45 articles Articles posted in Food

Strada – A Date Night Gem

It’s not often that Husband and I go out for dinner, just the two of us…in fact, I’m struggling to think of a single time it’s happened since Sausage was born, so when Strada asked if the two of us would like to come along for dinner, I got very excited! Our nearest Strada is at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock and it’s right next to the lake, so it was the perfect setting for a relaxed evening meal.

We were given the choice of where to sit and although it was the hottest day of the year so far, we chose to sit inside – the outside area was already filling up when we arrived a few minutes before 6pm and by the time we left it was absolutely heaving, whilst inside was almost empty, so we definitely chose well. We got situated and were brought our drinks plus a jug of water for the table, which was much appreciated in the heat.

I wasn’t drinking alcohol because a) I was driving and b) I’m on strong antibiotics for the hideous tooth situation so I opted for a San Pellegrino Limonata, which is basically the most refreshing thing on the planet. Husband had a glass of Primitivo, a full-bodied red (which I said smelled like Christmas in a glass!) and although it was on the pricey side, Husband was impressed enough to be looking it up on the internet on the way home to see where he could get a full bottle for me to try when I’m able again.

So, onto the food!

Because Strada is Italian, I wanted to go for things which I felt were quintessentially Italian, so for starter I opted for the bresaola while Husband went for the antipasti, both of which were incredible. The beef carpacchio part of my bresaola was so, so tender and flavourful and the combination of parmesan, rocket and balsamic reduction were to die for. Husband’s antipasti (which I may have sampled…!) was just perfect; little nibbles of different flavour and textures, cured meats combined with the freshest pesto and mozzarella – I almost wish I’d opted for the same.

Strada - Starters

For our mains, we both decided that we were in the mood for seafood after such a meat-based starter so Husband had the sea bass while I had the seafood risotto. I’m going to make a confession here; I’ve never actually tried sea bass before…until now. The fish was served with thyme roasted fennel and herby potatoes and was a perfect choice for a hot evening as it was light and summery but full of flavour. The bass was served ‘canoed’, which meant that it’s gutted but left on the head, so there were still a lot of bones in it, which made it a little bit of a faff to eat, but Husband didn’t mind; it’s just worth bearing in mind if you aren’t a fan of bones.

Strada - Mains

Seafood risotto is one of my favourite dishes and it’s not something I’ve ever been brave enough to cook myself so it’s always a treat when I have it in a restaurant, but it does mean I’m quite fussy about it. Strada’s seafood risotto was really top notch. The risotto itself was creamy and absolutely packed with tiger prawns, mussels and squid and had the slightest kick from a hint of chilli, a very welcome element to cut through the creaminess a little. The seafood was all very well cooked (I’m often a bit wary of squid as it can be rubbery, but this wasn’t rubbery in the slightest) and the fresh parmesan which was grated over the top at the table added a lovely edge to the overall flavour.

Strada - Dessert

Dessert was an absolute delight. I opted for the tiramisu because I’m a bit of a fan of anything coffee flavoured while Husband opted for the golden polenta cake. My tiramisu was exactly as you’d expect it to be; sweet and soft with a strong coffee flavour, the perfect end to the meal for me. Husband’s polenta cake was probably the exact opposite of my dessert in many ways; grainy and textured rather than soft and creamy, zesty and spiced opposite my rich and velvety, however we both agreed that it was one of the nicest desserts we’ve ever tasted, and promptly came home to find a recipe so that we can try making it at home!

In terms of the bill, by my calculations it would have come to £67.60, which included three courses each, Husband’s large glass of wine, my two soft drinks and a bowl of marinated olives for the table, which I really don’t think is too bad at all. There is also a “Classics” menu which offers 2 courses for £10.95 or three courses for £13.95 every single day between 12pm and 7pm, which means that you could effectively have a three course meal for two for under £30.

The thing I liked about Strada is that their menu isn’t ridiculously massive, but each dish they do, they seem to do VERY well. I also like the fact that they have dishes which are very traditionally Italian, but they also do dishes like burgers and plainer pizzas, so dining with a fussy eater needn’t be a worry. The one and only area where I would mark them down SLIGHTLY was the cost of drinks – Husband’s glass of wine was £8.15, which is a little steep in my opinion, but we often find the alcohol to be higher priced in chain restaurants, so I guess it’s to be expected. Other than this minor thing, we had a really lovely evening; the staff were incredibly polite and friendly, stopping by to offer their suggestions while we were perusing the menu, the setting was really pleasant and the food was enough to make Husband say “we’re definitely coming back here again!”.

Thanks to Strada for having us – we’ll be back soon!

Family Lunch at TGI Fridays (review)

Last week we were invited along to TGI Fridays to sample their food and get involved with their summer kids challenge, where they can complete three activities for a free ice cream sundae, as well as being in with the chance to win a family holiday. As we’ve done in the past, we took my lovely MIL with us to give us her opinion on the food, so that you get a well rounded view from a two years old up to a…person who’s a bit older than two (it’s rude to divulge a lady’s age, after all!).

We planned our lunch around a trip to Ikea because the restaurant is right by our nearest store, but we were done with our shopping an hour earlier than planned. However, a quick call to the restaurant and they were more than happy to accommodate us earlier than our original booking, which was a lovely bit of positive customer service. As we were seated, the girls were presented with an activity pack and they also had someone making balloon animals, which delighted my two no end.

The Food

We took a little while to choose as there was so many tasty looking dishes on the menu. In the end, we all shared a starter of potato skins loaded with cheese and pulled pork, then for our mains both girls went for a hotdog and chips from the kids menu, MIL had a Classic American burger, Husband had the chicken and shrimp with with creamy mash and seasonal veg, and I had the FRIDAYS® RIBS in BBQ sauce with a skewer of spicy grilled shrimp.

We all really enjoyed the starter; the pulled pork was really tasty with the accompanying sour cream and one large serving was enough to allow us all to have a taste without ending up too full before our meals. The girls hotdog and chips were actually HUGE portions; there are two kids menus to choose from, one for smaller peeps and one for the bigger kids. The hotdogs came from the bigger menu and although we knew it would be way too much food for Burrito Baby, she had her heart set on having a hotdog. They were really tasty and well cooked, and both girls really enjoyed them.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’m a bit of a greedy so-and-so and often have eyes too big for my belly, and when we eat I often go for the biggest meal on the menu. I erred on the side of caution on this day and went for the half rack of ribs instead of the full rack and I’m SO glad that I did! Along with the fries, onion rings and prawn skewer it was MORE than enough food for me, even with my huge appetite. The ribs were incredibly tender and the meat melted away from the bones, while the accompanying fries were probably some of the best I’ve ever tasted, with perfect seasoning.

Husband, on the other hand, wasn’t massively impressed with his food. He said that his chicken was moist and well cooked but was a tiny portion and the shrimp were okay but the sauce was basically just sugar syrup. He did say that the mash was tasty but the veg wasn’t to his taste – his “seasonal” veg was basically pan fried broccoli and bell peppers, which seemed a slightly incongruous addition to the meal.

The real winner of the day was MIL; she chose the Classic American because she wanted something quite simple but she actually described it as “probably the best burger I’ve ever eaten”. She had the same well-seasoned fries as me and thoroughly enjoyed her meal. I’ll be honest, by the time we’d finished our starter and main we were all FAR too stuffed for afters so the girls didn’t manage to enter the challenge, but it’s a great idea for kids, especially to get them active after consuming a huge meal!

The Bill

One things which I felt was a slight downer was the cost of drinks; Husband had a pint of Samuel Adams and it was £5.28 per pint; obviously it was early in the day so we weren’t there for a boozy experience, but it would have seriously bumped the bill up of we’d both been out for an evening. As it stood, a shared starter, two kids meals, three adult meals, a pint and a half of Samuel Adams plus a Coke Zero for me and a mini milkshake for the girls and our bill came to £79 – definitely not the most expensive meal  but more than the average we’d usually spend on a casual lunch.

In terms of the actual service we received, I genuinely can’t fault it. Everyone was extremely friendly and helpful, our food order was taken and served promptly, our table cleared straight away and we didn’t have to do advanced semaphore to the waiting staff in order to signal for our bill! All in all, we had a great lunch, the food was mostly brilliant and everyone had a nice time. It’s probably a bit too expensive to be a regular place for us to visit, but it’s perfect for a treat or special occasion.

Thanks for having us, TGI Fridays!

Creative Ways to Cook That Aren’t Deep Frying

While we all love to eat deep fried food on occasion, eating it regularly is atrocious for our health. Most deep-fried food such as fries and chicken is too fatty, which can cause weight gain and heart problems. So if we should eat less deep fried food, how should we cook instead? Read on for some delicious and healthy suggestions.

Steaming / boiling

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Firstly one of the most healthy ways to cook food and retain a lot of its nutrition content is to steam it or boil it in water. The key here is to cook vegetables until then are al dente, or still ever so slightly crispy when you bite into them. This means all their vitamins and mineral haven’t been leached out by over cooking. It also provides a pleasant texture to eat, rather than an overcooked mush, which can be very unappealing. You can add a little sea or pink Himalayan salt to the water for flavor but not too much!

Slow cookers

Another creative way in which to cook is by using a slow cooker. You can make all sorts of delights in a slow cooker such as these we tried back in March. Chilli Con Carne, pulled porks and soups are all successful in the slow cooker. This type of cooking is also especially good for one pot meals like stews and casseroles. You just bung it all in and leave it to cook, while you go about your day.

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A few words of warning, though. Firstly slow cookers should not be left unattended for extended periods of time, so they are not suitable if you are leaving the house to go to work for example. Also, I’ve found that slow cooker sauces can be a bit runny, as the lit condenses the steam and keep all the moisture in. If you like thicker sauces, add some cornflour to the recipe towards the end. Then take the lid off so some of the moisture can evaporate before you serve it.

Grilling

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Grilling is a very healthy and delicious way of cooking your food. You can grill vegetables, meat, and fish with baking oil and it makes a yummy, quick and easy dish. Of course grilling your food right depends on you having the best grill pan for the job. Look for one with good ridges, that isn’t too heavy and is nonstick. That means you will need to use less oil when cooking is making it super healthy.

Roasting

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Roasting is great ways of making flavourful meals in the oven. Roasting is usually done in fat or oil, but the health conscious have also shown that it is possible to dry roast items successfully. If you are choosing to use fat in your roasting use a saturated fat like lard, duck fat or the fat from the meat. Many people believe now that saturated fat is safer to be used at high temperatures than unsaturated fat. This is mainly due to the stability of its molecules. So try to avoid roasting in olive oil if you can.

Shallow Frying

Shallow frying is very similar to deep fat frying, although the food item doesn’t always soak up as much fat. It still should be only used sparingly, though, as too much-fried food is never a good idea. Use a good quality pan and makes sure you keep a good eye on things as hot fat can be dangerous.

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Like roasting use a fat like a coconut oil or butter for shallowing frying and no the monounsaturated vegetable oil kind.

Raw foods

While raw food needs no cooking and only minimal preparation, they are worth considering as a healthy addition to your diet. Raw foods have the highest concentration of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. This because they are not lost in processing and cooking. Raw food always has a high water content which helps to fill you up and plenty of fiber which aids your digestive health.

It is worth bearing in mind that for some people eating large amounts of raw food can cause a bit of stomach uncomforted. So it is best only to have them in the day before 4.30pm. Also, make sure that you don’t buy cut and peeled baby carrots. They are treated in an ammonia bath before being packed to keep them fresh. This is not a great thing to be eating a lot of so buy your carrots and cut them into batons.

Baking

Baking is seen as being a healthier way of cooking than deep fat frying. Similar to roasting you can use minimal oils to bake meat, fish, and vegetables and still get a great taste.

Of course, then there is the other side of baking too, which involves flours, sugars, and fats and makes delicious sweet treats or bread. Too many of these products that contained refined flours and sugars can be bad for your health. Food experts like Hemsley and Hemsley would say that these refined ingredients are the worst thing that you can put into your body on a regular basis.

They argue for a cleaner way of eating, replacing refined white flours with pseudo cereal flours. These are much easier for the body to digest and don’t contain as much gluten.  They also suggest that while sugar should be replaced with natural alternatives uch as honey or agave. They even go so far as to suggest that protein and starches should not be mixed in meals or baking. But this is a more advanced option for those that want to take clean eating to the next level.

Liquidating

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Of course, you do need to cook the foods first before you blitz them, but liquidating food is not just for babies. Using your hand blender, you can make fantastic soups like leek and potato, stilton and broccoli and french onion. Or you can make the best dips like hummus, guacamole and pesto. You can even use the liquidating principle to make delicious desserts like frozen granita, and banana ice cream.

Slow Cooker Sesame Beef and Brocolli

Okay, so you may have noticed that my 7-day slow cooker challenge didn’t exactly go to plan, in that I only managed to last for four days and my last three planned meals never quite made it onto my site. I think this happened for a couple of reasons – slow cooking, for me, is something I do to make my life more convenient, and forcing myself to use my slow cooker to a schedule just didn’t work. Also, one of the meals I planned was lasagne, and I’m not going to lie, I was really apprehensive about it. We LOVE lasagne in this house, but I always bake it the normal way, and attempting to slow cook it seemed a bit like fixing something which isn’t broken.

Anyway, I had a little slow cooker break after failing but I’m back to using it again today and it’s a super simple, super tasty beef and broccoli recipe that I’m making today:slow cooker beef and broccoli

Slow Cooker Sesame Beef and Brocolli

Slow Cooker Sesame Beef and Broccoli
 
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A slow cooked beef recipe with a simple Asian-inspired sauce.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 240ml/1 cup beef stock
  • 120ml/ ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup erythritol (substitute with brown sugar if you don't need a low sugar recipe)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 900g/2lb stewing beef
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 4 Tbsp corn starch
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • Sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Place the stock, soy sauce, erytritol/brown sugar, chopped garlic and sesame oil into the slow cooker pot and mix well
  2. Add the beef into the pot and mix well to coat
  3. Cook on LOW for 4 hours
  4. After 4 hours, mix the corn starch and water together and add to the pot, stirring well to thicken
  5. Add the chopped broccoli and stir
  6. Cook for a further 30 minutes on HIGH, or until broccoli is soft
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice or noodles, or a side of your choice.

This was such a simple recipe but has turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser with the family. It’s exactly the kind of ‘chuck it all in’ recipe which makes me love slow cooking, and offered so much flavour for such an easy-to-make dish. The sauce was salty and savoury, and thickened to almost a gravy consistency once the cornstarch was added, and cooking the broccoli in the sauce added an amazing layer of flavour. The best part of this meal is that, when you factor in a portion of rice, it came in at just 453 calories per portion, which is amazingly low!

Beef is probably my favourite meat for slow cooking as you can buy the really cheap cuts but end up with a tender, flavourful dish which is low calorie, high protein and doesn’t cost the earth – basically the Holy Grail of cooking for a family! Let me know if you make this yourself, I’d love to know if you were as pleased with the results as we were.

Slow Cooker Challenge – Pulled Beef Chilli

Pulled Beef ChilliChilli is one of those dishes which is a bit of an issue in our house. My mother-in-law is from one of the Southern states in America and therefore makes literally the best chilli I’ve ever tasted. She’s shared her recipe with me, but it NEVER tastes as good as when she makes it, so I rarely bother any more as mine is just a pale imitation! However, I’ve been desperate for some sort of chilli dish, which is where this version came from. “Pulled” dishes are a huge hit here, with pulled pork being one of our faves, and it seems to make meat go really far, so a pulled beef chilli seemed like a perfect thing for my experiments this week. Here’s how I made it:

Pulled Beef Chilli

Slow Cooker Challenge - Pulled Beef Chilli
 
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A smoky chilli made with brisket, which is slow cooked before being pulled.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: TexMex
Serves: 12 portions
Ingredients
  • 1.4kg beef brisket (about 3lb)
  • 2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 400g carton of passata
  • 4-5 slices of pickled jalapenos, chopped
  • 2tbsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 500ml beef stock (about a pint)
  • 1 400g can of kidney beans (drained)
  • 2 Tbsp chilli powder
  • 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp coriander (powdered)
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Splash of olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and brown the brisket on all sides.
  2. Place the brisket into the slow cooker
  3. Cook the pepper, onion and garlic in the same pan until the onions just start to brown
  4. One everything is cooked, throw the chipotle paste and chopped jalapenos into the pan and stir through
  5. Put the contents of the pan into the slow cooker, followed by the kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and passata. Stir to combine everything and coat the brisket.
  6. Add the spices and the stock
  7. Stir again and cook on low for 6-8 hours
  8. Remove the cooked brisket from the slow cooker and shred with two forks
  9. Place the shredded meat back into the sauce and stir well to combine
  10. Serve with warm tortillas, guacamole and sour cream

I must admit, along with the dish I have planned for the final meal of this challenge, this was the meal I was MOST looking forward to trying and I’m not gonna lie…I think this was probably the BEST thing I’ve ever cooked in my slow cooker! The meat was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the combination of the sweet tomato and the smoky, spicy chipotle and jalapeños was TO DIE FOR. The flavour was so intense and the amount of spice was still  the right side of pleasurable. I was conscious of making it a dish that the girls could still tolerate and while they’re by NO means a pair of chilli wusses, Husband and I could have stood to have it a smidge spicier, but as it stood, it was still delicious with a bit of a kick.

I must warn you, when paired with tortillas, guacamole and sour cream this is definitely not an elegant dish; only eat this with people you love, who don’t mind seeing you with sauce running down your chin! However, the mess was well worth is and the whole family declared it a success!

Have you made anything in the slow cooker this week? If so, don’t forget to blog about it and link up below!

LINKY REMOVED

Slow Cooker Chorizo Stuffed Chicken with Ratatouille

Stuffed Chicken and Slow Cooker Ratatouille

Things have been a bit hectic in the Mum’s the Word house since Sausage went back to school; first, the girls were poorly (tonsilitis), then I was poorly (gall bladder) and then the car decided to go kaput, leaving us unable to make regular trips to the shops, so we were living on what we had in the cupboards and as a result, my slow cookers have been rather neglected! Yesterday, I decided that I needed to get back into slow cooking again with something completely new, so I tried a recipe that I’ve been seeing on Facebook for a while and thought I’d share it here. I’m struggling with a succinct name for the whole dish, but it basically consists of chicken stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese on a kind of slow-cooked ratatouille concoction! Here’s how we made it:

Stuffed Chicken with Slow Cooker Ratatouille
 
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Chicken breasts, stuffed with chorizo and cream cheese, slow cooked on a bed of ratatouille.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Mixed
Serves: 4 portions
Ingredients
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 tub cream cheese
  • 12 slices of chorizo
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 punnet mushrooms
  • 300ml passata
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • New potatoes, to serve
Instructions
  1. Chop your onions, peppers and mushrooms and place in the bottom of your slow cooker
  2. Add the paprika to the passata and pour the passata over the veg mix
  3. Take your chicken breasts and slice ¾ of the way through the breast diagonally
  4. Open the flap in the chicken breast and stuff with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese and 3 slices of chorizo
  5. Close the flap over the stuffing and and place on top of the veg and passata in the slow cooker
  6. Cook on low for 4 hours
  7. Serve with new potatoes or side of your choice (would work well with sweet potato wedges, too!)

The end result was wonderful – the veg and passata were tender and fresh-tasting, while the cheese and chorizo gave the chicken a creamy, smoky quality which went really well with the ratatouille. Sausage wasn’t a huge fan because she hates mushrooms but it was a winner with the rest of us and will definitely be made again. It would go well with a number of different sides too, making it a pretty versatile, easy-to-make dish and I’m also pretty sure it contains several of your 5-a-day. Let us know what you think!

 

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks

One of the things which has surprised me the most about using a slow cooker is that it isn’t all stews, soups and casseroles. Of course, I have made stews, soups and casseroles, but I’ve also made meatballs, cake, melt-in-the-mouth meat and even a ‘fakeaway‘ (which, to you and I, is basically a replica of a doner kebab!). Today, I’m doing something which is even more of a departure from what you’d expect of slow cooked fayre – pork stacks.

Here’s how you make slow cooker pork stacks:

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks
 
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Slow cooked pork stack with stuffing, apple, cheese and onion.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • Pork steaks or chops (2 per person)
  • Stuffing, made up as per the instructions
  • 1 cooking apple, sliced into rounds
  • One onion, sliced
  • Cheddar cheese, 1 or 2 slices per stack
  • Tin foil for wrapping and making foil balls
Instructions
  1. (Before you begin, unless you have the type of slow cooker which can cook dry ingredients, it's wise to ball up some tin foil and place a cup of water in the bottom of your slow cooker, to prevent the pot from cracking which can sometimes happen with recipes with no moisture)
  2. Tear a square of tin foil off of the roll and place one pork steak in the centre
  3. Place a slice of apple on top of your steak
  4. Place a few rings of onion on top of the apple
  5. Place a couple of spoonfuls of stuffing mixture on top of the onions
  6. Top with a slice of cheese
  7. Place another pork steak on top and wrap the edges of the tin foil over to create a sealed parcel
  8. Repeat with the remaining ingredients
  9. Place the parcels in the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on low
  10. Serve with mashed potato and veg of your choice

Because of the slow cooking, the meat is incredibly tender and the flavours of everything almost melt together. One pork stack is more than enough for one person and the girls shared one, which makes this a pretty cheap meal – even from Waitrose, the meat (which is the most expensive part of the recipe) was only £4 for a pack of six, which was enough to feed us four. It takes only a little bit of effort to make a really tasty meal, which is something I seem to find every time I try something new in the slow cooker.

To me, this is the perfect family meal – tasty, pretty well balanced and something that all of us really enjoy. What’s not to love about that?! It is also great for weight loss!

Slow Cooker Pork Stacks

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank (Agnello Brasato)

About three years ago, before BB was even a person, Husband, Sausage and I went to Strada for dinner after a shopping trip. Strada is a chain of restaurants which serves modern Italian cuisine and on this particular trip, I had something called Agnello Brasato, which was basically a lamb shank which had been slow cooked in a tomato and red wine sauce and served with creamy mash and broccoli. For ages, I’ve been craving the meal again, so I decided to try to recreate it myself, with lovely results (although, as usual, my food presentation and photography leaves a lot to be desired!).

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato)

Here’s how I made Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato):

Slow Cooker Lamb Shank in Red Wine and Tomato Sauce (Agnello Brasato)
 
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Slow cooked lamb shank, stewed slowly in tomatoes, red wine and herbs.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 4 (400g) tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 glass red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • A pinch salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • About 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
  • 2 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 150ml chicken stock
Instructions
  1. Brown each of your lamb shanks before placing in your slow cooker (this step is optional)
  2. In a pan, add the onions and garlic and fry until translucent
  3. Add the red wine, rosemary, thyme and stock and bring to the boil
  4. Add the salt and pepper and allow to simmer for 2 minutes and then pour over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours or until lamb is falling off of the bone
  6. Serve with mashed potatoes and greens of your choice (we went for broccoli, but asparagus would also work well) and a few spoonfuls of the tomato stew

 

I can honestly say that this was just as nice (if not nicer!) than the one that I had a Strada all those years ago and definitely satisfied my cravings. The lamb came out so incredibly tender and the sauce was wonderfully rich and flavoursome. There was a load of sauce left in the pot after cooking and I froze it to use at a later date as a ragu to have with pasta. Let me know if you give this a go, I’d love to hear how yours turns out.

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes

Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked PotatoesAnother week, another slow cooker experiment! Today, we’re having slow cooker Hunters Chicken and I kinda devised the idea myself from a few other things I’ve seen on slow cooker forums and the like.

Husband is still being really disciplined with what he eats and sugar is one of the main things that he’s trying to avoid (he is on a keto diet and having great success with ample k), so instead of using a barbecue sauce from a bottle which is absolutely LADEN with sugar, I’m using the same recipe that Kate at WitWitWoo uses for her slow cooker pulled pork, but slightly modified for our tastes. As a sweetener, we use erythritol, which is granular like sugar and about 40% less sweet.

In terms of baked potatoes, I’m pretty fussy. The insides need to be super fluffy and soft, while the skins should be firm and crunchy so this method of cooking has been tried and tested over the last few years. I’m serving ours with sour cream and chives as it goes beautifully with both the chicken and the barbecue sauce.

Anyway, here’s the recipe and method for Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes:

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Slow Cooker Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoes
 
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A slow-cooker, low-sugar version of Hunters Chicken.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • For the chicken:
  • 5 Chicken Breasts (or one per person)
  • 100g Cheddar Cheese
  • 14 rashers of streaky bacon
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the sauce:
  • 500ml passata
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 5 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (I subbed this with 10 teaspoons of Soy Sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ___________________________________________________________
  • For the potatoes:
  • One baking potato per person
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
Instructions
  1. Slice the cheese, allowing one large slice per chicken breast
  2. Slice each chicken breast lengthways, almost all the way through, creating a flap
  3. Place the cheese inside the flap and close
  4. Wrap 3 rashers of streaky bacon around each chicken breast, fairly firmly
  5. Place in the bottom of the slow cooker
  6. In a saucepan, add all of the sauce ingredients and stir whilst bringing to a simmer
  7. Once the sauce has started to simmer, give it a good stir and pour over the chicken breasts
  8. Cook on low for 2-3 hours
  9. Place your baking potatoes in a mixing bowl
  10. Drizzle olive oil over the potatoes
  11. Give the oily potatoes a healthy sprinkle of salt
  12. Get your hands in the bolw and rub the oil and salt all over the skin of the potatoes
  13. Place in an oven at around 120°C (about gas mark 1 or 2)
  14. Cook for about 2-3 hours or until you're ready to serve

 

Here’s the finished result, although I took the photo before I put the sour cream and corn on the cob on the plate, hence it looking a little plain!

Slow Cooked Hunters Chicken and Ultimate Baked Potatoq

Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms & Bacon

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We’re off out to a party for my friend’s 40th birthday this evening and we had a whole bunch of stuff in the fridge, including some chicken breasts, which needed eating by today, so I decided to try this little concoction of the various different things! I don’t know about you, but I hate going on a night out feeling bloated and full, so on the rare occasion that I go, we tend to eat our main meal at lunch time, so I’ve chucked all of this in the slow cooker at 9am, to be ready for around 1pm.

Here’s how I did it:

Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Slow cooked chicken in a creamy garlic sauce with mushrooms and bacon, perfect served with pasta or potatoes.
Author:
Recipe type: Slow Cooker
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g chicken breast
  • Mushrooms (around half a punnet)
  • One pack of unsmoked bacon lardons
  • One tub of Philadelphia (or other cream cheese)
  • Garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken breasts in the slow cooker
  2. Chop the mushrooms into quarters and layer on top of the chicken
  3. Brown the lardons in a pan until lightly golden then place in the slow cooker
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder over the chicken, bacon and mushrooms, a little or a lot depending on your taste (we like a lot!)
  5. Gently spread the cream cheese across the top of the rest of the ingredients
  6. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours or high for 2 hours
  7. Serve with pasta or potatoes of your choice

 photo Slow Cooker Creamy Garlic Chicken with Mushrooms and Bacon_zps7ezg4sgm.png

Given the fact that this was basically just a “chuck it all in and hope for the best” recipe, it actually came out really well and was stupidly easy to make. The girls absolutely loved it (Sausage said “Mum, is this your secret sauce because it is DELICIOUS!”) and it’s definitely one that will make it into our regular rotation. We had ours with pasta as it was the quickest option for today, but it would also go really nicely with new potatoes or even mash and possbily some broccoli or asparagus on the side.