Store Cupboard Slow Cooker Chicken Casserole

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I chose a short and catchy name for this recipe!

I have made quite a few chicken casseroles in my time. They are so versatile as they can be eaten with potatoes and vegetables as a simple and warming dish or topped with some puff pastry for a quick and delicious pie. Although a lot of the recipes I have followed in the past have been delicious, they tend to need some forward planning. I think there is nothing more annoying than wanting to make a recipe but realising you’re missing a vital ingredient. It can’t just be me that writes numerous lists and will still always forget something when you go to the shop?! My housemate and I found a delicious chicken casserole/pie recipe that we would make at uni; but the recipe used creme fraiche which isn’t something I tend to have in my fridge. And then once you have used the small amount you need for the recipe, the rest goes to waste as it sits in the fridge because you don’t know what else to do with it.

I decided I wanted to come up with a chicken casserole recipe that was minimum effort and used mainly ingredients I (and other people) tend to already have in their cupboards or fridges. Obviously you can substitute ingredients still but this recipe will provide you with a deliciously comforting chicken casserole without needing a long shopping list!

This chicken casserole freezes really well. When you reheat it, the chicken tends to break up slightly but I don’t mind this at all! I usually serve this with  small baked potato and vegetables.

4 – 6 people

1 kg chicken breasts (or use a mix of breast and skinless thigh)
500g carrots, peeled and sliced
300g leeks, washed and sliced
400g tin cream of chicken soup
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp dried thyme
350ml semi skimmed milk
Chicken stock pot
Spray oil 

¼ ground pepper
1 tsp salt 
2 tbsp cornflour (if needed)

  1. Cut the chicken into cubes. Brown the chicken in batches in a pan or in your slow cooker on the hob (if your slow cooker allows this) using some spray oil

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  1. Once all of the chicken is browned, add it all to the slow cooker dish. Add the sliced carrots, leeks and the rest of the ingredients apart from the cornflour. I add the soup and then use the tin to measure the milk and then fill nearly to the top with recently boiled water. Not only does this give you the correct measurements but it also rinses out the tin too!

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  1. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8
  2. Once the casserole has finished cooking, check to see if the sauce is the right consistency. If it is too thin, use the cornflour and add enough water to make a slurry. Add this to the casserole and allow it to cook for another 30 minutes

 

Honey Glazed Gammon

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This is one of my favourite things in the world to eat.

Amazingly moist gammon with a deliciously sweet and crisp crust. You will all be fighting for the end piece!

As with a lot of families, we always have gammon around Christmas – traditionally on New Year’s Day. My Grandad (aka Granda) used to come and stay with us for Christmas and New Year and he would bring a huge gammon with him. It used to be a much bigger gammon in those days so mum would boil it first before putting it in the oven and then putting the glaze on it. I cook much smaller versions so you can cook it just in the oven.

I look forward to our New Year’s gammon a lot more than the Christmas roast. Although I love all of the trimmings, turkey isn’t my favourite of meats – especially cold! As soon as my Mum had finished cooking the gammon I would loiter in the kitchen waiting for the change to sneak an off cut. My Mum always serves this with creamed mashed potatoes, vegetables and a parsley white sauce. I don’t like the parsley sauce but the rest of the family rave about it! I do keep the rest pretty much the same though as it is such a delicious combination.

This is so delicious you will keep going back for more!

Smoked boneless gammon joint (1.5kg)
50g demerara sugar
70g clear honey

  1. Line a roasting tin with plenty of tin foil or use a disposable foil tray. Place the joint on the tin and cover with more foil. Cook the joint for 30 minutes less than the time specified on the cooking instructions
  2. When the joint has 30 minutes left of cooking time, remove it from the oven and dispose of the foil
  3. Cut off the rind and the majority of the fat leaving a couple of millimeters. Score the fat with a knife diagonally one way and then the other

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  1. Mix the sugar and honey together in a bowl and then pour over the fat of the gammon. Put the gammon back into the oven uncovered for the remaining 30 minutes of cooking

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  1. Take out of the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes loosely covered in foil before carving

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Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken

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Melt in your mouth chicken packed with loads of delicious flavours; this dish is quickly becoming a new favourite!

My sister has been trying to convince me to get a slow cooker for a long time. I was reluctant because in my head I thought it was cheating and taking out some of the fun of cooking. Obviously I was wrong! She bought me one for my birthday after finally giving in and saying I would give one a go – and now I love it!

The first thing I attempted to make were cinnamon rolls. They really didn’t turn out well at all! However this wasn’t the slow cooker’s fault but mine as the part of the recipe that specifically warned me to be very precise, I wasn’t. I decided to leave the desserts alone for a while and focus on savoury dishes.

I’d seen a few recipes using chicken and Mexican flavours so used them to create my own interpretation which I decided to call Fiesta Chicken! My main inspiration came from one of my favourite bloggers over at Skinny Taste. I tweaked her Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken recipe.

This recipe is really flexible. Add more of what you want, less or none of what you don’t and make it your own. I happened to have some chicken thighs and a couple of breasts in the fridge so I decided to chuck them both in. I love chicken thighs as they have so much flavour but until recently I have always tended to buy breasts. Since I’ve got a chest freezer I now go a little crazy and buy thighs in bulk and have a mass de-boning session. Last week I de-boned approximately 80 thighs ready for BBQ’s. They are definitely me favourite cut of chicken but use whichever you fancy!

I used a combination of chilli powders that I have bought on my trips to Borough Market. Don’t let not having them put you off making this dish! Use whatever you have – chilli powders, cayenne pepper, paprika etc. and add more if you like a bit of heat. The quantities in the recipe below are more to add flavour than heat, so adjust as you wish. I added a tin of flame roasted mild green chillies which I bought from Tesco maybe a year ago. I’d seen a few American recipes where they included tinned tomatoes with mild green chillies, so when I saw the tin of chillies in the World Food’s aisle I bought them. This recipe was finally a reason to use them! You’ll notice I haven’t included them in the recipe though as since making this dish, I haven’t been able to find them anywhere. I’ve even searched online for them and it seems you need to order them from America which isn’t the cheapest option, so I decided it was better to miss them out, however sad this made me feel.

I was so impressed with how tasty this recipe was and it was such minimal effort. I did find that there was too much liquid when I made it so I have reduced the amount slightly. That is the only thing I have found with slow cookers, because you are cooking with the lid on, they keep all of their liquid and it doesn’t evaporate. If you want to try and thicken the dish without using cornflour (or as well as) just take the lid off for the last 30 mins cooking to help some of the water evaporate.

The recipe below made enough for 7 large portions – 6 of which I will use for dinner and then I split the last one into two smaller portions for lunches.

approx 500g chicken
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp Mexican oregano
2 tsp chilli powder (I used a mixture of ancho, guajillo and chipotle)
1 tsp garlic powder
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
340g tin sweetcorn, drained
1 pepper, sliced
300g chicken stock
3 spring onions, sliced
1 tbsp cornflour (if needed to thicken)

  1. Sprinkle the chicken with 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper, oregano and the chilli powders

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  1. Add the tomatoes, black beans, sweetcorn, pepper, stock and spring onions to the slow cooker and stir to mix
  2. Lie the chicken on top of the ingredients and put the lid on the slow cooker

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  1. Cook for 10 hours on low or 6 hours on high
  2. 30 mins before serving, remove the chicken onto a board and shred using two forks. Return to the slow cooker and stir through

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  1. If there is too much liquid, in a glass mix the cornflour with just enough water to make a liquid and add this to the slow cooker and continue cooking for the 30 minutes
  2. Serve with rice sprinkled with grated cheese and spring onions

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Vegetable Curry

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Not the most attractive of dishes, but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in taste! Deliciously comforting curry packed with loads of vegetables makes this a tasty and healthy all in one dinner.

This recipe is so flexible and really lends itself to being adapted to what you like and how spicy you like it. It is a perfect meal to make when you have a few vegetables left over in your fridge that may not be at their peak freshness but you want to use them in a dish. You can use whatever vegetables you like, but for me the staples are potatoes, courgettes and cauliflower. My Mum used to make this for us and those were the vegetables she always used.

When I was making this curry for the first time in years,  I sent my sister a photo of my it bubbling away and her response was “it looks a bit boring, have you only got potatoes, courgettes and cauliflower in it?!”. Before she said that, I hadn’t even thought abut adding more vegetables as I was recreating what my Mum had always made us. So after my sister’s comment, I chucked other vegetables in and it was delicious. Since then I have added whatever I have had left in the fridge which means it is slightly different each time.

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As I hadn’t made this curry in years, when I did make it, it was the first time I had made it for Rien. I wasn’t holding out too much hope for him to be too enthusiastic about it as he is always a bit unsure about new meals to him. He really liked it but just had one suggestion that would make it even better – chicken. I should have seen it coming as he is the sort of person that thinks every meal should include meat. So the next time I made it, I added a couple of chicken breasts at the stage where I added the vegetables and tinned tomatoes. As the curry cooks for quite a while, some of the chicken broke up and almost became part of the sauce which I thought was really tasty. Although adding chicken completely changes it from being a vegetarian curry, it is really tasty and it’s still packed with lots of vegetables so it’s healthier than a typical chicken tikka masala!

Another great thing about this recipe is you make a big batch and freeze it. I freeze it in dinner sized portions for a quick week night dinner; but also individual lunch sized portions perfect for me to defrost and take in to heat at work.

I always serve this curry with mango chutney because I think it is one of the most delicious condiments ever made. As you have the potatoes, you don’t need rice but I like to serve it with some poppadoms to add a crisp texture to the deliciously comforting and soft vegetables in the curry.

Makes at least 4 portions

2 tsp sunflower/vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced

3 – 4 tbsp curry paste
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 – 4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
3 courgettes, sliced
1 cauliflower, separated into medium florets
1 pepper, chopped
250g green beans
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
800ml vegetable stock
1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp pepper
Chopped fresh coriander to garnish (if wanted)

 

  1. Add the oil to a large pan over a medium heat. Once the oil has warmed, add the onion and garlic and allow to sweat for a couple of minutes stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn

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  1. Add the curry paste to taste and stir to coat the onions

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  1. Add all of the vegetables and stir again to coat them in the curry paste. Add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, vegetable stock and salt and pepper

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  1. Let the stock come to the boil and then reduce the temperature to medium and allow to gently bubble away uncovered for 1 – 1½ hours or until all of the vegetables are soft and the stock has reduced and thickened

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  1. Serve sprinkled with coriander, or not if you’re like me and don’t like it!

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Chorizo & Potato Quesadillas

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This recipe is one my sister, Ally,  constructed after a trip to Wahaca in London where she had a similar dish. She then used the flavours to make her own version which is delicious!

For Mother’s Day, my sister Ally and I decided to make a Mexican Feast as a more personal touch than taking her out for a meal. When I say we made a feast, I wasn’t exaggerating!  We made these Quesadillas, Nachos, Chilli, Carnitas, Chicken Tinga as well as Quacamole, Salsa and Mexican Sweetcorn Salad. We had enough leftovers for everyone to take goodies home.

Ally and I spent the majority of the day at my house making all of these delicious dishes. It was quite a tiring day and we definitely earned our beer; but we also had a great time in the kitchen together.

The quesadillas have become a favourite dish in my house. Although I don’t add the onions, I do add peppers and sweetcorn. My sister usually adds these when she makes them at home, but we didn’t for the Mexican Feast to keep them simple. One of the great things about this recipe is you can adapt it to what you like.

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The first time I made them without Ally, I ended up making enough quesadillas to feed a family of six or more! This is because as my sister made up the recipe, her method was ‘a bit of this and a bit of that’ so I had to work out quantities of ingredients. However  benefit of making too many is I found out they are absolutely delicious cold the next day. I chose to not re-heat them because I was at work and using the microwave would have made them sort of soggy I thought. Although when cold they obviously didn’t have the crisp tortilla like when they were freshly cooked, the filling’s flavours seemed to intensify and become even more delicious.

The quantities below make enough quesadillas for 3-4 people (depending on how hungry they are!) 

600g potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced

130g chorizo, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 x 198g tin of sweetcorn, drained
1 pepper, diced

150g cheese, grated
½ tsp chili powder (I use a combination of different chili powders)
salt & pepper to taste

1-2 tsp sunflower oil 
6 large tortillas 

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes and boil them until cooked through in salted water
  2. Add the chorizo to a frying pan over a medium heat. Keep stirring to allow the oils from the chorizo to be released and then add the onions

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  1. Allow the onions to soften for a couple of minutes and then add the potatoes and pepper. Cook for a few minutes adding the oil if it begins to stick

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  1. After a couple of minutes, add the sweetcorn, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir through. Leave to cook stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes before turning out into a bowl

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  1. Place one large tortilla in a clean frying pan over a medium heat. Scatter the tortilla with some of the grated cheese before topping with a thin layer of the potato filling. Spread the filling to the edges of the tortilla before scattering with more grated cheese

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  1. Place another tortilla on top and press down to squidge the filling right to the edges. By now the bottom tortilla should be browned and slightly crispy. Carefully flip the tortilla over so the bottom becomes the top. How you choose to do this is up to you! I get a large spatula and flip but you can always tip it out onto a plate and then flip it and slip it back into the pan
  2. Once flipped, allow the tortilla to cook for 1-2 minutes until browned and crispy and you can see the cheese has melted inside
  3. Turn out onto a board and cut into eighths. Serve with lots of soured cream

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Skinny Chicken Fajita Pasta

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Deliciously creamy pasta perfect for people who like lots of flavour but are looking to keep dishes a bit healthier. This recipe is really tasty and works out at under 450 calories per portion.

I came across this recipe when someone shared it on Facebook. I ended up going to the blog and finding lots of tasty and healthy dishes so I really recommend you have a look at Skinny Taste for this recipe and loads more.

As with most recipes, I have made a few tweaks because I’m fussy! I was originally drawn to how easy and simple it sounded and that it was low in calories was a massive plus. I did initially think adding cream cheese was slightly odd but it adds a lovely creamy taste but without all of the calories. The original recipe includes mushrooms, onions and tomatoes but these weren’t for me. Feel free to add these or any other vegetables you would like. They also used Cajun seasoning, but I changed this to Fajita seasoning as it is something I always have in the house and really like the flavour.

I was so impressed by how tasty this recipe was and can see it becoming a regular meal in our house. I made the full amount as listed below which meant I had leftovers for lunch the next day. I’d gone and heated it up and was so excited by the recipe I was showing people I work with what it looked like. I’d been saying how much I was looking forward to it…and then I dropped it on the floor. I just stood there looking at my lovely lunch all over the floor. Gutted doesn’t even start to describe how I felt! What made it worse was that I had already knocked my cereal all over my desk in the morning. I’m not usually this clumsy, but I was having a really bad food day 🙁

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230g pasta – linguine or tagliatelle work well
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp Fajita seasoning (add more or less depending on your taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 peppers (any colours you like)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
250ml chicken stock
80ml semi-skimmed milk (use skimmed if you would prefer)
1 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp light cream cheese
¼ tsp salt
Pepper to taste

  1. Slice the peppers into thin strips. Whiz together the milk, cream cheese and flour in a small food processor and set aside

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  1. Cut the chicken in to very thin strips and season generously with the fajita mix

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  1. In a large pan of salted water, cook the pasta as per the packet’s instructions
  2. Heat a large frying pan with the cooking spray and cook the chicken on a medium high heat until the chicken is browned and cooked through (roughly 5 mins). Remove the chicken and set aside

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  1. Reduce the heat to medium and add the olive oil. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper

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  1. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the chicken stock and cream cheese mix. Stir through and allow to cook for a couple of minutes

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  1. Return the chicken to the pan and add the drained pasta. Stir thoroughly and cook for a minute or so before serving

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Beef & Guinness Stew

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A deliciously comforting and warming beef stew; perfect for a cold evening.

Like with a lot of recipes, I found this and then forgot about it. This one was from Delicious Magazine and it looked like the perfect warming winter stew so when I heard that my Nan was coming to stay, I thought this would be right up her street. My Nan is what I imagine most people’s Nan’s to be like – a fan of traditional British food. A curry is something alien and far too exotic for her, bless her.

So Mum and Dad were going to come over on Monday evening and bring Nan with them. She hadn’t seen our new house so it would be a chance to show her and to also cook her a nice meal. We didn’t have people over for dinner very often in our flat because we didn’t have a dining room table so it was a bit awkward to invite people over and ask them to eat with their plate on their lap! Since we’ve been in our house we have had lots of people over and it has to be one of my favourite things about the house. I didn’t realise how a dining table would make such a difference!

As it was a Monday they were coming, and a stew by nature isn’t the quickest of meals; I made it on the Sunday night and reheated it on the Monday. It tasted absolutely delicious, such deep and delicious flavours enhanced by the Guinness. It did become a little drier when I was reheating it so I added a bit more beef stock to create more gravy again, so if you reheat it you may need to do this too.

I’m sure if you have a slow cooker, this would work really well. I don’t have a slow cooker (I have nearly everything else it seems!) but my sister is threatening to buy me one so if she does I might become less clueless about them!

As you can see, there aren’t any photos of it actually plated up because keeping Rien waiting while I take photos of his dinner is one thing, but making my parent’s and Nan wait is another! Stew isn’t one of the most photogenic meals anyway- it’s all in the taste!

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
150g streaky bacon, finely chopped
1.2kg shin of beef, cut into chunks 
3 tbsp plain flour
600ml Guinness
500ml beef stock
1 bouquet garni (I used thyme, rosemary, 3 bay leaves – the original recipe used parsley instead of rosemary)

  1. Heat 1 tsp of the oil in a large pan or casserole dish over a medium heat and add the onions. Fry for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the bacon and fry for a further 4-5 minutes making sure you stir occasionally. Remove the onions and bacon from the pan and set aside

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  1. Dust the beef in the seasoned flour. Heat the rest of the oil in the pan over a high heat and fry the beef in batches, for 3-4 minutes until browned all over

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  1. Reduce the heat to medium, return all of the beef, onions and bacon to the pan. Add the Guinness, stock and herbs as well as plenty of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil

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  1. Once it has come to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 2½ hours until the meat is tender. Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetables

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Chicken Tikka

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This is the most delicious home-made Chicken Tikka I have ever eaten!

I’m not very adventurous when it comes to Indian food as I don’t like coconut, coriander or too much spice. This means that whenever we go to an Indian restaurant I always and I mean always order a chicken tikka masala.

Quite a few years ago, my brother in law found this recipe online at www.makingcurry.co.uk – unfortunately the website doesn’t appear to exist anymore so I can’t link to it. He made this recipe for us and it was absolutely delicious. The recipe does also come with a sauce, which turns it into Chicken Tikka Masala which fantastic, but I haven’t included it at this stage as it is includes more cream etc which means it makes it higher in calories.

Some people may think this recipe is a little bit of a faff as it does take quite a while and has a few different steps. However most of the prep is putting everything in a bowl in the fridge and forgetting about it for a couple of days! That sounds perfect to me! I recommend using food prep gloves when it comes to threading the chicken onto the skewers as this doesn’t leave you with orange tinted hands, but this is completely up to you.

Up until now I have made this recipe using double cream which makes it decadent and deliciously creamy. We all know double cream is delicious, but definitely not healthy. So I decided to leave it out and use more of the natural yogurt in its place. I was pleasantly surprised, I didn’t miss the cream at all!

My favourite way of eating this is cold with simply lettuce, cucumber and a bit of mango chutney. It is also fantastic in a wrap with salad. Last time I made this, I split it into three large portions and it was just under 300 calories. So you definitely still can enjoy delicious Chicken Tikka but still be healthy!

700g skinned chicken breasts, cubed
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
75g non-fat natural yogurt
100ml double cream (or 100ml of non-fat natural yogurt)
1 tbsp ginger puree
1 tbsp garlic puree
2 tbsp Tandoori Masala powder
½ tsp tumeric
½ garam masala
½ chilli powder
3 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
40g butter, melted

  1. Put the cubed chicken into a large bowl. Add all of the ingredients, except the butter and mix until combined. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for 2-60 hours – the longer the better!

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  1. Preheat the grill to high and line the grill pan with lightly oiled foil
  2. Brush 4 metal skewers with the melted butter and thread the chicken pieces leaving a small gap between each piece

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  1. Place on the grill pan set approximately 7.5cm away from the element and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take out and brush with more melted butter until the edges are charred

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  1. Turn the skewers over, brush with more butter and cook for 3-4 minutes
  2. Ease the chicken from the skewers. The chicken can be eaten hot or cold

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Skinny Chicken Pasta Bake

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Deliciously creamy pasta bake which is skinny but you really wouldn’t guess it!

Well it’s January again (where did 2015 go?!) which means the vast majority of us will be trying to make healthier choices. I’m going to try and not use the word ‘diet’ because personally I am hoping to make a change to my lifestyle which is something more permanent than a diet.

This Skinny Chicken Pasta Bake is a perfect healthier option which means you don’t have to miss out on pasta. I found this recipe on Gimmie Some Oven which has an amazing, healthier, but still deliciously creamy sauce. I do love a good tuna pasta bake with a creamy white sauce, but when you actually work out how many calories are in the sauce it is quite alarming. This recipe lets you still enjoy a delicious pasta bake, but with fraction of the calories.

Instead of butter, this recipe uses olive oil which is a healthier fat to make the base of the sauce rather than the usual butter. It also uses Parmesan and low fat mozzarella which are far healthier choices than the more commonly used cheddar cheese. I decided to add the chorizo to give it extra flavour. Although you don’t need to use a huge amount, chorizo is quite calorific so this can easily be left out. An addition that I have also used is sweetcorn, just add a drained tin along with the other ingredients to the sauce.

This dish is also great for leftovers – perfect for lunch the next day. I sometimes find when you are trying to be healthy that lunch gets forgotten about and you end up having the same boring, low calorie lunch each day. I then end up feeling hungry for the rest of the day – maybe this is just me?! Something like this for lunch is great as it helps keep you full without being high in calories.

340g pasta (any shape you like)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 gloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup semi-skimmed milk (you can also use 1% milk)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 small chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
50g chorizo, diced
1 ball of low-fat mozzarella cheese

  1. Cook the pasta according to the package’s directions making sure it is al dente
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute or so, stirring occasionally

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  1. Add the flour and stir to combine. Saute for another minute or so to cook the flour, again stirring occasionally

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  1. Gradually add the chicken stock whisking as you to go combine and create a smooth sauce. Once all the stock is added, whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken for a minute or so and then stir in the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper

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  1. Reduce the heat to low and stir occasionally until the pasta is cooked
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C
  3. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauce along with the cooked, shredded chicken and chorizo. Stir to make sure the pasta is evenly coated in the sauce

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  1. Pour half of the pasta into a large baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella and then add the rest of the pasta. Finish by adding the rest of the mozzarella

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  1. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and starting to turn slightly golden

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Chicken Tinga Tostadas

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Delicious chicken in a subtly spiced sauce on crisp corn tostadas, served with soured cream, lettuce and cheese – I don’t think you can get much better in my opinion!

If you follow my blog, you’ll know a couple of things about me; I am going through a Mexican food phase and fajitas are a staple in my house. My boyfriend, Rien, is obsessed with fajitas and would eat them everyday if he could. I am unashamed to say that I use a spice mix to make it a very quick and easy dinner for during the week.

I wasn’t holding out high hopes for his opinion of these Chicken Tinga Tostadas because of how much he loves the usual fajitas I make and I wasn’t sure if anything could compete with them. Once I’d made these tostadas, I was extremely happy with them as they tasted even better than I thought they would. I sat there waiting for Rien’s verdict and finally he said he thought they were delicious and even better than his beloved fajitas! Now to anyone else, this may not sound like much of a compliment; he thought the Chicken Tinga Tostadas were better than using a fajitas spice mix, wouldn’t that be obvious? Well no, not with Rien. He has a lot of positives, but he has quite simple tastes when it comes to food, bless him. He hadn’t heard of Camembert before we started dating and I’m pretty sure he hadn’t heard of a fig, let alone tried one. I am by no means adventurous with food as I am so fussy, but I have managed to introduce him to quite a few new foods; even if his favourite meal is still chicken and chips!

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I got this recipe from ‘Mexican The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arrote’ which is crammed with hundreds of authentic Mexican recipes. I’d heard of Chicken Tinga before and thought it sounded tasty so wanted to try this recipe. On a trip to Borough Market I went to the Cool Chile Company stall and stocked up on dried chillies and tostadas. I love this stall and stock up each time I go to Borough Market – or recently when Rien was in London for work, he picked me up some tostadas on the way home (I told you he had many positives!)

I’m sure you can get the ingredients in other places, for example I’ve seen dried chillies in supermarkets now. I am still yet to see tostadas in supermarkets, but they do sell mini tortillas. Although they tend to be made from wheat instead of corn, you could try toasting them slightly. They wouldn’t get as crisp as tostadas do and would be more like tacos, but they would still be as delicious so don’t let not being able to find tostadas put you off!

The original recipe used a whole chicken, but that would make an awful lot of Chicken Tinga, so instead I like to use two chicken breasts. This is enough for two people as a dinner and could be enough for 4-6 people as a starter. These tostadas do obviously take longer than cheats fajitas, but they taste amazing – definitely worth spending the extra time and effort. This is one of my favourite dishes at the moment.

I love all of the different flavours in this recipe without it being too hot. I used to think that if a recipe had chillies in it, then it would be really hot. Although some can obviously pack a punch, the chillies in this recipe add a great smoky flavour with only a slight warmth. Feel free to add a little bit more of the chillies in adobo sauce if you do want it a little spicier, or go easy with it if you prefer things really mild.

Make sure you read the whole recipe and make sure you have the ingredients before you start.

For the chicken
½ onion

2 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp sea salt

  1. Fill a medium pan with water and add the chicken, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and salt to the pan

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  1. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and take the chicken out of the pan. Set the chicken aside and make sure you keep the cooking liquid

For the tinga sauce
3 large tomatoes

1 dried chipotle chiles, soaked and drained
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp diced chorizo
1 onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs 
1 tbsp chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dried oregano
½ tsp sea salt
Pack of tostadas

  1. While you are waiting for the chicken to cool, make the tinga sauce. Preheat the oven to 200ºC and roast the tomatoes for 30 minutes
  2. Put the dried chili into a mug and cover completely with boiling water and allow to soak for 15 minutes

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  1. Once roasted and cooked, add the tomatoes, dried chili and garlic into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl, discarding any skin and seeds, and set aside

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  1. Heat the oil in a pan and add the chorizo, cooking over a low heat for five minutes

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  1. Add the onion and continue to cook for another 8 minutes until lightly browned
  2. Shred the chicken
  3. Add the garlic, tomato and chipotle mixture, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, salt and chipotles in adobo to the pan. Stir occasionally until the sauce has thickened
  4. Add the shredded chicken and approximately 150ml of the reserved poaching liquid and sugar. Cook for another 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the chicken is warmed through

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To finish
Tostadas
Soured cream
Shredded lettuce
Feta cheese (or cheddar if that’s all you have)

  1. Heat the tostadas for a couple of minutes on each side in a pan or in the oven. Spread each tostada with soured cream and then top with the chicken mixture. To finish, add shredded lettuce and crumble with feta

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