Tag Archives: easy family meals

Bacon, Chard and Rosemary Pasta

Swiss chard is such an easy veggie to grow and it gives you back time after time. Plant a few seeds, water and care for a few plants lovingly and you will find you always have bountiful supply. 

Some interesting chard facts.

  • Swiss chard was discovered by a Swiss botanist – hence it’s name.  
  • It is a member of the goosefoot family, called this due to the leaves looking like a goose foot.
  • Chard is packed with nutrition including vitamins A,C, K plus magnesium, potassium, iron and fibre.

So the question is what to do with it? The great news is it goes in virtually everything. I’ve added baby leaves to smoothies, savoury muffins and scones. Then use it like you would spinach in dhal, stir fry and omelette. Or wash it and freeze, I’m totally up for an easy life and don’t cook it before freezing. I find it works fine to add to casseroles and other meals where you add as it cooks.

One of the easy summer recipes I sometimes pull out the back of my mind when the chard patch and my mind are overflowing, and I need to cook but also need a break – this chard and pasta dish. It works so well. The rosemary gives it a warm lift and the bacon adds the saltiness, plus it means my children eat it. Now my boy isn’t a fan of his greens, but will eat this meal all up. It goes to show sometimes it is what a food is paired with that matters.

I let my children decide their own portions of this meal and eat according to appetite. My eldest girl after a busy day at school had seconds, my boy cleared his plate and was satisfied. My toddler ate off my plate too! 

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Bacon, Chard and Rosemary Pasta

Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 150 g bacon chopped into bite sized chunks
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200 g chard leave it whole
  • 150 g mushrooms chopped
  • seasoning
  • 300 g pasta

Instructions

  1. Chop up the bacon, remove the fat and heat a non stick pan. Then cook the bacon for a few minutes.

  2. Add the rosemary and garlic, stir round to release the the flavours.

  3. Next add the chopped tomatoes and allow to come to a simmer.

  4. Cook the pasta.

  5. Wash the chard, chop any huge leaves. Place into the pan and allow it to wilt down.

  6. Chop the mushrooms and add these to the pan, allow the sauce to simmer for 5 minutes then turn off the heat and put the lid on. 

  7. When the pasta is ready mix the sauce in and serve.

Moroccan Style Slow Cooker Tagine.

I went to Marrakech for Christmas a few years ago. I don’t think we had a bad meal the whole time we were there. Each dish was so wonderfully spiced and fragrant, yet not overpowering. This dish reminds me of that holiday. Oh for some sun, sat on a roof terrace, drinking Moroccan mint tea!

I marinaded the chicken overnight, you could probably get away with just toasted the spices in the pan with the chicken, but marinade if you can. I think it enhances the flavour and it always heighten the anticipation of the meal for me. 

I love playing around with spices. As a child I loved it when my mum got out her silver spice tin, all those small pots filled with fragrant, colourfulness. I was even more excited when I got my own spice tin!

Moroccan spices blends tend to include: ginger, cinnamon, corainder, allspice, pepper, tumeric, cumin and paprika. Sometimes saffron, cardomon, nutmeg and star anise. The Morrocan spice stalls are amazing! Make your own blend up and try it out.

 

Here is the chicken marinading overnight…

Chicken Tagine marinade

Browning the chicken in the pan…

Chicken Tagine brown meat

 

The finished meal…

Chicken Tagine

 

 

Morrocan Style Slow Cooker Tagine.
Serves 4
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
313 calories
46 g
39 g
10 g
17 g
2 g
378 g
162 g
2 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
378g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 313
Calories from Fat 85
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g
15%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 39mg
13%
Sodium 162mg
7%
Total Carbohydrates 46g
15%
Dietary Fiber 13g
53%
Sugars 2g
Protein 17g
Vitamin A
294%
Vitamin C
58%
Calcium
10%
Iron
21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Spice Mix
  1. 1 tsp tumeric
  2. 1 tsp paprika
  3. 1 tsp cumin
  4. 1 tsp ginger
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  6. Black pepper
Tagine
  1. 600-750g chicken thighs/drumticks - remove the skin.
  2. 1 tbsp rapeseed/vegetable oil
  3. 2 onions, chopped
  4. 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  5. 6 cloves
  6. Mixture of vegetables ( I used 2 peppers, 200g cherry tomatoes and 500g mushrooms)
Instructions
  1. Mix the spices and rub into the skinless chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  2. Chop 2 onions and 4 cloves of garlic (I also left this in the fridge overnight to save time the next day).
  3. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil, add 6 cloves.
  4. Now add the chicken and brown all over.
  5. Place in the slow cooker pot and top with chopped vegetables of your choice. I used peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.
  6. Pour in 125ml water.
  7. Cook on high for 5-8 hours or on low if you are leaving it for longer due to the amount of liquid.
  8. Stir and serve on a bed of couscous.
Notes
  1. Remove the bones if serving small children.
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calories
313
fat
10g
protein
17g
carbs
46g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

How to make a GOOD Salmon and Broccoli Risotto.

So it is fair to say we eat a lot of risotto in our house. It’s wheat free so I can eat it, it is easy to cook with small people “helping you” and my family literally devour it. If you don’t finish your portion quick someone else will ask for it “More, More”. 

The first few times I cooked risotto it was a disaster. A plate of overcooked rice with peas and cheese on top. As a student I didn’t think it was too bad a meal, however looking back it makes me wince. I now know where I went wrong – I used the wrong ingredients. Partially due to being on a budget but mainly because I didn’t know any better.  A good risotto needs the right ingredients and a bit of love. You don’t need to spend a fortune, in fact I have a top tip below on how to save pennies!

Firstly if you are using rice for risotto, use the right kind. Your normal easy cook/basmati/long grain will not cut the mustard here. Get risotto rice. It may cost a bit more, but I buy a few packs when it is on offer and I also use pearl barley to reduce the cost. 

Secondly use a good stock. This is vital for it to taste good. If you can get away from that salty stock cube and make your own. Each time we roast a chicken I make stock which then goes in the freezer for risotto’s. 

Thirdly find a spoon you like to stir with and make sure you pop back and stir it regularly. It will help you see when it is ready and usually makes me remember to add all the extra flavours in.

This risotto was made with all pearl barley. I sometimes mix risotto rice and pearl barley which adds wholegrains in, brings in a nutty texture and brings down the cost all in one go. 

Dietitian UK: Salmon and Broccoli  Barley Risotto

Salmon and Broccoli Barley Risotto
Serves 4
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472 calories
52 g
65 g
12 g
36 g
2 g
373 g
204 g
5 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
373g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 472
Calories from Fat 105
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
18%
Saturated Fat 2g
9%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 65mg
22%
Sodium 204mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 52g
17%
Dietary Fiber 12g
48%
Sugars 5g
Protein 36g
Vitamin A
26%
Vitamin C
229%
Calcium
14%
Iron
17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 200g pearl barley
  3. 150ml white wine
  4. Decent chicken stock, make up to about 500ml
  5. 100ml semi skimmed milk
  6. 1 head broccoli
  7. 80g stilton
  8. 400g salmon
  9. 2 tsp lemon juice
  10. nutmeg
  11. black pepper
  12. parsley
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil and stir in the pearl barley. Leave to cook for a few minutes.
  2. Add the wine, stir and let it absorb.
  3. Meanwhile chop the broccoli into small pieces.
  4. Now add the broccoli to the pan and stir in.
  5. Gradually add a bit of the stock at a time, stirring regularly and letting the barley absorb the stock.
  6. Add the stilton and let this melt in.
  7. After 10 minutes add the salmon, chopped into small cubes.
  8. When the stock is finished add a little milk to give it more creaminess. You could use cream here but I don't personally.
  9. Whilst it is all cooking add the lemon juice, nutmeg, black pepper and parsley - stir some more.
beta
calories
472
fat
12g
protein
36g
carbs
52g
more
Dietitian UK https://www.dietitianuk.co.uk/

How to stay on top of family meals

 I love cooking. The kitchen is the place I relax, I create and I have fun. However when you are juggling too much, busy busy busy and have small people cooking the family meal can become a chore, even for me. 

 I run 2 businesses around 2 small ones, my days start early, end late and are a mix of pilates, dietitian work and being a mummy. Which means I don’t tend to have the luxury of spending hours cooking each day. 

Dietitian UK: Top Tips on Family Meals

 My top tips:

  1. Meal Planning really does work. We have a whiteboard in our kitchen and I plan out our evening meals and some of our lunches too.
  2. Keep a recipe book or file with the recipes you and your family love. This makes it easy to plan and quick to find that recipe that suddenly springs to mind.
  3. Use your meal plan to shop and prepare in advance. When you have a quieter day chop up some veggies in advance for example, or boil a pile of eggs for lunches, make hummus or cook a meal to get ahead.
  4. Cook in bulk when you can. If you are doing a casserole, chilli, bolognaise, soup or freezable meal cook double and freeze it. This saves me on a regular basis on days things go wrong and I realise I’ve no time to cook!
  5. You don’t have to wait until dinner time to cook. I often end up cooking our evening meal in the morning, as that’s when I have a gap in my day. It can be quite satisfying knowing dinner is already cooked!
  6. Embrace the slow cooker love. The beauty of this is you can prep it the night before and keep it in the fridge, then switch it on in the morning and by evening you have a cooked meal, often with leftovers to freeze. See my slow cooker recipes  or my pinterest board with over 50 ideas.
  7. Have a day a week you use up the leftovers. Put them on a pizza, add to pasta, put veggies in a frittata or stir fry… it may not be a standard recipe but it can save you time, money and is inventive! See Love Food, Hate Waste for top tips and recipes.
  8. Have some emergency meals in your stores. Baked potatoes can be cooked in the microwave in 10 minutes, add tuna and sweetcorn with some chopped veggies and you have a meal. We always have a jar of pesto ready for that emergency pasta dish and frozen veggies!
  9. Get the kids involved and make it an activity. Miss K loves cooking and will try to peel veggies, chops them and stirs things, as long as she can nibble on bits as she goes.
  10. Relax. I find if I’m stressed over it, things go wrong. There is always beans on toast for those days you need it 😉

Please share any other top tips you have.