cheat’s chicken & phyllo pie

With a little one year old running around the house, learning to walk and playing inquisitive games, time is sometimes of the essence. Meaning little time to cook something very amazing that generally takes more than an hour.
This is where my trustworthy pressure cooker comes into play. My INSTANT POT. Most likely one of the best purchases i have made since i started cooking.
Using the pressure cooker, meat cooking time is cut by less than half, and since the machine does all the work I have my hands free to focus on other little things as I pot around the kitchen or run after my daughter.
For this recipe I used chicken breast, which generally isn’t the most tender part of the chicken but the pot changes this reality completely and you are left with tender, pull apart chicken…perfect for this delicious one pan pie, topped with crispy phyllo pastry…

ingredients | easy | serves 6
4 chicken breasts
2C chicken stock
4 sprigs thyme
1/2t fine salt
3T olive oil
2T butter
1 white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
5 extra thyme sprigs, leaves only
3 leeks, sliced diagonally
1 punnet (250g) button mushrooms, sliced or halved
2 zucchini, sliced in half and chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2T all purpose flour
1.5 chicken stock
1/2C milk
1/4C cream
1/2t onion seeds
1/2t dried oregano
1/4t mustard seeds
1/2C frozen peas
1 roll phyllo pastry
1/2C butter, melted (you may need more depending on the size of your skillet)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
Place the chicken breasts into the pressure cooker. Cover with the two cups chicken stock. Add the thyme & salt. Cover the pot with the lid, seal the vent and set the time to 35 minutes on high pressure. Let the machine do the rest.
In a large oven proof skillet, heat the olive oil & butter until melted. Sauté the onion until glossy, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, grated carrot, leeks & zucchini and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the flour and stir. Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and stir well, while cooking on a low heat. Just bubbling. Leave to cook for about two minutes until the mixture has thickened. Add the thyme and garlic and cook, while stirring for about two minutes.
Now add the spices and season with salt & pepper. Set aside.
Manually release the pressure of your cooker. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken breast from the pressure cooker.
Place the chicken breasts on a plate and using two forks, pull the meat apart.
Bring the vegetable mixture to a gentle simmer and add the pulled chicken to the skillet. MIx. Pour the milk & cream into the skillet and stir to combine.
Add the peas and cook for about three minutes. Add more cream or milk if you desire. Flatten the top of the mixture by using a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool while preparing the phyllo pastry.

Roll the pastry out on a flat surface. Cut the pastry in blocks, about 10x10cm. Brush one sheet with the melted butter and place a second sheet on top. Brush the second sheet with butter. Fold the four sides together and place on top of the chicken mixture, like a flower. Repeat with the remaining phyllo and butter until you have covered the top of the chicken mixture.

Place the skillet into the oven and bake until the pastry is beautifully golden and crisp. About 20 minutes.

Serve the pie with basmati rice and a salad of your choice.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x

chicken fried rice

this is just such an amazing, flavourful dish that brings back fond travelling memories. fried rice certainly is a big favourite of mine. the marriage of chicken, rice and spices, the fresh herbs, the chilli and paprika zing…a well rounded, great tasting dish! there are so many varieties of fried rice that you can make. it really depends on your personal taste. turmeric adds wonderful colour to the chicken and the paprika lends beautiful earthy notes. the almonds add a lovely crunch and the tomatoes a little bit of acidity / sourness.
i prefer using jasmine or basmati rice and i do like the addition of egg here. (this is, however, optional)
i used veggies i had on hand, making this an excellent dish to use up some of those ‘forgotten’ vegetables tucked away in the bottom drawer of your fridge. i do however feel that carrots are an essential part of this dish.
making use of freezer bags to marinade my meat is one of my big loves as it really simplifies things and leaves me with less dishes to clean up. since there are only so many hours in a day i don’t like complicating things.

2c rice, cooked according to packet instructions
3tbs butter
2 eggs, whisked
1/2tsp salt
pinch of pepper

once the rice is cooked, heat the butter in a medium sized pan. add the rice and toss for one minute. add the salt, pepper and whisked eggs and toss / gently stir until the eggs are cooked. set aside.

3 chicken breasts, blocks
2tsp paprika (not smoked)
1t turmeric
1tbs crushed garlic
1t lemon juice
1/3c soya sauce
1t curry powder
1/2tsp chilli flakes (optional)

place all the ingredients in a ziploc or freezer bag. shake to coat. place in the fridge for an hour.
heat olive oil & butter in a pan. (medium heat). add the chicken and fry until cooked and fragrant. about 12 minutes. set aside.

sauce base and vegetables
2tbs olive oil
3tbs butter
1 onion, chopped
5 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, grated
160g cauliflower florets
160g mushrooms, sliced
150g baby marrow / courgette, sliced
1 small red pepper, sliced
2 small leeks, sliced
8 rosa / cocktail tomatoes, sliced
1c chicken stock
salt to taste
pinch black pepper

in a large pan or wok, heat olive oil and butter. sauté onion until translucent. add thyme and toss until fragrant. add the remaining ingredients except the stock and toss for about 4 minutes. add the stock, bring down to a gentle simmer and cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened and the vegetables are cooked. add sliced tomatoes and cook for two more minutes.

2 spring onions, sliced
handful cilantro / coriander
1/2c slivered almonds, toasted

to assemble
add the chicken to the rice and mix through.
on medium heat, add the vegetable mixture to the rice and chicken and stir while heating for about 5 minutes.
garnish the dish with toasted almonds, cilantro & spring onion.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

chickpea, butternut & chilli soup

another easy and very tasty winter warmer, perfect for long rainy days.
this soup is thick and hearty and best served with warm ciabatta, salted butter and fresh cream.
use vegetable stock if you are opting for vegetarian / vegan option and omit the cream.
i also think crumbled feta or grilled halloumi will be perfect served alongside or on top.

ingredients |. serves 6
4tbs oliv oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
300g butternut, peeled & cubed
1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
2c spinach or swiss chard, torn
1 large carrot, cut into blocks
1 small red chilli, chopped with seeds
1.5lt chicken stock
2tbs brown sugar
1/2c cream
1tsp salt
black pepper

in a large skillet, heat the olive oil.
saute the onion & garlic until glossy. add the vegetables, stir to coat with olive oil and saute for about 2 minutes.
add the chilli, brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir through. pour the chicken stock into the pot and bring to a rapid boil. turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes. remove the lid and cook for a further ten minutes or until the vegetable are tender.
remove the pot from the heat and cool the mixture down for about twenty minutes.
blend the mixture until smooth. pour the soup back into the pot and bring to a gentle simmer. (add more water if desired)
stir the cream into the soup and simmer for a further ten minutes.
adjust the seasoning if necessary.
pour into soup bowls, drizzle with fresh cream and enjoy.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

chicken & veg tray bake

another rustic one pan oven meal that is delicious and nutritious at the same time! packed with vegetables and flavour, this dish is on the table in no time at all and really requires zero effort except for some chopping and slicing. the oven does the rest.
couscous was my chosen side but any other side like roasted baby potatoes or rice will do.
an inexpensive, tasty, wholesome meal, fit for the whole family!

ingredients | serves 4
1/4c olive oil
2 red onions, quartered
8 garlic cloves, peeled and kept whole
8 chicken pieces (breast, drumsticks or thighs)
1/2 butternut, cut into chunks
3 small sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
4 zucchini, sliced diagonally
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp dried oregano
2 stalks rosemary, leaves only
6 stalks thyme, leaves only
1/3c dry white wine
1/2c chicken stock
black pepper

preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
place all of the ingredients except the wine, stock, herbs & spices into an ovenproof baking tray or dish.
drizzle the olive oil over the chicken and vegetables and sprinkle the herbs, spices, salt & pepper over the mixture. using your hands, mix everything together.
add the white wine & stock to the tray.
place the tray into the preheated oven and bake for at least 1 (one) hour, until the veggies are nice and soft and the chicken is cooked through.
serve with your choice of side and enjoy.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x

chicken thigh & veg casserole

this is another great go-to dinner that is quick & easy and minus too much fuss. i love using chicken thighs but any part of the bird will work in this recipe. packed with veggies, this is a simple way to get the whole family to indulge in our leafy, plant friends, with the added protein of the bird.
this is also the perfect dish to use some of the vegetables lying around the pantry or fridge, thus minimising wastage.

ingredients |.
8 chicken thighs
1 onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3tbs olive oil
3tbs butter
2 large carrots, peeled & cut into blocks
2c mushrooms, quartered
1/2 brocolli head, cut into florets
125ml white wine
350ml chicken stock
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
2tbs fresh thyme (leaves only)
1tbs fresh rosemary, chopped
2tsp corn flour
2tsp water
black pepper
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped

season the chicken thighs with salt & pepper. heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the thighs on both sides. remove and set aside.
add the butter to the skillet. once melted, saute the onion & garlic until soft and lightly browned. deglaze the skillet with the white wine and reduce by half.
add the carrots, mushrooms, thyme, chilli & rosemary and cook for 5 minutes. add the salt & a good grind of black pepper. place the chicken thighs back into the skillet and pour the chicken stock over. bring to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 40 minutes, until chicken is beautifully tender and falling off the bone.
if desired, make a slurry with the corn flour & water and pour this into the chicken mixture, off the heat, stirring. place back onto the heat and gently simmer until slightly thickened.
stir the parsley through and serve with rustic potato mash, rice or couscous.

from my kitchen to yours, with love x