porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







mutton & tomato stew

Mutton is meat from older sheep; about three years old. The meat is an intense color of red and quite fatty with a strong, gamey flavor. The fat makes it the perfect cut for this stew giving it big, bold flavor. Exactly what I had in mind.
Very similar to the traditional South-African tomato ‘bredie’ this stew is perfect for a cold, wet winters’ night.
Your freezer is your friend…leftovers are perfect for mutton ragu that you can use for a future pie, to toss through pappardelle or on an open pulled mutton sandwich.

Serve with a side of rice, mashed potato, roasted sweet potato or butternut mash.

ingredients | serves 6 | easy
1.3kg stewing mutton, bone in
1/2C flour
1/2t salt
1/2t white pepper
3T olive oil plus more for browning meat
1T butter
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 large ripe tomatoes, quartered
3 large carrots, cut into big chunks
2T paprika
3 bay leaves
2T tomato paste
1.5t dried oregano
3 rosemary stalks, leaves only
1.2C red wine
1 can crushed tomato
3C beef stock
2T brown sugar
1t salt
1t black pepper
2T fresh parsley

how to to do it
Mix the flour, salt & white pepper and dredge the meat in the flour mixture and shake excess flour off. Discard any leftover flour. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown the meat in batches, adding more oil as needed.
Set aside.
Add two tablespoons of oil and the butter to the pot without cleaning it and saute the chopped onion until glossy, stirring occasionally. About three minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for one minute. Pour the red wine into the pot to de-glaze. Cook for about two minutes to reduce.
Add the paprika, rosemary, garlic & dried oregano and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and stir to coat. Pour the crushed tomato into the pot and add the bay leaves, sugar and seasoning. Stir and cook for two minutes.
Pour the stock into the pot and give it a good stir. Lastly add the meat. Stir everything together and bring it to a boil.
Turn the heat down to low for a gentle simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 2 hours, stirring a few times during cooking. Now add the carrots, place the lid back on the pot and cook for a further 1.5 – two hours.

Check the meat, which should be fall off the bone tender. If you prefer it falling off the bone completely, cook for a further 30 minutes to one hour.
Carefully remove the lid, increase the heat to a moderate simmer and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered to thicken the sauce if desired. Take care not to burn the bottom of the pot by occasionally stirring during cooking.

Once cooked, stir through the chopped fresh parsley and serve with a side of your choice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



easy creamy chicken & tomato

Another great dish if you have leftover chicken from a roast or if you have chicken breast in abundance lurking in your freezer!
I cooked a de-boned, rolled chicken two nights ago and was left with about 600g of beautifully tender chicken meat, which was recycled into this very tasty dish that i served with brown basmati rice.
It really only took a few simple ingredients and about half hour to whip up an amazing dinner that was not only perfect for my taste buds but also that of my toddler.
Easy. Quick. Delicious. The perfect comfort food that fits a busy schedule.

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
600g cooked or uncooked chicken
2T olive oil
2T butter
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 punnet / 160g mushrooms, sliced
2T paprika
3T sun dried tomato pesto
1T tomato paste
1 can crushed tomato
1/2C chicken stock
3/4C cream
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1T brown sugar
1/2C rosa tomatoes, whole
50g plain goat’s cheese (optional)
1/2t salt
1/2t black pepper
handful fresh parsley, chopped

brown or white basmati rice to serve – cooked according to package instructions.

how to
If you are using uncooked chicken, heat a little olive oil in a large skillet and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Set aside.
In the same skillet, heat a little more olive oil, add the butter and heat until melted. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent. Add the paprika & tomato paste and cook for about one minute until fragrant. Add the sliced mushrooms and garlic and cook for about five minutes on medium heat.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet, stir and cook for one minute. Add the sun dried tomato pesto, salt, sugar, pepper & thyme, stir to combine and then add the chicken stock.
(If you are using uncooked chicken, add it now.)
Place the lid on the skillet and simmer on a low heat for about 15 minutes.
Lift the lid, add the cream, goat’s cheese (if using) the cooked chicken & cocktail tomatoes and leave to simmer until the tomatoes have popped and the sauce has thickened.
Sprinkle the chopped parsley into the skillet and stir to combine.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x


warm tomato & feta salad

Although we are currently in our winter season, which normally calls for all things slow cooked and piping hot, i still have a big love for a good salad as a healthy dinner option or as a side to a good piece of protein.
This salad, served warm, is a very delicious alternative to normal salads and pairs well with red meat, chicken or fish.
A great addition to this dish is toasted butter & garlic ciabatta or sour dough slices, making it a delicious, light meal on its own.

Easy, simple, fresh, delicious.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
2T olive oil
300g-400g vine tomatoes or rosa tomatoes
4 rounds feta cheese, halved
150g green beans
handful fresh basil leaves
1t dried basil
3 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3T balsamic vinegar
2 red onions, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, peeled & halved
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper

how to
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.
Place the tomatoes and red onion into a roasting tray and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat.
Nestle the feta rounds in and amongst the tomatoes & onions. Add the thyme leaves, dried basil, garlic, balsamic, salt & pepper and gently coat everything using your hands.
Place the tray into the preheated oven and roast for about 15-18 minutes.
Meanwhile, blanch the green beans.
Prepare an icy bath with water and ice. Set aside.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Immerse the beans into the water and cook for about three minutes. Remove the beans from the simmering water and into the ice bath to cool.
Remove and drain on kitchen towel paper.
Add the beans to the tray and continue to roast the salad for a further five minutes or until the tomatoes have popped.

Garnish the salad with the fresh basil leaves and serve warm.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x





creamy paprika & tomato chicken thighs

For this dish i used skinless, boneless chicken thighs, which was perfect as it soaked up all the beautiful flavours while cooking .
Paprika adds such amazing flavour to food! Here it gave an amazing earthy flavour to the food that complimented the tartness of the tomato beautifully.
I served this with a side of fragrant Jasmin rice and buttered green beans.
If you are on a tight schedule then this recipe is perfect for you!

ingredients | serves 4 | easy
3T olive oil
1T butter
deboned, skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped or sliced
2t paprika
5 thyme sprigs, leaves only
dried mixed herbs
dried oregano
2 medium carrots, grated
200ml chicken stock
100ml cream
1 can chopped tomato
fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1/2t salt
black pepper

Heat olive oil & butter on a medium heat. Sauté the onion until glossy, about 4 minutes. Carefully drop the chicken thighs into the skillet and brown on all sides. Add the paprika, thyme, oregano, mixed herbs & grated carrots, stir through and cook for about three minutes. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and reduce by about half.
Add the chopped tomato, stir through and cook for about two minutes.
Pour the cream into the skillet and leave to simmer on a low heat for about five minutes until thickened.

Season with salt and black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x