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.

Hey Baby It’s Chilly Out There….Homemade Tomato Soup

When it’s starting to get chilly outside but not quite stodgy fill up food time I always find that homemade soup gives me warmth and comfort without making me feel tired and sluggish.

There is a little bit of preparation that needs to be done with this recipe but it is soooo worth it and you can make up batches to freeze great for easy warming cups on Bonfire Night or Halloween or even, like I did last year, for a family Christmas get together.

Homemade Tomato Soup

3lbs ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped, read about how to peel tomatoes easily here

1 large onion chopped finely

1 clove garlic crushed

1 large potato peeled and grated

500ml- 725 ml of veg stock, you can use chicken stock if you are not veggie

1 tbsp tomato puree

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Sweat the onions in a little olive oil until soft and glossy

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, crushed garlic, salt and pepper. If you want to spice it up add 2 dried crushed chillies at this stage. And stir well.

Pour over the stock and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes.

Grate the potato ( get a child or your other half to help with the cooking and do the grating with a food processor) and stir into the soup, simmer for another 15 minutes.

Give it a short blast in the blender and it’s ready to serve. If making a large batch blend in batches and reheat as needed.

Homemade Vegetable Stock

2 Litres of Vegetable Stock

2 Large Onions

2 Large Carrots

4 Stalks of Celery

2 Large Clove of garlic or 6 Small Ones

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Coarsely grate all the vegetables and garlic (use the food processor if you can it will save you fingers)

Put oil in a large saucepan and gently sauté the grated ingredients, cover them and let sweat for about 5 minutes until they are soft

Then add 2 litres of boiling water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer without the lid for 5 minutes.

Strain the stock and then it can be used immediately or frozen in smaller batches for use in soups, stews and gravies later.

 

 

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 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.

How To Stretch a Small Amount of Meat – Balsamic Glazed Beef with Udon Noodles

When my husband goes shopping by himself I can guarantee two things:-

1) He will only  buy meat or fish, no veggies, fruit or other staples

2) He will buy a portion of meat or fish that will only really feed one person two at a push.

So on Sunday morning when he removed some beef cubes from the freezer I spent 20 minutes trying to come up with an idea of how I would manage to stretch it to feed three people. We ended up having a roast chicken and the beef stayed in the fridge until yesterday, but still the problem remained. My only way to stretch it was to do a stir fry, add in the left over veggies from Sundays roast dinner and hope we were all full at the end.

So here is my Balsamic Glazed Beef with Udon Noodles

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I used

1 small pack 250g of cubed beef, I use scissors and cut this into strips approx 1 inches, bite sized

4-5 dessertspoons of Balsamic Vinegar

3 dessertspoons of olive oil

A 2 inch sprig of fresh rosemary, snip the leaves very finely with scissors a lot less fiddley than using a knife

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

2 small brown sugar cubes

2 1/2 wraps of udon noodles

1 onion chopped in to eighths, bite size pieces again

8-10 mini florets of broccoli

15 green beans trimmed and chopped into thirds

1 tbsp Vegetable oil

In a bowl add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar rosemary, garlic and a good pinch of sea salt. Mix and add the beef. Mix and coat the beef in the glaze, leave in the fridge for about an hour, longer if you can.

Whilst the meat is marinading cook the udon noodles, they take about 4 minutes in boiling water. Drain them and put to one side

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Heat the vegetable oil in a wok until sizzling hot, I usually check by dropping in a small piece of garlic. Add the beef and start to stir in the hot oil, as it is almost browned add the onion and continue stirring for a minute.

Add the veg and then put the noodles in the pan. They will stick together but as they heat in the pan use a fork to pull gently apart, toss and mix thoroughly with the beef and veg mix. When noodles piping hot serve.