Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday: where are the weeks going?

Another week and meal plan already, where does the time go?! The warm weather has floored us slightly over the past few days - my headaches have got considerably worse and I'm drinking gallons of water as it seems that's the only way to offset the pain without resorting to meds. This, combined with looking after Harry has meant that poor M has been subjected to last minute dinners of pizza and takeaway. I may not have finished stocking up the freezer before the baby was born, but at least I started!

The hot weather and humidity seems set to continue for the next few days so we're still looking at quick and easy dinners.

Breakfasts: still oat based granola with yoghurt and some fruit - online supermarkets seem unable to deliver non mouldy overripe soft fruits so I'm on sultanas as opposed to the planned strawberries and raspberries.

Lunches: I've been having trouble getting around to eating lunches so have made up a batch of vegetable couscous, with a chilli & lemon dressing. I can either have that as it is, or with houmous, avocado or halloumi depending on what I have time to grab out of the fridge.


Monday - Quiche, salad, and potato wedges

Tuesday - Pasta and meatballs

Wednesday - Chilli nachos

Thursday - Leftover chilli in burritos

Friday - Pizza and salad

Saturday & Sunday - no real idea at the moment, I've got some chorizo esque sausages that I might bake up with veggies and sweet potatoes but otherwise I am without inspiration.

That's us - late and not wildly interesting but a plan nonetheless.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday: mildly sleep deprived

Perhaps that's an understatement - although *touch wood* I seem to be coping OK with the disrupted nights, it's the cluster feeding that I'm still finding a killer. This weekend's culinary efforts have been a bit of a disaster - I cremated the bacon, scrambled the carbonara, and made bread rolls that were doughy to say the least. Hopefully next week will be better. Hopefully.

It's supposed to be glorious for most of this week - I'm planning to take Harry out in the garden and enjoy the shade of our apple tree. Aside from an NCT meet up and a Health Visitor weigh in for Harry it's a quiet week. Which to be honest, is the best way for us at the moment. Slow days with flexible to do lists that can be abandoned without a problem are indupitably the way forward.

Breakfasts: Yoghurt and granola for me (still with the oats) with extra fruit as well.

Lunches: Halloumi and salad or houmous, pitta bread and salad.


Monday: Chicken wraps with avocado, salad and potato wedges

Tuesday: Courgetti spaghetti

Wednesday: leftover courgetti spaghetti

Thursday: Pizza

Friday: Lasagne

Saturday: Steak

Sunday: Freezer surprise

Baking wise, I did make M a s'more inspired birthday cake which I'll blog later this week so we have that for packed lunches - although it's not particularly travel friendly.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday: written through bleary eyes

Last week we 'discovered' cluster feeding - meal plans, meal times and at some points eating went royally out of the window in favour of Wimbledon on the telly and vast quantities of water. Being an eternal optimist (or something) I'm thrilled that this resulted in another 100g weight gain, and trying to avoid looking at my dark circles, or the bottom shaped dent in the sofa.

With M being back at work, Harry and I are learning together how our days go, we have no routine as such, but feed when he's hungry, try to get out for a walk every day, and try not to let the house descend too far into chaos. Too far. I'd like to say I know where the time goes, but life with a newborn seems to absorb the hours and I honestly don't know where they go.

This week is M's birthday - and I think for the first time ever I'm going to buy him a cake. Baking one isn't too taxing in itself - I just am entirely sure that my ability to balance doing that with feeding and entertaining Harry may not work. So no judging please, unless you want to send me one.

Breakfasts: I'm keeping up with the oat based breakfasts to supplement my milk - porridge, granola and oatibix (a new discovery on M's part - the man is a genius) with fruit.

Lunches: Halloumi salad for a couple of days, fishfinger sandwiches (so sue me) or leftovers - pretty much anything that can be eaten with one hand in case Harry's feeding. Lots of fruit through the day as well.


Monday: I made a chilli con carne today so we'll have that with either wraps as burritos, or tortilla chips as nachos.

Tuesday: Chicken-y burger things in buns with salad and potato wedges. I'm going to try making them based on an Annabel Karmel recipe I've seen online and adult-ify them as I go. If they work I'll blog them.

Wednesday: Chicken kiev, chips and peas/ sweetcorn

Thursday: Chicken curry - frozen pre Harry (thank goodness for my brief moments of organisation before the baby came)

Friday: Pasta carbonara (M's choice as it's his birthday)

Saturday: We've actually got no plans next weekend so I think just something quick and easy out of the freezer on Saturday - pizza maybe.

Sunday: I'll try and do something similar to the chilli that I made this week - maybe a casserole or similar as the easy suppers for a couple of days are a new mama win as far as I'm concerned.

So that's us - don't forget to pop on over to At Home with Mrs M to see what the other meal planners are up to. Have a good week.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Meal Planning Monday - all change!

Clearly I made the mistake of tempting fate on my last meal planning Monday post as on the Wednesday, 6 weeks early I gave birth to my lovely son Harry Keith. I'm sure you'll excuse the hiatus in posting, as we spent a couple of weeks in NICU and since coming home have started to make the adjustments that come with welcoming a small person into our lives.

That said, it's wonderful - tiring and anxiety provoking, but utterly, utterly wonderful. Harry is beautiful, and despite a rocky start feeding is beginning to go fairly well *touch wood* M and I are learning about the world of dream and cluster feeds, infacol and sleeping when the baby does. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, meal planning. Well it's gone out of the window a bit - pizzas, toast, porridge and sandwiches have played their part in sustaining us through broken nights, and long days. You may remember that I was part way through stocking up the freezer, but the warm weather has meant that the casseroles and cottage pies that I lovingly prepared have been left largely untouched. However, M has gone back to work after his paternity leave today so I'm fully expecting to start to make use of them and I expect it won't be long until I'm mourning their passing. However, family have been wonderful and chickens, cooked ham, fruit, cake and quiches have all been given to us.

Breakfasts for me are porridge as I'm breast feeding and oats are good at promoting milk supply. I'll switch back to granola and yoghurt once I've finished up the porridge oats.

Lunches - unsurprisingly my lovingly prepared salads have been abandoned in favour of sandwiches, not because they take too long to do, but it's impossible to eat a salad and feed the baby (something which seems to happen regularly - I swear he can smell the food!).


Unsurprisingly most of this week's meals are quick and easy - either things I can throw together while Harry sleeps, or things I can get out of the freezer and just wallop in the oven.

Monday: leftover slow roast pork with wraps, salsa, salad and sweetcorn. Stupidly I didn't think to pick up an avocado which is annoying me more than it should.
Tuesday: Chicken kiev, chips and peas night as I'm popping to Guides to introduce the girls to Harry.

Wednesday: Quiche, wedges and salad

Thursday: Baked tomato pasta - I think we have some leftover dough balls to go with as well as some salad

Friday: Chicken wraps- with my harissa sauce some greek salad and potato salad which I'll blog the recipe for later this week.

Next weekend we have M's parents visiting, so I'm going to break out some of the cottage pie portions from the freezer and have that with frozen peas and carrots.

Sunday: I'll see how we're going - possibly pizza.    

 Well, that's us for this week - if you've had babies - what sort of things did you eat in those early days?

Monday, 2 June 2014

Meal Planning Monday: loving maternity leave

I'm torn at the moment between wanting the baby to stay put so I can enjoy a little bit of summer at my own pace and being quite, quite ready to not be pregnant anymore. I started using crutches for the SPD last week and just feel like I now have a huge sign over my head that declares 'Pregnancy is too much for this one' and of course that's put the kibosh on my plans to swan around North London doing all those things I never get the time to do on a normal basis.

Anyway, enough whinging, I have a line of the teeniest, tiniest baby laundry, the nursery is finally finished and aside from the sewing, ironing and a breastfeeding class I have no plans for the rest of the day, except enjoying the sunshine.

Being at home hasn't changed how we eat really - I did think it would, between giving me the time to exercise my natural capacity to cook wondrous meals *ahem* and freeing up some of my imagination from the home-tired-chicken kiev-sleep routine we'd got into. What I didn't realise was that being pregnant seems to have freed me up to mainly go to the hospital a lot... between my regular monitoring, physio, midwife, obstetrician.... I swear they're going to hand me a BlackBerry and a laptop soon so that I can keep on top of what they need from me!

That said, I did some batch baking this weekend and we now have lemon drizzle cake in the freezer, and a chocolate banana loaf in the cake tin, so M's a happy camper. I want to bake a simnel-alike cake this week and try Michelle's Cinammon sugar mini muffin doughnuts 

Breakfasts - I'm sticking with the cereal. Baby in years to come when you realise my aversion to milk I hope you appreciate this.

Lunches - griddled halloumi salad is still the daily menu and I'm showing no signs of tiring of it. Last week I had a few days of halloumi, pesto and avocado sandwiches on pide which is a favourite flatbread of mine, but I'm back on salad this week.

Dinners -

Monday:  We've got our breastfeeding class a bit earlier than our usual NCT so I'm going to knock up some pasta nice and quickly - just a Pantry pasta will do I think

Tuesday: Is going to be our curry night - courtesy of Charlie Bighams we're trying two of their new curry ready meals, a Korma and a Tikka Masala so expect a post later on this week about how we found them. For someone who hasn't really had cravings as such (don't mention the cherry tomato habit) curry is something I've really enjoyed whilst pregnant so I'm really looking forward to this.

Wednesday: I'll be at the hospital being monitored on Wednesday so I'm hoping for leftovers from Tuesday night's curry.

Thursday: Brownies starts back (my penultimate session before I go on maternity leave from my littlies) so it would be a travesty not to keep up the chicken kiev 'tradition' this pregnancy has spawned. Home made sweet potato chips and lots of veg/ salad to balance out some goodness.

Friday: Sausages, baked potatoes and something nice and vegetable-y *vague*

We've got a much cherished weekends at home next weekend - I'm going to try and do some more batch cooking - Chinese chicken and mushrooms have been requested as have individual chicken and sweet leek pies (I'm clearly a soft touch).

Hope you're having a good week - and be sure to hop on over to At Home with Mrs M to see what all the other mealplanners are up to. 

Friday, 30 May 2014

Greenvale potatoes: sometimes the simplest ideas are the best

 Potatoes aren't something I feel drawn to specifically blog about very often, yet they're so versatile and more now than ever I cook with them a lot. Whether finely sliced and cooked in my Minced beef hash, or chopped and chipped with chicken kievs, or as my favourite - baked and mixed up with boursin and leeks with leftover Sunday roast - we use them a lot. It's no surprise that they're cheap, I'll use them to bulk out casseroles and make meals go further.

A couple of weeks ago the nice people at Greenvale asked me to trial a bag of their potatoes. Oddly I've been thinking of repurposing an old pillow case into a potato bag as where I store them, if they're left in the plastic from the original packaging they seem to sprout super quickly.  Funnily enough said plans to repurpose a pillowcase went out the window as I thought "Oooh potatoes in a paper bag." Simple and so much easier.

 I'm now on my third bag of Greenvale potatoes - they work really well as a multi-use potato, with nice fluffy middles, but outsides that pleasingly crisp up in the face of some hot oil and a hot oven.

My two current favourite potato centric recipes are below -

Garlicy, cheesy, baked potatoes (quantities per person)

1 baked potato
2 Tbsps garlic and herb boursin
1 leek
Knob butter
Spoonful milk
Black pepper

Finely chop some leeks and cook down slowly in pan with a lid in a little butter and some water. Stir occaisionally so that they don't stick, but otherwise I just let them do their thing until they're really soft.
Meanwhile prick and bake your potatoes in a medium oven - about 150 degrees C for an hour to an hour and a half depending on how big the potatoes are
Take the potatoes out of the oven, and using a teatowel to protect your hands cut each in half lengthways
Scoop out the middle into a bowl and mix up with the boursin, cooked leeks, a spoonful of milk and the black pepper
Refill the potato skins and sit the potatoes on a baking tray (I line it with tin foil)
Scatter grated cheddar on top and return to the oven for 20 minutes or so

Serve with leftover roast meat, sausages, BBQ - or y'know just as they are. 

 Home made healthy(ish) chips - serves 2

1 medium potato per person, chopped into chip shapes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C and put a baking sheet in to heat up too
Chop your potatoes up into traditional chip shapes and put all the potatoes into a sandwich bag or similar
Measure in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and using your hands on the outside of the bag, shake, shimmy and massage the oil so that all the potatoes are covered
Tip the chips onto the hot baking sheet (they should sizzle as you add them)
Cook for half an hour, or until the outsides are browned and crispy and the insides are lovely
Serve with ketchup

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Another quick and easy: Chilli crab linguine

Last week's post on the quick and wasy smoked trout pasta seems to have gone down well (and I certainly enjoyed eating it) so I thought I'd add another standby for when I need supper to be fast, furious and filling. This one is something I have been cooking for over ten years, my Dad and I came up with it once when we were there over a weekend and I go through phases of cooking it regularly and others of forgetting it exists.

It's not quite as cheap and cheerful as many of my usual recipes - even tinned crabmeat is expensive, and although I'd love to, I've never tried it with fresh crabmeat as that to me is something really special. Again it's something that cooks up really quicklywith limited prep time too.

Chilli crab linguine (serves 2) 

1 tin fresh crab
1 red chilli, finely diced (or equivalent of lazy chilli)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large handful parsley, chopped
1 lemon - zest grated, and juiced
3 Tbsps virgin olive oil
Linguine (or any pasta) enough for 2
Salt and pepper

Put the water on to boil and when it's ready put the pasta on - you've got the length of time it takes to cook to prepare the sauce
Crush the garlic and chop the chilli and add these to a splash of olive oil in a frying pan
Drain the crab meat and fork in the lumps breaking them up a bit as you go
Finely chop the parsley and add this and the lemon zest to the pan
Keep all of this warm while you drain the pasta
Add the pasta to the frying pan and stir through the sauce, adding the lemon juice and olive oil before you serve

This is lovely with a green salad and traditionally for me a large glass of white wine - it's a really light summery supper. And works equally well if you can pick up some prawns on special offer instead.


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