Author Archives: Tracy Chadfield

About Tracy Chadfield

H, I’m Tracy. Wife to Steven and full time working mother of 2. Join me in the kitchen to meal plan, batch cook, fill your freezer & keep life organised. I share our plans, grocery hauls, shopping lists and how our meals turned out as we aim to have frugal, often slow cooked & Instant Pot meals and just enjoy living simply :)

Delicious Amish white bread

My go to bread is normally a basic white loaf which does me well every time. However I recently discovered this Amish bread which I was really impressed with.

Practicing for winter cooking – any excuse!

Ingredients

  • 1.5 tbsp dry yeast
  • 2.5 cups warm water (warm is 110 – 120F or 43 to 49C)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp butter (4 go in to the bread itself, so if you’re short, just use 4)
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 7/8 cups bread flour

Instructions

Melt 4 tbsp butter

In a stand mixer or large bowl, add warm water, sugar and yeast then stir and rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the melted butter with 4 cups of flour and the salt.

Mix it all, this will be very wet still.

Add remaining flour until bread dough consistency which takes me up to 8 cups. You don’t want it sticking to your hands nor crumbly. Knead for 5 minutes at this consistency.

Take it out of the bowl and knead for apx 10 turns.

Melt another 1 tbsp butter into a clean large bowl and turn the dough into it to cover it all.

Cover in cling film and a tea towel and leave to rest and rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

After 1 hour, knock back, divide in to 2 and shape to desired shape (use a loaf tin if required).

Leave to rise (either on baking sheet you will bake on or in a loaf tin for example) for up to 45 minutes.

Bake for 30-45 minutes in a medium hot oven. To test it is cooked, turn over and tap the bottom, it should sound hollow.

Leave to rest at least 5 minutes before cooking (if you can!) and brush with the last of the melted butter. It is absolutely delicious.

Spooktacular – Weekly Meal Plan – October 26th

Halloween is fast approaching and as it falls on a weekend this year and given the kids won’t be out enjoying it, I thought we’d do a themed meal for the day and enjoy it in the farmhouse. Stay tuned for more on that.

We have corned beef one pot this week and it was so good, a seriously underrated meal. I’m not sure if it’s everyone’s cup of tea so let me know if you would like the recipe.

Coming up this week is also half term and the kids are home whilst I am working from home. Here’s the meal’s I am planning to have with them and my husband.

Monday:  Cottage Pie served with home grown veg (sprouts, cabbage and parsnips).

Tuesday:  Chicken, broccoli and rice casserole.

Wednesday: Cranberry chicken one pot.

Thursday:  Pork Bolognese.

Friday: Pork chops, roast potatoes and seasonal greens.

Saturday:  Halloween buffet

Sunday:  Roast chicken dinner with Yorkshire puddings

Breakfasts:  Toast from a new recipe I’ve found, oat based (porridge, pancakes, cold oats), egg based (dippy, scrambled or omelette) or cereal. Weekends are English breakfast, pancakes or eggs on toast.

SOTW: Red lentil, chickpea and chilli

Snacks:  Banana flapjacks, brownies, fruit,

Please do let me know if you try any of these recipes or meal ideas, or if you would like to know more on how I manage my meals and planning.

If you are interested in seeing what we grow here on the smallholding, feel free to join in the fun on our Instagram or Facebook smallholding pages. We also dabble in YouTube which is rather amusing! Not the content, just that we don’t know what we are doing with it yet!

Happy new week everyone, Tracy x

Time saving freezer packed lunches – Weekly Meal Plan – October 19th

This month has gone by so quickly. My month’s run from 25th until 24th around pay day, just how I’ve always done it. I did the fair size grocery haul last pay day and except for milk, yoghurts and a few fresh items we fancied (didn’t need, just wanted), we’ve not needed anything else.

I am really pleased with how well freezing the kids’ packed lunches has worked out. The ham brioche are not in the slightest bit soggy, the cheese is perfect and the yoghurts lovely and chilled by lunch time. We grab them out of the freezer on a morning, they defrost during the day and are perfect to eat when their lunch time comes round. They take up a bit of space in the freezer so I guess you have to prioritise, for me this is such a time saver each day (mentally too!) that it’s a no brainer.

We also have a full freezer of pork in all it’s forms now so you will see that featuring more and more heavily in the meal plans each week. Here’s what I am planning for this coming week.

Monday:  Home reared pork chops, mushroom gravy and seasonal veg from the garden.

Tuesday:  Left over chicken curry (from Sunday’s roast), rice and naan bread.

Wednesday: Soup and pudding night (see options below) 

Thursday:  Corned beef stew, mash and mushy peas.

Friday: Shredded ham and roast potatoes with green salad

Saturday:  Lasagne (homemade from freezer), chips and left over salad

Sunday:  Home reared diced pork and apple one pot.

Breakfasts:  Oat based (porridge, pancakes, cold oats), egg based (dippy, scrambled or omelette) or cereal. Weekends are English breakfast, pancakes or eggs on toast.

SOTW: Chicken and noodle soup or pea soup.

POTW: Chocolate sponge and custard

Snacks:  Mini frittatas, hummus and peppers, home made scotch eggs (using quail eggs)

Please do let me know if you try any of these recipes or meal ideas, or if you would like to know more on how I manage my meals and planning.

If you are interested in seeing what we grow here on the smallholding, feel free to join in the fun on our Instagram or Facebook smallholding pages. We also dabble in YouTube which is rather amusing! Not the content, just that we don’t know what we are doing with it yet!

Happy new week everyone, Tracy x

Rain, rain go away – Weekly Meal Plan – October 12th

I do enjoy being in the kitchen, with the warmth of the Aga keeping the cold away and the dogs under my feet seeing who can get closest to the heat, whilst the wind and rain beats down outside.

Then I have to go out in the elements to take care of the livestock and no amount of wrapping up tightly in a hat, scarf and coat can make being in the rain enjoyable for me! Especially in the volumes we are getting right now. On day’s like these, there’s nothing better than a hot bowl of porridge to help you prepare for this or a thick soup to toast you from the inside before heading back in to sit in front of the Aga again. That reminds me, I’m out of Pam Corbin’s ‘souper’ mix (home made bouillon in a jar), so I’ll get some more of that done this weekend. This last batch lasted me for ever!

This is what we have been eating this week.

Monday:  Cottage Pie (homemade in the freezer so a nice and easy tea)

Tuesday:  Jacket potato bar (options of chilli, beans, cheddar, tuna mayo)

Wednesday:  Chicken stir fry with egg noodles

Thursday:  Diced pork stew with mash and seasonal veg

Friday: Chip shop fakeaway

Saturday:  Sesame orange chicken, brown rice / freezer surprise

Sunday:  Roast chicken and yorkshire puddings

Breakfasts:  Oat based (porridge, pancakes, cold oats), egg based (dippy, scrambled or omelette) or cereal

SOTW: Harvest Gold soup,

Snacks:  Flapjacks, hard boiled eggs and my famous steak pies (sooo delish!)

Please do let me know if you try any of these recipes or meal ideas, or if you would like to know more on how I manage my meals and planning.

If you are interested in seeing what we grow here on the smallholding, feel free to join in the fun on our Instagram or Facebook smallholding pages. We also dabble in YouTube which is rather amusing! Not the content, just that we don’t know what we are doing with it yet!

Rich beef and prune casserole

This is THE best Autumn dish! I look forward to cooking it each year. Delicious, tender beef, tasty rich sauce all served over creamy mashed potatoes and garden vegetables. Who wouldn’t want this?

I cook this on the Aga top and then in the simmering oven however you can use whatever you have to hand. We are all about ease here remember. Stove top or slow cooker, even in the instant pot! The choices are endless. Here I give stove top times but adapt as you need to – let me know if you have questions in the comments below.

Ingredients

  • 500 diced beef (or rump stead)
  • 6 shallots or 2 small onions
  • 100g prunes in juice (I actually use a full tin for ease and it is yum)
  • 1 can tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml beef stock (I use beef gravy granules for ease)
  • grated zest of an orange OR 1/2 tbsp marmalade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or sprigs of fresh
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  • Spray a heavy based, lidded pan (I use my trusty cast iron Dutch oven) with 1-cal spray and brown the meat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add all of the other ingredients, ensuring you scrape any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
  • Leave for a hour, stir and taste. Simmer for another hour and serve.

You can make a vegetarian version by substituting 450g mushrooms for the meat and using vegetable stock.

Slow cooker recipe – Taco Tuesday’s

I didn’t even know about Taco Tuesday until I started expanding our meals. We are very rebellious though and have tacos on other days of the week too! I made extra of this recipe and froze it in zip lock bags in the freezer. It defrosted great and lends itself to many varieties. I add extra rice to it when I need to bulk it out, more peppers and sweetcorn make a healthy addition. It’s an easy recipe to stretch out, making it super frugal too.

Ingredients

  • 1kg minced beef
  • 2/3 cups (less or more depending how you like it) cooked brown rice
  • 1 tin sweetcorn
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1.5 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1.5 TBSP onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cumin – optional
  • Tinned Beans – optional

Instructions

The reason I do this in the slow cooker is to throw it in and leave it. It can easily be done on the stove completely.

I put the mince in the slow cooker for 4 hours on low then drain it and put it back on the warm setting.

Add all other ingredients and leave to until you need it.

We served with soft and hard shelled tacos as that’s what we have it, however it is delicious over wraps or just salad. Served here with cowboy instant pot beans too. Yum!

Instant Pot recipe – honey and mustard chicken thighs

I don’t know about you but chicken thighs are marmite in my house. My husband would choose them over any other part of the bird, my daughter would prefer to be vegetarian and it’s too much effort for my son to have an opinion some days 😉

All that said, every week we are blessed enough to be gifted 2 large thighs, drumsticks and wings off an organic, pasture raised bird. So this week, I am making these honey and mustard flavoured thighs.

Ingredients

  • As many thighs as you need for your family, we had 5/6
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Cornflour to thicken as needed

Instructions

  • Season the chicken thighs in salt and pepper
  • If using the instant pot, on sauté mode seal the thighs individually, maybe 3 mins on each side and set to one side
  • Add chicken stock in to the empty instant pot to remove any stuck on pieces. You can use seasoned water if needed.
  • Add chicken thighs
  • Mix honey and mustard and pour over the top of the thighs
  • Set the valve to sealing and cook on manual for 10 minutes the quick release.

We served ours with brown rice and mixed vegetables and they were delicious.

Cosy days – Weekly Meal Plan – October 5th

I’m getting a little bit obsessed with meal plans and what other people are doing with theirs. I’m even watching YouTube videos showing what people ate in a week for ideas and inspiration. This is all building up to our 2021 challenge of spending as little as possible on groceries and other expenses to allow us to overpay the mortgage. It’s really exciting for me (please don’t roll your eyes 😉 ). We’ve been saving hard through 2020 to have a pot of money to call on for necessities, as we still have projects on the smallholding which feed in to longer term savings. I’ll post those over on Our Smallholding Adventure blog that we run. Do join us there if you haven’t already, we would love your company.

I’ve enjoyed making apple sauce from our own cooking apples in the slow cooker. It’s lovely to be able to put them in and walk away. I’ve dusted these with sugar and lemon juice and put them on for a couple of hours on low. The result is lovely and freezes very well. I tried some warmed with cold Greek Yoghurt and it was delish. Maybe served over porridge, rice pudding or as a side to our home reared pork….yum!

Here’s the meal plan I have put together for this coming week.

Monday:  Instant Pot honey and mustard chicken thighs, brown rice and green vegetables

Tuesday:  Taco bar with salad and extra rice left over from Monday.

Wednesday:  Rich beef and prunes casserole

Thursday:  Roast chicken, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Friday: Fajitas – chicken

Saturday:  LO chicken and vegetable pie, mash and vegetable garden veg

Sunday:  Home reared roast pork, garden vegetables and Yorkshire puddings

Breakfasts:  Oat based (porridge, pancakes, cold oats), egg based (dippy, scrambled or omelette) or cereal

SOTW: Harvest Gold soup, Thick Pea and Ham

Snacks:  Flapjacks, hard boiled eggs

Please do let me know if you try any of these recipes or meal ideas, or if you would like to know more on how I manage my meals and planning.

If you are interested in seeing what we grow here on the smallholding, feel free to join in the fun on our Instagram or Facebook smallholding pages. We also dabble in YouTube which is rather amusing! Not the content, just that we don’t know what we are doing with it yet!

Happy new week everyone, Tracy x

Shopping for the month’s groceries and stretching chicken.

At the weekend I went to my local Aldi and spent £138.65 on groceries for the coming month. Before I went, I sat down and wrote out 31 main meals along with what I would need to purchase to make those meals based on what I had in the pantry and freezers. I am pretty confident I have at least 85% of the items we need for all 31 meals. The grocery haul also needs to accommodate for breakfast and lunches – so that’s another 62 (* 4 people, so 248!!) meals. That’s a lot of washing up.

I have stuck to meals I know we like with the odd new one thrown in there to trial such as honey and mustard chicken thighs and sesame orange chicken. I’d really like to get in to monthly meal planning and shopping, with maybe 1 top up shop half way through the month. I think I will be able to do that based on how it’s going so far.

Another tip I have for meal planning, especially for longer durations, is to pop a few roasts on there, specifically chicken for us. We are lucky enough to have very large, home raised chickens which I will roast whole and serve as a roast dinner, then take the remaining meat off and serve as second meal. This could be curry, stir fry, coronation chicken and so on. We usually get a bit of cold meat for salads in there too. Finally after I’ve taken the meat off the bones I will make a stock from the left over carcass and use that in soups, pastas or to cook rice and so on. We get at least 3 main meals for the 4 of us from 1 bird and I think this is a really economical way of stretching your budget and food.

Something else I do is put a few old favourites on there, so for us it is fajitas, lasagne or cottage pie. Of these old favourites I can batch cook and freeze some of them, so anything beef mince based is easy to cook ahead. I make them in foil containers so if needs be, they go from the freezer to the Aga roasting oven with no complaints, because we all have days where we forgot to take them out of the freezer.

Finally one more success I have had it to make ahead the kids’ packed lunches and freeze them. Yes, really. I made 30 ham brioche buns, 5 jam brioche and put them in separate bags (which get reused) along with their cheese sticks (which freeze great) and a slice of cake.

If you are interested in more detail around any of these topics, just let me know via a comment, I’d love to share more content like this with people who are interested, can share ideas themselves, or would learn anything.

Take care, Tracy x

Elderberry Winter Tonic recipe

In my neck of the woods, September and October are the months to be picking elderberries. Sometimes it’s earlier, others it’s later but there is an abundance right now and I’ve been out foraging and thoroughly enjoying myself.

A great point to note is that elderberries freeze very well and even better, once they are frozen they pop off the stalks very easily as when they are fresh you run the risk of squashing them on removal and getting very purple fingers 🙂

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of ripe elderberries
  • 1 generous chunk fresh ginger (at least 1 inch by 1 inch)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 cups water

Optional extras: a few cloves

Instructions

This recipe is very forgiving, you can use more or less of any of the ingredients to your own tastes, just remember everything you are adding has its natural benefits.

Measure all ingredients into a stainless steel pan. If you use enamel or ceramic coated you risk staining it, as I found out in previous years!

Bring the pan to a simmer and leave for an hour or so. As I say, it’s very forgiving! You can reduce the liquid if preferred as some people prefer a more syrup like texture. I didn’t bother as we drink this as a “shot” at least twice a day. When you’re feeling something coming on, sniffles, head cold or generally run down, take it every couple of hours.

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#elderberry winter tonic to ward off the sniffles 🤧

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