Last weekend we enjoyed the generous hospitality of my husband’s parents, and as always, it was so good to get away and enjoy some good times together – parents, kids and grandparents. My mother-in-law Pauline, is a terrific cook and like my own mother, has taught me lots about hospitality, both specifically and by osmosis. On this recent visit she cooked this delicious, almost retro, chicken casserole for us and it was so tasty, warming and comforting after the car trip from our place to theirs. Our kids devoured it that night and again the next. It’s dead easy and it’s one of those dishes that could easily stretch to serve more by adding extra veggies, rice or bread to the offering. For all these reasons, I’m pretty sure I’ll be making it often. Depending where you buy your veggies from, this dish costs around $18 to make (less still if you use a green grocer), and easily serves 8.
- 1 BBQ chicken
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 stick celery, chopped
- ¼ cup water
- 3 rashers bacon, sliced
- 60g mushrooms, sliced
- 440g can of Cream of Chicken Soup (Campbell’s is nicest)
- 300g carton sour cream (I use homebrand light)
- Optional: 400g can corn kernels, drained (we love corn!)
CHEESE BATTER TOPPING
- 1 cup SR Flour
- 1 capsicum (can be half red, half green)
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup grated cheese
- ½ cup milk
- Remove chicken meat from bones while chicken is still warm (much easier), and shred or chop meat roughly.
- Place chopped onion, shallots, celery and water in pan, bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer covered for 15 mins (Pauline’s alternative tip: stick the lot in a covered microwave safe dish and zap for 2 mins).
- In a hot frypan, add bacon and sliced mushrooms and cook for 3 mins (again, Pauline suggests cooking the bacon and mushrooms in same covered microwave dish for about 2 mins)
- Combine the soup, sour cream, chicken, cooked vegetables, corn (if using) and bacon mixture. Pour into ovenproof dish.
- Make cheese batter: Mix flour, capsicum, lightly beaten eggs, cheese and milk until just blended.
- Spread cheese batter on top of casserole and bake uncovered in moderate oven for 30-40 mins. Serve with rice and salad.
I’ve always loved Bircher Muesli. Actually, I’m pretty happy with oats of any kind and porridge is an any-time-of-the-day thing at our place, often for dinner on a slack winters night. Despite my love of all things oatey, I’d never even thought to try making my own Bircher Muesli, so when Anna sent me this dead easy and uber-cheap recipe, I was keen to give it a go. I am so glad I did! Perfect for breakfast or brunch hospitality, I’m sure I’ll be making this refreshing and comforting mix of oats, apple, almonds and yoghurt again and again. The quantity that follows makes enough for 4 decent serves, so just multiply away to suit the number of friends you’re serving. Just remember with this one to make it at least a day ahead – and enjoy the benefit of not having to do much the day people come over. Total cost less than $3, with fruit to serve additional.
- 1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
- 1-2 grated apples
- ½ cup apple juice
- 1 large handful sultanas (I used craisins cause I was out of sultanas)
- ½ handful of roughly chopped, unsalted almonds
- ¼ cup vanilla or Greek yoghurt (you’ll need a little extra for serving too)
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Chopped fruit and/or frozen berries for serving
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. In the morning it should be the consistency of cold porridge. Stir and if necessary add a little bit more yoghurt or milk to increase the creaminess.
Serve with fresh chopped fruit and/or berries and some extra yoghurt.
This awesome recipe comes from my friend Kate, via taste.com.au. A tasty, cheap, easy and filling dinner for 6 people. Using around half a BBQ chicken, this recipe pairs well with Open Chicken Sandwiches with Lemon and Almonds during a working week or a weekend of having people over – 2 yummy meals that use just one chicken between them. Kate suggests adding a handful of pine nuts to the the zucchini fry-up and if zucchini doesn’t float your boat, add half a bag of baby spinach leaves to the hot pasta mixture at the end and watch them wilt up beautifully. Totalling around $8 to make this is a recipe I’ll be using again and again. Thanks Kate!
- 500g bowtie pasta or similar
- 100g butter, chopped
- 2 zucchini, coarsely grated
- 2 yellow zucchini, coarsely grated
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 cups shredded cooked chicken (about half a chicken)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 large lemon, rind finely grated, juiced
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- grated parmesan cheese, optional, to serve
- Cook pasta in a saucepan of boiling salted water, following packet directions, until tender. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 30g butter in a large, deep-sided frying pan over medium heat. Add zucchini and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until zucchini is soft. Add chicken and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes or until heated through.
- Add pasta, remaining 70g butter, green onions, lemon rind, 1/4 cup lemon juice and parsley to chicken mixture. Cook, stirring, over low heat until heated through. Sprinkle with parmesan, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
My friend Lisa made me something like this from a Donna Hay magazine for lunch last week and it was so yummy I had to make it again – only I could not find the recipe anywhere! So I had to make it up as I went and thankfully the chef type friend who helped eat my version said it worked! Pair this recipe with Lemon, Zucchini and Chicken Pasta in the same week, to use just one BBQ chicken to make two tasty and affordable meals. Apologies for the half-eaten sandwich in this photo – got a bit excited eating it before remembering to photograph it. Serves 6 people with 2 open sandwiches each and costs less than $12 to make.
- 1/2 BBQ chicken, shredded while warm (much easier than when cold from the fridge)
- 1 loaf of sourdough bread or similar
- 120g slivered almonds
- a couple of lugs of olive oil
- 1/2 bag baby spinach or 1 cup basil leaves roughly torn
- 1/2 tub spreadable cream cheese
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- zest of a whole lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Slice sourdough into at least 12 slices and spread cream cheese across one side of each, followed by a layer of baby spinach or basil. Divide shredded chicken evenly among each slice, placing it on top of cream cheese and greens.
- In a frypan place slivered almonds, lemon zest and olive oil. Cook on low heat until almonds are brown, but not burnt. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice, stirring the mixture well.
- Top open sandwiches with almond and lemon mixture. Season with slat and pepper. Serve 2 slices per person.
It was so lovely catching up with my friend Katrina last weekend. Over lunch she raved about this healthy and easy dinner she’d recently tried out and by the end of her description I was keen to give it a go too. I don’t find it easy to cook tasty vegetarian dishes, and have felt the need to have a few more recipes of this kind up my sleeve when caring for vegetarian folk. And Katrina was right – this little number ticked all the boxes: easy to cook, healthy in nature, tasty, affordable and freezable. To lower the GI, carbohydrate and fat content, Katrina helpfully suggests replacing the pumpkin with sweet potato, leaving out the cream altogether and serving it without rice because this curry is nutritionally complete on its own. She also suggested a dollop of greek style yoghurt on top which tasted great. Originally from Notebook Magazine, when served with rice, this vegetarian dish serves 6 people and costs around $7 to make.
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 3 tbs mild curry paste
- 1 tbs finely grated ginger
- 400g can diced tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) water or vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup (105g) brown lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup (115g) red lentils, rinsed
- 600g butternut pumpkin, seeded, peeled, cut into 3cm pieces
- 1/2 (about 600g) cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 cup (150g) frozen peas
- 1/4 cup (60ml) cream
- Coriander leaves, to serve
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until onion softens. Add curry paste, curry leaves and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add tomatoes and water and bring to a simmer.
- Add combined lentils and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until lentils are almost tender. Add the pumpkin and cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for a further 10 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Add peas and cream and stir to combine. Remove from heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.