Weekday Easy- 48 dinners.

It is the age-old problem of the working household…..how to make a healthy, tasty and (importantly) quick meal that all the family will eat on a weeknight.

I spent considerable time at the weekend putting together a list of some 48 dishes I or Husband-G can quickly rustle up when I am time-poor and tired. My plan is just to take the daily decision-making process out of the equation altogether and just choose something from the list.

Today was creamy chicken and vegetable pasta (sans chicken for vegetarian Husband). I started by prepping all the ingredients above. Mushrooms, peppers, onions, broccoli. Add to the pan, add optional chicken, add a carton of good quality passata and then when cooked through stir in the light cream cheese (or sour cream). We had this with spaghetti this evening, but I often use rice.

On the table in under 30 minutes. That’s my idea of a Tuesday night winning dish.


*It might not be pretty, but it was good.

Bank Holiday Saturday

It is what is known as a ‘Bank Holiday’ in the UK. When I first came here from Australia I was confused by the term…. we call publicly defined days off the rather more obvious ‘Long Weekend’. A Bank Holiday is a public holiday and they were first enshrined in law with the Bank Holidays Act of 1871. Apparently each year there is a Royal Proclamation that states when the coming year’s holidays are, but the days off pretty much follow a regular pattern: New Year’s Day; Good Friday and Easter Monday; 2 weekends in May; the end of August; Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Whatever the reason, a Bank Holidays means that we have a day off and so clearly are A Very Good Thing.


For dinner once again I fancied something quick and easy, and wanted also to foster Baby-G’s embryonic interest in cooking so I made him ham and cheese pinwheels.

Cut strips of puff pastry and lay on a baking sheet. I spread with cream cheese and ham

Added grated cheese and rolled up.

I glazed these with beaten egg and popped in the oven (175 degrees celsius) for about 18 minutes

Baby-G ate it all (he had two). He never eats ‘all’ of anything so Mummy for the win.

Husband-G and I had a current favourite. We have spent a very great deal of the summer eating this lentil salad.

I use the little microwavable packs of green lentils that can be found in supermarkets. I am very fond of these packs… they are easy, you don’t spend hours boiling anything and there are a range of varieties so sometimes I have quinoa and lentils or bulgar wheat etc. Today’s pack contained green lentils and red kidney beans. They cook in the microwave for 1 minute on high. To this I add sliced cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, a sticks of diced celery, a huge handful each of parsley, mint and coriander (fresh), hazelnuts and crumbled feta. I pour a tablespoon of olive oil over it, and the juice of one large and very juicy lemon. Delicious.

After this Baby-G and I went into the village as the Cowes Illuminated Carnival was on. It was hard to get pics of course, but it was fun.

Blurry illuminated bagpipers


Tomato tart

We have had a rather trying week, and I felt in need of food that was super easy and quick to cook but which was tasty and oh-so-good to eat.  It may be the way I was brought up, where my parents would hold wonderful dinner parties that always seemed to feature beef wellington and vol-au-vents (It was the 80s after all!) but pastry to me always has a sense of something special about it. I rarely use pastry in my everyday cooking, but after tonight’s ridculously easy supper I think I have to make ready made jus roll a more regular addition to the shopping list.

I spread out the puff pastry and cut into squares. This I smeared with a good dollop of basil pesto and sliced tomatos. Baked in a hot oven (220 degrees celsius) until it looked cooked- about 18 minutes. The leftover pastry was used to make B-G jam tarts for breakfast the next day. Served with broccoli and corn and my favourite beetroot salad which is just diced cooked beetroot mixed with crushed garlic, spring onions and sour cream.

Good, easy and an excellent way to get more vegetables into a recalcitrant 6 year old. What’s not to love?


Smoked mackerel pate


I am feeling in a lazy and self-indulgent mood today so made smoked mackerel pate with melba toast and a crunchy peppery green salad. The recipe is basically from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Express’ cookbook, but she has it as smoked trout pate. Baby-Gusto calls Nigella; ‘Mama Gella’. That is how his toddler head first understood Nigella to be. I did however include 200 gm of light cream cheese instead of the 50 gm Nigella recommends and also added a large knob of melted butter so the thing would set in the fridge.

I skinned and flaked two smoked mackerel fillets. Added 200 gm cream cheese, the juice of half a lemon, a tablespoon of creamed horseradish, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a little bit of water to loosen and lots of cracked black pepper. I blended, added melted butter (about 2 tablespoons worth) then chilled in the fridge for several hours. I served this with toast and a mixed green salad made up of baby rocket and watercress leaves. The most difficult thing about making this pate is washing up afterwards

I also do this with a poached salmon fillet, and if having dinner parties line ramekins with smoked salmon before pouring in the mixture. In order to set though you need quite alot of melted butter. Husband-Gusto finds the addition of smoked salmon in the ramekins too rich for his taste so for him I slice cucumber very very thinly, lightly salt it and use that for lining the ramekins.

Baby-Gusto, my budding food blogger took this photo of his dinner. Bacon and egg pasta with sweet corn on the side.


Finally- it appears that summer is well and truly over and winter is on it’s way. This photo was taken mid-morning out of our bedroom window earlier this week.


Mid-week suppers

I try very hard to make only one meal for all the family. However there are days when I just know that Baby-Gusto is not going to eat anything on offer and then I am usually scratching my head trying to think of something he will eat. Last night we had potato and spinach curry, and I needed something easy for B-G. I tried something I have never done before but looked easy enough… ham and cheese pinwheels.


These worked really well, and although are probably not too high in nutritional value at least made a change from cucumber and boiled rice which is what B-G would eat every day of his life if he could.

I used puff pastry, then spread it with a mix of mayo and tomato sauce. (I know, I know….. I should have used passata but this was meant to be quick and my energy levels were low). I then topped it with sliced ham….


and then cheese….


roll and slice



then bake in a medium – hot oven for about 15 minutes or so.

This went down very well with Baby-Gusto. Sometimes just getting food into them is a win.

On the other hand Husband-Gusto and I had the world’s quickest potato and spinach curry.


Just potatoes, carrots and onions simmered in light coconut milk with a tablespoon of curry powder. For the last 5 minutes or so spinach was stirred in. This was a bit too soupy and next time I will try a trick that one of my favourite bloggers Annika suggested of mashing half the potato. Annika is from Estonia and I love looking at her adventures and food.  Her potato curry recipe is here.


Frugal February – Tuna and Egg casserole



Yes, really.

This was another staple from my childhood that I just loved. I suspect that any Australian growing up in the 70s and early 80s had some version of tuna and egg casserole in their life. I cannot be sure, but guess it may have come from a Woman’s Weekly cookbook. It sounds bonkers, but here in the UK tuna and sweetcorn pasta bake is pretty common, and the component parts are really pretty similar.

From the larder

tinned tuna in brine

white flour


From the fridge

2 hard boiled eggs, sliced.



From other parts of the kitchen

1 medium onion diced

2 slices stale bread.

This is really simple. Sautee diced onions in butter then remove onions from the pan and set aside. Make an easy white sauce using butter, 1 tablespoon flour and milk as required. Add onions. Add tinned tuna in brine…. don’t drain all the brine… about half is needed for that true tuna flavour. Add sliced eggs and stir through. Serve hot over rice. I was doing the complicated version in that I topped it with homemade croutons using the diced stale bread which I pan fried in a little bit of leftover butter. The combination of creamy, salty sauce with crouton crunch cannot be beaten.

I plonked this down in front of Baby-Gusto and made no comment and provided no explanation as to what he was being presented with.  He hoovered it down with nary a whimper. Any meal that gets eaten is a good meal.




Family Favourites -Creamy Savoury Crepes

This is a total blast from the past for me. A dish that my mother made that had a few variations- either creamy vegetable, creamy chicken and veg or creamy seafood crepes. Sometimes she would add a dollop of curry powder to the mixture (which is basically a bechemel sauce) to add a bit of spice.

If we ever had a roasted chicken for dinner, the leftovers would be turned into chicken crepes. If we had dinner guests the starter would often be seafood crepes. Savoury crepes for me remind me of home… of comforting winter dishes, where everything was right and cozy in the world.

I woke up this morning just knowing that we had to eat crepes for dinner. As it happens, we had leftover chicken from a dish I had made to be enjoyed with family who were visiting. I diced a good handful of the chicken, then sauteed diced celery,onion and carrot. The best veg to use is often the frozen mixed veg you can get pre-prepared. Then I made a simple bechemel sauce, just melted butter, a tablespoon of plan flour, adding milk and stirring hard until a sauce has been made. To this I added a handful of grated cheddar cheese and then set aside. I then made the crepes.Some years ago my parents presented me with a crepe pan that has the perfect recipe on the base. The first time I made crepes I made the mistake of adding ingredients while trying simultaneously to read the recipe by lifting the pan above me so I could read the bottom. Memorising the recipe helps avoid half-cooked crepes sliding off the pan at this point.

After making the crepes and setting them aside on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil, I put two tablespoons of the mixture in the middle of the crepe and folded it. The crepes then had more cheese scattered over the top and then were baked in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 20 minutes.

This was delicious with a side of broccoli.


The chicken and vegetable mixture.


perfect crepes – 2 eggs, 110 gm flour, 200 ml milk, 75 ml water, pinch of salt, knob of melted butter. Never fails. 🙂


A perfect pancake.


The filled crepes about to go into the oven.


The result. The pic does not really show how stuffed and creamy the filling is, but I was too keen to eat to take another one!