Tray Bake Chicken with Feta and Olives

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Tray Bake Chicekn Plated

Tray Bake Chicken

In recent years, tray bake dinners have been the solution to many a mid-week meal problem at my place. And my friend Amy keeps me in great supply of new tray bake recipes to try. Or try for me – by which I mean, she makes enough for her family and mine and then sends me home from Small Group with the next night’s dinner, plus the recipe. Yep, she’s a keeper. And so is this recipe. Everything in it is inexpensive, easily sourced and fast to make. And with my lemon tree once again going bananas, this dish is the very definition of doable. If you need a low-carb option, just ditch the wedges of potato, like the original recipe suggests here. Apart from the ease and affordability of this gluten-free dish, it must be said that it just tastes so good – the chicken skin goes nice and crispy in the hot oven, the cubes of feta don’t melt but they brown up nicely and the flavour made by the lemon and oregano is homely, satisfying and not too out there for the kids. This dish serves 6-8 people easily and costs less than $20 to make. And if your need is for a smaller group, the quantities halve nicely. Thanks, Amy, for this recipe and much more.

  • 8 chicken thigh cutlets, bone in, skin on
  • 200g Greek or Australian feta
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, cut into wedges (not too thickly)
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • cracked black pepper

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 390 degrees Fahrenheit

2. Cut the capsicums and onion into thick wedges. 

3. Cut the feta cheese into large cubes.

4. Cut the potatoes into wedges, not too thickly or they won’t cook in time with the rest of the dish.

5. Place the chicken thighs and the cut vegetables into a large bowl.

6. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil and stir until combined.

7. Pour the olive oil mixture into the large bowl with the chicken thighs and vegetables. Toss to make sure all the chicken and vegetables are coated in the olive oil mixture.

8. Place the chicken mixture into a large baking dish or a rimmed baking tray. Make sure the chicken is skin side up on the tray. You will also want the vegetables to be at the bottom of the tray. Some juices may collect in the cooking process so it is better if there is a small rim on the tray or dish. Add the olives, feta and lemon wedges around the chicken pieces. Try not to place them on top of the chicken skin. 

9. Place the baking tray into the oven and cook for 30 minutes, then increase the temperature to 220 degrees Celsius/430 degrees Fahrenheit for a further  10-15 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. 

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Italian Amaretti with Freckles

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Amaretti

Some of the people I love most in my life are gluten intolerant or suffer from coeliac disease, and seeing as hospitality is about bringing people together, I like to have yummy options up my sleeve that they can enjoy without having to go for something different to everyone else. Even better when something is dead easy, fast to make and freezer friendly too. And you don’t need to have special dietary requirements to enjoy these beautiful little buttons of goodness – everyone can enjoy these dense, chewy and nutty numbers with a kiss of chocolate on top for good measure. With ingredients at full price, this recipe from taste.com.au costs $18 to make, and while that’s a bit on the dear side for a batch of bikkies, the recipe makes an enormous 48 and isn’t at all disappointing like gluten-free biscuits tend to be.

  • 500g almond meal
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • half a large packet of Allen’s freckles

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper. Place almond meal, sugar, egg whites and vanilla essence in a large bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until well combined.

2. Roll teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls. Place on the trays. Press a freckle onto the top of each ball.

3. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until light golden. Set aside to cool slightly on the trays before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

Oven-baked Bolognese

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This bolognese sauce is my new addiction. My friend Corinne made dinner for the kids and I last week saying “We’re just having bolognese, I’ll bring some over.” But there’s nothing “just” or ho-hum about this bolognese, which is hinted at by its somewhat random ingredients list, and twice cooked methodology. But man, is it worth it. Corinne’s bolognese is hands down the best I’ve ever tasted. I think perhaps she was well aware of our family’s penchant for Weetbix and porridge dinners, especially when dad’s away. But we so appreciated her kindness in sharing with us some of what she and her family were having for dinner that night, which just so happened to be amazingness masquerading as ordinary. To me, this best ever bolognese is called Bacony Kindness Bolognese, and I thank God for my friend and for hers. First published by Delicious Magazine, (photo credit too) this lovely gluten free and freezer friendly recipe costs under $20 to make and easily serves 10.

  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 200g bacon, any kind, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 500g each beef and pork mince
  • 2 cups (500ml) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) dry red wine (I just use a cheap clean skin)
  • 800g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups (500ml) beef stock (I use powdered, but use a gluten free variety if needed)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves
  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celcius.
  2. Melt the butter and olive oil in a large flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the chopped bacon and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes until it starts to crisp. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the beef and pork mince and cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon, until browned.
  3. Add the milk and nutmeg and simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until the milk evaporates. Add the tomato paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until combined, then add the wine and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, stock and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, then cook in the oven for 2 hours or until thickened and reduced. Skim any fat from the surface, then serve with pasta.

Carrot & Tomato Soup

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Carrot & Tomato SoupMum & Dad's View

Last week our family came home from holidays with a gastro bug, my dear husband suffering the worst of it. Overwhelmed and tired after a terrific break, but a long return journey, we were feeling rather ordinary and just so thankful to be home. Our weary hearts were made even more thankful by the countless expressions of care we received – more than one friend brought meals around for the days ahead in Vomit Land and we had countless offers to pick up milk and food for us, as well as prayers offered to our Heavenly Father on our behalf. On one hand, things like this happen pretty frequently among all sorts of people, but I’m still just struck by the fact that these kinds of everyday miracles are just how God rolls. Whether or not we realise it, he cares for us and provides what we need through the people he’s made us to be. In his letter to the scattered early church, James writes:

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:7

God is good, though it’s sometimes hard for me to see. He doesn’t change, he isn’t moody and I don’t need to catch him at a good time. He gives good and perfect gifts. One of them was this flavoursome and refreshing soup provided that night by our friends Ben & Renee for my green-feeling husband. It hit the spot. Renee shared the recipe with me which has come in handy this week, cause some of us are sick again, this time with colds and flus. Oh well, that’s life. But this yummy comfort food is also just what we feel like at the moment: It’s autumn, the weather has turned crisp and the kids and I are using up some school holidays visiting family in the Snowy Mountains (check out the view!). Not a bad time and place to be sick and snuggly with soup. This recipe is freezer friendly and a great option for those with special dietary needs (just use gluten free stock and leave out the cream if need be), and cheap to cook costing less than $5 to make more than 2L. We’re having it tonight with oven-ready bread and real butter. Thanks, Ben & Renee for the soup, and much more. 

  • 125g butter (half a block)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 500g bag carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock (I use powdered, reconstituted with water)
  • salt, pepper and pinch of sugar
  • cream for drizzling, if desired
  1. In a large soup pot melt butter and saute onion until golden. Add carrots and cook until soft and golden (this preliminary cooking step add lots of extra flavour to the end result).
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cream) to the carrot, butter and onion mixture, and simmer for 45 mins.
  3. Blend with a stick blender in the cooking pot and serve with or without drizzled cream and crusty, buttery bread. Serves 8.

Chocolate Cake

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chocolatecakeuniced

Earlier in the year my friend Jacqui gifted me with this gorgeous chocolate cake, ready to eat along with the recipe below, telling me how it’s a favourite in her extended family. We so enjoyed the cake she gave us and I’ve been keen to try it myself ever since, except for me, the ‘year’ has become the new ‘month’ and time has got away way too quickly. But as of yesterday afternoon it’s school holidays around here, and as much as I LOVE school holidays (no driving, sport, lunches, homework and washing uniforms) the thing that has the potential to drive me quite up the wall during this time is the constant question “Mum, what can I eat?”. So the ducks of need + time + energy have lined up and I’ve finally got around to making this lovely and dead-easy cake myself. This moist cake cooks evenly and comes out shiny and rich looking, but best of all it’s light and chocolatey and very easy to eat. Costing less than $3 to make with ingredients you’re bound to already have in the pantry, this cake is simply awesome. Thanks for sharing it with us, Jacqui. 

  • 1 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 level teaspoon bi-carb soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 110g butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  1. Grease and line a deep 20cm round cake tin, and preheat oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Beat all the ingredients except the eggs together for about 2 mins. Add the eggs and beat for a further 2-3 minutes. 
  3. Transfer cake mixture to greased and tin and smooth out evenly.
  4. Bake for around 50 mins, but start checking earlier with a skewer so cake doesn’t dry out.
  5. Ice with a simple mixture of icing sugar, butter, cocoa and a dash of milk, though as you can see I’ve used a jar of Betty Crocker’s chocolate icing cause it needed using up in my stores.

Amy Heap’s Lemon Bread

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Lemon Bread

Since blogging about my prolific lemon tree lots of friends have sent me their winning lemon recipes, and so I’ve been enjoying the process of trying them out as needed, photographing and blogging about them (sorry I’m not faster at it… life doesn’t generally afford me the fun of cooking just for the sake of it!). Next cab off the lemon rank is Amy’s Lemon Bread, which she tells me is probably the cake she’s made more than any cake ever, and the one she still makes most often. This lovely loaf took little time and only a few dollars to make, lasted a good week in my take cake keeper and worked well with cream as dessert when needed. Thanks for sharing, Amy.

For the cake:

  • 90g of butter
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 dsp grated lemon rind
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

For the lemon syrup:

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup castor sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. In a small saucepan or microwave jug melt butter and mix in the sugar. Transfer to a large bowl, and add eggs one at a time, mixing well as you go.
  3. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk and then fold in lemon rind, juice and ground almonds.
  4. Pour into a greased or lined loaf tin and bake in moderate oven for 50-60 minutes, though start checking earlier if you’re oven is hottish or fan-forced.
  5. While cake is in the oven, prepare the syrup by stirring lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  6. When cake is cooked and still hot and in the tin, gradually spoon over the lemon syrup. Allow to cool completely in the loaf tin.

Cheesy Chorizo and Potato Bake

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Chorizo and potato bake

Recently my friend Ruth and I have found ourselves sitting together in the stands at basketball a couple of afternoons a week, watching our boys play and getting to know each other while talking food, kids, faith and life in general. She recently shared a couple of recipes with me, the first of which was this lovely Spanish take on the old Potato Bake. Our whole family really liked it as a main meal, though my husband enjoyed pairing it with leftover pulled pork for lunch for a number of days afterward as well. Chorizos are frequently on half-priced special at the Woolworth’s deli, and when they are I tend to buy lots at once and freeze them in pairs, which makes each bundle about 200g, just the amount needed for this recipe. Even when using full-priced Chorizo this yummy dinner costs less than $10 to make and serves 6, even more when serving as a side dish. Thanks for sharing this lovely wintery recipe, Ruth.

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

• 200g chorizo sausage, sliced

• 1 red onion, sliced

• 1 red capsicum

• 1 kg potatoes, unpeeled, thinly sliced

• 1 cup cream

• 200g grated cheese – any is fine, but Gouda, Edam or Cheddar work well

• salt and pepper to taste

• Paprika, for sprinkling

1. Heat oil in a fry pan and fry chorizo, onion and capsicum together until golden and soft.

2. Overlap half the potato slices in the base of a large quiche or lasagna dish.

3. Layer with half the chorizo mixture, half the cream and half the cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Repeat layers with all ingredients except other half of the cheese.

5. Cover with foil and bake at 200°C for 45 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

6. Remove foil, sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake a further 30 minutes until golden brown.

7. Serve sprinkled with paprika if desired.