Honey Mustard Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe

It’s so easy to get into a rut, dinner-wise. We’re all busy, and it’s easy to repeat the same tried-and-tested dishes until you realise that you’ve been eating the same three on rotation for a month. It happens to everyone – even food bloggers – and I think it’s particularly prevalent at the end of the season. When winter first comes around, we get excited for soups and stews – those big, hearty meals that we’ve missed as we snacked on the salads of summer. But slowly life gets in the way and those dishes we were once so excited for become routine and, dare I say it, a little bit boring. 

This dish, inspired by Chloe and Jack, was my attempt to break the cycle of boring dinners. It’s quick to knock up after work, and can be served with the side dish of your choice – we usually have roast potatoes because we full-on addicts, but fresh bread, rice or mashed potato would work. You could even ditch the carbs and just add a side dish of broccoli, if you’re feeling masochistic. I’ve made it at least once a fortnight since first stumbling across the recipe, tweaking it every now and then until it’s reached it’s current form, and it goes down perfectly every time. I think my favourite thing about this recipe, is getting to use my Dad’s homemade Kentish beer mustard, which is totally delicious and gives a gorgeous flavour to the sauce. Unless you happen to be perusing markets in Tunbridge Wells on the regular, you’ll probably have to find your own favourite mustard – but really any wholegrain mustard will do. 

  Honey Mustard Chicken Recipe

Honey Mustard Chicken
Serves 3
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  2. 3-4 chicken fillets
  3. 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  4. 2 carrots, cut into batons
  5. 500ml chicken stock
  6. 3 tbsp. wholegrain mustard
  7. salt & pepper
  8. 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  9. 1 tbsp. runny honey
  10. 50g spinach
  11. 200ml double cream
  12. Small handful of fresh parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a large casserole dish, heat the oil at a medium temperature. Add the chicken fillets and fry gently on each side for a couple of minutes until slightly browned.
  2. Add the onion and carrot and fry for a few minutes more until the onion has softened.
  3. Pour in the chicken stock and stir in the mustard, Worcestershire sauce and honey. Season to taste.
  4. Cover with a lid and simmer over a medium heat for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid and add the spinach and stir in the cream. Simmer for 5 minutes more until the spinach has wilted and the sauce has thickened.
  6. Taste the sauce and add any extra mustard or seasoning if required. Remove from the heat and garnish with parsley, if using.
Amy Elizabeth http://amyliz.co.uk/

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Book Club

book club 2

I’m attempting to read 100 books this year, and so far I’m on track. It’s intense. It occupies a lot of my time – both the actual reading and the planning to read, the working out when I’ll have time, when I need to finish each book to stay on course, what I’ll read next. I’m enjoying it so far, and have read some really great books. I have over 200 on my to-read list, but I’m always looking for recommendations, so fire them my way! 

Catching Fire & Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins

I have a lot of feelings about The Hunger Games series, most of which are probably as a result of reading all three books in just four days which basically gave me nightmares because it was so intense. As you can probably tell, I was pretty hooked from the beginning and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to read these books – they’re unusual, riveting and surprisingly dark. I quite liked that they had a bit of an edge, and I really liked Katniss’ character throughout; I felt that she was really relatable and realistic – apart from the whole archery & survival badass thing. I didn’t even mind the love triangle, which I know people have critiqued as unnecessary. I did, however, feel that the storyline span a bit out of control towards the end and was so fast-paced it was hard to keep up. I think this is my failings as a reader though; I always want a happy ending, or at least a satisfying one, and I don’t really feel like I got that. Katniss was so out of it for most of the third book due to injury or illness that things felt distorted, and there were a couple of plot points that I didn’t agree with but which I won’t share due to the *massive* spoilers it would give. I just wish that things had turned out better for all the characters, really. I’m sentimental like that. 

Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen

I’m sure most of you have read Pride & Prejudice, whether through choice or because of a school assignment. I originally read it due to the latter, and I’ll admit that I didn’t really like or appreciate it. I was never an Austen fan, finding her trivial and sentimental – which just shows how mature I was when I was making those criticisms. Now, I couldn’t be further from that – whilst I’m not an Austen super-fan and some of her novels don’t really do it for me, Pride & Prejudice is on another level. It’s witty, it’s charming, it’s gripping. It’s everything I want in a novel and more. Whilst the love between Darcy and Elizabeth has been idolised in popular culture, for me it is the relationship between the sisters, and between Bingley and Jane that hold the real sway. Elizabeth is one of the best heroines in English literature, in my humble opinion, and I wish that there had been a sequel so I could keep reading. 

How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran is one of my favourite writers – heck, one of my favourite people – and I was very excited for her new novel. I devoured this in mere hours and wasn’t disappointed. Like her first book, How to Be a Woman, it’s laugh-out-loud funny and tears-in-your-eyes poignant all at the same time. It’s about class, sex, career, life, being a woman and trying to build yourself from the ground up – which is basically everything I like to read about. The cast of characters is a rag tag bunch, mostly well-meaning, and Johanna, the protagonist, is adorable, flawed, wild and wonderful. I’d really like to see something from Moran that isn’t a variation on this theme – working glass girl turned music journalist – because I love her ideas and her way of expressing them, her open-hearted honesty and whip-smart wit, and I sometimes felt like I was re-reading How to Be a Woman. I want more! 

Julie & Julia, Julie Powell 

A book about being a food blogger. How apt, you might think. I actually wasn’t blown away by this book, despite the subject matter, which tells the story of Julie, a New York secretary who embarks on a year-long challenge to cook everything from Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking vol. 1′ in an effort to kickstart her life. Or at least, that’s what I assume her motive is – it’s not very well explained and there are times when I just thought ‘But why?’. There was no rhyme or reason explained – but maybe there was no rhyme or reason in reality either; this is a true story after all. There were some touching moments and I enjoyed learning more about Julia Child – and about French cooking – but I just wasn’t charmed (maybe because she kept insulting her husband – if I’d been him, I would have had some serious issues with this book) and it’s not one I’ll go back to. I’m also a bit put off mastering the art of French cooking myself, especially if it involves so much offal… 

Dare Me, Megan Abbott 

I think this is my favourite book of the bunch, a story of cheerleaders with a dark edge, a mystery to solve and a friendship gone awry. It starts out innocently enough as a tale of teenage jealousy and competition, but the tension ramps up throughout the novel until it’s almost unbearable. Told my 16-year-old Addy, the book starts as a new cheerleading coach arrives, toppling Addy’s best friend and Queen Bee Beth from her captaincy – who immediately looks for revenge. Addy and the new coach become closer as Addy’s relationship with Beth becomes more strained, until events spiral out of control. The whole book feels slightly menacing, in the best way, and there’s an excellent twist. The language is brutal and visceral. I already want to read it again. 

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Get Baked Presents: The Joint

Drinks Menu at The Joint Leeds

At this stage, the opening of a new burger restaurant in Leeds is hardly news; we’ve been inundated over the last couple of years and a new kid on the burger block just doesn’t stir up the same excitement as it once did. That is, until The Joint, a new venture from the guys behind ‘Get Baked’, a takeaway serving up decadent desserts and juicy burgers from the back streets of Meanwood. Whilst they present themselves as chilled-out stoners, I’m pretty sure some business masterminds are working their magic behind the scenes; their launch has had some serious buzz and their new home has been decked out with no expense spared – and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happy by accident. Maybe it’s just that their burgers are *that* good – their takeaway is always busy and everyone raves about the food (although the delivery time is less than ideal at over an hour…). Either way, something’s working for them. 

Burger at The Joint Leeds

Burger at The Joint Leeds

We skipped opening weekend, pretty sure that it would be rammed full of students and headed for a leisurely Sunday lunch the week after instead. Whilst there’s no doubt that this is student central – it’s right next to the Uni, so you can’t expect less – it was surprisingly quiet and our large group was very kindly accommodated as we rearranged the furniture so we could sit together. The decor has that dirty, grungy vibe with neon signs, industrial fittings and ostentatious chandeliers littering the place. It’s achingly cool, that’s for sure, with peeks of the original church building coming through next to the pop culture references and in-jokes. I’m showing my age when I say that it made me yearn for my student days, now sadly behind me, when you could spend all afternoon in the pub under the guise of ‘studying’ – this is the perfect place for it. 

Chicken Wings at The Joint Leeds

The menu is suitably dirty – burgers with lashings of hot sauce and covered in crisps and cheese, chicken wings covered in maple syrup, chips with all the trimmings you can imagine. It’s tough to choose – it’s all so tempting. This isn’t a place to go the week before your wedding dress fitting; unless you’re me and you have no impulse control. I went for the Cactus Jack – fried chicken, fried onions, hot sauce, crispy lettuce and cheese – but I think between us we tried almost everything on the menu. True to form, behind the gimmicks and the jokes, the burgers were beautiful: juicy, tasty and totally satisfying, in that greasy, I-shouldn’t-eat-for-a-week way. The fries were triple-fried, and are best shared if you’re both going all out burger-wise. 

Dessert Menu at The Joint Leeds

Sundae at The Joint Leeds

Of course, as if that wasn’t enough, we had to have a go at the desserts as well. Not for the faint-hearted, two of us struggled to get to the bottom of one of their sundaes, and whilst Paul managed his, he was in a food coma for the rest of the day (a very happy food coma, I might add). A slice of apple pie, caramel sauce, ice cream, whipped cream and toasted marshmallows all in one massive bowl. It’s so wrong, but so right. 

In fact, that’s pretty much the whole vibe of the place – so wrong, but so right. I have no doubt that I’ll be back; those burgers really are just too good. 

Sundae at The Joint Leeds

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Weekend Link Love

beach

Hey everyone! How are you doing? I am in the best mood. The sun is shining, the house is spotless, there’s a loaf of freshly baked bread in the kitchen, and all is right with the world. This week has been very relaxing, which is exactly what I needed. I finished reading ‘Little Women’, which was glorious, started knitting a new blanket and had my first wedding dress fitting at The Bridal Emporium. We also had a visit from Paul’s brother and his family; they helped us put up a shelf for all my cookbooks (sorely needed), we ate a tonne of Mexican food, and I baked some pink, sparkly fairy cakes with my niece, who may just be the most adorable person in the world. Tonight is for drinking rhubarb vodka and watching Tina Fey movies. Life is good, isn’t it? 

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Where to Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Leeds

valentines meal

[Photo: New Old Stock]

Confession Time: I have never been on a proper Valentine’s Day date. Paul and I are not overly romantic people, and have never made a fuss about it. This year we’ll be celebrating a friend’s 30th birthday with drinks, and will probably exchange reasonably-witty cards. That said, I’m not too cool to get excited about Valentine’s Day and I love the idea of getting dressed up and wining & dining. It’s basically my favourite thing to do on any night of the year, and this seems like as good an idea as any. 

If you fancy the traditional meal this Valentine’s Day, you’re spoilt for choice in Leeds. Here are my top picks for romantic restaurants in the city, so hopefully you’ll get an idea if you’re stumped on where to take your sweetheart. Just remember Dan Savage’s Valentine’s Day advice

Kendells Bistro 

Consistently rated as one of the top restaurants in Leeds, Kendells Bistro is top of my wishlist of places to go for a romantic evening. French food is definitely the most seductive cuisine – it’s probably all the wine and butter – and at Kendells you’ll have the very best French food served up in a gorgeous restaurant with plenty of candlelight. Whilst it doesn’t come cheap (the set menu is £62.90), but your date will definitely be impressed if you manage to book a table at this gorgeous bistro. 

RARE 

One for lovers who also love meat, RARE is where we would go if we hadn’t got prior plans. Steak is the classic Valentine’s Day dinner and they do it so well at RARE, but it’s really the cocktails you should go for, which are both delicious and unusual – you won’t find their equals elsewhere in the city. Decadent food and drink served up in an intimate setting (complete with Sue, the stuffed cow for company) – it doesn’t really get better than that. 

Roast + Conch

We dined at Roast + Conch – Hotel Chocolat’s flagship restaurant in Leeds – last week for my birthday, and it absolutely blew us away. The service was fantastic, some of the best I’ve ever experienced, and the food was divine. The menu is a mixture of British and Caribbean style, with everything from Beef & Yorkshire Pudding (which is served with an insane white chocolate mash) to Coconut Curry. Oh, and everything has cocoa in it in some form or another. Definitely highly recommended, and perfect as a spin on the usual box of Valentine’s chocolates. Get the Gin Martini, it’s beautiful. 

Ambiente Tapas 

Sharing food with the one you love is one of the best things in the world, and what better way to do that than with tapas – which is made for sharing! Situated on the Aire in a gorgeous building full of exposed brick & beams, Ambiente Tapas is the perfect place for a romantic meal for two. The food is very good – I’ve been a few times and left very happy every time – and since sherry is their speciality you should definitely give it a go when you’re there! 

 Where are you planning to take your Valentine’s date?

P.S. If you’re celebrating Galentine’s Day instead, try Mrs Atha’s for brunch, The Botanist for a boozy lunch (get the blooming onion) and Manahatta for dinner & cocktails! 

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25

My 1st Birthday...

My 1st Birthday…

This time last week I turned 25. I was too sick to celebrate on the day, but I’m not one for big birthday celebrations anyway. It feels like 25 should be meaningful, though. A quarter of a century. That is a substantial amount of time to live on this planet. Apparently there is such a thing as a quarter life crisis. I don’t feel like I’m in crisis though. I feel pretty content. Those 25 years have been good, overall. Whilst it’s a little depressing to note that if I were to develop an angelic singing voice overnight, I would now be classed in the ‘Over 25s’ category on X Factor and I am no longer eligible for a Young Person’s Railcard, I am okay with being closer to 30 than 20. 

It is trite to say that I have changed so much over the past 25 years. From nothing to everything I am. How weird is it to think about that? But it is also true that I have changed so much over the past 5 years. Haven’t we all? In that time I have finished two degrees, moved across the country, had 4 different jobs, got engaged, got a cat, watched my parents divorce and remarry other people, fell out with friends, made new ones, learnt to bake, learnt to knit, learnt to use the bus (true story), passed my driving test, made the switch to an iPhone, travelled a bit, read hundreds of books, watched all of Breaking Bad (major), started this blog, and so much more. I have laughed and cried and celebrated and despaired and procrastinated and ruminated and there is still so much left to come. 

That’s not to say that my lack of crisis is because I have it all figured out. I feel like I’ve got some stuff figured out. I know how to pay my bills on time and how to bake a decent loaf of banana bread. I can do laundry without shrinking things, most of the time. I can keep myself and my cat alive. But there are other, bigger things, that I don’t think I’ll ever have figured out. I don’t think I’ll ever know what I *really* want to do with my life; there are just so many options and it feels a shame to pick just one. I can’t map out some big future plan, because I think the past five years has proved that I have no idea what is around the corner or what I will want. For someone who is an obsessive list-maker and planner, that is a little bit scary, but I think I’m becoming okay with it. Things are pretty good right now. I’m pretty good right now. If I can keep that up for another 25 years, I’ll be happy.  

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The Swine That Dines – Leeds Supper Club

Mock Scotch Broth at The Swine That Dines Supper Club in Leeds

If you’re a Leeds local, you may know The Greedy Pig; it’s a charming cafe on the North side of town that’s renowned for brilliant breakfasts and lovely lunches – and is well worth checking out if you’re feeling peckish. If you looked at the outside, you might be forgiven for assuming that this is just another regular café, but their humble exterior hides a passion for excellent food that you’d be sorry to miss. 

Word has started to get out about this place, and Jo & Stu who run The Greedy Pig have amassed quite the dedicated following – and rightly so. They are as lovely as they are passionate about food, and they invited me down to try out one of their Supper Clubs – charmingly named The Swine That Dines. They’re branching out from fantastic fry-ups and satisfying sandwiches and opening their doors on weekend evenings for intimate dinners of their excellent cooking, with a themed evening once a month. With names like ‘Nose to Tail’ and ‘Pig and Squid’, you can be assured that this is no ordinary dining, and you won’t find anything like it elsewhere in the city. 

Pigs Trotters at The Swine That Dines Supper Club in Leeds

On this particular evening, we sampled a dish from each of the upcoming themes, taking a journey on a culinary adventure that took us from pig’s head right down to trotters. Fussy eaters need not apply! We started with a mock scotch broth with seaweed dumplings and pearl barley, which was both tasty and a welcome start to the feast. Whilst I’m sure The Swine That Dines will be charming at any time of year, there was definitely something particularly wonderful about dining whilst it was dark and cold outside, with the few passers-by peering jealously in at the light-up window at the feast that was happening inside. 

Roots to Shoots at The Swine That Dines in Leeds

From that warm hug-hug-in-a-mug we jumped straight into pig’s trotters – a first for me. Whilst the texture was a little off-putting, the meat was absolutely delicious, served on a bed of lentils and salsa verde which was the perfect accompaniment. Whilst I can’t say that I will be jumping into cooking them myself, they are definitely worth trying at least once in your life! 

We moved onto a Moroccan-style dish of butternut squash, aubergine, roasted peppers, and pomegranate from their ‘Roots to Shoots’ vegetarian night, which was gorgeous. I need to cook more of this style of food for myself – there’s something about the tartness of pomegranate against lightly spiced vegetables that is just irresistible. 

Crispy Pigs Head and Black Pudding at The Swine That Dines in Leeds

It was a toss up between the next two dishes for my favourite of the night; the first was crispy pig’s head, which was beautiful, served with apple sauce, black pudding and samphire, and the second was belly pork with razor clams, chorizo and chick peas. Both dishes I would never have ordered myself, but both of which were stunning – perfect marriages of flavours and textures. I would never have though to pair clams with pork but it really works. I would go back for these dishes specifically – and urge you to do the same! 

Pork Belly and Razor Clams at The Swine That Dines in Leeds

By this point, as you can imagine, I felt as if I couldn’t eat another bite – but there is always a separate stomach for pudding and this one was worth finding space for. Deep fried porridge with ice cream and raspberry sauce. It sounds odd, but it definitely worked; it was a lot like a soft flapjack, the stodginess of which was cut through by the cold ice cream and tart raspberry. Just proving that sometimes experiments can turn out better than expected! 

Deep Fried Porridge at The Swine That Dines in Leeds

All in all it was a wonderful night, and if you live in Leeds it is worth keeping an eye on their Twitter page for announcements so you can try this for yourself. There are just a handful of tickets for each night so be quick when you see them come up for sale – you won’t regret it! 

Candles at The Swine That Dines in Leeds

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Weekend Link Love

pancake smily face

(Photo by Gratisography)

I’m back! Did you miss me? I spent last weekend (and most of last week) on my sick bed with a nasty cold, but now I’m back better than ever (sort of). As well as dosing myself up on Lemsip and trying not to cough on conference calls, I also turned 25 (no big), had an absolutely wonderful dinner at Roast & Conch (seriously, so good) and attended the Fat Faced Cat Supper Club which was a triumph. I also added to my Le Creuset collection with a beautiful coastal blue shallow casserole dish – it’s love, for real, posted my wedding invites, discovered Gu Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate and appeared on my first ever podcast! Phew! Not bad for someone with a high temperature and inflamed sinuses, eh? I’ve also rounded up all these lovely links for you – I hope you enjoy! 

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January

pebble beach

Photo by Jeremy Cai

Making resolutions

Keeping some of them… 

Trying on my wedding ring for the first time (and realising how small my hands are!) 

Sending wedding invites – we’re only 3 months out now! 

Turning 25 (a whole quarter of a century!) 

Feeling too sick to celebrate right now. I will, though

Cooking in my brand new Le Creuset casserole dish. It’s love. 

Doing jury duty, and getting a lot of reading done as a result. 

Singing along to Into The Woods and sort-of wishing I still lived with Musical Theatre students 

Trying some adventurous dishes at The Swine That Dines (blog post to come!) 

Wishing for Spring, for more sunlight, longer days and being able to leave the house without a coat! 

Planning a road trip along the East Coast of the US for our honeymoon 

Drinking Yorkshire Margaritas at Bilbao Bar

Appearing on my very first podcast! Exciting, but nerve-wracking… 

Missing my first Weekend Link Love for months – I’ll be back with more on Sunday. 

Eating lots of spinach. Expecting to turn into Popeye any day now! 

How about you? 

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Ice Breakers #3

moped

(Photo by Chalffy Chan)

Blogging is a rather one-sided process – I write, you read and that’s about as much there is to it. But I’m always intrigued as to who is behind the screen; some of you reach out to me with emails and Facebook messages and comments, so I know a little bit about you, but I’m always curious – I want to know more! So, let’s break the ice and share some thoughts. 

1. Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? 

2. What was the best part of 2014 for you? 

3. Are there any foods that you just can’t stand? What are they? 

4. Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Why? 

5. Do you consider yourself more of an optimist or a pessimist? An extrovert or an introvert? 

 

1. You can read my New Year’s Resolutions right here, but my major one is reading 100 books. I’ve read 6 so far, which feels like good progress. I also really want to learn to crochet and be better at baking bread.

2. 2014 was my best year ever. I say that every year, but I think I really mean it this time around. Obviously, getting engaged to Paul was a pretty big highlight, and celebrating the weddings of so many of our friends is definitely up there. There are so many more that I could mention – running my first ever 10k, a lovely holiday in Bournemouth with friends, glamping on a hen do, stuffing my face at a cheese club, going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It really was a great year! 

3. Celery. It was my guinea pigs’ favourite food and the two are inextricably linked for me now – the taste makes me feel weird. 

4. This is a tough one! I’ve read so many wonderful non-fiction books, but I think fiction just surges ahead for me – the possibilities are endless and I love losing myself in a really good book. 

5. I’m definitely an optimist. I have my pessimistic moments but overall I like to think I have a sunny outlook on life – I think my endless enthusiasm is probably tiring for a lot of people, but it makes me happy, so I guess that’s all that matters. And I’m definitely an extrovert – I work better in an office full of people, I feel better after spending time with friends and family, and I feel antsy after too much time spent alone. 

How about you?

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