Tomato and Basil Chicken with Hasselback Potatoes

Tomato and Basil Chicken with Hasselback Potatoes

Tomato and Basil Chicken with Hasselback Potatoes

This is a delicious and satisfyingly easy meal for a friends and family. It’s also a good alternative to a Sunday roast using a few simple ingredients and had immense flavour with little effort.

This ‘Tender and Crisp Chicken Legs with Tomatoes’ one-pot meal comes from Jamie Oliver and was introduced to me by my sister. The recipe uses a variety of cherry tomatoes, lots of basil and whole cloves of garlic to flavour the roasting juices. It is highly recommended that chicken legs are used for their flavour. To ensure the meat remains tender and super moist, all the ingredients need to be packed tightly into the pot/dish used. 

Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback Potatoes

When my sister makes this meal, she likes to add fresh cream to the roasting juices and shred the chicken to make a pasta dish. I decided to keep it as a roast dinner so paired it with roasted carrots and potatoes. 

To add a little interest to the roast potatoes, I decided to make ‘hasselback potatoes‘ from small salad potatoes baked with vegetable oil and finished with some butter. They are usually made with floury potatoes but I liked the look of smaller potatoes (and they cook much faster!). I cooked the potatoes for 45 minutes, adding the raw carrot batons to the baking tray for the last 20 minutes.

Hasselback Potatoes prep

Hasselback Potatoes prep

A handy hint I found online was to put the potato onto a wooden spoon to stop it from rolling around and to ensure you don’t cut all the way through the potato. What a useful cooking tip! You can add also some bread crumbs and cheese or other flavours to the potatoes to make it more of a meal, like a jacket potato I guess.

The whole meal took one hour to cook including preparation time and all the work was done by the oven. I have the say that this meal was really delicious and enjoyed by all, children and adults alike!

Goats Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Tart

Goats Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Tart

Goats Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato and Pesto Tart

This was a quick last minute starter made for a casual dinner with friends. I has originally planned to make some soup but missed a vital ingredient off the shopping list. After a quick scout around the fridge and freezer I found some puff pastry and goats cheese, so the beginnings of the tart were born!

I made some basil pesto with half a bunch of left over basil, some toasted pine nuts and olive oil (no parmesan as I had none!). All were blitzed in the blender with a little salt and pepper to taste.

Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

To assemble: Roll out the puff pastry onto a baking sheet (I didn’t line mine so it stuck a little, best learn from my mistakes!) then spread the pesto thinly onto the pastry leaving about 1cm border around the edge. Then add the toppings, I used goats cheese and sun-dried tomatoes with some extra pine nuts scattered over.

To bake: Stick it in a hot oven for 15 minutes but keep an eye on it after 10 minutes.

To serve: Cut up into slices and serve with salad (I halved some cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes and dressed them with left over pesto)

Et voila! A quick and easy starter enjoyed by adults and kids alike…

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes

Chicken Tikka and Roasted Sweet Potato

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes with yoghurt

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes with yoghurt

Another quick one-pot mid-week meal!

This is a really simple recipe using a few ingredients and made in advance ready for 45 minutes in the oven.

I bought a free range corn fed chicken and spatchcock-ed (is that really a word!) it so it would cook quicker. The tikka paste used was a shop bought ‘Pataks’ one that was rubbed all over the chicken once it had been slashed in the thickest parts (to allow the flavour to be soaked in as well as too aid faster cooking).

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes

Then a few sweet potatoes were cubed and scattered around the chicken in a roasting tin. Salt and pepper added and a little cooking oil sprayed on the sweet potatoes to help crispen them up.

After 45 minutes in 180 degree C oven, check that the chicken in cooked through. Then chop it up and serve on a bed of sweet potatoes, some cooling yoghurt, and some green salad. This dish feeds two hungry adults for dinner with left overs for lunch the next day too!

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes

Chicken Tikka and Sweet Potatoes

Simple! 🙂

 

GF and Vegan: Sweet Potato Vermicelli with Vegetables in Blackbean Sauce

Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables in Blackbean Sauce

Sweet Potato Noodles with Vegetables in Black Bean Sauce

Have you ever heard of Sweet Potato Vermicelli?! Well I’ve had this packet of dried noodles in my cupboard for about 2 years and had forgotten all about it until today. I’m not even sure why I bought it in the first place! Maybe because it is something I hadn’t tried before?  When the noodles are dry they are grey but once cooked they become clear. There are only two ingredients to these noodles; sweet potato flour and water!

Sweet Potato Vermicelli

Sweet Potato Vermicelli

After over-indulging in pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, tonight’s dinner really needed to be healthy and nutritious! So I dug out all the vegetables from the fridge and decided to make a stir fry in black bean sauce. Fermented black beans can be found in Chinese supermarkets in bottles. Ideally you would use the dried black beans rather than the bottles of ready made black bean sauce, however if you want to make this recipe super quick and easy then feel free to use bottled sauces. 

Unfortunately the packet of noodles didn’t have any cooking instructions so I decided to guess it. In hindsight, I should have just looked it up online as there are plenty of websites offering advice! Lessons learned and all that… 🙂

Sauce ingredients

Sauce ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Sweet Potato Vermicelli
  • 3tbs fermented blackbeans
  • 4 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 0.5 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbs light soy sauce
  • 1 tbs dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 tbs corn flour
  • Water
  • Stir frying vegetables (I used broccoli, courgettes, carrots and leeks)
  • Coriander (I had a bunch of stalks left over so used them)
Black Bean Sauce

Black Bean Sauce

Method

  • Boil the noodles for 5 minutes (you should then ‘shock’ them in cold water and then coat in sesame oil so they don’t get too sticky)
  • Blanch vegetables that need to be pre-cooked and set aside (I threw them in with the noodles)
  • Mix the black beans, garlic, sugar, salt, soy sauces, salt and sesame oil together in a bowl
  • Heat up the vegetable oil and and stir fry the leeks and courgettes
  • Add pre mixed black bean sauce ingredients to the pan and stir fry for a couple of minutes
  • Add water to create the gravy, thickening with the cornflour (to avoid lumps mix the cornflour with water to create a paste before adding)
  • Add the part cooked vegetables and coriander into the sauce and stir around then add the noodles, tossing it all together so all noodles are coated with the sauce
Sweet Potato Noodles in Black Bean Sauce

Sweet Potato Noodles in Black Bean Sauce

This recipe makes enough for 6 people and is super filling! The Sweet Potato noodles really soak up a lot of the sauce, so the dish ends up quite dry but tasty. I think I over cooked the noodles as they were quite sticky! This may also be because I didn’t ‘shock’ them with cold water to stop the cooking process.

Overall I’d say that the sweet potato vermicelli is a tasty a alternative for people who are looking for an alternative to wheat noodles! And since it is a stir fry, very quick to cook for a mid-week meal…

I’ve also just realised that my soy sauces aren’t gluten free! So please buy GF versions if needed! 🙂

Novelty Duck Pond and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty 'Duck Pond' and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty ‘Duck Pond’ and Farm Animals Cake

I’m super excited about this cake, even after the event has been and gone… For my nephew’s 3rd Birthday my sister and I decided to try and make a ‘duck pond and farm animals’ cake as he is obsessed with ducks and farms animals!

A quick Google and scout around Pintrest and the ideas were flowing! I’m not a huge fan of icing and marzipan or buttercream on cakes, as I prefer ream cakes that are a lot less sugary. You may have already seen from my previous cake posts that I tend to reduce the sugar in cake recipes so they aren’t so sweet and the flavours of the cake itself are allowed to shine through.

With no children of my own, I obviously have a lot more time on my hands to bake and decorate birthday celebration cakes. However I have to admit that I have no artistic bone in my body! So my cakes are quite plain and have simple (of very messy) decoration. Obviously with children’s birthday cakes it’s all about the ‘wow factor’ as they are usually much more interested in the way it looks than the taste of it! Store bough party cakes tend to be fairly plain inside, going for a jam or buttercream filling…

Novelty 'Duck Pond' and Farm Animals Cake

Novelty ‘Duck Pond’ and Farm Animals Cake

With this cake I made a stand and decided that it needed to taste really good as well as look good! So using my mum’s Victoria Sponge recipe I made the lightest of lightest cakes, making a salted caramel cream for the filling. The outside of the cake was decorated using KitKat fingers (for the fence) and coloured whipped cream for the ‘grass’ and ‘water’. The pebbles, ducks and farm animals were all made from ready made sugar pastes.

Farm Animals

Farm Animals

I’m particularly impressed by these farm animals made by my cousin, they are so cute! The sheep especially as she rolled out each tiny ball individually to get the ‘woolly’ effect.

Ducks swimming and diving

Ducks swimming and diving

My sister made these little ducks, I especially love the baby ducks and the ones that have dunked their heads in the ‘water’ so only their feet and bums are showing!

For the cake recipe, see my previous post ‘Green Tea and Black Sesame Marble Cake‘ but skip the matcha powder and black sesame powder for a plain cake, or if you want flavoured sponge just follow the recipe as is!

For the salted caramel cream I used a made a basic caramel recipe (melted sugar in a pan and added cream once melted and a pinch of sea salt) then added it to whipped cream once it has cooled.

Duck Pond and Farm Animal Cake

Duck Pond and Farm Animal Cake

I’m very proud of our team effort on this cake. Although I have no patience and vision for modelling and crafting for novelty cakes, I know who to go to if I ever need to decorate novelty cakes again!

My nephew absolutely loved his birthday cake so all of the effort was well worth it. The adults also enjoyed eating the cake itself, leaving all the sugar paste animals to one side. Mission accomplished! 🙂