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.

Crocheting Going Well!!

Well, a month ago, I picked up a crochet hook for the first time in my life, as I prepared to make decorations for our wedding later this year.

As we know, the initial teddy bear attempt wasn’t great!

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However, I wasn’t put off and rather than just keep practicing, I jumped straight in at the deep end and got on with dragons! I did inspire myself with some shiny new tools.

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I’m pleased to say, they’re turning out pretty well and I’ve already made three!

You can pick up varying crochet hooks online relatively cheap

Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding

Nothing beats a proper roast on a Sunday and this week, we splashed out had had roast beef. The joint was too big for just the two of us, so I took a sharp knife and cut it in half, popping half in the freezer for another week.

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Beef should always be cooked from room temperature, so be sure to get it out of the fridge early enough.

Start by pre-heating the oven to 220C (fan) and put a roasting tin with some goose fat in it, in the bottom – this will get nice and hot for the roast potatoes. Whilst the oven is heating up, peel and chop the potatoes (I do mine quite small for crispiness) and par-boil until just soft to the touch. Drain and carefully pour into the hot fat in the roasting tin. Sprinkle with rosemary and cracked black pepper and mix them around, so they all get covered in the fat. Put the potatoes in the bottom of the oven and now turn your attention to the beef.

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Rub olive oil over the beef and then sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, salt and a pinch of thyme. Pop in the oven at the high heat for 15mins and then turn the oven down to 170C.

After half an hour, check the meat is getting on ok and baste with any juices that have come out. Pop in another roasting dish with some lard in it – this will be for your Yorkshire pudding. You can also add some carrots to the roast potatoes at this time.

Whilst the meat continues to cook, make your Yorkshire pudding – 140g plain flour, 4 eggs and 200ml of milk whisked together until you have a light batter. Allow the batter to rest until the meat is cooked.

When the beef has had an hour, I took it out – this was a medium-well done roast – and turned the oven back up to 200C. Take the Yorkie’s dish out and get the batter in as quickly as you can and get it back in the oven. Do not open the oven door now until it is time to take the Yorkshire out.

Put the beef on a plate and cover loosely with foil and allow it to rest. Pour the juices from the roasting pan into a jug and add some instant gravy granules (yes, I cheated today).

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The Yorkshire pudding will take around 25mins to really puff up and it really will! You’ll need to have it on a low shelf in the oven. Just before it’s done, finish the gravy with boiling water, any other juices from the rested meat and a splash of red wine.

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Serve everything up and enjoy!

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Learning To Crochet

I’ve decided it’s time for me to learn a new skill and hobby – crocheting.

My great-aunt used to be a dab hand at crochet and made all kinds of things when I was little. Unfortunately, I was only 8 when she died and hadn’t shown any interest in learning before she passed away.

I’ve been trying to learn for a week now. And whilst I’ve had a few mishaps along the way…

gone wrong

….I seem to be able to follow a basic pattern for bunting and hearts.

Now, I’m trying to get my head around crocheting in the round, but that’s proving a little more tricky.

I have my sights set on a much bigger project, which I’m hoping I can complete for our wedding later this year.

To help me practice, I’m going to head back to the shop later to get some different sized hooks and yarn, along with a stitch marker and row counter. If only Auntie Babs could see me now – I’d like to think she’d be pleased that I’m following in her footsteps a little bit.