Let the batch cooking begin!

It’s my first week of maternity leave and it’s still sinking in that this is the beginning of the rest of my life.  So many changes ahead!  It’s been great not having to get up to an alarm in the mornings as I’m not sleeping well at night.  That’s been very tiring the last few weeks at work so it was definitely time to finish up.

I was saying to my husband last night that I’ve been so lucky to have such a healthy pregnancy.  Considering the problems some pregnant ladies have, a bit of discomfort at night isn’t much to complain about.

I have no trouble getting to sleep but I seem to wake up around 4am for a couple of hours.  It’s hard to get comfortable so I usually try to read for a while and that helps me get back to sleep.  Friends and family are telling me that not sleeping properly is preparing me for the lack of sleep ahead – makes sense I suppose!

My plan for the next few days is to do some batch cooking and fill the freezer with meals so that we don’t have to think about cooking dinner from scratch when the baby arrives.  I’m planning to make soup, lasagne, chicken & broccoli bake (please see below) and Neven’s chicken curry.  I’ve bought some foil dishes with lids as they are so handy for freezing one or two portions.  Plus you can write the contents on the lid so you’re not playing freezer roulette!

Here’s my recipe for chicken & broccoli pie.  The original recipe had a puff pastry lid, but I prefer a healthier sweet potato mash topping.  It also means you have a full meal in one as the mash is incorporated – anything for an easy life!  Butter is necessary here for making the sauce, but because the recipe makes 4-5 portions, it works out at only a small amount of butter per person.

›bacth cooking dishes

Step-By-Step Chicken & Broccoli Bake

 

Makes 4-5 portions

50g butter

2 tbsp plain flour

1 onion, chopped

1 large head of broccoli, chopped into florets

350ml low-sodium chicken stock

1 tsp English mustard (optional)

2 tbsp reduced-fat crème fraiche

4 chicken fillets

3 large sweet potatoes

 

  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into similar-sized chunks. Place in a saucepan, cover with water and put on the hob to boil.  When they are cooked through, drain them thoroughly and mash.
  2. Meanwhile, place the whole chicken fillets in a large saucepan of boiling water. Poach them for 15 minutes, then remove to a chopping board and allow to cool slightly.  Once they have cooled slightly, tear or chop them into bite-sized pieces.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, you can steam the broccoli over the saucepan with the chicken or the sweet potatoes using a steamer basket. Alternatively lightly boil the broccoli in a separate saucepan for about 5 minutes.  It should still have some bite rather than being mushy!
  4. Now make the sauce. Use the same saucepan that you used to poach the chicken to save on washing up (discard the cooking water first).  Melt the butter in the saucepan.  Add the onions and fry lightly for a few minutes.
  5. Add the flour and mix well. Continue to cook on a medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Pour in the stock gradually. It will immediately start to thicken so use a whisk to ensure it is smooth.  Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Add the mustard (if using) & crème fraiche and mix well. Then add the chicken & broccoli and mix through.
  8. Pour the chicken, broccoli & sauce into an oven-proof dish and top with the sweet potato mash.
  9. Place in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or simply pop under the grill to crisp up the mash.
  10. Serve immediately or freeze once cooled.

 

 

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Kellie, Nutritionist

I'm a Registered Nutritionist with an honours degree in Human Nutrition from the University of Ulster in Coleraine. Originally from Armagh, I now live in Wicklow with my husband. We live on a big sheep farm so there is never a dull moment! Mum to 1 year old- Ellen. I love trying out new recipes so my pregnancy is giving me a whole new opportunity to experiment with recipes and make them even healthier. I hope you enjoy trying some of my recipes!

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