Food glorious food! One of my favourite things in life. I’ll never understand people who say that they’ve been so busy they’ve forgotten to eat. I’m already planning dinner whilst I’m munching on my Weetabix! I’ll happily spend hours in the kitchen cooking a roast, all for it to be devoured in ten minutes by my family. It brings me such joy.
I love to experiment with new recipes, but I have firm favourites that are always a success and leave us all feeling full and satisfied.
I’m not one for calorie counting really. If I eat eggs (keeps you full for hours) for breakfast and a light (ish) lunch, then as long as my evening meal is homemade from scratch, I feel healthy no matter what it is. Even my lasagne is packed with hidden veg (the kids will never know).
Pre-prepared and frozen meals of course have a place in my life. I’m not going to pretend that I never reach for Pizza or fish fingers because I have two children under the age of 6 who frequently have their little friends round for tea! There’s no way I could master the perfect béchamel whilst making sure Leo isn’t drawing on the wall! I plan my meals wisely. For example, for days that I’m working I’ll ensure I’ve made something like Bolognese the night before. Not only does it taste so much better the next day, but it’s so easy to make enough portions to last you at least two nights. If the meal requires a lot of chopping and preparation, I try to do it during the day when Leo is busy with his play-doh. With a little bit of forward planning, its achievable. And once you’ve made your own cottage pie, you’ll never want to buy a frozen one again.
I have lots of delicious recipes that I only make for my husband and I such as Chilli Con Carne, Cajun chicken pasta and Chicken Katsu Curry. I’ll maybe save those ones for another blog post! This one is all about the family meals that you can all enjoy together!
These recipes feed all four of us easily. Many last for two nights
Chicken and Asparagus Pasta (You all went nuts for this one!)
Dice two large chicken breasts
Sprinkle a little thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Fry until brown
Meanwhile boil your pasta, I like to use Farfalle
Add two minced garlic cloves to the chicken and add a packet of chopped asparagus spears. You can also throw in some frozen peas too!
Add a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard and a Knorr chicken jelly stock cube and stir until melted
Add 300 mls of chicken stock (Knorr cube) and allow to simmer and bubble for 5-7 minutes until reduced a little.
Add around 150mls of HALF FAT crème fraiche (full fat doesn’t taste as good) or more depending on how thick you want it the sauce. Let this bubble and simmer until the sauce is a nice consistency, usually 6-8 minutes. You can add a little cornflour if it’s too thin. You can also add a heaped tablespoon of Parmesan if you like!
When you’re happy with your sauce, drain and add your al dente pasta and mix well. Season with a little salt and pepper to taste.
Lasagne (And spaghetti bolognese)
Dice an onion, add a little salt (it absorbs the water) and fry in a deep casserole dish until brown.
Add three large minced garlic cloves
Add 1000g of low fat mince and fry until brown
Add 2 teaspoons of thyme, basil and oregano
Add a tablespoon of tomato puree
Add a few drops of Worcester sauce
Now grate three large carrots and two celery stalks until finely minced and add to the mixture.
Add 300mls of hot beef stock
Add 1 ½ cartons of passata
Add a tablespoon of sugar (This neutralises the acidity of the tomatoes)
Now let is simmer for around 90 mins until the liquid is reduced and thick. It should be darker in colour.
At this point you’ve got your perfect Bolognese. Boil some pasta and you’re done! It’s insanely delicious after being stored in the fridge overnight.
Next have either two lasagne dishes ready or one large (This will easily feed a family of four twice). Spread a little butter all around the base to stop your pasta sticking.
Now place one layer of cooked lasagne sheets in the bottom. Now add a layer of Bolognese, repeat (lasagne sheet – bolognese, repeat again!)
Now it’s time to spread your béchamel sauce on top. I confess to using a jar for this!
Now add a generous amount of grated cheddar cheese on top and top with some black pepper.
Place in the over at around 180 degrees and cook until crispy on top. Usually 20-30 minutes.
Tip – If you serve this straight from the oven it won’t hold its shape and will look like slop. Leave it to cool down before serving or better still, serve the next day!
Peel and boil some king Edward potatoes. Enough to make two pies worth of mash!
Dice an onion, add a pinch of salt and fry in a casserole dish until browned.
Add two large diced garlic cloves and fry for a further two minutes.
Add 1000g of low fat beef mince (Or lamb if you fancy a Shepherd’s pie)
When the mince loses some of its juices, add a tablespoon of flour to scoop it up. This will thicken your gravy
Add two teaspoons of thyme and rosemary.
Add a tablespoon of tomato puree Add a few drops of Worcester sauce
Add around 500ml hot beef stock (or lamb stock)
Add a tablespoon of Bisto Best beef gravy granules
Add 2 chopped carrots, and half a chopped swede
Simmer for around 45 mins until it has a lovely thick gravy.
Now add your mince and gravy to two pie dishes or one large and allow to COOL. If the mince is hot, your mash will sink right into it. Give it as least 30 minutes.
When cooled, add a generous helping of mashed potato (make sure it’s seasoned) on top. Smooth down with a fork to create some lovely little tracks.
Now add some grated cheese to the top of the mash
Pop in the oven for around 20 minutes or until the mash is crispy on top.
Tip – On the second night your mince will be drier and you may need to make need to make some gravy.
Creamy chicken pasta bake
Chop two leeks and fry with some salt and pepper until tender
Add two large minced garlic cloves
Add two diced chicken breasts, season, add a chicken Knorr jelly stock cube and fry until browned
Add one teaspoon of thyme, rosemary and a pinch of parsley
Now pour in 800ml of hot chicken stock and cover with a lid for 30 minutes
After thirty minutes grab a slotted spoon and transfer the contents to a plate leaving only the juice. Allow it to reduce for a further ten minutes.
Meanwhile boil your pasta of choice.
Now make a roux in a bowl of one tablespoon of flour and one tablespoon of butter. Mix to create a paste and whisk into the sauce.
When dissolved add a big dollop of half fat crème fraiche
Now add one cup of grated cheddar cheese.
Now add your contents back in and mix well. Use the slotted spoon again to transfer into a large lasagne dish leaving the sauce in the pot for the pasta.
Now add your al dente pasta to the sauce, mix well and add to the top lasagne dish.
Grate some more cheddar cheese over the top, black pepper and place in the preheated oven at 180 degrees until crispy. Usually around 20 minutes.
I usually serve this with green beans and garlic bread!
Tip – If you wish to make a delicious warming chicken pie, follow the recipe exactly (minus the pasta) and add diced carrots at the start with the chicken, place all in a pie dish and cover with some puff or shortcrust pastry, brush over with some egg yolk and place in oven following pastry instructions.
Winter warming beef stew
Buy around 750g of stewing beef. You need a tougher cut of beef as it needs to slowly cook for hours to be tender, tasty and delicious!
If you can, do this step the night before – Add a tablespoon of thyme and rosemary to the beef. Add some salt and pepper and now coat the beef in flour. Get stuck right in with your hands, ensuring all the meat is coated (This is what will make your sauce thick) Cover with cling film and leave in fridge.
Fry and onion, add a pinch of salt in a casserole dish and fry until browned. Add two minced garlic cloves and fry for two minutes. Now add your meat and make sure all the herbs and flour go in to!
Fry until your meat is brown.
Add a Knorr beef jelly stock cube.
Now add a packet of baby carrots, half of a swede (or turnip!) and mix well.
Add a 1 1/2 tablespoon of tomato puree.
Now add enough hot beef stock (from a Knorr cube) to cover all the contents in the dish.
Season and put the lid on and transfer to a preheated oven at around 170 degrees.
Meanwhile make your mashed potatoes
Leave in the oven until at least 2-3 hours. I mix it every 30-40 minutes.
Around 30 minutes before my stew is ready, add a diced butternut squash.
Your meat is cooked when the largest part of meat breaks up when mashed effortlessly with a fork.
Serve with creamy mashed potatoes!
Tip – You can easily make this into a steak pie by placing into a pie dish and top with puff pastry, brush on egg yolk and follow pastry instructions in oven.
Carrot and Coriander Soup
Chop and fry an onion with some salt and pepper for 5 minutes in a large soup pot
Add two minced garlic cloves and fry for one minute
Add one large chopped potato
Add 6 large chopped carrots
Add a tablespoon of ground coriander
Add a teaspoon of coriander leaf
Add a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
Add a chicken jelly stock cube and mix
Add 700mls of hot chicken stock from a Knorr cube
Add another 700mls of hot vegetable stock from a cube
Cover and simmer for 30 minutes until all contents are soft and ready to puree
Now puree until the soup is completely smooth. I use a handheld blender
Add a big dollop of half fat crème fraiche
Give it a good whisk
Now serve with crusty buttered bread and enjoy!
I have just recently perfected my chicken fajitas and they are incredible (if I do say so myself)
Firstly, make you own fajita spice mix! You can of course by some premade but I love to make my own and it’s very easy. Grab a bowl and add a tablespoon of each spice – Garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, turmeric, a pinch of salt and pepper and a Teaspoon of mild chilli powder. Set aside
Now I have two frying pans. I add sliced onion and three colours of peppers to one and my chicken to the other. I add my spices to both equally and fry. Make sure your chicken is lovely and brown.
You may not need all your spices, add gradually to suit your taste.
Now for the magic part, just as your spices are becoming dry and a little clumped in the dish, I add some water. This soaks up all those spices and flavour and creates the most amazing juices to keep your meat moist and full of flavour.
Serve with warm wraps, some Mexican rice, grated cheese, salsa and chips! I like mayonnaise on mine.
The above photo also has some delicious fillet steak fajitas!
Tip – Have a premade fajita spice mix nearby in case you need a dash more spice!
Tip – I make the kids chicken separately adding only a tiny pinch of spice
If you recreate any of these recipes I’d love for you to tag me on Instagram and let me know your thoughts. What are you waiting for? Ready, steady…..Cook!