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One Pot Chicken Casserole

Monday 21 September 2015
The weather has definitely changed to blustery and much cooler as we usher in Autumn.  Comfort food has been craved this past week and will continue to be a feature on our Meal Plans until the Spring.  I do love dinners that can just bubble on the stove, or cook in the oven with minimal preparation and fuss.
Evenings are busy in our household with after school activities, homework, and the general humdrum of weekdays.  Dinners of course need to be nourishing and also quick and easy.  This casserole is comforting and suitable for us all, including bubs, and takes a little preparation before it bubbles away on the hob until we are ready for dinner.  Perfect!

Chicken Casserole - Serves 6

1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons oil
8 - 10 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine
400ml chicken stock, made with 1 stock cube
2 tsp dried mixed herbs 

Put a large casserole pan over a low heat. Add the oil, garlic. onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens and the carrot and celery have started to soften. Increase the heat to medium/high then put the chicken into the pan, skin side down, cooking for 5 minutes (or until the skin is golden and crispy), before turning over and cooking the other side for a further 5 minutes.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, wine, stock, and add the herbs. Bring the pot to the boil, increasing the heat if necessary. As soon as the pot comes to the boil, put the lid on, reduce the heat, and simmer for 60 - 90 minutes. Should you want to thicken the sauce, put 1 or 2 tablespoons of corn flour into a small cup and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of cold water, stir until smooth then add to the casserole. Stir gently and the sauce should thicken. I usually serve this casserole with a large helping of steamed greens and mashed potato.

Courgette, Sausage, and Rice Stuffed Squash

Sunday 13 September 2015
I was delighted to be asked by Debbie and Andrew's Sausages to create a harvest themed recipe to celebrate their #MakeMySausage Competition.  

They're inviting everyone from food bloggers to sausaholics to describe their perfect sausage – something out-of-this-world fantastic – a sausage dreams are made of, following Andy Bates mantra of ‘quality ingredients, freshness and superb taste’.

Debbie and Andrew's will choose their favourite entry and get to work making the winning sausage dream come true, using only the best British meat, made from farms that meet the Red Tractor standard.

The winning sausage will be sold during the 2016 roadshow, reaching 500k people around the UK. The winner will also receive one pack of their winning flavour, and a years supply of Debbie and Andrew's sausages of their choice! Enter here or post your entry on twitter with the hashtag #MakeMySausage

Our favourite Debbie and Andrew's sausage is the Harrogate 97% Pork Sausage which is wheat, gluten, and dairy free.

We have had rather a lot of courgettes to use up in our late Summer harvest and I was fortunate to be able to purchase a couple of small round squash from the local market for a very good price.  I decided to combine the two with some other delicious ingredients to make Courgette, Sausage and Rice Stuffed Squash.  A delicious dish to usher in the start of Autumn whilst using up the last of some Summer produce.  

My husband and I devoured this dish for a hearty lunch, with plenty of leftovers stashed in the freezer, so it would easily feed all 6 of us for dinner.  Quick to make, filling and thrifty, a great weeknight or weekend dinner option when it's chilly outside and comfort food is required.

Courgette, Sausage, and Rice Stuffed Squash

2 or 3 small round squashes, depending on how many people you are feeding
6 good quality pork sausages
2 large courgettes, finely sliced
2 peppers, finely diced (any colour will do)
2 tins chopped tomatoes, I used 440g tins with added chilli but plain would be fine
1 pouch microwave rice, I used wholegrain brown rice

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C/Gas Mark 6/400F.  Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper.  Slice your round squash in half.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in the centre.  Rub a little oil onto the cut surfaces of the squash then place face down on the baking tray.  Bake for approximately 30 - 45 minutes or until the squash is tender.
Whilst the squash are baking, make the filling.  Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins into a large pan set over a moderate heat.  Break the sausage meat up as it cooks, you want a fairly fine mince like consistency.  Once the sausage is no longer pink, add the finely sliced courgette and diced pepper, cook until tender.  Pour in the tinned tomatoes and add the pack of cooked rice.  Cook for 5 minutes until slightly thickened.

Spoon the filling into the squash halves.  Sprinkle over some grated strong cheddar then bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling, the filling has heated through, and the squash are really tender.  We served ours with a large helping of steamed greens.

** Commissioned Post **

Our #thriftyorganic Meal Plan for this week

Sunday 6 September 2015

I was delighted to be asked to compile a thrifty Meal Plan for Organic UK to celebrate Organic September which is part of the Organic Trade Board’s ongoing ‘Organic. Naturally Different’ campaign I've joined in with their #ThriftyOrganic challenge and swapped my regular weekly shop for an organic one, to see how much of a difference there is in cost and taste.

We grow as much of our own organic produce as possible and it does taste better, perhaps due to the work that went into producing it, or maybe because it has been freshly picked.  At the moment we've got an abundance of late summer produce so I have included some of that in our Meal Plan this week.

A budget of £80 was set to feed all 6 of us this week, using as much organic produce and products as possible. I have supplemented our shop with homegrown produce such as greens, salad, herbs, and foraged berries and other fruits.

Breakfasts will be porridge with apple compote, made with apples from the trees in our back garden.

Packed Lunches will be Versatile Vegetable Pasties with homemade hummus and vegetable crudites, yoghurt with homemade fruit compote and a small baked treat.

Bubs and I will be having Root Vegetable and Red Lentil Dhal and Red Lentil Bolognese for our lunches at home.

Weekend Lunches will be Mini Frittatas and Twice Baked Potatoes.


Green Goddess Pasta - Meatfree Monday

500g organic wholewheat pasta
380g organic chickpeas, drained (reserve 80ml chickpea water)
80ml olive oil
juice of 1 organic lemon
200g orgaic spinach
100g organic kale
2 handfuls fresh basil leaves
4 cloves organic garlic, peeled and minced
75g grated cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to packet instructions.  Whilst the pasta is cooking make the sauce.  Put all the ingredients in a power blender or food processor in the order listed then blend until smooth.  Add a little of the pasta cooking water to thin the sauce if necessary.

Drain the pasta, pour over the sauce and mix to combine.  Serve with a little finely grated parmesan and sliced cherry tomatoes if you wish.

Roast Chicken with steamed greens and roast vegetables

Chicken Soup packed with vegetables and added brown rice to fill us up

Muffin Tin Chicken Tarts with steamed greens and baked potatoes

Sausage, Summer Vegetable and Potato Traybake 

Onepot Vegetable and Chickpea Curry

Brown Rice and Vegetable Bake

Shopping List

32 items: £80.20

Packets and Cereals
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Porridge Oats (750g)                                          £3.20
1x   Doves Farm Organic Fine Plain White Flour (1Kg)                              £1.75
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Fairtrade Golden Granulated Unrefined Cane Sugar (500g)       £1.10
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Brown Rice (500g)                                              £1.45
1x   Crazy Jack Organic Red Split Lentils (250g)                                       90p
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Wholewheat Fusilli (500g)                                   £1.05

Dairy and Eggs
2x   Sainsbury's Organic 2% Fat Natural Yogurt (500g)                              £2.40
4x   Sainsbury's Organic Fresh Whole Milk 4 Pints (2.27L)                         £7.40
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Butter - Unsalted (250g)                                      £1.60
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Grated Cheddar (200g)                                       £3.70
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Woodland Free Range Mixed Eggs (12)              £3.70

1x   Sainsbury's Organic Garden Peas (750g)                                           £2.20

Tins, Jars & Cooking
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Chopped Tomatoes in Tomato Juice (400g)         80p
3x   Sainsbury's Organic Chick Peas in Water (380g)                                £2.25
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Naturally Sweet Sweetcorn (150g)                       65p

Fruit and Vegetables
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Full Flavoured Garlic Bulbs (3)                            90p
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Salad Spring Onions (100g)                                85p
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Mixed Peppers (3)                                              £5.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Savoy Cabbage                                                  £1.40
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Courgettes (3)                                                    £4.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Lady Balfour Potatoes (2Kg)                               £2.50
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Sweet Potatoes (750g)                                        £2.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Baby Salad Potatoes (750g)                                £1.50
1x   Sainsbury's Lemons Loose                                                                 35p
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Carrots (750g)                                                    £2.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Leeks (400g)                                                      £2.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Butternut Squash Loose (Approx 655g)               £1.24
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Celery                                                                £1.20
2x   Sainsbury's Organic Cucumber                                                          £2.50
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Medium Flavour Red Onions (500g)                    £1.00
3x   Sainsbury's Organic Fairtrade Bananas (Approx 800g)                        £2.88

Meat, Fish and Poultry
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Pork Sausages (6 per pack - 350g)                     £3.00
1x   Sainsbury's Organic Whole Chicken (Approx 1.75Kg)                          £11.73
Prices and special offers reflect those of the online grocery websites, and are correct as of 6 September 2015.
Prices may vary in different in-store locations.

We shopped at Sainsbury's this week, mostly from their So Organic range. At the moment Tesco have a 3 for 2 offer on organic vegetables.  Keep a look out for other supermarket offers which make shopping organic more affordable.

You can also check out Organic UK on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with their campaigns and find out more information about organic farming and produce.

** Commissioned Post **

Giraffe/Tiger Bread and Bready, Steady, Go! - September Linky

Wednesday 2 September 2015

It's my turn once again to host the Bready, Steady, Go! linky and I can't wait to see all the delicious bakes.

My 3 daughters are heading back to school this week and to ease some of the inevitable nerves at getting back to routine, we baked a couple of loaves to make school lunch sandwiches with.

We baked a plain white round loaf topped with cheese, it was delicious! We of course taste tested it, and the second loaf, quality control is very important.

The second loaf we made was a long loaf topped with a paste to give the top of the bread a cracked appearance.  This is called Tiger Bread or Giraffe Bread.  It is very simple to make and bake.  I was given the topping paste recipe by a baker friend, he scaled it down for me from his usual bulk/commercial quantities.

Tiger/Giraffe Bread

500g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt, I sometimes use garlic salt for more flavour
7g sachet instant yeast
2 Tblsp oil, I used sunflower as that's what we had
1 tsp sugar
275ml - 300ml lukewarm water

1 sachet instant yeast
4 Tblsp/60ml water, or more if needed
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp oil
1 or 2 tsp onion powder
60g rice flour

Put the flour into a large bowl.  Measure the salt and sugar on one side of the bowl and pour the sachet of yeast onto the other side of the bowl.  You don't want the yeast and salt to meet until the liquid is added.  Add the oil to the water and pour into the bowl, mixing until a soft dough forms, either with a stand mixer or by hand.

Once a dough forms, knead until smooth and elastic.  This usually takes 10 minutes by hand and around 5 minutes in the stand mixer with a dough hook fitted.

Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave until doubled in size.  Mix together the topping ingredients and leave to stand for 15 - 20 minutes before spreading onto the top of your loaf.  Add a little more water if necessary to get a spreadable consistency.

Knock back the dough then shape into a long rugby ball shape.  Put onto a baking tray lined with non stick baking paper.  Spread the dough with the topping paste and leave to prove, uncovered, for around 30 - 40 minutes.  

Whilst the dough is proving, preheat your oven to 220C Fan/240C/Gas Mark 9/475F.

Bake the bread for 10 minutes to get a good oven spring then turn your oven down to 180C Fan/200C/Gas Mark 6/400F and bake for another 10 - 15 minutes.  When properly cooked through, the bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Now it's your turn! Link up all of your delicious yeasted bread bakes.

The Rules:

Bready Steady Go! will run from 1st until the 28th of each month and then a round up will be posted by the hosting blog, which is me this month, at the end of the month.
You can link up any yeasted bread recipe, sometimes we may also run themed challenges, and feel free to join in with other challenges if your post also meets their guidelines. If you really love baking bread then you can add multiple entries up to a maximum of 3 per blog each month.
Please link back to Jen’s Food, and this post, and include the badge to help spread the word.
We’d prefer to see entries from new blog posts where possible but you can also link up old posts if you add the badge and link back to our blogs as well.
You can tweet your entries to @JensFood and @UtterlyScrummy using the hashtag #breadysteadygo and we will retweet all that we see.
All entries will also pinned to our new Pinterest board as they come in.
If you make a recipe from a book/magazine/website etc please respect copyright and do not reproduce the recipe verbatim. Instead of copying out the recipe from the book, describe it in your own words and if it’s from an online source please link to the original content rather than copying full recipe.

So what are you waiting for?! Bready, Steady, Go bake some bread!

Share Your Baking Fails and Win With Renshaw

We all have baking disasters from time to time.  Recipe development can be a tricky business and for every success there are more than a few failures.  My successful recipe developments are tested thoroughly before I blog them, my failures usually don't make it to my blog.

I did confess a baking failure once though, in order to help others who may have suffered the same fate.  The cake I baked for my middle daughters birthday was taken out of the oven too soon, despite it being put back into the oven it sunk in the middle.  I saved it by stuffing the dent with sweets.  You can read all about the sorry tale here.

Renshaw want to see your baking disasters.  Share your collapsed cakes, bakes with soggy bottoms, lopsided pies, celebrate the imperfections!  There are 4 fabulous £25 Renshaw Vouchers to be won, just share your baking fails on social media with the hashtag #mybakingfail to be in to win.

You can find Renshaw on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

** Commissioned Post **

Fully Loaded Vegetable Frittata

Tuesday 1 September 2015
I do like a delicious, quick and healthy dinner idea.  We make frittatas often for lunch or dinner, they're great for using up vegetables lurking in the fridge.

I was asked by Lion Eggs to share this fab Fully Loaded Vegetable Frittata recipe with you from vlogger Barry Lewis from My Virgin Kitchen.  

It’s a really easy and healthy meal that can be made in minutes, what’s more eggs are a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals and keep you feeling fuller for longer. 

Fully Loaded Vegetable Frittata

8 British Lion free range eggs
8 cherry tomatoes, sliced
6 button mushrooms, sliced
Handful fresh spinach
4 tbsp sweetcorn
1/2 courgette, sliced
3 spring onions, sliced
1 pepper, sliced roughly
1 avocado, peeled and chopped in chunks
Handful fresh parsley
Large handful grated extra mature cheddar cheese
(use extra cheese if you wish to top up before baking)
To serve: sweet chilli sauce, side salad

Here's Barry cooking the delicious frittata:

For many more delicious and exciting recipes head over to http://www.eggrecipes.co.uk 

** Commissioned Post **
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