Monday, 30 April 2012

Meal Planning Monday 30/04/2012

Well, Monday. Here you are all over again. You have appeared so quickly it seems!

I've been a bad blogger having nothing really new for you too. Still in process of getting my DSLR camera back, and my spare old Casio one keeps saying 'card error' which is rather frustrating as a) its not that old but outside the warranty and b) it means I can't really photograph anything as my phone unless under outdoors seems to do funny things like this to pictures:

Toasted waffles with caramelised apples on - delicious too:

And despite telling myself rather sternly no more buying cupboard stuff, as the 'dry goods draw' was already heaving I randomly picked up a packet of Polish Barley Groats the other other day, which I am going to try out later this week...Says they are high in fibre and a good source of protein apparently..

Moving on to this weeks meal plan, last weeks saw a few changes and substitutions, and no doubt this will too! My car is trying to financially ruin me so everything is planned from existing stocks, and will be for next few weeks. Will be good to clear down and sort through the freezer!

Also am adding this to Mrs M's weekly linky you can check out what everyone else is cooking here

Monday - I had put pie on menu but do have some blue cheese that needs eating, contemplating making some sort of blue cheese potato cakes, to be served with broccoli and carrots. I made the potato cakes, though did semi explode, think should of chilled them first! Were very nice anyway!

Tuesday - Quick dinner before college - most likely penne with last of some pesto that needs eating along with peas and courgettes. But have pasta for lunch so doubt will want it too for pie might be moved to tomorrow, if I don't eat him tonight Forgot didn't have college as had an exam in the morning, so I'd swapped shifts! Dinner became stir fried courgette with pesto as wasn't that hungry!

Wednesday - Either baked tuna crepes with broccoli, or a cheese omelette Became a mix of the two! Omelette WW style, with tuna and olives on the side, with peas and courgette

Thursday - This is where the above mentionned groats come into play! Going to thaw some pork mince and go from there! Might do a quick stew of sorts, depending of course on the weather!

Friday - Am working late, so lunch will be a good sized portion of leftovers and if hungry when I get in will most likely be my cupboard noodle surprise!

Saturday - Rather excitingly am going to a Foodies Festival and then out for dinner!

Sunday - Rather un-excitingly I will be another year older, and no longer in my twenties! Am so not ready! Not entirely decided still what to do but potentially a curry..

And on a random note, to offset my car bill a little - please check out my EBay auctions! Plus I forgot to put it on there but if you are looking for a pastry canape maker - do let me know!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Meal Planning Monday W/c: 23rd April 2012

Wow, another week has started. Where has the time flown this year?! I have a rather large birthday approaching rapidly, which I am completely not ready for. Can I delay it a bit longer perhaps?! Pretty please?!

I am rather slacking in blog posts at the moment, as rather stupidly I left my beloved camera at my Aunt's house last month, and between my camera phone and fluorescent strip kitchen lighting have not managed to photograph anything half decently! Hopefully I am getting it back soon...

Meanwhile I've been doing some experimental vegan baking, which may appear at some point when I get something more photogenic and I had great success with using one of those oven roasting bags thingies over Easter - I cooked a gammon joint in it and was very impressed with the outcome, the resulting meat was perfectly cooked and juicy. And no messy baking tray after! Win win!

I've done my meal plan but as always its subject to change. Due to not one, but two unexpected car costs this past few weeks, along with mot and service due this week, and having time off sick from work frugality will be the mantra for the next month or two! Lots of freezer raiding! Why are cars so blooming expensive? And just how does a windscreen manage to just crack? Hmph. I do believe lentil soup may appear soon on my menu...

Anyway, enough of my rambling - so far the plan is:

Tonight - Ditalini with pesto courgettes, mushrooms and peppers. Followed by a cinnamon whirl picked up on reduced and frozen, a quick blast in oven will have it back to its full glory!

Tuesday - Cod fishcakes with peas and a portion of potato boulangere (leftover from Easter and frozen) became leftover veg as cooked too much on Monday

Wednesday - Aduki bean kiev (were on offer!) with root veggies. Had shocking car bill, and didn't fancy what I'd planned. Ended up making quick dinner of fusilli with peas, fried mushrooms and blue brie.

Thursday - Tortellini with gammon and more peas, possibly a brothy kinda thing

Friday - Not sure! Going to see Wicked! Dinner at Prezzo, shared a lovely caramelised onion pizza bread, then a rather tasty griddled chicken and avocado salad. Wicked was excellent!

Saturday - have put down meatloaf/ meatballs... have some pork mince in freezer but not fully decided yet what I might do with it. I saw something a while back involving thai influences so might try it out Didn't do thai route - Made mini meatballs and had it with a packet of moroccan couscous and some cucumber

Sunday - Salmon fillet, with ginger and pumpkin rice noodles (a whim purchase, hope they are nice!) and veggies of some sort

I have added this to Mrs M's linky

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Loving the leftovers - Pastry

I never like to waste food, there is always that little voice in the back of my head (aka mums when I was young) saying think about the starving get the picture. And so I learned to embrace leftovers, and some of my best dishes have been born this way!

A few weeks back I made a rather gorgeous tart for lunch, involving a sheet of puff pastry, bought in post Christmas sales for 30p and squirelled into the freezer, some delicious 'coastal cheddar' given to me by my dad, organic bacon (bought for 70p reduced!) and a large amount of caramelized onions:

(served with honey and mustardy carrots and piccalilli, mm!)

 However, the baking tray in my new flat wasn't quite big enough, and I was left with a strip of pastry where I had cut the tart to size...not wanting to waste it, I had a small amount of mincemeat left, so quickly whipped up these simple little mincemeat puffs using it:

So that was lunch and pudding sorted for both me and a friend, for less than £1.50, and I had leftovers for the next day. Can't argue with that!

I am sending this over to Helen's Frugal Food Fridays, this month being held over at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families blog:

What's your favourite thing that you have made from leftovers?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Almondy Pear and Pecan cake

Okay there isn’t actually any almonds in this, instead I used an almond extract. As soon as you take the foil/ lid away you get a beautiful aroma of almonds, and drift away into a cherry bakewell bliss..then reality brings you gently back to earth! This cake was not trying to be a bakewell but with the almondy aroma it can’t help but trick the mind momentarily! However don’t let this distract you from baking it – it is still definitely a pear, and pecan cake. But just jazzed up a little! And very delicious!

As with most of my baking, unless I have been very organised it tends to follow these guidelines:

 1) Want to bake.

 2) Want cake.

 3) Have eggs: Tick (though have been doing some interesting Vegan bakes lately…)

 4) Have butter or Stork: Tick.

 5) Have flour and some form of sugar: awesome now we are getting somewhere

 6) Open cupboard – hmm in date, yes. You’ll do then. And you. And maybe you...

And this cake was made to these rules but also involved what needed using up from the fruit bowl too! I am slacking in that I don’t know what variety of pear they were. They were the child friendly ‘fun size’ ones and were very ripe! I thought initially I didn’t like them but that was when they were unripe. So not very surprising really! They were green anyway.

The 'almondy' part came from a bottle of Bitter Almond Essence, sent to me yonks back from the nice people at Bakery Bits. Whilst I had used it a couple of times, I was a little scared of its strength, and to date hadn't made anything particularly memorable or blog worthy. However I think I was spot on with the strength used in this cake. I do think you have to very careful with strong extracts/ essences, especially almond as can go from pleasant to medicinally pungent in mere drops!

As per part 6 of my foolproof plan, this covered the choosing of the pecans (they are also my favourite nut apart from my mother) , and the oat topping, well I don’t know but was dreaming of crumble at the time….!

Overall this cake for me was a winner. Both my brother and dad liked it too. Enough to have seconds in one sitting so can’t be bad at all! Of course bathed in the unwhipped whipping cream (couldn't be bothered to whisk it!) also assisted in its devouring very nicely. Its lovely and moist from the pear and best eaten within 48 hours or so.

What I am most pleased about is that the cake actually worked. Its very rare anything I’ve baked hasn’t worked (sorry if sounds smug/ modest, I just don’t have frequent baking disasters!) but this baby sunk! Not that you can tell from the pictures of course, as I turned it over, which was the original plan anyway (phew!) but it became essential. After making the cake batter, I thought I would go get my camera. Cue half hour searching and turning my room upside down. Eventually return and the batter, well, it was kind of airy..hmm.. fortunately luck was on my side and you couldn’t tell anything had happened bad!


3 pears weighing 300g, then peeled and diced into 1cm ish chunks – do this bit last
120g self raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
70g caster sugar
50g light muscovado sugar (save 1 tsp)
120g stork margarine
2 eggs, beaten with ¼ tsp bitter almond essence

25g rolled oats
25g pecan nuts
The 1tsp sugar from above

Start by toasting the oats, nuts and sugar over a low heat, just until you get a nice aroma going on, then reserve to one side

Pre-heat oven to 180o

Cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy, beat in a little flour, then egg, then flour, then egg etc until all used up.

Prepare your pears as above. Scatter the oaty mix into an even layer in a fully lined 7cm sandwich tin and top with the pear chunks. Spoon over the batter in an even layer and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until springy to the touch and a skewer comes away clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack in its liner. Serve warm or at room temperature with cream or custard. Anything you fancy really!

(I always use the pre-cut cake tin liners - makes life so much easier!)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Creamy Mushroom and Chestnut Wild Rice

This is a recipe that I made up around Christmas time, and being that I've not been cooking as much lately due to illness, I have dug it out of the archives of my laptop! Sorry its not very seasonal but if you have any chestnuts still around this does make good use of them!

At the time one of the biggest mysteries within my Knorr hamper was a vaccum pack of chestnuts. Or at least I hoped they were. The packaging looked weirdly a little like brains, all brownish and knobbly! Certainly not easy on the eye!

Whilst I certainly knew of chestnuts, I’d never really tried or done much if anything before with them, barring this past years fireworks night where I had the chance to try some hot on the bbq…!...Fortunately I liked them and subsequently singed my fingers greedily opening up several of them!

I had googled for ideas, and ideas a plenty abounded but none really stood out/ matched what I had in…so I decided my usual planning route of 'what's in the fridge' + 'what do I fancy' and came up with this creamy rice dish! The chestnuts add a certain sweetness and soft crunch. Mostly I was grateful I’d made something edible with them and that they hadn’t gone to waste!

This is a dinner for one – though easily up-scaled.


Handful closed cup mushrooms, quartered
6 vacuum pack chestnuts, roughly crumbled
1/2 tsp garlic puree
2 heaped tbsp cream cheese
1/2 tbsp flora cuisine - or use oil/ butter
Sprinkle of dried Thyme
75g Basmati with wild rice

Boil the rice as per packet instructions. Meanwhile heat the oil in a small frying pan, and saite the musrooms over a medium heat until nicely browned - around 5 minutes.

Stir in the thyme, chestnuts and garlic, warm through, reduce the heat and stir through the cream cheese with 3 tbsp of warm water to loosen. Season to taste, and serve with the rice.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Easter Egg Heaven from Hotel Chocolat

I am a little late in posting this due to last weeks unexpected hospital stay, however if you are still looking for Easter Egg's then you still have time to order from the lovely people at Hotel Chocolat!

This year Hotel Chocolat introduced a new beast in the form of The Gianduja Truffle Easter Egg (not that I can actually pronounce it!):

Praline and me go together like, well, er was trying to think of something clever then but think brain is still slightly depleted from hospital erm... I'll remember later! Anyhow, I do indeed love praline, especially Hotel Chocolat’s pralines and this egg is packed to the shell with them! Heaven indeed!

Milk lovers - look away now - this egg is for those who appreciate dark chocolate, its superfine, decandently smooth and the box is just so elegant! After undoing the bow, and removing the lid you are greeted with the golden foil encased egg, which can't do much else than bring a smile to your face! And then after gently lifting it out, there is a further beautiful box waiting for you underneath, with two layers of their super fine dark gianduja pralines! It even says 'Your Dark Gianduja Truffles on' which I take as meaning they are all mine, and that I don't need to share them, no? These are chocolates you want to take your time with. Their casing is sugar flecked crisp, then a thick layer of the chocolate, and a smooth inner. Perfect with coffee I found too!

So go on, spoil someone with this egg this Easter - it really is something quite special!

Many thanks to Anurag and Hotel Chocolat
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