Sunday, 23 June 2013

Our no take-away's challenge and 2 budget friendly, make ahead recipes

In the interests of saving money to fund our house deposit we have decided to go take away free. For the foreseeable future anyway. It's getting me into a new routine of doing the shopping on Friday nights after work, cooking up a storm over the weekend and being well prepared for the week ahead. Friday night we were both super tired so it was mushroom soup and toast. Saturday night I did my favourite Thai chicken with fragrant rice recipe. Yum yum. Now, onto some make ahead recipes.

It helps that our budget also dictates that we don't go out over the weekend so there's plenty of time to cook! Right now I have 2 meals simmering away in my kitchen. Slow cooked beef, red wine and mushroom and chili con carne with a cornbread topping (a Simon and Alison Holst recipe) in the slow cooker. Both will do us 2 meals (dinners) and are easily freezable. Plus they're economical, healthy, easy and most importantly - tasty!

Beef, red wine and mushroom casserole - a recipe by me.

Chuck/stewing steak (I used 1 kg) cut into chunks
1 onion, diced
Button mushrooms (as many as you have on hand)
A slug of red wine
A few sprigs of thyme
Tomato paste (2 tbsp)
Worcester Sauce (2 tbsp)
1 can of tomatoes (I used Watties roast garlic and onion)
2 cloves garlic (left whole)
1 can cannelini beans, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
Frozen peas (add once cooked)

Chuck the beef (pun intended), onion, mushrooms, thyme and garlic into a casserole dish (LOVE love love my cast iron dutch oven!) In a mixing jug/bowl mix all wet ingredients together. Add the drained cannelini beans. Pour over the beef. You can, of course, brown the beef and onions before putting them in the casserole dish. But I'm lazy and I don't think it affects the taste too much. Season to taste. Place in a 150 degree Celsius oven for 3 or 4 hours. When nearly ready to serve add the frozen peas, let cook for a few minutes. Serve on something yummy like roast kumera or mash.

Slow cooker chili con carne with cornbread topping (an Alison and Simon Holst recipe I've tweaked)


1 onion, diced
Chipotle chillis in adobe sauce (I use 2 chillis chopped plus a few tsp of the sauce but I like it hot)
Garlic, 2 cloves, chopped
Minced beef, 500gm
Worcester sauce, a few glugs
Tomato paste, 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper
1 can chili beans (I use hot)

Spray slow cooker with a bit of cooking spray. Turn to high and put lid on to preheat.
In a frying pan brown the onion, garlic and chili in a dash of oil. When browned add to the slow cooker. In the same frying pan brown the mince, worcester sauce and tomato paste. When browned add salt and pepper and add to the slow cooker. Add the can of chili beans. Mix about. Put lid on and make the cornbread topping.

Cornbread topping (I have halved the recipe to fit into my smaller sized slow cooker)

1/2 onion, diced
25gm butter, softened
1/2 can corn kernels (with liquid)
1/2 C polenta / cornmeal
1/2 C milk
1/2 C self raising flour
1/2 C grated tasty cheese (I also add a bit of parmesan)
Salt and pepper

Add the ingredients in the order listed into a mixing bowl, mix well and spoon over the mince mixture. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika if you'd like a bit of colour on top.

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Don't lift the lid or the cornbread topping will get soggy from the moisture in the lid pooling on it!

I find the chili is often best the next day. When I store the chili I remove the cornbread topping as it gets a bit soggy if left in the fridge for a day or two.

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