Friday, 17 January 2014

Chipolte Chilli and Honey Chicken.

I am going to be honest with you for a second, OK?

I am not a very good cook, I can bake with the best of them, whip up a cake in a flash; sans recipe, fiddle with ingredients and understand the results, even create my own recipes with success! But when it comes to savoury things, sauces, meat, casseroles, stews etc... I am hopeless.

I never seem to get the flavours right, and the end results is always a little disappointing. I have a few recipes down, a basic tomato sauce, bolognese, lasagne (basically adaptations of that basic tomato sauce). But go beyond that and I struggle. On weekends when I have lots of time I tend to cook from scratch but on week nights I just don't have the time or energy to handle disappointing food.

So, I have no shame in admitting I turn to packets and spice mixes for help. My chilli and enchiladas rely heavily on Old El Paso, yes I add some extra chipolte paste for heat and some garlic, because I love garlic and add it to everything. No shame in my game.

One of my resolutions for this year is to conquer mexican food from scratch, but until then, my trusty Old El Paso friend will remain in my cupboard for those midweek burrito cravings.

I have blogged recipes with their spice mixes before (Turkey Enchiladas), and Old El Paso kindly offered to send me over some of their new casserole mixes to try out. The Smokey Chipolte Chilli and Honey one leaped out at me instantly, the smokey quality of chipolte chillies speaks to my soul.

I changed the recipe slightly to accommodate fussy eaters and what I had in my cupboards and it worked like a dream!

print recipe
Smokey Chipolte Chilli and Honey Casserole
Ingredients
  • 6 large Chicken Thighs
  • 2 small Sweet Potato
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 1 small Red Onion
  • 1 packet Smokey Chipolte Chilli and Honey Casserole mix
  • 150g Passata
  • 150ml Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 2 cloves, diced Garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Chipolte Paste
  • A good squeeze Lime Juice
Instructions
I started by browning the chicken in a hot griddle pan, this crisps up the skin a little.I placed the chicken in a casserole dish (with a lid), and scattered over the roughly chopped veggies.In a jug I mixed the spice mix, water, passata, honey, chipolte paste and garlic to form a sauce.I poured the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, and placed the casserole dish (with the lid on) in a hot oven (180C) for 1 hour and 30 minutes.I took the lid off the dish and popped it back in the oven for 10-15 minutes.Once cooked I topped with a good squeeze of lime juice for freshness. I served with brown rice and sour cream.

My chipolte paste was homemade by steeping dried, de-seeded chipolte chillies in boiling water then blitzing into a paste. I have seen it in sainsburys though. Its not necessary in the recipe though if you can't find any.

I got this beaut of a casserole dish from TK Maxx before Christmas, its amazing! I am scouring pinterest for more casserole recipes to try, link em up below if you have any good ones.

So, packet mixes? Yay or nay? Opinions welcome.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Grapefruit and Olive Oil Loaf Cake

Rain, rain go away, I've had enough of the wet socks and frizzy hair combo that makes coming back to work after Christmas a real joy, OK?

Seriously 2014, you are not off to a great start so far.

As a pale, autumn-loving red-head it is not often that I crave sunshine, but this week I am craving its warmth and happiness.

What better way to cheer myself up and introduce a little sunshine to my insides than bake this cake! Grapefruits are bright little balls of happiness, with their jewel-pink interior and deliciously fragrant zest, they can be a little bitter on their own, but in this cake; heaven.

This is another gem from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. I have about 25 recipes bookmarked to try!

Once again I played with the recipe a little, mainly down to the fact I didn't have some of the ingredients. I never have buttermilk, and usually I substitute milk with a little lemon juice, but this time I didn't even have that! So I used yoghurt thinned with a little milk. Ideally I would of used natural yoghurt but all I had to hand was a vanilla crunch corner.... It totally worked though!

print recipe
Grapefruit and Olive Oil Cake
Ingredients
  • 190g Plain Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Grapefruit Zest
  • 195g Caster Sugar
  • 120ml Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Bicarb of Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Grapefruit Juice
  • 80ml Yoghurt (thinned with a teaspoon of milk)
  • For the Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
  • 80ml Grapefruit Juice
  • For the Glaze
  • 120g Icing Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Grapefruit Jucie
Instructions
Start by rubbing the grapefruit zest into the sugar with your fingertips. This releases the oils and gives a big ol' punch of flavour.Next add the olive oil and the eggs, whisk to combine.In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. In another bowl (I know, a lot of bowls, sorry) combine the yoghurt and grapefruit juice.Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the sugar/oil/egg mix, starting and ending with dry.Once everything is combined, pour the batter into a greased loaf tin.Bake at 170C for 45mins - 55mins. Check after 45 with a skewer, if it comes out clean then it is done.Pop the cake out of the tin and sit on a cooling rack. I would recommend putting a tray or greaseproof under the cooling rack, as things are going to get sticky.Put the syrup ingredients into a small pan and heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Prick a few little holes in the top of your cake, I used a cocktail stick for this. Then slowly pour over the syrup.Once the cake is fully cooled, you can whip bu the simple glaze. Add the grapefruit juice to the icing sugar and stir.Pour the glaze over the top, et voila! Done!

I am ridiculously proud of these photos, I am steadily getting to grips with my new camera. What do you think?

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Peanut Butter Sandwich Biscuits

2014, how did that happen? I swear it was 2011 5 minutes ago! Like most people around this time I am thinking about being a bit healthier, new year, new start and all that nonsense.

It's all a load of rubbish really, why should you suddenly change in January? Why not any other month of the year? I suppose it gives us all a legit reason to scoff all the Christmas chocolate before the new year with no guilt. Anyway, as much as I may hate the stereotype of being "good" in January, I am jumping on the bandwagon. You all know I did Weight Watchers last year for around 6 months and lost just over 2 stone. It all fell apart in July, and over the passed 6 months I have put about half of it back on. To be honest I am pretty happy with how I look, I do just want to try and get fitter and healthier, rather than lose weight.

Before diving head first into the big bowl of salad that is January, I wanted to bake something suitably sweet to see out the year in style. I received the Smitten Kitchen cookbook by Deb Perelman for Christmas, which by the way is brilliant. I had bookmarked a few (read: alot) recipes to try but this one stood out the most. Mainly due to the fact Whole Earth sent me a whole bunch of peanut butter before Christmas (Thanks guys!)

I tweaked the recipe slightly, not because I thought I could improve it but due to the fact I didn't have all the ingredients to hand and I was waiting in the house for parcel deliveries. Luckily they still turned out pretty great.

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

print recipe
Peanut Butter Sandwich Biscuits
Ingredients
  • 115g Butter
  • 225g Whole Earth Organic Peanut Butter (smooth)
  • 195g Caster Sugar
  • 1 (large) Egg
  • 250g Plain Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • A pinch of Salt
  • Chocolate Spread
Instructions
1.Put the butter and peanut butter into a bowl and mix until fully combined and soft, there should be no lumps. I used my stand mixer for this and left it going for around 4 minutes.2. Next add the sugar, mix until combined. 3.Then in goes the egg, once again mix until combined. 4. Finally, in goes all of the dry ingredients, mix until you can no longer see any flour. You should have something resembling a rough dough at this point. 5. Pop the dough in some cling film and put it in the fridge for at least an hour. 6. Once the dough is nice a chilled you can get rolling. I divided mine into 4 smaller balls, as space is an issue in my kitchen. 7. Cut out your desired shape in multiples of two, I had 40 biscuits, so 20 sandwiches. My biscuits were around 0.7-0.8mm in depth. 8. I popped the cut biscuits on a greased tray and put them back in the fridge for 20 minutes, this helps to stop them spreading too much. 9.Cook at 170C for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. 10. Cool on a wire rack completely before assembling. 11. To Assemble spread some chocolate spread on one of your biscuits, then sandwich another on top. Et voila! Sandwich biscuit!

I got a fancy pants new camera for Christmas which I have had so much fun playing with, this is the first recipe I photographed using a proper camera as opposed to my Iphone... Can you tell?

If anyone has any great camera advice or tips, please share as I am a total novice over here.

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