Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Lasagne

Traditional lasagne is pretty epic, but it does no harm try new versions of things and this is pretty amazing. This was a giant lasagna, but you can reduce the recipe if you need to make a smaller one.

Ingredients

Serves 8

1Kg Chicken Breast (cut into 2-3cm chunks)

500 Grams Mushrooms (roughly chopped)

50 Grams Dried Mushrooms

200 Grams Spinach

750 Mil Milk

75 Grams Butter

75 Grams Plain flour

1 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Black Pepper

2 Tbsp Oil

250 Grams Cheese (grated, I used a mix of mozzarella and Cheddar)

1 Tbsp Rosemary (chopped)

4-5 Cloves of garlic (crushed or finely chopped)

12 – 14 Lasagna dried sheets (the type that don’t need pre-cooked)

Method

  1. Before doing anything else, place the dried mushrooms into a bowl and cover with 350 mil of warm water
  2. Add 1 table spoon of oil to a large high sided pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the chopped chicken and colour on all sides before removing from the heat and setting to one side
  3. Add a second table spoon of oil to the pan and add the roughly chopped mushrooms, cook for around 10 minutes (don’t stir too often or they will start to release water)
  4. Drain the dried mushrooms (keep the water they were soaked into one side as it will go into your sauce later)
  5. Stir in the dried mushrooms and spinach to the pan with mushrooms (it will look like it won’t fit, but it quickly wilts down
  6. To make the sauce, melt the butter, and add the crushed garlic to let it infuse and flavour the butter. Add the flour and stir well to make a loose paste
  7. Over a medium heat, gradually whisk in the milk and a water the dried mushrooms were soaked in as this will be packed with flavour.
  8. As the sauce starts to thicken, stir in the rosemary and salt and pepper (you can adjust the seasoning to your own taste). Cook the sauce out for a further 10 minutes, stir regularly until the sauce no longer tastes floury. The sauce should not be especially thick, so add more milk if you think it needs it.
  9. Pre-heat you over to 180 degrees (Celsius)
  10. In a lasagna dish, ladle in enough sauce to cover the bottom of the dish add about a third of the chicken and mushroom mix before topping with lasgna sheets. Repeat this on two more layers, making sure you ladle in liberal amounts of the sauce over the lasagna sheets
  11. Top with grated cheese and bake for 45 minutes until deep golden brown Enjoy with salad and garlic bread

Healthy Mexican Breakfast

I love a hearty breakfast, and this is quick enough for a weekday breakfast but you might prefer to save it for the weekend as it makes a great brunch/lunch dish.

I have shown quantities per person, so just up the amounts based on how many people you’re cooking for. I know we don’t usually use herbs at breakfast time, but the coriander and mint really make this delicious (I love picking this from my window box). This meal has plenty of fibre and protein and will fuel you for a good part of the day. If you are gluten free, you can swap the wholemeal tortilla for corn tortilla (just make sure to check the label, to ensure they are GF)

Ingredients (per person)

1 Wholemeal torilla

2 eggs

1/2 Avocado (diced)

6 Cherry tomatoes (halved)

1 Spring onion/scallion (finely sliced)

1 Tbsp Mint (finely chopped)

1 Tbsp Coriander (finely chopped)

100 Grams Canned black beans

Chilli powder – according to taste

1 Tsp Oil

Method

  1. Heat oil in a small pan, crack both eggs into the pan (I like to add a little water and cover with a lid so they steam fry, but feel free to cook the eggs your preferred way)
  2. While your eggs are cooking, slice the vegetables and herbs. Place the tortilla on a plate
  3. Place your eggs on top of the tortilla, and use the same pan to warm through the black beans
  4. Scatter the vegetables, herbs and heated black beans, across the tortilla and eggs and sprinkle with chilli powder (or sliced fresh chillies if you prefer) according to how spicy you like your food.

Champ and Chilli Pie

It can still get cold, so comfort food is still on the menu. This is a variation on a Shepherd’s pie, I started making this a couple of years ago to use up some leftovers.

If you’re one of those organised people who plans meals for the week then you can make the champ and the chilli for separate meals in advance and just assemble before you bake it

There’s a decent amount of vegetables in this chilli but you could also swap it for an entirely vegetarian chilli if you’re not a meat eater

Ingredients

For the champ

1kg Potatoes

250 ml Milk

5-6 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)

Salt

For the chilli

400 Grams Minced beef

1 Onion (chopped into 1cm chunks)

100 Grams Mushrooms (chopped chopped into 1cm chunks)

50 Grams Sweetcorn

2 Stalks of celery (chopped into 1 cm chunks)

1 Red Pepper (chopped into 1 cm chunks)

1 Tbsp Tomato puree

1 Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Chilli flakes (increase this if you like a hotter chilli)

400ml Passata

400 Gram Can of black beans or kidney beans

Coriander (optional, but I usually add a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander)

75 Grams Grated Cheese (I used mature Cheddar)

Method

  1. Peel the potatoes and chop into equal sized cubes before boiling in salted water until soft and then mash thoroughly
  2. While the potatoes are cooking add the milk and scallions/spring onions into a small pot and simmer over a very gentle heat
  3. Stir the milk and scallions into the mashed potatoes and mix well, check if it needs more salt.
  4. For the chilli, heat a large high sided frying pan and add the mince and allow to brown
  5. Add the tomato puree, spices and sliced vegetables and beans and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Add the passata and simmer for a further 10 – 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the chilli has thickened
  7. Transfer the chilli to a large oven proof dish and then top with the champ mix
  8. Spread the champ across the chilli with a fork, so that the top has a rough texture (this will help give a lovely crunch once its baked). Sprinkle with grated cheese
  9. Cook in an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees (Celsius) for 30 minutes

Chicken and Gnocchi Traybake

On cold days you want eat something wholesome and delicious with very little effort, and this is perfect. Roast chicken veggies and potato dumplings mmm.

What’s even better is that everything is cooked in the same tray, so you have fewer dishes to wash.

I use shop bought gnocchi, as most of us don’t have time to make them. This helps make this a really easy dish, that just needs to be assembled and then the oven does the work.

Ingredients

8 Small or 4 large chicken thighs

1 Leek (cut into chunks)

1 Red pepper (cut into chunks)

100 Grams Spinach

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Tbsp White wine or cider vinegar (I promise you won’t taste vinegar, but it will help bring out the flavours)

500 Grams Bag of Gnocchi

Salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (Celsius)
  2. Sprinkle the olive oil on the base of a large roasting tray
  3. Place the chicken, Leeks, peppers and gnocchi in the tray and sprinkle with smoked paprika, salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, and remove from the oven. Sprinkle the vinegar over vegetables and add the spinach and mix through the contents of the tray
  5. Bake for a another 15 minutes and the serve. Double check that the chicken is cooked (the juices should run clear, cook for longer if they aren’t)

Ottolenghi’s Cauliflower Cake

I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes, he does some amazing things with vegetables. He’s able to avoid the usual criticisms of vegetarian food, that it can be a bit rabbit foody and uninteresting.

While a lot of people are vegetarian for health reasons, there are times you still want something rich, unctuous and indulgent.

I’ve filed this under Pure Filth due to the amount of cheese involved. The original recipe calls for just Parmesan cheese. I didn’t have enough, so I used half strong Cheddar. This recipe would probably still work well as a way to use up cheese you have hanging about the fridge. The original recipe recommends that it should be served cold or room temperature (I’ve also eaten it hot, as I couldn’t wait on it cooling and it was yummy). I used a mix of nigella (onion seeds) and sesame seeds on the outside, but you could swap out this for just sesame seeds (I think using just nigella seeds would be too much)

Line the bottom of the cake tin and then coat the sides with nigella and sesame seeds

Ingredients

1 Cauliflower

2 red onions

1 Tbsp Olive oil

7 Eggs

1/2 Tsp Rosemary (optional)

15 Grams Basil

120 Grams Plain flour

1/2 Tsp Baking powder

1/2 Tsp Turmeric

Salt and pepper

Melted butter (for greasing)

1 Tbsp Nigella (onion) seeds

1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds

75 Grams Parmesan (grated)

75 Grams Cheddar cheese (grated)

Method

  1. Break the cauliflower into florets and simmer in hot water until soft (but not mushy), drain well and allow to cool
  2. Peel the onions, slice half the first onion into 1/2 cm thick rings and set to one side. Coarsely chop the remaining onions.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onions over a medium heat for 10 minutes, allow to cool
  4. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius), and line the base of a 24cm x 24cm spring form cake tin with baking parchment. Brush the sides of the tin with melted butter and sprinkle with the nigella and sesame seeds
  5. Transfer the cooked onions to a large bowl, add the eggs, herbs, and turmeric and whisk in the flour and baking powder
  6. Stir in the cheese, and then add the cauliflower and mix until the cauliflower is coated in the batter (be careful not to break up the florets, as you want to keep some texture)
  7. Add the batter to your prepared cake tin, making sure you spread it to the edges. Top with the onion circles you set aside earlier and bake for 45 minutes

Pierogis (Polish Dumplings)

Potato and cheese pierogi

I visited Krakow recently, and loved everything about the place. What I really fell in love with were pierogis, served in pretty much every restaurant.

Our food guide told us the it’s really common in Polish homes for members of the family to get together and make huge batches of pierogis, especially at certain times of year, like Christmas.

This weekend I got together with my Krakow travel companions to drink maybe more than we should and make pierogis.

A few cocktails while cooking with friends. If you’re entertaining family over the holidays I would recommend this as a great way to get everyone involved and keep them entertained.

Pierogis are fairly easy to make and we worked in a kind of production line which made it even easier. I would definitely recommend getting your friends together and giving communal cooking a go. By the time you chat, laugh and have a few drinks you can make loads of them. I didn’t have a recipe for these so we used the BBC Good Food recipe and the dumplings tasted exactly like what he had in Poland.

Pierogis freeze well, double up on the recipe and you can pull them out of the freezer for a quick week night dinner. You can also make a sweet version by simply replacing the filling with raw blueberries and serve topped with sour cream.

Blueberry pierogis with sour cream

Ingredients

For the dough

250 Grams Self Raising Flour (sifted)

1 Tsp Salt

3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil

250-300ml Warm Water

For the filling

250 Grams Mashed potatoes (this is a great way to use up left overs, make sure the mashed potatoes are cold before using)

50 Grams Butter

1 Onion (finely chopped)

250 Grams Cottage Cheese

Method

  1. Add the flour and salt to a bowl, add the oil and then gradually add water and mix until you have a soft dough. Gather into a ball, knead for 5 minutes, wrap in cling film. Chill for 30 minutes
  2. While the dough is resting, melt the butter in a frying pan and cook the onions over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they are golden brown
  3. Mix the potatoes and cottage cheese together and stir in two thirds of the fried onions. Mix until thoroughly combined
  4. Roll the dough out as thinly as possible (nobody wants a thick doughy dumpling). Use a cookie cutter or class to cut 4-5 cm circles
  5. Put a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of the circle and lightly wet the edges of of circle. Fold over to create a half moon and press the edges closed tightly
  6. Heat a large pot of water to just before boiling, add the pierogi, about 6-7 at a time (depending on the size of your pot, just be careful not to overcrowd the pot)
  7. When the pierogi start to float, lift out with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander. Keep cooking the pierogi until all the dumplings are cooked.
  8. Serve on a large plate, and sprinkle the remaining fried onions over the top

Jollof Rice and Chicken

There are countless versions of Jollof Rice and Chicken across Africa and the Caribbean. The are many reasons why it’s so popular, it’s quick and easy to make, it’s a one pot dish that can feed a family cheaply, and most importantly it’s really delicious.

I mean, tender chicken and really well flavoured rice with vegetables, where could you go wrong. This is also a great dish for using up odd bits of vegetables you have in the fridge

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 Large chicken thighs or 8 small ones (I use the ones with the bone in, as I think it keeps the chicken tender)

1 Tbsp Oil

2 Red peppers (cut into 1-2cm pieces)

1 Onion (cut into 1-2cm pieces)

1Tbsp Tomato puree

400 Gram Tin of chopped tomatoes

1 Red chilli pepper (finely chopped) or 1 tsp chilli powder

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

3 x Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated, I always keep ginger in the freezer. It stops it going to waste and it’s easier to grate)

250 ml Vegetable/chicken stock (I used a stock cube to make it)

325 Gram Long grain rice, dry weight (I use basmati, but other types are fine)

2 Tbsp Chopped coriander (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large flat bottom pan. When hot, add the chicken thighs and seal on both sides
  2. Add the vegetables and tomato puree to the pan and cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes, adding more water if the rice dries out before it’s cooked
  4. Check the chicken is cooked through and the rice is soft
  5. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve

Miso Sesame Chicken

The cracking recipe comes from the national treasure that is Nigella Lawson.

I have tweaked it a little, leaving out the fish sauce (only because I didn’t have any). I’ve used chicken thighs, she used a spatchcocked chicken (whole chicken with the backbone removed and pressed flat), but again this was because this what I had.

The chicken is best if you can let it marinade overnight. So if you can be organised, you’ll have an amazingly tasty weeknight dinner. This is also delicious enough to impress friends if you’re cooking for them. If you’re feeding vegetarians/vegans this marinade is also fantastic spread on slices of aubergine before roasting them.

Serves 4

4 Large chicken thighs or 8 small ones

1 Tbsp Vegetable oil

1 Tbsp Soy sauce

2 Tsp Sesame oil (use one day in the marinade and reserve one for later)

4 Tsp White Miso paste

1 Tbsp Grated ginger

1 Clove of minced garlic

1 Tbsp Sesame seeds (reserve for during roasting)

  1. Add the marinade ingredients to a bowl and stir until well combined
  2. Put the chicken thighs in a large freezer bag, pour in the marinade and seal the bag. Rub the marinade onto the chicken to make sure it’s well coated and then refrigerate over night
  3. The next day if you have time, take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you intend to cook it and allow the meat to come to room temperature
  4. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees, empty the chicken thighs into an oven proof dish (skin side up) and empty any remaining marinade from the freezer bag over the chicken
  5. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken thighs)
  6. Remove the tin foil and baste the chicken with any juices in the dish, drizzle over a teaspoon of sesame oil (a little goes a long way), and then sprinkle with sesame seeds before returning to the oven for another 10 minutes (check they are cooked by sticking in a fork and making sure the juices run clear)
  7. Remove and serve with your favourite side Asian slaw or spicy cucumber salad or just plain potato salad goes brilliantly with this

Chicken with Lemon and Orzo (pasta)

Do you hate washing dishes? me too.  What I do love are simple one pot recipes that you can throw in the oven and forget about.

Orzo before it’s cooked

If you haven’t come across orzo before, its a type of pasta that looks like big fat grain of rice.  I discovered it by accident ages ago when I wasn’t concentrating in the supermarket and thought it was rice.  It’s fantastic in soups and stews because it’s smaller than other pastas, but you can treat it like normal pasta.

Topped with lemon slices and herbs before going in the oven.

You can tweak this dish to suit what you have in the fridge.  I used thyme and dill because I had some in my window box, but use what herbs you like.  The thyme, dill and lemon gives it a really nice flavour that reminds me of Greek dishes.

Ingredients

1 large, or 2 small chicken thighs per person (I use ones with skins on and on the bone but boneless ones are fine too)

2 Carrots

1 Leek

2 Stalks of celery

350 Grams Orzo (dry weight)

800 ml Chicken or vegetable stock

2 Lemons (juice of one lemon, and the other sliced)

2 Tbsp Herbs (I used dill and thyme)

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, and heat an oven proof dish on your stove top before adding the chicken thighs
  2. Seal the chicken on each side, and then remove the thighs and set to one side.
  3. Add the vegetables (chopped into 2cm chunks) to the pan (if using skinless thighs, add a tablespoon of oil to the pan) and fry gently for 5 minutes.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed
  4. Add the orzo, lemon juice and stock to the pan and stir well to make sure any delicious chicken brown bits from the bottom of the pan are stirred into the stock
  5. Place the chicken back into the dish and top with the slices of lemon and herbs.
  6. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes

Burrito Bowl Chicken

I love the flavours in a burrito bowl, and knocked this up one evening when I was craving some Tex Mex. You can adjust the chilli depending on how much heat you like.

This is full of great colours and flavours, and loads of protein. For vegetarians, this is also a super tasty meal without the chicken.

I topped this with some grated cheese, but it would also be fantastic topped with some avocado or sour cream (or all three if you’re straying into pure filth territory).

This is also a one pot dish, so less washing up is a win win.

Ingredients

Chicken thighs (8 small or 4 large)

1 Onion (sliced)

1 Red pepper (sliced)

400 Gram Tin of black beans

100 Gram Sweetcorn (I used frozen)

1 Tsp Smoked paprika

1 Tsp Chilli powder

1Tsp Cumin

1 Tsp Salt

2 Cloves of garlic (minced)

500ml Passata

300 Grams Rice (I like basmati)

Handful of chopped coriander (optional)

Method

  1. Heat a large flat bottomed pan (you will need one with a lid or that you can cover)
  2. Add the chicken thighs (skin side down first), cook until brown, turn and seal the other side
  3. Add the onion and peppers and cook for another 5-10 minutes
  4. Add the spices, garlic, corn and rice to the pan and stir well
  5. Add the passata and a little water, cover with a lid and simmer for 5-10 minutes
  6. Stir the mixture adding more water if it needs it (the rice should absorb all the liquid, so if the rice still isn’t cooked keep adding water (a little at a time, until its absorbed and the rice is cooked)
  7. Stir in the coriander if you’re using it (I know some people detest it, so please yourself). Serve in bowls with your favourite topping or just as it is