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A friend of mine who is one of the most amazing mothers there could be, asked me about cooking and why I liked it and so on. I hadn’t quite realised before this conversation, that she never cooks! She buys absolutely everything, albeit it healthy and organic ranges but everything is shop bought or delivered. Her kids are happy and healthy but now they are growing up and just started school for the first time, she has a tiny bit of time on her hands and wanted to know if she would be able to cook something as a surprise. I asked what the kids ate and what she wanted to eat and we came up with something everyone would like. Chicken nuggets and chips with ketchup. I gave her my recipe and fool proof instructions and she not only managed to make her first fully home made meal ever, but she really enjoyed it and wants more recipes. Yay!

Looking after and caring for all the little ones needs is a full time job. Not everyone has time to cook. So this is the perfect kind of meal, that when you have time you can prepare all the different elements and store them away for later or make them in bulk and freeze in portions. And doesn’t cost a lot of money, in fact comes in under the price of most ready meals.

I have made this before but for the purpose of taking the photos, I made it and now am sitting looking at it, waiting for D to get home from work. I actually don’t think I can last another forty minutes and am contemplating dunking a few chips in the sauce and munching away… but one is never enough and there may be none left for dinner. It just tastes so good!

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CHICKEN NUGGETS, CHIPS AND KETCHUP

(Breaded chicken strips, sweet potato fries and spicy tomato dipping sauce)

Depending on how many you want to feed, this recipe fed four, you can always double it or if it’s just for you, have some leftovers!

For the sauce:

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes and it’s juice (about 400 g)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • pinch of chilli seeds (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • knob of butter
  • 1 tsp caramelised red onion marmalade (or honey)

For the chicken strips:

  • 4 chicken fillets, cut into 1.5 cm strips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 50 g flour
  • 100g bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper

For the fries:

  • 2 very large sweet potatoes or 8 normal spuds (depending on whether your little ones eat the sweet variety)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • salt and pepper

THE HOW:

Heat your oven to 180  °c  (fan oven).

Start with the chips. Cut your potatoes into even 1 cm strips. Leave their skins on to help them crisp and hold their shape (I didn’t this time as I totally forgot what I was making and started peeling away). It also adds a nice crunch. Toss in the oil and lay on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Pop into the oven for 45 minutes. Tossing them every so often to brown evenly.

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Meanwhile start on your chicken. Once cut into their strips, have 3 bowls ready. Beat the eggs and dijon together in one bowl and season. In the other two bowls have one with flour, and one with breadcrumbs.

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Dip your chicken into the flour, then the egg mix and then the breadcrumbs and coat all over. Continue on until you have all your chicken coated. Your little fingers will get a bit sticky and covered in breadcrumbs, just dust them off and keep going.

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This shouldn’t take too much time and you should be able to pop them on an baking tray and put in the oven with the chips for 25 minutes until nicely browned.

Now make the sauce, heat the butter in a saucepan and add the garlic and carrot. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the chilli, tomatoes, onion marmalade (honey) and season. Cook on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes. I put the tomato mix into a measuring jug and blend with a hand held blender but you can blend in a food processor if you like.

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Now everything should come together around the same time so plate up and enjoy.

Remember that you can prep everything and before cooking store in the fridge for later or freeze. If you are a multi-tasker like me, spend one afternoon a week making lots of things and freeze them for the week ahead. This is one of my favourite meals to bung in the oven when both D and I are home late from work, as while it’s cooking we can change out of the work clothes, light the fire and unwind.

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