Homemade Cottage Pie – Pic Heavy x

I bought a 5kg sack of potatoes last week, and so far we’d only used a small handful out of it.  Usually when I buy spuds, they end up growing roots all over them, and sometimes I forget about them completely, and end up having to chuck them out.

I wanted to use up some of the potatoes, so I wandered around Asda earlier today, wondering what I could make with them.

There’s a shelf hidden away that stores all the reduced fresh foods…  The foods that have the “eat by” (todays) date on, and sometimes you can get a real bargain there.  In the past, I’ve managed to get a beautiful rump steak for only 60p!

Scouring the shelf this afternoon, I looked through the reduced fish, quiches, yogurts…  And there it was.  Hidden at the back, under a pile of macaroni cheese ready meals…  A 500g carton of lean beef mince.  It had a price tag of £4.99 on the carton, but a yellow sticker placed on top, saying £3.42.  Not a huge saving, but I was in a bit of a rush at this point.

The dilemma of what we were going to have for dinner was solved.  Cottage Pie.

Now, you may be surprised when I tell you that there are so many people out there who do not know the difference between a cottage and a shepherds pie (seriously – I’m not lying!!).

It’s easy to remember…  What do shepherds do?  They look after sheep!  A shepherds pie is made with lamb.  A cottage pie is beef.

So, here’s my take on the classic cottage pie.  It’s so family friendly, that even my 4 year old had seconds!!

Ingredients

Beef mince meat

Potatoes

Peas

Carrots

Beef gravy granules

Cheese (I used red Leicester)

BBQ sauce

Salt

Oil (for frying)

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 200C (180C for fan assisted ovens), and get an ovenproof dish ready.
  • Peel and quarter your potatoes, then place them in a large pan.  Add a sprinkle of salt, and cover the potatoes with water.  Bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, heat a frying pan with a splash of oil in it.  I usually use my wok because of its’ size.  I love my wok, ha ha.  When the oil is almost bubbling, gently place the mince meat in to the oil, and separate with a wooden spoon / spatula.

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  • When the meat has all browned off, squirt a bit of barbecue sauce on top of the meat, and stir in well.
  • This is the part that I cheat on…  A little bit anyway.  Now you can do it with fresh peas and carrots, but due to a certain little man annoying me for his dinner, I opened a tin of petit pois and carrots and threw them in.

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  • Next up is to make yourself about 3/4 of a pint of gravy.  If you’ve never done this before (which I’m sure you have), simply add two large spoonfuls of gravy granules to a jug, and pour in boiled water, whisking constantly.  When you’ve made your gravy, pour it over the meat and veg, and stir thoroughly.

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  • As soon as the meat mixture has been stirred thoroughly, scoop in to an ovenproof dish, and set aside until you’re ready for the potatoes.

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  • Your potatoes should almost be done now.  To check if they’re ready, simply prod a couple with a fork, or knife.  If the utensil slips in to the potato easily, then they’re ready to be mashed.  Drain the excess water from the pan, add a big blob of butter (or marg), and attack it with your masher!

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  • When it’s all mashed, use a large metal spoon (or wooden – whatever you like) to scoop the potatoes on top of the meat mixture.

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  • Phew!  We’re almost there now…  If you haven’t already, now’s the time to get your cheese of choice grated.  When that’s done, sprinkle as much (or as little) as you want on top of the potatoes.

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  • Ok!  Be careful here, as I’m sure you’re aware; ovens are hot!!  Place your dish in the middle of the oven, and set your timer for 20 minutes.
  • It’s time for the waiting game now.  You can do whatever you want at this point.  I decided I was going to have a Diet Coke break (I have not been paid to advertise them, lol).

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  • What’s that I can hear?  It’s the timer!  It’s dinner time!!

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  • Enjoy!
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It’s all happening today…

Today I am 38 weeks pregnant.

Last night was the last time I will ever sleep in my own bed, cuddling my ‘only’ child.

At 6pm today, I am being admitted to hospital, as because I am having an elective c-section (due to medical reasons), I need to start a course of steroid injections before the surgery.  My antenatal consultant stated that I could have had the injections as an out-patient, but because of complications that could arise, she would rather that I just go in today as an in-patient, and “see it out”.  I thought it best to follow her advice.

On Monday, 1 June 2015, our second ‘bundle of blue’ will be ‘hatched’ in to the world.  I have no idea on the time of the surgery yet, although I have been told that because I will already be an in-patient, it is more than likely going to be the first or second section of the morning.

I’m nervous.  No.  I’m terrified.  I have what is known as the ‘second child fear’.  I suppose I should have tried to tackle this much earlier, but I have been assured from so many people that my thoughts will disappear.

Basically, I am worried that Gning is going to feel neglected when Donut comes along.  Is he going to be jealous..?  I don’t think so…  He’s been cuddling me, and asking questions – for probably the past 6 months – and asking if he can “shake Donuts hands” when he’s here.  I don’t think the problem is with Gning.  No.  It’s me.  I’m scared that I cannot love a second child…  Will I be able to love Donut as much as I love Gning?  Will I have to share the love..?  According to everyone I have already spoken to, they are empty anxieties.  I will always love my little man as strongly as I do now; and when Donut arrives, and is in my arms, apparently, there’s another “bubble of love” that will pop, and it’ll be like I double the amount of love I have to give.

I’m ok.  I promise!  It is just the nerves talking…

It’s 9:10am, Saturday morning.  I’ve been up for a little under an hour; and I already have my lunch in the slow cooker.  We’re having braising steak, in a mushroom gravy, with baby new potatoes (with the skins still on); buttered with herbs.  It was delicious last time we had it, and I imagine it’s going to be just as lush this time – although hubby dearest is disagreeing me with, as he and mushrooms just don’t see eye-to-eye…  Ahh well.  It just means more for me 😛

I have a relatively full day today.  You know – considering I said that I am going to try to have a lazy day at home, before heading up to my parents, so they can ‘escort’ me to the hospital.  Plans never seem to follow through though, when you want a quiet day.

So, this is the last post I am making as being a parent to an ‘only’ child.  The next post I write will no doubt be to introduce our latest addition 🙂

Until then, have a wonderful weekend x

Super Easy Homemade Veggie Soup – pic heavy

After being informed that I need to increase the iron in my diet, I decided that I would grab a few bags of pre-prepped veg from Asda.  It seemed like a good choice, so I got two bags of diced potatoes, and two bags of broccoli, carrots and sprouts.  We used one bag of the mixed veg, and one bag of potatoes on Saturday, to go with a pre-cooked chicken (also from Asda – we were having a bit of a lazy cooking day, ha ha).

When I got to the fridge, early this afternoon, there was lots in there to feed me, but I realised that I needed to get the veg eaten.

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So I decided to make a veggie soup in my slow cooker (please note that this recipe can also be made in a large pan (with lid), so if you don’t have a slow cooker / crock pot, don’t dismay!!).

Ingredients

Potatoes

Mixed veg

Gravy stock (veg / chicken stock works best, but I only had beef available)

Salt & pepper

Tabasco sauce

Method

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Gather all your veg and throw it all in to your slow cooker / pan.

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Make up your gravy stock, according to the instructions on the packet.  For me, I used four heaped teaspoons of the Bisto beef gravy granules, and topped up the jug with boiling water.  In reality, this wasn’t enough, and was really watery, but I knew that once the potatoes had cooked, and when everything had been blended together at the end, it would soon thicken up.

08 09 11Pour the gravy stock over the veg, and top up with kettle water, ensuring to ‘almost’ cover the veg completely.  Add a sprinkling of salt & pepper, and cover with a lid.

12 13Turn your slow cooker on to “HIGH”, and set your timer for 5 hours.

Alternatively, if you’re using the ‘pan on the hob’ technique, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for approximately 40 minutes.  After this time, check the sprouts (or potatoes) with a sharp knife…  The knife should slip right through the veg with no difficulty what-so-ever.

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When the veg is cooked right through, grab your hand blender, and blend, blend, blend!!  If you like your soup with a few ‘chunks’ of veg in it, just be sure not to blend the soup for too long.  Give it a stir every now and again until you get to the perfect consistency for you.

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Finally, add a splash (or two) of Tabasco sauce to taste, stir in to the soup, then serve.

Enjoy!