Nadiya’s Chicken and Rice Traybake

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We are big fans of Nadiya Hussain in our house.  When my boys spotted this Chicken and Rice Traybake on her show we decided to try it the next week.  It really was as simple and comforting as we had hoped!   First you briefly bake onions and garlic in a casserole dish, then mix in rice, lay on some chicken drumsticks and pour over stock.  Later add peas.  The oven gently cooks everything through, and the rice goes temptingly crispy at the edges.

Freddy (my oldest) helped rub the chicken with some oil and onion powder for extra flavour, followed by a very thorough washing of his hands.  Robin (my youngest) helped stir in the rice and pour over the stock.

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Then they tucked in!  We all loved it, including Freddy.  Don’t let his face deceive you – he just refuses to smile for photos…

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Here is my simplified version of the recipe.  For an alternative meal you could try different vegetables, and perhaps fish instead of the chicken.  Allow about 10 mins prep plus 1 hour cooking : )

Chicken and Rice Traybake (serves 3-4)

Oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed/chopped fine

160g basmati rice

400ml vegetable or chicken stock

150g frozen peas

For the chicken 

4-6 chicken drumsticks

1 tbsp oil e.g. vegetable oil/olive oil

1 tsp onion powder

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Lightly grease a large roasting tray and put in the onion and garlic. Drizzle over some oil and give the onions a stir. Bake for 10 minutes, making sure they don’t begin to burn.

Meanwhile, for the chicken, mix 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tbsp oil in a bowl. Rub the oil mixture all over the drumsticks (and make sure you thoroughly wash your hands afterwards!)

Take the onions out of the oven and add the rice. Stir well, then put the drumsticks on top. Pour in the stock. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven, lift the chicken drumsticks on to a side plate, then add the peas to the rice and lightly stir them through. Replace the chicken pieces and bake without the foil for another 15 minutes.

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One-Pot Super Nutty Salad

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This is my slightly simplified version of an amazingly delicious M&S salad I had recently. It is wholesome, nutty and full of goodness and flavour.  I used one of those pre-cooked Merchant Gourmet packets called ‘Glorious Grains’ and cooked everything in one pot before sprinkling it with feta cheese.  It took about 20 minutes.

Pre-cooked Merchant Gourmet packets (or cheaper supermarket equivalents) are generally brilliant for packed lunches and quick dinners so look out for them!

Super Nutty Salad (serves approx 4 people)

Oil e.g. olive or rapeseed oil

1 carrot, chopped small

4 heads of broccoli, chopped in to bite size pieces

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Large handful of edamame beans (frozen is fine)

1 packet of Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Glorious Grains (or equivalent)

Tin of black eyed beans, drained

Small handful of salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Small handful of almonds, roughly chopped

1 tbsp soy sauce

Thumb of ginger, peeled, and grated or chopped very small

Optional – handful of roughly chopped coriander

Feta cheese

Heat some oil in a pan and cook the carrot, broccoli and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender.  Add the edamame beans, Merchant Gourmet glorious grains packet, black eyed beans, peanuts, almonds, soy sauce and ginger and heat for about another 5 minutes, until everything is heated through nicely.

Spoon in to bowls and top with the coriander (if using), crumble over some feta cheese and add a drizzle of oil if you fancy.  Eat!

 

Family-Friendly Scandinavian Smorgasbord

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Once in a while we have a ‘theme’ night at dinnertime when we try food from another country.      It’s a fun way to be a little adventurous and learn about different cultures.  I sometimes simplify or adapt the original version to make it more kid friendly and not too overwhelming, so there is no need to completely stick to tradition.  Our latest theme dinner was a Scandinavian Smorgasbord consisting of smoked salmon and lemon wedges (the kids felt all fancy squeezing the lemon over the salmon!); potato salad made from boiled potatoes, capers and a little mayonnaise; and rye bread with butter (you can get rye bread from big supermarkets).

If you wanted to be even more authentic you could add meatballs, boiled eggs, crayfish, crackers, beetroot salad or dill and mustard sauce.  Or you could have a look in the Ikea food shop for easy inspiration (they even do vegetable balls as an alternative to meatballs).

There are endless possibilities for theme nights – we have had Italian pasta meals listening to opera and Mexican fajitas after watching the Pixar kids film Coco!  Google will give you lots of ideas.

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Fantastic Family Nachos!

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Here is a fantastic family-friendly Mexican nachos recipe that we all loved and takes only 5 minutes to prep (plus 10 minutes baking).

The tortilla crisp base is topped with kidney beans, sweetcorn, olives, grated cheese, avocado and coriander.  Put it in the middle of the table for everyone to share, and eat with hands!  You could have some salsa and sour cream on the side.

Fantastic Family Nachos (serves 4 but you might need dips and side salad to make it go further!)

1 large pack of plain tortilla crisps

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained

1 regular sized tin of kidney beans, drained

Handful of chopped olives

1 reduced salt vegetable stock cube (I like OXO)

2 handfuls of grated cheddar

2 avocados, chopped

Small handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Spread out the tortilla crisps on to a casserole dish/baking tray.  Separately mix the sweetcorn,  kidney beans, olives, crumble in the stock cube and mix well. Spoon the mix over the crisps, evenly top with the cheddar and bake on gas mark 7/220 degrees for around 10 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Remove from the oven and scatter over the chopped avocados and coriander. Put on the table for everyone to help themselves, and eat with hands!

One-Pot Gnocchi Bake

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I am very excited to share this 20 minute, one-pot gnocchi recipe that went down great at tonight’s family dinner!  Gnocchi is a sort of bite-sized Italian potato dumpling that you can buy fresh from most supermarkets.  To make the bake, simply fry an onion, pepper and garlic for a few minutes, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, olives and the gnocchi and simmer for a further 10 minutes.  Stir in some torn basil, top with mozzarella and grill until golden!  It would be nice with salad on the side too.  And I might add spinach to the bake for extra goodness next time.   Brilliant!

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One-Pot Gnocchi Bake (serves 2-4 people)

Olive or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped small

1 red pepper, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, crushed

400g can chopped tomatoes

Large handful of black olives, roughly chopped

500g pack of gnocchi (available at most large supermarkets)

Handful of basil leaves, roughly torn

Ball of mozzarella, sliced

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, pepper and garlic.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly.  Add the tomatoes, olives and gnocchi and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes, until the gnocchi is tender and cooked (it doesn’t take much to cook it), stirring regularly.  Stir in the basil leaves, top with the torn mozzarella and grill until golden.  Eat straightway!

Cooking With Kids – Salmon and Green Bean Curry

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This is a gently spiced Salmon and Green Bean Curry recipe from the lovely Nadiya Hussain’s free kids cookbook for World Book Day.  It is all made in one pan so nice and simple.

My youngest son Robin (5) helped me make the curry using his new proper grown up chopping knife (the knife brand is ‘kitchen devil’, so obviously he was sold).  Luckily he is naturally cautious so I wasn’t scared for long!  I just had to make sure there was no loud music on and he and his brother were in different rooms and not distracting each other.  He helped me cut the green beans and salmon, holding one end with one hand (fingers curled in) and cutting slowly with the other.

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He also helped me put the ingredients in the pan and stir.  Great job Robin!  Hopefully Freddy will cook with me soon too.  Freddy and us adults loved the dish with some brown rice.  Robin wasn’t keen on the green beans but enjoyed the rest of it and we agreed to try it with peas next time.  Canned chickpeas would make a great alternative to the salmon.  Allow about 30 minutes to make everything!

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Salmon and green bean curry (serves 4 with brown rice)

Glug of oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Thumb of ginger, grated very small

1 small onion, chopped small

1 tsp tomato puree or 1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

Water

170g green beans, chopped

450g salmon, skin removed and chopped in to chunks

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and onion in a pan for 5 minutes, until the onions have softened.  Add the tomato puree or tomatoes, turmeric and garam masala and cook for another minute.  Add a 2 tbsp water and then the green beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if need be, to just cover them.

Add the salmon and cook for another 5-7 minutes, adding a little more water to help them cook if necessary.  Take off the pan and stir in the coriander.  Eat with brown rice!

Family-Fun Asian Buddha Bowl

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You may have seen Buddha Bowls before – they are basically bowls filled with little mounds of different foods, usually vegan.  I decided to mix it up and put together a quick, non-vegan, family-friendly Asian Buddha Bowl: sushi (shop-bought of course!); edamame beans in their pods (just defrost them and cut off the ends for easy popping); chocolate covered rice cake; fruit; prawn crackers and salted peanuts.  Us adults also had kimchi (a sort of spicy, fermented Korean coleslaw – not sure what I make of this yet!)

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The kids loved having all the different bits of food in their bowl and especially enjoyed the sushi (they stuck with the more familiar rice and salmon option rather than the more complex filling).  They didn’t finish every single thing and I didn’t pressure them to, as I think the fun of experimental eating makes the little rascals more likely to be adventurous in the long-term anyway.

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I’m going to try some other Non-Orthodox Buddha Bowls in the future – the options are endless.  Suggestions are very welcome!

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