A Simple Lasagne, Not Your Mama's Spag Bol, and the Best Chili Ever

Thursday 28 March 2013

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Some of the meat which was sent to me recently by the Westin Gourmet people was some of  their Steak Mince. You would have to have been living under a rock in recent months not to know about the great debacle here in the UK which was the horse-meat scandal.  Hundreds and thousands of minced beef products, ready meals, etc. was contaminated . . . some as much as 100% with horse-meat.  It was not a very proud moment for the processed food industry here in the UK.  Some was also found to be contaminated with pork, which would be very upsetting to someone whose religion forbids them from eating pork.  Facts aside . . . we, as consumers, have every right to know exactly what we are buying.

If we want to eat horse meat, that's fine, but again . . . it should be our choice.  All the more reason for us to be buying our meat from butchers that are able to good meat at an excellent value, fairly priced, responsibly sourced and completely traceable, with checks in place so that this type of thing doesn't happen.

A lot of the contamination was in ready meals . . . frozen lasagne's, beef burgers etc.   The type of food that a lot of families purchase because it is inexpensive, quick and easy to prepare for the working mom or latch key kid, and normally the type of thing which the grocery shops will have on offer. 

I don't think you have to buy this kind of thing for your family though.  With a bit of preparation and planning, you can make your own ready meals for in the freezer, at a fair price and 100% assurance that what you are putting on the dinner table is exactly what you want to put down in front of your family.

The Westin Gourmet Guarantee:
We are so confident that our gourmet meats are the lowest priced (per KG) in the industry that we will guarantee to refund you the difference should you find our meaty cuts available anywhere else at a cheaper price!

Sounds pretty good to me!

Westin Gourmet Steak mince comes from free grazed and grass fed British Cattle.  Lean and delivered to your door fresh, so that you can cook it or freeze it as you choose.  It's lean and healthy too.   I did not have to drain any fat from mine today when I cooked up several meals from it.  It was pretty good stuff and depending on how much you buy, it can cost you as little as 85p per serving.  The last time I looked at steak mince in our local grocery shop, they wanted £4 on special for about a 4 serving size packet, and that was on special, for the lean.  You can get the regular for less, but you end up pouring half of it away in fat and where is the saving in that??? 

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I think it's very easy to make your own ready meals at home on your day off with not a lot of effort and fairly economically . . . and you'll know that you are feeding your family properly.

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*Basic Lasagne*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

You can easily prepare this in two separate casseroles, cooking one for now and freezing one for later.  It's also very easy to divide it into 8 single serving metal tins so that you have 8 lasagne ready meals ready and in the freezer for when you need them.

1 lb lean minced steak
3 cups tomato and basil pasta sauce
1 package of no bake fresh lasagne noodles
1 container  of no fat cottage cheese (about 1 cup)
1 TBS parsley flakes
salt and black pepper
1 large free range egg, beaten
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed and divided
260g of grated Mozzarella Cheese (2 cups)
120g of grated cheddar cheese (1 cup)
90g of finely grated Parmesan Cheese (1/2 cup)
1 jar of white lasagne sauce (bechamel, about 2 cups)

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Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Crumble in the beef and scramble fry until it is no longer pink.  Stir in some seasoning, 1 of the cloves of garlic and the tomato and basil pasta sauce.   Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.  Set aside.

Stir together the cottage cheese, parsley flakes, beaten egg, the remaining clove of garlic, 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese and some seasoning.  Set aside.

Mix the remainder of the cheeses together.  Set aside.

Pre-heat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.   Spray one 9 by 13 inch baking dish, or two 8 inch square dishes, or 8 small deep tinfoil pans with some nonstick cooking spray.

Spoon a portion of meat sauce (1/3) into the bottom of each to cover lightly.  Cover with lasagne noodles.  Cover with another portion of sauce (1/3) and half of the grated cheeses.   Cover with another layer of lasagne noodles.   Spoon the cottage cheese mixture over top of the noodles.  Cover with the remainder of the meat sauce and most of the remaining cheese mixture, reserving a handful for the end.   Add a final layer of noodles.  Spoon the bechamel over top to cover.  Sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese and the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for about 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.  Let stand for about 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

If freezing, do not bake.  Simply place into the dish (s) as required, wrap tightly and freeze for up to six months.   To cook, thaw out over night and pop into the oven , cooking as above.  If you are doing single servings it will not take as long.

You can also cook your mince up into sauces and chili to freeze, ready to be thawed and cooked up for your family.

This is an unusual version of Spaghetti Bolognaise that we like here in this house.  You can multiply the amounts and freeze in family size containers ready for use when you need them.   If you remember to take it out in the morning, by the time you return to the house in the evening in the time it takes you to cook the spaghetti and heat the sauce, dinners ready!

 *Not Your Mama's Spag Bol*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

This is a different sort of a twist that I put on good old Spaghetti Bolognaise. In truth, I love this even more than regular Spag Bol! I just can't get enough of it!

1 TBS olive oil
16 ounces extra lean beef mince
1 small onion, peeled and grated
1 fat clove of garlic, peened and crushed
2 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 envelope of Taco seasoning mix
(I use Discovery)
1 (420g) tin of chopped tomatoes
14 ounces of beef stock
6 ounces tomato puree
1 (420g) tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
12 ounces of uncooked spaghetti
Sour cream, Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped or finely sliced red onion

Place the olive oil into a large saucepan and heat. Once it is hot add the beef mince. Cook and stir until it is completely browned. Add the onion, garlic, chilies, salt, cumin and taco seasoning mix and continue to cook and stir until the onion, garlic and peppers are soft. Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, and tomato puree. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Gently stir in the beans and cook for a further 5 minutes.

In the meantime bring a pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well and divide amongst hot serving plates. Top each with a portion of the sauce and pass the toppings!!

This chili recipe below calls for chopped steak, but you can use steak mince if that's what you have.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!


*The Best Chili Ever*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe

You can't beat a big tasty bowl of red. This is rich and flavourful and rib stickin' good!

1 TBS oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 green chilies, trimmed, seeded and chopped (or to taste)
1 pound of extra lean beef mince
1 pound of beef sirloin, trimmed and cut into small cubes
1 (400g) tin of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tomato tin measure of dark ale
1 tomato tin measure of beef broth
250ml (1 cup) dark strong coffee
2 heaped dessertspoons of tomato puree
3 1/2 TBS tomato ketchup
2 ounces soft light brown sugar
1 TBS ground cumin
1 TBS cocoa powder
(not hot chocolate drink mix)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp mild chili powder, or to taste
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp fine seasalt
4 (400g) tins of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

To serve:
Chopped onion
grated strong cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and chilies. Cook and stir until soft. Add the meats. Cook, stirring, til browned. Stir in the cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, chili powder, coriander and sea salt. Mix in well. Stir in the tomatoes, ale, beef broth, coffee, tomato puree and brown sugar. Add the beans. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally over low heat for about 2 hours, til nice and thick and rich. Serve hot with some chopped onion and cheddar cheese sprinkled over the top. Delicious!

You can freeze it in little single serving tubs, then thaw out and eat when you feel like chili!

Many thanks once again to Westin Gourmet for sending me their delicious steak mince.  I hope that I have been able to show you all here today that you can have some really tasty good meals ready to use in the freezer with very little effort and not a lot of time, and not a lot of money.  You can't put a price on the satisfaction and assurance that comes from knowing you are feeding your family wisely and decently.


  1. Lasagne ✔
    Spagh Bol ✔
    Chilli ✔
    ☑ Ticks all the boxes for me.

  2. Lovely chili recipe Marie! fabulous flavors :)
    Mary x


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