25 Jul 2016

What we ate last week: Birthday parties and play dates.

Another hot week in Croydon. Another week of days out, school assemblies, play dates and quick dinners. It was a week involving schedules and plans and working out which kids needs to be collected at which time. Being a working (busy) parent often means that days rush by in a blur. As much as I love cooking sometimes (like this week) it can more about how to get the most out of the food that is in the Friday - working around timings and leftovers , and use by dates. Trying to stay varied in what we eat can also be a battle at times and breaking up the "boring" with experimenting. 

The husband was off at the Star Wars Celebration and I had mostly had a day indoors with the dudes. Biggest had a birthday party for a few hours so I had time to tinker in the kitchen. I whipped up these chicken burgers which me and the big fella teamed with an awesome pizza from Asda which is made with a white sauce topped with rocket and bacon.

I had time to also make this quick dessert. Made a cheesecake mixture with half a pot of double cream whipped then added a pot of full fat cream cheese, dash of vanilla and some caster sugar. Spooned this on top of crushed digestive biscuits, added blueberries and raspberries and added a dollop of whipped double cream on top. A little sprinkle of biscuit dust mixed with some coconut.

Sunday : jacket potatoes with mixed stir fry vegetables

Sunday was a strange day. It was a divide and conquer kind of day. I took the smallest of our tribe off out to a classic car show with my parents while husband was in charge of biggest dude who had Kung fu and a birthday party at Flip Out in Wandsworth. With all that going on the boys had eaten out and were not up for much of dinner. Instead for the adults I popped some baking potatoes in the oven and left them to do their thing. By the time little ones were dispatched to bed we could eat. Deciding we needed more that just potatoes with a sprinkle of extra mature cheese (and tuna in husbands case) we grabbed a bag of frozen Mediterranean vegetables I'd got from Sainsburys. This had chargrilled peppers, aubergine and courgettes. Added half a pack to a hot wok, some seasoning, some soy sauce and it was done. And it was so yummy. I really enjoyed it and with the heat on the up a light dinner was much appreciated.

Monday: Slow cooker pulled pork with rice and steamed  vegetables

I loved pulled pork. For a few reasons.
     It's yummy
     It's cost effective
     It's low maintenance especially done in the slow cooker.
Today's one I added a couple of chopped onions to bottom. Then added the pork shoulder on top, leaving the fat on. A little seasoning, some soy sauce and a cup of water from the kettle. Left it on high for about 4 hours. Then I cut away the strings and fat and disposed off. Added a couple of tablespoons of BBQ sauce and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Gave the meat a shred with two forks and a good stir. Left on high for another couple of hours. I steamed the rice and vegetables in the microwave and served the pork piled on top. The hubby added some hoisin sauce to his bowl but mine was left as it. It was so yummy! Have I mentioned i love pulled pork?

Tuesday: Beef tacos (without the tacos but with tortillas)

Hottest day of the year today. On top of pick ups, wet school shoes, tired me, lost lunch boxes and potty training accidents. This meant I was not really in the best frame of mind for cooking. But their were several other factors at play. 1.  I was hungry, 2. There was half a pack of flour tortillas that needed using 3. The mince needed cooking. These all led me to a beef taco seasoned pot on the stove with added peppers, onions and courgette. All served wrapped in a large tortilla with a little cheese. For a dinner which was literally thrown together it was pretty good. Filling and light (perfect for this rather warm spell were in) I used the old del paso garlic and paprika mix. Really lovely flavour (I've add two more sachets to the shopping for next week!)

Wednesday : Peking lemon chicken

Today I was invited to attend a thank you assembly at the school which was all kinds of lovely and full of the smiley children singing beautiful songs bringing tears to my eye. The past school year I have been sitting on the PTA committee and it's been a real eye opener. With lots of stress, worry and the feeling of having accomplished things by the end of it. By the time I got home after the round trip of collecting children I needed something quick for dinner. And something I could leave to cook while sweaty children bathed. I used chicken thighs (cheaper and more tasty than chicken breasts) and the jar of Peking lemon chicken sauce I picked up last week. It was really tasty and have a lovely sticky sauce to the chicken. I bulked up the vegetables by adding in peppers and a bag of sugarsnap peas. I will be buying this again as a back up in the cupboard was a great. I'm thinking it would be nice to try with prawns or fish as well.

Thursday: Pork dumplings and noodles

We are very lucky to live in an area which is so diverse. So diverse that locally we have shops where you can buy all sorts of ingredients covering a good selection cuisines. There is a large Chinese supermarket just round the corner from where we live and is full of shelves and shelves of sauces, freezers of meats and dumplings, packets of noodles and seasoning and fresh lobsters and Chinese greens. I do love wandering round this interesting place to stock up on bits. This time I picked up some frozen wonton and spring roll wrappers - which inspired tonight's dinner. With the leftover pork from earlier in the week - which I whizzed up in the food processor with some leeks and cabbage. Gave it all a good mix, added soy sauce and oyster sauce. Before spooning into wrappers and forming little dumplings. 

I gave them a quick fry with some spray oil to crisp them up. Then into the oven to through. Served with some stir fried noodles with a sprinkling of crushed cashews on top. This were lovely little crunchy parcels which we could eat while catching up with kids- especially the eldest who had his last day of school for the summer.

Friday : corned beef hash with rice

First official day of the summer holidays and a busy one at that. Took eldest off to Chessington World of Adventures, we recently got Merlin Passes and live close enough we can pop in there for a few hours. As well as that I had suit to collect from dry cleaners, children to entertain, food shopping to collect and bags to pack. It was so hot on top of this that I wasn't really in the mood for cooking elaborate meals and I wasn't in the mood for eating. One of the husbands favourite meals is corn beef hash. It reminds of growing up and that was his request got dinner. Onion chopped and softened in the pan, diced sweet potato and some seasoning. One tin of corned beef added and heated through, piled on top of some rice.

With all that going on and the crazy but lovely hot hot days we have been having over here the need to bake has been very low. As much as I have always got space for cake. I keep reading cookbooks and trying to find my mojo - it will return again soon i'm sure, I hope anyway.

20 Jul 2016

Kids Menu: Chicken burgers and wedges.

In this house I am blessed with two boys who approach food in very different ways. We have the fussy eldest eater and foodie youngest eater. Finding meals that allow both boys to eat well is at times a battle. Things my eldest loves to eat are burgers, sausages, breaded fish or chicken. He dislikes pasta but loves potatoes in all forms. As I had the time recently I pulled together a homemade chicken burger meal to see how that goes down.

These burgers I made with 3 whole chicken breasts (I wanted chicken or turkey mince but the supermarket had none!), and that was pretty much it. And he ate it - he ate and said he enjoyed it, so I am calling it a win - I think I could make a batch of these and freeze them. (I'm terrible at using my freezer to the best capacity) Me and the big fella also ate these with a frozen pizza!! I think if I was making again for just us I would through in some chilli jam into the mix - yum!

  • 3 x skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 courgette
  • 1 small carrot
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 slice of wholemeal bread
  • 50g of cheddar cheese (I used extra mature but Parmesan would work too)
  • Breadcrumbs (yes I used store bought! But homemade would be good too - I just didnt have the time)
  1. Finely grate the carrot, spring onions and courgette (I removed the skin to allow my anti green vegetable boys to be fooled) Soften the vegetable over a medium heat. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Add the slice of bread and cheese to a food processor and whiz until breadcrumbs.
  3. Roughly chop the the chicken breasts and add to the food processor. Mix until fully combined. 
  4. Scoop and shape into patty shapes - I went smaller to accommodate my boys, but you could make them larger.
  5. Coat in bread crumbs and allow to chill in the fridge for about 15-30 mins.
  6. Bake in the oven until fully cooked (these cooked for about 45 mins or so while the wedges were cooking)
  7. Finally I did fry them quickly to add a crunchy coating to the burgers.

  • Wedges were simply about 6 large potatoes chopped, seasoned and drizzled with about tablespoon of oil. Fed us all with leftovers.

    1. There you have it. I served the burgers in these new Kingsmill Burger thins  which were lovely and soft - and not too heavy on the bread!! Both boys got stuck in and ate which means it was a win in my eyes. A "take away" but made with fresh ingredients, very little oil and added vegetables.

      17 Jul 2016

      What we ate last week: Poorly kids, date days and school discos.

      This past week has been a full on week of parenting, errands and family life. We kicked it off with a day out without the kids and it ended up with a late dinner time and McDonalds for the kids. Not the classiest parenting choice but hey needs must. We have had two poorly kids this week at different days, plus a parents evening thrown into the mix. Next week is currently looking just as crazy busy as its the final week of term, but this also means I begin my 3 day working week for the summer!! yay! I need the break too...

      Saturday: KFC. whoops.

      This past Saturday me and the other half spent the day in Streatham Common dancing it up and drinking wine and reminiscing about when we were younger dancing to Garage on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. It was a fun day and while the kids were occupied elsewhere we spent some time with friends and family from all aspects of our life. O
      n the drive home with sore feet, smeared glittery face paint and slightly red shoulders we stopped off at KFC. Now this is very rare since loosing weight both us avoid fast food places mainly but we needed food, quick and this hit the spot. Just a meal each and small fries. A satisfying end to a fun day.

      Sunday : Bacon, Spinach and Cheese pasta bake.

      Collecting the boys and heading off to visit friends was a lovely way to spend a Sunday. Except in my infinite wisdom I had made plans to dismantle and get rid of chest of drawers in the boys room and replace with a large Kallax unit. This meant while I sorting the littlest pest to bed, hubby was on building IKEA furniture duty. We needed a dinner that was quick. While the pasta boiled, I fried off some bacon (far removed) once that was cooked through emptied a bag of spinach in giving it a rough chop with some scissors. Added the cooked pasta and then half a pot of cheese sauce (the other half used last week with the pizza). Stir through and tipped into a dish. A sprinkle of low fat mature cheddar and into the oven. A quick and simple dish but left us full.

      Monday : beef curry with carrots, squash and sweet potato.

      As usual Monday evening was looking like a busy one with school pick ups, forgotten homework from the weekend, beavers bbq and AGM meeting and arranging pick up of smallest. In attempt to be organized I cooked up the the curry during the day and left to simmer while sorting through the never ending battle of odd socks. This meant that once we were all home and kids in bed mine and the husbands dinner was just a case of warming up the curry and steaming some rice. I used beef stewing steak which I browned with some sliced onions. Before adding in couple handfuls of frozen squash, a chopped and peeled sweet potato and a couple of carrots. A good sprinkle of curry powder, garlic granules, mixed seasoning, salt and pepper plus some hot water and half a can of coconut milk. The beef cooked down lovely and the vegetables in the curry gave it a lovely thick consistency.

      Tuesday: Baked salmon with asparagus and sweet potato

      We love fish however I find it quite pricey in relation to size so it's not often something we have. This week we quite fancied some salmon fillets which are my favourite and super quick for meals. Tuesday are full of busy bits and pieces and this was no different. I threw together this baked fish inspired by a similar one I do from Nigella Lawson Simple cookbook with bacon, sweet potatoes and asparagus. I sliced the sweet potatoes (still with the skin on) into thick rounds and laying them on the bottom of a pan. I wedged in the salmon skin down and piled the asparagus on top. A good drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs and spices before adding into a hot oven. I left it uncovered for the first 20 minutes then covered it will the pan lid and left it to cook for another 20 minutes or so. I have this fantastic cast iron shallow casserole dish from Sainsburys. I adore it and it's the perfect thing for this dish. Also once out the oven it kept the food warm for a long time. Long enough to get terrors into bed at least.

      Wednesday: Pizza Express (and a roast chicken)

      It was all planned that I would work a full week. My last full week at work before I morphed into summer holiday mode mum. But plans changed. My eldest woke in the night crying in pain with a headache. After some water, some calpol and some cuddles he was feeling better and slept. On the sofa. With me. So you can guess that by the morning I was a little worse for wear. We decided to keep him off school which meant I was in mummy at home auto pilot- which meant I did washing, stripped bed and tidied. In the midst of all this I roasted a chicken and cooked a few roast potatoes and carrots. A kind of mini roast. I had plans with a pizza express, a bottle of wine and some best old friends. Being the good wife that I am I cooked all this up so husband could eat well. My Florentine pizza (with a b├ęchamel base) a crisp white Chardonnay and a chocolate brownie with a macchiato chaser was just the job. Putting the world to rights.

      Thursday : minted lamb chump chops, green beans and baked potatoes

      My parents love a garden centre. One of their favourites is Poll Hill in Tunbridge. It has a lovely cafe, good selection, outside play area and an amazing butchers and farm shop. The meat from here is always lovely and we got treated to a couple of trays of minted lamb chump chops. So good. I love the combination of minty sauce and sweet lamb. Lamb is favourite of mine but not often served due to it being on the more expensive side. I was very pleased with these just baked in the oven and the excess fat drained. Before stir frying green beans with salt and pairing with a crunchy skinned jacket. Simple dinner packed with flavour.

      The boys needed to eat earlier - as usual on a Thursday. I cooked up a pack of Honey and Pork chipolatas from Tesco - which were yummy and tasted lovely. Added some peas, potato waffles and wholemeal flat breads for a quick but filling meal for the boys.

      Friday : sticky soy baked belly pork and rice

      Earlier this week I popped into Sainsbury’s for milk. And came out £12 lighter… I can't be the only person that happens to in a supermarket. I spotted this jarred sauces which were 94p each. Bargain. As much as I cooked from scratch I like to have a little back up in my cupboards. And these fitted the bill on Friday. It was the school disco, plus having to collect the shopping order that I grabbed the kids McDonalds which they ate in the car- thanks to Friday night traffic in Croydon. By the time I got home I threw this together and chucked it into the oven. Cut of strips of belly pork, added two chopped peppers, some spring onions, and a bag of sugar snap peas. Added the jar of sticky soy sauce and coated it all. Added a sprinkle of sesame seeds. I left it in the oven for around an hour, gave it stir half way. Steamed some rice and we ate out of bowls while curled on the sofa and the kids were asleep.

      A little bit of an extravagant week so will have to claw back this coming week. Which is another busy one with the end of term looming. No baking managed this week (but I managed to crack making popcorn in a pan without it burning and smoking all over the place!)

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