Posts Tagged ‘vegetables’

I am glad to say that I am not a total amateur when it comes to some things. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I am actually very very good at one thing…and that is cooking!

I come from a background that involved food. My parents were restaurateurs (now retired) and my father a chef. My mother ruled the roost at home and I have nothing but fond memories of all the delicious meals she would make. Unfortunately, my repertoire only stretches to making middle eastern or Persian dishes so whilst I learn to make a mean beef stroganoff or simple chicken pie (from scratch of course) you will have to bear with recipes that I’ve learned over the years that are a hit in any Persian household.

One night, I had no idea what to make for dinner for the children. I could have done a quick pasta but was bored with the idea myself as we’d only had pasta a few days ago so as I had some minced beef out already, I decided to make something that I grew up on. Pan fried kebabs served with fluffy white rice.
For this, you need a very good non stick frying pan. Mine isn’t a good one..as you can see from the picture, the kebabs were a little *over-done* and that is due to the pan being no good after many years of being used to the brink of it’s own extinction. The tomatoes make a good mixer with the white rice because there is no sauce. Iranians mix butter with their rice to make it less dry but tomatoes work just as well and is a slightly healthier option.
You can also add any kind of vegetables you want, it really doesn’t matter. We had mushrooms in so I just simply sauteed them in the pan with the tomatoes after the kebabs were made.

All you need is:

500g minced beef (or lamb)
1 medium onion, grated
2 heaped tbsp natural breadcrumbs
1tsp turmeric (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything by hand in a bowl and make as many oval kebabs as you can. Don’t make them too thick otherwise they will take longer to cook through and end up burning on the outside. Don’t make the pan too hot and use 2 tbsp cooking oil and keep turning the kebabs. Have a plate ready at the side for the ones that get done first and as you get space add the others otherwise you’ll end up taking forever. We like to have crunchy vegetables with our meals so I have added radishes as a complement but a fresh salad will do the trick and give a bit more colour to the meal.

If you don’t fancy rice with it, pitta bread will do just as good. The preparation takes a bit of time but trust me, it will only take five minutes to eat it all and the children will LOVE it!

**If you don’t fancy minced meat, very thin slices of chicken breast will also do very nicely, or for vegetarian, a mix of more vegetables.  You can make a quick spicy sauce to go with the vegetables using 2 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tbs cooking oil, half a pint of water salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or none if you don’t want it hot), 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/2 tsp dried oregano.  Bring it to the boil, then simmer and reduce for 20 minutes.

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I am so very proud to introduce my first GUEST POST! and who better to post a delicious recipe for us than my good friend and mentor, the fabulous Nicki Cawood!

Nicki is a freelance writer and blogs regularly on her own blog, Curly and Candid. When not surgically connected to the laptop, Nicki can be found in her kitchen which she describes as the hub of her home, surrounded by her family. Nicki’s husband Roy, and her two sons Kieran & Taylor are used to enjoying (usually!) her culinary experiments.
Today’s tried and tested recipe is her chunky slow cooked lasagne, perfect for autumn and winter teatimes!

Slow cooked lasagne.

I’ve been promising this recipe for a while and was being threatened with all sorts of violence for taking so long! I decided to use it for today’s guest post (which I also promised a while ago!), kill two birds and all that.

I am not a chef, I am Mum and wife who loves to cook and experiment so no fancy words, just (hopefully) a lovely family recipe which is filling, delicious and very easy to make.

Chunky Slow Cooked Lasagne.

800g beef mince

Large jar of bolognaise sauce (or 600g of homemade sauce)

Large jar of white sauce (or 600g of your own if you prefer),

Onions, chopped,

Chopped vegetables – choose anything you like, peppers, mushrooms, courgettes are good examples.

300g grated cheese

Lasagne sheets (I use 1.5packets of the Tesco value ones)

*These measurements are for a family sized, 6l slow cooker. You will need to adjust these if your cooker is smaller.

To make:

Gently cook off your mince with the onion, drain away any excess oil/fat.

In a pan with a little oil, toss your chunky veg until cooked through.

Add the mince and vegetables together and mix with your tomato sauce.

Layer up the show cooker with a layer of the mince mixture, then pasta sheets, then cover with white sauce, then a layer of pasta sheets, then white sauce, then pasta… Continue layering up until your mixture is gone but ensure the top layer is white sauce.

Cover the top with grated cheese and put the slow cooker on.

Delicious served with crusty bread, garlic or otherwise, and a green salad.

** How long and at what setting you put the cooker on depends on when you make your lasagne. I make mine at lunch time and put in on medium, and is ready for us to eat by 5.30pm. If making on a morning I’d suggest a low setting but the key is knowing your machine.

*To make this recipe suitable for vegetarians, simply replace the mince with an equal quantity of Quorn or extra chunky veg.


Nicki Cawood, Mum, Freelance writer and blogger at Curly & Candid

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I have to admit that as a child, I barely ate any vegetables. Peas, potatoes and salad veg were about all I would have without a fight and I certainly wouldn’t entertain anything slightly more exotic, like a carrot for example…

Fast forward to many, MANY years later, and yes, I will pretty much eat most vegetables. My taste has matured and I have even been eating broccoli and brussel sprouts for the last eight years or so. I am still however, slightly wary of some vegetables and when I was approached to take on the Think you know Beetroot challenge, I had to be honest and let them know that as a child I absolutely totally DID NOT LIKE beetroot. Since then, I haven’t touched it either, even though my parents are huge advocates of this very dark purple fleshy vegetable!

I took delivery of this stunning box of three different types of beetroot. Cooked natural beetroot, vacuum packed with no added flavours, cooked beetroot in mild vinegar and last but certainly not least, the fiery Sweetfire beetroot, baby beetroot cooked and infused with a marinade of chilli, oil and white wine vinegar! There are plenty of ideas on the LOVE BEETROOT website which show an incredible versatility of this contender.


After much deliberation, I decided to give the Beetroot a slight Middle Eastern/Mediterranean kick and used some of my favourite ingredients to mix up with it. I am pleasantly surprised by just exactly what you can prepare with beetroot and even in ancient times, it was used as a medicine to treat conditions such as headaches and toothache – for those of you who know I suffer with toothache constantly, this is a bonus! For the ladies, it is also low in calories and rich in folate!

For my first experiment I added three chopped Sweetfire beetroot to 250g strained greek yogurt, mixed in one tablespoon of honey and topped it with pumpkin seeds and more chopped beetroot. Served with flat bread, this was a tantalising taste on the tongue of the chilli mixed with the honey and the natural sweetness of the beetroot. I thoroughly enjoyed the taste and found I wasn’t shying away from eating more and more of this fresh and tingly dip.

I then decided to use a bit more of the Sweetfire beetroot as it immediately became my favourite, with a homemade chunky hummus.

For this dip you need:

1 tin of cooked chick peas

2 tbsp tahina (sesame seed paste like mix found in most eastern/asian stores)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

4 whole walnuts, crushed, or a handful of pistachios, shelled and crushed

salt to taste

Blend the above ingredients just enough to leave a few chick pea bits to make the hummus chunky. Add 3 chopped Sweetfire beetroot topped with crushed walnuts or pistachio and serve with crudites or chips.

Finally, to end the insanely hot week of summer at the end of september, I chose to make a salad, using the cooked beetroot in mild vinegar.

For the salad, you need:

A few handfuls of watercress (to line the bottom of the plate)

One small yellow pepper chopped into medium chunks

Half a tin of broad beans, skin on

5 beetroot cooked in mild vinegar

Olive oil

Toss the salad ingredients together, drizzle with olive oil and chill for an hour before serving.

If you want an extra zing for this salad, just add an extra capful of vinegar over it before chilling. I have certainly had fun trying out the Beetroot and have a couple more recipes to share with you in part two coming later in the week. Don’t forget you can go to the website at Love Beetroot and enjoy creating all the fabulous recipes they have there from burgers to cupcakes! You can also follow them on Twitter @LoveBeetroot and make sure you use the hashtag #Thinkyouknowbeetroot to say HI to the gang and spread the word!!

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There are a few different ways of doing The Food Shop.  The most popular is to plan your meals in advance, allocate a day to go shopping and get it done on said day.  This is great if you are highly organised and can remember the list of items that you’ve run out of other than the food items you might need for your meals.  There is also the online shop which many swear by and declare that it saves them lots of money because you are not tempted to buy any other *bits* that might be lurking down an aisle prettily decorated with HALF PRICE of BOGOF signs.

Some people buy a few bits per day.  I supposed that’s ok if you live next door to a supermarket but not really practical for most of us if time is an issue plus it can be costlier and if it’s raining and you have the kids at home…well!

I have tried all of the above (shopping for bits happened when I was single and I actually did live next door to a mini mart!). Even the meal planning which is an excellent idea has left me flummoxed (one m or two?).  I never seem to adhere to the plan either because I feel like making something else or um…because I feel like making something else.  Okay, okay, I admit I am NOT GOOD at following rules where meals are concerned, even my own.

This week, after the long period that seems dull and depressing after Christmas, I have been on a food shop pilgramage visiting my most used supermarket, my dearly loved American warehouse-type store and my favourite Asian grocer/butcher.  I have decided to shop for TWO WHOLE WEEKS!

Yes, you heard right.  I have enough provisions (apart from milk and bread) to last two weeks.  The freezer is stocked for a month (no pizza!) and the fruit and vegetables, if stocked properly in the fridge can actually last that long.  This may sound quite grand but I can assure you it isn’t.  It’s mostly all necessary stuff that we have run out of, butter, cheese, fruit etc.  The only treat in there is a cheesecake and even half of that will be going in the freezer until next week.

My other reason to be happy is my visit to the butchers.  I have portioned up everything I bought and it has made 10 meals that I can usually get leftovers with too.  These meals with vegetables, rice (or bread) all work out at around £4.50 a meal for four people.  Me Happy!

I have kept all receipts and made notes of how much each shop cost for future reference.  Hopefully by buying alot of things that will last the whole month and some that I have to replenish in a fortnight, I will have reduced the budget a little but I can only tell this when February is over. One example of an item that lasts for a while is rice.  I buy a 10kg bag for £13.00 (this month we even got 10% free!) and that will actually last this family 6 months.  I would have taken a picture for you all but put the shopping away before I remembered!

My question to you is which method of food shop do you do?  Do you do a bulk month/fortnight shop and have you been successful? Or are you a meal planner and buy weekly with strict method?  Please feel free to comment below, I can always do with learning a thing or two!


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