The warmer weather has well and truly arrived and as usually happens, I find myself craving lighter meals such as these delightful Dill and Smoked Salmon Frittatas. The basic recipe for these was given to me by my friend Kara who makes them as finger food, baked in mini muffin tins and topped with a small piece of salmon and dot of sour cream. And if you’re looking for a yummy and easy finger food option, I heartily recommend making them that way. But seeing as this blog is all about easy hospitality, I tried making these a little less labour intensive and with a view to serving as a main. The recipe that follows is Kara’s basic frittata recipe, but with a slightly different methodology. Make these ahead of time and freeze for quick lunches at home or for 6 people coming over for lunch – simply thaw gently and warm a little in a low set oven. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread. The good thing about these little babies is they are the perfect thing to serve those on a sugar free and carb free diet (minus the side of bread) and they’re also gluten free. Making 12 regular muffin sized frittatas or 48 mini muffin sized hors d oeuvres, this easy, do-the-whole-thing-in-the-food-processor recipe will cost around $13, though less if you purchase the herbs at a green-grocer rather than the supermarket, and the ricotta from the deli rather than the fridge section.
- 8 eggs
- 3 tablespoons dill
- 3 tablespoons chives
- 1/3 cup cream
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- salt and pepper
- 1 x 415g can smoked salmon, drained with the majority of skin and bone removed.
- In a food processor, put in dill and chives and process until finely chopped.
- Add ricotta, eggs and cream and process again.
- Exchange the chopping for the grating blade and grate half a cups worth of parmesan onto the top of the mixture. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Grease muffin trays well with spray oil and pour mixture in until 2/3 filled.
- Distribute salmon in chunks over the portions and top each with the remaining parmesan cheese.
- Bake at 160 degrees for 20 mins if using mini muffin tins. If using regular sized muffin tins, bake at same temperature for 20 mins, plus a further 5 with the oven cranked up as far as it can go. This cooks the frittatas further and allows them the brown on top.
I’m not exactly sure why, but until a few days ago, I have struggled in recent months to want to cook anything new. With no headspace for it, I’ve been in a season of sticking to: old faithful recipes, porridge and weetbix and making one thing last a few nights. But my drought seems to have broken. Perhaps it’s because the weather has turned warmer, or because the kids are on school holidays, but today I tried this blog-worthy recipe, adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food via my friend Kara. It’s all the things this blog is about: not foody-ness – but taste, ease and affordability so that having people over isn’t too stressful. And what a terrific recipe this turned out to be! It can be made ahead of time, or in that last hour between getting home from work and people turning up – because once everything’s in the pot, it’s a simple case of simmering this gluten free meal while doing other things. Depending on the type and price of the chicken you use, this dish will cost between $10-$13 to make and serves 6-8 with rice. Add to this dollops of greek style yoghurt and fresh coriander leaves. I’m loving eating it, even as I type! Thanks for pointing me towards this bonza recipe, Kara.
- 800g chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-3cm pieces
- 2 medium onions, halved and sliced thinly
- 1 fresh green chilli, optional (only if you like spicy curries. I left it out)
- A 3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 small bunch of fresh coriander, washed, leaves removed and stalks chopped finely
- 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
- rice bran or vegetable oil
- Knob of butter
- 1/2 x 290g jar of Patak’s korma curry paste
- 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
- A small handful of flaked almonds, plus extra for serving
- 2 heaped tablesoons desiccated coconut
- salt and pepper
- Greek style yoghurt, for dolloping
1. Put the oil in the pan to heat and add onions, ginger and coriander stalks. Stir constantly for ten minutes to ensure it’s become fragrant and hasn’t burnt on the bottom. If using chicken thighs, throw them in for browning now, otherwise if using breasts, hold off til end of step 2.
2. Add the korma paste, coconut milk, half the flaked almonds, chickpeas, desiccated coconut and sliced chicken breasts. Half fill the empty coconut milk tin with water, pour it into the pan, and stir. Let the whole thing simmer away for about half an hour. This is so easy – now just walk away and do other things, like putting the rice on in the rice cooker.
3. Season carefully once the chicken is cooked and become tender. Serve with boiled rice, adding a few spoonfuls of Greek yoghurt dolloped on top. Sprinkle over the rest of the flaked almonds and coriander leaves.
A while back the girls in the weekly Bible study group I’m part of were asked to help cater for desserts for an evangelistic event. We needed to provide a variety of easy desserts that involved little serving hassle, tasted great and cared for the needs of those with allergies. When my friend Jacinta said, “I’ve got a gluten free chocolate brownie recipe that works every time and tastes great”, we all praised God! And she was right. The group got together for a big baking session the night before and everything came together, in part due to this terrific recipe. Unlike many brownie recipes, there’s no expensive ingredients here and the whole thing cooked evenly without drying out the edges. I’m going to be using this one for many years to come! You’ll find gluten free flour in the health food section of most supermarkets and the whole recipe will cost around $5 to make.
- 240g butter or margarine
- 2 cups raw sugar (can substitute with caster or white)
- 1/2 cup cocoa
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups gluten free plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- pinch of salt
- Mix in 1/2-3/4 cup of any of the following, if desired: berries, jersey caramels, chocolate chips, walnuts or peanuts.
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius, 160 degrees if fan-forced
- line a large baking dish or two 25×25 square pans with baking paper
- Melt margarine in glass jug or saucepan
- In a large bowl, combine sugar and cocoa, mix in melted butter, eggs, vanilla and salt.
- Sift bicarb soda and flour together and fold into the mix. Beat the mixture well by hand or with an electric mixer.
- Pour into tin/s and bake for 25-30 minutes, though start checking earlier. It should fee; ‘just set’ on top. Remember: it will continue to cook as it cools, so don’t overcook.
- Cool in the tin and serve by itself or with cream, icecream or raspberry sauce.
My dear friend Kim contributed this terrific little recipe from taste.com AGES ago – but I only recently noticed it in the firstname.lastname@example.org inbox. This is a bonza recipe: the ingredients are ones you’re likely to find in your pantry and freezer and there’s no butter in it at all. If you’re avoiding sugar this recipe works well by simply exchanging sugar for dextrose exactly. If you don’t have raspberries in your freezer but do have tinned ones or berries of another kind, do feel free to exchange as needed. I made this using blueberries (see second photo) and it tasted lovely. This gorgeous little loaf will cost you no more than $4 to make. Enjoy!
- 1 3/4 cups desiccated coconut
- 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
- 1 cup caster sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
- 1 2/3 cups self-raising flour
- 2 tablespoons flour extra
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- icing sugar, to serve
- Combine coconut and coconut milk in a large bowl. Cover and stand for 30 minutes (or not – I have little patience for steps like these!).
- Preheat oven to 170°C. Line base and sides of a 7cm-deep, 10.5cm x 20.5cm (base) loaf pan with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang at both long ends.
- Toss frozen berries in extra flour (this will prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf as it cooks). Using a metal spoon, stir sugar, egg and vanilla into coconut mixture. Sift flour over coconut mixture. Gently stir until combined. Fold in raspberries.
- Spoon mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes. Lift onto a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and slice. Serve toasted, if desired.
My super cool aunt, Jacqueline, gave me this pumpkin soup recipe years ago and since then it’s the only one I’ve used. I’m not a fan of lumpy pumpkin soup and I like mine to taste rich and pumpkiny. The roasting of the pumpkin produces this result with beautiful smoothness. Chop and roast the pumpkin days in advance and simply refrigerate until you want to blend the ingredients together. You can peel the skin off before hand or remove it after roasting – whichever you find easiest, though I think there’s a little more wastage of the pumpkin when you roast with skin on. I purchase my pumpkin from my local cheap-as-chips grocer and can usually pick up a 3kg for around $5. The other ingredients are incidental, especially if you, like me, use powdered stock. Serves 6-8.
- 3kg pumpkin, chopped into smallish pieces and roasted for around 1 hour.
- minimum of 7 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used powdered. Increase until you have desired consistency)
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine roasted pumpkin, stock, mustard and honey in a large stock pot.
- Process using a stick blender until ingredients are combined.
- Heat through, stirring regularly and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with drizzled cream and fresh bread. Enjoy!
I saw this recipe floating around on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and it really grabbed me – who wouldn’t want to try a recipe promising muffins that taste like cinnamon doughnuts? These muffins delivered on their promise in taste, were simple to make from basic pantry ingredients that are readily on-hand and cost no more than $1.50 to make. Make these quick and easy muffins for last minute friends dropping by or for a quick solution for empty lunch boxes at the end of a busy week. Like all muffins, these don’t have an especially long shelf life, but they are freezer friendly and if you’re eating them after a day or two, a quick zap for 10-20 seconds in the microwave brings back a fair bit of freshness and restores them to something more like a warm cinnamon doughnut. For those avoiding sugar, simply replace the caster sugar measure for measure with dextrose (available from the beer brewing section at K-Mart or Big W). If you’re not too heavy-handed with the mixture it will make 12 muffins. Enjoy!
- 1 3/4 cup plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil (I use rice bran)
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius and distribute 12 paper cases in a 12 hole muffin tray.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix liquids in separate bowl or pyrex jug. Add liquids to dry ingredients and combine together well, without over beating. Spoon mixture into prepared muffin tins using two soup spoons (but don’t overload them). Bake for 15 mins though start checking at 10. When muffins spring back a little, they’re ready.
3. While muffins are baking prepare sugar topping: combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and melt butter in yet another bowl. As soon as muffins come out of the oven, dip each one into melted butter and roll into sugar & cinnamon mixture, or brush with butter and top with sugar mixture if muffins are too hot to handle.
Boredom with cooking drove me to trawl through the budget section of taste.com today and this three step, all-in-one dish caught my attention in the process. The flavours appealed to me lots: onion, garlic, chilli, cumin and paprika, and the effort level was just right for how tired I was feeling! Sausages of any kind go down a treat with my kids so I decided to give this a try – and I’m glad I did. The kids came back for seconds and the spicy – but not too spicy -flavours warmed us all up just as the evening started to chill. While the original recipe calls for six chorizo sausages, I thought this was a little over the top – four is plenty and you could even get away with three. If spicy food isn’t so much for you, simply halve the amount of chilli listed below. This yummy, simple and cheap recipe costs less than $10 and serves 6. Serve with steamed greens or a side salad.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 chorizo sausages, sliced
- 2 brown onions, halved, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red chilli, deseeded, sliced
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups chicken stock (I use powdered)
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped (if you have it)
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook chorizo for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until golden. Cut into circles and drain on paper towels.
- Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add garlic, chilli, paprika and cumin. Cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring, or until soft.
- Stir in rice. Add stock and chorizo. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir through parsley, and salt and pepper. Serve.
No sooner had I posted Kath’s contribution of 2 ingredients Cookies, did she sent me this next 2 ingredients recipe of Pizza Scrolls. Tonight I found myself trying it out, and oh my goodness, if I put on weight this winter it will be because of these super fast, delicious and comforting pizza delights. And I suppose I should come clean – the 2 ingredients in the title refers only to the amazing bread-like, not-scone-like, base for the scrolls. But I think this is forgiveable as the fillings come from whatever veggies and bits of deli meat you have lying around in your fridge, and although they’re necessary, they’re incidental in ways that keep the food bill down. Rapidly going off in my fridge was some pre-grated cheese, 3 slices of short cut bacon, 4 mushrooms, 4 rings of tinned pineapple and half a red capsicum. So that’s what went in! We enjoyed our scrolls for dinner (and the kids loved them), but they’d be terrific as a weekend lunch option when having friends over and, cut into quarters, would make a yummy and affordable church morning tea option. I didn’t bother costing these cause it wasn’t worth it, given how they came into being. Thanks again, Katherine!
- 2 cups Self Raising Flour
- 1 1/2 cups Natural or Greek Yoghurt
- Pizza sauce/tomato sauce/crushed tinned tomatoes/pasta sauce, enough to cover the mixture when rolled out to 2cm thick
- Grated cheese, about 2 cups
- 1 onion, diced finely
- Whatever meat and/or veggies you have to use up. Make sure you chop everything finely so that they get caught up in the rolling of the scroll without falling out too much.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Mix flour and yoghurt together. I did mine really quickly using my bench mixer, but this is not at all necessary.
- Knead on a well-floured bench top, adding extra flour to aid in process. Roll the dough out to about 30cm x 20cm, which should end up being around 2cm thick. Don’t stress at all about this – these scrolls are meant to be rustic looking, almost free-form.
- Spread tomato base, sprinkle with whatever fillings you’ve chosen, and using a rubber spatula or egg flip, start rolling at the end closest to your waist, using the spatula underneath the dough to encourage it off the bench and into the roll. Again – don’t worry how lumpy or uneven it is, just aim to get it rolling together.
- Cut your log in the middle using your biggest knife, cutting each section into halves until you have 16 scrolls, each about 2 cm wide. Spread out biscuit style, on lined baking trays, ingredients showing upwards, giving plenty of room for them to rise. Bake at 200 degrees for 10-12 mins. Enjoy immediately or later – whichever you need.
Oh my goodness life is busy at the moment. My five year old has started school and there’s so much to get my head around (news, library books, computers, home readers, buddies, making friends at the school gate, getting out the door on time and the endless cycle of making lunches – I could go on). The uni year which has been amping up began to reach one of its crescendoes with O week which started today (exciting times!). There’s been lots of slack dinners lately but thankfully my friend Belinda shared this recipe with me and it lasted us three nights in a row – economical on both time and money. And it’s a sensational tasting dish too. This mexican beef and pasta bake was scoffed down by my kids (perhaps because it wasn’t Weet-bix?) and us grown ups loved it just as much. And don’t worry, it’s not hot in the spicy sense at all. The pictures above represent a double quantity and using those listed below this dish will set you back between $10-12. Serves 6. Thanks Belinda – this one’s already part of our family.
- 200g spiral pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion
- 1 red capsicum
- 400g beef mince
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 30g packet Taco Spice Mix (generic is fine)
- 1/2 cup water
- 400g can diced tomatoes (generic is fine)
- 2 zucchinis, chopped
- 400g can red kidney beans, drained (generic is fine)
- 310g can corn kernels, drained (generic is fine)
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees or 160 degrees fan-forced. Lightly spray a 2L oven-proof dish with oil. Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and capsicum and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until softened. Add mince and cook, breaking up any lumps, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Stir in taco spice mix and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, zucchini and 1/2 cup water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender and mixture has thickened. Add pasta, beans, corn and mix to combine.
- Combine mixture into prepared dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is golden.
Zucchini Slice has got to be one of my favourite money saving meals and it gets a regular workout around here in the summer months. Rather than spending money on expensive meat for a barbeque when having people over, I often choose some good quality sausages to cook on the barbie accompanied by Zucchini Slice and a fresh salad. As well as being so affordable, this little number has two other benefits: first, from dicing the onions to chopping the bacon, to whisking the eggs and grating the cheese, it can all be made using various blades of the food processor. Second, it can be made up to a couple of days ahead and stored in the fridge to avoid cooking stress on the day your guests come over. To make this slice, originally from the Women’s Weekly, using the quantities that follow, costs around $6 and serves 6+. The photo above is a double quantity which neatly fits a roasting sized dish.
- 375g zucchini, grated
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 rashers of bacon, sliced or chopped
- 1 cup grated cheese
- 1 cup self raising flour
- 1/2 cup oil (I use rice bran oil)
- 5 eggs
- salt and pepper
- Grate unpeeled zucchini coarsely, finely chop onion and bacon. Combine zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese, SR flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs, season with salt and pepper.
- Pour into a well-greased or baking paper lined lamington tin 16cm x 26cm, bake in a moderate oven for 30-40 minutes or until set and browned.