It’s Tuesday and I’m in a slump; my laundry and spring cleaning are still underway; add in some diy, yard work, evening meetings and working from home and I’m one tired Mom! And I still have three days to go before I can ‘relax’ and do virtual assistant work, blog work, refinish this dresser sitting in our kitchen, or attend activities. You know we do a lot of freezer cooking; but you can’t do that every night. What’s a mom to do? One of our favourite filling and healthy meals is cheesy chilli chips. Yes, something that sounds so bad, can be made packed full of wholesome veggies!
Like many kids, mine do love a simple meal of pasta and sauce; which can be good when you’re right worn out or time is in a pinch. And although I do try to make as much as I can from scratch, you’ll always find a jar of pasta sauce in my cupboard ‘for emergencies.’ But I’m finding that with the right sauce, like Dolmio’s Bolognese Original, so much more can be done with it in addition to just pasta. Dolmio asked if I was up for the #ThankGoodness challenge of creating a healthy meal and sent me out some of their Bolognese sauce, as well as some additional groceries to get me feeling creative.
With the wholesome ingredients of Dolmio Bolognese, I can relax my guard as there’s nothing artificial in the jar, and the ingredients are simple and also similar to what I use in my own homemade pasta sauce (but ready and waiting without me having to make it).
I had a little brainstorm with my children to see what we could think of to make with some bolognese sauce and we easily came up with 17 tasty meals and snacks (as of our last count)!
Now that we’ve come up with so many ideas – you’ll be seeing our versions of some of these here over the course of the year – which one are we making this week?
If you’ve ever wondered about how to use pasta sauce as a staple, you can use it along with, or in place of tinned tomatoes to give extra flavour to your meals as the herbs are already included for you (great for camping) and there aren’t any of those tomato lumps that put off picky eaters.
Cheesy Chilli Chips
Cheesy Chilli Chips. That’s right, this is the meal we’re sharing first. We recently had some homemade poutine, and a few days later I had a craving for something a little more substantial. Usually meals like this aren’t nutritious, but with a little creativity, it’s easy to make it packed full of flavour and goodness.
I have the kids help me with the meals as often as possible, and these days, they often make their own lunches, which are delicious and made with care. It’s a great way for them to learn first-hand about nutrition, planning, budgeting, and life skills, as well as spending time together and feeling a sense of fulfilment. It may take a little longer, and be a little messier, but they can also help clean up the mess!
Here are the ingredients I used to make our Cheesy Chilli Chips:
Chilli Sauce Ingredients
This is my recipe for a spicy chilli sauce. If you don’t appreciate as much spice, then leave out the hot peppers; if you like it extra hot, then add more! My meals are rarely the same way twice; I use what I have on hand, and depending on the weather and our moods, we adjust accordingly. That’s one of the great things about making your own meals: the variety of flavours possible!
- 1 lb mince/ground beef
- 1 medium-sized onion, diced
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 a courgette/zucchini, grated
- 1 Carrot, grated
- 1 tin of kidney beans
- 1 jar of Dolmio Bolognese Original Sauce
- 1/2 – 1 tin of tomatoes
- garlic chilli paste, to taste
- 2 small hot peppers, diced (optional)
- 1 packet of chilli mix (optional)
Veggie Chips Ingredients
I like to liven up our chips when I can. Adding in other veggies to the mix gives them a little sweetness with carrots and sweet potatoes, or use any other veggies you’d like for variety. It also makes the meal more colourful and it looks more complicated (which of course it isn’t as there’s not much of a difference when you’re already chopping veg and potatoes).
- Potatoes, cut into wedges; if the skin is good, leave it on for extra nutrients
- Carrots, cut into large sticks
- Sweet Potatoes, cut into sticks
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- Mozerella Cheese (you can substitute a non-dairy cheese of your preference)
- Jalapeño peppers (optional)
- Sour Cream (optional)
- Put your veggies into an oven tray, drizzle over the olive oil, and sprinkle with paprika. The paprika will add just a slight flavour, but will add a lovely colour to your homemade chips. Toss up the concoction to get everything mixed. Remember, you’re not deep frying your veggies; you want them to be heart-healthy so barely any oil is needed.
- Bake your chips in the oven at 180C until they’re nice and golden (or if you’re me, just past that on most occasions – yes, I often get side-tracked with other projects when something is in the oven, so set your timer if you need to). Turn them over after about 15-20 minutes, and then give them about another 10 minutes or so to finish.
- Because the kids were helping and it would take a little longer, they started with prepping the chilli sauce ingredients while I was slicing the potatoes.
- I browned the beef mince in a cast iron frying pan, then added the onions and garlic when the beef was about half done.
- When the meat was cooked, I added in the remainder of the ingredients, gave it all a good stir, set the stove to simmer and let the food cook and the flavours mingle.
By the time your chips are done, your chilli sauce should be, too! Then it’s time to plate up and enjoy!
Arrange the chips in your bowls, add a generous helping of chilli sauce over the top, then sprinkle some cheese over everything. If you like extra spice, add some pickled jalapeño peppers, if you prefer sour cream, then put a dollop on the side; or mix and match to each person’s individual preferences.
It’s always fun, and gives a more ‘eating out’ feel to a meal if you present it a little differently. Tristan and Kallista had their meals served in these fun kid-sized ceramic bowls. But if you have a bigger appetite, or want to serve it all in one bowl for a larger gathering, try adding a fancy wax paper liner to a bowl.
I dare say, this meal went down a treat and everyone enjoyed it! We served some extra veggies on the side, too. Once you try the cheesy chilli fries, you’ll forget that there are so many veggies already included in it! This is a great meal for those who ‘don’t like’ veggies as they won’t even notice the courgette and carrots in the chilli, and the veggie fries taste sweet from baking.
This recipe was so packed-full of deliciousness and made a large enough amount that we had plenty for leftovers. You can choose to have the chilli sauce again the next night over a baked potato, pasta, or rolled up in a wrap and grilled in a pan for a burrito. Or you can bag it up and put it in the freezer for the next time you find yourself in a mid-week slump. You’ll know the family will appreciate it!
I’ll leave you with this next photo of a future recipe using Dolmio Original Bolognese sauce: baked fajitas; another of our favourite go-to meals.
Yes, there is a lot you can do with a jar of pasta sauce! And now that I have our meals planned out for the next few days, it’s time for me to get back to working on that dresser!
What are your favourite go-to, mid-week, get-over-the-hump meals? Share them in the comments below so we can all be inspired to try something new-to-us.
This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio.