Warm Turkey and Rice Salad

I found a stuffed turkey roast for $2.83 today. The cheapskate in me was beyond thrilled, and suffice to say, tonight was destined to be a winner winner turkey dinner.

The beauty of this recipe – which I’ve had in my back pocket for many years now – is that it is so hands off and easy. Sure, the turkey takes over an hour to roast, but you cook it in the container it’s sold in, and while it does its thing, you’re free to do as you please. Then, with all of 5 minutes of active cooking time, which you can do any time within the next 24 hours (although if your bird cost you less than 3 dollars, I recommend cooking and eating it immediately!), the most simple ingredients become something truly wonderful. It’s a 500 calorie dinner that fills you up and feels like it should be a whole lot naughtier, and still yields leftovers for the next day (or to be fought over by the husband and nearly-teenager, as is so often the case in my house now).

Of course, you can cook the rice from scratch… but you do lose a little of that lazy-dinner feel in doing so. And sometimes, we all need a lazy dinner!

Ingredients

900-1.1kg stuffed turkey roast (my favourite one to use is the Ingham Turkey Thigh roast with apple stuffing)

450g microwavable brown rice

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 medium zucchini, diced

60g baby spinach

1/3 cup craisins

Method

  1. Cook turkey to package instructions – expect about an hour and a half. Rest for 30 minutes, and either refrigerate until required or continue to step 2.
  2. Microwave rice to package instructions. Allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, roughly chop turkey and stuffing into bite sized pieces, and set aside in the pan juices.
  4. Heat a frypan over high heat, spray lightly with oil. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, add turkey to pan and cook to heat through.
  5. Add zucchini and tomatoes, and cook for 2-3 minutes until starting to soften.
  6. Add the rice, and mix to combine and heat through.
  7. Remove from heat and stir through craisins and spinach. Allow spinach to wilt, then serve.

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Lamb Biryani

There are so many lamb biryani recipes out there, so I feel a bit lame adding my own spin on it, especially as it’s not the most authentic, doesn’t come with an awesome story about my mother and grandmother cooking it all through my childhood, and probably isn’t the best out there. But I’ve tried many biryani recipes, and this is by far my favourite to cook at home, so I’m adding it here for ease of access. Also, Master12 just declared it his favourite meal, and that’s pretty big coming from such a little foodie.

Then again, this IS the kid whose rating scale for the past 10 years has been thumbs up/thumbs down, and almost nothing gets a thumbs down, so…

Either way, it IS a crowd pleaser. The rice is fluffy, the lamb is melt-in-your-mouth tender, the spices are warm, and the craisins are a sweet, tart contrast. There were no leftovers, even though it serves 5 people, and only 4 people live here. Miss9 doesn’t eat as quickly as her brother and dad, and missed out, much to her chagrin. There was pouting. It was that good. It’s also relatively cheap (as far as lamb dishes go, and assuming you have a well stocked spice rack), very quick and super easy, and pretty low calorie at 480 calories per (not small) serve.

Ingredients

1/2 cup Greek yoghurt (plus 5tsp greek yoghurt, to serve )

500g lamb steaks, cut into small dice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste, this isn’t super spicy but does have a kick)

1 tsp cumin

1tsp garam masala

2tsp cumin

1/2tsp cloves

2tsp ground coriander

white pepper

Salt, to taste

1tbs olive oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 cinnamon stick

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

2 3/4 cups beef stock

1/3 cup craisins

50g baby spinach

1/3 cup flaked almonds

5tsp mango chutney, to serve

Method

  1. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine lamb, yoghurt and spices (except for cinnamon stick). Reserve.
  2. In a large fry pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cinnamon stick, and cook for 5 minutes until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add rice, and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  4. Stir in lamb mixture. Add stock and craisins, stirring to combine well. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until water has been absorbed and lamb is cooked through.
  5. Turn off the heat and remove the lid. Cover the pan with a clean, dry tea towel and replace lid. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  6. Fluff the rice by mixing well. Add spinach and almonds, and stir until spinach has wilted.
  7. Transfer to bowls and serve, topped with extra yoghurt, mango chutney and black pepper.

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One Pot Chicken, Bean and Veg Rice

Now that I’m back at uni (and doing it so slowly that I’ll be here for about 5 years, which is vaguely horrifying!), while still teaching full time, raising kids, maintaining a marriage, pretending to have a social life,
spoiling a high-maintenance dog, playing sport, making noises about work-life balance (hahahahaha) and trying to stay sane through it all*, I’m relying harder than ever on quick meals that are nutritious, delicious, cheap, and require no mental energy to prepare.

I’m rather fond of this one-pot wonder, which is very tasty, allows the throwing in of whatever you have on hand, can absolutely be made the night before, is basically begging you to use pre-cooked rice (but is still a one-pot cinch if you cook it from scratch) if you’re feeling particularly rushed, and is full of veggies and protein. We use brown rice most of the time, so there is some wholegrain goodness going on there, too. It takes all of 15 minutes in front of the stove, and is an absolute treasure on those evenings when you’re pulled from pillar to post after a long day at work, but want dinner to consist of something decent (does anyone else have those nights when you don’t even have time for takeout? We call them Thursdays around here).

As if this wasn’t already the dinner that keeps of giving, it’s relatively low calorie, with 1/4 serve consisting of 400 calories. I routinely eat 1/5, and it’s more than enough for me, but I generally don’t eat huge meals at night. One day, I’m sure I’ll use barley instead of rice, but that kind of defeats the quickness of the whole thing.


*Note to self: don’t list it all out like that again in black and white if you want a snowball’s chance of that last one!

Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 yellow capsicum, diced

500g chicken thigh fillet, cubed

400g tomatoes, diced (quartered cherry tomatoes are particularly nice, but regular sized tomatoes are completely fine)

375g microwavable rice (or 3/4 cup rice, cooked however you please. I steam mine, leaving it just underdone)

200g chicken stock

400g red kidney beans, drained

1 zucchini, diced

pinch cayenne, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

  1. preheat oven to 180C. Heat oil in an oven-proof skillet over low heat, and cook onion, garlic and capsicum until softened.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high and add chicken, cooking for five minutes, until well browned.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, and stir to combine and coat rice with juices. Ensure that the rice has separated, as it sometimes comes out of the pack in clumps.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.

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Cherry Tomato and Zucchini Rice Bake

I wish I knew where – if anywhere – I’d seen this recipe, but I have no idea. I vaguely remember making something similar years and years ago with tuna, and feeling like the tuna ruined it, but I can’t even remember if anything other than rice was common to this dish. All I know is that I’ve been wanting a rice side dish that wasn’t fried rice all week, and kind of just threw it together and hoped for the best.

It worked. The husband ate the leftovers (AKA tomorrow’s lunch) as seconds, much to my horror. It was tasty yet simple (absolute perfect for a Wednesday night where I have a night of lesson planning ahead of me) but I fear that if I don’t write it down, I’ll forget what I did and then never make it again. And that would be tragic.

To add to the happiness surrounding this side dish, it was far fewer calories than I’d anticipated – just 235 per serve, making it an awesome dinner with some lean meat and more veggies – we added grilled pork loin and broccoli, and thoroughly enjoyed it. This calorie count is for a yield of 5 serves; For almost exactly 300 calories, you can have it serve 4, but with the meat and veg, one fifth was perfect. And would have been a perfect amount and calorie count for lunch, too. Not that I’m bitter or anything…

Ingredients

1 cup (200g) raw basmati rice

2 cups chicken stock

1 tsp olive oil

1 brown onion, finely diced

1 medium zucchini, finely diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1tsp minced ginger

200g cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or quartered, if they’re a bit larger)

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2 eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper, to serve

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. In an oven proof skillet, add rice and stock and bring to the boil on stove. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Turn off the burner, place a tea towel over the skillet and firmly cover with a lid. Rest for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in another pan, heat oil over medium low heat. Add onions and cook for five minutes, until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute or so. Add zucchini and tomatoes, and cook until softened but not coloured. Set aside until rice is ready.
  4. Stir vegetables through the rice. Mix in the parmesan and egg
    until fully incorporated, and smooth down with a spoon or spatula.
  5. Season well and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, until golden and firm.

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IDGAF Rice

We’ve all had those days, haven’t we, where you just don’t give a f&*k anymore. About anything, least of all dinner. Stuff it. Popcorn and icecream is totally a balanced meal, yeah? Corn’s a vegetable AND a grain, ice cream’s a dairy, and if there happens to be boysenberries rippled through it, there’s your fruit! Done. Surely it works that way?!

I’ve touched on the fact that this year hasn’t been my best – I had a car accident that we were (thankfully) able to walk away from, but my anxiety disorder shot through the roof, and it took a good two or three months to calm myself down and be a functional human again. I’m glad to say that through this really stressful time – made worse by the fact that poor mental health can be so invisible… I look like I have my wits about me, and I really didn’t have too much to be anxious about, but that fact just made the anxiety worse because it compounded the guilt of daily panic attacks – I didn’t emotionally eat too badly, didn’t gain any weight, and managed to get nutritious food on the table for my family most nights (although I phoned it in waaaaay more than normal). I credit this very low bar of success to already having a strong arsenal of healthy recipes at the ready at all times, and I really wanted to give credit due to this particular recipe, which got me through a particularly rough day. I cooked and ate this, cried in the shower for 15 minutes, then fell asleep for 15 hours. I was DONE. But my kids didn’t have Weetbix for dinner, and I clung to that win like you would not believe.

Even if you’re not having the day from hell, this speedy rice is a wonderful take on fast food. It’s pretty nutritious, clocks in at 351 calories per serve, and is so flavourful for such a throw-on meal. The perfect antidote to a lazy mood, a warm hug on a bad day, or a decent meal when things get busy, this bowl is here for you when you don’t – or can’t – have any more effs to give.

Serves 4

Ingredients

450g microwaveable rice

2 x 3 second spray of olive oil

150g sliced mushrooms

1 brown onion, sliced

1tsp minced garlic

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1/2 head of broccoli, cut into small florets

Handful of baby spinach

4 eggs

for the dressing

1tbs white miso paste

2tbs mirin

1tbs kecap manis

1tsp minced ginger

Method

  1. Microwave rice according to packet instructions. Set aside to cool slightly to avoid it going mushy.
  2. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and set aside.
  3. Place broccoli in a microwave-safe container and cover with water. Microwave for 2 minutes. Drain.
  4. Heat one spray of oil in a medium sized fry pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute until aromatic.
  6. Transfer broccoli to onion mixture and stir to combine. Add soy sauce and allow to cook on medium-low heat.
  7. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil over a clean frypan over high heat. When oil is hot, reduce to medium hear and crack eggs into pan. Lower heat to lowest setting and cook until the whites have set but the yolks are still runny.
  8. Add rice to vegetable mixture, and stir well to combine. Stir in spinach and dressing and transfer to four bowls. Top with an egg and season to serve.

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