chicken thyme casserole

This is a basic, really easy to make and filling chicken casserole. It easily serves four with leftovers making a pie filling for four for another meal – it’s frugal!

what you need:

  • 4 chicken breasts – skinless (or use 6-8 thigh fillets – skinless)
  • 2 large onions
  • 6 big carrots
  • 2 leeks
  • glass of wine (if wish – otherwise make up difference with stock)
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • handful of thyme leaves or couple of teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • for the dumplings – 4 tbs plain flour, 4 tbs self-raising flour, 1/4 pk butter, tsp dried oregano.

what you do:

  • preheat the oven to 180C
  • warm a splash of olive oil in a large oven proof pan – chop the chicken in to chunks and throw it in the pan to start cooking.
  • peel and chop the onions and garlic and add them to the pan.
  • slice the leeks and carrots add to the pan
  • pour in the wine if using
  • add the chicken stock and a hand full of thyme leaves – season with salt & pepper
  • transfer pan to the oven and cook for around 2 hours
  • when there is 45 minutes remaining add the dumplings

dumplings:

  • put the flours and butter into a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour with your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
  • add the oregano and season with salt and pepper
  • tip in cold water and drop at a time and mix into a firm dough
  • take ping-pong sized chunks of dough and roll between floured hands into a ball shape.
  • add the dumplings to the stew when there is 45 minutes cooking time remaining – when adding them check liquid level and if necessary top up with boiling water.

to serve:

this casserole is lovely with parsnip & parmesan mash or simple mashed potatoes, chips or perhaps a roast potato or five….

leftover stew can be used as a pie filling making another meal – simply reheat filling – add pie crust & bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Nutella cakes

I love these little cakes. They serve as the perfect vehicle for transporting Nutella to the body and are ridiculously simple to make.

what you need: makes 12

  • 4 oz self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 heaped tbs cocoa
  • 4 oz butter
  • 4 oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbs milk
  • approx. 6 heaped tsp of Nutella

what you do:

  • preheat oven to 180C
  • cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl
  • beat the eggs with the vanilla and pour slowly into the butter and sugar mixing well
  • sieve in the flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix well
  • add the milk and beat into a smooth batter
  • put a dollop of the cake batter into each cake case making sure it covers the whole of the bottom
  • add 1/2 tsp of Nutella to each cake
  • top with the remaining cake batter
  • bake for approx 15 minutes until well risen and set

to serve:

for me these really have to be straight out of the oven and served with ice-cream so the Nutella is still warm and runny. But you can eat yours however you like…

hash browns

This week today my fad is eating less bread and so breakfast today was hash browns. What’s not to like about fried salty potatoes?

what you need: serves 1 (well maybe 2)

  • 3 largish new potatoes
  • a small onion
  • 1 egg
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • olive oil for frying

what you do:

  • peel and slice the onion into thin moons
  • wash the potatoes and keeping the skins on coarsely grate
  • squeeze the moisture out of the grated potatoes using hands/kitchen towel
  • mix in the beaten egg and some salt & black pepper.
  • warm a splosh of olive oil in a frying pan – dollop little piles of the mixture into the hot oil and squash down the a fork a little to flatten.
  • fry on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes each side until cooked through.

to serve:

piled on a plate maybe an extra dusting of salt and definitely a cup of coffee not tea. You could always make this more substantial by adding a spot of bacon, maybe a poached egg or a splat of beans or perhaps throw a chopped chilli into the hash brown mix and drizzle over a trickle of maple syrup when cooked.

minestrone soup

It’s soup weather now… soup, bread, cheese, it’s just what’s required lunch wise.

what you need:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 big red onion
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 3 big carrots
  • 2 courgettes
  • a bag of spinach (approx 150 – 200g)
  • tin of borlotti beans
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • a big splash of red wine
  • 1 pint chicken or veg stock
  • handful of tiny soup pasta (or snapped up spaghetti)

what you do:

  • peel and finely chop the garlic, onion and carrots, finely slice the celery.
  • add a big splash of olive oil to a large pan and gently fry the garlic, onion, carrot and celery for around 15 minutes
  • dice the courgettes and chop the spinach
  • add a splash of wine to the pan (you can leave this out or add a glass it’s up to you)
  • add the tinned tomatoes
  • add the courgettes, spinach and beans
  • add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes
  • add the pasta and cook for another 8-10 minutes
  • sprinkle on any chopped herbs and season to taste

to serve:

My preference is with parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and lots of black pepper, bread essential. This is also sent in thermos pots for packed lunches.

You may also like – spicy lentil soup or twister bread

meal plan Monday

This week I’ve gone with an Italian theme in order to boost energy levels and hopefully eat more healthily. The last week or so with poorly children eating habits have well… mainly been take away, nice at the time but afterwards blurgh! So this week it’s all Italian.

Monday

  • B – chocolate twister bread (okay… it’s LIKE a pain-au-chocolate… France, near Italy)
  • L – pasta & bean soup
  • D – braised chicken & artichokes with rosemary roast potatoes and green beans

Tuesday

  • B – chocolate twister bread…. again
  • L – minestrone soup
  • D – sausage & borlotti casserole with couscous and wilted spinach

Wednesday

  • B – pancakes (I’ll call them crepes then that’s almost Italian)
  • L – minestrone soup
  • D – flatbreads with beetroot, walnut & lentil salad, goats cheese and hummus

Thursday

  • B – not sure it’s a long way off but it will involve coffee
  • L – hummus & sun-dried tomato twister bread
  • D – tomato & lentil sauce with short pasta

Friday

  • B – who knows
  • L – spanish omelette – tomatoes/olives/red onions/baby potatoes
  • D – pizza made with whatever veggies and cheese is left in the fridge

I’ll probably blog some of the recipes throughout the week.

Head over to Mrs M to see what everyone else is having this week….

custard splat sponge

This cake must be eaten in wodges. It’s a wodge kind of cake.

what you need:

  • 4oz butter
  • 4oz caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4oz self raising flour
  • 5tbs custard powder
  • 2tbs milk
  • 5tbs icing sugar

what you do:

  • preheat the oven to 180C
  • cream together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl
  • beat the eggs in a jug & add slowly to the butter/sugar mix
  • sieve in flour and 3 tbs of custard powder
  • add the 2 tbs of milk and mix into smooth batter
  • pour into a greased cake tin (I use an 8 inch heart-shaped silicon mould)
  • bake for approximately 18-20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean
  • once cool mix the icing sugar and remaining custard powder in a jug with a tiny drop of boiling water – splat the icing onto the cake from a height, for no other reason that it sounds nice and splatty.

to serve:

Obviously with a cup of tea and elevated feet.

like cake?  try my carrot & banana traybake 

twister bread

A really versatile recipe which can be used to make sweet or savoury bread. In this recipe I’ve used sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan but I have made it using plain cheese, cheese, ham and mustard, pesto and olive or my most favourite of all Nutella.

what you need:

  • 600g strong white flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp dried fast action yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • approx. 350ml tepid water
  • filling of choice

what you do:

  • tip the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil into a large bowl.
  • gradually add the water, mixing with your hand until a nice pliable dough is formed.
  • tip dough onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes
  • return to the bowl and cover with cling film, leave to rise in a warm place until double the size (around an hour)
  • alternatively do as I do and use the dough setting on a bread maker for the stages above. 
  • tip dough onto floured surface and roll out into a large rectangle

  • add the filling of choice – this time I blitzed sun-dried tomatoes (approx 8 big ones & some of the oil in a food processor) and sprinkled on finely grated parmesan.
  • roll into a big sausage – think swiss roll.

  • slice into 1 1/2 inch rounds and place into greased loose bottom cake tin (I put surplus into loaf tins)

  • leave to rise for 30 minutes – I use the oven for this on 50 C.
  • once the bread has doubled in size…

  • bring the bread from the oven and turn the oven up to 200C – brush the bread with milk and then bake for approx 20 minutes.
  • once cooked remove from tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

to serve:

The nutella version is ideal for breakfast. The savoury versions are nice served with stews, like my sausage & cider casserole or soup such as my lentil & tomato. Or used in packed lunches – the chunks just pull off into nice serving sizes.