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.

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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.

Curried Cauliflower & Potato

A hugely popular dish in its Indian Motherland, Potato & Cauliflower Curry or “Aloo Gobi” is a deliciously simple curry to whip up and is also great for those Meat-Free-Mondays or any other meals you would like to try al-veggie. I made this dish a few weeks ago and put it away in portions for lunch and ready-meals. The recipe below got me about 8 portions which is pretty great considering how little is required to put this together – you are defo getting serious bang for your buck!

Curries are such good dishes to make when you’re on a  budget or time poor and in need of something that will get that metabolism going. This one is packed with vegetables and spices so is a great all-rounder for when you want to get all your nutrients in and stay on top of your healthy meal plan.

Potatoes are a great addition to any curry, helping your curry sauce thicken and adding lots of texture. They’re also great in the classic Massaman Curry for those of you who venture to Thai cuisine for your curry fix. Cauliflower is such a superfood as it is and is welcome in any healthy meal you’re making if it fit the bill.

I also added some peas and green beans as they are a great filler for any curry. You can add other greens like snap peas, mange tout or baby broccoli too if you like 

Another great thing about this dish is that you don’t need to add a rice or noodle side-dish due to the presence of the potato and cauliflower. Now that’s not to say you can’t either – go for it if you want 

The great thing about a home-made curry is you can make it as mild or as spicy as you like so make sure to play around with the seasoning until your happy. Be careful too though as the flavour will develop as the curry cooks so try it intermittently to make sure it doesn’t get too hot for your taste buds.

Keep this in the fridge for up to 3 days and you can freeze it off too if you don’t think you’ll get through it all in this space of time. It defrosts quickly and reheats well so is an all-round great recipe for the quick and convenient health-at-home approach.

As always, enjoy my dears! xX

Ingredients

100ml Vegetable Stock in Water
1 Brown onion, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp. Tomato Puree
1 Large Cauliflower, broken into florets
1 Tbsp. Curry Powder
8 Baby Potatoes, quartered
1 cup Frozen Peas
1 cup Green Beans
1/2 Red Chilli, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Add the chopped onions and crushed garlic to a heated, oiled pot on the hob and cook until the start to brown and are aromatic (about 1-2 minutes).
Add the stock water to the pot and bring to the boil.
Reduce to a low heat once bubbling.
Add the cauliflower florets, diced potatoes and curry powder to the pot and stir thoroughly.
Feel free to add a pinch of your favourite spices at this point too – maybe some chilli flakes for an extra kick?
Let the curry mix fuse and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato purée and some more water if desired, stir through and leave to cook on low for about 10-15 minutes.
Do some taste testing during this time and add any seasoning you want to reach the perfect flavour.
Right at the end, add the peas, green beans and chopped red chilli.
Let these heat through for a couple of minutes and then remove the pot from the heat.
Your curry is now ready to serve-straight from pot to plate!

 

Roast Vegetable Lasagne

Lasagne is one of my all-time favourites comfort foods. It’s hearty and filling and packed with flavour. It’s a great one to make for meal prep too as it freezes well and one large lasagne tray can give you about 6 portions – ideal!

I have been packing in the carbs since the weather turned, I know I know, I’m so ashamed but I couldn’t fight the cravings any longer and these cold winter nights were just asking for it. So I wanted to balance out the badness a bit by adding more vegetables.

I tried a gorgeous Mediterranean lasagne in the Happy Pear restaurant during the summer and I also make a mean zucchini lasagne so I started the thought process with both of these ideas and the below was their love child.

A colourful combo of roast veg, tomato and white sauce and lots of cheese, this vegetarian lasagne alternative is definitely a Winning Winter Warmer of a meal.

It’s also economical to buy with all the ingredients coming to about €10 and its quick and simple to put together.

A basic jar of tomato sauce will do if you’re not up to making your own and I’ve also put in some different ways to create your own white sauce from scratch too if you want to keep up the healthy buzz.

I would also recommend using parmesan cheese to bank the calories but feel free to drown it in mozzarella if you so please. These sub-zero temperatures leave a little extra room for the good stuff 😉

I served mine with a few handfuls of spinach leaves and a drizzle of balsamic which went really well as a side. There’s loads going on in this dish though so it can be served on its own too if you want.

A lot of the recipes I was researching included eggplant but I’m not a fan so I didn’t use it but if you want to mix it up a little, there’s plenty more vegetables like eggplant you can use.

Whatever way you decide to make it, this dish is going to taste great and leave you feeling warm and full – enjoy!

 

Ingredients

2 Red onions, chopped into large wedges
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Green Pepper, chopped
1 Yellow Pepper, chopped
2 Zucchini, chopped
4 cloves Garlic, chopped
500 ml Tomato Sauce*
500 ml White / Bechamel Sauce*
225 grams Lasagne Sheets
50 grams Parmesan, finely grated
Salt & Pepper to taste
Dash of Olive Oil

Method

Preheat the oven to 220 Degrees Celsius.
In a large oven dish, mix all of the red onions, peppers and garlic with dash of oil and some seasoning.
Place the dish in the middle shelf of the oven and cook fr 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add some oil to a hot pan on the hob and fry the zucchini for about 4 minutes or until browned.
Transfer the fried zucchini to some kitchen towel and set aside.
After the 30 minutes, remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and add the zucchini.
Lower the oven to 200 Degrees Celsius.
If you are making your own tomato and white sauces from, do so now.
Here are the links to my own homemade sauces if you want to give them a try (the jars are usually OK too so whatever suits!)

Tomato Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/clos-bolognese-sauce/

You can just leave out the chopped veg – mushrooms, carrots and peppers. This will make a delish tomato sauce!

White Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/zucchini-lasagne/

There are a few white sauce alternatives you can use in this recipe. I also found this great link from another blogger’s website for lots of other white sauce ideas;

https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/04/white-sauce-10-ways/


 

When both lasagne sauces are ready, remove half of the vegetable mix from the oven dish and spread the remaining veggies in one layer in the dish.
Pour half of the tomato sauce over the first layer of veggies and add a layer of lasagne sheets.
Add half of your white sauce mix.
Add the remaining veggies and repeat the step of adding tomato sauce, lasagne sheets and remaining white sauce.
Sprinkle the lasagne with the parmesan.
Place the lasagne in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.
Serve your delicious vegetable lasagne with some side salad or on its own, whatever way you want – there is so much going on in this dish!

 

Root Vegetable & Potato Bake

I thought this might be a nice recipe to share with you all now that it’s coming up to the biggest dinner of the year – December 25th. These days everyone is looking to put their own individual twist on the classic meal and I thought this was lovely way to cook your vegetable and one of your many potato side dishes. Lets face it, there is always about 3 or 4 different types of potato sides on an Irish Christmas Dinner Table.

Now the only advice I can offer with this one is that you should only commit to it if you’re ready to slice all those veggies and not lose patience half way through. I used my Slicer Dicer so I didn’t have that worry – use one if you can, it will literally halve your preparationn time.

Christmas is such a special time of the year and I hope you all have some family or friends at your dinner table to share the day with. Hosting the Christmas Dinner is no easy feat, I have only done two in my lifetime so far and no matter how many helpers or time you give yourself, we all know it is a serious day of preparationn and timing accuracy.

I look forward to Christmas dinner in my family’s home so much every year, my mother always does such a stand out job. My sister and I missed a few Christmas’ over the past number of years from living abroad and it meant so much for us all to sit around together last year for the first time in 5 years.

With the Turkey and Ham usually being the main event, I’m sure many of you will agree that the side dishes that come with the meat are crucial and have to be delicious and plentiful. No amount of roast potatoes will ever be enough on the Christmas table 🙂

This veggie bake is rich and indulgent and has a great Christmas taste to it with the hint of nutmeg. Any root vegetables or potatoes can be used for this dish once they slice thinly for you and are suitable for baking, below can just be a serving suggestion.

I have a few more Christmas side dishes to share with you between now and the big day so keep an eye out if you feel like doing something a little different this year. You can also eat more of these sides too seen as they’re on the “clean” side 😉

Ingredients

2 Carrots
2 Rooster Potatoes
2 Parsnips
1 large Sweet Potato
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
300 grams White Sauce*
70 grams Parmesan, finely grated
½ Tsp. Ground Nutmeg
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celsius.
Rinse and peel, top and tail your vegetables accordingly.
Using a good, sharp vegetable knife or a vegetable slicer (love mine), thinly slice each of your root vegetables.
Grease a medium sized oven dish and layer up all of your root vegetable slices.
Prepare your white sauce as directed in whatever recipe, jar or packet you are using.
Here are a few ways to make your own white sauce;

White Sauce:

https://clodaghscountertopblog.wordpress.com/2016/05/27/zucchini-lasagne/

There are a few white sauce alternatives you can use in this recipe. I also found this great link from another blogger’s website for lots of other white sauce ideas;

https://www.thehealthychef.com/2013/04/white-sauce-10-ways/

Just before you finish the white sauce, stir in the nutmeg, crushed garlic and desired seasoning.
Pour the white sauce over the layered root vegetables making sure it reaches all the corners of the dish.
Sprinkle the parmesan on the top.
Add the dish to the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and the top layer is golden brown.
Serve the bake as a side dish to any main meat, poultry or otherwise and maybe some steamed greens.
This veggie bake is really rich and creamy and such a good comfort food, It works as a great accompaniment to roast chicken (that’s what I had it with) and I bet it would be a great festive side to serve up over the holiday season.
Enjoy All! xx

Clo’s Chicken Pie

Happy New Year to all you Lovely Humans! If you are reading this, I hope you have read some of my other posts and if so, I would like to first of all thank you for even bothering 🙂 This blog started as something to do at the weekends, to share my love of cooking and develop my knowledge of healthy food, its benefits to my health and how to make it good enough to eat. I honestly have no idea if people are even reading it so if you are, thank you.

One of my 2017 Resolutions is to develop this blog more and explore other ways that I can share the benefits of healthy eating – and healthy cooking – with you all. I am almost finished a course in Nutrition and Food Science that I have found so informative and interesting. I have been jotting down so many new ideas for The Countertop so “watch this space” – lots of exciting posts and delicious recipes will be coming your way in 2017 if you stick with me.

So, I thought I would kick of the New Year with an easy one – the humble Chicken Pie. If like me, you are not fully ready to dive feet first into Clean January but want to ease yourself in instead, then this recipe is perfect! This pie has all the elements of an indulgent meal but it is in-fact quite the opposite. When you break it down, the ingredients are all generally very healthy – chicken breast, spinach, almonds. Yes, the pastry might be a tad indulgent but when weighed out against the rest of the ingredients you will have nothing to feel bad about. The trick here is the mixture’s sauce. It will look and taste like you’ve landed a pint of double cream over the chicken pieces when you have really just combined some yummy almonds and chicken stock together! I was very excited when this experiment worked and the result really is delicious.

It would be a great Sunday Dinner if you are at a loss as to what to cook today. It is a simple recipe with a truly comforting and tasty end result and will help you settle into Sunday evening nicely.

So I urge you all to give this one a go – a true comfort food to get us all back on track for a brand new year full of possibilities! xx

Ingredients (Serves 4)

320 gram Ready-Made Puff Pastry Roll
3 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breast Fillets
2 cups Fresh Spinach Leaves
60 -80 grams Almonds
500 ml Chicken Stock in Water
1 Tbsp. Corn Flour
1 Brown Onion, coarsely chopped
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
Dash Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to season
1 Tsp. Dried Parsley

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celcius.
Grease a small-medium size oven dish and put to one side.
Chop the chicken fillets into small chunks.
Heat the olive oil on a frying pan on the hob.
Add the chopped onion and chicken pieces to the pan and fry until the chicken is cooked through and has browned.
Remove the pan from the heat.
In a food blender, processor, Nutribullet (whatever you have available), add the chicken stock, crushed garlic, almonds, dried parsley and seasoning.
Blend this mixture until it becomes smooth and creamy – add a little more almonds or stock until you reach your desired consistency.
Once you are happy with your sauce, return the frying pan to the heat and add the sauce.
Reduce the hob to a medium heat and stir the filling consistently for about a minute.
It is at this stage that you can use your own judgement – if you think the mixture needs some corn flour to thicken or more seasoning etc, play around with it at this point.
Once you are happy with the mixture, stir in the Spinach leaves and remove the pan from the heat.
Roll out the pre-rolled pastry and cut it out to cover the oven dish – leaving an extra few centimetres to cover the edges.
Pour the chicken filling from the pan into the oven dish.
Cover the mixture with the puff pastry, securing it tightly over the edges of the dish.
Place the dish on the middle shelf of the oven and cook as per the pastry’s cooking instructions (about 40 minutes usually).
Once the pastry has cooked through, remove this delicious pie from the oven and serve.
This will go great with many different sides. Try some fresh salad, sweet potato fries or steamed broccoli.
Delish!

 

Metabolic Monday – Mexican Bean Chilli

This Bank Holiday Monday was about getting super productive in the kitchen for me. Trying to find the time and energy to cook up all the yummy ideas that have been swirling around in my head the last few weeks has been next to impossible so I promised myself I would take this Halloween Day and dedicate it to my darling little Countertop that I love so much.

It’s funny, I’ve missed being able to post fun photos and yummy recipes the past couple of weeks and I have had the best day just cooking away in the kitchen today, splashing sauce everywhere and stirring in all this love I have for cooking into the big pot on the hob.

It’s so great to enjoy something so good for you this much, I really do love creating and cooking these meal ideas and I especially love sharing them with you all. I’ve felt so guilty the last couple of weeks about how little time I could give to the Countertop so today really was a good day. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend the day off.

I wanted my theme of recipes today to keep us all hot and fired up now that “Winter Is Coming” 🙂 My grocery shop this morning had lots of chillis and peppers and metabolism-friendly vegetables and there was an array of yellows, oranges and reds covering my trolley – the perfect colour scheme for the last day of Autumn and of course, Halloween.

A cheeky weekend of fun and food requires a sincere apology to my gut-health and I thought what better way to say sorry but with a nice, spicy vegetarian chilli. Lots of plant-based goodness combined in a large pot with lots of spice and flavour – the digestive system’s dream!

If you fancy a meat free feast that will leave you all fired up then give this baby a lash!!

Ingredients

1 large Brown Onion, chopped
½ Red Chilli, finely sliced
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
50 ml Vegetable Stock in Water
½ tsp. Chilli Powder (personal preference here)
1 Tbsp. Tomato Puree
1 Tbsp. Paprika
1 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
1 400g can Red Kidney Beans
1 400g can Cannellini Beans
2 Carrots, sliced
1 Red Pepper, sliced
1 Yellow Pepper, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
Method

Heat the stock water in a large pot on the hob.
Saute the onion, garlic and fresh chilli in the stock water for about 5 minutes.
Add your tomato puree, paprika and chilli powder to the mix and stir for about two minutes.
Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes, rinsed and drained beans and sliced vegetables.
Stir the whole lot until all the flavour are combined together.
Add some salt and pepper to taste to your liking (add more chilli if you’re like me and cant get enough).
Lower the heat on the hob, cover your chilli pot and let the mix simmer for about 20-30 minutes – until the veggies are tender.

This dish is absolutely packed with fiber and carbohydrate (don’t worry, it’s the good kind you get from your veggies) so I haven’t served it with anything – just chomping down on a nice big bowl of chilli here while I type this but if you do want to add a little something, I would recommend serving it with some brown rice.

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!


 

Honey Soy Chicken

So we are well into Autumn at this stage and I have lots of new recipes I want to share with you all. I’ll admit I have been a bit neglectful of my Countertop as life has been pretty hectic the last couple of weeks. But the dust has now settled and I am back sharing with you all my latest flavour favourites.
We all associate Autumn and Winter with big steamy bowls of stew and soup and as much as I love these kinds of dishes and have shared my take on some of these with you already, I thought I would take a little detour and share with you one of my top ten favourite meals. I know my Aussie readers will like this one as Japanese food is so popular on that side of the world and you guys are also just coming into your Summer months and wont be cooking any soups any time soon! We are not jealous at all over here are we??!! 

It’s clear to you guys by now that I am a bit obsessed with Asian food. The flavours are amazing and they’re usually very easy and economical to cook so for me, it makes so much sense to love this food!
Although I have yet to master Japanese dishes, this one I found to be so easy and just so good to taste! Honey Soy Chicken or Teriyaki Chicken upholds the Japanese cooking ethos perfectly with clean, basic flavours and ingredients that combine to give you an amazing fusion of flavour and taste with the finished product. I was so pleasantly surprised when I started researching this dish at how simple and minimal the ingredients were.

It makes for a great meal prep dish as it has a great balance of protein, carbs, fats and lots of veggies. I made 5 portions and froze them off, taking one out each night for a week of work and it was such a nice lunch! Plenty of envious faces in the canteen.

This is a good one for newbies at the meal prep game or even the Asian cooking game as the flavours are not too overpowering or spicy.

All in all its just a fab dish and you just have to try it out for yourselves!!
As always, I would love and feedback you might have or photos of your finished product so don’t be shy!

Ingredients

450 grams skinless, boneless Chicken Breasts
1 clove garlic, crushed
200 ml Soy Sauce
90 ml Honey
3 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
2 cups Brocolli Florets
1 Green Pepper, sliced
1 Red Pepper, sliced
1 Brown Onion, sliced
200 grams Brown Rice, uncooked
100 grams Red and Black Quinoa Mix, uncooked
Dash Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

In separate pots on the hob, follow the instructions on both the brown rice and quinoa mix and cook both accordingly.
Heat the olive oil on a large frying pan or wok.
While waiting for the oil to heat, dice your chicken fillets into nice, bite size pieces.
Add the chicken to the frying pan and start to cook, stirring consistently.
Add the crushed garlic, salt and pepper to the chicken.
As the chicken starts to brown, add the soy sauce, honey and sesame seeds to the pan and stir to evenly distribute.
Continue to cook until chicken is cooked thoroughly.
Using a tongs, remove your chicken pieces but keep the honey soy sauce in the pan.
Reduce the heat to low.
Check your rice and quinoa, how are they doing?
Add your peppers, onion and broccoli to the pan and toss through the sauce to coat evenly.
If the chicken drank up a lot of the sauce, feel free to add a dash more of both the soy sauce and honey.
If the pan you are using has a lid, cover your pan and leave to steam/simmer for about 5 minutes.
If it doesn’t have a lid, transfer the whole mix to a pot that does have a lid and then steam/simmer for about 5 minutes.
The trick is to cook the veg for as little as possible to retain as much nutrition as possible.
As soon as they soften, remove from the heat.
Your rice and quinoa should be also done by now.
Add the quinoa with some salt and pepper to taste to the rice and mix thoroughly.
Quinoa and brown rice are a brilliant combination of carbs to keep you feeling full of fiber and energy.

The quantity of ingredients above should get you about 4-6 portions of this delicious dish.
Fill either your plate or lunchbox with ¼ rice, ¼ chicken and ½ veg and you have got yourself a well balanced and seriously tasty meal.

Bangin’ Blackbean Burgers

The idea for this recipe came from a few different sources over the past couple of weeks.

My sister and I visited The Happy Pear café in Greystones, Co. Wicklow a few weeks ago where they were being served and although I didn’t order one on my visit, I saw plenty of other people get them and they didn’t last long on their plates.

I’ve also been looking into ways to introduce new sources of protein other than chicken and turkey onto my plate and plant-based proteins and legumes kept popping up in my research.

This research also ties in with the new list of foods I can and can’t have due to my extensive food allergies and it ticks all the boxes!

Several Food Bloggers that I admire and take inspiration from have also tried their hand at this recipe so I figured I’d review several versions of this recipe and create my own.

 So I had the packet of black beans sitting in the pantry for the last couple of weeks and just couldn’t seem to find an appropriate time to try these bad boys out. The last few weeks and especially weekends have been pretty hectic for me with work and social plans and I wanted to dedicate my whole self to this experiment. The perfect opportunity came up at the weekend when a long lost friend made last minute plans for a flying visit and I decided to treat her to something special and homemade instead of heading out for dinner. I spent most of the Saturday morning prepping and tasting and setting and they were ready to cook just in time for my dear friend to arrive.

 We enjoyed the burgers with a lovely spiralized salad, sweet potato fries and a cool, crisp glass of white wine while we caught up with each other.

They were absolutely delicious if I do say so myself and I had a really strong feeling of fullness when I was finished, which is always a good sign!

IMG_1389

Ingredients

200 grams dried black beans, rinsed and strained
1 Litre of boiling water
Dash of Olive Oil
1 medium – large brown onion
1 clove Garlic
2 Carrots
½ cup almond flour, rolled oats, breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
½ Tsp. Ground Coriander
½ Tsp. Chili Flakes
¼ Tsp. Cayenne Pepper
Salt & Pepper to taste

To Serve:
Sliced tomato, grated cheddar, gem lettuce leaves, red onion, burger bun or whatever other condiments you like to serve with a burger patty.

Method

Add rinsed black beans to a large pot on the hob, add water and cook the black beans according to the packet instructions.
While waiting for the black beans to cook, chop the onion and garlic very finely and place to one side.
Shred or grate the carrots and also place to one side separate to the onion and garlic.
Combine herbs and spices in a small bowl and mix together.
Heat olive oil on a frying pan and once hot, add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
Once the onion is translucent, add shredded carrots and spice mix and cook until carrots are soft.
Remove pan from the heat.
When the black beans are cooked, rinse and drain and pour into a large mixing bowl.
Mash the black beans using a potato masher and add the contents of the frying pan.
Also add the soy sauce and almond flour/rolled oats and combine the entire mix thoroughly and evenly.
Create 4-6 burger patties depending on how big you want them by taking a large chunk of the mix and forming the patty in your hand.
Wrap each patty in cling film and place in the fridge for about 1 – ½ hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes to set.
When ready, heat some oil on a frying pan again and cook each patty for about 4-5 minutes each side.
Once cooked and heated through, remove from the heat and serve as desired.

Spiralized Squash Spaghetti

I have had this recipe in my head for months now and I have finally gotten around to trying it out! I did give it a go a good while back but the way in which I cooked the squash did not turn out so good and I really didn’t like the end result. I had boiled the spiralized squash and then added it to the pan to sauté with the seasoning but it just didn’t work and the squash tasted mushy and yawk! So I dumped it and left this one on the side line for a while.

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So I picked up some squash last week as I was in the mood for squash soup (post coming soon) and thought I would give my squash spaghetti another go before I whizz it into a soulful bowlful of squashy goodness. I thought about my favourite way to eat squash usually and it was of course, roasted with some oil and garlic so I thought I would apply the same concept to my spaghetti. Let me tell you the result was simply gorgeous! I absolutely devoured the full bowl of squash spaghetti and had to go out and buy more for my soup! This is a really great way to substitute regular pasta and is so filling. As this is only the basic spaghetti recipe, you can vary the seasoning and other meal components to this once you have mastered the spaghetti part! I have visions of roast pepper pesto with chicken and sundried tomatoes tossed through the spaghetti or a rich mince Bolognese piled on top.

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I strongly urge you to give this one a go if you’ve got the Spiralizer or any other kitchen appliance that does a similar job like a Julien. If you do try it and put your own spin on it, I’d love to hear what you teamed it with and how you got on. Leave any comments or suggestions you like below.

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Ingredients

1 medium – large Butternut Squash
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic
Salt & Pepper to taste
Additional Seasoning if desired

Method

Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Celcius.
Line an oven tray with parchment paper and grease with some oil.
Top and tail the butternut, cut in half from top to bottom, peel off the skin and de-seed.
Using your Spiralizer or Julien or whatever appliance you opt for, create your spaghetti.
In a bowl big enough to fit all the spaghetti, toss this through with the olive oil and seasoning.

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Spread the squash spirals out on the oven tray and pop in the oven to roast for about 15 minutes or until the squash starts to brown.
Give the tray a shake to turn the squash half way through yto ensure even cooking.
Once the squash is cooked to your satisfaction, serve it as you would regular spaghetti.
If you want to add any more ingredients like a protein, more veg or a sauce, you can do so at this point.
Serve and enjoy.

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Hot Salmon Salad

I have been eating copious amounts of chicken recently so I wanted to switch over to something lighter for a change and I thus thought of salmon fillets. Salmon is one of the only fish I can now have on my new list of allowed foods so I wanted to play around with it a bit and not just steam it with some veg every day.
Salmon is such a great protein to put on your plate with its vast amount of nutritional value and super health benefits. Salmon’s high omega 3 content is one of its most notable attributes. Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to the healthy function of our brain with salmon being commonly referred to as “Brain Food”. This can also assist with the healthy function of the cardiovascular system, bone joints and an overall feeling of wellness.
Oily Fish that are high in omega 3 such as salmon are also said to contribute to the reduction of heart disease, cancer, depression, high blood pressure and arthritis.

Salmon is also crazy high in protein so it is an excellent choice when filling your plate with a healthy meal that will fuel you and keep you full for hours. There are 20 grams of protein in every 100 grams of salmon which is pretty awesome!
I have to say, in this recipe I cooked up 250 grams of salmon and had to divide the finished meal into two portions as I was absolutely full to the brim half way through! Anyone who eats with me will tell you that’s pretty hard to accomplish!

So with all my recipes, I wanted to get a bit creative but make sure I would be satisfied and full after I’d eaten. I also had to be mindful that I had to stick to the list of allowed foods to make this a dish I could share with you all but also enjoy myself as part of my diet.

The end result was my Hot Salmon Salad that was really delicious, easy to make, cheap to shop for and kept me full all evening – everything Clodagh’s Countertop is about! Hope you like it 😉

Ingredients

125 gram approx. fresh Salmon Fillet
100 grams dried Quinoa*
300 ml Vegetable Stock
1 ½ cup Frozen or Fresh Spinach
½ Fresh Red Chili
1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

*I actually used the Tesco 60 second microwavable pouch of red quinoa and bulgur wheat for this and it worked perfectly but use the above size portion if you are cooking from scratch.

Method

In a pot, bring 300 ml vegetable stock to the boil and add the dried quinoa.
Cook quinoa in the stock as per packet instructions until all the water has been absorbed.
While the quinoa is cooking, steam the salmon fillet until cooked through.
I use the microwave steam bags for about 4 ½ minutes with some lemon juice but you can also use the more conventional method of using the steam pot on the hob.
To do so, add some water to a pot and place the steam pot over the water.
Carefully place the salmon fillet on the base of the steam pot above the boiling water and place a lid over the steam pot.
Steam the salmon fillet for about 5 minutes or until cooked through fully.
If using frozen spinach, add this to a pot of boiling water on the hob and cook through for about 3-4 minutes. Drain.
If using fresh spinach, also add to a pot of boiling water but only cook for about 1-2 minutes and drain.
In a bowl, add the cooked quinoa, salmon and drained spinach.
Add soy sauce and seasoning and toss until evenly mixed.
Thinly slice the red chili and deseed then garnish your salad with it.

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This can be enjoyed immediately and piping hot and can also be eaten later when warm or even cold – whatever you fancy!