I’m not quite sure how I came across this easy, slow-cooked winning dinner. It’s been getting a bit of a workout at our place lately, mainly for two reasons: simplicity and affordability. Aside from a couple of steps at the end, to make this dinner, all you really need to do is stick 2kg of chicken drumsticks in the slow cooker turned onto ‘low’, covered with a full bottle of teriyaki marinade, and walk away. And in terms of price, even with steamed Asian veggies and rice, this tasty meal costs only $10 to make for 6 people. A great one for this time of year as life gets busy!
- 2 kg chicken drumsticks
- 1 x bottle Masterfoods chicken teriyaki marinade
- A couple of handfuls of sesame seeds
- Mixed Asian veggies to serve (I use pak choy, capsicum and broccoli)
- 2.5 cups jasmine rice
- Place chicken in the slow cooker, cover with teriyaki sauce and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Half and hour before serving, prepare vegetables for steaming and cook rice according to instructions on the packet. Heat oven to 200 degrees.
- Carefully remove drumsticks from the slow cooker and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle each drumstick with sesame seeds and place tray in oven, turning chicken, and sprinkling more seeds after 5 minutes on each side.
- Strain the teriyaki liquid from the slow-cooker into a small saucepan and simmer on stove to reduce to a thick sauce. This takes about 20 minutes.
- Remove chicken from the oven, which should now have a shiny and sticky coating. Serve on rice with asian veggies and cover each portion with reduced sticky teriyaki sauce. Enjoy!
Friendship has got to be one of the most precious things in life – just one of God’s many graces, but one of his best. A writer I recently stumbled upon, Katherine Sonderegger, says that for her “…friends have turned each day and season into golden joy.” I can’t help but agree. Years ago, a friend texted to ask when we’d be home from our summer holiday. When we arrived home this Penne alla Matriciana was waiting in our fridge, along with a bottle of milk, and the air-con had been switched on for us so we would arrive home to a cool house. A month ago she did much the same thing for us (and countless times in-between), and tonight when I finally tried this recipe for myself, as they always do when my pantry lacks an ingredient, our champion neighbours provided me with what I needed – this time, a tin of tomatoes. So for me, this authentic Italian recipe from Diane Seeds The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces, is all about friendship. And it tastes simply out of this world – so much better than any store bought pasta sauce in a jar, because the high cook temperature produces lovely bit of caramelised tomato that end up running throughout the sauce, giving the whole thing a rich and rustic flavour. And this kid-pleasing dish is so cheap and simple to prepare. Make it for friends new or old, using the quantities below and this classic recipe will feed 6 and cost around $6 to make.
- 500g penne pasta (or whatever you prefer)
- 30ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 250g middle bacon, thinly sliced
- 60g parmesan cheese, grated
- Heat the oil and gently fry the chopped onion and garlic until softened, cover the frypan to avoid browning. Add the tomatoes with their juice, sugar, salt and pepper to taste and cook on a high flame, uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- When the sauce is reduced and thick, check the seasoning and puree roughly with a stick blender. In the same frypan, fry off the bacon and set aside.
- Cook the pasta following the directions on the packet. Drain the pasta and stir the sauce and bacon through with the pasta in its cooking pot. Serve with toppings of grated parmesan and with a salad or garlic bread as desired.
Whether you need a cheap meal for a crowd, or a slack dinner at home or an easy way to satisfy a Zambrero’s-type craving, these yummy Mexican style jacket potatoes are a great choice. They’re wonderful for satisfying other catering needs too: they can easily be served as vegetarian and are wonderfully gluten free too. Cheap to make, easy to whack together and super yummy, 8 of these fat babies with the ingredients pictured cost less than $10 to make and serves 6 people.
- 8 large and clean roasting potatoes
- 300g streaky bacon, chopped finely
- 4 shallots, chopped finely
- 1 lebanese cucumber chopped finely
- 2 roma tomatoes, chopped finely
- 1 can corn kernels, drained
- small tub sour cream
- 200g grated cheese
- 1 red or green capsicum, chopped finely
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Prick potatoes all over and par-boil in a large pot of water until soft, (the time this takes will depend on the size of potatoes), drain water.
- Place each potato inside a large roasting dish, and using a potato masher, press down gently but firmly on each one until it squashes/smashes nicely. Cover in spray oil and what in the oven until golden, about 20 minutes.
- Organise whatever toppings you’ve decided on – chop and fry bacon and quickly chop up vegetables of choice.
- Take all ingredients to the table and allow friends and family to assemble their potatoes as desired.
Pasta has to be one of the easiest and cheapest things in the world to make. As is the case for many of us I’m sure, pasta dishes in my kitchen are rarely based on a recipe but on whatever happens to be in my cupboard and rapidly going off in the bottom of my fridge. This was the case one weekday a few months ago, coming home from a long afternoon of after school sport. The freezer yielded a chorizo or two and everything was tossed in to make this simple dinner that the whole family enjoyed. If you decided to make this, do make any exchanges that take your fancy: passata can be replaced with any variety pesto and chorizo with bacon or chicken – use whatever floats your boat. I’ve costed this recipe at $13 using Woolworth’s prices, but I do find it much cheaper when I shop at my local grocer instead. Serves 6.
- 130g chorizo, diced finely (approximately 2 sausages)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic or 2 cloves, freshly crushed
- a drizzle of olive oil
- half a bag of mushrooms, peeled and sliced, stems and all
- 1 medium capsicum
- 60 gram bag baby spinach
- 500g pasta (whatever you prefer)
- 1/2 700g jar of passata (I use homebrand)
- shavings of fresh parmesan
- Get a large pot of water boiling for the pasta and add the uncooked pasta as soon as water is rapidly boiling. Keep checking and stirring so pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- In a large frypan gently fry up the diced chorizo and garlic with the olive oil
- When pasta is close to al dente, add mushrooms and capsicum to the frypan with the chorizo. Continue frying until just soft.
- Drain pasta, turn back into the pot, add the chorizo and vegetable mix, the bag of baby spinach and the passata. Toss until combined well and spinach has wilted.
- Serve immediately and top each offering with shavings of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
My friend Julie sent in this tasty soup recipe and having tried it out last weekend, I’m super keen to share it with you. Here are four reasons to love this bright green broth: there’s very little preparation at all – just a few quick steps with readily kept ingredients thrown in, followed by simmering; the recipe requires only one pot, which means very little washing up; it’s cheap, cheap, cheap to make (only approximately $3); and perfect for warming comfort during these lovely cooler months. Serves 6-8 people. Thanks for sharing this, Julie.
- 2 large onions
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 large potatoes
- 1 kg frozen peas
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock (I used powdered and chicken stock as substitute)
- 150ml cream
- In a large, 3L+ pot, gently fry onion and garlic in a little oil.
- Add peeled potatoes, chopped into chunks, peas and stock. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are soft.
- Blitz with hand blender until smooth then add cream. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with bread.
Chicken mince is one of my favourite cooking ingredients. It’s tasty, it’s cheap, it’s lean and so versatile. And Mexican food, how I love Mexican food! Looking down the list of ingredients from my friend Anna’s Enchilada recipe makes me want to party: tomatoes, chicken stock, coriander, beans, tortillas and cheese – but even more so the ease of making them. Originally from Donna Hay Magazine, these crowd-pleasing enchiladas feed lots of people in one hit and are fast to make, especially as the chicken filling can be made and frozen ahead of time. And I especially like the way the tortillas soften into something more like lasagne than a wrap when baked in the oven. The quantities below serve 10 people and cost around $23 to make. Thanks for sending in this recipe, Anna.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 1kg chicken mince
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/4 cup oregano leaves (I use dried)
- 3 cups (750ml) chicken stock (I use powdered)
- 2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 x 400g tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander, chopped
- 2 x packets of mini tortillas (total 20)
- 120ml tomato puree
- 200g grated mozzarella or pizza cheese
- Heat the oil in a large deep sided frying pan, such as an electric one. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the mince, garlic and oregano and cook for 10 minutes, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon.
- Add stock, tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes or until thickened. Set aside and allow to cool. Stir in beans and coriander.
- Place a couple of tablespoons of chicken mixture in the middle of each tortilla and roll up, placing each one side by side in a large baking dish.
- Top with tomato puree and grated cheese. Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
As I was thinking about what to write about this wonderfully fast and tasty dish, I realised again just how many times I’ve sat at the bench in my friend Amy’s kitchen as she’s recommended recipes to me. Though she’s moved houses since we first met, the scenario hasn’t changed much over the ten years we’ve known each other: Amy makes cups of tea for us both, she cooks whatever she needs to cook (and she’s a good deal better at it than me), we chat, sip tea, and she tells me about all the great recipes she’s tried out lately. Probably a good number of the recipes on this blog have come from her and over the years I’ve learnt lots about simple, yummy eating from Amy. In the beginning, I’d write her recommendations down on scrap paper (many of which I still have) but these days I just take a photo of her recipes on my phone and then come home and try them out. Now that my son is learning piano from Amy’s wonderful husband, once a week while he’s having his lesson, I get to once again sit at her bench and learn new things, which is exactly what happened a fortnight ago when she suggested this truly yummy, simple and affordable Donna Hay number. And although I’ve already added a slow-cooker satay recipe here, sometimes you just need a tasty stir-fry recipe of the instant variety. This one is freezer friendly and good to give away, though of course, check for peanut allergies before doing so or inviting folk over. A double portion of the recipe below fills a large wok almost to the brim, though following those listed below serves 8 with rice, and costs around $12.
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (my addition, not Donna’s)
- 4 chicken breast fillets / 6 chicken thigh fillets
- 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced (I use the gourmet garden one in a tube)
- 1/2 cup coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken stock (I use powdered, reconstituted in water)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 200g fresh snow peas
- 2 carrots, peeled and julienned (my addition, not Donna’s)
- 1 1/2 cups fresh coriander leaves (optional, no big deal if you don’t have them)
- In a small bowl combine coconut cream, peanut butter, soy sauce, stock, fish sauce and sugar. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat a large wok or frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, onion, chicken and chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes until golden.
- Add the snow peas and carrots and cook for 1 minute. Add the combined peanut butter and liquids and cook for a further minute or until slightly thickened. Stir through the coriander and serve on steamed rice.
This simple and tasty recipe was floating around of facebook a couple of weeks ago and my lamb loving husband emailed me the link saying “Idea?” which is his understated and unpressuring way of saying “We should totally make this very soon!”. The following Saturday proved the perfect occasion to give it a go as we were heading out to the river for a day of ‘day camping’ where we took the BBQ and some chairs and pretended we were there for days on end, chilling out and doing nothing but chatting, eating and throwing rocks in the water. By the time we got home, this yummy lamb which had been cooking all day was ready and from slow cooker to plate, it took very little time and energy to serve. The quantities below serves at least 15 people for around $36 ($2.40 per person), so if you only need dinner for 6-8, just halve everything, which also halves the cost. But if you need to cook for a crowd after being at work or tied up with other things all day, this is a great option.
- 2kg leg of lamb or hoggett, either on the bone or deboned and rolled
- 1tbs of peanut oil
- 1/2 a cup of kecap manis (indonesian sweet soy)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 3 star anise
- 2 stalks fresh lemon grass, beaten and bruised (I use the one in the tube)
- 8 cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 large red chilli, roughly chopped
- 6 green onions, sliced diagonally and/or bunch of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 tbs of toasted sesame seeds (optional)
- 5x 200g packets rice stick noodles (each 200g packet serves three adults)
- Brown the lamb all over in a rather hot frypan using the peanut oil (or not – seriously, it’s not essential you do this), and stick it in the bowl of a slow cooker.
- In a bowl combine all the other ingredients except sesame seeds, green onions/coriander and noodles. Pour over lamb and switch to low for the whole day or high for half a day of cooking.
- When cooked through, just before serving, remove lamb from the slow cooker and sieve the juices into a small saucepan. Simmer these juices on a low heat until reduced into a sticky sauce. If it thickens too much, whisk in some water to bring back to a sauce consistency.
- Shred lamb with two forks on a chopping board and serve on top of rice noodles cooked quickly in boiling water according to packet instructions. Drizzle sauce all over, distributing it generously and evenly among the plates. Be heavy handed as it’s the sauce that makes this so good. Top with sesame seeds, shredded spring onions and/or coriander leaves. Enjoy!
Sometimes you just need a little side dish that makes a standard meat and three veg meal a tad more special. Years ago a friend gave me a packet of Israeli cous-cous and it was the recipe on the back of the packet that inspired this risoni (or orzo) dish. If you’re unfamiliar with risoni, the (Australian) way to understand this carbohydrate is ‘pasta in the shape of rice’ and it can be found in the pasta section of most supermarkets. This not-at-all-spicy dish is really quite fast to make: you can get it going quickly and then reduce it to the absorption stage, which provides all the time you need to whack on whatever meat and vegetables you might be having, in this case, chicken sausages and steamed vegetables. And there’s no reason why this must be a side dish and not the main dish – just add some panfried pieces of chicken breast, a handful of freshly chopped parsley and some vegetables of your choice and you’ve got a dead-easy, one frypan main course – done. Using the ingredients and quantities below, this dish costs about $1.50 and serves 4 adult x 1 cup portions of risoni.
- blob of butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup risoni
- 1 cup chicken stock (I use powdered stock and water)
- 2 teaspoons tumeric
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- handful of fresh parsley, chopped (though you can see from my picture I omitted it for the sake of my kids who aren’t so keen).
- Melt butter in a small frypan with a lid and add onion. Cook at a low temperature until onion is clear and soft. Add risoni and stir thoroughly to coat in the butter and onion mixture.
- Add chicken stock and stir carefully, adding in tumeric and cumin powder. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting, place lid on the pan, and allow everything to cook and absorb for at least 20 minutes.
- Just before serving, season with salt and pepper and toss parsley in too. Enjoy!
“Do you have plans tonight? Wanna come over, make me dinner, and watch a movie?”. That was my text to my old friend Sheridan one Sunday night at the end of last year. My husband was away and all the end of year ‘lasts’ – functions/events/things, had left me exhausted. And although normally under such circumstances, breakfast cereal is the dinner time option of choice around here, I couldn’t face another such dinner for the 5th time that week. Generous and hospitable as she is, even at my place rather than hers, Sheri came over and made this delightfully easy and tasty Donna Hay dish, which just happens to be gluten, egg, wheat and dairy free. Her food, good company and contentment with not much chit-chat that night were real blessings to me. And we’re still laughing about how from now on she’s going to have to read my sms invitations carefully to check who’s doing the cooking! Super simple to make, fresh and healthy too, this noodle dish is perfect for cooking for yourself or friends straight after work and can easily be multiplied for a larger group. And all of the preparation can be done quickly and hours ahead of people coming over – once they’ve turned up and have a cold drink in their hand, just stir fry everything from start to finish in 10 minutes. If you purchase your herbs from a grocer rather than a supermarket, this dish costs no more than $10 to make and serves 4. Thanks for this terrific recipe, Sheri.
- 2 teaspoons vegetable or sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped (or, as I do, a good squeeze of Gourmet Garden lemongrass in a tube)
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 500g chicken mince
- 1/4 cup lime juice (I use lime squeeze from the fridge)
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
- the stalks of the coriander leaves, washed and chopped finely
- 3/4 cup basil leaves
- 4 green onions, shredded
- Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring the boil for cooking egg noodles.
- Heat a frying pan or wok at high heat. Add the oil, ginger, coriander stalks, lemongrass and chilli and cook for 1 minutes. Add the chicken mince and cook, stirring for 6-7 minutes or until cooked through, breaking up any large lumps of chicken as you go.
- Add rice noodles to the boiling water and cook according to instructions on the packet and when soft, drain in a colander.
- Stir through the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, coriander, basil and green onions. Serve stir-fry in bowls on top of freshly cooked rice noodles.