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.

End of Week Easy-Spinach pasta

Easy healthy pasta that hits all the right notes for the Gusto household….. pasta for B-G, vegetarian for H-G and fast for me as I am both tired AND going to the cinema later in the evening.

I wilt 2 bags of fresh spinach in a pot filled with a little water. Then stir in light cream cheese. Add grated nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix in cooked pasta of choice, then top with halved cherry tomatoes and walnuts.



This was a funny weekend where I started various blog posts in my head and never finished them. On Sunday I made a peach compote (above) using gorgeous-looking but rock hard peaches. After simmering in butter, a splash of water and a dash of sugar for a while it made a lovely topping to breakfast cereal.

Baby-G and I also made chocolate chip cookies. They turned out flat and very light, and we ate them all before pictures were taken. Baby-G has never really expressed an interest in cooking (or eating for that matter) and so we have not done alot of cooking together. But he was distraught to have missed out on an after-school cooking club and so he and I decided we will cook together and the choices will be his. He chose cookies and crumble for his first foray. We went bramble-picking among the hedgerows on Sunday and bramble crumble is on the agenda for this week.

Out for dinner at the ever-good Coast. I like this place more and more and we had a delicious meal.

Sea bass and vegetables

Mushroom and blue cheese linguine






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.


Easy Red Pepper pesto. (Vegan)


I was feeling a bit lazy today so whipped up the easiest pesto. I just roasted two red peppers (bell peppers, or red capsicum) in the oven with two cloves of garlic and a bit of olive oil. I added this to a blender, a pack of raw unsalted cashews, a tablespoon of olive oil and a third of a jar of sundried tomatoes in their oil. A bit of water to loosen the mixture and blitz and bingo- easy peasy pesto.

Gorgeous, but gorgeous over pasta, but also as a dip for breadsticks or crudites.

Red lentil pasta


I was interested in this pasta made from red lentil flour. It is gluten free and I thought it might be a good way to get new sources of nutrients into B-G. I simply made up a pasta sauce with onions, celery, chopped tomatoes and courgette. The pasta had a different texture to wheat pasta -slightly more robust and with more bite.  I would most likely pair it with spicy rather than subtle sauces, like a good punchy puttanesca.



Vegan MoFo Day 3 – Quick, easy and delicious. Pasta Puttanesca


Usually Pasta Puttanesca has anchovies in it, but this vegan version just has garlic, diced tomatoes, chilli flakes,  black olives and capers. The most difficult thing about it is opening a few jars (I used Very Lazy Garlic), and waiting for the pasta to boil. Yum.

Today’s link to another vegan blogger. Kittens Gone Lentil.