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.

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