Easy, hearty and delish leftover Chicken Stew

Happy Autumnal Thursday lovely people. After sharing the snap of my a scrummy chicken stew dinner on Monday night a few of you have asked for the recipe, so here it is.

(Those of you who know me well will know I’m a chuck-it in kind of girl, so the measurements are down to your individual cooking style!).

  • Cooked chicken carcass (from your roast – mine was stuffed with lemons and garlic so leave any stuffing in for flavour and I also like to pour over any left over gravy for flavour too)
  • Stock pots (one chicken one vegetable)
  • Potato
  • Sweet potato
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Left over veggies (if you have roasties chop them up small they’re a great thickener)
  • Green lentils (mine were tinned) or Pearl Barley
  • Sweetcorn (canned or frozen is fine)
  • Salt & Pepper and a bay leaf to season

Method

  1. Put your chicken carcass and any gravy in a large pot. Boil the kettle and pour over enough water to mostly cover the carcass (it’s ok if some isn’t covered, they’re tricky shaped, those chickens)
  2. Add any chopped left over potatoes, parsnips or sweet potatoes at this point as they will dissolve and help to thicken the stew. Also chop the celery finely and add now too.
  3. Add salt and pepper and a bay leaf and simmer on a low heat for about two hours or until the chicken comes away from the bones easily.
  4. Leave to cool (just enough so you don’t burn the skin of your fingers) and pick out all the chicken bones and assorted bits you don’t want to eat. I like to do this with a large slotted spoon and have a big bowl ready for all the discarded bits and pieces. Make sure you check really thoroughly for small bits of bone in the stock.
  5. When you’ve been through the pot and are pretty sure that everything is edible, then you can add your stock cubes and I also add the sweet potato here so it completely disappears in to the stew (mostly to avoid the accusatory “What’s that, Mum?” from the eldest bundle of joy). If your tiny humans are a bit less fussy then pop this in at the end with the carrots.
  6. Cook for about 45 mins until the offending sweet potato has pretty much disappeared from sight and then add the potato and cook for 5-10 minutes and then add your carrots and sweet potato here. Cook for about 20 mins until almost cooked through. If at any point it’s running a little dry, add a few splashes of boiling water.
  7. Pop in your canned lentils and sweetcorn to cook. Season to taste. I also popped some chopped parsley on mine which adds a lovely freshness.
  8. Serve with a lovely wedge of buttered bread and enjoy that lovely warm hug in a bowl.

A note of caution – trying to serve this two days in a row did not go down well with fussy eldest bundle of joy. “Why do we have to eat the same thing two days in a row? It’s not fair”). Fortunately the other two happily scoffed the rest so my eldest joy didn’t have to put up with it three days in a row. Shame.

Happy Thursday lovely people.

Tahlia x

Squash And Vegetable Soup

It’s that time of year when everywhere you look, pumpkins and squashes adorned the shelves in shops.

If you’re looking for something to do with them other than carving out ghoulish faces or pumpkin pie, look no further!

This delicious soup is hands down the tastiest thing I make at this time of year, and to make matters even better, my kids eat it! Surely that’s worthy of a parent point?!

Ingredients (serves 4 with plenty for seconds);

1kg Squash or pumpkin

2 carrots, cubed

2 large potatoes, skin on cubed

2 small onions, sliced

2 cloves of Garlic (or more, depending on taste buds)

2 pints of Vegetable stock

Sprigs of Rosemary & Sage

Seasoning

3 slices of brown bread

1tbsp olive oil

Method;

Start off by quartering the squash and carefully cut off the skin. Cut into large chunks, deseed and chuck them into a large saucepan.

Next, add the remaining vegetables and crushed garlic. Remove the herb leaves from the stalks and roughly tear up and pop on top of the vegetables.

Cover the ingredients with 2 pints of vegetable stock and bring up to boil on a medium heat.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and leave to cook for about 35/40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The next part is up to you and depends on your preference. You can eat the soup nice and Chunky as it is, or you can pulse it with a handheld blender for a few seconds. I chose the latter as my kids like their soups nice and smooth.

While the soup is cooling down, roughly chop up 3 slices of bread (crusts off) to make some croutons and place a large frying pan onto a low heat to warm up. Add a splash of olive oil and add the cubed bread.

Gently fry until the croutons are nice and crisp on each side, it should only take a couple of minutes.

Now serve up the soup and pop some crispy croutons on top.

Easy Packed Lunches – Food That The Kids Can Help Out With

The theme this week is packed lunches. What do you put in your kids lunch box? We’ve always stuck to sandwiches, day in and day out for oh, about 7 years now. I’ve decided to change all of that and be a bit more experimental.

These gorgeous little pizzas/patties/pastries with toppings (not quite sure what to call them, if I’m honest) have gone done a storm at lunch time.

They are so easy to make – the kids got stuck in with their favourite toppings – and they cost pennies.

This time around I totally cheated and bought some ready made pastry (it was on offer for 90p – bargain!). We heated and thickened up a tin of chopped tomatoes, adding in some mixed herbs. Once the sauce had thickened, I took it off the heat and placed to one side to cool down.

The kids used scone cutters to cut out the bases, then we set about choosing the toppings. They went for green peppers, left over green pesto sauce (https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/08/22/basil-pesto-sauce/),sliced baby bells and Chiritzo.

Once all of the ingredients had been chopped and sliced, we set about spooning a blob of the tomato sauce on top of the pastry bases. We then sprinkled over the ingredients, made them look pretty and popped them into a preheated oven at 180•C for about 12 minutes.

As you can see, they look dreamy. Leave to cool down on a wire rack and enjoy! Bon appetite.

Here at Mums In Real Life we’re always looking for tips and hints. Please do share any favourite Packed lunch ideas with us. Thank you x

The Scuffin Way – Healthy Packed Lunch Boxes

The summer holidays have come to an end and it’s back to making packed lunches for the little ones. It can often be challenging to think of different healthy foods to pack in their lunch boxes, this is therefore a great choice and it certainly ticks the boxes in terms of taste.

I hadn’t heard of Scuffins before, until I picked up a recipe book from a trendy young lady called Izy Hossack. They are the shape of a scone but with the texture of a muffin. They also taste pretty damn good and got a massive thumbs up from my kids, which is always a bonus.

I used Izy’s recipe as a guide, but made quite a few adaptations based on the quantity I needed and the fruit I had to hand. Let’s go!

Ingredients (makes 6);

30g Red Lentils

1 Egg

3tbsp Milk

40ml Olive Oil

1/2tsp Nutmeg

80g Plain Flour

30g Oats

1tsp Baking powder

150g Pears (Cooked) & Strawberries – cubed

30g Demerara Sugar

Method;

Kick off by preheating the oven to 180•C fan. Line a baking tray with baking paper, or use fairy cake cases.

Next up, put the lentils into a saucepan and cover with water. Boil for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and place back into the saucepan.

Stir in the egg, oil, milk, nutmeg and sugar and stir well. Add the remaining ingredients combine everything together.

Using a tablespoon, scoop out about 2tbsp worth onto either baking paper or into the cases (I tried both) until the mixture has been shared out evenly.

Bake in the oven for 17 – 20 minutes, until spring and golden. Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!

Bon appetite!

Quick Pesto Sauce

If like me, mealtimes at the moment are a bit of a rush, why not give this green pesto a try? Knocked up in less than 5 minutes, it’s the perfect solution for a quick tea time meal. Stir into some pasta or spread on top of chicken fillets, voila!!

Ingredients;

50g Fresh basil leaves

30g Parmesan (more or less, as required)

60g Pine nuts

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

Method;

Put everything (except for the Parmesan) into the blender and blitz for a few seconds.

Add the finely grated Parmesan, season to taste and add more olive oil or lemon juice to loosen, if required.

Healthy Breakfast Pots – The Grab & Go Way

Life gets busy, right? Here at MIRL we love these scrummy yummy breakfast pots. Made up the night before, they are the perfect ‘grab & go’ in the mornings.

Not only are they tasty, this breakfast pot is unbelievably healthy and very filling too.

Do you want to know more about the health benefits of berries? Check out this insightful link:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-reasons-to-eat-berries

Ingredients:

Handful of Frozen Summer berries

20g museli (sugar free)

1tbsp Fat Free Yogurt

Method:

Simply place your Muesli into an airtight pot, top with berries and then add the yogurt on top! Close the lid and pop into the fridge ready to grab in the morning!

Red Pesto Sauce

This gorgeous red pesto sauce will have your family begging for more! Not only is it very easy to make, it tastes delicious and is perfect for a quick mid week meal.

Ingredients:

200g Sundried Tomatoes

20g Fresh Basil

1 Clove of Garlic (more I’d preferred)

60g Pine Nuts

50g Parmesan, grated

50ml Olive Oil (may need a glug more at the end to loosen up)

Method:

Quite simply tip everything into a mixture and blitz. Serve with pasta (or topped on Chicken fillets) and enjoy X

No Hassle One Pan Lasagne

We all know the drill. Kids bundle through the front door yelling “what’s for dinner?”. “Hello darling! Have you had a nice day?” “Yes, I’m starving!! What’s for dinner?”

You’ve had a full on day and quite frankly, are feeling a bit knackered!! This One – Pan Lasagne is basically the cheats way to make a good hearty, yummy meal for the entire family. It misses out loads of elements, making it super achievable on a week night.

The recipe comes from the One Pound Meals book, by Miguel Barclays (no, I’m not promoting him – just sharing some fine time hack recipes) I thought I’d give it a go and share the results! I scaled up to feed 4 of us.

Ingredients:

1 onion, sliced

500g Lean mince meat

4 garlic cloves, sliced

400g Tin Tomatoes

3 dried lasagne sheets

5 tbsp Creme Fraiche

2 tsp dried oregano

Enough grated cheese to cover the lasagne sheets

Olive oil

Seasoning

Method:

Start off by preheating your oven to 190•C/gas mark 5.

Add the olive oil to an oven proof pan (I used a casserole pot) and place on a low heat. Gently fry the onions for a few minutes. Next up, add the mince and season. Brown off for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, fry until it starts to brown and add the tomatoes.

Simmer for 10 minutes, until juices reduce. Add the oregano and season well.

Lay the lasagne sheets on top of the mixture.

Spoon over the Creme Fraiche and sprinkle over the cheese.

Pop the lasagne into the oven and leave to cook for 25-30 minutes.

Serve up with some veg or salad & enjoy x

Do You Budget For Your Meals? What’s Your Weekly Planning Secret..?

I’d love to hear what people do when it comes to their household shop. Don’t be shy. Please share what works. Are you the type of person who flies by the seat of your pants and wings it every day? Buying food on a whim , depending on what your taste buds are calling for? Are you a strict planner, who knows exactly what your weekly menu will be and you don’t spend a penny over your list? Or, are you like me? Someone who does a large weekly shop based on what I think I may cook, plus a bit extra on the side that takes my fancy. And then a little bit extra on top of that for the spare freezer (just in case!). Someone who then pops out to the shops to buy some extra bananas & accidentally spends £32.47? I decided to take a deeper look at where my money is spent. The usual bills, kids clubs, gym membership etc but I was absolutely gobsmacked by the billions of times I pop into various supermarkets on a weekly basis, in addition to my weekly food shop!!! I must seriously love a supermarket! The odd £23 here, £3.42 there, then another £17 here and oops, another £6.75 here….it goes on. crazy!!! Am I alone? Do you go out for milk and return home with a hedge strimmer (minus the milk!)?

I therefore thought it might be a good idea to start planning my weekly shopping a bit better (everyone raves on about it, after all!). In doing so, I’ve found a nifty online tool which compares the supermarkets (uk – but must have similar in other countries) & offers the option of swaps and switches to reduce the cost of your shopping basket. I decided to go for it.

http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/?banner=35311&utm_medium=email&utm_source=affiliate&utm_campaign=MoneySavingExpert&utm_content=MoneySavingExpert

On average, our weekly shopping bill ranges from £97 – £134. Plus all the extras my husband and I buy in addition to this. Of course, it does differ & we need wiggle room. Is it the type of week where all the detergents need purchasing, do we have guests over, what’s the wine store looking like etc? Based on a good look through my cupboards and Fridge Freezer before I sat down to write my list, I’ve decided to be strict on myself and go for an £80 budget this week. I’m slightly scared. My shopping pattern does vary, especially if I’m a bit hungry whilst zooming around the aisles! And don’t even mention kids! If they come with me, it really does sky rocket with my little ones in tow!

As you may know from previous posts, we had a bit of an adventure with our youngest when it came to trying new food. See the posts here:

https://mumsinreallifecouk.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/synopsis-of-a-5-day-healthy-eating-plan-for-kids/

I really do try to engage the whole family when it comes to meal times, it works for us and has really given my youngest a little voice when it comes to dinner.

We therefore roughly decided on a menu (personally I find it helpful with my youngest. If it’s been agreed, then it’s much easier for me to negotiate when said dinner appears and the reaction is like I’ve dished up dogs doo doo!) . We’re still trying to try new meals (as you may know, I LOVE food and quite frankly dinner times were becoming tedious!). Here’s the menu for the week:

Now, I’m quite a conscious shopper. I always try to buy local where possible and to support farmers. I also care about recycling. Let’s see how I get on.

Now time to shop! I did the online comparison, and whilst all comparisons weren’t available, it became clear that the shop of the week for my needs was Aldi. This was ok, because I didn’t need all my other preferred brands (laundry powder, dishwasher tablets, shampoos etc) that Aldi doesn’t stock. Phew!

Off I went on my merry way. I got most of what I needed (and a few extras – I just can’t help it!) but wasn’t able to buy Sesame seed oil or Sesame seeds. I also swapped Sea Bream to Sea Bass. That’ll mean a trip to Tesco then (because it’s the nearest to me). Also, I didn’t buy any alcoholic beverages. I was so shocked when the time came to pay – £75.95!!

I was pretty pleased, I didn’t even compromise on my cuts of meats. For example, it would’ve been cheaper to buy less lean mince, but I stuck to my guns and bought the normal 5% Fat lean mince I always buy. I was able to buy a lot of British food, so that was fab. What I did notice, was the amount of packaging that the fruit & veg came in. Understandable when it’s travelling so far, but is it necessary? But this is for another blog.

I will probably need more fruit & milk as the week goes on, get through it faster than the click of a finger!!

Here are my fares:

I was pretty pleased with myself. Not a hedge strimmer in sight! Go me.

The food, ingredients and methods will be posted as I go along. Wish me luck with the Sea bass and fingers crossed it all gets enjoyed, I’m not a fan of waste 🤞🏻

PS: If you are shopping in Aldi for the first time…TIP: at the tills you bundle everything back into the trolley as soon as it’s scanned and pack afterwards once you’ve paid 👍🏻

Synopsis of a 5 day healthy eating plan (for kids)

It’s ‘throwback Thursday’!!! Way back when, here at Mums In Real Life we trialled out a 5 day healthy eating plan on some of our fussy little eaters. The results were AMAZING!!!! Take a read and as always, here at Mums In Real Life we’d love to hear any tips of secrets you may have! We’re all in this together, right?1

Soooooo, what an interesting few days in terms of the healthy eating plan we put in place and trialled throughout the week. As you may recall (or if you are new, welcome and all will make sense soon), we’ve been trying to encourage a couple of our fussy little eaters to try more food ingredients. Hail the red kidney bean!!! Hoorah for Mexican music! I salute you cod fillets rolled in breadcrumbs! You are forever in my heart, Avocado!

Looking through books, discussing what food we love & why, what food they REALLY dislike (and why – some untasted) we put together a menu. One that was simple, achievable but with a few dishes ordinarily a couple of kiddie winks ABSOLUTELY WOULD NOT EAT at this stage in their little life.

Quite frankly, meal times were starting to get quite tedious. I’ve mentioned before, it was like Ground Hog Day.

See our previous blogs for some of the results. The one I was most dreading, was our Mexican theme night. I’ve tried this before. Loads of times. However, at some point this week all of the cogs fell into place.

I made up a quick mince dish today – it was so easy. For the purpose of this menu I left out Chillies, but I did add Cumin, Ginger, Paprika and Garlic.

I whizzed a (very) ripe Avocado in the blender with a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream and some lime juices. It took about 30 seconds and then I twisted in some pepper.

That was it. Done. As I went to pick my kids up, I mentioned to Tahlia that I really wasn’t sure how dinner time would go down. I genuinely felt quite torn about it.

I shouldn’t have worried. Like I say, some cogs had fallen into place for my youngest. I do confess at this stage to playing traditional Mexican music this morning, us all dancing around, really ‘bigging up’ tonight’s meal.

best-gourmet-food-delivery-service

Here are the results: Yes, they even ate the kidney beans 👍🏻

So a good week. I will go to bed tonight knowing that I’ve been well and truly played. The fact is, there isn’t much my ‘fussy’ little doesn’t like. Apart from a bit of control. But before I head off to bed, I’m going to add some jalapeño peppers to the mince and enjoy my feast (Mexican music and all).

Give it a whirl 👍🏻