Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew


Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew (1)

Chicken and chorizo is a fantastic combination – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it. To celebrate the swiftly approaching weekend, I decided to treat my husband to this – one of his favourite dishes.

Hubby loves chorizo. When I buy and slice up a chorizo ring, I always give him the raw ends attached to the string to chew on. Typing does make it sound a little as though he is a dog, but I promise he is human.

This is a really warming stew; the broth is flavoured almost entirely by the chorizo – so make sure you buy a fairly decent one, if you can afford it. The spinach and chopped tomatoes add a nice bit of health, and the butter beans make it very hearty. We had a nice loaf of ciabatta on the side of our stew, but you don’t really need it – we used it simply for its juice mopping capabilities.

This will serve 4, and take about 40 minutes to make.

Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew (2)

Chicken, Chorizo and Butter Bean Stew

250g chorizo ring

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

200g button mushrooms

1 small  glass red wine

400g tin chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins butter beans

100g spinach

1. Slice the chorizo and add put in a large casserole dish over a high heat. Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the whole chicken thighs. Cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often, until the chicken is browned.

2. Add the sliced mushrooms, then tip in the red wine. Let it boil down, then add the chopped tomatoes. Fill the chopped tomato tin with water, and add this too. Put a lid on the dish, turn down the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Add the drained butter beans and cook with the lid off for a further 5 minutes. Turn the heat off, stir through the spinach, and when it’s wilted, you’re done!

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Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake


Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake (2)

I haven’t had gnocchi for what feels like years. It’s probably only a matter of weeks, but when you’ve got a gnocchi addiction it can really mess up your sense of time. So, I had to remedy this today and made this simple yet delicious gnocchi bake.

I adore tenderstem brocolli and was delighted when I found a pack on offer (I know, I’m really sad). Although normal brocolli is great too, tenderstem is perfect for a week night meal because it cooks so quickly. You can throw it into any dish (within reason) without needing to pre-cook it.

Mushrooms and bacon are classic pairings for brocolli, so they go wonderfully together in this dish. The deep, earthy flavours compliment the gnocchi beautifully. I topped my bake with a little sprinkling of Cheshire cheese – this is a hard, mild, crumbly cheese (if you can’t get Cheshire cheese then any cheese which fits this description will do the job) which just adds another level of taste, plus if a dish doesn’t have cheese it’s not worth having!

Putting the bake under the grill for a few minutes adds a lovely additional extra texture. You have to give this one a go!

This will serve 4 and takes 30 minutes.

Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake (3)

Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake

200g smoked bacon lardons

300g chestnut mushrooms

200g tenderstem brocolli

1 small glass white wine

200g half fat creme fraiche

500g gnocchi

50g cheshire cheese

1. Preheat your grill to max.

2. Brown the lardons in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and chopped brocolli – cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring now and again, until the mushrooms have reduced in size a little.

3. Add the wine – let it bubble down a little, then add the creme fraiche, gnocchi and 100ml water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the gnocchi is squidgy to the touch.

4. Season with salt and pepper, pour into an oven proof dish and evenly crumble over the Cheshire cheese. Cook under the grill until the cheese is melted and starting to bubble. Enjoy!

Mushroom and Brocolli Gnocchi Bake (1)

Baked Camenbert


Baked Camenbert (2)

Here is a first for my blog – my husband actually put this recipe together as a birthday treat for me. It was so delicious that I had to share it with you.

If you enjoy cheese fondue then forget about all of the hassle and just have this instead. It would be a perfect treat for your Valentine’s Day meal next weekend!

The meal came from my husband asking what I wanted for my birthday dinner. We hadn’t eaten in the house for three days, so thought it would be nice to stay in, and I naturally answered his question with “cheese”.

This was a wonderful, simple treat for a birthday meal – give it a go. This will serve 2.

Baked Camenbert (1)

Baked Camenbert

2 small camenbert

4 cloves garlic

2 sprigs rosemary

1 loaf crusty bread

2 carrots

6 celery sticks

100g green 0lives

A selection of cured meats e.g. salami, chorizo

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Take the camenbert from their boxes, remove any plastic packaging and put the cheese back in the boxes. Put a sprig of rosemary in the centre of each one. Stab the unpeeled garlic cloves with a knife and place 2 each on top of the camenbert. Bake the camenbert (on a baking tray) for 10 minutes. Place the bread in the bottom of the oven to heat through.

3. Cut your carrots and celery into batons – arrange the rest of your ingredients on a board and it’s done!

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart


Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart (2)

This is the unashamed winter version of my spring tart – the same base with some lovely, warm, winter flavours to top it with.

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that it’s my birthday soon (on Monday), and in my opinion the celebrations should start today. Only one day left at work before a lovely long weekend – what better time to celebrate with a delicious cheesy, pastry based tart with the beautiful flavours of bacon, leek, walnuts and gorgonzola (and a glass of wine).

The tart is extremely easy to make. Although slightly more difficult to make than my spring tart, due to the frying of the bacon and leeks, it’s still desperately straightforward and if you’re someone who is a bit scared of using pastry, this is an excellent place to start.

The tart was given the accolade “scrumptious” by my husband, so must be good.

This will take you no more than 45 minutes to make, and will serve 4 with a side salad.

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart (1)

Bacon, Leek and Walnut Tart

375g ready rolled puff pastry

200g bacon lardons

1 large leek

200g soft cheese

1 egg

1 handful walnut halves

20g gorgonzola

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Fry the bacon lardons over a medium heat until golden. Finely slice the leeks and add them to the fryng pan; fry for another 3-4 minutes.

3. Unroll the pastry, lay on a baking tray and score all the way around the edge, 1 inch from the sides (don’t cut all the way through). Beat the egg in a bowl and brush a little around the outside edges.

4. Spread the soft cheese evenly over the inside scored rectangle of the pastry. Grind some black pepper over the top, then evenly layer on the bacon and leek mix. Sprinkle over the walnuts, and dot the gorgonzola over.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the sides are golden and puffed up.

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake


Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake (2)

Ever fancy comfort food, but not heavy carbs? Pasta is always my go-to when I want a warm, filling meal at the end of a long, cold day, but I decided to try this – a non-carb version of a macaroni cheese, to see if it could really be just as comforting.

It was!

The mixture of a rich cheese sauce with salty pancetta, earthy mushrooms and soft cauliflower really worked. You could easily make it veggie by ommitting the pancetta and swapping the parmesan, but I loved it like this. If you did want to leave the pancetta out, I’d advise using a couple of porcini mushrooms too to add the depth of flavour.

Cauliflower, for some reason, has become really popular recently as a carb replacement (e.g. cauliflower rice) and I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon, but really, in a meal like this, I can see why!

This took just less than an hour to cook, and will serve 3-4 with a side salad.

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake (1)

Cauliflower, Pancetta and Mushroom Bake

1 cauliflower

1 onion

200g cubed pancetta

200g button mushrooms

20g butter

20g flour

1 pint semi-skimmed milk

150g cheddar cheese, grated

20g parmesan, grated

1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

2. Chop the cauliflower into florets and add to a pan of salted, boiling water. Cook for approximately 10 minutes until soft, then drain and leave to one side.

3. Put a frying pan on a medium heat. Add the pancetta and sizzle until starting to crisp, then add the chopped onion and halved mushrooms. Cook for around 5 minutes, then take off the heat.

4. In another saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat then stir in the flour. Cook for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and gradually whisk in all of the milk. Put back on the heat and cook, whisking all the time, until it thickens. Remove from the heat again, stir in the grated cheddar and season with salt and pepper.

5. Take an oven proof dish and pile in the cauliflower. Drain any liquid from the pancetta and mushroom mix, then add the mixture to the dish. Pour over the cheese sauce, sprinkle over the parmesan and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden.

Mediterranean Chicken Casserole with Cous Cous


Mediterranean Chicken Casserole (2)

Because my weekend has been a bit higgledy piggledy, I didn’t do my usual weekly shop yesterday. So, today, I have been hunting through the fridge and freezer for some ingredients before I restock them again tomorrow.

In the freezer, I found some mini chicken breast fillets. Bonus! I knew I had cous cous in the cupboard; there was a jar of green olives hanging around, along with a jar of roasted red peppers, and there we had it – a meal was made.

This was also seriously easy to make and took less than 30 minutes. This will serve 4. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Chicken Casserole (1)

Mediterranean Chicken Casserole with Cous Cous

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

400g chicken breast (chicken thighs would also work)

1 smal glass brandy

400g tin chopped tomatoes

500ml vegetable stock

200g green olives

200g jar roasted red peppers

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp oregano

1 green pepper

300g cous cous

1 tsp ras el hanout

1. Chop the onion and garlic and add to a large pan with the olive oil. Cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, then add the chicken. Brown for 2-3 minutes (they don’t need to cook all the way through) then add the brandy. Allow to reduce.

2. Tip in the chopped tomatoes, vegetable stock, olives, sliced red peppers, smoked paprika and oregano. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, adding the sliced green pepper for the final couple of minutes.

3. For the cous cous, tip into a large bowl with the ras el hanout and a little salt and pepper, and add 400ml boiling water. Leave to sit until all of the water has been absorbed.

4. To serve, pile the cous cous into bowls and top with the casserole, making sure you get plenty of the juice.

Beef Penang Curry


Beef Penang Curry (2)

Fancy a smashing curry to warm the chilliest of cockles? This is the most warming, comforting Thai curry I have ever tasted, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as we did. It has the huge advantage of being ready in almost no time at all – using thin strips of good quality beef means that the curry doesn’t need slow cooking; in fact, this one is almost as fast as a stir fry!

The curry is essentially a mixture of all of my favourite spices, mixed together and mellowed with coconut milk. There is a little heat, but it is gentle rather than burning.

This would be best served with a veggie side dish – some spinach, simply wilted, would be perfect. It’s also important to make sure you have plenty of rice (Thai jasmine rice is best) to soak up the lovely, creamy sauce. Mmmm!

Try this if you’re a curry fan – I’m sure you’ll love it.

This takes 15 minutes to cook, and will serve 2-3.

Beef Penang Curry (1)

Beef Penang Curry

2 shallots

3 cloves garlic

1 red chilli

1 thumb sized piece of galangal

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp fish sauce

4 tbsps tomato puree

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground tumeric

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1 tbsp ground nut oil

45og steak, sliced thinly

400ml coconut milk

1 lime

A few basil leaves

Thai jasmine rice, cooked, to serve

1. To make your curry paste, finely chop the shallots, garlic, chilli and galangal. Place into a bowl, and add the soy sauce, fish sauce, tomato puree, lime leaves, paprika, cumin, coriander, tumeric, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Mix well to combine.

2. Heat the groundnut oil in a large saucepan. When it is hot, add the steak and brown for 1-2 minutes. Add the curry paste and mix together. Heat for another 2 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Ladle into bowls and squeeze over lime juice and tear over a few leaves of basil. Believe it or not, it’s ready!

Beef Penang Curry (3)

Bolognese Pasta Bake


We went out last night, and had one too many cocktails. We’re not so bad today that it’s a takeaway pizza night, but even so we are craving carbs and simplicity.

Pasta bake is the tonic we need; it’s comforting, familiar and has a delicious, cheesy topping which I can’t get enough of.

As I say, this is a very simple recipe and you probably have your own version. However, if you only ever use Bolognese sauce with spaghetti, think about mixing it up a bit; I promise you will enjoy this.

I like using mushrooms in my Bolognese; it compliments the deep, earthy taste and means you can get away with using less meat. In fact, thinking about it, it may be possible to make a Bolognese switching the meat for mushrooms – keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks, I’m going to try to find time to try this out!

This will serve 4, more if you have garlic bread on the side (we did, guilty). It’ll take an hour to make but only 20 minutes of actual work.

Bolognese Pasta Bake 1

Bolognese Pasta Bake

400g penne pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

500g beef mince

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 small glass red wine

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried basil

2 sprigs rosemary

250g chestnut mushrooms

200g mozzarella

50g breadcrumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, chop the onion and garlic and saute in a saucepan with the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the mince and allow to brown.

4. Pour in the red wine and allow it to reduce, then tip in the chopped tomatoes, rosemary, basil, oregano and sliced mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Add the pasta and mix well, then transfer to an oven proof dish. Cover with a layer of the mozzarella and breadcrumbs, and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes (the longer the better) until golden, bubbly and crispy.

Bolognese Pasta Bake

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn


I saw a recipe online recently – I don’t remember where – which featured pork chop served with mac ‘n’ cheese on the side. Whenever I make macaroni cheese, I serve it as a main dish by itself (throwing a few veggies in there too to make it a bit healthier – see here). I think this is because the way I usually make it, it takes quite a long time and so I don’t want to over complicate matters.

I’ve changed the recipe this time, and I’ve used cream rather than making a bechamel which, although not particularly good for you, is quick, easy and delicious and is surely fine every now and then as a treat.

The pork chops are coated in a delicious sweet and spicy marinade which cuts through the mac ‘n’ cheese and, taking inspiration from the USA as this dish does, I decided to serve it with sweetcorn. I would have gone for full corn on the cobs, but couldn’t find any in my supermarket – so, a tin had to do and it did the job well! Frozen sweetcorn would be fine too.

This is the final of my first series of Cheap Eats – I hope you’ve been enjoying them and welcome any feedback you have!

This will serve 2 very greedy people and will take 45 minutes to make.

IMG_1078

Honey Mustard Glazed Pork Chop with Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Sweetcorn

For the pork:

2 pork chops

2 tbsps runny honey

2 tsps dijon mustard

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

For the mac ‘n’ cheese:

250g macaroni

200g mature cheddar

150ml double cream

1 onion

1 small handful breadcrumbs

To serve:

300g tin of sweetcorn, cooked according to instructions

1. For the pork, mix together the honey, mustard, vinegar and oil in a bowl and drizzle over the pork chops on a plate, making sure they’re well coated. Put them in the fridge while you cook the mac ‘n’ cheese.

2. For the mac ‘n’ cheese, cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling water for 7-8 minutes. Grate the cheese and chop the onion.

3. Drain the macaroni and stir in most of the cheese, cream and onion. Season with salt and pepper, then tip into an oven proof dish. Top with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs. Either pop under a hot grill or bake in the oven at 200 degrees until golden and bubbling.

4. For the chops, put a griddle pan on a high heat. When hot, place the pork chops in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, then tip in any remaining marinade from the plate. Let it boil up, then remove from the heat.

5. To serve, pop the chops on plates and drizzle over the glaze from the griddle pan. Pile mac ‘n’ cheese and sweetcorn on the side. Delicious!

Chicken Casserole with Parsley Dumplings


Today, the weather has been atrocious. I spent the 30 minutes walking home from work getting drenched – it was too windy for me to put my umbrella up – and I got home feeling miserable and cold.

I soon cheered up, because I remembered this was on the menu tonight! Mmm, a nourishing chicken casserole packed full of veg, as good for the soul as a classic chicken soup, and topped with soft, pillowy dumplings. What’s not to like!

As has been the case with the rest of my recipes this week, this is sort of healthy – in that it is healthier than a beef stew with dumplings, and if you really wanted to, you could leave off the dumplings and just eat a gorgeous chicken casserole. I don’t understand why anyone would do this though, the dumplings are the best part.

This is part 4 of my Cheap Eats project, I hope you’re enjoying it!

This recipe will serve at least 4 and takes approximately 1 hour to make.

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Chicken Casserole with Parsley Dumplings

1 tbsp olive oil

460g chicken thighs (skinless and boneless)

1 onion

1 carrot

4 celery sticks

1 fennel bulb

10g flour

600ml chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 sprig fresh thyme

150g button mushrooms

200g self-raising flour

100g beef or vegetable suet

1 handful fresh parsley, chopped

1. Chop the chicken into bitesize pieces. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and add the chicken. Brown briefly (don’t cook all the way through), then remove from the pan.

2. Tip the chopped onion, carrot, celery and fennel to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, then return the chicken to the pan. Stir in the flour, then pour in the stock. Add the bay leaves, thyme and mushrooms, season, and bring to the boil.

3. Put a lid on the dish and pop in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.

4. For the dumpings, tip the self-raising flour, suet and parsley into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add cold water a little at a time – you’ll probably need 150-200mls total – until it forms a pliable dough.

5. When the casserole has been in the oven for 20 minutes, take it out (leave the oven on). Form little balls (about 1.5 inches in diameter) with the dough and place evenly spaced on top of the casserole. This mixture made 14 dumplings.

6. Put the lid back on and return to the oven for another 25 minutes. Yum!

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