Category Archives: Kitchen

The Slow Kitchen: Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

Let’s say it’s Thursday night. You’re feeling a little worn out, you’re short on time and food-related creativity but you’re not ready to call for pizza. You still want to prepare a healthy, nutrient-packed dinner that everyone will love but, ugh, can’t someone else do it?

That’s where this super easy baked chicken breast and vege dish comes in. Just like other recipes in The Slow Kitchen series, this weeknight dinner is simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

(Serves 4, Ready in 45min)

You’ll need:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 sweet potato – skin on, roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini – roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms – sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin red kidney beans – rinsed and drained
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • brown rice

Simply:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/420F and put the brown rice on to cook.
  2. Chop the sweet potato, zucchini and mushrooms and spread over the base of a non-stick baking tray (a deep one with a lid is perfect, otherwise use a castiron pan. A regular baking tray or casserole dish is also fine – just make sure you can cover it well with aluminium foil).
  3. Lay the chicken breasts over the top of the vegetables and rub with garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  4. Top the vegetables with the beans and then the tin of tomatoes. Drizzle this with a little extra olive oil.

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

5. Cover the dish and put in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is steamed all the way through. (It should be deliciously tender.)
6. Give the entire contents of the baking tray a good mix, add in the baby spinach and pop back in the oven for another few minutes.
7. Serve over rice, topped with more basil, chilli sauce or the topping of your choice.

Variations/Additions:

Meat-Free?: Leave out the chicken and add in some more veges. You could also up the protein content with some pre-soaked red lentils. (If this is the case, you may want to add a cup of vegetable stock to the mix too, as the lentils will soak up a lot of moisture.)

More Vegetables: This recipe will work with virtually any vegetables you have on hand. Pumpkin, squash, kale, potatoes, carrots – they all cook up beautifully in the tomato base. Just note that you may need to add more crushed tomatoes or a cup of vegetable stock if you up the vege content by a lot.

Vegan: Cut out the chicken, obviously, and you’re good to go.

Gluten-Free: This is a gluten-free dish, happy days!

 

The Slow Kitchen: Roast Tomato and Olive Pasta

This is such an easy, tasty pasta you can easily alter, depending on what’s on offer and who will be eating with you. Feel free to add and remove ingredients to suit.

Just like other recipes in The Slow Kitchen series, this weeknight dinner is simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

Roast Tomato and Olive Pasta - The Slow Kitchen

Roast Tomato and Olive Pasta

(Serves 4, Ready in 30min)

I’ve made this particular recipe up myself, so the measurements are more like guesses. Feel free to adjust as you need/like. (You’d have to try really hard to screw this up!)

You’ll need:

  • fresh tomatoes – a couple of generous handfuls per person (cherry, Roma, truss – it doesn’t matter)
  • crushed garlic
  • half a jar of kalamata olives, drained
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • penne or similar pasta
  • salt and pepper
  • chilli flakes (optional)
  • parmesan cheese to serve

Simply:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/420F.
  2. Cut your tomatoes into chunks, or if you’re using cherry tomatoes, leave whole.
  3. Place into a baking tray and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes. Put your water for the pasta on to boil.
  4. Take the tomatoes out, give them a shake/flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes.
  5. At the same time, put your pasta on.
  6. Heat some olive oil in a large frypan and cook the garlic and chilli for a minute. Add your kalamata olives, roasted tomatoes, torn basil leaves and salt and pepper. Cook for a minute or two.
  7. Drain your pasta and add to the frypan, combining well.
  8. Serve with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

Variations/Additions:

Need Meat?: Add some shredded chicken.

More Vegetables: Use sliced and sauteed zucchini, or sauteed cauliflower florets instead of pasta.

Vegan: You’re good to go as long as you leave out the cheese.

Gluten-Free: Use zucchini pasta or a commercial gluten-free option instead.

 

Does this sound good to you? It’s not quite 10am and I now have a hankering for this dish…

(image via Mallory Dash on Flickr)

The Slow Kitchen: Spinach, Mushrooms and Eggs

Votes are in (thank you for being so enthusiastic about good food!) and a recipe will now appear on the blog each fortnight. The recipes will be:

  • simple
  • quick
  • healthy
  • family-friendly (depending on the kids, of course!)

While the series is called The Slow Kitchen – on account of the simple, good, real food we’re preparing – the recipes featured are focused on healthy, tasty, real food that can be made in 30 minutes or less.

Many of you have asked for vegetarian/vegan options, as well as gluten-free. While I’m none of those things, I do enjoy a lot of vegetarian meals and avoid too much gluten in our diet, so many of the recipes will apply. Not all though, sorry!

The Slow Kitchen - Sauteed Spinach, Mushroom and Eggs

{via Queenie and the Dew on Flickr }

A note on eggs:

We use eggs from our backyard chickens, and the yolk is out of this world. Not everyone is able to access eggs quite so fresh, but I would suggest using the best quality, freshest eggs you can find.

To poach, there are a few methods. The traditional (and delicious) method of poaching in a pan of water is explained here and will provide you with the best tasting eggs. Considering this series of recipes is all about quick and easy, you could also simply use the microwave to poach your eggs. (This is how we do it during the week. The weekends afford a little more time).

This recipe is easy as pie, and a regular on either our breakfast or dinner table. Ben grinned one morning and said, “Just like a cafe, but in our pyjamas,” and I have to agree.

Sauteed Spinach, Mushrooms and Eggs
(Ready in 10 minutes, Serves 2)

You’ll need:

  • 3 cups soft leafy greens, washed (baby spinach is perfect, or you can try silverbeet, chard, English spinach, kale)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • knob of butter
  • 2 cups firm-fleshed mushrooms, sliced
  • eggs (free-range/organic if you can)
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce (optional)

Simply:

  1. Melt the butter over a hot stove. Add the garlic and sautee for a minute.
  2. Add the mushrooms and sautee.
  3. Meanwhile, poach your eggs.
  4. Once the mushrooms begin to soften, add your spinach and stir until it begins to wilt.
  5. Plate up the veges, add your eggs to the top and season with a little salt and pepper.
  6. Add a dash of chilli sauce.

Variations/Additions:

More Vegetables: Add cauliflower and broccoli to the mushrooms if you want to add more nutrient-rich veges to the mix.

Need Meat?: Add some bacon or smoked salmon.

Vegan: Substitute egg for tofu scramble.

 

I know it’s not a ground-breaking recipe, but this is such a great way to start or finish the day. You get the benefit of eggs (one of the best whole foods around) and a nutrient boost from the leafy greens. Plus it tastes good and is ready in less time than it takes to order a pizza!

What Jamie Oliver Taught Me About Caring (And Food)

On Sunday, Ben and I were lucky enough to watch Jamie Oliver give a Ministry of Food talk in Sydney. I’m not much of a cooking-show kinda gal and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Not only did I enjoy Jamie’s infectious passion for good, simple food, but also his determination to help change the health of the world – one person, one meal, one choice and one day at a time. This idea of baby steps is something I can really get behind.

And not only did he inspire us to think a little more out of the box when it comes to the meals we cook, but he also reminded me that each of us can affect change in the world. Every single one of us.

When faced with a massive global issue – think famine, spiralling debt, the health crisis crippling many countries – it’s human nature to say, “But what can I do? I’m just one person.” What I realised on Sunday is that being just one person is enough. Helping one other person in one small way is helping to change the world. Step by step.

It really is up to everyone to turn around the poor health epidemic, the debt crisis, famine, child-labour. It’s not enough to look at our own tiny corner of the world, be pleased with ourselves, our health, our home, our food, and say, “Well, I’ve done my part.” We all need to help.

We all need to care just that little bit more.

When I first started blogging on a different website, I posted simple, healthy, family-friendly recipes once every fortnight. Things like vegetable quesadillas and salmon fritters. Things you can cook up with a toddler twisted around your legs and a baby in the rocker beside you. (This testimonial comes from personal experience.)

Is this something that interests you? Are you on the lookout for easy, simple, healthy, inexpensive weekday meals? Or does the rise of Pinterest and a million food blogs mean you’re now spoilt for choice?

Let me know. And if your answer is definitively the latter, I promise to never mention food blogging again!

5 Surefire Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

5 Surefire Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

{ via aesthetics of joy }

 

If you love clutter, if you enjoy feeling overwhelmed, and if your favourite way of dealing with stuff is to pile it up randomly all over your house, then this post is going to be incredibly helpful to you.

I’ve got the five best, never-fail techniques to help you create a cluttered home – and keep it that way.

(If, by chance, you actually enjoy having an uncluttered home that’s easy to live in, feel free to do the exact opposite. You know, if that’s your thing.)

 

The Five Ways to Create a Cluttered Home

1. Never leave a room better than you found it.

Pay no attention to the toys on the floor, leave the clean clothes unhung and let the coffee cups sit on the bench. As you exit a room, studiously ignore anything out of place, and do not, under any circumstances, pick those items up and return them to their rightful position.

2. Never finish what you start.

This is my personal favourite, and already exists as part of life for those of us living with young children.

No kids? Don’t let that stop you!

Simply start a task, project or activity and stop before you’re done. You may want to succumb to distraction, laziness or procrastination – these are the best ways to avoid finishing anything, and therefore adding to the clutter further.

3. Do not ever tidy up as you go.

Don’t pack the dishwasher as you finish breakfast. Do not pick up the previous game before the next one is pulled out. Don’t file your papers as they’ve been actioned. And most definitely do not, ever, put the clean laundry back in the wardrobe once it’s folded.

In addition, I highly recommend leaving things out long after you’ve finished using them.

That toaster sitting on the kitchen bench? The glass you just drank from? The notepad you just wrote in? The shopping you just brought home? Sure, it might take mere seconds to pack away, but that’s time you could spend making another pile.

This way, you will amass many unnecessary stacks of things in a very short period of time. It’s the perfect way to add clutter to your home with no effort whatsoever!

4. Ignore the clutter creep.

Don’t listen to the frustrations or annoyances that crop up when looking around your home. Ignore the little voice nagging at you. And certainly don’t take any action.

Do not move through your home and pick up everything that is out of place. Do not sort it out. Do not put it back in its rightful place. Simply let the clutter slowly increase, and gradually take over your home.

5. Employ the Shove and Hide Method.

If, in a moment of weakness, you decide you have had enough of the clutter (or your in-laws decide to visit) you must employ the excellent Shove and Hide Method of tidying.

Do not waste your time putting things back in their rightful position. Instead, scoop up an armful of clutter and shove it in a random cupboard. Repeat this process for any piles you find, ensuring the cupboard is nice and full when you’re finished. This means not only are your cupboards now cluttered with random mess, but when you find yourself looking for something, the contents of said cupboards will be spread around the house. It’s a win-win for clutter!

 

OK, OK, I’m taking my tongue out of my cheek now to say this: I am not trying to make you feel bad. I am as guilty of every one of these things as anyone. I procrastinate, I shove, I ignore the mess and don’t finish what I begin. Part of that is life, but the other part is a lack of awareness.

I figure if we can put a name to the behaviour, if we can see the consequences laid out before us, we are far more likely to actually pay attention and make the necessary changes.

Pay attention for long enough and these changes will become habit. And habits? They become our normal.

 

 

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