Home made chicken nuggets

Home made chicken nuggets

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Chicken nuggets are pretty much the ultimate comfort food (and a pretty good thing to eat when you’re hungover. This recipe is also perfect for people with a fussy eater in the family as they’re perfectly normal looking chicken nuggets, although as D said they taste all the better for not being made from mechanically recovered chicken.

My Kiwi friend DC actually gave me instructions on me how to make these baked chicken nuggets; although I adapted it slightly so it was similar to my Dad’s panko breadcrumbed chicken salad.

To make chicken nuggets to serve 3-4 you will need:

4 chicken breasts

Approx 75g panko breadcrumbs

1-2 teaspoons Cajun spice mix

Salt and pepper

Plain flour

1 Beaten egg

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cut your chicken breast into strips. Place your flour onto a place and arrange a separate bowl with the beaten egg and another filled with the breadcrumbs, spices and salt and pepper.

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Coat each piece of chicken in the flour, followed by the egg and breadcrumbs. Place each coated piece of chicken on a baking tray.

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Bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is golden and crisp and there is no pink when the chicken is cut into.

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Serve with the side of your choice. We’re particularly partial to sweet potato fries of potato wedges with this. However, if you do have any little ones in your household you can’t go wrong with some potato smiles, now can you?

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Healthy breakfast ideas part 2

Healthy breakfast ideas part 2

So my quest for healthier things for breakfast has been one of the most fun and delicious food challenges yet. I am finding myself naturally opting for some sort of fruit or vegetable when I start the day. The other thing is that I tend to force myself out of bed earlier to make breakfast and D has even jumped on the bandwagon on days where I prepare things in advance.

You’ll notice that currently there has been nothing with eggs for one reason only – in the mornings when I make my breakfast I am usually trying to do lots of things at once. So breakfast is thrown together (and photographed) while I make my lunch, feed the rabbits and try to put a load of washing in or do some other household chore. I feel I will fail miserably at egg cooking while doing all of the above. Anyway, here are some of the lovely things I have been eating for my breakfast lately.

1. Overnight oats (or is this Bircher? I’m new to this)

DSC_0586DSC_0587DSC_0591DSC_0592Overnight oats have become a favourite in our house. They’re really good value for money to make, they’re filling, they taste beautiful and they travel well. To make 2 portions take a mug full of oats, top with fruit juice to 1cm above the oats (I’ve used apple juice and mango juice so far), cover this and leave overnight. The next morning add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt (I used Alpro Soya yogurt with coconut in mine and low fat lemon on D’s). Then top with whatever fruit, nuts or seeds you fancy. I put D’s in his soup mug and he eats them on the bus – just make sure your container is sealed tightly.

2. Ham and tomato on toast

DSC_0595Obviously this one is pretty self explanatory but its also a good idea for days when you wake up late.

3. Porridge with fruit

DSC_0583DSC_0584IMG_0328I am a recent porridge convert but usually I stick to Oatso simple (which I still love), but trading in ready make combinations for proper fruit keeps your metabolism ticking over for far longer. So here are 2 of my favourite porridges. Banana and raspberry porridge and apple, sultana and cinnamon porridge (grate in your apple, add 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a handful of sultanas).

4. Toast with cashew butter and salami

IMG_0348So I saw a similar thing to this on buzzfeed about healthy breakfasts. Words cannot describe quite how delicious this is. Think heavenly savoury food loving angels singing to your mouth while you bite into warm salami goodness. Bliss.

5. Smoothies!

DSC_0590DSC_0597DSC_0585According to social media, smoothies are insanely popular at the moment. Hardly a day goes by when somebody isn’t adding a picture of a NutriBullet filled with glorious fruit to my instagram feed. You know what though? They do have a point. Smoothies are such an easy way to get more fruit (and vegetables) into your diet and they are so quick to make. I usually have mine going for a couple of minutes while I make a salad to take to work and they come out with a really creamy texture. Pictured combinations are blueberry, cashew butter, coconut milk and banana; raspberry, almond butter, banana and coconut milk; and blackberry (bramble), yogurt, banana and coconut milk. These feel so decadent and filling and the nuts add good fats your body needs to give you beautiful skin, shiny hair and they keep you fuller longer.

It’s funny how I’ve found a little time in the morning has made such a difference to my eating habits. I find I get less bloated and my moods have improved a lot. Plus I get fewer spots which is always a winner!

Cheese and chive scones

I’m sure there are times when even those with the biggest sweet tooths fancy something a bit less sugary. These cheese scones provide the perfect solution. The excellent thing is they’re cheap to make, they work well as a snack, or with soup or a salady lunch and they taste lovely. I used Coverdale cheese which is a really Yorkshire cheese to be using (D took me to the Wensleydale creamery last weekend and dopey over here picked 2 of the same cheese in her selection. Any white cheese will do – Cheddar, Wensleydale, Caerphilly or whatever you fancy.

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To make cheese and chive scones you will need:

450g self raising flour

85g butter cubed

150g white cheese (grated)

1/2 teaspoon salt

Pepper

2 teaspoons dried chives

284ml buttermilk (1 pot in most supermarkets)

A good splash Worcester sauce (or Henderson’s relish if you’re in Yorkshire)

 

Preheat oven to 220°C (200°C in a fan oven). In a large mixing bowl rub together your flour and butter to form breadcrumbs. Stir in your grated cheese, salt and pepper, Henderson’s relish and chives.

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Pour in your buttermilk and use your hands to bring the mixture into dough.

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Flatten your dough down to an inch thick and use a round cutter to shape your scones.Gather together any trimmings and reshape until all the dough is used.

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Place your scones on a floured baking tray, brush with any leftover buttermilk or normal milk and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and well risen.

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These store in an airtight tin for several days but watch out for any member or your household sneaking these whenever you’re not looking!

Chicken baked with lemon and thyme

This recipe is an absolute dream when you want something tasty and fresh but you don’t have a lot of time or the inclination to cook. In fact, it’s so good you could serve this as a lazy main course for a dinner party no problem. I like to serve this with tagliatelle or really good bread and use the lemony butter you get left as a sauce. This recipe has been so well received by everyone who has tried it; I made it for my family around Christmas and I regularly make it at home. As another positive note, the cold chicken leftovers work beautifully in a salad; limiting your food waste is always a good thing for the environment and your finances.

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To make this you will need:

1 chicken breast per person

Approx. 20g butter (slightly more if you’re making a bigger batch)

A good handful of thyme

1 or 2 garlic cloves (depending on your garlic preferences)

Paprika

Olive oil

1 lemon

Salt and pepper

 

Preheat your oven to 200°C. Trim your chicken breasts as desired and place on a roasting tray (mine was a bit big for the amount of chicken). Sprinkle over the paprika so that it your chicken is covered with a light dusting of it. Then sprinkle over your salt and pepper. Crush your garlic and distribute this evenly over your baking tray. Cut your lemon into 8 pieces and do likewise. Add dots of butter over your chicken and drizzle with your olive oil. Top the whole thing with your thyme and put it all in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes (when your chicken is cooked through basically).

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In many ways this is one of the best chicken recipes. In winter it is perfect served with hot food and in summer it would work well served with salads.

Very quick mince pies – perfect for Christmas Eve

I am a terrible girlfriend. Unbelievably so. When I first moved in with D a few weeks ago I made a grand promise of doing him a homemade Christmas cake as he is extremely partial to one. November rolled on and I kept being sidetracked. By mid December I had purchased (an admittedly rather nice) one from Lidl during a rather impractical Christmas shop. The truth is the spiced fruity baking traditionally associated with the festive period isn’t something I particularly enjoy. However, I do love the smell of it and I was happily sniffing the air. Plus they were pretty popular with D, I made them on a Friday evening and by the next afternoon 4 were gone. I also made a batch for my family (the mincemeat is enough for 2 batches made with 1 pack of pastry) and they were pretty fond of them too.

To make these you will need

1 pack pastry (makes 18 – 24 depending on your pastry cutter)

200g icing sugar

Cake cases

For the quick mincemeat (this makes 2 batches so you can keep some back in the fridge)

250g mixed fruit (including mixed peel)

4 tbsp dark or spiced rum

50g pecan nuts or walnuts (chopped finely)

50g butter

100g Demerara sugar

a pinch ground cinnamon

a pinch ground allspice

the zest of 1 orange

a peeled and grated Granny Smith Apple

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Put your dry mincemeat ingredients in a bowl. Heat the rum in a small pan until it simmers. Remove from the heat then add the butter and use the residual heat to melt. Return to the heat again briefly so that it simmers again. Pour over your dry ingredients and mix well.

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I bought ready rolled out dough (I was feeling lazy) but if not roll out your dough and cut out circles using a large pastry cutter. If you have dough left over smush it back together and roll out again to make more circles.

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Place the circles in a lined cupcake tins (I didn’t line mine at first then had to rescue them) and prick with a fork in the middle so it doesn’t puff up as much.

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Fill each circle with a teaspoon of mincemeat. Then bake in the oven for approx 20 minutes (until the pastry is golden brown).

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While the pies are cooling combine the icing sugar with water (add a tiny bit at a time) and ice your mince pies.

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Serve these bad boys with a cup of tea, coffee or a glass of mulled wine. Stored in an airtight container and they will keep a good number of days.

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Merry Christmas to all of my lovely readers. I hope you have a wonderful festive period and get everything you wish for xxx

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Butterfly cakes

Sometimes I think with baking its nice to revisit something you loved as a child. Everyone remembers having these beauties at birthday parties or when your mum or grandma fancied doing a spot of baking. Sometimes going back to old school baking is best (and makes you very popular with all involved). As a coincidence this is also one of those recipes that is ingrained into my memory (including Yorkshire puddings and oaty biscuits).

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To make your own butterfly cakes you will need:

For the cakes

4 eggs

225g butter

225g flour

225g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling

Your favourite jam

140g butter softened

280g icing sugar

A splash of milk

Food colouring (optional, but fun)

(Makes approximately 22 cakes)

 

Line a cupcake tin with cake cases. Preheat your oven to 180°C. In a large mixing bowl use an electric whisk to whisk up your eggs and sugar into a thick pale yellow mixture.

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Melt your butter and leave to one side. Fold in your flour and vanilla. Slowly add your melted butter.

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Fill your cake cases around 3/4 full. If you don’t have a enough room in your cake tins do 2 batches. Try to keep the level of cake mix consistent so they cook evenly.

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Bake for 17 – 20 minutes or until golden brown and so that a skewer comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool before you decorate them.

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To make your buttercream beat together your butter, milk and icing sugar until no lumps of butter remain. Then if using add your food colouring.

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To make the butterflies cut a small circle out of the top of each cake and cut the circle in half. Fill the hole with your jam and buttercream and use the cake pieces to make butterfly wings.

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Serve with a cup of tea or as part of an array of party food. (Presence of children entirely optional).

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Harvest crumble bars (apple and blackberry flapjacks with crumble topping)

The other week Ed and I had a very companionable afternoon picking blackberries in Harrogate. I obviously got my new jumper full of thorns and we both ended up walking home nursing nettle stings.

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Anyway, armed with a large container of frozen blackberries (or brambles as my family calls them) and some beautiful apples very kindly given to me by my mum and FN at work Harvest crumble bars were born. I took these to work earlier and they were very popular. The fruit goes nicely with the flapjack base and the colour and texture of this is simply wonderful. As this recipe uses pretty Autumnal fruit you can adapt it with any berry and apple or pear combination you fancy; you could use frozen fruit in the depths of winter too. In addition it would also work really well with rhubarb.

To make these you will need:

For the flapjack base

250g porridge oats

125g brown sugar

125g butter

3 tbsps golden syrup

For the fruit layer

5 apples (approximately)

Approx 400g berries (I used the blackberries I picked that my mum ended up freezing)

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the crumble topping

60g butter

60g Demerara sugar

75g plain flour

25g porridge oats

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a large square baking tin. Make a start on your flapjack base by melting your butter and sugar together.

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Add this to your brown sugar and porridge oats. Once this is well mixed add this to your baking tin and make sure it is flattened down evenly across the tin.

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Peel and chop your apples and cut into 1cm pieces. Add to a pan with your sugar, berries and vanilla. Cook on a medium heat until the apple is soft and the fruits have released a good amount of juice. Cool for a few minutes.

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I actually used some crumble topping I had frozen. However you make it by rubbing the butter, flour, sugar and oats together into breadcrumbs like I did in a previous crumble recipe.

Before layering up your flapjacks cook your flapjack layer for 6-8 minutes to prevent it from going too soggy. Remove from the oven. Add the fruit evenly across the flapjack layer.  Sprinkle over the crumble topping so that the fruit is lightly covered.

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Bake this for around 15 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.

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My housemate S and I ate one of these each fresh from the oven and I can assure you that they taste equally lovely hot or cold.

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Bon appetit!