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Mature Cheddar, Shallot and Sage Crusted Chicken

15 Jul

In preparation for our house move, I have been running down the store cupboards and freezer. I had rescued 2 lonely and forlorn chicken looking breasts from the freezer, along with the breadcrumbs and shallots, and a small cube of mature cheddar from the fridge, that was threatening to sport a mouldy cloak if ignored any longer. And the fresh sage was courtesy of the plant that I abandoned last year in the garden, that has defeated the perils of garden pests, children, and the elements to survive and flourish. I love garden herbs. Fresh, fabulous, and free. What more could you ask for?

INGREDIENTS

Serves two teenies and a greedy mummy.

  • 2 chicken breast fillets (approx 250g)
  • 2 or 3 slices of bread, blitzed into breadcrumbs
  • small chunk of cheese, finely grated
  • small handful of fresh sage, chopped
  • small handful of pre-chopped shallots from freezer
  • 60g butter melted (or an oil/butter mix)

METHOD

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.

Step 1. Slicing up the fillets

Slice fillets in half horizontally (so they are thinner and cook more quickly), then into small ish pieces. I turned 2 fillets into 5 small pieces that look like 1/2 fillets.

Mix together breadcrumbs, shallots, sage and cheese. Add melted butter and mix until combined.

Step 2. The breadcrumb mixture

Line a baking dish with foil (just to save on washing up). Press mixture onto the chicken breasts. Cook for approx 15 mins, checking that it is cooked through once removed from oven. Leave to rest for 5/10 mins.

Step 3. After a short hot burst in the oven

Serve with broccoli and cream cheese (kids) or salad (big kids).

Step 4. Going, going, gone

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Roast Beef and Horseradish ‘Kebab’

12 Jul

The idea for this ‘combo’ came to me after my childfree bliss weekend away, upon reading YummyMummyNo1s post on her parenting dilemma after her son’s kebab and horror film all nighter at a friend’s house.

I had been away for the weekend (a miracle, I might add, not a regular event) and left a number of easy to assemble ingredients for Mr Mummyinahurry over the weekend. When I returned the near empty fridge contained the following haul.

The Ingredients

  • Cooked sliced beef
  • Salad
  • Tomatoes
  • Horseradish Sauce
  • 1/2 fat creme fraiche
  • Pack of Pitta bread (I know it should be in the bread bin, but then it goes off when its hot)

So, the dinner dilemma was solved with a simple warm up and assembly job, and was greeted by silence punctuated with  satisfied ‘mmm, mmm, mmm’  noises from  Mr Mummyinahurry.

METHOD

Put a grill pan on the hob and leave to warm up for a few minutes. Toast the pittas on it (or just use the toaster if you dont have one)

Mix horseradish sauce with crème fraîche (or yoghurt) until you have a dressing consistency. While pitta is warming up, slice tomatoes and salad. Stuff warmed pittas with the beef, salad and tomatoes and dressing. Voila, probably the healthiest kebab in town!

The Healthiest Kebab in town?

Sweltering Summers Day Lunch

27 Jun

Salmon with Asparagus and Spinach

In years gone by, the asparagus season would have been long over by now. I am sure that British Asparagus will be running out soon, but I am enjoying it while I am around. I prepared this dish with the assistance of my friend Matt, who conveniently is a chef, and his wife Helen.

This happened to be my birthday lunch, and as I was anticipating a delicious restaurant dinner with my husband, I wanted an easy, quick and healthy lunch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 fillet of salmon per person
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus per person
  • 1 bag of spinach (will serve 2/3)
  • chopped garlic
  • butter
  • pesto or lemon and mayo to serve

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.While it is heating up, place the salmon fillets in a ovenproof dish. You want to poach them, so fill the dish with some water (or white wine if you are feeling extravagant), to about 1 cm depth and cover with foil.Trim the ends from the asparagus, place in a ovenproof dish, drizzle with oil, adding a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper. Leave uncovered.Both dishes will take 8/10 minutes. The trick with salmon is not to overcook it, or it becomes dry. You want the fish to still be slightly pink in the middle. Check after 8 minutes, and if it’s not quite there stick it back in the oven. My advice is to use a timer for those last couple of minutes, as its so easy to be distracted and overcook the fish by accident.

While the fish and asparagus are cooking, grab a jar of good quality mayo, decant some into a dish and mix in the zest of a lemon. Alternatively, put some fresh pesto out to serve on the fish. Melt 50/50 butter and oil (about 1 tbsp) in a pan then add garlic on a gently heat for 1/2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add fresh spinach and allow it to wilt (keep turning). Turn heat off once wilted. If I serve this with lemon mayo, I cut the zested lemon into wedges to serve on the side.

Lay the table and pour yourself a glass of chilled rose (or whatever tipple takes your fancy). By now the fish should be done, so all you need to do, is serve, then relax and enjoy.

Chilli Non Carne

16 Jun

Chilli with cheese on the side

For the past few weeks, I have been wondering what to do, with the collection of ‘mixed bean’ tins that I discovered lurking out of sight on the top shelf of one of my numerous cupboards.  This week I decided it was time for action, and my desire for health and thrift meant this is a vegetarian recipe. This created a huge pot which will easily feed us 2 adults and the children for 2 meals, if not more.

This is more a suggestion and was heavily influenced by the content of my fridge. If there had been garlic to hand I would have added some. And if I was missing one of the other ingredients I would probably have added some sweetcorn.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tins cooked mixed beans
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 red onions chopped
  • 2 red peppers chopped
  • 1/2 head celery chopped
  • 1 aubergine chopped
  • 5 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 courgette chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne chilli powder
  • 1 dessertspoon chopped jalapenos (from the freezer
  • Salt

I did the preparation and initial cooking of this dish just after clearing up from breakfast. Chop all the vegetables roughly (approx 1cm pieces, but don’t worry, no-one is getting the tape measure out!)

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot. Fry the vegetables (reserving the tinned tomatoes and beans) for a couple of minutes, then put lid on and leave to steam/fry for about 10/15 minutes, until they have started to soften. (I had a shower while this was on. but remember to put the time on, as you don’t want it to catch and burn) Add tomatoes, beans and spices and cook on a low heat until the vegetables are tender but not mushy (20/30 minutes depending on their size). The additional time while this was cooking was employed getting the children dressed and getting bags packed for a mini- shopping expedition.

Ready to serve. Or to save for later

SERVING IDEAS

The joy of this meal is you can serve it in so many ways, Tonight we had it with brown basmati rice, yoghurt and grated gruyere.  Alternatively I would use couscous. Flour tortillas work well either gently warmed and filled at the table,  or by encasing the mixture in the tortilla, covering with cheese and baking in the over (15 mins, check it doesn’t burn).  I am considering experimenting and blitzing it to see how it works as a soup. Watch this space.

For the children, I mushed the vegetables a little with a fork, and mixed in some cream cheese to tone down the spice. Mixed with grated cheese and the rice. Although there was some initial reluctance to try it, once they had a little extra sprinkle of cheese, they both started murmuring appreciative noises, and save for a couple of mouthfuls, plates were cleared. Total 10 mins prep, and minimal supervision while the chilli and rice cooked. Job done!

Chilli my way. With rice, yoghurt and coriander

Pink Soup

12 Jun

After my cake fest of the last couple of weeks, this week I have tried to reign in the cravings, and up the fruit and vegetable intake. I don’t ‘do’ diets. There is nothing like the lure of the forbidden to make me want something even more. I must be related to Eve!! Instead, I try to make choices that don’t feel like a sacrifice, and that sustain me without leading to hunger pangs.

One of the snippets of wisdom that i have found useful over the years, is that thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  However, I do not seem able to glug the ‘2 litres of water a day’ that seems to be the mantra of every health tipster.(Maybe if it was wine I would give it a try)  Instead, I look for alternative ways of upping the fluid intake to keep the hunger pangs and the cravings at bay.

One of my fast fix solutions to drop a few pounds quickly is to have soup for lunch. It’s quick to make. filling, and full of water.  This week I re-visted an old favourite, which is my twist on Borscht.  The preparation time for this dish is about 2 minutes, hardly a chore, even for the most committed sofa sloth.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 packet organic cooked beetroot (250g) roughly chopped
  • 250g approx plain yoghurt
  • Dessertspoon shallots (i use the pre-chopped frozen ones from the freezer)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • dollop of yoghurt and chives to serve

Mix ingredients then blitz in liquidizer or with a stick blender.

Spicy Beetroot Soup

The resulting soup has an almost smooth as velvet texture, and the spices gently compliment the earthy sweetness of the beets. The bonus is that it is virtually fat-free, without even giving the slightest impression of dietary restraint. I have successfully served this ‘pink soup’ to my little ones, (minus the cumin and cayenne). I don’t know if it is the colour or the sweetness of the beetroot, but they love it.

Garnish with a dollop of yoghurt and chives

The flavours of the spices intensify if you leave this in the fridge overnight and it can be served hot or cold. Take your pick…

Curryinahurry

5 Jun

Mellow Madras Chicken

Rice and Peas with Coriander

MELLOW MADRAS STYLE CHICKEN, WITH RICE AND PEAS

Ever fancy a curry but even the thought of choosing which takeaway to use seems like a bit too much effort?  Keep your storecupboard stocked with these ‘cheats’ and you can have all the joy of a takeaway curry with the minimum of effort, and with the money you save by making it yourself, you can treat yourself to a bottle of wine or a few beers, and still have change.

I recommend that you marinade the meat, but if you are short on time, then you can skip that step.

INGREDIENTS LIST (serves 2)

  • 1/2 jar of madras style curry sauce
  • 200ml plain yoghurt
  • chicken thighs 2/3 per person
  • Rice
  • Spring onions
  • Frozen peas or spinach
  • Frozen or fresh chopped coriander
  • Butter
  • Salt
On your marks

My preference is to buy organic chicken thighs with the bone in. These tend to come with skin on top, and for this recipe you will need to remove that, but simply run your finger under the end of the skin and it should come off. You can of course eliminate this step by buying skinless fillets, but these are usually a bit more expensive.

Get Set (removing the skin from the chicken)

Go. Oven Ready Chicken

Mix about half the jar of curry paste with the yoghurt. Add the chicken and make sure its well coated. Cover with cling and leave in the fridge to marinade for as long as you’ve got (I usually manage 2/3 hours)

Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees (or 20 degree less if a fan oven)

Cook chicken for 40-45 mins turning occasionally.

For the rice cook to packet instructions. I use the brown basmati which takes a bit longer than the white variety. In a separate pan, sweat off some onions/spring onions in 25g butter, add frozen peas or spinach, and cook for approx 5 mins. Then stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander and a little salt to taste. Add the strained rice to this mixture, combine, then leave in a covered container to keep hot. Serve with the chicken.

I often serve this with a side of broccoli that I cook in a bowl under cling in the microwave. Takes 4 minutes and makes the meal feel like a healthy option!

And if you really want to push the boat out, warm up some Indian Mini Snacks (like samosas and bhajis) in the oven while the chicken is cooking and serve as a starter.

Total prep time is 5 mins. The cooker does most of the work with the rice and the chicken, leaving you to kick back and enjoy a glass of wine, or to chat with your guests if you are entertaining.

Bon Appetit!

Hummus, Pavlova and Jam on Toast (Day 7 of The spendthrift’s challenge)

24 May

At last, my week of fiscal restraint is almost over.

Today we were invited out to a bbq and asked to bring a dessert.  With £1.92 left of my self-imposed budget, I could have rustled up a cake based on the contents of our fridge and cupboards, but that was about it. And a steaming hot barbeque perfect day like today, deserves no less a treat that a large, crunchy, gooey chewy Pavlova, generously piled with soft whipped cream and abundantly laden with fresh summer fruits.  I made a large pav (to serve 12), piled with raspberries and passionfruit. Yum! I broke the budget, but it was soooo worth it!

And I also made some focaccia (just because I love it), and, for the first time ever, some hummus. I have always been a bit ‘on the fence’ about hummus. I am not sure if my indifference has been influenced by my dislike of tahini, or if it is a result of one bad shop-bought hummus experience too many.  Using the template of a recipe provided by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, I adapted it altering the time needed from a his proposed 15 hour cookathon ( in a book with Everyday in the title no less?!!), to a more realistic 5 minute affair.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tin cooked chickpeas, washed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, crushed with 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne chilli pepper
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsps water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Reserve a handful of chickpeas for garnish, then add all the ingredients into the blender. Whizz until you have a smooth creamy mixture. If it’s too thick add water/olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Decant into a serving dish. Scatter remaining chickpeas on top, along with a little cumin powder. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Serve.

Hungry for Hummus?

Tonight , after a lovely lunchtime barbeque, I am out on the town with a girlfriend. I shall not be breaking the budget as this is her treat, in anticipation of my birthday in 11 days.  Mr Mummyinahurry can have some leftover lentils, or jam on toast for supper.

All in all this has been a great week. I feel like we have feasted like Kings, and I have spent only £39.14. Not quite on a target, but a good result nonetheless.

I have also learned, that by not filling the children up with their usual snacks like rice cakes and breadsticks, and by involving them a bit more in the cooking, they have been eating their meals with far more enthusiasm, and have even eaten, carrots, mushrooms and spinach, all of which they have been refusing for weeks.

This is the week that we hope to exchange contracts on our new house, and I find out if I have 3 weeks or 5 weeks to pack (5 weeks please!).  So I intend to continue with my attempt to empty out the cupboards.  There may be a few weird and wonderful concoctions in the offing.   Peaches and evap* anyone?

*evaporated milk