Today is Australia Day so I’m pretty excited to be sharing this lovely lamb recipe with you, not only because in my family Australia day equals eating a good deal of lamb, but because this dish, adapted from a terrific one by Nigella Lawson, pointed in my direction by my friend Amy, is all the things this blog is about: easy, tasty, affordable and delightfully do-able when having people over. Using either lamb loin or chump chops, simply place all the ingredients in a roasting dish at the same time and stick it in the oven. You don’t even need to turn anything! Just add something green to eat it with, perhaps a salad or steamed green beans, and whack the lot, straight out of the oven, onto the middle of the table with a fresh loaf of bread for mopping up the yummy juices. The lamb turns out oh so tenderly and the chopped fresh parsley makes the flavours come alive. This recipe is easily doubled using two roasting dishes and which can both go in the oven together – no problem: that’s 12-16 people fed for the cost of one at a nice restaurant! Even better is the fact that this delicious one-pot feast is gluten, egg, wheat and diary free. Using the quantities below, this recipe serves 6-8 and costs no more than $15 to make. Thanks for this one, Amy.
- 12 lamb chops, either loin or chump
- 3 baking potatoes, adding up to approximately 650g
- 45ml olive oil (approximately three tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (a little less if substituting with chilli powder)
- salt and pepper
- 2 lemons
- small handful of roughly chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Put the lamb into a roasting dish
- Cut clean potatoes into wedges (don’t bother peeling them) and place them in the gaps around the lamb.
- Drizzle the oil over the lamb and potatoes and sprinkle with the dried mint, chilli flakes and salt.
- Zest 1 lemon over the roasting tin and then juice both lemons and pour the juice over everything in the tray.
- Season well with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for 1 hour, not bothering to turn anything over. Pull the tray out of the oven when everything looks quite brown (don’t let anything burn), and if it looks like it’s very brown before the end of the cooking time, cover the tray in foil and return to the oven.
- Serve everything in the middle of the table for a yummy and casual feast.
This week where I live we’re having a heat wave, the temperature staying in the 40s for what feels like days on end, so I thought it worth sharing some more slow cooker recipes people have been kindly sending in. Huh? Slow cooker meals on ridiculously hot days? Have I gone mad? While it’s possibly true that I have, let me tell you why this makes sense: meals cooked in the slow cooker don’t heat up your kitchen on sweltering days, you can fill them up to make enough dinner for an extra night or two, and if you serve your slow cooked yumminess on rice, having cooked it in a rice cooker, with some greens quickly steamed in the microwave, you’ve managed to completely avoid adding to the heat in your house. Ages ago, my friend Sam sent me this very simple and tasty recipe which is perfect for hospitality: just put it on in the morning, when friends are coming over for dinner after work or church, or just divide into batches of family sized portions for freezing – for your own family or to grab at short notice when someone is in need (but do check that there are no cashew allergies among your recipients!). Doubling the recipe below two thirds fills a 5.5L slow cooker, and using the quantities below costs around $16 to make, even less when chicken breast are on special. Thanks Sam for a healthy, tasty, cheap and easy recipe. Serves 6-8.
- 3 boneless chicken breasts (approx. 750g), cut into thin strips
- 2 tbsp butter (optional, I don’t use it)
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 chopped green onions
- 200g sliced mushrooms (I prefer to cop my own, the thin sliced ones from the shop end up too small once cooked)
- 1 x can condensed cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (undiluted)
- 2 sticks celery, sliced
- 1 ½ tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ cup cashews, (approx. 100g, pre-roasted is a little nicer, but not necessary),
- 1/2 cup white wine (optional)
- salt and pepper
- handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1. Combine chicken, butter, garlic, green onions, mushrooms, soup, celery, soy sauce, and wine (if using) in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 hours, or high for four hours. Alternatively, cook in a large heavy based casserole dish with lid on at 160 degrees for 2 hours.
2. Half an hour before the end of the cook time, add the cashews into the chicken. Season well with salt and pepper. If necessary, thicken with a little cornflour suspended in water, then add to chicken, stirring well. If desired, add chopped fresh parsley just before serving. Serve on steamed rice with a side of greens.
Christmastime provides just the opportunity for lazy breakfasts and slow mornings with friends and family – how delightful it is to take things slowly and remember that God entered our world as a person to save people like us! And pancakes are an affordable option for making things a bit more special than usual – for treasuring Christmas and the people God brings into our lives. But pancakes can be tricky too – the first few are always duds as the person cooking gets the temperature of the pan and their technique just right, and for that poor person cooking, it can be a task that takes most of the morning if there are lots of keen pancake eaters in the house. The recipe that follows is my attempt to solve this problem whilst still making Christmas breakfast special. The batter can be made the day before and stored in the fridge so there’s almost no work in the morning. If you require more pancake cups, simply double the recipe. Doing so fits inside a 2L food processing bowl perfectly. This recipe makes 16 pancake cups and using berries, cream and maple syrup, costs around $7 to make.
For pancake cups:
- 225g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 eggs
- 30g butter, melted
- 300ml milk
Fill cups with your choice of:
- 300g frozen mixed berries
- icing sugar for dusting
- cream for dolloping or drizzling
- maple syrup
- Remove berries from freezer and begin thawing in a bowl. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius (180 degrees if fan-forced).
- Grease muffin holes using a little extra melted butter or spray oil.
- Put all pancake cup ingredients in a food processor and blitz for 30 seconds until combined. Use immediately or store in fridge for when needed (If you do this, the batter will thicken slightly. If this happens, don’t stress – just thin it out with a whisk and a little extra milk just before using it).
- Fill 1/3 – half of each muffin hole (no more) and bake in oven for 8 minutes. After this time, the pancakes will be golden brown and flat. As soon you take them from the oven, use a soup spoon to push each one down in the middle, creating a crater/cup shape. Pop out of the tins onto a shared plate and top with berries and dusted icing sugar. Enjoy!
Christmas is just around the corner, so I thought it timely to share some recipes you might find helpful for inspiring or planning your Christmas menu. Today’s recipes are designed to help you enjoy the large number of people you might have visiting, without extra kitchen and food stress. Cause what’s the point of all that effort if it ends up owning you?
Years ago, I watched my friend Bron make bacon and eggs much like the recipe below and since then my husband Steve has fiddled around with various ingredients when making them – he’s finally settled on this recipe, but also sometimes cut a disc of store-bought puff pastry and popped one in the bottom of each muffin hole – which ends up becoming something like a yummy little bacon and egg breakfast pie. Depending on your choice of eggs, this easy, portion-controlled breakfast for 12 will cost a little over $6 and take no more than 20 mins to make.
- 12 eggs
- 200g bacon
- spray oil or a little melted butter
- 1/3 jar of tomato chutney
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 190 degrees, (180 if fan forced) and grease a 12 hole muffin tin very well using spray oil or melted butter.
- Cut bacon into thin strips or wedge shapes and distribute evenly across the bottom of the 12 muffin holes.
- Put half a teaspoon of tomato chutney on top of the bacon and crack and egg on top of the lot in each muffin hole.
- Bake for approximately 15 minutes (but start checking earlier) and once cooked, immediately use a sharp knife around the edges of each portion to dislodge from the pan. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy.
I’ve been meaning to blog about Miriam English’s Balsamic Chicken Bake for ages and I’m so pleased to have finally got around to it. Since I first tried this awesome recipe about six weeks ago we’ve eaten it many times because it’s so very easy and tasty: just put everything in the roasting dish at the same time, and then whack it in the oven. Then, just before serving, steam some greens to serve with this crowd-pleasing dinner, stick it all in the middle of the table, and that’s it – dinner is done. This versatile dinner, originally from Super Food Ideas, Issue 111, copes well with various cuts of chicken and the addition of extra roasting veggies such as carrot, pumpkin and sweet potato. Recipes like this one are so great to have in your back pocket, cause if you’re anything like me, all sorts of things need to happen while dinner is cooking: supervising the reading of school readers, quickly scrubbing the loo before guests arrive, wiping down most surfaces and putting washing away – this tasty and simple dinner enables much needed efficiency. Using the quantities below and chicken thigh cutlets, this problem- solving dish costs less than $15, serves 6-8 people, and is dairy, egg, wheat and gluten free. Pictures here are of half quantities.
- 12 (2kg chicken thigh cutlets, fillets, wings or drumsticks
- 600g potatoes, quartered
- 2 med red onions
- 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 6 fresh thyme sprigs
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 250g cherry tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees celcius. Arrange chicken, potato, onion, garlic and thyme in 2 large roasting dishes.
- Whisk vinegar, oil & sugar in a jug until sugar has dissolved. Drizzle over chicken mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 40 minutes. Add tomatoes. Bake for 10 minutes more, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with a green salad or steamed greens.
One lovely thing about writing a blog is hearing from other bloggers. One day I hope to meet Meredith who writes a very stimulating blog The Key to the Door, but in the mean time I’m thoroughly enjoying trying some recipes she has sent in along with her stamp of approval for their ease of use when having people over. When I tried this delicious chicken dinner, I didn’t have much time or energy for cooking but the quickness and ease of it meant we got through another arsenic hour scenario and it wasn’t too taxing. Originally from the $120 Food Challenge website, I’ve adapted this a little to serve more people by cooking it in the oven rather than on the stove. Everyone in our family loved this and it’s such a versatile recipe: next time I make it, I’m planning to add a jar of drained and pitted Kalamata Olives and might then call it Oven-baked Chicken Cacciatore! Using the quantities below, this recipe serves 8 and costs around $16 to make. Thanks for sharing, Meredith.
- 8 chicken thigh fillets, (could also use drumsticks)
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 4 brown onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 packet French onion soup mix
- 2x 440g tin diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
- Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan or large frying pan and sauté chicken pieces until brown and then place in a large oven-proof casserole dish.
- Add onions and garlic and fry until translucent. Add tomatoes and juices, the soup mixture, water, soy sauce, and season with salt and pepper and a teaspoon of sugar.
- Distribute this mixture evenly over the chicken and bake in a moderate oven for 40 minutes. When cooked, top the whole dish with parsley and serve with rice and greens if desired.
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.
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!
My friend Wendy recently sent in this amazing recipe and having tried it out, I think I’ll be making it time and time again. Utilising all the benefits of a slow cooker, this affordable and tasty meal is just so easy to do. Just put the meat and marinade in a slow cooker 8 hours before your guests arrive. The accompanying apple slaw takes no longer than a standard salad to make and your guests can put it all together themselves during the meal. Wendy made this pork-tastic dinner en-masse for a church dinner recently using two slow cookers and was able to feed everyone affordably in a cinch. I recommend purchasing the pork from a butcher as mine was half the price of my local Woolworth’s. Serving 10 people easily, this recipe costs around $20, when pork is on special. Thanks Wendy!
- 2kg pork shoulder
- 1 x 375g bottle BBQ marinade (whatever is cheap, even standard BBQ sauce will do)
- 1/2 small savoy cabbage, shredded
- 2 carrots, grated
- 2 small apples, grated
- 1 cup mint leaves, finely chopped (if you have it – if not, don’t stress)
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of lemon squeeze or juice of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- 20 bread rolls or french stick/baguette equivalent
- Place pork in a slow cooker and empty all the marinade over it. Replace lid, switch to low and cook for 8 hours.
- Combine cabbage, carrot, apple and mint in a salad bowl. In a separate measuring jug, combine mayonnaise, dijon and lemon juice. Dress slaw mixture with the dressing and toss well.
- Remove pork from slow cooker, and using 2 forks pull the tender pork apart
- Place fresh rolls, pork and apple slaw in the centre of the table, allowing people to put together their own pork and apple slaw rolls.