10 December 2014
by Adrienne

5 Meals to Cook in Your First Home

The first home-cooked dinner with a new partner is extremely important. However, nothing can compare to the moment when you buy your first home with your loved one and move in together. In a way, the first meal you prepare in your new home will mark and celebrate your future life, so you should choose your first dish wisely (and avoid settling for a frozen pizza).

Although an exciting event, moving in to a new home can be quite tiring. Therefore, most of the dishes that we have chosen are both simple and quick to prepare, without compromising their flavour and quality.

1. Mediterranean Chicken

You may think that the Mediterranean diet consists only of Pasta? This may come as a surprise, but the diverse flavours of the Mediterranean and meat (especially poultry) come together wonderfully. One of the reasons for loving Mediterranean food is its simplicity – ingredients are easy to find and its preparation is quick.
Mediterranean Chicken is the perfect meal for when you’re too busy to spend lots of time in the kitchen but you want some home-made cuisine. This recipe contains exotic spices that will make chicken simply melt in your mouth!

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• ½ cup sliced green olives
• ¼ cup golden raisins
• 1 jar (16 oz) Old El Paso® Thick ‘n Chunky salsa
• 2 teaspoons curry powder
• ¼ cup honey
• 6 – 8 pieces of deli rotisserie chicken (1 kg)

Heat olive oil on medium temperature in a large nonstick pan, add curry powder and stir constantly for a minute or two.

Add olives, raisins, spicy sauce and stir them all.

Add pieces of chicken and roll them a few times – they should be covered with all other ingredients.

Cover the pan and cook – 5 or 6 minutes should be enough over medium heat. Don’t forget to turn the chicken at least a few times and that’s it!

2. Beef Wellington


Beef Wellington is a meat eater’s delight, and a meal you’ll prepare when you truly want to impress that special someone. This dish is made of baked fillet steak coated with pâté and duxelles and wrapped in puff pastry. Some recipes slightly differ from this one, but the base is more or less the same.

• olive oil, salt, pepper
• 20g butter
• 1 egg (lightly whisked)
• 135 g olive tapenade
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1 tablespoon dried tarragon
• 2 cups Campbell’s Real Stock Beef
• ½ red wine
• 3 sheets frozen butter puff pastry (just thawed)
• 1.2 kg beef eye fillet

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Use salt and pepper to season the beef (both sides). Fry it in the pan for 8 minutes (it should be brown on both sides). When done, put it on a plate to cool.

Now, place one sheet of pastry on a big surface and brush with egg. Then, place another (slightly overlapping), press the edges together and cut the remaining pastry sheet in half.

Brush the long edge of the pastry sheets with egg and place one long edge of one half of the remaining pastry alongside and again - press the edges together to seal. Repeat with the remaining pastry – you should get one large pastry rectangle when you finish.

Grease a baking tray with olive oil and put ¼ of tapenade in the centre of the pastry. Place beef on top, spread the remaining tapenade over the meat and fold pastry to enclose. Tuck its sides under and remove the excesses. Brush with the remaining egg and put in the oven preheated to 200°C. Roast for an hour.

Now, mix all the remaining juices from the baking tray with butter in a pan over low heat. Stir until the mix melts, add flour and continue to cook until it bubbles. Remove from heat and add the stock and wine. Whisk it and add the tarragon.

Place the mix over medium heat and while you cook, scrape off any remaining bits from the base of the pan. After 5 minutes, the gravy should thicken and become ready to be served in a jug with the Beef Wellington.


3. Penne Arrabiata 

Penne pasta is the perfect meal for people who are still beginners in the kitchen. It’s simple to prepare, easy to serve and it just can’t flop. Among many penne recipes, we have chosen Penne Arrabiata - an extremely popular meal in Italy which satisfies both vegetarian and non-vegetarian gourmets.
This is a real fast food – it’s possible to prepare and serve it in just 15 minutes! It’s extremely hot and it has lots of calories, so plan this meal when you need some quick and incredibly tasty food before going out.

• olive oil
• salt, pepper, oregano
• fresh basil leaves
• 2 garlic cloves chopped
• 1 onion chopped
• 1-2 fresh chilli peppers
• 400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
• 200 ml cooking cream
• grated parmesan cheese
• 300 g penne

Heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat (the oil should barely cover the base) and add the onion. Fry for a few minutes and add the chilli peppers (1 for medium spicy, 2 for extra hot) and garlic. After a few more minutes, add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper and a bit of dried oregano.

When the sauce starts bubbling, add the cooking cream and fresh basil leaves (the amount depends on your taste) and cook for a few more minutes.

While you’re making the sauce, heat some water in a pot, add a pinch of salt and cook the penne for 8-9 minutes or until al dente (soft with a little crispness still in the center). When you drain the pasta and when the sauce is done, mix everything in a pot and serve it hot. Add some grated parmesan and that’s it! We recommend white wine to go with the meal.


4. Chicken Lo Mein


Here is one more meal with chicken, but this time it’s not Mediterranean, but a traditional Chinese dish. It’s as easy and quick to prepare as the first one – perfect for delighting your loved one even if you are tired, in a hurry or on a tight budget. All the ingredients for this dish are extremely cheap. So, even if you’re not a big fan of Chinese cuisine, give it a try at least once – you won’t be disappointed!

• 1/4 cup water
• 1 tablespoon sesame or peanut oil
• 1 minced clove garlic
• 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger or 1 teaspoon powder
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce or teriyaki sauce
• 100 g package chicken flavour ramen noodle soup
• 400-500 g frozen mixed oriental vegetables
• 500 g chicken breast (no bones and skin, cut into slices)

For this meal you will need a large frying pan. It would be best to use a wok. First, heat some oil in it over medium heat until hot. Add thin slices of chicken, cook and stir until it becomes slightly pink.
Then, add the vegetables and cover everything with a lid – the vegetables should be soft (this will take about 5 minutes). At the same time, cook the noodles according to package directions (without the flavouring packet).

Mix all the other ingredients in a bowl with water (soy sauce, ginger, garlic and seasoning packet). Pour this mix over the chicken and vegetables, add the noodles at the end and mix well.

5. Baby Back Ribs

Ribs are the daddy of all dishes for most hard-core meat lovers. Although the preparation is extremely quick and easy, it would be wise to leave them in a marinade overnight. This way, the meat will be softer, spicier and even more delicious. We would recommend it for a messy first dinner party in your new home – invite a couple of friends and enjoy!

• limes
• salt
• black pepper
• 2 racks pork baby back ribs (2 kg)
• 1 cup barbecue sauce

Marinate the ribs in a mixture of salt, pepper and lime juice and leave them overnight in the fridge.

Heat oven to 190°C and then put each rack of ribs on a separate piece of aluminum foil. Cover each rib with 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce and then wrap them tightly in foil.
Cook them for an hour or until they become tender. Then, remove the foil and brush the meat with the remaining 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce.

Put everything in the broiler and leave for 5 minutes per side (the sauce should become brownish). When it’s ready, cut into separate ribs and serve!


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