Category Archives: Dinners

Ancho Chile Chicken

 

Deliciously charred chicken thighs with a gentle chile warmth. Great cooked on the BBQ or on a grill inside which makes it perfect for anytime of year. 

I love Mexican food so any opportunity I have to use those flavours, I take it! Lots of people would assume that this would be quite a spicy dish because of the amount of chile powder, but even with 3 teaspoons this recipe has a gentle warmth and isn’t overly hot at all. As with most recipes, you can always reduce the chile powder if you prefer a mild flavour. 

Although I have cooked the chicken on a BBQ, it is also perfect to be cooked on a grill inside. My only recommendation is to try and get the charred edges from the grill like you would get on the BBQ. These add great flavour to the chicken and make it extra tasty. Charred is different to burnt remember ;). 

You don’t need to cut the thighs into strips if you would prefer to leave them as the full thigh. I cut them into strips because it makes it easier to add to salads or make into a wrap. 

These thighs are so versatile and can be served with anything you fancy. Rice or sweet potato with a nice salad and maybe even my Mexican Sweetcorn Salad would make a very tasty dinner. alternatively you could add them to a wrap with salad for a great lunch idea. These are delicious hot or cold, so I would recommend making more than you want to eat for that meal and saving the rest for yummy leftovers.

I buy my chile supplies from the Cool Chile Co but I have seen ancho chile powder in some large supermarkets and also TK Maxx in their food section (not the first place you might expect I realise!). 

Serves 2
6 chicken thighs, de-boned and skinless 
125ml orange juice
60ml fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp ancho chile powder
1 tsp ancho chile flakes
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper 

  1. Cut each chicken thigh into 2 or 3 strips (depending on how big each thigh is)
  2. Whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, honey, oil, chilli powder & flakes, garlic, salt and pepper in a dish. Add the chicken thighs and leave in the fridge to marinade for at least 2 hours but ideally over night

  1. Take the chicken out of the marinade and grill the strips in a grill or a BBQ for around 5 minutes on each side or until the chicken is charred and cooked through 

 

 

 

Cheese & Bacon Loaded Fries

The saltiness of the bacon with the slight heat from the potatoes covered in melted cheese makes these pretty irresistible. 

This is one of those dishes that you know you shouldn’t eat very often, but when you do give into your cravings and make it, it is oh so worth the consequences! 

I have made some very small steps to try and reduce the calories where possible. For example making your own oven-baked chips is healthier than a lot of shop bought chips and definitely healthier than fried chips. But I suppose that is where the ‘healthy choices’ end! You could use reduced fat cheese, but I find it doesn’t melt as well. So I will let you decided on whether you are looking for melty goodness, or less calories. 

I used my Actifry to make these chips as it makes delicious chips using minimal oil. If you do not have one of these, make the chips as I have written below, just make sure you turn them a couple of times to make sure they don’t stick to the baking tray. 

I know I keep referring to these as chips, but have called the recipe Loaded Fries. This is because as a whole we refer to them as chips here in the UK, but thinner chips like you would see in fast food restaurants, are often referred to as fries. If you prefer thicker chips, just cut them thicker and cook them for longer. 

You can have these as an indulgent side dish or how I envisage eating them is when you’re having a lay day on the sofa watching movies under a blanket and you fancy something a little bit naughty. Pause your movie, prepare these and then sit back and watch the rest of your film with the most amazing snack.  

Serves 2 

400g potatoes
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp garlic powder
4 rashers of streaky bacon
50g cheese, grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. After cleaning the potatoes, cut them into slices and then each slice into strips to form chips
  3. Toss with the oil, chile powder, garlic powder and salt. Line the chips on a baking tray and cook for 20 mins making sure you turn them a couple of times so they don’t stick

  1. While the chips are cooking, line the bacon on another baking tray and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until really crispy

  1. Once the chips and bacon are cooked, add the chips to an ovenproof dish. Using scissors, snip 3 rashers of bacon onto the chips

  1. Top with the cheese and the other rasher of snipped bacon
  2. Cook in the oven for 5 mins or until the cheese has melted 

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Fiesta Chicken Lasagna

 

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As the name suggests, this recipe is an adaptation of my Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken. My Fiesta Chicken recipe is really tasty I thought I needed to come up with other ways to enjoy its yumminess!

This recipe popped into my head when I was thinking of what I associate with Mexican food and flavours. Tortilla wraps are a favourite in my house so I thought about using them instead of pasta to make a lasagne inspired Mexican dish. The finished dish was delicious! Another great thing about it is once you have done some very simple assembling, you can chuck it in the oven for 20 minutes and forget about it. This along with the fact that you’re using the Fiesta Chicken you have already made, make it a quick meal perfect for a weekday dinner.

It is hard to specify the ingredients you will need as they vary depending on how many people you are cooking for. The below quantities provided two large portions. When I say a portion of Fiesta Chicken, I mean enough to feed however many people you are cooking for. The initial recipe can be split into quite a few different portions depending on how many people there are in your family. For example for a family of four, use the amount of Fiesta Chicken you would usually have served with rice, and then allow for 12 small tortillas and between 150-200g of cheese (you can use as much or as little cheese as you want).

Serves 2

Portion of Slow Cooker Fiesta Chicken
1
00g cheese, grated

1 pepper, sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree (if needed)
6 small tortillas 

  1. Add your Fiesta Chicken to a pan over a medium heat and allow to begin heating through
  2. If your Fiesta Chicken has been defrosted, you may need to add some more liquid. I added around 100ml of water from a recently boiled kettle to create more of a sauce as I find when dishes have been frozen they loose their moisture. Add as much or as little as you feel you need. I then added the tomato puree to add a richness back to the sauce
  3. Add the sliced pepper and allow to simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC
  2. After your Fiesta Chicken has warmed through you are ready to assemble. I used a 10″ square oven proof dish and began with cutting all of the tortillas in half. I used four of the halves to cover as much of the base of the dish as I could and then added one third of the Fiesta Chicken mix. On top of the mix I added one third of the grated cheese
  3. Repeat twice more finishing so you have the Fiesta Chicken topped with cheese

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  1. Put in the oven to cook for 20 minutes on a rack in the middle of the oven

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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

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Honey Glazed Ham

 

Amazingly moist gammon with a deliciously sweet and crisp crust. You will all be fighting for the end piece! This is one of my favourite things in the world to eat.

As with a lot of families, we always have ham 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 ham with him. My Mum always used to joke that he wasn’t allowed to come and stay with us if he forgot the ham. I remember looking forward to her New Year’s ham all year. As soon as my Mum had finished cooking the ham I would loiter in the kitchen waiting for the chance 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 one of my favourite recipes that Mum has passed down to me. As our lives have moved on, my sister and I have both moved out and we now have husbands so have other families to see over the festive period; my Mum understandably doesn’t make this every year. This is another reason why I am so pleased she taught me how to make it, so I can enjoy it without having to nag her to make it for me!

It used to be a much bigger ham 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 as I tend to only cook it for me and Mr Curly. Although it is smaller, we still like a big enough ham so there is plenty for dinner and leftovers; whether that is for cold ham and chips or a very tasty sandwich. 

I have to watch Mr Curly when I make this because he is always trying to catch a nibble like I used to do with my Mum. As soon as we’ve finished eating dinner, he’ll always ask what is happening with the rest of it and when can he eat more. I’ve learnt not to slice the ham before putting it in the fridge because then it i far too tempting for him to go in and sneak a piece. 

I really would recommend using a disposable foil tray to cook this in. Even though I used to line my roasting tins with foil, the honey and sugar mix always seemed to manage to seep under the foil and burn itself and the foil to the roasting tin. So after far too many times scrubbing my roasting tins to within an inch of their lives, I now use the disposable foil trays. 

Something I do that I’m not sure my Mum would approve of is when I’ve sliced the ham, I add the slices back into the tray the ham was cooked in and coat them in the sugary juices. The ham then becomes fully coated in the delicious glaze which is too good to just throw away! 

A ham of this size will easily feed 4 people with leftovers. 

Smoked boneless ham 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
  2. After carving, serve as it is or dip in the sugary juices to coat and then serve 

 

 

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 my favourite cut of chicken but use whichever you fancy!

I used a combination of chilli powders that I buy from the Cool Chile Co. They have a store in Borough Market but you can also order from their website and they have great service (I just genuinely like their products, they aren’t paying me to mention them). Don’t let not having different chilli powders 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. This also depends on the heat rating of the chille powder you decide to use, for example chipotle chilli powder is hotter than a guajillo chilli. I would always veer on the side of caution and then give it a little try when you add the shredded chicken back in. You can always add some more chilli at this stage if it needs a bit more of a kick.

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
1 ½ tbsp Mexican oregano
3 tsp chilli powder (I used a mixture of ancho, guajillo and chipotle)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 x 400g tins tomatoes
400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
340g tin sweetcorn, drained
2 peppers, 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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