The Return: Cajun Chicken and Quinoa

The author of this blog is what is commonly known as “a dawdler”. This condition has evolved over the years. At this moment, after a three-month lull, I have decided to write a new post even though I should be packing my case to go to Zurich for tomorrow’s camogie tournament. The current excuses include: I just painted my nails my usual tournament scarlet and that I don’t have to leave for the airport bus for two hours. TWO HOURS! That’s buckets of time.

What’s been happening? Is it even worth starting on that? I’ll give it a go, but if you are bored, just scroll down to the cooking section. The main reason for my absence from the blog is the fact that tournaments have been distracting me: I am either training for them or at them. The weekends in between have been like gold-dust and the gap between my last and next totally free weekend in Brussels is growing longer and longer. Don’t get me wrong – I love this time of year. The winter feels so long by comparison.

Listening: I’ve been listening to Hugh Laurie on Desert Island Discs. First of all, if you don’t listen to DID regularly, go and download the podcast and archives to your MP3 device of choice this minute. I’ll wait…well done, you won’t regret it. The archives remind me of the beach in Crete a couple of years ago, lying under an umbrella, gently recovering from the night before, pondering the next plunge into the sea, keeping up with the banter and gossip from my friends through one ear and listening to endless podcasts through the other.

This minute, I’m listening to Kenny Roger’s The Gambler. I had the words of the chorus in my head on the way home from work and had to remind myself of the tune: “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away and know when to run. You never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.” There’s a lesson in there for us all.

Reading: I have a stack of books by my bed. It is family tradition on the Halbert side to have about 3 books on the go at any one time. I finished Gone Girl almost overnight, but am still struggling through those bloody Three Emperors and have restarted the Tales of the City series. But the biggest news on my reading list is the disappearance of Google Reader. Sniff. Fair enough, it wasn’t a sudden disappearance, they did give us many weeks to prepare for it, but somehow I hoped that it was all one big spoof. I just can’t warm to the replacements, although I’m trying to stick to Feedly. It keeps crashing on my iPad, which is not endearing it to my heart.

Travelling: As I said, there have been a number of tournaments since I last posted when I was at home at Easter. Camogie in Paris and Luxembourg, football in Den Haag and Belgium, not to mention another delightful obstacle race. Hugh Laurie (on DID, remember? Keep up!) had some statistic on how the number of photos taken in the past 12 months outnumbers the number of photos ever taken ever. A shocking statistic, but we may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb, so here are some more:

Collage

Unfortunately it is time to cut this rambling short, as it turns out that I need to quickly pack and meet Jane for food. This is the drawback to dawdling: my plans so often change at the last minute. So without further ado, here is the recipe for Spicy Cajun Chicken and Quinoa, which I tested on Ross the other night and got positive reviews (it’s from the BBC GoodFood website btw).

Ingredients

4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp Cajun seasoning (I made my own with this recipe)

100g quinoa

600ml hot chicken stock

100g dried apricots, sliced

150g ready to use lentils

1 tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, cut into thin slices

1 bunch spring onions, chopped

Small bunch coriander, chopped. I had to buy coriander, because the stuff I’m growing on the balcony has given up the ghost (see below)

Coriander

Coriander on the left. Look at Oregano showing off beside it.

Method

Heat the oven to 200 degrees C/180 degrees fan oven/gas mark 6.

Toss the chicken in the Cajun seasoning with a drop of olive oil and arrange in a single layer in a roasting tin.

Bake for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked and put to one side (or, if your kitchen is tiny like mine, turn off the oven and leave it in there for a while).

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa in the chicken stock for 15 minutes until it is tender. Add the apricots and lentils for the last 5 minutes.

Drain and place in a large bowl with the chicken and toss them together.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a large frying pan and soften the onions for 10-15 minutes.

Toss the onions into the quinoa with the coriander and some seasoning, mix well.

And that’s it! Short, simple and very tasty. So much so that I forgot to take a photo.

Empty!

Off to Zurich now – wish me luck!!

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