Monday, 14 April 2014

Do you bulk cook?

Hello Dear Reader,

Today's staycation day was all about sitting out in the garden and listening to the radio. When it got too hot, yes I did say too hot, I went in doors and cooked for the rest of the week.

I try to fill the oven and cook as much as possible to save on energy but also on time. For the rest of the week, I now have a supply of home cooked ready meals to feed us very simply and quickly.

I made a meaty bolognaise sauce to have with green veggies, braised lamb shanks which we had for our supper with spring greens, peas, beans and new potatoes. I made  a chicken casserole (I bought some red wine which neither of us liked so it's been used in a casserole) and two chicken and leek pies. The bolognaise has been divided into three Tupperware containers and has gone into the freezer. 

Our butcher sells two lamb shanks for £3.50(frozen and from NZ) and we get four portions from them. We had guests for supper and they had lamb and vegetables. I cook the lamb, sprinkled with salt, pepper and rosemary and a little water and olive oil and cover it with foil to keep it moist. When it's cooked I pour enough boiling water in to get the sticky juices off the bottom of the dish and them add gravy thickening. They really don't need anything else. I've noticed lamb legs can sell for almost £25 in some shops.

My chicken casserole and chicken pie were made from a pack of chicken breasts. People often wonder why they are so cheap, it's because my butcher sells them in packs of twenty. They are an abattoir outlet. The abattoir supplies all the major supermarkets and this is their outlet store. It's sort of a meat version of Approved Food. If you buy pork steaks, they will be of different thickness and not the regular size the supermarkets demand. The abattoir is in Bodmin on the Cooksland industrial estate although they have another abattoir in Methyr in Wales. They are one of the main suppliers for Tesco.........I just don't pay the same prices that some of you do in the supermarkets. Hence, I buy it much cheaper. The outlet can be found at Trago Mills in the Glyn Valley on the A38. I know some readers have stocked up there whilst on holiday before returning home. 

Back to the chicken casserole.

3 chicken breasts - cubed.
1 onion, finely diced
1/4 head of celery finely diced
1 frozen stew pack of vegetables
3 cloves of garlic - crushed.
2 stock cubes in 1/2 litre of water.
1/2 bottle of red wine
Seasoning to taste - I added parsley and tarragon, salt and pepper.

Fry the first five ingredients on the list until browned - if you have a few slices  of chopped bacon or lardons, this really adds to this casserole.
Add the rest and simmer for an hour.

This freezes well and can be chilled and eaten within two days. Heat thoroughly.

Chicken and leek pie.

1lb of plain flour - I use GF
4oz butter - cold and in cubes
4oz lard - cold and in cubes
1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Rub the fat into the flour, mix with chilled water to form a dough and chill in the fridge before rolling out.
This is enough to make two pies. 


3 chicken breasts - cubed
3 leeks, sliced and washed (currently 49p for 3 in Aldi!)
1/2 litre of milk
4oz cheese grated.
cup frozen mixed veg or peas
2 tbsp of corn flour or GF flour (no lumps)
1oz butter.
1 egg.

Fry the leeks and chicken until cooked.
Add the mixed veg
Keep stirring on the heat
Add the butter
When melted, add the flour and stir through.
Add the milk and keep stirring until thickened.
Add the cheese and stir through.

Allow to cool slightly before adding to the rolled out pastry.
Beat an egg and seal the edges of the pie and glaze the pie with beaten egg.

Bake at 180 for 30 - 45 minutes. When cooled, I will wrap the pies in foil and freeze them. As they are cooked, once defrosted, they just need warming through. They are delicious cold too with some salad. 

Over to you Dear Reader, do you bulk cook and save on energy? Do you bulk cook to save yourself time? We get home at six on a week day, usually worn out and hungry and it's great to have something quick and easy for our supper. What do you cook and freeze or have ready in the fridge? Does it save you time and money? I would be interested to know.

Also, if you're enjoying my thrifty home cooking, would you kindly vote for me in the MADS blog awards for Best Thrifty Blog and Best Food Blog - follow the link top right of the screen. Thanks so much xxxxx

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxx

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gluten free Sunday treats

 Hello Dear Reader,

Oh I know!!!! I've been so good for so long and then I go on a carb bender! I'll get straight back onto eating healthily tomorrow! We've had another staycation day. Dearly Beloved painted the fence and I finished making my blouse (and unpicked, and made it again, realised the gathers were not even so unpicked it and will start over tomorrow! plus, it's made from a sheer fabric!.....see where this is going?) and did some quilting.

In the midst of that we got hungry but didn't want the meal I'd made and neither of us wanted to stop for long so a few bakes were made. 

I bought several large bags of gluten free bread mix from Approved Food and we're working our way through it. I rustled up a quick pizza. Instead of a a tomato sauce, I just used some pesto, with sliced tomatoes and some grated cheese. Really quick and simple. This would be great cold for a picnic.

We had the pizza between us. We also had some hot cross buns..............without any crosses!

If you've ever made gluten free bread, you'll know it's very wet and more of a batter mix than a dough. I make the bread rolls, or in this case, hot cross-less buns in greased muffin tins. I added mixed spice to the dry mix, used warm milk instead of water, honey instead of sugar and added mixed dried fruit at the mixing stage. I spooned the mixture into muffin tins and left to rise for 50 minutes before baking in a very hot oven for 20 minutes. I drizzled some honey onto them whilst they were still warm too. I think we all want something sweet every now and then.

Supper was a lasagne with strips of leeks (used the Hairy Biker's method) instead of gluten free pasta. I can make lasagne sheets but it's not as quick as steaming a leek and using the individual leaves for the lasagne! 

Dearly Beloved continued outside,whilst I sewed and watched the Paris-Roubaix bike race at the same time! I'll be unpicking and remaking the blouse tomorrow! We might even manage to get out of the's lovely to play house in our relatively new home. This is the first break we've had with weather good enough to do anything outside! 

This has been a very restful and yet productive staycation. 

Over  to you, what do you love to do at home on your staycation? Who else just loves pottering around at home when you have time off work?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxx