More often than not when it comes to food and especially the main meal of the day I just want to eat something simple but super tasty. After a day of work it is very difficult to turn around and cook something at all and much easier to throw on a pizza or pick up some fast takeaway but you know and need to remind yourself that cooking can be as simple and fast as that too. You do need to have done the shopping at some stage though! An empty fridge will not yield a tempting meal. So do yourself a favour and get a food shop in : lots of veg, your preferred protein and stock up on those things that will bring flavour – garlic, lemon, chillies, spices, honey etc.
Think about the flavours you like and put those things together – I love a combination of bitter & sweet, hence the sugar and vinegar of the pickle served with the sweet chicken strips on leaves is my idea of a simple & tasty meal.
Red Onion Pickle
Slice Red onion, sprinkle with red wine vinegar & sugar Leave to marinade while you cook the chicken strips Tastes even better the next day
Is Instagram not for photos anymore?
So what’s that about then? I generally just pick up on mutterings and snippets of things as they filter through the ether and don’t have time to explore on detail however what I’m hearing is that the Insta moguls are leaning in preference more towards video content than still images. What does that actually mean? When you search for something you’re going to be returned with moving pictures rather than still images perhaps. I don’t see that it will really matter. If it’s only pictures you want to see that is the content you will seek out.
So here is one of my recent Insta dinners & Insta recipes. I think the visual along with limited text should be enough for the time pressed. Be inspired then make it your way.
Really the spelling doesn’t matter now does it? The thing I want to share with you is the fact that you can bake it. Yes you can bake bulgur wheat!!! Baking it in a dish like this alongside chicken, onions and garlic means the flavour enhancement is huge.
This dish is for a day that you don’t really feel like cooking but are in need of something decent and comforting. There is only a tiny bit of prep to this and it then more or less looks after itself over the course of an hour which will give you time to do a few bits – like put the bins out and unload the dishwasher because the last few people who encountered the FULL to overflowing bins and dishwasher chose to ignore them, didn’t they?
I’ll show you a few pictures here first of how the dish came together and you’ll find the written ingredients list and method below them….
You will need / Ingredients: Chicken pieces – skin on – I used thighs A little oil 2 onions 6 garlic cloves 1 tin chickpeas Hot paprika Tomato passata – 500g Bulgar Wheat – 250g Frozen Veg – 450g Chicken Stock – 500ml – from cube is fine 1 lemon 1 tbsp chopped parsley 4 tbsp greek yoghurt Half cucumber Method: Pre-heat the oven to 200C Open the frozen veg onto a plate and leave to semi-defrost Peel and chop the two onions into wedges, peel and slice each garlic clove in two Arrange the chicken pieces in the base of large oven proof casserole dish Place the onion, garlic and drained chickpeas in between the chicken pieces Pour a little oil onto the chicken and pour the tomato passata in between the chicken pieces Sprinkle hot paprika on top Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes Prepare a raita (sauce/dressing) by combining the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 4 tbsp greek yoghurt and half a cucumber cut into small cubes After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes remove from the oven and scatter the bulgur on top – in between the chicken pieces, then scatter the semi-defrosted vegetables on top and press down with a fork so everything is touching some tomato Lastly pour over the hot chicken stock and continue to bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve dressed with some raita.
Lemon & Parmesan Chicken
Here’s a really easy way to get some vegetables into you and perhaps coax them into a cranky child. I’ve taken to blitzing greens lately, in particular kale and broccoli and I just blanch them with hot water for speedy cooking.
You might notice that I’m using a glass baking dish in the pictures here and that’s a change that I’ve made lately too. I was fed up of going at my rusting baking trays with ‘steel wool’ in efforts to scrape the burned on bits off and they just never felt really clean after the first use, whereas the glass ones clean beautifully in the dishwasher.
I’ve also pulled out my spaghetti measure in an effort to not end up with a mountain of left-over pasta.
There’s a video that accompanies this recipe over on my instagram and facebook pages if you’d like to see as well as read. Lemon & Parmesan Chicken
You will need:
4 chicken breasts
3 fat garlic cloves
250g cherry tomatoes
300ml chicken stock
tub creme fraiche – 200ml or 250g approx
1 lemon (using zest & juice)
150g washed and roughly chopped/shredded kale
Small handful pinenuts
Small handful grated parmesan
(Note: Boil the kettle and have the food processor out for blitzing kale. You also need a colander set over a large saucepan)
Heat the fan oven to 200
Peel and slice the fat garlic cloves in half
Slice the chicken breasts in half
Place the cut garlic, chicken and the whole cherry tomatoes into a baking dish / tray and drizzle with some oil, mix well to coat everything and place in oven to partially cook for 10 mins.
Meanwhile get on with some of the prep. : blitz the kale using a food processor and add in the zest of a lemon and set aside.
Juice the lemon and set aside.
Grate the parmesan and set aside.
Once the chicken has had 10 minutes of cooking time add in the chicken stock and return to cook in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Finish off the rest of the prep while the chicken finishes cooking :
Dry fry the pine-nuts until golden brown and set aside.
Cook the spaghetti.
Place the blitzed kale and zested lemon in a colander placed over a large saucepan and pour over a kettle full of boiling water pressing the water through the colander with a spatula so that the kale is blanched but not soggy.
Remove the chicken from the oven, take out the chicken pieces and set aside. Add the creme fraiche and lemon zest into the chicken stock and mix with a whisk to form a sauce. Add in the cooked spaghetti and the blanched kale and mix well.
Place the chicken back on top. Grate parmesan all over and top with toasted pine-nuts.
‘Til next time, Sheila
Even in the summertime there are days that call for filling comfort food and this is one of those dishes. It has fast become a family favourite in my house and pleasing 8 people at the same time is no easy feat, so this one’s a winner. All of my kids are going through particularly sporty phases of their teenage and young adult lives and have taken more of an interest in what they are eating and that it is balanced and good for them. With a dish like this you know there are no hidden ingredients and they are all ingredients that everyone recognises and are easily sourced. Any left-overs will heat up well in the microwave so perfect if you can’t get everyone to the table at the same time! Chicken Tagliatelle
Serves 6 You will need:
6 chicken pieces – on the bone, skin on
2 medium onions
250g closed cup mushrooms
2 tsp dried sage
2 cloves garlic
Green veg e..g. green beans, tender stem broccoli
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken stock – from cube is fine
250g carton of creme fraiche
Tagliatelle – dry or fresh Method:
In a hot oven roast the chicken pieces drizzled with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper on high heat for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile roughly chop the onions and slice the mushrooms then fry them with the dried sage on a medium heat in some oil for 20 minutes in a large pan. Then add 2 crushed cloves of garlic to the pan and mix and cook for a minute or two.
Next add the tablespoon of flour and mix through, raising the heat to high and gradually mixing in the chicken stock until it is all added and begins to bubble then turn the heat to low.
Once the chicken has been roasting for 30 minutes put on a large saucepan of water and bring to a boil and then cook the pasta according to pack.
Also cook the green vegetables in boiling water for about 5 minutes max. to keep them nice and bitey and then drain them.
While the pasta and vegetables cook add the creme fraiche to the onion and mushrooms bringing the heat back up to medium to heat through.
Add the drained tagliatelle into the creamy onion and mushroom sauce and mix well.
Serve with the drained greens and roasted chicken pieces on top.
‘Til next time, Sheila.
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.
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.
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
Packet of frozen sweetcorn halves
Fresh sugar snap peas and green beans
Block of feta cheese
Sunflower seeds Method:
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.
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.
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 Method:
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.