It’s just over a week until I head back to work full-time. I’m not sure I feel entirely ready to leave lockdown life and face a room full of people supping on their after-work pints. I am ready to start shifting the weight I’ve piled on starting this blog and not spending 12 hours a day on my feet. The first in the series of healthy recipes is this super straightforward Chicken + Broccoli Bake (with guest appearances from a tonne of other veggies and a gorgeous tomato sauce).
I read all these stories from bloggers about what they do with all the food they make, test and remake. Some freeze it, some give it away to those less fortunate, well, in this house, we eat it all. Couple that with the lockdown, and you’ve got a recipe to develop a bit of a summer belly. Not the recipe I wanted to create, but here we are.
I’m pretty good at not putting on weight ordinarily, I manage a pub so spend most my time standing up/ running around like a headless chicken. On this occasion, I’m going to need a diet to shift some of this belly, so we’re making a healthy Chicken + Broccoli Bake.
The return to “normality”
The slow return to “normality” is a little bit daunting, isn’t it? I guess because I’ve fully immersed myself in SO MUCH since it started it feels like I’m leaving something behind. I’ve fallen in love with cooking again, I’ve purchased my first ever DSLR camera and have been learning so much.
I attended the fabulous Food Photography Summit by Jena over at Little Rusted Ladle, and I joined Foodtography School by Sarah Crawford from Broma Bakery AND the Food Photography Academy by Lauren Caris.
Then there’s Pinterest – god I’m still trying to get my head around precisely the best way to use Pinterest as a food blogger. Not to mention getting my head around WordPress and the infinite amount of plugins and cool things you can do with this often frustrating but pretty cool platform.
Back to the Chicken + Broccoli Bake
It really is as simple as chopping up the vegetables, chucking over some herbs and spices and whacking it in the oven. When you’re trying not to cram your face full of calories, simplicity is key, right?
The tomato sauce is the most complicated part of this recipe, and it’s not even complicated. Just finely dice one onion and a couple of cloves of garlic – soften for around five minutes until the onion is translucent. Next, add a teaspoon each of paprika and harissa paste and cook for a further minute or so. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes and let simmer for 5 minutes. Finally, add the only naughtiness in this recipe, two tablespoons of mascarpone. The mascarpone is optional I might add, but there’s only SO good I can be.
Hit the sauce with a hand blender and blend to your desired consistency.
Take the whole tray to the table, sprinkle over some chilli flakes and dive in to your super healthy Chicken + Broccoli Bake.
Chicken + Broccoli Bake
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 1 tablespoon ground Cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon dried Basil
- 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 400 g Baby Potatoes
- 1 head Broccoli
- 175 g Mushrooms
- 2 Bell Peppers
- 4 Plum Tomatoes
- 4 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
- 1.5 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 tablespoon dried Oregano
- 1/2 tablespoon Smoked Paprika
- 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
- generous pinch of Salt + Pepper
- 1 Onion
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 3 Sundried Tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Harissa Paste
- 400 g tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons Mascarpone optional
- Slice chicken breast lengthways and toss in cumin, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until everything else is ready for the oven.
- Chop potatoes in half, place in a saucepan, cover with cold water, add a large pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 200 Celcius.
- Chop up mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes and broccoli and add to an ovenproof dish, along with the part cooked potatoes.
- Tip-over oregano, smoked paprika, balsamic vinegar and season to taste. Add the olive oil and stir everything together.
- Layer the chicken on top of the vegetables, cover tightly with kitchen foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove foil and return to oven uncovered for another 10 minutes.
- For Tomato Sauce: Finely dice one white onion and 2 cloves of garlic, soften in a small saucepan with a teaspoon of oil. About 5 minutes.
- Add the paprika and harissa and cook for another minute or so. Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 5 – 6 minutes. Remove from heat, add the mascarpone if using and stir until melted.
- Using a hand blender, blitz to your desired consistency.