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Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

Helllooooo ūüėÄ

Hope you are all good!¬† How bloody quick are these weeks flying in?¬† I wish time would slow down a bit.¬† Anyone found the formula for squeezing extra hours into the day yet?¬† I’m honestly grudging the hours I spend sleeping, feeling¬†I could be doing something more productive!¬†

“Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror.¬† It’s passing, yet I’m the one who’s doing all the moving.”¬† Martin Amis, Money

(Note – I haven’t read this book yet, but it’s on my To Be Read list after a quote like that!)

But that’s enough about me…

Last week, I spoke about the Honey Mustard Chicken recipe I made.¬† Here it is, in all it’s splendour.¬† It’s an excellent midweek¬†meal, and one I have made twice already (in the space of about a month).¬† I got it from the BBC Good Food Website (see the original recipe here).

The thing I like most about this recipe (apart from the taste), is that I can bung everything into one dish and get on with other things.  The first time I tried it, I used parsnips, as per the recipe, and cooked it on the hob, in my big soup pot.  This time, however, I used carrots (there were no parsnips), and made it as a casserole. 

I only had 2 chicken breasts on this occasion (which was fine, as I was only cooking for two), but kept all the other ingredient measures the same.  I now have a lovely tub of honey mustard carrots in the freezer, which I will serve with the Steak & Ale Pie I intend to make tomorrow (and will post about next week!)

Heres is what I did:

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts

3 carrots, cut into even sized sticks

2 onions, diced

300ml vegetable stock (I used a veg Oxo cube)

2 tbsp wholegrain mustard

2 tbsp clear honey

1 tsp dried rosemary 

First, I preheated the oven to 180 degrees.

In my casserole dish, I placed the carrots, onions and chicken.  I seasoned well with salt and pepper, and sprinkled over my rosemary.

In a jug, I mixed together the stock, mustard and honey.  The picture goes for your eyes, doesn’t it?

I poured the liquid into my casserole dish and gave everything a good stir.¬† It‚Äôs now ready for the oven; I let it bubble away for 1 ¬Ĺ hours ūüôā

I served this with some potato & swede mash and a helping of marrowfat peas.  Delish.

This is a good, hearty, cheap meal.¬† I’m sure you could serve it with something fancy (like my Boulang√®re Potatoes, perhaps? ūüėČ Or what about couscous?) if you are out to impress.

Oh‚Ķ remember when I said ‚Äúthat‚Äôs enough about me‚ÄĚ?¬† I lied.¬† I just want to thank everyone who wished me luck on my Philosophy exam.¬† I passed! ūüėĬ† Now, when I drunkenly ponder the meaning of life, I can pretend to have substance behind my words. ūüėČ

Have a lovely week everyone x

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Hellooo, how has your week been?

I was intending to post¬†a Honey Mustard Chicken recipe, but I forgot my USB cable to get the photos off my phone (doh!¬† Next week, I promise).¬† No matter… I came across some pics of a Parmesan & Mushroom risotto I made a couple of months back.¬† How did that one manage to slip my bloggy grasp?

Risotto is one of my favourite things to¬†make.¬† I don’t regard myself as a particularly excellent cook, but I can make a good risotto (so I’ve been told).¬† I think alot¬†of people think it’s hard, when it’s not.¬† It requires effort, in the stirring, but it’s certainly not hard.¬†¬†

As much as I love to cook, I’m¬†notorious for overcooking pasta and undercooking rice; things that¬†novice cooks¬†are¬†confident¬†doing!¬† So I’m thrilled that I can at least¬†get this right…

My friend Heather tried my¬†Chicken & Chorizo¬†and absolutely adored it… “De-fu**in-licious” were her exact words!¬† ūüėõ so I hope this one creates a similar response!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

300g arborio rice

250g mushrooms, sliced

100g parmesan cheese, grated (plus an extra handful for sprinkling on top when it’s ready)

1 onion, diced

1 tbsp parsley

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 glass white wine

1 litre chicken stock

knob of butter, for frying

I fried the onions in the butter until they went translucent (around 5 mins), then added the mushrooms.  After a further 5 mins, I added the risotto.  I like to toast the risotto slightly, before adding liquid to it (only for a minute or two).

I added my herbs and vinegar, then the wine.  Next, I poured in my first ladle of stock.  Stirring continuously, I let it absorb into the rice, before adding my second ladle. 

I repeat this process until the rice is “al dente” (around 25 mins).¬† There was still¬†a ladleful of stock left at this point.¬† But I’d rather have too much stock than not enough!¬† I turned the heat off and added my parmesan, then stirred it all in to create creamy, cheesy wonderment… mmmmm.

I sprinkled with some extra parmesan and served with garlic bread for Michelle and her friend¬†David, before they went to watch Kylie¬†perform in¬†the SECC (two nights in a row, might I add!).¬† I’m sure this is a good meal for soaking up the alcohol haha ūüôā

This is a fabulous mid-week meal, but wouldn’t look out of place in a more formal setting.¬† If people want to think risotto takes lots of¬†craft and skill… then let them (and prepare to impress!) ūüėČ

Of course, you can substitute the chicken stock for veg if you want to make it Vegetarian, but unless they’ve invented Vegan Parmesan, that’s as far as it stretches (ok, I’m sure you could substitute for a Vegan cheese too; I can’t vouch for the taste though!)

I hope you’re all having a wonderful week and I’ll see you next Wednesday! ūüėÄ x

 

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Helloooo ūüôā

I hope you are all well!

In my last post, I spoke about how I would blog every Wednesday from now on.¬† And what happened?¬† I missed my first Wednesday!¬† Normal service has resumed, however.¬† I was just too busy last week, getting prepared for the T in the Park festival.¬† Yes, we had a wonderful time, thanks for asking! ūüėÄ

(Everyone apart from my Bro, who is taking the pic!)

Today’s recipe is one that I made up myself,¬†after browsing many (hundred) chilli recipes and deciding which ingredients I liked best.¬† I’m not a big fan of spiciness; this is a nice, tame version that would be good for children!

You may think I’m weird for what I’m about to say… but I’ve only ever¬†eaten chilli once before.¬† Even then, it was only a small bit, with the kidney beans picked out.¬† I’m so sheltered!¬† Colin is a fan of chilli, so I made it my business to get it learned!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

500g lean beef mince

2 large onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 sweet pointed peppers (any peppers will be fine though, I just thought they looked good)

250g mushrooms, sliced

2tbsp chilli powder

2tbsp dried oregano

1tbsp ground cinnamon

2tbsp paprika

3 bay leaves

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes, drained

3tbsp tomato puree

1tbsp dark brown muscovado sugar

150ml (1/2 pint) beef stock (I used a stock cube)

1tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed thoroughly

First I browned the mince, then added the onions.  After 5 mins, I then popped the garlic, mushrooms and peppers into the pot. 

Next, I added my herbs & spices, my tomatoes, puree, brown sugar, Worcester sauce and stock. 

I seasoned it well, with salt and pepper.  In went the bay leaves, then I simmered for 1 hour (stirring occasionally).

Next, I removed the bay leaves and put my kidney beans into the pot for 10 more minutes.

I served this with brown rice and a little side salad.  Very healthy indeed!  I could be doing with some healthy food after all that crappy (and hideously overpriced) festival food.

I really enjoyed this chilli, and would recommend it to anyone who is tentative, like me, about spicy food.¬† I have two tubs¬†of it¬†in the freezer, and I plan to have one of them over a baked potato, with a sprinkling of cheddar over the top… mmmh!

Next time, I’m going to replace the kidney beans with normal baked beans, like my big Brother’s girlfriend Lindsay does with her chilli.¬† Aside from that, the recipe will stay the same; Colin said it tastes like chilli, so thats good enough for me!

See you next Wednesday ūüôā x

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In my last post, I served my Balsamic chicken¬†with Boulang√®re Potatoes.¬† It was divine!¬† As promised, here is the potato dish recipe, in all it’s glory.

Anyone who regularly reads my posts will know of my tottie¬†addiction.¬† This is my healthy alternative to potato dauphinoise¬†(wouldn’t it be amazing if we could have dauphinoise every day?¬† I’d probably never get fed up of it).

Recipes vary and can get quite fancy, but I prefer mines nice and basic.  Here is what I did:

Ingredients (Serves 4):

1kg potatoes, sliced thinly

2 onions, sliced thinly

300ml chicken stock

salt & pepper to season

a couple of knobs of butter for the top (optional)

I went to town with my Mandolin slicer again!¬† Theres something very therapeutic about setting upon a¬†mound of totties with a sharp blade…

My layer sequence was:

1/3 potatoes

1/2 onion

*SEASON*

1/3 potatoes

1/2 onion

*SEASON*

1/3 potatoes

I covered it with stock, until it almost came up to the surface, but didn’t quite reach.¬† I seasoned once again, dotted a few wee knobs of butter over the top and covered with foil.¬†

Then I put into a preheated oven (200 degrees) for 45 minutes.  I removed the foil, then baked for a final 15 mins.

If I were cooking for one, I suspect I’d probably still¬†make enough for four.¬† I wouldn’t even make an accompanying dish; a tray of boulang√®re¬†totties and a fork = One Happy Catherine.

It tastes even better the next day, if it manages to last that long.  It freezes well too!

Enjoy! ūüôā

In other news, I have decided to only post on Wednesdays from now on.  This is so I can work on my writing commitments (which I have viciously bestowed upon myself), but I hope to still browse my favourite food blogs throughout the week (usually in the depths of procrastination; we may be seeing a lot of each other).

Till next Wednesday then! x

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Hiya ūüôā

This recipe was discovered as a result of my penchant for those “Daily Recipe” emails I sign up to.¬† Honestly, I get about 20 emails a day from the many¬†recipe sites I browse.¬† So many, in fact, that it’s somewhat overwhelming and I don’t make the time to look at them all.

But this one stood out for me. 

It’s from the Food Network¬†website.¬† Is anyone else addicted to their TV channel?¬† I could watch Barefoot Contessa all day (although Colin now hates Ina, after I told him about her refusal to take part in the Make a Wish Foundation¬†– say it aint true, Ina ūüė¶ ).¬†

This recipe, however, is from another TV Chef, Giada¬†De Laurentiis.¬† She’s sickeningly beautiful and an amazing¬†cook.¬† Not fair!¬† But I’ll forgive her, since this recipe was just too delicious.¬† And after reading all the rave reviews, I just had to try it.

This is my first attempt at using the Americanized “cup” method of measuring ingredients.¬† It was very simple ūüôā

The recipe can be found here, but here’s my step by step account:

Ingredients (Serves 4, but I made dinner for 3 and froze the rest in a tub)

3 chicken breasts

1 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 tomato ketchup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

I preheated the oven to 180 degrees, then roasted my chicken for 25 mins.

Meanwhile, I combined all the ingredients in a pot, brought to the boil then simmered for 20 mins to reduce.

I brought the chicken out of the oven, covered it in the Balsamic BBQ mixture, and returned to the oven for a further 15 mins.

I served this up with some boulang√®re¬†potatoes (which I will post about next time!), and green beans.¬† It was scrumptious ūüôā

Next time, I will¬†definitely¬†marinade my meat in this mixture overnight!¬† I completely understand why there are so many excellent reviews and I’m sure this will be a regular feature in my Meal Planning ūüôā
 
Give it a bash and let me know how you get on!
 
Enjoy ūüôā x¬†

 

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Hellooooo hope you are all well.¬† It’s good to be back ūüôā

I’ve been dying to share this meaty recipe with you all.¬† Before I made this, I had only associated Meatloaf with The Simpsons¬†cartoon, where the kids and Homer moan about how boring it is!¬† But, reading the ingredients, it didn’t sound boring to me!

I was given¬†Nigella Lawson’s¬†“Kitchen” cookbook as a Xmas gift (thanks Colin :D)¬†and this is the first thing I’ve made from it (although I’ve got my eye on the chicken, chorizo & potato bake llarrr!).¬† When I’m looking through recipes, I usually look for one that will use up the things I already have at home (waste not, want not and all that jazz).¬† So this one was perfect.

The recipe calls for beef mince, but I used half¬†beef, half¬†pork (I got the pork for ¬£1 out of Asda, in the “reduced” aisle as it was nearing its sell-by date.¬† I froze it on day of purchase and let it defrost overnight.¬† Bargain!).¬† Here’s what else I used:

Ingredients (Serves 8, apparently. I’d say 6…):

4 eggs

4 onions, diced as finely as you can

500g beef mince

500g pork mince

1 pack of smoked bacon (the recipe calls for 225g¬†thin cut streaky bacon, but I had the thick cut bacon…)

100g breadcrumbs

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

First, I boiled 3 of the eggs (leaving one remaining) and fried the onions till translucent, then allowed to cool.  I also preheated the oven to 200 degrees.

I put the beef, pork, onions and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl, then squished it all together with my hands.  I added the remaining raw egg and breadcrumbs then mixed again.

I took half the mixture and moulded it into a long oval shape, and placed my wee boiled eggs on top.

I moulded the rest of the mixture over the top, pressing down gently to get in all the nooks of the eggs.  I wrapped the lot with my bacon, tucking in at the bottom.

I put in the oven for 1 hour, then let rest for 15 minutes.

I clearly didn’t tuck it in enough, as it started curling up during cooking.¬† It’s probably because I used the wrong type of bacon, but I wasn’t bothering.¬† It’s all getting cut up anyway!

I was so impressed when I cut it open! ūüôā

I served this in big, hearty chunks with creamy mash, roasted parsnips, marrowfat¬†peas (I HATE garden peas), and smothered it in a gravy I made up using: a glass of¬†red wine and an Oxo¬†cube dissolved in about 200ml¬†water, boiled till reduced slightly,¬†then¬†added a¬†tsp of¬†beef gravy granules,¬†giving it the consistency I wanted (it doesn’t sound like much, but mmmmm¬†it was flavoursome!).

Definitely a lovely, comforting dinner for a miserable day!

Nigella says she likes to put her leftovers in a sandwich the next day.  I wrapped mines up in foil, put in the fridge and completely forgot about them!  Oops!  What was that I was saying about waste not, want not?

In other news…

I follow a wonderful blog called A Glug of Oil, and one day she posted¬†about a Fairy Hobmother doing the rounds.¬† He was granting wishes to food bloggers and he gave her an Ice Cream Maker!¬† I commented on her blog (chanced my arm), and look what came my way…

I’m so unbelievably chuffed with my teeny food processor; it’s so cute!

Anyway, it was lovely posting again.¬† Now time to go and visit all the food blogs and drool over food (I’ve missed it so!).

Enjoy ūüôā x

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Don’t you just love those rare days, when you have absolutely nothing to do?¬† Of course, days like that don’t really exist.¬† But,¬†if you’re anything like me, you can just¬†procrastinate* and think up reasons why things can be left till tomorrow.¬† It’s about the only way I can allow myself to unwind (and doubles my stress when the other deadlines approach, but it always seems worth it at the time).

It was on a day¬†like this,¬†when I decided to tackle my Achilles Heel of the cookery world.¬† Something that I failed so miserably on at my last attempt, and filled me with shame¬†in the knowledge that I’d fed it to people…

…¬†my¬†basic, run of the mill¬†pastry pie.

After the¬†eye-watering disaster of my previous pie attempt, I tackled¬†the mission with my usual determined stubborn-ness.¬† This time it’s going to be a fabulous pie, goddamnit.¬† This time, it’s going to be a Chicken & Sweetcorn Pie.

First, I bundled up all my ingredients:

Ingredients (Serves 4)

3  chicken breasts (or 575g), diced

2¬† leeks, chopped finely (I don’t like big chunky bits, but it’s your call if you do)

300ml  boiled water with 1 chicken stock cube dissolved

340g shortcrust pastry (I used frozen and let it defrost at room temperature for 1 hour before use)

1 tin of sweetcorn, drained

1 tbsp dried thyme

1 tbsp dried rosemary

3  bay leaves

3 tbsp plain flour

30g butter

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 very heaped tbsp soft cream cheese

1 egg, beaten

Directions:

I pre-heated the oven to 200 degrees.

Into a casserole dish, I put the chicken, leeks, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and chicken stock.  I seasoned it generously with salt and pepper, stirred, then popped into the oven for 1.5 hours.

Taking the casserole out of the oven, I carefully sieved into a measuring jug (twas very hot), separating the juices from the filling.  I discarded the bay leaves and set both aside for the time being.

I melted the butter in a pan, then added my flour.  I stirred until it formed a paste (or a roux):

On a low heat, I gradually added the casserole juices and whisked, until it formed a smooth, thick consistency.

I added the rest of the casserole ingredients to the pan, along with the mustard and tin of sweetcorn.  I turned off the heat and stirred in a big dollop of soft cream cheese.

At this point, it’s important to taste it and season, if necessary.

I cut my pastry in two and rolled them out on a floured surface; into rectangle shapes just bigger than my pie dish.  I pressed the first layer of pastry into the dish, trying to make sure it came over the sides, and poured in the filling.

I placed the 2nd layer of pastry over the top, trimmed the straggly bits around the sides of the dish and embraced my romantic side with the leftover pastry.¬† Awww…

I brushed the beaten egg over the top and made two slits within the heart to let the air escape (that sounds incredibly violent and gory!), and popped into the oven (200 degrees) for 40 mins.

Ahhh the golden wonderment… shame I had to attack it with my knife!

You could easily make this pie ahead, at various stages (up until it’s been casseroled, or once it’s assembled but before it goes into the oven).

It’s also a great pie for using up leftover chicken – just skip the casserole part and saute¬†the leeks & herbs until soft, then set aside and start at the roux stage.

I thoroughly recommend you serve it with some fluffy, buttery mash and honey glazed carrots.  Yummaaay!

¬†Enjoy ūüôā x

* don’t procrastinate.¬† It’s very, very, very bad for you.¬† I’ll tell you why tomorrow…

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