Daily Archives: April 25, 2012

Speedy suppers – mango chicken with couscous

Being quite far north in the UK we have the benefit of light nights in the summer. Already Mr Mac and I have still been out working in the garden at 9pm (just once though!).

At this time of year when there is so much to do outside, it is great to be able to work well into the evening. The last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen making dinner.

I found a little booklet last week called 25 Quick Fixes – meals in 20 minutes or less! There are some great recipes for quick but tasty meals. I tried this one and it was delicious…and it definitely took less than 20 minutes to make.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • olive oil
  • mini chicken fillets about 350g or just cut 2 chicken breasts into thin strips
  • ground cumin 2 tsp
  • chicken stock  300ml hot
  • couscous 150g
  • mango chutney 3 tbsp
  • spring onions 4 sliced into 3cm pieces
  • coriander a small handful roughly chopped


  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a wok or large frying pan. Sprinkle the chicken with the ground cumin and cook for a couple of minutes until lightly browned.
  2. Pour 200ml of the chicken stock over the couscous and leave to soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the mango chutney to the chicken, stir well and leave to bubble for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the remaining chicken stock and spring onions and cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Fluff up the couscous with a fork, stir half the coriander through the couscous and the remainder through the chicken.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

For the health concious among you each serving has 505 calories and 10.4g of fat.

Take the lettuce leaf challenge!

Now that the weather is (supposed to be) getting warmer, thoughts turn to salad rather than hearty, warming soups. However, it breaks my heart having to buy lettuce, especially when I know my own will be ready to start eating next month.

I was looking at the price of bagged lettuce in the supermarket. Prices range from 80p to £2.00. I go through a couple of bags a week  so if I spend an average of £3 per week on lettuce from April to September, that works out about £72!

(I do realise I could spend less on an actual lettuce and cut it up myself…but I’m lazy!)

Now I have never had much success growing whole lettuce, whether it be cos, little gem, iceberg or butterhead. However, lettuce leaves of the “cut and come again” variety, thrive.  I believe even the most neglectful gardener would find it hard to kill them off! You don’t even need a garden to do this.

For less than £10 you can have an endless supply of lettuce leaves on your windowsill, at your back door or in your greenhouse, all summer long. All you need are some pots, some multi-purpose compost, crocs for drainage and a selection of seeds.

I use Suttons “speedy veg” lettuce, some of which can be ready to eat in as little

"speedy veg" - ready in 3 weeks!

as 3 weeks, some rocket, spinach and perhaps lollo rosso for some colour. Make sure each packet of seeds contains around 500-1000 so it will last all summer.

Put some crocs (broken crockery or gravel) in the bottom of a pot and fill it with compost. Next, I get an egg cup and open each packet of seeds. Pour a little from each packet into the egg cup, mix together, then sprinkle over the surface of the compost, cover lightly with some more compost and water in.

In 3 to 4 weeks you can start picking and eating the leaves. The “cut and come again” type should last a few weeks so every 2 or 3 weeks sow another pot and by the time the first one is finished you will have a new pot all ready to tuck into.

I have used one side of a small growbag. These are the seeds I started last week. In a couple of weeks I'll sow some more in the other half of the growbag.

Keep the pots in a bright sunny place close to the kitchen.

Keep the compost moist, never let it dry out.

Keep a look out for slugs and snails.

Sow little and often .

Think of what you can buy with the money you’ll save!