Monday, 18 July 2011

Meal Planning Mondays - 18th July 2011

Two blog posts in one night - how about that! I'm getting a bit behind with my posts at the moment so while I'm in the mood I thought I might aswell make the most of it.

Last week's menu went almost to plan, except for Wednesday when I threw in the towel/apron and gave in to chips and curry sauce from the local Chinese. Boy they were good though. I was a day out from then on and never made the Barbeque Mince I had planned for Sunday so we had the mince for tea tonight instead.

I was very pleased with the two new recipes I made last week - the Harissa Lamb Tacos that I posted about earlier and the lovely Zucchini Bread I wrote about on Friday. Both turned out to considerably nicer than I expected which is always a happy occurrence in my world.

So on to this week. Apart from the Chicken Adobado, a recipe from my very underused copy of Mexican Food Made Simple by Thomasina Miers, there's nothing hugely exciting on my list this week. There's a couple of new cake recipes I have my eye on though so watch this space.

Monday - Pasta Bolognese (not entirely homemade I'm afraid)

Tuesday - Chicken Adobado (marinated chicken)

Wednesday - Omelette and Salad

Thursday - Jacket Potatoes and Salad

Friday - Aubergine Pasta

Saturday - Don't know yet

Sunday - Cottage Pie

Harissa Lamb Tacos

I came across this recipe recently in the July edition of delicious magazine, in the Shortcut Suppers section. It certainly was quick to make however whether the portions sizes are enough for an evening meal is up for debate. The original recipe called for 250g of lamb mince but I decided to put in the whole 400g pack and put any leftovers in the freezer. It was all polished off by the two of us pretty swiftly though, together with 3 tacos each rather than the 2 listed in the original recipe, and we both agreed it would have been nice to have something extra on the side. I would say this definitely falls into the light supper category rather than proper dinner.

Having said all that, though, these were really nice. The jar of harissa (which I've never used before) had three chillis on the side so I was worried it would too spicy but the flavour turned out to be quite understated with hardly any heat. The addition of the lime juice and the mint yoghurt finished off the tacos beautifully. I'll definitely be adding this one to my list of quick mid-week dinners.

Harissa Lamb Tacos
(adapted from delicious Magazine July 2011)

1 tbsp olive oil
400g good quality lamb mince
1 red onion, chopped
1 heaped tbsp Belazu Rose Harissa or similar, or more to taste
1 lime, cut into quarters
6 taco shells
small bunch of fresh mint, chopped
200g greek-style natural yoghurt
1 little gem lettuce, shredded

1) Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the lamb mince and season well. Fry, breaking up with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes over a medium-high heat.

2) Stir in the onion and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring, until the lamb is nicely browned and the onion is softened. Stir through the harissa and cook for a couple more minutes, then pour over 350ml water and simmer for 10 minutes until sticky. Squeeze over 2 of the lime quarters.

3) Meanwhile, heat the taco shells according to the pack instructions and stir the chopped mint into the yoghurt.

4) Spoon the harissa lamb into the warmed taco shells and top with shredded lettuce. Serve with the mint yoghurt and remaining lime wedges.

Serves 2 - 3

Friday, 15 July 2011

Zucchini Bread

Well look at that. I managed to grow a proper sized courgette! I haven't much success with courgettes in the past - they usually to grow to about the size of a chipolata before shrivelling up - but finally I have a winner (mine is the one at the front).

I like using courgettes in savoury dishes and also in baking, with Nigella's Courgette Cake with Lime Curd being an absolute favourite. I also love Tortellini with Courgette and Lemon but I'd made that just a few days earlier and I really wanted to try something new.

I found this recipe in Rachel Allen's book, Bake. It sounds quite plain and, in some ways, it is, but please don't let that put you off. The courgettes make it deliciously moist and the spices give it just enough flavour. I liked it best thickly sliced and spread with butter or marge, but it also went down very well for pudding with a bit of ice cream on the side.

Zucchini Bread
(adapted from Bake by Rachel Allen)

400g/14oz plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves (I didn't have any ground cloves and didn't fancy trying to grind up whole ones so I substituted them for the same quantity of mixed spice)
300g/11oz caster sugar
100g/3 1/2oz demerara sugar
3 eggs, beaten
200ml/7 fl oz sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
380g/13oz courgettes, grated (with the skin left on)
75g/3oz walnuts, chopped (I didn't have any in the house so left them out)

1) Line two 13 x 23cm (5 x 9inch) loaf tins. Preheat the oven to 150c/300f.

2) In a large bowl, sift in the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices. Add both sugars and stir well to mix.

3) Add the beaten eggs, oil, vanilla extract and grated courgettes to the dry ingredients and mix well until combined. Add the walnuts (if using), mix in and divide the mixture between the two prepared tins.

4) Bake in the oven for 1-1 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tins for a while before turning out onto a wire rack.

The loaves will keep well for up to 10 days if tightly wrapped in clingfilm.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Meal Planning Mondays - 11th July 2011

So here we are again, another Monday and another Meal Plan. Last week went pretty much to plan with the exception of the Chicken Risotto which got switched with a Chicken Casserole at the last minute. I'm pleased to report that the Sainsbury's Beef Burgers went down very well and I'll definitely be making them again. I didn't manage to get any photos of them unfortunately, but you can find the recipe here.

Last week I was also very happy to appear as the Friday food blogger in the Voucher Codes online lifestyle magazine, Most Wanted. Have a look at my fantastic Chocolate Marmalade Brownie recipe here.

On to this week and I have a couple of new things planned together with some tried-and-tested favourites. As always I'll try to report back at a later date.

Monday - Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry

Wednesday - Fish Cakes with Rice and Veg

Thursday - Harissa Lamb Tacos

Friday - Pork Steaks & Veg

Saturday - Gnocchi & Pesto

Sunday - Nigella's Barbeque Mince with Tortilla Chips

If you'd like to share your menu for the week feel free to leave a comment or put a link to your post on Mrs M's blog, At Home with Mrs M.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Meal Planning Mondays - 4 July 2011

Last week I mentioned that I was planning to try out the Sainsburys Feed your Family for £50 plan - a meal plan that pledges to provide three meals a day, for four people for just £50.

So is it possible? Well, yes...

....and no.

Technically it is possible, however you need a family that is prepared to change the way they eat quite considerably and go without a lot of the little extras such as snacks between meals or any kind of drink that isn't water. It's also worth noting that the meal plans aren't designed for small children and I did make a few changes to accommodate their needs. The main example being breakfast as the options were toast and jam or muesli and yoghurt and none of my family were prepared to stray from their usual selections of cereal.

Having said all that, it was really interesting to try some of the economy options, some of which I'd happily buy again (the mozarella and the bag of muesli) and some I wouldn't (the 18p jar of pasta sauce and the economy Rice Krispies I decided to try). I also discovered some great new recipes that I'll be using again in the future.

Cheesy Bolognese Bake - this was really nice and made absolutely loads. I liked the addition of the bread on top which added a nice crunchy texture.

Sausages with Potato Wedges and Creamy Greens - the creamy greens were a real revelation in this dish. Just a simple mixture of softened onion slices mixed with cooked beans and peas and some cream cheese. So simple but really delicious.

Salmon fishcakes - I don't have a picture for these but again the recipe made loads and I still have another meal's worth left in the freezer. They were very simple to make and tasted great.

I ended up chopping and changing my meal plan last week so the Chicken Risotto and Burgers have reappeared on this week's plan and I'll try to report back about these at a later date.

So how much did I spend in the end? Well, all in all my total weekly shop came to about £70 - more than the £60 I was trying to keep to but still considerably less than I'd usually spend. Plus, as the portion sizes were more than we needed I still have some leftovers in the freezer for another day. You can find all the details and recipes for this plan, and the two preceeding ones on Sainsbury's website here.

So on to this week's meal plan. I've quite enjoyed the challenge of keeping to a budget so while I don't intend to be as restrictive as last week I'm concentrating on using up items already in my cupboard and freezer.

Monday - Sausages with Potato Wedges and Creamy Veg

Tuesday - Pasta with Aubergine and Tomato Sauce

Thursday - Chicken Risotto

Friday - Out

Saturday - Fish Cakes with Rice and Veg

Sunday - Barbeque Mince or burgers