Weekly menus saved a portion of my life

As I try to develop a good habit (blogging more frequently, note the recent flurry of activity) I thought I would share with you an existing good habit that I have had for about 2 years now. Every week myself and Himself sit down and plan our dinners (and sometimes lunches) for the week. I think he feels that this blog series is going to be beyond boring but being a more regular frequenter of mummy and foodie blogs I disagree. I know I would be (okay not quite) fascinated (but at least mildly interested) to get a real insight into another family’s menu. So to kick off this series a few notes:

  • It saves time and money when doing the shopping, although it probably saved us more money when Himself used to do the shopping as he actually bought what was on the list while I still get sucked in by the discounts and BOGOFs.
  • It may keep us marginally healthier as we get an overview of our meals for a week, trying to include a fish meal and at least one vegetarian meal a week. My long time friends will see that I am definitely no longer a vegetarian! In fact I feel we probably eat a bit too much meat but it’s generally quicker and it just tastes so good!
  • It saves time every day as there are no long meditations on what to have for dinner. Although it does take at least 30 minutes to write the original as we peruse recipe books and sites to find what we fancy.
  • I’m not a dietician so I don’t claim that this comprises a rounded, healthy diet but I work on the a “little of what you fancy does you good” school of eating. I also try skinnier versions of staples where I can with mixed results. I’ll update site to include family reaction.
  • I’ll include links to recipes where I can and otherwise update the site to include them when I can.
  • We shop in Superquinn and await their switch to Supervalu with some trepidation…
Weekly shopping
Weekly shopping

Here goes – all comments welcome.

Saturday

Lunch: Ham/ Cheese/ Chicken Baguette

Dinner: Skinny Mac and cheese – the nippers will invariably ask for Macaroni Cheese if I ask them what they want and who would blame them? I baulk every single time as I think about all that cheese, butter and milk. I have tried a few of the recipes from Skinnytaste.com and got good reactions. Our most popular version of this classic includes a tin of tomatoes in the cheese sauce and bacon lardons scattered across the top. So this version with the broccoli was resisted initially but all bar Nipper 1.0 cleared their plates, Himself rightly commenting that it was tasty enough but broccoli was overcooked. I would recommend therefore not to cook florets for more than 5 minutes with pasta. By all means chuck in the stalks but it’s too much for florets. FYI I used Dubliner Light White block.

Sunday

Lunch: Poached eggs on toast – now in case you are wondering where is our bread on the list below we make our own in our bread machine every 1.5 days or so. Eggs were DELICIOUS with Jalapeno pepper relish from Ballymaloe, our new favourite condiment, Nipper 1.0 especially)

Dinner: Jamaican me crazy chili  and all the trimmings (cheese, salsa, iceberg lettuce, guacamole, sour cream)  followed by Beetroot Brownies made with the very last of our beetroot from the garden.

Monday

Lunch:Wholemeal Bagels with chicken/ cheese/ ham

Dinner: Chili with rice (Monday is often leftovers at the moment as I am currently doing a dance class on Monday nights.)

Tuesday

Lunch: Hot dogs for kids -I was considering trying veggie sausages to see if they would notice but the brand in the supermarket were actually less healthy that the hot dogs. Also we ended up picnicking so I brought them in the thermos.

Chicken, green beans, mashed sweet potato
Chicken, green beans, mashed sweet potato

Dinner: Grilled chicken, Sweet potato gnocchi with sage pesto with Moroccan Carrot Beetroot salad – now this is a classic example of a meal that was planned and then ditched. Our plans for Tuesday changed and we got home at 4pm which didn’t leave me 2 hours to drain my sweet potato and ricotta as per the gnocchi recipe. How unfortunate. Also we used the last of our beetroot in the brownies (yeah!) so the salad was a no-go too. So instead we had this: Marinated Lebanese Chicken (breast for us) (a hit) as I had the paste leftover after making Ottolenghi’s turkey burgers last week. This was accompanied by Parmesan Sage Mashed Sweet Potato (big hit) and Green Beans with Lemon and Feta with our first batch of beans from the garden (a hit with the adults although it was tried by two nippers – they objected to the onion.)

Wednesday

Picnic – I’ll probably do hot dogs again as we are heading to Kilkenny to check out the Arts Festival and they were so yummy yesterday.

Blackberries and green beans from our own garden
Blackberries and green beans from our own garden

Teriyaki salmon with green beans and potatoes from the garden – this probably won’t happen. It didn’t and we had salmon, potatoes and peas that Himself prepared for us when we got home from Kilkenny. Delicious.

Thursday Two pasta salads one for grownups and one for nippers Sundried (oven roasted?) tomatoes + baby greens  Pasta salad with Tomato & corn. The latter was a big hit with all but the kids wouldn’t even try the former as I suspected.

Friday

Dinner: Pizza – we have pizza every Friday. Made from scratch with the aid of our trusty bread machine. I’ll add the sauce and dough recipe soon.

Saturday

Oat pancakes with summer fruit, blueberry coulis and greek yoghurt
Oat pancakes with summer fruit, blueberry coulis and greek yoghurt

Lunch: Looking forward to trying out my namesake’s Oat pancakes – these are absolutely delicious and all plates were cleared. I doubled the recipe but only had one banana* and this didn’t harm the taste at all. We’ll definitely do these again: I still feel stuffed!

*As I was preparing the following week’s menu I realised that Nipper 2.0 had managed to shnarf the last banana. Thankfully I had picked up a tip for mashed bananas from SortedFood many moons ago and always keep a couple in the freezer in the likely event I will run out of overripe bananas.

List below is laid out in the order of our shop and doesn’t include some ingredients that we would already have stocked. Also we buy certain things from Lidl regularly so they are never included: Parmesan, Chorizo, Greek Yoghurt, and coffee. I kid you not! I use Evernote to write my menus and lists.

  • Broccoli
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • 2 yellow peppers
  • Lemon
  • Low fat mature chedda
  • Onions
  • Cherry tomatoes x 2
  • Baby spinach
  • Rocket
  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Avocado
  • Basil
  • Minced meat 1.5lbs
  • Chicken breasts
  • Cheese (low fat)
  • Ham
  • Cooked chicken
  • Bagels
  • Whole wheat hot dog rolls
  • Milk
  • Kids yogurt
  • Tinned pineapple
  • Veggie sausages
  • Juice
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Brown pasta for macaroni
  • Garlic mayo
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Cat food
  • Febreze
  • White strong flour
  • Red kidney beans
  • Black eye beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Red wine
  • Almond milk
  • Box of tissues
  • Dusters

Talking turkey

While visiting my cousin and her new babba recently I picked up her copy of Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. I had heard a couple of my friends talking about this chap: who forgets a name that is so nice to roll around your mouth especially when associated with memories of delicious nibbles with friends? So I was intrigued and flicked through a few pages. The recipe below caught my eye (Turkey & Courgette Burgers with Spring Onion & Cumin p.200) and I found it online after a little googling. I have yet to find sumac so first time I made this I just left it out and it was still divine. The second time I made them they had no turkey mince left in Superquinn so I went for lamb instead which I added to the turkey from my freezer. Still they had no sumac in Superquinn (which I wouldn’t hold against them having only become aware of its existence myself in the very recent past) but I picked up a jar of Epicure Lebanese Paste which was nommy. All the family loved these wee burgers which we served with couscous with pine nuts and sultanas or chopped apricots. (I’ll add a picture next time we have them which will be soon no doubt.

 


Ingredients:
1 lb/500g turkey mince
1 large courgette, coarsely grated about 8oz/200g
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 large free-range egg
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
about 6 tablespoons sunflower oil, for searing

Sour cream & sumac sauce
Approx 80ml sour cream
Approx 160ml Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
11/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Make the sour cream sauce first by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside or chill until needed.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the burgers except the sunflower oil.
  3. Mix with your hands and then shape into about 18 rounded burgers of about 1½ ounces each.
  4. Pour enough sunflower oil into a large frying pan to form a layer about 1/16-inch thick.
  5. Heat over medium heat until hot, then sear the burgers, in batches, on all sides. Cook each batch for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown.
  6. Carefully transfer the seared burgers to a baking sheet lined with waxed paper and place in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until just cooked through.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side. We served them in pitta pockets with optional tomatoes and lettuce/ rocket.

Short post on Shortbread

I’ve never had much luck with shortbread so when I overheard one of the bloggers on Saturday talking about making shortbread for her father on Father’s Day, my ears pricked up.

Joanna of Smorgasblog shared her shortbread recipe with me on Twitter yesterday and I rustled up a batch while making the dinner and putting the nippers to bed. Yes it IS that easy.

The result: AMAZEBALLS. Go and make some right now. Recipe here.

Oh my WOW! This tastes even better than it looks! Thanks @JoannaSchaff  http://t.co/TIh3mYd6

All the fun of the feirm

By the end of the month the majority of the family will have spent some time on a farm. If we were in an episode of the late lamented House the team would have great fun trying to work out which one of us had been exposed to badger.

The elder Nippers are both going to farms on their turasanna scoile. Nipper 2.0 has spent the day today on Glenroe Farm and his verdict is “Awesome!” His favourite part was “touching the guinea pig and the rabbit”. What more could a boy ask for?

Nipper 1.0 will be heading to Greenan Maze. We actually visited this farm last August and I only hope Nipper 1.0 has better luck with the weather this time.

And I spent an extremely pleasant morning last Saturday on Ballindrum Farm in Athy, Co. Kildare thanks to the good folks (Amanda and Gina) in Avonmore. Why you might ask? I wondered that myself. Could it be I am now considered a tweeter of some influence? It certainly not due to my blogging efforts. I suspect it might be because I’m a mum that converses with other mums online much to The Meyler’s chagrin.

Why question these things? Never look a gift cow in the mouth I say and off I took myself with a lovely gang of pop culture and food bloggers (Okay I probably fall right in the middle of those two groups. Lovely to meet and make the reacquaintance of @backpedalling @thisispopbaby @ModernFarmette

@likemamuse2bake @Smorgasblog @cakeinthcountry

@ismiseadam @Culch_ie @PopCultMonster

@mushypea007  @anthonymcg)

The raw material #peakfreshIt was a fascinating and filling morning. We were fed like kings and queens by Mary Gorman, entertained by the golden voiced Joseph Gorman (Mark my words- that kid will be a star!) and then Vincent Gorman showed us around the farm. Despite the inclement weather it was beautiful. How lucky we are in Ireland to have such luscious gorgeousness never more than an hour away. That very lusciousness (read rain), we were told, is a major contributing factor in the production of Ireland’s delicious milk. But even Vincent said you can have too much of a good thing (read rain). I have been on dairy farms before but it was really fascinating to see how technological and traceable the farming is. The farming practiced by the Gorman’s is good for the cows, good for the land and ultimately good for the consumer of their dairy products. The farm was spotless and everything was in its place.

5 day old calf @juleser #peakfreshWell nearly everything… Vincent did admit that for all their watchful care of their cows that a few months previously there had been some shenanigans among the youngsters of the herd and well, nature took its course. This meant we got to see some super cute calves though so no complaints from us!

All the Bó lined up for judging #peakfreshWe rounded off the day with some Make and Do – always a big hit with me and I think our friends in Avonmore were surprised by how seriously we all took this part of the day! I took it embarrassingly seriously. Basically Avonmore are running an online competition to celebrate the fact that one million glasses of milk are drunk in Ireland a day. (Yes! One MILLION! A DAY!) In order to encourage me to write about this they sent me (along with my invitation to the farm) a litre of milk, a glass and a kit to make my very own Bó.

My finished Bó #peakfresh #bocomp I didn't win. The guy who got someone else to knit a hat did. I'm not bitter...Now I have to say I was a little dubious about this but after seeing the way those bloggers got stuck in I’m thinking those Avonmore ladies have their heads screwed on! It’s perfect timing with the summer holidays rolling in and the appalling weather with it. You can get your own kit and find out how to enter the competition over on the PeakFresh website. You will even see my little entry over there (I did mention I took it a little seriously) If it keeps your kids half as quiet as those bloggers then you are onto a winner.

So yes this post may be proudly sponsored by Avonmore and based on what I heard and saw on Saturday I have no qualms recommending Avonmore products to you. Will I be purchasing Avonmore products myself from now on? Well with a 50c difference in price between this and the Irish produced own brand in our local supermarket, four 2 litres of milk, adjusting for holidays, means a €100.00 saving per year. Economics trumps warm fuzzy feelings every time. Sorry Avonmore.

Wednesday WIP (Crochet & Garden)

It’s Wednesday which means it’s work in progress day. Since my last WIP I have been quite productive relatively speaking. For a change too the work I’ve done has been for me: I don’t want to fall into that trap of never making anything for myself. Lately I’m going to the other extreme.

When you crochet or knit or make things do you find you’re always giving them away too? It seems selfish or vain to make something for yourself but egotistical in equal parts to give it away. It’s like when someone says, “I’m in a band: here, listen to my demo.” But you can’t because your ears are bleeding from the pain of their music and you don’t know what to say. I wonder to people receive my gifts and think “Sweet lord, what am I going to do with this thing!” I think I’m lucky enough to have polite enough friends who will tactfully place the lovingly crafted object in a less-trafficked corner of the house. That said I recall the sting, after spending a few hours creating something that I think the recipient didn’t realise was handmade, when it was just flung to one side without so much as a thank you. But isn’t that rude regardless of the effort put into the gift!

I know I mentioned on the Rosie View when we were talking about The Great British Bake Off that I could completely understand why the contestants got so upset: sure I was at home sniffling for them because I know the pain of putting your heart and soul into something only to have it flop.

However there was a lesson to be learned from the winners of that series: persistence. Malcolm Gladwell would have us believe that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert or a genius at a skill.

But the difficulty is that by the time we realise this or at the very least realise the truth in this we no longer have 10,000 hours to spare. Not in one block anyway. That’s why a hobby that you can try, try again in short snatches allows you to build up those 10,000 hours. So maybe by the time I’m actually a total granny I’ll be amazing at crochet.

So on to the WIP. Below you can see the business card holder I whipped up not last Wednesday but the Wednesday before to match my iPad holder so it would be easy for me to find while I was networking at dotconf the following day. It’s a bit of a joke but I do love the cheerful colours. It and the iPad cover go with nothing at all though!

I also started the top I described in my last WIP post. It’s going well although the tension isn’t quite right probably because I’m not using the specified wool but it’s just too expensive. I’m worried therefore that this central panel will be too wide thus making the whole top too wide. It is pretty though and I love the colour. You’ll see below that there’s a lot of green in my life at the moment!

And Himself has been busy too and we’ve finally been enjoying the fruits of his incremental 10,000 hours. I wonder if we’ll ever have enough strawberries ripe at the same time for a bowlful each? Nipper 2.0 keeps sneaking out into the garden by himself and finding the ripe ones and shnarfing them before anybody else gets a chance. I beat him to this one here and it was delicious. In the second picture you can see Himself planting some cauliflower and turnip seedlings given to us by our neighbour. In the foreground carrot, onions and beetroot can be seen. Our first batch of potatoes should be ready soon as well.I’m really looking forward to more beetroot brownies: my favourite way to make my pee a funny colour!

I”ve already made loads of the rocket into pesto with parmesan, olive oil and pine nuts.