Spanish Style Chicken

I’m not sure where I first found this recipe. It started off as chicken chasseur but I think it’s changed over time too much to be called that now. It’s a brilliant comfort food, goes perfectly with mashed potatoes or rice and best of all, it’s syn free!

  • 1 kg of chicken I use legs but you can use thighs or breast if you prefer.
  • 1 Onion finely chopped.
  • 1 large leek, sliced.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • Half a punnet of mushrooms, thinly sliced.
  • 3 or 4 carrots, thinly sliced.
  • 1 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp Tomato puree
  • 400g tin tomatoes
  • 330ml chicken stock

Start off by skinning the chicken legs then brown them to seal them. Put them into your casserole dish (I use my pampered chef stone for this, it’s a good size and cooks from the bottom as well as the top)

Fry the onion and leek until softened and add the garlic. Fry for another minute and then add the carrots, parsley, tomatoes and tomato puree. Stir all together them pour over the top of the chicken. Put the pan back on the hob and pour in the chicken stock. Heat it until all the cooking juices from the pan are absorbed and then pour it over the casserole dish.

As it looks before it goes into the oven.

Cook it in a moderate oven for about an hour until the chicken is cooked through and the carrots are tender.

1 hour later.

Serve over rice (Or mashed potatoes)

Heart warming stuff.
Heart warming stuff.

Feeding the children quickly and cheaply: Smoked salmon and cream cheese pasta.

So since this new school started Mini-Me has become eligible for the free Key Stage 1 school dinners. This is helpful in so much as she’s a terribly picky eater and when it comes to packed lunches I was frequently getting her lunch bag back with everything bar a bag of crisps still in it. At least when she’s wasting food at school, it’s not costing me anything. Plus they do a few of her favourites (plain pasta, pizza… Not a whole heap nutritional but I’ll save that for another blog) We also pay for Big Girl to have a school dinner occasionally. Mainly when there’s not enough bread or time in the morning.

This is making it awkward at tea times. A couple of times something I’ve planned to feed them for tea is exactly what they had for lunch and who wants to have the same meal twice? (Granted, I could check the menu they sent me at the beginning of term, but that could be anywhere!) So I threw this together this week in about as long as it took to cook the pasta. DSC_0317

It sounds terrible decadent but it was actually a very cheap meal.

Morrisons savers pasta twists: 29p

Morrisons savers soft cheese: 52p

Morrisons savers smoked salmon trimmings: £1.49

What I actually used was half the pasta, a quarter of the soft cheese and a quarter of the salmon so full cost for 1 meal for 3 children was about 65p!

  • Boil the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  • Once it’s cooked, drain it but save some of the cooking water.
  • Stir the soft cheese through the pasta adding the cooking water to loosen it and make a sauce.
  • Stir in the smoked salmon trimmings.

The heat from the pasta cooks the salmon through but it’s not essential. Best of all, all three children loved this.

Prawn and Broccoli Pasta

This is the Husband’s signature dish. It’s not entirely SW friendly but you could sub the cream for fat free fromage frais and it would still be tasty.

  • 500g pasta
  • 8 rashers bacon, all fat removed and chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small head broccoli, broken into small florets
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 142ml carton single cream
  • 250g cooked, peeled large prawns (thaw if frozen)

Cook according to the packet instructions. While it’s cooking fry the bacon and onion for a couple of minutes, once the onion is softened add the garlic for a minute and then the broccoli florets.

Add the stock, cover and leave it to simmer for 5 minutes or until the broccoli is just cooked. Stir the prawns and cream into the sauce for a minute until the prawns are heated through. Stir in the pasta and serve.

Even the picky Mini-Me loves this one!


The Garlic Twist

This is another of our Good Food Show finds. I had a garlic press for years. I think I’d bought it when I left home at 17 and it served me well for quite a long time. Until the Husband got his mitts on it, then all of a sudden the whole thing crumbled into dust. (Or into big chunks of metal right in the food at least) He bought a cheap replacement from B&M but it was absolutely dire. The handle fell off and it never even crushed anything. I bought a slightly more expensive one from Morrisons. The handle didn’t fall off but it’s crushing action was just as dire. We tried using Lazy Garlic for a while but it just isn’t the same, and the vinegariness of it just doesn’t work on some things. It had reached the point where I was seriously considering the Pampered Chef garlic press but just couldn’t bring myself to spend £22.25 and then we came across this. Excuse my photos, I’m no David Bailey and my phone only has 2% power (Damn you Candy Crush!)

Aerial view
Aerial view



Excuse the awful American infomercial! It does show how easy it is to use though. I can vouch for it.

Although I’ve not crushed everything else suggested, I have crushed a lot of garlic in this. So has the Husband, and he managed not to break it! It’s chunky and nice to hold, it spins and minces the garlic with literally no effort. I use a small silicone spatula to scrape the garlic out and whatever is left just rinses out and it goes  straight in the dishwasher.

It’s also very pretty to look at!

Pork and Potato Salad with Spiced Balsamic Vinegar.

One of the biggest struggles I have with Slimming World is finding something to have for lunch when I don’t want to use my Healthy B on bread. I’ve dabbled in mug shots and omelettes but they just become tiresome and repetitive. Half the time I skip it because I just can’t be bothered to think of something which is a cardinal sin on the plan. Skipping meals leads to poor choices!

Well while we were shopping the other day we stopped for a quick look in the whoopsie fridge. (You know the place, where they put all the things that just have to be eaten today and label them with a bright yellow “Whoops” sticker!) depending on the time of day, you can pick up some real bargains. Being the middle of the day there wasn’t anything specifically bargainous but they did have quite a few pieces of half price deli meat. Thick chunks of things that are obviously the end of the joint that won’t go through the slicing the machine. We picked up a huge piece of pork and stuffing for a little over £2. My original plan was to slice it and put it on a sandwich for the husband but walking through the fridge area he decided to treat himself to a Heinz Ketchup Sausage Roll. (19 syns!) so I thought I’d throw something together for myself instead. I actually used less than half the meat in the bag, there was so much!

Here it is. DSC_0272

I had 3 or 4 baby potatoes left over from the night before so I cut those up and dry fried them with the pork and poured in a slug of spiced balsamic vinegar. We discovered the vinegar at the Good Food Show in the summer and it is spectacular!!

After a couple of minutes, once the vinegar had caramelised a little, I threw it all on top of a salad of Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and fresh beetroot.

It was a real treat to myself. Would I have rather had a sausage roll? Probably, but this was a damn good substitute!

Cookworks Rice Cooker

So I live with a gadget man. I don’t know if it’s a man thing, or just my Man’s thing but if there’s something electronic that will do a job then he needs it.I usually try and dissuade him by reminding him of all the things he desperately needed that now take up valuable kitchen cupboard space (retro slush maker anyone?!) but with this one, I had also been recommended by a friend so when it came up at half price in Argos I relented and agreed we could try it.

It’s a very unassuming looking gadget. It weighs practically nothing and is very similar to a small slow cooker.




rice cooker


But it is a marvellous little machine. 

As rice cooking goes, I’ve never been that great at it. I had a brief period of cooking rice like Delia. But it was far too faffy once children came along and life got in the way. So my efforts have always been either undercooked and gritty, burnt to the bottom of the pan or overcooked, sloppy and wet… And burnt to the bottom of the pan.

Rice pouches were a bit of a winner for a while but since they contain oil to keep the rice from turning into a big clump, they’re not slimming world friendly and at a pound a pouch each more or less, they’re not great for feeding a family of five on a budget. When you consider you can buy a kilo of long grain rice from Lidl for 80p!

So the rice cooker. Couldn’t be simpler to use. There are little indentations on the side of the bowl. You measure out the rice you need (Based on one cup per person although I find 4 cups between the 5 of us is more than enough) and then add water up to the appropriate indentation, stick the lid on and push the button down. No further effort needed. Once it’s finished the switch pops up like a kettle and if your main dish isn’t ready yet it has a brilliant “Keep warm” facility that just keeps it sitting there all perfectly cooked and warm.

I’ve made savoury rice with stock cubes and spicy rice with onions and spices. Not quite as good as Nandos but flavoursome nevertheless. There is even talk on some websites of cooking pasta and whole meals in them. I’ve not ventured that far yet, but never say never!

All in all a great little gadget. Well worth the £15.99, even better if you can get it for half price. And if you’re a pouch user, it will have paid for itself in about 15 pouches time! We eat rice so much more often now, which is great on slimming world because it’s free!

Town Planning

So before the summer holidays Mini-Me bought back her homework.  To build a model village. Obviously, being the calm and organised person that I am, we left it until tonight to put it all together. (I’m not a complete dunce, I’d prepared the boxes and got her to paint them a week ago.) 

Aerial view.
Aerial view.

I don’t think we did too badly really.

The high street.
The high street.

And Mini-Me is obviously completely bought buy big name brands…

The big white one is Tesco. Can you spot the golden arches?
The big white one is Tesco. Can you spot the golden arches?
We do have a nice bit of greenbelt.
We do have a nice bit of greenbelt.
Pretty windows!
Pretty windows!

As homework projects go, this wasn’t too bad. I did enjoy it. Although whenever I said the words “Model village” It made me think of detective Andy’s epic line in Hot Fuzz.


Hungarian Pork Goulash

Oh my goodness, we just tried this today and it is soooooooooooo yummy. We got the recipe inspiration from the Slimming World little book of lunches.

  • Brown 1 pack of pork steaks cut into bite sized pieces. (We used Tesco pork shoulder steaks) and put it into a casserole dish.
  • Now fry 2 finely sliced onions, 2 diced carrots, 2 chopped red peppers, and some crushed garlic. (Recipe says 2 cloves but we always add more) with a tablespoon of paprika. Now this is where we fell down slightly. There was barely a teaspoon of paprika lurking at the bottom of the jar but we did have about a tablespoon of chicken rub left so we chucked that in.
  • Add a tin of tomatoes, chicken stock and a big squeeze of tomato puree. Mix it all up in the casserole dish with the pork and then bung it in the oven for at least 2 hours.

The recipe did call for other herbs and seasonings but with using the rub we deemed them unnecessary. It also suggests serving with natural yoghurt but we don’t have any in and it certainly didn’t seem to be lacking in anything when we ate it.

I forgot to take pictures until we were sitting down and eating it so this is mine, all mixed into the rice!

I forgot to take pictures until we were sitting down and eating it so this is mine, all mixed into the rice!

This is what was left in the dish. Will make a lovely lunch on a jacket potato this week.
This is what was left in the dish. Will make a lovely lunch on a jacket potato this week.

Even Big Girl and Baby Girl wolfed it down. Expecting Mini Me to eat anything that’s not pizza or pasta shaped is just not going to happen but she did pick at a bit of the plain rice from around the edge. Happy days.

This was Mini Me's. After she'd finished eating... Just so you get an idea of how it looks to start with...
This was Mini Me’s. After she’d finished eating… Just so you get an idea of how it looks to start with…

Sausage Egg and Chips One Pot

This is a favourite of mine, it’s real comfort food and doesn’t involve standing over anything. It is meal of 10 minute intervals.

  • Peel and chip your potatoes. Place them in a pan of lightly salted boiling water for 10 mins (Or microwave them)
  • Drain your chips, pat them dry and throw them into a baking dish with your chosen sausages for 10 mins.
  • Add chopped mushrooms and halved tomatoes. (We’ve also been known to add bacon at this point as a change from sausages) for 10 mins.
  • At this point the sausages and chips should be ready. Move things around until you have 4 wells to break eggs into. Put back into the oven just until the eggs are cooked. This is about 3-4 minutes. Depending on how you like your yolks.

I like to do it in my Pampered Chef stoneware. There’s no need for oil and nothing sticks to the bottom. I also use the Tesco healthy living cumberland sausages which are 1 syn each.