Chicken Kiev is a retro classic that has made somewhat of a comeback – and so it should, as the combination of chicken, garlic and crispy breadcrumbs is a winner.

This version, however, is a little different. It’s a combination of two recipes – one for chicken kiev and the other for a chicken breast stuffed with goat’s cheese and tarragon. I think it turned out rather well!

Because it is baked in breadcrumbs, the chicken was incredibly moist.  Because it is only fried for a few minutes, then transferred to the oven, this is also a lighter version of a chicken kiev. This is great for a midweek meal. I served with colcannon, but would also be lovely with a salad.

Chicken kiev, stuffed with goat's cheese and tarragon

Chicken kiev, stuffed with goat’s cheese and tarragon

Recipe inspired by this and this

Ingredients

2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
Squeeze of lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
4 tbsp light cream cheese (such as Philadelphia Light), chilled
4 x 175g free-range chicken breasts, trimmed, skin removed (see tip)
50g flour, well seasoned
2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
75g Japanese panko or dried breadcrumbs
3 tbsp groundnut oil
100g soft goat’s cheese

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan180°C/gas 6. Mix the garlic, lemon juice, parsley, tarragon, cream cheese, goat’s cheese and seasoning in a bowl to make the filling.
2. Butterfly the chicken breasts by slicing them part of the way through with a sharp knife, then opening the breasts out like a book. Wrap in cling film and gently pound flat with a rolling pin, being careful not to tear the flesh.
3. Place a quarter of the filling into the centre of each flattened breast and fold over one side of the chicken, then the other (like folding a sheet of paper to fit in an envelope). Cover the seal with the flattened small piece of chicken fillet, if you have it (see tip). Roll each breast tightly in cling film and chill for 30 minutes to firm up.
4. When firm, remove from the cling film and dust in the seasoned flour. Dip in the beaten egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat completely, shaking off any excess.
5. Heat an ovenproof frying pan, then add the oil. Fry the kievs on all sides until lightly browned, then transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden and cooked through. Serve immediately.

I was having a friend over for dinner after work and generally favour recipes that will easily feed a few people that  I can either spoon out of a slow cooker or pull out of the oven. This recipe works because it takes about 20 minutes to assemble it, then you can just leave it for an hour or so while it cooks and you entertain.

This lasagne is obviously not a classic recipe. Instead of layers of meat ragu and bechamel, the pasta is instead layered with chicken, squash and pesto. You really have to be a fan of pesto to like this dish – it just so happens that I am, so that’s fine.

The sweetness of the squash is really nice with the pesto. I was hesitant about cooking the squash in the microwave, since I usually just use it to defrost things, but it turned out well. I especially like the pine nuts on top, which add some crunch that you don’t usually get in a lasagne.

Chicken, squash and pesto lasagne

Chicken, squash and pesto lasagne

Recipe from BBC Good Food

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 500g tub mascarpone
  • 190g jar pesto
  • bunch basil, leaves picked and chopped, save a few small whole leaves to serve
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • good grating of nutmeg
  • 12 lasagne sheets ( I use gluten free lasagne)
  • 85g Parmesan, grated
  • splash of milk
  • 50g pine nuts
  1. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Add the onions and cook until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a few mins more. Push the onions and garlic to the edge of the pan, add the chicken breasts and cook for a few mins each side to brown. Sprinkle over the flour and stir it into the onion mixture. Tip in the stock and season. Cover and simmer for 10 mins – or until the chicken is cooked through. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Add half the mascarpone and the pesto, stirring until the mascarpone has melted into the sauce, bubble for a few mins to thicken a little, then remove from the heat and stir in the basil.
  2. Meanwhile, place the squash in a large bowl with 2tbsp of water, cover with cling film and microwave on High for 12-15 mins, until really soft. Season the squash with a little of the nutmeg and some salt and pepper, and mash lightly with a fork.
  3. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Spoon half the chicken mixture into the bottom of a 20 x 30cm ovenproof dish. Cover with 4 lasagne sheets, then the butternut squash and half the Parmesan. Top with another 4 lasagne sheets, the remaining chicken mixture, then a final layer of lasagne. Mix enough milk into the remaining mascarpone to make a smooth sauce – you need to aim for a consistency similar to white sauce. Season with remaining nutmeg, salt and pepper, then pour over the lasagne. Scatter over the remaining Parmesan and the pine nuts. Bake for 40 mins until piping hot in the centre and crunchy and golden on top. Scatter with a few extra basil leaves before serving.

I’ve really been getting into recipes that I can throw in a pot/pan and forget about for an hour.

I’ve been getting home from work later and later and have recently started going to the gym, so I have less time to prepare weekday meals now.

Don’t worry, I’m still going nowhere near a frozen pizza or a ready meal.

Citrus chicken with carrots and cashews

Citrus chicken with carrots and cashews

There’s no need with recipes like this. This couldn’t be easier to assemble and tastes amazing – the chinese flavours work really well and it’s so much better than an MSG-filled sweet and sour chicken from a takeaway.  It’s got stem ginger in it, so was always going to work for me. The nuts add really great texture too.

Recipe from BBC Good Food. Serves 4 (or two hungry people)

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 300-400g baby carrots
  • 2 onions, cut into thick round slices
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 50g roasted cashews
  • small pack coriander leaves, to serve
  • boiled jasmine rice, to serve

For the glaze

  • 100g clear honey
  • 4 tbsp hot chilli sauce
  • zest 1 lime, plus 4 tbsp juice (about 2 limes)
  • zest ½ orange, plus 2 tbsp juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 balls stem ginger, finely chopped, plus 1 tbsp syrup
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the chicken thighs, carrots, onions and oil in a big, shallow roasting tin with some seasoning. Roast for 30 mins.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Drizzle all over the chicken and veg, then roast for another 15 mins.
  3. Scatter over the cashews, mix everything together well, then roast for a further 15 mins until the chicken is browned, tender and sticky. Scatter over some coriander and serve with the boiled rice.
Serve with rice

Serve with rice

A great meal to make in the slow cooker is a curry.

Throw in your meat and spices and the meat will soften beautifully, while the flavours and spices develop throughout the day, leaving you a truly great meal to eat at the end of a long day.

A thai green curry is great for this. However, I thought I’d try something new and make a yellow curry instead. The addition of potatoes makes this different from a green/red curry.

The finished article

The finished article

If you want, you can buy a yellow curry paste and use that, but I made my own, using this recipe.

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 small shallots , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves , peeled and roughly chopped
  • a small chunk ginger , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 2  long yellow or red chilli , roughly chopped
  • coriander root from a small bunch
  • 1/2 to 1 stalk lemongrass, minced, OR 2-3 Tbsp. frozen prepared lemongrass (available at Asian stores)
  • 1/3 tsp. white pepper (available in the spice section)
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar (or palm sugar if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice

Combine all these ingredients into a food processor, to make a paste. Add 3 tbsp of this paste to the slow cooker.

Next, add portions of chicken. I used about 6 frozen chicken drunksticks/thighs. I didn’t bother to defrost them, but put them right in the slow cooker with the paste.  Next, add some new potatoes sliced into halves or thirds. You don’t want them to be too small, otherwise they will just turn to mush. Add a can of coconut milk and then enough chicken stock to cover the chicken.

Not too appetizing looking before you switch the slow cooker on.

Not too appetizing looking before you switch the slow cooker on.

Then, switch the slow cooker on low and leave for 8 hours or until you’re ready for it.

Serve with sticky rice. Before you serve, add a table spoon of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. I also prefer to shred the chicken into the sauce (as my boyfriend doesn’t love eating chicken on the bone), but you can just serve as is.

 

Wow, I am busy at the moment. I feel like I’m going to work, cooking, falling asleep then starting again. As I’m getting home from work quite late at the moment, the last thing I want to be doing is making something laborious, or with a long cooking time.

This recipe works well when you want something tasty in a rush and its recipes like these that have so far prevented me from being one of those people who buy ready meals from Marks and Spencer’s on their way home from work. I used to scoff at them. Now I empathise, but I still don’t want to be one of them!

Mango chicken with spiced pilau

Mango chicken with spiced pilau

Recipe from BBC Good Food.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 tbsp chunky mango chutney (I like Aldi’s spicy chutney)
  • 1 tbsp medium curry powder
  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 small onions , thinly sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp chopped coriander
  • lime wedges, to serve (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and line a baking tray with foil. Cut a horizontal pocket in each chicken breast, taking care not to cut all the way through to the other side. Stuff with the mango chutney, then seal the pocket closed around the chutney with a cocktail stick.
  2. Mix the curry powder and 2 tsp cumin seeds with 3 tsp oil, then brush all over the chicken. Place on the baking tray and roast for 25-30 mins until cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil and fry the onions for 6-8 mins until golden. Add remaining cumin, bay and cinnamon then cook, stirring, for 1 min. Stir in the rice. Pour over 450ml boiling water, add a pinch of salt, bring to the boil, stir and cover. Reduce heat; simmer for 15 mins.
  4. Remove bay and cinnamon, stir in coriander and serve with the chicken.

 

I always keep a bag of chicken breasts in the freezer. When you get home from work late and have no inspiration it’s really easy to roast a chicken breast and make a nice sauce to go with it.

One sauce recipe I always have on stand by is this wild mushroom sauce, as it’s easily thrown together with ingredients you can keep in your storecupboard.

Chicken breast, in a wild mushroom sauce.

Chicken breast, in a wild mushroom sauce.

The recipe (John Torode) says to use chicken supreme and stuff the mushrooms under the skin. But I use regular chicken breasts and mixthe mushrooms in the sauce, which always works out fine for me. This is lovely, served with a baked potato and some romanesco cauliflower.

Ingredients

  • 25g dried ceps
  • 50g butter , softened
  • small handful tarragon , leaves torn
  • 4 chicken breasts , skin on
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 150ml white wine
  • 100g crème fraîche
  1. Soak the mushrooms in 300ml hot water for 10 mins until plump. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop. Mix with the butter and half the tarragon, then stuff under the skin of the chicken.
  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Heat the oil in a large flameproof dish, add the chicken and brown on all sides. Transfer to the oven for 20 mins. Remove from the oven; the chicken should be cooked by now. Remove from dish and keep warm.
  3. Return the dish to the heat, add the wine and simmer until nearly reduced. Add the reserved mushroom liquid and simmer to reduce by half. Stir in the crème fraîche and simmer for 1-2 mins more. Add the remaining tarragon and season. Return the chicken to the dish, heat through for 1 min more, then serve.

When it gets to the end of the month, you’re skint and you have some leftover cooked chicken and some old veg in the fridge. Dinner choices are quite few. The answer for me, is always to make a pie. And why not? They’re cheap to make, a sneaky and delicious way to eat your five a day and you can make them ahead of time. I’m a huge pie fan.

And it’s incredibly easy to make a brilliant pie, using ready rolled pastry (or your own, if you’re being really frugal!) and whatever’s in your fridge.

Make the filling. I used:

  • 2 chopped chicken breasts
  • some dried mixed mushrooms, soaked
  • 1 carrot, cubed
  • handful of sliced fresh mushrooms
  • some frozen peas
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • splash of double cream
  • chicken stock
  • half a bag of fresh spinach
  • 1 500g block puff pastry, defrosted

Fry the chicken in a saucepan for a minute or so. Then add the carrots. After a minute or so, add enough chicken stock to cover the ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes depending on how big your carrot pieces are. You want them to be getting soft.

Add the dried mushrooms and the strained liquor, then add the fresh mushrooms. After another minute or so, add the spinach.

Once wilted, add a teaspoon of wholegrain mustard, seasoning and a splash of double cream to thicken. Simmer till thickened. You don’t want your sauce too thin, or your pastry will be soggy.

Add a teaspoon of cornflour mixed with water if need be, but you should be able to reduce the sauce to the correct thickness by simmering.

Lastly, add the frozen peas, then leave to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, roll out some ready made puff pastry thinly and line a pie dish. I used a disposable pie dish (saves on the washing up!). Make sure you roll out enough for the lid. And if you have some extra, cut out some stars!

Fill your pie dish with the filling, using a slotted spoon so you don’t get too much sauce. Fill the pie right to the top and pack it down with the back of a spoon. No one likes an empty pie.

Lay the lid on top and seal around the edges with egg wash. Snip a hole into the top to allow steam to escape and decorate by sticking the stars on with the egg wash. Brush the pie all over with the egg wash.

Put into an oven at 180c for approximtely 30 minutes until brown.

Serve with white gravy made from the remainder of the pie sauce – or if you have enough, just the sauce would be good.

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