Upside-Down Chicken Pie

In the summer months, we may not feel like a warming pie for dinner, but turn that pie upside-down and you have a perfect summer dinner.

Start with ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry and score a margin, around 1.5inches around the edge. Don’t cut all the way through, you just want to fine where the edge is. Prick the centre many times with a fork, line it with greaseproof paper and weigh it down with baking beans. Give the edge of the pastry a milk wash and pop in the oven at 200C for 10minutes.

Whilst the pastry is cooking, toss two chopped chicken breasts into a large, deep frying pan and start to brown the meat. After a couple of minutes, add a chopped aubergine, courgette and onion to the pan and start to cook the veg through.

In a separate saucepan, melt some butter and mix in plain flour, to form a rue. Slowly pour in some milk, whisking all the time to avoid lumps. Allow a chicken stock pot to melt into the sauce.

When the pastry has had its 10 minutes, take it out of the oven and very carefully, remove the baking beans and paper – hopefully you should now have a big well, like a giant vol-au-vent! Lay the meat and veggies in the well, add a few cherry tomatoes and pour the sauce over the top.

Pop back into the oven for another 10-15minutes and then serve it up. You could, of course, ditch the meat for a veggie option and bulk out with any veggies you like.

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Baby Bird Rescue

This is neither about food nor crafts, but I felt I wanted to share this.

This morning, I was woken by the sound of very upset birds and when I looked out of the window, I saw a family of starlings, chasing off a crow. The other day, I was unfortunate enough to see nature at its , when the crow few off with a tiny nestling, again causing the parents to be frantic.

This time, the crow wasn’t so lucky. Whatever the parents had done, it was enough to make it drop the chick. I saw the poor little thing, laying motionless on the ground, save for its rapid breathing. The nest is on the top floor of the building, with no way to reach it without a cherry picker, so I couldn’t return it to its nest. Nor could I leave it to the crow or the cats. So, I picked it up and dashed it inside. His wing didn’t look too good and he gripped to my finger with his little foot. Now, I’m assuming it was a boy, it may well have been a girl.

I popped him into a shoe box, lined with kitchen paper to keep him warm. Within a few minutes, his wing was back in its proper place and he looked a lot brighter. I called East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service (WRAS) to ask for their help, knowing they take in little birds like this one.

Whilst waiting, I kept a close watch on the little chick, who on occasion, would flap his wings and jump about in the box. He kept snuggling himself into the tissue to keep warm and cosy, but always looked intrigued when I peeked in on him.

When Chris from WRAS arrived, he took a look and agreed that the baby was too young to be able to fly and took him back to their casualty centre to give him the care he needs to hopefully reach maturity. If he does, it’s likely he’ll be released back here, so I may get to see him again.

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Garlic Chilli Prawns

We’re still trying to ‘eat right’ as our wedding fast approaches, but there are only so many days a week I can eat chicken breast! In the search for something different, I invested in some jumbo, raw prawns, which I turned into a tasty garlic, chilli prawn dish.

I started by adding some oil to a frying pan and allowing that to warm up, before adding 5 small cloves of garlic, crushed – if you really like garlic, add some more! To the garlic, I added two finely chopped chillis – not too fiery for me, but again, cook to your taste – the seeds were left in and some paprika sprinkled over the top.

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Allow these to come together for a couple of minutes and then add some small pieces of chorizo if you have it, don’t panic if you don’t. Cook until it starts to release some of its juices and then throw in some freshly chopped tomatoes.

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Now it’s time to throw in your lovely prawns, along with the juice of one lemon. When the prawns start to turn pink, add some chopped mushrooms.

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To serve, we had pasta, but you could have crusty bread or a salad.

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Quick Chicken & Apricot

As much as I love chicken, every now and then I can groan at the thought of another dinner, with chicken breast as the base. But, it’s healthy, blah, blah, blah!

Attempting to do something different, I raided the cupboards for inspiration and found a tin of apricots.

To start this dish, I gently sweated off some chopped onions in a deep frying pan, before adding in diced chicken breast and allowing it to brown. Then, it was in with some sliced mushrooms and a chicken stock pot. I also tipped in a tin of apricots, juice and all.

To make the sauce, I wanted a sweet chilli sauce, only I didn’t have any! So, I thought how I could improvise and used tomato ketchup and chilli flakes, with a pinch of dried thyme. To help thicken the sauce, I made a cornflour slurry and stirred that in.

A couple of minutes before the dish was ready, I added a handful of spinach and allowed that to wilt, before serving with couscous.

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Super Simple Lunch

I’m still trying – and failing! – to slim down for our wedding in October, so I’m doing my best to be mindful with my food choices.

As a quick lunch recently, I knocked up a super easy asparagus and poached egg. I spotted an olive loaf in the supermarket, which I absolutely love, so I started with two slices of that, each topped with a poached egg – I do the drop into a whirlpool of boiling water method to do mine, with a splash of white wine vinegar.

In a frying pan, I heated some coconut oil and lightly cooked some British asparagus spears and wilted some spinach. Once the veggies were nicely done, I added them to the plate, along with a small piece of my favourite blue cheese and just added a grind of fresh black pepper.

Easy, quick and good for you. It would also make a fabulous brunch.20180508_123959

Chicken & Mango Curry

Now, I’m not usually one to blow my own trumpet, but before I start with this recipe, I would like to say that my fiancé has said this is ‘the best curry he’s ever tasted’!! Not that I’m chuffed with that or anything 😊

This is a simple curry, it does take about an hour to make, but it’s really worth it.

Start by chopping two chicken breasts into bite sized pieces and toss them in a little ground turmeric, ground cumin and a tiny bit of salt. (Do one chicken breast per person, so it’s easily stretchable for more serving).

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Heat a large and deep non-stick frying pan with some coconut oil on a medium-low heat. Finely chop either two small onions or one large onion – red or white, it doesn’t matter. Sprinkle a little ground turmeric and cumin on the onions and give them a good stir to coat. Now take a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger and peel – I find the best method is with a teaspoon, honestly, it works really well. Finely chop and add about a fifth to the frying pan, mixing it in. Put the rest in a large bowl or jug.

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Pop the chicken and spices into the frying pan and give a good stir. Take a large, fresh mango and cut into rough cubes – I favour the hedgehog method for getting into my mangoes. Add the flesh and as much juice as you can to the jug with the ginger and blitz with a handheld blender. Now add in two small pots of korma paste (I used Pataks), two chicken stock pots, some more ground turmeric and cumin, garlic powder and a can of coconut milk. I use full fat, but if you’d like to use light, I’m sure it would be fine 😉 Blitz the lot together until you have a smooth texture and add to the frying pan, again stirring.

Allow this all to bubble together for a while and add some ground almonds to thicken the mix – omit if you are serving to anyone with a nut allergy. Grind in some fresh, black pepper and add a little ground coriander. Mix again. Cut up another mango and add the flesh to the curry.

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Now is a good time to put some rice on to boil. Whichever you prefer. I also throw a few mushrooms in the water to cook at the same time. Keep tasting the curry and add anything you feel is missing. When the rice is cooked, the curry should be ready to serve. Enjoy with poppadoms, naan bread and any other Indian extras you like.

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I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure you could substitute the chicken for prawns or a veggie alternative.

Easter Weekend Getaway

I hope you all had a lovely Easter break – we certainly had a really good time. With all the wedding preparations and dieting, I’m not really coming up with anything thrilling to eat – maybe tonight though, who knows!? All of my spare time is filled up making the dragons ready for the wedding, but I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

As we both had the full four days off over Easter, we thought it would be nice to get away and at the last minute, we booked a lovely place to stay in Chester through AirB&B. It was right by the city centre, where we could enjoy a walk on the city walls, the river and take in the many quirky pubs. However, our main purpose, was to visit the zoo, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We’ve used AirB&B a few times now and we’ve never had any problems.

We arrived on the Friday evening and spent the evening in town and then on Saturday, we went to Chester Zoo, before going for a walk on the city walls. I can honestly say I’ve never seen so many herons in one place. I counted 12 in the river near the walls at one point!

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Chester is a truly beautiful city and I was really taken by it.

As for Chester Zoo, I really enjoyed it there too. The animals all seem to be really well cared for any many, if not all, are part of breeding programme to ensure the survival of species. It was lovely to see so many babies, including elephants and rhinos.

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The butterfly house was one of my favourite places, as I’ve not been to one since I was little.

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But my overall favourite, has to be the orangutans. I just love those orange guys and girls. And this family unit had several youngsters, which are just so cute.

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I would thoroughly recommend going to Chester Zoo for a day out as well as visiting Chester. The rest of the weekend, we spent visiting friends and family. I’m only sorry the weekend came to an end and it’s back to the real world again.