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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Beef Stroganoff

Firstly, apologies for the lack of photos – I forgot!

This was a last-minute beef stroganoff request from my fiancé. It’s really easy to whip up though, so don’t panic.

Start by finely chopping an onion and sweating in some olive oil in a saucepan, along with three crushed cloves of garlic. When nicely softened, throw in some skirt steak or frying steak, that has been cut into bite-sized pieces and allow to brown.

Then squeeze in a good amount of tomato puree, before adding beef stock, red wine stock and some Marmite, along with some cornflour. Give the mix a good stir, put the lid on and allow to simmer at a low heat for around 15 minutes, before adding some paprika, mixed herbs, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish sauce, wholegrain mustard and English mustard. As you know by now, I’m not really one for measuring things, so just try and see how it turns out. You can always add more of an ingredient. Stir every now and then to make sure nothing catches on the bottom of the pan. Have to confess, I also added a splash of brandy.

Allow everything to simmer for around 45 minutes, then taste to see if anything is missing. Now you can add some chopped mushrooms and a small tub of soured cream, before allowing to cook for around another half an hour.

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Serve with some boiled rice and if you fancy, as I did, a little grated Parmesan cheese.

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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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Breakfast Muffins

Like many of us, I am partial to the occasional takeaway breakfast. But I’m also aware of how unhealthy they are and that they’re pretty expensive, so, I thought, ‘why not have a go at home?’.

So, I did! Only, we had this for dinner instead of breakfast. This is what I did.

I started with a pack of sausage meat, which I bought from the butcher, to which I added one very finely chopped rasher of bacon, some onion salt, black pepper and an egg and squished it all together with my hands until nice mixed.

Then, I made round patties, the size of an English breakfast muffin, and added it to a hot oiled saucepan – listen for that satisfying sizzle! Give it a couple of minutes on each size to cook through properly.

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Take a toasted muffin, put a slice of cheese of your choice on the bottom half, then the sausage patty and finally a poached egg, before topping with the other half of the muffin.

And there you go, a takeaway breakfast muffin at home!

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I used egg poacher silcone cups to get uniform eggs, which made it easier to stack my muffins. They’re really easy to use, just pop them in boiling water and poach away!

Pasta Chicken Corden Bleu

Now, I’m not really sure I should be calling this Pasta Chicken Corden Bleu as it doesn’t involve any breadcrumbs, but hey-ho, I think it fits! This is such an easy meal to whip up and if, like me, you opt for supermarket budget ingredients – with the exception of the chicken, which I got from the butcher – it can be super cheap too.

Start off by slicing up a leek and sautéing that off with a minced garlic clove. When the leek has sweated down, add two diced chicken breasts and allow to colour before putting in one rasher of very finely chopped bacon.

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After allowing the meat a little time to cook, add a handful of slice mushrooms of your choice – I used white mushrooms.

Now, take a small tub of soft cheese and put that in the pan and allow it to melt down, before adding a generous handful of grated cheddar cheese and let that melt together with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard. This will help to create a thick and very cheesy sauce. When it’s all melted together, grind in black pepper.

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Serve with pasta – personally, I like a drizzle of olive oil too.

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