Spaghetti Squash Bowl filled with Creamy Shredded Chicken

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Twice baked spaghetti squash bowl with cheesy chicken, photo Illumina Media during a live tv show

‘the raw flesh and skin is similar to butternut squash but after it is cooked, the skin becomes shell-like, a sold outer layer that holds its shape even without the flesh.  The cooked flesh can be pulled apart into ribbon-like strands which I mixed with a creamy cheesy chicken and used to fill the shell and bake again.  If you are feel like a change from pizza, this is the recipe for you.’

You will need:

1 spaghetti squash
3 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 tablespoon jalapino peppers [optional]
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 all natural stock cube
1 fresh tomato, chopped
1 cup mixed grated cheddar and mozzarella
1/2 cup Greek Yoghurt
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 small onion, chopped
1 small clove garlic [left whole and removed before assembling dish]
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, chopped

To finish off before re-baking: 150g black olives, chopped
2 tablespoons rocket leaves
salt and pepper

Pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash all over with a fork.
Place it in the microwave for 3 minutes
Allow to cool completely

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Once cool, cut the spaghetti squash into half.
Place the two halves of squash face down on a non-stick baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Use 2 forks to scrape the flesh which comes away from the shell in ribbons/spaghetti-like strands.

Place the spaghetti strands in a bowl.

In the meantime place one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onion, the whole garlic and stir. Add the stock cube and then top up with 150ml water. Bring to a boil and then add the cooked chicken pieces followed by all the ingredients except the cheeses. Simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Then add the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, stir and finally remove from heat.

Place the empty squash shells face up on a baking tray.

Mix the shredded spaghetti squash with the creamy chicken filling. Top with grated mozzarella and cheddar and  bake for a second time in the oven for 30 minutes.  Serve hot or cold.

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Spaghetti squash

I use Spaghetti squash by Big Fresh, chicken by Ta Cancu Butcher Zejtun, mozzarella cheese by Zappala, spices by Schwartz, olives by Belazu Ingredient Company all at PJ Sutters, cold pressed olive oil by Costa D’Oro at J Calleja Import Export Ltd and kitchenware by Tescoma.

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#recipeoftheday Chicken Cacciatore

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I served my chicken cacciatore with tagliatelle topped with salsa verde, photography Felix Cesare

‘You will find my recipe for this classic Italian braised chicken dish on timesofmalta.com.   Add a touch of Rinatura Apple Vinegar and prepare this dish the day before as the flavors improve and it makes it worth rushing home to after a day’s work….


Source: Recipe: Chicken Cacciatore

Low fat Chicken Ricotta Muffins with Spelt Flour

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Low fat chicken ricotta muffins, as seen on tv

‘baking is a therapy for me, dipping my hands in flour and transforming it into light bakes, I could do it forever.  But I especially like using spelt, the silkiness of the flour, the nutty flavor makes it my favorite choice at the moment.  

A few of my readers requested chicken muffins and here they are :)’

You will need:

125g chicken, cooked and cut up into small pieces
275g spelt flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
200ml water
salt and pepper to season
50g ricotta (I use sheep’s milk)
1 small onion, peeled, diced, sauteed and placed on kitchen towel to remove grease
1/4 teaspoon Provence Herbs
50g cheddar and 50g local white gbejna, if you do not live on the island use a hard goat’s cheese

Preheat oven to 180C

Sift the flour.  Add the baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and peper and herbs.
Place the ricotta and eggs in a large bowl.  Use a hand blender to make a smooth puree.
Add the chicken pieces to the flour and mix gently to cover the chicken with a light coat of flour.
Add half the grated cheese.
Use a large metal spoon to gently mix in the egg and ricotta mixture.  Do not overmix.
Add enough water, little by little until you have a dropping consistency.
Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
Fill the muffin cases with the mixture.
Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on the top.
Bake at 180C for 10 to 12 minutes.
Allow to cool before removing from the muffin tray.

 

Chicken Bake with Spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes

Chicken bake with spinach and jerusalem artichokes  Photo Felix Cesare

Chicken bake with spinach and jerusalem artichokes Photo Felix Cesare

There is nothing more delicious than this quick chicken bake. I am making use of the fresh spinach and Jerusalem Artichokes available at the Farmers Market this week.

250g spinach, barely cooked
250g jerusalem artichokes, peeled, chopped and poached in water with a few drops of lemon juice
2 chicken breasts, sprinkle some Provence Herbs chopped and cooked in the oven at 180 C for half an hour
2 tablespoons Gran Padano
1/2 cup grated Mozzarella
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/2 cup yoghurt
a grating of nutmeg
1 clove garlic or use minced garlic
1 onion, finely chopped and sautéed in a touch of olive oil or use freeze dried onions if you are in a rush
Salt and Pepper

Heat oven to 180 C.
Chop the cooked chicken into bite size pieces.
Use Non stick baking spray. Lay chicken neatly on the dish. Cook at 180 C for half an hour. Allow to cool.

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients together but do not over mix. Keep a spoon of each cheese to sprinkle over the top of the dish.

Bake in a preheated oven for half an hour.

Take out of oven and let it stand for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow the ingredients to firm up.

Quick, fresh and Delicious !

Photography FelixCesare

Photography FelixCesare

Jasmine rice with chicken and broccoli

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I get cravings from time to time for Oriental flavors and this quick dish is one of my favorites, ideal for those who do not usually cook oriental style meals at home. Always stock your store cupboard with a bottle of soy suave and sesame oil, necessities…. 🙂 You will need:

500g minced chicken
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, immersed in hot water for 20 seconds and drain
1 large clove garlic, grated
1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 spoon good oil
200g jasmine rice
Toasted coconut flakes for garnish
Drizzle of sesame oil
Drizzle of light soy sauce

Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack. drain and keep aside.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft. Add mince and the other ingredients except the sesame and soy sauce. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up mince and lower heat just before it starts getting crispy. Drizzle some light soy sauce. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly. Remove from heat. Drizzle with sesame oil.
Top with toasted coconut flakes and serve.

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Chicken with Orange and Sage

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I featured this dish on TV today. It is a quick, delicious weekday recipe that looks and tastes wonderful without taking up a lot of time to prepare !

You will need:

1 chicken
1 chopped apple with skin on
2 oranges chopped into segments with skin on
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Sage leaves
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Pink peppercorns (optional)

600g – 1kg Potatoes with skin on, chopped
1 onion
Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
1 spoon sesame seeds

To reduce cooking time when i am in a hurry, I ask my butcher to half the chicken lengthwise and lay the pieces out side by side. You can still produce a healthy and home cooked meal in under an hour.

Lay chicken halves near each other on a lightly oiled dish with a layer of chopped apples, oranges with skin on, onions, garlic and parsley. Garnish with a slices of orange and sage. Drizzle with olive oil, salt pepper and fresh pink peppercorns if you have any. Sprinkle sesame seeds on the potatoes.

Cook in a hot oven as required at 200 C for 45 minutes. We like our chicken to have a crisp skin but you can adjust cooking time according to your preference.

Garnish with more fresh sage and pink peppercorns before serving and you can take the whole roasting tray on the dinner table as it is.

Serve with freshly steamed vegetables.

This will also make an effortless Sunday lunch !

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BBQ Chicken Wings and Cherimoya

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There is nothing better than home made, including BBQ sauce. We featured these chicken wings on tv, radio and today’s paper and they are a hit. Economical party food, and spare ribs or drum sticks are also a good option.

You will need:

3/4 cup Ketchup
1/2 cup Cider Vinegar
2 tablespoons Worchester Sauce
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1/2 cup soft Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
Dash pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Sprinkle the chicken wings generously with salt, pepper.

Mix all the BBQ sauce ingredients and marinate overnight.

Bake at 200 C for 49 minutes until they are crispy.
Serve hot or cold.

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I came across a new fruit this month, one which has many health benefits. Cherimoya is now available on the island. And the taste, a combination of pear, banana and caramel, also known as custard apple.

Quick chicken and barley stew

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This is literally a whats-in-the-fridge stew using seasonal fresh vegetables. You will need a kilo of vegetables to every 500g of meat used. Add a grain or pulse and the result is a great home cooked meal that can be prepared the day before as it improves when left overnight in the fridge. It is such a good feeling to know you have a meal waiting for you after a day at work.

For my stew today I have used :

500 g skinless chicken breast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 small broccoli head, cut up into large pieces
1/4 cauliflower, but up into small pieces
1 chayote, peels and chopped
Handful of chopped parsley
1 spoon chopped fresh sage leaves
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 chopped carrots
3 potatoes, chopped
2 liter chicken or vegetable stock or use water
150g pearl barley
1 glass wine
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cans chopped tomatoes
salt and black pepper to taste
Parsley, chopped to garnish

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Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Cook onions until transparent, add the chicken, then the rest of the vegetables (not the tinned tomatoes) and herbs. Add the wine, stir and after 5 minutes add the stock or water.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook for 30 minutes. Then stir in barley and chopped tomatoes. Stir cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Check that the vegetables and barley are cooked. Do not let the liquid dry up, add more if necessary especially if you are going to eat it the next day as the barley will keep soaking up the juices overnight.

Season to taste if required. Heat up when ready to use.

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Polish Rosol

I have just returned from Lapanow in Poland where the Festival of Broth takes place every year.

Rosol is a traditional clear Polish broth served with fine noodles or dumplings that are preferably home made.

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I had the opportunity to taste many versions made from old family recipes or those that are typically used in villages. Although very similar and using more or less the same ingredients, each soup had its own identity in appearance and flavor.

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Thr Polish are proud of their Broth. It is served at weddings, Christmas dinners, special occasions and also fed to someone who is ill and the healing properties must also come from the care and attention that has gone into the preparation of this broth.

I was given several similar recipes and you will need:

1 whole chicken
2 carrots, peel and cut into small cubes
Some chopped garlic
Flat leaf parsley
1 celery, cut into large pieces
½ leek, cut into large pieces
1 whole onion, delicately charred on a skillet
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 dried bay leaves
cooked angel hair noodles, to serve
fresh parsley, to serve
salt and pepper

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Place the chicken in a large soup pot and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Bring the water to boil, skim very well, then lower the heat and simmer for another hour.

Add the carrot, parsley, celery, leek and onion to the soup, with some salt, peppercorns and bay leaves. Simmer over low heat for an additional hour.

Remove meat and vegetables, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Strain the soup.
Remove some of the fat floatimg at the top.
Serve with cooked angel hair pasta, chopped carrots and fresh parsley.

With thanks to the local action group of Dolina Raby

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Today’s paper

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Grilled chicken and peach salad

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So many peaches in the market this week. Peach season is now with us. I met local farmer Joseph and the ambundance of peaches on his land is almost surreal. I love the combination of peaches with grilled chicken. Here is something light and a wonderful marriage of flavors.

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You will need :

1 large peach, skin on cut in thin segments
1 scallion (finely chopped)
1 red chili deseeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
4 boneless chicken thighs (cut into chunks)
Arugula according to preference
2 spoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon peanut oil and a few drops sesame oil mixed in three spoons of mayonnaise
Handful of cranberries
Handful of toasted flaked almonds
Maldon salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange the arugula leaves on a plate and place the peach slices around the dish. Put the chunks of chicken into the middle of the plate. I grilled my chicken pieces with just a bit of sea salt, olive oil and freshly ground pepper on baking paper. The boneless thighs are delicious.

Squeeze some lime juice all over. Make the dressing using peanut oil, a few drops of sesame and mayonnaise and three spoons of water. Stir until the mixture combines and has a smooth and even texture.

Sprinkle the ground coriander all over the dish very lightly and then pour the mayonnaise mix sparingly over the chicken. Sprinkle and garnish with toasted flaked almonds and the dried cranberries. Cut a few very fine slivers of fresh red chili and again sprinkle sparingly on the chicken with dressing. Use a lime slice as garnish.

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