Quorn Chilli Burrito

A really simple family-friendly meal that makes a bit of a change to the usual meals I dish up to the kids.

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So it would appear that having four children home for seven weeks straight does not leave much time for doing anything other than basic survival activities (I am so sick of bleedin’ parks). Who would have thought?! However, the summer holidays are (finally) over, and the little darlings are back ensconced (for at least a couple days a week) at school/nursery. Is that fanfare and trumpets I hear?

So I have some time to myself. Some ‘Me’ time – you know, time to drink a hot cup of tea; time to take a shower for longer than 3 minutes; time to take a poo without constant screaming and interruption. Aah, yes. Me time.

And time to get back to my blog. In all honesty, our meals over the summer haven’t been terribly exciting. Lots of meat, chips and salad. But as the weather gets cooler I always find I cook more. And bake more.

This recipe is one that I approached with trepidation, regards the kids. You never know what’s going to go down well, and what isn’t. However, this went down great! I think if you put anything in a bread item – wrap, bap, pitta etc – my kids will eat it. And they seem to prefer Quorn mince to beef mince – I think it’s a texture thing.  If you’re looking for something a little different, but not too different, give this a go.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, crushed / 2 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp oil
300g Quorn mince (1 whole packet)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1-2 cans of beans (kidney beans, cannellini beans, barlotti beans etc), drained & rinsed
1 oxo cube, crumbled
∼ 200ml water
tortilla wraps
grated cheese

1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes without burning the garlic. As an aside, I don’t buy heads of garlic anymore, it’s either the paste or frozen. I realise this isn’t very economical, but boy is it quicker.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the packet of Quorn to the pan and stir through the garlic.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

3. Now add all the remaining ingredients, bar the cheese and the wraps. I used two tins of beans as I wanted to bulk it out, but if you only want to add one, that’s fine. I like to add smoked paprika to my chilli, as it gives a lovely subtle smoky flavour. But if you don’t have any, just leave it out. The cumin and chilli powders are what add the real ‘chilli’ flavour.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

 

Stir together all of the ingredients, pop the lid on and let cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Quorn doesn’t really need much cooking, but this will give it enough time for all the flavours to strengthen.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

4. Once the chilli is cooked you need to assemble your burritos. Place a couple of spoonfuls of chilli into the centre of a tortilla wrap – don’t try to over fill it as it’ll just spill out and you’ll end up in a bit of a mess. Add a sprinkling of cheese if you so desire – with my kids, cheese is essential. Fold opposite sides in, one on top of the other, and then the other two opposite sides, to make a parcel (I don’t have a photo, but I figure you’ll work it out).

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

5. Heat a frying pan to a medium-high heat – there’s no need for oil, these are dry-fried. Place as many burritos as you can into your pan without overcrowding them – you need to be able to turn them over. I used a couple of pans as I was making 7 burritos (the Husband ate two). I made the kids first so that they had a chance to cool whilst I made ours.  

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

Let cook for a few minutes, but keep a close eye so they don’t start to burn. Using a fish slice, turn the burritos over to toast the other side for a couple of minutes, again being careful not to burn.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

On this occasion I served the burritos with rice and salad, plus a dollop of soured cream.

Quorn Chilli Burritos - a quick and tasty vegetarian dinner for busy weeknights | thehecticcook.com

 

And that’s it! This is a fairly quick and very simple meal, a bit different from the usual kid-friendly dishes I tend to serve up. And it’s versatile – change the Quorn chilli for beef chilli, chicken chilli, chicken fajita etc. If I have any leftovers I’ll eat them for lunch next day, it’s so quick.

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:3]

Cheese & Bean Pastry Pie

Cheese and bean pastry pie is incredibly quick and surprisingly delicious, just don’t consider the calorie content!

So it’s been hotter than the sun here today. No exaggeration. I’m Scottish. I don’t do heat. I’ve spent the whole of today sweating. No, that’s not a pretty look. On days like today, spending a lot of time in the kitchen is to be avoided. Unfortunately should you have children, there is a certain requirement still to feed them – seemingly not to is regarded as neglect?

This recipe is not going to win me any prizes. It’s neither cordon bleu cooking, nor is it particularly nutritionally virtuous. But it is stupidly quick and simple. If you can bear to put the oven on in this heat, you’ll be spending minimal amounts of time in the kitchen preparing this dish. But the kids should be happy with the result. As a ‘go-to’ meal, this ticks a lot of boxes. Just maybe don’t feed it to them every day.

Ingredients

500g block of puff pastry 
1 tin of baked beans
∼ 100g cheddar cheese

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1. Flour your surface and roll out the pastry into a large square until it’s about 0.5cm thick. I tend to keep a block of puff pastry in my freezer as it comes in useful. Just remember to take it out to defrost if you’re planning on making this.

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2. Transfer this to a lightly oiled baking tray and prick it all over with a fork, leaving about a centimetre around the edge. This should stop the middle from rising too much, although it’ll probably rise a bit.

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3. Cover the pastry with the tin of beans, spreading it out all over, again leaving a border around the edge. Choice of beans is not important. Honestly. Use whatever beans you want. Don’t feel any ‘bean pressure’ to use a particular brand.

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4. Sprinkle the cheese over the beans and then bake in a preheated over, 180°C/350ºF/Gas 4, for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and the cheese is bubbling. You could egg-wash the edge, but I didn’t, and it’s just adding more faff to an otherwise faff-less meal.

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Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content | thehecticcook.com

5. Slice up and serve.

Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content! | thehecticcook.com

Like I said, this recipe is not going to win prizes. If you haven’t thought of this dish already, you’ll wonder why not. But with only 3 ingredients, and minimal effort, it’s the kind of meal to keep in the back pocket for days when you really can’t be bothered – and don’t really care about the nutritional intake of your kids. Oh and this tastes pretty good, so if you don’t have kids, make this for yourself and don’t think about the calories 😛

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are a great family meal that are so easy to make, and a nice change from bolognese and cottage pie.

I’m back! Sorry, between one thing and another, I’ve been a bit absent. Ok, so some of it was lazy-itis. But I did manage to get the new blog page up and running (thank you Kim!) so I hope you like it. Yes, it’s not overly complicated, but as my computing skills are not overly complicated (read absolute basic) it’ll do for now. I’m hoping to ‘snazz’ it up a bit over the coming months.

In case you care, and even if you don’t, this is a summary of what’s been happening in the HC household:

We’ve ridden on a tractor…

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Granny and Grandad came to visit…

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We’ve eaten some ice-cream…

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And eaten some more ice-cream…

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Now it’s half-term, the Husband has had to go away with work, so there’s been a lot of this…

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And obviously, because I’ve been left in charge, someone had to go and hurt themselves…

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Yup, Alice face-planted the pavement earlier today. The pavement won. These things always seem to happen when you’re solo parenting. But the ice-cream (see above) fairly perked her up 🙂

This is a good half-term meal. My kids actually really enjoyed it – and got into a fair mess with it, so be ready to clean up. It definitely originates from across the pond. I took a few recipes I found on Pinterest (where else?) and came up with my own version (I very much doubt mine is original, but as I haven’t found one the same, I’m taking the credit).

Ingredients

500g beef mince
2 cloves/tsp garlic (I used paste)
1 onion, chopped 
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
500g passata
1 beef oxo cube 
200ml water
salt & pepper
chilli flakes, if desired

1. Brown the mince in a large pan – I don’t use any oil to do this as you don’t really need it. Add the onion and garlic and let this cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, letting the onion soften gently.

Sloppy Joes | thehecticcook.com

Sloppy Joes | thehecticcook.com

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook over a low heat for about an hour.

Sloppy Joes | thehecticcook.com

This can be cooked in a slow cooker as well, just cook on low for about 6 hours.

Serve this in toasted buns with whatever you like on the side. I served it with chips and salad.

Sloppy Joes - a really simple dish, perfect for those busy week nights, that will keep everyone happy | thehecticcook.com

 

It’s not the easiest, or tidiest things to eat. Don’t serve this if you’re trying to impress someone. But it’s ridiculously easy, and so friggin’ tasty – a nice change from bolognese and cottage pie too.

Sloppy Joes - a really simple dish, perfect for those busy week nights, that will keep everyone happy | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:22]

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti

We’re just back from a few days away, visiting family down in Cornwall. It’s amazing the difference a year can make. We stayed in a (lovely) holiday home with the kids, and it was all very …. well …. civilised. Having three children the same age has proven ‘testing’ in many ways. Until quite recently even simple activities, like a trip to the park, or a meal out, were undertaken like a military operation, and with a fair amount of stress. But the girls are getting older, and life is definitely getting easier!

It’s funny taking them out though, they do draw a certain amount of attention. I don’t dress them the same much nowadays. They’re such little independent ladies, it’s nice for them to be seen as different. But it’s kind of cute when we do. However, it does draw more attention, which I’d forgotten.

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We got a lot more comments. The usual “Wow triplets – you’ve got your hands full!” – one man took the effort to lean out of his first floor window to call this to us as we passed. A woman looked slightly aghast as she uttered the infamous words, “…rather you than me…!”.

We’ve had some funny things said to us over the past few years. Folk see triplets, and I think are so surprised, they then say some ridiculous things, and ask some personal questions.

“Did you plan triplets?” – erm …. yes?

“Were they IVF?” (or HIV from one woman) – think about this one, have you ever asked someone with one baby if they’d had IVF??

“Did you have to do it three times in the one night…?” – I’m sure that’s how it works.

But as someone who often opens her mouth before engaging her brain, I don’t really mind. I’d most definitely do the same if roles were reversed.

So before we left, I made this for the family. And got 6 empty bowls in return. Always good. It definitely falls into the ‘quick and simple’ category. The quantities below served 2 adults and 5 children (we had Henry’s friend for dinner), but just change the amount of pasta and quantity of sausages to suit you.

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Ingredients

8 pork sausages
420g pasta
1 tin/carton of chopped tomatoes
2 tsp/cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tsp of basil (dried or frozen)
∼ 30g parmesan, grated

1. Slice down the length of each sausage and remove the skins. Then separate each sausage into about 4-5 little balls.

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2. In a frying pan, brown the meatballs. As long as your pan is non-stick, there’s no need to add any oil as the sausages will produce their own fat. I did this in two batches so as not to overload the pan. Remove the meatballs and place to the side whilst you make the sauce.

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3. Depending on how much oil is left in your pan from the sausages, add some olive oil and the garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes over a medium heat, but don’t let the garlic start to burn. Add the tomatoes and the basil. Let this cook for a couple of minutes then taste. Add some salt, and if the sauce is quite sharp, a pinch of sugar. Tip in the meatballs and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

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4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pan of salted water until soft.

5. Once the meatballs are cooked, take the pan off the heat and add the parmesan. Stir this through so that it melts through the sauce.

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6. Add the meatballs to the spaghetti and serve.

Sausage Meatball Spaghetti - Super simple midweek dinner that the whole family will enjoy | thehecticcook.com

I served this with some salad and cheesy garlic bread. And for once, a meal I thought the kids would like, they liked! Woo hoo!

Happy cooking!

Very Tasty Mushroom Stroganoff

First off, a bit of a digression:

So I wanted to share with you. I did a bit of ‘good parenting’ yesterday. This is kind of a big deal. It doesn’t happen often (and may not happen again). But I decided to do some baking with the girls. “You crazy person!” I hear you exclaim. Yeah, kind of. But my kids watch a fair bit of tv, so I figured anything that wasn’t telly would be good. Even if it killed me.

So this is them:

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Let’s try that again:

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Okay, one last time, just in case:

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That crazy one in the middle is Alice. And yes, we do actually refer to her as the ‘crazy one’. Or ‘quirky’ if we’re being nice. Mostly crazy. And Hannah on the left, Lucy on the right. The odds of getting three 3 year olds to stand in a line and smile nicely? I think the phrase is ‘…like herding cats’.

So I approached this like a military operation. It was a 6oz cake mix, thus easily divisible by 3, so each got to add 2oz of ingredient, plus crack an egg each (Hannah – fairly good, delicate even; Lucy – a bit more cracked, bit more messy; Alice – totally squished within her tiny paw). They then got to fill the cake cases:

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Admittedly, a fair amount of mixture didn’t make it to the cases. But they were baked. And iced. And then decorated (by the girls, obviously). And this was the result:

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And I can sleep easier feeling like a good parent. Result!

So, down to the actual recipe (apologies for the detour). This is a great midweek meal. I try to cook at least one veggie meal a week – it’s better for the purse if nothing else – and this has become a firm favourite. It comes from BBC Good Food (such a reliable recipe source), and it’s extremely quick and easy. Which I like.

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, crushed / 2 heaped tsp frozen garlic/garlic paste
about 300g mushrooms, chopped
150ml beef or vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, or vegetarian alternative
1 large tbsp soured cream / creme fraiche

As usual, I used frozen chopped onion and frozen chopped garlic. I tend to buy closed cup and chestnut mushrooms in the weekly shop, but I also bought some shiitake mushrooms to add, and made up the 300g with a mixture of the three (the amount of mushrooms is flexible, don’t feel you have to stick rigidly to the 300g). I also tend to have some creme fraiche in the fridge as it’s great for adding to ‘stuff’, so I used that instead of soured cream. The original recipe calls for 1 tbsp paprika. I like to use smoked as it has such a lovely flavour, and you don’t need as much – but you can obviously use paprika if you’d prefer.

1. Heat the oil in a pan and soften the onion over a medium heat. Add the garlic and the paprika, mix well and cook for a minute or two.

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2. Add the mushrooms and let cook for about 5 minutes, until they’ve softened.

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3. Pour in the stock and Worcestershire sauce, bring to the boil then let simmer for about 5 minutes – or as long as it takes to cook your rice/veg, whatever you need to do.

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4. Once ready, take the pan off the heat and add the soured cream/creme fraiche.

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I served this with rice and some green veg (I’m a bit of a broccoli fan).

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If you’re not a big veggie recipe fan, or you cook for someone who isn’t, do give this a go. It’s really good, and you honestly don’t miss the meat. Unless you don’t like mushrooms. Then, as they say north of the border, “nae luck”.

Happy cooking!

Quick & Simple Lentil Soup

This is a very quick post because: it’s after 8pm; I’ve just finished bedtime with the kids (alone as the Husband is working); and I’ve a hot date scheduled with Phil (& Kirsty). But I wanted to blog about this lentil soup as it’s so ridiculously quick and easy, and yet gorgeously warming and filling.

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Ingredients

1 onion, chopped (or the equivalent amount of frozen onion, like which I used)
450g diced carrot & swede (don’t do this yourself, just buy a bag, I beseech you)
200g red lentils
3 ham or veg stock cubes
1 litre of boiling water
salt & pepper, as required

1. Throw  all the ingredients into a large pan and bring to the boil.

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2. Let it simmer for about 30 minutes until the veg and lentils have softened (so that you can’t see the lentils anymore) – or ask the Husband to turn off the cooker for you after 30 minutes because you have to go out; which he forgets to do; so you return, over 90 minutes later, to soup burnt to the bottom of your pan. Moving on.

3. Once it’s cooked you can either leave it lumpy or blitz it with a hand blender, or in a liquidiser. And that’s it. Job done.

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Lucy says hi by the way (she was desperate to get in on these photos)….

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Sometimes I’ll throw some ham into this soup whilst it’s cooking, if I’ve got some leftover from a roast. Using three stock cubes makes this soup fairly salty to start with, so taste it before you add any seasoning.

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It’s a pretty thick soup, but just add some more water to thin it down if you’d prefer. My kids absolutely love this soup, and I use it as an easy (and pretty healthy) dinner when I just can’t be arsed cooking. These quantities don’t make a huge amount of soup, but just double/treble the recipe as required. By using the frozen veg, this is such an easy option.

So that’s the post! Its such a good job you can’t see me as I’m sat here in my pyjamas and the fluffiest red jumper ever, drinking tea, and eating Ferrero Rocher. Winner.

Happy cooking!

Quick and Easy Gammon Pasta Bake

Henry has swimming on a Tuesday, so I tend to give the kids their dinner earlier than usual in order to shove him out the door on time (sometimes literally). I was a bit pushed for time tonight as I’d booked a Sainsbury’s delivery right about the time I needed to cook dinner (PPP = piss poor planning). However, with the help of the new cooker, I was able to get this out and on the table in under 30 minutes (and I don’t say this lightly, as I’m always pretty cynical when those tv chef-types say you can cook a meal in ridiculously quick times).

So tonight, for the kids, I made a pretty easy gammon pasta bake. It’s not exactly cordon bleu, but this blog is about what we’re actually eating. I know everyone has their own ‘quick and easy’ meals. This is one of ours.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 chopped onion (or frozen in my case)
1 tsp chopped garlic (again frozen)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp basil (and again I used frozen, fancy that!)
1/2 tsp sugar
salt & pepper
1 smoked gammon steak
240g pasta (this feeds my 4 kids with some spare to keep the Husband happy)
frozen peas
grated cheddar cheese

The sauce is pretty much the pizza sauce I made the other day, just with less cooking to keep it ‘saucy’ (are you keeping up with my technical terms?).

  1. Heat the oil in a small pan, add the onion and cook til softened, then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, basil, sugar and season, then put a lid on the pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes (really just whilst the pasta cooks). 


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2. Once it’s cooked, I tend to blitz it with my hand blender as I’m serving it to the kids and they, (whingey voice) “don’t like onions…”. But you could happily leave it as it is.

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3. Boil your pasta until cooked (Italians would hate me, I cook my pasta until it is totally dead. And buried). As you take it off the heat add your frozen peas – this is enough time to cook them without them going that horrible faded green way. Drain your pasta, return it to the pan and add your sauce. I only used half the sauce in this instance, so I’ve boxed the remainder up to freeze, ready to use the next time.

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As an aside, I bought 50 of those tupperware tubs you get from takeaway shops, just from Amazon, as they’re perfect for freezing leftovers in. We own a huge chest freezer, big enough to put a body in(!), and it’s full of stuff like this. I love my chest freezer, and with a big family, it’s a godsend. You don’t necessarily need one as big as ours, but a standard chest freezer can be really useful if you have the spare room.

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4. Whilst my pasta and sauce were cooking, I shoved the gammon steak under the grill to cook. It only needs about 5 minutes each side. I then trimmed off the fat and diced it up. Add that to your pasta/sauce mix. Tip it into a dish, sprinkle with as much cheese as you like, and grill until it’s nicely golden and bubbling.

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In all honesty, the girls didn’t really eat the gammon. Kids are funny with meat (well mine are) and I think it was a bit chewy for them. Henry ate it. But left the peas. You can never win!

Quick & Easy Gammon Pasta Bake - A really simple dish that can be thrown together in 30 minutes, and will satisfy hungry bellies | thehecticcook.com

And the Husband and I? We had a take away 😉

And wine – well it is Tuesday.

Happy cooking!