Chicken with Lemon and Orzo (pasta)

Do you hate washing dishes? me too.  What I do love are simple one pot recipes that you can throw in the oven and forget about.

Orzo before it’s cooked

If you haven’t come across orzo before, its a type of pasta that looks like big fat grain of rice.  I discovered it by accident ages ago when I wasn’t concentrating in the supermarket and thought it was rice.  It’s fantastic in soups and stews because it’s smaller than other pastas, but you can treat it like normal pasta.

Topped with lemon slices and herbs before going in the oven.

You can tweak this dish to suit what you have in the fridge.  I used thyme and dill because I had some in my window box, but use what herbs you like.  The thyme, dill and lemon gives it a really nice flavour that reminds me of Greek dishes.

Ingredients

1 large, or 2 small chicken thighs per person (I use ones with skins on and on the bone but boneless ones are fine too)

2 Carrots

1 Leek

2 Stalks of celery

350 Grams Orzo (dry weight)

800 ml Chicken or vegetable stock

2 Lemons (juice of one lemon, and the other sliced)

2 Tbsp Herbs (I used dill and thyme)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and heat an oven proof dish on your stove top before adding the chicken thighs
  2. Seal the chicken on each side, and then remove the thighs and set to one side.
  3. Add the vegetables (chopped into 2cm chunks) to the pan (if using skinless thighs, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan) and fry gently for 5 minutes.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed
  4. Add the orzo, lemon juice and stock to the pan and stir well to make sure any delicious chicken brown bits from the bottom of the pan are stirred into the stock
  5. Place the chicken back into the dish and top with the slices of lemon and herbs.
  6. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes

Burrito Bowl Chicken

I love the flavours in a burrito bowl, and knocked this up one evening when I was craving some Tex Mex. You can adjust the chilli depending on how much heat you like.

This is full of great colours and flavours, and loads of protein. For vegetarians, this is also a super tasty meal without the chicken.

I topped this with some grated cheese, but it would also be fantastic topped with some avocado or sour cream (or all three if you’re straying into pure filth territory).

This is also a one pot dish, so less washing up is a win win.

Ingredients

Chicken thighs (8 small or 4 large)

1 Onion (sliced)

1 Red pepper (sliced)

400 Gram Tin of black beans

100 Gram Sweetcorn (I used frozen)

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tsp Chilli powder

1Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Salt

2 Cloves of garlic (minced)

500ml Passata

300 Grams Rice (I like basmati)

Handful of chopped coriander (optional)

Method

  1. Heat a large flat bottomed pan (you will need one with a lid or that you can cover)
  2. Add the chicken thighs (skin side down first), cook until brown, turn and seal the other side
  3. Add the onion and peppers and cook for another 5-10 minutes
  4. Add the spices, garlic, corn and rice to the pan and stir well
  5. Add the passata and a little water, cover with a lid and simmer for 5-10 minutes
  6. Stir the mixture adding more water if it needs it (the rice should absorb all the liquid, so if the rice still isn’t cooked keep adding water (a little at a time, until its absorbed and the rice is cooked)
  7. Stir in the coriander if you’re using it (I know some people detest it, so please yourself). Serve in bowls with your favourite topping or just as it is

Sausage Rainbow Tray Bake

Loaded with packs of colour and flavour.

OK, the name of this dish is maybe a bit flouncy, but this is a really tasty and colourful dish, so I decided to go a bit whimsical.

One of the few upsides of the whole pandemic is that hopefully people’s behaviour is changing. More and more people are trying to support small local businesses, to help sustain them and avoid the lines in supermarkets.

I’ve starting going back to my local butcher, and found that they offer great value meat parcels. Part of the meat parcel I bought contained sausages, and I had to think about what I could do with them that was a bit more exciting than a sausage sandwich.

While I love food I don’t think you have spend hours slaving away to eat well. This recipe needs about 5-10 minute prep time at the start, and then the oven does most of the work while you get on with your life.

Throw it all in a dish and let the oven do the work

Ingredients

500 Grams Sausages (whatever flavour you like)

500 Grams Butternut Squash (cut into 2 cm cubes)

2 Red peppers (cut into 2 cm chunks)

1 Large or 2 small courgettes (cut into 1 cm think slices)

2 Large red onions (each cut into 8)

2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tsp Dried Thyme

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees
  2. Add the oil to an oven proof dish, and then add the butternut squash and time to the dish and bake for 20 minutes
  3. After 20 minutes remove the dish form the oven and add the other vegetables. Mix the vegetables to makes sure they are coated with the oil
  4. Lay the sausages on top of the vegetables and bake for 20 minutes, give the vegetables and sausage another mix and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until the sausage are browned. I like this served with crusty bread, but it also tastes good with mashed potatoes or rice.

Corned Beef, Potato and Onion Pie

Simple and delicious dinner.

I first had this as a teenager when a school friend’s Mum made this one night when I was at their house. It was a taste revelation to me. Up until then I had only had corned beef (chipped beef in the US) in sandwiches.

I had the idea to make this when looking in a cupboard I found the strange shaped tin with the stupid little key and strange opening mechanism. Honestly, after all these years, why does corned beef have to be stored in these weird shaped tins. And don’t even start me about the stupid key thing you need to open it, that you cut yourself on every single time. I mean it, if anyone knows why this still happens please tell me.

Cheap and simple ingredients make a really delicious filling

Anyway, rant over. You can make this with ready made pasty if you want this to be super quick. I have included details for anyone who prefers to make their own pastry. It’s a good way to use up left over potatoes, and makes an easy inexpensive meal.

Use a loose bottom pie tin to make it easier to remove the pie.

Ingredients

For the pastry

225 Grams Plain flour

100 Grams Butter (cut into cubes)

Cold water

For the filling

300 Grams Potatoes (cooked)

1 Onion (finely sliced)

340 Gram Tin of corned beef

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. My hand are always really warm, so I’m not best suited to make pastry, this is part of the reason I add the flour and butter to a food processor and pulse until I get a mix that looks like bread crumbs (you can also use the traditional rubbing in method, but generally I’m too lazy for this).
  2. When your mix looks like breadcrumbs, start by adding a little cold water at a time until the mix comes together to form a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins. If you’re stuck for time or just can’t be bothered, it’s totally fine to use shop bought pastry
  3. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and put a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Grease a 9 inch loose base cake/pie tin and set to one side, ready for your pastry
  4. Remove your pastry from the fridge and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it isn’t too stiff to roll out. While you wait on this, chop your onion finely, and cube your cooked potatoes (which should be cold), after you have wrestled your corned beef out of the tin and tried really hard not to scream f*ck at it, you should cube this as well
  5. Mix the potatoes, corned beef, and onion together and season with salt and pepper
  6. Put the pastry on a floured surface and cut approx 1/3 off and set to one side (this will be the lid for your pie)
  7. Roll the remaining pastry out as thinly as possible, and make sure it’s big enough to fit your pie tin. Line the tin with the pastry, making sure that you have pushed into the edges
  8. Put your corned beef mix into the lined pie dish, and then roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid. brush the edges of the pastry lining the tin with beaten egg and then place the lid on top. I press down the edged with a fork to make sure it’s sealed
  9. Brush the pie with some more beaten egg (it will help it look pretty when it’s cooked) and add a couple holes to allow steam to escape. Place the completed pie on top of the baking sheet that has been heating in the oven (this help ensure the base if cooked).
  10. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown

Vegetable Chilli

I’m not a vegan or even vegetarian, but still enjoy a good meat free recipe.

This is a good way to get your 5 a day, and is quick and tasty, with a nice range of flavours and textures. I served mine with some avocado on top, and corn bread, but it’s also really good with rice or tortillas. You can also top it with sour cream or grated cheese if you’re not vegan.

Ingredients

1 Red pepper

1 Onion

2 Stalks celery

150 Grams Sweetcorn

400 Grams Cannelli beans (you can use whatever beans you have)

400 ml Passata

1 Tsp Ground cumin

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tsp chilli powder

2 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

1 Tbsp Olive oil

Method

  1. Chop the vegetables into equal sizes (I like to keep mine pretty chunky)
  2. Heat the oil in a pan, and gently fry the vegetables for 5-10 minutes until they have softened
  3. Add the garlic, spices and tomato puree to the pan and cook for a few minutes before adding the beans and passata
  4. Simmer over a low heat for another 10-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened

Keema Curry

It was the week before payday, and I was scanning round the kitchen for what I could make for dinner. I was lucky enough to find some minced lamb and frozen peas in the freezer.

This is may not be 100% authentic, but tasted great. It was even better the next day. A good spice cupboard can transform anything into a brilliant meal.

Serves 4-6

500 Grams Lamb mince

400ml Tin of tomatoes

250 Grams Frozen peas

1 Onion (Finely sliced)

2 Cloves of garlic (Minced)

4cm Piece of ginger (Grated)

1Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1 Tsp Cumin

1Tsp Chilli powder (optional)

1 Tsp Ground Coriander

1 Tsp Gram Masala

1 Tsp Nigella (onion) seeds

1 Tbsp Oil (flavourless, like sunflower)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the sliced onion, cook for about 15 minutes, stir as needed until caramelised (this adds loads of flavour)
  2. Take onions out of the pan and set to one side. Add the Nigella seeds to the pan cook for a for 2 minutes or until you hear them popping. Take care not to let them burn. Remove from the pan and a side with the cooked onions
  3. Add the lamb to the pan along with the other spices, and continue cooking and stirring until the lamb is browned
  4. Add the peas, tomatoes and onion and Nigella seeds to the pan
  5. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding some water if it’s getting too dry.
  6. Serve with rice or flat breads

Potato, Sausage, and Apple Skillet

I love a quick dinner after a long day when standing cooking holds little appeal. If you can be organised enough to cook extra potatoes for dinner the day or two before this makes this even quicker.

My sort of comfort food

Nothing says comfort food to me like spuds. Crispy fried potatoes, meaty pork sausages and hot sweet apples makes a really dreamy combination. On a chilly Autumn evening this makes a perfect dinner, it’s also really good with fried egg on top.

Serves 4

Ingredients

500 Grams Cooked potatoes cut into chunks (I like to leave the skins on)

8 Pork sausages (cut into chunks)

2 Red onions (thinly sliced)

2 Dessert apples (cut into chunks)

2 Tbsps Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet or heavy frying pan
  2. Add the cut up sausages and onions, and stir occasionally until browned
  3. Remove from the pan and set to one side. Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the potatoes, cooking until brown
  4. Add the sausages, onions, and apple to the pan, cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and if you’re feeling really fancy you could sprinkle over some chopped herbs like parsley, or sage

Mushroom, hazelnut and gorgonzla tart

A bit more “rustic” than I planned, but I put it down to me trying to make pastry with nuts in it. Save yourself the time and energy and use shop bought short crust pastry. It’s what I plan to do next time.  This recipe might be best saved for the weekend, as it’s a bit more labour intensive, but it’s well worth the trouble, (I had to stop myself eating half of it).

If you’re a vegetarian cooking for meat eaters, they’ll love this. The rich and unctuous filling feels really meaty, and unlike a lot of tarts isn’t too eggy.  This is delicious hot or cold.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 Sheet of ready made short crust pastry

2 Onions (thinly sliced)

1 Tbsp Chopped rosemary

3 Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Olive oil

25 Grams Dried porcini mushrooms, (soaked in 50 ml of hot water)

200 Grams Button mushrooms (sliced)

50 Grams Gorgonzola (sliced)

50 Grams Hazelnuts (chopped)

2 Eggs

150 Ml Double Cream

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Grease a 23 cm loose based flan tin, roll you pastry until thin and line the tin, (chill in the fridge for 30 minutes)
  2. Put the porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 50ml of warm water and allow to soak
  3. Take your flan tin out of the fridge and over the base with grease proof paper and add baking beans on top, (I use old lentils that had been hanging about). Bake blind in an oven heated to 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove the grease proof paper and baking beans, and bake for a further 5 minutes, before removing from the oven
  4. While the pastry is baking add the olive oil and onions to a large heated frying pan. Turn down the heat and cook gently for 10 minutes
  5. Add the button mushrooms, garlic and rosemary to the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  6. Add the porcini mushrooms and the water they were soaking in to the pan. Cook over a medium heat until all the liquid has evaporated, and leave to cool
  7. Put a baking sheet in the oven to heat (the temperature should be 180 degrees again)
  8. When the mushroom mix is completely cool, spread it evenly across the pastry base
  9. Distribute the gorgonzola on top of the mushroom mix
  10. Beat 2 Eggs, and add to the cream, season with salt and pepper, pour into the tart case and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts across the top
  11. Put the filled tart tin on to the heated baking sheet in the oven and bake for 35 minutes until the centre is set
  12. Allow to cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before cutting

Butternut Squash and Pea Curry

This is an easy, healthy curry that even the most ardent meat lovers can enjoy.

Don’t be put off, if it seems that there are a lot of ingredients.  I know I prattle on about how good Asian supermarkets are, but you can build up a good stock of cheap spices that will help change how you cook.

Ingredients

500gms Butternut Squash (peeled, deseeded, and diced)

200gms Frozen Peas

150gms Red Lentils

1 Large onion (chopped)

2 Tbsp Coconut or other oil

1 Red chilli pepper

4 Cloves of garlic

1 Tsp Fennel seeds

1 Thumb sized piece of ginger

2 Tsp Garam Masala

2 Cardamom pods

500ml Vegetable stock

2 Tbsp Chopped coriander

Serves 4

Method

  1. Add the fennel seeds and cardamom pods to a dry pan and toast until you can spell the spices.
  2. Add the coconut oil and once heated add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The onions should be cooked gently until they caramelise and turn brown.  Taking the time to do this might seem like a bit of a faff, but it does help improve the depth of flavour
  3. Add the butternut squash (which has been diced in 1.5cm cubes), and continue to cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes
  4. Grate the ginger and add to the pan along with finely chopped chilli, garam masala, red lentils, and vegetable stock, cook for a further 10 minutes
  5. Add finely chopped garlic to the pan, along with frozen peas, and cook 5 more minutes
  6. Check that the butternut squash is tender, and check the seasoning and adjust to your taste. (I usually go easy when adding chilli, as it’s always easier to add more, but if you like a super hot then go nuts)
  7. Serve with basmati rice or naan bread (or both if you’re a total carb junkie like me).  This curry reheats really well, and will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days

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