Moussaka without Eggplant?

Apparently you can still call it Moussaka. It’s a good word to say. Moussaka. Moussaka. Moussaka.

This week’s meal plan has gone out the window a bit. Legoman came down with some tummy bug which left him with no appetite for multiple days, plus we had a friend make us some lasagne… so I haven’t been cooking a huge amount this week, but the freezer has a little breathing spacenow.

Tonight I did get to try out one of my intended meals though. Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka. I think it was the lamb and feta that made it a moussaka, otherwise it didn’t really resemble the dish at all (in my opinion). Well whatever it was, it was easy and yummy. And Possum thoroughly enjoyed it. It is becoming more and more apparent that my daughter won’t eat just plain vegetables. They need to be in something. Unless it’s roast sweet potato, then she will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So this was a good meal to get her veggie count up for the week.

I love the internet! No need for me to write out recipes, even this one which I found in a book from the library! So here is the recipe!

The book I found the recipe in is called “One Pot Wonders“. A year ago I would’ve walked straight past this book, and straight past the other three books I borrowed along similar lines (“What’s for dinner?“, “Three Good Things” and “Everybody Everyday“). My how times have changed. It’s not so tempting anymore to borrow the amazing niche recipe books that seem to pop up every week. Even my taste in food magazines has taken a massive shift. As I was unpacking my cookbooks and food magazines this week (they had been in storage), I wondered when I would need to cook anything from my lovely collection of Gourmet Traveller magazines… one day.

My Friends!

My Friends!

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Affordability : MODERATE. Used lamb leg steaks (zhoojed in the food processor) instead of lamb mince. Better flavour and texture but about twice the price. Veggies are cheap filler though. I’d stretch it further and serve with rice and maybe some steamed greens on the side.

Time Factor : MODERATE. Prep is quick and easy but takes about 15 minutes on the stove top and then an hour in the oven. And the carrots were still pretty firm after all that!

Complexity : LOW. Straight forward one dish meal. I always find it a bit more difficult the first time I use a new recipe though.

Deliciousness : MODERATE. Was yummy and belly filling. Possum loved it, hurray!

Mess : MINIMAL. One pot wonder! The book didn’t lie!

Tummy Filling Factor : MODERATE. I would’ve liked some carbs of some kind with it.

Possum Friendly? YES. She loved it! Preference for the lamb, then the zucchini, then the carrot. Was a bit crazy messy though as the yoghurt sauce top disintegrated all over her high chair.

Would I make it again? Yes, but I would add some eggplant 😉

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

Lamb, Carrot and Zucchini Moussaka

And a little extra… After realising I buy a whole heap of stuff that I really don’t need, I am trying to make a conscious effort to cut down on crap in my life. So today, I happily unsubscribed to a whole heap of emails that keep telling me to buy things, that unless I opened the email, I wouldn’t even know about! And then this image popped up in my Facebook feed, very timely indeed. I am going to print it out to stick on the fridge as a reminder that there are many other ways of meeting needs. I hope it sparks a thought in your mind as well.

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A change is as good as a holiday

Chicken salad was swapped to Apricot Chicken tonight. A good decision. What a wonderful day of steady rain. We have corrugated perspex outside and the sound of the rain on it is just lovely. Possum and I had a fun day together at swimming, plus she is mobile enough now to follow me (very slowly) when I go to another room. This new found mobility (in the form of a semi commando crawl) also means she sees me at the stove and wants to hang out at my feet. Not so great when you’re browning off chicken legs and there’s hot fat spitting everywhere. Thankfully tonight’s dinner was a slow and steady concoction which allowed play time, reading the same book 10 times in a row, singing songs, and cuddles in between chopping 6 onions (yuck!), slicing and deseeding 4 chillies and handling raw chicken. Needless to say I have washed my hands more times today than I would working in an intensive care unit.

Apricot Chicken

Apricot Chicken

Affordability : EXCELLENT. Feed meat to 5 people for $10? Done! Thankfully apricots were on special this week, which I why I did the old swaperoo with the chicken salad.
Time Factor : LOW. Probably quicker if you don’t have a 9 month old baby/shadow. I reckon you could make this a “chuck it all in the one pot in the oven” wonder though. I always drastically under estimate the length of time it takes to brown meat and soften onions.
Complexity : LOW. Not much more to say on this one.
Deliciousness : EXCELLENT. This was delicious!! I am a big fan of the meat and fruit combo though (think Persian). Tweaked the original recipe a little, they said to take out the meat, olives and apricots to thicken the sauce. I thought “but that’s all the best bits!”, so only took out some of the apricots and let the rest turn to jammy mush. Win.
Mess : MODERATE. One pot. Lots of onions, lots of chilli seeds, lots of oil splatter.
Tummy Filling Factor : EXCELLENT. After having “lighter” meals the past few nights this was a nice hit of protein and carbs. Very full!
Possum Friendly? MODERATE. I would be happy to peel the meat off the bones for her to try. But no good veg options tonight.

Would I make it again? Yes, but would try just throwing it all in the pot together.

Possum ate way more curry and salmon than i expected today. Must remember to err on the side of ravenous…

Apricot Chicken Serves 6 (from Cuisine Magazine January 2014 pg 54)

12 chicken drumsticks (I used 10)

1 tsp ground cumin

3 Tablespoons olive oil

6 onions sliced

6 mild red chillies, deseeded, sliced (I used 4)

3 stalk of oregano

1/2 teaspoon of salt (does anyone actually measure??)

9 apricots, halved, stones removed (I used 10)

100g pitted green olives (guesstimated)

2 cups chicken stock

  • Heat a large, heavy-based pan over medium heat and brown the chicken pieces. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in the same pan then add the onions, chillies, oregano, cumin and salt. Turn the heat down to low, cover and fry gently for 5 mintues, then uncovered and continue frying, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes or until very soft.
  • Nestle the chicken, apricots and olives into the onion mixture then pour in the stock. Bring to a simmer, cover and gently simmer for 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  • At this point, remove the chicken, apricots and olives and keep warm in a low oven then bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to thicken. Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken and remove the oregano stalks before serving.