Saturday, 19 July 2014

Home-made Takeaway



Now this blog isn't supposed to be just about food, although with the school holidays fast approaching, I am trying out new recipes to help bring more variety to mealtimes. I tried this one on Sunday after a lovely day at a local park with my daughter and it was an absolute winner for all of us. Ok, half the food on the plate was bought ready made from a supermarket, but who says you can't cheat on the weekends sometimes?

You also could try this on a Saturday night instead of reaching for the take away menu - picking up a similar meal from a restaurant could set you back £10-£12 each! Following this recipe (that feeds four very generously) will only set you back approx. £3.00* each and it will be ready in 30 minutes from start to finish. Which means you'll have more money to put towards days out with the kids.

As we say in Greek - Καλή όρεξη!! (Kalí óreksi!) - Bon appétit!

Cx

Serves 4   Prep time: 5 mins   Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

460g Chicken Fillets cut into chunks
1 x packet of Schwartz Grillmates Mojito Lime spice (or any other other herbs and spices that you like - Schwartz Perfect Shake Chicken Seasoning is also nice - just sprinkle on to your taste)
1 x tablespoon of olive oil
180g packet of antipasti Olives (we bought ones that were flavoured with sweet pepper & basil)
300g ready made potato salad
300g ready made coleslaw
250g ready made vegetable cous cous
4 x sweetcorn cobettes
4 x wholemeal pittas



Method:

o Preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.
o Chop your chicken breast into chunks and add your spices and olive oil so that all the chicken is covered well.
o Transfer to an oven proof dish and place in the oven - cook for approx. 20 minute until the chicken is cooked through (you'll want to stir the pieces to turn them half way through.)
o Once the chicken has been cooking for about 10 minutes, boil a medium sized pan half filled with water. Add a pinch of salt and add your sweetcorn cobettes. Cook for approx 5-6 minutes
o Toast your pitta breads and add the salads to your plates ready for when the chicken in cooked through and ready to serve.

P.S. The instructions on the Schwartz Grillmates Mojito Lime spice suggests mixing white rum and olive with the spices - we mixed the spices with olive oil only and it still tasted great!


*Prices per portion are approximate, are correct at time of posting & only include ingredients. Prices will vary depending on where you shop.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Sweet Chilli and Crispy Chicken Tortillas




This post is an entry for the #MorrisonsMum Summer Recipe eBook Challenge sponsored by Morrisons, which has recently cut prices on over a thousand every day products. Find out more here price checker tool. We hope you enjoy this light summer family meal as much as we do!

It's officially summer! Say hello to longer sunshine-y day's, ice cream, barbecues and picnics in the park. With the summer holidays now fast approaching, for me it'll be a case of cooking easy family meals that require as little time in the kitchen as possible so that more time can be spent enjoying the wonderful British summer with my family. Even if it does rain every now and again!

This toddler tested and approved recipe is a great way to contribute to their five a day. The main reason I love this meal so much is that it is so versatile. You can encourage your little one to let you know which veggies and sauce they'd like before you make it. My little one chose beetroot, sweetcorn and lettuce for hers (no sauce), whilst her dad and I opted for sweetcorn, lettuce, mixed peppers and sweet chilli sauce. Getting the little ones involved will go some way in making sure that at the end of the meal, all you see is empty plates. Feel free to change it up and experiment!

This recipe comes out at approximately £2.02 per portion if you buy Morrisons own brand products.

Cx

Serves 4   Prep time: 10 mins   Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

400g Morrisons British Chicken Breast Steaks
Morrisons Little Gem Lettuce (pack of 2)
Morrisons Sweet Chilli Sauce
x1 packet of soft flour tortillas 
x1 red, green & yellow peppers
x1 tin of sweetcorn
Half a packet of golden breadcrumbs
80g plain flour
80 ml semi skimmed milk
8 tbsp of sunflower/vegetable oil

Method:

o Wash and prep your chosen vegetables and set to one side.
o Place the flour and the milk in separate bowls.
o Grab a plate and sprinkle half a packet of breadcrumbs onto one side of the plate.
o Cut your chicken steaks in half (into thin strips.) Place some cling film on your worktop and put your chicken strips on top. Use additional cling film to cover them
o Using a rolling pin, gently tap your chicken breasts to tenderise the meat. 
o Once you have done this, uncover the meat and place each chicken strip into the flour bowl, then the milk bowl and finally roll into the breadcrumbs and leave on the plate.
o Once you have done this with all the chicken strips, add 4 tbsp of sunflower or vegetable oil into a frying pan on a medium heat and preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.
o Add half of the chicken strips and cook on each side for 2 minutes. Once you have sealed off the first batch of chicken, transfer to an oven proof dish. Before adding another 4 tbsp of oil to the pan to repeat this process for the second batch of chicken, empty any breadcrumbs that are loose in the pan into the sink so that they do not burn.  
o By now, your oven should be warm enough to add your dish with all your sealed  off chicken strips. o Cook for another 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through thoroughly.
o Once your chicken is done, warm up your tortillas, get them on a plate and chuck on a couple of chicken strips on each along with a selection of the vegetables you prepared at the start and finish off with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.



*Prices per portion are approximate, are correct at time of posting & only include ingredients. Prices will vary depending on where you shop.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Bath time fun

Whether you're a full time working parent (like me) or a stay at home mum/dad, there seems to be one thing we have in common. It's a feeling you get when you do not spend as much quality time as you'd like with your children; and that feeling is guilt.

My weekday mornings go by in a blur. I'm up at 6am and it's a race against time to get breakfast on the table and get showered & dressed (x3!). My partner does his fair share in the morning too and we still manage to only just drop our little one at nursery on time and get to work in time for that early morning meeting.

I  do not find it easy being away from my daughter all day during the week. In the evenings, I get through the door with just enough time to catch the end of In the Night Garden; which means that I've pretty much got half an hour before I am reading her a bedtime story and tucking her up in bed. When the weekend hits it's all systems go to catch up on all the personal chores that I didn't get time to do during the week.

Every moment we share with our little ones is important. That's why I try to think of creative ways of spending quality time with my daughter, even when there isn't time for play. I invested in these Bathtime Buddies Wet 'N' Stick Alphabet set (£2.50 from Wilko or £3.00 at Tesco) so that, on bath nights during the week we can practice spelling in a fun & engaging way. It also helps my daughter to recognise letters through phonics to help with her reading.

We look forward to this time we spend together and it's a great way of taking an active role in supporting what they learn at school/nursery. I hope that by sharing this simple idea with you that you and your little ones can enjoy bath time as much as we do.

Cx

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Weekend Flavour




The weekend is here, the World Cup has arrived, it's Father's Day on Sunday and even though we can't guarantee that the sun will continue to shine there's no better feeling than being with friends and family.

If you're busy hosting Father's Day this year, take the time to put your feet up on Saturday night (especially if you are staying up to watch the football) and try your hand at this super easy "tear and share" mozzarella, tomato and spinach pastry and super refreshing salad. After a long week at work, I know I'll be giving this another go!

Enjoy the weekend.

Cx



Serves 4   Prep time: 10-15 mins   Cook time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

375g puff pastry (I use the Sainsburys Ready Rolled Light Puff Pastry)
3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomato paste
50g of fresh spinach
75g of mozzarella
250g of cherry tomatoes
30g of medium cheddar cheese
Pinch of pepper for seasoning

For the salad:

100g of cherry tomatoes
80g of cucumber
120g pre-packed salad (I use Sainsburys Bistro salad)
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of olive oil
Small squeeze of lemon juice
Pinch of pepper for seasoning

Method:

o   Preheat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6
o   Line a large baking tray with parchment paper
o   Unroll your pastry onto the baking sheet. Add, and then spread your sundried tomato paste leaving 1cm all around the pastry edges
o   Wash your spinach and tomatoes. Chop your tomatoes, grate your cheddar cheese, then tear up your mozzarella into small/medium sized pieces and chuck all your ingredients onto the pastry
o   Add a pinch of pepper for seasoning
o   Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes, or until the pastry turns golden brown
o   Whilst your pastry is cooking, fix up your salad. Chop your remaining cucumber & tomatoes, add them to your washed salad & season with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some black pepper and a small squeeze of lemon juice

Waste not, want not – if you have some left over sun-dried tomato paste you could try stirring this in to 250g boiled pasta (we like Fusilli). Steam your leftover spinach as per the cooking instructions and add this, along with any leftover mozzarella to create a simple, healthy pasta dish.

*Prices per portion are approximate, are correct at time of posting & only include ingredients. Prices will vary depending on where you shop.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Days Out - Box Hill, Surrey


Hooray for bank holiday weekends! Having a job that keeps me out of the house for 11 hours a day, 5 days a week really makes me appreciate this extra day I have to spend time with my family (not that I don't love or appreciate the work I do but who doesn't love an extra day off?!) I have to be honest, sometimes it can be difficult to decide how to spend it. Of course the essential chores take place, along with the occasional trips to Homebase of B&Q (well, it wouldn't be a bank holiday without a bit of DIY), although my partner and I do often find ourselves asking "what exactly shall we do?"

Whilst we are saving to buy our first house, the cost of a day out does sometimes influence how we spend our time together. One our favourite fun filled days out has to be a picnic & exploration at Box Hill in Surrey. The costs to factor in here are car parking (currently at £3 for the day), your picnic, and the cost in petrol to get there. Once you are there you will spoilt for choice at how you spend your day.

For those with younger children, the Play Natural Trail is a fantastic way for your little adventurers to learn about, and discover the great outdoors.  For those with older explorers, the Stepping Stones Walk is a stunning riverside walk that will be sure to take your breath away (not just because of the all the walking you will be doing but also because of the amazing panoramic views).

There are lots of reasons why I love visiting Box Hill with my little one and partner, some of which I have already mentioned. You also get a chance to connect with nature, exercise (you can borrow kites to fly too), and discover and learn new things; but above all, you get a chance to switch off and connect with one another as a family.

Come rain or shine, I am sure that if you are able to visit Box Hill, you will create lasting memories, just like we have.

For up to date information on how to get there, what to do and what is happening during half term, please visit the National Trust website:

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/box-hill/

Cx

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Simple Weeknight Meal


There are very few things in this world that make me happier than giving a plate or bowl full of food that I have cooked to my daughter, seeing her smell the aromas, eat a forkful & say "mummy, you are the best cook in the world." I feel even better when I know that what she is enjoying is a plate full of healthy food that didn't take hours slaving over a stove to concoct and actually, didn't cost a huge amount of money to make.

It may sound silly, but these days, juggling a full time job whilst raising a family does mean that getting anything edible on a plate on a week night (or even weekends, well who else is going to do that washing, cleaning & ironing?) is a triumph in itself. I learnt most of my culinary skills from my mother, who always did her best to introduce my siblings and me to good food from different cultures (this one is a Greek dish called Kritharaki). 

If, by sharing some of these recipes, you can experience an (almost) stress free mealtime & maybe even an extra 15 minutes to spend with your family before Cbeebies bedtime hour is over, well...that would make me even happier.

For you lovely veggies, feel free to substitute the chicken breast for Quorn chicken style pieces or leave it out altogether for an even simpler pasta dish.

For those with little ones that like a little heat, you could also add half of a finely chopped red chili to give the dish a bit of a kick.

The cost per portion is approximately £1.45 and is based on the By Sainsbury's ingredients used below.

Enjoy

Cx

Serves 4     Prep time: 10 mins    Cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients:

o   460g chicken breast fillets
o   400g orzo pasta
o   1 onion
o   1 tin of chopped tomatoes
o   1 tsp mixed herbs
o   1 tbsp. of tomato puree
o   1 tbsp. olive oil
o   Pinch of salt
o   Pepper (for seasoning)
o   Fresh flat leaf parsley (for seasoning)

Method:

1. Rinse your chicken breast and dice into chunks
2. Finley dice your onion
3. Add your olive oil to another pan and place on a medium heat and chuck in your chicken breast - cook for approx. 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Add your onions, chopped tomatoes, mixed herbs, tomato puree and a dash of pepper.
4. Boil 4 litres of water in your kettle & transfer to a large pan on a medium heat and add just a pinch of salt
5. Whilst your chicken is cooking thoroughly in the sauce (it needs to cook for at least another 10 minutes while your pasta is cooking) add your orzo to your large pan of boiling water & cook for approx. 9-11 minutes.
6. Once your pasta is done, drain off the water, add a drizzle of olive oil & transfer the pasta to the sauce pan. Turn off the heat & stir the sauce through the pasta.
7. Add a small amount of chopped parsley & you're ready to tuck in.


*Prices per portion are approximate, are correct at time of posting & only include ingredients. Prices will vary depending on where you shop.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easy Sunday Lunch


Here’s an easy, healthy & cheaper alternative to a Sunday roast - minus some trimmings (you can add Yorkshire puds if you feel that a roast isn’t complete without one!)

It was inspired by our Easter Sunday lunch. We cooked it Kleftiko “style” (baked slowly & covered in the oven).

Don’t let the 3 hour cooking time fool you – this is one of those deceptively easy recipes that frees up some precious time to get on with the washing/ironing or spending time with the kids.

Based on the ingredients used (a mixture of By Sainsbury'sSainsbury's Basics & So Organic ranges) this works out to roughly £3.36 per portion.*

You can also replace the lamb steaks with a leg of, or diced lamb. Enjoy!

Serves 4   Prep time: 15 mins   Cook time: 3 hours

For the meat:

o 2 tbsp. olive oil
o 2 carrots
o 2 onions
o 3 cloves garlic 
o 1 bay leaf
o 2 sprigs of rosemary
o 2 sprigs of rhyme
o Juice of 1 lemon
o 400g of lamb leg steaks (approx. 4 steaks)
o 1 sheet of parchment paper

For the potatoes:

o 1kg Maris piper or Desiree potatoes (halved or quartered)
o A few glugs of olive oil

For the salad:

o 1 bag of salad
o 160g of cherry tomatoes
o Half a cucumber
o Drizzle of olive oil & Balsamic vinegar

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4
2. Line a baking tray with your sheet of parchment paper, pop your lamb chops in & drizzle with 2 tbsp. of olive oil & add your fresh rosemary & thyme (dried herbs work just as well) along with some black pepper.
3. Peel & chop your washed carrots along with your onions (which should be cut into quarters) and your garlic (sliced into halves).
4. Add your veg into the tray of lamb & finish off with juice of 1 lemon.
5. Cover the tray with baking foil & place in the oven on the top shelf (the lamb will need to cook for 3 hours).
6. After 1 hour & 30 mins scrub, wash, peel & halve (or quarter) your potatoes & par boil them in a pan for about 6 minutes. Once drained & while they are still hot toss in a colander (this will help them turn nice & crispy) and add a pinch of salt. Add a few glugs of olive oil to a roasting pan & pop in the oven for 5 minutes to warm up; then add your potatoes to the pan covering each one with some of the oil. Pop them into the oven when there is 1 hour left on the clock for the lamb. Place your lamb on the bottom shelf of the oven & place your potatoes on the top shelf. Increase oven temperature to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7 for the remaining hour. 
7. 10 minutes before your timer goes, wash & chop your cucumber & tomatoes, add them to your washed salad & season with a drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar & some black pepper.

Cx

*Prices per portion are approximate, are correct at time of posting & only include ingredients. Prices will vary depending on where you shop.