no chop chicken dinner platter

No Chop Chicken Dinner

Standing in your kitchen with one eye on the clock as you frantically try to chop, peel and prep. vegetables and meat for dinner, fills no-one with joy.  Fine if you have all the time in the world and are not going to be put under pressure by a towering 6ft teenager who practically has steam coming out his ears because yet again he is STARVING.  Not only are the children all verging on collapse because they’ve had ‘nothing’ to eat all day but you only have 30 minutes before you’ve got to don your ‘taxi’ cap and get on the road again for a sports fixture.
This is my life at the moment and it’s set to continue thus for a few more years until they decide I’m redundant.  Meanwhile I’m continuously trying to come up with quick, easy yet balanced and filling meals and the tribe have declared this one a triumph.
balsamic glazed chicken close up
Zero prep. Really? Yes, nothing! Unless you count cutting a lemon in half before you squeeze it and making up a jug of chicken stock, that’s all there is to it.  No peeling, no chopping just straight-forward no-fuss cooking.  Mini chicken fillets are a key ingredient here as they cook so much more quickly than full chicken breasts.  If your brood are of the particularly ravenous variety be sure to accompany this with some fresh crusty bread to fill any gaps.
bulgur base
no chop chicken dinner platter
I simply don’t have time for weighing of ingredients here and judge most things by eye so you may want to check the pack of bulgur wheat for quantities of wheat vs stock and likewise you decide how much chicken and veg. you need to satisfy your audience.  Err on the side of making too much as leftovers will be perfect eaten either hot or cold.
No Chop Chicken Dinner:
You will need:
Mini chicken fillets
Rapeseed or your preferred cooking oil
Chilli flakes (or chilli paste)
Chicken stock cube
Bulgur wheat
1 lemon
Packet of frozen sweetcorn halves
Fresh sugar snap peas and green beans
Balsamic vinegar
Block of feta cheese
Sunflower seeds
Pre-heat your fan oven to 200C and boil the kettle
Place the mini chicken fillets on a cooking tray and drizzle with oil and scatter over chilli flakes or stir through some chilli paste.  Place in the heated oven and leave to cook for 10 minutes.
Make up the quantity of chicken stock needed for the amount of bulgur wheat you are cooking (I use a large glass measuring jug for this) add the bulgur wheat and cover the jug with cling-film or tinfoil to keep the heat in.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the stock is absorbed.
Squeeze the juice from the lemon.  Take the lid off the bulgur wheat, fluff it up with a fork and stir through the lemon juice, cover again to keep it warm.
After the mini chicken fillets have been cooking for 10 minutes remove tray from the oven, drizzle chicken generously with honey and balsamic vinegar and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Meanwhile cook the sweetcorn halves in a saucepan of boiling water, they should cook in under 10 minutes.
Cook the sugar snap peas and green beans in a saucepan of boiling water and drain.
When everything is ready place the bulgur wheat in the base of a large serving platter.  Top with the cooked green vegetables and then the mini chicken fillets along with all the juices.
Arrange the sweetcorn around the edges, crumble over the block of feta and scatter sunflower seeds over everything and serve.
‘Til next time, Sheila.


Chicken, Black Pudding & Honeyed Flaxseed Feta Tray Bake

Chicken, Black Pudding & Honeyed Flaxseed Feta Tray Bake.
chicken black pudding feta
Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a name for a dish especially when there’s a plethora of ingredients like this one.  I’ve thrown a few of the ingredients at the title in the hopes that it will sound interesting enough to have a read of and then maybe to cook.  A cinch of a dish. I dreamt this up while thinking about what would be really easy and quick but satisfying at the same time.  Curious textures and extra nutrients were added in the form of flaked almonds and flaxseeds. This was quite the accident.  Flaxseed is not an ingredient I would normally stock but with sports crazy kids bringing home recipes from nutritionists to try out,  we ended up with a bag of them which I mistakenly bought instead of milled flaxseed.  Sure what would I know!  Very far from a flaxseed, milled or otherwise, that I was reared.  So what to do with these curious looking seeds other than to use them up by flinging at them every dish that goes through the pass.

Now below may look like an off-puttingly lengthy ingredients list (not everything can be made with just 4!) but many of them are long-life store cupboard ones such as the flaked almonds, flaxseed (ahem, ok these are not normally in my store-cupboard), chilli powder, paprika and chickpeas so if you’re well stocked it’ll just be a matter of picking up a few veg, chicken, black pudding, feta and naan bread. With the chicken, black pudding and feta it’s protein heavy and very satisfying but feels like a healthy balanced meal that doesn’t leave you feeling bloated. What I love is the minimal prep., just the chopping of pepper and red onion and that’s not even done finely so prep only takes about 5 minutes in all. Using mini-chicken fillets cuts the cooking and prep. time with total cooking time 25-30 minutes.
chicken black pudding feta with naan

Serves: 4 generously, maybe leftovers for someone’s lunch the next day if the munchies don’t see it gobbled it by midnight.
You will need:
1 red pepper
2 medium red onion
400g can chickpeas
500g mini chicken fillets
Rapeseed or Olive Oil
Hot Chilli Powder
280g round black pudding
200g block feta
4 tbsp flaked almond
1 tbsp flaxseed
Honey for drizzling
Mini naan breads or flat breads (I used garlic & coriander mini naan)
Bag of rocket and spinach leaves
Dressing : combine some olive oil, red wine vinegar and honey
You will need 3 baking trays
Pre-heat the fan oven to 200C
Deseed and thinly slice the red pepper. Peel and chop the red onion into wedges. Place the red pepper and red onion into a baking tray with the drained can of chickpeas.
Place the mini chicken fillets in a separate baking tray.
Drizzle the vegetables and the chicken with oil and then dust with chilli powder and paprika.
Bake in the hot oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile slice the black pudding into rounds and cut the block of feta into small cubes.
After the vegetables and chicken have been cooking for 15 minutes remove both trays from the oven. Toss the chicken and sprinkle with some more chilli powder and paprika then arrange the black pudding slices in with the chicken and return the tray to the oven.
Toss and mix the red pepper, red onion and chickpeas and return that tray to the oven also.
Bake both trays again for another 5 minutes.
Remove the vegetable tray, scatter the feta cubes on top, drizzle generously with honey and scatter over 1 tbsp of flaxseed, return tray to oven.
Remove the chicken and black pudding tray, sprinkle over the flaked almonds and return to the oven again.
Bake both trays again for another 5 minutes.
Finally, arrange the naan bread or flat breads on the third baking tray and heat through in the oven continuing to cook the chicken etc for a further 3 minutes or so until the bread is nicely warmed.
Serve on a bed of rocket and spinach leaves and dress with a mixture of oil, red wine vinegar and honey dressing – made to your taste.
Leftovers are just as delicious cold.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

minty feta lamb pittas

Minty Feta Lamb Pittas

Delicious. Quick. Easy.  As the weather brightens and warmth returns we’ll begin to welcome salad and lighter foods back to our plates.   Here a Greek salad sits on top of toasted wholemeal pittas then laden with spiced lamb and a garnish of minty feta dressing.

greek salad
toasted pittaspittas with greek salad and mint feta dressing
minty feta lamb pittas
As I said delicious, quick and easy and right now for me the most important is QUICK.  Time flies when you’re having fun they say but where I’m at right now time is going way too fast and I’m sure that’s true for many of you too.  We all have to eat yet garnering the supplies and diversifying the menu options usually rests on one person’s shoulders – probably yours!  A thankless job for the most part but one that has to be done and fitted in to the busy schedules of the lives of all of those around you. So lets get on with it and Enjoy!

Minty Feta Lamb Pittas
You will need:
1 tbsp rapeseed oil for mince plus 1 tbsp for feta dressing plus extra for brushing pittas
450g lamb mince
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
400g tin lentils – I used ‘Bijoux Verts Lentils’
1 tbsp tomato puree
3 tbsp water
Wholemeal pittas
1 or 2 cos lettuce
half cucumber
half red onion
1 block feta – 200g
small handful mint leaves
small handful coriander leaves
Preheat the oven to 180
Heat 1 tbsp oil in large frying pan over medium to high heat, add the mince, mixing it and breaking it down with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
Once the mince has gone from pink to light brown lean or tip the pan to one side and spoon off all the fat and juices and discard.
Add the tbsp of cumin and coriander and mix well, leave to heat for a minute of too.
Meanwhile open and rinse the can of lentils in a sieve and add to the pan along with 1 tbsp tomato puree and 3 tbsp water.
Mix everything well and once the lentils have been heated through turn off the heat while you prepare everything else.
Split open the pittas and use a pastry brush to oil the tops of them and heat in the hot oven for around 5 minutes, take care not to overheat or burn them!
Chop up the cos, half cucumber and red onion and mix together.
Use a food processor to whiz the feta, mint leaves and coriander leaves with 1 tbsp rapeseed oil and enough water to create a dropping consistency.
Serve the toasted pittas, topped with the salad, lamb and minty feta dressing.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

beef burger

Home-made Beef Burgers

If you’re going to have a beef-burger at home then be good to yourself and make it a home-made one.  More often than not I buy them ready made but even those from the best butcher counter in the world are not going to beat the one you make yourself.  You’ll know exactly what goes in and I love being able to really taste the onion in mine. I’m not a huge fan of ketchup generally – I think it was one of my brothers eating ketchup sandwiches as a kid that put me off and I probably did the same to him with my vinegar ones – (our neighbour was far more cosmopolitan than us and indulged in butter and sugar sandwiches) – but where a burger is concerned ketchup is a necessity.  You will need a decent bun to put it in, preferably a good ol’ crusty one to soak up any escaping meat juices.  Lettuce, onion and tomato are good to add flavour and I’m definitely partial to coleslaw, sliced cheddar and pickle in mine.  If properly loaded you should just barely be able to take the first bite, a bite that has you drooling with anticipation and leaves you closing your eyes with heady satisfaction.
beef burger

Beef Burgers
Makes 6.
You will need:
1 egg
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
500g round steak mince
100g breadcrumbs (3 slices bread blitzed – wholegrain if possible)
2 tsp dried herbes de Provence or oregano or basil
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.
Peel and finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.
Place the mince in a large bowl and add the onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, herbs and beaten egg and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a fork.
Shape the mixture into 6 balls and flatten into burger shapes with your hands.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium/high heat and cook the burger for about 5 minutes on the first side until nicely browned.
Turn the burgers over and lower the heat slightly to medium and cook for a further 15-20 minutes turning the burgers once more half way through cooking and pressing down with a spatula to encourage heat to penetrate through the burger.
Test that the burger is thoroughly cooked by cutting through to the centre with a knife. There should be no pink meat and the juices should run clear.
Serve in a toasted burger bun or ciabatta with some potato wedges and salad or just load it up with all your favourite toppings.
‘Til next time, Sheila.

Fish Supper

Fish Supper II

New Year, New You – ah don’t mind that nonsense, there’s nothing wrong with the old you!  As for resolutions I’m making one simple resolution for 2017 and that’s to smile more.  Go on smile!  I read that forcing yourself to smile makes you happier and a smile is a contagious thing, if you smile at someone they will more than likely smile back, unless they’re a grouch.  So new year, smilier me.
I think most of us are by now a tad worn after all the shopping and the chopping in preparation for Christmas.  I was also a little deflated when I went to exchange something in a sports shop to see that the as yet unworn ‘new season’ running gear that I got for Christmas and was still at home waiting for its first outing had already been reduced.  Couldn’t the retailers at least give us until the end of January before they reduce everything?  It really would tempt you to just give people vouchers for Christmas so at least they will get full value and it feels like a bit of a con really.
Christmas food prep entailed a lot of peeling and chopping, so in search of a break and minimal prep I came up with this Fish Supper.
The last fish supper post I did was on hake, oven baked in a sweet tomato and thyme sauce.  This is an even simpler fish supper for when you’re totally pressed for time or just too tired to chop!  A couple of minutes prep. then 10 minutes in the oven et voila, Fish Supper.

Fish Supper
ou will need:
Fish fillets – I used salmon
Some oil – I used rapeseed oil
Wholemeal sliced bread (2 slices makes enough for 4-6 fillets) for breadcrumbs
Parmesan to grate
Lemon to zest and slice
Baby spinach leaves
Creme fraiche
Pre-heat your oven to 200C
Place the fish fillets on a baking tray, skin side down.
Use a mini-chopper / food processor to blitz the bread into crumbs.
Mix the breadcrumbs in a bowl with a small handful of grated parmesan.
Use a zester to zest half the lemon peel into the breadcrumbs and mix through.  (Leave the remaining half of lemon peel zest to mix through creme fraiche for garnish.)
Use a pastry brush to lightly oil the top of the fish fillets.
Press a small handful of breadcrumb/parmesan mix onto each fillet to cover the top.
Bake in the hot oven for 5 minutes, reduce heat to 180 and bake for a further 5 to 10 minutes depending on thickness of fish fillets you use.  You can check they are cooked by cutting through the middle of one and pressing your finger into the centre, if piping hot to touch then they are done!
Serve on a bed of baby spinach with lemon slices and some creme fraiche mixed with lemon zest.
‘Til next time, Sheila