Fun with food

Sometimes cooking is just a chore and it can be a real pain. Some of my other posts have talked about cooking efficiency and this post is about reducing hassle in the first place.

Listen to something you love

If I am in the kitchen, I have to listen to something – especially if there is a long period of waiting or stirring. If I can’t decide on music, I usually settle for The Ricky Gervais Show. Sure, I know it off by heart but I still find it funny and engaging enough to keep listening during the more mundane parts of cooking.
Other times, I’ll be grooving to music, getting my dance on while the sauces simmer. Yeah, I am cool.

Enlist help where you can 

I know this won’t work for everybody, but if you’ve got a partner, this can be a fun together activity. My partner usually helps by chopping/prepping/grating while I work on getting the food cooked. It saves time and we have fun catching up.

If you have flatmates that you’re reasonably friendly with and have similar food needs, perhaps see if you can share the burden – shared meals can save costs and most importantly, time!

Make many meals in one go

If you loathe the kitchen or are pressed for time, this is a great option. Plenty of recipes on here can be made in a large batch and stored for a few days or frozen for a few weeks, for lunches on the go or back up food if you just really cannot be bothered.
Sure, it is a bit repetitive, but it makes sure you keep fed during the day.
Or, make a combination of a few things – a couple of salads and a quiche to switch up between throughout the week.

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Chicken and Mushroom Soup

4 serves – many lunches!

A classic soup and great feel good food when you’re feeling low.

Ingredients

  • 2  large chicken breasts  (or 450g chicken if buying pre-diced chicken)
  • 450g button mushrooms
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 200 ml cream
  • 1L chicken stock

You will need

  • large frying pan
  • chopping board & sharp knife
  • sink with warm, soapy water for washing hands after handling raw chicken

Method (prep time: 5 mins; cook time: 25-30 mins)

  • Dice onion and carrots and slice mushrooms
  • Dice chicken (ignore if using pre-diced chicken)
  • Add oil to frying pan on medium-high heat and soften onions (5 mins)
  • Add carrots, chicken, salt & pepper and paprika and cook until chicken seals (5 mins)
  • Add mushrooms and when softened, stir in flour until well blended
  • Add stock and herbs, bring to simmer then reduce heat and cook until vegetables are soft (12 mins)
  • Stir cream and raise heat slightly, serve when piping hot and well mixed

 

Carrot Soup

Makes 8 serves – lunches for a full week!

Another very tasty winter warmer with a bit of kick to it!

Ingredients

  • 12 carrots
  • 1L vegetable stock
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika or berbere
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • dash cooking oil

You will need

  • chopping board & sharp knife
  • large frying pan & wooden spoon
  • food processor or blender

Method

  • Add cooking oil, salt and pepper to frying pan
  • Finely dice onion and carrots
  • Add onions to frying pan and soften on medium-high heat (5 mins)
  • Add carrots, seasoning and spices and add vegetable stock, stirring well
  • Simmer until carrots are very soft (25 mins)
  • Puree the soup until smooth  (unless very large processor, you will need to do in batches)

 

Pumpkin Soup

Makes six serves – plenty for lunches over the week!

I am not the biggest fan of soup, but a lovely thick pumpkin soup with some fresh, hot bread is super satisfying, especially in winter.

Ingredients

  • 1kg pumpkin
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 150ml cream
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 onion
  • Dash cooking oil

You will need

  • large frying pan and spatula
  • food processor or hand blender
  • chopping board & sharp knife

Method (prep time: 10 mins; cook time: 25 mins)

  • Peel and chop pumpkin into small chunks
  • finely dice onions
  • Add cooking oil to pan and on medium heat brown onions (5 mins)
  • Add pumpkin and paprika and cook for 5 mins
  • Add stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins
  • And cream, stir and bring to the boil
  • If using hand blender: in the pan, blend until smooth
  • If using food processor: remove from heat, whiz until smooth and then add to frying pan on medium heat to reheat again.

 

 

Stilton and Broccoli soup

This is a very tasty winter warmer and goes great with garlic bread or some tasty crusty bread.

Ingredients

  • 1 broccoli
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1 block stilton (or other blue cheese)
  • 400 ml vegetable stock
  • 100 ml creme fraiche

You will need

  • Chopping board, sharp knife and vegetable peeler
  • Deep saucepan and wooden spoon
  • Food processor

Method (prep: 5 mins; cook time: 25-30 mins)

  • Wash and cut up broccoli
  • Peel and cube potato
  • Add to pan and just cover with cold water
  • Boil on high heat for 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, chop cheese into small chunks and add to food processor
  • After steaming, add vegetables and stock to food processor and whizz until smooth
  • Pour into saucepan and simmer. Gently bring to boil and serve

Vegetarian burger patties

Here are some easy to make veggie patties to have with your favourite burger toppings. Used to have these all the time growing up and they were very tasty! Especially that spicy bean one!

Spinach patties

  • lots of spinach. The more, the better
  • 200g bread (gluten free bread works fine)
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 100g grated cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt, pepper and paprika
  • handful of pine nuts

You will need

  • food processor
  • medium frying pan & spatula
  • chopping board & sharp knife

Method (prep time: 10 mins; cook time: 10 mins)

  • Grate cheese and then add bread to food processor to make bread crumbs
  • Dice carrots and cook on medium heat in frying pan until soft (5 mins)
  • Meanwhile, add spinach, eggs, cheese and seasoning to food processor and whizz
  • When carrots are ready, add to food processor with pine nuts and whizz until green and soft looking (but not puree)
  • Fashion into palm sized patties and set aside
  • In frying pan on medium heat, add dash of oil and patties
  • Cook until set and golden brown on the outside (5 mins each side)

Carrot burgers

Ingredients

  • 450g carrots
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • dash soy sauce and sweet chilli
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 25g plain flour (gluten free flour works fine)
  • 100ml milk

You will need

  • grater
  • deep saucepan & wooden spoon
  • small saucepan
  • frying pan and spatula

Method (prep time: 5 mins; cook time: 25 -30 mins)

  • Grate carrots and cheese. Beat eggs and set aside
  • Place carrots in deep saucepan with vegetable stock and 25gbutter and simmer for 15 mins
  • Add pepper and soy and chilli sauces and allow to cool
  • Add flour, 25g butter and milk to small saucepan and heat gently on low heat until thick
  • Add beaten eggs and cheese to small saucepan and stir well.
  • Add small saucepan to large saucepan and mix together thoroughly
  • Fashion into palm sized patties and fry until brown on each side (5 mins each side)

Vegan Spicy Bean patties:

Ingredients

  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 75g rolled oats
  • 100g bread crumbs
  • cooking oil and salt & pepper

You will need

  • large frying pan and spatula
  • grater
  • mixing bowl and potato masher
  • small bowl

Method

  • Add oil, salt and pepper to frying pan and set aside
  • Finely dice onion and capsicum and grate carrot
  • Add breadcrumbs to small bowl and set aside
  • Add onion and capsicum to frying pan and soften on medium heat (2 mins)
  • Add carrot and spices and stir for another 2 minutes, then take off heat
  • In mixing bowl, mash beans and add tomato paste, mustard and oats
  • Add ingredients from frying pan and mix thoroughly
  • Form mixture into palm shaped patties and roll each patty in bread crumbs
  • Gently fry each in frying pan on medium heat for 4 mins on each side.

 

Spinach loaf

This is a very tasty dinner and goes great with a baked potato and leafy salad. Tastes good reheated, so you can have it with a salad for lunch over a few days, too.

Ingredients

  • lots of spinach. The more, the better
  • 100g bread (gluten free bread works fine)
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 100g grated cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt, pepper and paprika
  • handful of pine nuts

You will need

  • food processor
  • medium frying pan & spatula
  • loaf/cake tin lined with baking paper
  • chopping board & sharp knife

Method (prep time: 10 mins; cook time: 40-50 mins)

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees, fanbake
  • Grate cheese and then add bread to food processor to make bread crumbs
  • Dice carrots and cook on medium heat in frying pan until soft (5 mins)
  • Meanwhile, add spinach, eggs and seasoning to food processor and whizz
  • When carrots are ready, add to food processor with pine nuts and whizz until green and soft looking
  • Pour mixture into loaf/cake tin and bake for 40-50 mins. (check occasionally by prodding with fork to see if set)
  • Wash up while you wait