As you might already know I am a big fan of simple, straightforward cooking. I suffer from hangryness you see and when I get home on a busy weekday evening I want something full of flavour that can be rustled up in no time at all. So welcome my Sticky Chicken Skewers into your kitchen. They take just minutes to prepare and the whole meal (including potatoes and tomato salad) is on the table in well under 30 minutes. Just because it’s quick cooking doesn’t mean anything should be skimped on, it should still be full of quality ingredients and downright delicious. Word of warning though, you might walk round work all day with a very smug look on your face knowing you’ve got a great dinner to go home to when you get these on to marinate, do try and hide it.
I made some enchiladas a few weeks ago and added one chipotle chilli for four people. You couldn’t taste it at all; there was a little bit of smoky flavour but no chilli heat; it wasn’t the end of the world, they were still very tasty. When I made this Smoky Chipotle Tomato Soup I added one chilli again, this time for two people, and it was probably the hottest thing I have ever eaten. It’s amazing how different two chillies that look just the same can have completely different heat levels. Despite it being so hot, it was actually rather delicious. Served with lots of bread and a glass of milk.
The thing I like most about these vegetable Singapore noodles is that you can throw in whatever you have left in the fridge at the end of the week. Add a few simple store cupboard staples and voila, dinner in 15 minutes. I have been perfecting this recipe for a little while now to get a good balance of sweet, salt and spice and by Jove I think I’ve cracked it. No more takeaways needed! You really can play around with this recipe too; try using different noodles or rice, different vegetables and nuts.
Chard has such a fantastic earthy flavour and I love using it in all sorts of dishes. I used Swiss chard for this recipe but the rainbow variety would work just as well and look fantastic. My Sticky Soy Chard came about because I wanted to treat the chard exactly as I would treat bok choi; covering it in a savoury, sticky glaze. The chard plant itself does have a habit of getting a bit of mud stuck in the leaves so make sure you give it a good wash before you use it.
You will need (for two as a side):
This slow cooked lamb curry came about because I decided I was the proud owner of far too many spices. I hope it’s not just me that has drawers, jars and bags full of various spices. They were of course all originally bought for a specific recipe but some of them get used less often than others; I use a lot of paprika and cumin but not so much caraway or allspice. I’ve got three different types of dried chilli hanging around (ancho, chipotle, kashmiri) and pretty much every spice and spice blend imaginable. And I am committed to using them up. A great big curry or chilli is one way, marinades and rubs are another, soups, baking and all sorts. Watch out spice cupboard, I’m planning on emptying you out.
I tried something similar to these Mexican black beans at a restaurant a few weeks ago. They were so tasty and I loved the frugality of them that I really wanted to try and make them at home. Attempt one tasted fine but the texture was all wrong, attempt two was an improvement but the spicing wasn’t quite right. By the third attempt I’d got it; tasty, slightly spicy, cheap and easy to make. Does it get much better?
You will need (for 2):
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed £0.65
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed £0.10
- 1 small chilli, halved £0.15
- 150ml chicken stock (you could use vegetable stock to make these vegetarian or vegan) £0.30
- ½ tsp ground cumin £0.05
- ½ tsp smoked paprika £0.05
- oil for cooking £0.10
- salt and pepper £0.05
- fresh coriander, chopped £0.30
- Rice to serve £0.30
Total for two: £2.05
Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the garlic. Fry for a minute or so and don’t let the garlic catch. Add the chilli and spices and keep everything moving.
We were about halfway through this meal when the OH turned to me and said, “This is the best dinner we’ve ever cooked”. High praise indeed. Although I once baked a whole cabbage and anything would be an improvement on that. Chicken enchiladas always remind me of my University days. My friend Kathryn and I would convince ourselves we could definitely eat four people’s worth of enchiladas. We’d cook it all up and be full after just half of the available enchiladas, look at each other and say, “Next time, we’ll just cook half ok?”. We never learnt. I haven’t made enchiladas since then and I thought it was high time I made some proper ones.
How many times do you think about what to make for dinner and end up with a seemingly impossible list of requirements for that one meal? It needs to be filling, but without being too full of fat, tasty without being too salty or sugary, balanced and preferably something interesting. Welcome to every weekend of my life! Planning meals is something I can’t live without (see post here if you want some top tips) and I usually do it on a leisurely Sunday morning when I have time to look through my blog, magazines and books for inspiration. More often than not I end up fulfilling all the requirements that I want my dinner to be, but it takes time to work it out. So give my Harissa Chicken with Quinoa, Avocado and Mango Salad a go; I’ve done all the hard work for you.
The next pasta recipe up my sleeves is a super quick one; ideal for a midweek meal you need in a hurry but still want it to be tasty too. My Spicy Tomato Fusilli with Garlic Pangrattato takes less than thirty minutes from fridge to plate, is super cheap and great at using up odds and ends you may already have in the fridge and cupboards.
You will need (for two):
- 175g pasta (I used fusilli)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 chilli, diced (I used a jalapeño but use whatever you have)
- Oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper
- 1 slice stale white bread
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the onion. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the onion cooks blend the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs.
I’ve never much been a fan of chilli cone carne; I’ll eat it but usually it’s a bit harsh and acidic for me because of the tinned tomatoes and I’m not that keen on kidney beans. However, I love the principal of it; plenty of chilli, spice and flavour and I’ve been working on my own version for a while. I think I’ve cracked it. My Lentil and Black Bean Chilli has all the same flavour but none of the meat; I promise, you won’t miss the minced beef at all. I’ve said this is enough for four but actually it’s probably enough for six and it’s amazing with homemade guacamole and plenty of rice.