Easy, peasy cheesy carrot pizza

1 Pizza base or wrap

1tbsp tomato sauce, chutney or pesto

¼ to ½ cup grated carrot

75g sliced ham, bacon or salami (optional)

¼ to ½ cup grated cheese

Turn oven on to pre-heat at 180 degrees.  Spread sauce (chutney or pesto) onto the pizza base or wrap.  Sprinkle over the grated carrot until base is well covered.  Sprinkle meat option over the cheese.  At this point you could also add other veges if you wish (corn kernals, onion, peppers, celery etc).  Cover with cheese and bake on an oven tray for approx. 10 minutes (if using a wrap) or 15-20 if using pizza base.  You will know it is cooked when the cheese is bubbling and the edge of the base begins to crisp.

This is great either hot or cold, so makes it a great option for lunches. It is so easy to make you could do 2-3 at once and save some in the freezer. If you cut into wedges before freezing, you can just thaw as you need.

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Potato, pumpkin and chickpea curry

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed (or 1tsp crushed garlic or garlic granules)

½ to 1 onion

2-3 potatoes, diced to 1cm cubes

1 or 2 tsp ground cumin

1 or 2 tsp ground coriander

1 or 2 tsp ground turmeric

Pinch of chilli powder (to taste)

1tsp salt

Ground pepper to taste

¼ pumpkin, diced to 1 cm cubes

1 tin chickpeas

100-200g spinach (optional)

Handful of fresh coriander (optional)

Natural yoghurt

This is one of few recipes that I make that takes a little more time.  It is worth it to get the curry flavour well infused.  While the spice recommendations are not specific, you know what you like, so play around with the spices to get the flavour that suits you.

Heat olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large pot or frying pan.  Add garlic and onion.  Cook until onion starts to go clear.  Add the diced potato and start to stir until well coated in oil, garlic and onion.  Add the spices, salt and ground pepper.  Stir until the potatoes are well covered.  Continue to stir and cook the potatoes with the oil and onions.  If the potatoes and powder begin to stick, add a tbsp of water at various intervals, to avoid sticking, and help form a thick sauce.  As potatoes begin to soften, help to break them down with your wooden stirring spoon, until the potatoes are all mashed and resemble a thick curry sauce.  (This takes a while, but it is worth it). 

Add the pumpkin and chickpeas (including brine) to the potato curry sauce mixture and stir.  Add approx. ¼ cup water to the mixture, if the consistency seems too thick.  Cover and leave to simmer on a low heat for 30-40 minutes (until the pumpkin is cooked through).  Just prior to serving, stir through spinach and coriander (if you are using greens).  Serve with rice and a dollop of natural yoghurt.

If you prefer to use dried chickpeas, remember to get them soaking the day before (in accordance with packet directions).  Adjust water accordingly. 

Photo by  Dragne Marius  on  Unsplash

Lou’s Lazy Mac n Cheese (with stashed broccoli and cauliflower)

Optional 1 or 2 cups dried pasta (I use penne, but you can use any kind)

½ to 1 onion (or leek)

¼ to ½ of a cauliflower

½ of a broccoli

2 carrots

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup grated cheese

100 g diced ham or bacon (optional)

Pumpkin seeds (optional)

The pasta in this is optional.  If you prefer you could omit it and have this as a vegetable bake.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Fill and boil the kettle.  While the kettle boils dice onion, roughly chop cauliflower and broccoli (make it as large or small as you need to get it past the fussy eaters in your house), slice carrots.

Put the boiling water in a large pot and add pasta, cook in accordance to the packet instructions.  If you have a steamer pot that matches this pot, put the vegetables into this, cover and steam over the pasta as it boils.  If you don’t have a steamer pot, just use a sieve or colander in the same manner.

As the pasta boils and the vegetables steam, make a quick cheese sauce in the microwave.

Put butter in a microwave save dish (at least 1L capacity) and melt (takes about 15-30 seconds depending on microwave).  Remove melted butter from the microwave and stir through the flour, to make a butter and flour paste consistency.  Add the milk and stir well.  Check the butter and flour is not sticking to the corner of the dish. 

Put in the microwave on high for 3 ½ minutes.  Remove three times throughout the cooking period and stir well.  When the time is up, remove and stir through the cheese.  If it becomes too think to comfortably stir through the vegetables later, add a small amount of extra milk.  Aim for a similar consistency to yoghurt or custard.

Grease a large oven proof dish (of a suitable size to take the pasta, vegetables and sauce).  Remove the pasta and vegetables from the heat and drain well.  Put in the oven proof dish.  Add the bacon or ham if using.  Pour cheese sauce through and stir until the pasta and vegetables are well covered.  Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

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Creamy silverbeet (or spinach) pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic (or 1 tsp crushed garlic or granules)

1 onion or leek

100 g per serve of chicken breast (optional)

1 head silverbeet (or approx. 300 g spinach)

125 g cream cheese

2 heaped tbsp basil pesto

1 tbsp chilli sauce (optional)

2 cups of pasta (your choice of dried or fresh, I normally just use penne)

These instructions include my shortcuts to keep this dish to about 20 minutes prep time.  I’m new to writing recipes down, as normally just cook from memory, or experiment, so let me know if anything isn’t clear.

Fill kettle and turn on to boil, this will become your pasta cooking water, but boiling the kettle first also reduces time taken to reach boiling, saving time and reducing your power use.

Add olive oil to a large, deep frying pan or wok and heat on a medium heat.  Crush garlic, slice onion or leek and add to the pan.  Cook until onion/leek is softening and starting to become transparent.  Stir while cooking to avoid burning the garlic.

By this time, kettle should be boiled, so transfer boiling water to a large pot and cook pasta in accordance with packet directions (normally around 7 to 12 minutes).

Dice chicken and add to frying pan.  Cook until juices run clear (approx. 5 mins).

Slice silverbeet/spinach and add to frying pan.  Stir through with chicken and onion/leek, so the heat of these helps to wilt the greens.

Add cream cheese to frying pan and stir through.  As cream cheese is melting through add pesto and chilli sauce.  This should just be starting to combine well, as your pasta is ready, so drain pasta and add to the frying pan mixture.  Stir well and serve.

Top tips:

Don’t stress about quantities, if you like something, add more of it, or substitute with something else.  We often add mushrooms, broccoli, pinenuts, pumpkin seeds, bacon, or chorizo to this recipe.  If you like extra sauce, double the cream cheese and/or increase the pesto.  Try with sundried tomato pesto instead of basil, if that is more your thing.  This recipe is invincible, you can’t hurt it by experimenting. Any genius enhancements, please let me know.

If the cream cheese sauce is too thin, don’t just add water from the tap, try ladling a little water from your boiling pasta pot and add to the mixture to get the desired consistency.  The oil and salt in the pasta water helps maintain the flavour of the dish, and the starch helps the sauce stick better to the pasta when served.

Happy cooking!

Photo by  Alice Pasqual  on  Unsplash

Devilled Sausages

6-8 sausages

1 onion

1 apple (green apples are great in this recipe)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp cornflour

1 crushed garlic clove (or use 1 tsp garlic salt/granules)

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp tomato sauce

Separate the sausages (if needed) and place in the base of a casserole dish. Dice the onion and apple and spread over the sausages. In a small bowl mix together the remaining ingredients, then pour over the sausages. Cover the casserole dish and bake at 180 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Stir 2-3 times during cooking to ensure the sausages are well covered with the sauce. Great served with rice or mash and a side of greens.

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Onion and Cheese Loaf

½ onion

1 tbsp oil

1 ½ cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter

1 cup grated cheese

1 egg

2/3 cup milk

1-2 tbsp extra butter, melted

Dice and fry onion in oil, until soft and almost caramelised.  Add dry ingredients to a bowl and rub butter through, until the consistency of breadcrumbs.  Add the fried onion and half of the cheese to the dry mixture.  Beat egg and milk together and combine with the mixture.  Put in a greased, lined cake tin and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Glaze with melted butter and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 25 minutes. 

If you would like to use this as a cheat’s focaccia bread, you can also sprinkle with other flavours to taste, such as herbs, rock salt, sundried tomatoes or olives.  Great served with soup or salad for an easy lunch.

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Broccoli Soup (Blue Cheese optional)

2 tbsp butter (or olive oil)

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed (or 2 tsp pre-crushed garlic)

1 large head broccoli, chopped (include the stalks to save waste and add flavour)

1 large potato, peeled and diced

1 ltr chicken stock

150 g blue cheese (optional)

 Melt butter (or heat oil) in a large pot.  Add onions and garlic and cook until soft.  Add broccoli, potato and chicken stock.  Bring to the boil, then simmer until vegetables are soft.  Blend until smooth.  Crumble the cheese and stir through the soup.  (If you don’t like blue cheese, just omit and serve as broccoli and potato soup.)  Delicious served with a dollop of sour cream.

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Cinnamon Apple Cake

500 g apples (or pears)

125 g butter

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

1 ½ cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp all spice

Peel (optional) and chop apples (or pears).  Melt butter in a large saucepan then add fruit and sugar.  Stir together until sugar dissolves.  Beat egg then add, while quickly stirring the fruit mix.  Sift remaining dry ingredients and stir into the fruit mixture.  Try not to overmix.  Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35 minutes.

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Yummy stirfry

1 chopped onion

1 tsp crushed garlic

1 tsp grated ginger

500 g chicken breast or beef schnitzel (cut into strips)

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 splash of sesame oil

1 tsp fish sauce

2 carrots, sliced

1 cup broccoli florets

½ capsicum

¼ cabbage, sliced

¼ cup cashew or peanuts to serve

Fry onion (until clear) in a large non-stick frying pan or wok.  Add garlic, ginger and meat, quickly fry until the meat is browned.  Add soy sauce, sesame oil and fish sauce, quickly stir through.  Add vegetables and cook until heated through (or longer if you prefer softer vegetables).  If you need a little more liquid to steam the vegetables add ¼ - ½ cup of water or chicken stock.  Sprinkle with nuts to serve.  Serve with rice or noodles.

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Courgette Fritters

½ cup plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed herbs

½ cup milk

½ onion

1 cup grated courgette

¼ cup grated cheese

1 egg (beaten)

2 tbsp olive oil

Combine flour, baking powder and herbs into a bowl.  Slowly add milk, mixing to a batter like consistency.  Finely chop the onion, then add onion and courgette to the fritter mix.  Stir through.  Beat egg and mix into the fritter mixture.  Finally, add the cheese and stir lightly through.  Heat oil in a frying pan, up to a moderate heat.  Drop tablespoons of the fritter mixture into the pan.  Cook until golden on one side, then turn and cook the other side.  Serve hot. 

These are a great lunchbox filler with hummus, or a nice chutney, or add a side salad for a tasty meal.  You can replace the courgette with any other vegetables, or a combination for variety.

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Kale and cheese muffins

1 ½ cups finely chopped kale

1 tbsp chopped capsicum

¾ cup grated tasty cheese

2 cups plain flour

4 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

1 beaten egg

50 g melted butter

½ cup milk

2 tbsp pesto (optional)

1 tsp mixed herbs (optional)

Put kale, capsicum and cheese into a bowl.  Sift flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl.  Stir to combine.  Quickly stir in egg, butter and milk.  For more flavour add pesto or mixed herbs.  Do not over mix, or muffins will be over-firm.  Spoon mixture into greased muffin tins.  Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes or until golden.  Makes 12. 

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Carrot, coconut and coriander salad

4-6 carrots

½ cup coconut flakes (or shredded coconut)

¼ cup cashews (substitute peanuts for a more cost-effective option)

2 tbsp edible seeds (whatever you have on hand i.e sesame, sunflower, pumpkin)

Fresh coriander to taste

1 tsp olive oil

Juice of ½ orange

Coarsely grate carrots and place in a bowl.  Add coconut, cashews (or peanuts), seeds and coriander (roughly torn).  Mix together.

Combine olive oil with the orange juice then toss through to dress.  But remember, drizzle – don’t drown!

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Plum and Apple Crumble

3 apples

4 plums

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 tablespoon coconut

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

25g butter

Peel and dice the apples into 1-2cm cubes.  Leaving skin on the plums, also dice into 1cm squares.  Put diced fruit in the base of an ovenproof dish.  Add water.  Combine oats, coconut, flour and cinnamon in a bowl.  Melt butter and add to the dry mix, rubbing through until the mixture is like coarse breadcrumbs.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the fruit.  Bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes, until golden brown on top.  Serve with cream or ice cream.  (Just don't tell Lauren.)

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Garlic and Lemon Broccoli

1-2 heads of fresh broccoli cut into florets (as pictured)

3 tablespoons of olive oil

5 garlic cloves finely chopped

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring 5cm of water to the boil in a saucepan fitted with a steamer attachment.  Add broccoli, cover and steam until tender, 3-5 minutes.  If you don't have a steamer attachment, simply boil enough water to cover the broccoli, then add the broccoli direct to the boiling water for 2-3 minutes.

Heat oil and garlic in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Cook until garlic is fragrant and just starting to brown.  Scrape garlic into a large bowl and immediately add lemon juice, zest and salt and pepper. 

Stir the broccoli into the lemon mixture and stir to coat.  Serve hot and enjoy! 

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