Sunday, 7 April 2013

Balsamic chicken

I know I have been the world's worst blogger lately. Life just has an awful way of getting in the way with the things I want to do. I am hoping that some of the things that have been taking up so much of my time will be resolved after next week, in fact I'm keeping all my fingers and toes crossed. I cooked something on Friday, but after a little misunderstanding on dinner timing with the Culinary Consultant, I was so hungry by the time I took it all out of the oven that I forgot to take pictures. Major fail as well, as it was really delicious. Sundried tomato and cream cheese stuffed chicken fillets wrapped in bacon, and served with a tomato and mushroom sauce and garlic and cream potatoes. At least that gives me a chance to recreate that meal another time.

So for now, there will be nothing too exciting, just something I whipped up a while ago. I'm continuing on my theme of Ugly Food. But when you see the list of ingredients for this dish, you understand there was no way to make it pretty. But again, you have to look beyond appearances. If you could only have experienced the scent drifting from my oven and spreading all over my tiny flat. And if you would have been there when I bit into my first bite of this chicken, you would understand why those horrible ugly lumps of chicken meat have made it to the blog.

There are two highlights during my day at work. The ultimate highlight is leaving the place, obviously, but a close second is lunchtime. I get together with my friends, and we forget all about work for a while and just chat about something fun or silly. That's one of the advantages of speaking a foreign language, you can talk about the most inappropriate things at lunch and don't have to worry about anyone overhearing. 

Food-wise my lunch is not exactly a culinary highlight. My usual lunch is very boring. Chicken salad. It consists of a few big handfuls of baby spinach, half a cucumber, ten cherry tomatoes, a sweet pepper and a chicken fillet. Thats 320 calories right there, in the bag. Usually I just bake the chicken fillet in the oven with a dash of garlic pepper on top. That gets boring very quickly. Sometimes I do go crazy and mix it up a bit. Tuna instead of chicken, maybe with a hard boiled egg on the side. Sometimes I add some beans. Or, if I really want to make it special, I add a tablespoon of dressing. 

I was trying to find new low carb food inspiration, so I was browsing through my old Bootcamp recipe book. It's full of great, healthy recipes and this was one of them. I wasn't quite convinced when I read the list of ingredients but decided to give it a go anyways. Well, to be quite honest, this isn't much of a recipe, it's just a really yummy marinade. It takes all of about a minute of your time. 

Balsamic chicken (serves 4):
4 chicken fillets
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp oregano (dried)

The howto:
Mix all the ingredients (except the chicken fillets) together. Coat the chicken fillets with the marinade, and leave over night in the fridge. Cook in 200 degrees C for 20-25 minutes, or until juices run clear (cooking time depends on the size of the fillets, but be sure not to overcook them, as that makes them dry).

I like to use a Lock&Lock plastic container for the marinade. It's totally liquid and smell proof, and its easy to just chuck everything in there, close the lid tightly and give it a good shake to distribute the marinade evenly. You could also use one of those big ziplock bags, but first of all I don't trust the seal to actually stay sealed all through the process, and even more importantly, I don't want to use anything disposable if I can avoid it. 
The verdict:
I really liked the sweetness of the honey and the balsamic in this recipe. But then again, I absolutely love sweet flavours in food. I very rarely add any sugar (or honey, syrup etc) in my food, as I don't want to get used to cooking my food too sweet. But sometimes it's really nice to treat yourself a little. And this chicken certainly made my lunch salad much more enjoyable. I like it that it's really quick and still gives great flavour, and you can cook a big bunch of fillets ahead of time, freeze them individually and then always have chicken available to pop into the lunch box.

Card of the day:
This time the card of the day is a very simple one. I made it to try out a new stamp I bought a while ago. The stamp (called Thistle) is just one of those HobbyCraft stamps that are sold individually, and while they are clearly not the most high quality stamps out there, they are perfect when you are just starting out your papercrafting hobby as you don't have to break the bank to get a few stamps to create variability in your projects. I used VersaColor, which is very handy as it comes in small pads, again allowing the buildup of several different colours without going bankrupt. Here I used Cyan (19), Turquoise (20) and Violet (17) onto HobbyCraft ivory cardstock. I then heat embossed with Ranger super fine detail clear embossing powder. The sentiment is from HobbyCraft Clear Stamps General Sentiments 21 pk, and the little fuzzball is from the Kanban clear stam set Flower Scrolls. I finished by sponging on some TIm Holtz Distress ink Broken China onto the edges, attached the sentiment with dimensionals and snailed it all onto C6 Kraft card from Craft UK Limited. The finishing touch was a spray of Perfect Pearls mist. Click here for a video of the amazing Tim showing you how to make your own mist. I used the colour Perfect Pearl which is a clear colour. You can really see the lovely shiny sparkle on the card. I think the card turned out quite good, and it's a good example you don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles out there to make a pretty card. Not to say I wouldn't like all the bells and whistles... But stamping is fun, and making a card doesn't have to take more than a few minutes.

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