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A to Z of Vegetables: C is for Carrot

And we’re back with another article in our A to Z of Vegetables series. We are up to C – and C is for Carrot. The humble, cheap, buy a bag of them, carrot. I personally love carrots. We always have a bag in the fridge, and then form part of my weekly meal prep every week without fail. I prepare carrot sticks for snacks, and I prep sliced carrots for steaming during the week. Roasting them adds a delicious caramel flavour and makes them even sweeter.

The Empowered Cook shares the A to Z of Vegetables: today is C for Carrot - including health benefits and recipes that you can make for your family.

They are also high up my favourite list because they are CHEAP. A bag of carrots will only set you back a dollar or so – and you can make so many different options out of that one bag.

The risk is the monontony of course. Simply having carrot sticks every day can be boring. Or just boiling them for dinner is just… well… boring.

The carrot needs some love. It needs to be dressed. To be dipped. Seasoned. Roasted.

Fun Fact: Carrots were not originally orange. They were purple and yellow. Keep an eye out for some different varieties at your farmers market. They might just bring a little something extra to your plate.

Carrots contain antioxidants (may protect against cancer) and they are rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre. All good things for our bodies. This Medical News Today article provides links to specific studies for several types of cancer (lung cancer, colorectal and leukemia) that have positive effects from eating carrots. I personally think that choosing to eat more vegetables in our daily meals is always a good thing – but targeting the ones you eat to help your specific health concerns is just smart.

Bonus Toddler Tip: My little one loves orange and apple juice. I will make this for him in our cold-pressed juicer – but I will sneak in a couple of carrots. They don’t change the colour of the juice – and they simply add some more sweetness – along with a whole heap of good nutrition.

Carrot Recipes to Try:

Harissa Roasted Carrots from Naturally Ella – add a little spice to your carrots

Scallion Roasted Carrots from Naturally Ella – another way to serve carrots as a side dish

Sweet Glazed Carrots from Jamie Oliver – this a great way to serve carrots with the evening meal, but with a twist to keep them interesting

Carrot Dip (yoğurtlu havuç)  – a delicious Turkish recipe from SBS Food. This would be a great one for little ones to try.

Spiced Carrot Muffins with Millet from Naturally Ella – I know this is the third recipe I have shared from this website, but I love it. And this recipe is too good not to share. The little crunchy millet balls in these are just right.

 

Want to read more in the A to Z of Vegetables series? You can – just click here to see the other articles.

 

 

What My Toddler Ate This Week – Toddler Food Ideas

Let’s be honest – my toddler can either be an eating machine or he will simply take a bite and run off to play. It is impossible to predict which toddler will be joining us for a meal. Unless, of course, I am serving mashed potato and sausages – because he will ALWAYS devour those. I thought the best way to show you some toddler food ideas was to actually share with you what my toddler ate this week. Real life toddler food ideas.

I thought the best way to show you some toddler food ideas was to share with you a week of what my toddler eats. Real life toddler food ideas. Join me as I share breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for my toddler this week.

Toddler Food Ideas: Breakfast

For breakfast, my little one is a child of routine. He pretty much has the same breakfast every single morning for weeks at a time. He went through a period of time where we ate weetbix with oat milk or soy milk. Then he had honey on toast for about a month. And now – we’re on to pancakes. I bulk cook these every couple of weeks and store them in the freezer. We simply pop one in the toaster in the morning, and serve it with strawberries, apple or sultanas. And a drizzle of maple syrup.

He will sometimes have two pancakes, if he has woken up extra hungry. I only make small ones – about the size of my palm. Freezing them has been one of the best ways that I can prep breakfast – it has saved me so much time in the mornings.

I use a variety of recipes – but I find these ones to be the best:

Toddler Food Ideas: Lunch

My toddler goes to childcare 5 days a week. We prepare his lunch for those days, while the childcare provides a morning and afternoon snack. Those snacks are generally very similar to what we have at home: carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus, rice crackers, fruit, yoghurt. All very simple.

For his lunch, we prepare a lunchbox. I’ve already shared what we include in there in this post – and there are some great lunchbox toddler food ideas there. Go have a read.

On weekends, his lunches are very similar to his lunchboxes. A variety of things – all wholefood items. Or he might have a simple sandwich. If we have leftovers, he will sometimes share those with us.

This week, we’re all about the lunchboxes. We’ve had leftover sausages chopped up, some cheese, sultanas, crackers. I also added some leftover sweet potato mash – my toddler has always been happy to eat this cold, so it works well in the lunchbox.

For a sweet treat, I like to include a medjool date. This is a wholefood treat – and just a little something for him to eat as part of his lunch.

A toddler lunchbox - real toddler food ideas.

Toddler Food Ideas: Dinner

For dinners, my little one simply eats whatever we eat. I rarely make anything different for him. I may serve it differently – I learnt this tip from an awesome cook book that I highly recommend: Feeding the Family*. In this book, there is a suggestion around serving the components of the meal separately. I tried this recently with a tofu noodle dish. It was meant to be served as a combined pile of noodles and tofu and vegetables – but I instead served it up as a small pile of noodles, a few pieces of tofu and kept the vegetables separately. Even a little pot of the sauce for dipping. You would not believe my surprise when my little one not only ate the tofu – but asked for seconds. I was one proud Mama that night.

This week, we’ve had sausages and mashed potato with vegetables – where my little one ate the carrots, but chewed and then spat out the green beans. That is progress – at least he is putting them in his mouth! 🙂

 

Toddler Food Ideas: Snacks

As I mentioned above, snacks are kept simple. Vegetable sticks, cheese, sultanas, fruit. We do buy some prepared snacks – but I highly recommend reading the ingredients on all of these. We have chosen a brand that only has whole food ingredients – and there are no preservatives or additives.

My little one also LOVES smoothies. His particular favourite is Chocolate Banana. This is so simple: a cup of oat milk, half a frozen banana and 1/4 tsp of raw cacao powder. We then whiz this up with the stick blender. I’m confident he could make this himself – he knows all the ingredients and is pretty great at pouring the milk (thanks Montessori childcare!).

Toddler Food Ideas: Toddler Smoothie

 

What about you? What does your toddler eat? Do you have any major successes? Please comment below and share with us. I’m sure we could all do with some new toddler food ideas!

 

*Note that this is an affiliate link. If you choose to purchase via this link, I will receive a small amount from Book Depository.

Mango and Apple Muffins Recipe

As part of my weekly meal planning, I also list down a few lunchbox treats. Muffins are a big winner in our house. They are easy to make (usually one bowl), and they freeze perfectly. Because of this, they are often on my prep list as part of my weekly meal plan. This Mango and Apple Muffins Recipe is a new addition to my muffin repertoire.

I share my Mango and Apple Muffins Recipe, using frozen mango pieces and applesauce. The muffins are fluffy and tender and full of goodness. Easy to make and a great lunchbox treat.

I discovered it by accident. I had some leftover frozen mango pieces, and I had just made fresh applesauce from my leftover apples for the week. Thinking those flavours would work well together, I whipped up these muffins. And my oh my – they are yum.

This Mango and Apple Muffins Recipe is actually based on a very simple basic muffin recipe. You can completely swap out the mango, apple and coconut for any of the following:

  • Apple and Cinnamon (use applesauce or chopped apple, with a tsp of cinnamon)
  • Pear and Sultana and Cardamon (use chopped pear, 1/4 sultanas and a 1/2 tsp of cardamon)
  • Orange and Poppy Seed (use the rind of the orange, with a few heaped tablespoons of poppy seeds)
  • Raspberry and Coconut (use frozen raspberries instead of the mango and applesauce)
  • Blueberry (replace the mango with blueberry and skip the coconut)

This is why I love muffins. This very basic recipe can be swapped around to suit what you have in your kitchen. I often make apple muffins at the end of the week – just to use up what is left in our fruit bowl. I nearly always have frozen berries in the freezer, so I can very quickly whip up a batch using just my pantry items. It is the recipe that just keeps on giving.

Hints and Tips

At the time, I made 6 giant muffins – but they would easily work in a 12 muffin pan. I will sometimes stretch this out to 16 or 18 muffins too – they are just smaller than normal, but they fit better in my toddler’s lunchbox.

I also froze mine – and they defrosted perfectly. They have been a great way to introduce mango to my little one, and also to see us eat a little more in our diet as we’re not big fresh mango eaters.

Mango and Apple Muffins
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup brown or raw sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk can be non-dairy
  • 1/2 cup rice bran or coconut oil
  • 1 cup mango pieces, slightly defrosted
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 1/4 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease your chosen muffin pan (either a large 6 cup or a 12 cup). I grease mine with a little rice bran or coconut oil.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg, milk and oil. Add the mango and applesauce, and the flours, coconut and bicarb - and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix (this is what keeps the muffins light and fluffy). 

  3. Spoon evenly into your muffin pans. Bake for 20 mins or until golden on top and cooked through. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then remove to a wire cooling rack. 

I hope you give this recipe a try. Please share your pictures on Instagram and tag me (@theempoweredcook) in your post with the #theempoweredcook hashtag. I would love to see how you go.

 

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A to Z of Vegetables: B is for Broccoli

Welcome back to the A to Z of Vegetables series. You can read the rest of the series here. Today – we’re up to the letter B, and I’ve chosen Broccoli. Why? Because very few people in my house love broccoli – and I feel it needs some extra love and attention.

The Empowered Cook shares the A to Z of Vegetables: today is B is for Broccoli - including health benefits, recipe ideas and a personal loved recipe for broccoli.

We buy a head of broccoli every week. I eat it for breakfast with scrambled eggs, in my salad at lunch and in a multitude of ways for dinner. My toddler on the other hand, not so much. He will find the tiniest little floret of broccoli hidden in his mash potato. It is like he has a super power for finding this stuff. But – I persist. I always serve it to him, in the hope that he’ll eat it.

Health Benefits

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable – just like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. It is now a commonly held understanding that these sorts of vegetables are high in cancer fighting properties. Broccoli in particular, is also reported to have many other health benefits like better wound healing, liver protection, and improved fertility. Not to mention, it is delicious and versatile in the kitchen. And – you only need to eat about 2 spears to have this count as one serve in your 5-vegetables-a-day quota.

Have I convinced you to add this to your shopping list yet?

Recipes to Inspire

Cheesy Broccoli – this combo is fast and delicious

Green Curry Broccoli Soup – I know this might sound weird. But really – give this a try. Please. And then let me know how much you love it.

Broccoli Noodles – I think this could be a great recipe for young kids. I haven’t made this – but I love everything that Heather at Beauty That Moves makes, so I’m confident this is a winner. Will be adding to my meal plan soon!

My Favourite Broccoli Recipe

I have always loved broccoli. And when I discovered roasted broccoli – oh my. A whole new level of love opened up for me. This recipe now forms part of my weekly prep. I use the roasted spears in my salads for lunch and I throw a few in with my scrambled eggs in the morning. Roasting the broccoli adds a wonderful depth to the sometimes bitter broccoli – and once you add a few extra spices, it takes on a life of its own. Enjoy.

Roasted Broccoli Recipe
Ingredients
  • 1 head broccoli
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper. 

  2. Chop your broccoli into individual florets. You might like to chop the larger ones in half or quarters - until they are all about the same size.

  3. Scatter these onto your baking tray and drizzle with olive oil.

  4. Season with the onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Then, using your hands, gently toss the broccoli to coat it with the oil and seasonings.

  5. Place in the oven and cook for 20-30mins. Keep an eye on it - and when it is nice and brown around the edges, remove from the oven and serve immediately.

  6. Note: you can store this in the fridge for about 3 days. Add to salads or reheat for a later dinner. 

 

 

5 Freezer Meals to Make This Weekend

Do you want dinner on the table fast and with minimal effort? Are weeknight dinners a problem for you? Do you often opt for takeaway, purely because you just don’t have enough time to get a meal on the table? All you need is a few hours – here are 5 freezer meals to make this weekend.

My freezer is our saving grace during the week. With both of us working outside the home for the majority of the week, we often don’t arrive home until 6pm. That means we need to have dinner on the table fast if we are to get our little one to bed at a reasonable time. I use my weekends to prep our meals for the week. And my freezer is stocked with great meals that we can simply defrost and heat up in the oven.

Want dinner on the table fast? These 5 freezer meals to make this weekend will see you feeding your family with ease next week.

Here are our favourite 5 freezer meals to make this weekend.

#1 – Chicken Parmesan Casserole

I whipped this one up last weekend. I had spent the day making chicken stock – so I had a whole lot of chicken to use. This dish was perfect.

And it was SO easy to whip up. It was just an assembly process really. Layer it all in the pan (I use an aluminium foil pan) and then cover, label and stick it in the freezer. All done in less than 15 minutes – and dinner #1 is done.

You can check out the recipe here.

#2 – Roasted Butternut Pumpkin Macaroni & Cheese

You can hardly taste the pumpkin in this one – but it is such a bonus vegetable in an otherwise pasta only dish. As a Mama of a little one, any chance I can include another vegetable is a win in my books.

I followed the instructions on this one to freeze it. I made it well ahead of time – and it was still super delicious once we defrosted it.

It does take a little more prep time than the other meals – but it also makes a LOT. I’d suggest dividing this up into smaller freezer meals, and serving this as a side dish with sausages and some green vegies.

You can find the recipe here.

#3 – Four Cheese Baked Penne

This is another one that I whipped up last weekend. It was super simple again – I really love the ‘assembly’ style freezer meals. If you manage your time right, you can prep a whole bunch in just a couple of hours.

I opted to include the additional parmesan and skip the feta in this one – so technically it was a 3 Cheese Baked Penne in my house. But oh yum – it was delicious.

Check out the recipe here.

#4 – Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce

I always have this in the freezer. Always.

Honestly – all you need to do is cook up a batch of pasta, reheat this sauce (no need to even defrost this) – and dinner is served.

I make a large batch, and divide up into sandwich size snap lock bags. I lay these flat in the freezer until they are frozen, and then I can stand them upright – kinda like a “library of sauces”.

Definitely give this one a go.

#5 – Burgers

Now this is not technically a meal – more a prep technique. But still – it is a time saver. And you can make a whole lot in bulk – and they’ll last months in the freezer.

All you’ll need to do is have some buns, and some salad items ready – and you can have a burger made for dinner in no time at all.

Check out the method here.

 

Get cracking this weekend – and you can have dinner for next week sorted. These 5 freezer meals to make this weekend will see you stock your freezer in no time.

What other recipes do you like to make as a freezer meal? Tell us in the comments below.

How to Eat Brussels Sprouts

Knowing how to eat Brussels Sprouts is important. No more soggy, boiled sprouts. No one likes those. Brussels Sprouts can be delicious – you just need to know how to eat them.

I grew up with steamed or boiled sprouts. I still ate them. But not many others did.

Today I’ll share my favorite options for how to eat Brussels Sprouts. Even if you try just one – do it. Buy some sprouts and enjoy them. You’ll be surprised.

Three delicious options for how to eat Brussels Sprouts - stir-fry, roast and hash. All easy and fast - to help your family eat their Brussels Sprouts!

#1 – Stir-Fried Brussels Sprouts

When I was at University, I lived with a Thai flatmate for a while and she made the most delicious sprouts. They were stir-fried with garlic and fish sauce – and served with rice. Wow. I still salivate thinking about them.

You’ll need to chop up your Brussels Sprouts for this one. I chop the bottom off, and then slice into quarters. Yes, the leaves may fall off – but that’s ok. You’ll also need to chop about 4 cloves of garlic.

To cook: start by heating your wok (or frypan) until hot, and then add a dash of oil (I use rice bran oil or coconut). Add your Brussels Sprouts and stir-fry until they are softer but still crunchy. Add your garlic and quickly stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Then season with fish sauce. About a tablespoon is how I like it. Alternatively, you can use some soy sauce.

Serve immediately over some steamed rice.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

#2 – Roasted Brussels Sprouts

While working on the options for how to eat Brussels Sprouts – I knew I needed to include a roasted option. This is probably my favourite way to eat them. Firstly, because it is easy. And secondly, because I’ve had success with others this way. My little one is still pretty hesitant – but he has eaten them this way.

To roast them, I cut the bottoms off, and slice in half. I put these on the tray (lined with baking paper) and then drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can throw on some garlic cloves if you like too.

Roast in a hot oven (200 degrees celsius) until crispy brown on the edges.

I particularly like these served with something creamy. They are super delicious served alongside a creamy pasta – like a macaroni and cheese. Trust me. They are yum.

Also – feel free to simply add Brussels Sprouts to your tray of roast vegetables. Nestled among potatoes, pumpkin and carrots – they are a great addition of greens and another bonus option for how to eat Brussels Sprouts.

#3 – Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Hash

Bacon makes everything taste better, doesn’t it? Adding bacon can entice even the most hesitant family member to try these.

To improve my chance of success even more – I like to make hash. This means shredding everything up, nice and fine and cooking into a big delicious mess.

To make this dish, I shred my Brussels Sprouts in a food processor using the grater attachment. You can finely slice them by hand of course, but the food processor just makes the prep faster.

I also slice some leek (or onion), and some garlic. Chop a few slices of bacon too.

In a hot frypan, add a little olive oil and start to cook your bacon. After a couple of minutes, add your leek or onion. Cook until the onion is soft. Next – add your garlic, quickly followed by the Brussels Sprouts. Now, keep stirring this, but press it down as you cook it. You want the sprouts to fry off in the bacon fat, and to start to crisp up.

This should take around 10 minutes or so.

I like to serve this hash with a poached egg. Again, the runny egg yolk with the bacon becomes the dominant flavour – and the Brussels Sprouts simply become a dose of green in the background. Really yum.

How do you eat your Brussels Sprouts? What do you think of my options? Are you going to give it a go? Add it to your weekly meal plan? Tell me in the comments below.

Recipe: Sausages in the Oven

I grew up with the humble sausages, mash and veg being a family dinner staple. This has continued into my adulthood. My family and I love sausages. We eat them every week. This recipe for how to cook sausages in the oven has meant that we can enjoy these often, but without the hassle of a greasy kitchen! And they are a set and forget kind of meal – an added bonus with a hungry toddler at your feet.

Are sausages a family favourite in your house? This recipe for how to cook sausages in the oven is fast and easy. It also keeps your kitchen splatter free!

I used to fry my sausages on the stovetop. Just a little swizzle of oil, and fry away. This method worked well when I could keep my undivided attention on the frypan, and had an uninterrupted leisurely cleanup at the end of dinner.

Now – with a toddler running around, frying anything on the stove is really just not an option. Plus, our after dinner routine needs to be quick and easy – our priority is to get our little one in the bath, and in his pajamas so that bedtime can happen.

So I came up with this method to cook sausages in the oven. We experimented a couple of different ways – but this is my favourite way to cook them.

Note

The addition of the leek is interchangeable with other onions, but also you can just as easily leave it out.

Recipe: Sausages in the Oven
Ingredients
  • 1 leek
  • 6 thick sausages
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.

  2. Cut both ends from your leek. Because we're effectively roasting the leek, we can use both the green and white parts. Make sure to rinse the leek really well (I slice it long ways and then rinse under running water). Slice into 1cm wide slices. 

  3. In the bottom of a baking pan (or casserole dish), drizzle a couple of tbsps of olive oil. Scatter the leek over the oil.

  4. Lay your sausages over the leek. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. 

  5. Pop into your oven, and cook for approx. 45mins. You will need to check these and turn the sausages over at least once, half way through. The cooking time will depend on the thickness and size of your sausages - so keep an eye on them. 

  6. Serve with mashed potato, and steamed vegetables. 

 

Recipe: Potato Cakes

This Potato Cakes Recipes uses the simplest of ingredients – and is solely based around leftover mashed potato. Now, leftover mash doesn’t occur very often in my house. It is a family favourite. But I have recently been increasing the amount that I’m making, so that I can specifically have leftovers. We will generally use these as part of the next night’s dinner – but then I discovered these Potato Cakes. And yum – they were a hit.

We made these over the weekend as lunch. I then reheated some on Sunday for breakfast, served alongside mushrooms and spinach and a poached egg. Triple yum. My little one even enjoyed his just cold and straight from the fridge. Getting a little to egg vegies at breakfast isn’t exactly easy – so I was happy with this!

This recipe for Potato Cakes uses leftover mashed potato to make an easy brunch or light dinner focus. A helpful way to avoid wasting leftover mash!

Notes

To make these, you will need cold mashed potato. Ideally leftovers. However, if you wanted to, you could make a batch of mash specifically for these. I’d just suggest doing that in advance, so that you have time to refrigerate and chill your mash.

I also think this recipe would work with other types of mash: sweet potato or pumpkin. You would likely need to increase the flour for the pumpkin ones though. Experiment!

Recipe: Potato Cakes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cold mashed potato
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp rice bran oil
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the cold mashed potato, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, egg and flour. You might need to add more flour - it depends on how wet your mashed potato is. 

  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, over a medium high heat. You need enough oil to cover the base of the pan (for a shallow fry). 

  3. Scooping dessertspoons of potato mix, form patties. 

  4. Place patties carefully into oil in the frying pan. Cook for 3-5mins until golden brown. Turn over and repeat on other side.

  5. Drain on paper towel and serve with a fresh salad. Also great for breakfast with bacon and eggs. 

 

Recipe: Chicken and Spinach Pie

It is getting colder here. The autumn coolness is giving way to the chill of winter. This is my favourite time of year – not just for the great layers of clothes and scarves, but also for the cooking. I do my best cooking in cold weather – hearty, wholesome food. This Chicken and Spinach Pie is no exception – it is tasty, easy, and a family favourite.

The Empowered Cook shares her Chicken and Spinach Pie recipe - a hearty, wholesome pie made with leftover chicken and silverbeet, topped with puff pastry.

I make this using leftover chicken. Often this is as a result of making chicken stock – where I’ll be able to use the stock and the chicken to make this dish.

The Empowered Cook shares her Chicken and Spinach Pie recipe - a hearty, wholesome pie made with leftover chicken and silverbeet, topped with puff pastry.

Recipe Note

I have a square casserole dish that I use – mainly because it is the perfect shape for a single piece of puff pastry. Obviously you don’t need to have one like this, but you’ll just need to find a dish that works well with the puff pastry that you have.

Now – on with the recipe!

 

Chicken and Spinach Pie
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 sticks celery diced
  • 1 bunch parsley chopped (stalks kept separate)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups cooked chicken shredded
  • 4 cups silverbeet chopped
  • 1 sheet store bought puff pastry
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celsius. 

  2. Heat a large pan on a medium high heat. Add your olive oil.

  3. Add onions, celery and parsley stalks to the pan. Sweat (stirring frequently) for around 8 minutes, until soft. Add salt if starting to brown.

  4. Add the bay leaf and garlic, and cook for another minute or two (careful not to burn the garlic). Note: at this point, you can also add any leftover chicken skin (cut into small pieces). This gives it a chance to get a little crispy. 

  5. Add the butter to the pan and give everything a good stir, as the butter melts.

  6. Add the flour to the pan, and cook it out for a few minutes. Stir constantly. 

  7. Next, add the chicken stock and continue stirring. The mix should thicken at this point - so feel free to add a little dash or two of water, if it starts to get too thick. 

  8. Season with salt and pepper and give it a taste to adjust. It should be full of flavour at this point. 

  9. Add your chicken and stir through. 

  10. Add your silverbeet and continue to stir. Remember that silverbeet will wilt down quite a lot, so don't be alarmed at the amount at the beginning. Just keep stirring, and it will wilt down to nothing. 

  11. Finally, add your chopped parsley leaves. Taste again and adjust seasoning if needed. 

  12. Place this filling in your chosen pie dish, and cover with the puff pastry. Remember to pop a little hole in the middle of pastry too. 

  13. Place your pie in the oven for around 25-35mins - until the pastry is golden brown and puffed. 

Recipe Notes

Serve this pie with mashed potato. It's also just good by itself though - and super delicious reheated the next day. 

Surprisingly, it also freezes well. Just portion up any leftovers and freeze. Alternatively, freeze the pie filling once cooked - and then simply assemble the pie with the puff pastry on the day of cooking. 

Recipe: Homemade Chips

This recipe for Homemade Chips is inspired by Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. This manifesto is all about how to eat real food – and he presents this in a series of ‘rules’ to govern the way you eat. One of his rules is that you can eat all the junk food you want, you just have to cook it yourself.

I like this rule. It reminds me of being a kid. We would rarely buy dinner – unless it was the weekly fish+chips. But we would eat burgers, chips, hot dogs, milkshakes – but Mum (or Dad) would make them. And because they are fiddly, and not easy to make – we wouldn’t have them very often. Self-regulating treats.

My homemade chips are my version of a take-away dinner. My toddler loves chips – and he eats these practically by the handful.

The Empowered Cook shares a simple, easy recipe for homemade chips - potato baked in the oven with garlic and herbs. A toddler friendly and healthy recipe.

Serving Suggestion

I’ll serve them with meatballs, steak, schnitzel, or even a fried egg. Sometimes just a big salad is a good accompaniment.

Recipe Notes

You can also use this same recipe for any root vegetable. Sweet potato, carrot or pumpkin are all delicious. But so is parsnip, turnip, swede or even beetroot. Get adventurous – throw in a chopped turnip and give it a go. Your family probably won’t even notice.

Don’t have herbs? Skip them. Don’t have garlic? Skip it too. This recipe is flexible like that. The garlic and herbs add a wonderful flavour – but they aren’t at all necessary.

I will often use this recipe to prep food for the week. These are actually delicious cold (in our lunchboxes).

Homemade Chips
Ingredients
  • 4 large potatoes washed
  • 1 head garlic
  • 6-8 sprigs thyme
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. 

  2. Cut your potatoes in half, and then into "chip" size shapes. I do this by cutting the potato in half, laying it flat, and then slice the potato in long strips. Any that are too think, get chopped again. 

  3. Place these "chips" onto the tray - making a single layer, and no overcrowding too much. 

  4. Break your head of garlic into individual cloves - no need to peel. Place these cloves among your "chips" on the baking tray.

  5. Scatter the thyme over the tray too. 

  6. Drizzle olive oil over the "chips". Season with salt and pepper.

  7. Mix together so that everything is well coated.

  8. Pop in the oven for about 45mins to an hour. Check the "chips" after about 30 mins, and cook until soft, and crispy to your personal taste.