Category Archives: Hearty meals

Quick chorizo and vegetable warmer


An ideal tasty and speedy winter lunch for two.


1 tbsp cooking oil

Half a large onion, sliced

Half a green pepper, sliced

Half a large carrot, sliced

Half a large sweet potato, boiled and diced

60g diced chorizo

Ground pepper

Garlic granules

100g grated cheese

Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)


1) Pour the oil into a large frying pan and wipe around using kitchen roll.

2)Put the pan on a high heat, add the onion, pepper, carrot and sweet potato. Fry until starting to colour, then reduce to a medium heat. Stir frequently.

3) Add the chorizo, ground pepper, garlic granules and chili flakes, if using.

4)After a few minutes, when all the vegetables are browned, reduce to a low heat and stir through the cheese.

5)Serve hot, topped with jalapeno, if you like them!



Italian style winter casserole

Flavourful sauce, plenty of veg and yummy meat balls – something for everyone! Can be prepared in advance and then finished in the oven.

Serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers


Olive oil

Half a large onion (finely chopped)

60g Diced chorizo

100ml red wine

1 yellow pepper (diced)

Half an aubergine (diced)

2 x 400g chopped tomatoes

Ground black pepper

12  meat balls (cooked or raw)

120g grated cheese


1)Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft.

2)Add chorizo, and cook for a couple of minutes.

3)Pour in red wine and raise the temperature until the wine boils rapidly. Boil until reduced in volume by half.

4)Reduce the heat and stir in both tins of chopped tomatos, then season with a little pepper. Bring to the boil. Simmer on a low heat until the sauce is thick and not too liquid (approximately 30 min).

5)Meanwhile, if you bought raw meat balls fry these in a little oil over a medium heat until cooked through. If not proceed to step 6.

6)Pour the sauce into a casserole dish and dot with the meat balls. Using a spoon, push them down so the sauce covers them. Then top with the cheese.

7)Place in a pre-heated oven (190 degrees Celsius) for 30 min or until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling.

8)Serve with pasta and salad.

Easy-Peasy (not really) Carbonara

This lovely, creamy, scrumptious Carbonara is the ultimate comfort food. If you’re making this for pregnant ladies, or the under 1s remember to cook the eggs thoroughly when you add them. Otherwise, you can leave them rich and unctuous.

Serves 2 adults


180g pasta

4 rashers of bacon snipped into bits

2 eggs

100g grated cheese

4 tblsps olive oil



1) Cook the pasta as per packet instructions. Whilst the pasta is cooking, fry the bacon until browned and crispy, then drain on kitchen paper.

2)Lightly beat the eggs with the olive oil and a pinch of pepper. Stir in the grated cheese.

3)Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Stir in the bacon.

4)Pour the egg mixture over the pasta, and cook stirring over a low heat until rich and creamy. Serve with a crispy salad.

Chocolate bread and butter pudding

The kids loved helping to make this, it was really simple and delicious hot or cold. I think they were a bit disappointed that as there’s no batter mix like with a cake, there wasn’t a bowl to lick out at the end…

Serves 6-8



Half a stale white baguette


100g chocolate chips

50g raisins

2 tblsps cocoa powder

90g caster sugar

5 eggs

2 and a quarter pints of milk (soya is fine)


Large, shallow lasagne dish

Roasting tin, big enough that the lasagne dish fits into it


1) Slice the bread into 1 inch thick pieces and spread thickly with butter.

2)Grease the lasagne dish, then arrange the bread in overlapping rows in the dish.

3)Sprinkle with chocolate chips and raisins

4)Add the cocoa powder to a quarter of a pint of milk and stir into a smooth paste.

5)To make the custard, beat the eggs thoroughly, then whisk in the caster sugar. Stir in the cocoa mixture and the remaining 2 pints of milk.

6)Spoon the custard over the bread and allow to soak for 5 minutes.

7)Put the lasagne dish into the roasting tin, then add water so that the sides of the lasagne dish are halfway covered.

8)Put in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 50mins. Check regularly, do not allow to dry out. The pudding is ready when the custard is lightly set and the top is browned. To check insert a sharp knife into the centre. If the custard is still runny, bake for another 10 mins. Serve warm with custard, ice cream or cream.

Beef and Winter Vegetable Stew

A great meal on a cold day, and full of hidden veg that the kids will never know they’re eating! Works great served with cheesy dumplings, click here for the recipe. This is another slow one, but make it on a quiet Sunday afternoon and serve the leftovers later in the week. It definitely re-heats well. Like other stews, this one can be made more quickly by using a pressure cooker.


2 tblsps cooking oil

1 large onion, chopped

450g diced beef

3 large carrots, diced

1 medium parsnip, diced

1 small swede, diced

1 tblsp worcester sauce

2 beef stock cubes

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried sage

1 bay leaf

4 juniper berries

4 tblsps tomato paste

4-5 large savoy cabbage leaves, stalks removed and finely chopped

1 tin of pinto beans


1) Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan or pressure cooker. Add the onions and fry lightly, stirring all the time.

2)Add the beef, and fry over a high heat until browned.

3)Sprinkle on the worcester sauce, stock cubes, salt and pepper, rosemary, sage, juniper berries and bay leaf. Cook stirring for a minute.

4)Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients. If using a pressure cooker, cook the stew at the highest pressure setting for 30min, do not overfill. Otherwise, simmer for 3 hours, stirring regularly. If the stew starts to look dry, add a little water.

5)When the meat is soft and starting to fall apart, add the tomato paste, cabbage and pinto beans. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, then simmer for around 20 min. If serving with dumplings, add them at this point and simmer until cooked.

Pork and Tomato Stew with Cheesy Dumplings

This one isn’t quick to make, but is worth the wait! The stew freezes well and could be served with crusty bread on defrosting, whilst the dumplings are simple enough that a toddler can help make them.

Makes enough for 2 adults and 2 toddlers


1tblsp cooking oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 pork steaks, diced

A quarter of a pint of white wine

2 carrots, diced

1 medium sweet potato, diced

1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 tin chopped tomatos

1 vegetable stock cube

3 tblsps tomato puree

Half a teaspoon of garlic granules

1 tblsp golden syrup

1 handful of chopped, dried dates or raisins

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper

1 packet dumpling mix (enough to make 6 dumplings)

80g cheese, grated


1) Heat up the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the onions and reduce to a medium heat. When the onions start to soften, add the pork, turn up the heat and fry until the meat is lightly browned.

2)Add the wine and bring quickly to the boil. Allow to boil vigorously for 4-5min, stirring occasionally. Then reduce the heat, add the carrots, sweet potato and apple and stir.

3) Stir in the chopped tomatos and add enough water to the pan so that the vegetables and meat are just covered.

4) Add the vegetable stock cube, tomato puree, garlic, golden syrup, dates and mustard. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring the stew to the boil, then allow to simmer for 30min.

5)Meanwhile empty enough dumpling mix into a bowl to make 6 dumplings and stir in the grated cheese. Then follow the instructions on the packet to form into dumplings.

6)Keep the stew simmering. Check the taste and add any more salt and pepper if required. The stew should be thickening by this stage. If it is still very thin and runny stir in some tomato puree, one tablespoon at a time, until it begins to thicken.

7)Now place the dumplings on the stew and simmer for a further fifteen minutes.

8)Carefully turn the dumplings, and simmer for another fifteen minutes.

9)Check the dumplings are cooked through by cutting one in half. Serve on large plates.

Beef and Mushroom Pie (a great alternative to a Sunday roast)

In the current economic climate meat for a good roast can be a bit pricey. Here is a cheaper, but still very tasty alternative.

Makes enough for 5-6


5 rashers smoked streaky bacon, snipped into bits with scissors

1 onion, chopped

500g beef stewing steak, diced

400g sliced mushrooms

3 carrots, diced

1 tblsp plain flour

2 stock cubes

2 bay leaves

4 juniper berries

Cornflour or gravy granules

Salt and pepper

1 packet ready rolled short crust pastry

1 tblsp milk


1) Heat up a large pan or pressure cooker pan on the hob. When hot, add the bacon and fry over a medium heat until the fat starts to melt. Now add the onions and beef and fry until the beef is browned.

2) Stir in the plain flour, coating all ingredients in the pan evenly. Now add the carrots and mushrooms and fry briefly.

3)Cover with water and bring to the boil. Add the stock cubes, bay leaves and juniper berries. Simmer on the hob for around two and a half to three hours with the lid on. If necessary add more water to ensure pan does not dry out. Alternatively close the pressure cooker as per manufacturer’s instructions and cook on the highest pressure setting for 25-30min.

4)When the meat is tender, but not yet falling apart, remove the bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Then thicken using either the gravy granules or cornflour, again following the instructions on the packet. The sauce should be very thick.

5)Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Flour a surface and lay out the unwrapped pastry. Put a 2 and a half litre oven proof dish on top of the pastry and  cut around it leaving a 1 inch margin to account for shrinkage. This is the pastry lid for your pie.

6)Pour the filling into the oven proof dish and lay the pastry on top. Cut a vent into the pastry lid and decorate with left overs, sticking the decorations in place with a little milk.

7)Bake the pie in the oven for around 20-30min, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven, put straight on the table and serve with boiled potatos and mixed vegetables.