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Dill & Cucumber Chicken Salad




I confess when I was younger I was not all that fond of chicken salad sandwiches. I am not sure why.  It is something which I have taken to mostly in my older life.  There wasn't anything really per se that I didn't like about them, I guess I just always preferred sliced chicken to chicken salad.  To be honest, I hadn't really tried it . . . I just always thought that I wouldn't like them, and so I was hesitant to try.  When I worked at the Manor though, I used to make Chicken Salad for my boss now and then, and in the process I was required to taste it, and I then learned that actually, Chicken Salad was kinda tasty!


You can make a chicken salad either to eat on its own on a lettuce leaf, or to be placed between two sliced of bread very easily.  Chicken breast meat is so benign flavourwise and adapts itself well to many textures and flavours. 


I think for me the reason I avoided chicken salad for so long, it was a texture thing.  I was never really fond of the feeling of having something soft in my mouth, and mixed with something of resistance . . .  almost like trying to eat the bone in a fish, or a piece of gristle in a hamburger.  I still cannot really eat a lot of things with hamburger in them, but I do enjoy a nice chicken salad every now and then.  I have adapted and my tastes have grown!



This chicken salad today is a bit different than the usual one. You won't find any fruit in it all, nor nuts.  In fact almost everything in it is green. You might want to call it GREEN chicken salad, except that name is quite highly un-appealing, so we won't!!  There is plenty of flavour and texture in this salad from the use of chopped spring onions (Scallions), celery, cucumber, pickle, dillweed and the usual mayo, sour cream, some Dijon mustard and some seasoning. 



For the pickles I chose Mrs Elswood Whole Sweet Cucumbers.  They are not really sour like gerkins or cornichons would be, but have a lovely sweet pickle flavour, with just a hint of onion and sweet pickling spices.  I thought they would go well with the dillweed.  If I had used dill pickles that would have been too much dill, these whole sweet cucumbers added just the right touch.


Todd enjoyed his on a soft roll, as for myself, I wanted to enjoy it on some toasted wholewheat bread.  Kind of like you might get at a Diner Counter.


This sandwich kind of reminded me of my younger days when I was first working away from home.  I was boarding with a little old lady who gave me a packed lunch to take to work every day, but on paydays I used to treat myself to a nice lunch out at the Metropolitan Department store which was around the corner from the office I worked in.


Some days it would be our family favourite Fish and Chips, always disappointing because it was only the frozen fish wedges, not hand dipped fillets . . .  more often than not, I would opt for a Club Sandwich  or a BLT on toasted whole wheat bread.


If they had offered a sandwich like this . . .  with a delicious chicken salad, and a healthy layer of salad greens on toasted whole wheat bread, I might have been tempted to try out chicken salad sooner!  This was IS a very good sandwich.  I am going to try this again!  It made a great change from having chicken salad with cranberries or pecans.  This was very nice.



*Dill & Cucumber Chicken Salad*
Makes 8 servings

A delicious chicken salad that is a bit out of the ordinary.  Filled with lots of flavour and crunch. 


375g cooked chicken, cubed (3 cups)
40g sour cream (1/3 cup)
65g mayonnaise (1/3 cup)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
6 inches of an English cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped (abput 1/2 cup)
2 sticks celery, trimmed and chopped
2 pickles, chopped
2 tsp fresh dill leaves
1 tsp fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste




Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring until completely combined.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  Use as desired. Its lovely served as a salad, scooped onto lettuce leaves, or in a sandwich with another pickle on the side.  I like mine on toasted whole wheat bread with a healthy layer of salad leaves.  Store any leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator.


With Picnic season coming up, these would also make great sandwiches to take along with you in the picnic basket on some of your outings.  Todd and I love to gad about in the warmer months going here and there, but we don't always want to have to resort to buying a meal when we are out.  I normally will make us a picnic lunch to take along. There is nothing like sitting on a blanket up at the Horseshoe Pass and enjoying a nice sandwich while you take in the beauty of God's splendor! 





Whether it’s the healthy addition to your cheeseboard, for adding a tasty crunch to your sandwich or the secret ingredient in your salmon terrine, pickles are bigger than ever (The London Evening Standard flagged them as an upcoming trend), which is why Mrs Elswood, the number 1 pickled cucumber brand in the UK is excited to announce their return as a sponsor of National Picnic Week (15-24 June 2018).


Now in its 13th year National Picnic Week is dedicated to everything great about the British summer – getting outdoors (weather permitting), enjoying tasty food & drink, and spending time with family & friends. Activity planned for National Picnic Week include competitions for the best picnic spots in the UK, recipes for delicious alfresco dishes to prepare at home and general advice on picnicking.


In preparation for National Picnic Week, the team at Mrs Elswood will once again be coming up with some easy, outdoor recipes to impress your friends on your jaunt to the park.


Produced at the height of the cucumber growing season during June & July every year and packed straight away for freshness and full flavour, Mrs Elswood is ideal in a quiche, a welcome addition to a ham sandwich or fabulous on their own. A household name for over 70 years, Mrs Elswood is the must-have picnic basket essential.


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Marie Rayner
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Cherry Croissants




Did you every have one of those days?    By that I mean a day where everything you touch turns to doodoo.  You spend all day working really hard, but at the end of it you got nothing to show for it.  Days where you float from one disaster right on into another.  Yep, having one of those horrible rotten days where everything I touch turns to dust.



First I had in mind to make some cheesy potato waffles using mashed potato flakes. I could picture them in my mind. Oh but they were going to be beautiful . . .  crisp and golden . . .  and I was going to serve them with bacon curls, roasted tomatoes and some fried eggs . . . 



First I couldn't get the batter the right consistency for the waffle maker, and the cheese kept getting stuck in the holes.  Then I burnt the bacon. At that point I gave up on them and the batter got washed down the toilet. (Don't judge me.)


I cleaned up the waffle iron and then I thought . . . hmmm . . .  lemon and poppyseed waffles with a black currant syrup and some ice cream . . .  

Failed . . .  again.  I'm batting for zero here.  Its just one of those days.  I gave up.  I have no idea what I am going to make us for our supper.  We will probably have beans on toast . . .  coz its a beans on toast kind of  a day . . .  we all have em.



In the meantime I rustled up these Cherry Croissants for Todd to help keep his hungry dragons at bay.  I am so busy working on the next book (I want it finished by the end of this month) and I have an art comission nipping at my heels.  There is no rest for the wicked. My mother was right.



These are a total doddle.  If I had messed these up, then there would have been no hope for me at all . . . seriously. You can't mess them up, even if you ARE having a day from the pits of . . . .  hello, what are you doing down here!!!


They only take a few ingredients.  A tin of croissant roll dough. Ours is a bit different over here in the UK.  It is more like Croissants, and there are only six in a tin.  I know that the American ones are not the same, but they will work also. You will just get more of them.


A tin of cherry pie filling. I used Black Cherry Pie Filling. I have never seen the really red one here . . .  just the black one.


Some icing sugar and milk for the glaze. I add a drop of almond essence because cherries and almonds go very well together.


That's it . . .  put together in a certain way,simply baked in a hot oven . . . and you have redeemed a lost, horrible, no good, rotten day. These are good.  Todd loves them.




*Cherry Croissants*
Makes 6
Printable Recipe 
 
Individual cherry pies, baked in a muffin tin. Easy peasy lemon squeasy.

1 can refrigerated Croissants
1 tin (410g) cherry pie filling (21 ounce tin)
65g icing sugar, sifted (1/2 cup)
drop almond extract
1 TBS milk 



Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/ gas mark 5. Spray a 6 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.  


Open the croissant dough and separate into triangles. Place one triangle into each cup. Fill with Cherry Pie filling, then fold the ends over top to cover.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let sit in the pan for a few minutes before lifing out to a wire rack to cool completely.


Whisk together the icing sugar, amond extract and enough milk to make a drizzle icing.  Drizzle over the cooled pies.  Let set, then serve.


Note - Any extra pie filling can be passed at the table if you have any.



One more thing today  . . .  the sun was shining and so I thought, I'll do the wash and get it out.  Did that and within minutes it started to rain.  Blah  . . . with the exception of these Cherry Croissants, I really can't win here.  I don't know that I dare try anything else! Tomorrow is a new day!  Bon Appetit!


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Marie Rayner
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Magic Pie



One of Todd's favourite desserts has to be Custard Pie or Tarts.  When I am grocery shopping, I will oftimes pick him up a couple of custard tarts to enjoy.  He loved them.  They are tall and thick and well coated with nutmeg.  I can't say I am overly fond, although I could not give you a reason why.  I like custard, and I like nutmeg, I am just not that fond of Custard tarts  . . .  its a texture thing I think  . . . they are pretty solid  . . .  I like my custard a bit creamier.


I do like this Magic Pie however  . . .  it is basically  a lazy man's custard pie, except that it has a lot more going for it.  One . . . its very easy to make . . .


Two  . . .  it's not just plain custard, it is filled with lots of coconut and almonds  . . .  and I love both of those  . . . 



It uses things like flour, sugar, dessicated coconut, flaked almonds,eggs, milk, vanilla and melted butter, which you simply whisk together and pour into a buttered dish.  If you can measure things accurately and whisk, then you can make this pie. Its so simple, really.  Just whisk, pour and bake. That's when the magic happens.  It kind of makes a crust, and a creamy coconut filling . . .  and then there is that nutty topping.


It puffs up really high in the oven.  You might be tempted to think  . . .  "UH OH"  . . .  when you first see it, but never fear . . .  all is well . . .


It sinks back down once you have removed it from the oven and it sits for a while. Don't be afraid when you see how much it puffs up . . .



I like to dust it and prettify it up a bit with a light dusting of icing sugar when I go to serve it.  It just adds a special extra something . . . like a bit of blusher to a plain gal's face, or a touch of lippy.  Just brightens things up a little bit. You can leave it off if you don't want to of course.


This is an update of a recipe which I first baked some 8 years ago now.  I wanted to take some nicer photos of this and I felt it was a recipe which was worth repeating for you. You can see the original post here.


On that occasion I served it with some tinned spiced peaches . . .  which was and is very good, today however  . . .


I served it with some fresh raspberries and blueberries, because I happened to have them in.  The tartness of the fresh berries goes very well with the sweetness of this tart . . .


And because I happened to have some in the refrigerator, I added a dollop of clotted cream to the top, which made it all the more irresistable.  This really makes for a lovely dessert all round.  Rich, creamy, sweet,  filled with texture and beautiful to look at.  You can't ask for more than that in a dessert.  I would serve this to company.



*Magic Pie*
Serves 8
Printable Recipe


So called  because, just like *magic*, presto chango!!! A pile of ingredients separates into three perfect layers!  Delicious coconut custard pie that is fabulous served with cream or fruit, or both!  I have converted to American measurements as best as I can.


75g plain flour, sifted (1/2 cup plus one scant TBS)
220g caster sugar (1 cup plus 1 TBS plus 1 tsp)
60g dessicated coconut (1/2 cup, slightly heaped)
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g of butter, melted (1/2 cup plus 2 tsp)
40g of flaked almonds, divided (scant 1/2 cup)
500ml of whole milk (2 cups)


To serve:
Fresh or tinned fruit and or cream



Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/Gas mark 4.  Butter a deep 9 1/2 inch pie or flan dish well and set aside. 


Whisk the flour, sugar, coconut, eggs, extract, butter and half of the nuts together in a large bowl.  Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring until completely amalgamated.  Pour into the prepared dish.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. 





 Sprinkle the remaining flaked almonds on top.  Bake for an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool.

Serve cut into wedges along with some cream or fruit, if desired.



If you are looking for a simple and easy dessert to make this weekend, that is also moreisly delicious, look no further.  This one fits the bill on all those counts. Very scrummy indeed!  Bon Appetit

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Marie Rayner
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Breakfast Spuds



There is no denying it.  Potatoes are my favourite vegetable, which is a darned shame really because they are carbs which get converted directly into sugar. As a diabetic, I need to try to limit these types of carbs . . .  oddly enough sweet  and new potatoes are not as bad.  Go figure!  I do eat them . . .  regular potatoes that is, but in limited quantities.  Recipes such as these breakfast potatoes are pretty not as bad for you because it combines the potatoes with other vegetables, so you are not getting quite as many of the carbs . . .


I like to use red skinned potatoes.  (Rooster is what I used today) They have a nice and yellow flesh.  Along with them I use red onion, along with both red and green bell peppers. 


This makes for a beautifully coloured combination, with lots of texture and a variety of flavours . . .I could just look at this photo for hours, with all of the different colours . . . look at the lovely red rings in the onions . . . such beautiful  patterns.  The artist in me thrills at such a thing  . . .



The vegetables are tossed together with a mix of butter and olive oil, some spices and herbs, and then are spread out onto a large rimmed baking sheet.


You want to leave plenty of space between them, so that the hot air in the oven can circulate around them evenly.  This way they actually roast rather than stew.  When you are using a vegetable with lots of water in it, like peppers, this is a real hazard.  So really spread them out. 


Today I used some thyme and marjoram . . . my mother would have used oregano. She discovered oregano back when I was in my last year of highschool.  Up to that point, salt and pepper were what she used, with the exception of poultry seasoning when she was cooking our thanksgiving dinner. My father was not fond of spicy things or anything different.  Oregano was really a bit adventurous for her! I love herbs and I use them often, and I use a variety. No need to use fresh here, dried work perfectly fine..


Along with the thyme and marjoram, I used fresh garlic, finely minced of course  . . . and some seasoning salt, cayenne pepper and a mix of kosher salt and black pepper.  Altogether a most brilliantly delicious combination.  I don't overdo the cayenne . . .  it can be super hot.


If you wanted a TexMex flair, you could use oregano, dried cumin and dried coriander . . . . potatoes done that way would be lovely wrapped in a warm tortilla with some cheese and egg, kind of like a breakfast burrito.  YUM! 


You needn't only keep these delicious potatoes for breakfast occasions.  They also make a great light supper.  That is how we enjoyed them today, along with some scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast.  I think we have eggs for supper in one way or another at least once a week.  In fact we are more likely to have them for supper than we are for breakfast! 




*Breakfast Spuds*
Serves 4

You don't have to serve these for breakfast if you don't want to, they also make a great side dish for supper.  Heck, they're great anytime of the day! 

2 1/2 pounds rooster potatoes (red skinned potatoes)
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1 each green and red sweet bell pepper, seeded, trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS butter, melted
1/2 tsp dried herbs as desired (thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc.)
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
pinch cayenne pepper
fine sea salt and black pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7. Have ready a large rimmed baking sheet.Set aside.

Wash the potatoes really well and then cut into large cubes. Place into a bowl along with the onion and peppers. Add the minced garlic, olive oil, melted butter, any herbs you are using and the seasonings. Toss together well. 

Pour onto the baking sheet and spread out into a single layer. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve immediately.  

Note - make sure you don't crowd the pan.  If they are packed too closely together they won't brown properly. Also I like to line the baking sheet with some baking paper, which keeps them from sticking.


Whether you make these for breakfast, or brunch or a light supper, your family is in for a real taste treat.  I guarantee they will really love them.  Simple to make and delicious!  Bon Appetit!


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Marie Rayner
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