Each week try to link up a post with my weekly meal plan. It helps me with my shopping list and I can refer to it during the week so I know what I meant to be cooking. We have a Mindful Chef delivery this week of two meals so I’m looking forward to that. And of course, it’s Easter Sunday so my meal plan includes a nice lamb roast.
I hate boring food. I want to cook new recipes and enjoy new things, but my family are so stuck in their ways. I really look forward to our Mindful Chef boxes as I know it means we are going to try something new, but I can only afford them fortnightly and there is only me and my eldest son that are willing to try them. Last week we had a Madras fish curry which was a little too spicy for my liking. I guess having Madras in the title should have given me a hint. The other recipe, Chicken and quinoa with slaw was really nice though.
So here we are onto a non Mindful Chef week and it’s going to be boring.
This Weeks Menu Boring Food
Monday – Pizza and garlic bread (Monday Staple)
Tuesday – Apple and Pork sausages and mash
Wednesday – Lasagne
Thursday – Burgers (selection of vegetarian, chicken and fancy beef burgers)
Friday – Maybe chip shop dinner…or chicken and chips
Saturday – home made curry and rice with naan bread
Sunday – Roast Chicken dinner
Has anyone else noticed the spike in food shopping? I try to be frugal but even just buying the basics seems to cost so much. We may have to resort to beans on toast. I have cut down on take outs but we still end up having one a week. Chip shop is the cheapest closely followed by a party bucket from KFC, but they don’t do enough fries so we have to pop some oven chips in.
Next week I hope to have less boring food on our menu
The kids are (supposedly) back at school this week. My Little Man has decided he wants packed lunches rather than school dinners. I asked him what he wanted and he said, sandwich, crisps and chocolate cake…ah yes, very healthy!! I have persuaded him to have a bread roll, Quavers, a banana or pear, and a fruit bar. I hope that’s a bit better for him. He doesn’t like yoghurts or fromage frais. He really wanted crisps so the Quavers are a compromise although I’m not sure how much healthier they are.
The girls will be having lunch at home for a few more weeks as they are not back full time yet.
Guess what? We have our oven fixed…over two weeks without an oven and I can honestly say it’s not been good. I was so pleased when the technician turned up this morning and fixed it. I can finally start cooking things in my oven again.
Last week went okay. We didn’t get our toad-in-the-hole thanks to not having an oven. We did have our lamb roast but we had to cook the joint in the slow cooker.
This is possibly the last week of doing the kids lunches for a while. I certainly won’t miss that. It’s not so bad when they are on holiday but when we are doing home school I have to get lunch done at a particular time.
chicken nuggets and fries
cheese or ham (or even cucumber) sandwiches
salad bar with soft tortillas
sausage rolls and cheese and crackers
toasted cheese sandwiches
fish cakes/ turkey dinosaurs and waffles
eggy bread cheese sandwiches
sausage and beans and waffles
Now we have the oven working again we can hopefully start thinking about some different foods. Possibly use up our load in the freezer. It’s amazing how much we’ve not been able to cook because it needs oven cooking.
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I haven’t done a meal plan in a while. Cooking has become such a chore. It doesn’t help that we have been without a proper oven for over a week and don’t know when it will be fixed. (We are waiting for a part, I hope it’s not much longer.) The kids are at home all day and even lunch is a chore. When they are learning they need to eat at a specific time to fit in with online lessons.
I’m managing to get my shopping online each week which is good, but I’m getting to the point where I just don’t know what to put in the basket. I stopped Mindful Chef for a while, but we missed it. I love having every thing I need provided in a paper bag that I can just grab from the fridge, chop and cook. Most of the meals only take 1/2 hour and it gives us ideas for further meal choices. It makes cooking less of a chore. Not everyone likes them though.
So, I’m having another go at a weekly menu to see if I can get back on track.
This will probably change, but at least I have an outline and all the food on this list. Fingers crossed we get the oven fixed soon. We can do the pizzas and the duck in the small oven and the roast lamb in the slow cooker, the toad-in-the-hole might end up being sausages and mash.
Of course the kid’s need lunches at home again so we are back to their old favourites which we rotate.
Four years ago my Little Girl made a lovely Valentines Cake. She did it mostly by herself after receiving some cake decorations in the post. She was nine years old at the time and I think she did a really good job.
A selection of decorations, we used sugar sprinkles, icing roses and white flowers from Cake Angels
Put the unsalted butter in a bowl
Sift in the icing sugar
add the vanilla extract and mix
cover the top and side of the cake with the buttercream
decorate as you wish
Videos of Valentines Cake
Here are a couple of videos we made of my girl both making the cake and then decorating it. She was at the age when she wanted to be a You Tuber, the career of choice of so many youngsters these days. She has grown out of that now and as a teen she shies away from the camera. Which I think is a shame as I feel she had a talent she could have developed. Not that most parents wish for a You Tube career for their youngsters!
This is part of my new cake series on this blog. You can find some of my other cakes here:
When my teen was little she was Peppa Pig mad, but we ended up with at least 8 years of Peppa Pig altogether, thanks to having 3 young children. When the youngest was 3 years old I made him a Peppa Pig Car Cake for his birthday using his toy car as a reference.
It’s a simple cake that anyone could make and it really did please the little ones.
Peppa Pig Car Cake
I started off with a basic 10 by 12 inch madiera sponge cake which I then shaped into a basic car shape. I also sliced the cake in half and filled with a thin layer of butter cream.
I marked out a square on the top of the cake and hollowed it out to about 1/2 inch.
Next step was to cover entire cake with a layer of butter cream. I then covered the cake with red fondant icing and cut out the middle square.
The middle bit was then covered with a layer of cream coloured fondant icing and I used two strips of fondant to divide the seats and make a back rest. I then made four pig bodies from rolled up fondant. Daddy Pig is green, Mummy Pig is Orange, Peppa Pig is red and George is blue.
you can just see the toy car in the background.
I also made four pig heads out of pig pink fondant icing but the photo is a bit rubbish.
Then it was time to add the final details and put it all together
I used edible pens for the finer details like the faces on the pigs. I piped the car doors and bonnet with red icing and made the wheels, lights and mirrors out of fondant.
The Little Man was extremely pleased with his cake
I’m reviving some of my old cake makes as part of a new series on my blog..
I recently posted about my Christmas cake over on my other blog, Raisiebay, and I had so many questions I decided to do a dedicated post here in my cake series. (Which I’ve just started.) I know Christmas is over now, but I’m addressing the questions now and will be able to refer back to this during the Christmas period this year.
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So, what is a UK Christmas cake, Apparently, it’s not heard of in other Countries? Well, I learned from my nan how to make one and it’s a tradition that I hope continues in my family. I have already had my daughter help me make one (Even though she was not impressed with the alcohol content and of course refused to eat any.)
The cake is a rich, fruit cake infused with alcohol. The fruit is soaked in alcohol before cooking, then the cake is wrapped up securely in greaseproof paper and put in an air tight cake tin. Each week a tablespoon of alcohol is added. I prefer brandy, but you can use anything, whiskey, sherry, vodka even beer. The taste will be different but it all works. I pour the alcohol over the base of the cake, then a week later I turn the cake and pour it over the top, alternating each week until it’s time to take it out. I generally make the cake six weeks before decorating so it gets six weeks of ‘feeding.’ The cake ends up moist but not wet and it’s really delicious. Of course it’s not suitable for children or drivers because of the alcohol content.
Christmas Cake Recipe
Here is my tried and tested recipe for Christmas cake.
1lb mixed fruit and candy, you can buy bags from the supermarket expecially for cakes.
5tbs of brandy
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
225g unsalted butter
225g dark muscovado sugar
grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 tbs of treacle
Place the dried fruit in a bowl and cover with the brandy. Leave overnight to soak.
preheat the oven to 140C gas mark 1
cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy
beat the eggs and add them a little at a time, beating thouroughly after each addition
sieve flour, salt and spices into a mixing bowl
fold the flour and spice mix into the butter, sugar and eggs mix
add the soaked fruit and excess brandy
add the citrus zest and treacle
mix to combine all ingredients
pour into prepared pan
bake for 4 hours
The way you bake the cake is very important. I use a loose bottomed 8″ cake tin. The tin is lined with greaseproof paper and also greased. Then I wrap the cake tin in folded greaseproof paper and tie this on with string. This is for extra insulation so that the cake will cook slowly without drying out too much on the outside. If it starts browning too much on the top you can also put a circle of greaseproof paper on the top to protect it. The end result should be a slightly risen, moist, rich fruity cake that will make your house smell gorgeous.
Decorating your Cake
A week before Christmas I bring my cake out for decorating. I like to use marzipan but some people are not a fan. It really helps to make your outside icing smoother though. To apply the marzipan I use a layer of marmalade or jam (jelly) which I’ve softened in the microwave for a few seconds. Or you can just use the preserve as the base for your icing.
My Grandmother (Nan) would cover the cake with Royal Icing which she’d make up with icing sugar and egg whites. She would spread this over the cake, make a few swirls on the top like snow and decorate with fake little Christmas trees and decorations. It would look very much like this.
I used to write a blog about cakes. I made a lot of cakes for many people, some I was more proud of than others but I really enjoyed making them. I find it difficult to make cakes now as it is a lot of work for me, but I’ve decided to re-visit some of my cake makes and put them here. Here is one I made many years ago, A My Little Pony Cake, but it’s still one of my favourites. I look at it now and I know how amateur it is and how I could have made it better, but it’s not always perfection that matters.
25th AUG 2012 The My Little Pony Cake
For my daughter’s 7th birthday she wanted a My Little Pony cake, in particular a Rainbow Dash cake.
I decided to do an 8″ round cake featuring Rainbow Dash and a rainbow. For a little twist I decided to make the actual cake rainbow coloured and the keep the icing white.
I made up the cake mix and then split it into 6 equal bowls. I then added food dye to each bowl, using red, orange, yellow, green and blue. I decided against using indigo and used a violet coloured buttercream. I put the mixture into the cake tin in concentric circles starting with an outer ring of red and working down to the blue in one half, then doing the opposite in the other, i.e. blue to red.
I then baked the cake, trimmed it and filled it with butter cream. Then I put a layer of butter cream over the cake and put it in the fridge.
I covered the cake in plain white icing. The rainbow I made using my coloured fondant. Unfortunately the red fondant had become brittle and difficult to work with and I had no time to wait until I could buy or make some more. I had no choice but to reverse the rainbow so the red would be the smallest amount of colour used. Rainbows actually go from red on the outside down to violet on the inside. I had to make mine the other way around and hope that no-one noticed. (My eldest daughter noticed straight away) The rainbow was made on a piece of card as I realised it would be the only way to make it stand up.
The pony I made myself by cutting out pieces of fondant and placing them on the cake. I used this template to help. I was a little worried that if it went wrong I would end up with a big mess, but my back-up plan was to cover the area with a white disc and start again. Luckily this didn’t happen as I was quite happy with the result. I then added the rainbow and fixed it in place with icing clouds. I also piped around the outside bottom edge of the cake and added my daughter’s name.
I was nervous about how the cake looked inside. I have made rainbow cakes before but always used thin slices of coloured sponge cake fitted together with butter cream, but I have found these to be a little sickly. This method was an experiment and I had no idea how it was going to look until I cut it open.
It might not be perfect but it was a big hit at my girls party.
I’m hoping to bring you a few more cake posts including my favourite cake recipes.
We always make a gingerbread house at Christmas time. Here is one we made in 2014 and one of my favourite photos.
Chocolate Gingerbread House
This year we have done something a bit different and I bought a Chocolate Gingerbread house from Cadbury Gift Shop.
Every thing you needed was supplied in the box, apart from the icing sugar which was optional for a snowy effect. I roped in the Little Man to help me make it and we set to opening the bars of chocolate. The Gingerbread chocolate was first and I had to gently cut it to make the roof shape.
Then we opened the bars of chocolate for the sides and had to break off just one edge. The Little Man accidently broke two, so I broke an extra one of the other side. In the end it didn’t really matter. The broken off chocolate was melted in the microwave to create the chocolate ‘glue’ to hold the house together. It actually worked pretty well.
We were a bit confused because the image on the box showed the front and back as having five chunks of chocolate in the width but the gingerbread chocolate only had three. The Dairy Milk had Four, but if we swapped them then the sides of the house would have been too short. We battled on.
Once the building was stuck we opened the bars of Winter Wonderland chocolate, only to find the bars were broken. Oh no 🙁
I used the melted chocolate to ‘glue’ the broken bars and popped them in the ice tray in the freezer for a while while I made a cup of coffee. Gingerbread latte to be precise 🙂
Soon the bars were strong enough to make the roof My repairs had worked. We used more melted chocolate and stuck on the roof. It didn’t take long to set.
We added a chunk of chocolate for the chimney and used flakes on the roof (one of the flakes was broken too, but we still stuck the pieced on. By this time I’d lost the interest of the Little Man who had gone off to play some computer game. But Star and No1 Son helped to finish off the decorations. I made a bit of icing to do the windows but it was really hard to ice on chocolate chunks so they didn’t turn out too well. We were really happy with the overall effect though. All that was left to do was a dusting of icing sugar snow.
Our final task is to demolish the house and eat all the yummy chocolate. This is our plan for Christmas Eve.
Have you made a gingerbread house this year? What do you think of our alternative Gingerbread house?
It’s that time of the year when your trolley starts to fill with those little extras that you only buy at Christmas. I remember as a child, that my Mum would order a Christmas hamper full of tins and packets. We would be having soup for lunch every day, and there were staples such as Spam and tins of pate. We would also have a huge jar of Branston Pickle and a packet of biscuits for cheese.
I still carry through some of the Christmas traditional food, I mean, it wouldn’t be the same without a box of Matchmakers or After Eights would it. This week I have a bottle of Bailey’s sneaking in. I love Bailey’s Irish Cream Liqueur but rarely buy it unless it’s Christmas. It’s so nice in hot chocolate too with loads of squirty cream on top. We never used to buy mince pies as Mum and Nan preferred to make them. But I start buying them as soon as they arrive in the supermarket. I love them so much, even at breakfast!
Anyway, I may have added a few extras this week and last but the big shop is being prepared for next week. The turkey crown is ordered separately, I may order a nice ham too and stick it in the slow cooker.
What is your favourite Christmas food?
Weekly Menu – Christmas Food
Monday – Pizza and garlic bread
Tuesday – chicken and chorizo paella
Wednesday – Curry
Thursday – Pasta bake
Friday – Brinner
Saturday – Jerk Chicken
Sunday – stir Fry
Last weeks menu didn’t go entirely to plan. Monday and Tuesday were fine…the duck was sublime. I buy it from Sainsbury’s and you just pop it in the oven. You get so much meat off the duck, which is a surprise, but I guess the price reflects that, I paid £6.50 for two breasts, so £13 for four. We had it with our own special egg fried rice recipe. It was so yummy. We also had the meatballs on Wednesday.
On Thursday we decided to have toad-in-the hole and on Friday Graham had to go out late and I wasn’t well enough to cook so we ended up with a chip shop dinner.
Saturday I was really poorly and I didn’t eat and I think Graham cooked pie and chips for everyone. We had our Sunday roast Chicken though.