I am a big foodie. Not in the sense that I’m a fantastic cook – the fiance does most of the cooking in our house, but I like good food. When I plan a holiday, I always look for the place with the nicest cuisine. When I visit a new city, I always research the best places to dine beforehand. I might not do most of the cooking at home but I do love to bake and cook every now and then. My favourite things to bake are sweet treats like brownies, millionaire shortbread and banana bread. And also delicious dinners like risotto, pasta dishes, and stuffed chicken. Yummy!
Recently, the lovely people from Thornleys asked if I would like to try out and review some of their recipe mixes. When I saw on their website that all their sauces are gluten-free, all natural, and free of preservatives, colours and MSG, I jumped at the chance to try them. I love quick and easy meals but to have them, most of the time you have to compromise on health, something that I’m not okay with. I love being healthy, which is why I was so keen to try the Thornleys’ sauces.
Thornleys offer a range of six sauces; tuna and pasta bake, spaghetti carbonara, parsley sauce, creamy chicken and herb sauce, chilli con carne sauce, and cheddar cheese sauce. I was sent two sauces; a chilli con carne and a cheddar cheese sauce mix. I was quite pleased with these two as I’m a big fan of chilli and love macaroni cheese!
I started with chilli con carne…
The first sauce I tried was the chilli con carne mix. To go with the mix, I needed 450 grams of mince, 300ml of cold water, a 400 gram tin of chopped tomatoes and a 400 gram tin of cooked kidney beans. I also chose to add diced onion and red pepper – I like to bulk my chilli’s out with more than just meat.
As instructed, I started off by frying the mince. Once that was cooked and the excess fat has been drained, I then added the tomatoes, kidney beans, onion and red pepper and gently cooked them. After five minutes, I blended the sachet of chilli con carne mix with the 300ml of water and added it to the pan. I then brought it to the boiler before turning the chilli down to simmer for 20 minutes.
I chose to serve my chili on a bed of rice and topped it with cheese, sour cream and a little bit of garnish. I was worried it would be too spicy but was pleasantly surprised when I took the first bite – it was wonderfully smokey with a subtle hint of chilli. It honestly was one of the nicest chili’s I’ve had in a long time.
It’s time to talk cheddar cheese sauce…
The weird thing is, before I was sent the sauce mixes to try, I’d been craving macaroni cheese for weeks. So when the cheddar cheese sauce mix came, I knew that’s what I would use it for. The packet says you can serve it over vegetables as well as with pasta, but I opted for pasta. Macaroni cheese is my absolute favourite so I wanted to see how well it fared compared to my home Hairy Biker’s cheese sauce…
To prepare the cheddar cheese sauce, all that’s needed is 300ml of milk and either vegetables or pasta to serve it over. When I saw this I instantly took a shine to it – it’s a perfect mix for when your cupboards are almost bare and all you’ve got are the essentials like milk and pasta.
As instructed, I mixed a small amount of milk with the mix to form a paste, then added the rest of the milk and gently brought the sauce to the boil. I then turned it down to simmer for a couple of minutes until it thickened. I must admit, I was impressed by how quick and easy the sauce was to make.
I poured the sauce over cooked pasta, sprinkled cheese on top of it and grilled it for a few minutes to melt the cheese. There was plenty of sauce which was good, it coated the pasta well. However, for me, the sauce wasn’t quite strong enough. That being said, I must admit that I am an extra mature cheese lover, so that could be the issue. While I wouldn’t use the sauce for macaroni cheese again, I think it would make a perfect cheese sauce for lasagne, cannelloni or moussaka.
What did I think overall?
Overall, I love the concept behind these tasty sauce mixes. The fact that they’re gluten-free and so much healthier than most of the sauce mixes stocked in the supermarkets is fantastic. My mum is gluten-free and always struggles to find quick and easy meals to make, so I’ll definitely be recommending them to her. I will also be using both the sauces on a regular basis and can’t wait to try the other four – the carbonara sounds fabulous!