Author: Charlene

Beef and Vegetable Casserole

Cooking time

picPreparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours to 3 hours 50 minutes
Serves 5 people

The traditional, braised beef stew with its thick, rich gravy is ideal for cheap cuts because slow-cooking ensures a tender dish.


Celery sticks – 2 numbers thickly sliced
Onion – 1 chopped
Carrots – 2 big ones halved lengthways and then cut into chunks
Bay leaves – 2
Thyme – 3 sprigs
Vegetable oil – 1 tablespoon
Butter – 1 tablespoon
Plain flour – 2 tablespoon
Tomato purée – 2 tablespoon
Worcestershire sauce – 2 tablespoon
Beef stock cubes – 2 crumbled
Stewing beef (featherblade/brisket works) – 850g cut into large chunks

Cooking Method

Heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Fahrenheit or gas 3 level. Keep the kettle on and put the bay, celery, onion, carrots and one of the thyme sprigs into a casserole along with 1 tablespoon of oil and butter. Soften for about 10 minutes and then add the flour and stir till it ceases to look dusty. Now, add the tomato purée, beef stock cubes and Worcestershire sauce.

Gradually add 600 milliliters of hot water and keep stirring. Now, add the beef and bring it to a gentle simmer. Place the lid and keep it in the oven for around 2 hours 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 30 minutes to 1 hour till the meat becomes really tender and the sauce thickens.

Nutrition per serving

483 k. calories
33.7 grams protein
14.3 grams carbohydrates
32.6 grams fat
13.4 grams Saturates
2.3 grams fiber
7.4 grams sugar
1.6 grams salt

Cottage Pie

cottage_pie[1]Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Serves: 10

The cottage pie is a family favorite. It freezes well and is sure to please everyone in the family.

Nutrition Facts

600 K. calories
37 grams Protein
40 grams Carbohydrates
34 grams Fat
16 grams Saturates
4 grams Fiber
7 grams Sugar
1.15 grams Salt


Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Minced beef – 1.25 kilograms
Finely chopped onions – 2
Chopped carrots – 3
Celery sticks – 3 chopped
Garlic cloves – 2 finely chopped
Plain flour – 3 tablespoons
Tomato purée – 1 tablespoon
Red wine – large glass (optional)
Beef stock – 850 milliliters
Worcestershire sauce – 4 tablespoons
Thyme sprigs – a few numbers
Bay leaves – 2

For the mash

Potatoes – 1.8 kilograms chopped
Milk – 225 milliliters
Butter – 25 grams
Strong cheddar – 200 grams grated
Freshly grated nutmeg
Foolproof freezing

Method of Preparation

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and fry the minced beef (in batches) till it becomes brown in color. Keep it aside for some time. Pour the remaining oil on to a pan and add the vegetables. Gently heat the pan till for about 20 minutes or till the vegetables become soft. Now, add the flour, garlic and tomato puree. Raise the heat and continue cooking for a few minutes. Add the beef on to the pan. Pour the wine and bring it to a boil. Now, add the herbs, Worcestershire sauce and stock. Keep the stove in simmer and cook without covering it for 45 minutes. Make sure that the gravy is thick and is forming a coat on the meat. Season well and then discard the thyme stalks and bay leaves.

In the meantime, prepare the mash. Keep the potatoes immersed in salted cold water in a large saucepan. Bring it to a boil and simmer until it becomes tender. Drain off the water and allow it to become dry. Mash the potatoes well with milk, butter and three-fourth of the cheese. Now, season the mash with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Transfer the meat into two ovenproof dishes. Cover the meat with mashed potato. Sprinkle the remaining cheese. Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit or gas level 7. Cook for about 25 to 30 minutes or till the topping becomes golden brown in color. If you are not eating it immediately, freeze it.

The pie should be completely cold and should be well covered with cling film before freezing it. It is a good idea to freeze the pie on the same day you make it. Then defrost the pie in the refrigerator overnight and then cook as described above. Or else, cook the frozen pie by heating it in the oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 160 degrees Fahrenheit or gas level 4. Then, cover it with a foil and cook for 90 minutes. Increase the temperature of the oven to 220 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit or gas level 7 and continue cooking for 20 minutes more or till until it becomes golden brown in color.

Country Home Décor Ideas

country-style-home-decor-ideas-1[1]It is fun decorating a country home and there are a number of country home décor styles. Three different home décor styles are discussed in this article.

#1: Rustic Country

The rustic country style, also referred to as American country style, makes use of a simplistic approach. Typically, furniture with straight lines is used and frills and fuss are avoided. In order to bring about an older appearance, wood is often distressed. “Shabby chic” is a popular as well as a contemporary version of this style.

Further, Americana accents and symbols are used as accessories for this décor style. The American flag, barn animals or eagles and stars, old country sayings and fruit and vegetables can be appropriately used within this theme. The color of the window coverings is generally white, but may have a navy blue or red stenciled or stamped border.

#2: Country Cottage

This style is more formal and is also referred to as English country style. The walls are painted using bright colors and the windows and tables are covered with heavily patterned fabrics having floral designs. Window treatments often include ornamental antler rods or a curtain rod that has been creatively carved out of a branch.

Ornate furniture with bold patterns and in colors such as red, green, pink and sometimes purple are made use of as part of country cottage décor style. A number of pillows with ornate trim, covered with fabrics having mixed floral patterns printed on them, are often used. Other things that are used include doilies, metal picture frames, mirrors, and bold floral arrangements.

#3: French Country

The colors used as part of French country include dark greens, deep reds (wine red, crimson, etc.) and touches of navy blue. Sometimes, eggplant and goldenrod yellow colors are also used. Typically, two main colors along with one accent color are made use of in this home décor style.

The walls are painted white or using neutral colors in order to create a balance with other bold colors used as part of the décor. Window coverings are provided with tasseled pullbacks or very ornate brass curtain rods. Typically, the curtains extend up to the floor and may even puddle up.
Further, furniture made of distressed wood (as in the case of rustic country style) with eclectic design is generally used. In order to make this style a little more formal, the furniture may be kept heavy and colored in dark shades. Glass is used as an accessory with vintage furniture pieces.

A varnished wood floor goes well with the country style. However, wood grain is appropriate with all styles. Rugs, an inexpensive option, may be used to accessorize any of the rooms. All the home décor styles discussed in this article bring the feel of another time period. Whatever be your taste, one of these designs will definitely catch your attention.

Country Living Room Furniture Ideas

country-living-room-design-ideas[1]Country living room furniture brings about a cozy, comfortable and traditional ambience to your home. In fact, the living room is the best starting point if you are interested in introducing a country appeal to your home.

Natural Earth Tones

If your goal is to incorporate a country look to your home, then you must get furniture that reflect natural tones and have a pleasing appearance. There must be a main background color for your living room. However, you can go for a pallet of colors as well as two accent colors to create a country look that you want.

A very important aspect that you have to keep in mind when it comes to incorporating natural earth tones is that the furniture you choose must reflect the primary color scheme of your living room. The primary color must be the overwhelming color of the most important piece of furniture that you have in your living room. The two accent colors can be part of the scheme of colors and be present on the throw pillows. Other pieces of furniture that are there in the living room may have the two accent colors as the main color.

Think of Comfort

There is no doubt about the fact that the key aspect of the furniture that you have in your country living room must be comfort. Of course, you should have one piece of furniture that acts as the focal point of your living room. Typically, a large couch, shelf or decorative cupboard acts as the focal point of the living room décor.

It is very important that this focal piece sports a country look. If the couch in your living room acts as the focal point, then you must make sure that the throw pillows reflect earth tome colors as well as natural designs. Also, you must remember that things that are extremely ornate or excessively formal do not go well with country living room décor.

Mix Colors and Patterns

In order to bring about a great casual, country look, it is a good idea to use fabrics of varied textures and mix colors as well as patterns. It is a known fact that pieces that complement each other bring a great deal of not only character, but also comfort to your living room.

English Country Kitchen – Some Design Considerations

English-Cottage-Kitchen-Designs-Strong-Traditional-Country-Kitchen-with-Stone-Wall-615x300[1]You can make your kitchen very appealing by designing it in the English country style. This style is best suited for houses that have been built using natural materials such as stone, brick and wood. In fact, the English country style integrates simplicity and practicality with comfort and variety. An English country style kitchen may appear to be very simple like one in one of the countryside cottages. You can customize it to look formal and at the same time maintain its comfortable and unimposing feel.

Use Soft, Warm Colors

When you choose colors for your kitchen, look for shades that resemble natural colors that you can see in the countryside. Subtle colors such as pale yellow, faded blue, lavender and rose go well with the English country kitchen style. Typically, warm tones and cream or light red (earthen feel) wall colors give a relaxed look to the kitchen.

Use Cabinets and Countertops Made of Wood

Mainly, wood is used for making kitchen cabinets as well as countertops. The design of cabinets may be simple, but they should be sturdy. The doors may be plain or paneled. Generally, cabinets are whitewashed and given a distressed paint finish in order to create the impression that it is being used well. You can use large metal hinges as well as round knobs made of ceramic or wood to enhance the appearance. Cherry wood finish for the countertop provides an appealing look and often the kitchen island is also given the same finish.

Create a Comfortable, Weathered Look

The English country kitchen style is cozy and homely and not ornate or extravagant. Therefore, items like a warm hearth rug, knitted throws on kitchen chairs made of wood and weathered tin pitchers or earthenware further enhance the look.

Highlight Rustic Features

Highlight the rustic features in your kitchen such as a stone fireplace or beamed ceiling. You can find pieces at flea markets or antique stores that go well with the décor. They could include old china hutch, an antique English stove, copper pans and pots, cast iron skillets, large pitchers and ceramic plates. They are a great addition to the English country style kitchen.

You may find that the accessories are cluttered in an English country kitchen. However, you can exercise control over the additions to the kitchen space. You can display the pretty chinaware on shelves, condiment jars on countertops, framed family photographs on bare surfaces, and storage wicker baskets. You can also hang dried herbs over the fireplace mantle or stove and add a great deal of fresh flowers around the room.

Have a Comfortable Breakfast Area

Incorporating a cozy breakfast area in your English country style kitchen further enhances its appeal. You and your family members can sit together and eat snacks or breakfast. Ideally, you should go for a solid table made of wood and farmhouse style chairs with seat cushions covered with a fabric having a plaid or floral pattern that is characteristically used in countryside kitchen.

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