Here’s a taste of Suzanne Mulholland’s The Batch Lady: Cooking on a Budget, out now, published by HarperCollins
She says in the introduction to this book: “As I became a busy working wife and mum I realised that those skills are also very much needed in our home environment too. We’re constantly playing the juggling game that is modern day life, and it can be stressful as we try to manage budgets, feed our families well, and get nutritious meals on the table that offer variety and keep everyone happy. That, combined with trying to reduce packaging, reduce food waste and eat less meat, can have our brains spinning.
“This book was packed full of hearty recipes designed to fill your freezer (and your belly!) with tasty food that could be put on the table with little fuss. My second, The Batch Lady: Healthy Family Favourites, focussed on making the comforting family food we all love a little bit healthier.”
Roast butternut squash with a couscous crust
Prep: 10 minutes | Cooking: 70 minutes | Serves: Four
• Glug of olive or vegetable oil
• One large butternut squash, topped, tailed, cut into quarters and seeds removed
• ½ cup (100g) couscous
• ½ cup (120ml) boiling water
• 100g feta cheese
• Juice of one lemon
• Two heaped tbsp pesto
• Eight cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil, for roasting
Roasting butternut squash in this way brings out its natural sweetness and delicious earthy flavours. Bulked up with fluffy couscous this is substantial enough as a main meal, but would also work as a side dish or even a dinner party starter.
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Add a glug of oil to a lipped baking sheet. Place in the oven to warm.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the butternut to the tray, turning to coat in the oil as you do. Bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through, until the squash is golden and just tender.
3. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and pour over half a cup (120ml) of boiling water. Cover and set aside for five minutes, then fluff the couscous up with a fork.
4. Crumble the feta into the bowl, then add the lemon juice, pesto, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
If you’re cooking to eat now… Spoon the couscous mix over the roasted squash and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Divide the wedges between serving plates and serve. Zhuzh it up with a good drizzle of balsamic glaze.
If you’re making ahead to freeze… Set the squash and couscous aside until cooled to room temperature, then transfer the squash wedges to a large freezer bag and the couscous to a smaller bag. Seal the couscous bag and then place inside the bag with the squash before sealing. Label and freeze flat for up to three months.
Then… Remove the squash and couscous from the freezer and place in the fridge to defrost, ideally overnight. Once defrosted lay the squash on a foil-lined baking sheet and spoon over the couscous. Transfer to an oven preheated to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and bake for 30 minutes, until piping hot all the way through. Serve as above.
Mexican beef nacho topper
Prep: 10 minutes | Cooking: 8-10 minutes | Serves: Four
• Splash of vegetable or olive oil
• One cup (115g) frozen chopped onions
• 1 tsp frozen chopped garlic
• 250g minced beef
• 1 x 30g packet taco seasoning
• 1 x 395g tin mixed beans in chilli sauce
• 2 tbsp tomato purée
• One cup (175g) frozen sliced peppers
• One 200g bag lightly salted tortilla chips
• One cup (90g) pre-grated Cheddar cheese
• MAKE IT Veggie! Replace the beef with a plant-based mince of your choice.
Cheesy, spicy and loaded with flavour, this is the ultimate sharing dish for when you have lots of hungry mouths to feed. If you’re feeding more than four, this is easy to scale up by simply doubling or tripling the ingredient amounts.
1. Heat a splash of oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and mince and cook, stirring, for about five minutes, until the onions are translucent and meat browned.
2. Drain any excess fat from the pan, then return to the heat and add the taco seasoning, beans, tomato puree and sliced peppers. Give everything another stir to combine, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Remove from the heat.
If you’re serving now… Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Transfer the tortilla chips to a large baking dish and warm in the oven for five minutes, until crisp. Remove from the oven and ladle the chilli over the top. Scatter over the grated cheese then return the dish to the oven for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Put the dish in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy. Zhuzh it up… Scatter over some fresh coriander and serve with guacamole and pickled jalapenos alongside.
If you’re making ahead to freeze… Leave the beef chilli to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large, labelled freezer bag and freeze flat for up to three months.
Then… Remove the bag from the freezer and leave to defrost in the fridge, ideally overnight. Once defrosted, tip the beef chilli into a large saucepan over a medium heat and reheat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, until piping hot. While the chilli is reheating, warm the tortilla chips then assemble the Mexican Nacho Topper as described above.