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Chicken and mushroom casserole

6 Nov

imageThis was one of the first dishes I made when I started going to Slimming World.  I joined because I love their attitude to food  I don’t think I ever thought about the amount of fat I was using in recipes.  They say that is what gives the food flavour but time after time I have proved that to be wrong.  Nowadays I only ever use spray oil sparingly and the food still tastes wonderful.  By my calculations this works out at just 3 Syns per person but please check this is right.  This will not make any sense to those not on slimming world but suffice it to say it is very low fat and healthy. Here is the recipe.

Chicken and mushroom casserole        Serves 4

  • Fry light oil spray
  • 100g lean back bacon, all fat removed and cut into strips
  • 2 medium onions thinly sliced
  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp seasoned flour
  • 2 tbsp brandy
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 125 ml white wine
  • 400 ml chicken stock (made with 2 organic stock cubes)
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper
  1. Spray a large non-stick skillet with oil. Fry the onions and bacon over a medium heat until the onions are tender. Remove and set aside.
  2. Spray a little more oil into the pan and fry the chicken in batches until brown on all sides.
  3. Return the onion and bacon to the pan with the garlic, flour and brandy. Stir and cook for 1 – 2 minutes.
  4. Add the mushrooms, wine, stock, herbs and seasoning, stir well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Check the seasoning and serve with potatoes and vegetables of your choice.

 

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Chicken and courgettes with spaghetti

25 Sep

DSCI0560I was caught on the hop the other night. We were supposed to be going out and our plans fell through so I had to pull together a meal from what I had in.  The result was amazing.  In the past I have made off the cuff meals from scratch. I suppose it is a bit like the invention test in Masterchef.  We have had some great meals but I would not write down what I did so they were always a one-off, much to my husbands dismay.  This was one of the reasons my grandson, Danny, talked me into doing a blog.  Well, this is my latest attempt at an invention test.  Hope you like it.

Chicken and courgettes with Spaghetti                    Serves 4

  • Spray olive oil or Frylight
  • 3 rashers of lean bacon, all fat removed, sliced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 courgette, halved lengthways and then sliced
  • About 150g/6 oz leftover roast chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (or 1 chicken breast simmered in chicken stock until cooked the cut up as before)
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 300g spaghetti
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan then fry the bacon over a high heat for a couple of minutes until changing colour.
  2. Turn down the heat to low – medium and add the onion and garlic. Mix well and sauté for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft but not coloured.
  3. Add the courgettes, mix well and cook for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes then add the tomatoes. Season to taste then mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down, the chicken is cooked through and the courgettes are tender.
  5. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti as per packet instructions.
  6. Add a couple of tbsp of the spaghetti cooking water to the chicken mix to make a little sauce.
  7. When the spaghetti is cooked, drain and add to the chicken. Toss so the spaghetti is coated with the sauce then serve immediately.

 

Thai red chicken curry – mild and delicious

17 Oct

DSCI0063If you like spicy food but don’t like the heat then this curry is perfect for you.  It is mild and creamy and full of wonderful flavours.

The recipe uses rapeseed or vegetable oil and I thought, it would be good to find out a bit more about ‘fats’.

All fats are high in calories, so it’s important to bear this in mind if you are watching your weight. However, your body does need to have some fats.  The most common concern, after weight gain, about eating fats is the effect they have on your heart. Here is what the British Heart  Foundation has to say on the matter.

‘In terms of your heart, it’s important to think about the type of fat you are eating.

Swap saturated fats for unsaturated fats

Butter, lard, ghee, palm oil and coconut oil are all high in saturated fat.  Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which can increase the risk of developing coronary heart disease. Where possible replace saturated fats with small amounts of monounsaturated  and polyunsaturated fats.

Avoid trans fats

Avoid these wherever possible. These fats are most likely to be found in foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries and deep-fried foods.  Trans fats occur naturally in small amounts in dairy foods and meat, however it is the industrially produced trans fats which have a similar effect to saturated fat, as they can increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood.

Have monounsaturated fats in small amounts

Olive oil, rapeseed oil and spreads which are made from these oils, as well as some nuts and seeds, are all high in monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats can help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Have polyunsaturated fats in small amounts

Soya, vegetable and sunflower oils, spreads made from these oils, nuts and seeds like walnuts and sesame seeds, and oily fish all contain polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and provide essential fatty acids.

Top tips to help you reduce your saturated fat

  • Swap butter, lard, ghee and coconut and palm oils with small amounts of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive, rapeseed or sunflower oils and spreads.
  • Choose lean cuts of meat and make sure you trim any excess fat and remove the skin from chicken and turkey.
  • Instead of pouring oils straight from the bottle, use a spray oil or measure out your oils with ateaspoon.
  • Read food labels to help you make choices that are lower in saturated fat.
  • Opt to grillbakesteamboil or poach your foods.
  • Make your own salad dressings using ingredients like balsamic vinegar, low-fat yoghurt, lemon juice, and herbs, with a dash of olive oil.
  • Use semi-skimmed1% or skimmed milk rather than whole or condensed milk.
  • Cottage cheesericotta and extra light soft cheese are examples of low-fat cheese options. Remember that many cheeses are high in saturated fat so keep your portions small – matchbox sized. Opt for strongly flavoured varieties and grate it to make a little go a long way.’

http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating/saturated-fat.aspx

It looks like eating healthily will also help us lose weight.  Bonus!

Here is the recipe.

Thai red Chicken curry                             Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp rapreseed oil
  • 2 banana shallots, sliced
  • 3 – 4 chicken breasts, skin removed and cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 1 x 400g can coconut milk
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 1.5 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • juice of half a lime
  • small bunch of basil, leaves torn
  • small bunch coriander, chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the shallots for a couple of minutes until softened.  add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes or until lightly brown all over.
  2. Stir in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and sugar. Stir then add the red pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. You can freeze the curry at this stage if you want, in rigid containers.  Defrost thoroughly and ensure it is heated through then continue with stage four.
  4. Add the spinach, lime juice and herbs, mix to combine then cook for 1 minute.  Serve with boiled rice.

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Chicken fricassee with cider and mushrooms

9 Oct

DSCI0120If you look through the chicken dishes in this blog you will find a number of recipes that include tarragon. That is because chicken and tarragon are a match made in heaven.  This dish is no exception and tastes absolutely delicious. I have used cider to make a sauce for pork before but I think this is the first time I have used it to make one for chicken.  It really does give the dish a fantastic lift. Here are a few facts and trivia on tarragon.

  • The word “tarragon” comes from the French word “estragon” meaning “little dragon,” hence the nickname “dragon’s-wort.”
  • It is the leaves of the herb Artemisia dracunculus. The slender dark-green leaves have a pleasant anise-like flavor and aroma.
  • Tarragon blends well with other spices. It is used in sauces, especially Bearnaise sauce and tarragon vinegar. In French cuisine it is an integral part of fines herbes and dijon mustard.
  • Tarragon was used by the Greeks as early as 500 BC. Like the French, the Arabs named it “turkhum” which means dragon probably because they found the taste to be exceptionally strong or because of its serpentine shaped roots.
  • Tarragon came to France from the plains of Siberia in the 15th century by the Arabs who had been using it since the 13th century
  • Tarragon leaves are rich in iodine, mineral salts and vitamins A and C. In the past tarragon was used to prevent scurvy. It is also used as an appetite stimulant and digestive tonic by naturalists.

Here is the recipe. I found it in a Good Food Magazine, the link to it on their website is below. I didn’t make the parsley croutons as I preferred to serve mine with mashed potato to soak up the wonderful sauce.

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/chicken-cider-fricassee-parsley-croutes

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Chicken and vegetables with Soy Noodles

30 Sep

DSCI0104   I know I have said this before but I love Chinese food. It is quick, easy, healthy and, usually, cooked in one pan so saves on the washing up.  This recipe was a little unusual as it contained some spices I would normally associate with Indian food rather than chinese. Does that make it a fusion dish? I wouldn’t like to say as this terminology still confuses me. Regardless of whether it is fusion or not it tastes absolutely wonderful.

I found the original recipe on the Kikkoman web site but have changed it quite a bit to use ingredients I had to hand. It still tasted absolutely wonderful and is one dish I will be making again and again.

Here is the recipe.

Chicken and vegetables with soy noodles       Serves 2 -3

  • 150g thin or medium egg noodles
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 pack of tender stem broccoli and asparagus tips
  • 1 orange pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 tbsp raw peanuts, toasted
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp kikkoman Less Salt Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine
  1. Cook the noodles as per pack instructions, drain and keep warm.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a wok, add the pepper, broccoli, asparagus and spring onions. Stir fry over a brisk heat for 5 minutes. Add the peanuts, stir fry for 1 minute then remove from wok and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil to the wok , heat and stir fry the chicken for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and stir fry for another minute.
  4. return the vegetables to the wok and toss with the chicken. Add the noodles, soy sauce and rice wine. Toss everything together until piping hot then serve in warmed bowls.

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Chicken cacciatore

2 Sep

imageI love rustic food and this is one of my favourites.  I like to serve it with either mashed potatoes or pasta but my favourite is krithiraki (Greek version of Orzo).  I made this the other night for my Brother and Sister-in-law. It is so easy to make and you can prepare well in advance and warm up when you are ready so ideal for entertaining.

Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared “hunter-style” with onions, herbs, usually tomatoes, often bell peppers, and sometimes wine.  The dish is originally from Central Italy, but like so much Italian cuisine, every region has put its own twist on the recipe.  This one, with tomatoes, is probably the most widely travelled.

Chicken Cacciatore                                              Serves 6

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 small onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic (4 if small) crushed
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 250g pancetta, thinly sliced and chopped
  • 200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 12 chicken thighs, skinned but bone in
  • 130 ml dry white wine
  • 3 tins chopped tomatoes
  • Good pinch sugar
  • 1 oregano sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Heat half the oil in a large pan or casserole. Add the onion, garlic and celery and fry over a moderate heat for 10 minutes until golden and softened. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and burning.
  2. Add the pancetta and mushrooms. Increase the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until starting to brown. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the oil and fry the chicken in batches over a high heat to brown all over. Season as you go with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Spoon off any excess fat then add the wine and cook until the liquid has almost evaporated.
  5. Add the tomatoes, sugar and herbs with 125 ml of cold water. Bring to the boil the stir in the reserved pancetta mix.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender but remains on the bone.
  6. If you like a thicker sauce, remove the chicken pieces and keep warm then boil the sauce until thickened. Season to taste. return the chicken to the sauce and heat thoroughly then serve with pasta or mashed potato.

 

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Chicken and Roquefort salad

25 Aug

imageI am always looking for interesting salad recipes to eat during the summer. This recipe is an absolute delight. I found it in a Sainsburys Magazine but, even with an extensive search, could not find a link on their website so I have written it out in full below.

I would never have dreamt of putting chicken, blue cheese, pecans and peaches together in one salad, although I have made salads with a combination of some of these flavours. This is also the first time I used honey in a salad dressing and I was very nervous that the overall effect would be too sweet. I need not have worried. The saltiness of the cheese was a perfect complement to the peaches and dressing and the pecans and chicken made for a great variation in textures. My husband loved it so I am sure we will be having this again. Be sure that the peaches are ripe as the hard ones have little flavour and will not be sweet enough for the overall effect.  If you measure the honey after the oil it will slide off the spoon easily.

Chicken and Roquefort Salad                        Serves 2

  • 2 ripe peaches, stone removed and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 2 small chicken breasts, cooked (I braised mine in chicken stock for 15 minutes before slicing and cooling)
  • 100g Roquefort cheese
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, leaves washed and shredded
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1.5 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp clear honey
  • handful of pecans, halved
  1. Divide the lettuce between two plates and scatter with the peaches. Crumble over the cheese and scatter with the chicken (cold) and pecans.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the thyme, vinegar, oil and honey. Season with salt and black pepper the drizzle liberally over the salad.
  3. Serve immediately.

 

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