I wanted to post this on the last day of February, but had an incredibly busy weekend so here I am on the 2nd March! At the start of January, I set myself a challenge to cook a new recipe for every evening meal to discover some new favourites and extend my repertoire from my standard recipes. You can have a look at how I got on here. In February I wanted to continue cooking new recipes for me and George to try, so despite revisiting some of my favourites from January, I have also tried and tested more new meals.
Chorizo, Butter Bean and Spinach Stew – Tesco Real Food
I only tried cooking this one last week, but was so impressed at how easy and quick it was to make, not to mention how delicious it was to eat! This was definitely my favourite from February’s recipes, as it’s lovely and warming and so, so tasty. George has always declined my suggestions to cook chorizo before, as he didn’t fancy it, but I bit the bullet this time and cooked it anyway, and he had to eat his words (excuse the pun). Using pre- chopped chorizo pieces, as well as all the tinned ingredients, means that this is a real one-pot, low maintenance recipe that requires little washing up or preparation- this is my favourite kind of food!
It is so nutritious too, as you’ll know if you’ve read my recipe challenge post, I’m all about trying to cook as healthily as possible! The beans, tomatoes, spinach and chorizo all bring their own nutrients to the party, and it’s hearty and filling (especially with a slice of bread to mop up the sauce!) so there’s no guilt from this delicious dish.
Tip: If you’re serving this over two nights like I did, wilt the spinach separately in the microwave and stir it into the individual portions. It was a little bit slimy when left in the pot and reheated the next day, so it stopped me enjoying the dish as much.
My rating: 5/5
Honey Mustard Chicken – Damn Delicious
This dish was my favourite until I cooked the chorizo stew! You’ll know from my previous cooking post that I used to be dubious about using chicken thighs, as I’ve always been a strict chicken breast eater and worried about cooking different types of chicken (no idea why!) This recipe needs chicken thighs, as they just make the whole dish taste so much better. Chicken breast may be very lean and clean, but it doesn’t have much flavour compared to the thighs. The honey mustard sauce is absolutely delicious, and as the recipe description says, you will want to eat it on its own with a spoon!
It’s quite a messy recipe, requiring you to get your hands dirty to marinate the chicken in the mustard rub, but your hunger will thank you for it. I served it with brown rice as it tastes so good when you mix the rice with the mustard sauce, but I think it would taste great with wholegrain pasta or quinoa too. I would like to try making the honey mustard sauce separately and serving it with vegetables or pasta as a side dish, as it is irresistible and makes anything taste instantly better!
Tip: If you’re buying boneless chicken thighs, make sure they are relatively equal sizes as very large ones take up a lot of room in your pan when browning them, and make it difficult to serve the portions equally. I made the mistake of not chopping the humungous thighs that came in my packet into smaller sections, and it didn’t look nearly as appetising as the first time I made it with neat, equally-sized thighs.
My rating: 4/5
Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta – Damn Delicious
I was eager to make my own dish using shrimp (or prawns) as I rarely cook fish and have never cooked prawns with anything before. I never used to be a fan, but since eating a lot of shrimp at Chinese buffets, in New York at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co, and at a meal out the other week with some friends, I have developed a real taste for it and wanted to have it at my disposal in my mental cookery book!
Unfortunately, this was not to be. Due to my inexperience with shellfish, we bought Sainsbury’s Basics frozen prawns which are pre-cooked and frozen, so you don’t have to worry about undercooking them. BIG mistake. These are far too teeny-tiny and flavourless to do this dish justice, and they only get smaller when you bake them in the oven as required. If I were to dare to try this recipe again, I would definitely try to use fresh or frozen whole prawns as these are very tasty when cooked right and would be delicious cooked as instructed in this recipe. The sauce was delicious, and as I didn’t fancy using the bog standard shrimp from the day before, I cooked thinly-sliced chicken breast strips with it the next day. It was tasty, but George pointed out the sauce still tasted fishy somehow and I think this is because it is designed to be paired with fish and this is how it tastes the best.
Tip: Definitely use fresh or frozen whole prawns/shrimp for this recipe- don’t worry about cooking them properly as if you follow the recipe timings they will be thoroughly cooked- I was just too nervous to do this myself!
My rating: 3/5
Cajun Chicken Pasta – Budget Bytes
This is a great budget recipe (Budget Bytes is full of purse-friendly recipes- you should take a look!) as you slice the chicken and peppers very thinly so they go further. However, this was not quite enough for us and I would recommend using an extra chicken breast if you can, and less pasta so you’re not compensating for the lack of protein by adding extra carbs.
I added far too much cream cheese as I couldn’t be bothered to weigh it out (look at the pictures in the recipe and you can see she only uses a few small chunks- I missed this part) so the sauce came out quite sticky and thick. It was still very tasty and I would make this again, but definitely using less cream cheese to get the result pictured above. I used a Cajun seasoning mix rather than all the separate ones listed in the recipe for ease, plus anything else I had in my cupboard that I thought would fit in well.
Tip: Add an extra tin of tomatoes to make the sauce go further- I felt like there wasn’t enough to mix in evenly with the chicken and peppers, although this may have been my overuse of the cream cheese! Point being, that if you want more sauce regardless, just add extra tinned tomatoes and extra cajun seasoning for flavour.
My rating: 3/5
So, there you have it! My aim is to cook at least three or four new recipes each month from now on, whilst continuing to practise my favourites. Did anyone try any of the recipes from my January recipe challenge? I’d love to know what you thought! I’m always pinning new recipes to my Pinterest board so take a look if you need some inspiration, and give me a follow if you fancy keeping up to date with all things Pinterest!