Chicken Skewers w/ Yellow Pepper Sauce & Quinoa

Most of us have been in that situation where we’ve come home after a session at the gym, or stumbled through the front door after that long run, but then make the wrong food choice for dinner; such as cheddar cheese on toast (because oh! I really can’t be bothered to cook, just give me something quick!). I used to fall foul of this a lot, especially in the mornings after my workout before heading to the office. I’d grab some toast on the way to work or tuck into a huge bowl of pasta for my dinner!

Doing a little research and following my nutritional studies, I began to realise how important these post-workout meals were. I now make sure I have the right choices in the house whether I am rushing to work or spending the evening preparing a feast. Keep a stock of homemade or good quality oat, seed and nut bars for breakfast! Think ahead and make smoothies to store in the fridge. They are a great on-the-go breakfast asked full of protein, vitamins and minerals to help repair those aching muscles.

The blog isn’t all about this way of thinking though so I won’t bore you anymore! But I will post a Blog somewhere along the line about good and bad food choices, so stay tuned if you’re interested! Or drop me a message if you’d like to discuss more.

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What did I come here for today? CHICKEN SKEWERS… That’s what! A brilliant quick and easy meal jam packed with nutrients to help heal muscles and refuel your body full of energy. Just look at some of those ingredients above. Can you feel the health?!

Chicken is a great source of protein and a brilliantly lean meat if you are looking to keep the calories down. It’s so versatile and can be used in virtually every recipe! In this particular instance, I chose to grill the skewers for quickness (and because my skillet isn’t long enough!), but if it’s a lovely summer’s evening… Get in the garden and fire up the BBQ, invite some friends around and have a feast fit for a king!

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As you can see, my creation doesn’t quite look like Jamie’s in the book above, but that doesn’t matter! Adaptation and variation are what lead to new creations and wonderful adventures in the kitchen! I do have to admit though, I’m not sure how Jamie managed to get his sauce so yellow! That’s impressive! Don’t let your pepper char….

In my last Blog, I mentioned Jamie Oliver’s new book ‘Everyday Superfood’, and this is a recipe plucked straight from there. First one I’ve made and I cannot wait to make some more! Fear not Vegetarians! There are some amazing meat-free options to choose from. The Mighty Mushroom Curry with Red Lentils, Brown Rice and Poppadoms will be on my dinner table next week without fail! I’ve only just eaten and my stomach is grumbling for more.

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If you have never eaten quinoa before, let me just tell you how good it is for your body! It has all the essential amino acids that we need making it very high in protein. Naturally gluten-free. Magnesium. Good for your metabolic health. Bursting with antioxidants… Do I need to go on? Even if you don’t fully understand what all of these do, you can just tell they are working wonders with every mouthful.

It can taste quite bland if just eaten on its own, so mixing it in a salad or accompanying it with other flavour packed ingredients is recommended. In this instance, I rubbed the mould (ramekin) in truffle rapeseed oil and then pressed in the quinoa. The tiny seeds/grains soaked up the oil and scented the plate beautifully. This little addition took the dish to a whole new level. I went from amateur cook to gourmet chef in seconds!

Are you ready to nourish that body and get those tastebuds tickled?

RECIPE (Exclusive!)
Serves 2
40 mins

  • 150g regular,  black or red quinoa (I used regular as it’s more widely available)
  • 1 fresh yellow or red chilli (I used red)
  • 2 yellow peppers (I used 3 small)
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 glove of garlic
  • 2 tbsps cider vinegar
  • olive oil (I used rapeseed)
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 sprigs of fresh coriander
  • natural yoghurt; optional (I didn’t use)
  • truffle oil (my optional extra)

Cook the quinoa according to the packet instructions, then drain.

Dressed the chilli and peppers, quarter the peppers, and put both into a shallow 25cm pan on a medium heat.

Trim the spring onions and add the whites to the pan (reserving the green tops). Peel, slice and add the garlic, along with the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of oil and a good splash of water.

Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until soft and sweet, stirring occasionally. Decant the contents of the pan into a blender, blitz until smooth, then season to perfection.

You can cook your skewers in a hot non-stick frying pan, griddle pan or even under the grill at full whack. Slice the chicken lengthways into 2cm strips, and chop the greens of the spring onions into 2cm chunks.

Checking that your skewers will fit inside your frying, griddle or grill pan, divide up the chicken and spring onions, weaving the chicken around the onions.

Strip the thyme leaves over the skewers, lightly season, drizzle with 1 teaspoon of oil and rub all over, then cook for around 8 minutes, or until the chicken is golden, charred and cooked through.

Meanwhile, peal and slice the avocado.

Pack half the quinoa into a small oil-rubbed bowl (this is where I used my truffle oil), the turn out onto a plate and repeat.

Divide the yellow pepper sauce, sliced avocado, coriander leaves and chicken between your plates, then tuck in.

This is delicious with a dollop of yoghurt on the side too, if you like.

CALORIES – 549kcal
FAT – 19.8g
SAT FAT – 3.3g
PROTEIN – 42.4g (Yes… Check that out! 46g per day is recommended for the average women)
CARBS – 53.5g
SUGAR – 14.6g
FIBRE – 4.3g

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Now you’ve had a sneak peak into Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Superfood, get  purchasing. You won’t regret it if you’re looking to maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Love and Lemons xxx

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Halloumi, Chorizo & Hummus Brioche Burgers

Heres a definite summer BBQ crowd pleaser. And can be adapted for meat eaters and vegetarians to enjoy. I love this burger both ways!

Buttery brioche bun with a generous smothering of hummus, fresh spinach, grilled juicy Halloumi, blistered red pepper and delicious crunchy pieces of toasted chorizo. If you’re a vegetarian, just leave out the chorizo and replace it with a few shakes of smoked paprika!

Now there’s a vision of summer in the garden… Feet up watching the sun go down with friends… Tucking into a mouthwatering burger of absolute perfection. Chicken Legs and Beef burgers are so last year.

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What first attracted me to this recipe wasn’t the ingredients, it was the photograph. I’m a sucker for composition and good lighting.

Just look at that… You want to eat it right? Obviously the image below… the one above was 2 seconds before I stuffed it in my mouth. Mmmm.

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This blog showcases some wonderful recipes and you can look through the magazine portfolios and shoots to see what they have been up to 🙂 So do have a scout if you go on to look at this recipe. *Dreams of soft moist Brioche smothered in hummus..*

http://borrowed-light.com/halloumi-hummous-brioche/

My adaptation – I sliced some chorizo and grilled it with the halloumi. This made it wonderfully crispy and you can see the surface starting to bubble, which I love to watch. The smell is totally irresistible! And the leftover liquid makes a great juice to mop up with brioche before warming. Yeh, I knew you’d be excited!

 If you are a vegetarian, then leave this off. If cooking for vegetarians, crisp the chorizo in a separate pan.

I started the peppers before anything else and put them under the grill. You can’t beat beautifully blistered skin. So they take a little longer than everything else. The softer the flesh, the sweeter it becomes and the flavor just sings harmonious tunes with the salty halloumi.

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My cheese of choice has added chili so there’s a wonderful kick with every bite. Tesco do a great one and I have sometimes purchased some from Aldi (UK based, so not sure about other countries!)

There is no right of wrong way to layer this bad boy up, as long as you apply a generous layer of hummus (experiment with all flavours!), and the spinach goes on first. The rest is up to you! And you will not be disappointed.

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As always, if you try this recipe, do let me know what you think. Either my adaptation or straight from the blog. I challenge anybody to dislike this! Unless of course you don’t like halloumi… but then we can’t be friends 😉

I’m currently testing a deliciously fresh and healthy king prawn dish so watch this space 🙂

Love and Lemons xxx

https://www.pinterest.com/lemonskitchen/

Smokey Chilli Beef w/ Cornbread Dumplings

If you have a slow-cooker, then this recipe is perfect and will make your mouth water waiting for that tender meat to touch your lips. If not, then it’s equally as good in the oven or on the hob. You just have to have a little more time to keep an eye on it!

I chose to make this particular recipe because I love meat that falls apart and melts in the mouth, but I also love dumplings! I can pretend I’m eating a cross between bread and cake! The fact that they are cornbread dumplings makes the combination even better. I’m hungry again now…

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I’m distracted now by fluffy dumplings and beef enveloped in rich gravy *drools*

Having friends over for dinner is always the perfect opportunity to show off cooking skills without having to spend hours in the kitchen beforehand or during. Beef in the slow cooker first thing in the morning and then make the dumplings half hour before serving. Dinner is on the table and you’ve only spent 10 minutes away from the chatter and wine drinking.

This isn’t a recipe that I altered much at all. In fact, the only thing I changed was swapping chipotle chillies for regular Tesco ones because I had forgotten to buy any and grabbed an alternative on the way home! I also had to watch the spice levels because I was cooking for a friend who doesn’t like anything hot! I will definitely be making this again and ramping up the heat for more of a traditional chilli kick!

I highly recommend when making the dumplings that you use the strongest cheese possible to really get the flavour through. It’s worth every penny in each cheesy bite.

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Cheesy cornbread with beef gravy, a match made in heaven. There surely can’t be anybody who disagrees? The only problem I had was not putting enough fresh coriander in the mixture as I ran out! This also meant I didn’t have any to garnish the dish with before serving. If you grow it yourself, always check your plant has plenty of leaves!

The recipe is originally from Donna Hay. You can find the recipe here, https://www.donnahay.com.au/recipes/dinners/smoky-chilli-braised-beef-with-cornbread-dumplings If you are from the UK like myself, just be aware that it is an Australian site, so some of the ingredients vary in name J I have turned to Donna Hay a few times, but it’s thanks to Pinterest (of course) that I came across this dinner party and weekend comfort food gem.

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I know mine doesn’t quite look like the one above, but who’s got time to faff right?!

If using the slow-cooker like I did, follow all the initial steps like you would for the hob/oven, but turn the slow-cooker on to the medium setting for at least 6/7 hours (or until the meat is just firm enough to hold shape when stirred. At this point, I made the dumpling mixture, transferred the beef to an oven proof dish, spooned the dumpling dough on top and put it uncovered in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes, so the final magic could happen. Voila.

Served with peas. Delicious. The recipe serves 8 but only one portion was left after 4 hungry adults and a small child had finished! Now that’s a good sign!

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Lovely to see you back again if you are a returning reader! And if this is your first time with me, thank you!

Until next time….

Love and Lemons xxx

https://www.pinterest.com/lemonskitchen/

Bacon & Cheese Twists…

… You can Thank me later 😉

At the beginning of this blog, I did say that healthy recipes would feature heavily. So far this has not happened, and I’m not sorry….

Having a treat should never be looked upon as bad, and you should never feel guilty about it. As long as you are able to stick to a balanced diet with the occasional indulge, there is nothing stopping you from diving in and enjoying some of the wonderful flavours and recipes that are on offer. I will never deny myself of foods I really want to eat. I just make sure that there is a plan for the rest of the week and pack my diet full of beautiful healthy nutrients. It takes a while to get the right balance, but when you have finally cracked it, you’ll never have to say no to that weekend pudding ever again. Don’t give up J And don’t cut things out thinking it will help. A happy relationship with food is healthy! Don’t make yourself miserable.

This leads me on to the mouth-watering, smoked-bacon wrapped, cheesy goodness of the straws I made last week. They had hardly cooled before eager mouths had devoured them and came back asking for more. There have been many requests to make them again, even from people who have just seen photos!

My Cheesy Bacon Straws

My Cheesy Bacon Straws

I only ate the 1… or 2 maybe… Honest! Everything in moderation.

If you have friends popping over last minute, or you don’t want to faff in the kitchen, then these cheese straws are perfect. You can make them well in advance as they keep in an air-tight container for a few days. There is no chance that they will last that long though! I challenge you to still have some left after a couple of hours! Also, if you are looking for a child friendly recipe for your little helpers, these are brilliant because they can get involved and help you create the twists by layering the bacon and cheese and twirling the pastry.

I must warn you, these are not for the light hearted. Be prepared to be whisked to a bacon and cheese smothered paradise from the very first bite. You’ll be inviting people over for dinner, just for the excuse to make these!

My mouth is watering just thinking about these! And I’m doing Meat Free week as well…. (Blog to come later). This is a form of torture.

Even though I found this recipe on Pinterest, I have been following this ladies blog for a while. The food she posts always looks incredible! There is a mix of everything from healthy to indulgent, and her photographs are beautiful! You’ll be seeing a few more recipes coming from this direction in the future. Thank you Half Baked Harvest for introducing me, and now the readers of my blog to Cheese Bacon Twists.

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Let me know if you give these a go! There is no need for me to post any recipe changes because they are perfect just the way the original recipe suggests. I did scatter a few dried chilli flakes in for a little kick!

The cheese I used was Tesco Vintage and the Cayenne pepper was substituted for smoked paprika 🙂

I hope you enjoy just as much as I did!

http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/sweet-savory-cheesy-bacon-wrapped-puff-pastry-twist/?utm_source=feedly

Love and Lemons xxx

https://www.pinterest.com/lemonskitchen/

Lamb Burgers with Barley Salad

Lamb Burgers with Feta and Mint Pesto. Accompanied by a Pearl Barley Salad. Delicious!!

There’s nothing I like to do more when I get home from a long day at work, than throwing on my apron and get in the kitchen to cook up a feast. I think this might be the reason that supermodel body is still hanging in the wardrobe…

Having a friend over for the evening is an even bigger excuse to see what delights Pinterest can offer for dinner. I may have used the majority of my lunch break reading recipes I had pinned and deciding what would be suitable for a weekday banquet fit for the royals. It had to be simple but full of flavour, and a fairly quick dish to make so we weren’t eating at 11pm! And wow, I certainly found what I was looking for!

The Greek and Mediterranean cuisines have some of the freshest flavours in their dishes, which is why I turn to this way of eating on a regular basis when I want something that leaves me with a big satisfied grin and a body full of beautiful nourishing nutrients.

I have never made pesto with mint and feta before, so these were completely new flavour pairings to me. I couldn’t wait to dig in and try it drizzled all over a homemade, juicy lamb burger. After one bite, the room went silent and there was no talking until each plate was licked clean with approving faces pleading and hoping there was some left for a second round. A chef can’t get a better compliment than that!

As well as the burgers, I re-created a Pearl Barley Salad from a Pin I have. In order to access the recipe though, I found that you have to have a membership. What do you do in this situation? Get the membership just for that one recipe? Try and find another similar? No, you try and figure out all the ingredients in the dish by staring at the photograph for 5 minutes and use the foodie knowledge you have to guess the other ingredients. It may have been completely off from the original recipe, but who cares, it tasted amazing! (If I do say so myself). This is one recipe I will be making again and again to take for lunches at work. Quick, simple, nutritious, filling and DELICIOUS.

Pearl Barley Salad – Lemon’s Kitchen Style:

– Pearl Barley – 2 cups

– Celery – 1 stick chopped into small chunks

– Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp slightly crushed

– Lamb Stock (I used a Knorr Cube) – Dissolved in 1 cup of hot water

– Water – 5 cups, heated and slowly simmering

– Fresh Coriander – Handful, roughly torn

– Pistachios – Handful, Slightly crushed

– Pomegranate – Seeds from half

– Pepper to taste

Sautee the celery and cumin over a medium heat in a splash of oil (I use Rapeseed) until the celery starts to soften.

Add the barley and stir for a minute until coated oil mixture. Pour in the dissolved lamb stock and simmer, stirring occasionally until all the liquid has been soaked up. Add a pinch of pepper to taste. (No salt needs to be added as the stock cube will already be quite salty).

Repeat this with the remaining water by adding a cup at a time until you have reached the desired barley texture. (Some people like it very soft, whereas I still like a bit of firmness). Make sure to keep an eye on the amount of water you are adding as too much will give you a sticky risotto like finish.

Mix through the fresh coriander, serve up and scatter with the pistachios and pomegranate.

Can be eaten hot or cold.

The photo above is the original pin/recipe from ‘Cooked’. Can’t tell the difference right?! Let me know what you think if you give it a go! It can be eaten with a wide variety of additions! Some chargrilled salmon would be a lovely accompaniment! But back to the main attraction… These wonderfully juicy lamb burgers! The recipe uses pitta bread for the ‘bun’, but to spice it up a little, I used sunflower, pumpkin seed and cranberry bread straight from the ovens at Tesco. It really gives a lift to any sandwich! I also didn’t bother to shred the lettuce and just threw it on in leaf form to give a more rustic look to the burger. Just take a look at that….

You can’t tell me you’re not looking at that wishing you were taking a bite right now… (Unless you are a vegetarian of course!)

The pesto can be made to your own specific tastes. As you can see from the original recipe photo below, there is a dominance of feta, whereas in mine, the pesto is a lot smoother and has a lot more mint packed in for a wonderful taste contrast with the lamb. If you would like my pesto recipe, just drop me a comment or message and I’ll add it to the post!

I really do hope you enjoy these just as much as I have 🙂 My end product looked nothing like the photo above, as you have seen, but a worthy adaptation in my opinion. Which one would you choose?!

Love and Lemons xxx

PS. The Williams-Sonoma blog is really worth a look! There are some amazing dishes there to sink your teeth in to! After looking at the desserts for 5 minutes, I need to go and bury my face into a cake full of rich, creamy dark chocolate ganache…