Cheeseburger Pasta Bake

This cheeseburger pasta bake, topped with gooey cheese, is super simple to make, and will have your kids wanting more.

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I made a really nice lamb casserole yesterday for Sunday dinner. It was flavoursome, and melt-in-the-mouth. Everything a lamb casserole should be. I really was pleased with it. The girls barely looked at it (crying emoji). Henry, bless him, ate three helpings. I wouldn’t say the girls are fussy eaters, they’re really not. But there’s still a lot of stuff they won’t eat. It’s probably made worse by the fact there’s three of them, and they all dislike different things. So whilst one is eating something but not something else, another is eating what the other doesn’t like but not touching what they do like. Are you keeping up with this? No, neither am I. Hence the frustration.

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake - A super simple pasta dish, with the flavours of a burger and covered in gooey cheese. Kids will love this! | thehecticcook.com

Something they all do appear to like though, is pasta. Buckets of the stuff. I buy the 3kg bags from Asda as we get through so much. So I’m always on the look out for different things to do with pasta. I could chuck spaghetti bolognese or my mac’n’cheese at them continually, but I like to try new stuff – and living on the edge. I’ve tried a couple of different recipes for Cheeseburger Pasta, the most recent was one from Slimming Eats. I tweaked it a little bit to suit us (my kids can spot an onion a mile off), and it went down a treat with the kids. Empty bowls all round. Hurrah.

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake - A super simple pasta dish, with the flavours of a burger and covered in gooey cheese. Kids will love this! | thehecticcook.com

This recipe is really easy, so I didn’t photograph the various steps of the process. But the recipe is below. Regards quantities of pasta, I use about 400g to feed 2 adults and 4 children (with large appetites). Gauge however much you’ll need for your family. Give this a go, especially if you have pasta-loving children like me.

Happy cooking!

Cheeseburger Pasta Bake - A super simple pasta dish, with the flavours of a burger and covered in gooey cheese. Kids will love this! | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

Serves 4 adults (or 2 adults and 3-4 kids)

400g uncooked pasta
500g beef mince
1 tsp of paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp mustard powder
pinch of salt and pepper
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
120g cheddar cheese (save a little to sprinkle on top)

  1. Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted boiling water until soft (I don’t really do al dente, so cook the pasta until it is how you like it). 
  2. In a small bowl combine the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a large pan over a medium heat and brown the mince.
  4. Add the mix of spices, tomatoes, tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and sugar, and stir to mix. Let this cook for a while whilst the pasta is cooking.
  5. Once the pasta is ready, drain it, then add it to the mince mixture and stir to combine.
  6. Stir through most of the cheese, then pour into an ovenproof dish (or make it in an ovenproof pan, thus saving some washing up).
  7. Top with the remaining cheese, and grill until golden and bubbling.
  8. Serve.

 

If you like this, why not try my Sausage Pasta Bake, or my Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake?

  Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner. | thehecticcook.com  Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family. | thehecticcook.com

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Diet Friendly Sausage Pasta Bake

This super simple and quick sausage pasta bake tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn’t. Perfect for a midweek dinner for the whole family.

This Sausage Pasta Bake is such a creamy, cheesy bowl of deliciousness, you’ll never believe it’s diet friendly!

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

I’m such a cliche. It’s the new year and I’ve joined a diet club. This is not a new thing. I’m back at Slimming World having joined and rejoined on at least a half dozen occasions. But I’m determined this time. This time I’m going to stick with it. Really. No, really. So at the moment, meals in the HC household are of the healthier persuasion. Well, ok, I’m still feeding the kids macaroni cheese and cheese & bean pastry pie on a fairly regular schedule. But generally we’re eating stuff that can be made SW friendly like spaghetti carbonara (yes really) and pork chow mien.

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

To make this process a little more interesting, I’ve also discovered a couple of really good food blogs that are dedicated to Slimming World recipes. One of which is Two Chubby Cubs. Their site is full of really good recipes that not only sound tasty, but are tasty. They’re also bloody hysterical. As long as you’ve got a sense of humour and aren’t easily offended, I’d highly recommend checking them out, if only for the witty repartee. This recipe for Sausage Pasta Bake is a take on their One Pot Sausage Gnocchi Bake. I like gnocchi, but it’s easier for me to substitute it with pasta so the kids will eat it.

Now, if you’re at all familiar with the Slimming World diet, you’ll most likely have heard of Quark. It’s hailed somewhat like a food from the gods. I never quite got it. Until I added it to a pasta sauce. It gives a creaminess you’d get from adding cream cheese, but without the raised eyebrows at SW class. It’s added in this recipe, but if you’re not fussed about the calories, just use cream cheese.

Sausage Pasta Bake - This super simple and quick pasta dish tastes like it should be full of calories, but it really isn't. Perfect for a midweek dinner | thehecticcook.com

The sausages are your call. If you’re trying to be healthy, there are plenty of fat-reduced sausages on the market. Personally I’ve found I like Porky Lights (again, if you know anything about SW, you’ll know what a cliche that is). But use whatever sausage you like. I’ve also made this recipe with tuna and chicken, so you can be even more saintly.

This pasta bake has become a staple now in our house. It stays inline with my effort to shift the second belly, and the kids like it. If I’m ever going to succeed in cutting the flab, I need meals like this, that the whole family can eat. But even if you’re born with a metabolism faster than Usain Bolt and couldn’t give two hoots about eating healthier (I hate you, I really do), this is a really tasty dish that is well worth a go, especially for a midweek quick and simple dinner.

Ingredients

400g uncooked pasta
6 sausages, meat removed from casings
Spray oil (or a tbsp of oil if you’re feeling decadent)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 2 tsp garlic puree)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp basil (I use frozen chopped basil, it has all the flavour and is so convenient – dried basil is a bit of a waste of time to be honest)
salt & pepper 
75g quark
75g grated cheese to sprinkle on top (I cheat and buy a mozzarella/cheddar mix from the supermarket which is brilliant for melting on pasta bakes)

1. Boil a large pan of (well) salted water and add your pasta. Cook until soft (I don’t like my pasta al dente, so cook it however you like it).
2. Meanwhile, spray a pan with oil over a medium heat, and add the sausage meat, breaking it up as it cooks. Cook until browned through.
3. Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then add the tomatoes, basil and seasoning. Let simmer for about 10 minutes, to let the flavours evolve a wee bit. Taste, and add more seasoning if required.
4. Stir through the quark.
5. Once the pasta has cooked, drain it, and then add it to the meat sauce. Stir through.
6. Pour the pasta into an ovenproof dish and top with the cheese. Pop under a hot grill until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
7. Serve.

This will serve a large family. Simply alter how much pasta you cook, depending on the amount of people you’re cooking for. Hopefully this will appeal to most folk, whether you need to lose some poundage or are just looking for a tasty midweek supper. Give it a go this week for dinner. I promise you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Happy cooking!

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree – Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too.

So this is Method 2! It’s only taken me about 20 months to get round to writing it. If you’ve actually bothered to read Method 1 (with it’s fairly ropey photos), apologies for the wait. It honestly wasn’t intentional, I wasn’t purposely keeping you on the edge of your seat (because you were, weren’t you?). I have 2 different recipes for making kedgeree, however this 2nd way is actually how I tend to make it. It results in a wetter rice dish because the rice is cooked in stock (a bit like a risotto). It’s super simple though and on the table in about 45 minutes (probably less for other folk, but I have a tendency to get distracted so every single recipe I’ve ever made always takes far longer than the recommended timeframe).

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

What I would say though in Method 1’s favour, is that if you struggle to cook rice effectively every time, check it out purely for my guide to cooking basmati rice.  It’s my tried and tested method (found originally in an Indian recipe book). It consistently produces fluffy cooked rice – my lovely friend Sarah, who had apparently struggled making rice in the past (and she’s a really good cook) now swears by it.

This recipe for kedgeree comes from a book my Mum gave me many years ago:

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

Pure awesomeness in paper format right there. I think she’d had it a fair few years too.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

300-400g smoked haddock fillet
20g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp curry powder
175g long grain rice
1 pint of veg or fish stock (use one stock cube)
salt to taste

Notes:

• This is a fairly substantial portion for 2 people, but the Husband likes his kedgeree, so we get through it. It does reheat really well though if you do find you have leftovers. You can also double it really easily (literally just double everything) if you need to.

• I tend to use long grain rice because it holds together better, but you can use basmati if you’d prefer.

1. Place the haddock in a pan (a deep frying pan is good here so you can cook it in one layer), cover with water, add the lid and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for around 8-10 minutes until cooked through (I had to use frozen fish so cooked it for about 12 minutes).

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

2. Once cooked, remove the fish from the water with a slotted spoon, and if necessary remove the skin.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

3. Flake the fish in a bowl and set aside.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

4. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, place the butter and oil over a medium heat and let the butter melt before adding the onion.

5. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Then add the curry powder – I use mild or medium depending on whether I’m feeding the kids or not. Use whatever suits your taste. Cook for another minute.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

6. Add the rice and thoroughly coat in the curry mixture.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

7. Add all of the stock to the pan, stir and cover. Simmer until the rice is pretty much cooked and the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir it a good few times throughout as it will want to stick to the bottom of the pan. If it looks like it’s starting to dry out a bit, add a splash of water and stir.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

8. Once the rice is practically cooked (it will still have the merest of ‘bite’ left in it) remove it from the heat, stir through the flaked fish, pop the lid back on and leave it to rest for about 5 minutes.

9. Stir and serve.

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

This dish is also pretty healthy. When I’ve been following Slimming World it’s been a really easy dish to make work (remove the oil/butter and use spray oil). There is absolutely nothing complicated in it. Leaving the pan to rest at the end is important though. We love this dish in the HC house, especially the Husband. Hopefully an easy midweek supper to add to your repertoire 🙂

Happy cooking!

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree - Flakes of smoked haddock in flavourful curried rice, this traditional breakfast dish is perfect for lunch and dinner too. | thehecticcook.com

Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Quick and Simple Tuna Pasta Bake – A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family.

I realise this isn’t my first recipe for Tuna Pasta Bake. If I’m going to be completely honest though, this version is just as good as my other recipe, Not Just Another Tuna Pasta Bake (I was breaking the mould with that title 😛 ) and is quicker to make. I do love the other version, the cheese sauce made separately adds a gorgeous cheesy creaminess to the dish. But this version is more my go-to. It ticks every box – quick, simple and everyone eats it. And I mean ‘everyone eats it’. We sit down as a family of 6 to this for dinner, and I get 6 clean plates back. Pretty much the Holy Grail of dinners.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

But before we get to the nitty-gritty (i.e. the recipe) I need to over-share a bit. This happened today:

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Yup, the girls started school!!! This may very well be the most exciting day of my (somewhat unexciting) life! I’m a tad happy about this.

Quick & Easy Tuna Pasta Bake

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

400-450g pasta
1 tbsp oil
2 tsp garlic paste (or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp of dried basil)
1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
3 tins of tuna chunks, drained
1 small tin of sweetcorn (or frozen sweetcorn)
100g soft (cream) cheese
100g cheddar cheese, grated

Notes:

• I used 450g to serve 2 adults and 4 kids, but we eat a lot! Use what you think you’ll need.
• I add some chilli flakes as it adds an extra warmth to the dish, but it’ll be absolutely fine to skip this ingredient. 
• I love the frozen fresh basil you can buy from Waitrose (see pic below) and use it in practically every Italian dish. I’ve not found similar anywhere else. If you don’t have fresh basil, dried is fine, just ensure it’s in-date as out-of-date basil has no flavour at all.

1. Boil a large pan of salted water and get your pasta on to cook – different shapes cook at different rates, just check it (i.e. taste it) to find out when it’s done. Once it has cooked, before you drain it, add your sweetcorn in (this is really if you’re using frozen sweetcorn, to defrost it, but it’ll make no difference if you’re using tinned)

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Drain the pasta and return to the pan.

2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan gently warm the oil and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes but be careful not to let it burn.

3. Add the tomatoes, salt, basil and chilli (if using), then the tuna. Stir and let cook gently for a few minutes. This isn’t cordon bleu cooking (and nothing is cooking from raw in the sauce), so timing is fairly flexible.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the soft cheese and slowly let it melt into the sauce whilst stirring. At this point, preheat your grill to medium.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

5. Add your sauce to the cooked pasta (in the big pan is a good idea), mix it all together then pour the lot into a large dish. Top with cheese and pop under the preheated grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

Once you’ve removed this from the grill, serve it straight away. I’m sure it would reheat, but I’ve never had any left to test that theory.

Quick & Simple Tuna Pasta Bake - A really simple creamy tomato pasta dish that is quick to make and will be loved by the whole family | thehecticcook.com

This is apparently so tasty that Alice was eating it off the floor whilst uttering the words “…pasta on the floor is so yummy…’. Erm, ok. Lovely child. Seriously though, if you were paying me money for this recipe (which considering its simplicity is, let’s face it, unlikely) I’d be tempted to offer money back guarantees if your family doesn’t like it. So let me know either way 😀

Happy cooking!

If you like this recipe you might also like my Sausage Meatball Spaghetti and Cheats Tuna Pie.

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com Cheats Tuna Pie - a really simple dish that goes down well with the kids | thehecticcook.com

Homemade Crispy Chicken Nuggets (Updated)

Homemade Crispy Chicken Nuggets are so simple to make, quick to get on the table, and loved by kids. A great alternative to the bought variety.

This is a redo of one of my earliest posts – Crispy Chicken Nuggets. My photography skills have improved (fractionally – well I’ve at least transitioned from grainy pics on my phone to a proper camera) and hopefully my blogging efforts have too.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets - Nuggets of chicken breast coated in mayonnaise and Rice Krispies, chicken nuggets you shouldn't feel guilty about! | thehecticcook.com

As a busy mum, I think convenience food is essential. I always have some fish fingers and turkey dinosaurs, or some such fare in my freezer. This blog may be about home cooked food, but I’m human, and sometimes often even simple cooking is beyond me and I just can’t be bothered.

For days when I can be bothered, these chicken nuggets are super simple and go down extremely well with the kiddos. I always have Rice Krispies in the cupboard (or more likely Crispy Rice, or Rice Crackles, or whatever name the supermarket have called their own brand). They’re a useful cupboard staple, for breakfast as well as cooking (*cough* Mars Bar slice). There are a few simple dishes that I know the kids will eat, like Cheats Tuna Pie and Spaghetti Carbonara. These nuggets fall into that category.


Ingredients

80g (3 cups) Rice Krispies cereal
15g (2 tbsp) parmesan, grated
salt & pepper
80g (2 heaped tbsp) mayonnaise
4 chicken breasts, cubed

1.  I used my mini-blender to blitz the cereal to crumbs. If you don’t have anything like that, just pour the cereal into a bag and bash it with the likes of a rolling pin. Vent some anger. Make the cereal suffer.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the parmesan and season really well.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

3. Chop the chicken breast into bite sized pieces.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets - Nuggets of chicken breast coated in mayonnaise and Rice Krispies, chicken nuggets you shouldn't feel guilty about! | thehecticcook.com

4. Put the mayonnaise into a dish and then add all the chicken pieces.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets - Nuggets of chicken breast coated in mayonnaise and Rice Krispies, chicken nuggets you shouldn't feel guilty about! | thehecticcook.com

5. Add the chicken in batches, coating it in the cereal mix. I use a spoon to save getting too messy. Pat the chicken nuggets to ensure the coating sticks.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

Place the nuggets, nicely spaced, on greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

Note: At this point you can freeze your nuggets. Just pop them into the freezer, on the greaseproof paper, nicely spaced – no need to cover. Once frozen (a couple of hours) you can place them in a freezer bag and put them back in the freezer until you need them at a later date. Just cook for about 10-15 minutes longer than the unfrozen nuggets.

6. Place the nuggets in your preheated oven, 190°C (fan) / 375°F, and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets - Nuggets of chicken breast coated in mayonnaise and Rice Krispies, chicken nuggets you shouldn't feel guilty about! | thehecticcook.com

Serve with your choice of side. We’re a big fan of those potato star thingy’s you get from Asda. And a big splodge of ketchup. Obvs.

I find that the Husband and I will eat these too, they’re not just for kids. So one family meal, done, nice and easy.  I may not be winning Parent of the Year any time soon, but producing a meal that the kids will eat, that isn’t processed, makes me a Winner. Yeah 😜

Happy cooking!

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles

Teriyaki chicken noodles are a delicious mix of salt and sweet, simple to make and healthy to boot.

It’s the summer holidays. Yay. I do actually (mostly) mean that. Regardless of the fact that I have seven weeks with my four children. Twenty-four/seven. No breaks. No get outs. No ‘me-time’. Because I also don’t have the school run. Halle-bloody-lujah. We can sit in our pyjamas till lunchtime and it doesn’t matter (and believe me when I tell you that we’ve most definitely done this – a lot). I can roll over in bed at 7am and not worry. The kids can watch as much YouTube crap till their eyes bleed and I finally crawl out of bed to give them breakfast. Oh yes, the holidays rock.

It also means I’m back to enjoying cooking again. There was a time back there, that last summer term when it all gets stupidly manic and you’re trying to recall whether you’ve remembered to put pants on that day, let alone whether you’re missing some vital end-of-term event, that cooking became an afterthought. There certainly wasn’t any enjoyment in cooking, it was just a case of necessity. Or not, as I threw more fish fingers at the Kinder and ordered the Husband and I another curry.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

I’m also back on Pinterest with a vengeance. Bloody love it. So guess where this recipe came from? It’s actually another Damn Delicious recipe that I’ve changed slightly to suit us. I just reduced the sugar slightly and simplified the cooking method. It’s a really nice recipe and I’ve been making it quite a lot. I even took the plunge and played the Dinner Lottery i.e. fed it to the kids. Henry ate it all, Alice ate the noodles, Hannah and Lucy ate the chicken and carrots. Comme si, comme sa.


Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

1-2 carrots, cut into batons
small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small courgette, cut into batons
mushrooms, sliced (use however many you fancy)
4 chicken breasts (about 550g), diced
250g dried egg noodles
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
100ml soy sauce
200ml water
4 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic (or 3 tsp of garlic paste)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp oil

1. I pre-cooked the carrots and broccoli in the microwave to soften them slightly as the kids will only eat them like this. I gave the dish about 3 minutes on full power. If you don’t mind your veg crunchy you can skip this step.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

2. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions (i.e. bring to boil then simmer for about 4-5 minutes until soft) then sieve and set aside.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

3. In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water, then set aside for a moment.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

4. In a small pan add the soy sauce, water, honey, garlic and ginger. Whisk together whilst bringing the mixture to a simmer.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

5. Once the pan is simmering add the cornstarch mixture (give it a quick stir before adding as the cornstarch tends to solidify at the bottom of the bowl). Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened slightly (a couple of minutes). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and set this aside.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

6. In a wok (or large frying pan) add the oil and warm over a medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until cooked through.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

7. Once the chicken is cooked through, pour off any water before adding the veg – any water from the chicken will thin the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms and courgette have softened slightly.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

8. Add the noodles and the sauce to the wok, stir through and serve.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - Slightly salty, slightly sweet, these chicken noodles are full of goodness and taste delicious | thehecticcook.com

This dish has the extra step of making the sauce separately before adding it to the wok, but it’s honestly worth it and really doesn’t take that long. It’s fairly quick, really simple, and bloody tasty. It’s fast becoming a HC Household favourite.

Happy cooking!

Shredded Chilli Pork

Shredded Chilli Pork is a very easy one-pot dish that produces gorgeously tender pork in a super flavourful chilli sauce.

My blogging has become erratic again. I blame the fact that my work space is affectionately referred to as ‘The Black Hole’. It’s basically in the store room – a room created in what was the garage (and not particularly well, it’s got to be said – not by us I may add). So it has no natural light and is full of crap. I’ve tried to prettify it by adding fairy lights (obvs) but really, there is no polishing a turd. So now that the nights are getting lighter, and the weather better (allegedly), holing myself up in the arse-end of the house is not so appealing.

But we’re currently in the middle of decorating the living room, so have removed the doors separating the kitchen from said room. This means I have no escape from the deafening volume of my children. Hence even the Black Hole is appealing.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

And thus here I am. With a recipe I’ve had waiting to blog for several weeks. It’s a real ‘throw-it-all-in-a-pot’ type of recipe, and the result is really tasty. It isn’t complicated (when are my recipes ever complicated?) and uses mostly stuff you’ll have in the kitchen cupboard already. I’m a big fan of shredded meat, so this ticked that box too. Give it a go, I promise its worth it.

I made this for 4 adults and 4 kids, hence used almost 1kg of meat. If you don’t want to make this much, just halve all quantities (it will freeze really well too though).

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

2 x 450g pork fillets
1 stick of celery, finely diced; 1 onion, finely chopped; 1 carrot, finely diced (or just use the frozen bag from Sainsburys, about half a bag)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed / 4 tsp of garlic paste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of beans (kidney, black eye, cannellini – whatever your choice), drained and rinsed
1 oxo cube
1 heaped tsp of ground coriander
2 heaped tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
150ml water

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

1. Place the meat into the slow cooker or ovenproof casserole dish (that looks fairly unappealing doesn’t it?!)

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

2. Top with the veg.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the garlic and the tomatoes.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

4. Throw in the beans.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

5. Top with the oxo cube, spices, salt and sugar.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

6. Add in the water and give it all a good stir/moosh around. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours (halve the time on high if necessary), or in the oven at about 150°C for 2 hours.

Basically, chuck everything into the pot, stir, and leave to cook until done.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

7. Once the meat is lovely and tender, remove it from the sauce and shred it using a couple of forks.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

Pop it back into the sauce and mix it through.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Serve it up with rice, bread, salad, cheese, soured cream… whatever takes your fancy. Or all of the above.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:50]

 

 

Filling Lentil Curry

This filling lentil curry is a substantial vegetarian dish that will satisfy any appetite, and is super simple to make.

So after all the sharing of cake recipes and last weeks Fudgy Easter Egg Brownies, not to mention the abundance of chocolate everywhere, I figured perhaps a healthier recipe was the order of the day.

I’m one of those people who kids themselves that because I eat pretty healthy meals most of the time, I’m doing myself a favour. I tend to cook from scratch and more-often-than-not stick to meals that are generally classed as healthy. I then conveniently ‘forget’ about the kilo of chocolate I’ll have eaten to get me over the mid-afternoon slump. Or the gallon of ice-cream I packed away whilst home alone of an evening. I do genuinely love healthy food. I also genuinely love cake and chocolate. Oh well.

This is a good example of one of those healthy meals. I love this. If you’re looking for a good vegetarian meal, this is substantial and filling. It’s also really simple. Enjoy it with some fluffy basmati rice and naan bread, and you honestly won’t be disappointed. Add in a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc, and follow it with a slab of chocolate fudge cake. Winner!

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

 

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic paste / 2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1 heaped tbsp medium curry powder
1 heaped tsp garam masala
200g red lentils
700ml vegetable stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp salt

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and soften gently (about 10 minutes).

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

2. Add the curry powder and garam masala, stir and cook for a few minutes more.

Note:

Don’t misread the quantities of curry powder and garam masala, one is a tablespoon, one is a teaspoon!


Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the lentils and stir to coat.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

4. Pour in the stock and tomatoes, add the salt and stir.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

5. Pop the lid on the pan and cook for 30-40 minutes over a medium low heat, stirring often to avoid the lentils sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry | thehecticcook.com

The curry is ready once the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid and are soft. If it looks like the pan is drying out before the lentils are cooked, add a little bit more water to the pan.

Filling Lentil Curry - A really substantial and filling vegetarian curry that is simple to make and won't disappoint | thehecticcook.com

6. Serve with rice and/or naan.

I had a bit of a mare with the naan on this occasion. I often make it in the bread machine, and it turns out fine. Not this time for some reason. It was a gloopy, unmixed mess. So cue sending the Husband to Tesco for some naan bread (it’s imperative I serve this dish to the kids with naan bread as Hannah doesn’t eat rice, at all, and at least I know they’ll all have eaten something if naan bread is included – as a parent do you ever feel like a short-order cook?). So I went to take the naan breads from Tesco out of the oven, and promptly dropped them all over the floor. Oh well, dirt is good for kids.

Happy cooking!

If you’re looking for some more vegetarian meals there’s also my Quorn Chilli Burritos, Mushroom Stroganoff, Skinny Veggie Lasagne (excuse the photos, it’s an oldie), and Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto.

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:38]

Toad In The Hole

Toad In The Hole – Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner!

We eat a lot of sausages in the HC house. The kids like them, so it’s a no-brainer. I say the kids like them – Lucy doesn’t eat sausages. But then Lucy doesn’t eat a lot of things at the moment. I’m hoping it’s just a phase. What they do all eat is Yorkshire pudding. They’d eat it by the bucket-load, given half a chance. Thus toad-in-the-hole features quite a bit on our dinner plates. Yes, I feel like a middling-to-poor parent for feeding my kids processed meat and what’s practically cake, but meh. Needs must. And at the moment, with the fussy little buggers that are my triplets, I’ll take any meal that they’ll eat without leaving quantities of food that would keep a pig happy.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

This recipe is slightly different to the usual TITH in that you make little patties out of the sausages with a couple more ingredients. You don’t have to. You can make this recipe with sausages, it won’t make any difference. But I like this recipe as the little sausage patties seem to flavour the Yorkshire pudding. I thought Princess Lucy might actually eat them (she eats cocktail sausages FFS) but it was not to be.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients (Serves 6)

200g plain flour
4 eggs
200ml milk
8 sausages (500g sausagemeat)
1 apple, grated
1 tsp dried sage
seasoning

1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas 6.

2. Skin the sausages (if not using sausagemeat) and place in a bowl with the grated apple, sage and plenty of seasoning. I don’t bother peeling the apple, but you can if you’d like.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

3. Mix this well (use your hands) and then form into small patties.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

You can do this some time ahead, then place the patties on a plate, covered, in the fridge until needed.

4. Make the Yorkshire pudding batter by measuring the flour into a bowl/jug, season well, then break in the eggs and pour in half the milk. Stir this all together, then add more milk until you have a mixture the consistency of thick double cream. If you don’t need all the milk, leave it. You be the judge. Give it a jolly good whisk (a fork will do, but a whisk is better) then pop this in the fridge until needed. The colder the YP mixture is before cooking, the more it will rise.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

5. Add a good glug (technical term) of oil to an ovenproof dish/tray. Pop this in your preheated oven for about 5 minutes to heat. Then add the patties and shove back in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until starting to brown. Depending on your sausages (sausage meat), if a fair bit of water comes out of them, drain this off, add a bit more oil and shove them back in the oven for 5 minutes until the oil is hot.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.comNote:

You can make this in anything really. I’ve used baking trays, pie dishes and casserole dishes. Just add plenty of oil (around 100ml) to prevent the TITH from sticking.


Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

6. Remove the YP batter from the fridge and give it another stir. Then take the patties out of the oven and add the batter to your tray. Pop it straight back in to the oven.

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

Whatever you do now, DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. If you open the oven door in the first 20 minutes of cooking, the YP won’t rise as well. So leave it.

7. Cook for 30-40 minutes – you’ll know it’s done because it’ll be gorgeously golden and look solid in the middle. Cooking time depends on the dish you’ve used, and how thick your batter is.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

I always serve TITH with mash, veg and gravy. You could go to the lengths of making your own lovely onion gravy. However, on a weeknight (and even at the weekend if I’m going to be totally honest) I can’t be bothered, so I use this:

Toad-In-The-Hole | thehecticcook.com

It’s super quick, and simple, and in my humble opinion, tastes pretty damn good. The star of the show is the TITH, so I think that this does the job nicely.

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

In summary, my top tips for really god-damn-good Yorkshire pudding are:

  • Use enough eggs – this is what makes the YP richer. I tend to use 1 egg per 50g of flour.
  • Whisk the mixture thoroughly to remove lumps.
  • If possible, refrigerate the batter for at least 30 minutes – cold batter + hot oil = good YP
  • Do not open the oven door for at least the first 20 minutes of cooking.

This applies to any YP you’re making.

Happy cooking!

Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

 

Fancy some other sausage recipes? Why not try my Sausage Meatball Spaghetti, or Simple Sausage Casserole 🙂

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com  Simple Sausage Casserole - such a simple one pot dish that is gorgeously comforting and really tasty | thehecticcook.com

 

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:30]

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Toad In The Hole - Gorgeous little patties of sausage meat, apple and sage, cocooned within soft pillows of Yorkshire pudding. Winner! | thehecticcook.com

 

 

Simple Stew & Dumplings

Deliciously warming, this classic stew and dumplings dish is super simple and well worthy of Sunday dinner.

I tend to cook a lot more in the winter. I especially love Sunday cooking. I’ll spend most of the day in the kitchen given half the chance. The Husband appears to think that I use cooking as an excuse to dodge childcare. I have no idea what he means.

There are certain meals that I tend to make a lot of for Sunday dinner. We love a roast in the HC house. My favourite is gammon – pair it with cheesy tatties and I’m in food heaven. A warming casserole or stew always goes down well too. This stew is the basic stew I always return to. I just love it. It’s the stew my Mum taught me to make. And even the family seem to appreciate it. The dumplings are not essential, but it would be like having the fish without the chips. The balti without the naan. The treacle sponge without the custard. You get the idea.

I made this stew in the slow cooker, but if I don’t have all day, I’ll cook it on the hob for a couple of hours. The recipe is exactly the same, just cook it over a low heat on the hob for about 2 hours.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 tbsp plain flour
500g stewing steak
1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
400ml beef stock
seasoning

1. In a bowl (or a plastic freezer bag works well) tip in the flour and season. Add the beef and toss to coat – I tend to do this in 2 batches.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.comNote:

I buy whatever beef is cheapest for this, whether it be stewing steak, a joint, skirt, shin, whatever. It’s going to be slow cooked so will tenderise really well during cooking. You don’t need anything fancy.
Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

2. In a frying pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and add the meat to brown (do this in a couple of batches if you have a fair bit of meat so as not to overcrowd the pan).

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

3. Once browned set the meat aside and in the same pan add the onions to soften. If there’s any meaty goodness left in the pan the onions will help to scrape these up.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

4. Add everything to the slow cooker (or pan if cooking on the hob) – I added some carrot too – and pour in the stock. I tend to use the Stock Pots you can buy as they’ve got a lot of flavour.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

Season well (there’s nothing worse than tasteless stew) and cook on low for about 6-7 hours.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

5. To make the dumplings I simply follow the instructions on the side of the suet box. They’re good, so why bother overcomplicating the issue? Make sure to season well so your dumplings aren’t tasteless.

Dumplings (makes 8)

50g suet
100g self-raising flour
5 tbsp water
seasoning

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

I make 1.5 times the quantity on the box which produces 12 dumplings (75g suet, 150g self-raising flour, 8-10tbsp water).

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

Mix the suet with the flour, season well, then gradually add the water. It’s quite a sticky dough, so just add enough water to bring it all together.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

Roll the mixture into balls and place on top of the stew. Pop the lid back on the slow cooker and leave for another hour.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

It’s very hard to take an attractive photo of dumplings (especially without natural light), but believe me when I tell you that they are little balls of yumminess, and well worth popping on top of your stew.

Stew & Dumplings | thehecticcook.com

You can also cook this in the oven, just cook your stew (covered) for at least 90 minutes at about 160°C, then top with the dumplings and cook (uncovered) for another 30 minutes.

Simple Stew & Dumplings - a super simple dish that epitomises comfort food | thehecticcook.com

This recipe makes quite a lot of gravy, because with dumplings, I don’t believe you can have too much gravy. It’s dead simple, but proper comfort food. I think that everyone (who isn’t vegetarian) should have stew and dumplings in their cooking repertoire.

Simple Stew & Dumplings - a super simple dish that epitomises comfort food | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:26]