Monday, 25 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Last week passed in a food fueled blur! I seemed to be cooking non stop, I think partly distraction therapy as the fibro pain has been a bit higher than usual and partly boredom! I had been feeling completely exhausted but it may have been down to my Vitamin D was low, and now the pills have kicked in I am feeling a bit more human again! This is just a snap shot of what was being baked or eaten:

From left to right:
1) My 3rd batch of cheese scones in as many weeks - this used up a little truckle of Applewood cheddar leftover from Christmas
2) A heavenly lemon and ginger loaf cake - definitely going to re-bake and write down quantities! It was so light, lemony and little bursts of crystallized ginger made it dreamy!
3) A fridge surprise hash of fried new potatoes, greens, butternut squash in a creamy cheese and garlic sauce- not very pretty but very tasty!

We stayed fairly on plan last week, only Tuesday got completely changed. Though due to erratic shifts of my boyfriend its a bit higgledy piggledy as we are often eating at different times, so I've been trying to cook things that can re-heat fairly safely too! Just to make things extra challenging!

This week I planned, then moved everything around and think am happy now... is a mixed week of evening plans, work and friends and family feasting! Also a few freezer meals

Salt and pepper calamari, with lemony caper potatoes and green beans
Spicy Sausage patties, lettuce wraps, either freekeh or rice
Baked Camembert, my home made green tomato chutney and baguette
Corned beef hash, something green
Bread crumbed tuna steaks, sesame udon noodles + veg of some sort


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Recent Eating and Recipes

Okay, I've been a bit slack in the recipe making front... I am still cooking a lot but have been relying on tried and trusted recipes mostly, along with some other new favourites I've found in books and online! Though I have had a lot of success with a new potato side dish but realise I have no idea on quantities so must write down next time for you! Anyway, these are a few new recipes that might help give some inspiration on these cold wintery nights!

First up with a new make is these lovely little cheese scones - this is my first ever home made batch - I found the recipe here on BBC Food after a very quick web search via my phone after on a very random whim wondering how to use up some leftover Cambazola (yes, leftover would you believe!) and they came out perfectly. My scone experience is very limited and my auntie is the cheese scone queen but I have obviously inherited her scone skills, as I had to make another batch last night for work and this batch went by 10am! 

Due to my under-planning I realised after making them I had no idea where my scone cutter was and covered in flour, rummaging through a cupboard I found a star cutter - and so they became cheesy star scones instead! In fact I think it was fate as they made them bitesize and were demolished by midday at work by my colleagues:

Now the next one was Sunday's pudding - and a twist on an old Nigella favourite - the marmalade pudding cake that I blogged about way back in 2011! I realise the photo then was not brilliant, and neither is this one but its an awkard one to serve when your guests are salivating over the smells emerging from under its foil blanket! This time around instead of orange marmalade I switched it to a jar of Ginger shred marmalade and used some ready lemon juice in lieu of the orange- it was a definite winner and vanished fast despite proclaims of being too full from lunch!

Last but not least on the recipe front was another Nigella recipe and new favourite - this was taken from her 'Kitchen' book (one of my most used too) and  its a great way to use up odds n ends though a little meat heavy if you were to serve as a standalone dish, so I added some spiced garlicky greens on the side. I only ended up using one type of meat - the remains of our heavenly spiced Boxing Day gammon, also we couldn't get hold of the suggested Pomegranate seeds and I improvised by soaking some dried Barberries in hot water until plump and used them to garnish. Not quite as pretty but a worthy addition. The toasted nuts really do make this dish, plus I added a sprinkling of crispy fried onions for extra texture.

Despite my protestations over lack of cupboard space I am a liability left unattended in the shops and accidentally bought this stunning butterfly side plate - how could I resist for a mere £1.50?!

Hope you enjoy my suggestions, do let me know if you try any of them!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

Oops its Monday again, I really did mean to blog a recipe but er I hmm I can't even claim I was even that busy but our home routine has changed a little due to a change of shift patterns for my boyfriend and I am trying to finally start the photography e-course I bought in July! I have done the first section at last so at least its been quite a productive week and I finally understand what ISO is (I think so anyway!!)!

Food wise I had a first on Sunday! I made Salmon en Croute for the first time! Why its taken so long I am not sure as I love this dish so much whenever I have eaten it and on a whim I decided to invite family over and give it a go, after all January is a long dreary month after all the Christmas hype etc so I thought it would be good to squeeze everyone in our tiny lounge! Luckily everyone is used to our lap trays! I think it doesn't matter what you have, old, new or inbetween - its who you have around you to share your food with is all you need in life. I was super happy too with my first attempt - perfectly cooked and clean plates all round, apart from mine - think my serving size was a bit too generous but will make a lovely lunch tomorrow!

I have not bought very much in the sales other than this amazingly bargainous awesome purchase - my new utensil jar - the nice lady in the garden centre said she would reduce down anything I wanted- and I got this cute Cookie Monster one for 75p!! I do like an eclectic kitchen!

Anyway on to the meal plan - as mentioned last week, I have started planning over 2-3 weeks instead with a rough idea based on a main ingredient in the freezer, naturally as I've misbehaved and went off list (I did write and take list to shops but by time got to store it was gone oops!) I've had to make some minor adjustments but it has been a useful exercise as I have just bumped boxes down a bit! 

I am also making an extra effort not to waste anything, last week I found a forgotten wedge of Le Roule which I had to sadly discard as it was lurking from New Year's! I have inventoried the fridge again and need to crack on with using up some of the many random jars of pickles, jams and who knows what else! Last week I finally cracked open the green tomato chutney I made in autumn last year, when it was cooking I was dubious but its mellowed beautifully and become a very pleasant to eat chutney! Just now to decide what to do with two large jars of it! 

Tonight its dinner for one - the dearest has gone to see Star Wars which held little appeal, though I really should stop nibbling on cheesy tuc's or I won't be able to finish it! The basa fillet is leftover from yesterday - my Mum dislikes Salmon so I made her own little Basa en Croutes yesterday, and following a recipe I made last year I am rather looking forward to it!

Baked camembert, part bake bread, pickled radishes (I got the cheese for 55p reduced yay!)

Sweet potato, courgette and chorizo jambalaya. Mint crème fraiche dip (using up bits)

Ham and greens hash, fried egg (more using up leftovers etc)

Ikea meatballs, rice or mash, cream gravy, green beans (Naughty Friday night meal as by Friday am exhausted!)


Monday, 11 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday W/c: 11/01/2016

Hello shiny new Monday, you came around too quickly! Can I have a few more days please?! 
Last week we stayed sort of on plan, though Thursdays dinner became spinach tortellini as the sausages were still in the freezer (oops) and Friday's Salmon got bumped to Saturday night as my lovely neighbour made us macaroni cheese-it was very welcome as I felt exhausted. We all have done the rounds since Christmas with the cold and by the end of the week, on top of having to follow the low res diet and the MRI ordeal, I was about ready to collapse in a heap! We regularly give each other a spare plate of food and I am very lucky to have such a great friend just a wall apart!

I have tried to be super organised and have actually started drafting the next few weeks meals up, using things from the freezer in rotation. After losing our freezer contents just before Christmas due to a fault, I am now a bit paranoid but it does make good sense to eat it all up! Also it helps us to stick to tighter January budgets!! Plus our store cupboard is over flowing and is a bit of a hazard to get in and out of so its for safety reasons too!!

This week will be as follows - and yes I did spend some quality time with a Nigella cookbook in the process!:

Pork and leek Sausages, cheesy potato cakes (we made them last night from leftover mash, just need to heat through), carrots, broccoli and onion gravy
Mixed meat pilaf- from Nigella 'Kitchen'- leftover gammon and cocktail sausages (not tried this before but helps use up some odds and ends!)

Home made Sweet potato & chickpea burgers in brioche buns or a wrap, creamed freekeh (maybe! Bought on a whim!) and greens 

Spaghetti with green pesto (uses up half an open jar), green beans, leeks and parmesan, pine nuts 

Turkey meatballs (from Nigella Kitchen) with rice 


Lunches are going to be a mixture of leftovers and a giant carton of Beetroot soup my dad bought me over. Planning to make some home made cheese rolls to accompany. 

Also over the weekend I am planning to make Salmon en Croute for the first time! I love this dish but somehow I don't think I have ever made - will be that or Salmon Koulibiac as I spotted a tasty looking recipe in a Hairy Biker's book and have half a side of Salmon that needs thawing and eating. Another first will be pigeon steak baguettes - never tried them before but bought a pack for 99p reduced at New Year's - going to be interesting!!

The only fresh item I have not really accounted for is a rather large wedge of cambazola - other than cheese n crackers I do need to use it up as its very ripe but can't decide yet what to do with it!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Cheesy Baked Veggie Polenta

This week has a been a real eye opener over how people cope with restricted diets. I've had IBS for what seems like forever, along with long term functional dyspepsia, and I can be a bit picky yet at same time eating everything within reason but this week I had to follow 2 days of low residue ahead of a special MRI scan to see what was happening as its been driving me slightly crazier than usual. The leaflets only tell you so much, it was very unpleasant experience, and that was just the diet! My shoulder alone is still aching from holding it above my head for half an hour and my stomach has been so crampy, god knows what they inject you with but it did not go down well! Anyway, hopefully its one step closer to getting it sorted. And I have a whole new appreciation for anyone subjected to restricted diets! I missed veg so much! How do you cope?!!

Anyway, on a separate note I have learned to love polenta of late, prior to this week and had been debating whether to blog it but it is really lovely, just ignore the photos I took on my phone - golden yellow becomes big bird yellow!!

Previously I had always boiled polenta, and it was alright but I didn't really get it. was a bit too grainy for me. And then one day on some magical whim I baked it instead-and whoopee! Its a winner! The texture changes, and becomes fluffy instead and makes a great side on its own, or jazzed up with some roasted vegetables. Feel free to cook this without the veggies underneath, it makes a tasty alternative to mash or rice.

Serves 4



1 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
1 tsp dried Italian herb seasoning
1 tbsp rapeseed oil

170g instant polenta (also known as instant cornmeal)
750ml veg stock (I used 1/2 tbsp veg bouilon powder)
50g grated extra mature cheddar cheese
1 tbsp good rapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 190o

1) Place the veg in a non-stick foil lined baking tray, toss with the oil and herb seasoning, roast for 25 minutes, or until softening and starting to brown

2) Meanwhile, heat the stock to boiling and whisk in the polenta, then using a strong silicon spatula stir until thickened -about 2 minutes - be careful its evil and will spit. Apron advisable. Remove from heat and stir in 30gof the cheese and 1/2 the oil

3) Remove the veggies from the oven, quickly splodge over the polenta, sprinkle over remaining cheese and drizzle remaining oil. Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and fluffy

4) Remove from the oven, slice into wedges and serve. Wehad ours with some lush pork and cider sausages and home made onion gravy


If my dish has whetted your appetite for Polenta do check out these other fab blogger recipes - 

I really want to try these fab chunky alternative to potato chips - Polenta Chips from Recipes from a Pantry

This heavenly gooey looking Saucy mushroom and polenta bake from Family Friends Food is definitely on the make list!

I think I need to try again with sprout tops - this Maple glazed sprout tops with polenta from Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary looks delicious and hearty, great winter food!

Last but by no means least are these fab looking Courgette & Basil Polenta Wedges from The Veg Space -they look like they would make a delicious snack too or for my lunch box!


I have entered my dish in this months Extra Veg, from Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy

Monday, 4 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

This weeks plan started yesterday, after thinking about it all weekend and is possibly one I have least enjoyed! I love my food. I do not like restricting my food but this week I have to follow a low residue diet for a couple of days and I am so glad its not any longer! Trying to decide what to make is a constant web search as to whether something is suitable and even then having to question it because it conflicts with the list I have been given, then they conflict themselves by saying have chicken salad but also no raw veggies?! So confused! I have a beautiful new meal planner courtesy of my Auntie from Christmas but I am saving it for next week as this weeks list makes me sad! 

After several months of little appetite and a nightmare digestive system, to the point of needing to now follow this diet ahead of an MRI scan to find out what's going on, it typically falls in a week where I have a good appetite, and going on a work site visit that's catered - that will be me in the corner with the sad crackers and cottage cheese salivating over a feast! All I really care about is being hungry and wondering what on earth I can eat! I know its a little pathetic and its only 2 and a bit days but me no like being told what to do or eat!

Breakfast for me is usually porridge but I can't touch it now till Friday! I really dislike cereal and am not much of a breakfast person anyway but planning this bit has been hardest, I think I have settled on making some plain drop scones tonight to have over tomorrow and Wednesday as I can hide in my bag and hopefully keep hunger pangs at bay!

Lunches are usually leftovers but I have bought a family sized tub of cottage cheese, some plain crackers and hopefully I won't hate either too much by the end of the week!

So that leaves dinner - tonight is fine though I forgot to thaw anything so my choice has somewhat reduced but the next two nights are so very dull! I love my veggies its very hard not to have them! I will be cooking regular meals for my boyfriend, lucky guy hey!

Monday - Spaghetti hoops with marmite cheese on toast

Tuesday - Plain omelette with mashed potato (low res day)

Wednesday - Tinned tuna with macaroni and a splash of soy sauce (low res day)

Thursday - Pork and leek sausages with baked cheesy polenta and roasted veggies

Friday - Sweet chilli salmon fillets with coconut rice and green beans

So I hope you are all having delicious weeks - I will be looking with envy at your meal plans!


Friday, 1 January 2016

Corned Beef Hash with Extra Veg, and a Happy New Year!

I had originally nearly finished writing this post, then I stupidly tried to change photo format and lost the whole blog post!! Now I didn't make any resolutions but instead to make more of an affirmation that 2016 I will be more thankful, though I may have just broken that slightly with a slightly sweary outburst! *Close my eyes, count to 10 and be thankful I have a computer to type on!* Though I will be computer less again soon, I've had nothing but trouble with it since buying it last January so its back to pc hell again once I get around to attempting to do a back up!

So did you make any resolutions? Broken them already like me? ! The last 5 years have been an emotional roller coaster, often feeling like its straight out of hell ...... but .... I have worked very hard mentally trying to have a more positive outlook, change what I can and accept what I can't change. Sometimes its a little easier said than done and there has been tears, often out of frustration but I am starting 2016 with a clean slate. I did a fair amount of mental de-cluttering last year, including removing people in my life who didn't belong in it - its been hard, and emotionally painful but it was definitely for the best. I am very lucky, and grateful that I do have amazing friends and family to help me through both the good and the bad times too. My top tip for 2016 is to reach out to loved ones if you need help, don't struggle on your own just because someone else made you feel so worthless. There are some proper goodun's out there!!

During 2015 I have not cooked as much, sharing a kitchen is not ideal for when you want to experiment or cook up a feast but can't get in the kitchen .... but its what we have until we either win the lottery or live on porridge for a year but I am positive it will happen soon! Also the IBS/ reflux has been a general nightmare, so much meal planning has gone to waste as I couldn't manage it but I am now seeing a fab new doctor so hopefully once we get to the bottom of it, some of my love for cooking - and eating will reappear! Maybe I might even start to blog again more regularly as I feel I have very much neglected the blog of late!!

Anyway, enough of my post hangover gushiness and in with what you came here for - the food! Corned beef hash is one of those comfort food dishes that's a relatively new staple in our diets! Weirdly I never ate this at home growing up and only ever once eaten it out as a child, so the idea to make it came out of nowhere a few months back and I've been slowly tweaking it to my liking. I've kept loyal to the potato and corned beef bit but shaken up the rest and this current edition is rather delicious if I do say so myself!

Its never going to win a beauty pageant but it tastes pretty darn good and that's all that matters! Its economical to make, packed with sneaky veggies and re-heat's really well too. This one used regular baked beans but we have also experimented with the mixed beans in tomato sauce which worked equally well.

Serves 4


320g peeled, diced swede
770g white potatoes, diced (peeling optional)
1 tin corned beef, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tin baked beans, low salt if possible
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 small red pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
50g grated cheddar
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp tomato puree

Boil the swede and potato together for 20 minutes or until soft and fluffy, drain well. Add the butter and mash well.season to taste with salt and pepper

Preheat oven to roughly 180o (our temperature gauge is still broken, basically a medium hot oven)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large saute pan, fry the onion until golden, add the red pepper for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and corned beef and saute for about 6 minutes or until the corned beef has become a little mushy and the veggies are soft and cooked through. Add the worcs sauce and tomato puree, along with 6 tbsp water to loosen, cook for a further 3 minutes and remove from the heat.

Fill a oven proof dish (mine is roughly a4 sized) with the meaty mixture. Mix together the smoked paprika and baked beans and pour over to make a thin layer. Top with a further layer of the prepared mash and sprinkle over the cheese. Make a pretty pattern with forks if desired.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes or until its golden on top and bubbling. Serve with greenery of choice, buttered spring greens work very well here.

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