Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Zoodles

Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Zoodles – So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is quick to make and a great low carb option.

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I’m not a photographer. My photographic abilities are fairly limited. I’ve learnt a little since I started this blog, but thankfully the Husband bought a decent camera which manages to make most of my clueless photographic attempts look half decent. I have learnt something about light though. Like how artificial (kitchen) light makes everything look a bit yellow. To take decent pics of food, you really need natural light. But this is where I often come unstuck. Having (lots of) kids means that taking photos of food can be pretty impossible. They just want to get involved. Which never ends well. So I have to take pictures when they’re not around. Thankfully this is about to get easier as the girls enter full-time education (whoop whoop), but up to now I’ve had to fit this in around small windows of time, including bedtime.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | thehecticcook.com

This meal fell into the ‘pictures-taken-once-kids-in-bed’ category. It was after 7pm, the light was fading fast but I was damned if I was taking yellowy-artificially-lit photos (again). So I ended up taking these in my back garden. Yup, I was one of those weirdo neighbour types, taking pictures of food on the garden table. We’re new to the neighbourhood, so I can only guess what they’ve already made of us.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | thehecticcook.com

This is a dish that deserves good photography though. I came across it originally on a blog called Cafe Delights – I have changed the original slightly to suit the ingredients I had. The flavours are fantastic. No seriously, I’m not exaggerating. For what this dish lacks in carbs, it makes up in delicious creamy cheesy tomatoey sauce. I’ve attempted to eat relatively ‘low carb’, on and off, for a while. I know I feel better for reducing my pasta/rice/potato intake, I just find it hard to follow through with the good intention. However, this dish has become a staple in the HC household for the Husband and I – yup, he eats it without grumble, without carbs! You could cook it with pasta or rice if you want, leave out the ‘zoodles’ (courgette noodles – should they be coodles over here in Blighty? Or Couroodles??). The sauce is the star of this show. Either way, give this a go, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 larges courgettes (zucchini), spiralised*
2 chicken breasts, diced
1 tsp oil
40g sun-dried tomatoes (about 4), chopped*
1 tsp oil from the tomatoes
mushrooms, sliced (optional)
2 tsp garlic paste / 2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g soft (cream) cheese
20g parmesan, grated
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 heaped tsp fresh (or frozen) chopped basil

Notes:

* I bought a fancy-schmancy Spiraliser like this one and surprisingly, I do actually use it. However, if you don’t fancy splashing the cash you can get hand-held ones, or even buy ready-made Courgetti Noodles (Zoodles) from some supermarkets.
* I find a jar of sun-dried tomatoes will keep for ages (several months) in the fridge.

1. Spiralise your courgettes.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - Bursting with flavour, these creamy chicken noodles are low carb and super simple to make. | thehecticcook.com

2. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a wok or large frying pan. Add the chicken, sprinkle with a little salt and cook until pretty much cooked through (about 10 minutes).

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - Bursting with flavour, these creamy chicken noodles are low carb and super simple to make. | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, their oil, mushrooms (if using) and garlic to the pan, and cook through for a couple of minutes.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - Bursting with flavour, these creamy chicken noodles are low carb and super simple to make. | thehecticcook.com

4. Turn the heat down slightly and add the cream cheese. Stir through, adding a couple of splashes of water to loosen the sauce. Add the parmesan, chilli flakes and basil and stir through.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - Bursting with flavour, these creamy chicken noodles are low carb and super simple to make. | thehecticcook.com

5. Add the courgette noodles, stir through, then pop the lid on and gently cook for around 5 minutes to soften the courgette.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - Bursting with flavour, these creamy chicken noodles are low carb and super simple to make. | thehecticcook.com

6. Serve straight away.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | thehecticcook.com

Do you see what I mean about the difference in photos? The ‘action shots’ were all taken indoors whilst cooking (obviously). Hopefully though my photos won’t put you off trying this recipe. It really is fab and super flavourful.

Happy cooking!

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | thehecticcook.com

If you fancy making some other healthier dinners why not try my Pork Chow Mein or Healthy Crustless Quiche.

Pork Chow Mein - Gorgeous flavours make this healthy pork dish a dinner favourite | thehecticcook.com  Healthy Crustless Quiche - A delicious quiche style dish without the crust and thus the calories, but all the taste! | thehecticcook.com

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To pin this recipe for later:

Creamy Sundried Tomato Chicken Zoodles - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | thehecticcook.com


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I’m joining in A Mummy Too’s weekly recipe link up where you can head over to find lots of other lovely dishes by food bloggers like me 🙂

Link up your recipe of the week

 

 

 

 

Homemade Crispy Chicken Nuggets (Updated)

Homemade Crispy Chicken Nuggets are so simple to make, quick to get on the table, and loved by kids. A great alternative to the bought variety.

This is a redo of one of my earliest posts – Crispy Chicken Nuggets. My photography skills have improved (fractionally – well I’ve at least transitioned from grainy pics on my phone to a proper camera) and hopefully my blogging efforts have too.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets - Nuggets of chicken breast coated in mayonnaise and Rice Krispies, chicken nuggets you shouldn't feel guilty about! | thehecticcook.com

As a busy mum, I think convenience food is essential. I always have some fish fingers and turkey dinosaurs, or some such fare in my freezer. This blog may be about home cooked food, but I’m human, and sometimes often even simple cooking is beyond me and I just can’t be bothered.

For days when I can be bothered, these chicken nuggets are super simple and go down extremely well with the kiddos. I always have Rice Krispies in the cupboard (or more likely Crispy Rice, or Rice Crackles, or whatever name the supermarket have called their own brand). They’re a useful cupboard staple, for breakfast as well as cooking (*cough* Mars Bar slice). There are a few simple dishes that I know the kids will eat, like Cheats Tuna Pie and Spaghetti Carbonara. These nuggets fall into that category.

Ingredients

80g (3 cups) Rice Krispies cereal
15g (2 tbsp) parmesan, grated
salt & pepper
80g (2 heaped tbsp) mayonnaise
4 chicken breasts, cubed

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

1.  I used my mini-blender to blitz the cereal to crumbs. If you don’t have anything like that, just pour the cereal into a bag and bash it with the likes of a rolling pin. Vent some anger. Make the cereal suffer.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the parmesan and season really well.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

3. Chop the chicken breast into bite sized pieces.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

4. Put the mayonnaise into a dish and then add all the chicken pieces.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

5. Add the chicken in batches, coating it in the cereal mix. I use a spoon to save getting too messy. Pat the chicken nuggets to ensure the coating sticks.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

Place the nuggets, nicely spaced, on greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets | thehecticcook.com

Note: At this point you can freeze your nuggets. Just pop them into the freezer, on the greaseproof paper, nicely spaced – no need to cover. Once frozen (a couple of hours) you can place them in a freezer bag and put them back in the freezer until you need them at a later date. Just cook for about 10-15 minutes longer than the unfrozen nuggets.

6. Place the nuggets in your preheated oven, 190°C (fan) / 375°F, and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and cooked through.

Crispy Chicken Nuggets - Nuggets of chicken breast coated in mayonnaise and Rice Krispies, chicken nuggets you shouldn't feel guilty about! | thehecticcook.com

Serve with your choice of side. We’re a big fan of those potato star thingy’s you get from Asda. And a big splodge of ketchup. Obvs.

I find that the Husband and I will eat these too, they’re not just for kids. So one family meal, done, nice and easy.  I may not be winning Parent of the Year any time soon, but producing a meal that the kids will eat, that isn’t processed, makes me a Winner. Yeah 😜

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:53]

Homemade Crispy Chicken Nuggets -  So simple to make, quick to get on the table, and loved by kids. A great alternative to the bought variety. | thehecticcook.com

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles

Teriyaki chicken noodles are a delicious mix of salt and sweet, simple to make and healthy to boot.

It’s the summer holidays. Yay. I do actually (mostly) mean that. Regardless of the fact that I have seven weeks with my four children. Twenty-four/seven. No breaks. No get outs. No ‘me-time’. Because I also don’t have the school run. Halle-bloody-lujah. We can sit in our pyjamas till lunchtime and it doesn’t matter (and believe me when I tell you that we’ve most definitely done this – a lot). I can roll over in bed at 7am and not worry. The kids can watch as much YouTube crap till their eyes bleed and I finally crawl out of bed to give them breakfast. Oh yes, the holidays rock.

It also means I’m back to enjoying cooking again. There was a time back there, that last summer term when it all gets stupidly manic and you’re trying to recall whether you’ve remembered to put pants on that day, let alone whether you’re missing some vital end-of-term event, that cooking became an afterthought. There certainly wasn’t any enjoyment in cooking, it was just a case of necessity. Or not, as I threw more fish fingers at the Kinder and ordered the Husband and I another curry.

I’m also back on Pinterest with a vengeance. Bloody love it. So guess where this recipe came from? It’s actually another Damn Delicious recipe that I’ve changed slightly to suit us. I just reduced the sugar slightly and simplified the cooking method. It’s a really nice recipe and I’ve been making it quite a lot. I even took the plunge and played the Dinner Lottery i.e. fed it to the kids. Henry ate it all, Alice ate the noodles, Hannah and Lucy ate the chicken and carrots. Comme si, comme sa.

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

1-2 carrots, cut into batons
small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small courgette, cut into batons
mushrooms, sliced (use however many you fancy)
4 chicken breasts (about 550g), diced
250g dried egg noodles
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp water
100ml soy sauce
200ml water
4 tbsp honey
3 cloves garlic (or 3 tsp of garlic paste)
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tbsp oil

1. I pre-cooked the carrots and broccoli in the microwave to soften them slightly as the kids will only eat them like this. I gave the dish about 3 minutes on full power. If you don’t mind your veg crunchy you can skip this step.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

2. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions (i.e. bring to boil then simmer for about 4-5 minutes until soft) then sieve and set aside.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

3. In a small bowl mix together the cornstarch and water, then set aside for a moment.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

4. In a small pan add the soy sauce, water, honey, garlic and ginger. Whisk together whilst bringing the mixture to a simmer.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

5. Once the pan is simmering add the cornstarch mixture (give it a quick stir before adding as the cornstarch tends to solidify at the bottom of the bowl). Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened slightly (a couple of minutes). It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and set this aside.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

6. In a wok (or large frying pan) add the oil and warm over a medium high heat. Add the chicken and cook until cooked through.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

7. Once the chicken is cooked through, pour off any water before adding the veg – any water from the chicken will thin the sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the mushrooms and courgette have softened slightly.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

8. Add the noodles and the sauce to the wok, stir through and serve.

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles | thehecticcook.com

This dish has the extra step of making the sauce separately before adding it to the wok, but it’s honestly worth it and really doesn’t take that long. It’s fairly quick, really simple, and bloody tasty. It’s fast becoming a HC Household favourite.

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:52]

Teriyaki Chicken Noodles - A sumptuous mix of sweet and salty, easy to rustle up and healthy to boot! | thehecticcook.com

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

One-Pot Mexican Chicken Rice

One-Pot Mexican Chicken Rice – a gorgeously flavoursome one pot recipe of rice and chicken that brings Mexican flavours to the kitchen but requires minimal effort.

I know I’ve mentioned before about my kids’ fussy eating (mostly the girls to be fair) but this evening Alice actually claimed not to like a fish finger sandwich. A fish finger sandwich for fecks sake. I had a little cry. There’s me giving them something a bit naughty, and a lot awesome, thus making me a most excellent parent, and one doesn’t friggin like it. Bollocksy children.

There’s not a chance in hell then that I’d offer this Mexican Chicken Rice dish to the little angels. That would be such a waste of a really tasty dish. So I save this for the Husband and I, and pretty much every guest we’ve had since I discovered it. I love this recipe. I love Mexican food. This is basically my version of the Burrito Bowls you see recipes for on Pinterest. But I’m a little nervous to call it a Burrito Bowl as I have no idea whether it actually is or not. So I’ve played it safe. Whatever its name, this is a really tasty rice dish with the gorgeous flavours associated with Mexican food.

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
4 chicken breasts, cubed
2 tsp garlic paste / 2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chilli powder/flakes
1 tsp salt
240g long grain rice
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
500ml chicken stock
1 tin of black eye beans, drained and rinsed
sweetcorn
100g cheddar cheese

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat (I used my cast iron casserole dish – mainly for aesthetics – but a normal pan is fine as this dish is fully made on the hob). Add the onion and cook to soften, about 10 minutes.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the chicken and let it cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and again cook for a couple of minutes.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika (if using, although it adds a lovely smoky flavour which I personally like), chilli and salt, and cook for a few more minutes.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

4. Add the long grain rice – I tend to use Basmati rice mostly, but for this dish I only use long grain rice as it holds its form better and won’t go all squishy like Basmati. Mix the rice into the chicken.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

5. Add the drained beans, tinned tomatoes, stock and sweetcorn. You can use any beans you like for this dish. I really like the Black Eye Beans (which I get from Asda), but kidney beans, cannellini beans, haricot beans, whatever you fancy, will work too.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

Bring the pan to a gentle simmer and pop the lid on. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally to prevent the rice sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you think the dish is drying out too much, you can always add a little more water.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

6. Once the rice is cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and top the chicken mixture with the cheese. Pop the lid back on and just leave to melt, without stirring, for about 5 minutes.

Chicken Mexican Rice | thehecticcook.com

You can then spoon out your servings with the cheese melted and gooey on top. Its a versatile dish. Change the chicken for beef steak, pork mince, Quorn pieces, or just add more beans and keep it veggie. Add salsa, guacamole, salad, soured cream, whatever extras take your fancy. It’s a gorgeously flavoursome dish, and so simple!

One-Pot Mexican Chicken Rice - a gorgeously flavoursome one pot recipe of rice and chicken with Mexican spice | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:16]

Turkey & Bacon Pie

This turkey and bacon pie is a lovely warming dish for the cold winter evenings. This is a highly versatile pie, great for using up leftovers, that won’t have you slaving away in the kitchen for hours.

I’ve decided that the going success rate of my dishes (obviously with the kids) is 50%. Two out of four will undoubtedly not eat whatever I’ve dished up. Unless it’s covered in cheese, encased in pastry, or all of the above (see tonight’s Facebook post). I’m learning not to take this personally. So what if I’ve slaved away in the kitchen for an hour? Selflessly creating some gastronomic masterpiece that would be received with rapture by most? Giving my heart and soul into these dinners…?

Ok, so maybe overplaying this slightly. But it’s slightly depressing when you find yourself binning a substantial amount of the meal you’ve just made. And they’re not consistent. Oh the little buggers don’t even give me that. Lucy doesn’t eat potatoes. Alice doesn’t eat chicken. Oh wait a minute, no that’s Hannah not eating potatoes tonight. And Alice has just polished off a plate of chicken. I give up. Henry is my little soldier, mostly eating what I give him. Apart from onions. And sometimes chicken. Give me friggin strength.

This dish was a ’50 percenter’. However, they did all eat some of it at least. And in my book that’s a success. It’s a HC household staple (oh yeah I just keep on making the same shit, whether they eat it or not, they’ll never drag me down…). It’s a hugely versatile dish. For this occasion I made it with turkey, bacon and mashed potato topping. But you can easily substitute chicken for the turkey; leave out the bacon; use pastry to top it. I often make this with a puff pastry base and top – a true pie. Your hips will never forgive you, but your belly will love you.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 tbsp oil
2 turkey breasts  
4 slices of back bacon 
green pepper, diced
potatoes, peeled and cubed
50g butter
50g plain flour
400ml hot chicken stock
1 tsp tarragon
white pepper
dash of lemon juice

Note:

The turkey breast weighed approx 700g – those things are friggin massive! I used smoke back bacon, but it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t actually add the green pepper this time as it was for the kids, and they’re fussy little buggars. I tend to use one medium potato per child, two per adult – but use however many you think you’ll need.

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the turkey and brown.

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Add the bacon and cook through. If you’re using green pepper, add it at this point and let it soften. Move the meat (and green pepper) into your ovenproof dish that you’ll be using to assemble the pie – this is simply to save on dishes as it’s all going to end up here anyway. Make sure you save all the juices that will have come off the meat.
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2. Whilst you cook the base of the pie, get your potatoes on to boil. Once they are soft (about 10 minutes) drain them well, then leave them to dry out a bit (without a lid). Mash them really well (the more you mash, the smoother the mash) adding a little butter and milk, plus some seasoning. Set this aside (if you have time, usually I’m juggling both pans at similar times).

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3. To make the sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat, in the same pan as before (you’ll pick up any tasty bits that might have been left from the meat).

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Add the flour, and let cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

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4. Start adding the hot stock gradually, using a whisk to stir (this gets rid of any lumps). Once you’ve added all of the stock, ensure there’s not lumps – if there are any just keep whisking – then switch to stirring with a wooden spoon (this makes sure you get into the edges of the pan). The sauce shouldn’t take long to thicken.

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5. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and add the tarragon, white pepper and a splash of lemon juice (I always have bottled lemon juice in the fridge for recipes like this). Return the meat (and green pepper) to the pan and stir it through the sauce.

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Pour this into your ovenproof dish (a casserole dish works fine) and top with the mashed potato – I tend to dollop it on in bits then smooth it out with a fork.
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It does look better with a bit of lovely green pepper through the base – mine looks a bit anaemic, thanks kids.

6. Pop your pie into the oven (180°C/350ºF/Gas 4) and cook it for about 20 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the sauce is bubbling.

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Serve with some nice bright veg to make your plate look less beige. For an added spot of colour you could add some sweetcorn or peas to the sauce just before pouring it into your ovenproof dish. You can also make this with leftovers. If you have turkey leftover from Christmas, just add it straight into the sauce and warm through. Add cooked ham in the same way, just miss out the first stage of cooking the meat. Play about with the ingredients and make a pie that suits you. The sauce is the key to this dish, and it’s bloody scrummy.

Turkey and Ham Pie

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:6]

 

Honey Garlic Chicken

A gorgeous mix of sweet and salty, this Honey Garlic Chicken is addictively good!

I feel slightly guilty. I posted on my Facebook page our dinner from the other night – Slow Cooked Char Sui Pork Belly – but then didn’t deliver. In all honesty I couldn’t. I made that dish without the thought of blogging it. Bar the Instagram one I took on my phone, there are no photos. Thus I can’t blog it. The OCD in me just can’t. However, I do intend to make it again (fairly soon as the Husband seemed to like it) and will post the recipe.

I’m hoping though that this will do in the meantime. I actually made it a little while ago – ok, so hands up, I have a backlog of recipes ready to blog. I have to. Life is fairly hectic (ha ha, get it?) so I’m never sure when I’ll get time to blog. But I’ve been wanting to post this for some time, as it’s one of the nicest recipes I’ve made in a while. I made this for Ma and Pa HC, and my Mum said she’d happily just eat the chicken out of the bowl.

This is good enough to be a totally stand alone dish. Once again I found this recipe on Pinterest. Yes I do spend a considerable amount of my time on Pinterest. I’m sure there’s a help-group out there somewhere for folk like me. But anyhow. It has its uses. I’ve changed the recipe slightly though to suit me – it called for a fair bit of blackberry jam which I felt would make it too sweet. It’s a fairly sweet dish as it is. And I’ve simplified it a wee bit.

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts
130g honey
100ml soy sauce
65g hoisin sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp garlic/cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 onion, diced (I used frozen)
1/4 tsp chilli flakes (or as hot as you’d like it)

Note:

I weighed the honey and hoisin sauce as I found it easier to weigh them out than try to measure them in a jug.

1. Arrange the chicken breasts in your slow cooker. Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com

2. In a bowl, chuck in all of the remaining ingredients.

Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com
Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com

3. Whisk until the honey dissolves. This sauce is really good, a lovely mix of sweet and salty – you can lick it out of the bowl. If you do that kind of thing.

Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com

4. Throw this over the chicken and ensure it’s fully covered.

Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com

5. Slow cook this on low for around 4 hours, turning the chicken breasts a couple of times during this time (this isn’t essential but I convinced myself it helped, as I can’t leave stuff alone). Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com

6. It’s not particularly pretty at this stage, but once cooked, take the chicken out of the sauce and shred it on a board using a couple of forks.

Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com Honey Garlic Chicken | thehecticcook.com

7. You can either return it to the slow cooker bowl with the sauce, or place it into a serving bowl and pour the sauce over it. Either way, soak it in the sauce. Chicken is one of those meats that doesn’t really need to be slow cooked particularly (it just saves on electricity and can be left to its own devices), so if you don’t have a slow cooker, just make this in a casserole dish and bung it in the oven, on about 170°C/325°F/Gas 3, for about an hour and a half, ensuring the chicken is cooked through.

Honey Garlic Chicken - a gorgeous mix of sweet and salty, this Honey Garlic Chicken is addictively good! | thehecticcook.com

I served this with boiled rice and stir-fried veg – I used a little of the sauce from the chicken to stir-fry the veg. You could serve this in wraps; on rolls; on top of chips; tossed through noodles. The options are fairly varied. I think I’ll cook this next time I have visitors as it’s so simple, but definitely a crowd pleaser. I love how cooking doesn’t need to be complicated to appear impressive 😀

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:29]

Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken

This recipe needs to come with a couple of disclaimers. Firstly, it’s not quick. I underestimated how long this would take and we were eating dinner at 7pm. Oops. Secondly, my kids didn’t like it. Even after trying to ‘sell’ it to them as chicken nuggets in a ketchup sauce. Henry spent most of the meal trying to pick off the coating on the chicken. Alice took one look, pushed it around the plate for a second, then pronounced she was finished. Lucy, bless her, gave it a good go. Hannah showed a feigned interest then got stuck between her stool and the table.

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However, this means absolutely nothing. Because it was bloody lovely. And it’s fairly simple. Just not quick. I’ll definitely be making it again, albeit maybe not for the kids.

Ingredients (to serve 4 adults)

4 chicken breasts, cut into bitesize chunks
100g cornflour
2 eggs, beaten
salt & pepper
vegetables of your choice (I used carrots cut into batons, sliced mushrooms & red pepper)

For the sauce:

75g brown sugar
100ml red wine vinegar
75g ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 small tin of pineapple chunks in juice

1. Make the sauce by mixing all of the ingredients together in a bowl until the sugar has dissolved. Add the whole tin of pineapple, juice and all. Then add your veg to the bowl and stir. You can use whatever veg you like, as much as you want. Set this aside whilst you prepare the chicken.

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2.  Just so you know, this will get messy. Put the cornflour in a bowl and season. In a separate bowl crack your eggs and beat. Take your chicken pieces in batches, plonk them in the cornflour to coat, then dunk them in the egg and onto a plate. That’s right – cornflour then egg.

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3. Fill a frying pan or wok with vegetable oil to about a centimetre depth, and heat over a medium high setting. Fry the chicken pieces, again in batches, for a couple of minutes, turning over halfway, until nicely golden. This doesn’t take long, they really only take a couple of minutes. Set aside on a plate with a piece of kitchen roll to absorb some of the excess oil.

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4. Lightly oil a large casserole dish (a large shallow dish is best) and place all of the chicken into this dish. Onto this tip the sauce mixture and stir through.

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5. Chuck this into a preheated oven, 170°C/325°F/Gas 3. Cook for about 50 minutes, until the sauce has thickened, stirring a couple of times to coat everything in sauce.

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Serve with whatever you fancy. We had ours with lovely fluffy basmati rice (see my Kedgeree recipe for how to cook great rice every time).

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I made this for three adults and four children – my Mum’s visiting – which required a fair amount of chicken, another reason why it took so long. Cut the quantities in half and it probably wouldn’t take quite so long. Although I’d still be tempted to cook this the next time we have visitors. It’s worth the effort.

Happy cooking!

African Peanut Stew

The girls have been a bit unwell recently. It seems to be the way that one will fall ill, then the other two will follow, one after the other. They don’t all go down together. Upside: we don’t get three unwell, grouchy 3 year olds all at the same time. Downside: an illness that would last 2-3 days, takes over a week to get through. And they don’t suffer in silence. Oh boy, no they don’t. Three times the joy; three times the amount of times you’re gotten out of bed at night to a wail of “muuuummmmmyyyyy” (I have a love/hate relationship with that word). Many a 3am has seen us contemplating selling off one/all of our children (we figure triplets, especially identical, have got to be high value??). And the person who said, when you have more than one child, you have no favourite? Wrong. Very wrong. But luckily ours changes daily. Sometimes hourly.

Thus my patience levels are currently minimal, and my need for comfort food is high. The health kick hasn’t materialised, and ‘Dry January’? Ha ha ha ha ha. Bloody ha. So this dish, a mix between a stew and a satay, hit the spot perfectly. I only came across it recently (Pinterest. Obviously). Anything with peanut butter will catch my eye. I love it. Like, really love it. And this was good. It does taste a lot like a very saucy satay. If you like peanuts, I’d recommend giving this a go.

Ingredients

1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp oil
150g peanut butter (smooth or crunchy, it’s up to you)
300ml chicken stock
550g chicken thigh fillets (boneless & skinless)
3 tsp garlic puree / frozen garlic or 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tsp pureed ginger / frozen ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes (or to taste)
1 large sweet potato (about 450g)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
salt & pepper
approx. 40g roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)

I did take a photo of the ingredients, but once I’d actually made the stew there were a few added ingredients, and some changed, so it became a bit null and void. So sorry, no pic. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but it didn’t seem too bad once I was cooking.

1. Throw the onion into a large pan with the oil over a medium heat and cook until softened.

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2. Whilst the onion is cooking, spoon the peanut butter into a bowl, and cover it with the chicken stock. Slowly stir this until the peanut butter has dissolved into the stock.

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Top Tip: Use a bigger bowl than I did for this!

3. Once the onion is soft, add the garlic and ginger, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the chicken.

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I used chicken thigh for this dish as it has more flavour than chicken breast. But you could happily use chicken breast, not a problem.

4. Cook the chicken for about 5 minutes, then add the cayenne, cumin, coriander and chillies. Add as much chilli as you like, this is totally to your taste. And you can use fresh chilli, or Lazy Chilli, whatever you have in the cupboard. Or leave it out completely (although the creaminess of the peanut butter lends itself really well to a bit of a kick). Cook this for a few minutes.

5. Add in the sweet potato, tomatoes and peanut butter/stock mix.

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When I do this again (which I most definitely will), I think I’ll add more veg here – courgette, aubergine, pepper, mushrooms. In fact, you could make this completely veggie if you liked, just omit the chicken.

6. Put the lid on the pan and leave to simmer until the sweet potato is soft and the chicken cooked. Give it a stir every so often to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

7. Once it was cooked I added in the chopped roasted peanuts to give it a bit of crunch. You could leave them out if you’d rather, or if you’ve used crunchy peanut butter. It just adds a bit of extra texture to the dish. Check the seasoning at this point. It probably won’t need much salt because of the peanut butter/roasted peanuts. But add a decent amount of pepper to give it some good pepperiness (an actual word).

I served the stew with rice and green veg, but it would also be lovely with cous cous, or flatbread/naan bread. We love curries/tagines in this house, and this fits into that mould perfectly. This served both of us, with two portions to freeze (it’s a pretty rich dish, so you don’t need masses).

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Funnily enough I didn’t attempt to feed this to the munchkins. If you can get your kids to eat food like this … wow. Just wow. The girls still eye rice with great suspicion.

Happy cooking!

Crispy Coated Chicken Nuggets

As a busy mum, I think convenience food is essential. I always have some fish fingers and turkey dinosaurs, or some such fare in my freezer. This blog may be about home cooked food, but I’m human, and sometimes even simple cooking is beyond me and I just can’t be bothered.

But for days when I can be bothered, these chicken nuggets are super simple and go down extremely well with the little cherubs. I always have Rice Krispies in the cupboard (or more likely Crispy Rice, or Rice Crackles, or whatever name the supermarket have called their own brand). They’re a useful cupboard staple, for breakfast as well as cooking (oh Mars Bar slice, how I adore thee).

There are a couple of ways I make these, it just depends what’s to hand really. First you need your crispy rice puff cereal stuff. You can bash this to within an inch of it’s life with the likes of a rolling pin; you can take out some aggression with your bare hands; or you can blitz them in a blender. It doesn’t matter, you’ll just get varying degrees of crunch. I used my little blender.

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Regards quantities, I probably used about 80g of cereal, but a ‘couple of bowls worth’ should also give a good idea. This is good as it is, but you can also add some extra flavour if you’d like – parmesan, paprika, seasoning etc. This time around I just added a small amount of seasoning and some parmesan, but I often leave it plain.

You then need something to coat your diced chicken breast. Sometimes I use mayonnaise which is a nice change and super quick. This time I used a beaten egg.

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Slop the chicken into the egg (I tend to throw it all in), then put it into the cereal mix a few bits at a time, and cover it good and proper.

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Get it nicely coated then place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof/baking paper.

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Pop the tray into a preheated oven, about 190C for 20-25 minutes. The nuggets should be looking nicely toasted on the outside, and thoroughly cooked on the inside.

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My monkeys got their nuggets with some chips, peas/corn and a healthy blob of ketchup. I got 4 empty plates back. Funny that?! Sometimes simple food is the best food where kids are concerned.

Easy, huh? Happy cooking!

Warming Winter Chicken Casserole

Our Sunday meal this week was a chicken casserole. I love casseroles because pretty much anything goes. Chuck together some meat, veggies, stock and flavouring, and it should result in a tasty casserole. My casseroles are often made up as I go along. Unless I’m following a recipe, chances are they’ll be different every time. Again, it usually depends what’s in my cupboard and what I need to use up.

This time I cooked it in the oven – I’d left it too late to slow cook, and with chicken it doesn’t really matter. But I love my slow cooker, and any other meat (e.g. beef, lamb) which you’d want really tender, I tend to slow cook. It’s a lot cheaper than running your oven for several hours – apparently running a slow cooker is like leaving a light bulb on?!

Ingredients

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450g chicken breast
450g chicken thighs
3 rashers of smoked back bacon
a chopped onion
whatever veg you like (I used carrot, mushroom and sweetcorn)
100g pearl barley
800ml chicken stock
1 tsp sage
1 tsp dried garlic / 2 garlic cloves
0.5 tsp rosemary
0.5 tsp thyme
salt & pepper

When cooking, it’s useful to think of what flavour combinations go together. In this instance, chicken and bacon is an obvious one. When it comes to adding flavour, think of what you’d normally associate with chicken. For example, I used sage – think of the sage and onion stuffing you’d have with your roast chicken. I also used rosemary and thyme (these go well together anyway) but not as much as the sage, because they’re quite strong flavours. I tend to smell herbs before I add them, to get an idea of how much I want to use. What do you want the overriding flavour to be? Does that makes sense??

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Add a tablespoon of oil to your pan and soften your onion (again I used frozen onion for this). Then add your chicken (chopped into bite size pieces) and cook it long enough to seal it (i.e. till it’s mostly turned white but not cooked through). I used both breast and thigh here because the kids prefer the texture of chicken breast, but thigh adds a lovely meatier flavour.  Add your bacon and let it cook for a few minutes.

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Add your veg (whatever you fancy really – I’m a big carrot and mushroom fan) and the pearl barley (this thickens the casserole without the need for any thickening agents (i.e. flour) so can be useful if you’re following certain diets!), then add your herbs, seasoning and stock. It’ll look like a lot of stock but you’ll need it because the barley will sook it right up. You can always add more stock if your casserole looks like it’s getting a bit dry. And don’t be scared of seasoning. Unseasoned food is flavourless food.

Chuck this in the oven at about 150C for about 2 hours. You’re really just waiting for the meat to cook, and the veg and barley to soften.  Take it out at least once halfway through to give it a right good stir. It’s maybe not the most glamourous looking of dishes, but it really is a lovely, warming winter meal.

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I served it with creamy mash, roasted veg and steamed cabbage. This was a pretty big casserole and did us two nights, so would normally serve at least 6 adults.

As a quick aside, do you know what possibly the single most important part of cooking is? Tasting your food. That might seem obvious, but a lot of folk don’t. And if you don’t taste your food, how do you know it’s even edible? Is it too salty? Not seasoned enough? Have you totally missed an ingredient? Before dishing up anything, make sure you taste it.

Right, my girls appear to be reverting to their early days and think it’s a good idea to get me out of bed several times a night. So I’m off for a sleep.

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Happy cooking.