Meatball and feta Traybake

This is without a doubt one of those quick meals that is also easy AND tasty! Hurrah for small mercies, right?

I found the recipe in the Olive Magazine (May 2019 issue) and although they have chorizo and pork mince and they make their own meatballs – I went the lazy route and just opened up a bag of pre-made frozen meatballs and it worked well in our family ūüôā

This is a great Mid-week recipe for a busy family! (and only one “pot” to wash up at the end – another hurrah!)

Meatball and feta traybake

400g Meatballs (I used pre-made frozen ones… like Ikea’s)
500g baby potatoes (cut in half)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
200g baby tomatoes (cut in half)
200g feta (crumbled)
Flatleaf parsley (handful / chopped)

  • Toss the potatoes in the olive oil and scatter on the bottom of a non-stick roasting tin.
  • Roast for 20 minutes at 200C
  • Add the meatballs and cook for a further 15 minutes
  • Then add the tomato & Feta and cook for a further 10-15 minutes (or until the tomatoes start to soften or the feta is starting to melt and turn a pale golden)
  • Remove from oven and scatter parsley on top

Chilli Con Carne

Nothing says comfort quite like a warming bowl of Chilli right? And helping me¬†to eat “clean” without breaking the bank is Colruyt (a Belgian retail store that offers good quality, fresh ingredients¬†with a no fuss attitude).

Can you believe that I had never eaten (or even had the inclination to even try) a bowl of Chilli before I moved to Brussels 10 years ago? But one fine (rainy Belgian) day, my Spanish friend, Sonia, had invited a few of us around for a meal and produced this magnificent meal and I was hooked.

I begged her for the recipe, which she kindly provided and I have been making it regularly ever since. The below has some minor adaptions to the original recipe that she gave me but in essence has not been altered too much!

Chilli con Carne

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1Tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves ‚Äď crushed
2 red chillies, chopped
500g mince (I use a combination of pork/beef)
tin of tomato paste
500ml Passatta
425g tin of red kidney beans (I like to use the variant that is already in chilli sauce)
1 green pepper ‚Äď diced
200g tin of sweetcorn
250ml stock (I prefer to use chicken stock)
1 teaspoon brown sugar

  1. Heat frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Add cumin, allspice, chilli flakes and paprika and *dry fry* for about a minute to release the flavours
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and spices and cook for 2-3minutes
  4. Add garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute
  5. Add mince and cook on a high heat for 4-5minutes until the meat has browned
  6. Add the tomato paste, passatta, beans, green pepper, sweetcorn, sugar and stock
  7. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Top with some diced Avocado, cream cheese or a sprinkle of grated cheese… the choice is yours!

Mom’s Savoury Beef

Thank goodness for mom’s, eh?

My mommabear spent 5weeks with us while I was on maternity leave with Little Miss and not only did she provide much-needed¬†support, love and help… but she also shared some wonderful recipes with me!

savoury beef 1

This Savoury beef dish has been a firm favourite from my childhood and although I had the recipe written down, I lacked the courage to test it out without her there! (Yes, mid-30’s and still scared of messing up… oops!) ūüôā

The recipe is for a 1,5kg piece of beef, but when we made it – I used a smaller cut and halved the rest of the ingredients and it still came out great! Would I make it again? Hell, yes…¬† this is a perfect “let it cook slowly” kind of meal… giving you time to do all the other things on your list (like play/cuddle with baby and/or husband, laundry, phone a friend, etc :))

Savoury Beef

1,5kg (3lbs) piece of beef
2 garlic cloves
Salt & Pepper
3 medium onions
1 tin tomato paste
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 cup of vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • Brown the whole piece of meat in some oil in a heavy saucepan (I used my Le Creuset casserole dish that has a lid)
  • Add onions, garlic, salt & pepper and tomato paste to the pot
  • Either simmer on the stove for 3-4hr or place in the oven at a low heat 140C for the same amount of time (I turned the piece of meat half way)
  • You might think that there isn’t enough liquid… but the meat juices along with the tomato paste, onions, etc seem to start a beautiful braising liquid that bubbles away gently around the piece of meat
  • Add Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard and sugar and simmer for a further 1.5hours
  • Slice the¬†meat (which should be¬†so tender that¬†it falls apart)¬†and serve with the sauce

savoury beef 2

Leek, Bacon and Roquefort Risotto

One of the benefits of being on maternity leave is that I am home during the day… and that Little Miss normally sleeps for at least 2 straight hours sometime during this time … which means that HIM and I can either have an early or late lunch together (the timing is dependent on her sleeping schedule… go figure :))

This recipe was from my “must make” pile – Olive magazine (February 2010 issue) – although their version didn’t have the bacon… and I didn’t have any white wine to add to the risotto. Other than that… it is pretty much the same and is really (REALLY) delicious! A definite make again.

risotto 3

Leek, Bacon & Roquefort Risotto

olive oil
25g butter
2 leeks, sliced
125g risotto rice
100g bacon, sliced
900ml stock
100g Roquefort (gorgonzola or blue cheese)

risotto 1


  • Heat the olive oil & half the butter in a pan
  • Fry the bacon & leeks together for 5-10minutes
  • Add the rice and stir to coat in the oil/butter
  • Add a ladleful of stock and simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed
  • continue adding ladleful of stock and repeat until all the stock is used and the rice is tender and creamy
  • Remove from heat and add the cheese and remaining butter

risotto 2

Stuffed butternut

HIM came home with a recipe for me the other day… a page that he had seen in a magazine featuring meat stuffed butternut and asked me to make it.

stuffed butternut 3

Who am I to refuse HIM? The man who eats to live … not like me… who lives to eat… so if he has a particular interest in a meal, I will make it!

The recipe came from the store magazine of Delitraiteur Рwhich has been around for 22 years, with 35 shops across Belgium, open 7 days a week from 07h00 to 22h00 and focusing on offering ready-made meals, fresh bread, fruit/veg and a range of quality goods.

I adapted the recipe based on what was in our fridge… (i.e. no goats cheese) and I actually roasted the butternut before scooping out the centre and adding it to the mince!

stuffed butternut 1

Stuffed butternut

1 butternut (cut lengthways & seeds scooped out)
250g mince (beef/pork mix)
80ml tomato paste
100ml passata
1 teaspoon sugar
garlic (crushed)
olive oil
2 Tablespoons parmesan cheese

  • heat olive oil in a saucepan and add mince & crushed garlic – cook until brown
  • Add the sugar, tomato paste & pasatta (and a splash of water to make sure that there is sufficient liquid in the pot)
  • reduce heat and leave to simmer for 10-20min
  • Season butternut, add a drizzle of olive oil and bake at 180C for 30min
  • Scoop out the cooked butternut and mix in with the mince
  • Add the mixture back into the butternut shells, top with cheese¬†and return to the oven for 15min (180C)

stuffed butternut 2

Asparagus and bacon Quiche

Little Miss is 2weeks old today… and I still can’t get over the awe and amazement of gazing into her face every day… and that she is our little girl! (I also can’t get over the fact that she was inside me for 9months, but that is a whole other story!)

So far… sleeping has not really been that easy (or at least at nighttime for her anyway)… which means that both HIM and I are walking zombies some days… but we are trying to put some kind of a schedule together and sharing the load… which makes things far more manageable and of course eating/cooking has also been “rostered”¬†with each of us taking a turn to make sure that there is some kind of a hot meal each day.

Sunday afternoon (late lunch/early dinner) saw me attempting my first “real” quiche (but obviously cheating with store-bought pastry) using the Jamie Oliver Spring Quiche as a reference, as I had previously only ever made crustless quiches

It was quick to put together (15minutes tops), but took 45min in the oven (leaving us enough time to feed, change, etc Little Miss) before sitting down to enjoy this delicious easy meal.

Would I make it again? Probably – but I might up the bacon/ham and cheese portions…

quiche 2

Asparagus & Bacon Quiche

1 portion (230g) ready-made pastry
400g Asparagus, washed & chopped
100g bacon, chopped
200g cheese, grated (I used leftover raclette cheese)
4 eggs
200ml cream
100ml milk
salt/pepper to taste

  • Cook bacon & asparagus in a frying pan until almost done
  • Place ready-made pastry into a greased¬†pie dish
  • Layer in the bacon & asparagus & cheese
  • Beat together the eggs, cream & milk and pour over the mixture
  • Bake at 180C for 45min


Moms Meatballs

It was HIM’s birthday recently – and we hosted about 20 people in our place for afternoon snacks & cakes….

This is a recipe that I remember my mom making in the past & I loved them… I have adapted her original basic recipe by adding the apple & the fresh coriander… but they still remain *awesome*

Moms Meatballs

meatballs 2

250g Mince
2 slices of white bread (crusts cut off)
cup of milk Milk
2 garlic cloves crushed
1/2 apple, grated
coriander, finely chopped
oil (for shallow frying)
flour (enough to coat the meatballs prior to frying)

meatballs 1

  • Soak bread in milk
  • Crumble into mince (works¬†by binding the mixture) along with¬†grated apply & finely chopped coriander & mix together
  • Shape into balls
  • Roll in flour
  • Fry in a bit of oil

meatballs 3 meatballs 5

Pork Sausage meatballs and rice one pot

Friday nights have become *date night*… as HIM works Monday-Thursday evenings and I work Monday-Friday days (he also works Friday day)… we don’t really get enough Quality-time (Kwality with a capital “K”) – until we get to Friday afternoon/evenings.

We are in the process of perfecting this *tradition*… sometimes we go out for dinner (just the 2 of us), sometimes we order in a pizza… and sometimes… if I haven’t almost collapsed after a week of work… I cook!

This past Thursday night – I had already started to scour the recipes to see what I could cook for Friday night and both HIM & I agreed that we liked the below recipe!

Straight out of the BBC Good Food magazine (March 2009 issue)… it was a quick, easy, cheap and very tasty meal.

Mr Draper – I would like you to know that this is a recipe that we will DEFINITELY be doing again ūüôā

Pork Sausage meatballs & rice one pot

sausage rice one pot final 2

6 good quality sausages (we used the Waitrose ones that have leeks in them – YUM)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 teaspoons of cumin & coriander

200g rice (the recipe called for 140g Рbut in my humble opinion Рthere was too much sauce for that amount of rice)

850ml stock

300ml passatta (my change to their call of a can of chopped tomatoes)

1/2 small bunch of coriander, leaves picked

sausage rice one pot ingredients

  • Split the sausage skins & squeeze out the meat – which can be rolled into small meatballs about the size of a large olive
  • sausage rice one pot balls
  • heat oil in a large pot and brown meatballs (will need to be done in batches)
  • sausage rice one pot balls cooking
  • Set meatballs aside
  • Add onion & garlic to the pot
  • sausage rice one pot onions
  • Soften for 5minutes, then stir in spices and rice
  • sausage rice one pot rice
  • cook for another minute
  • Pour in stock & passatta & stir (scraping up the sausage bits from the bottom of the pot)
  • Simmer away for 15-20minutes
  • Stir in meatballs and leave for another 5-10minutes
  • sausage rice one pot sauce
  • ladle into bowls, scatter with coriander and serve with crusty bread to soak up the liquid
  • sausage rice one pot final 1

ps – this recipe almost is like a stew with lots of rich sauce in the first helping… but when we went back for 2nd helpings – the rice had absorbed all the additional liquid

Cola Gammon

“What? Pork in Cola??? Crazy”, I hear you say… but, wait, I promise that this one of the best ways to cook a piece of ham/gammon to serve to a crowd (and in fact, is our traditional Christmas favourite!)

Gammon is the name given to meat from the hind legs of the pig that has been cured in the same way that bacon is (according to the BBC website). The main difference between gammon and ham is that gammon is sold raw and still needs to be cooked, while ham is sold cooked or dry-cured and is ready for eating! Once a gammon is cooked Рit can be called Ham or Gammon Ham.

It used to be recommended that gammons¬†be soaked in water overnight to remove any excess saltiness¬†– but this seems to be a thing of the past, with the modern-day curing methods making this task unnecessary (unless of course the gammon is traditionally cured… and then, best you soak it!)

My mom and dad both cook their gammon in either cola or ginger ale… and it makes the meat ridiculously succulent and deliciously sweet (without being a dessert kind of sweet!)

Cola Gammon

after 3hr of cooking in cola

after 3hr of cooking in cola

2l Cola

Gammon (I had a deboned, smoked piece of about 3kg)

  • Place both the gammon and the cola in a pot big enough, so that the gammon is covered by the cola and that any bubbling will not cause a sticky spill across your stove top)
  • Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 2-3hours (or more – depending on the size of your gammon)
  • When a carving fork slips into the meat easily, then you know that it is done
  • remove from the liquid and the pot and leave to rest for an hour
  • At this point, you can choose to score the fat, glaze with apricot jam and place in the oven to roast for an hour – but we removed the fat and sliced it as it was and it was delicious!
  • gammon sliced 2

Savouring Sausage and Bean casserole while considering whether to call an Exorcist or Electrician?

I woke up this (particular) morning at 5am (yes… I know I am somewhat *touched* to be awake at such a¬†hideous hour… but it happens)… and decided to snuggle down under the duvet in bed and read my book… unfortunately for me, there seemed to be some very interesting electrical surges….

I switched my bedside lamp on… it didn’t work… so I assumed it was the lightbulb that had blown and switched on the overhead light… and then for the next hour, got to be the front row guest to a bizarre, yet slightly amusing light show! The bedside lamp would switch on and then the overhead light would dim… and vice versa…

It actually got the point where my cat went into *there is something in the house and I am scared* mode… which got me thinking…

Electrician or Exorcist?”

The good news is that I managed¬†to run a hot¬†bath which was enjoyed by candlelight (with just enough hot water).. and was very grateful to notice the Sibelga¬†vans outside of my building when I left home around 7ish… and even MORE impressed when they responded to my tweet within 20minutes, confirming that there had been a problem on my street and that it had been rectified by 7.48am!


Which brings me to the point… when you are feeling a little anxious (or for that matter, scared)… isn’t it comfort food that really makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? In my case, I would probably be inclined to say that a warm plate of¬†food in general makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside… but then we all know that I love my food!

So dinner plans were already starting to take shape… SAUSAGE and BEAN casserole… doesn’t it sound like a PERFECT ending to a somewhat bizarre day?

Sausage & Bean Casserole

500ml Passatta

1 teaspoon sugar

mixed herbs

6 pork sausages

olive oil

tin of butter beans

Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Brown sausages in a large saucepan
  2. Drain and wash butter beans
  3. Add crushed garlic, olive oil, herbs, butter beans and passatta Рbring to the boil and reduce liquid to half