In our house, when you say that you’re going to do dinner from something in the freezer that usually means fish fingers, or possibly chicken nuggets, served with oven chips and (frozen) peas. Now, in my opinion there’s nothing wrong with a dinner like that, but it’s not the kind of thing that you want to serve up every night of the week.
It was my mum who really enlightened me when it comes to cooking with frozen ingredients. She’s always had things like frozen mashed potatoes in her freezer, which she swears by using when making cottage pie and similar. It was when she started living on her own and cooking for one that the most obvious benefits of frozen ingredients stood out. Now she can grab a bag of frozen mince, or frozen veg and just use as much as she needs before putting the rest back to use another day. Having a bit of onion in a dish is possible thanks to a bag of frozen chopped onion in the freezer and so much easier than using half a fresh onion and then having to keep the rest in the fridge and remember to use it within a certain time period. It’s also much quicker too.
Knowing how much my Mum loves her frozen ingredients was what inspired me to take part in the #CoolCookery campaign. We have what has to be the smallest freezer known to man and until now it always just seemed to be there for stuff for the kids and ice cubes for G&T. That’s all changed now.
I went along to Iceland and came home with a couple of shopping bags rammed full of frozen food – and change from £20 too! Not only did I find frozen mince and frozen mince with chopped onion already added, but also frozen sliced peppers, mixed casserole veg, salmon with a sweet chilli sauce, egg fried rice, venison meatballs, mum’s favourite mashed potatoes and of course a frozen pizza. Our freezer is now full to bursting and we’re busy discovering just how convenient some of this frozen food can be.
One thing that we throw away far too much of in our house is vegetables that have been bought in a pack, some used and the rest left to rot in the bottom of the fridge before we come up with a recipe to use them. Just using the frozen sliced peppers once made us realise how convenient it was and also how it allowed us to get a mix of peppers whilst knowing that there would be no waste left over. A brilliant way to reduce food waste and definitely a thrifty option too.
We’re complete converts now when it comes to frozen food, especially vegetables, and I’m eager to see what some of the other supermarkets have in their frozen aisles. I’m especially keen to look for frozen soft fruit as that’s probably the area where my local Iceland was lacking and I think it would be so handy to have in frozen raspberries or blackberries so that they can be added muffins or pancakes when we fancy it. Quick freezing locks in the freshness and nutritional goodness too, and frozen food often retains nutrition better than products sold as fresh. That’s really made me think about how I can make the most of frozen ingredients in my weekly menu planning.
Anyway, I’m really pleased to share what is probably our favourite meal from frozen of the week – chilli con carne.
- Frozen mince and onion – approx 500g
- Frozen mixed pepper slices – a couple of good handfuls
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- Two cloves of garlic – sliced
- Two heaped spoonful of Branston pickle
- Chilli powder – heaped teaspoon, or to personal taste
- Chilli flakes – heaped teaspoon, or to personal taste
- Tomato puree – good squirt
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream
Start off by browning the mince and onion over a high heat. Once the mince is brown, add the garlic and continue to cook. Then add the mixed peppers.
Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the chilli powder and flakes. Add the chopped tomatoes, puree and pickle and also rinse the tomatoes tin out with cold water and add that – this water will be needed in the cooking process.
Turn down the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, but keep and eye on it and add more water if needed. Also make sure you taste it and add more chilli powder, chilli flakes or pickle as required for your palate.
For the last five minutes of cooking time add the kidney beans and stir in well.
Serve on a bed of rice and add grated cheese and sour cream as you desire.
Disclaimer: I am working with BritMums and Coolcookery.co.uk highlighting the versatility, economy and nutritional benefits or cooking with frozen food. All opinions are my own. For recipes and ideas visit http://bit.ly/coolcookery