one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne

Lasagne in one pot? But of course. To be fair, this one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne is not strictly a lasagne, rather more bolognese and soft pasta, but hey, it’s still easy to make and it all comes out the same colour in the end, right? Naturally, before we get to the recipe, I’m going to say words at you until your eyes glaze over and you stop nodding politely. It’s part two of our fabulous whirlwind tour of Peterborough, so let me bust out the banner once more…

peterborough

You can find part one by clicking here, but honestly, don’t bother. Actually do bother, I’ll get 0.0001p for each page-load, and if I earn enough money, I can pay someone to raze Peterborough to the ground so it never haunts my life again. Where were we…

Ah yes. The charming Norman Cross Premier Inn. After a night spent sweating, tossing and peeling our back fat away from each other with loud slurps, we woke bright and breezy. We decided that we’d take care of our ablutions and then see about getting some breakfast. Can I let you in on a mortifying secret? We chose not to get the Premier Inn breakfast that we normally do because it wasn’t an unlimited buffet. How greedy, I know. Technically it was unlimited in the sense that I could ask the waiter to bring me more bacon, more eggs, more sausages and a portable ECG monitor, but I’m always too shy.

We like our breakfast to spread far beyond what the eyes can see and frankly, if I’m not clutching my chest, hoisting my fat-arse out of my chair and walking to a tureen of beans with the barely-disguised disgusted whispers of the other occupants of the hotel, I’m not interested. We made do with a Twirl from the vending machines and that was that.

We stopped by reception to ask if we could change rooms. I explained that the room was too hot and that Paul’s genitals now looked like a trio of celebration balloons left tied to a fence for a week, and the receptionist promised that she would arrange a new room for us once we returned from our day out. The charmer from the day before was obviously off meeting with Big Men in New York. We decamped back to our sweatbox so Paul could slide the chocolate bolt across, giving me time to plan our day.

I logged onto tripadvisor to find something to do. When the third or fourth suggestion is a chain cinema, you know you’re in trouble. I searched High Wycombe and Lowestoft (sorry, I’m so proud of that laboured joke that it’s staying in) and there was absolutely bot-all to do that didn’t require an outrageous drive and the threat of growing old prematurely by osmosis due to close proximity of coach tours.

Eventually Paul’s voice piped up from the thunderbox to tell me Bletchley Park (home of the codebreakers during WW2) was about an hour away. Shamefully, my reaction was meh, but faced with the prospect of X-Factor repeats and turning into a prune in the hotel room, we agreed that Milton Keynes our best chance of happiness – something which I’m fairly sure has never, ever been said about Milton Keynes before. Before we yawned our way down the A1 we needed fuel, and thanks to the good folk at the Mace garage in Yaxley, even that turned into a right song and dance.

See, Paul got out, put the nozzle in and clicked the handle. The pump dispensed about 4p worth of fuel then shut off. The lady behind the counter looked grimly at him through the window and ignored his plight – he kept clicking, the fuel would dribble out enough fuel to get us approximately 4ft off the forecourt and then shut off. I’m sitting in the car effing and jeffing because I’d spotted an Esso literally over the road and Paul’s clicking away like he’s a farmer counting his sheep.

Eventually, the Queen of the Pumps spots something is awry and comes out. What followed was an excruciating exchange where she just didn’t accept it was her fuel pump that was broken. No, Paul hadn’t ‘put it in right’ (I find that easy to believe, given the years and years of ‘up a bit, down a bit, up a bit more, push forward – honestly, sometimes gay sex is like I’m guiding someone in Knightmare – SIDESTEP LEFT), then he ‘wasn’t clicking hard enough’. In a gesture that speaks volumes about his character, he decided against going all No Country For Old Men on her and smiled politely throughout. IT TOOK TEN MINUTES. I mean, God loves a trier, but we know how to use a bloody petrol pump for goodness sake, we’re not on the fucking Krypton Factor.

She went in and reset the pumps about a dozen times before asking whether we’d like to switch to another problem. Guessing that the second pump would probably require us to solve a cryptic crossword and a complex Sudoko we politely declined and went on our way over the road, where only a packet of Cadbury’s Snacks could calm our ire. I wouldn’t have minded so much but Paul actually went in and paid the £2.10 of fuel we eventually got. Bah.

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Driving in Milton Keynes is an adventure, isn’t it? Bill Bryson absolutely hated the place and whilst I thought it looked alright from the car, I had no desire to step out and trip the light fantastic myself. Things became tense when we realised the Sat-Nav, built into the car with no obvious way to turn her down, was having a complete shitfit over the amount of roundabouts. If the British government ever need to break a terrorist they need only to strap them into a Ford Fiesta and let them endure 20 minutes of ‘AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE SECOND LEFT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE THIRD EXIT AT THE NEXT ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE THIRD ROUNDABOUT TAKE THE JUNCTION TAKE TAKE TAKE ROUNDABOUT ROUNDABOUT ROUNDABOUT’. I felt like I was being driven by Johnny 5 in the throes of a nervous breakdown.

We arrived at Bletchley Park with only mild tinnitus and discovered a small computer museum at the arse-end of the car-park. Being giant geeks we were very excited, and, being giant geeks, we waddled breathlessly to the entrance just as the volunteer flipped the open sign over and opened the door. Hooray! We immediately got stuck behind a visitor who thought he was God’s Gift to comedy, every line to the cashier was a ‘joke’ and bit of patter. It was just awful. I had a thought that it must be what it is like to be stuck behind me in Tesco but I quickly tucked that thought away into the same mind-folder where the ‘I bet that ingrown toenail goes septic and you lose your foot’ and ‘is your heart supposed to go boom-badum-boom-badum-BOOM-whoo when you climb stairs’.

The computer museum was a treat. It was a pleasure to be somewhere which wasn’t full of screaming children getting their arses smacked and stupid interactive displays that don’t work. No, this museum was decidedly (and fittingly) old school – full of amazing old computers and genuine pieces of history like the Tunny machines and Colossus, which were both instrumental in helping decipher secret messages during World War Two. We revelled at the old computers from times way past and then were horrified to find that computers we remembered from our youth were classed as ‘retro’. I’ve never felt so old. A lot of the old machines were switched on and I couldn’t resist typing

HELLO SORRI HUNS MI APP IS DOWN HOW MANI SUNS IN ALDI YOGURTS PLEASE XOXOXO

into an old ICL DRS6000. I know, I’m a stinker. We did want to sit and play on the old BBC computers (I’ve never finished Granny’s Garden and god-damnit, I still remember where the magic tree is) but there was a group of three lads in the room spraying spittle through their braces and chuckling loudly about frame-rates. Is there a word for intimidation mixed with pity? I bet there’s a German word. Regardless, we moved on and after a quick fanny about with a few knobs in the classroom (oh that takes me back) we were done. We left a lovely positive Tripadvisor report and made our way down to the actual Bletchley Park estate.

Now, something to annoy you, due to ongoing issues with the managements of both attractions, you pay twice – once to visit the Computing Museum (block H of the estate) and once more to visit the rest of the estate. Hmm. Naturally, because the estate had a few interactive boards and a video tour, the price for entry is £34.50 for the two of us. Bah. However, this too was a lovely few hours – we wandered around at our own pace, taking in the interesting stories and displays, and credit where it’s due, the attraction does an excellent job of celebrating the amazing work that folks like Alan Turing did. I confess to a little bit of museum-fatigue: there’s only so many times you can walk into a hut, look at a map on a table and nod appreciatively. It also gave us both pause to think that only 64 years ago being gay was cause enough to lock someone up for gross indecency. How far we’ve come, eh.

Tell you what – let’s pick the rest of our tale up tomorrow – we’re already at 1,500 words and I know how you all get when you’re hungry. Tonight’s one-pot recipe then is one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne and whilst it doesn’t look like much in the photo, it’s a very tasty wee dish to make during the week and take to lunch the next day. On we go…

to make one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne, you’ll need:

to make one pot super-quick cheat’s lasagne, you should:

  • add a little oil to a large casserole pot and heat over a medium-high heat
  • add the mince and cook until browned
  • add the garlic and onions, stir and cook for another three minutes
  • add the passata, chopped tomatoes, stock, spinach, herbs and pasta and mix well
  • bring to the boil the reduce to a simmer and cover with the lid
  • cook for about 15 minutes until the pasta is al dente
  • add the mozzarella to the pan (tear into chunks if you’re using a ball) and stir through the mixture until melted
  • serve

Nice, right?

If you’re looking for more recipes with beef, pasta or seafood (why not), click the buttons below!

beefsmallpastasmall   seafoodsmall

Goodnight all.

J

chicken and pea lasagne

Chicken and pea lasagne? Yes! Just scroll down if you don’t want to hear all my prattle.

Before we start: some good news. I’ve had a weird thing happening with my neck for ages where if I look to the right, there’s a click noise and a lot of pain. Very frustrating. But the good news: I was sniffing a flower and the pollen made me sneeze so hard that I’ve fixed whatever what was wrong with my neck. I’ve sneezed myself better! Let’s celebrate by being nice. No…

I’ve discovered a new past-time. Admittedly it’s one that shows off my mean, vexing side, but I don’t care. I <3 looking through and commenting on the Facebook ‘buy and sell’ groups in our local area. Honestly, the tat people try and sell is just beyond me. Plus, you get the bonus of looking at pictures of people’s houses and getting to suck air over my teeth at the state of the wallpaper or the “canvas art” littering every room. If I see another KEEP CALM AND DRINK PROSECCO poster I’m going to find a way to reach through the atoms on my iPad screen and torch their house.

As an aside, Paul used to know someone who drank from a cup that said ‘KEEP CALM AND GO MENTAL’ on the side. I rather think it remains to his credit that he didn’t smash it over her head.

I recently got into a spat with some orange harridan with a face like a rushed omelette who accused me of being a bald fat fuck because I accused her ‘100% NOT FAKE’ Calvin Klein dress as being fake. First of all, you can’t insult me by calling me a bald fat fuck because, if you remove the spaces from that and add slut, that’s my Grindr name, and secondly, I don’t think Calvin’s knocking out dresses under the name Calvan Kline. Calvan Kline sounds like a ski village in Norway, for one thing. Anyway, spluttering ill-conceived and predominately vowel-less insults at me has no effect. It rolls off me like gravy off a fat duck’s back.

Just an aside, I’m not always mean. I’ve bitten my tongue all weekend after seeing a PicCollage (it’s always a fucking PicCollage) recipe for ‘Hawiian BBQ chicken’. Hawiian? That’s how a Geordie mother calls her children in off the street.

Now, a lovely bit of news. You may remember from previous posts that we are part of something called the Reddit Gift Exchange? In short, you pick one of the monthly themes (for example, The Simpsons, or The 90s) and you’re matched with a complete stranger from somewhere else in the UK. You then buy this person a gift pertaining to the theme and send it to them. It’s a giant Secret Santa. You’re guaranteed a present in return from someone else and it’s all very jolly-hockey-sticks and amazing. We love it. In the twelve months we have been doing it we’ve had some genuinely brilliant gifts – homemade cookbooks, a massive box of ‘tourist’ paraphernalia from Scarborough, posters and gaming kit and plenty of others too numerous and marvellous to mention. I do love a Secret Santa, although I did once get my ex-boss a duck for her bath without realising it was a vibrator. That caused much embarrassment, especially when she tried it out in the office no-she-didn’t-don’t-worry. We didn’t have a bath!

So the theme this month was favourite decade and for both Paul and I this was definitely the 90s. It had it all – great TV in the shape of The Crystal Maze, 999 and dinnerladies, superb music (aside from Eiffel 65, fuck those guys) and proper morning-piss yellow Sunny Delight. Though for the record, remember we didn’t have much money and so branded radioactive drinks were out – the best we had was a bottle of Overcast Ennui in our lunchbox. What a time to be alive.

Anyway, our Secret Santa totally knocked it out of the park with their selection of 90s goods – just look at what we received!

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Quite hard to see from Paul’s tiny photo which, in the spirit of the 90s, he seemingly took with a Game Boy camera, but there’s three CDs which I used to own and absolutely fucking love (especially the one on the right), a packet of Nintendo Playing Cards, two Tamagotchis, some Hot-Wheels and a proper little watch. There was also a lovely card. But good lord, what a perfect selection of 90s goodness – I had such a rush of nostalgia that my pubes disappeared and my voice unbroke. I know that’s not a word, squiggly-red-line, but it makes sense in this sentence.

I was always very lucky in that I didn’t go through the whole protracted stage of my voice breaking – I went to bed one night with a voice like Joe Pasquale and a scrotum like a tangerine, woke up the next morning sounding like Isaac Hayes and had a ballsack like a Bassett Hound’s ear. Perhaps it didn’t go quite as deep as Isaac but certainly I avoided all the squeaking and dropping that so many teenage lads seem to experience.

It was the Pogs that really sent us both whooshing back into memory land though. I absolutely loved them. God knows why, it’s just some natty coloured cardboard discs, but something about the simplicity really won me over. Paul and I tried to have a quick game only to send them tumbling all over the kitchen floor so god knows what has happened since, but back in the day, I was the King of Pogs. Well, perhaps the Queen of Pogs. I had the full set, a fluorescent green Pog holder and a slammer which was really just a massive, heavy-duty washer that my dad brought home from work. The Pogs epidemic swept through our school like the norovirus, with fights and scuffles leading to the outright ban of Pog battles in the playground. Didn’t stop us – we used to just play out of the sight of teachers. Honestly, you wouldn’t believe the amount of lads I beat off behind the sheds when no-one was looking. Some things never change, eh.

I reckon Pogs was also the first flirtation with crime for both me and my sister. We had been dragged along to a car-boot sale somewhere inexplicable and indoors and were bored shitless. Parents, don’t take your kids to car boot sales. They’re full of things other people don’t need or want and anything interesting a kid finds is always met with a ‘WE DON’T NEED THAT’ from the parents. Oh, but we do need a VHS of Beverley Callard’s Fitness First and a giant glass ashtray, apparently.

We had spotted a Pog stand full of slammers that looked like something out of Saw and not-quite-Pogs that were possibly printed at home. Didn’t matter. All about volume in those days, see. Anyway, I distracted the lady behind the decorating table by commenting on how fine her moustache was or something whilst my sister proceeded to fill her trousers with Pogs, all held in by virtue of her Adidas Poppers had been tucked into her socks. Genius right? We were like the Krays of South Northumberland.

Don’t judge us too keenly, we were young and bored. Karma got us back anyway because the Pogs were of such bad quality that the ink ran and they were ruined by the heat of a rustling shellsuit. I’m sure my sister probably has a faint imprint of a Tazmanian Devil somewhere on her ankle even now.

Mind, as an aside, Pogs were nothing compared to the thrill of completing a Panini Premiership sticker book. Seeing Alan Shearer’s smug, insufferable face sliding out of the packet on a shiny backing meant being King of All Things, if only for a day. Nevermind the arguments that Pogs caused, I’ve seen fights that looked like when The Bride battles the Crazy 88 in Kill Bill 1 over a four inch by two inch sticker of Tino Asprilla. No amount of trading Paul-Furlong-for-Kevin-Pressman-and-the-Nottingham-Forest-logo is worth having your first adult tooth kicked clean out of your mouth for.

Dangerous times indeed!

Speaking of teeth, you’ll need them to chew the next recipe. I know right, a flawless segue. Now listen, I can’t claim any credit for the idea of this recipe, I found it on another site (Every Nook and Cranny) and thought it looked delicious. Naturally, ours came out looking like someone had driven a car over it before serving, but hell, who cares. It tasted fine and I’ve adapted it for Slimming World. So let’s do this.

chicken and pea lasagne chicken and pea lasagne

to make chicken and pea lasagne you will need:

  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (three if you’re using supermarket ones) OR 500g chicken mince

Here’s the thing. Chicken breasts from our big Musclefood deal – you only need two because they’re so large and don’t shrivel away to nowt like the supermarket ones do. Click here to have a look – it’s definitely a good deal!

  • 2 leeks, finely sliced (save your fingers and time by using a mandolin slicer, not least because they’ll be uniform and so skinny it’ll make the other vegetables jealous) (also that’s the cheapest I’ve ever seen this slicer)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced (use a mincer – garlic powder is fine, but a mincer makes short work of this and takes no time at all – buy one here and I promise you you’ll never look back)
  • 8 to 12 lasagne sheets (it depends on what size dish you use, see, I’m not just being awkward) (totally am)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 3 tbsp passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 200g peas
  • 250g quark
  • 30g grated parmesan (HeA)
  • 70g reduced fat mozzarella ball (HeA)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes (because I’m an ostentatious sod, I’m using ones grown in our greenhouse – next year raise a tomato plant and you’ll be amazed by the difference in flavour – because home-grown tomatoes actually taste of something, see)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • worcestershire sauce

If you can’t get chicken mince and don’t have a food processor to make your own, don’t panic – use turkey mince instead. Perfectly acceptable swap and very easy to buy in supermarkets. Chicken is tastier, though.

to make chicken and pea lasagne you should:

  • preheat the oven to 180 degrees
  • if you’re using chicken breasts you will need to mince it – if you don’t have a fancy mincer (who does?!) then you can use a food processor with a grating blade, or use a cheese grater. Either way it’s a clart on so use chicken/turkey mince when you can!

Because we’re super fancy, we have one of these wonderful Magimix mixers. We threw the chicken breasts in there, pulsed them for a few seconds and that was that. If you cook a lot and have some spare moolah, I can genuinely and heartily recommend it. If you’re someone whose refrain to anything is ‘I CAN GET IT CHEAPER IN ALDI’, perhaps don’t even look.

  • heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add some squirty olive oil, but not Frylight. Never Frylight, it scares me.
  • add the leeks, reduce the heat to low and cook until they soften, which will take about ten minutes
  • when the leeks are soft, add the garlic, stir, and then add the chicken
  • raise the heat to medium and stir well and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, because you don’t want to be revisiting the lasagne thirty minutes after eating as it thunders out of your arse
  • add the oregano and sage, stir, and then add the chopped tomatoes, passata and tomato puree with 60ml of water
  • stir the peas into the pan and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the sauce has reduced. If it looks too thick add more water
  • add salt, pepper and worcestershire to season however you like it
  • in a small saucepan add the quark and parmesan and heat over a low heat until it softens, then remove from the heat as soon as the mixture is well combined, adding salt and pepper if you like – I like a really peppery sauce so I always shoot for the moon at this point
  • in a deep dish assemble the lasagne however you like
  • spoon a third of the chicken mixture into the bottom of the dish, followed by a third of the cheese sauce and a layer of lasagne sheets. repeat for two more layers – if you don’t have enough, just do two layers – it’s all going to get turned into poo, it doesn’t matter how well you put it all together
  • top with torn chunks of mozzarella and pop on the cherry tomatoes
  • bake for 35 minutes or until everything looks delicious and the top looks like a burnt knee
  • serve with a side salad of speed food, or, do as I do, give a portion to your other half and then secretly eat all the crusty cheesy topping under the guise of going back to the kitchen for a drink
  • it’s no wonder my thighs smell of bacon, is it

See? Nice and summery and a bit lighter than your traditional hefty lasagne. You can adapt this recipe however you want. I got scolded last time for using two HEAs in my recipe on the basis that one person is only allowed one healthy extra. This is true. But, this also serves four folks easily and six people at a pinch, and frankly, if you’re eating enough lasagne in one sitting to feed six people, you’ve got more to worry about than an extra 30g of cheese.

We’ve made three other lasagne recipes, why not take a look?

If you’re looking for more pasta ideas or chicken recipes, click on the buttons below and be whisked away to a land of recipes and whimsy.

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Cheers!

J

slow cooker lasagne

Do you know, I’m never comfortable typing lasagne. I dither for ages as to whether it’s lasagne or lasagna and whenever I type it into google my eyes glaze over through boredom and I give up. So, take your pick. 

Super quick post tonight as we’ve only just got back from returning the Smart Car. Paul loves it. I hate it with the passion of a thousand suns. Admittedly, it was surprisingly roomy (but not roomy enough for any backseat shenanigans…not least because it doesn’t have a backseat, unless you fancy singeing your arse cheeks on the engine and having the Mercedes logo branded above your nipsy) but it was so…I hate to use the word lame, I’m not in Mean Girls, but yes, lame. I’ve never heard a car wheeze before. Paul stepped on the accelerator and it ‘shot away’ from a junction like a stubborn poo round a u-bend – going, but just. It did give the neighbours something to look at however and turning around at the top of the street was great fun as it can seemingly turn on a penny, but no, no, we’re not getting one. Sorry Paul! I embarrassed him today by parking outside the Smart car dealership whilst he was inside handing back the keys and putting the Black Beauty theme on loud. 

Tonight’s recipe, then – slow cooker lasagne. This serves six and only uses one 400g portion of extra lean mince, the type that you can buy from our Musclefood deal by clicking here. Just saying! You can bulk this out as much as you like by adding carrots, courgette, peas – any old shite you happen to have floating around in the back of the freezer. Also, this can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the beef mince with Quorn or similar. But ew, right. I hope they’ve improved Quorn mince since the last time I tried it – it was like digesting loft insulation. This lasagne is pretty much the same method as a normal lasagne. The pasta cooks slowly and is so soft, it’s almost like another sauce. Sounds like I’m having a joke but honestly, it’s good. That’s why it is essential to make your mince sauce as tasty as possible, it carries the dish! 

We served ours with roast potatoes and some steamed broccoli. Oh how fancy. 

SLOW COOKER LASAGNE

Look at it bubbling away…

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Looking good! Right. So…

to make slow cooker lasagne, you’ll need:

  • 400g lean beef mince
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 280g lasagne sheets (about 2/3rds of a box)
  • 340g fat-free cottage cheese
  • 250g quark
  • as much reduced fat mozzarella cut into chunks as you like – 65g is one person’s HEA, and this serves six
  • whatever speed food you have about

to make slow cooker lasagne, you should:

  • in a large frying pan heat a little oil/Frylight over a medium high heat, add the onions and sweat down
  • add the garlic and the mince and stir occasionally until no pink meat remains
  • add the chopped tomatoes, passata, tomato puree and any other speed veg you are using into the pan and stir well, cook for a few minutes
  • meanwhile, add all of the cheeses into a bowl and mix together
  • spoon a quarter of the meat mixture into the slow cooker, top with a few lasagne sheets (break them up if you need to) and then spread over the top a quarter of the cheese mixture – repeat this three more times to make layers
  • cook on a low heat for 5 hours with the lid on

This freezes well, you’ll be glad to know. We portioned some up, put it in the freezer and got them about again 15 minutes later to eat. That’s portion control for you!

J


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