Sausage Casserole

With the clocks now turned back and the official end of British Summer Time, I figured it was time to think comfort food. For me, that means a good casserole. So, for dinner tonight, I knocked us up a tasty sausage casserole and it’s so simple to do.

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Start with any sausages you fancy or have in and brown them off in a frying pan, before transferring to a casserole dish. Then sweat off a chopped onion, a minced clove of garlic and two diced carrots and add those to the casserole.

For the stock, I used a beef stock pot and a red wine one, which I dissolved in around a pint and a half of boiling water and added a cornflour slurry (two teaspoons of cornflour dissolved in cold water), which helps to thicken the gravy whilst cooking. Add the liquid to the casserole, along with two bay leaves and a handful of chopped mushrooms, a spoonful of English mustard, a squeeze of tomato puree, some mixed herbs and salt and pepper and give everything a good mix together.

Next, add sliced, raw potatoes to the top of the casserole and sprinkle with oil and rosemary, before putting the lid on and popping in a pre-heated oven at 180C for 40minutes. After that time, take the lid off and return the pot to the oven for another 20minutes.

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Make sure the potatoes have a nice crisp top and then serve.

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 A casserole dish like this is perfect.

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Chicken & Mushroom Pilaf

I was inspired to have a go at this after watching the Pioneer Woman on the Food Network this morning. If you haven’t discovered her yet, do check her out!

Ree was serving up a mushroom pilaf with a fillet steak, however, we don’t often stretch to the luxury of a fillet steak! I figured, instead of a side dish, I’d just serve it up as a main course with some chicken.

I didn’t follow Ree’s recipe, mainly because I couldn’t remember it! However, this is what I did:

I started by melting some butter in a large saucepan and added a finely chopped onion and three cloves of garlic. After allowing them to soften for a few minutes, I added six or seven chopped mushrooms – I had white mushrooms in the fridge, but you could use any you fancy. Allow them to soften a bit too and then add rice to the pan, give it a stir and pour in around a pint and a half of stock. I opted to use those stock pot things and used a chicken and a white wine one for added flavour.

Whilst the rice was cooking, I cooked two diced chicken breasts in a separate pan, before adding that into the rice along with some mixed herbs and a good grinding of black pepper. Then it was ready and time to dish up.

The feedback I got from Himself was ‘very tasty’ and he ‘really enjoyed’ it. It was ready in minutes, so if you need something quick and tasty this could help. And a big thank you to the Pioneer Woman for the inspiration!

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Chicken Curry

My other half does enjoy a curry, the only difference is he can take a lot more spice than I can, as I’m a wimp! But, I thought I’d give a chicken curry a go this week.

Now, I did start out with measuring spices – yes, I do own measuring spoons – but, then that kind of went out of the window.

First, I finely diced an onion and cooked that in a wok with some oil until it was nice and soft, before adding a couple of teaspoons each of ground ginger, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, medium curry powder, along with two finely chopped cloves of garlic and freshly ground black pepper. After letting them cook for a bit, I added a squeeze of lemon juice and let everything get to know each other for a while, before adding in two diced chicken breasts and allowing the meat to take on some colour.

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When the chicken was about halfway cooked, pour in a tin of coconut milk and a touch of garam masala and allow to simmer. For a touch of texture, I added some chopped almond – just half a handful, as I didn’t want to overpower it.

Taste the curry to see if you like it and add anything extra you think it may need. In a separate frying pan, heat a little oil and add some mustard seeds and roasted cashews. Let them fry to put some colour on the nuts and the seeds will start popping.

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Serve the curry with rice and top with the cashews and mustard seeds. We also had naan bread and poppadoms for our homemade takeaway.

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Sweet & Sour Chicken

Feeling in the mood for something Oriental, I whipped up a simple sweet and sour chicken for dinner last night.

It’s really easy to do.

Dice up two chicken breasts (a breast per person), and add to a wok, which is already heated with coconut oil and cook. Partway through cooking, add some chopped peppers – colours of your choice – and if you fancy it, slivers of carrots.

Meanwhile, put some rice on to boil, I just used basmati, but you can use whichever rice you like the most.

In a jug, add the juice of a tin of pineapple chunks, a good generous squeeze of tomato ketchup (yes, you read the correctly!), a good dash of white wine vinegar and some honey and give it a mix. Taste to see if it’s to your liking and add more of whatever you think it needs until you are happy. I also added a little cornflour slurry (cornflour mixed with water) to help thicken the sauce.

Add the sauce to the wok and give it a good stir to make sure the chicken and veggies are nicely covered. Allow to bubble until the rice is done then throw in the pineapple chunks right at the end.

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Serve and enjoy!

Chicken Pizza Pasta

So, this was an unusual one, inspired by something the other half had seen online in one of those quick videos that does the rounds on social media, but I strive to please!

I’ve taken to calling this chicken pizza pasta!

Start by taking two chicken breasts – mine were skinless, but it doesn’t matter – and slash it a few times, leaving little pocket openings. Into these slashes, put sliced of red onion, tomato and pepper. Put the chicken onto a foiled baking tray and then add a little chopped bacon – I just used one rasher between the two breasts. Now, go crazy with grated mozzarella and top with some mixed herbs. Pop the tray into the oven on 200C for 25minutes.

Whilst the chicken is doing its thing, cook some pasta. I also whipped a sauce, using the remains of our home-grown tomatoes and aubergine. I chopped up the aubergine and fried it in some good olive oil, whilst the tomatoes softened in a pan with some salt, pepper and a touch of sugar. Once the tomatoes were soft, I squashed them up with a wooden spoon, added some salt, pepper and a splash of Worcestershire sauce, before adding in the aubergine and a few chopped mushrooms.

When the chicken is cooked, hopefully everything else will be ready too. Put some pasta on a plate, top with some of the tomato sauce and then your star, the chicken breast ie the pizza!

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Warm Steak Salad

So, this evening, I presented Mr Doubtful, with a warm steak salad. Now, he is not a salad man, nor is he keen to see potatoes missing from his dinner, so this was quite a challenge, but I was determined to make sure he liked this.

The salad was just a bag of leaves from the supermarket – nice and easy! I took two red onions and thinly sliced them, before putting them in a pan with a little oil and putting it on a low heat and let them start to slowly soften.

In a separate frying pan, I put some chopped up chorizo I found loitering in the fridge and let that start to cook off to release its oils, before adding the steaks – Sir’s goes in before mine, as I like mine nice and rare, where as he likes his ruined, sorry, I mean well done – although I’m slowly bringing him round to medium, which is what he had today. Let the steaks have a good cook on one side, before turning them. I go by the feel and look of meat, so I can’t give you a time. Whilst the meat is cooking, continue to give the onions the occasional stir to make sure they don’t catch.

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In a jug, make a little dressing, with a few glugs of good olive oil, a couple of teaspoons of Dijon mustard, a drizzle of honey and a squeeze sour cream – or yoghurt if you have that in the fridge instead. Add some salt and pepper and give it a taste after giving it a mix together. You can add a bit more of this or that until you are happy.

Pour a few drops over your salad leaves, before adding some chunks of cheese. We had a nice soft blue cheese and a soft goats’ cheese. The chorizo should be ready to add to the salad now too.

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Check on your steaks and if they’re done to your liking, take them out of the pan and let them rest, whilst you finish the onions. By now, they should be nice and soft, add some brown sugar and a glug of balsamic vinegar and allow to cook for another 5-10 minutes until caramelised and sticky. Add these to the salad, slice up the steaks and serve on top with some extra dressing.

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Even Mr Doubtful enjoyed this!

Chinese Slow-Roast Pork Belly Strips

This evening, I cooked up one of my partner’s favourite dinners – Chinese slow roasted pork belly strips.

The name may sound daunting, but really, it’s super easy to make.

Start with some pork belly strips. I always get mine from the butcher, so I know they’re nice and thick and of a good size, which allows me to do one strip per person. However, if using supermarket meat, you may need two or three pieces each, as they are considerably smaller in size.

Line a roasting tin with foil and pop in your meat. Splash in a generous amount of soy sauce and sprinkle the meat generously with Chinese five spice. Slice up one clove of garlic thinly per belly strip and pop these on top of the meat, before pouring runny honey over the pork and if you want to, add a sprinkling of chilli flakes – add as much or as little as you like of this. Cover the tin with foil and allow the meat to marinade for a good few hours, or overnight if possible.

Pre-heat the oven to 140C, putting another large roasting tin in at the same time with some lard or oil if you prefer. Par-boil some potatoes, chopped up relatively small. I had some leftover new potatoes, so I didn’t even bother peeling them today. When the lard is nice and hot, strain the potatoes and add to the roasting tin, before sprinkling with some rosemary. Return to the oven and put the pork in too.

After an hour, add some carrots and red onions to the potatoes turn the oven up to 170C. Remove the pork from the oven and turn the meat over. Pour over some extra honey for added stickiness and return to the oven, uncovered for another 30minutes. When this time is up, take the meat out of the oven and cover over again to keep it warm. Crank up the oven to 200C and give the veggies another 10minutes.

Then just serve up and enjoy! (Remember you will have a ready-made sauce in the meat roasting tin made from the honey, soy sauce and meat juices.)

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