Category Archives: Dinners

Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta

My Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta is deliciously creamy and packed with tasty flavours with a subtle chile kick. A quick and yummy dish which is healthier than you may think. 

As I’ve mentioned before, one of my first cookbooks as a child was ‘Real Food’ by Nigel Slater. This Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta recipe is inspired by one of his recipes in the book. I used to make his recipe all the time and it is very tasty. However it does have one slight negative; double cream. Oh and wine. The cream and wine make the recipe indulgent and delicious, but aren’t the best if you are trying to reduce the calories. 

In a bid to make this recipe healthier, but not lose flavour; I have adapted it to use a cheeky healthier sauce. You will have seen this trick in my Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta and Skinny Fajita Chicken Pasta recipes. The cream cheese mixture adds creaminess to the sauce without having all of the calories double cream has. You also don’t miss the wine because the stock helps remove all of the delicious sticky sausage off the bottom of the pan.

I was very happy with the end result and didn’t miss the cream and wine at all. That says a lot coming from me because double cream is one of my weaknesses. My Mum says I take after my Grandma with my love of cream because we could both drink it if that was socially acceptable (and obviously wasn’t quite so unhealthy!).

Mr Curly also gave this the thumbs up saying it had just the right level of spice for him, not too spicy but he could definitely taste the chile. Obviously chile flakes vary in heat so I would always recommend adding less and tasting the sauce before adding anymore. Also if you are making this Sausage, Mustard & Basil Pasta for children, depending on their heat tolerance I would maybe just add a pinch or leave it out altogether.

Nigel Slater did suggest using spicy Italian sausages in his original recipe, but I decided to use good quality pork sausages in mine. This is because it is harder to judge how spicy the sausages would actually be and you can’t reduce their heat. By using plain pork sausages, this gives you the flexibility to build up as much heat as you would like. 

You can use whatever pasta you like for this recipe. I must admit I did get lured in by the pretty Gigli pasta when I went to the supermarket. I really liked it’s frilly pattern which I thought made the dish look a little bit more special. Obviously this recipe will be just as delicious with any pasta shape. Wholemeal pasta is also a good recommendation, but this leads to another confession of mine. I don’t tend to buy wholemeal pasta often because I don’t think supermarkets offer a good enough range of pasta shapes! Yes I realise this sounds like a silly reason, but I like to use a variety of pasta shapes because penne every time you eat pasta would be a little boring in my opinion. 

Serves 4

450g pork sausages, de-skinned (6 sausages)
300g pasta
½ tsp sunflower oil 
3 tbsp low fat cream cheese
80ml milk
1 tbsp plain flour
250ml chicken stock
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp chile flakes
Pinch of black pepper
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Bunch of basil, sliced
20g parmesan, grated 

  1. De-skin the sausages and break them into pieces using your hands. There is no need to roll them into balls
  2. Add the oil to a frying pan over a medium high heat. When hot add the sausage pieces. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until browned and cooked through
  3. Whilst your sausages are cooking, boil the pasta as per the packet instructions in salted boiling water. Once cooked, drain and set aside
  4. Once the sausages are cooked, remove them from the pan and set to once side

  1. In a mini blender/chopper mix together the low fat cream cheese, milk and flour
  2. Turn the frying pan back onto a low heat. Add the cream cheese mixture along with the chicken stock
  3. Whisk the sauce until all of the lumps have disappeared and the sauce is smooth. Keep whisking for a minute or so until it thickens 
  4. Add the mustard, chile flakes, salt and pepper and whisk through before adding the sausage back to the pan along with the sliced basil 

  1. Add the cooked pasta to the pan along with the grated parmesan. Stir through and serve

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Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew

If you’re looking for a comforting winter warmer, you definitely need to try my Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew. Melt in your mouth beef in a thick and rich gravy with deliciously sweet carrots – yum. 

This time of year really does lend itself to slow cooked dishes. When the weather is cold and miserable I like a lot of people want warm and comforting food. And surely it’s not just me that feels a bit lazy when the weather is a bit rubbish? That’s another reason why slow cooked meals are so great, once you have spent a few minutes assembling them at the start, you can then pretty much just forget about them. 

Beef is a great meat for long slow cooking because it gets deliciously tender. I also find gravy that is deeply flavoured to be one of the most comforting things to eat. Slow cooking is a relaxed way of letting the flavours develop over time where they can really intensify. I had to stop myself spooning all of this gravy straight from the slow cooker it was that tasty. 

You can cook this on high for 5-6 hours, but if you have the time, I would recommend letting it cook on low. This will make the beef even tastier. I put this on just before I went to bed and got up to the most amazing smell the next morning. If you want to eat it that day, you can just reheat it later. Alternatively you can freeze it for a really quick meal another day. 

My Mum used to make delicious gravy for us growing up and because she knew we all loved it so much she made sure there was plenty. At the end of the meal, if your potato hadn’t soaked up all of the gravy, we used to get a slice of white bread and use that to soak up the last of the yummy gravy. It was so good!

As this is cooking for such a long time, I like to leave the carrots quite chunky because I want them to keep their shape. You can cut them smaller if you like but they may disintegrate slightly. I think mushrooms would make a great addition to this stew but as with the carrots I would leave them quite chunky or add them half way through the cooking time. 

You can use whichever ale you like in this recipe. I used a dark ale that said it worked well with red meat, but I think any medium to dark ale would be great. You could also use Guinness which would be really tasty. If you do not want to use ale in this recipe, you could just add more beef stock. I would also consider adding a tablespoon of Bovril. This would help add a depth and richness to the gravy – I love the stuff! 

If you don’t have a slow cooker but want to give this stew a go do not panic – you can absolutely cook this in the oven! I haven’t tried it, but if I was, I would cook it for around 5-6 hours at 120ºC with a lid on and then for the last 30 minutes to an hour take the lid off. I would also add around 250ml more stock which would help ensure it doesn’t dry out. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend leaving this overnight, as you would need to check it every few hours and give it a stir. 

I like to eat this Slow Cooker Beef & Ale Stew with a baked potato or mashed potato. Or as I mentioned before, some bread is a great alternative to mop up all of that delicious gravy! 

Serves 4

700g braising steak 
200g smoked bacon lardons
30g plain flour mixed with 1 tsp sea salt & ¼ tsp black pepper
550g carrots, sliced
1 stick of celery, sliced 
1 onion, diced
2 sprigs of rosemary
½ tbsp thyme leaves
2 tsp sea salt 
½ tsp black pepper
500ml dark ale
1 beef stock pot
1 tsp sunflower oil  

  1. Add the bacon lardons to your slow cooker if you can use it directly on the hob, alternatively add them to a pan. Cook them until crisp and set aside

  1. Mix the flour together with the salt and pepper. Depending on how much oil the bacon left, add a little more if needed
  2. Coat the beef lightly in the flour and then brown it in the slow cooker/pan in batches

  1. Once all of the beef has been browned, add it back to the slow cooker 
  2. Add the bacon and the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker and stir to combine

  1. Cook on low for 8-9 hours. Remove the rosemary sprigs and serve

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Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta

Creamy and delicious pasta but without the guilt. My Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta is full of flavour and lower in calories than you would expect!

Pasta is a food many people love for its versatility and speed. It can be used to make so many tasty dishes. Some of the most delicious pasta dishes can be quite calorific which isn’t ideal if you are trying to eat more healthily. 

Growing up I didn’t really enjoy eating pasta. A lot of the time my Mum made it for us as a quick meal when we were children. A lot of the time this was pasta with a tomato based sauce which wasn’t my idea of a tasty meal. Then when I went to uni, unlike most of the people I knew, I still didn’t eat much pasta at all. 

Since then I have realised that there are so many really tasty dishes you make with pasta and these definitely don’t come out of a jar. I know jars of pasta sauce are really popular, but they tend to have quite a lot of sugar in them as well as not being the healthiest option. 

My Skinny Creamy Chicken Sausage Pasta is a great way of getting your pasta fix and even enjoying a delicious and creamy sauce, but with fewer calories. Would you believe me if I told you this recipe comes in at less than 450 calories per portion? For a pasta dish with a creamy sauce and meat, I think that is pretty good! And the really good thing about it is that it doesn’t taste ‘healthy’. It tastes like it is an indulgent, rich and creamy pasta dish. 

I have used HECK Chicken Italia Sausages for this recipe. I am a bit obsessed with HECK sausages and eat them frequently due to them being low in calories and great taste. This isn’t a HECK sponsored post, I just really like them. If you don’t want to use them, you can use another type of chicken sausage or leave them out completely. 

I used frozen basil in this recipe because my and fresh basil don’t seem to be friends. I like it, but it goes limp on me and dies. Because of this I don’t tend to buy it fresh very often because it doesn’t always last as long as I want it to. This is why frozen basil is a great freezer staple for me. It doesn’t pack as much flavour as fresh basil, but I think it is great to have. 

The secret of this being lower in calorie is really down to the sauce. You wouldn’t think cream a few tablespoons of cream cheese, some milk and flour could make a sauce this creamy, but they can! Parmesan is also a great calorie saver as it has far less calories than other cheeses such as cheddar. It also has a strong flavour so you need less to achieve a cheesy flavour. 

You can use any shape of dried or fresh pasta for this recipe, it really is up to you. Personally I like to use a pasta shape that will help catch the tasty creamy sauce, like conchiglie. Plus they look pretty too! 

For other healthy pasta dishes, check out my Ravoli LasagneSkinny Chicken Pasta Bake and  Skinny Chicken Fajita Pasta.

Serves 4

300g pasta
350g HECK Chicken Italia sausages, de-skinned
½ tsp sunflower oil 

3 tbsp low fat cream cheese
1 tbsp plain flour
80ml semi skimmed milk
250ml chicken stock
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp frozen or dried basil 
pinch of black pepper

20g parmesan, grated 

  1. Cook the pasta as per the packet’s instructions 
  2. Remove the casing from the sausages and split each sausage into roughly four pieces. Roll each piece between your palms to make little balls 
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium high heat and add the sausage. Cook until crisp and brown on the outside and cooked through 
  4. Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside

  1. Mix the cream cheese, milk and flour together in a mini food processor 
  2. Turn the pan onto a low heat and add the cream cheese mix to the pan along with the stock and whisk to combine. It will look a little lumpy, but keep whisking and it will come together. Keep whisking until it thickens slightly 
  3. Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder and basil and stir through 

  1. Add the sausage back to the pan and add the drained pasta

  1. Stir through and allow everything to heat through for a couple of minutes
  2. Add the grated parmesan, stir through and serve 

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Hearty Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole

If you’re looking for comforting and rustic, my Hearty Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole is for you.  Easy to make and full of flavour this is a great Winter warmer. 

 

I love using my slow cooker, especially during the Winter. You can make so many delicious and comforting dishes with minimum effort. This is a good thing when the weather is miserable and all you want to do is snuggle up on the sofa with a blanket; and a bowl of Hearty Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole of course!

My inspiration for this Hearty Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole came loosely from a sausage cassoulet. I say loosely because I took the general idea of it and then made it my way. This recipe is very easy to tweak and make it how you would like also. 
 

I chose to remove the casing from the sausages because I wanted to cut the sausages up for a start. This is to make the sausages go further and to also remove the necessity of using a knife. This really is lazy comfort food so who wants to be using more cutlery than needed?! I also removed the casing because I wanted the sausages to absorb as much flavour of the dish as possible so I thought I’d remove any barriers to prevent this. 

Why baked beans you ask? Well why on earth not. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my Dad used to add baked beans when he made cottage pie and it was oddly tasty. I wanted to add a bean to this recipe but I am not adventurous when it comes to beans. I am broadening my horizons and in the last year or so I have become a fan of black beans. Steady on, you may say but I will get there! My lack of confidence in beans was only half of the reason I used baked beans. I wanted their tomato sauce to enhance my casserole too. 

Another ingredient which enhances the casserole is red wine. Mr Curly and I aren’t big drinkers so I used a small bottle of red wine. If you do enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner and have a bottle open, add a medium sized glass to the casserole. Alternatively if you would rather not add wine at all, just add water instead. 

You can also add whatever vegetables you like. Parsnips or swede would add a sweetness which would work well. You could also add some mushrooms to add to the heartiness. Feel free to add whichever herbs you would like, or even use dried herbs if you don’t have fresh herbs. 

I like to serve this with some nice crusty bread which is very tasty dipped into the sauce. If you would prefer something a bit more substantial like Mr Curly, you could serve this Hearty Slow Cooker Casserole with pasta or even mashed potato. 

Serves 4 

6-8 good quality sausages, de-skinned
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 carrots, sliced
2 sticks of celery, sliced
1 onion, diced
2 gloves of garlic, diced
187ml red wine (small bottle) 
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 spring of rosemary
½ tbsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 ½ tsp sea salt
¼ black pepper
½ tsp dried sage
2 bay leaves
250ml chicken stock
420g tin baked beans
Spray oil
2 tbsp cornflour mixed with water (optional)

  1. Remove the casing from the sausages. I find the best way to do this is to gently cut a slit into the sausage and then peel the casing away from the meat 
  2. Split each sausage into three pieces and roll them between your hands to round the edges

  1. Brown the sausages in your slow cooker on the hob, if it allows. Or brown them in a pan and add them to the slow cooker

  1. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the baked beans and stir to mix 

  1. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 
  2. With an hour to go, add the baked beans and stir through. Remove the bay leaves and rosemary stalk 
  3. If you would like the stew to be a little thicker, mix the cornflour and water together and add to the slow cooker. Stir through and let cook for a few more minutes before serving

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Slow Cooker Pork & Mustard Stew

Tasty and tender pork slow cooked with mustard, herbs and cider – what’s not to like? My Slow-Cooker Pork & Mustard Stew is perfect for a winter’s evening. 

I love pork. It is definitely my favourite meat and is incredibly versatile. If I’m in a restaurant and pork is an option, it is more than likely that is what I will be ordering. And don’t even get me started on belly pork!

Growing up, my Mum would make a pork casserole using thick slices of pork tenderloin which she would slow cook in the oven. This is my interpretation of her dish adapted to the slow cooker. 

You can use any cut of pork for this, I tend to use shoulder. You do want a small amount of fat so it doesn’t dry out when you are cooking it over a few hours. I like to brown the meat before adding it to the slow cooker because this means it keeps together when cooking. If you don’t brown the pork, it has a tendency to break up more which isn’t what I wanted for this recipe. 

Mustard and cider go perfectly with pork which is what makes this recipe so delicious. My Mum used to add onion and apples to hers, but I have left them out. I haven’t hidden the fact that I don’t like onions. I know they add flavour and when I think they are a benefit I do include them. With this recipe the leeks provide a similar flavour so I have left the onion out; but feel free to add an onion if you fancy it. 

I chose not to add apples because I thought they would just turn to mush after cooking for a few hours. You could always cut up some apples and add them towards the end of the cooking time; maybe for the last 30 minutes or so. You still get the delicious apple flavour from the cider so you won’t miss them. 

As with a lot of my slow cooker dishes, I tend to add a little bit extra liquid to ensure it doesn’t all cook off. This is especially handy if you are leaving your slow cooker on overnight so you won’t be there to check if it needs a bit more liquid. Because of this, you may want to thicken it slightly. You can either do this by taking the slow cooker lid off and allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. But if you don’t have as much time, add a small amount of cornflour mixed together with some water and stir that through the dish. Leave it for 5-10 minutes and your sauce will have thickened. 

I also add a bit more liquid because I freeze a lot of my dishes and they seem to always loose some liquid once they have defrosted. I’m sure someone could explain this, but I don’t know why it happens! So if I have a thinner sauce when I freeze the dish, my thinking is I will still have plenty of sauce when I defrost it and reheat it. I can then thicken it if needed. 

I think this Slow Cooker Pork & Mustard Stew goes really well served with a jacket potato and vegetables. However I tend to eat a large bowl of this with just vegetables. If you are eating it like that I would say this probably feeds two people whereas if you are serving it with potato it could be stretched to four people.  

Serves 2-4  

450g pork, diced
200g leeks, sliced
1 ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
150ml water
Vegetable stock pot or stock cube
250ml cider
2 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp dried mustard powder
2 sprigs of thyme 
2 sprigs of rosemary
½ tsp mixed herbs 
Spray oil 
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with water (optional)

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

  1. Once all of the pork is browned, add it all back into the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients to the pork 

  1. Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 8-9 

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Herby Turkey Burgers

Herby Turkey Burgers that are so tasty you won’t believe they are only 200 calories! Don’t panic – these burgers may be low in calories but they are definitely not lacking in flavour.  It’s that time of year when people are brought back to reality with a bump after Christmas. The overindulging has to come to and end and you have to deal with the choices you made. Ok so maybe this is just me! 

January is the time of year that most people try to eat a bit more healthily. This isn’t just to loose weight, but I think a lot of people tend to eat more than usual over the festive period so when it comes to January, people crave healthier food. 

Healthy food doesn’t just mean salads. I made these Herby Turkey Burgers as a healthier version of my Beef Burgers, but didn’t realise just how healthy they would be. If I told you these burgers without the bun were only 200 calories would you believe me? If you use turkey breast mince that has 2% fat then these burgers come in at just 200 calories. Even if you use turkey thigh mince which has 7% fat, these still work out at just under 240 calories. I think thigh meat has more flavour and the extra fat helps keep the burgers moist. 

Turkey can be a little bit bland which is why I think you need to pack it with flavour. Herbs and garlic go really well with turkey and help bring out its flavour. I have used fresh herbs in this recipe, but if you don’t have any just substitute them with a teaspoon of the equivalent in dried herbs. 

If you are trying to reduce the carbs you eat, you can easily enjoy this burger without the bun. But if you do fancy a bun, I recommend toasting it slightly as it really does make a difference – there’s a reason why if you order a burger in a restaurant the bun will be lightly toasted!

I can be a bit of a pain when I come up with a new recipe because ask Mr Curly for feedback. The majority of the sweet treats I make I ask other people whether they think I’ve got it right or I need to make some tweaks. But when it comes to savoury dishes it is a bit harder and I usually rely on Mr Curly. I made these and jokingly said to him I wanted his review in at least ten works – ‘nice’ and ‘tasty’ don’t give me much to go off! 

His response was “I don’t really know how to rate them apart from they’re really tasty and I’d happily have them again. Better than your beef burgers maybe.” Well that might not mean much to you, but I know how much he loves the beef burgers I make so I knew that these Herby Turkey Burgers were a winner. 

Serves 4

450g turkey mince 
70g cream crackers (8 crackers), broken up
1 egg
1 tsp garlic, chopped
½ tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
½ tbsp fresh thyme
½ tsp dried sage
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
Spray oil 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC
  2. Add all of the ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly – I find the best way to do this is with your hands 

  1. Divide the mix into four equal balls and shape them into burger patties
  2. Spray a baking tray with oil and place the burgers on it

  1. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning half way; until they are browned and crisp on each side 

  1. If you are going to serve the burger in a roll, just before the burgers are ready to come out of the oven, toast the buns

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Slow Cooker Chicken & Chorizo Stew

Chicken and chorizo in a rich tomato sauce with a subtle warmth, this Slow Cooker Chicken & Choriza Stew is perfect for a cold winter night served with rice or tortillas and salad and a dollop of soured cream.             My love of Mexican food is no secret and I am constantly thinking of new recipe ideas whether it is adapting traditional recipes or using Mexican flavors to come up with yummy dishes of my own. This Slow Cooker Chicken & Chorizo Stew is by no means traditional, it just borrows some delicious Mexican flavours to make a comforting and tasty dish. 

There are always chicken thighs in my freezer and chorizo in my fridge. I love chicken thighs because they have so much flavour. I must admit I always prefer leg and thigh meat on a roast chicken, breast is very tasty but has nothing on thigh meat in my option. Thighs are also great in slow cooker dishes because they don’t dry out as easily as breast meat can. 

With the chorizo, I am lucky that my parent’s often bring me a delicious ring back from their trips to Fuerteventura. You can buy a normal or spicy chorizo, so buy whichever you fancy. The rings to tend to have a papery covering to make sure you peel this off before you cut it up. 

Even though I have quite a collection of chile powders, I realise that not everyone does. So with this recipe I have tried to keep it to chile powders and flakes that I have seen in supermarket. If you still can’t find them, it isn’t the end of the world and you can just substitute it with any chile powder you have, just use less if it is hot and more if it is very mild. I love to use Mexican oregano because it has a citrus flavour but again, if you don’t have this normal oregano will be great. 

As I haven’t browned the chicken off before adding it to the slow cooker, the chicken will shred really easily and become almost part of the sauce. If you would prefer the chicken to remain in chunks, either skip the shredding step or cut the chicken up and brown it at the same time as the chorizo. As with most dishes, you can adapt this to your tastes. 

Serves 4 

500g chicken thighs, deboned and skinless
100g chorizo
3 peppers
400g tin chopped tomatoes

 3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ancho chile flakes
½ tsp chipotle chile powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

300ml water 
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water 

  1. Cut the chorizo in half and then slice into half moon shapes and fry either in a dry pan or in your slow cooker basin on the hob (you’ll know if your slow cooker has this function). You just want the chorizo to get slightly browned and release its oil 
  2. De-seed and slice the peppers length ways. Add them to your slow cooker along with the tinned tomatoes, garlic and water and stir everything together 

  1. If they aren’t already, debone your thighs and remove the skin. Even if I buy them ready prepared I always check them over to trim of any excess fat, remove any veins and check for any small bones that may have been missed 
  2. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken thighs with the oregano, paprika, chile flakes, salt and pepper and then lay them on top of the slow cooker 

  1. Cook for 4 hours on high or 6 on low before removing the chicken. Shred the chicken before adding back to the slow cooker and stirring everything together

  1. If you want the sauce to thicken, add the cornflour and water mix and stir through 
  2. Cook for a further 30 mins and serve either with rice or salad and tortillas and a dollop of soured cream

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Sausage & Mustard Tray Bake

Comforting and easy but most importantly this Sausage & Mustard Tray Bake is delicious. This recipe is really adaptable so you can use up any vegetables you have in your fridge. 

We’re at that time of year now when we all look for a warm and comforting meal to come home to in the evenings. Sausages and roasted vegetables are such essential winter ingredients that can be made into so many tasty dishes. 

Apart from the tasty ingredients, the other advantage to this recipe is how easy it is. All you need to do is peel and cut some vegetables, mix a sauce, give it a stir and put it in the oven. You can then carry on with your evening duties, whether that is washing, ironing or something that is actually exciting; without having to be tied to your kitchen. 

This recipe is incredibly versatile and really allows you to add vegetables that you like or happen to have lurking in the fridge. I would recommend using potatoes as a standard ingredient and then adapting the other vegetables. As well as changing the vegetables you use, you can easily change the quantities too. If you’re trying to eat less carbs, reduce the number of potatoes and add more of something else. 

A great addition to add at the moment would be pumpkin or squash as it is in season and is a good way to use up any leftover pumpkin you have from Halloween. I’m not a fan of Halloween so I don’t buy pumpkins to carve like a normal person, I buy them to eat and a few mini ones to look pretty and then eat. 

I’m not sure why, but people seem to eat sausages on Bonfire Night. So this would be a perfect dish as it is simple and can feed quite a few people easily without having to prepare anything additionally, everything is in the one tray in the oven. I love sausages to be dark and crispy because I think this gives them the best flavour. If you don’t like them this brown, turn the temperate down slightly after 20 minutes or so and you should get less colour on your sausages but still ensure your vegetables are cooked through. 

I have used my favourite pork and apple sausages in this recipe just simply because I absolutely love them, but you can use whatever sausages you fancy. I’m amazed every time I go to the shops because I see different flavours of sausages each time. If you’re watching your calories, Heck sausages are low in fat and gluten free and if you’re vegetarian, Quorn sausages could be used instead I would just add them half way through the cook instead of at the start. 

Serves 2

3 potatoes (approx 450g)
1 red onion
2 carrots (approx 200g)
2 parsnips (appox 200g)
4 sausages 
1 tbsp olive oil 
1 tsp (heaped) wholegrain mustard
1 ½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 ½ tbsp runny honey

  1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC
  2. Peel the carrots, parsnips and onions. Cut all of the vegetables into similar sized pieces and add them to an oven proof dish
  3. Add the sausages to the dish and prick them with a sharp knife a couple of times
  4. Mix the olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and mustard together in a dish and then pour over the sausages and vegetables. Mix all of the ingredients together until everything is coated

  1. Cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the sausages are browned and the vegetables are cooked through and also browned. Stir the vegetables and turn the sausages over half way through the cooking time

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Chicken Chow Mein

This is the real deal. 

I have tasted more than my fair share of Chicken Chow Mein over the years, so when I say this tastes exactly like the best Chicken Chow Mein you have tasted; you can trust me! This tastes so delicious there aren’t enough ways for me to rave about it!    Ever since I can remember, Chicken Chow Mein has been one of my favourite things to eat. As I’ve grown up, my favourite things to eat have changed but Chicken Chow Mein has always remained up there. 

I have to have it anytime we have a Chinese takeaway or go to a Chinese restaurant because it is hands down the best part of a Chinese meal for me. 

Around ten years ago, we started going to a Chinese restaurant for my Grandad’s birthday on Christmas Eve. Before we started going there, my Mum used to make my Grandad a duck dish as it was one of his favourites. After a few years of this, Mum quite rightly decided cooking a big family meal the day before she made a huge Christmas roast was a bit much. That’s when it was decided that we would go out, but to a Chinese restaurant so my Grandad could still get his duck. 

Unfortunately my Grandad isn’t with us any longer, but we still all make every effort to go back to that same restaurant each year. We always seem to be the loudest table in the restaurant who are also one of the last to leave. It is definitely one of my favourite family traditions. 
 Each year we order their special set menu. This in itself is quite amusing trying to explain that we would like the chicken and beef in black bean separated. My sister isn’t keen on the beef so she asks for them on separate dishes. Personally I think it’s the way she tries to explain it that causes the confusion! Their set menu does have one issue. No Chicken Chow Mein. So obviously we have to order this as an extra!

I do love a Chicken Chow Mein, but we all know you can’t keep ordering takeaways or eating at restaurants all the time. So other the years I have attempted numerous different chow mein recipes with each bringing nothing but disappointment. That is until now. 

I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled across The Woks of Life blog, but I am so pleased I did! It’s a blog run by a family who all come up with delicious authentic Chinese cooking. I was initially skeptical after being let down by Chicken Chow Mein recipes so many times before. But the step of frying the noodles was something I hadn’t seen before and was what convinced me to give it a go. Oh my goodness it was amazing. The flavours are exactly what you want from a Chicken Chow Mein. 

I have adapted their Cantonese Soy Sauce Pan-Fried Noodle recipe to create my Chicken Chow Mein recipe. I’ve tweaked the sauce slightly an added chicken.

There are a few tips you really should stick to when making this recipe. Firstly it is essential to get the correct ingredients. They’re not very expensive and can easily be found at your local Chinese supermarket, or even in the world food aisle of large supermarkets. If you are able to go to a Chinese supermarket I would definitely recommend doing so as things seem very reasonably priced and also you can pick up some great things you wouldn’t find in standard supermarkets. The other thing to remember is to keep your wok/pan hot. Whack it up as high as it will go!

Usually when I have a Chinese meal, I have a few different dishes. One because they are tasty and two because I am greedy! However when I make this Chicken Chow Mein I have this as my whole dinner. This links back to my greediness – it tastes so good I don’t want just a small portion, I want to eat the whole lot! 

This is a great way of using up leftover roast chicken, but if you don’t have any leftover chicken do not panic! Just cook a chicken breast in the oven at 180ºC for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so until it is cool enough to shred and then you’re ready to make the dish!

serves 4 as a side dish / 2-3 as a main dish

3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp shaoxing wine
4 tbsp sunflower oil
200g chicken, cooked and shredded
3 spring onions, finely sliced length ways 
300g beansprouts 
230g chow mein or egg noodles 

  1. Put the shredded chicken in a bowl along with the soy sauces, salt, sugar, sesame oil and shaoxing wine. Stir until the chicken is completely coated and leave to one side

  1. Slice the spring onions length ways as finely as possible and set aside. Cook the noodles as per the packet’s instructions – usually in boiling water for around 3 minutes. Drain the noodles 
  2. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pan on high heat. Once the oil starts to shimmer you will know its nice and hot. Add some of the noodles to the pan making sure they are in one layer – you will need to do this step a few times as you don’t want to overcrowd the pan. Leave the noodles to become crisp on one side for 3-4 minutes before turning and repeating the process on the other side. Once the noodles are crisped on each side remove them from the pan and repeat until all of the noodles are crisped. Use another tablespoon of oil when you run out of oil in the pan

  1. Once all of the noodles are crisped, add the final tablespoon of oil to the pan followed by the spring onions. Stir fry for a few seconds before adding the noodles back to the pan making sure you break up any clumps of noodles
  2. Add the chicken and beansprouts making sure you add any sauce that hasn’t soaked into the chicken 

  1. Cook for a couple of minutes stirring continuously until the beansprouts are softened slightly. Serve and devour! 

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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 

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