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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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!

 

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!

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!

Sunday Brunch -Sweet Potato Hash Brown

Sweet Potato Hash Browns are a fab dish to help make a yummy Sunday Brunch from home.
As always, they’re super quick and cost next to nothing to make so you can then add another dish to the list of meals you have conquered as a Healthy Cook.
I gave these a go for the first time on Sunday last and was nervous about the result.
I didn’t have the normal orange sweet potatoes handy but I had the smaller, white sweet potatoes as they are currently what’s in season.
What I like about these is that they are not as sweet as the regular orange potatoes and look more like regular potatoes so the trick to the mind that you’re having something naughty kicks in again.
They are still sweet enough that you know its sweet potato though which I like because I genuinely love the taste of sweet potato.

So my usual weekend breakfast is always poached eggs and then a little bit of whatever else I fancy. If I’m feeling extra clean, it’s poached eggs, wilted spinach and toasted porridge bread or sometimes I will throw together black pudding, haloumi and poached eggs which is seriously yum!

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So last Sunday I met myself in the middle and said I would have my usual poachies but with a something a little more weekend than spinach and toast.
These homemade hash browns are popping up all over my Instagram and Facebook feed so I said I’d give them a go myself and hope for the best.
And this is what I came up with;

Ingredients

2 small White Sweet Potatoes / ½ medium – large Sweet Potato
1 small bunch Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 small handful of plain Brown Flour
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil / Coconut Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Method

Heat some oil on a pan on the hob.
While waiting for the pan to heat, peel the sweet potato and grate through a cheese grater into a bowl.
Add parsley, flour, oil and seasoning into the bowl and mix it all through.
Add a little bit more flour or a little bit more oil depending on the consistency of the mix, it needs to be sticky and binding so it will hold together.
Once you have the right consistency, take half the mix in your hand and squeeze out any air pockets.
Pack the potato mix firmly between both palms of your hands until you make a firm patty that will withhold the pan.
Repeat this step with the second half of the mix.
You can make smaller ones if you wish but I got two good burger-sized patties from the above measurements.
Slap both patties onto the hot pan and press down with a spatula.

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Cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes or when they start to turn golden brown.
I was unsure if the potato was fully cooked so I popped mine into the microwave for another minute just to be 100%.
You may not need to do this but it’s just a tip in case you’re unsure.
The hash browns are now ready to serve with whatever other breakfast ingredients you are in the mood for.
I had poached eggs with mine and the combo was really good together.
Let me know if you give them a go and what you have them with, I’m always looking for fresh ideas!

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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!

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Sweet Potato Scoops

Ingredients

1 medium Sweet Potato, washed
4 cubes Frozen Spinach
4 Tbsp. Low Fat Cream Cheese
2 sprigs Spring Onion, finely chopped
4 Bacon Rashers, diced
½ cup Grated Parmesan
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Method

Preheat your oven to 200 Degrees C and line an oven tray with greased parchment paper
Rub your squeaky clean Sweet Potato with olive oil, cut in half lengthways and wrap in tin foil.
Pop the potatoes on the tray and into the oven for 45 – 60 mins (keep an eye on them as you don’t want to overdo them, it will depend on their size how long they will take).
When they have been cooked through, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and the tin foil and leave to cool for about 10 minutes.
While waiting for the potatoes to cool, throw your diced bacon rashers onto a hot pan and cook quickly.
Transfer cooked bacon to some paper towel to absorb any excess fat.
Once cooled, cut the potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
Put the potato skins to one side.
Defrost the frozen spinach and drain off any excess water.
Add the spinach, chopped spring onion, cream cheese and cooked bacon bits to the potato.
Mix up all the ingredients with a spoon until even and stuff the mix back into each of the halved potato skins.
Sprinkle each of your potato halves with the parmesan and grill until golden brown.
Serve piping hot.

These guys are such a treat and taste a lot naughtier than they really are.
You can have them as a main meal or use one half as a side to a main dish either, it’s totally up to you!
The filling’s ingredients are also not limited to what I have suggested, you can use any number of ingredients that you like to make your filling.
Enjoy Guys!!

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