leftover chicken & veg packed pocket pies

It is hard cooking for two (and a little 1 year old) and not have any leftovers. Especially with dishes like roasts. In our industry we waste nothing and so i recycled the chicken meat for these lovely, tasty puff pies. They are so easy to make and are a great way to sneak vegetables in for the kids.
These pocket pies freeze really well so i usually make a whole batch, freeze them, and then bag them for later use. Simply pop them into a hot oven straight from the freezer and you have a great lunch or light dinner when time is of the essence. The size of the pies depends on yourself. I used a fairly small tea saucer to cut out my rounds but you can use a side plate or any other round mould.
Grated cheese is another ingredient that works well in these pies although i did not add it this time.

ingredients | makes about 10 – 12 | easy
2C chicken, deboned and roughly chopped
2T olive oil
2T butter, & extra if needed
1 onion, chopped
1t crushed garlic
2 medium zucchini, grated
1 large carrot, grated
2C mushrooms, sliced
1C frozen peas & corn mix
2T flour
1C chicken stock
1/4C cream
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
salt to taste
black pepper
2 rolls puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
flour for dusting

how to do it
In a large skillet, heat olive oil & butter and sauté the onion until it has a nice gloss and is almost tender. Add the sliced mushrooms the pan & an extra tablespoon of butter. Cook for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute, while stirring.
Add the grated carrot & zucchini and cook for about two minutes. Stir the flour through the mixture, cook for one minute and pour the stock into the skillet.
Allow the mixture to simmer for about five minutes until reduced and thickened. Add the chopped chicken and fresh thyme, stir it through and cook for a further five minutes.
Pour the cream into the skillet and add the pea & corn mix. Stir and cook for five minutes more. Season with salt & pepper.

You don’t want a very wet mixture so ensure you cook and simmer the mixture enough to allow the juices to evaporate.

Set the mixture aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, place the first batch of pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry out, extending it by about 2 – 3cm on each side. Using a small plate, cut out circles and place it onto a floured baking tray.
Repeat this until you have used all of the pastry.
Now spoon the mixture onto the centre of each pastry round, taking care not to overfill the pastry. Lightly brush the egg around the edges and press one side down on the other side.
Press a fork into flour and gently press around the edges of the pastry to seal the pocket.
Using a sharp knife, make little incisions in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape while it bakes.
Brush the pocket pies with the beaten egg and place the tray into the freezer. Freeze overnight. You can bag the pies and mark it with the date and ingredients.
Once ready to use the pies, heat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place the pies into the hot oven on a baking tray and bake until the pastry is beautifully crispy and browned.
Serve the pies with a garden salad and homemade mayonnaise.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

lamb casserole with mustard dumplings

I love a slow cooked meat stew packed with vegetables, taste & earthiness and a lot of love. The secret to any good stew or casserole is time, patience and attention.
I had a fair amount of cooked leg of lamb in my freezer, which was perfect for this dish. The meat cooked slowly at a low heat in a thick beef & wine broth with a mixture of carrots, leeks & celery.
Good substitutes for the leg of lamb are lamb shoulder, stewing beef, lamb neck and even brisket.
The dumplings make the perfect accompaniment here, soaking up all that wonderful flavour and bringing that extra little something to an already perfect meal.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
900g cooked leg of lamb (or any other cut, raw)
3T olive oil
3T butter
350ml good red wine
1 large onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, sliced diagonally or 200g baby carrots
3 celery ribs, sliced diagonally
2 large leeks, halved and sliced
3T tomato puree
3T all purpose flour
3T worcester sauce
6 sprigs thyme
2T brown sugar
500ml chicken or lamb stock
1t salt
1t black pepper

150g self raising flour
130g plain / Greek yogurt
1.5T english or dijon mustard (or a mixture)
handful parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Slice the cooked lamb to the desired size and set aside.
Alternatively, if using uncooked meat, cut it into the desired size. Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the meat all over. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a large skillet. Fry the onion until glossy. Add the carrots, celery & leeks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, stir and cook for two minutes.
Now add the flour and stir through. Deglaze the skillet with the red wine and cook the mixture for about two minutes, while stirring. Tip the meat back into the skillet and stir to mix.
Add the worcester sauce, thyme, garlic, salt, pepper & brown sugar. Stir.
Pour the stock into the pot and bring the mixture to the boil.
Turn the heat down, cover with a tight fitting lid and carefully place the skillet into the preheated oven for two hours.

Meanwhile, make the dumplings.
Mix all the ingredient together to make a wet dough. Roll the dough into equal sized balls and set aside.

Carefully remove the casserole from the oven. Place the dumplings on top of the meat mixture and cover with the lid. Place the skillet back into the oven and cook for a further 20 – 25 minutes.

Garnish the dish with fresh parsley or chives or thyme leaves and serve with a side or couscous or rice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

pulled pork & zucchini tart – another great meal using leftover meat

I am always thinking about the next dish, using food that was left over from the previous day / evenings’ meal. I cooked a beautiful large pork belly on Sunday, which obviously cannot be devoured by only two people. Please don’t think I didn’t try.
With my very simple three ingredient shortcrust pastry that I made ahead of time on Sunday evening, this dish was on the table in almost no time at all. I often make two batches of shortcrust pastry as it freezes really well. Thus saving time when you quickly want to whip up a tart or quiche.
This is also a great way to get the kids to eat their veggies!
I don’t think there are any rules when it comes to savoury tarts. It really depends on what you like and what you have on hand. Quiche is the perfect dish for using all the vegetables that are really just lying around in your fridge and then adding an egg custard to a very simple tart shell.
Thank me later.

ingredients | 1 standard size tart | easy
for the tart shell
225g plain flour
100g butter, chopped
pinch salt
1/4c cold water

Place the flour, salt & butter into a food processor and blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (You can also do this by hand by rubbing the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.)
With the processor running, slowly add the water until the dough comes together so that it can form a ball without crumbling.
(You do not have to use all of the water and can add more if necessary.)
Dust your work surface with flour and gently knead the dough by pushing it back and pulling it forward again. Repeat this for about three minutes.
Form the dough into a disc, wrap it in clingfilm and refrigerate for a minimum of 30 minutes.
Should you wish to freeze the dough, place the wrapped disc into a freezer bag or freezer container, date it and freeze for up to one month. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C.
Dust a flat work surface and roll the pastry out to fit your tart tin. Grease a tart tin with non stick spray.
Press the dough into the tart tin and into the sides. Trim the edges with a sharp knife. Dock the pastry with a fork a few times and place a large piece of baking paper on the pastry shell. Fill the shell with uncooked rice, beans or baking weights.
Place the shell into the oven and blind bake for 12 minutes.
Remove the pastry and gently remove the baking paper and weights. Place the pastry back into the oven for a further ten minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (Keep the tart shell in the tart tin for baking the quiche later.)

For the filling
1/2 white onion, chopped
2tbs olive oil
2tbs butter
1tsp chopped garlic
300g cooked, pulled pork or any other meat like chicken, bacon or sausages
300g zucchini, half sliced and the remaining half chopped
100g onion marmalade
1.5tsp dijon mustard
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
100g grated parmesan (optional)
1/2tsp salt
grind of black pepper
3 large eggs
1c cream, full fat
1/2c milk, full fat

heat the oil & butter in a large skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook until glossy. Add the chopped zucchini & garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the cooked pork or your choice of protein and cook for about two minutes or longer if your meat is uncooked. (Cook until the meat is fully cooked.)
Add the thyme, salt & pepper, stir through and cook for one more minute.
Put the tart tin on an oven tray and sprinkle the base of the tart shell with the parmesan. Turn the heat of the oven up to 175 degrees C.
Break the eggs into a large jug, add the cream, dijon mustard & onion marmalade and whisk until combined well.
Spoon the meat & zucchini mixture into the tart shell. Pour the egg custard into the tart shell and very gently stir move around with a fork.
Place the sliced zucchini on top and gently, taking care not to spill the egg custard, place the tart into the oven and bake for about 30 – 35 minutes until the egg custard is set and the top has browned lightly.
Remove the tart from the oven and leave to cool for about fifteen minutes before slicing into wedges.

Serve the tart with salad or tossed, buttered greens.

Pulled lamb & butternut lasagna

I am a big fan of “make ahead meals” as I am of not wasting food. That said – this dish was the third lamb dish I made from one lamb leg. The first, my previous post, roast leg of lamb. The second, a lamb ragu that I served with butternut mash and the third, this very tasty lasagna that was so tasty and satisfying that I had the leftovers for lunch earlier today.
Creamy, cheesy & meaty and packed with goodness, this dish makes a great alternative to the traditional lasagna.
Lamb mince is a good alternative if you do not have leftover leg as I did. Chicken breast will be just as tasty.
I placed all of the leftover leg of lamb into my pressure cooker the next day along with all the ragu ingredients. I then froze half of the mixture, defrosted it and then used the ragu mixture as the base for this lasagna. I served the lasagna with sour cream and sliced avocado. It was perfect!!

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
800 Lamb meat (Mine totalled 800g, which included the veggies in the ragu)
1/2 Butternut, sliced halfway and then sliced into half moons
6-8 Lasagna sheets
1/2 Onion, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbs Olive oil
1 Tbs Butter
200g Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Can chopped tomato
Black pepper
1/2 C Mozzarella cheese
1/2 C Cheddar cheese
Fresh parsley leaves only (garnish)
Fresh thyme, leaves only (garnish)
White sauce
80g Butter
80g Flour
800ml Milk
Pinch white pepper

How to do it
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a ovenproof dish and set aside.
For the white sauce: melt the butter in a pot. Add the flour and stir through to form a roux. (Paste). Cook for 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk while whisking continuously. Leave to simmer while stirring until thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Season.
In a skillet, heat olive oil & butter. Add the onion & garlic and saute until translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the pulled lamb or preferred meat now. Cook until heated through or fully cooked if using other than leftover meat. Add the chopped tomato and seasoning and stir through.
(If not using leftover cooked meat, you can also add 1/3 cup red wine, 100ml beef stock and some grated carrot now, along with 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Reduce until thickened.).
Cook for about 5 minutes and set aside.
In a seperate pot, boil salted water. Add the lasagna sheets, one at a time, and boil for 1 minute each. Place onto a plate drizzled with a little olive oil and brush each sheet with a little oil after boiling. Once boiled, cut sheets into half.
Spoon about 5 tablespoons white sauce into the bottom of the dish and spread out. Pack the halved lasagna sheets on top to cover base to the sides. Top with butternut half moons. Pour a little more white sauce on top and spread out to the sides. Top with the meat mixture.
Repeat this twice more to eventually make your last topping the white sauce.
Place into the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with the grated cheeses and bake for a further 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 15 minutes before slicing.
Top with the thyme & parsley leaves.

Chicken baked potato

Another very tasty leftover meal was had! I had quite a bit of chicken ragu left over from dinner the other night so popped that into the fridge and used it for a very tasty, very flavourful lunch, the next day.
A simple dish that really fills you up and is the perfect lunch treat. And who doesn’t like a good old baked potato?

I cannot say much about the ingredients as my chicken ragu recipe is already on my blog. However, follow these simple steps below to achieve a great tasting chicken baked potato…

Chicken ragu recipe (please see my previous blog post)
Sour cream
Fresh parsley, leaves only
Baked potatoes
Olive oil
Black pepper
1 Tbs butter per baked potato
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Baked potato
I parboil my potatoes before baking as this saves quite a bit of time.
Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Prick the potatoes with a fork about 4 times and add to salted boiling water. Place the lid on and boil for at least 15 minutes. (Half way through.). Remove from the water and cool for a few minutes. Lightly slice a cross over the top of the potato, about 2cm deep. Rub the potato with olive oil and salt and place in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the skin is nicely browned and crisp.

To serve
If using leftover chicken ragu, reheat thoroughly in a pan and simmer for 3 minutes. Set aside. Using your hands, press the sides of the baked potato until it open up. Top with butter, ragu & a nice dollop of sour cream.
Garnish with fresh parsley leaves and a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes. For more decadence, finish off with a good helping of cheddar cheese!

From my kitchen to yours, with love x