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Homemade Autumn Family Dinners

By: Elizabeth Hinds - Updated: 2 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
Homemade Autumn Family Dinners

Autumn is a very poetic time of the year! With the rich colours of the trees and the rustling of the dry leaves, the clocks going back and the nights drawing in, it’s a time for warming and familiar food. We have the recipes for you.

There’s nothing like homemade food for the family after a long day at work or school.

But if you’re out all day and you’re also the cook you’ll want it to be quick and easy to prepare as well.

We’ve a recipe for prepare-in-advance homemade lasagne as well as a delicious chicken and pepper casserole recipe.

Don't be deterred by the length of the lasagne recipe: it's very easy to make!


Meat sauce
  • 500g mince steak or lamb
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced small
  • 2 sticks celery, diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • Tin tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ pint meat stock
  • Oregano
  • 4 oz mushrooms, wiped and finely sliced
Cheese sauce
  • 1 tablespoon margarine
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ½ pint milk
  • 4 oz mature cheddar cheese, grated
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Lasagne sheets
  • Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 200ºC, gas mark 6.

Heat a wide-based frying-pan (no oil needed) and quickly brown the mince. Tip away excess fat that comes from it. Add the onions, carrot, celery and garlic and fry gently for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften.

Add the tomatoes, puree, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, stock and a generous sprinkling of oregano. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile make the cheese sauce. Melt the margarine in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a paste. Stir the paste with a wooden spoon over the heat for a few seconds to allow it to ‘cook’ very slightly.

Remove from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring well between additions to make a smooth sauce. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time. When the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add the grated cheese, stirring until it melts. Season to taste with pepper.

Place a couple of spoonfuls of the meat sauce in the base of a square dish. Place lasagne sheets in a single layer on top. Cover these with more meat sauce, followed by a few spoonfuls of cheese sauce and a generous sprinkling of parmesan. Repeat until you’ve run out of ingredients! You should end with a layer of cheese sauce topped with parmesan.

Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes. The lasagne should be bubbling and heated through to the middle. Serve with a green salad and crusty bread.

Lasagne can be made ahead and frozen or kept in the fridge overnight. You can use one of the ready-made tomato sauces available if you prefer and most lasagne sheets don’t need pre-cooking but damping them with cold water just before you use them makes sure they’ll cook properly.

Chicken and Pepper Casserole

  • 4 chicken joints
  • Seasoned flour
  • Olive oil
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 large onions
  • 350 g tomatoes
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • ¼ pint chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 180ºC, gas mark 4.

Toss the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour. (Putting them all in a bag is the easiest method for coating them.) Heat the oil in a pan and brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Remove from the frying-pan and place in a casserole dish.

Add more oil to the frying-pan if necessary before adding the onions and peppers. Allow them to cook gently for about 10 minutes until they begin to soften.

Meanwhile skin the tomatoes, halve and remove the seeds. Roughly chop the flesh.

Add the onions, peppers and tomatoes to the casserole dish. Season and add the sugar and stock. Cover and cook for about 1 hour until the chicken is thoroughly done. Serve with freshly cooked pasta and broccoli.

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