This is going to be an odd year for many. May be you’re going to be tackling a smaller Christmas Dinner for the first time. May be you’ve decided to go all out now you don’t have to trek round to Auntie Sue’s because it’s “what you always do”! May be you’ve never cooked more than a fried egg but think this is your time to shine!
Whatever your situation, I thought it may be timely to do a little example of how to do a low effort Christmas Dinner as guidance for those that need it. Remember, Christmas Dinner is just a roast dinner but with cranberry sauce and crackers! Don’t let the weight of expectations get you down, this can be as simple or as complicated a meal as you want to make it!
You can look at the Christmas tag for some older recipes and round ups that are more comprehensive but I wanted to highlight some really simple recipes here. Whether you’re on your own or just a smaller family gathering this should hit the spot!
We like to have nibbles to tide us over from noon to 3pm when we have our Dinner. If you want to keep it super simple just grab some party food from the freezer section. These days they almost all cook at 180°C for around 15 minutes. Any leftovers are also great for grazing at!
In my family the Prawn Cocktail is king. (Well, for me it is, mum does try to do fancy smoked salmon thingies!) This is not only traditional but super simple. Finely sliced iceberg lettuce, prawns, cocktail sauce (Iceland’s is my favourite!) and a twist of lemon on top to look fancy. Less than 5 minutes and you’re done!
Turkey is, of course, traditional and if you want to keep it super simple I recommend a frozen Turkey crown. They’re about £10 and you can pick one up in almost any supermarket.
However, a large roast chicken will also do very nicely! I love to do a one pot chicken dish where you simply get a Really Big Pot, put in new potatoes in the base, add your chicken (put some herbs, garlic and half a lemon in the cavity), and scatter with bacon lardons. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook according to the time on the packet (or 25 minutes per lb + 20 minutes in 180°C oven) Add a cup of frozen peas 30 minutes before the end. This also works well in a slow cooker on high for 3 hours if you need the space in the oven or even if you don’t have an oven! You can find the more detailed recipe here.
A roast dinner is all about timing. If you figure out your timings then it’s plain sailing. You can prep all of your veg in advance, even the night before, so all you have to do on the day is put dishes in the oven on time or you can get the roast in and then do your veg prep. I have a post outlining some of the timings for veg here.
2 hours before: Roast In
45 minutes before: parsnips in (I like them crispy.)
30 minutes before: leeks in cream sauce, stuffing balls & pigs in blankets in
25 minutes before: Brussels sprouts and carrots in steamer on the hob. Check the sprouts after 15 minutes by poking with a sharp knife. They should be soft but not soggy.
Serving Time: Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a serving board. Use a slotted spoon to remove the potatoes and peas and bacon. You can make gravy with the juices. I explain how here.
Christmas pudding is traditional, easily available from the supermarket, and I hate it. So I have a couple of other seasonal options that you can make the day before:
If you’re on your own do not let this stop you from having a full roast! The leftovers are the best bit! From this dinner I will be able to make sandwiches, soup, risotto and may be a few other dishes as takes my fancy! I basically won’t have to cook again for the next week, which is exactly how I like it!
– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.
– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.
– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.
– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)
– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.
From time to time I find myself craving the food I had in Japan. Sometimes it’s the simplest of things, like this Japanese egg salad sandwich. Because even though you’d think there isn’t much wiggle room in how to make egg salad you’d be amazed what a difference a few little tweaks make. I think the biggest difference is that the egg is mashed, not chopped and the mayonnaise must by kewpie for a truly authentic taste. The pinch of salt adds that little je ne sais quoi that makes this run of the mill sandwich spectacularly moreish!
For one sandwich:
2 hard boiled eggs
2tbsp kewpie Japanese mayonnaise
Pinch of salt
Soft salted butter
Two slices white bread
– Put the eggs, mayonnaise and salt in a bowl and mash with a fork until there are no large chunks. You could even use a food processor to get it even smoother (some conbini do) but I prefer a little texture.
– Spread the bread with butter and add the egg mix. This should be a well filled sandwich! (Though factors such as egg size and bread size will affect it, you may find this makes two less well filed sandwiches if using smaller bread.)
You will need Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise for this to taste right but it’s easy to get hold of, either a local Asian supermarket or Amazon will sort you out! I would also advise the chunkiest ham you can get, either go for trimmings or bake a ham joint and use some in this.
2 large floury potatoes
1/2 small tin Sweetcorn, drained
100g ham, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, julienned
1” cucumber, very finely sliced
6 tbsp kewpie mayonnaise
Pinch of salt
– Peel and chop up your potatoes and boil in a large pan of salted water for 20 minutes. Drain and return to the pan, let them air dry for 5 minutes.
– Mash the potatoes until smooth.
– Add your other ingredients and give a good stir through. Eyeball it, if you feel you want different proportions go for it! Alter it to your taste.
This was one of the tastiest things I’ve cooked all year! I was so proud of how it turned out. My kitchen smelt amazing having been full of spices! I usually have a jar of supermarket curry paste tucked away for emergencies but I was feeling creative and I knew I could do better.
It was actually a doddle to whip up and it gave me enough for two separate curries. Needless to say, the second portion wasn’t hanging around for long!
For the Korma paste:
2 tsp garlic purée
1 tbsp ginger paste
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 fresh green chillies
3 tablespoons coconut powder
1 tsp dried coriander leaf
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tablespoons flaked almonds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
For the Sauce:
2 chicken breasts, sliced
1 x 400g can coconut milk
1 tbsp corn flour slaked with a little water
– First you want to heat a large, heavy frying pan and lightly toast the flaked almonds and cumin seeds over a medium high heat until fragrant.
– Then put all of the ingredients for the paste into a food processor/blender and pulse until you have a smooth paste.
– To serve 4 add half of the paste to the large frying pan and heat on a medium high heat.
– Add the chicken breasts and stir well.
– Add the coconut milk and simmer on a low heat for 15minutes.
– To thicken your sauce add the cornflour and stir well until thickened. Then remove from the heat.
I can’t remember where I first came across the recipe for French Yogurt Cake. It’s always just been there. But I never once felt the need to try it. There were always more exciting, more challenging cakes to try. Why go back to basics with a cake intended to be made with the help of toddlers?
This is why, my friends!
Beautiful, light, fluffy cakes that are the perfect teatime pick me up… or breakfast, coz it’s got fruit and yogurt in and that’s a breakfast food, right?
And, even though I possess no toddlers of my own (Darcy isn’t too good at baking, even though he loves the tasting part!) I can say with my limited knowledge of the species that this would be an absolutely brilliant recipe to bake with kids. No faffy weighing, just measure everything out using a yogurt tub and mix it up. Simple!
And so quick. The thing that takes the most time about this recipe is waiting for the oven to heat up! (Or sometimes it’s the pressing need to pop to the Co-op as you realise you’ve run out of eggs half way through!) We all know there are some days when you just want to get something in the oven without any hassle, these can be whipped together and out of the oven in less than half an hour (although I assume if you do choose to involve kids it will take longer…)
Don’t delay, give them a go today!
1 x 125g tub natural yogurt
2 tubs self raising flour
1 tub golden caster sugar
1/2 tub rapeseed oil
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one lemon, grated*
~ 1 tub frozen raspberries
– Heat the oven to gas mark 4 / 180C.
– Prepare a tray with 6 mini loaf cases. Alternatively you can make this as a large loaf and just increase the cooking time.
– Put all of the ingredients except the raspberries in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Use the yogurt tub to measure out each of the ingredients.
– Divide equally between the mini loaf tins. (Space them well as this mixture rises!)
– Scatter the top of each cake with frozen raspberries.
– Bake for 20-25 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (If cooking as a large loaf 45 minutes to an hour)
– Allow to cool until just warm them devour! Also excellent when you allow them to fully cool before consuming!
Instead of Lemon and Raspberry these can be adapted to any flavour you like. I have also had great success with Chocolate Orange, just replace the lemon zest with orange zest and add 2 tbsp cocoa powder and a tub of chocolate chips instead of raspberries.
A quick and simple supper recipe today! This Chicken, Leek and Rosemary Tagliatelli recipe uses a white wine reduction to make a super simple sauce that is super luxurious! Sometimes you need to give yourself a little indulgent treat but this is a little bit lighter than my usual cream based sauces.
The freshness of the leeks and the depth of the rosemary pair beautifully with the bacon and chicken to make a perfect Friday supper for two!
1 large chicken breast, sliced
125g bacon lardons
1 medium leek, rinsed and sliced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
200ml white wine
tagliatelle to serve
Prep your water for pasta, mine usually takes 4-5mins but check the packet for cooking instructions and proceed accordingly.
Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan and add the bacon lardons cook for a minute or two, stirring occasionally.
Add the sliced chicken breast and cook until just turning all white.
Add the leek and cook until just softening.
Add the rosemary and the wine and simmer on a medium heat until the wine is reduced to a thick sauce coating the bottom of the pan and the leek is completely soft and the chicken cooked through.
A little breakfast recipe here to ease back into the swing of things! This Rhubarb and Orange Compote is a nice zingy way to pep up your yogurt and museli and gets the day off to a great start! I didn’t used to be a breakfast person. In fact I spent about 28 years avoiding the meal! Nowadays, however, I cannot get going until I’ve had a good breakfast and I know that a bad breakfast will hold me back the whole day, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed it! (I’m looking at you, croissants!). I need protein to kickstart me, sugary cereals and pastries do me no good at all. I tend to turn to eggs but some days you just don’t want anything cooked, a cool bowl of greek yogurt, fruit and museli is just perfect for me then!
My love affair with rhubarb is well documented. I love the colour and the tartness. I think the combination of rhubarb and orange is just diving, a really zingy combination that hits your tastebuds and wakes you up! Perfect breakfast food!
Serves 2 generously, 4 more reservedly
~3 stalks rhubarb, trimmed
~100-150ml orange juice (just enough to come about halfway up your rhubarb in the pan)
2 tbsp sugar (or honey as a natural alternative) *
Plain Greek Yogurt and Museli to serve
– Trim your rhubarb and chop it to about 2″ lengths.
– Pop it in a small saucepan with enough orange juice to come about halfway up your rhubarb and the sugar or honey.
– Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes until your rhubarb is soft.
– You can serve it warm but I like to prep this in advance for a cold breakfast.
– Serve with greek yogurt and museli. I like to mix up my own museli according to my mood, this time it was oats, almonds, hazelnuts and goji berries.
*You may find you can dial down or even leave out the sugar here if you like. The sugar in the orange juice may be enough for you, especially if you are using a juice from concentrate rather than fresh as it has added sugars already. I still have a painfully sweet tooth but I’m getting there cutting down slowly!
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!