Chicken & Mushroom Risotto

Making a risotto is scary right? Wrong! Risottos really aren’t that tricky to make. Like most people, I was nervous before trying one for the first time, but it was really quite simple. One of my favourites to knock up is a chicken and mushroom risotto.

Start by cutting up chicken breasts – one per person – and cook them off, before setting aside. Melt some butter in a deep frying pan – a generous amount – and add one large, finely chopped onion – red or white, your choice. Allow the onion to sweat, along with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, until they start to soften. Now, add some chopped mushrooms and bacon and allow them to start cooking too.

To the veggies, add your risotto rice, the pack will indicate how much per person and mix around. Let that cook until it starts to turn translucent, before adding around a glass of white wine. When that’s started to cook down, add some chicken stock. I made around a litre, but only put in a quarter to start with. Keep stirring the rice and add more stock as it’s absorbed into the mix.

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After around 15minutes, return the chicken to the pan, adding any extra stock as required and after another 5minutes, providing the rice is cooked through, take the pan off the heat, throw in some grated parmesan and allow that to melt into the dish. It should look creamy and ready to serve.

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Dish up and sprinkle some extra parmesan and black pepper on the top.

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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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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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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.

Oaty Baked Chicken

It was another experimental dinner last night for Mr Fiancé. Like me, he’s on a slim down for the wedding, but is quite happy eating his carbs, which I’m cutting back on. He’s big into his chicken at the moment, but after having it with rice a lot, he asked me to whip him up a tasty chicken sandwich, that was still healthy.

Challenge accepted!

I started by pounding a chicken breast to make it equal thickness and then coated in flour, dipped it into beaten egg and then into my special oaty mix. This mix was simply basic porridge oats, cayenne pepper, hot chilli powder, chilli flakes, garlic powder, paprika and cracked black pepper. Yes, my fiancé likes things hot and spicy.

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Once I made sure the chicken was nicely coated with oats, I popped it onto a lined baking tray and put it in a pre-heated oven at 190C for around 25minutes – check it’s cooked through before serving.

To serve, I got some crusty bread, made a sweet chilli mayo with just a mix of these two condiments and smothered the bottom piece with that, layered up with salad and chicken and put some mango chutney on the top layer.

Apparently, it was a very good dish – too spicy for me! – but well worth a try I think.

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Healthy Warm Chicken Salad

Like most people, I don’t enjoy dieting. However, with my wedding now all booked for this year, the clock is well and truly ticking for me to lose the 2 stone that’s been haunting me for the past two years.

I’m currently running – on the spot indoors admittedly – for an hour a day, which my pedometer says is around 7miles. On top of that, I’m doing sit ups, crunches, leg raises, planking and squats. I can’t say I’m enjoying any of it, but needs must.

Food is a struggle for me too, because I love tasty things! I’m being very good though and going for high protein where possible and avoiding chocolate, which isn’t easy.

I’ve been turning to my warm steak salad a lot and tonight, I opted for a warm chicken salad. Quite simply, I just cooked a chicken breast, cut it into pieces and served on a bed of mixed salad leaves, tomatoes, spring onion and avocado with just a small crumbling of cheese for added texture and flavour. Instead of a dressing, I used just a little balsamic vinegar and walnut oil.

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Roast Chicken

For me, nothing beats a good Sunday roast and chicken is one of my favourites. I have to say, my fiancé does a mean roast chicken, but this week, it was my turn.

I start by putting some roasting dishes in the oven with dripping in them – I used leftover dripping from the Christmas turkey this time – and let them get good and hot on 220C.

Whilst that’s warming up, peel and chop the potatoes – I do mine quite small – rinse to remove excess starch and pop in boiling water for around 10 minutes. After that time, check with a sharp knife to see if they’re on their way to being done. If they are, drain them and carefully tip them into the hot fat in one of the roasting dishes. Gently make sure the potatoes are all coated in dripping and season with pepper and rosemary. Pop them back in the oven for around 10minutes.

Whilst the potatoes are getting a head start, get your chicken and put in a cool roasting dish. Smother generously with butter or far – I use goose fat – and season with plenty of pepper and a slight grinding of salt. Cover loosely with foil and pop Mr Chicken in the oven, turning the temperature down to 180C.

Every 20 minutes, I take the bird out and baste with the juices in the pan. After an hour, add sliced carrots, leeks and florets of broccoli and cauliflower into the second roasting tin that’s been getting nice and hot. At this point, you also want to uncover the chicken so the skin can crisp up and continue with regular basting – you will thank me!

Give everything around 20minutes, then test the chicken with a sharp knife or skewer and if the juices run clear, it’s done. Whilst it’s resting, make some gravy – I was lazy this time and just used instant. Serve and enjoy.

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