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TEAM ZOELLA NOVEMBER 24, 2021

Friendsmas On A Budget: 8 Cheap ‘n’ Cheerful Dinner Ideas

Featuring a boozy Christmas Eve lasagne (so, this is love) and easy vegan pigs in blankets, these are the frugal but flavoursome recipes and picky dinners guaranteed to complete your Friendsmas.

Friends are priceless, this much we do know. If money grew on Christmas spruces, it would be caviar and Moët all-around alas, we’re not Richie Rich. December is a magical month but it also eats Monzo saving pots for fun, with a ho ho ho glint in its eye. With the average household spending £740 more in December, anything that can help save us all a few bob is Mariah Carey to our ears. 

Featuring a boozy Christmas Eve lasagne (so, this is love) and easy vegan pigs in blankets, these are the frugal but flavoursome recipes and picky dinners guaranteed to complete your Friendsmas, so you can eat, drink and be merry without the financial hangover to go with it. 

1. Festive Fully Loaded Nachos

A one-pot wonder everyone can get stuck into is always a good idea for a Christmas shin-dig and since nachos are universally loved by all, it’s a no brainer.

Whilst everybody knows blue Doritos are the *superior* choice for a nacho feast, crispy scoop style tortilla crisps work best for this fully loaded recipe. Topped with leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings you can find – say no more. 

SERVES 4-6
PREP: 10 MINS COOK: 10 MINS
EASY

  1. Pre-heat over to 200°C, line a baking tray with foil and arrange your tortilla scoops or Doritos of choice.
  2. Combine the shredded cooked turkey and salsa together in a bowl and fill each scoop with the mixture. Top with all the grated cheese. More is more. Anyone who suggests otherwise can get stuffed. 
  3. Bake for around 10 minutes until the chips are golden and the cheese is lovely and melted.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare cranberry sauce and lime juice in a bowl. Top each scoop / tortilla crisp with the mixture and a generous dollop of soured cream. Top with fresh coriander to taste.

Source: All Recipes

2. Christmas Eve Lasagne 

Salad doesn’t wash with us and it sure as hell won’t wash with your hungry guests, which is why salad has no place on this list. You’re welcome. Consider it a Christmas cuss word in this house. 

To level up your lasagne game (only the best for your day ones), look no further than Christmas Eve lasagne – ideal for tucking into between rounds of dirty Santa.  

Psst! Add a generous glug of mulled wine to your ragu to give it some Christmas clout. 

SERVES 6
PREP: 45 MINS COOK: 60 MINS
EASY

Method:

1. Gently fry the pancetta in a nonstick pan for 5-6 mins, until golden and releasing some of its oil.

2. Add the onion and carrot, then cook for another 10-12 mins, until softened.

3. Add the mince to the pan and brown all over, stirring regularly — it will take about 10 mins.

4. Pour in the mulled wine and bubble for 2 mins before stirring in the sage. Add the chopped tomatoes and beef stock, then allow to simmer gently for up to 10 mins until the sauce has reduced.

5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/Gas 4

6. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour.

7. Cook for 2 mins, then take the pan off the heat and gradually stir in the milk, until smooth.

8. Return to the heat, bring up to a simmer and stir continuously for 6-8 mins, until the sauce has thickened.

9. Remove from the heat, then stir in the Cheddar and 75g of the Stilton.

To assemble the lasagne:

10. Lay 4 pasta sheets along the bottom of a 3-litre ovenproof dish.

11. Pour over a quarter of the sauce, followed by a third of the ragu.

12. Repeat, finishing with a layer of ragu.

13. Add most of the parsnip, then the remaining sauce.

14. Sprinkle over the rest of the Stilton and the chestnuts, top with the rest of the parsnip ribbons, then bake for 1 hour, until golden, before serving.

Source: Coop

3. Veggie Bubble & Squeak

This hearty recipe will go down a treat with your best pals this Christmas and will ensure all your leftover veggies go to good use. Any recipe that insists chucking leftovers in a frying pan qualifies as cooking is worthy of a place on this list. Less time faffing around in the kitchen means more time guzzling copious amounts of prosecco with the girls. If you’re wondering if all that coinage we saved on ingredients has gone towards booze, you’d be absolutely right. 

SERVES 4
PREP: 15 MINS COOK: 7 MINS
EASY

1. Preheat the grill.

2. In a bowl, mix your leftover veggies, mash potato, salt and pepper.

3. Add 1 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of oil to a frying pan. Melt the butter over a medium-high heat until bubbling.

4. Add half of the bubble and squeak mixture and squash down with a heat-proof spatula.

5. Fry for 5-7 minutes until the edges start to brown. Ruffle the top with a fork to get more crispy bits.

6. Melt the remaining butter and mix with the remaining oil. Brush the top of the bubble and squeak mixture.

7. Place under the grill for 5 minutes until golden brown. Keep an eye on it.

8. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with chopped crispy bacon and season with salt and pepper. For extra party season points, add on a poached egg or two and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

9. Demolish alongside a goblet of mulled cider.

Source: Kitchen Sanctuary

4. Cheesy Brussels Sprout Bake

You might need to consult the group before committing to this divisive dish or else risk losing friends but if sprouts get the green light, then consider this your go-to party piece. Cheap, filling, festive and easy, it’s the cheesy main every Friendsmas needs. 

SERVES 4
PREP: 10 MINS COOK: 30 MINS
EASY

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C. In a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat, cook bacon for around 8 minutes until crispy. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate, then chop. Discard bacon fat. 
  2. Return skillet to medium heat and melt butter. Add shallots and Brussels sprouts and season with salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat and drizzle with double cream, then top with both cheeses and bacon. 
  4. Bake until cheese is bubbly, 12 to 15 minutes. (If your cheese isn’t golden, switch oven to grill and grill 1 minute.)

Source: Delish

5. Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese

Mean mac & cheese with a healthy(ish) sweet potato twist – home cooking doesn’t get better than this. Veggie friends, you won’t need to bring your own Tupperware tonight, not with this winter warmer in your corner. It’s a Christmas miracle. 

SERVES 4-6
PREP: 20 MINS COOK: 35 MINS
EASY

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6. Bring a large pan of water to the boil with the lid on.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 2-3cm pieces. When the water is boiling, add a pinch of salt to taste and follow with the potato pieces. Cook for around 10 minutes until they’re soft.
  3. Take the potato out of the water using a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. Lightly mash with a fork. Keep the water to one side to use for the pasta later!
  4. In another saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to form a roux. Take the pan off the heat, slowly whisk in the milk and, when it’s all combined and smooth, put back on the heat.
  5. Exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon and continue to stir until your gently bubbling sauce has lost any floury taste and has thickened. Add the mustard and the ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Season to taste – remember that you will be adding Cheddar and salty feta later, so go easy for now.
  6. Cook the pennette in the sweet-potato water, starting to check 2 minutes earlier than packet instructions dictate, as you want to make sure it doesn’t lose its bite entirely.
  7. Drain (reserving some of the pasta cooking water first) and then add the pennette to the mashed sweet potato, and fold in to combine; the heat of the pasta will make the mash easier to mix in.
  8. Add the feta cheese to the sweet potato and pasta mixture, crumbling it in so that it is easier to disperse evenly, then fold in the white sauce, adding the 125g/1¼ cups grated Cheddar as you go. Add some of the pasta cooking water, should you feel it needs loosening up at all.
  9. Check for seasoning again, then spoon the brightly sauced macaroni cheese into 4 small ovenproof dishes.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar over each one, dust with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter over the top.
  11. Put the pots on a baking tray, pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re making this in a larger dish, bake for 30–35 minutes), by which time they will be piping hot and bubbling.

Source: Nigella

6. Vegan Pigs in Blankets

Vegan pigs in blankets. That’s it. That’s the tweet. Yes, Ps in Bs count as dinner. It’s Christmas, a tub of Quality Street counts as dinner for crying out loud. 

For those of you who would sooner have picky bits and small plates over one big meal, this is a grazing board with your name on it. Ready in 3 easy steps and ideal for prepping the night before, you’ll have plenty of free time to throw on your PJs, watch Home Alone and whack on a hydrating sheet mask plumped with hyaluronic acid. What else is the mouth opening for if not for threading through chipolatas? 

SERVES 16
PREP: 15 MINS COOK: 30 MINS
EASY

1. Use the oil to coat a large baking tray. Unroll the puff pastry on a work surface so it’s flat, then cut it into 16 x 10cm-long strips.

2. Wind a strip of pastry around each sausage, so it looks like a corkscrew. Transfer to the prepared tray and chill for 15 mins. Will keep in the fridge overnight, or the freezer for up to two weeks.

3. Heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. To make the glaze, combine the soy milk, oil, nutmeg, garlic, a pinch of salt and plenty of black pepper in a bowl. Brush the glaze over the pastry spirals using a pastry brush, then sprinkle with the sage. Bake for 25-30 mins, or until the pastry is puffed up and golden, and the sausages are cooked through.

Source: BBC Good Food

7. Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao) 

If your muckers can’t handle the heat, fear not, you can customise these drunken noodles to suit their spice tolerance. An easy dish to toss together in 10 minutes flat, you’ll be in and out of the kitchen and back to the action quicker than you can say Cards Against Humanity. 

SERVES 4
PREP: 10 MINS COOK: 10 MINS
EASY

1. Cook noodles according to package instructions.

2. Mix sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add shallots and carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add chicken and season with pepper. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 10 seconds. Add bell pepper, courgette, tomato and the whites of the chopped spring onion and cook for 2 minutes.

4. Add noodles to the pan and pour the sauce over the noodles. Toss and cook for a few minutes until warmed through. Remove from heat and stir in chopped basil.

5 .Serve immediately, garnished with remaining spring onion and extra chili sauce, sriracha, or crushed red pepper, for added spice.

Source: Tastes better from scratch

8. Courgette Ricotta Galette 

For the ultimate feed-a-crowd recipe give this savoury pie a whirl. You can easily swap out the courgette for something different. Try kale and leek or turkey, cranberry and brie – thanksgiving leftovers style. 

SERVES 4-6
PREP: 20 MINS COOK: 40 MINS
MEDIUM

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust into a 10-inch circle. Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta with 1 egg and the dill, garlic and ¾ teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over the piecrust, leaving about 1 inch of the perimeter uncovered.
  4. In another medium bowl, toss the courgette with the olive oil, salt and remaining pepper. Arrange the courgette slices evenly over the ricotta. Fold the edge of the dough up and toward the centre, partially covering the filling.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Lightly brush the egg wash around the edge of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan.
  6. Bake until the crust is very golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Source: Pure Wow

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