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
- 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).
- Add the remaining ingredients (except the cream) to the carrot, butter and onion mixture, and simmer for 45 mins.
- Blend with a stick blender in the cooking pot and serve with or without drizzled cream and crusty, buttery bread. Serves 8.
This recipe comes directly from the kitchen of my dear friend Lisa, who found it in One Handed Cooks magazine. Lisa is such a wonderful old soul – she carefully loves the people around her, thinks hard about everything that’s important in life and wastes no time on what isn’t. She looks after her family simply but diligently, with a heart full of wonder at all God’s given her. She put me onto this tasty, simple, and affordable meal and in addition to all these things, it’s so very her: warm, generous, and hearty. Once cooked, this crowd-pleasing one pot dish can be pureed with a stick blender for babies and frozen for future baby meals – no need to make the little ones a separate meal. And if you need a gluten free meal, simply exchange pasta for the gluten free variety. This dairy free recipe costs around $7 to make and serves 6. Thanks Lis, when I grow up I wanna be just like you.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 340g dried linguini (any pasta is fine though)
- 1 x 400g can diced tomatoes
- 1 large chicken breast, diced very small
- 4.5 cups chicken stock (powdered is fine, but check for gluten if need be)
- ½ cup basil leaves (but dried is totally fine too)
- Heat oil in a large pot/frypan. Sauté onion and garlic together over low heat. Gently fry chicken pieces in this mixture.
- Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes, or until pasta is cooked through and liquids have reduced to a risotto-like consistency. Enjoy with crusty bread and/or salad.
“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.
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.
Another recipe from Donna Hay’s No Time to Cook, my friend Sonja made this for us for dinner last year – in my kitchen, so I just got to sit back and watch! I couldn’t believe how fast and yummy the whole dish was and so was keen to give it a go myself. When left to my own devices with no recipe, I normally really struggle to cook asian food that doesn’t all taste the same, but this simple recipe gets the balance of these readily available flavours just right without any stress. This recipe feeds 4 and calls for 4 firm white fish fillets, and I couldn’t believe that the 4 HUGE Basa fillets I picked up from the deli at Coles cost $4.80. The whole meal cost less than $8 and no more than 20 mins to make. I keep coming back to this recipe for all these reasons of simplicity and affordability, but also because I always think our family should be eating more fish and my brain struggles to think of anything but tuna (which not everyone loves). If you use gluten free rice stick noodles (such as Chang’s), this recipe is gluten and dairy free. And finally, if you don’t like much spiciness in asian food, go easy on the thai curry paste – and if you do like it spicy, go ahead and knock yourself out.
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tabs sesame seeds
- 2 tabs fresh ginger, grated
- 6 shallots or green onions, roughly chopped
- 2 tabs fish sauce
- 200g dried rice stick noodles
- 4 tsp red curry paste (if you’ve only got green in the fridge, that’s fine too)
- 2 tabs olive oil
- 4 firm white fish fillets
- 2/3 cup fresh coriander (if you have it and if you like it)
- 2/3 cup fresh mint leaves (if you have it and if you like it)
- Place a medium non-stick frypan over low heat, add sesame oil, seeds, ginger, shallots and fish sauce and cook for 2-3 mins. Remove sesame mixture from pan and set aside. Wipe pan clean.
- Place noodles in a heat-proof bowl, cover with boiling water for 10 mins until separated and tender.
- Combine curry paste and oil in a bowl and brush over both sides of the fish. Return the pan to low heat, add the fish and cook for 5 mins each side or until the fish is cooked through.
- Drain noodles, stir through sesame mixture and divide between plates. Top with fish and herbs to serve as well as steamed boy-choy if you’re keen.