The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

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Sunday 25 March 2018

The World Within our Walls. Easiest meals.

Last week we were talking about how the smell of baking, full tummies and the family gathering around the table are such cherished and important parts of the world within our walls.   They are important memory making times too.  Often they are times when people will relax and talk and share their day, thoughts and problems.  This is all so important.
Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to share family memories about your own families cooking and traditions.   There were so many beautiful memories too.
When we consider our own memories we soon realise the impact we are having on our own children and grandchildren with the meals we make and the comforts we create at home for them.

I was reminded of lots of things too!   I remembered how when I stayed at Nan and Pa's the bed was made up so crisp and tucked in so tight it was hard to get into.  And when you did you basically couldn't move! haha!  But I liked it!  And Nan would always have heated the bed first with a hot water bottle.  When I would wake up I never knew where I was until I saw the wardrobe then I knew I was at Nans.  Then I would get out and race into Nan's bed,  Pa would make us toast and vegemite and it was delivered on to a tray on the bed.  It was great!   Pa always make Nan breakfast in bed for all the years I remember.

We also established that most of the meals we loved were not fancy they were ordinary good comforting things.  My Nan almost always seemed to have soup on. She very often made scones.  There was just always warmth and food.  There was plenty.
So today I want to look at really very simple meals.  Meals that we can have ready in a few minutes or ready in the slow cooker.   Comforting wholesome food.  Ways to serve up something that is affordable, manageable and easy.

To start us off we have  Mimi's recipes in four sentences.  You will find this at the top of her home page at A Tray of Bliss. These are my kind of recipes.   Busy Mum's need this kind of thing. Further down she has a few a bit more complex but still easy and good.

I have had many recipes from the books in the 4 Ingredient series.  I have seen people mock this but in my opinion very simple recipes are wonderful to build up the confidence of a starting out cook.  Some things are more assembly than cooking.  But for both starting out and super easy and fast then these four ingredient recipes are wonderful.   They have many free recipes and a Facebook page also.
4 ingredient recipes.   Better yet, many are thing you hopefully have in your pantry... a can of soup, a few eggs, some rice etc.  Many are VERY clever.  Certainly better than take away!

My go to recipe website is  and they have a section of quick and easy recipes.  They are in sections to explore but there are some great super fast things there.   Taste. Quick and Easy.

Tonight dinner is this easy recipe.  I already made Pesto last week but you could buy a jar.

You slice up and pan fry some chicken. When it is cooked add a big spoon of pesto and some cream, enough to cover the chicken.  Stir and taste.  Add more pesto if needed.  Serve over rice and veggies. Tonight we will have a big bunch of broccolini and carrots.  That's it!

Hopefully you have some left, use the chicken in wraps or rolls.  So good!

A winter recipe I make is Easy Golden Syrup Pudding.   This is ridiculously easy and everyone loves it.

This is good when you have served a light dinner or soup and need to fill people up! 

Other easy meals are cheats meals.   I call them cheating but they can be so good.  One of mine is to simply  cook up a heap of pumpkin and sweet potato.  Then blend in a can of chicken soup or a packet, taste and adjust.  This is kind of emergency soup but it tastes really good!

Another is cheats sausage rolls.  Someone I knew always served these and finally I asked how she made them.  To my shock she said she just wraps sausages in puff pastry and cooks them.  Then she slices them up into bite sized pieces.  Kids go mad over them.  Well, so had I!  Mind blown!  haha!

Another is Hilde's Scones.  In the US biscuits.  We serve these either as a sweet i.e. with jam and cream or as a savoury with soup etc.   They are so handy and will fill a lunch box too.   Another meal stretcher.   Here is the recipe... Hilde's Scones.

Apart from easy things my regular trick is just to always at least double recipes and then I have another dinner or a meal to freeze.  Very often I quadruple recipes.  A meal from the freezer very often saves the day.

Next week I plan on sharing family recipes, recipes that have been passed on by Mum and Nana.   But this week I thought lets just do the very easiest and fastest things ever!

So over to you... what is your recipe in a sentence or two?   What do you make when time is out!  Between us all I hope we can come up with a good list that will help everyone have a few more of these kinds of recipes up their sleeve.   I will share a few more in comments later in the day too.

Have a wonderful new week!  xxx


  1. Hello Annabel,
    Lovely post (as usual). I have so many easy recipes that I recycle. One I love to make in advance is just puff pasty in little pie dishes filled with a liquid mix which is a good chunk of bacon chopped, 8 or so eggs, some cream and some herbs. Cooked and in the fridge for lunches for a few days, last night i was exhausted despite the luxury of a daytime sleep, so I cooked up a chunk of mince, added four large tomatoes from our almost empty bushes, herbs, onion and then some shell pasta and cheese on top, it was so basic but delicious. I also love to make stir fry. I have always got Mimi's poached chicken in the fridge, I stir fry the veggies in the wok with a few almonds or cashews and at the last minute stir through some sliced poached chicken to warm and serve - nutritious and so easy and one pot! Lasagna too is great to make quickly, and I always throw in a heap of veggies. Bit partial to roast veggies and a piece of meat, and usually dish up four plates, covering two and putting them in the fridge for reheating for the next night. Not huge dessert eaters, but lately I've made a few times the mug cakes and only taking two minutes each in microwave is so quick and easy. When we have no bread and it's the weekend and need something quick I make up the pizza scrolls recipe which is flour, butter and milk and add cheese and bacon if I have some. I make a pull apart and it goes down a treat and costs about fifty cents.
    Looking forward to seeing others thoughts on this. Fi xx

    1. Dear Fiona,
      Thank you so much. You are a good cook! I have observed!
      These are beautiful ideas. Your chooks are handy too for supplies!
      I love roast veggies so much. They are delicious and useful in so many ways. Thank you so much this is a great list. Love

  2. I love this! I am looking forward to learning from you all!

    I'm in the USA so it is biscuits here and our kids were raised on them because they fill up tummies when the rest of the meal may be a bit lacking. Cheater biscuits recipe--1 cup SR flour, 1 T oil, and 1/2 cup milk. Stir it together and drop with a 4 T scoop. Flour your fingers and pat the tops flat. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Multiply by as many cups of flour as you need. Yes, they are better if you knead and cut but these are just fine most days.

    Here in the southern USA we love our hot cornbread too and it makes a meal as do biscuits. Martha White SR cornmeal with buttermilk is the best. Bake it in a hot cast iron skillet for a good brown crust.

    A can of beans of any kind served over rice with a veggie, sliced tomatoes and cornbread if you have time is delicious. It is a go to meal here when cooking just did not happen because we do not have to thaw anything. I also home can beans and they are even better.

    Leftover chicken or turkey heated in a can of cream of chicken soup makes a delicious hot sandwich filling on buns. We call it sloppy chicken.

    Rub a pork roast with taco seasoning and cook it all day with a cup of water in the crockpot on low. Shred and stir back into the juices and serve over rice. The next day use as a taco filling.

    Just about any meat roasting in the oven can have carrots, potatoes and onions added for a full meal. Any time I am prepping potatoes to boil I do double and save the rest for another meal. If I am cooking chicken I add extra for chicken salad or a casserole. Same with pasta: if you can use it, cook double to use for a meal in a day or two. Layer pasta with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, a sprinkling of flour and salt and pepper. Fill the dish half way up with milk and cover and bake for macaroni and cheese.

    Of course there is always omelettes using whatever is in the fridge and I can brown up the extra potatoes that I cooked for a side dish.

    A bit of taco meat and some beans make taco salad or nachos for lunch the next day. We also use canned chili for nachos when we need a quick meal.

    We often use up slightly stale homemade bread in grilled cheese sandwiches. I do keep canned soup that I find good sales on to go with.

    When I buy whole chickens I take them out of the packaging and put them in gallon Ziploc bags and label and date. Whole frozen chickens can go straight from the freezer first thing in the morning and into the crockpot to cook all day if I failed to plan or thaw.

    Happy eating!

    1. And one more easy, easy recipe.
      Salsa Verde Chicken and Rice
      Brown 8 ounces cubed chicken breast in 1 T. oil. Salt and pepper it. Add 2/3 c salsa verde, 2 cups chicken broth and 1 cup rice. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes. Chicken could also be leftover or canned. You can also switch up the meat and salsa for a different dish.

    2. Dear Lana, Thank you so much! Thanks for telling me how US homemade biscuits are made. They are slightly different to scones. I wasnt sure abut that. At the end of the day I like grilled cheese sandwiches about as much as anything else!
      Thanks so much for so many good and easy ideas. We all need a list of these. What a help! With love

    3. Real US biscuits have a lot more fat such as butter or shortening but I have made them this way for decades to reduce the fat for my husband. Plus they are so easy! People always rave about them so they must be an okay quick method.

  3. A quick go-to meal for us is to open a jar of home-canned stew beef. Dump it into a pan, heat it up, thicken the liquid/broth that was in the jar with the meat and serve it over mashed potatoes, rice, pasta or creamed cauliflower!

    1. Dear Patsi,
      You have your own homemade ready meals. So good. So sensible too. There are always going to be times we need something virtually instant! With love

  4. A favourite topic Annabel! Thankyou for the mention, although you may have to correct the link as it's dodgy! I don't understand this compulsion to be home chefs. I've always strived to feed my family well. Even luxuriously. But it doesn't have to be complicated stuff. And if you've ever worked in a restaurant kitchen, and I'm talking 'good', not 'silver service' style...their recipes ARE simple. It's a complete myth that good food has to be complex. My ten cyclic meals at the moment (they vary with seasonal or budget restrictions) are home made gluten free Gnocchi, Thai Noodle Salad, Turkey meatballs to go with pasta, rice or salad, some sort of Soup, a filled Omelette, Chicken breast meal variation, Salmon meal of some sort, Burgers (can often be home made vege patty burgers), Bento box or Tapas meal using up bits and pieces, and a gluten free pasta dish. That's heaps of variety, a good balance of protein and carbs, flexibility according to what's budget friendly that fortnight, easy to prepare, and no complicated ingredients. Can't go wrong. I think we all get lured in to trying new things, when really the old favourites are best. Wonderful ideas from everyone. Mimi xxx

    1. Thanks Mimi I altered the link as that one just refused to work! I love your fast and easy recipes!
      I like the idea of a meal list with variations that goes around in a cycle. I have a winter/autumn and a spring /summer kind of cycle. I love the change over which is now. By now I feel like soup and stews and so on after BBQs and salads and cold meats etc. Its lovely.
      I agree simple and nutritious is best. We can back ourselves into a nasty and unsustainable corner with the fancy stuff... which inevitably costs more too! Thank you! Love

  5. Left overs Frittata. We often have this as a way of using up left over veg and if there is only a small amount of meat left. The veges are placed in a lasagne dish, along with either left over meat or perhaps some fetta cheese. Whisked up eggs with a bit of added milk are poured over. This is baked until golden. Serve with more veg or salad. This was a requested meal when the children were little people. Delicious, easy, nutritious. Winner.

    1. Dear Jane, My Mum does this! It is always so good. It is tasty and nutritious. Nothing is wasted. If everyone did something like this once a week there is no waste, its like a free meal almost. Thank you! xxx

  6. I make the soup below every few weeks. It freezes beautifully and it also is a great meal to bring (with a bag of tortilla chips) to someone who isn't feeling well. I sometimes add frozen corn and extra black beans with less chicken. I made it last week when my husband wasn't feeling well and he seemed to perk right up. I just love it so much and it's fast! My one tip is- make sure that you have all of your ingredients prepped and ready to go because once the onion is cooked the steps go really fast.

    1. Thank you so much for this recipe! I love soups! Thank you! xxx

  7. My mom's easy meal was whatever meat left over from yesterday heated up in a gravy and put over whatever carb base you had. Some examples were sausage crumbles in milk gravy over American biscuits, hamburger in beef gravy on toast, chicken in cream or chicken gravy over rice, strips of roast with mushrooms in a sour cream gravy over egg noodles, sometimes it was rinsed dried beef in a cream gravy over mashed potatoes. The gravy was made with cans of broth from the pantry or milk and flour seasoned with salt,pepper, and onion powder.
    I like to keep small packets of roasted chicken, browned hamburger, cooked bacon strips,and cooked sausage crumbles in the freezer to make quick soups,salads, pot pies, or pizza toppings.
    I think the key is doubling up some things like you said Annabel. Making extra of boiled eggs or potatoes. Cooking extra meat to be frozen for a future meal. Doubling the crepes, pancakes, or muffins for the freezer helps so much to get meals on the table faster. -Kathryn

    1. Dear Kathryn,
      I am a big fan of re inventing left overs! These are great ways to do it. One I also do is if I am roasting veggies I do a whole tray extra as then I can make a frittata, pasta dish, pizza and use up my lovely roast veggies. Planned left overs! This is economical and good cooking. Thank you! Love

  8. My go to easy meal is pasta. I either brown up some ground meat (mince, I think in AU) and a jar of spaghetti sauce or my "famous pasta"! For my "famous pasta" I sautee up a bunch of vegetables that I have in my refrigerator or I use frozen (whatever kind you have) and add two cans of diced tomatoes, some Italian seasoning and mix it all together with the pasta and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese and you're done. My family loves pasta any way I fix it!

    1. Dear Holley, That is a great meal and a great way to use things up too! And just yum. I agree you can fill up a lot of hungry tummies with pasta too. Many thanks! With love

    2. My husband is Italian and pasta is his quick meal solution. I chop garlic,onion and throw in some ground beef. We use my home canned sauce and dinner is ready in twenty minutes.

  9. Simple meals are the best! Thank you for all the links. I'll go have a look. Both of the ones I list will involve chicken. 1. Cooked shredded chicken, one can cream of chicken soup, cooked white rice. Mix together and bake until set and heated through. 2) Shredded cooked chicken, chicken broth, and macaroni noodles. Cook as a soup until noodles are soft. My mom made this for us when we were sick and now I do the same thing for my children. They love it all the time though and it is a quick and cheap meal.

    1. Dear Wendy,
      The chicken, soup and rice sounds good and similar to one I do. Hilde does the shredded chicken, steamed broccoli and mix a carton of cream and half a packet of french onion soup mix, pour over and bake... these work so well and taste so good!
      The second one is a good one too and I can see how it would be nice when not well as it is sort of related to chicken soup. Broth is good! Many thanks! Love

  10. Annabel, this is a really good post. Some of my easiest meals besides soup is baked potatoes with toppings I always have in the freezer, I like to keep cooked ground beef in the freezer to pull out for a quick pasta meal, or I will heat with some taco type veggies and a little cheese and top with crushed corn chips, stir fry is fast, the dumpling soup is what my grandma always made and is one of my favorites, if we have leftover mashed potatoes I like to make potato cakes ah so many good things!! Xoxo Vicky

    1. Dear Vicky, Baked potatoes are also a huge meal stretcher i.e. if you have some left over meat or spaghetti sauce and do baked potatoes then it becomes a big meal. I do the potatoes in the slow cooker so I just have a heap cooked and ready. It is so easy!
      These are good tips! Thank you! Love Annabelxxx

  11. We are farmers and we both work full-time off the farm. I make a lot of easy, fast meals during the farming season. Other than the usual burgers, sandwich-type meals, another favorite is Spaghetti and meatsauce. Everyone knows how to make the pasta. My meatsauce is a pound of hamburger, onion, garlic, a can or two of tomato sauce, some Worcestershire sauce. brown the meat & veggies, add rest and simmer 30 mins. Easy-peasy. Freezes well too so I make extra for an even faster meal.

    1. Dear Kay, You would have a very busy life them. My family are farmers...
      A good pasta sauce is just so useful! Thank you for sharing this it sounds yum! With much love


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