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.

Sunday 10 May 2015

Stretch a Meal and Use it Up. Flans, Quiche, Impossible Pies.

Nothing uses up leftovers and makes a great meal better than a pie! These are such an opportunity to use up little bits and pieces and make something spectacular. And the bonus is they are great for breakfasts, lunches and dinners and also made in small sizes they are great for sending in lunch boxes. They are also very portable. Perfect for a picnic or to take as a gift of a meal to someone.

Recently Lucy took me to a cafe nearby and they specialized in Flans. I wish I had taken photos now... Firstly they looked spectacular. Each one was placed on a large cake stand. They had all kinds of interesting fillings like pumpkin, sun dried tomato and feta, spinach, chicken and so on.
They just looked glorious and I thought how easy these are to make and people were going crazy over them! I also should have priced them. But going by the price per serve it would have had to be $50 for a whole flan.

Yesterday for Mother's Day Lucy asked Mum and I over. Lucy who is meant to be resting on Doctor's orders and due in a few days...

Anyway we arrived and she had made us all a lovely lunch. First I'll show you desert which is really nothing to do with anything I just have to show you! :)
Desert was a baked cheesecake which was just beautiful...

Her main was a Chicken and Spinach Quiche with rocket, pear and walnut salad. It was yum!

And she decorated it with hearts for Mother's Day. Which I loved.

Inspired by how nice this looked I thought today I would add Quiches and Flans to our ways to stretch a meal and use it up.

There are two main "quiches" I make. The first is a quiche that has the custard like filling and make modifications to the filling. And a pastry base. This is a chance to use.... onion, practically any cheese you may have, spinach, asparagus, bacon, ham, sun dried or fresh tomato, roast pumpkin or sweet potato... and so many other things. You can use a sprinkle or a lot depending on what you have.

You can make your pastry or use ready rolled. The basic filling is 3 eggs blended with a cup of cream. I mostly use evaporated milk instead. It is very flexible. Classic quiche might have stricter rules but we are being versatile!
A yummy trick is to cheat and use Mimi's Onion Confit spread over the pastry base. Then pour in your egg mix. This is beautiful and I call "Caramelized Onion Quiche".

The next version is to use sour cream. A simple mix is 3 eggs to 300ml/10oz sour cream and your choice of fillings. This gives a thicker consistency and is good when using more fillings.

Another variation is to use dried breadcrumbs sprinkled over the bottom of your dish. Then fill with your fillings and gently pour your egg mix over the top and bake. This gives and easy pie crust.

The other way I will do this is to make a more rustic pie and use some flour in the mix instead of pastry. Impossible Pies work as the flour sinks and the pie is self crusting. This works best if you let your pie sit for a few minutes before baking. It is a super easy recipe and so versatile.

The basic recipe is 4 eggs, 2 cups of milk or cream or a mix, and half a cup of flour. Blend all together and pour over your fillings. There are so many versions of this.
Grated zucchini (or thinly sliced) is good in this.

Some basics are use seasonings of your choice, saute your raw ingredients that need it like onion or spinach to reduce it down. Others like tomato, corn etc don't need pre cooking. Some things are decide for yourself!

I always serve with a relish of some sort and a little side salad.

For lunch boxes I make any of these in muffin trays. For little kids I would make mini sized ones. If you are low carb or gluten free I would use no flour in the impossible quiche. Really then you are making a frittata but lets not get technical!

This is Lucy's recipe for her pie. She pre baked her short crust pastry base (with weights) and the hearts. She added the hearts to the pie after it was almost cooked.

1 and a quarter cups shredded cheddar cheese,
1 cup cooked diced chicken.
1 ten ounce package frozen spinach thawed and drained really well. (this is half a cup)
1/2 cup chopped onion.
3 eggs.
3/4 cup milk.
3/4 cup mayonnaise.
Salt and pepper.

Fill your pie shell with your chicken, onion, spinach, cheese..
In a bowl whisk the eggs, milk, mayo and seasonings. Pour this over your dry ing.
Bake in med oven until knife comes out clean. Let sit a few minutes before serving.

This is beautiful. Next time you have left over cooked chicken reserve a cup for this.

For a large serving I double or triple the recipe and line a baking dish with non stick baking paper. Then just make a giant rectangle. This cuts up into lots of serves.
To make it look spectacular make a cake sized on and place on your loveliest cake plate or stand. It really looks fantastic!

These recipes are very flexible. But with a few ingredients and some eggs you have a meal. I keep  tins of evaporated milk and long life cream in the pantry and I always have cheese in the fridge so I mostly can whip something up in a hurry!

I would love to hear your versions. Mimi makes a Salmon luxury pie, I think we had better get on to her about this recipe. I made it once for Valentine's Day. It it an example of a recipe with a little bit of a strong flavored ingredient that makes it wow.

Some of us are in spring and others are in autumn! This is good as these recipes are just as suitable as a hot meal or as a cold picnic lunch.

I hope you have a wonderful week. I am out the door to the shops and then getting some soup on.
My plan is to make a muffin tray of bacon impossible pies to go in Andy's work lunch for the next few days.

Last week we did "substitutions" in our Stretch a Meal and Use it up series. The comments, ideas and recipes you all contributed made it wonderful. It was epic! Thank you!

Lots of


  1. You must all be getting very excited Annabel. Lucy and her husband, I'm sure, cannot wait to meet their new baby! What a lovely day you all had together, and yes, pies and quiche figure at least weekly here too. I've successfully made rustic looking gluten free pies, but the gluten free pastry doesn't give the same sort of neat result as wheat flour does. That said, it's still mighty tasty and hearty, especially now with the weather cooling considerably where we are. I've made lamb, chicken or beef or shepherds pies with the tiniest amount of meat and a flavoursome gravy and they're just such a satisfying meal. And of course, you can't have pie without mash! When we have mash, it could be mashed potato or sweet potato, mashed cooked peas, mashed cannellini beans, red lentil mash cooked with vegetable stock, or polenta cooked with a little milk and finished with parmesan. We love all of those variations, and it's the perfect way to eat pie, isn't it? Love the photos, and glad you all enjoyed your Mothers Day. It's a special day here too. Mimi xxx

    1. Mimi your Shepherds Pies sound beautiful. Who doesnt love these? And mash! True comfort food. In fact this is the requested home from hospital meal except with the specific request for peas. So there you go!
      Have a great week Mimi and

  2. Dear Annabel, I love your crustless quiche and it makes a regular appearance on our menu. Mimi, you are a star when it comes to teaching up tips and tricks!
    Annabel what you say about presentation is a theme that is coming through so often. It seems if it looks good, people will pay anything for it.
    Lovely ideas around using things up in the fridge that are hanging on in dribs and drabs. One other blog I was reading this week shared how she saves between $125-$200 per month, by having a day or days using up what is in the fridge, freezer and pantry. She pointed out that you are also mindful of what you buy at the store with this regularly in mind, so she keeps extra milk and eggs on hand.
    The other savings with stretching our meals are time, energy and petrol ( gas). I think very often how tired little children are, and mothers as well due to the endless running around to pick up one thing.
    Thank you so much for another lovely post! Helen xxx

    1. Dear Helen,
      How true! People are frazzled. Running to the shops for one or two things is just a strain on the day. Its so much nice to save that time, energy, petrol and avoid it. With a pantry we can do that!
      The using things up days truly save so much. I have it where there are things that if I cook them today then I have a few more days to use them. But if I leave them they would end up in the bin. Timing is everything!
      The recipe with the Mayonnaise sounds odd but try it and you will just love it! xxx

  3. Oh I meant to add....thank you to Lucy for the recipe. It looks delicious!

  4. Thanks for the recipe, Annabel. My girl and I were talking about Lucy today and I was wondering how she is going. I am on my way home from Brisbane airport at present. The bus has Wi Fi which is great so I am catching up on blogs. It is lovely having a little bub to cuddle. I saw my grandson roll over for the first time just before I left today :-)

    1. I hope you had a better and less soggy flight than last time Nanna Chel. I am glad you had a wonderful time with the family. They will be missing you already!
      I will keep you posted on developments! xxx

  5. Great ideas! We make lots of quiches because of the fresh eggs here on the farm. I usually make four crusts at a time and freeze the extras (in raw form) for a rainy day. If we have excess veggies and/or eggs, then I will freeze a bunch of fillings in ziplock bags (simply thaw and dump into prepared crust when ready to use). These are always a hit in our home :)

    Below we are sharing our easiest ever crust recipe and zucchini quiche fillings that we like to freeze:

    Loving this series, JES :)

    1. Thank you Jes! These are awesome recipes and tips. I like that your husband really got enthusiastic and planted so many zucchini! No wonder you have so many recipes!
      I make zucchini and haloumi fritters that are really nice. The haloumi in them is a nice addition and a bit fancy!
      Many thanks! xxx

  6. We like chicken and broccoli and it is a great way to use up bits of a roasted chicken and some leftover broccoli. Any cheese is good. I do frittatas if my oldest daughter will be here since she is gluten free. The grandchildren gobble them up!

    1. Those frittatas would be so good for your Grandchildren (as well as your daughter!) really they are packed full of goodness. Chicken and broccoli sounds yum and healthy too. xx

  7. Your Mother's Day sounds like it was lovely!
    My son has serious egg and dairy allergies, so we can't use eggs or milk based dishes. I struggle with this because it would be a much more frugal, easy and nutritious way to feed my family. My husband and I like eggs, so we will occasionally make them for ourselves. I love your use-it-up posts, it helps me be purposeful in thinking of better ways to work on the kitchen. Thanks!

    1. Dear Marie,
      I understand your problem, my younger brother could not have eggs as a child (although he can now). My Mother would make up meals for him that he could have and still make up egg dishes for the rest of us. This would help as you say the economy of it but also the nutrition is good for those that can have them. If not at the dinner table then for lunch boxes etc for those that can have them and it will still save you money.
      Thank you, Im glad the series is helpful. It is good for me as it makes me think all the time!
      I am posting a use it up muffin recipe coming up... I am hoping you would be able to use an egg substitute in this... I will look into it as the recipe is a huge money saver. xxx

    2. Thanks! Yes, we make muffins without eggs all the time. In fact, those for us who can have eggs prefer muffins without because we are so used to it. I just add a little extra liquid, they turn out fine. I used to substitute with flax seed or bananas, but they sometimes overpower the taste of the muffin.

  8. Frittatas are such a good way to use up leftovers! I'll be adding your basic recipes to my recipe collection. Thank you for sharing! You mentioned that Lucy had used 'weights' when pre-baking her crust ... is this like pie beads?

    1. Patsi yes pie beads or dry beans. Her pie crust was far neater than mine ever are!
      Thank you! The pantry and these recipes go well together as many pantry items will make up versions of these. My long life cream and evaporated milk, jars of sundried tomato, herbs etc. So handy! xxx

  9. Annabel sounds like you had a wonderful day, hope that Lucy did put her feet up after lunch.

    We visited my mother in law for a couple of hours - decided on not going for a drive along the water front because it was a nice day and I knew that there would be lots of people out enjoying the weather. A brother in law arrived just before we left and said that there had to be 2000 people down there, road was at a stand still.

    It is something that we can do on another visit, if we feel inclined to otherwise we can just pop down to our little beach a few houses down - no crowds at all to worry about.

    I do not do quiches, being gluten free it is far easier to just make impossible pies or zucchini slice which is a variation on an impossible pie especially as I leave the oil out of it. They also freeze really well so I can make a large one and freeze it for later.

    Our son is coming in for lunch today - it is shopping week so things are seriously depleted due to me not doing a proper shop when we got back from our break - it was the time to use things up and make room for some winter foods.

    We have rissoles and vegetables so we have lunch done, I need to buy some eggs because we are out of them and I want to make a cake but other than that we can survive as tomorrow is grocery day.

    Later when I am doing my grocery list I will make sure that I have spinach and fetta on it - love that in an impossible pie and it is handy to have on hand just in case we have lunch guests.


    1. I am not keen on crowds either Lynette and look for the quiet place or the quiet time too!
      Spinach and feta is a lovely combination. I have my favourite combinations and now and then discover another one , usually by accident!
      I hope tomorrow you find some great specials. I am watching for good vegie specials to make up big pots of soup but no luck yesterday at all!
      Lots of love,

  10. Great photos and recipes Annabel. What a naughty (but clever) girl Lucy is. Sounds like a great mothers day. I'm coming back to this post again tomorrow to take some notes and some good replies too. Can't wait to hear your baby news. Fi xxx


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