The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A rose by any other name...

When the girls were little Chloe decided she didn't like quiche. Since I had chooks and therefore eggs, quiches etc were very handy for me. So next time I made it I made it look slightly different and called it Egg and Bacon Pie. Well they loved egg and bacon pie and we never had quiche again. :) 

Similar to Quiche and Bacon and Egg pie quite a few things have the same ingredients more or less and different names...

Years ago when mince was cheap I would have a cook up with a few kilos of mince at one time.

I just did this as I have had mince on a great special which is rare now. Being a good special I got 4 kilos.  I dealt with 2 kilos at a time.

The first 2 kilos... I chopped 4 large onions and fried them in a little olive oil and then added the mince to brown. Add pepper and dried oregano.

I added 5 large jars Dolmio Spaghetti bolognese sauce. This is a lot of tomato~ if I have tomatoes I will make this and use about 3 litres of sauce for 2 ks of mince. I let this cook and simmer for around one hour.It needs this time.  It is so good for you. Concentrated tomato is wonderful stuff. It saves you eating 100 tomatoes. 

Now this big pot of sauce will make so many things... all delicious.

Then I have a thick deep red meat sauce. I will use instant lasagna noodles and make a lasagna. I use extra of the liquid here as the instant noodles use it up. If I have left over vegies that could do with using up I chop them and toss them into this mix. All added goodness. 

This now is the base for a heap of meals.

Spaghetti Bolognese.
I will serve some over spaghetti pasta for dinner usually on this first night. I cut fresh oregano and parsley from the garden and sprinkle this and cheese over the top. Yummy!

 I gave Lucy a saucepan of the sauce to take home...

You can separate some mix and later add kidney beans and chilli. 


Now like the quiche and pie... Lasagna is flat pasta, meat sauce and white sauce/cheese sauce over the top. It will taste the same whatever pasta shapes you use really just look different. So mostly these days I forgo the sheets (as I use instant and you can never get them to fit your dishes...) so I use shells or giant shells and fill or whatever shapes... it is just easier. This way I can easily make individual serves, smaller sizes etc.(I cook my pasta and then do my layers) Lasagna freezes so well. I make a white sauce simply using powdered milk. I do almost 2 litres milk from milk powder and blend into it 4 tablespoons corn flour. Blend, microwave high 3 mins, stir and repeat until thick. Stir well each time so it is smooth. Add pepper, parsley, big handful cheese at the end, stir. I pour this over the pasta and meat sauce... sprinkle grated cheese over that and bake. No need to add butter to this sauce heavens it has cheese. I made and sold trays of Lasagna to a cafe for years and was told Italians said how good it was. Honestly the long cooking is the important thing.
Now your meat sauce can handle anything, you can add whatever you have left over... mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, eggplant, it will all cook down. You can also use other cheeses like a layer or ricotta or use up every bit of left over cheese in the fridge. If I am going to freeze or reheat later I under brown it. So then when you heat it the second time it doesn't look too dark or dry... so these look not brown enough as they are going into the freezer. Next time they will be deep golden. I serve with a big greek style salad.

Chow Mien.
Now there is left over thick meat sauce. On the last night if there are a few cups still going I will add to it and make what I was taught is Chow Mien. Well, I know its not true Chow Mien  but its so delicious... to your mince meat sauce add 1 packet chicken noodle soup, sliced cabbage, a cup or so of cooked brown rice... simmer until all soft and serve with grated cheese. Honestly that sounds terrible but it is so good! The kids loved this. If needed to stretch further we served this with toast. I sometimes need to add water or more tomato sauce to this to make it moist enough, it should be very thick, not runny, but not dry. There are no rules, add and once you have done it once you will adapt it. You are using left overs so there are no set amounts. 

Now the other 2 kilos of mince... 
I chop a couple of onions quite finely. I add a packet of dry stuffing mix (or you can use dry bread crumbs and seasoning of your choice... 2 cups) one and a half cups of milk, two eggs, 2 cups of tomato sauce or tomato base, a big handful grated cheese. Mix all really well. 

Miracle meat loaf.
Half of this I made a big meatloaf. Actually I use a bit less then half. All you do is form a loaf shape and pat it firmly and place it on baking paper on a plate to go into your microwave. Or you can press it into a loaf dish. Spread some tomato paste across the top and sprinkle with cheese. Microwave high for 13 minutes. Done. I only do this for cold meat in sandwiches, let it go cold to slice. It is so good in sandwiches. But if you don't want that I would use it all in muffin tins as follows... or form it into burgers... or roll it into rissoles.

Individual meat loaves.
The other half I make mini meat loaves in muffin tins. These are awesome for lunch boxes. I also have a rectangular muffin tray. These make lovely neat meat loaves to serve with vegies for dinner. They just look neater than slices. You can get mini muffin trays and these make cute meat loaves for kids and they can take them to school. Bake in oven about 15 mins. Also if you make a lot you can freeze batches for lunch boxes or for heating and serving with vegies another night. Meat loaf served with mash, carrots and greens is so old fashioned good.

Or freeze them in muffin tray raw... thaw and cook in fry pan and squish slightly and call them hamburgers. Serve with relish, burger buns and lettuce etc. Yummy. Or call them cheeseburgers and melt cheese in a burger and soft buns.

Or make little ones and call them meat balls, microwave and serve with pasta and tomato sauce.

Or call them sliders and serve with sloppy tomato sauce on rolls.

So from one cook up you can have so many meals. Depending on the size of your family of course. But form this cook up I get a lot of nights off, give food to the girls, know if I am sick or tired I have plenty of freezer meals and it was all quite inexpensive.

I have a series of similar things where you cook one base and then turn it into a series of other things. Honestly it is a bit of a sneaky trick but when you have a special and you cook it up you might as well provide yourself with a few nights off in the process. And knowing I have meals in the freezer I am never stuck. If unwell or things happen, there are good meals to use. 

I just got a text from Andy... he had mini meatloaves and a salad in his lunch box. Text says "meatloaf/rissole thingys are yummy!"

I'm happy with that! 


  1. Thanks for your ideas on using bulk mince Annabel. My eldest DD and I are going to have a cook up I think, so they can keep a few meals in the freezer and save some money on take-away. :)

  2. I make a whole lot of what I call starter when all of our tomatoes are picked in the summer. I love being able to use the marinara sauce in my meals throughout the winter. Thank you for sharing your lovely blog at the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop xo


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