It’s that time again when we get to pick Bashers FIT Brain and once again she has produced super tasty meals for all the Solemothers and their families.

Family-Friendly Weeknight Dinner Recipes

Please the whole family with these quick and easy weeknight dinner recipes !!

Awesome tasty meals, like the ones on this list, can help make feeding your family more affordable too….As an extra plus, it makes it easier to make a decision on what to cook for dinner on any given day.  Especially for weekdays after long days at work, sometimes the very last thing we want to do is decide what you’ll make for dinner!….Why not give some of these a whirl!…Scrummy and healthy options too!….

All-purpose veggie ragù

  • Serves 4
  • Hands-on time 30 min, simmering time 20-30 min
  • Easy

Packed full of vegetables and pulses, this healthy vegetarian ragù is hearty enough on it’s own or it can be used to make pasta sauce, pie or chilli – the possibilities are endless.

Ingredients

  • 10g dried mixed wild or dried porcini mushrooms
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 250g button or chestnut mushrooms, quite finely chopped
  • 250ml red or white wine
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • Large pinch sugar
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 150g puy lentils, cooked according to the pack instructions
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained
  • 100g young leaf spinach

Method

  1. Put the dried mushrooms in a small bowl and pour over enough freshly boiled water to cover. Leave to soak for 10 minutes, then drain.
  2. Heat a glug of oil in a large, deep frying pan, then add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic with some salt. Fry over a low-medium heat, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes until the veg are soft but not coloured. Add the soaked mushrooms to the pan, along with the button/chestnut mushrooms, then turn up the heat to medium-high and stir-fry until soft.
  3. Turn the heat to high, then pour in the wine. Bubble until almost all the liquid has evaporated, then add the chopped tomatoes with the sugar and bubble for a few minutes.
  4. Add the stock, cooked lentils and chickpeas, then bring back to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes more until it has wilted. Taste and season well, then serve with flatbreads or mash.

Honey mustard chicken and parsnips

  • Serves 4
  • Hands-on time 20 min, oven time 45 min
  • Easy

Honey and mustard pair perfectly with both parsnips and chicken in this sweet and comforting tray bake recipe.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil for oiling and drizzling
  • 500g parsnips
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • Juice 1 lemon, plus wedges to serve
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs, plus extra to serve
  • 8 skin-on free-range chicken thighs
  • 200g tenderstem broccol

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC/ 180ºC fan/gas 6 and oil 2 large baking trays. Peel and halve the parsnips, then mix the wholegrain mustard, lemon juice, honey, thyme and plenty of salt and pepper in a bowl. Toss the chicken and parsnips through the marinade, divide evenly between the baking trays (give the chicken and parsnips a bit of space), then bake for 30 minutes.
  2. Drizzle the tenderstem broccoli with a little olive oil and add to the trays, tossing everything so the pieces all brown evenly. Cook for another 15 minutes until the chicken thighs and parsnips are blackened and caramelised, and everything is cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges.

Halloumi and bulgur salad with harissa dressing

  • Serves 4
  • Ready in 30 minutes
  • Easy

The harissa dressing adds spice to this nutritious vegetarian salad recipe of halloumi, bulgur wheat, chickpeas and spinach.

Ingredients

  • 250g bulgur wheat
  • 250g halloumi
  • Juice of ½ lemon, plus lemon wedges, to serve
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways
  • and finely sliced
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 200g baby spinach
  • Handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely sliced
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained

For the harissa dressing

  • 1 tsp harissa paste
  • 150ml natural yogurt

Method

  • Place the bulgur wheat in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cook for 20 minutes, until tender and fluffy. Drain and cool.
  • Thinly slice the halloumi and pat dry with kitchen paper. Fry gently in a dry, non-stick frying pan for 2 minutes, until golden and crispy on both sides, turning carefully. Set aside on a plate, then drizzle with the lemon juice and half the oil.
  • Toss the cucumber, tomatoes, spinach, mint, onion and chickpeas into the bulgur wheat. Drizzle with the remaining oil and toss again. Season well and divide between plates, with the halloumi.
  • Mix the harissa into the yogurt and spoon into small serving saucers. Put 1 on each plate, with some lemon wedges to squeeze over the salad.

Healthier shepherd’s pie

  • Serves 4
  • Hands-on time 45 min, oven time 30 min

This traditional pie healthier by replacing a lot of the meat with lentils to reduce the fat, and using cauliflower in the topping to cut down on carbs. To boost the flavour we’ve added more carrot than usual and a little grated parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped into 1cm dice
  • 150g button mushrooms, quartered or cut into chunks if large
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 150g 10% lean lamb mince
  • 250g ready-cooked puy lentils (we used Merchant Gourmet)
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200ml beef or lamb stock
  • Handful fresh oregano, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 350g maris piper potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 350g cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 10g butter
  • 20g parmesan, finely grated

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, then fry for about 8 minutes until starting to soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic, then fry for a further 5 minutes.
  2. Add the mince and lentils, stir to combine and cook for 3-4 minutes until the mince has almost turned brown. Add the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, stock, oregano and Worcestershire sauce, then simmer for 25 minutes. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6.
  3. Meanwhile, put the potatoes and cauliflower in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes until tender, then drain and mash with the butter, salt and pepper.
  4. When the mince is cooked, pour into a 1.5 litre ovenproof dish, then spoon the mash on top to cover. Sprinkle with the parmesan, then bake for 30 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned golden and the sauce is bubbling around the edges. Leave it to stand for 5 minutes, then serve.

Baked beans with turkey meatballs

  • Serves 4
  • Hands-on time 30 min, Simmering time 30 min
  • Easy

For a healthier weeknight dinner, swap spaghetti and meatballs for this combination of turkey meatballs and haricot beans cooked in a rich tomato sauce.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 500g free-range British turkey thigh mince
  • 1 large free-range egg yolk
  • 20g fresh oregano, leaves finely chopped, or 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 400g tin haricot beans, drained and rinsed
  • Small bunch fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Method

  1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a deep frying pan and fry half the onion for 6-7 minutes until softening. Add 1 crushed garlic clove and fry for a minute more, then add the chopped tomatoes and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Add a good pinch of salt and pepper and simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  2. Meanwhile, make the turkey meatballs. Put the remaining onion and remaining garlic clove into a mini food processor and whizz to a fine paste. Spoon into a large bowl with the turkey mince, egg yolk, the rest of the Worcestershire sauce and the oregano. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. Roll the mixture into 16 even balls, then heat another glug of oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs for about 10 minutes, turning, until lightly golden all over. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce along with the beans, then gently simmer for 10 minutes. Scatter parsley over to serve.

Healthier pizza

  • Serves 4
  • Takes 20 minutes to make, 15 minutes to cook, plus proving
  • Easy

A healthier version of the universal favourite. Here you can slice off 163kcals from a traditional pizza recipe per portion

Ingredients

  • 125g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 100g strong wholemeal bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp (4g) fast-action yeast
  • 1 courgette, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp olive oil, plus extra to grease
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 150ml passata
  • 125g mozzarella, drained and torn
  • Good handful of wild rocket
  • 4 Parma ham slices, roughly torn
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Leafy green salad to serve

Method

  1. Sift the white flour and salt into a large bowl, stir in the wholemeal flour and yeast, then make a well in the centre. Add 150-160ml warm water and bring together into a soft, slightly sticky dough with the back of a table knife.
  2. Knead the dough vigorously on a lightly dusted work surface for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Return to the cleaned bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size. Meanwhile, toss the veg, rosemary, oil and garlic in a bowl. Season well and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Knead the dough briefly, halve and shape into 2 evenly sized balls. Stretch and roll each to make a rough 25cm circle. Ease the bases onto 2 floured non-stick rimless baking sheets.
  4. Spread the bases with passata, leaving a 1cm border. Cover with the veg and scatter over the mozzarella. Leave to rise for 5-10 minutes, then bake on the sheets for 12-15 minutes until crisp and golden.
  5. Slide onto chopping boards and scatter with rocket and Parma ham. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, cut into wedges, then serve with a leafy salad.

Make Ahead!…

  • For instant pizzas, make the dough up to the end of step 4, wrap in cling film, then foil, and freeze for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight and continue with the recipe.

A happy, full belly = a happy you!!

Happy New Year Solemothers!!

Love Bashers

xx

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