Baked meatballs and Tomato sauce.

Another easy and relatively healthy mid-week meal. This recipe pretty much looks like you would expect, the main difference being thathe meatballs are baked in the oven rather than being browned in a frying pan. While some flavour may be lost due to the lack of browning of the meat, this meal is still a winner, and you loose a few cals by not frying. It also means less mess for me, and less chance of being burnt by spitting oil. While the balls are in the oven and the sauce is cooking it also means that I can watch come dine with me/tidy/relax after work. I like to add courgette and spinach to the tomato sauce, not only is it hidden vegetables (kids-fussy other halves) it also can help to bulk the sauce out if you only want to use half of the meat for example Cooking is about compromises, especially in the week.

As with most of my recipes this will easily serve 4- 2 good sized portions for dinner, and 2 smaller sized portions for lunch the next day.

 

 

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Grater
  • Mixing bowl
  • Saucepan
  • Baking tray/dish
  • Wooden spoon

Ingredients tomato sauce

  • 2 teaspoons of oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • 20g freshly grated parmesan (more if to be used as a garnish)
  • Corgette (optional)
  • Spinach (optional)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves

Ingredients Baked meatballs

  • 125g lean pork mince
  • 125g lean beef mince
  • 1 onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Method tomato sauce

  • Finely dice the onion, carrot and celery.
  • Soften the vegetables in the 2 teaspoons of oil slowly. Add a small pinch of salt to help soften the vegetables without too much browning
  • Finely chop the garlic
  • Once softened (10 minutes) add the tablespoon of tomato puree and the 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Cook for 3 minutes to remove the rawness
  • Add in the dried herbs and chilli flakes
  • Tip In the 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • If you like, at this stage you can also add a couple of dashes of Worcester sauce, and a teaspoon or two of balsamic vinegar.
  • Stir through 20g of grated parmesan
  • Season to taste, tomatoes can be acidic, so if you need to don’t be scared to add some brown sugar, a teaspoon at a time, tasting inbetween (or if you are classy like me, chuck in a few sugar cubes!)
  • Leave to simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • If you want to add the courgette to help bulk out the sauce add it diced fairly small with around 20 minutes cooking time left.
  • Crack on with the meatballs!

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Method- meatballs

  • Grate onion and add all of pulp and any liquid to a mixing bowl
  • Add the pork and beef mince to the onion mix
  • Season with 1tsp of salt and 2 tsps pepper
  • Mix well with hands until combined
  • Shape in to small balls-roughly 8-16 depending on how you want them.
  • Place on to a baking sheet, and cook at 200oC-gas mark 6 for between 20-40 minutes depending on size. Cut one open to check it is cooked through before removing from the oven.

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Method Serving

If you are going to serve these with pasta, or cous cous, have this ready for 10 minutes after the meatballs come out of the oven.

  • Chop the fresh basil and stir through the tomato sauce
  • Add the cooked meatballs to the tomato sauce and stir gently to not break the balls.
  • Cook in the sauce for between 5-10 minutes.
  • If adding the spinach add it with 5 minutes cooking time left (I like to roughly chop the leaves before I add them, but by all means leave them whole).
  • Serve the meatballs and sauce with pasta, or cous cous, or with roasted veg.
  • Top with some freshly grated parmesan and a sprig of basil.

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Lemon, garlic and herb chicken with roasted vegetable and feta cous cous.

This meal takes around 45 minutes to prep and cook. I love it mid week as it all goes in the oven at the same temperature, and cous cous is so quick and easy. The methods have been laid out in real time as I make the dish. You will notice that I don’t use any oil in either the chicken or the vegetables, I am trying to reduce the amount that I use. If you want to add oil to the vegetables feel free, the chicken cooks in the liquid from the lemon so really doesn’t need it.

The amount of cous cous I have stated below will make enough for 4 portions. I usually cook for 2 in the evening, so by cooking 2 extra chicken breasts you will have enough for lunch the next day! Hope you enjoy.

Equipment

  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Glass dish
  • Mixing bowl
  • Metal spoon
  • Baking tray

Ingredients –Chicken

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Ingredients- cous cous

  • 200g dried cous cous
  • 1teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • Half of a vegetable stock cube
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Vegetables to roast-your choice, I went with
    • 2 courgette
    • 1 red pepper
    • 1 orange pepper
    • 1 red onion
    • 3 large tomatoes diced
    • 100g diced feta cheese.

Method Chicken

  • Combine the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 2 lemons in a glass dish along with all of the herbs, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  • Flatten the chicken breasts slightly with a rolling pin (or if you are like me, with a clean wine bottle!)
  • Place the chicken breasts in the juice, herb and garlic mixture, making sure to cover well.
  • Leave to one side.

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Method roasted vegetables

  • Preheat the oven to 200oC-Gas mark 6
  • Chop the vegetables in to small chunks-you want to be able to eat with a fork, so minimal cutting post cook!
  • Put all of the vegetables-apart from the tomatoes in to a baking tray along with the salt and pepper (cooking the tomatoes for 30 minutes will cause them to turn to mush)
  • Put on a high tray in the oven for 30 minutes, turning the vegetables after 15 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes of cooking, remove from the oven and add the diced tomatoes (this way they retain flavour and texture)
  • Leave to cool while you cook the cous cous-you don’t want to add the piping hot vegetables to the cous cous, you just want them to be warm.

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Method chicken.

  • When you turn the veg after their first 15 minutes in the oven put the chicken in on a middle shelf
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes

Method Cous cous

  • Once the vegetables have been removed from the oven, combine the dried cous cous with all of the spices, stock, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
  • Cover with 400ml boiling water from the kettle.
  • Cover the bowl in cling film and leave for 5 minutes to cook
  • Once cooked stir through the slightly cooled roasted veg.

Method serving

  • Place the roasted vegetable cous cous on a plate and scatter the diced feta on top
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and serve 1 chicken breast per portion
  • Use the cooking juices to keep the chicken moist, and if you like to dress the cous cous with a lemony zing.
  • Optionally serve a mixed leaf salad on the side

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Enjoy!

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My minds back garden

croatia 033I live on a housing estate in the south of England, my house backs on to a small green, that is mainly used by old ladies as a place for their dogs to relieve themselves on. My mind backs on to this.

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