Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs

Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs

On top of spaghetti. All covered with cheese. I lost my poor meatball. When somebody sneezed.

I will give you $5 if you didn’t just sing that in your head! Everyone loves spaghetti and meatballs! With the weather we’ve had today it was the perfect bowl of comfort our bellies were looking for. And this cheats version means no time wasted in making the meatballs.

cheats spaghetti and meatballs

This Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs is a great way to squeeze some veg into a dinner that your whole family will eat. It’s a tasty combination of eggplant, sweet capsicum and yummy zucchini. The meatballs are made using simple sausages! Genius! All you do is squeeze the meat out of the casings straight into the pan to make little meatballs. Takes a moment compared to making your own. I used a $4 packet of sausages from Aldi (I’m totally converted!). Too easy! My secret ingredient is just a little pinch of cinnamon to add a lovely sweetness without any added sugar.

Possum loved her dinner and so did Legoman. Dinner success! This might be one that ends up on your meal plan for next week? Or even on your family favourites list?

cheats spaghetti and meatballs

Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs – Serves 4

400g spaghetti

6-8 sausages (I have made this with beef sausages and with pork, both are delicious)

1 onion diced

1 medium eggplant diced into small cubes

1 red capsicum diced

1 zucchini diced

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 Tbsp tomato paste

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp cinnamon

salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley to serve

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil, ready for the pasta.

2. In a large skillet/frying pan add the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until starting to colour. Add eggplant and cook stirring for 5-10 minutes until starting to soften. You may need to add an extra glug of oil.

3. Squeeze the meat out of the sausages into the pan to make little meatballs. Continue stirring to brown the meatballs.

4. When meatballs have browned, add in the remaining vegetables and garlic. Cook for a few minutes.

5. Add in your tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried oregano, cinnamon and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Continue to cook over low-medium heat for 20 minutes. Sauce should thicken and meatballs should be cooked through.

6. Cook pasta as per packet directions.

7. Serve with parmesan and fresh parsley. A lovely glass of red wine would go down a treat (this pregnant mumma has to wait a while longer for that!)

I hope your whole family can sit down together, enjoy your Cheats Spaghetti and Meatballs and enjoy each others company.

cheats spaghetti and meatballs

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Pina Colada Muffins

Pina Colada Muffins

Ahhhh sweet summer nights, sipping Pina Colada’s on a beach front somewhere wonderful… all just a dream for this heavily pregnant mother of a toddler! Doesn’t mean I can’t bake some super tasty muffins! Because cocktails and muffins totally compare. Excuse me while I go sob in the corner for a moment…. Rightio! Back again! This pregnant mumma is also living in the icy start of winter, where our pipes are already starting to freeze in the mornings and our windscreens need to be scraped of ice before driving anywhere. So sure, why not tropicana on your tastebuds! Liven things up!

These Pina Colada Muffins are a delicious combination of some of my favourite things.

Coconut, lots of coconut.

Pineapple. Mmmmmmmm

Lime. Sweet, sweet (or sour) lime.

Pina Colada Muffins

Plus a few other healthy yummos like chia seeds, yoghurt and banana to make these Pina Colada Muffins totally guilt free. They are both egg free and nut free making them perfect for school lunches and toddler afternoon teas. And with only 2 Tbsp of coconut sugar added you can confidently even give these as a little baby led weaning treat too!

Legoman’s verdict… “They’re sweet. They’re good.”

Possum’s verdict… “Deliiiccccciiiiioooooooooouuuusssss. I want more muffin!”

Pina Colada Muffins

I have really wonderful memories of sipping Pina Colada’s on Tonsai Beach in Thailand, with the freshest of fresh coconut and pineapple in them. Swinging in a hammock. Watching the lightning flash across the ocean. Off I go day dreaming again…

These Pina Colada Muffins are quite a moist mix so when baking make sure to give them a little skewer test to check if they are done. I had to keep putting them back in the first round, I think I was a bit too excited to try them!

Pina Colada Muffins – Makes ~16 mini muffins

225g tin pineapple pieces in natural juice

2 Tbsp chia seeds

1 cup SR flour

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 tsp baking powder

270ml tin coconut cream (I use Ayam brand as it’s 100% pure coconut, not watered down or thickened)

2 bananas, mashed

2 Tbsp coconut sugar

2/3 cup full fat plain yoghurt

2 Tbsp coconut oil melted

Zest of 1 lime

1. Strain off the juice from the pineapple into a medium bowl. Add the chia seeds to the juice and let soak for 15 mintues

2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C and grease a mini muffin pan.

3. Combine desiccated coconut, SR flour, baking powder, coconut sugar and lime zest in a large mixing bowl.

4. Mash bananas and stir through pineapple pieces.

5. Whisk together coconut cream and the chia seed mixture.

6. Combine chia/coconut mix, pineapple/banana mix, dry mix and yoghurt.

7. Spoon into muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, check with a skewer that they are cooked right through as this is quite a moist mixture.

Pina Colada Muffins

I had to add in this photo of the pineapple pieces. The sunshine through the bowl was making such beautiful patterns. And that photo of the whisk is actually a colour photo, looks black and white. Pretty groovy 🙂 I hope these Pina Colada Muffins add some tropical sunshine to your day! Enjoy!

Pina Colada Muffins

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Easy Chicken Alphabet Soup

Easy Chicken Alphabet Soup

Do you remember having alphabet soup as a kid?? When I saw these alphabet pasta shapes at our local ALDI I just had to buy some! More for me than anyone else. Possum has been really getting into the alphabet lately and can even sing the whole alphabet song (proud beaming mumma over here! hello!). I thought this would be a fun way for her to play, learn and enjoy delicious homemade chicken alphabet soup. Possum makes soup at most meals. This involves putting a bit of everything into her cup of water, stirring it and then drinking it……… delicious……

This Easy Chicken Alphabet Soup is the perfect way to use up leftover roast chicken. A nice bonus when you’re using meal planning is this 2 for 1 kind of cooking! Less fuss, less stress and less cost. Bingo!

And yes I did have just a bit of fun picking out the letters to spell “alphabet” for my nice pic up the top 🙂 You likey? I used a Lego keyring (guess who owns that one!) as my lighting. So fancy! So professional!

Alphabet Noodles

As a little side story, it’s funny how sometimes the universe knows things way before you do. I cooked this soup on Saturday night. I did the grocery shopping during Saturday day, I normally do it Monday. I also strangely had the house pretty darn clean and organised by the time I went to bed that night. Plus Possum hadn’t had any Mummy Milk for 3 days… That night I was rushed to hospital with bleeding. I am 30 weeks pregnant and have placenta praevia. Legoman was out bush and out of phone reception. Not a fun situation.

To cut a long story short, I am now home again after a couple of nights in hospital. Both baby and I are absolutely fine. I was joking that had the hospital had a kitchen, a DSLR and wifi I could’ve happily blogged whilst there! Instead I used up all my data on my phone reading everyone else’s blogs (I found a few new ones here and here)!

Easy Chicken Noodles Soup cooking

Easy Chicken Alphabet Noodle Soup – Serves 4

For the broth:

Leftover Roast Chicken (I had nearly half a chicken left), skin and bones included

3 carrots very roughly chopped

1 onion peeled and quartered

2 bay leaves

10 peppercorns

a pinch of salt

1/2 red capsicum very roughly chopped

5 cups of water

large handful fresh parsley

For the remainder of the soup

1/2 cup of alphabet soup noodles

2 carrots sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

1. Place all ingredients for the broth into a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 10-11 hours. Or do as I did and start it on high for a few hours while you go do the grocery shopping then turn in to low until close to dinner time.

2. After cooking the broth, strain it through a pasta strainer. Strip chicken carcass of as much meat as you can. I still had nearly half a chicken on my leftovers so this was quite a meaty soup.

3. Add the strained broth and chicken meat to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add your sliced carrots. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Then add your alphabet pasta and broccoli. Cook for 5 minutes.

4. Then serve! It’s really that crazy simple!!

If you don’t have a slow cooker you can easily make the broth by sitting all the ingredients in a large saucepan on very low heat on the stove top. You could reduce the cooking time this way too.

I could’ve tried to style this soup, but really it’s such a kiddie classic and nostalgic wonder, I just had to put a picture of Possum’s cute little pink bowl and teaspoon instead. I hope your family enjoys this Easy Chicken Noodle Soup!

Toddler Serve of Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

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Roast Chicken with Garlic, Sage and Thyme

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Sage and Thyme

Everybody loves a good homemade roast chicken! Well maybe the vegans and vegetarians don’t… but everyone else loves a homemade roast chicken! I love the simplicity, ease and minimal cost that comes with such a delicious and soul satisfying meal. I also love that my whole family enjoys sitting down and sharing a lovely roast chicken. It makes an ideal toddler dinner and is wonderful for baby led weaning too.

My Roast Chicken with Garlic, Sage and Thyme was just what the doctor ordered today after a day at work, a toddler who hadn’t slept, plus minimal supplies in the fridge and pantry. Hello trusty garlic and home grown herbs! A few minutes chopping and prepping and you will have a wonderful meal in the oven. You can then spend the next hour that it’s cooking catching your breath, enjoying a hot cup of tea (put Play School on, seriously) or getting some odd jobs done (that cup of tea is looking mighty fine).

Roast Chicken Possum

The wonderful thing with Roast Chicken is that the story doesn’t end at that first meal. Leftovers can be used to make:

  • freezable sandwiches for work and school lunches. Simply put chicken and mayonnaise on a sandwich, wrap in Cling Wrap then freeze. On the day you want one, take it out and let thaw in your bag. By lunch it will be perfect!
  • healthy and delicious homemade chicken stock
  • kid friendly Chicken Noodle Soup

Roast Chicken with Garlic, Sage and Thyme – serves 4

1 1-1.5kg chicken (preferable free range or organic)

3-10 cloves of garlic, peeled (depending on how much you love it!)

5 fresh sage leaves finely chopped

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

salt and pepper

extra virgin olive oil

1 leek (secret ingredient!), sliced and rinsed

3 medium potatoes, washed, cut into wedges

1 medium sweet potato, washed, cut into chunks or wedges

1. Preheat oven to 200°C.

2. Slice your leek and rinse in a colander under running water. This is very important as the many layers of a leek hide a lot of dirt and grit. Place sliced leek in a large roasting pan.

3. Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Place chicken on top of the sliced leek.

4. Place desired number of garlic cloves in the cavity and you can also pierce the flesh and push the bulbs into the chicken itself. I also like to cut one clove in half and rub it over the skin.

5. Place your chopped vegetables around the chicken.

6. Drizzle both chicken and vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place herbs over the top of the chicken.

7. Place roasting pan in the oven to roast for 25 minutes per 500g of chicken. I had a 1.4kg chicken and roasting for 1h 15 minutes.

8. Now for the hot tip… When you take the chicken out of the oven, place it upside down either in the pan or on a plate to rest, covered in foil. This allows all the lovely juices to run back into the chicken breasts and keep them lovely and moist. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving up.

Serve your delicious Roast Chicken with Garlic, Sage and Thyme with the roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and some steamed vegetables (Possum loves her carrots and broccoli). Nom nom nom.

roast chicken

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Easy Toddler Craft – Put old food magazines to good use

Easy Toddler Craft - Put old food magazines to good use

Hi my name is Ruth and I’m addicted to cookbooks and food magazines. If I had my way, I know of at least 4 food magazines I would subscribe to PLUS there is my want list of cookbooks. This easy toddler craft activity came about as I have recently started to run out of room for all the cookbooks and food magazines I actually do have (plus our little family has been trying to get rid of stuff). This put me in the unpleasant position of sitting down and having a bit of an honest and upfront chat with some of my dear old friends.

I had foodie mags on my bookcase from 10 years ago. 10 years. I don’t think I have any clothes I still wear from 10 years ago! And like clothes, food fashion has changed a lot. As I sat there flicking through, it became very clear and obvious there was no way I was going to cook anything out of most of these treasured tomes. The one recipe I pulled out was for bread. Yes, simple old bread. The little black dress of food.

So how did we get from saying good bye to these old food magazines to spending some quality time with my now 2 year old? The conversation went a little bit like this…

Possum: Mummy, I want to do some craft.

Me: Sure sweetheart, what craft would you like to do?

Possum: Black craft.

Me: Okay… how about some cutting and pasting instead?

And so this is what we did.

equipment

You will need:

  • old food magazines that you have said your final goodbyes to (look how young Jamie Oliver looks on that cover!)
  • Scissors (we haven’t reached scissor skills yet so these were just for Mummy to use)
  • Glue stick
  • A scrapbook or old notebook for pasting into

Possum and I sat down at her craft table with the food magazine, scissors, glue and notebook. I asked her to point to and tell me what pictures she wanted me to cut out. It was then her job to paste them into the book where ever she wanted. If your child was a bit older, they could have the job of cutting and you could ask them to find a picture of someone smiling, someone cooking, a tomato, a car etc. This activity is great for:

  • Spending one on one time with your little person
  • Developing language skills. Get them to talk to you about the pictures. For example “You want me to cut out the picture of the man? What’s the man doing? Oh you think he’s cooking? What do you think he is cooking?”
  • Developing fine motor skills. There’s pointing, cutting with scissors, using a glue stick, turning and orientating the picture, placing the picture. All wonderful things for little hands to practice.
  • Developing spatial awareness. How many pictures fit on the page? Where do you want that picture to go? Is that picture too big for the page? I was amazed to see how carefully Possum wanted to stick her pictures. There was absolutely overlap and bits hanging out of the book, but everything had it’s place. Really wonderful to watch.
  • Developing a love and interest in real food! “What’s in that picture? You think it’s chicken? Do you like chicken? What vegetables are there? What colours are they? Maybe we can buy some … next time we are shopping?”

Possum and I sat down and cut and pasted for about 30 minutes before she had had enough. And we both had a really lovely time together. And since then she now asks for cutting and pasting (instead of black craft!).

So instead of putting those old food magazines into the recycling, how about you sit down and share some time with your toddler for this easy toddler craft. Put those old food magazines to good use!

Easy toddler craft

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Delicious and Easy Chicken Schnitzel

Easy and Delicious Chicken Schnitzel

Once you’ve written Chicken Schnitzel a few times it starts to look super ridiculous! Chicken Schnitzel. Chicken Schnitzel. Chicken Schnitzel. Teehee. Anyway! This delicious and easy, very easy, chicken schnitzel was a way to use up the last bit of Buttermilk in the fridge after making Possum’s Birthday Cake and also these delicious Pumpkin Buttermilk Scones. Every meal planners dream! No food waste!

The weather in the mountains yesterday was cold and misty, perfect for a belly warming schnitzel teamed with creamy (and I mean creamy, I used pure cream and butter) mashed potato, roast pumpkin and steamed vegetables. Nom nom nom nom.

This version of Chicken Schnitzel is also egg free, so allergy friendly. Hurray! If you can’t do gluten you can substitute the bread crumbs for rice crumbs or gluten free bread crumbs. Rice crumbs actually turns out super crunchy.

This would be a great meal to make if you had a bit of mummy anger going on after a rough day as you get to bash the chicken with something heavy. Just watch your knuckles! I learnt the hard way.

This is a lovely meal for the whole family to enjoy with enough variety on the plate to ensure something for everyone.

I was thinking this would be a big hit with Possum as she loves chicken. But by the end of dinner she had eaten all her vegetables and wanted more vegetables but had hardly touched her chicken or mash. Clearly what her body wanted. Poor old mummy got to gobble up her serve of chicken schnitzel after Possum was asleep. Yes, I am a human seagull.

Can I just say, as delicious as Chicken Schnitzel is, it ain’t very photogenic. But the photo below shows you my secret weapon to a good Chicken Schnitzel. My marble rolling pin. This also doubles as my home security system. This baby has some serious weight to it and flattens out a chicken breast in minimal time and effort. Possum was also using it to practice her weight lifting skills (with my very nervous supervision).

Chicken Schnitzel Secret Weapon

Delicious and Easy Chicken Schnitzel – Serves 2 adults and 2 kidlets

2 chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthways (to make them a bit flatter)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (amp this up if you like a bit more of a kick to your schnit)

salt and pepper

1-2 cups of breadcrumbs

Olive oil for frying

After you have sliced your chicken breasts lengthways, lay down a large piece of baking paper, place 1-2 chicken pieces on the paper, then cover with another equal sized piece of baking paper. Use something heavy to hit the chicken (thanks to my marble rolling pin I don’t have to hit very hard) until the chicken is 5-10mm thick. Set aside flattened chicken and repeat with remaining pieces.

In a bowl mix together buttermilk, mustard and salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Allow to soak for 30 minutes. Then, using tongs, remove each piece and coat in bread crumbs. To make this easier I place the crumbs on a dinner plate, starting with ~1 cup, and add more if needed (another little kitchen hack is to place crumbs and chicken in a plastic bag and shake to coat). Place crumbed pieces on a clean plate ready to cook.

Meanwhile get your vegetables sorted. I roasted pumpkin pieces in the oven at 180°C in some olive oil, boiled some potatoes (ready for mashing) and steamed some broccoli, beans and carrots.

When you’re ready, heat oil over medium heat in a non stick pan, preferably cast iron (I love my cast iron pans). There should be about 2mm of oil in the whole base of the pan.

Place 1-2 chicken pieces in the hot oil. Cook for a few minutes each side until beautiful and golden. Place cooked pieces on paper towel. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Serve with all your delicious veg and enjoy!

Easy and Delicious Chicken Schnitzel 2

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Carob Almond Poppy Biscuits

Carob Almond Poppy Biscuits

Last night Legoman and I tackled the totally un-fun task of clearing out one of our food cupboards. This meant pulling everything out of the cupboard, checking used by dates and ingredients, and then either throwing out, giving away or putting it back in the cupboard. We hadn’t really done that since Possum was diagnosed with her allergies. Or since I started meal planning. And coming from a long line of hoarders, turns out we could have survived some kind of apocalyptic event just on the amount of almond meal I have stashed away….

So these delicious Carob Almond Poppy Biscuits were a result of all the wonderful things I rediscovered hiding in my cupboard! I found Carob Powder left over from doing the elimination diet with Possum, almond meal (lots of almond meal), poppy seeds and an awful lot of self raising flour.

carob biscuit 1

Quite often when you mention carob people screw their faces up and remember the waxy little carob buds sold at school canteen’s across Australia in the 80s and 90s. But I have found the most delicious Australian made carob and it’s an absolute winner! I’m not paid to say how tasty it is (they don’t even know I exist!), but The Carob Kitchen’s carob products are to die for. Especially their Carob Almond Bar and their little Banjo Bars (which I often scoff after doing the grocery shopping!).Why carob? It’s gluten free, caffeine free (hello pregnancy and breastfeeding!) plus their bars have no added sugar or sweeteners as the carob is sweet enough. Winner!

carob biscuit 2

I love the texture the Poppy Seeds add to these Carob Almond Poppy Biscuits. Little bursts of POP when you bite in. Yum! The little bit of cinnamon adds just a hint of spice and the combo of almond and butter gives them a certain richness.

So go clear out your cupboards! Who knows what you might find in there!

carob biscuit 3

Carob Almond Poppy Biscuits – Makes 16

1 cup self raising flour

1/2 cup almond meal

1/3 cup carob powder (The Carob Kitchen if you can get some)

6 tsp poppy seeds (I couldn’t find my Tbsp!)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

125g butter melted

1 tsp No Egg mixed into 2 Tbsp water or I egg whisked

1/4 cup raw sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1/3 cup maple syrup

Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 220°C conventional/200°C fan forced. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Mix together flour, carob, almond, poppy seeds, cinnamon, and raw sugar.

Meanwhile mix together your No Egg or whisk your egg.

Melt the butter over a low heat then add the vanilla and maple syrup. Swish to combine.

Make a well in centre on mixing bowl. First add your No Egg mix or egg, then add your melted butter mix. Stir until just combined.

Spoon mix onto baking tray. Bake in oven for 13 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before gobbling them all up!

carob biscuit 5

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