Category Archives: Chicken

Garlic Butter Chicken

This simple dinner is incredibly tasty and easy to make, and both cheap and satisfying.

Garlic Butter Chicken

  • 500g Farm Foods Frozen Mini chicken breasts.
  • 30g I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light.
  • 5ml olive oil.
  • 1.1kg (peeled weight) potatoes, chopped into chips.
  • 400g (peeled weight) carrots.
  • 400g broccoli.
  • 5 cloves of garlic.
  • 20ml of olive oil.

Heat the I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light and the olive oil in a large frying pan, crush and add the garlic (you can use less if you want a more mild flavour). The olive oil is important as it helps to prevent the spread from burning, by increasing it’s smoke point. Once the garlic is starting to brown, add the frozen chicken mini breasts, and gently fry. These will take around 35-40 minutes to cook, unless you chop them into smaller pieces as they cook. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

Put the broccoli and carrots on to cook. Allow 30-35 minutes if steaming, or 25 if boiling. Using a pastry brush, brush olive oil all over the chips. I use a basket called a ‘quick chip’ to cook our chips like this, but you can use whatever baking tray, rack or pan that you have. Pop into the middle of a preheated oven at 180 degrees, for 30 minutes, checking a couple of times to make sure they don’t over cook. If using a pan rather than a rack, you will need to turn the chips about half way through.

Once the chicken is all starting to cook (and hence no longer frozen), it can help to cut it smaller. I do it by lifting it from the pan with a fork and cutting with a pair of kitchen shears. This saves dirtying an extra chopping board, and keeps the clutter down.

The chicken is cooked when all of the meat is white or brown-there should be no pink remaining at all. Once cooked, serve immediately with the chips and the veggies.

When prepared as described, this meal has a total of 576 calories, and costs £3.50 in all-just 88p per serving. Adapt for baby-led weaning by using unsalted light butter instead of the spread.

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Chicken Pasta Bake

Tonight’s dinner is using the last portion of chicken from the slow cooker whole chicken that I did at the start of the week. It was frozen for a few days to keep it fresh, and added defrosted in the fridge over night ready for use today.

Again it uses a jar of ready made sauce, because this is the cheapest and quickest way to make it when you haven’t got a well stocked pantry full of herbs. The sauce is wonderfully creamy and rich, and the family love it. The bake itself can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge until it’s time to bake.

Chicken Pasta Bake

  • 210g cooked chicken (leftovers).
  • 1 jar Combino Creamy Pasta Bake.
  • 300g fussili pasta.
  • 1 bag frozen floret mix.
  • 30g of Cathedral City or Lidl own light mature cheddar.

The sauce has instructions for cooking the pasta in the sauce. In the past I’ve had less than pleasing results doing it this way, so now I cook it separately. Do however you choose, but if you wish to cook it first, boil in enough water to amply cover it for about 15 minutes.

Put the veggies on to steam for 25 minutes, and add the pasta and the chicken to an oven proof dish. Add the sauce and combine well. Top with 30g of grated light cheddar.

Place in the middle of a preheated oven (180 degrees) and bake for 20 minutes from warm, or 30 minutes from chilled. Serve when piping hot and the cheese has brown, with the veggies.

When made as described, this meal has 692 calories, and costs £3.90, or 97.5p per serving.

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Easy Spanish Chicken and Rice

Dinner tonight will be a quick and easy fix. The chicken was cooked two days ago in the slow cooker, a chicken joint that gave us enough meat for three meals. That means that all that I have to cook is the rice and veggies, and warm the meat, beans and sauce through.

Arguably, I could make a better, healthier Spanish chicken from scratch, using herbs and spices to taste. Unfortunately, I don’t have the spices needed for this in my pantry, and I can’t afford the buy them with our budget as it currently is. This ready made sauce jar cost just 79p, and is quick and easy to use, needing no prep and no cooking, no blending or spices, no experimenting to get a nice flavour. When paired up with the already cooked and chopped chicken, and a bag of frozen vegetables, it makes a quick and cheap dinner that should be a hit with the family.

I have to admit to being a huge fan of such easy, cheap meals!

Easy Spanish Chicken and Rice 

  • 250g pre-cooked chicken (left over from an earlier meal).
  • 1 can red kidney beans (Asda Smart Price, or equivalent shop own brand).
  • 1 bag of frozen vegetables (such as Lidl floret mix).
  • 300g of white rice (Aldi, or Asda Smart Price brand or similar).
  • 1 jar of Aldi Chicken Delight Spanish Chicken sauce.

Put your bag of vegetables in to cook the steamer or a pan of boiling water. Add your rice to a pan with hot water according to the instructions on the packet-commonly with twice the amount of water as rice. Cook vegetables for about 30 minutes in the steamer, or 20 minutes in the water, or until done to your liking.  Cook rice until nice and soft, 12-15 minutes.

Put the chicken and beans in a pan with the jar of sauce to heat while the vegetables and rice cook. Allow to heat together on a medium heat until piping hot-at least five minutes. Serve the Spanish chicken over rice, with the vegetables.

Per serving, this meal costs just 96p, and has 537 calories approximately. Adding corn adds another 58 calories per person per 80g serving, but is delicious (and is how we did it!).  Day three of our budget challenge is over, we’re almost at the half way mark!

If you wanted to adapt this for baby-led weaning, you would likely want to take the baby’s portion of chicken and beans out before the jar of sauce is added. As an alternative, a little tomato puree could be added so that baby has a sauce and their meal looks the same. As most baby-led weaning families will know, this is essential for stopping baby demanding your dinner instead!

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Slow Cooker Whole Chicken (500 Calories)

I tend to buy the biggest chicken that I can find when I’m shopping, because it works out the best value for my money. This week, with the budget being more challenging than normal, I’ve decided to cook the whole chicken in the slow cooker instead of the oven, in the hopes of losing less to drying, and because a slow cooked chicken tends to literally fall apart, allowing you to get more from the carcass.

Cooked in the slow cooker, the chicken needs little to no attention and so will not take up much of your day. The vegetables tonight are frozen, as these are cheaper than buying fresh. The almost certainly will not look as appealing as the fresh varieties, but are far easier to use and cook as there is no prep needed. Allow 200-250g per person, and remember that they generally don’t take as long to cook as fresh vegetables would.

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Dinner

  • 1 Large Chicken (around 2.2kg).
  • 1.1kg of potatoes (peeled weight).
  • 1kg bag of frozen floret mix frozen vegetables.
  • 40g of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light

Line the slow cooker with a double layer of tin foil. This isn’t essential but is a really useful step to take, as it allows you to use the foil to lift the chicken out. When cooked it will be so tender it will be literally falling apart, so trying to remove it with forks is likely to be difficult, if not essential. Preheat the slow cooker on high, and place the chicken in it, on top of the foil. Do not add any liquid. The chicken will produce lots of it’s own when cooking.

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Allow to cook on high for one hour. This brings the meat up to temperature more quickly, a precaution that though possibly not necessary, I prefer to take with poultry. Turn down to low, and cook for a further five to six hours. Turn to warm if the chicken is cooked thoroughly too early. You can check by piercing through the thickest part of the meat-the thigh-and check the colour of the juices that run out. If they are clear, it’s cooked. If they are pink or red, give it more time (on high).

Once fully cooked, the chicken should be gently lifted from the cooker using the foil, and left to rest for ten minutes. I wrapped the foil around it and used this to turn the chicken over, to help the breast stay moist.

Put potatoes on to boil, and add the frozen veg to the steamer about half an hour before serving the chicken. The chicken can be carved as the potatoes and veggies cook. You may find that the chicken is too tender to carve easily, in which case it may be better to simply pull the meat from the bones, in chunks. Take care to ensure that any small bones are removed.

Boil the potatoes until soft, then mash with the I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light. Serve the mash and veggies with 50g of breast meat, and 45g of dark meat (from the thighs, drum sticks and so on) per person.

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When cooked as prepared, this meal provides 500 calories per person, and costs 91p per serving. Gravy can be added, at 15 calories extra per person for Bisto.

This meal can be adapted for baby-led weaning by using unsalted butter, or milk instead of I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light to make the mashed potatoes.

3 meals down, 18 more to go and day 1 of the budget challenge is over!

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Chicken and Leek Bread Pudding

Tonight is day two of our whole chicken, that was roasted yesterday. It’s also a bit of a use it up night, so will help to clear the fridge of food before it goes to waste. I would love to have the time to make a quiche from scratch, but today being a busier day I don’t have time to make the pastry. And so, we’re having cheese and leak bread pudding.

For egg lovers this is a fantastically tasty dish, and one that is easy to vary by adding different fillings to it. It certainly won’t leave you hungry, being a very satisfying dish, and easy to pair with vegetables of your choice.

Chicken and Leek Bread Pudding-Serves 4

  • 7 slices of Hovis Wholemeal bread, torn into chunks.
  • 9 medium Lidl eggs (these are on the small side of medium).
  • 2 medium leeks.
  • 2 cloves of garlic.
  • 200g of roast chicken (leftovers from a roast dinner).
  • 120g Light mature cheddar, grated (Lidl was used, Cathedral City is the same calories).
  • 200ml skimmed milk.
  • 400g Cauliflower.
  • 400g carrots (peeled weight).
  • 15ml olive oil.
  • Seasoning to taste.

Carrots were peeled and chopped and put into the steamer for 45 minutes, and the cauliflower cleaned and chopped and added on top of the carrots. The oven was put on to preheat and two rectangular Pyrex baking dishes lined with grease-proof paper.

Roughly tear the bread and split between the two dishes. Remove the outer leaves from the leeks and discard the root end. Thinly slice and fry in the olive oil with the garlic cloves (crushed) for about five minutes, or until soft. Remove from the heat and add to the baking dish with the bread.

Chop the roast chicken into small pieces and sprinkle over the bread and leek mixture. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.

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Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with the milk and salt or the seasoning of your choice. Pour the egg slowly over the bread mix in the baking pan, remembering to try and split it evenly between the two bowls.

Place in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the top has gone golden brown. Lift from the baking dish using the grease-proof paper and place upside down on a plate to allow you to peel away the paper. Turn onto a cutting board to cut into portions, and serve with the veggies of your choice.

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When made as described this comes in at approximately 650 calories per adult serving. The cost was £1.25 per person.

To adapt for baby-led weaning, save the salt for those who want it after serving.

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Roast Chicken Dinner, Under 500 Calories!

There’s nothing as comforting as a lovely Sunday roast dinner, but it is possibly improved by it being less than 500 calories per serving. Even the most restricted calorie diet can make room for this comfort food.

With 100g of chicken per portion, a good serving of mashed potato and steamed broccoli and carrots to boot, there’s no need to go hungry.

Roast Chicken Dinner

  • 1 large whole chicken, without giblets. I used a 2.23kg chicken from Aldi, giving us enough meat for three meals from the one joint.
  • 950g potatoes (peeled weight).
  • 400g carrots (peeled weight).
  • 400g fresh broccoli.
  • 20g I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light.
  • 4 heaped tsp Bisto original.
  • 280ml boiling water.

Unwrap the chicken and rinse. Pat dry with paper towels and throw them away. Place the chicken in a roasting tray in the middle of a preheated oven at 190 degrees. My preference is to start the cooking with the chicken upside down, standing on the breast. I turn it to breast up half way through the cooking, as this helps to stop the breast from drying out too much, and so keeps the breast nice and moist.

The roasting time will differ depending on the size of the chicken. It needs 20 minutes per pound of weight, plus an extra 20 minutes. Chickens are normally sold by the kilogram these days so you’ll need to work out the cooking time. There are approximately 450g per pound, so a 1.6kg chicken will take about 95 minutes to cook.

Peel and chop your carrots, and chop the broccoli into florets. Peel and chop the potatoes into small chunks for boiling. About 20 minutes before the chicken is due to come out you need to start steaming both veggies-they will need 30-45 minutes cooking time. Start the potatoes boiling once the vegetables are on.

When the chicken is roasted take it out and allow it to rest for about five minutes in a warm place. Carve or pull the meat from the carcass as you prefer and place on a serving plate. Add the boiling water to the Bisto granules in a jug and stir well. We personally like to use less water for a thicker gravy. We also enjoy making the gravy from the meat juices in the roasting pan, however this pushes up the calorie count for the meal so we don’t often do it.

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Mash the potatoes once cooked, with the I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light and serve with the cooked vegetables. Serve 50g of breast meat and 50g of dark to each person, and 50ml of gravy.

When made and served as directed, each portion has a tiny 479 calories per portion. Good enough for a Sunday roast every day! The entire meal costs less than £3.50 (assuming three meals from a 2.2kg chicken), which is 88p per serving.

To adapt for baby-led weaning, simply mash baby’s potatoes with unsalted butter instead, and don’t serve them any gravy.

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