Food Challenge Week 1: One Pan Pesto Chicken

For the first week of my food challenge (and if you don’t know what that is, please refer to a previous post for the sitch), I knew I wanted to choose something fairly healthy, fairly simple and something I knew I had the skill to cook.

Enter Pinterest for inspiration. It being the New Year, after having indulged in a lot of heavy and rich foods (my skin is screaming for respite) I picked something of the roasted chicken and vegetables variety.

vine tomatoes, new potatoes and green beans

Being dairy-free (not by choice, I’ll add) means I can veto a huge bunch of recipes, but there’s also a huge bunch I can adapt. The recipe I actually found was promoting the Sacla Free From Pesto. I already knew this existed, but I think seeing the post promoting this ingredient probably spurred me on to choose it over any others.

jar of sacla pesto

I’ll post a link to the particular recipe I used, but it’s dead simple.

Roasting new potatoes in a little oil, then adding the chicken, then smothering it all in pesto before introducing the green beans and vine tomatoes towards the end and basting with the chicken/pesto juices. Then serve. It’s as simple as that!

roasted pesto chicken and vegetables

I won’t lie, I avoided basting the tomatoes in the pesto mainly because I ran out of room in my pan and for the sake of nice photos (!) I didn’t want them to break off the vine during vigorous jigging of veg. So these probably didn’t cook down as much as they’re supposed to. But they did start to burst a little and were pleasant enough. I’m not a massive fan of a cooked tomato, but that’s what this challenge is about – broadening my food horizons….

roasted pesto chicken and vegetabl

So, as you can see, the potatoes cooked down beautifully, and were nice and buttery-soft on the inside but lovely and browned and nutty on the outside. (Just writing this is making me hungry…) The green beans were roasted but still moist (yes, I said moist) and had a little crunch to them when you bit in. The chicken was… I’ll say, okay – I didn’t like the chicken we’d bought from Tesco if I’m honest. I’d much rather pick mine up from Costco, but I didn’t have any of theirs in the house. But the pesto on top was a nice addition. And the tomatoes I’ve mentioned. They were warm roasted tomatoes – not much else you can say about them!

plate of pesto chicken and vegetables

As an overall dish, the flavours and textures were nice together. It wasn’t too greasy, despite pesto being traditionally oily. I feel like the Free-From iteration was less oily – on opening the jar I didn’t need to stir in any oil on the top into the pesto, which you do with standard pesto. I do feel like this pesto was a lot less salty, and the whole dish was fairly under seasoned, despite me adding what I would consider to be enough salt and pepper. If I was to make this again, I’d add some more salt.

All in all I’d give this recipe a 6/10 – it was fine, but I don’t like fine for dinner – I like yummy!

If you’d like to see the original recipe I used, you can find it at The Taming Twins here.

Let me know if you’ve tried or if you will be trying this recipe, and how you got on with it. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

So, on to week 2! I already know what the next recipe for my challenge is going to be, so stay tuned for next week’s post!

Bob bob bob bob-omb

Stop the presses! I’m starting to feel like I’m getting over my cold! Whoooo! I’ve had a good few last days of my holiday, made better by the Wednesday rest day I had. On Thursday morning we went to get my hair cut. I decided on a whim that I wanted to get it cut short and that I wanted to go back to red. So that’s what I did. I got myself a bob cut in and then went off to Boots for hair colour.

That evening we went out for dinner and drinks with a friend and had chats and stuff. It was nice and relaxed but I was still feeling really rubbish by the end of the night. I just wanted to be able to breathe!

Friday we went and visited my Grandad in Hinkley. It was good to see him as be hasn’t been feeling all that well recently. When I got back it was time to dye the bob. I knew that I wanted to get a vibrant red because I was starting off so light. When I washed the colour out I was devastated. It hadn’t settled into parts which were my natural brown, the shade was orangey pink and I looked horrid. It took quite a lot of texts from two friends and Gary’s reassurances that it looked okay. That evening I went out with the same friends and they said it looked good – but I was still not sure. Next morning I washed it and most of the colour came out. It had turned a fluorescent coral colour and I looked like a clown. So we went back to Boots and I chose a shade two darker and put that on. It seems to be holding. Some of the highlights have resisted and I know they’ll come through after washing but I think that will look kind of cool! I really didn’t expect, after 12 years of dying my hair red, that I would be dying my hair twice in two days. My poor scalp! But I suppose you learn these things by making mistakes!


Last night, for dinner, we went to KFC and got a chicken box meal for 4 people and shared it between the two of us. Sometimes you’ve just gotta! And today, as well as it being Easter Day, it’s G Man’s 30th Birthday! I’m so excited for him!! We’re going to his family’s house later today and they’re throwing a little party for him 🙂

Easter isn’t really a big deal for me, but when I was a kid my Mum used to do egg hunts for us on Easter day morning. We’d wake up and find a post-it next to our beds with a clue on it. We’d follow the clue and find an egg and there would be a new clue attached to it. We would carry on like this until we found all of our eggs. I used to find it so much fun, even though I was allergic to chocolate. But I would always get a VHS of the previous summer’s kid blockbuster instead 😀

Tomorrow I’m back to work, but that’s okay! I found out I should have another 3 months before my contract ends so I get to stay working for my favourite company for a little longer. Big whoops!

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Chicken and Frogs

So, guys – I’m on holiday! Whoop! And just to top it off, it’s been snowing. Just like it was on my last week off – in January. I’m less than pleased about this deluge of winter, and even more annoyed that the cold weather has given me some kind of ear nose and throat infection. Boo!

My first holiday day was yesterday. We did our boring food shop, which involved us buying a load of Easter eggs (a Mario one for me!) and visiting two supermarkets so that we could actually find everything we needed. I’m so glad we did visit two though, because I bumped into a very dear friend in the second one. I haven’t seen her properly in around 3 years and it was so good to see her, even if it was just for a minute. She’s the kind of friend that we could go 10 years and just pick up where we left off – though she did tell me her daughter is turning 16 this year, which was a bit of a shocker!

After lunch I finally got to try out my slow cooker! So exciting! I decided I was going to try out some BBQ chicken because who doesn’t like a nice sandwich of pulled BBQ chicken? I found the recipe online somewhere, I forget where, and it involves making your own sauce, an idea I really liked. I’ll put the recipe at the end of this post – I really suggest you make it. It was a fairly tomato based sauce but I’m sure you could tweak it to make it richer or spicy or whatever. It being the first time I had ever used a crock pot, over the 4 hours cooking time Gary and I could be found periodically wandering into the kitchen to stare into the pot through the glass lid and see what was happening. After the allotted 4 hours I was delighted with the condition of the meat – cooked through and tender – it just fell apart! And it was so delicious. We have so much left over we gave half to Gary’s parent’s and have loads left for sandwiches or snacks this week. I really can’t wait to try the next recipe!

During the cooking time, I did however have quite a scary experience. I was having a browse on Pinterest on my iPhone and all of a sudden lost the peripheral vision in my left eye. As that came back I started to get jagged lights down one side of my vision on the left. I was seriously freaking out – I thought I was going blind or something. So I did the only thing a girl can do in a situation like this and called my Mum! She told me she was certain I was having a migraine and that it sounded like an aura (and I have since learned, symptoms of tunnel vision) As a regular migraine sufferer I’m used to the pain, but these symptoms were very new to me. She told me to take Ibuprofen and then close my eyes and relax. So that’s what I did. About ten minutes later my left hand and wrist started getting pins and needles and going numb. Then the left side of my face started to go numb and tingle from the lip and moved down to my chin. I started to panic thinking I was having a stroke or something. Gary was ready to take me to A&E but he was telling me he thought it was an anxiety attack. So I got him to Google it, and sure enough all the results were for anxiety attacks. Totally freaky. I find it terrifying that my brain can do that to my body totally separately from my conscious awareness.

Anyway, after that episode Gary thought it might be a good idea to go for some air and a drive to get out of the house. So after our yummy dinner we firstly went to visit my parents, as we hadn’t seen them in a while. Then we visited Gary’s parents for a bit and took them some of the crock pot chicken to try.

The best part of our drives is the music we listen to. For part of the journey we listened to Katy Perry – despite my sore throat for some reason I fancied a good loud sing-a-long. Then for the rest of the trip Gary put on a band he’s just started listening to called M83. Their music is fairly 80’s sounding, electropop-ish. All the songs have an epic sound to them. I want to share this one particular song, called ‘Raconte – Moi Une Histoire’. If you only listen to one new tune this week, make it this one. It’s cute, uplifting and happy – Feel free to dance in your living room.

Ah, see that’s better isn’t it?

So today I’m just chilling out and trying to feel better so that we can start our holiday week off together tomorrow (Gary’s working today) We’re hoping to go to London tomorrow and I can see us having to wrap up warm. But it’s all part of the fun right? Stay tuned for more weird shenanigans and hopefully no more panic attacks…… eek!

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken

slow cooker BBQ Chicken

4 chicken breasts
2 cups ketchup
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in slow cooker (except chicken). Add chicken, coating each piece in sauce. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred with forks. Return to pot and stir in sauce to coat. Serve in toasted buns.


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