Creamy Spinach & Garlic Chicken

Next up for a fresh and healthy 2017 is this delicious oven bake. With all the usual suspects in the line up – spinach, garlic, parmesan, this chicken wonder will leave you feeling full and satisfied. I have used coconut cream as the healthier alternative to regular cream here and it worked a treat but as always, this is more a guideline than a recipe so feel free to use whatever cream or cream alternative you want.

I loved making this dish as it was super easy to put together. I stormed home tonight after a full on day at work and big gym sesh and almost fell over with exhaustion but knew that dinner had to be cooked and was glad I had planned ahead with this one. I popped the oven on to preheat, prepared the chicken and the cream sauce as per the method below and threw this yummy looking dinner into the oven. Now with 40 minutes to kill, I got myself organised for tomorrow, showered and into my pjs and was back in the kitchen just i time for the oven timer to tweet.

And now I’m sitting here after enjoying this delish dinner telling you guys all about it and encouraging you to add this to your meal plan this week. Cheap and cheerful, this one is defo for the clean and healthy January menu.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

1kg (6-8 pieces) bone-in, skin-on Chicken Thighs
2 cups Fresh Spinach
1 can (330 ml) Coconut Cream
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. Shaved Parmesan
1 Tsp. Corn Flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a blender, processor or Nutribullet – whatever you have available – add the coconut cream, spinach, garlic, parmesan and seasoning and blend together until smooth and creamy.
Put the cream sauce to one side.
In a large pan, heat some olive oil and add the chicken thighs with the top side facing down.
Sear the thighs until brown and sealed and then turn them over.
Repeat the above step with this side of the thighs.
Once the chicken thighs have been sealed, place them bottom side down in a large oven dish.
Remove any remaining oil from the pan in which you seared the thighs and add the cream sauce (don’t wash the pan as it will be full of rich flavour from the chicken).
On a low heat, gently stir the cream sauce and add the corn flour to thicken.
Once the cream sauce has heat through, pour it over the chicken thighs waiting in the oven dish.
Add a sprinkle of seasoning over the chicken and place the oven dish on the middle shelf of the oven.
Leave the dish to bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
Once thoroughly cooked, remove the dish from the oven.
Using a tongs, remove the chicken pieces from the dish and serve as desired.

Advertisements

Balsamic Brussels with Pancetta

One of my most vivid memories from when I was growing up is how much I absolutely HATED Brussel Sprouts and how they just had to be an obligatory element to the Christmas Dinner. There was no getting away with it at our table – if you wanted more roast potatoes or stuffing, the penalty was the consumption of “one or two more” of the dreaded greens. And now it couldn’t be more different – I almost look forward to the Sprouts the most! It may be a growing-up thing but I’m not the only one who feels like this. Over many-a-Christmas Dinner conversation, several of my friends and peers have the same memory. Now, lots of them still feel the same about the Sprouts but plenty will also admit how much they love them now.

It maybe that I have incorporated so many greens into my meals the past couple of years that I’m not even thinking about all those Christmas’ being bribed into eating them or the fact that they are one of natures little wonders when it comes to nutritional value. Brussel Sprouts are seriously good for you!

My mother and I were chatting about her plans for the Big Day’s Dinner and she was looking for some inspiration to jazz up the traditional. She loves her Sprouts too so I suggested this recipe to her. I told her she would have to watch out for the post so Mam, I hope you’re reading 🙂

Ingredients

60grams Diced Pancetta
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
300grams Brussel Sprouts, halved
60ml Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp. Real Butter
125ml Water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a pan and add the pancetta.
Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the pancetta is crisp and golden.
Remove the pancetta from the pan but keep the oil in the pan.
Add the remaining olive oil to the pan.
Place the halved Brussel Sprouts flat-side down on the pan in one layer and cook on the medium heat until slightly brown.
Add the water to the pan, cover and simmer for a few minutes until the sprouts become soft and tender.
Add a little extra water during this time if it starts to evaporate.
Remove the Brussels from the pan and set to one side.
Add the Balsamic vinegar to the pan with the remaining oil and any water.
Boil the vinegar until it resembles a syrup and has reduced to about 2-3 tablespoons.
This should only take about two minutes approx.
Return the pancetta and the sprouts to the pan and toss them through the Balsamic reduction.
Add salt & pepper to season.
Serve lovingly.

Simple Sunday Tray Bake

This recipe occurred to me by total accident and extremely unfortunate circumstances last Sunday. I made it home to my home-house for the first time in months and was so excited about my mothers Sunday dinner. My darling mother could sense the anticipation and even made double the provisions so that I could take some leftovers back to Dublin with me for a yummy Monday lunch in work.

After our dinner, I soon hit the food-coma stage and decided I had better get on the road sooner rather than later before I get too lazy to go anywhere so I jumped into the car and headed home…FORGETTING THE LEFTOVERS!! By the time I realised, it was too late and words cannot describe the devastation I felt!

So, me being me, I had it in my head what I wanted for lunch in work on Monday and was adamant to replicate the Sunday dinner but in an easier (lazier) version as it would be late on Sunday evening after a busy weekend that I would be throwing this together and I wanted as little effort as possible.

While daydreaming about food (as usual), I took the wrong exit off the motorway and ended up outside a Supermarket that was open late, “it’s a sign” I thought so I ran in and grabbed some provisions for my vision!

I eventually got home, turned on the oven and the result was actually a masterpiece – and took little or no effort whatsoever! Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner – Literally!!

This one is barely a recipe but brilliant all the same so give it a go next Sunday and reap the rewards of a really yummy and easy Sunday dinner.

Ingredients

8 Chicken Thighs (on the bone is better for flavour but it’s up to you)
900 grams / 1 large head Brocolli
750 grams baby potatoes, washed
250 grams Basil Pesto (homemade or ready-made depending on energy/hangover levels)
Olive Oil Spray
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
In a large oven dish, place your chicken thighs and spray with some olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper.
Place dish in the middle tray of the oven and leave to bake for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.
About 20 minutes into cooking the chicken thighs, take out the tray and pour the baby potatoes onto the tray, distributing them evenly with the chicken thighs.
Spray and season the potatoes and pop back in the oven to cook.
Put a pot of water on the hob to boil and add the broccoli florets to the water to cook for about 3-4 minutes.
Strain the broccoli and leave to one side.
When the chicken and potatoes are almost cooked with about 5/10 minutes to go, add the broccoli to the tray and pour the pesto over the whole tray.
Place the mix back in the oven and finish cooking for about another 10 minutes.
When you’re satisfied that the chicken and potatoes have been cooked through, remove the oven dish and serve!

Simple…As…That!


 

Saucy Spinach & Artichoke

If I’m honest, I actually created this sauce with absolutely no thought process at all. I came home from work last week and just pulled whatever I had in the fridge out and somehow this was the end result.
So when a colleague of mine asked me what it was the next day for lunch, I actually had to think about it and remember how I made it.
It just shows how robotic the daily grind can be I guess!

When I was trying to remember the thought process behind it, I remember thinking that I couldn’t face another bowl of wilted spinach – as much as I love a good bowl of spinach with my protein of the day, I have been eating copious amounts of the stuff these past few weeks to build up my immune system and overall greenness now that we are heading into Autumn.

IMG_1421 - Copy

So instead of pouring the usual boiling water over my pot of spinach, I emptied a jar of artichoke hearts in olive oil in instead and sprinkled with some seasoning and crushed garlic.
I whipped out the hand blender and before I knew it, I was heating up a fabulous fusion of greens and garlic to pour over steamed salmon and new potatoes.
All I can say is that this meal did not last long on the plate and luckily I had used lots of spinach so there was enough sauce leftover for another two portions. This made me very happy.

The sauce keeps well in the fridge and can be reheated either in the microwave at work or on the hob at home, whatever you’ve got time for.
It goes ridiculously well with salmon but I also lashed it through some penne pasta (like a pesto almost) and it was uber delish!

It’s a really tasty way to get your greens in if you’re not their biggest fan but want to up your game.

If you do give it a go, let me know what you teamed it with for some inspo of my own!

IMG_1423 - Copy

Ingredients

100 grams Fresh Baby Spinach
1 jar Artichoke Hearts in Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil from the jar
1 Clove Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Strain the jar of Artichoke Hearts but save the oil as it can be reused.
Add all of the ingredients listed above into a large bowl.
Using a hand blender, blend all of your ingredients until it reaches the desired consistency,  I like to leave mine a bit pulpy or unblended for extra texture but of course, it’s up to yourself how far you want to go with it.
When you’re happy with the consistency, transfer the sauce from the bowl to a hot, oiled frying pan and stir quickly for a few minutes until it has been cooked through.
Pour this over cooked salmon or chicken or whatever way you like and enjoy a healthy serve of green goodness that tastes incredible and makes those run-of-the-mill dinners taste a whole lot better

IMG_1424 - Copy

Steamed Hake & Greens in Broth

We recently went to a beautiful seafood restaurant on Dublin Bay called The Bay (https://bay.ie/) and it was simply delicious.
I am a huge seafood fan and their menu was really great, there was so much I wanted to choose from but I settled on the old reliable hake and veg.
Little did I know I was about to have one of the nicest serves of hake ever and so today I wanted to recreate this gorgeous and seriously simple dish so I could relive how good the meal was but by adding my own twist.
This is a great meal to make if you fancy something light and if you have not got much time left in the day. It takes 5 minutes to prepare and 5 minutes to cook so it really does take no time at all to come out with a restaurant worthy dish that will leave you feeling really satisfied.
I hope you enjoy it and even if you don’t want to make it at home, you should check out The Bay as it’s well worth a trip out.

Ingredients

200 gram fillet of Fresh Hake
½ cup Asparagus, chopped in thirds
½ cup Bok Choi, Thinly sliced
½ cup fresh Baby Spinach
1 cup Green Beans
1 cup Mange Tout
500 ml vegetable stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
Knob of Real Butter
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice

Method

Add all your green vegetables to a pot and pour over the vegetable stock.
Bring the pot to the boil then reduce the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes – DO NOT OVERCOOK – The green veg can overcook very quickly and turn to a very unsightly colour so keep an eye!
(As you can gather, this has happened to me and it was devastating!)
While your veg is cooking, add your hake fillet, salt, pepper, butter and lemon juice to a microwave steam bag and pop in the microwave for 4-5 minutes.
I use steam bags a lot for cooking fish as it retains all the moisture and they are just so quick to use, they are well worth picking up in the store.
Drain the green veggies and add to your serving bowl.
Keep the stock that the veg has been cooked in and add the juices from the steam bag to the mix.
Add the hake fillet to your serving bowl also.
Allow the vegetable stock and juices to fuse and add some salt and pepper to taste.
Once you’re happy, pour the broth over the hake and greens and allow the ingredients to sit on the broth.
Serve and enjoy – I bet there won’t be a drop left!

The Salad Bar – Sweet Potato & Fig Salad

I ordered this salad in a bar in Australia a few years ago and have been obsessed with it ever since.
It’s such a simple combination of ingredients but I would have never thought to combine them and now I’m so glad I have because the taste is something serious.
With its sweet against salty combination, this salad will certainly satisfy your taste buds and also impress your friends at that Summer Barbeque.

Ingredients

100 grams Fresh Baby Spinach
1 medium Sweet Potato, diced
1 cup Greek Feta, diced
1 cup Dried Figs, halved
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Olive Oil Cooking Spray

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 Degrees C and cover an oven tray with greaseproof paper.
Spread out the sweet potato cubes on the tray and spray with olive oil.
Pop the tray in the oven and roast the cubes until cooked through, about 20 minutes usually.
Remove the sweet potato from the oven and leave to cool for about 10-15 minutes.
While you’re waiting for the cubes to cool, add spinach, feta and figs to a large salad bowl.
Add the balsamic vinegar and toss.
When the sweet potato has cooled, add this to the salad bowl and give it another toss.
Pour yourself a glass of wine, grab a fork and sit out the back to enjoy.
Hashtag Summer 🙂

Feature Fit Food #2 – Spinach

Spinach, in all it’s dark green glory, really is a super Superfood.
This leafy green vegetable is bursting with nutrient richness and so many health benefiting properties.
Although some would say it’s an acquired taste, spinach is certainly a vegetable that everyone should try to incorporate into their diet and this post is going to give you a few reasons why.
I myself am one of this Leaf’s biggest fans using it in almost every meal in some form and go through bags of it in my weekly grocery shop.
You can buy spinach in its fresh form from the vegetable aisle but I also always keep a big bag of frozen spinach in the freezer to use in cooking.
When it comes to my diet, the more spinach the better and here are a few facts to show you why.

Below is the Nutritional Information Per 100 grams of Fresh Spinach:

Calories

23 g
Fat 0.4 g
Cholesterol 0 g
Sodium 79 mg
Potassium 558 mg
Carbohydrate 3.6 g
Dietary Fibre 22 g
Sugar 0.4 g
Protein 2.9 g

To summarise the above table, Spinach is basically class! It’s low in Fat and Cholesterol and high in Potassium, Protein and Fibre.
Along with these rich properties, Spinach is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Studies have also liked Spinach to have some anti-cancerous properties also.

The nutritious properties of Spinach does not stop there though. There is a whole host of other vitamins and minerals that Spinach has that only adds to its superness!

Per 100 grams of fresh spinach, there is 187% of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin A.
Vitamin A provides certain health benefits such as immune support, eye health, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

There is also 9% RDA Of Calcium which is crucial to bone health and brain-to-body communication.

With 40% RDA of Vitamin C, Spinach is a great way to increase your intake of this highly important vitamin. Vitamin C provides support for the growth and repair of tissue, repair of wounds and also helps produce Collagen.

100 grams of Spinach packs in 15% RDA of Iron too which is essential for healthy blood in the body. There is also 10% RDA Of the ever-important Vitamin B6 which we need to release energy from our food and reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Last but certainly not least, there is 19% RDA of Magnesium. Magnesium is an under-rated mineral that provides so many health benefits including tissue repair, immune support, heart health, diabetes prevention and some studies also link good levels of magnesium to a lower level of depression and headaches.

So I think it’s safe to say from the above that Spinach really is a super food and the more we incorporate it into our diet, the better off we’ll be.

Check out a couple of my recipes that include Spinach under the “Green” category and keep an eye out for more to come!

IMG_0999

 

Zucchini Fritters

These guys are a great way to get some additional veg into your diet without chomping down on the same old salad every day.
There’s a little bit of preparation involved but they taste great and look great too.
Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable and is defo one of my faves so here is the latest creation I could think up for you guys.

Ingredients

1 large zucchini, topped and tailed
1 medium potato, peeled
1 brown or white onion, peeled and chopped
¼ cup wholemeal flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C.
In a large bowl, grate your zucchini and potato and mix together.
Transfer the mix to some paper towel and squeeze as much moisture as possible from the vegetables.
Dry them out as much as you can and pop them back in the bowl.
Add the flour to the mix to help absorb the moisture and throw in the onion.
Add salt and pepper and stir the mix thoroughly .
Add the beaten egg and cover all of the mix in the egg.
If the mix looks too runny, add a little bit more flour to help it solidify.
Heat the olive oil on a pan and take a handful of the mix in your palm to create a patty.
Pop the patty on the pan and repeat 3-4 times until the pan is full.
Cook the patties on each side for about 4-5 minutes and transfer to a foil lined oven tray.
Repeat this until all of the mix has been used up.
Pop the oven tray with all your patties into the oven and let them finish cooking in there for about 20 minutes.
Keep an eye on them though as you don’t want them to burn.
Remove from the oven and enjoy piping hot!

Zucchini Fritters can be used as a side dish in a main meal or as the main component also.
They can be eaten as a vegetarian alternative to a burger patty in a bun or whatever way you like to enjoy a burger.
They go great as a side with the Stuffed Peppers I posted about the other day too if you want to create a very fancy looking and really healthy dish.

*Tip: If you are lucky enough to own a Spiralizer like me, you can also spiralize the zucchini and potato and even the onion if you like instead of grating them.
Use the small noodle blade if you do go down this road.
Your fritters will look even extra awesome!

The Salad Bar – Tomato & Chick Pea Salad

This is such a good On-The-Go salad to have made up or it can be used as a side dish to a main meal.It takes 5 minutes to put together and tastes fab. Its super filling and packed with fibre too.

Ingredients

1 tin Chick Peas
6 small – medium Tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Turmeric
1 Tbsp. Cracked Black Pepper
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Sprig of Fresh Parsley

Method

Empty the tin of chick peas into a colander and rinse thoroughly.
Leave to one side and let the excess water dry off.
Chop the tomatoes into quarters and add to a large mixing bowl.
Finely chop the fresh parsley and add to the bowl along with the pepper and turmeric.
Add the chick peas and the olive oil to the bowl now and then mix it all up so that your seasoning and oil covers the
tomatoes and chick peas evenly.
Easy Peasy!

Green & Greek Yogurt Dips

If you are trying to make a few small changes to your diet but still find yourself unsure with certain condiments such as salad dressings,
what oils to use, full fat or fat free, this post might be able to help out a bit.
An ideal way to swap out the Ceaser or sour cream is to whip up some Greek Yogurt with a few other ingredients to fuse together a fine substitute.
Greek yogurt is a staple in my diet and I try to use it wherever possible. Below are a few ways I dress it up to make it even more delicious and versatile.

Avocado and Greek Yogurt Dip and Dressing

Ingredients

1 Avocado
150 grams (low fat) Grek Yogurt
1 Clove Garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Sprig Fresh Parsley

Method

Throw all of your ingredients into a food blender or processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.
That is literally it!
If you want to use this as a salad dressing, just add the juice of another 1/2 lemon and 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil to the ingredients list.

Cucumber Dip / Tzatziki

Ingredients

1/2 regular Cucumber, chopped
150 grams (low fat) Grek Yogurt
1 Clove Garlic
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Sprig Fresh Dill
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Combine all your ingredients in a blender or processor until even and smooth.
Done!
This one goes great with lamb or in a wrap.

Yogurt and Mint Dip

Ingredients

1 cup Fresh Mint
150 grams (low fat) Grek Yogurt
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

You’ve guessed it – Throw it all in the blender and whizz until smooth.

I also like to add some garlic and herbs to his one and marinate some chicken fillets in it.
After about 4 hours of marinating, place chicken fillet in the oven and bake.
Guilt free and gorgeous!

Brocquettes

One of my favourite kitchen hobbies is to try and make healthy food as appealing as possible as this helps create the illusion that you’re indulging when really you are still eating mindfully.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of the cheat meals but I also love to find ways to transform healthy food into those old Friday night favourites.
These baked broccoli croquettes are a brilliant example of this and taste great with a range of dips and sauces. Enjoy!

IMG_0559

Ingredients

250 grams of broccoli florets
1 finely chopped spring onion
70 grams grated cheddar cheese
30 grams bread crumbs
2 beaten eggs
Salt & Pepper to season

IMG_0560

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with some greaseproof paper.
Steam or boil the broccoli for 2-3 minutes, rinse under cold water and leave to drain.
Chop the broccoli until very fine then mix in the scallion, cheddar, breadcrumbs, eggs and seasoning.
Mix thoroughly until even.
Taking a small handful of the mix, shape into little cylindrical bite size pieces and place on your baking tray until all the mix has been used.
Bake for about 18-24 minutes until golden brown and serve with your favourite sauce.

If, like me, you want to stay away from bread wherever possible,
you can also use some breadcrumb alternatives such as milled almonds or milled oats.

IMG_0561

Zucchini Pasta

Seriously guys, I cant praise this stuff enough – it’s a game changer!
If you’ve read my Kitchen Essentials post amongst others, you’ll know how
deeply in love I am with The Spiralizer.
The dish I make the most with my Spiralizer is definitely Zucchini Pasta.
Like regular pasta, it’s so versatile and convenient to make. You can have it
so many different ways so it’s a dish that is hard to be bored of and you can
have some fun in the kitchen too trying out different sauces and other ingredients.

I benchmark my servings on about 1 medium zucchini per person which is ideal for upping your green intake every day.

IMG_0562

You simply chop off each end of the zucchini and swirl it through the Spiralizer using either the thin or thicker noodle blade, depending on preference.
Place he zucchini in a pot of water and bring to the boil. Cook for only 3-5 minutes.
After straining, there is an optional choice to add the zucchini to a hot, greased pan and sauté for 1-2 minutes but you don’t have to.
Once cooked, leave to one side until your pasta sauce or whatever ingredients you’re using are ready.
Serve your zucchini pasta and its accompaniment as you would a regular pasta dish and enjoy a clean, green, wholesome meal.

Here are some of my absolute favourite ways to serve Zucchini Pasta;

Zucchini Pasta tossed with Mozzarella Pearls, Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic Oil.

12383620_1640308509554449_1967778829_n

Zucchini Pasta mixed with Fresh Basil Pesto and grated Parmesan.

Zucchini Pasta served with Turkey Mince Bolognese (see my upcoming post on my homemade Bolognese sauce for deets).

Zucchini Pasta with Goats Cheese, Mushroom and Broccoli.

12960154_875468332561849_131174149_n

Zucchini Pasta with Pancetta, Garlic and Parmesan.