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 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 - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | 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 - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | 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 - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | 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 - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | 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 - So full of flavour, this creamy chicken dish is a great low carb option. | 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!

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

 

Shredded Chilli Pork

Shredded Chilli Pork is a very easy one-pot dish that produces gorgeously tender pork in a super flavourful chilli sauce.

My blogging has become erratic again. I blame the fact that my work space is affectionately referred to as ‘The Black Hole’. It’s basically in the store room – a room created in what was the garage (and not particularly well, it’s got to be said – not by us I may add). So it has no natural light and is full of crap. I’ve tried to prettify it by adding fairy lights (obvs) but really, there is no polishing a turd. So now that the nights are getting lighter, and the weather better (allegedly), holing myself up in the arse-end of the house is not so appealing.

But we’re currently in the middle of decorating the living room, so have removed the doors separating the kitchen from said room. This means I have no escape from the deafening volume of my children. Hence even the Black Hole is appealing.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

And thus here I am. With a recipe I’ve had waiting to blog for several weeks. It’s a real ‘throw-it-all-in-a-pot’ type of recipe, and the result is really tasty. It isn’t complicated (when are my recipes ever complicated?) and uses mostly stuff you’ll have in the kitchen cupboard already. I’m a big fan of shredded meat, so this ticked that box too. Give it a go, I promise its worth it.

I made this for 4 adults and 4 kids, hence used almost 1kg of meat. If you don’t want to make this much, just halve all quantities (it will freeze really well too though).

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Ingredients

2 x 450g pork fillets
1 stick of celery, finely diced; 1 onion, finely chopped; 1 carrot, finely diced (or just use the frozen bag from Sainsburys, about half a bag)
4 cloves of garlic, crushed / 4 tsp of garlic paste
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of beans (kidney, black eye, cannellini – whatever your choice), drained and rinsed
1 oxo cube
1 heaped tsp of ground coriander
2 heaped tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
150ml water

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

1. Place the meat into the slow cooker or ovenproof casserole dish (that looks fairly unappealing doesn’t it?!)

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

2. Top with the veg.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

3. Add the garlic and the tomatoes.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

4. Throw in the beans.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

5. Top with the oxo cube, spices, salt and sugar.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

6. Add in the water and give it all a good stir/moosh around. Cook in the slow cooker on low for 7-8 hours (halve the time on high if necessary), or in the oven at about 150°C for 2 hours.

Basically, chuck everything into the pot, stir, and leave to cook until done.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

7. Once the meat is lovely and tender, remove it from the sauce and shred it using a couple of forks.

Shredded Chilli Pork | thehecticcook.com

Pop it back into the sauce and mix it through.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Serve it up with rice, bread, salad, cheese, soured cream… whatever takes your fancy. Or all of the above.

Shredded Chilli Pork - Gorgeously tender and flavourful pork in a chilli sauce | thehecticcook.com

Happy cooking!

[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:50]

 

 

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]

Garlic Tomato & Basil Risotto

So I admitted defeat today. After almost 6 years, I piled high ready for disposal, all the clothes I’d clung on to from before I had kids, in the vain hope that one day I would fit them again. Ha. Mother nature -1; Me – 0. Sob, sob.

The natural reaction to such an activity would be to pull up one’s (slightly bigger than desired) trousers and say “Right! I will conquer those dastardly extra pounds!”. Me? I would have headed straight for the Nutella Cookie Cups, had there been any left. However, in their place I had made Mint Chocolate Brownie Slice (blog to follow). Bollocks to dieting.

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And in that vain comes todays recipe. It’s a carb-fest. So not for the Atkins/Paleo etc followers out there. But to be totally honest, it’s not that bad for you. A bit of cheese, a little oil, and that’s about it really. And it’s really tasty. The original recipe came from Delicious magazine many years ago, using barley instead of rice. It’s a vegetarian recipe, and is seriously nice just as it is, but on this occasion I had some ham to spare, so added that. The quantities given will serve two – just double up etc to serve more.

Ingredients

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1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 an onion, chopped (or frozen)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed / tsp frozen garlic
150g arborio rice
50ml white wine
500ml vegetable stock
30g parmesan
8 cherry / 3 salad tomatoes
1 tsp dried / frozen basil

1. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Let this soften, then add one garlic clove or teaspoon of garlic, and gently cook for a couple of minutes.

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2. Add the rice and stir to get it coated in the oil. Begin to add the stock, about 100ml at a time.

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Stir the stock into the rice until it is absorbed, then add some more. Keep doing this until all the stock has been used and absorbed into the rice. Take the pan off the heat.

3. Meanwhile, heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and add the tomatoes plus the second clove of garlic/teaspoon of garlic. Cook the tomatoes until they have softened, about ten minutes.

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4. To the rice, add the cheese and the tomatoes, the basil and some seasoning – I also added some peas for extra colour, and the ham. Put a lid on the pan and leave for about 5 minutes to let the rice absorb the last of the liquid. The pan should be completely off the heat.

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You could add some bacon in step 2, before adding the rice. I added some ham with the cheese as it was already cooked. Or you can leave it without, whatever takes your fancy. Serve with a lovely side salad and some garlic bread 🙂

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This is a dish that needs a bit of care and attention. I find you can’t just chuck in all the stock and be done. Adding the stock slowly, letting it be absorbed and stirring, before adding more, gives the risotto a lovely creaminess. I tend to make risotto when I’m not refereeing world war three i.e. when the kids are in bed.

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!

Traditional Scottish Stovies

So this could be a highly contentious post. I once read that if you asked one hundred Scots folk how to make stovies, you’d get one hundred different recipes. This is so very true. Stovies are a dish that probably every Scottish person recognises. It’s a national dish, but one that gets less international attention than the likes of haggis or battered mars bars. You get stovies served at parties; at weddings; basically any Scottish social gathering. They’re that awesome.

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com

I always think of stovies as the perfect comfort food. It’s a potato based dish, to which you can add pretty much any type of meat, although mince or corned beef are most popular. My recipe is not traditional. But it uses what I tend to have to hand in the cupboard, and is pretty bloody tasty (if I do say so myself). The kids lap it up and it always results in empty plates. So it’s a staple meal in the HC house. Just please don’t lynch me because its not ‘how mummy used to make it’ (it’s not even how my mum makes stovies, it’s just how I’ve come to make them).

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com
 Ingredients

potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp oil
1 beef stock cube / stock pot
1 beef oxo cube
1 tin of corned beef, cubed
salt & pepper

I’ve not given a quantity for the potatoes as I tend to go by how many I’m cooking for. I’ll assign a small potato each to the kids, then a couple for every adult, plus an extra couple to be safe. If I’m just cooking for the kids I’ll only need half an onion and half a tin of corned beef. You can freeze corned beef. If there’s leftovers (not including what I eat whilst I’m dishing out) then that’s a billy-bonus.

1. Heat your oil in a large pan then add the onion, and cook it really well so that it gets nicely browned. It’s important you add lots of flavour to your onion so don’t be afraid to overcook it.

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2. Add the sliced potato, the stock cube, the oxo cube and about 300ml of water. Give a good stir.

Note: Traditional stovies are made using beef dripping. This isn’t something I normally have to hand, so I’ve had to add the meaty taste from elsewhere. I find the stock pots really good for this (either the normal beef one or the rich beef – both are good), but a regular beef stock cube would also work. The oxo cube adds colour and extra flavour – I add beef oxo cubes to pretty much everything meaty, it’s kind of my secret ingredient (just not that secret). I love them and think they add a lovely rich flavour to any kind of meat dish (bolognese; stew; I even add them to chicken gravy!). They always feature in my cupboard supplies.

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3. Put the lid of the pan on and let it simmer. Every so often give it a good stir. The potatoes will start to stick to the bottom, so with every stir, scrape the bottom of the pan. This is good, it all adds flavour. As you stir, the potatoes will begin to break up which is what you want.

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4. Once the potatoes have softened and absorbed most of the stock, add your meat. Give it a good stir so everything is combined and check your seasoning. The corned beef can be quite salty, so it’s best to check the seasoning once it’s been added. Season as required.

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This is not a pretty dish. Indeed, I’m sure some out there could be quite inventive in describing just what it looks like. But it’s tasty. It truly is. And its simple. If you like potatoes and corned beef, do give this a go. And let me know how you get on – I love hearing when folk have made anything from the blog! 😀

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com

 

Oh and serve it with a good splodge of ketchup.

Happy cooking!

Traditional Scottish Stovies - The ultimate comfort food, Scottish Stovies are loved by a nation for good reason. So simple to make and really delicious | thehecticcook.com