Honey & Mustard Chicken Couscous Salad

Yesterday I was indirectly challenged by Marks boss. Sounds a little weird, doesn’t it? Well he was summoned to work almost three hours earlier than expected, for yet another life and death meeting, which meant I had just 30 minutes in which to cook and pack some sort of dinner for him to take to work.

Now originally I wasn’t planning any sort of quick dinner but as it turned out I was left with no choice… I had to improvise. After a rummage through the fridge and pantry I came up with an idea, Honey & Mustard Chicken Couscous Salad. It ended up being extremely tasty so I have decided to share it with you.

Honey & Mustard Chicken Couscous SaladIngredients:

For the couscous salad:

  • 2 cups couscous
  • 1 small tin of pineapple
  • 1 small tin of garden peas
  • 1 small tin of sweetcorn
  • 150g cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of cashews nuts
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander

For the chicken:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 Knorr chicken stock cube
  • 1 Knorr 3 peppercorns flavour pot
  • 3tbsp of sesame oil
  • Pineapple juice
  • 2tsp honey
  • 2tsp Dijon mustard

You might feel the need to comment when you notice my total lack of spices. Well as I used a pre-spiced version of couscous there was no need for anything extra. If you only have plain couscous you might want to add a good pinch of salt, some fresh cracked pepper and maybe some sweet paprika.

Method:

In a small bowl mix 2tbsp of sesame oil, chicken stock cube and flavour pot until you achieve a smooth texture.

Wash and cube the chicken breasts.

Add the chicken into your earlier prepared flavour mixture and make sure each piece is fully coated properly.

Set it aside for 5 minutes or more to marinate and make a start on your couscous.

Prepare your couscous as per the packaging instructions. My one took only 10 minutes to “develop”.

Heat up a heavy bottomed pan, as you know I like to use cast iron, add the remaining 1tbsp of sesame oil and once hot pop your chicken in. Fry it for about 10 minutes, stirring or tossing from time to time to make sure all pieces are evenly cook.

Open and drain the peas and sweetcorn.

Open but do not drain the pineapple, save the juice as we will need it.

Chop the pineapple into smaller chunks if required or use them as they come if you have already bought them in chunks, roughly chop the nuts so they aren’t too big, quarter your cherry tomatoes and finely chop the coriander ready to go into your couscous.

Now for the sauce; in a small bowl mix the pineapple juice, honey and mustard; stir until all ingredients are combined.

Once your chicken is cooked (it should not take more than about 10 minutes) add the sauce and let it simmer for a couple of minutes.

Use a fork to fluff your couscous, add all the earlier chopped ingredients plus the peas and sweetcorn and once you ready add chicken, sauce included.

Mix it well and serve immediately… or like in my case put some into a lunch box ready to be munched later.

Honey and Mustard Chicken Couscous SaladMy Honey & Mustard Chicken Couscous SaladDo you like couscous?

What’s your favourite way of serving it?

Yum

Packed Lunches, Mexican Chicken and The Wrapper

Packed Lunches, Mexican Chicken and The Wrapper

I don’t know about you but given the choice I would take a packed lunch over a shop bought one any day. With so much nastiness going into our food these days it is nice to know what we are actually eating. This means making your own food from scratch from good quality locally sourced (if possible) ingredients.

A lot of people don’t prepare their own lunch. When asked why the most common answer would be lack of time and energy, lack of ability to actually cook or simply a lack of good will. Making your own lunch can be fun 🙂

A few days ago I prepared a quick and easy Mexican chicken which we used as a filling in our lunch sandwiches.

All you need is 15 minutes and you can have a tasty fresh chicken sandwich on your plate.

Ingredients:

Method:

Heat up a heavy bottom frying pan.

Cut your chicken into desired size – 1cm x 1cm cubes work for me.

In a medium size bowl mix oil, chicken stock and flavour pot.

Add the chicken chunks into the bowl and mix well massaging the flavours into the chicken.

Fry on the well preheated frying pan for 10 to 12 minutes; stir and toss well to ensure that all pieces of the chicken are cooked.

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool down a little.

Add mayonnaise and mix gentry.

Serve with your favourite bread or as an addition to salad.

My Mexicans Chicken went into a sandwich. As it contained mayonnaise I didn’t even butter the thins 😉

Then my Mexican Chicken sandwiches went into The Wrapper… a brilliant product perfect for packed lunches.

The Wrapper is a reusable sandwich wrapper. It costs £5.50 and it comes in many lovely designs. I totally love the idea behind it; no more wrapping our food in foil or paper. Now everyone has their own personal wrapper to keep their food fresh for longer.

The Wrapper is extremely easy to use:

Packed Lunches, My Mexican Chicken and The Wrapper

And if it gets dirty you simply wipe it clean 😉

Not only is it perfect for packed lunches but it also doubles as an eating mat. No more crumbs in the car; no more eating from the dirty table in the park and no more unnecessary rubbish.

I hope that The Wrapper idea takes off and it becomes a must have product in every household. Can you even imagine how many tons of rubbish we could avoid if everyone swapped to it and simply wrapped their food in The Wrapper?

Packed Lunches, Mexican Chicken and The Wrapper.

What do you think? Would you use The Wrapper in your own home?

What’s Cooking – Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup

What's Cooking - Chicken  & Sweetcorn Soup

I believe I am not the only person in the world who exhibits a particular behaviour when entering a restaurant for a repeat experience. The vast majority of people evidently do exactly the same. On an earlier visit you have a dish from the menu and it turns out to be a smash hit in flavour town and you gastronomically fall in love. Henceforth for time eternal every time you visit that restaurant you end up ordering that dish again in the hope of capturing that moment of true love, sure you may look through the menu, even hum and ha but in the end you will opt for that hope, again.

One such dish for me is served at our local Chinese restaurant, it is their sweetcorn and chicken soup, it is divine, thick, creamy and full of flavour, simply put it is heavenly and thus an inevitable starter no matter whatever else I intend to order. So as I am one of those “foodies” that truly believes that whatever I taste I can make it better myself at home as anything cooked at home has those missing essential ingredients that are rarely if ever found at a restaurant, being passion and love.

So you can imagine how I was fired up the other night when flicking through my cookbooks the other night looking for inspiration when I came across a recipe for my favourite soup, to the kitchen!

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 Chicken (with giblets if possible)
  • 1 Tin of creamed sweetcorn
  • 3 Fresh corn on the cobs
  • Couple of onions, carrots and celery stalks
  • 1 tsp of whole peppercorns
  • Handful of chopped fresh parsley stalks (save leaves for latter)
  • Couple of bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Chicken stock or water

Method:

Turn your oven on to 200C

Peel and wash your fresh corn on the cobs and then pat dry with some kitchen roll. Place on a baking tray and drizzle the olive oil over them. Give them a good rub all over to make sure the oil covers them full. Sprinkle some salt over them and pop into the oven for 20 minutes or until looking golden. Remove and allow cooling.

Whilst you corn is cooking wash and quarter you chicken and pop into a large pot. Roughly chop your carrots, onion and celery and throw them in the pot. Next our spices, so add the peppercorns, parsley and bay leaves. Finally add enough chicken stock or water to just submerge the contents of your pot and a good pinch of a nice salt crystal.

Bring to the boil and then gently simmer for an hour. Turn of the heat and leave to cool for half an hour. With some tongs gently extract the chicken form the pot and place into a bowl to drain a bit, the rest of the contents we need to sieve to remove the veggies and herbs we no longer require.

Remove the skin from the chicken and discard (unless you own a hound) and then remove all the meat and shred it into small strips and place back into the draining bowl.

With a sharp knife cut the corns from the cobs and place into a bowl.

Place the stock that is now free from any bits back into you large pot and bring back to the boil. Add one tin of creamed sweetcorn. Cook for 5 minutes and then add the bowl of chicken and any juices collected and carry on cooking for a couple more minutes. Finally add the bowl of roasted corn you have made earlier and season to taste.

Simmer for a couple of minutes and then serve and enjoy the subtle blend of flavours carried over your taste buds by a wonderfully rich chicken stock, bliss.

What's Cooking – Chicken  and Sweetcorn Soup

Now western food tastes would dictate that we should have something to go with this soup, now being a Chinese dish it is usually served on its own or as part of a larger meal. Myself I must admit to liking a nice fresh multigrain roll with lashings of butter as a partner or if you wanted to build on the corn theme of the dish some warm butter chunks of American corn bread works amazingly well! It’s like a ‘Merican and Far East Fusion thing, and it’s a marriage.

What's Cooking - Chicken  and Sweetcorn SoupWhat's Cooking – Chicken  & Sweetcorn Soup

Have you ever found a bizarre fusion of different cultural foods?

What’s Cooking – 45 Minutes Roast Chicken

What’s Cooking – 45 Minutes Roast Chicken

First, let me start with an apology – I hadn’t planned on sharing this recipe, hence the lack of more pictures, but as it came out so delicious, I really wanted to tell you all about it.

The recipe for a 45 minute Roast Chicken is loosely based on the “Roast Chicken” from “On the Table in 30 minutes – One Pot” by Parragon books. I say loosely, as I got the main idea from the book but then to make it work for me I had to change both the ingredients and the method to get it done.

So, let’s start with the ingredients:

  • 6 skinned chicken thighs
  • 500g of baby potatoes
  • 250g Brussels sprouts
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large pepper
  • 2 onions
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 2tbsp of multigrain mustard
  • 2tbsp of honey
  • 1tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 0,5tsp chilli pepper
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1tbsp dry oregano
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 240C.

Wash and peel (if needed) your baby potatoes and cut them into halves.

Chop the veggies into your desired size – I tried to make the carrots the same size as my potatoes and everything else was chopped into thick slices.

De-skin your chicken.

Prepare 100ml of chicken stock (stock cube, fresh or best of all make your own); then add to it: mustard, honey, wine vinegar, chilli pepper and crushed garlic plus a little bit of salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pan (I used my go to cast iron one). Toss in the onions and potatoes and fry them for 2-3 minutes; then add the carrots and courgettes. After a further 2-3 minutes, add all the remaining veggies – in my case peppers and Brussels sprouts. Fry them all for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Remove the veggies from the pan and place in a casserole dish, which will be suitable to go to the oven and will hold all the veggies plus the chicken.

Reheat your frying pan with some additional olive oil and start on the chicken. Please your chicken in the pan, add a generous amount of salt and pepper and fry on one side until lightly browned. Turn them over and add your earlier prepared “sauce” plus sprinkle all over with your oregano. Fry for a minute or two, and then transfer the chicken and all the sauce into the casserole dish.

Place in the oven and allow it to cook for 30 minutes.

After this time you will have one amazing dinner ready to be served.

What’s Cooking - 45 Minutes Roast Chicken

Just in case you are wondering how on earth I’ve managed to take a 30min recipe and turn it into a 45min one, I will explain… The original recipe calls for the whole dinner to be cooked in one pan (who would have thought it given the title of the book) and I simply do not own a cast iron pan to take this volume of food in one go, so I started to prepare it using two separate dishes, then decided that was a rubbish idea and just used my biggest pot I owned. Unfortunately as my decision was so late in the game I had not warmed my new pot up like I had with my two smaller pots. Therefore as my food was going from the frying pan to the cold casserole dish I needed to add some extra time to allow everything to heat up again, hence the longer cooking time. Anyway as it turned out I was saved and it worked perfectly… the chicken was falling off the bone and my veggies had still kept their shape and where just right.

Happy cooking!

Three Quick Lunches with Cherry Tree Farm

My Three Quick Lunches with Cherry Tree Farm

When it comes to food, we would all love to eat fresh, healthy, home cooked meals, but too many of us struggle to find the time for it. Home cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be time consuming. It also doesn’t have to be at a master chef level to be enjoyable. You can create a nice meal with virtually no skills and in a very short period of time. All you need is a spoonful of willingness, a smidgeon of time and a dash of imagination.

Cherry Tree Farm offered to send me a selection of their products, so I can come up with some quick and easy meal options using theirs 100% British, cooked and ready to eat meats. For this moment there is a choice of 7 lovely poultry products to pick from:

  • American Fried Chicken
  • Roast Chicken
  • Roast Chicken Chunks
  • Tikka Chicken Chunks
  • Hickory Smoked Turkey
  • Roast Turkey
  • Turkey Ham

There are a lot of dishes ready cooked meats can be used for. Today, I would love to share with you my best three lunch options. They are all quick and extremely easy to prepare; and of course taste delicious.

The Humble Sandwich - Cherry Tree Farm

The Humble Sandwich

Difficulty level: extremely easy

Skills required: none

Ready in: 2 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 x good quality soft white roll
  • 2 x slice of Cherry Tree Farm British Roast Turkey
  • Real butter

The Humble Sandwich Cherry Tree Farm

Some might say that this sandwich is a boring option… me… I love a good sandwich. Just like with any dish, it is all about the ingredients. If you have fresh, good quality ingredients, you don’t really have to do a lot more to it… let the food speak for itself.

A simple meat sandwich made with a good quality roll or bread, spread with some real butter and of course a tasty slice of meat can be extremely satisfying. And the best part is… you do not need to have any cooking skills to make it. Even if you are not so handy with a sharp knife you can prepare it… just tear your roll apart… see, no knife skills needed.

Finger Food Platter - Cherry Tree Farm

Finger Food Platter

Difficulty level: easy

Skills required: chopping with a sharp knife

Ready in: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack Cherry Tree Farm Roast Chicken Chunks
  • 25g cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • ¼ cucumber
  • Slice of bread

Finger Food Platter Cherry Tree Farm

As long as you can use the knife, you can make it. Preparation time will depend on your cutting / chopping speed but I would judge that five minutes would be more than enough time even for the most careful chopper out there.

Food platters can look lovely and are therefore very inviting. They are especially fun f you have some company joining you for lunch. Use toothpicks to move food over if you like clean hands…or feel free to dig in with your fingers… after all it is a finger food.

Chicken and Rice Salad - Cherry Tree Farm

Chicken and Rice Salad

Difficulty level: easy

Skills required: chopping with a sharp knife, cooking rice

Ready in: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack Cherry Tree Farm British Roast Chicken
  • 25g cheese
  • 2 gherkins
  • ½ tin of sweetcorn
  • 50g cooked rice
  • 2tbsp mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken and Rice Salad Cherry Tree Farm

Now, we have reached a “level 3” lunch recipe – cutting and cooking skills required. Actually, this isn’t necessary true. If you don’t know how to cook rice or want to save some time, cheat a little and use a packed, almost ready to eat rice, which you just microwave for 2-3 minutes.

Anyways, all you have to do in order to create this lovely light salad is to chop all the other ingredients, mix them well with a good spoonful of mayonnaise and flavour to taste.

I actually cut the cheese with a knife, but you might prefer the grated option. The main difference is in the taste – cheese cut into cubes will give you less but bigger chunks, meaning once you bite into it, you will taste mainly cheese; the grated option on the other hand will give you more cheese all over your salad making in general your salad taste slightly more cheesy 😉

If you have the time and are feeling brave – add some chopped boiled egg into it or a small tin of garden peas.

I like this type of salad mainly because it is rice based; it is perfect for packed lunches and keeping in the fridge for when you can’t be bothered to make anything, it will serve you well as self standing meal.

Three Quick Lunches with Cherry Tree Farm

So, there you have it… my three quick and easy lunches.

Now, it is your turn… what’s your quick and easy favourite lunch idea?