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.

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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]

 

Moroccan Meatballs

An alternative take on classic meatballs, with a Moroccan twist. A simple and quick meal, perfect for midweek, that will add some spice to your cooking repertoire without slaving over a hot stove for hours.

Christmas has come and gone, and the goose is still fat. Oh dear. Anyone else ready to cut their wrists this January? I have limited willpower at the best of times, but during the festive season, what little willpower I do have, ups and scarpers off on holiday. So here we are (again), trying to lose some poundage. This means that baking in the HC house is out-of-bounds, and dishes are of a much healthier persuasion. No cheese sauces; no pastry; limited carbs… Bloody dull, but when needs must (cries silently into her vegetable soup…).

I’ve made a deal with myself to get blogging more frequently this year, so for about the first month at least, my servings will be on the less calorific side – I can usually manage a month, then it all goes pitifully downhill. Watch this space. So no macaroni cheese; no cheese & bean pastry; no homemade pizza etc etc. You’ll know the diet is over when pudding starts reappearing.

This is a recipe I’ve been making for many years. It’s nigh on impossible to find low fat lamb mince, so if you’re being religious about your healthy eating you might want to buy some lamb leg steaks and blitz them in a food processor. I’m never that religious (can we start to see my problem?) so regular lamb mince does just fine. These meatballs are a lovely Moroccan twist on the usual, and a really quick and simple dish to prepare.

Ingredients (serves 4 adults)

1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp clear honey
zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
50g breadcrumbs
2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
500g lamb mince
cous cous to serve

1. In a large pan heat the oil, then add the onion and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until soft and golden.

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2. Stir in 1 teaspoon of the ground cumin, the honey, lemon juice, tomatoes, stock cube and 300ml of boiling water. In most recipes I would tend to use bottled lemon juice as I always have some in the fridge, but this recipe requires zest, so only a real lemon would do.

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3. Bring the sauce to a boil and then simmer, uncovered whilst you prepare the meatballs.

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4. In a bowl moisten the breadcrumbs with the milk – I often have a small bag of breadcrumbs at the bottom of the freezer but on this occasion I didn’t, so had to blitz a piece of bread. I tend to also freeze the ends of bread for times like this. Saves waste too.

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To the breadcrumbs mix in 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin and cinnamon, the lemon zest and the mince. Season well.

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5. Shape this mix into approximately 32 small meatballs and drop them into the simmering sauce. Cover your pan and simmer for about 5 minutes.

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6. Remove the lid and simmer for about 10 minutes more (timings are fairly flexible here, you can leave it to simmer for longer, just keep an eye that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much – if it does, add a little water and pop the pan lid back on).

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7. Prepare the cous cous by adding hot stock to the cous cous in a bowl, and covering it with clingfilm for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Definitely use stock to make your cous cous, otherwise it’s fairly tasteless.

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8. Serve your Moroccan meatballs on a bed of cous cous.

Moroccan Meatballs - a gorgeous alternative using the spices of Morocco | thehecticcook.com

On that note, I’m off out tonight so the Husband and the kids are getting pizza 😛

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:5]

Macaroni Cheese

A step-by-step guide to cooking this simple and delish family staple.

My girls turned four at the weekend. Four! Woo bloody hoo!! Four just seems better; more independent; almost human. Life is definitely getting easier. Let’s not get carried away, it’s not easy. Three young children constantly asking questions, wanting your attention simultaneously, fighting and squabbling over trivia. But we’re getting there (fist pumps the air).

We had a bit of a get-together to celebrate. I cooked some stovies and made a cake. The kids played pass-the-parcel (20 friggin layers of paper). And the adults drank wine. We didn’t take many photos, but the Husband took some of the girls blowing out the candles on their cake.

The Hectic Cook | thehecticcook.com

That’s the best one. Seriously. We do have 3 daughters. What’s that saying about if you want something doing right…?

Talking of my kids (seamless link), macaroni cheese is one of those dishes they get a fair bit. It’s an old faithful. Plus I always have the ingredients in the cupboard. There is absolutely nothing fancy about this recipe. Many of you will have your own recipe, it’s a classic, and you’ll possibly make it differently. But this is how my mum taught me to make macaroni cheese. So this is how I do it.

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Ingredients (Serves 2 adults / 4 kids)

200g macaroni
30g butter
30g plain flour
300ml milk
80g grated cheddar cheese, plus a little extra for the top
White pepper (optional)

Note:

These quantities can be easily doubled.

1. Cook the macaroni (or whatever type of pasta you wish/have). I find I have to add the macaroni to a boiling pan of slightly salted water, then give it a stir every few minutes to stop it all sticking to the bottom of the pan. It’ll take around 15 minutes.

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2. Whilst the pasta is cooking, grate the cheese ready to go before you start to make the sauce, then there’s no fear of sauces burning.

3. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir to fully incorporate (to make a roux).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Let this cook for a few minutes to cook the flour.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

4. Start to add the milk. I tend to add a bit at a time and stir it into the roux. Use a whisk to stir your sauce as it’ll get rid of any lumps that might arise, but take a spoon once around the edge of the pan after you’ve added all of the milk in case there’s some solid mixture lurking at the bottom.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Keep whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. This should all be done on a medium heat, and don’t leave it for any length of time as the sauce will burn to the bottom of the pot fairly quickly (if WW3 breaks out in the living room whilst making the sauce, just let them get on with it).

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

5. Once the sauce has thickened, take your pan off the heat and add the cheese. The amount of cheese is subjective. We like our macaroni cheese fairly cheesy, so 80g works for us. But add some and taste. Work out for yourself how cheesy you like it.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Stir in the cheese until it has melted, then add a little white pepper if desired (I often leave this out because if I’m heavy handed with it, the kids aren’t happy). Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce and transfer to a heatproof dish. Top with some extra grated cheese.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

6. Pop this under a hot grill for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese on top has melted and started to turn golden.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

And serve.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

I love the simplicity of macaroni cheese. And yet it’s bloody tasty. You can serve it with sausages; with fish fingers; stir through gammon or bacon; or eat it blissfully on its own. However you serve it, just one word of warning. Don’t save leftovers. Second day macaroni cheese is totally boggin’.

Macaroni Cheese - a step-by-step guide to making this classic dish | theehecticcook.com

 

Happy cooking!

 

Quorn Chilli Burrito

A really simple family-friendly meal that makes a bit of a change to the usual meals I dish up to the kids.

So it would appear that having four children home for seven weeks straight does not leave much time for doing anything other than basic survival activities (I am so sick of bleedin’ parks). Who would have thought?! However, the summer holidays are (finally) over, and the little darlings are back ensconced (for at least a couple days a week) at school/nursery. Is that fanfare and trumpets I hear?

So I have some time to myself. Some ‘Me’ time – you know, time to drink a hot cup of tea; time to take a shower for longer than 3 minutes; time to take a poo without constant screaming and interruption. Aah, yes. Me time.

And time to get back to my blog. In all honesty, our meals over the summer haven’t been terribly exciting. Lots of meat, chips and salad. But as the weather gets cooler I always find I cook more. And bake more.

This recipe is one that I approached with trepidation, regards the kids. You never know what’s going to go down well, and what isn’t. However, this went down great! I think if you put anything in a bread item – wrap, bap, pitta etc – my kids will eat it. And they seem to prefer Quorn mince to beef mince – I think it’s a texture thing.  If you’re looking for something a little different, but not too different, give this a go.

Ingredients

2 cloves garlic, crushed / 2 tsp garlic paste
1 tbsp oil
300g Quorn mince (1 whole packet)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1-2 cans of beans (kidney beans, cannellini beans, barlotti beans etc), drained & rinsed
1 oxo cube, crumbled
∼ 200ml water
tortilla wraps
grated cheese

1. Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes without burning the garlic. As an aside, I don’t buy heads of garlic anymore, it’s either the paste or frozen. I realise this isn’t very economical, but boy is it quicker.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

2. Add the packet of Quorn to the pan and stir through the garlic.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

3. Now add all the remaining ingredients, bar the cheese and the wraps. I used two tins of beans as I wanted to bulk it out, but if you only want to add one, that’s fine. I like to add smoked paprika to my chilli, as it gives a lovely subtle smoky flavour. But if you don’t have any, just leave it out. The cumin and chilli powders are what add the real ‘chilli’ flavour.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

 

Stir together all of the ingredients, pop the lid on and let cook on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Quorn doesn’t really need much cooking, but this will give it enough time for all the flavours to strengthen.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

4. Once the chilli is cooked you need to assemble your burritos. Place a couple of spoonfuls of chilli into the centre of a tortilla wrap – don’t try to over fill it as it’ll just spill out and you’ll end up in a bit of a mess. Add a sprinkling of cheese if you so desire – with my kids, cheese is essential. Fold opposite sides in, one on top of the other, and then the other two opposite sides, to make a parcel (I don’t have a photo, but I figure you’ll work it out).

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

5. Heat a frying pan to a medium-high heat – there’s no need for oil, these are dry-fried. Place as many burritos as you can into your pan without overcrowding them – you need to be able to turn them over. I used a couple of pans as I was making 7 burritos (the Husband ate two). I made the kids first so that they had a chance to cool whilst I made ours.  

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

Let cook for a few minutes, but keep a close eye so they don’t start to burn. Using a fish slice, turn the burritos over to toast the other side for a couple of minutes, again being careful not to burn.

Quorn Chilli Burrito | thehecticcook.com

 

On this occasion I served the burritos with rice and salad, plus a dollop of soured cream.

Quorn Chilli Burritos - a quick and tasty vegetarian dinner for busy weeknights | thehecticcook.com

 

And that’s it! This is a fairly quick and very simple meal, a bit different from the usual kid-friendly dishes I tend to serve up. And it’s versatile – change the Quorn chilli for beef chilli, chicken chilli, chicken fajita etc. If I have any leftovers I’ll eat them for lunch next day, it’s so quick.

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:3]

Cheese & Bean Pastry Pie

Cheese and bean pastry pie is incredibly quick and surprisingly delicious, just don’t consider the calorie content!

So it’s been hotter than the sun here today. No exaggeration. I’m Scottish. I don’t do heat. I’ve spent the whole of today sweating. No, that’s not a pretty look. On days like today, spending a lot of time in the kitchen is to be avoided. Unfortunately should you have children, there is a certain requirement still to feed them – seemingly not to is regarded as neglect?

This recipe is not going to win me any prizes. It’s neither cordon bleu cooking, nor is it particularly nutritionally virtuous. But it is stupidly quick and simple. If you can bear to put the oven on in this heat, you’ll be spending minimal amounts of time in the kitchen preparing this dish. But the kids should be happy with the result. As a ‘go-to’ meal, this ticks a lot of boxes. Just maybe don’t feed it to them every day.

Ingredients

500g block of puff pastry 
1 tin of baked beans
∼ 100g cheddar cheese

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1. Flour your surface and roll out the pastry into a large square until it’s about 0.5cm thick. I tend to keep a block of puff pastry in my freezer as it comes in useful. Just remember to take it out to defrost if you’re planning on making this.

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2. Transfer this to a lightly oiled baking tray and prick it all over with a fork, leaving about a centimetre around the edge. This should stop the middle from rising too much, although it’ll probably rise a bit.

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3. Cover the pastry with the tin of beans, spreading it out all over, again leaving a border around the edge. Choice of beans is not important. Honestly. Use whatever beans you want. Don’t feel any ‘bean pressure’ to use a particular brand.

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4. Sprinkle the cheese over the beans and then bake in a preheated over, 180°C/350ºF/Gas 4, for about 20-25 minutes until the pastry has turned golden and the cheese is bubbling. You could egg-wash the edge, but I didn’t, and it’s just adding more faff to an otherwise faff-less meal.

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Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content | thehecticcook.com

5. Slice up and serve.

Cheese and bean pastry pie - incredibly quick and easy, just don't worry about the calorie content! | thehecticcook.com

Like I said, this recipe is not going to win prizes. If you haven’t thought of this dish already, you’ll wonder why not. But with only 3 ingredients, and minimal effort, it’s the kind of meal to keep in the back pocket for days when you really can’t be bothered – and don’t really care about the nutritional intake of your kids. Oh and this tastes pretty good, so if you don’t have kids, make this for yourself and don’t think about the calories 😛

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:2]

Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes are a great family meal that are so easy to make, and a nice change from bolognese and cottage pie.

I’m back! Sorry, between one thing and another, I’ve been a bit absent. Ok, so some of it was lazy-itis. But I did manage to get the new blog page up and running (thank you Kim!) so I hope you like it. Yes, it’s not overly complicated, but as my computing skills are not overly complicated (read absolute basic) it’ll do for now. I’m hoping to ‘snazz’ it up a bit over the coming months.

In case you care, and even if you don’t, this is a summary of what’s been happening in the HC household:

We’ve ridden on a tractor…

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Granny and Grandad came to visit…

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We’ve eaten some ice-cream…

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And eaten some more ice-cream…

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Now it’s half-term, the Husband has had to go away with work, so there’s been a lot of this…

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And obviously, because I’ve been left in charge, someone had to go and hurt themselves…

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Yup, Alice face-planted the pavement earlier today. The pavement won. These things always seem to happen when you’re solo parenting. But the ice-cream (see above) fairly perked her up 🙂

This is a good half-term meal. My kids actually really enjoyed it – and got into a fair mess with it, so be ready to clean up. It definitely originates from across the pond. I took a few recipes I found on Pinterest (where else?) and came up with my own version (I very much doubt mine is original, but as I haven’t found one the same, I’m taking the credit).

Ingredients

500g beef mince
2 cloves/tsp garlic (I used paste)
1 onion, chopped 
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp dijon mustard
500g passata
1 beef oxo cube 
200ml water
salt & pepper
chilli flakes, if desired

1. Brown the mince in a large pan – I don’t use any oil to do this as you don’t really need it. Add the onion and garlic and let this cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, letting the onion soften gently.

Sloppy Joes | thehecticcook.com

Sloppy Joes | thehecticcook.com

2. Add all of the remaining ingredients and cook over a low heat for about an hour.

Sloppy Joes | thehecticcook.com

This can be cooked in a slow cooker as well, just cook on low for about 6 hours.

Serve this in toasted buns with whatever you like on the side. I served it with chips and salad.

Sloppy Joes - a really simple dish, perfect for those busy week nights, that will keep everyone happy | thehecticcook.com

 

It’s not the easiest, or tidiest things to eat. Don’t serve this if you’re trying to impress someone. But it’s ridiculously easy, and so friggin’ tasty – a nice change from bolognese and cottage pie too.

Sloppy Joes - a really simple dish, perfect for those busy week nights, that will keep everyone happy | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:22]

Simple Sausage Casserole

A really simple sausage casserole that should satisfy every appetite in the house.

With four small children I’ve found that organisation is key. I’m a pretty organised individual but sometimes even a small chink in my plan can see utter chaos ensue. I’m not sure how anyone with lots of small children and no organisational skills ever leaves the house. A typical morning is like a military operation – it probably doesn’t hurt I’m ex-military. I’m also a bit somewhat completely OCD, so being organised totally floats my boat.

An example of this is my weekly menu. We have a whiteboard on the back of the kitchen door. On it we write lists of things we need to do, important information, even what days I’ve changed the beds (there’s five beds in this house, if I didn’t make a note, I’d never remember who’s I’d changed when). There’s also the weekly menu. I tend to make it up near the end of the week (a job I absolutely hate) as I do the weekly shop at the start of the week. I try to keep it varied: a mince day; a veg day; a fish day etc. Like I said, this is one of those tasks that bores me to tears.

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See, I’m not kidding…

But it’s a really useful tool. I only buy what we need for the meals that week, so we never have a lot of wasted food (a huge pet hate of mine), and my weekly shopping bill is kept to a minimum. I’m not saying its foolproof. I also keep a stock of failsafe meals. Jacket potatoes. Quesadillas. Filled pasta. It varies. Just in case. But it makes my life easier, which is always good.

This sausage casserole falls into the ‘failsafe meal’ category. It’s unusual for there not to be sausages in my freezer (I’ve told you about my mansize freezer? Literally. You could keep a body in it). The other ingredients are all store cupboard essentials for me. So regardless of what chaos is ensuing around me, I know that I can knock up a reasonable meal if necessary.

Ingredients (Serves 4 adults)

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1 tbsp oil
8 sausages
1 onion, chopped or sliced
2 tsp garlic (frozen or paste)/garlic cloves, crushed
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of baked beans
splash of soy sauce
oxo cube
veg of choice
∼ 100ml water
salt & pepper

1. Warm the oil over a medium heat in a casserole dish that will go from stove to oven (I have a hefty pot that is perfect for this, but if you don’t, just cook everything initially in a pan then transfer into a casserole dish to put in the oven). Add your sausages and brown all over – they don’t need to be cooked through as they’re going in the oven.

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2. Remove the sausages and set aside for a minute. There should be some fat leftover from the sausages – if not, add a little more oil. Soften the onion in the fat until just starting to brown. Add in the garlic for the last couple of minutes, being careful not to let it start to burn.

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3. Chuck the sausages back into the pot, along with all of the other ingredients. Everything. Just chuck it all in there.

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I use carrots, sweetcorn and mushrooms in my sausage casserole as that’s what we like. But use whatever vegetables you want. Or none if you’d prefer.

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4. Give this a stir then bung it in the oven at about 170ºC (fan)/325ºF/Gas 3 for about an hour.

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I tend to serve this with lovely buttery mash and some green veg. The kids love it and it’s super simple to make.

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Happy cooking!

Quick Coconut Chicken Curry

I used to have a bit of a love affair with the food magazine Delicious. For about 2 years I subscribed, and saved pretty much every magazine. I then started to realise that I was seeing a lot of the same recipes in slightly different guises, so I unsubscribed. However I gained (as well as a mountain of magazines) a fair few really good recipes over this time, many of which have become favourites, and which get trotted out over and over again.

I should probably tell you now that I am a complete recipe whore – I’m not particularly loyal to most recipes, I try them, then never look at them again. So when a recipe sticks, and is made and remade, I know it’s a good one.

This is one such recipe that has been made a fair bit, and remains a firm favourite. Its title is not misleading, it’s fairly quick and extremely easy. Because it is made with korma curry paste, it’s also very mild which means I can feed it to the kids. And, to varying degrees, they eat it.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

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1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
140g korma curry paste
50g ground almonds
400ml tin coconut milk
200ml chicken stock
4 chicken breasts, in chunks
1 tsp garam masala
seasoning to taste

1. Warm the oil over a low heat, then add the onion and cook, covered, for about 10 minutes. Keep a close eye though, as the onion can start to brown really quick if your cooker is slightly too hot.

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Because of my kids (now well renowned) hatred for onion, I’ve started to either grate or blitz it prior to cooking. It then doesn’t need as much cooking and can burn quite quickly, so you really need to keep an eye on it. But the end result is a dish with the taste of onion but none of the texture. Result.

2. Stir in the almonds and curry paste, give a good stir and let cook for a couple of minutes.

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I tend to keep ground almonds in my cupboard as it comes in handy. But even if you just bought it for this dish, it would last long enough sealed and stored, to be used and reused solely for this dish (if you find you like it!).

3. Add in the coconut milk and stock, and leave to cook, uncovered for about 15 minutes. Add in the chicken pieces and cook until the chicken is cooked through (at least 5 minutes, but just let it go until you’re ready to serve; it won’t hurt it as it’s quite a ‘saucy’ dish).

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4. Once the sauce has thickened a bit (it probably won’t thicken massively, so don’t worry) take the pan off the heat and stir in the garam masala. Season to taste, and serve.

I added in some frozen peas right before serving, to add some colour and because the kids like them. I then served this with rice and mini naan breads – at least I could be assured the kids would eat the naan breads!

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If you’re not a massive curry fan, this is probably a good dish to try as it’s very mild and creamy, but it still has a lot of flavour. If you like spice, you could always add in some chilli flakes with the almonds and curry paste.

Happy cooking!

Cheats Tuna Pie

There are six members of my family, so I tend to cook one meal. Ok, sometimes two if the Husband and I are having an ‘adult’ meal once the kids have gone to bed – this sounds romantic, but usually consists of us eating our dinner on our laps whilst watching some cringe-worthy detective drama. We know how to live.

I’ll cook some meals and, to be honest, expect at least 1-2 of the kids not to eat it. Sometimes I achieve a full house and none of the kids like it (like my Baked Sweet & Sour Chicken, sob). But since missing a meal (or two, in some cases) is not going to hurt my (well padded) children, I refuse to give them something else, in the (possibly vain) hope that eventually they’ll eat everything I give them.

However. I will then cook meals that I am 100%, without a doubt, absolutely sure, the kids will eat. Without fail. And this tuna pie is one such meal.

This is simple cooking at its best. No, its not cooking from scratch – there’s a tin of condensed soup involved, shock, horror! But its quick, ridiculously simple, and my kids absolutely scoff it down. That gets a huge thumbs up in my book. As a result, I make this fairly often. Its one of my ‘go-to’ meals.

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Ingredients

1 tin of tuna, drained
1/2 tin of chicken condensed soup
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
sweetcorn, frozen or fresh
salt & pepper

1. In an ovenproof dish mix the tuna, soup and sweetcorn. Season if desired.

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Note: Because I only use half a tin of the soup for this dish, I tend to freeze the other half in a plastic container, ready to use the next time. It freezes great.

2. Meanwhile peel and cube the potatoes, chuck in a pan of salted water, and boil until soft. Drain, then mash with a little bit of butter and a splash of milk. Top the tuna mix with the mash.

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3. Pop this in a preheated oven, 180°C/350°/Gas 4, for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the tuna base is hot.

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And serve! Did I say this was simple, or did I say this was simple??

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This served my 4 kids (thus would serve 2 adults). Simply up the amount of potatoes, and use 2 tins of tuna plus the whole tin of soup to serve 2 adults and 2-4 children.

This dish is really versatile as well. Sometimes I top the potato with cheese. My mum used to top it with crushed crisps for a lovely crunch. Put whatever veg you would like into the tuna mix – peas are another favourite; carrot would be nice, but chop it small and precook slightly (in the microwave works well). You can use whatever flavour of soup you like too. Change it up each time for a bit of variety.

This isn’t cordon bleu cooking. But its easy. And it contains fish. So it must be good for you!

Happy cooking!

If you like this, you might also like some other ‘family friendly’ meals from my blog such as Quick & Easy Gammon Pasta Bake, Crispy Coated Chicken Nuggets, Traditional Scottish Stovies and Spaghetti Carbonara 🙂