Adventures with Lasagna

In the past few weeks, I’ve learnt how to make lasagne two ways – one with mince and one with lentils and mushrooms.

Beef Mince Lasagna

I used a recipe I found here for this dish.

Ingredients:

  • Lasagna sheets
  • Cheese
  • Oil
  • Onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Beef mince
  • 1x bottle pasta sauce
  • Butter/ margarine
  • Plain flour
  • Milk

Tools:

  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Baking dish
  • kitchen spoon and spatula
  • Cutlery and crockery plus containers to store the leftovers.

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180*C. Chop onion and garlic finely – also chop veggies to steam to have with the lasagna.
  2. First, make the meat sauce – fry the onion and garlic until soft, then add the mince and cook until browned.
  3. Stir in the pasta sauce, then cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
  4. While it’s simmering, make the white sauce – heat the butter in the saucepan over low heat.
  5. Add the flour and mix until smooth.
  6. Gradually add the milk and gently bring to a boil, stirring until thick (try to avoid lumps!).
  7. Add cheese (I grated mine in) and stir until melted.
  8. Construct lasagna by lightly greasing a baking dish, then layering meat sauce, white sauce and lasagna sheets – make sure the lasagna sheets are fully covered. The topmost layer should be a white sauce layer.
  9. Add extra cheese and scatter herbs on top.
  10. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes (cook vegetables on the stove at the same time)
  11. Plate up and eat! I got four lasagna portions when I made this.

Lentil and Mushroom Lasagna

I got the recipe for this lasagna from Jack Monroe’s Ultimate Lasagne.

Ingredients:

  • garlic
  • lentils
  • mushrooms
  • leafy winter greens & peas
  • pasta sauce/ diced tomatoes
  • mixed herbs
  • onion
  • flour
  • oil/ butter/ margarine
  • milk

Tools:

  • Frying pan
  • Saucepan
  • Baking dish
  • kitchen spoon and spatula
  • Cutlery and crockery plus containers to store the leftovers.

Method:

  1. Peel and finely chop onion, garlic and vegetables.
  2. Gently fry the onion and garlic in oil for a few minutes on medium heat.
  3. Drain and rinse the lentils then add them to the pan. Add tomatoes and herbs. Jack adds a splash of wine here, too, but I didn’t have any so use a splash of vegetable stock instead.
  4. Turn up the heat to bring to a boil, then turn down again to medium to simmer.
  5. Ensure mushrooms are “chopped to smithereens” – they’re supposed to have an “almost-mince-like texture”.
  6. Add chopped mushrooms to the pan with leafy greens (and peas, in my case). Give it a stir.
  7. While the lentils are cooking and absorbing flavour, make the white sauce. Heat the oil/margarine and flour together and stir to form a paste.
  8. Add a splash of milk to loosen it, then another splash. Stir while you keep adding splashes of milk until it reaches a good consistency – don’t rush it.
  9. Once all of the milk is incorporated, leave it to cook on a low heat for about ten minutes or so as it thickens.
  10. Preheat oven to 180*C and lightly grease a baking dish. Spoon a layer of the lentil-mushroom mix into the dish, then add a layer of lasagna sheets, then a layer of the white sauce. Repeat until all of the lentil-mushroom mix is gone, remembering to finish with a white sauce layer.
  11. Place into the oven and bake for around thirty minutes, or more if the lasagna sheets aren’t cooked when you stick a knife into the top.
  12. Plate up and eat. Again, this gave me four portions.

 

Advertisements

Chickpea bolognese pasta bake

I made this last week and it was really yummy. I was a bit impatient and – at the time – had cream but no cheese, so it ended up being a little different than I’d thought. Still delicious though – and I’m sure there are ways of substituting dairy ingredients if needed… if I hadn’t had the cream to pour over just before baking, it probably would’ve been just as nice.

on a white plate with green rim is piled pasta with chickpeas and vegetables, brownish-red from bolognese sauce

Ingredients:

  • oil
  • onion
  • garlic
  • vegetables: carrot, cauliflower, bok choi, mushrooms
  • 1x tin of chickpeas
  • decent quantity of pasta
  • jar of tomato paste and/or tin of diced tomatoes
  • mixed herbs
  • cream/ cheese/ substitute

Tools:

  • flat-bottomed frying pan
  • saucepan
  • baking dish
  • kitchen spoon
  • cutlery and crockery

Method:

  1. Choose and chop vegetables and onion into fairly small pieces
  2. Heat oil in the frying pan to a medium heat and add onion, vegetables and garlic – cook until soft.
  3. Drain chickpeas and (optional) if you have one on hand, you might pulse them in a blender for a few seconds until coarsely chopped (as suggested by the original recipe)
  4. Add tomato paste/ diced tomatoes with mixed herbs as well as the chickpeas to the frying pan, bring to a simmer and cook for ten minutes or so.
  5. While this is happening, cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente – it’ll soften more in the oven.
  6. Drain the pasta and combine with the chickpea bolognese mixture and mix.
    NB. If you like, stop here and plate up your chickpea bolognese. If you have a hankering for a pasta bake, though, continue to the next step.
  7. Tip the mixture into a baking dish and – if you have them on hand – top with cheese, or drizzle cream over the top.
  8. Bake in the oven at 190*C for 25-30 minutes or until it’s cooked enough for you.

Mixed-bean stew with rice

Another recipe! This was supposed to be a mixed-bean goulash, a la Jack Monroe, but I didn’t have any tomatoes…and then accidentally left it to simmer a bit too long on the stove so too much water evaporated, so it didn’t end up exactly as intended. Still yummy in the end though.

Ingredients:

  • 1x can of mixed beans
  • 1/4x onion
  • 1/2x carrot
  • a few bok choy leaves
  • 2x cauliflower florets
  • corn kernels
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • tsp of Vegemite
  • soy sauce
  • mixed herbs
  • hot water (at least half a bean tin, if not more)
  • stock cube
  • tsp sugar
  • Moroccan spice mix
  • Rice

Tools:

  • big frypan
  • small saucepan
  • kitchen spoon
  • teaspoons

Method:

  1. Chop vegetables and drain beans
  2. Fry onion in oil with garlic, ginger and mixed herbs
  3. Add other veg
  4. Add Vegemite with water and stock cube (remember to add extra water if you’ve got lots of veg!) and stir.
  5. Let simmer for fifteen minutes or so, stirring as needed so it doesn’t stick.
  6. If you leave it too long and it does stick a bit, use a firm spatula and more water to rescue it, plus a bit of soy sauce if required to get rid of any burnt taste. 😉
  7. Tip in the beans and stir to combine then heat for another ten minutes or so.
  8. Cook the rice while the mixture has its last ten minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

On a white plate with a green rim, viewed from above, are mixed beans, rice and veg in a dark brown sauce, mixed together

 

 

 

Tomatoey Lentils and Veg with Rice

I made this last week but unfortunately didn’t written anything down until I wrote this post, not even a title or recipe link saved on my phone. So I’ve had to take a bit of a guess at things.

Ingredients:

  • Onion
  • Tomato paste
  • Water/ vegetable stock
  • Vegetables – e.g. bok choy, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushroom
  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Spicy sauce (optional – just something I had in the fridge, consists of a stir-fry sauce with chilli and garlic and mixed herbs)

Tools:

  • frying pan
  • saucepan
  • kitchen spoon
  • cutlery and crockery

Method:

  1. Chop onion and vegetables
  2. Put lentils in the saucepan on a low heat, in water. Add chilli sauce if desired and cook.
  3. Fry onion and mushroom in the pan until onion is soft and mushrooms are starting to turn golden.
  4. Add other vegetables and fry for a minute or two, then add mixed herbs and tomato paste with vegetable stock.
  5. Let simmer until vegetables are done (sauce will reduce, so top up with extra water as needed.).
  6. While vegetables are simmering, add noodles to a pot of boiling water and let cook.
  7. When vegetables are almost ready, add lentils into the pan and stir to combine.
  8. When noodles are finished, drain them and tip into the pan with the vegetables and lentils.
  9. I “fry-steamed” a couple of Brussels sprouts to go with this, just because I felt like it. They take 8 or so minutes in a small frypan.
  10. You’re ready to serve. This will make leftovers.

Flavoured Chops with Veggies and Noodles

Hi all. Here’s another recipe post.

The other night, I had chops, veg and noodles. I started out with a simple idea of dusting the chops with mixed herbs, then frying them with some garlic. A usual thing for me. But when it came time to cook, I didn’t want to have steamed veggies with it. So I did things a bit differently.

In a deep black frying pan are chops in a red tomatoey sauce with carrots, corn, bok choi and cauliflower with noodles stirred through

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 small chops
  • 1 clove garlic*
  • 1 tsp dried ginger*
    NB. Or whatever variations of garlic and ginger you have.
  • 2-3 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1/4x onion
  • different veggies – as you can see in the picture, I used carrot, cauliflower, corn and bok choi
  • Water
  • Tomato paste (to taste)
  • 1x serving of noodles
  • Cooking oil

Tools:

  • 1x frying pan
  • 1x small saucepan
  • 1x kitchen spoon
  • 2-3 teaspoons
  • 1x tongs
  • cutlery and crockery for plating & eating

Method:

  1. Chop vegetables, onion.  and garlic clove.
  2. Take chops out of its packaging and chop off excess fat
  3. Fry the onion with garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes in oil.
  4. While this occurs, scatter a teaspoon (roughly) of mixed herbs onto each chop and ensure both sides are coated.
  5. Fry chops in oil with the garlic, ginger and onion.
  6. When both sides are browned, turn heat to low and add chopped vegetables.
  7. Give that another minute or two, then add water mixed with tomato paste. This shouldn’t cover the vegetables or meat but just create a nice sauce for them.
  8. Cook noodles in boiling water. Once done, stir them through the frying pan mixture.
  9. Plate up and eat.

Yum!

 

Meatloaf with mushroom sauce

This week has been busy! Yesterday was a real doozy. Something that keeps me grounded is my cooking.

On Monday evening, my partner came over and we made a meatloaf with mushroom sauce, steamed veg and noodles. It was really good.

Ingredients:

  • 2x serves of mince (we used 1x roo mince and 1x Adani Kofte-flavoured mince) – about 200g?
  • 1 egg
  • breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp of Vegemite (or equivalent malt/ yeast spread)
  • 4-6 button mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/4x onion
  • vegetable stock
  • cooking oil
  • extra veg, for steaming
  • noodles or another carb, to serve

Tools:

  • 1x medium to large mixing bowl
  • 2x kitchen spoon/ spatula/ stirrer
  • 1x baking tray
  • 1x steamer pot
  • 1x saucepan

Method:

  1. Mix mince, breadcrumbs, egg and 1 tsp Vegemite in the bowl.
    NB.   You can add extra flavourings (e.g. mixed herbs, garlic) and/or extra veg (e.g. carrots/ celery/ zucchini, chopped finely), but I had no carrots in the house, and as we were using already-flavoured mince, extras weren’t really needed.
    NB#2. The Vegemite tip came from my dad – it gives the meatloaf a really nice subtle “extra” flavour.
  2. Drizzle a baking tray with oil, or cover it with baking paper. Shape the mince mixture into a rough log/ loaf and place onto the tray, then into the oven it goes. We put it in for 35 minutes.
  3. Chop the veggies for steaming then place them in the steamer pot. They’ll take about 15 minutes to cook – remember to time it so that they’ll finish at the same time as the meatloaf.
  4. Prepare the noodles for cooking and time this to the finishing time of the others.
  5. The last task is to make the mushroom sauce/ gravy. You’ll want to chop up the mushrooms quite finely and dice the onion.
  6. Put these into a pan over medium heat and let simmer for a few minutes, stirring, until the mushrooms start turning golden. Add either a tsp of Vegemite or a dash of soy sauce in at this point.
  7. Keep stirring and add a bit of flour, then veggie stock, then flour, then stock. Do this until you’ve reached your desired consistency, depending on whether you’re making a sauce or a gravy.
  8. When everything is ready, serve it up and dig in!

 

Spicy black bean and mushroom stew

Hi all. This was last night’s dinner – I was very pleased with it. It was a case of “a little of this, a little of that”, made using a few things I had in the fridge and pantry. It made two servings – so I’ll get to enjoy it again another day. Yay!

On a white plate with green rim are the pasta with the stew on top - you can see the black beans, cauli, Brussel sprouts and peanuts clearly

Ingredients:

  • 1x can of black beans, drained
  • 3x Brussel sprouts (1 large, 2 smaller)
  • 1x large floret of cauliflower
  • 2x choy sum leaves
  • 6x button mushrooms, small to medium sizes
  • 1/3x onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • A generous amount of chilli (whatever suits your spice levels)
  • A dash of pepper
  • A sprinkling or two of mixed herbs (mixed herbs go with everything!)
  • A glug of honey-soy sauce
  • 1 – 1&1/4 cups of veggie stock
  • Oil for frying
  • Optional: a sprinkling of fish sauce and a dollop of oyster sauce (I used these because they were available – if you’re really vegetarian, sub in something else, even another glug of the honey-soy)
  • Optional: a decent handful of peanuts
  • Optional: a couple of dollops of cream or milk
  • pasta (or another carb) to serve with the stew

Tools:

  • 1x large flat-bottomed frying pan
  • 1x kitchen spoon
  • 3x teaspoons
  • 1x strainer
  • 1x small to medium-sized pot

Method:

Note: I tried to watch the clock with this so I could say how long everything took, but I got distracted by the cooking process, cleaning up as I went – and by listening to a podcast from Conversations, which is a regular mealtime activity if I’m by myself. All I know is that cooking took about half an hour all up.

  1. De-shell peanuts, if required and set aside
  2. Chop up mushrooms into very small pieces
  3. Thinly slice the cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and roughly chop the choy sum
  4. Chop onion roughly.
  5. Fry onion in hot oil. After a minute or two, add garlic, ginger and chilli. Stir around to coat the mushrooms and make sure nothing is sticking. Give it a couple of minutes.
  6. After that’s cooked for a bit, dump in the mushrooms and peanuts, if using. Mix around to coat and let them fry for a bit. Maybe five minutes?
  7. Put on the pasta to cook according to packet instructions – if it finishes before the stew, just cover it and turn the heat off.
  8. Next, tip in the drained black beans. Mix them around to allow them to soak up the flavours. Give it a couple of minutes.
  9. Add the sauces and stir, then give it another five minutes or so.
  10. Add the rest of the veg, with the cup of veggie stock. Stir it around and add some mixed herbs and pepper if desired. Cover and let it simmer away for another five minutes or so.
  11. Take the lid off and stir the mixture around. You can add a few dollops of cream (or milk) here if desired – I had some in the fridge thanks to a dinner gathering I went to earlier in the week.
  12. Let it simmer away for another few minutes until the veggies you added in Step 9 are soft and everything is combined nicely.
  13. Serve it up and EAT!

Here is the process in pictures:

Reblog: Top 5 tips for Living Healthily on a Budget

Check out the latest post from Jack Monroe. I might use their method to do a kitchen audit, and chat more about my thoughts about this, later…. once I’ve made more progress on my project proposal, that is. The flexible deadline is tomorrow (Friday), but given tomorrow’s schedule, I want to get as much as possible done today! So this busy bee needs to get buzzing.

Here, have a picture of one of my latest “creations”: lentils and veg in a store-bought-on-special teriyaki sauce with rice. It was quite nice actually.

On a white plate with green rim sits white rice with lentils and veg in a teriyaki sauce around it on the right side. A fork is partly visible next to the rice.

Morrocan Eggplant and Chickpea Stew

Hi there! The first of a few new recipe posts from the past few weeks.

Eggplant is a really versatile vegetable, as it can be used in lots of different ways. It can have a strong flavour, but I think that depends a bit on how you cook it, myself. 😉

The recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Half of/ one eggplant
  • Half/ One can of chickpeas
  • Teaspoons of garlic to taste
  • Morrocan spice mix
  • One onion
  • Vegetable stock
  • Tomato paste or diced tomatoes
  • Extra vegetables – carrot, corn, greens
  • Oil, for frying
  • Potato/ rice/ pasta/ couscous, to serve with the stew

Tools:

  • large, flat-bottomed frying pan
  • kitchen spoon
  • kitchen knife
  • chopping board
  • pot for potato/ rice/ pasta

Method:

  1. Cut off the ends of the eggplant, than chop into cubes.
  2. Chop the onion roughly.
  3. Coat the frypan with oil and set on the stove at medium heat.
  4. Add the garlic, onion and Morrocan spice mix, with extra chilli or cumin if desired. A handful of mixed herbs would go well here too. Cook until the onions have softened (approx. 4-5 minutes).
  5. Add the eggplant and chickpeas, along with the stock and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer.
  6. Add the extra vegetables and simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for fifteen-twenty minutes, until the eggplant is tender.
  7. Uncover and stir. Depending on preference, you can give it another five minutes or so uncovered if you want it to be less soupy.
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Serve over rice / pasta / couscous / potato.

 

 

Vegetarian Stir-Fry with Special Sauce

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while. In fact, I thought I already had, but I’d only written it down…

A can of mixed beans is an awesome base for a vegetarian meal. Get several when you see them on special and store them at the back of the cupboard.

A couple of months ago, I was looking to buy some soy sauce as I was running low. In the supermarket, I spied a sauce that looked interesting called “honey-soy sauce”. I decided to buy it and try it. It has served me well, and this dish was its first outing.

On a white plate with green rim is a mix of green, orange, yellow and white veg covered in brown sauce, mixed with beans
Vegetarian stir-fry with special sauce
Ingredients:
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Veggies
  • Potato, rice or noodles
  • Can of a four-bean mix
  • 1/4 cup water
  • A decent glug of honey-soy sauce
  • Splash of oyster sauce,
  • Half or full teaspoon of chilli
  • A tablespoon of peanut butter.
Utensils:
  • Pot
  • Large frypan
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
Method:
  1. Chop veg & onion & potato
  2. Mix water, honey-soy and oyster sauces, chilli and peanut butter together to make the sauce – adjust quantities to taste.
  3. Combine garlic, ginger, onion in a hot frypan
  4. Boil water for potato/ rice/ noodles
  5. Tip veg into the frypan
  6. Start cooking potato
  7. Fry veg for ~5 mins, stirring
  8. Tip sauce into the pan, stir
  9. Add more water if necessary
  10. When it’s cooked, it’s ready to eat with the potato.

Sauce inspired by this recipe: https://hurrythefoodup.com/easy-vegetable-stir-fry-with-creamy-peanut-sauce/

And yes, if you’re paying attention, the marinade for the one-pot chicken dish was based on this sauce! Having been introduced to it, I love this combo.