Monday, September 4, 2017

War on TV Chefs....Keep it Simple...

What is it about TV Chefs and cooking shows that frustrates me so?
And since when does the average family have to eat something that looks like it came out of a five star hotel kitchen, 7 days a week?
What is wrong with good old fashioned meals that are wholesome, healthy and easy to prepare, mostly use one baking dish or pan, and take mere minutes to clean up after?
I know that the last thing I want to do at the end of a long day, is use every pan in the house to cook dinner, thus creating a bench full of washing up. All well and good for the TV Chefs. They've got someone else to do that for them. I might add, that someone else also dices the onions, minces the garlic, measures the stock out into a jug and so forth. It all looks so easy when it's a pinch of this and a cup of that already neatly measured in cute little containers and dollhouse sized bowls. The TV Chefs don't have to go to the pantry and refrigerator, get all of that out, then put it all away again, do they now?
Unless it's a special occasion, I rarely cook anything that requires fancy ingredients or a gazillion dishes. That's a fools game.
In the last fortnight, while my daughter was recovering from an Appendectomy, and my Mother-in-Law was in hospital with multiple health issues, keeping things simple was truly the name of the game. And guess what? We ate well. I would venture to say that we perhaps ate better than we usually would because I had planned my menu and allowed for flexibility to take advantage of bargains and seasonal produce. Using a list I had shopped accordingly, then I'd stored my groceries carefully to avoid waste or spoilage. There's nothing worse than getting to weeks end, and discovering slimy deli meat or half eaten whatever, hiding amongst the Parsley and Pork sausages up the back of the refrigerator. 
Sausage and Vegetable Bake
The evening my daughter The Diva returned home from hospital, I threw this meal together. We were all well and truly knackered, and craving comfort food. Into a baking dish went a sliced eggplant, chopped zucchini, halved cherry and grape tomatoes, onion, carrots and a bulb of garlic, along with a few pork and apple sausages.
I drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it generously with Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and other aromatic stuff, and into the oven it went for about 45 minutes.
It was delicious. One baking dish. Three dinner plates. Three sets of cutlery and a cooking knife. That's it. Ingredients? Six plus some herbs and oil. Time involved? Three minutes to prepare, literally, three minutes. 45 minutes in the oven. Washing up? Three minutes.
One Pan Chicken Roast Dinner
That was such a hit, that I prepped a chicken the same way the next night. I just peeled and halved some carrots lengthwise, laid them on a bed of diced potato, corn and zucchini, and sat the chicken, sprayed with olive oil, stuffed with a lemon, and sprinkled with herbs on top. An hour and 15 minutes later, dinner was ready. One baking dish, three plates, three sets of cutlery and a knife to wash up. Three minutes to prepare (tip...washed potatoes whilst a little more expensive are treated like a convenience food peeling!).
Glazed Meatballs, Five Vegetable Meatloaf
The next night I'd defrosted some mince, so half became meatballs, baked in the oven with some strawberry jam glaze (don't knock it till you've tried it!), steamed rice, roasted cherry tomatoes and steamed baking dish, one microwave safe jug to steam the rice AND the beans...hardly any washing up...
...and the other half became a meatloaf loaded with vegetables that fed all three of us for lunch for 3 days, with just a few walnuts on the side. Everything else was in the meatloaf. When you make rissoles or burger patties, double the ingredients. Add some veges to half, and just plop that into a loaf tin, and bake it for about 45 minutes too. Such an easy meal for another day for no additional effort. Ignore that stuff about baking your meatloaf in a water bath. It's nonsense. I've never done that, and my meatloaf is a firm family favourite.
Honey Drizzled Greek Yoghurt
Dessert if you must, was and is often, home made yoghurt, (find that recipe here) simply served with nuts and berries. A drizzle of honey or maple syrup, if you're a sweet tooth, is a nice bonus.
Ploughmans Platters
Lunches here were equally simple. Variations on a Ploughmans Platter are the lunch du jour, and served with a chilled glass of water garnished with a lemon slice and a couple of strawberry slivers, and eaten in the sunshine, they're hard to beat. Prep time? About a minute. Washing up? One plate each, and a knife maybe to slice the ham and the cheese and tomatoes.

One Bowl Salads

One bowl salads are great too, and we enjoyed this particular version on two separate days with different protein added. This one is just a matter of roasting some cherry tomatoes, and tossing them with a tin of any kind of beans (I used Cannellini), some salad leaves, seasoning and olive oil. Really delicious with diced poached chicken, sliced chorizo, or even an egg done your favourite way. Prep time? 3 minutes plus 20 for roasting the tomatoes. Washing up? One oven tray, three bowls, three sporks. They're those things that are fork, spoon and knife all in one handle piece of cutlery. We love them.
Eggs Benedict & Breakfast Tortillas
Lazy breakfasts were truly lazy. Poached eggs with a Cheats Hollandaise (find that recipe in this post here) over muffins as seen below, or a couple of eggs cracked straight into the pan, and scrambled with a fork, cooked omelette style with some diced bacon thrown in, and folded inside a warmed tortilla with some baby spinach, or even eggs cooked inside tomato rings as seen at the top of my post, were delish, and entailed nothing more than one pan, and plates for serving. Prep time 5-8 minutes. Washing up? One pan, three plates.
Vegetarian Noodles

One night, all we wanted was some veges. So into the pan they went, lightly sautéed and served with Pad Thai Noodles tossed with seasonings like garlic salt, pepper, and chilli. Ok, two pans for that as the noodles had to be cooked, but three bowls and 3 sporks and 2 pans is about two minutes worth of washing up or rinsing for the dishwasher. And that was a truly mouthwatering meal.
No Pot Required Noodle Soup
Some days all you want when you're recovering from surgery, is a bowl of soup. So soup it was for The Diva. This is her favourite and it's simply boiling water poured over a handful of Pad Thai noodles, and spiced with a chicken stock cube, a drizzle of sesame oil, a quarter of a teaspoon of minced ginger and garlic, and a dribble of soy sauce. No pan necessary. 2 minutes to prepare and one bowl a fork and a spoon to wash. You could add some carrot slivers and snow peas to this and it would be a great instant meal.
Honestly, plan ahead, shop smart, do a little extra on nights when you can, and you'll eat well with virtually no effort whatsoever. I'm the ultimate lazy cook, and we eat healthfully, with plenty of variety, and rarely more than a single pan and the plates we've eaten from to wash.
Ban TV chefs from your place like I have.
You don't need those silly duffers. They have an army of people to help them.
We, do not.
What's your favourite one pan, one bowl or instant meal?


  1. You cook beautifully, Mimi! I love your style!
    Our favourite instant meal is easily fried eggs and baked beans (from the one pan!!) served on buttered toast!
    Once, when travelling, we invented the 'Coonamble sandwich' - egg fried using a small gas bottle, and sandwiched in buttered bread and topped with pepper!! That simple!
    Thank you for your wonderful post!


    1. Dear Rachel, I think you and I are a mutual admiration society. Your recent post at The Bluebirds are Nesting and your ravioli recipe have inspired me to try ravioli! Ahhh...the old fried egg sandwich...a personal favourite of mine. Love your name for! Mimi xxx

    2. Ha ha!! Mimi, that's what my husband calls us all -- a mutual admiration society!!
      Well, we're trying to encourage each other to find the best in life!!

  2. Some great meals there, Mimi. I never watch the cooking shows as they are not realistic. When I had the flu all I felt like was soup...plain and simple. I was kicking myself that I didn't have any in the freezer for my husband to warm up.

    1. Hi Chel. I agree. Cooking shows are NOT realistic even for them being called 'Reality TV'. That's a misnomer if ever there was one! I agree that when you're not well, anything that is easily digested is good. I always seem to crave mashed potato! Mimi xxx

  3. Dear Mrs. Mimi:

    You are just the best. I've long had the same ideas about TV chefs and simple meals. However, when I married my husband 6 years ago, I wanted to "impress" him with elaborate meals and such. I created more work than was completely necessary (I have four daughters... ;) So over these 6 years, I've embraced exactly what you have posted. I still have a ways to go but I am sure appreciative of your blog and totally embrace the wisdom you share. Our favorite one pot meal at the present is called Herb Roasted Chicken and Potatoes. I came across this recipe on another blog. My family consists of several picky eaters. This recipe makes the majority of them happy. lol :) Here is the link: I hope you have Lovely day! xoxo, Melinda

    1. Dear Melinda, oh yes! Impressing the man. We've all done! Men do like a good meal, but funnily enough, they are mostly happy with the simple things. I love the Herb Roasted Chicken recipe. A definite on my menu plan for next week. Thanks! Love, Mimi xxx

  4. Dear mimi, those meals sound so good and simple I'm goingbtovtryvtuem when I get home from our week away .
    I hope the Diva is feeling herself and you are recovering from your flu , love and hugs , Maria xxx

    1. Dear Maria, I love a simple meal, served well. You know me. Chicken broth with dumplings and fresh herbs is a feast in my eyes. The Diva is recovering well and back at school but must miss her final Dance Night as a Senior on medical orders. She's a bit sad of course, but has so much more to look forward to. One door closes, another one opens. Mimi xxx

    2. Thanks Mimi , just saw your reply now I'm home. Ive noted down the recipes above and look forward to trying them.Sorry the Diva had to miss final dance night after all her year's work , love and hugs to her , special lady xxx love Maria x

  5. We eat good, well prepared food. Bluey's rissoles are baked in a muffin tin and are called muffoles in this house. he loads them with whatever veg needs using up. He serves them on a bed of veg, sometimes done in white sauce or with a mushroom gravy. Last week we had visitors with 6 adults and one toddler at the table. We had spaghetti bog, muffoles with veg in white sauce, apricot chicken with steamed rice and veg, vegetable frittata and the visitors took us out for a meal. You don't need much more than basics for all of this. I baked batons so we could have garlic bread. We had some over ripe bananas which became banana cake. There was icecream for anyone who wanted dessert. I don't have a dishwasher and didn't feel overloaded with washing up each evening. I don't know what half the ingredients are that the TV chefs use and I don't plan on buying odd, use once in a moon ingredients.
    I hope your household is managing to overcome illness. I am sneezing to the point of not being able to see out of my watering eyes. I wonder what is flowering to cause this. Antihistamine time.

    1. Dear Jane, oh muffoles made me laugh! Very cute. That meal sounds like a feast to me and as you say, all simple stuff. I saw a TV chef use 6 different cheeses and some truffles on a pizza the other day. WTH??? Here, you get pumpkin and feta on your pizza and be done with! Yes we are all well here now, thankyou. But yes...the sneezing. Spring has sprung! Mimi xxx

  6. As we are in the process of packing up this house and moving to a new home elsewhere, we are eating down our food supplies. In particular we are making many simple meals from canned beans. Simple they may be but my gosh they have been delicious and FAR from boring! Quite a bit of inspiration from your posts and recipes Mimi :)

  7. Opps, have neglected to add - your poached chicken recipe - bit of tweaking at this end using what I have to hand plus frozen chicken from freezer that must be used up - I must say I am getting severely addicted to that chicken, and the stock from its cooking......... yum! Who needs chefs and their TV shows!


I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx