Recipes for your freezer

These three delicious recipes from Justine Pattison will make your food go further and help save you time and money.

Why not try these tasty recipes created for us by Justine Pattison? Justine is one of the UK's favourite cookery writers and the author of Freeze, as well as many other popular titles. She is also a regular TV expert and contributor to several national magazines and newspapers.

Mexican chicken stack

Serves 4
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes from freshly made, or 60-65 minutes from frozen

Ingredients
1 tbsp oil, plus extra for greasing
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into roughly 1.5cm chunks
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp hot smoked paprika or hot chilli powder
150-200g cold, cooked, skinless chicken, cut into small pieces
350g jar tomato pasta sauce
4 x 40g regular flour tortillas
100g mature cheddar, coarsely grated ground black pepper

To serve
100g soured cream or half fat crème fraîche
sliced jalapeno chillies (from a jar), drained (optional)
fresh coriander, to garnish

Leftover cooked chicken is mixed with tomato pasta sauce and spiced yellow pepper, then layered with tortillas and grated cheese and baked. Top with soured cream and jalapenos for a simple supper dish with a Mexican twist.

Method

Heat the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan and fry the pepper for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown, stirring regularly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spices.
Tip the spiced pepper into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool. Add the cooked chicken and tomato sauce to the pepper. Season with ground black pepper and mix well.

Place one tortilla in a well-oiled, shallow ovenproof dish, a 24cm flan dish is ideal. Spread evenly with a third of the chicken mixture and sprinkle with a third of the cheese. Repeat the layers twice more. Place the remaining tortilla on top.

Cover with lightly oiled kitchen foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C/fan oven 200°C/Gas 7 for 30 minutes, or until steaming hot throughout.

Remove the foil, top the stack with soured cream or crème fraîche, sliced jalapenos and fresh coriander. Serve immediately with a large mixed salad and lime wedges for squeezing. (Eat the stack the same day as it is made.)

To freeze

Prepare the stack as above but stack the layers on a piece of kitchen foil instead. Cover with a second sheet of foil and scrunch up the sides tightly to seal the stack inside. Place in a large labelled freezer bag and seal. Freeze for up to 3 months.

To cook

Unwrap the frozen stack and place in a well-oiled, shallow ovenproof dish (a 24cm flan dish is ideal). Cover with lightly oiled foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 220°C/fan oven 200°C/Gas 7 for 60-65 minutes, or until steaming hot throughout. (Eat the stack the same day it is cooked.)

Cook’s tips

  • Keep your chunks of pepper and pieces of chicken small so they reheat quickly and evenly.
  • Use any variety of tomato pasta sauce you like, just keep the quantity the same.
  • Buy regular flour tortillas rather than tortilla wraps, which are far larger.
  • Try making a vegetarian version of the Mexican Stack by adding leftover cooked vegetables instead of the chicken.

Frittata bites

Makes 12
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes

Ingredients
oil, for greasing
50g sliced ham, torn into small pieces
50g Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
4 large eggs
ground black pepper

If you can’t get through all your pack of ham before the use-by date, make these simple frittata bites and freeze it instead. They are a great way of using up eggs and odds and ends of cheese too.

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven180°C/Gas 6. Brush a shallow 12-cup non-stick bun tin with a little oil. Divide the ham and cheese between the cups.

Break the eggs into a jug and beat with a metal whisk until thoroughly combined; season with a little ground black pepper. Pour the beaten eggs over the ham and cheese.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until risen, firm and golden. (They will sink as they cool.) Serve warm or cold with salad.

To freeze

Pack the cooked and cooled frittata bites into a small freezer-proof container, interleaving with baking parchment. Seal tightly with a labelled lid. Freeze for up to 1 month.

To serve

Take out as many frittata bites and you need and defrost thoroughly in a single layer on a covered plate in the fridge for 2-3 hours to serve cold. Alternatively, place three frozen frittatas on a microwaveable plate and reheat on HIGH for 50-60 seconds, or until steaming hot throughout. Eat frozen frittatas on the same day they are thawed or reheated.

Cook’s tips

  • If your tin isn’t as non-stick as it should be, make the frittatas in well oiled fairy cake cases instead.
  • Try making the frittatas with other leftover ingredients, such as sautéed diced peppers and onions with chorizo, smoked salmon and chives or spinach and feta.

Magic mince

Serves 8 (2 x 4 servings)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes

Ingredients
2 x 400g-500g packs lean minced beef (10% fat)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
400ml beef stock (made with 2 lower salt beef stock cubes)
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
ground black pepper

A thoroughly modern savoury mince that can be turned into a huge variety of different dishes. What will you do with yours?

Method

Put the beef, onions and garlic in a large, wide-based saucepan or flameproof casserole. Cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring regularly and using two wooden spoons to break up the meat.

Stir in the flour until well combined, then add the stock and tomatoes. Season with lots of ground black pepper.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the mince is tender, stirring regularly. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Transfer to a large, shallow container and cool at room temperature for no longer than 2 hours.

Spoon half the mince mixture into a large, labelled zip-seal freezer bag. Place the bag on a baking tray and turn on its side. Flatten the mince in the bag almost all the way through to the end, pressing out as much air as possible, then seal firmly. Repeat with a second bag and the remaining Magic Mince. Freeze for up to 3 months, removing the trays once the mince is solid.

Defrost the mince in the bag on a tray in the fridge for several hours or overnight before using. Heat thoroughly before serving.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 4
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry 200g sliced mushrooms for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring regularly. Add 1 x batch defrosted Magic mince, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 2 tsp dried oregano and 1 bay leaf.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring regularly until steaming hot throughout.

Serve with freshly cooked spaghetti and grated Parmesan and a large mixed salad. Garnish with fresh basil if you like.

Chilli con carne

Serves 4
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins

Put 1 x batch defrosted Magic mince into a large non-stick frying pan or wide-based saucepan. Add 1 x 400g can red kidney beans in chilli sauce and 1 tsp chipotle paste (from a jar).

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 6-8 minutes, or until steaming hot throughout, stirring regularly.

Serve with freshly cooked rice or tortilla chips, soured cream and an avocado, tomato, red onion and coriander salad, with fresh lime wedges for squeezing over.

Samosa pie

Serves 4
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 25 mins

Half fill a medium pan with water and bring to the boil. Add 450g peeled potatoes, cut into roughly 2cm chunks, and return to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Put 3 tbsp medium Indian curry paste in a large non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat for a few seconds, stirring. Add the potatoes, 1 x batch defrosted Magic Mince and 150g frozen peas.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until hot throughout, stirring regularly. Preheat the oven to 200C/fan oven 180C/gas 6.

Spoon the mince into a 1 litre ovenproof dish. Top with four layers of lightly oiled sheets of filo pastry and sprinkle with a couple of pinches of poppy seeds. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the pastry is pale golden brown and crisp. Serve with freshly cooked vegetables or salad.