Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label slow cooker. Show all posts

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Meal Planning Monday: 13th June 2016

No meal plan from us last week - shocking, I know! And it definitely showed in my haphazard approach to the week. We ended up with fish and chips one night, and a pizza night too. Onwards and upwards this week, once Harry wakes up we're off to Aldi to do what will hopefully not be an expensive shop.

I'm doing some baking this week - jam tarts as prep for Brownie holiday which is heading fast towards us. We're Alice in Wonderland themed, and it's just so long since I made jam tarts that I thought I'd better have a trial run. Allergies mean they'll be raspberry jam and dairy free.

My slow cooker is out at the moment for a big batch of my Chorizo and butternut squash chilli - I've not used it for a couple of weeks and have definitely missed the ease of big batch cooks, I think it'll be out three times this week!

Breakfasts: oddly for me I've been really enjoying eggs for breakfast: soft boiled, mashed onto a slice of wholemeal toast with some salt and pepper. I have to eat it stood up in the kitchen so it's not around Harry, but that's what Bing bunny is for, yes?

Lunches: this week is Aldi smoked salmon with salad. And possibly some couscous.


Monday - Chorizo and butternut squash chilli (I'll be having with cauliflower rice)

Tuesday - leftover chilli

Tomato-vegetable and-lentil-pasta

Wednesday - Tomato, veg and lentil pasta (I'll be having with courgetti)

Thursday - leftovers


Friday - Slow cooked beef brisket (unseasonal I know, but beef is on special at Aldi this week)

So that's our week, wonderful slow cooker to the rescue!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Meal Planning Monday

I don't know if it's the cold, the grey misery that January brings with it, or something else entirely, but I am completely and utterly without inspiration for this week's meal plan. After last week's fluey bug that Harry was felled by, and the sinusitis and mastitis that have affected both M and I, one would think I was ready and raring to be back on plan at Slimming World, and cooking and eating lovely warming stews, broths and casseroles. Alas, 'twas not to be. I just feel a bit bleurgh and without any kind of inclination towards cooking or eating. However, I have a husband and a toddler who won't be putting up with that for longer than the hour and a half or so it takes them to get hungry so here's this week's meal plan.

Breakfasts - last week, between one thing and another I just could not be bothered with porridge. This week, my plan is to make it the night before and just warm it up in the morning. Plan. I want to try the Oh She Glows, Three bears porridge for starters.

Lunches - I need to make a pot of soup, and have used nearly all the veggies up this week - I think a minestrone might be in order, my plan is to make it tonight (Sunday).

Suppers -

Sunday: Leftover Tomato and butternut squash pasta - I made this without bacon

Monday: Chicken, and veggies, roasted with harissa. Served with couscous

Tuesday: Freezer surprise

Wednesday: Beef and Guinness casserole

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Schnitzel and homemade Slimming World chips, with peas and sweetcorn

Saturday: Slow cooker chilli

Sunday: Leftover chilli in baked potatoes

 I've got no baking planned for this week. A week spent snuggling on the sofa with a poorly, grumpy bubba has meant that more than my allocated quota of goodies has been inhaled. Lots of fruit on the shopping list this week instead.

As always, I'm joining up with Mrs M and the other Meal planners. Be sure to pop on by and garner some inspiration for your week.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Meal planning Monday: Week 1, 2016

Happy new year! I've had a lovely break over Christmas and the New Year - we had M at home and a lovely family time, with my sister as well as both sets of parents. It's back to business as usual today with weigh in at Slimming World for me and a bundled up trip to the swings for Harry.

I think it's safe to say I fell off the Slimming World wagon over Christmas - my mother-in-law is wonderful for finding allergy friendly treats for me, and she even went to the trouble to make me dairy free brandy butter which was amazing. It would have been rude not to heavily sample everything! This does mean a 2lb gain last week and so I'm back with my Food optimising as of this morning.

Breakfasts: I've been reading Oh She glows and am going to try being a bit more inventive with my porridge from now on. This morning we had her apple pie oatmeal which was lovely, although Harry reacted to something in it and Piriton has had to be located and administered. He's had nearly all the component parts before so I'm thinking it's either the chia seeds or a bigger amount of cinnamon. Truth be told I'm not sure. The irony being of course that he adored it.

Lunches: In a shocking turn of events, I've not made any soup this week. so that will need to happen. I think I'll do a carrot, chilli and red lentil concoction. Syn free with lots of goodness in there, and the lentils will make it lovely and filling.


Monday: Tomato, veg and red lentil pasta. It's a pack holiday favourite - I make it in massive quantities and our Brownies go loopy for it (heavily doused in cheese). I just really fancied it so will knock that up while Harry's napping this afternoon.

Tuesday: Leftover pasta

Wednesday: Chilli con carne with rice and kale for me. Just rice for M

Thursday: Leftovers in a burrito for M, with rice for me

Friday: Schnitzel, Slimming world chips and veggies

Saturday: Casserole of some description. Possibly beef

Sunday: Leftovers with baked potatoes and green veggies

That's our week - we'll use the slow cooker for the chilli, and casserole to make life easier. And there should be lots of leftovers to stock up the freezer with some quick and easy suppers.

Right, bubba is up from his nap and we need to get off to this weigh in. Wish me luck and enjoy your weeks.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Meal Planning Monday

I'm skating in by the skin of my teeth today - only writing our meal plan, after our weekly Aldi trip at half eight at night. This weekend was our annual Brownie holiday and my first time as QM for the Brownies. Harry and I returned home late yesterday afternoon - my two sole requests being that I didn't cook and that we didn't eat sausages, but let's not dwell on that. Today's been a bit of a slow one as I've tried to locate my get up and go... it does seem to have been left in the Brownie holiday house.

As it's half term - Harry and I are a bit up in the air, lost of our baby groups are on half-term break so we're going to be hoping for some sunny days where we can wrap up and go to the park.

Breakfasts: I've been a bit porridge-d out this last week so have bought some puffed wheat cereal to try with almond milk and chopped bananas.

Lunches: I'm going to make a root veg soup tomorrow - possibly in the slow cooker so I can have something hot.


Monday - Gammon, chips, peas and sweetcorn (a quick and easy tea for our post shop evening)

Tuesday - Butternut squash and bacon pasta

Wednesday - Leftovers

Thursday - Chilli con carne - which I'll be doing with cauliflower rice

Friday - Leftover chilli as a burrito for M, and with a baked potato for me

Saturday - Sausage hotpot

Sunday - Leftover sausage hotpot

That's our week - lots of winter warmers, easy nights with leftovers and things that can go in the slow cooker. Winners all around.

As Saturday is Halloween - we'll be making sure we're prepared with our Teal Pumpkin, and some non foodie treats for any trick or treaters with allergies. Will you be joining me? Why not have a look at some of the details of the Teal Pumpkin Project here.

Baking this week is taking a back seat after making a ridiculous amount of sugar cookies, fairy cakes, and flapjacks with the Brownies I'm all baked out!

I'm popping off over to At Home with Mrs M, and I'm an Organising Junkie to link up with their Meal Planning Mondays. Why don't you head that way too to see what everyone else is up to.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Meal Planning Monday

After an exciting week last week, involving a family mini-break to Dorset and a trip to River Cottage for me, normal service is most definitely resumed this week. As autumn marches on and September moves into October our meal plan is definitely reflecting the change in the seasons. I want to be at my target weight for Christmas which means a final push on the Slimming World front over the next few months.

Breakfasts: Baked porridge for me and Harry, pear and ginger to start the week, and then apple and cinnamon. Apples from our tree no less!

Lunches: On Saturday I made a big slow cooker full of Chorizo, butternut squash and chorizo chilli - I've frozen most of the leftovers, save for enough for my lunches this week.


Today (Sunday) we're having my Super slow cooked brisket, with roast potatoes, dairy free yorkshire puddings, and veg from the veg patch.

Monday: Leftover roast beef with baked potatoes and more veggies

Tuesday: Shepherd's pie with the leftover beef - as it's not a particularly big bit of beef today it'll be eeked out with lentils and/ or baked beans

Wednesday: Leftover shepherd's pie (I seem to be playing just how far can you stretch a £5 piece of brisket)

Thursday: Baked salmon with lemon, garlic and chilli and some kind of roast amalgamation of all the veggies in the fridge

Friday: We've got some more of the Heck sausages in the freezer so those with baked potatoes and spinach and beans from the veg patch

Saturday: Chicken and butternut squash casserole without the Boursin - another slow cooker job I think, as it'll give us some lovely leftovers based lunches for the week after

Sunday: Roast chicken I think

Baking wise, I'm about to go and knock up some more flapjacks - jam and coconut ones this time.

That's us - as always, don't forget to pop on over to At Home with Mrs M and see what everyone else is up to this week. I'm also joining in with Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organising Junkie for the first time too.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Meal Planning Monday: the dairy free edition

So far since June, our meal plans have focussed on foods that increase your breastmilk, food that should be gentle to digest, weaning, and now... now we're dairy free. It seems that the paediatrician suspects that Harry doesn't have reflux per se, but is in fact allergic to Cow's milk - probably the protein. As I'm keen to breastfeed him for as long as possible this has meant cutting dairy out of my diet. Which despite having done it in the dim and distant past is harder than I remember.

When I'm not bemoaning the loss of tea, going dairy free actually isn't too hard, I just need to be organised, which I wasn't last week so it was all a bit haphazard. M is out at a curry night tonight and the baby is asleep (for now *touch wood) so I'm doing our meal plan and online shop before turning in for an early night myself. My temptations are chocolate, tea or coffee with milk and cheese. I can do without all of them, if I have alternatives. Annoyingly from what I've been reading today, it looks as though soya could be linked as an allergen but I'm going to give dairy until the end of the month, and then if things haven't improved will take out soya too.

Breakfasts - I can have porridge made with water, or sourdough toast with peanut butter that's just peanuts and a banana.

Lunches - I've made some of Jamie Oliver's barbecue beans which I've been having either on toast or just as they come in a bowl. They would be amazing with cheese. Just saying.

Suppers -

Monday - Leftover chorizo and butternut squash chilli with rice/ or in burritos

Tuesday - Pasta and meatballs

Wednesday - Freezer surprise

Thursday - Pulled pork with baked sweet potatoes

Friday - Leftover pulled pork

Saturday - Baked potatoes with the aforementioned beans

Sunday - Slow roast brisket (and not just because of the leftovers. Ahem)

If anyone reading has any experinece of breastfeeding a baby with cows milk allergy, please do let me know what's been useful to you...

Monday, 6 October 2014

Meal Planning Monday: a change in the weather

Well I don't know about where you are, but here it feels like autumn blew in over the weekend and all at once the temperature dropped, the leaves changed and with them my appetite. My obsession with cherry tomatoes is abating, I had porridge for breakfast, thought about soup at lunchtime and have a casserole on the meal plan. Defnitely autumn. 

Harry is starting - as per the paediatrician's instructions - baby rice this week. I have my fingers firmly crossed it'll help the reflux as the acid and vomiting were really distressing him this weekend. 

Breakfasts for me will be porridge - I've got some frozen berries that I'm planning to defrost and stew with a little sugar as a topping. 

Lunches - I'm planning to move away from pate and houmous on ryvita to soups. Tomato soup to be precise. 

Dinners - 

Monday: Chilli and rice

Tuesday: Chilli burritos with wedges

Wednesday: Slow cooker chicken & butternut squash casserole

Thursday: Leftover casserole with baked potatoes

Friday: Pizza 

Saturday: Toad in the hole with veggies & onion gravy

Sunday:  Courgetti spaghetti (freezer)

A first outing for the slow cooker for a while, and some nice easy suppers from the freezer. Hopefully a relatively straightforward week to help me with the baby/ weaning/ reflux...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Meal Planning Monday: Sunny days and sleepy nights

This week's meal plan is late (again - sorry about that) but done nonetheless - we've got M's parents staying with us for 4 days this week so our meal plan is bearing that in mind.

The sunny weather of late has been glorious, but has completely killed my appetite for proper food and I've been getting by with some very unhealthy snacking which keeps me going but isn't great for breastfeeding. So I'm trying desperately to eat properly, so this week's shop has included some bits and bobs I can eat with one hand as well as cordial to make the necessary litres of water a bit more interesting.

Breakfasts: Oatibix (oats are good for supplementing breast milk supply) and a banana

Lunches: either halloumi and houmous in pitta bread with salad, or houmous and avocado in pitta bread with salad. I've had to move away from bowls of salad as I just can't eat salad one handed whilst feeding without getting it down me or on the baby.


Monday: leftover pulled pork in burritos with mushrooms, peppers and avocadao. There wasn't much pork leftover so I needed to bulk it out from the fridge.

Tuesday: Courgetti spaghetti

Wednesday: Leftover Courgetti spaghetti

Thursday: Cottage pie

Friday: Baked pasta and meatballs

Saturday: Chilli con carne in the slow cooker

 I baked a variation on bread pudding yesterday so that's our cake supply for the week sorted - blog post to follow.

What's on your meal plan this week? Do you find your appetite diminishes in the heat? How do you get around that?

Don't forget to pop on over to At home with Mrs M and see what the other meal planners are up to.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday:

We're getting married in less than a month. Holy hell that's soon.

I made the wedding cakes last week - 2 fruit ones using my slightly amended version of The Pink Whisk's Christmas cake.

At this stage I thought I'd be headless chicken-ing as I tried to make sure my dress fitted by dietting and exercising. I suppose an advantage to being 21 weeks pregnant is that as long as I walk for 20 minutes a day I'm not too fussed about eating or exercising at the moment. Baby ness aside I'm as flappy as I thought I'd be. Once the cakes are sorted I need to make some flowery decisions so will be Pinterest bound this week.

All of this means that food is really taking a back seat at the moment. Not helped by the fact that I'm really not fussed about what I eat at all at the moment so am just trying to eat healthily. I say this without thinking too much about what I'm cooking this week so that may be a complete contradiction to reality!

Breakfasts: Last week I was stunned and most happy to win an Easiyo set from Lakeland, so am enjoying playing with that. I'm using their sachets at the moment, but considering trying some experimentation (hello Pinterest again)

Lunches: Fairly dull, I've been either having ham and cheese sandwiches or tomato soup. I'm just not feeling in the mood for wild and exciting.

Dinners - I'm going to try and use up odds and sods from the freezer

Monday:  Pasta bolognaise (sauce frozen last week) with additional cherry tomatoes and cucumber as I'm on a bit of a crudites bent at the moment.

Tuesday - (if there's some in the freezer) Leftover chicken and mushroom risotto

Wednesday - As I'll be doing Shrove Tuesday at Guides the night before - M and I will do pancakes together on Wednesday

Thursday - It's Brownie night so M is in charge of a pizza and more crudites

Friday - Chicken kiev, sweet potato chips and peas

Saturday - will have been a long day as I'm doing wedding dress 'stuff' so I think I'll pop a brisket into the slow cooker before we go

Sunday - leftover brisket with baked potatoes and possibly cauliflower cheese as I've been thinking about it a bit lately, and clearly the only way to stop that is to make it

So not an exciting week, but it should clear the freezer a bit.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Chilli con carne - slow cooker or oven

Another recipe that's ideal for leftover roast beef, just call me the leftovers Queen. Or something. You know I'm not fussy.

Chilli con carne is something I never used to really think about making - if I wanted something of that ilk I'd make my chorizo, pepper & cannelini bean chilli. However, something I've come to realise over the last 4-5 months is that iron is important, and no matter how much kale and other leafy green veg I eat, I do sometimes need the oomph of beef.

This is a fantastic recipe - pretty failsafe, as I've made it in both the slow cooker and the oven. For ease I generally wallop everything in the slow cooker and head off, paintbrush in hand, ready to tackle skirting boards, but if I want to knock it up a bit faster, then the oven is just as good.

In the past I've used ancho chillies - dried, smoky, yet slightly sweet chillis that I leave whole and let the cooking process impart their flavour, but today for ease I used the Gran Luchito chilli paste I've oft raved about of late. 

You could easily switch out the cooked beef for mince, or even for stewing steak. And I'm (unsurprisingly) not averse to bulking it out with carrots and celery grated or finely chopped to make it go further. Also, see lentils or oats.

Slow cooker chilli con carne

2 red onions very finely chopped
2 sticks of celery very finely chopped
2 large(ish) carrots very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 ancho chilli/ heaped tsp of Gran Luchito chilli paste
1/2 tsp lazy chillis (or similar)
1 tsp ground cumin
Cinammon stick
500g beef (or reduce this down and up the veggies)
250g mushrooms, sliced
1 jar of sundried tomatoes, drained of oil and whizzed up in the processor to make a thick paste
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tins kidney beans, drained

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C
I pop the garlic, celery, carrots and onions in the food processor and blitz until finely chopped (mainly because I'm lazy - a knife would do just as well)
In an ovenproof pan, sweat off your veg and chilli in a little oil until the onions begin to go translucent, then add your cumin and continue to cook off.
Add the beef - if you're using leftover cooked beef that you've whizzed up, if it's mince, then add it in and brown it first.
Add the mushrooms, and whizzed up sundried tomatoes, stir again
Add in both tins of tomatoes - when emptied, fill one up with water and add that too (if you're doing this in the slow cooker you don't need the extra water)
Pop the cinammon stick in
Add both tins of drained kidney beans

Cook in the oven for an hour and a half.

If you're doing this in the slow cooker - I know I should brown the beef first if I'm using mince, but normally I add in all in fairly bleary eyed, before I go out to work and leave it on low until I get back.

This is a fairly low chilli version - but if you like heat then add more to your taste. 

We have it with steamed brown rice, grated cheese, avocado and greek yoghurt if I have some around. If I'm doing it for guests then I make flatbreads so that people can either dip or scoop up the chilli as they go.

This is amazing as leftovers - M particularly likes it, stuffed into tortillas with a handful of cheese and baked off in a low oven, a sort of naked enchilada if you will. Personally, there's a lot to be said for a big bowl of steamed greens with this lollopped on top on my knees whilst watching Revenge.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Meal planning Monday

Back and planning again - life here is altogether more hectic than we'd like; between work, decorating the new house, Guiding, and spending time together - I'm not sure where the time to eat or sleep has gone. All of that combined with an untimely dose of Labrynthitis have meant that meal planning has gone a bit awry. I'm actually sat down this morning having a bit of a rest in advance of a baking marathon and a bit of spray painting of the radiator.

We've been lucky enough to have some much needed and appreciated help with the decorating this weekend - and baking seems to be payment enough for Mark's colleagues, so we have Welsh cakes on the menu this week.

Breakfasts are porridge and fruit for me. I don't know about you, but I struggle much more with my 5 a day in the wintertime so adding dried or fresh fruit to my morning porridge is a great way to sneak an extra couple of portions in.

Lunches this week are some of the rice I froze from my fridge bottom bonanza the other week. Wonderfully spicy to blow those wintery cobwebs right away.

Dinners: tonight I have dibs on the telly in order to watch the new Doctor Who as well as Strictly and am accompanying that with a sausage and spaghetti squash bake. The spaghetti squash is a new endeavour for me, so I think I'll try with plenty of time, just in case it's troublesome.

Sunday: Leftovers from Saturday night

Monday -   I'm going to pop a chicken, butternut squash and barley casserole in the slow cooker.

Tuesday - Leftovers (can you see a pattern?)

Wednesday - last week's risotto leftovers from the freezer

Thursday - Baked potatoes with beans and cheese. These are ideal for Thursday nights as I can pop them in the oven before Brownies and they're ready to go afterwards.

Friday - Friday always feels such a long way away at this point, but we'll either be at home and I think if so it's be baked salmon and samphire for me, with chicken and veg for the non fish eater.

Next weekend we're at M's parents for their birthday celebrations (and a break from decorating) so no cooking on the agenda for me.

Baking this week is finally festive - It's stir up Sunday tomorrow so pudding is on the agenda, but I'm going to make the Christmas cake this afternoon. A lovely festive smelling house is on the agenda - which for me marks the gateway to the Christmas season and celebrations.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Super slow cooked brisket

Each weekend I try to do a 'proper' meal. A sort of meat and 2 veg type affair. This feels so much more important in the autumn and winter, and sometimes it's nice for it not to be roast chicken or pork. I rarely cook roast beef because it's so expensive and because somewhere in my head it doesn't lend itself to leftovers in quite the same way. Of course this is twaddle, but when faced with the butcher or the meat counter in the supermarket I seem to always plump for chicken.

This week I had decided to try something different and slow cook a joint of brisket. Brisket is a cheaper cut of beef, one which requires a lot of slow cooking to break down the connective tissue. We bought ours from the local(ish) butcher and a 3lb joint which cost £12. I nearly fell over but M propped me up, whispering "think of the leftovers" as my shaking hands retrieved the cash from my purse.

Obviously the outlay meant that how I cooked the beef became more important. I had planned to slow cook it, in the crock pot for around 6 hours. I didn't however want to casserole it, as I wanted to retain the integrity of the whole joint of meat.

3lb joint of brisket
2tblsps English mustard
2 carrots roughly chopped
2 parsnips roughly chopped
2 turnips roughly chopped
2 leeks roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
500ml either red wine or beef stock

Start by searing the beef in a hot pan - there's a fair amount of fat on the top of the brisket joint and I didn't want to end with a flooby, flaccid peice of meat. This also gives it some colour, without which the end result will be grey. Still wonderfully tasty, but grey
Cover the seared brisket in the mustard
Line the bottom of your crock pot dish with the veggies, and pour the wine/ stock over. I wouldn't go out and buy wine for this - it's an ideal way to use up anything you've got lying around. In actual fact I used white as that's what I had.
Stir in the garlic, and season
Top with the beef
Put the lid on and turn your slow cooker onto High for 6ish hours. You could easily eat it after 4, but when you touch the joint at 6 hours, it just falls to peices.
At the end you can reduce down the cooking liquid to make a gravy - just do this in a pan and allow it to bubble down for a few minutes
Serve with roast potatoes, and the veggies from the pot. And of course yorkshires are mandatory.


There was a huge amount of leftovers. So much so, this joint did. 4 dinners from the slow cooker. 1 dinner of leftovers, plus a baked potato. A vast amount of curry and a cottage pie. Overall we got 14ish meals from the brisket which starts to make it much more affordable. However, I should just say that I completely understand that no matter how reasonable the per portion cost of the joint works out - the initial outlay might be prohibitive. there have certainly be times in the past when I wouldn't be able to afford the £12. That said, if you can afford it - or even afford a smaller piece, I would urge you to try it.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Meal planning monday: the cold, stressed edition

It's cold, wet and quickly darkening outside. I'm cold, stressed and grumpy. What better situation to put together this week's meal plan? Really, no need to answer, that was rhetorical.

I don't know if it's the weather, or trying to combine keeping our home lovely, clean, calm and restful with busy lives. Who knows? What I do know is that if work continues to be busy and life continues to be chaotic I'm going to be thinking about a cleaner. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I really am beginning to consider it. 

Anyway, back to usual. It's another busy week, work, training, running, Guides, Brownies and then the annual Remembrance sleepover next weekend. M and I should get to catch up on Wednesday, but otherwise it's ships that pass in the night!

Breakfasts: so, as winter has finally taken hold, it's definitely porridge. I'm going to stew some blueberries to go on top. I try to have one of the Sainsbury's bags of frozen fruit in the freezer as they make for such convenient ways to add in extra fruit

Lunches: Definitely soup. Soup all the way. Salads and sarnies are a no go from this point onwards until - let's say June?

Dinners, always the interesting bit of these posts

Monday: I was hoping to have leftover Minced beef hash, but I only had half a pack of minced beef so at the moment I don't think it'll stretch. Mind you M's at Welsh so if I get a potato to bake it may well. Watch this space. 

Tuesday: I'm at Guides, so I'm going to get out some chorizo, butternut squash and cannelini bean chilli out of the freezer for M to have with rice. 

Wednesday: Seeing as it's our only night in together this week I should make something lovely - I was thinking of putting a casserole in the slow cooker to have when we get in.

Thursday: hopefully there'll be leftover casserole! 

Friday: M's going up to his parents, and I'm going to be getting ready for the Guide sleepover. I've got some undyed smoked haddock in the freezer, and I think I'll poach that in milk with bay and peppercorns, and have it with peas and some bread and butter. 

So that's it... a quick week in the pantry - the next few weeks are going to be non stop. I'm hoping M and I will do better than one night together in seven as we go on! Be sure to pop over to At Home with Mrs M to see what all the other meal planners are up to. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Meal Planning Monday: limping along

Well hello, and apologies for the hiatus in posting this last week. It's that time of year when, as the nights start to draw in, I start to battle overtiredness and colds and fitting everything in just starts to become a bit more tricky.

That said, this week in the Pantry should be a nice one. M and I are both at home, after a lovely weekend, and looking forward to some time together.

Baking wise, I've got a pumpkin and apple traybake to bake and have promised M a batch of my Practically Perfect Parkin.

Breakfasts: I think this will be my last packet of granola, after this I'll be heading steadily into porridge. But until this is finished, granola with chopped bananas and some extra sultanas is the meal of choice.

Lunchtimes: Because we've been away this weekend I've not had time to make any soup, but am hoping to knock up a batch one evening this week. So soup it is - Maybe of the Lifechanging variety.




Wednesday: Turkey, barley and pumpkin casserole

Thursday: I'm at Brownies, so leftovers afterwards.

Friday:  Italian sausage and pasta bake - see post later in the week for details.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Come over for dinner. There's plenty to eat! Chilli con carne

When talking about blogging people always say you should find your niche. To be entirely honest, I'm not sure what mine is, if I even have one that is. (M's input on this was to suggest that I was jumping the gun and it might be a nephew. NICHE!) However, when I look at how people find me, it's often with "how do I?" searches, and some of my more popular posts are the comfort, family food. It's logical really, it's the food I eat the most, and am most passionate about, because it's where anyone with any level of confidence in their cooking abilities can make a difference to their health and wellbeing with a few,small, easy changes. Moving from sugar and preservative laden jarred sauces to making your own, fresh, unprocessed meals is the biggest difference anyone can make to their diet. I'm not talking about weight loss here, but how you feel - not craving sweets all the time, feeling gently full, healthier skin and brighter eyes, from making that switch.

And with that - here is the Pantry version of how to cook Chilli con carne. Freezes beautifully. Works really well in the slow cooker - I just whack everything in before work, leave it on low and eat that night. Also, eats really well a day or so after making - so I made this on Friday night after work, and we had it today. The flavours have really developed and it was lovely.

This goes well with red wine, if you're having people over. If you want to be a bit more fancy and foodie about it, I picked up some dried anjo chillies at the Newbury show last year. I chop one with everything else in the food processor, and add one in whole to the chilli just before it goes in the oven. After cooking I take that one out, but if you're feeding someone that likes a bit of heat - pop it on their plate!

Penelope's Pantry does Chilli con carne

1 glug olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped
500g (or so) of minced beef
1 red chilli
1 teaspoon cumin (powder or seeds - if using seeds, crush first)
1 stick cinammon (or a pinch of dried if you've run out. Not that that happens here. Oh no *shifty eyes*)
1 teaspoon of chilli powder/ dried chilli
2 tins tomatoes
2 tins red kidney beans
About 100g of tomato paste (you can make your own by blitzing sundried tomatoes) or buy it. Either way.

Preheat oven to Gas mark 3/ 150 degrees
Either chop, or food process the onions, garlic and red chilli (if I'm being fancy/ organised and using home made tomato paste, I add the tomatoes into the food processor and blitz it all together)
Add to an ovenproof pan (with a lid) over a low heat on the hob, cook until the onions are starting to colour
Add your spices; cumin, dried chilli/ chilli powder
Add minced beef and cook, stirring regularly until browned
Add both tins of tomatoes - rinse them out with water and add that
Drain both tins of kidney beans in a colander
If you're using one, add the cinammon stick now
Add those, stir in
Put on the lid, and put in the oven for a couple of hours
Voila! - this easily makes 4-6 adult portions, I normally serve 4 and freeze the rest.

I've served this with cornbread or brown basmati rice, in tortillas, in tacos, with cheese on from a bowl on my lap. Anyway that suits me at the time.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Moving too fast? Slow down

The Last Five Years is one of the first more modern musicals that I grew to love. Jason Robert Brown's music caught my attention immediately, and having not seen it onstage until a few years back, had to ask my friend Claire to put the songs into narrative order for me. Whilst not the prompt for this post, I've embedded Colleen Ballinger singing Summer in Ohio below, just because it's one of my favourite songs and never fails to raise a smile, no matter how miserable the day.

Now where was I? Slowing down. The sheer length of this year's winter. Has it seriously not been the longest ever winter in the history of the world? The sheer length of this year's winter has meant that I feel like I've been eating casseroles for ever. Although at least twice a week I have a tendency to have to skip dinner as I just can't eat after Guides and Brownies - it's too late and I'm too shattered to start cooking. Certainly anything nutritous. I'm quite good at marmite on toast.

Just after Christmas, fuelled by decongestants and paracetamol I bought a slow cooker as my boyfriend wasn't having any of this toast and marmite for dinner business. What we took to doing was putting a casserole or similar in the cooker the night before and then switching it on low as we went out of the door in the morning.

I just thought I'd post about something simple and cheap I've been cooking at least every couple of weeks as Mark likes it, it's dead simple and the flavour improves if you eat it the next day.

Slow cooker Spag Bol

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
4 carrots
350g lean minced beef
1 tin tomatoes
Red wine (fill the tin of tomatoes up with wine)
Tomato puree
250g mushrooms (I say this as a quantity but only because I use half a packet of mushrooms when I cook it)
a bay leaf

Parmesan cheese

Now I have to own up, I might be able to do the chef style onion chopping, but for this and the casseroles I've been cooking, I throw that, the garlic, the peeled carrots and mushrooms in the food processor and blitz them until they're all finely chopped. This all goes straight into the slow cooker. As do the tinned tomatoes, wine, a big blob (such a technical term!) of tomato puree, and of course the mince. I then give everything a stir and switch it on in the morning.

When I get in from Brownies or Guides all we do is cook the pasta in salted boiling water and grate some parmesan (some, when in conjunction with cheese, means lots in my book). Serve in a bowl in front of that week's episode of Glee cwtched up.


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