Recipes that are delicious and that always work!

You know these recipes are delicious because if I didn't think that they were fabulous . . . I wouldn't be showing them to you. You can also be sure that these recipes work for the same reason! The rest is simply a matter of taste.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Mock Lasagne Casserole

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 I took advantage of a bargain I got on some extra lean ground beef, or beef mince as it is called over here, the other day and made a huge pot of bolognese sauce to put in the freezer.  I often do this, doubling or tripling the recipe and then freezing the sauce in 2 cup containers, just the right size for me to haul out on busy days to have with spaghetti, or to use in casseroles such as this delicious one I am showing you here today!

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This is such a simple casserole to make and as easy as thawing out a container of bolognese, and boiling a quantity of macaroni.  Easy peasy.

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Layered together with some ricotta and other cheeses, it is so quick and easy to throw together.  I used mozzarella, strong cheddar and parmigiana reggiano cheeses this time, but you can easily just use a ready grated cheese mix from the shops, or your own tasty combination.

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You simply layer it all together and bang it into the oven for half an hour . . .

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Then sit back and enjoy the accolades.   It such a simple thing and so delicious and your family doesn't need to know you didn't slave away all day on it.  In fact all the hard work was done weeks before . . .

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I did this on Saturday and then we pulled it out of the fridge when we got home from church on Sunday and it was like magic.  In the time it took for us to change out of our Sunday go to meeting clothes, and make a salad, dinner was on the table.

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And Todd didn't complain too much about it being pasta . . .  I think I'm wearing him down!  ;-)

(Don't worry I have both recipes on the one page.  If you click on the printable recipe beneath the Mock Lasagne title, it will print out both recipes.  No need to click twice.)

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*Mock Lasagne Casserole*
Serves 6 to 8
Economically delicious with all the flavours of a lasagne, but none of the faff.  I make big batches of meat sauce and freeze it in 2 cups containers so that I have it ready when I need it just for tasty casseroles like this.

1 pint of bolognaise sauce (see my recipe)
(warmed through)
8 ounces of macaroni, cooked, drained, rinsed and drained again
185g ricotta cheese (1 1/2 cups)
6 ounces grated cheese (1 1/2 cups)
(I used a mixture of strong cheddar, mozzarella and Parmegiano Reggiano)
Preheat the oven t190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5.  Butter a casserole dish.
Layer as follows:  Half of the cooked macaroni, half the meat sauce, 1/2 the ricotta (I dollop it over) and half the grated cheese.  Repeat with the other half of each, ending with cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbling and the cheese is golden.  Serve warm.

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A Really Good Bolognese Sauce*
Makes 6 servings

Just the way I've always done it.  Simple. Delicious.  Easy.  A hearty sauce that can be used on top of spaghetti, in lasagnas and bakes, or as the Toddster enjoys it, ladled over potatoes.

500g of extra lean ground beef mince (a generous pound)
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 green pepper, trimmed, seeded and finely chopped
3 fat cloves of garlic peeled and minced
225ml of good red wine
1 (400g) tin of chopped Italian tomatoes in juice (14 ounce)
1 (500g) carton of tomato passata  (tomato sauce about 2 cups)
1 TBS tomato puree (tomato paste)
1 tsp good balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano flakes
2 tsp dried basil flakes
1 TBS parsley flakes
1 TBS sugar
pinch ground cloves
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 large bay leaf, broken in half
the rind of one wedge of Parmesan (never throw those away!)
(alternately you can use about 2 TBS of grated parmesan cheese)
pinch of hot pepper flakes (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.   Add the onion and peppers.  Cook, stirring for several minutes, until softened.  Crumble in the ground beef and garlic.  Dry scramble until the beef is no longer pink.  Pour on the wine.  Bring to the boil and then boil it until the wine has almost evaporated.  Add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the Parmesan.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a very low simmer.  Set a cover on top, slightly ajar.  Simmer over very low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.  If you think it is getting too thick you can thin it with a bit of beef stock if necessary.  Add the cheese rind, or grated Parmesan.   Cover again and cook for another half an hour.  Prior to serving discard the rind and the bay leaf.  The sauce is now ready to use as you wish.

Note:  Any leftovers can be frozen in containers for up to six months.  Just thaw and reheat as needed.

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Good tomatoes are the secret to my delicious sauce and my tomato of choice is Cirio Tomatoes.  This recipe uses three Cirio tomato products.    I love the Cirio tomato products.


The Tomato Passata I used for this is Cirio Passata.    Cirio Passata is perfectly smooth and velvety with a sweet, delicate flavour, created from delicious round tomatoes, peeled and passed through a fine sieve to produce a creamy Passata that will enhance the taste of your dishes.  It comes in glass bottles, tetrabricks and new PET Bottles.  I love it!!

Cirio uses the finest plum tomatoes for the chopped tomatoes, which are lovingly carved into large pieces to preserve the quality, consistency and intense flavour of Italy. Fragrant and tasty, with a rich red hue, Cirio brings the natural goodness and freshness of tomatoes picked and packed the same day to bring a vivid and inviting taste experience.  I could just sit down and eat a tin of these all on their own with just a slice of bread and butter on the side.  Heavenly bliss.

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Cirio Supercirio Double Concentrated Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste) A staple ingredient in many dishes, Supercirio Tomato Puree delivers a genuine and delicate taste that is both distinctive and unmistakably authentic. Rich, thick and packed with Cirio’s vivid red tomatoes, its texture is inviting and enriches flavours to stimulate the taste buds and bring the homemade taste of Italy to your home. Unlike many other purées, Supercirio may also be used without diluting with water.

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This kitchen essential store cupboard ingredient comes in the handy squeeze tube, jars, tins and now the very convenient portion pots which means that you only have to open what you need.  No more freezing dollops in the freezer for later use.  I think this is my favourite version of it, no more wastage!

For more information visit
See their Youtube channel  at
 Follow them on Twitter  @CirioUK


  1. Yum, now I want to change my dinner. When I worked at the school for the blind this meal was occasionally made for the staff. JUst perfect for the gray and cool day we are having right now. But, the lamb shanks a braising aways slowly in a Maggie Beer recipe. Hopefully it will go down well as it is Pip's request.

    1. They sound delicious Suzan! I have not had lamb in a long time now! Methinks I need to get some in! xo


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