Tasty Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe is for a very Tasty Shepherd’s Pie. I was visiting one of our neighbours a while ago and she shared a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie that she had found in her study, hand-written on a scrap of paper. I copied out the recipe on my own piece of scrap paper and took it home, vowing to “give it a go”. It was delicious! I kept the flavours essentially the same, but varied the method to make it simpler, quicker and using less dishes. I also added more vegetables to boost the nutritional content of the dish.

Normal Shepherd’s Pie is delicious but THIS Shepherd’s Pie has delicious flavours.  My children absolutely love this when they see it baking in the oven. It exudes a wonderful aroma throughout the house. This recipe is definately one on permanent rotation at our house.

Tasty Shepherd’s Pie

Yield: 4

Tasty Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 Tbsp mustard pickles
  • 1 Tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 2 potatoes + 1 sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups tasty cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C.
  2. Place an oven-proof pot on medium heat and add the oil. Then add the onion and saute for 5 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add the beef mince and brown, breaking it up as it cooks.
  4. Once the mince has browned, add the remaining sauces and flavourings.
  5. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and arrange the potato and sweet potato slices on top of mince mixture.
  7. Top with grated cheese.
  8. Cover the pot with a lid (or aluminuim foil) and place in the oven for 50 minutes.
  9. Remove the lid and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.
  10. Remove from the oven and serve.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/tasty-shepherds-pie/

What I love most about this meal is that all the ingredients are always in my pantry. It is easy to make and I’ve managed to turn it into a one-pot wonder.

One thing to keep in mind when making this recipe: it makes enough to serve 4 but without leftovers.  If you want to make extras to serve more people or to have enough for lunch the next day, either double the recipe or bulk it out with more vegetables. Grated zucchini and spinach leaves are good ones to add.

Tasty Shepherd's Pie in dish

Also: your mince mixture should be a “wet” mixture, and not have a really runny sauce. If your mince mixture is too runny, you can thicken it with Gravox or a cornflour and water slurry.

I hope you will give this Tasty Shepherd’s Pie a try at your house. It really is very tasty and has flavours that make you want to eat it again and again.

Trina xx

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“Past Secrets” by Cathy Kelly book review

I haven’t done a book review in a while.  I have just finished reading “Past Secrets” by Cathy Kelly after it was recommended to me.  This book is an older book, published in 2006.  As usual, I’m slow off the mark! This is the first of Cathy Kelly’s books I have read.  Will I read another one?  Maybe……

Set in Ireland, “Past Secrets” is a story about a handful of characters who all live in Summer Street, and have been there for years and years.  How well do you know your neighbours? These ladies all knew each other but not well….until their circumstances brought them together.

"Past Secrets" by Cathy Kelly

Each character in the book has her own story that runs alongside the others.  It’s one of those books! The ladies do end up crossing paths as the stories evolve, which is good!  Cathy Kelly doesn’t make us wait until the end to do this like some others I have read.

What did I enjoy about this book?: it was an easy read, and the characters had me intrigued.  Although diverse in age and life situations, I found the characters to be interesting and they all managed to suck me into their little life situations they had going on.  I also enjoyed the supporting characters who featured in the lives of the main characters.

What didn’t I enjoy about this book?: some aspects of the characters seemed hard to believe and so did some twists and turns in the plot. It was also a little clich`ed, particularly towards the end of the book.  I liked that this story is set in Ireland, although it really could have been anywhere. The Irishness wasn’t emphasised, which was disappointing.

Summer Street

There is an underlying message to “Past Secrets” and that is that secrets always catch up on you. The longer secrets of the past are kept, the more difficult they can make your life. When secrets do finally emerge, they can have devastating effects.  They can also have healing and restoring effects. This book made me think about this.

Overall, I’m glad I read “Past Secrets” by Cathy Kelly. And I might even read another one of her books one day.

Trina xx

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Freezer hacks

I really need some good freezer hacks. Wouldn’t you think that the person writing this blog would have that area of her life sorted?  No, she doesn’t I’m afraid. My freezer has been in a constant state of “what’s in there?” for…..forever. In my post about how I meal plan (you can read it over here), I mention that I do a freezer inventory before I plan my meals. This helps me to use what I have in the freezer instead of buying more meat when I may already have something that needs to be used up.

Freezer meat drawer

When I take my freezer inventory, it involves me standing with the freezer door wide open while I jot down on my page each meat item and roughly where it is in the freezer. This wastes precious energy as I stand with the freezer door open, but once it’s done, I can plan my meals for the week and I know exactly what I have stashed away. Lately though, I have been thinking that there must be a better way to keep track of what is in my freezer.

Freezer contents

I needed something that I could just constantly update when I use something up or put something new in. This would save me standing with the door open while I write it down each week. An app.  That’s what I need!

Well, I searched and tried a few apps that I thought would be good.  It took a while for me to find one that I’m happy with, but I did find one! The app is called “Items In My Freezer” (android).  I’m sure there is the same one available for you apple people out there. (No, this post is NOT sponsored by an app.  I just like it and decided to share it with you.)

Freezer App

Basically, this app is really simple to use and update.  You can customise it to suit your freezer shelves and compartments because you get to name the shelves.  I have included the freezer at the bottom of my fridge by simply naming the shelves “under fridge – top shelf”, etc. The app allows you to input the name of the item and also include it’s weight (I use this box to note how many of this item there are on that shelf). When you use something from the freezer you just go into the app, select the item on the shelf and delete it.  To add items you just put the item details in and assign it to whichever shelf you like.

Here is a screenshot of mine:

Items in my Freezer App

Note that I don’t list every single item in my freezer.  I just note down the main things that are in there to use for meals or for when unexpected guests arrive. In time I may add in more items but for now this is how I use the app.

Confession Time!

Of course other freezer hacks like labeling meals, storing food flat in ziplock bags, using ice cube trays for lemon juice or herbs in oil or butter are all great ideas and I wish I used these hacks all the time.  But I don’t. I do sometimes use the lemon juice in ice cube trays one, but labeling freezer items is not my strong point! I just assume I will remember (it’s obvious that there is pasta bake in that container, isn’t it?). No, it’s not usually obvious two months later. I have been known to thaw out “meatloaf” for guests, even reheat it in the oven and go to serve it with vegetables, only to discover as I removed the layers of foil that it was actually a fruit cake cooked in the loaf tin I also use for meatloaf! Label Trina, label!

For example, I assume this is pastry?  Who knows!

Is this pastry?

What on earth is this??!!

What is this?

Anyway, if you also struggle to remember what is in your freezer, check out this great app or try a different one (there are heaps of them out there). Also, if you have any amazing freezer hacks, I’d love to hear them! I need them!

Trina xx

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Cheesy Zucchini Rice

My Cheesy Zucchini Rice recipe is a huge hit in this house.  It’s a fantastic side dish that goes with so many things.  Last night we had it with garlic and mushroom sausages and tomorrow night we are having it with curried fish stew (I make it stretch across two meals) but you could use it to accompany other meat dishes or even a vegetarian stew.

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

There is a little secret ingredient in this Cheesy Zucchini Rice dish.  Shhh. Don’t tell you kids, but there is cauliflower in it as well.  This helps to bulk up the meal and adds in extra veggies.  I bet they won’t even notice.

Every time I make this rice recipe, everyone at the table is pleased!  It is tasty and just a little bit more exciting than plain rice.  It’s a nice change.

So, here’s my recipe:

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 packet of 40g French Onion Soup mix
  • 3 1/2 cups rice, uncooked
  • 5 cups water
  • Chopped cauliflower - chop either finely or coarsely (add as much as you like)
  • 3 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 oz (60g) butter, cubed
  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. Combine soup mix, rice, water, cauliflower, worcestershire sauce and butter in saucepan.
  2. Cook on stove until boiling. Leave to boil for 5 min or so, then turn heat off and leave to steam with lid on for 20 minutes.
  3. Once cooked, stir in the zucchini and grated cheese.
  4. Allow to stand 5 minutes to warm through.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/cheesy-zucchini-rice/

Now you  know that this Cheesy Zucchini Rice is so easy to make, don’t you? If you are going to boil rice anyway, you might as well make this.  There is hardly any extra effort involved. That is why I am sharing it with you. Simple recipes like these are just what we need to make our meals extra delicious and special, without spending hours slaving away in the kitchen and washing millions of dishes.

Of course there are variations:  You can substitute grated carrot instead of zucchini (or add grated carrot to the zucchini), you can omit the cauliflower or replace the cauliflower with chopped broccoli. You could also add baby spinach leaves to wilt in at the end. I’m sure there are other vegetables you could add to this recipe.  Let me know if you modify it and love the changes!

Hot Tip:

You could turn this Cheesy Zucchini Rice into lunch.  After cooking whichever variation you prefer, serve the cooked Cheesy Zucchini Rice into bowls. Complete the meal by adding a fried or poached egg on the top. Yum!

Trina xx

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Healthy Bliss Ball Slice

Welcome to my recipe for Healthy Bliss Ball Slice. It’s time for something for the health-conscious.  I believe in healthy eating but it’s still got to taste good!  This slice is absolutely delicious and good for your body as a bonus!

Healthy Bliss Ball Slice

This used to be my recipe for Bliss Balls, but you know I’m all about time efficiency, so I’ve turned it into a slice.  Ain’t nobody got time to stand there rolling mixture into balls and then coating in coconut.  I prefer to just press it into a tray, sprinkle coconut on top, let it set, then cut it up into small squares.  They are the same portion size, just a different shape. If you really want yours to be a ball, you could just “roll your own” 😉

Healthy Bliss Ball Slice in tray

My family loves this slice and it never lasts long in the fridge. We take it to school/work, eat it as an after-school snack, and grab pieces at the end of the day for supper with a cup of tea. I love it because it tastes naughty but it’s really not.

Healthy Bliss Ball Slice

Healthy Bliss Ball Slice

Ingredients

  • 100g pitted prunes
  • 100g apricots
  • 100g dates
  • 50g dried mango
  • 100g sultanas
  • 4 Tbsp coconut oil (or boiling water)
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 100g dessicated coconut
  • + 50g dessicated coconut for topping

Instructions

  1. Place all the ingredients, other than the coconut for topping, into a food processor.
  2. Blitz until a paste forms. Add more boiling water if mixture is too stiff.
  3. Press mixture into a greased 18cm x 28cm lamington tray.
  4. Sprinkle with extra dessicated coconut.
  5. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours to firm up.
  6. Cut into small squares and serve.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/healthy-bliss-ball-slice/

The recipe I use can be adjusted to suit whatever dried fruit and other additions you think might be good in this Healthy Bliss Ball Slice. It’s then the consistency that you will need to adjust accordingly by simply adding more water until it is smooth and easy to press into the tray.

Here is a list of possible additions:

  • dried fruit medley
  • dark choc bits
  • cocoa
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • oat bran
  • rolled oats
  • maple syrup
  • dried apples
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • LSA

I’m sure there are lots of other things you could add in to make this Healthy Bliss Ball Slice delicious. If you have any good suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.  I’d love to hear how you make yours!

Trina xx

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