A menu that should have been on holidays :(

Camping was fun.

I haven’t written up a weekly menu in ages. I got bored doing it and wondered if you all got bored reading them? (Comments below!) However I also started using a new app to write my weekly menus which made it difficult to copy and paste as I previously did. I am totally in love with this app, AnyList, and it has saved time and trouble a-plenty in our gaff. I have tried numerous grocery/ meal planning apps and this is the only one that has worked well for this household. The app is called AnyList and I’m sorry to report Androids that it is only available for iOS.

These are the reasons I love it:

  1. Both of the adults in our household can see shared lists, add to them and striking things off. Fingers crossed they will bring out an Android app soon so we can include younger family members in the listmaking fun.
  2. Also works beautifully on the iPad. And importantly for my battered old iPad, works really well without Wifi.
  3. In a recent-ish update the ability to import or add recipes and organise them into a weekly calendar was added. This has made this app indispensable to me.
  4. You can then scroll through the ingredients, marking which ones you want to add to your grocery list.
  5. It then goes out and does the shopping for you.

Guess which of those reasons is total wishful thinking? Sigh.

Camping was fun.

So just over a week ago I posted my recipe for Campfire Cones. They didn’t get much of a look in on our holiday which we should still be enjoying. Thanks to the torrential rain in the North West of Ireland, we gave up and came home last Friday. We have one nice day on Keem Beach in Achill which is truly one of the most lovely beaches in Ireland. There are many lovely beaches in Ireland; it’s only a pity there aren’t as many lovely days…

So we are home and trying to maintain the holiday vibe. We’ve had family staying with us for the last couple of days which helped keep up the pretence and the fun factor. A trip to the market in Bushy Park on a fine sunny afternoon helped a lot. I would recommend a wander up there some Saturday: I had a most excellent coffee from the Saltpeter Coffee Truck, I shared a pizza with Nipper 2.0 and 3.0 and Nipper 1.0 and cousins had delicious burgers. There was also a Twink sighting but we were all too shy to talk to her. My sister in law also bought some Brie from the Little Milk Company which I am looking forward to trying out.

One meal taken care of, then I shopped for the following with the much appreciated help of my sister in law – I wish I could have a sister in law along to relieve the boredom of every shop.

I suppose one advantage to being at home is that we could go all out on recipes for holidays, no more one-pot wonders on the Trangia! However we knew we were going to get out and about so we needed some dishes that would be easy to put together. The only new one on the menu is the Chipotle Bean Chilli and it went down a treat with all.

  • Baked Sausages in a Spicy Tomato Sauce from Nessa’s Family Kitchen by Nessa Robbins. This is a great recipe when having a family  with small kids to visit: there is something for everyone in it. Keep your eyes peeled for Nessa’s book – it’s a good family all rounder with some added home nurse tips.
  • Chicken Tikka from VinnieMeyler.com, spices by Green Saffron (highly recommended). Chicken curry when our French family are visiting has become a bit of a running joke. We accidentally served it to them two visits in a row, only realising when we got a strong sense of deja vu when someone objected to a particular aspect of the meal. As we had them for two meals this time we served this up for old time’s sake.
  • Chipotle Bean Chilli with Baked Eggs. This was added to the menu so I could have a go of my new chipotle paste which I picked up from Picado Mexican on South Richmond St. here in Dublin. I’ve been eyeing this shop up for some time, but always from the bus or car so I snatched a moment to pop in (when I was buying Tilda Basmati rice in bulk in a nearby Asian market!) I have since been adding the paste to lots of different sauces – it is delicious. I also picked up a pack of these corn tortillas which had a great flavour and the novelty of their smallness was appreciated by the kids.
  • 25 Minute Cod with Lentils This looks a little disconcerting but tastes AMAZING because, well, bacon.
  • Spaghetti Bolognese by Rachel Allen. I have started making this half and half beef and pork mince as per an option in her recipe. Not only is it more cost effective it adds an extra dimension to the flavour.
  • Pizza Friday!

The Circle of Life (Weekly menu)

A rather grand title for a weekly menu blog post but I think anyone who knows me will agree that this week we certainly saw the full cycle of life. As the menu below covers we went to a christening on Saturday afternoon. The first rite of passage for our newest grandniece. No I’m not that old: Himself is the very youngest of seven. We had a delightful time, meeting all the niece’s in-laws and Nipper 3.0 made friends with EVERYONE! We sang, we ate (by jeebus did we eat!), we chatted and we went home happy.
We felt happy that we had represented Himself’s family well. Unfortunately, it was difficult for the others to make the journey and this is a family who’ll party at the drop of a hat. Himself’s mother, who has been unwell for some time, had become gradually worse over the previous few weeks . Bad news arrived in the small hours of the morning and the worst news was shared by one of  his sisters just after 7am. So forgive me if this menu has holes or is less detailed than others.
So farewell Úna Meyler: you will be missed. You have left a wonderful legacy of music, laughter and good financial sense. What more could a woman ask for?
Saturday
Carrot and thyme and star anise soup – I heard a snippet of an interview on the radio where this recipe was mentioned so I had to try my own version. Glorious.
I also baked these choc chip “cupcakes” but I adapted the recipe to Irish measurements and tastes and will post again. I baked ham and cheese muffins for lunchboxes as well. Boy was I glad I did.
Christening
Sunday
Nipper 1.0’s tortilla feast – I can’t remember what we actually had…
Roast – what’s good value? Or maybe steak? – these were my instructions for the shopping. I bought a cut of pork (I can’t remember which) that I roasted most perfectly. So perfectly I nearly cried that Himself wasn’t there to join us. I was feeling pretty teary to be fair. Oh the crackling was devilish good.
Monday
I grabbed a beef stew, bolognese sauce, pear and ginger compote and crumble topping from the freezer before we headed “down Home” as Himself would say. There was, of course, stacks of beautiful food from neighbours and family in the house but it was only later when we landed at Himself’s brother’s place for the night that we felt like eating. This was delicious mixed with slow cooked rice and my sister in law’s signature garlic potatoes. I threw the compote and crumble in a pie dish and left it for dessert the following evening as we were all too whacked for anything else.
Tuesday
A sad day gladdened by one of Úna’s favourite things: warm sunshine. I know we ate when we got back to Dublin but I have no idea what we had.
Wednesday
Delicious sweet and sour pork from our Edmond’s cookery book, a present from a Kiwi friend that is another go-to basic recipe book.
Thursday
Ham and cheese muffins in the car en route to classes.
Stew – well the stew had gone south so I made mash which I used to top shepherd’s pie filling taken from the freezer the night before which we shared with my Dad who really had eaten already. Who can resist Shepherd’s pie? Big learning for me since school began again is that Thursday’s are freezer day as afterschool classes don’t finish til 5 so it can be 5.30 before we all get home, exhausted, to homework.
Friday
Pizza
To bake:
Ham & cheese muffins
Oaty cookies – these are a revelation which I will share with you shortly when I have converted the recipe to metric. I am now making at least one huge batch a week.

All the trimmings chicken curry (weekly menu)

Saturday

Lunch: Soup carrot and thyme – this got sidelined until the next week as hungry folk arrived home from their morning music classes demanding any kind of bread with melted cheese. This drives me mad as I feel they have sandwich based lunches at school during the week and I want them to learn how to think beyond sandwiches for lunch. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big sandwich fan. A perfect delivery method. I try to ring the changes during the week with the kids by using pita, wraps, muffins, crackers but it always comes back to ham, chicken or cheese. Well I suppose it’s a darn site better than fussy younger me with my butter sandwiches. My secondary school friends will remember my penchant for cheese and branston pickle. In fact my mother dropped in a lunchbox of these into Holles St for me while I was labouring with Nipper 2.0! This is also the reason I don’t always include lunch in the menus because usually it’s not worth writing about. However

Chicken curry with all the trimmings
Chicken curry with all the trimmings

Dinner: Chicken curry with all the trimmings. This is Himself’s speciality to which my middle brother will avow. Middle brother, his wife, and his kids came home from Paris and we invited them to join us for dinner. Somewhere amidst the mayhem everyone ate. Some kids just ate rice, some just naan, some just curry, some just banana but everyone ate something and we all caught up. A year later or so they were back again and we invited them over for the afternoon and dinner. Somewhere during the meal I got a very strong sense of deja vu and suddenly realised we were serving them chicken curry with all the trimmings again. No-one minded as it is truly delicious. You can get the recipe on Himself’s blog. In fact that is all he has on his blog….

 Sunday

Lunch: We had a big breakfast and an early dinner so lunch was whatever was going. There were no leftovers from the Chicken curry.

Dinner: Macaroni cheese – I was home alone with the kids so made sure to make something simple that I knew they would eat. Plenty of carbs meant they would sleep soundly too.

 

Monday

Casserole Amandine - potatoes, carrots, peas, ground almonds, turmeric and egg.
Casserole Amandine – potatoes, carrots, peas, ground almonds, turmeric and egg.

Dinner: Casserole amandine – this is an old recipe from my vegetarian teenage years. It’s the ultimate comfort food but to be fair it isn’t the most appealing looking. Occasionally I do a clear out of our recipe books, discarding the really useless ones. However if there’s one or two recipes in them that I have made I will cut out and keep that recipe. This was the fate of Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Cooking from which Casserole Amandine was the only recipe kept.

 

Salmon Alfredo getting shnarfed by Nipper 2.0
Salmon Alfredo getting shnarfed by Nipper 2.0

Tuesday

Dinner: Pasta salmon Alfredo – the kids love this. I like it for it’s speed but I’m not so keen on the cream. Tuesdays are nearly always a quick pasta dish as Himself is out and eats when he gets in. There was smoked salmon on special offer the previous Friday so I bought three. I ended up giving one away, using one for this and one of my favourite salads and one is in the freezer.

 

Wednesday

Dinner: Fish pie: mostly a big hit. I think there was some grimacing from Nipper 1.0. I made the Express Fish Pie from The ICA Cookbook (actually from the freebie leaflet that came with the Irish Times a while back but when I get a bigger recipe bookshelf, it might go on it. Maybe I should start loading them onto my Kindle app on the iPad…)

 Thursday

Dinner: Bolognese with rice: Thursday has become freezer dinner night because we usually don’t get home until after 5 due to after school activities. Don’t expect any exciting innovation on Thursdays. About once a month I will cook something another day of the week with the sole intention of making 3 dinners from it. Bolognese is particularly good as it freezes well and can be used for pasta, rice or baked potatoes and at a push it could be used for cottage not shepherds pie.

 Friday Pizza

20 bliain ag fás – apparently.

This week was quiet hectic, kicking off with my 20 year school reunion on Friday. Yes I know I don’t think so either 😉 Although I did stay out until 4am I was sensible with the demon drink and felt fine for the next big do on Saturday. My father in law turned 80 last week so we all got together for food, drink, music and song. It was fabulous! But I really felt all the excesses for the rest of the week. Hmmm maybe it is 20 years since I was in school… Still haven’t learnt a thing about being sensible. Hurrah! Many of my in-laws are amazing musicians. Some of my readers will have heard them at our wedding no doubt. I think between my family, my in-laws and the Outlaws we probably cover the whole gamut of musical styles. So on Saturday, I sang my version of this amazing song, The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields. It has a strong resonance for me because I first heard it on Valentine’s Day last year. This was an especially difficult time for my in-laws but I knew they would appreciate this song with its down-to-earth romanticism. It’s bitter sweet for me. Here is Peter Gabriel singing it live and lovely.

Music may be the food of love but we’re here to talk actual food so excuse the slight diversion but I like to share many things.

Friday

Lunch: Gnocchi with pesto – I needed a good carbie lunch that I knew they would eat as Fridays are shaping up to be a super busy afternoon too. Nipper 1.0 had his first choir practice in the city centre so I had to keep everyone going for that. To keep crankiness at bay I also brought along Babaduck’s Amazing Star bars (kind of swanky rocky road) and Wellington Splats (my squares that had gotten battered on their travels.)

Dinner: Pizza as usual. Well I went out for dinner with my old school chums. I had a delicious but very garlicky broccoli pasta dish in Marios in Ranelagh. I probably hadn’t been there for about 20 years either!

Saturday

Lunch: Bagels with choice of filling on the hoof before hitting the road.

Dinnner: Pops’ bash with goodies galore.

Sunday

Lunch: We weren’t 100% sure where we’d end up for lunch but due to certain so-called being incapacitated we left early-ish. We stopped en route to Dublin at The Tap, a place, I’ve been watching develop over the years driving up and down. The drive is too short to justify a stop but I was starving so we stopped off and had a lovely lunch. An unusual spot where the kids found much to amuse themselves. Apart from the too-tall glasses that restaurants seem to always give to kids and which they always then spill they were also very kid-friendly.

Dinner: Bolognese from the freezer. I love my freezer as I was now officially exhausted.

Monday

Lunch: Hot dogs which are one of the nippers’ absolute favourite lunch options. Why do I bother…?

Dinner: Chicken and couscous – this title doesn’t really do this amazing dish justice. I absolutely will post this recipe as it is a favourite with the family.

Tuesday

Lunch: Leftover chicken and couscous for some and I honestly can’t remember what the others had.

Dinner: Pasta with roasted brocolli – this was only grand. It was a bit dry so I ended up larruping olive oil on the finished dish thus over-riding any “skinniness”.

 Wednesday

Lunch: Whole wheat pasta with oven dried and garlic sauce

Dinner: Candied pork with sweet potato wedges and green beans

Thursday

Lunch: I had soup from the freezer. PB &J on the hoof for everyone else as we dashed about.

Dinner: Roast trout & little taters with carrots. This fish dish was a hit. I’m getting there!

Friday Pizza

Why does the Gaeilgeoir only have one egg in the morning? (Weekly menu)

I bought more eggs this week when I already had enough (geddit? an ubh. Works in French too.) So they feature rather strongly on this week’s menu. Nobody objected.
Saturday
Lunch: Sossy sambos – these were planned with the fear that we would be hungover and hankering for something greasy and salty. Thankfully we are now grown up and therefore not hungover but we ate the sossy sambos anyway. Classy.
Dinner: Mint and Almond pesto pasta – as the Nippers had declined to eat this during the previous week I included it here. Goodbye mint plant… This recipe is from the excellent River Cottage Everyday Veg which I had to return to the library so it is now on my wishlist. Hint, bloody hint.
Sunday
Lunch:Bagels: BLT/ Rasher/ Banana and Peanut butter
I also rustled up these Banana Oat Muffins and decided to try this new Hermesetas Stevia sugar substitute. Like this reviewer  I get a strong liquorice taste from this sugar substitute so I’m not sure if I’m going to buy it again. Whatever about getting an aftertaste, I find it really lingers.
Dinner: Roast chicken legs with Celery Gratin. Remind me not  to try roasting the potatoes from scratch with the chicken legs. It just doesn’t work.
Monday
Lunch: Nipper 3.0 and I had leftover pasta and the boys had muffins. I wasn’t in top parenting mode due to a nasty cold.
Dinner: Chicken noodle soup – as I had been feeling sniffly for the last few days I felt an old fashioned cure was in order. I read up on a few chicken noodle soup recipes and as I suspected there is not much to it. I had made chicken stock the night before and kept two of the legs over to cook and use in the soup. I’ll post my own version of this recipe although I haven’t got it quite right – it needed something. This was also a response to my kids continued pleas for super noodles and apart from Nipper 3.0 who had conked out on the couch, they larruped it into them. Score one for Rosie!
Tuesday
Lunch: Scrambled eggs on toast
Dinner:  Spaghettie Bolognese- I’ve tried a few different recipes and really there’s not much between them. I’ve tried quick recipes, I’ve tried recipes that involve three hours cooking, I’ve tried recipes with milk, I’ve tried recipes with bacon. The main trick with bolognese is make loads and stick it in the freezer for use in lasagna, with rice, bake potatoes or as a frozen gift for new parents. My sister told me that she judges many restaurants by the quality of their bolognese.  She’s not wrong, unless it’s a Thai restaurant 🙂
Wednesday
Lunch: Toasted sambos – we had friends from school visiting so I decided to keep it simple. “Who doesn’t love toasted sambos?” says I and one of the very polite children desperately tried to answer me. He learned one meaning of the word rhetorical today!
Dinner: Omelette + 3 salads: This is a dinner we’ll often have mid-week, thinking it’s easy. Salad is never easy. I went with this broccoli salad (I’m a demon for broccoli salad) which is really tasty and actually really virtuous. Nipper 1.0 made his signature Caprese salad and the last was simply kidney beans with red onions and balsamic vinegar. We always call this omelette due to the strong French influence on my childhood but in fact I know this is more like a spanish tortilla with its potatoes and bacon.
Thursday
Lunch: Leftover salads for me and Nipper 3.0’s biccies on the move. Thursday afternoons are very busy for us as the kids have a bunch of afterschool activities. If there’s going to be a homework related fight, it’s going to happen on a Thursday. So note to self, work on a better on-the-go snack box to keep them all going.
Dinner: : Fish fajitas. I was so fed up with attempts at fish dishes that I throw in the towel and let Himself have a bash at it this week. It was a good idea but we should have gone for tacos to transport the battered cod to our gobs. Himself curried even more favour with the nippers by serving deep fried gnocchi.
Friday
Lunch: As shopping will happen before this, it could be anything but currently I’m thinking egg mayonaise in a piece of baguette.
Pizza