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Tag Archives: Mealprep

10 Minute Meal – Pan Fried Gnocchi with Chicken Meatballs and Pea Puree

This post is primarily about a super quick carb side and the whole dish is a compilation of items rather than a recipe but I’m aiming to give inspiration for an alternative use for gnocchi and a way to use up my freezer stash of Garlic Pea Puree – A prep ahead side. Its also a ‘get home from work and want to eat quickly without resorting to a bacon and egg sandwich’ type meal.

The chicken meatballs I used are from Ikea, I’m not a great purveyor of convenience foods but these are tasty, gluten free and microwaveable in 4 to 5 minutes from frozen so I like to try and pick up a bag when I go to Ikea – there are 6-8 portions or so in a bag so they work out a quite cheap meal too.

Onto the gnocchi and I guess that this is essentially another convenience food I do use fairly regularly too. If you’re not familiar, they are little Italian potato dumplings which are generally found with the pasta in the supermarket and boiled for a few minutes and then used like pasta in a sauce. I generally buy the fresh gnocchi from the supermarket and it keeps fine in the fridge for ages unopened and several weeks open – ignore the use-by dates, they’re hokum and you’ll know when they’re not useable anymore using your nose and eyes. I use these as a side for all sorts of things, they’re appropriate anywhere you’d serve boiled potatoes etc. Cooked this way they’re a little crispy on the outside and fluffy inside.

Serves 1 – 665 Kcal

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Ingredients:

1 Portion Garlic Pea Puree – A prep ahead side
9 (150g) Ikea Chicken Meatballs
1/4 Bag (125g) Fresh Gnocchi
1 tbsp Reduced Fat Crème Fraiche
Sea Salt Flakes
Frylight Spray


Start by emptying the pea puree into a small plastic bowl and popping it in the microwave on full heat for 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan and add 10 sprays of Frylight. When quite warm, add 1/4 Bag (125g) Fresh Gnocchi  to the pan and shake the pan to coat the gnocchi in some of the oil.

Leave the pan for a minute before shaking again to turn the gnocchi over. There should now be little golden crispy bits formed.

Leave the pan alone for another minute then add 4-5 tbsp water to the pan.

Tip – You can just continue to dry fry the gnocchi but I find it’s quicker to use a bit of water and I think it makes the finished texture a bit fluffier.

Stir the gnocchi around the water a little and leave until the water has evaporated giving it the occasional shake.

By this time the pea puree should be heated through so pop 9 (150g) Ikea Chicken Meatballs into the microwave for 4-5 minutes on full heat in another small plastic bowl.

Returning to the gnocchi, when all of the water has gone and the pan is dry again, stir in 1 tbsp Reduced Fat Crème Fraiche and Sea Salt Flakes to taste.

Tip – Don’t be put off by the slight skin that will have formed on the bottom of the pan, this is just the starch from the gnocchi and it’ll stir in with the crème fraiche and add a little bit of crispy texture.

Serve the gnocchi with the warm pea puree and the chicken meatballs.

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Garlic Pea Puree – A prep ahead side

Just a quick recipe of something that I sometimes make as a side dish and which last week I whipped up as a batch to pop in the freezer. I love veg but on a weeknight, I’m impatient and even though realistically this only takes a few minutes to whip up, I’m a clean-up dodger too and the concept of getting the processor out of the cupboard and having to put it away again is too much for me. So I try to prep easy to microwave veg and keep it in the freezer for such evenings.  The recipe is inspired by a Nigella Lawson side which she serves with pan fried salmon and crispy bits of bacon – quite often how I eat it too.

Serves 4 – 155 kcal per serving

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Ingredients:

750g Frozen Garden Peas

1tbsp Garlic Paste

100g Light Soft Cream Cheese

Sea Salt Flakes


Boil 750g frozen garden peas with the garlic paste until warmed through

Tip – I do this in the microwave in a plastic bowl for about 10 minutes – you could use a pan on the hop and achieve the same.

Tip – I don’t see why you couldn’t use petit pois or tinned garden peas here too.

Tip – I use jars of garlic paste which I get from the world food aisle of the supermarket – they’re cheaper than the same from the spice section and seem to contain much more actual garlic instead of fillers and oil. You could of course mash up a large clove of fresh garlic here but I’m lazy so I have jars.

Drain the warm peas and put into a food processor or blender – a food processor is preferable.

Blitz until fairly smooth – it won’t ever go smooth smooth because of the skins but stop at the texture you prefer.

Tip – When making a single portion of this I use a trusty mini chopper from Kenwood which is slightly less tedious than getting out a big processor. For about £15 they’re worth the investment if you often cook for 1 or 2.

Add the 100g light cream cheese and blitz again until combined.

Tip – You could use full fat crème cheese or crème fraiche or even double cream here but I like the tang of the cream cheese and its what I had in my fridge this week. It also keeps the calories down a bit.

Add sea salt flakes to taste.  Add a little at a time and blitz quickly before tasting – you can add more but you can’t take it back out.

Divide the mix into 4 freezer bags, remove the air and seal. Leave to cool then pop in the freezer flattened to maximise space.

Tip – I use the sandwich bags from Ikea – the smallest green ones in this case – they’re excellent as they’re good and thick, come in a variety of sizes and have a double seal. Otherwise I’d recommend zip-lock bags to minimise chances of spillage.

Tip – Write in black permanent pen on the sandwich bag what it is and the date you made it. I tend to write the calorie count on too for my easy reference.

To use – place a frozen portion on a thin plate and microwave for few minutes – I sometimes break the bulk of the contents up with my fingers while still in the bag to speed things up. Alternatively, empty the contents into a saucepan and warm through.

Sweet Potato Cornbread Breakfast Slice

I eat breakfast everyday – I love breakfast in fact, its easily my favourite meal of any day (except brunch which is essentially uber breakfast) but trying to have a high protein and low calorie breakfast that I can pre prepare then microwave at work in the mornings is quite tough. I’ve generally settled on a routine of 2 boiled eggs, a slice of ham and an actimel which I can happily eat every day. Variety is great however so I thought I’d try to experiment with a savoury cornbread slice incorporating boiled egg which would also add to my 5 a day which my usual breakfast wasn’t doing.

I’ve made sweet potato cornbread a couple of times, adapting a couple of different recipes online to fit the ingredients that I had at the time (usually no buttermilk) but found it super sweet so when I came up with this, I knocked the sugar content down massively, replacing it with a little honey. You could remove the honey all together but it does help bring out the sweet potato flavour which is otherwise quite mellow.

The options on variety on this are endless, it would be easy to make vegetarian, removing the bacon and replacing with red pepper and replacing the chorizo slice with some spinach leaves for example.

This recipe makes 6 slices, ideal to have 1 warm from the oven then 5 to package up for the week’s breakfasts. Each portion is very substantial and easily keeps me going until lunch for relatively few calories.  I warm each slice for 30-60 seconds in the microwave before eating but these would be perfectly good to eat cold if you can’t!

6 slices – 326kcal per serving

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Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes
7 eggs
1 cup of mushrooms
3 lean rashers of back bacon
¾ of a cup of fine polenta/cornmeal
½ cup of plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp light spread
¾ cup of milk
6 thin slices of chorizo


Preheat the oven to 180c or equivalent – a tad higher if its not a fan oven.

Pop 2 large sweet potatoes in the microwave for 10 or so minutes to cook through. Once cooked slice in half or  into quarters and leave to cool.

Tip – You could use an oven but obviously this will take longer and a crispy skin isn’t needed here.

Meanwhile, boil 6 eggs until medium/hard boiled as you prefer and run under cold water to cool them. Leave to the side.

Tip – I have an egg timer from Poundland that goes in the water with the eggs and tells you what stage they are – it works a treat and takes into account factors that your clock timer doesn’t!)

Finely dice about 1 cup of mushrooms – any type you fancy and fry in a couple of sprays of Frylight until a little brown. Set aside.

Tip – I fry on a very high heat so any water evaporates quickly and they brown rather than boil.

Tip – You could at this stage do the same with any other veg instead or as well such as courgette or red pepper.

Finely dice 3 lean rashers of back bacon and dry fry until desired doneness and set aside.

Tip – I use scissors to cut bacon – much easier than a knife unless your knives are super sharp.

Tip – You could also use streaky bacon or cooked ham instead. Or a little sausage. Or both!

Add ¾ of a cup of fine polenta/cornmeal, ½ cup of plain flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1 tbsp sea salt into a large bowl along with half the bacon and all the mushroom pieces.

Tip – If you don’t have sea salt flakes and use runny salt, halve the amount of salt used.

Tip – I usually make this with white spelt flour so my wheat-arded friend can eat it.

Warm 2 tbsp runny honey and 2 tbsp light spread together in the microwave until just melted

Tip – I use Flora Light or a supermarket equivalent for most of my baking but you could use any butter or spread here.

Scrape out the now cooled sweet potato from it’s skin and mash to a smooth-ish paste and add to the honey and melted fat, ¾ cup of milk and 1 whole egg. Mix to combine.

Tip – I use skimmed milk as standard but any cow milk should work. You may need to add a little more the thicker the milk.

Mix the wet and dry mixtures together. The mix should be quite thick but drop off a spoon..add more milk to loosen if needed.

Line a 30cm by 20cm tin with baking parchment, a silicone sheet or with butter/spread.

Tip – A smaller tin will make thicker slices, a bigger tin will make thinner slices. Use what you have but in this case you need to make sure there is room to lay out the boiled eggs. You could I suppose use a loaf pan and keep the eggs whole and upended.

Tip – I use loaf liner sheets from Poundland – 2 for this size tin, stretched out and overlapped.

Turn half of the cornbread mix into the tin and spread until even.

Peel the cooled boiled eggs and slice in two lengthways. Lay the eggs in the tin with yolks upwards. Lay them out with two halves next to each other in 6 portions – see the picture!

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Lay 6 thin slices of chorizo on top of the eggs to stop the rest of the cornbread mixture mingling with the yolks.

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Spoon the rest of the mixture to form a top layer and smooth it out.

Tip – I spooned the mixture on, one pile on each slice of chorizo and spread it outwards so the chorizo didn’t move off the eggs.

Split the remaining bacon pieces into 6 little piles to mark out the 6 portions.

Bake for 35-45 minutes – it will stop being wobbly and be a little brown on top – you’ll know when it’s ready – trust your gut – don’t overbake as it’ll be sad and dry 😦

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Once a bit cooled, slice into 6 portions. Eat one and bag the rest individually. Nom. I can’t see why these wouldn’t freeze well but I haven’t tried it!