying the warm hug of vegetable soup.
  4. Be conservative: No, not politically or morally. I mean making conserves, preserves, jams, pickles – whatever. I’m yet to try pickling anything, but I did recently turn some sorry looking apples in to a jar of delicious apple sauce for my morning porridge.
  5. Know how to store leftovers properly: okay tiny confession – I often eat leftover rice, reheated the next day. I know I’ll have some friends gasping in horror at this. There’s a lot of bad experience about rice – incorrectly stored and reheated rice can make you very sick, I know. But I also know how I should prepare things properly, how to store them, and to make sure things are reheated adequately. And it’s not make me ill yet. Read up, understand about temperatures and bacteria, and make wise decisions. Just maybe stay away from nuking that leftover egg fried rice until you know what you’re doing.
  6. Plan for leftovers: We’ll have ‘rubber chicken‘ weeks – which I’ve mentioned here before. I’ll roast a chicken on the Sunday and we’ll have that in the traditional way, then the next few days are meals made with the leftover meat, usually culminating in chicken noodle soup to use up the carcass.

So there you have it. Do you have any recipes or meals you like to make with leftovers specifically? Please let me know in the comments.

Maggie Bob Goes: To Copenhagen

Ah yes – after the holiday comes the inevitable holiday blog post. I’m very much in a listing mode at the moment, so I just thought I would give you some tips, thoughts and memories from Copenhagen today, and the same from our time in Malmo in my next post.


  1. saved our bacon. After our AirBnB apartment turned out to have no curtains/blinds (seriously?) we needed to find somewhere to sleep urgently. Not just wanting to wander in to hotels until we found one with availability that night and a price-tag under £500, we plonked ourselves down on a bench by the canal, loaded up the app and within 10 minutes had found and booked a hotel a 15 minute walk away. A huge relief at 8pm after 5 hours of walking, waiting and worrying in the sticky heat. We arrived to find our new hotel had not one, but 5 beds. And extra curtains too!IMG_0011
  2. The Metro in Copenhagen is fast, frequent and cheap. Plus you can sit up the front and pretend you’re driving, just like we all do on the DLR in London too (don’t pretend you don’t)copenhagen-metro-maggiebob
  3. They seem to be fond of the word ‘bastard’ in Copenhagen. As well as the below sign, which was in the café of the National Museum, we also frequented (well, went twice to) Bastard Café. One translated review changed the word ‘bastard’ to ‘hybrid’ which seemed quite a poetic take on it.copenhagen-museum-cafe-maggiebob
  4. Their tap water is eminently drinkable. Like Edinburgh or Amsterdam I found many places offer tap water, either already out or on request. Don’t be afraid to have some water for the table along with your meal and any other drinks. It’s of a similar quality to UK water, and was very welcome in the warm sticky weather during our visit.IMG_0007
  5. I’m not sure we indulged in much traditional Danish food, but it’s worth wandering slightly outside of the touristy areas to eat. My Croque Madame below from Brasserie Degas was one of the best I’ve had.copenhagen-croque-madam-maggiebob
  6. Almost everything in Copenhagen Airport closes at 10pm. As we found our when our 10pm flight was delayed by two and a half hours and we couldn’t get the vending machines to accept our card. So if you’ve got a late flight, make sure to get your shopping, eating and drinking in early.IMG_0002
  7. Our time in Copenhagen was limited due to the above mentioned AirBnB fiasco, as well as transport problems on the last day, but we managed to check out the National Museum of Denmark (come for the Vikings, stay for the creepy dolls house exhibition), Copenhagen City Hall (gorgeous inside and out), the impressive Central Station and the tranquil Frederiksberg Gardens.IMG_0013
  8. Sights we didn’t get to see this time and we’ll have to make a return visit to see (oh, what a shame!) include the Rundetaarn, Christiansborg Palace and the Cisterns of underground Frederiksberg.IMG_0003
  9. We got to meet/hang out with a real-life internet friend, Calucita. You should check out her twitch channel for awesomeness.

  10. Tivoli Gardens is rather impressive, and also worked as a good navigation aid when walking around the centre. We didn’t venture in, but you could easily pass a whole day there.IMG_0014

Some of those pictures are mine, but all the good ones are thanks to the husband!


Maggie Bob Visits: Edinburgh Foodies Festival

The Foodies Festival came to Edinburgh at the beginning of August for its 10th birthday. I made it along to the event at the beautiful Inverleith Park on the Sunday, and the sunshine just about managed to join me. I know it’s been over a month (where did August disappear to exactly?), but I thought I would share some of my pictures and some of my thoughts:


I almost felt like this should have been called the Boozies festival, rather than Foodies because the first 10 stalls I encountered were all offering alcoholic wares – I saw cider, gin, beer, cider, whisky, gin, cider and more cider. Of course, I had to try as many of the free samples going as possible, just in the interest of balance!


There was a good selection of stalls – I could easily have filled my kitchen with chutneys, oils, jams, oat cakes, cheeses, charcuterie and other delicious goodies, but I managed to keep myself fairly restrained, although (yet another) jar of chilli jam, and a delicious lime curd may have ‘accidentally’ end up in my bag.


I also love the product demonstrations – I could watch people show off fancy knives and mops and such for ages. I did end up buying a spiraliser – one that snaps on to a peeler/julienne double sided slicer – £20 for the whole bundle and something I’ve been wanting for ages.


Somehow I hadn’t quite filled up on free samples, so I decided to buy myself something hot for lunch – and when I saw a stall selling pokes of calamari I just couldn’t resist. Freshly cooked and worth the wait!


While enjoying my lunch I took in the live entertainment which was this act called House of Blakewell, previewing their Fringe show; We Can Make You Happy, and . This had me and a few others dotted around laughing and clapping along – shame it didn’t have a very big crowd to draw from (attendance picked up later in the afternoon it seems).


All in all, I really enjoyed my day mooching around and indulging in all the sights, sounds and smells of food. It was nice to see some local products represented (such as Edinburgh Gin and their swanky vintage car above), although it would have been nice for more to be made of this – hard I guess with a national based event that is rolled out to various locations. I would go again, but next time I’d like to book myself in to some of the live events in the chef’s theatre, and maybe take on some hands-on activities and learn a new skill.


Maggie Bob Bakes: banana and walnut loaf

Photo 10-02-2013 14 56 47

It’s only just February, and I appear to have been hit with a bit of spring cleaning fever already. I suppose this is partly due to the weather being a bit grim, leaving me stuck indoors on a Sunday, and turning my mind to cleaning and cooking. So while scrubbing down the kitchen today I found some blackening bananas and just knew I had to bake a banana loaf.

Photo 10-02-2013 15 02 26

My recipe is adapted from the one in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I had three bananas rather than two, so I reduced the amount of butter and sugar. I also swapped some of the caster sugar for soft brown sugar (aiming for more of a caramelised taste) and chucked in a handful of walnuts.


50g soft butter
50g caster sugar
50g soft brown sugar
2 eggs eggs
3 bananas – the riper the better
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
30 grams walnut halves

  1. Preheat your oven to 180, and line/grease a loaf tin.
  2. Put everything except the walnuts in to a mixing bowl, and beat together. Your arm will hurt by the end of this! The batter should be a reasonably even consistency and quite thick.
  3. Smash the walnuts – I ground some of them down fairly fine, and crumbled the rest in to larger pieces so that I had a variety in texture. Stir the walnuts through your mix.
  4. Spoon/pour the mix in to your loaf tin and bake for 1 hour (until a skewer pushed in to the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  5. Allow to cool a little and then remove from the tin to cool completely. Slice thickly and serve with your hot drink of choice.

Maggie Bob Makes: Chorizo & Baked Eggs

Okay, so I only finished eating this 20 minutes ago, but I’ve already had a request for the recipe, so how could I say no?

I really like this recipe for an after work dinner, as it takes less than 30 minutes from start to tummy

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 small onion, big diced
1 large pepper, big diced
150g chorizo, cut in to chunks
2 chillies (we used ones rated ‘medium’ – go with what you know), finely chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
10 closed cup mushrooms, cut into chunks
1/2 carton of passata
Tabasco red pepper sauce
2 medium eggs


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 190C.
  2. Fry off your onions and pepper for a couple of minutes, then add the chorizo, tomatoes, chillies, mushrooms and garlic.
  3. When the vegetables & chorizo are all browned, add the passata (and a splash of water if it’s too dry) and 2 teaspoons of tabasco red pepper sauce.
  4. Cook through until everything is hot and nicely bubbling. Season to taste (it at least needs a good dash of sea-salt), then divide in to 2 oven proof dishes.
  5. Crack an egg on top of each dish, and cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes (until the whites of the eggs have set)

Serve with some soft buttered bread. I can see this is going to be a recipe I’ll come back to time and time again. Hope you like it.




(Chorizo picture from jlastras’ Flickr stream)

Maggie Bob Makes: Quick Mushroom Curry

It’s National Curry Week , so it seemed as good an excuse as any to share with you my curry recipe.

Okay, I know this curry is a slight cheat in that it uses curry paste, but I don’t cook curry well enough or often enough to warrant a cupboard full of spices. So, this is my take on a quick and easy curry that tastes amazing anyway.

(Serves 4)

Vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced or minced
3 small red chillies, chopped (I took ones from my kitchen plant)
1 or 2 large carrots, cut into strips (julienne)
4 spring onions, julienne
1 bell pepper, julienne
2 tablespoons curry paste (choose a spiciness to suit your taste)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g button mushrooms, whole
1 tin coconut milk


  1. Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in your pan and sweat off the onion, garlic and chillies.
  2. Add the carrots, spring onion and bell pepper, and fry gently for a minute, before adding the curry paste and cooking off for a further 2/3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, mushrooms and coconut milk and simmer (without a lid) until the sauce reduces and thickens (about 15 minutes).
  4. Serve with rice & whatever trimmings you like.

Sound good? Of course, the recipe is easily adapted to suit your tastes. Don’t like mushrooms? Swap for cubes of butternut squash or sweet potato (adjust cooking times to make sure these are cooked through). Devout carnivore? You could include some diced chicken breast in the mix – simply ‘brown’ off the chicken in the pan first, remove and set aside while you cook everything else, then add in along with/instead of the mushrooms and make sure you cook until all the pink is gone from the chicken. Or make it extra thrifty and rubber chicken – that is strip some leftover meat from your Sunday roast and chuck it in. That way you only need to warm the meat through as it’s already cooked.

So, what’s your favourite curry folks? Do you like to cook them, or are you more a takeaway menu kind of curry connoisseur?

(photo kindly taken by my friend Katie)

Maggie Bob Makes: Chicken & Halloumi Salad

I love halloumi. The sheer alchemy of it not melting when you grill it. The way it squeaks against your teeth. The delicious salty more-ness of it. So when I was grilling up some chicken and halloumi for last night’s dinner, I decided to do a bit extra and make this treat for my lunchbox.


Chicken breast
Halloumi cheese
Lettuce (I’ve used iceberg, but you can grab one of those pre-made salad bags from the supermarket, if you were so inclined)
Cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Seasoning (I used my trusty ‘Everyday seasoning’ grinder)
Couscous (I had one of those Ainsley Harriot flavoured ones lying around, so I used that. If you really wanted to show off you could make and flavour your own. But then no-one likes a show off…)

Make it!

Cut the chicken breast in chunks and the halloumi into cubes.

Pour some olive oil into a bowl and season. Toss your chicken pieces through the oil until well coated.

Grill the chicken and halloumi until the chicken is cooked through and the halloumi is crispy in places. I tend to chuck everything on to my ‘grilling machine’ and leave for about 12 minutes.

Make up the couscous following the instructions.

Prepare a basic salad of lettuce, cucumber, olives and cherry tomatoes (cut open and deseeded if your husband is fussy).

Allow all the hot food to cool down before boxing up. Layer the couscous into the bottom of your lunchbox, then the salad, and top with the chicken and halloumi pieces. Pop in the fridge and remember to grab it on your way out in the morning.

(Grilled halloumi salad picture from Allerina & Glen MacLarty‘s flikr stream)

Maggie Bob Makes: Dauphinoise Potatoes

Despite them being one of my favourite sides to order when I’m eating out, for some reason I’ve never made dauphinoise
potatoes at home. I was looking for something to accompany lamb chops for tonight’s dinner so I decided to give them a go.

These were so simple to make, I’m sure they will adorning our plates regularly.

Dauphinoise Potatoes (serves 2)

  • 4 medium sized potatoes (any kind you like, waxy ones are apparently best)
  • 4fl oz double cream
  • 4fl oz semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 clove garlic
  • grated cheese
  • salt & pepper to season


  1. Heat your oven to 200C.
  2. Crush the garlic, and thinly slice the potatoes.
  3. Heat the milk & cream together in a pan until boiling, stirring gently.
  4. Add the potatoes and garlic to the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes (until the potatoes are soft and the cream mixture has thickened), continuing to stir.
  5. Layer the potato and cream mixture in a small oven-proof dish, sprinkling the grated cheese between the layers, finishing with a cheese layer on top. Many recipes recommend Gruyère, but I used what I happened to have, which was Red Leicester.
  6. Place the dauphinoise in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes. It’s a good idea to remove from the oven and allow it to sit for 5/10 minutes before serving, so that you don’t burn your tongue off! Serve and enjoy!

See? Super easy. Let me know if you give it a try.

Recipe adapted/inspired from Gordon Ramsey