Dinner – Braised Steak and Onions


When I mentioned in a Facebook group that I was preparing some meals for later in the week this one caught some attention and I have been asked for the recipe.  Well, like many of my meals, recipe is a bit of a joke but I will do my best to explain my method.

2 large pieces of gravy beef in the slow cooker
1 onion, sliced spread on top of the meat
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato sauce (ketchup)
200ml water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Add all of the ingredients, cook on high for about 6 hours or until beef is tender and can be broken with a spoon.

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I then divided the meat and gravy into 2 containers as this will make 4 serves – 2 meals for GMan and I.  It is now in the freezer and will be added to the menu plan at a later date.

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I usually add a little more water when I am reheating to make the gravy a bit thinner.

Now I will share what I really did.

The onion was frozen onion rings that I had done from a large bag of onions I bought some time ago.  I used a handful which was roughly equivalent to one onion.  Worcestershire sauce was not measured – just a splash of homemade worcestershire sauce and the tomato sauce and 200ml of water was achieved by rinsing out various almost empty bottles of homemade tomato sauce.

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Finally,  I tossed in a tablespoon of powdered dried tomato which I made from some of our glut of cherry tomatoes but tomato paste would be equally as good.

I am sure this ‘recipe’ would horrify the purists but it tastes great and when served with mashed potatoes and some other vegetables of your choice makes a hearty meal.

Bulk Cooking

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Since there are only 2 of us to cook for, I do not prepare huge quantities of food but it is nice to have a few meals planned and prepared.  The other factor that influences my decision is that I prefer to use the oven efficiently when it is turned on.

Yesterday I sorted out what was lurking in the freezer and decided that this week we would eat what I could make using freezer and pantry ingredients.  I should really only need to buy some fresh fruit and vegetables.

I started by making gluten-free pizza bases.  I par-cook these in the oven then freeze them for later use.

Here they are ready to freeze.  I have some old cereal packets which I use to separate the bases when they go in the freezer.

002It is simply a matter of adding the toppings and cooking in the bench-top pizza-maker.

005Next, I decided to make some gluten-free muffins which turned out to quite acceptable using a standard recipe and simply substituting gluten-free flour.  I made 2 batches – orange, walnut and sultanas in one and the other were banana, walnut and mixed spice.  The catalyst for these were the sad looking banana that I rescued from the fridge at work on Friday and some orange pulp I found in my freezer.

004At the same time I made some gluten-free wraps for lunches.

003These are cooked in a hot, dry frying pan and can be stored in the fridge for a few days.

A pack of sausages which had been left in the freezer by our house-sitters were grilled and sliced then made into a sausage casserole which made 4 serves.

005I usually cook a bulk amount of dried red kidney beans in the slowcooker and freeze them in portions ready to use.  I found a pack in the freezer as well as a pack of diced beef so I put them in the slowcooker with frozen cherry tomatoes from last season, frozen diced onion and some spices to make 4 serves of chilli beef.  That bubbled along all day while I was doing the other cooking.

So, I have the basis of 15 serves of dinners, 6 serves of lunches and 20 muffins.

Do you cook more than one meal at a time?  A big occasional cook-up, perhaps?

Re-Fried Beans – Let Me Count the Ways


One of the first recipes I added to the blog was a recipe for making refried beans in a slow-cooker/crockpot.  It is a recipe that came from Mimi on Simple Savings. Here is the recipe.

Crockpot Refried Beans – by Mimi on Simple Savings

2 cups dried red kidney beans
1 cup red lentils
3/4 cup olive oil
6 cups water
1 onion diced
6 cloves of garlic, sprinkled with a touch of oil and roasted for 15 minutes in a moderate oven (more or less according to your love of garlic!)
1 tin peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1-2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 Bay Leaf

Squeeze the roasted garlic out of it’s papery shell. Chop the peeled tomatoes.

Combine everything in the crock pot, and cook on high for 9 hours (if an old one like mine) or probably on low if yours is a newer model. You can also simmer this on the stove top for 2-3 hours.

Remove the Bay Leaf.

Empty into a food processor and blend until smooth, or mash well with a potato masher.

I love this recipe and use it all the time.  It freezes brilliantly and is really versatile – can be used in nachos, tacos, enchiladas, vegetarian pies as well as some of my original creations.  I hope you like it.

Nachos - ready for oven
A special thank you to Mimi who posted this on the Simple Savings forum 3 years ago.  It has become a staple in our household.

This recipe has become part of our staple diet and it is so versatile and can be used in many different ways.  It is also suitable for freezing so making a big quantity is no problem – I just freeze it in 500g portions.

Last night I cooked up another mix of re-fried beans so I thought I would share some of the possible uses.

Once I have used the stick blender they look like this.

Re-fried beans
Serve as a dip with crackers and vegetable sticks.  Include a dish of salsa or guacamole to complete the Mexican theme.

Make nachos using dollops of bean mixture, salsa and grated cheese between the layers of corn chips.

Bean tacos make a cheap and filling vegetarian option.

Spread on bread, toast or wraps as a tasty base for other fillings.

Use as the base for a Mexican layered dip and serve with corn chips.

Or you can create your own dish and perhaps share your ideas here.

TIP:  The first thing is to give any new creation (whatever it is) a name.  This will give you much more credibility with the family than answering, “Oh, something I made up with what was in the pantry/refrigerator”.

Here is one to get you started.

Mexican Bean Pie

Quantity of refried bean mixture

Cooked rice

Salsa/chilli/Tabasco sauce to taste (optional)

Grated cheese

Dry breadcrumbs

Mix together to get a fairly firm mix.  Press into a loaf tin or pie plate. Top with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in oven or under the grill until golden brown.

Serve with salad or vegetables.

We had this for dinner tonight served with carrots, broccoli and sliced avocado.  The broccoli and avocado were from our garden.