Spiced chicken and sweet potato soup

This is a left over soup, but then isn’t that the best way to make soup? Use what you have left over from a roast dinner and you have an excellent base for which to build your soup.

I cooked a delicious roast on Monday (I was off work, so essentially it was Sunday), and decided to boil the bones for stock, which is the perfect foundation for your soup. See my post below on how to make a simple chicken stock. There was plenty of meat left over so I used this too. Be warned, this recipe makes lots of soup, but it’s great for freezing and eating later so I think it’s best to make a big batch.
Left over roast chicken torn
2 litres of homemade chicken stock (see post below)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 sticks of celery roughly chopped
4 carrots roughly chopped (skin on)
2 onions finely chopped
3 garlic cloves grated
1 red chilli
½ tbsp turmeric
½ tbsp smoked paprika
3 sweet potatoes pealed and cubed
Handful or red lentils
Handful of pearl barley
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the onion, chilli, garlic, turmeric and smoked paprika. Fry over a high heat for 4 minutes until the onion is soft. Do not allow to burn.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and add the chicken stock, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, red lentils and pearl barley.
  3. Allow to cook for 10 minutes before adding the chicken, season with Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for a further 25 minutes (until all the vegetables are soft).
  4. Using a stick blender, blend the contents to a smooth consistency.
  5. Serve immediately, sprinkled with chopped parsley and crusty bread.

Serves:                              10
Preparation time:             10 minutes
Cooking time:                  45 minutes


Homemade chicken stock


Chicken carcass
3 sticks of celery roughly chopped
3 carrots roughly chopped (skin on)
2 onions roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves pealed
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
  1. Remove all meat from the chicken carcass. Place the carcass and skin into a large pot.
  2. Add the celery, carrots, onions, garlic and parsley and fill the pot with cold water (just enough to cover the carcass and vegetables).
  3. Bring to a boil then immediately reduce the heat to barely a simmer. Simmer for 3-4 hours, checking intermittently. 
  4. Once the stock is ready remove from the heat and strain into another large pot through a sieve with kitchen towel. Using kitchen towel ensures that the fat is left behind, along with any residue from the carcass and vegetables.
  5. Label and store for future use, it can be frozen once cooled.

Serves:                              10

Preparation time:             10 minutes
Cooking time:                   3-4 hours


Exciting times one month in, the LIEBSTER BLOG AWARD!

I woke last Thursday and began my daily routine of checking my Blogger comments, Facebook, Google + and Twitter only to discover I had been given an award. Imagine my surprise and delight! The Liebster Blog Award was given to me by Jen Price at Blue Kitchen Bakes. Thank you Jen, you made my day, my week, and my first blogging month! ♥ Jen writes a wonderful blog, showcasing an array of lovely baked goodies. 

I am very grateful, not to mention happy, to have received this award, considering I have only been blogging for one month it’s a great confidence boost. I enjoy sharing my love of good food with others, whilst discovering exciting new recipes from the blogs I’m reading. I really enjoy reading everyone’s lovely comments on my posts. And, I still get that happy feeling when I realise I have a comment, I hope that lasts! 

So what is the Liebster Blog Award? Well, it’s an award that recognises up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. Liebster is a German word that literally translates ‘dearest’. There a few simple rules to the award as follows:

  • Link back to the person who gave you the award and thank them
  • Post the award to your blog
  • Give the award to five bloggers with less than 200 followers (don’t be offended, I’m giving you this award because I enjoy reading your blog and want to encourage others to read it.)
  • Let the award winners know
Credit where it is due. After musing over Carleys wonderful fashion and beauty blog, I got to thinking I should write my own blog, so I guess you could say Carley was my main inspiration to finally take the plunge. You will enjoy Carley’s witting writing style, quirky outfits and creative nail art.
After having a rather exciting chat with Vicki about growing chillies, we discovered we are Blogging Birthday Sisters, happy one month to A Life of Geekery too! Vicki writes a wonderful blog about kitchen, craft and beauty. 
In his own words, Johnny is an Englishman living in Europe who enjoys good food with good friends. I am truly grateful that Johnny wishes to share his gift of superb cookery paired with vibrant photographs that will make your mouth water.
Sarah has a wonderful way of making you hungry, even when you have just eaten, with her delicious recipes and photographs. She explains that The View From the Table is a ramble through kitchen life and adventures in cooking and eating. 
Stephanie @ Kitchen Frolic
Stephanie is a Canadian blogger who loves to get out and about, her variety of posts are brilliant. There’s always something to keep you amused in your lunch hour, whether its an exciting product review or a scrumptious recipe. 


Asian salmon with peanut sesame noodles

I was home alone last night whilst my boyfriend was on his fishing boat, which I suppose you could say inspired my dinner. I had fish on my mind, so I decided to cook myself an old favourite, spicy Asian salmon with peanut sesame noodles. This dish is absolutely packed with flavour and you can make it as spicy as you like, depending upon your taste.  

It’s so quick to prepare and the salmon doesn’t even need marinating as the flavours are so strong, and when cooked in the tin foil parcel it traps all of the steam and flavour in, this also keeps the salmon really moist. If you’re a fan of Asian inspired food you won’t be disappointed with this one. 

This recipe also works well with white fish fillets if you’re not keen on salmon. 

For the Asian salmon:
2 salmon fillets
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1cm ginger, finely grated
1 red finger chilli, finely chopped
1 whole lime, cut into wedges to serve
For the peanut and sesame noodles:
300g fresh egg noodles
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 red finger chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC
  2. Combine the fish sauce, sesame oil, soy, lime, coriander, garlic, ginger and chilli in a bowl, mix well.
  3. Place each salmon fillet on a piece of tin foil (large enough to wrap around the salmon with extra space at the top to allow the steam to circulate).
  4. Divide the marinade between the two pieces of salmon, pouring over the top.
  5. Pinch the tin foil together at the top and sides, so that there are no gaps (you don’t want the steam to get out). Place the parcels on a baking try in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  6. When the salmon has 10 minutes left to cook, combine the peanut butter, sesame oil and soy sauce in a bowl, mix well.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat (it’s important not to use a high heat, otherwise the peanut butter will burn and stick to the pan). Add the mixture to the pan and heat until the peanut butter has melted into a liquid.
  8. Add the noodles and mix well, ensuring that all of the noodles are coated, once the noodles are warmed through remove them from the pan. Place in a large noodle bowl and garnish with the chilli, coriander and sesame seeds.
  9. Remove the salmon fillets from their parcels and place on a plate, pouring over any liquid from the tin foil. Serve immediately with fresh wedges of lime.

Serves:                            2
Preparation time:          5 minutes
Cooking time:                25 minutes


No fuss spaghetti carbonara

I just wanted to say a special thank you to all my lovely followers, my first month of blogging has been a roller coaster, but a successful one, i think. I’m looking forward to bringing you more of my recipes over the coming weeks. Today’s recipe is inspired by Delicious magazine, for those nights when you’d rather just watch TV than get stuck into cooking. 

Whilst I’m not put off by recipes with long lists of ingredients, sometimes we just want something really quick with no fuss. So, today I’m bringing you one of my favourites, spaghetti carbonara; the king of comfort foods, not to mention super quick and easy to make. I have tried many recipes in the past, often finding them too thick and stodgy, with far too much cheese. I found this recipe in last month’s Delicious magazine and obviously had to try it, its surprisingly light for a pasta dish, which is often difficult to achieve and very tasty too.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Happy Friday!

I know it looks like it, but honestly, i’m not promoting Waitrose in this post, i just happened to buy all Waitrose essential ingredients for this one : ) 

200g spaghetti
2 medium eggs, whisked
200g pancetta lardoons
1 tbsp olive oil
50g parmesan, grated
Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Fry the pancetta in the oil over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until golden and crisp, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water for 10-12 minutes, or according to the packet instructions. Drain and return to the pan, then add the eggs and stir until the residual heat from the pasta cooks the egg. Mix in the parmesan, the pancetta lardoons and lots of black pepper, then serve.

Serves:                            2
Preparation time:           0 minutes
Cooking time:                15 minutes

Spaghetti & Meatballs with Bruschetta

Who doesn’t love meatballs? They are a complete fail safe in my house. To me, there is nothing more comforting than a big plate of spaghetti with meatballs and a big dollop of tomato sauce. Delicious! Now, don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients here as most of it is store cupboard stuff. Meatballs simply have to be homemade, you can pretty much add what you like to them, but what you do need is a binding agent, such as egg and olive oil. Don’t feel like you have to stick to this list precisely, but I would advise keeping the anchovies, they are great in meatballs!

And, as if spaghetti and meatballs aren’t filling enough, in all my greed last night I had to make tomato and basil bruschetta to accompany them. Cherry tomatoes are just great at the moment, so sweet; I can’t get enough of them.  Paired with some freshly chopped basil and some creamy feta they are just scrumptious, and of course, what Italian meal would be complete without a good Italian red wine?
For the spaghetti and meatballs                             
2 tbsp olive oil
400g lean beef mince
240g spaghetti
2 red onions finely diced
2 cloves garlic finely diced
1 tbsp freshly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp crushed prepared chilli
50g tin of anchovy fillets in extra virgin olive oil roughly chopped
1 egg whisked
2 cans chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper finely chopped
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp plain flour
I tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp parmesan
2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
  1. Combine the olive oil, egg, garlic, rosemary, mustard, pepper, smoked paprika, chilli, anchovies and 1 chopped red onion in a bowl; mix well with your hands.
  2. Add the beef mince, I used a pair of kitchen scissors to snip it a little finer; this will help it to combine when you make the mixture into meatballs. Mix again with your hands until all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Make the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs, or bigger if you like, but you want them all to be the same size so that they cook evenly. Roll them lightly in flour, this will stop them sticking to the pan.
  4. Place the meatballs in a frying pan with a table spoon of olive oil and fry over a low to medium heat for about 8 minutes, turning them over half way though. Once the 8 minutes is up, remove them from the pan and set aside.
  5. Fry the chopped onion and pepper in the pan for 5 minutes until soft, add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and balsamic vinegar, cook for 3 minutes, until the tomatoes are cooked through. Return the meatballs to the pan with the tomatoes and continue to cook on a low heat.
  6. Meanwhile cook the pasta for 10 minutes, or according to the pack instructions. 
  7. Drain the pasta and serve topped with meatballs and a big dollop of tomato sauce. Garnish with some freshly chopped basil and grated parmesan.

Serves:                               2
Preparation time:             15 minutes
Cooking time:                   20 minutes
For the bruschetta 
Small French stick, or ciabatta sliced
2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
Vine cherry tomatoes chopped into quarters
2 tbsp freshly chopped basil
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp feta crumbled

  1.  Toast the bread lightly on both sides using the grill; rub the bread with a garlic clove.
  2. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (it is very important to use a good olive oil as it really will effect the taste!) top with tomatoes and feta and a sprinkling of basil and sea salt.

Serves:                              2
Preparation time:             5 minutes
Cooking time:                   5 minutes

Thai chilli chicken and Pad Thai noodles

After visiting my favourite Thai restaurant for lunch last week, I discovered an amazing chilli chicken dish which I just had to recreate at home. Often it’s not difficult to work out what’s in the dish, use your eyes, and your half way there, then your taste and et viola! So that’s where I started.
Now, I’m certainly no expert, but it’s a good idea to remember that there are a few fundamental basics in Thai food; and if you follow them you can’t go far wrong. Start with chilli, ginger, garlic and Thai basil, which together create that notorious Thai flavour.

I quite literally would have made this the next day if I could find Thai basil. Something I’d overlooked was that it is just out of season, so it was a little more difficult to find than I’d first thought. I searched supermarkets, called garden centres, and just when I thought I’d have to order it online, pay a ridiculous delivery cost and wait a gruelling 3-4 days for delivery I stumbled upon some in Waitrose. This made my day!
Normally, I encourage people to experiment with recipes, change ingredients to suit their taste (after all, there a no strict rules, you don’t have to stick to a recipe), that’s the true beauty of cooking and recipe development. However, on this occasion you must not substitute the Thai basil for any other type, it is such a key flavour in this dish.  Thai basil has a strong aniseed flavour and the aroma is just heavenly.

To accompany the chilli chicken I decided on Pad Thai noodles, mainly because it’s one of my favourites, but also because you can get some great readymade Pad Thai sauces and pastes to help you along the way. Of course, you can go all out and make it from scratch, if you have the time, but the shop bought pastes really are very good.
Another must with this recipe is Singha beer to wash it all down. Perfect!

For the Thai chilli chicken (see below for the Pad Thai)
380g chicken cut into strips
2 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh Thai finger chillies, red or mixed
4 cloves of garlic chopped
3cm piece of ginger grated
100ml soy sauce
Bunch Thai basil (must be Thai basil, you cannot substitute ordinary basil)
2 banana shallots thinly sliced
1 pack bean sprouts
1 lime
Packet of Sharwood’s Thai spiced crackers
2 Singha Beers
  1. Start by placing your chicken in a shallow dish; add the soy sauce, garlic, ginger, half of the Thai basil and three of the Thai chillies, mix together with your hands until evenly combined. Leave to marinade for at least 30 minutes, but if you have the time, a couple of hours is best. 
  2. Add the olive oil to a wok or frying pan, set on a medium heat and add the chicken, making sure you use all of the marinade, stir fry for about 6 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
  3. Add the shallots and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, ensuring you stir continuously to prevent the chicken or shallots from burning. Add the bean sprouts and cook for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze over the juice of half a lime.
  4. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of Thai basil, wedges of lime and chopped chilli to garnish (this extra chopped chilli adds a real kick, so if you prefer a milder taste just leave this out).

For the prawn Pad Thai:
150g rice noodles
5 tbsp Pad Thai paste
1 fresh red Thai finger chilli
3 tbsp roughly chopped peanuts or cashews
2 tbsp olive oil
200g cooked king prawns
1 large egg beaten
  1. Soak the rice noodles in a large covered bowl of boiling water for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the olive oil to a pan and cook the prawns over a medium heat for 3 minutes, until heated through.
  3. Add the beaten egg to the pan, reduce the heat and stir continuously. The egg should be slightly scrambled, but not completely cooked.
  4. Add half of the Pad Thai paste and allow to heat through before adding the noodles and other half of the paste. Stir fry for 3 minutes, adding half of the peanuts at the last minute.
  5. Serve the Pad Thai with the remaining peanuts and a freshly chopped chilli to garnish.

Serves:                               2
Preparation time:             10 minutes
Cooking time:                  30 minutes
If you try your hand at this one, let me know what you think and how it turns out. Also, if you make any alterations come back and share them!  
If, like me, you struggle to find Thai basil you can order it online from Thai Food Online, or just try Waitrose first!
This recipe is very spicy, the way good Thai food should be. But, if your not so brave just reduce the amount of chilli. I would advise you to go as hot as possible, but obviously the aim is to enjoy it, so I’ll leave that up to you. 


Caramelised Red Onion and Goats’ Cheese Pasta

Friday is upon us once again, and I’m looking forward to a food filled weekend. I’m trying my hand at some Thai specialties this weekend, so watch this space for more tasty treats next week.
Now, back to Caramelised Red Onion and Goats’ Cheese Pasta! This truly is a great recipe, made with the simplest of ingredients, but oozes strong flavours, from the sweet, sticky caramelised onions to the tangy goats’ cheese; it practically melts in your mouth! If you’re a fan of acquired tastes this is definitely a dish for you.
Goats’ cheese is renowned for its tart strong flavour. It is important to select a goats’ cheese that isn’t too strong, as you don’t want it to be over powering. Ask at the deli counter of your supermarket for a goats’ cheese that is ideal for cooking with, they do some great milder varieties that will complement this dish wonderfully. 

160g fusilli pasta
75g diced cooking chorizo
50g goats’ cheese sliced
2 red onions sliced
3 tbsp freshly chopped basil
1 can of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
Roasted baby tomatoes on the vine
2 tbsp grated parmesan to serve

  1. Add the oil and onions to the pan and cook for 10 minutes, once the onions are soft add the sugar and salt and stir continuously.  If the onions become a little dry add a little water to the pan and continue cooking for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile place the vine tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  3. Once the onions have caramelised add 1 table spoon of the balsamic vinegar and cook for a further minute (this helps to deglaze the pan, and adds a real depth to the flavour), add the chorizo and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and remaining balsamic vinegar to the pan with half of the basil, cook for 4 minutes, adding most of the caramelised onion and chorizo at the last minute.
  5. Drain the pasta and mix into the pan of chopped tomatoes.
  6. Serve the pasta, adding the goats’ cheese, roasted vine tomatoes, remaining caramelised onions and basil to garnish. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired.

Serves:                                2
Preparation time:             10 minutes
Cooking time:                   30 minutes


Sausage casserole with homemade Irish soda bread

This rich sausage casserole partners wonderfully with homemade Irish soda bread and lots of red wine. It is perhaps a little time consuming to make on a weeknight, but that doesn’t stop me. The soda bread can be cooked alongside the casserole so that everything is ready together. The effort is in the preparation with this recipe so find yourself a few good tracks on the iPod and get cracking!

Soda bread is so easy to make, with only four ingredients; it’s rustic and delicious, making it the perfect accompaniment to your sausage casserole. Unlike other breads, the raising agent is bicarbonate of soda; no yeast is needed.
And, in case you’re interested, Irish folk law has it that you should cut a cross in the top of the bread before baking to let the devils (or fairies) out, but I happen to think it is done to help the bread rise. 
For the sausage casserole                                               
2 tbsp olive oil
6 sausages
2 large shallots sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 red peppers roughly chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 can baked beans
1 can butter beans
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp fresh rosemary finely chopped
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp smoked paprika
300ml chicken stock
100ml red wine
Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.
  2. Heat the oil and fry the sausages for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown, transfer to a casserole dish.
  3. Fry the shallots in a pan until golden brown, stirring continuously, add the garlic for the last 3 minutes.
  4. Stir through the smoked paprika for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, herbs and red peppers.
  5. Pour over the wine and bring to a simmer.
  6. Tip into the casserole dish with the sausages, cover and place in the oven on 200ºC for 30 minutes.
  7. Stir in the beans and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes, until the casserole has thickened.
  8. Season to taste and serve with homemade crusty Irish soda bread (recipe below).
Serves:                           2
Preparation time:         10 minutes
Cooking time:               40 minutes

For the Irish soda bread                              
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
400ml buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC.
  2. Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the buttermilk.
  4. Mix together with your hands. The dough should be very soft but not too wet. If necessary, add the remaining buttermilk.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly. Shape into a 15cm round.
  6. Place the dough on a greased baking tray, cut a cross in the top and place in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes. When the bread is done it will sound hollow if tapped on the bottom.
Preparation time:             5 minutes
Cooking time:                  30 minutes


Boiled Bacon in Ginger Ale (smoked gammon joint)

This is the perfect lazy Sunday lunch. Given that my boyfriend and I are both from Irish descent; it’s no surprise that we love this recipe. It’s my take on boiled bacon, cabbage and spuds, I replace the cabbage for carrots and cook the gammon slowly in ginger ale for at least an hour. The carrots soak up the sweet flavour of the ginger ale; it really is so simple, yet incredibly delicious. 

750g smoked gammon joint
2 litres of dry ginger ale or ginger beer
6 large carrots
2 large onions
15 cloves
10 black peppercorns
2lbs / 900g Mozart potatoes (the red skinned ones)
A splash of milk or single cream and a knob of butter
Pinch of salt and pepper


  1. Make 15 small incisions in the gammon joint and pop the cloves into the holes. Place the gammon into a large pot (about twice the depth of the joint). Add the peppercorns and cover with ginger ale. The liquid should cover all of the meat; if the meat isn’t covered just top it up with cold water, even if you use equal parts ginger ale and water that is fine.
  2. Peel the carrots and chop in half. If you are using smaller carrots keep them whole, they cook for long enough so don’t need to be too small. Cut the onions into quarters and add them to the pot with the carrots slotting them in around the gammon.
  3. Set the pot on a medium heat and cover, cook this for 1 hour at least. I find 1 hour 15 minutes is perfect, but the smell of it cooking makes you impatient, trust me!
  4. Meanwhile peel the potatoes and chop into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes, run them under cold water to rid of the surface starch. When the gammon has 20 minutes to go, heat a large pan of water and boil the potatoes until tender, not until they fall apart in the water.
  5. Drain the potatoes, adding the milk or cream and butter; mash quickly until smooth. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Easy on the salt, the gammon will be salty enough.
  6. Remove the gammon joint form the ginger ale, don’t tip the ale away! Remove the cloves and serve the gammon sliced with the carrot and onion and a generous dollop of mashed potato. Spoon on the ginger ale as gravy.


Gammon joints can be very salty which is why this recipe doesn’t call for any extra salt to be added. Ideally, soak the gammon in a large pot of cold water over night, drain before cooking.

I use Mozart potatoes from Waitrose (the red skinned ones) they make perfect mashed potatoes every time.

If the thought of cooking your gammon in ginger ale doesn’t make you run to the supermarket don’t panic! Gammon can be boiled in many things, dry cinder, apple or orange juice, fanta or the Nigella Lawson way of boiling it in Coca Cola. Yes Really!