Sunday, 3 August 2014

Meal Planning Monday - ahead of the game this week?

Things here seem to be settling into a routine - sadly not one involving sleep, although Harry is great at night times so far. During the day is another matter entirely so if anyone else tells me to "sleep when the baby does" I will weep. Copiously. And possibly become violent.  Until the next growth spurt or developmental milestone or tomorrow's vaccinations *sobs* I kind of know where I am and what I'm doing - not in an organised or efficient way, but more of an - if he cries, check nappy, feed, activity mat. Regardless it seems to be working for us.

Tesco click and collect has been a godsend, I do the weekly shop one evening, link it in to a meal plan and it's there for M to collect on a Sunday. We'll skim over their inability to send fruit that isn't wildly overripe or incredibly short dated because the convenience of it is enough to make me weep with gratitiude.

This week is hopefully not too hectic (aside from aforementioned jabs *still sobbing*). We're visiting my mum on Tuesday, and aside from that I'm hoping for some family time.

Breakfasts: Cereal for me - trying to make sure I get my calcium, normally with a banana and some decaf tea.

Lunches: Halloumi and houmous pitta pockets with carrot and cucumber sticks. Oh and cherry tomatoes - that craving has not left.


Monday - Chilli stuffed marrow - based on this recipe, but using some chilli con carne I had in the freezer as the filling. Re-reading that post, I'll be sure to top the marrow with lots of cheese, and make the wedges to go with.

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - Baked pasta and meatballs - I add bucketloads of mozzarella to this and love it at the moment.

Thursday - leftovers

Friday - Pizza

Saturday - Courgetti spaghetti

Sunday - Leftovers

Baking wise, I haven't done any this weekend - although M's mum has kindly left us a bagful of homemade meringues so eton mess is definitely on the menu. But I'm planning on knocking up another Brioche and apple pudding as M liked the last one. And so did I - it was a fantastic breastfeeding snack.

OK - the plan is to post this now so that tomorrow it's there for me to do the link up with. If I remember. Fingers crossed.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Brioche and apple pudding

Growing up a real treat for us was my mum's bread pudding - done in the slow cooker, we'd come home to the fug of cinammon and nutmeg and know that pudding was on the menu. I realise now it was mainly a thrifty way to use up stale bread, but in my head it was manna from heaven. Really one of my favourite things. I've never made it as there's no 'real' recipe for it, more a kind of - well we do this until it looks a bit like this... which isn't helpful for you or I.

A couple of weeks back the people at Pasquier brioche asked if I'd like to have a go at trying some of their brioche and creating a recipe with it. Bread pudding was the obvious choice (well, obvious to me) I just needed the time and my wonderfully velcro baby to let me have some time in the kitchen.

The interweb is awash with recipes for bread and butter pudding, yet bread pudding seems to be a less common bake - maybe the fact that it's unfashionably retro - has none of the twee appeal of other more traditional bakes, or the fact that it is a dense pudding. I'm not sure I still love it.

Making the pudding with brioche made for a much lighter texture, and adding cooking apple from the garden cut through the sweetness. Otherwise it's a fairly traditional recipe that I've worked up.

Brioche and apple pudding

500g (1 loaf) brioche - whizzed into breadcrumbs in the processor or chopped up roughly by hand
500g dried fruit - I used a mix of sultanas and currants as that's what we had. You could use anything you have to hand.
100g cooking apples, peeled, cored and grated
1.5 tablespoons sweet mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinammon
1/2 nutmeg grated
1 pint milk
2 eggs, beaten
140g soft brown sugar
100g melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons demerera sugar

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees, and butter and line a square, deep dish cake tin (I use the one I use for brownies and similar)

In a big mixing bowl combine the breadcrumbs, dried fruit, grated apple, spices and sugar.
Mix the milk and eggs together
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and using your hands make sure that everything is really well mushed up
Leave to stand and soak for half an hour or so (it doesn't matter if you leave it for longer)
Melt the butter and pour over the ingredients. Make sure it's well combined.
Pour into the cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for and hour and a half, covered with tin foil. 30 minutes before the end remove the foil.

Serve warm with ice cream, custard or cream. Or leave to cool and have in a packed lunch.

Thanks to Pasquier for sending me the brioche - the rolls were excellent sustenance for the 10am feeds! 

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Curry in a hurry - good curry

You know those nights you're late home from work, or in our world - your partner has been attached to the sofa feeding the baby all day and there's nothing that you can just wallop in the oven and be done with in the house? That's where (to my foodie shame) ready meals for me step in. Cheaper than a takeaway, and these days if you're careful you can find those without too many nasties so you aren't overwhelmed by the guilt. Oh the guilt.

A few weeks back - 7 in fact, the nice people at Charlie Brighams got in contact with me regarding trying some of their ready meals. Busy as we were at the time, getting ready for the baby I thought they would be an ideal solution to our busy days - M was working in Birmingham, we were trying to fit in our NCT classes, finish decorating the nursery (nope, still not quite done) as well as sort the house out. They were the ideal way to ensure we didn't succumb to takeaway - too expensive - or toast and marmite - not ideal.

We picked up two of the new curry ready meals - Chicken tikka masala and Chicken korma. Both served two, so my plan was to cook both curries and one set of rice one night, and then the other portion of rice the next to have with the leftovers.

My prevailing opinion of the curries were that they were quite sweet - and even for two curries on the milder end of the spectrum, very mild. That said, they tasted clean and fresh and we definitely enjoyed them. The only other comment would be that portion wise I would dispute each meal serving two - I ended up making a very quick veggie dhaal to go with in order to bulk our dinners out.

I would definitely buy the meals again, but would consider adding some extra spicing, or maybe not the curries - some of the other options looked really interesting.

I should also point out - this was the last thing I ate before I went into labour!

Thanks to Charlie Bighams for sending me vouchers to buy both curries. This post is my own opinion.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday: Sunny days and sleepy nights

This week's meal plan is late (again - sorry about that) but done nonetheless - we've got M's parents staying with us for 4 days this week so our meal plan is bearing that in mind.

The sunny weather of late has been glorious, but has completely killed my appetite for proper food and I've been getting by with some very unhealthy snacking which keeps me going but isn't great for breastfeeding. So I'm trying desperately to eat properly, so this week's shop has included some bits and bobs I can eat with one hand as well as cordial to make the necessary litres of water a bit more interesting.

Breakfasts: Oatibix (oats are good for supplementing breast milk supply) and a banana

Lunches: either halloumi and houmous in pitta bread with salad, or houmous and avocado in pitta bread with salad. I've had to move away from bowls of salad as I just can't eat salad one handed whilst feeding without getting it down me or on the baby.


Monday: leftover pulled pork in burritos with mushrooms, peppers and avocadao. There wasn't much pork leftover so I needed to bulk it out from the fridge.

Tuesday: Courgetti spaghetti

Wednesday: Leftover Courgetti spaghetti

Thursday: Cottage pie

Friday: Baked pasta and meatballs

Saturday: Chilli con carne in the slow cooker

 I baked a variation on bread pudding yesterday so that's our cake supply for the week sorted - blog post to follow.

What's on your meal plan this week? Do you find your appetite diminishes in the heat? How do you get around that?

Don't forget to pop on over to At home with Mrs M and see what the other meal planners are up to.

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.


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