Waste Not, Want Not

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Many people are dubious about cooking with leftovers. However, there are many delicious things you can make and it makes economic sense for those on a budget to make the most out of the food they have paid for with their hard earned money. This is certainly the case in my house as I have to sit in front of the computer writing for many hours to earn the cash to put food on my children’s plates. Therefore, I quite often transform the leftovers into new and delicious meals for the children. The saying in my house is ‘waste not, want not’!

Something that I cook every week is a joint of meat and I usually serve this as a roast dinner. There are three reasons why I cook a joint of meat:

  • The whole family loves roast dinners
  • There is always enough meat left for a meal the next day
  • It saves both time and money

On the second day, there is a wide range of meals I make with the leftovers, depending on the type of meat I have cooked. Typical meals include stews, curries, and stir-frys. Even a novice in the kitchen can make a delicious sandwich or salad with the leftover meat. 

As my ethos is not to waste food, you will see several recipes and cooking suggestions for ways to use leftovers on this blog over the next few months. Hopefully, I can help to give others some ideas that will stop them wasting food while also saving them time and money. 

 

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RECIPE: Creamy Chicken, Chorizo, and Tomato Pasta Bake

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Pasta dishes are some of the simplest and quickest to make. That makes them perfect for busy families who want something delicious and nutritious for their tea but don’t have hours to spare for food preparation. This creamy chicken, chorizo and tomato pasta bake is really tasty and very simple to make. Here is how to make creamy chicken, chorizo, and tomato pasta bake.

Ingredients for Creamy Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Bake

  • 10oz/ 300g dried penne pasta
  • 3 diced chicken breasts
  • 3 1/2oz/ 100 g chorizo, chopped
  • 400g chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 5oz/ 150 g chopped mozzarella cheese
  • 3oz/ 75g soft cheese
  • 3 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 oz/ 30g torn fresh basil
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Creamy Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Pasta Bake

  1. Prepare all your ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220 C/ Gas mark 8.
  3. In accordance with the instructions on the packet, cook your pasta in salted boiling water.
  4. In a large frying pan, cook the chorizo for 3-4 minutes over a high heat until the oils from the chorizo are released.
  5. Next, add both the chicken and the crushed garlic to the pan. Cook for a further five minutes.
  6. Add the chopped cherry tomatoes and tip in the can of chopped tomatoes. Bring the mixture to simmering point.
  7. Add the soft cheese and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce and has a creamy consistency and appearance.
  8. Add half the oregano and three-quarters of the fresh basil.
  9. Drain the cooked penne pasta and transfer to the mixture.
  10. Stir well to make sure the pasta is thoroughly coated in the sauce and the chicken and chorizo are evenly distributed.
  11. Season with black pepper and stir through.
  12. Transfer everything from the frying pan to an oven-proof dish.
  13. Sprinkle over the chopped mozzarella, the parmesan and the remaining oregano.
  14. Put the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the mozzarella and parmesan topping is bubbling and golden.
  15. Serve onto plates or into pasta bowls and sprinkle over the remaining basil to garnish.  

TIPS

  • Switch the meat– this dish works just as well with diced turkey if you prefer this to chicken.
  • Pasta alternatives– this recipe uses penne pasta, but most other varieties of pasta will work just as well.
  • Fresh pasta– If you prefer, you can make fresh pasta. However, you will need to adapt the cooking time as this cooks in just minutes.
  • Serving suggestion– This is fantastic with a tossed side salad and crunchy garlic bread.

RECIPE: Courgette and Tomato Bake

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Although I love meat, I also enjoy the occasional vegetarian dish too. This courgette and tomato bake is really quick and easy to make. It is something I sometimes make myself for lunch as there is enough for two days. I also make it as an accompaniment to meat as a family meal. There is an ingredient that some people think is rather unusual (yes, it does say ready salted crisps on the ingredients list), but this is a delicious topping. This dish will serve two people as a main meal or four to six as a side dish. Here are the recipe and some tips for adapting this recipe to your own tastes.

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Ingredients

  • 3 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 6oz/ 170g crumbly cheese
  • 2oz/ 60g butter
  • 2 packets ready salted crisps (potato chips)
  • Salt and black pepper

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to the highest setting.
  2. Thinly slice the courgettes and halve or quarter the cherry tomatoes. 
  3. Cover the bottom of an oven-proof dish with a layer of the courgettes.
  4. Add all the tomatoes to the next layer.
  5. Continue adding layers with the remaining courgettes. 
  6. Season the dish with salt and black pepper.
  7. Chop the butter into small cubes and place them across the top of the courgettes.
  8. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the courgettes have softened.
  9. Remove from the oven and crumble the cheese evenly over the dish.
  10. Open your bags of crisps and crush the crisps by squeezing the packet until they become crumbs. Sprinkle the crisps crumbs over the top of the cheese.
  11. Return the dish to the oven and bake until the topping has turned a golden brown. This should take around ten minutes.

Tips

Meat lovers– if you are not a fan of vegetarian food, then simply add some ham or crispy bacon to the dish. Alternatively, serve it as an accompaniment to grilled or roast meats.

Fish lovers– courgettes and tomatoes work well with most fish, so this recipe is a great side dish to serve with your favourite fish. 

Switch the cheese- I use Lancashire crumbly cheese and this is produced locally in the area in which I live. However, any crumbly cheese will achieve the same results. If you prefer a cheese with a different consistency, switch to using cheddar, Mozzarella, or any other cheese of your choice.

Adding flavours- I like this dish just as it is. However, there are plenty of other flavours you can add. Try adding garlic or herbs to give this a different twist. 

On a diet- You can reduce the fat content of this dish by sprinkling the vegetables with water rather than adding butter before cooking. Using a low-fat cheese is another way to reduce the fat content. Rather than using ready salted crisps for the crunchy topping, opt for wholegrain breadcrumbs, instead.