Veggie sausage and bean cobbler

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This dish is genius because it is healthy, wonderfully warming on a winter’s day and many of the ingredients can be used instantly from your freezer or cupboard.

Baked beans and frozen veg are mixed with cooked sausages and stock to make a tasty stew and then topped with homemade cheesy scones to transform the stew in to a cobbler! The scones are really simple – you just mix the ingredients and then dollop the mixture in messy mounds on top and let the oven turn them golden. The whole dish is a real treat and shows how convenience food can be healthy if you choose wisely.  I have adapted the recipe from Netmums (www.netmums.com), who have lots of family friendly recipes.

Allow about 25 mins prep plus 40 mins cooking time.

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Veggie sausage and bean cobbler (serves approx 6)

For the stew

1 onion, roughly chopped

6-8 sausages (could be meat or veggie. To save time further buy frankfurters then probably no need to pre-cook)

2 cans baked beans

500g frozen veg (could be anything – I used a bag of mixed veg – peas, sweetcorn and carrots)
1 vegetable stock cube (I like OXO)
2 tbsp hot water

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

For the cheesy scone (cobbler) topping

125g self-raising flour

75g cheddar cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp oil (e.g. olive/vegetable oil)

60ml milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Grill/bake the sausages until browned, leave to cool slightly then chop in to bite sized chunks.  Meanwhile fry the onions in a little oil for approx 5 mins, until softened.  In a casserole dish mix the onion with the baked beans, frozen veg (straight from the freezer) and chopped sausages.  Crumble in the stock cube, water and dried herbs and mix really well.

To make the cheesy scone topping mix the flour and cheese together in a bowl with a fork.  Add the egg, oil and milk and mix again.  Using your hands take out smallish mounds of the mixture and dollop it all over the veg and sausage mixture until fairly evenly covered.  The scone topping may be a little sticky so keep a glass of warm water next to you to keep rinsing your fingers.

Bake in the oven for 25-40 minutes (this depends on your oven!), until the scones have puffed up a bit and gone golden brown (it is fine if they sink in to the stew a bit).  Devour and feel warmed up.

Build-your-own-burgers

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As a parent of young children I really rate letting them choose and put their food together once in a while.  So for this ‘build your own burger’ meal I set out the buns, burgers, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cheese, ketchup, mayo and sweet chilli sauce on the table.  Then we chose what we wanted and built our burgers ourselves!  I didn’t pressure the kids to include the vegetables, as they are more likely to enjoy vegetables in the long-term if it is not a battle.

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I made some tasty and quick bean burgers, which can be prepared in advance of frying (simple recipe below).  The idea is that this is a fun meal and the kids are getting involved, so if you don’t have time to make burgers then using shop-bought burgers is fine too!  Everyone enjoyed filing their buns and squirting the sauces on.  And 3 out of 4 of us liked the bean burgers.  Only thing that was missing was the gherkins!

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Thank you to the highly recommended Tiny Budget Cooking free online cookbook (www.tinybudgetcooking.com) for the bean burger recipe inspiration!  Their book is full of delicious and cheap recipes.

Bean burgers (makes approx 8 medium sized burgers)

2 tins black eyed beans, drained, rinsed and shaken dry

1/2 onion, chopped small

1 clove garlic, crushed/chopped small

Small handful olives, chopped small

1 tsp dried mixed herbs

2 tsp plain flour

Put the beans in a big bowl. Add the onion, garlic, olives, herbs, flour and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Thoroughly mix and mash the ingredients together using your clean hands to break up most of the beans (this works really well) and form in to approx 8 patties.

Carefully fry the burgers in a little oil in a pan in batches of 3 or 4, for around 4 minutes per side, until browned.  Eat in a burger bun with lettuce, tomato, cheese slices and ketchup or mayo.  Sweet chilli sauce works great too!

Very Mediterranean Pasta (20 mins)

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Please excuse the ridiculous name of this Very Mediterranean Pasta recipe.  But it is the most Mediterranean tasting dish I have ever eaten and that is what makes it so flavoursome and wonderful.  The pasta is mixed with a sauce of sundried tomatoes, olives, capers, artichokes (tinned for ease), garlic, parsley, chilli and anchovies.  Don’t be put off by the anchovies – they add rich and salty flavour to many dishes without a fishy taste, and are excellent seasoning.  They are also great added to tomato sauces and creamy sauces.

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Thank you to my friend Cynthia for this recipe.  She is married to an Italian man so I knew this would be a winner.  Allow about 20 minutes to make the dish, and if you arn’t keen on chilli or have spice fearing kids then leave it out or add it separately at the table.

Very Mediterranean Pasta (serves 2 hungry people)

200g pasta (any is fine)

3 artichoke hearts from a tin, drained and chopped small

4 sundried tomatoes, chopped small

12 black olives, chopped smallish

2 tsp capers

4-6 anchovies, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped

1/2 red chilli, chopped or 1/3 tsp chilli flakes

Optional – 125ml any white wine (or use water)

Small handful parsley, roughly chopped

Pepper (as in salt and pepper)

Grated parmesan for topping

Do all the chopping first!  Then start cooking the pasta as per the packet instructions.  Separately gently fry the garlic and chilli in oil for 1 minute.  Add the sundried tomatoes and artichokes.  When softened, after a couple of minutes, add the capers, anchovies, olives and some parsley.  Add the wine or water. Simmer for a few minutes so the liquid reduces down, and keep stirring.  Taste and if necessary add pepper (you probably won’t need salt).

When cooked mix the pasta with the sauce.  If it looks a bit dry, add a splash of oil.   To serve sprinkle with a bit more parsley, and grated parmesan if you fancy.

Roast sweet potato and sage risotto

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This roast sweet potato and sage risotto is a delicious, creamy dish with the lovely complimenting flavours of the sweet potato and sage.  The sweet potato roasts while you make the risotto, then you mix it all together at the end.  You can chop any leftover sage and store it in the freezer for next time.  You can also freeze any leftover grated parmesan then use instantly.

The risotto is a pretty simple recipe to follow as long as you can be near the hob to stir regularly!  Any leftovers can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days.  A perfect dish to warm you up as Autumn arrives…

Roast sweet potato and sage risotto (serves 4)

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in to chunks
Oil e.g. vegetable/olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped small
Small handful fresh sage, chopped small
300g risotto rice
150 ml white wine (any will do!)
1 litre vegetable stock e.g. OXO
50g parmesan cheese, grated

Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.  Put the sweet potato chunks in a baking tray, drizzle over 2 tbsp oil and some salt and pepper.  Mix well and put in the oven for around 25 minutes until cooked, stirring every 5-10 minutes to avoid sticking/burning.

Meanwhile make the risotto.  Cook the onion in a little oil for 5 minutes until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute before adding the wine.  Stir regularly until there is hardly any wine left.  Add the rice and fry for one minute.  Add the stock one ladle at a time and stir regularly so the rice absorbs it and doesn’t stick or dry out.  After about 20 minutes the rice should be very nearly cooked (if it doesn’t seem cooked you can add a little more stock and keep stirring).  Add the parmesan and chopped sage and mix well.  Gently stir in the roast sweet potato.  Serve with a sprig of sage on top!

Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng)

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You may have noticed that I am quite in to rice at the moment.  It’s really versatile, pretty cheap and I find I can be quite adventurous with what I add to it, with a (normally!) happy response from everyone in the family.  This recipe is comforting and delicious, with the tasty texture of prawns, softness of the egg, the crunch of the veg and the subtle flavours of the sweetened soy sauce, ginger and coriander.  You could experiment with the veg content – broccoli, mangetout and baby sweetcorn would also work well.

I got the kids to guess the secret ingredient (ginger) – they didn’t, but were interested to know that ginger (normally associated with gingerbread men!) was in there.

Allow about 30 mins to make the dish (or less if you use microwave rice – just add it at the same point without pre-cooking it).  You can freeze any leftovers.  The recipe is a simplified version of one in Annabel Karmel’s The Fussy Eaters Recipe Book, which is full of great ideas.

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Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) – serves 4

160g rice (I like brown rice)

Any oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1/4 red pepper, chopped small

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp grated/finely chopped ginger

Handful frozen peas

150g cooked prawns

1 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

4 spring onions, thinly sliced

Small handful coriander, roughly chopped

Cook the rice as per the instructions, then drain.  Meanwhile heat the oil and add the onion, pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for around 5 mins, until the veg is tender.  Add the cooked, drained rice, peas and prawns and stir fry for another few minutes, then add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly and scrapping the cooked egg off the bottom of the pan until it has scrambled (about 5 mins max).  Turn off the heat.

Mix the soy sauce and brown sugar together and stir through the rice.  Stir in the spring onions, then spoon in to bowls.  Serve with the coriander scattered on top!

 

Rice, tuna and veg bake (10 mins prep/30 mins baking)

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We’ve had a busy weekend and we are all tired! So this rice, tuna and veg bake is a low effort, yet healthy, recipe. Simply mix a packet of pre-cooked rice with canned tuna, canned sweetcorn, chopped pepper, two eggs, a stock cube and dried herbs. Top with grated cheese and bake for around 30 minutes. The bake is tasty and satisfying, with the egg making the bottom go a little crispy.

Most of the ingredients are long-life and can be kept in the cupboard for when you need them, and even the fresh ingredients last a fair while in the fridge.  We ate the bake with broccoli, but peas would also work well.

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Those packets of pre-cooked rice (as used here) are readily available and brilliant at time saving and I buy them regularly now. As well as microwaving or baking the rice, I sometimes fry it straight from the packet with some veg, prawns and a little soy sauce for a 10 minute dinner. Or use it in an extra quick kedgeree, which is a favourite in our house. Anyway, back to the original recipe!

Rice, tuna and veg bake (serves 4)

1/2 red pepper, chopped small
Small tin sweetcorn, drained
250g packet of pre-cooked rice (I used brown basmati rice but any is fine)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 stock cube, crumbled
Sprinkle of herbs
Small handful grated cheddar (or other hard) cheese

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.

Put all of the ingredients apart from the cheese in a casserole dish and mix well. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, until slightly browned and crispy on top.

15 min rainbow stir-fry

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This colourful, crunchy and nutritious rainbow stir-fry is ready in 15 minutes.  In it are an array of different coloured vegetables (hence the ‘rainbow’!), shop-bought ready-cooked tofu (which could be supplemented with cooked chicken, prawns, halloumi cubes, chopped cooked meat/veggie sausages or nuts) and a sauce made of soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and honey.  The dish is topped with sesame seeds for extra prettiness and texture.  Yum!

Don’t worry if you don’t have sesame oil as you can use any oil.  And feel free to experiment with other veg – mushrooms, broccoli, green beans and carrots would also work well.  Eat with noodles or rice.

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Rainbow stir-fry (serves 4)

1 small pepper, cut small

1 small red onion, chopped fine

100g beansprouts

100g chopped kale

Large handful sweetcorn (tinned is fine)

Pack Cauldron marinated tofu pieces (available in some supermarkets) OR cooked prawns OR cooked chicken OR chopped halloumi OR cooked meat/veggie sausages OR salted cashews/peanuts

For the sauce

tbsp soy sauce

tbsp honey

tbsp sesame oil (or other oil)

Small clove garlic, chopped/crushed

Noodles or rice

Sesame seeds

Pour any oil in to a pan then add the pepper and onion.  After a few minutes of heating, once softened, add the beansprouts, kale, sweetcorn and tofu (or whatever else you are using).  Heat, stirring regularly, for a few more minutes.  Meanwhile mix the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil and garlic and pour it in to the pan.  Heat for another couple minutes, stirring regularly, then take off the heat.  Separately cook the noodles or rice as per the pack instructions then spoon in to bowls with the stir-fry mixture on top.  Sprinkle over some sesame seeds and serve!

 

Mexican Lasagne

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This is my slightly simplified version of Mexican lasagne, a Mexican take on the Italian classic using tortillas instead of lasagne sheets.  It is rustic, lovely tasting and quicker to make than traditional lasagne as you don’t have to make two sauces.  I have used dried herbs because I forgot to buy fresh coriander, and added olives, because I love them.  I have swapped chilli for gentle, smokey paprika, but you can change the dish according to your tastes.  Paprika is a ground red powder made from peppers and is a handy spice to have.  It goes well in tomato based sauces and I also like it with mayo on top of a hard boiled egg!

This lasagne dish can be cut in to wedges then served, and then reheated over the next few days if there is any left! Any tortilla wraps leftover in the pack can be frozen in bags and used another time to make quesadillas (a Mexican style sandwich) https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/quesadillas-a-top-recipe/ or veggie mince cups https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/veggie-mince-cups/.

Allow about 1 hour for the wraps to defrost at room temperature.

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I’m rambling.  So finally, here is the recipe.  Allow 25 mins prep and 30 mins cooking.

Mexican lasagne (serves  4)

1/2 red pepper, chopped small

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped fine

Shake dried herbs or small handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tin kidney beans, drained

1 small tin sweetcorn

1 heaped tsp paprika and/or 1 tsp ground or freshly chopped chilli

Large handful olives, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper

250g cheddar cheese

4 tortilla wraps (plain or wholemeal is fine)

Line a casserole dish with greaseproof/baking paper.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

First make the tomato sauce.  Heat some oil in a pan on medium heat and add the red pepper and onion.  Cook for about 8 minutes, until tender, then add the garlic and herbs and heat for another minute.  Add the tinned chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, kidney beans, sweetcorn, paprika, chilli (if using), olives and salt and pepper.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.

Prepare your lined casserole dish by putting one tortilla wrap flat on the bottom.  Spoon on 1/3 of the tomato sauce and 1/3 of the cheese.  Top with two tortilla wraps and then another 1/3 of the tomato sauce followed by 1/3 of the cheese.  Add the final tortilla, the remaining tomato sauce and sprinkle over the last bit of cheese.  Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and the edges of the tortilla are a little crispy.  If you want to show it off, carefully lift the dish out by lifting the corners of the greaseproof paper (asking for help if need be!)  Use a knife to cut wedges out.  Eat!  Nice with salad.

Turkish halloumi bake (one-pot!)

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This Turkish halloumi bake recipe was recommend to me by fellow cooking fan Claire, and it is a great one to know about. It uses just one dish, is gluten-free, packed with goodness and lasts for 2 meals (based on four people). You chuck some chopped vegetables, oil and fennel seeds in to a dish and roast, then add uncooked lentils and stock, cook a little more, top with sliced halloumi cheese and finish off under the grill. I have never cooked lentils outside a saucepan so it is great to know you can use them in this way!  The whole dish is hearty, full of flavour and particularly lovely with the crispy, salty halloumi on top.

Allow 15 minutes effort and one hour of cooking and eat within two days.  The bake is plenty on it’s own or nice with bread.  Recipe is based on one from http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk.

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Turkish halloumi bake (serves 6-8 people)

2 peppers, any colour, deseeded and cut into large pieces
1 aubergine, sliced, cut into chunks

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
1 large courgette, thickly sliced
2 tsp fennel seeds
Oil
Salt and pepper
150g red split lentils

1 tbsp tomato puree
¾ litre hot vegetable stock
250g pack halloumi cheese, cut into enough slices to cover the dish
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, for garnish

Set the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Put the prepared veg and fennel seeds in a large roasting tin or baking dish. Drizzle with oil, season well and then mix them together by hand.  Roast for 25-30 mins, stirring a few times, until cooked through. Sprinkle the lentils over, then pour in the hot stock mixed with the tomato puree.  Mix well.  Roast for another 20 mins, until the lentils are cooked through.
Set the grill to high. Lay the halloumi slices on top of the veg, then grill for a few mins, until golden. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Homity pie

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Homity pie is a traditional open pie made with pastry, potatoes and cheese and it is satisfying, cheap and filling!  My recipe is based on one by lovefoodhatewaste.com, so also uses apples, but instead of using bacon I have added garlic for extra flavour.  The pastry (my second ever attempt!) is genuinely easy to make but a bit fiddly to roll out and line the tin.  It worked fine though and looked appealingly homemade!

Allow 30 mins prep/20-30 mins cooking and top off with grilling if you need to.  The pie is brilliant eaten warm or cut in to wedges for a picnic!

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As well as leftover potatoes you could also use up parsnips, carrots, broccoli or squash.  You could use blue cheese or goats cheese instead of cheddar and apples instead of pears.  Other alternative ingredients include bacon, ham, cooked chicken, chorizo, smoked haddock, smoked tofu or mushrooms.  For extra flavour try fresh herbs or a teaspoon of Dijon mustard (I will definitely add mustard next time!)  The pie can be frozen in portions then defrosted overnight in the fridge.

There are lots more useful recipes and waste-saving tips on lovefoodhatewaste.com.

Homity pie (serves 4-8 people)

150g plain flour
75ml sunflower oil (or vegetable oil)
50ml cold water
Salt and pepper
2 large potatoes, diced and cooked (don’t bother peeling – could also use parsnips/carrots)
1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large apple, chopped (don’t bother peeling)
75ml milk
100g (3oz) cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten

Mix the flour, oil, water and a pinch of salt into a dough. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Then sprinkle with flour and roll out to ½ cm (¼in) thick, to line a lightly oiled or non-stick cake or baking tin.  Ensure you have enough spare to line the sides.
Meanwhile, add a dash of oil to a pan, add the onions, and stir regularly until they start to brown (about 7 mins). Add the garlic, apples and potatoes and cook a further 3-4 minutes, still stirring regularly.  Now add the milk, ¾ of the cheese, a little salt and pepper, stir for 1 minute then mix in the egg and put the mixture into the pastry-lined baking tin.
Top with the rest of the grated cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes in a preheated oven  at 180°C/Gas 6 until golden brown.  Top off under the grill to further brown the cheese if necessary.  Eat!