One-Pan Chicken Margherita

It was a Monday night. 

The boys had just recently started back at school, with our youngest boy, home from his first day of Kindergarten! He was a mixture of hot, tired, bothered and slightly bewildered at what this whole school thing was really all about. “Do I have to go back tomorrow?” he asked.

It was 44 degrees celsius and I looked out from my kitchen window to my green sludgy pool, as the pump had recently decided to give up and we were still waiting for it to be repaired. 

No-one could swim, it was still too hot at 6pm for anyone to go outside and so naturally, the only option for our eldest 2 was to engage in a Nerf gun war, in our small living space directly off our kitchen (insert eye rolling here).

With bullets flying overhead, I could barely hear the whimpers of our youngest boy, who was more than ready for dinner and bed. 

Rushing to get this pan of Chicken Margherita out of the oven, I didn’t quite check that my oven mitt covered the entire handle, so it was a miracle that when the handle touched my bare forearm and I heard it sizzle, that I didn’t a) swear or b) drop the pan and all of our dinner on the floor. 

You know those moments when you wonder if you just quietly slipped out the back door, maybe no-one would notice and your occasional dreams of running away from home would finally come true?

That was one of those moments.

But it was the kindness of my eldest son who, once he realised how badly I had burnt my arm, tried to help me in the kitchen and calm the others down, that saved me that day. 

One minute I am dreaming of the escape, the next, I realise that despite the drama and chaos of family life, every now and then our kids surprise us with kindness and empathy and a little voice in my head says ‘Don’t give up, think of the adult you want them to become. Hang in there, it won’t be chaos for ever.’

Reflecting back as I write this, I realise that the incidents of that Monday night were small, incidental and ever so normal, but it’s sometimes those very moments, that tip us over the edge as mums.

I am eternally grateful that our evenings are not video recorded for anyone to witness.

So why do I often write about the mess and mayhem? 

Increasingly our world is worshipping at the altar of stylised perfection and the mess and mayhem rarely gets any air time.

Celebrating the wins, the good, the beautiful, the fun and the joys are so important.

But it’s when I look into the weary eyes of fellow mums, who dare to whisper ‘am I the only who is struggling here?’ that I realise we need to be brave to share ALL of it, the great and not-so-great moments of raising kids and family life. 

On a side note, everyone ate this dinner without complaints, which is a WIN to celebrate! 

Think thin slices of chicken breast baked in a rich tomato sauce, with garlic and basil doing all the talking. A smattering of grated mozzarella for those who love cheese and then finished off with fresh basil or spinach leaves. 

Hang in there friend x

One-Pan Chicken Margherita
Serves 5
Thin slices of chicken breast cooked in a garlic and tomato sauce, with basil and spinach.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally, to form 4-5 thin pieces.
  2. 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  3. 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  4. 1/2 a 700ml jar of Tomato Passata (tomato cooking sauce)
  5. 1/2 bunch of fresh basil leaves (or a tablespoon of dried basil), some reserved for serving
  6. a handful of grated mozzarella (more or less depending on your family tastes)
  7. a handful of baby spinach leaves (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees celsius.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium oven proof frying pan, over a medium heat.
  3. Add garlic and stir for a minute, till a little golden.
  4. Pour in tomato passata, add most of the basil leaves and bring to the boil.
  5. Place chicken in the pan, making sure they are sitting snug, but in a single layer so they cook evenly.
  6. Throw a few more basil leaves on top of each piece of chicken and sprinkle grated mozzarella over each piece.
  7. Place pan in a preheated oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Remove from oven, garnish with extra basil leaves and spinach.
  9. Serve with vegetables or a salad.
Notes
  1. Cutting chicken breasts as evenly as possible will mean they will cook at the same time.
  2. Place the rest of the tomato passata into a container and freeze for later use, as it only lasts a few days in the fridge once it's been opened.
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Chicken and Corn Soup

This meal-in-a-bowl soup is another classic from my mother’s kitchen. 

We all loved it as children, especially my sister, who has gone on to make it more often than any other family member.

My sister made some extra large quantities of this soup recently for a special family birthday. 

Picture a mountains setting on a cool but clear winters day.  There were multiple camp fires going, surrounded by log seats and camp chairs. Lunch was steaming hot mugs of this soup, or my Mum’s Chilli and baskets of chunky sourdough for dipping. 

I think we are all guilty at times of over complicating get togethers or special celebrations. We can get ourselves worked up in knots about putting on the perfect party. 

This winters afternoon we recently enjoyed, with lots of friends and family enjoying soup around the fire, was absolutely perfect. 

Fast forward a few weeks and it was my turn to host a little party for our youngest sons birthday. With the kids food sorted, thanks to a delivery of McHappy Meals (that’s for a whole other blog post!), I wanted to give the mums something simple and warm for lunch, so I made a double quantity of this soup and served it in the park in disposable coffee cups. 

I think I have said before that my boys have never LOVED soup, but as long as it’s chunky and not just hot liquid, they will eat it. 

So the baton gets passed on again. From my mum to my sister, from my sister to me.. and now me to you…..

I hope you like it x

Chicken and Corn Soup
Serves 6
A thick creamy soup, made with chicken, corn, carrot and a little curry powder.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil or 30 grams of butter
  2. 600 grams of chicken thigh fillets, excess fat removed and chopped into small pieces
  3. 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  5. 2 teaspoons curry powder (I use AYAM brand)
  6. 2 teaspoons flour
  7. 5 cups chicken stock
  8. 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  9. 1 large can creamed corn (420 grams)
  10. 3/4 cup of medium grain rice
Instructions
  1. Heat oil or butter in a large soup pot over a medium heat.
  2. Add the chicken, onion, garlic and curry powder and gently fry until onion is softened and chicken is browning.
  3. Add flour and stir.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir.
  5. Put a lid on, bring the soup to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
  6. Simmer gently for 30-40 minutes.
  7. Serve with coriander or flat leaf parsley.
Notes
  1. The quantity of chicken is a rough guide only. You could use less if you are on a budget, or add more if your family prefers a meaty and chunky soup.
  2. If you make this in advance, the rice will continue to absorb the liquid. To bring it back to thinner consistency, just add some extra stock when you reheat.
  3. This is very mild and family friendly. If you like more heat, add a few teaspoons more of curry powder.
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Slow Cooker Butter Chicken

I have been wanting to create a good slow cooker version of this favourite Indian dish for so long. I am pleased to say I have finally got around to it and it was a hit with the whole family. 

The ingredient list may look long, but don’t let that put you off. Depending on how well-stocked your pantry is, you may need to pick up a few extra spices. All of these can be found in your local supermarket.

Once you have coated your chicken in the yogurt and spice mixture, it’s just a matter of throwing everything else in the slow cooker and letting time and the spices do their thing. 

Serve it with steamed basmati rice, Naan bread and a big pile of vegetables. 

Slow Cooker Butter Chicken
Serves 6
A mild slow cooker version of one of India's favourite chicken dishes.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
4 hr
Total Time
4 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 kilo chicken thigh fillets
  2. 1/2 cup plain greek or natural yoghurt
  3. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  4. 2 teaspoons garam masala
  5. 1/2 teaspoon ground chilli powder
  6. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  7. 1 teaspoon ground cardamon
  8. 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  9. 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  10. 100 grams unsalted cashews
  11. 1 brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  12. 400 ml can tomato puree
  13. 400 ml can coconut cream
Instructions
  1. Place the whole thigh fillets (they stay more moist if you don't chop them) in a plastic bag.
  2. Add the yoghurt and all of the spices and ginger.
  3. Give the bag a big shake, coating the chicken well in the mixture.
  4. Place the contents of the bag into the slow cooker.
  5. Using a food processor, grind the cashews until finely ground, before they become a paste.
  6. Add the cashews, onion, puree and coconut cream to the slow cooker.
  7. Place the lid on and cook for 4 hours, 6 hours if using a low setting.
  8. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to slightly thicken the sauce.
  9. The chicken fillets will have fallen apart slightly.
  10. Ladle chicken and sauce into bowls with basmati rice, Naan bread and vegetables.
Notes
  1. For vegetarians, try using eggplant, cauliflower or other vegetables instead of chicken.
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Pot-Roasted Chicken with pumpkin and sage

If I tell you this is probably the most ‘moist and succulent’ chicken I have had in a long time, then I hope you will look past the fact that this dish was very hard to photograph well and as a result, I almost didn’t share it with you all. 

But the family often get the final say, when I ask them “Is this dinner blog worthy?”

This one got a very big YES from the family. 

As a foodie, I can be easily drawn to the fancy dish, that looks spectacular on Instagram or in a magazine, but when it comes to cook fast eat slow, I aim to keep my promise to you by only sharing recipes that are ‘home-cooking’ recipes; the type anyone can make in order to feed your family on an average Tuesday night. 

I thank Skye Gyngell for this recipe that first appeared in Delicious magazine April 2008, when she was Head Chef of the infamous Petersham Nurseries Cafe in London. Apparently this is what she feeds her children at home. If it’s good enough for her, then it’s good enough for me!

Pot-roasted Chicken with pumpkin and sage
Serves 6
A whole chicken cooked in a pot with sage, pumpkin and parsnips, in a garlic tomato sauce.
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Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
25 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 whole chicken, cavity rinsed out with water, drained and excess fat around neck trimmed off.
  2. 1 lemon, halved
  3. a small bunch of fresh sage
  4. 2 fresh bay leaves (dried is fine too)
  5. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  6. 1 spanish (red) onion, peeled and cut into chunky pieces
  7. 5 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  8. approx 1.2 kg butternut pumpkin, peeled and cut into large chunks
  9. 1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
  10. 2 x 440gm cans chopped tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Place the lemon half, 1 bay leaf and half the bunch of sage inside the cavity of the chicken.
  2. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.
  3. Heat a heavy-based large pot or saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and heat till hot.
  5. Brown the chicken a little on each side, for about 10-15 mins or so all up.
  6. Remove from pan and set aside.
  7. Add the onion into the pan and cook till it's slightly softened, stirring occasionally.
  8. Place the chicken back into the pan, and add the vegetables, remaining sage leaves, bay leaf, and garlic cloves.
  9. Pour over the cans of tomato and give it all a big stir, making sure the vegetables are nestled around the chicken.
  10. Cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium-low so it simmers away gently for about 45 minutes.
  11. Check the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the thigh of the chicken, the juices will run clear if it's cooked.
  12. Pull apart the chicken and place in bowls with vegetables, covering everything with lots of sauce.
  13. Serve with steamed green vegetables.
Notes
  1. The chicken doesn't need to be covered by the liquid. Once the lid is on, the chicken will steam and be nice and tender.
Adapted from Delicious Magazine April 2008
Adapted from Delicious Magazine April 2008
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Roman Chicken

This is your classic one-pot comfort food cooking. I often serve it with green veggies and some steamed baby potatoes or to make it even easier, have a chunky loaf of sourdough on the table to help mop up all the yummy juices. 

This recipe has been a favourite amongst a group of my friends for ages. We all love it, cook it often and even make it for each other when things are a bit tough.

It’s also a perfect dish for doubling if you want to feed guests a simple but tasty meal at this cooler time of year. Serve it Italian style – in the middle of the table with salad, bread and wine. 

I noticed chef Neil Perry (aka Rockpool) writing about the same dish, (he called his Italian Chicken) in the Sunday paper recently. He used chicken pieces, like drumsticks and marylands, but I really prefer chicken thigh fillets, as we don’t need to worry about any bones but they still stay nice and moist.

I have had this recipe for so long I can’t remember where the original came from, my guess is I found it in an Australian Good Taste or Good Food Magazine.

One last thing….I have a love of and obsession with TINNED TOMATOES,  they are one of my pantry staples all year round. A quick soup base, a pasta sauce, thrown into a slow cooker with meat and veggies, there isn’t much a tin of tomatoes can’t do. 

Roman Chicken
Serves 5
a one-pot chicken dish with tomatoes, bacon, capsicums and olives.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 500 grams chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and halved
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  4. 2-3 rashers of bacon, trimmed, finely chopped
  5. 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes or 1/2 a fresh red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  7. 800 gram tin of diced tomatoes
  8. 1 large red capsicum, de-seeded and chopped roughly
  9. 1 large yellow capsicum, de-seeded and chopped roughly
  10. a handful of pitted black olives and chopped fresh basil to serve
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in large frying pan or casserole dish over a medium heat.
  2. Add chicken pieces and cook until browned all over. If your pan is small, do this in 2 batches.
  3. Set chicken aside on a plate.
  4. Add garlic, bacon and chilli to the pan and sauté for a few minutes until golden.
  5. Add chopped capsicums, tinned tomatoes and the browned chicken into the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cover pan and simmer gently for 20 minutes, giving it a stir a couple of times.
  7. Remove the lid and simmer for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce slightly.
  8. If desired, add olives and fresh basil leaves at this stage.
Notes
  1. You could use chicken pieces like drumsticks or marylands in this dish.
  2. You could use chicken breasts, but they do tend to dry out a bit, so you will need to reduce your cooking time if you use them.
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