Healthy Chicken Lime, Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Soy Stir Fry

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So it’s that time of year when you want to get healthy but you don’t want to be eating salads everyday just yet, it’s just not quite warm enough. Stir fry is the perfect solution, not only does it provide you with a great opportunity for mindfulness whilst chopping your vegetables, but it takes very little time to cook.

Now I know you can buy those lovely little packs of prepacked vegetables from the supermarket and they make the purchase all that more exciting by adding a free sauce to the mix, but there are a couple of reasons why this may not be your healthiest option. Did you know cutting vegetables increases the surface area where oxidation (contact with air) and nutrient loss can occur. Also, cutting a vegetable is “damaging” to the plant and some of the plant’s nutrients get used up in an attempt to repair the damage. These nutrients will then not be available to you anymore when you consume the plant. SO if you buy a prepackaged stir fry you may be eating vegetables that which are not as nutritious as you would want. 

As for those little packets of sauce provided so generously by your supermarket, just have a quick look at the ingredients, particularly the sugar content…not so healthy now hey!

So here is my simple recipe for Healthy Chicken Lime, Chilli, Ginger, Garlic and Soy Stir Fry

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1 inch fresh ginger, grated

3 cloves garlic, chopped

juice of half a lime

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

pinch of dried chilli flakes

2 small chicken breasts diced

 

 

Grate the ginger on the side of the grater that you would grate nutmeg, use a knife and ease all the juice and pulp into the bowl with the diced chicken.

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Chop garlic into really small fine pieces, add to chicken, add a pinch of dried chilli flakes, the soy sauce and squeeze over the lime juice, mix well and set to one side for about 20 minutes. This will give you a chance to chop your vegetables.

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Now with stir frys the key is to have lots of vegetables and lots of variety of vegetables, otherwise you will be bored when eating and starving about an hour after dinner.

Start by adding a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil to your wok and heat on a medium to high heat, add the chicken and keep moving it around the pan until it is almost cooked through.

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Add the vegetables and keep stirring, make sure you flip the bottom contents with the top regularly so you can ensure everything is piping hot and that the sauce mixes with the vegetables.

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Now I did buy fresh noodles from the supermarket and added these straight to the wok so they pick up the flavour of the chicken and the chicken. It will take a good 3-4 minutes with rapid tossing and turning to ensure they are cooked through.

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Once cooked through stir straight away. This is quick, healthy and moreish. Happy eating xx

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Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup (Warning…This Soup Bites Back)

Garlic and Chilli Pumpkin Soup

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2 onions

2 sticks celery

2 cloves garlic

1 green finger chilli

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 quarter of a medium sized pumpkin

1.5 litres stock, veg or chicken

In the pestle and mortar grind cumin seeds, garlic and finger chilli to a paste.

Chop onions and celery finely. Remove the pumpkin skin and cut into tiny cubes.

In a pan heat 2 tablespoons of veg oil, sauté onions and celery with the paste from the pestle and mortar, keep stirring until glossy and add the pumpkin.

Cook for a few more minutes and add the stock, bring to a simmer and cover. Leave to cook until the pumpkin is soft. You can then either use a masher to thicken, blend in the food processor or eat as a chunkier soup.

I Need a Pick Me Up So….Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

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1 small butternut Squash or the top half of a medium sized butternut squash

1 Medium white onion

2 Celery sticks

1 medium sized potato peeled

½  a green chilli

1 tsp sweet paprika powder

3 cloves of garlic

1 Sprig of rosemary

Large pinch of cumin seeds

1 ¾ pint veg stock

Olive oil

In your pestle and mortar put garlic, cumin seeds, rosemary leaves, sweet paprika, ½ green chilli and grind to a paste.

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Then cut all veg into small cubed pieces, imagine how tiny the veg is in tinned soup and aim for that

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Heat olive oil in pan, add the paste until it starts to scent the room, add the veg and cook for a couple of minutes until coated in the oil and paste.

Add the stock, you can use chicken if you prefer. Now I tend not to add salt as stock cubes can be quite salty but adjust it to your taste and add some freshly ground black pepper, leave to simmer for a minimum of 45 minutes or until the veggies starts to soften.

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At this into you can either whizz it in the blender or eat it as a broth with veg or do as I do and use a potato masher to mash some of the veg so you have a slightly thicker broth, the choice is yours.

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Chilli Sponge Cake With Chilli Chocolate Topping

So my baby boy is 13 today and his request for a Birthday cake is Chilli Chocolate cake. I decided this year to make a slight twist on the usual chocolate sponge with chocolate fondant icing. and here it is…

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Ingredients

175g caster sugar

175g vegan marg

175g self raising flour

3 eggs

tsp vanilla essence

1 fresh red chilli, a largish sweet chilli works best

chilli chocolate flakes

First put oven at 180 degrees.

Line the base of a round cake in with greaseproof paper and grease the walls of tin with vegan marge.

In pestle and mortar grind up half a red chilli and seeds, you need to make it into a paste so take out all your aggression on it, so it looks like this Image

Cream caster sugar and vegan marg until lighter in colour and fluffy in texture. Add the chilli paste.

Slowly add 3 beaten eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla essence. Slowly spoon in the flour and mix/fold until all mixed beautifully then place in the cake tin. Image

Put in the oven for 25/30 mins test cake by placing a skewer or knife in the centre of the cake if it comes out clean the cake is cooked.

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Finally when the cake is cooked melt the chilli chocolate flakes and spread over the cake. If you like the cake spicier add more chilli to the cake mix.

The marbling effect on the cake happens when the chocolate dries and hardens. A perfect older child or adult Birthday cake

Hhhmmm Reheat That Chilli Well Or Else!!!

After chilli con carne the other night we had 2 generous portions left which we nicely packaged up an put in the fridge. One was to be my lunch the other my husband was taking to work for his lunch.

I put mine in the microwave and blasted it for 3 minutes and then another 3 minutes. I have always had a fear of food poisoning since becoming a Mum and so although sometime I may over heat something I’d rather do that than poison the whole family.

Hubby took his portion to work. He blasted it for about a minute and a half and then another minute and a half. Move forward 3 hours, we have just settled down for a quiet evening and up jumps Hubby and rushes off to the bathroom, he then spent every 20 minutes up and down until this morning.

The culprit….Red Kidney Beans….ImageNow how you may be thinking can a humble bean cause so much distress. Well…

as this article from The Independent show http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/food-for-thought-are-uncooked-red-kidney-beans-poisonous-1069434.html kidney beans need to be cooked and reheated properly due to high levels of  the protein haemagglutinin. hemagglutinin, which is an antibody that causes red blood cells to clump. When ingested in high amounts, the hemagglutinins in these beans may trigger diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. This substance is inactivated when beans are cooked, so the only danger lies in eating raw beans. When consuming red kidney beans, ensure that beans are properly prepared.

So people if you decide to make our very awesome chilli just remember if you reheat the left overs ensure the food is piping hot.

Chilli Con Carne The Gracey Way

Now one of the things I like to do when cooking is take a recipe that is either meat based or vegetarian based and change it to fit the changing moods of my family. Chilli Con Carne is one of those dishes. The basic recipe is the same but you either add tonnes of veg or minced beef to change it from veggie to meat loving.

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Chilli Con Carne The Gracey Way

5 tbsp veg oil

1 or 2 large onions (depends how much you like onion, we happen to love onion)

2 to 3 dried chillies crushed (for the veggie version you may want to reduce the chilli as it can become too spicy when just veggies are cooked as they absorb lots of heat. Add a small amount taste and then adjust to what your family prefers)

3 cloves garlic

1lb mince beef, for veggie version add aubergine, carrot, celery, bell peppers anything that takes your fancy, mushrooms are good as they give a meaty texture

 (again for veggie version add a)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cumin, I crush these in the pestle and mortar with the chillies

2 400g canned of chopped tomatoes

2 small squares of high cocoa dark chocolate

2 400g tins of kidney beans

3 cubes of sugar

1 beef or veggie stock cube

1 glass red wine

In a large saucepan heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onions. As these get to a clear glossy consistency. Chopped the garlic really well and mix it with the raw mince. Then add the mince beef and the garlic if you are cooking with meat or just the garlic if you are veggie.

Cook until the mince is browned, add chilli powder, cinnamon and cumin. Cook for about a minute. Add sugar and chocolate, as chocolate starts to melt add the tomatoes, kidney beans, wine, half a tin of water (use an empty tomato tin) and stock cube.

Bring to a simmer, lower heat, put on lid and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Longer if you can resist the need to eat it as soon as the smell starts to drift from the kitchen.

Serve with rice. Kids may like a few tortilla chips to dip in theirs.

Week Til Pay Day Cheap and Cheerful – Graceys Chicken and Chips

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So it’s that time of the month again, a week til payday and we’re eaking out the pennies. So what does the freezer contain today? Frozen chips and chicken thighs…hhhmmm…so how do we make this appealing?

Lots of people will not eat the dark meat from a chicken when they have a roast dinner however chicken thighs especially boneless ones are really versatile, they can be used in curries, moroccan chicken and even like tonight herbed and baked. My argument to those who will not eat the dark meat is if this was a chicken leg on a BBQ or at a picnic you’d tuck in so give it a try.

Graceys Chicken and Chips

This is the ultimate cheap, easy and effortless meal. Pop the oven on 200 C and start to prep your thighs. I like to cook boneless thighs as they take very little time, 40 mins max.

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

2 small dried chillies

1 garlic clove

large pinch dried herbs

6 boneless chicken thighs

oven chips 

whatever veg takes your fancy, we had fine green beans tonight.

In the pestle and mortar grind all seasoning to a paste. Place chicken thighs on a baking tray and enough aluminum foil to make a pocket for the chicken. Put olive oil on foil and cover the thighs in the oil, then smear on the paste.

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Put in the oven on a low shelf for 10 minutes, then pop heat up to 220 C, pop in your chips and cook for another 20 minutes. Five minutes before your oven time is up pop your veg on to steam, everything will be ready together perfectly then.

The chicken has a little bite so taylor it to your families taste, fresh herbs without the chilli make a refreshing change too.

Beef Stew – The Way to a Mans Heart

If you ask my kids what Birthday meal they want they will all say the same thing, Beef Stew. It is a  dish that I have adapted over the years, initially just a tomatoey beef stew, now I add chilli for a bit more warmth and depth. It is probably one of the simplest meals to make and can all be done in one pan.Image

It was the first meal I ever cooked my husband and I think it is at least one of the reasons he decided I was the girl to marry.

When choosing your beef don’t go for the leanest cut pick some with a little extra fat on it but try not to let fat run through the centre of one of your cubes or it will be chewy.

450 g – 1 kg of cubed beef, I find that the supermarket make the cubes a little large for one bit so cut them into smaller pieces maybe half an inch square.

5 large carrots

5 large onions

2 beef stock cubes

2 tins chopped tomatoes

3 small dried chillies chopped

2 tbsp seasoned flour, add a little of the chilli to the flour as well as a generous amount of salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a bowl put flour, seasoning and chilli, add the beef cubes and make sure they are evenly coated.

Slice the onions so they are thin half moons. Heat a 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large saucepan or stew pot and add the onions, gently simmer until they start to become clear. Add a little more oil and then pour beef and flour into the pan. The flour will stick on the bottom, so stir and scrape until the beef is sealed, browned on the outside. The flour helps to thicken they gravy so you need it not to have it all stuck at the bottom.

When beef browned add the tomatoes and the stock cubes stir well. Bring to the boil and turn down to a simmer. When gently simmering add the carrots.

At this point you can either continue simmering on the stove top or you can put in the oven at 150 C for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to about 120 C. The longer you cook this meal the better it will be. I would suggest a minimum of 4 hours simmering on the stove or in the oven.

It can be served with either a large loaf of fresh bread or mash potatoes.