Monday, 23 May 2016

Monday Meal Plan

This week has fortunately started a lot healthier than last week! I am so glad that tummy bug has long gone, it really knocked the wind out of my sails! My appetite has fully returned, and I returned to my day job - the project I am on is about to launch so I couldn't really afford much more time off! Last week's post was a bit moany, so I apologise! I try to err on being more optimistic, than pessimistic but after a week of broken sleep and tummy pain from hell I was feeling more than a bit sorry for myself!!

Despite my no-plan last week, we ate quite well in the end including a rather tasty crustless tuna quiche, which did both dinner and lunch for work easily, a definitely handy standby considering we always have a tin of tuna in the cupboard and a good supply of eggs! However by Friday night I was more than happy to have a rare night off cooking, and we were chip shop bound! Our chippy makes some really good 'gourmet' calamari rings - this was my only one as B ate the rest! And I know its so sinful and god knows alone what goes in them but I couldn't resist a jumbo battered sausage! IT was sooooo good and really hit the comfort spot!! Its very rare we get a takeaway so it was a nice treat!

So onto this week - the fridge is restocked with a variety of veg and a few of the dishes have been lurking on the planning radar for some time but not quite made it - hopefully will have better luck this week! Breakfast for me is usually overnight oats, plus maybe a cheeky banana flapjack I bulk made, B gets his usual cereal (I don't do cereal, something about soggy things floating in milk, ick!)

Our lunches are mostly already made - I did a bulk batch cook last night to save time during the week! I made one large pan of smoky sausage and tomato rice for my boyfriend, for me its roasted feta and veggie couscous - its jam packed with roasted chard, carrot, pepper, baby aubergine, courgette and olives - yum! When they run out it will either be leftovers or a hastily thrown together salad of fridge surprises!

This week will potentially be:

Breaded fish, mash and peas (easy freezer meal!)

Chicken Balti, roasted broccoli and pilau rice (a jar of posh sauce that's been in the cupboard far too long!)

Tofu okonomiyaji (Jamie recipe, meal for one!), pickled carrots 

Creamy pork meatballs, leeks and spaghetti 
(bought some lovely free range pork mince on offer and we have a tub of cream cheese to eat up!)

Crispy battered Quorn sausage bites-
had to put these on the plan after salivating over Tinned Tomatoes recipe!  Probably have with potato wedges

Monday, 16 May 2016

The No meal plan week

Ahhh my dear readers... if you are still out there!! I feel all I do is either apologise or give you a sort of meal plan of late!! Without wanting to rant too much I am starting to feel that blogging for me personally is going to whittle out soon, or at least judging by the year so far!! Maybe the blogging gods have got it in for me as I do feel the odds have been stacked against me?! With three separate repairs to my laptop (including a new hard drive and a complete re-set each time!), each repair also resulting in at least 2 weeks downtime, not to mention the enormous amount of time wasted in between restoring my rather large photo collection, not to mention documents and other software to reinstall, the latest currently running painfully slow in the background as I type, its been somewhat challenging! And that's just been the technical issues!

Food has also been a bit tricky this year, as mentioned earlier in the year my long term digestive 'issues' came to a head and I had a nasty bout of reflux oesophagitis on top of it all, which basically means when it comes to meal planning, I write down all the things I want to eat, remove half as I can't eat it then still find the joy to both cook and eat it. Fortunately the reflux is abating slowly and I am off to see a specialist dietitian soon to try and tame my digestion! I've been experimenting with a few different alternative food options, and I've been fairly successful with reducing my dairy intake, and swapping to either almond or hazelnut milks instead for my morning porridge - or overnight oats, and it has done wonders for the reflux and IBS, so will be continuing with that. Though I can't stand either milk in my tea - so that remains moo milk!

When I look back at my first blogs, almost 10 years have passed and both my cooking and diet has evolved so much! I think its not just me either! The UK food scene has also evolved so much, talking about food now is 'normal' and chances are if you know me in person, we talk about food or drink in some way! During my imposed rest I've been catching up a lot on Masterchef episodes on the hard drive and the style is so different too, especially compared to when I remember watching it as a child, in the dark TV studio with the three coloured pods- they were red, blue and yellow if I recall correctly?! So you can see I am hugely interested in food still, and I really do hope I get back into blogging properly again. I love to create food, made with love to share with you all so do bear with me a while longer whilst I find my feet again!

Despite everything I've been trying to meal plan, often on my lovely paper planner I received for Christmas, however my last few attempts at meal planning have failed a little, with the technical and food issues, I then caught a bad sinus infection a month ago and was off my food again (don't ya love antibiotics!), then oh joy - last week I went down fast with suspected food poisoning, and only this afternoon I am starting to feel a bit more human and regaining a small appetite. I swear if the grim reaper had knocked at my door on Friday night I would of taken his hand willingly, I have no idea what triggered it but I really don't want it ever again!

As I am pretty much restricted to very plain foods for the next few days at least, I've not bothered to meal plan at all but I will be feeding my boyfriend via a mixture of freezer cheats I.e. fish fingers or sausages and mash. I felt bad the other night packing him off to the chippie for his tea but I doubt he was that disappointed hehe!! My only food highlight in the past week was toasted banana sandwich - it may sound a bit weird but I learnt it off a fellow patient when I was in hospital a few years back!

So overall I think my own personal plan if anything will be well cooked porridge, banana toasties and lightly cooked eggs! 

See you soon,
Anne's Kitchen 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Cheesy Gammon and Potato Bake

I've got history. With graters that is...

This picture happened recently. Its like a crime scene, you can still see traces of the cheese I was attempting to grate. Oh the horror! Me and my Jamie grater had 6 magical years together. I already owned two rather shiny microplanes (and still do but their handles annoy me) but my beloved coarse grater survived 4 house moves and grated a hell of a lot of cheese. And carrots.Probably more. Then one fateful night OH THE HORROR IT SNAPPED!! I almost cried. What shall I do? Do I replace? I was scared in case the horror happened again....

So I went shopping... I tried to look for the JO one *just in case I changed my mind* but couldn't find on the high was late..I was tired...weary...still saddened ...and in a moment of madness I purchased the below lime flecked one for a whole pound. I like a bargain but its not the one for me. The bottom cover thingy seems entirely useless other than to fall off and its unsurprisingly not sharp enough. It doesn't have a good prognosis.

But then a rainbow appeared on the horizon of my tears... and it was a welcome hello to my OXO Good Grips 'Complete Grate and Slice set' and we have fully bonded. Those who follow me on Instagram will testify to that! The set consists of four removable grating and slicing slides - and I used it almost daily ever since receiving it! It has pride of place at the front of the cupboard rather than being abandoned towards the back in the mandolin graveyard.....

As I've had 'issues' with my PC and the odd health one to throw a spanner in the works, I have not been very good writing down any recipes but this one is fairly close. My oven temperature is still wrong and I still share a kitchen so blogging is tricky! I have posted pictures of a similar dish a few years back here  with inspiration from Hampshire Cook but this is the updated one with an actual recipe! 
Sorry if the pictures fuzzy - my PC is still trying to break all my images!
The fine slicing blade in the Good Grips set is awesome - as well as graters, this is my 3rd mandolin set too and its perfectly thin and sharp, oh and easy to use! Which is the main thing! I have slightly wonky joints and ease of use is high up on my agenda!! I used both the fine mandolin and coarse grater for this recipe and it took moments to prepare for a big bowl of comfort food! The gripper tool is strong and hold the veggies well when slicing, to protect your fingers!

Serves 4 (ish) Easy


480g thinly sliced white potato
150g cooked gammon, shredded
80g lancashire cheese, grated
500g milk
25g butter
25g plain floir
1 tsp English mustard powder
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
S&P to taste

Pre-heat oven to approx 190o

Cover the potatoes in cold water, add the stock powder and bring to the boil for 5 minutes, then drain well

In the saucepan melt the butter, add the flour and mustard powder, stir in the milk gently until thickened and simmer for 5 minutes

Add half the cheese to the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste

Layer up the potatoes with the gammon and a sprinkle of cheese in between. Cover with the sauce and sprinkle over the last of the cheese

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden and all lovingly brown on top.

Many thanks to both OXO Good Grips and to Holly at the Lenny Agency for her patience!

Disclaimer: I received the Complete Grate and Slice set for review only and all opinions and pictures remain the property of Anne's Kitchen

Monday, 18 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday

This week is definitely starting on a better note - I am germ free at last! I am so glad to wave goodbye to my sinus infection, I really can't recommend it! Sleepless nights filled with coughing is definitely something I can live without. I've been a mission to consume a vat load of fruit and veg and I am definitely feeling better for it, hopefully will boost my immune system too! I have a couple more health tests coming up but am keeping positive they will all go swimmingly and I can start getting a bit healthier for summer!

Last week we stayed fairly on plan, Tuesday's Tuna meatballs with spaghetti is a fairly regular dish in our house but this one was definitely one of the best - I added a little pinch of lemon zest to the meatballs and crumbed them very lightly, and they were delicious! Wednesdays sausages got moved to Saturday night as we had something else instead....though I can't quite recall what... The jambalaya for Thursday was still rice based dish but B forgot the aubergines and I had a jar of leftover nacho cheese dip - so that became the sauce loosened with some stock and I added some bacon grill, it was a surprise hit too!

I am not sure if I can post a meal plan next week - the laptop is going back to the chop shop as its still playing up! On a positive note I think I've cracked One Drive and managed to install on my iPad so at least have some technology to hand! Also at last my phone is released from ee's clutches and I can actually call and text people again! I think we get so reliant on being in communication with others I felt quite lost without it. Though I don't entirely think its a bad idea, I have been been trying to practice more mindfulness and its worked wonders for relaxation!

This week I am super poor - after a horrific dentist bill on Tuesday and impending MOT I am down to porridge! Its a good job I have a good store cupboard and lots in the freezer! Last night I made a head start and baked biscuits for the tin, a vat of ham hock pasta for lunches and even some bread! Fortunately I found some supermarket vouchers in a draw, which covered most of the food shop on Saturday so at least its now a decent meal plan!

Warm smoked salmon and avocado salad, home made bread 
(the avo claim to be perfectly ripe...)

Sweet chilli prawn stir fry with noodles 

Whole baked cauliflower cheese, with bacon, green veggies on side
(made this a few weeks back and it was lush!)

Baked haddock fillets on a bed of puy lentils and leeks
(Haddock bought reduced, may coat in pesto)

Curry night


Do you have any new dishes on your plan this week?

Monday, 11 April 2016

Meal Planning Monday

I'm back! Well sort of. The laptop is still continuing with its mission to destroy me and will be yet again be returned to the fixers at the weekend, if not before then or I might actually just throw it out of the window! I should of taken it last week as its still losing the wifi connection, over heating and doing other random things, oh and refusing to download google chrome, so I am trying to do this in Edge which frankly is crap and keeps crashing....but then the germs doing the rounds instead took me over and so most of last week involved this:

And then my cold decided on Thursday it was not quite done with me, as I ended up with a full blown sinus infection with a trip to the GP and now on antibiotics instead! Fortunately I have turned a corner and feeling human again!

So onto meal planning... with the PC driving me insane I've not been very good at going near it without wasting an hour trying to resolve its issues! We have eaten really well of late, even with my germs and Saturday night I finally got a bit of my cooking happiness back and actually made something new in the form of braised Miso Aubergine-needs a bit of tweaking but a good start!

This weeks plan is roughly thrown together, and fitting around hospital appointments and dentists - that's soup night after both the hygienist and a filling being replaced, what was I thinking?! I have been quite good using up odds n sods from the freezer, oh and we had to buy a new fridge recently too which involved eating lots of leftovers in one sitting! Its been an expensive few weeks so definitely no extra shopping this week!

Special fried rice -
basically leftovers from the weekend cooked together and topped with a fried egg!

Tuna meatballs and spaghetti
Cupboard staple meal!

Chorizo sausages, mash, kale
Mostly for B and lunches, I will be on green soup when the numbness wears off!

With bacon and whatever veg needs eating!

Beef burgers, sweet potato wedges
Easy Friday dinner! Burgers are squirreled away in freezer so just have to remember to thaw them!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Getting back in the groove..

This year has been a real struggle to get back into blogging, to the point of often feeling like giving up- not something I have lightly considered as last week saw my blog's 9th birthday! January was mostly consisting of exhaustion, which turned out my vitamin D was low and the magic pills have got me back functioning but then in February I had to undergo some rather a raft of unpleasant gastro tests, which saw me either not being able to eat or wanting to so the cooking has not been happening and as a result neither has the blog!! I've had something called Reflux Oesophagitis (on top of IBS and functional dyspepsia), which basically you don't want any of but its played havoc with my appetite and I am still recovering, along with other things still being investigated.. the fun never stops!

Anyway just as I started to get my groove back and contemplate blogging, the laptop spectacularly gave up the ghost and at one point I thought I had lost everything, including all my food photos! Luckily I have managed to claw back most of my lost stuff after many a wasted evening but the laptop despite a new hard drive, adaptor and a few other components is still not quite perfect so it may well end up back in the repair shop this weekend...if I can face being without it yet again! Oh and our other fridge broke which has been a disaster involving a replacement that didn't work and a brand new one - just what you need when the car is also due its MOT.. anyway new fridge is lovely, and huge and I plan to fill it so I can start properly cooking again!

There has been some cooking going on at least - my appetite is definitely back! This was the whole cauliflower cheese I made for Easter Sunday - it was amazing if I do say so myself! I gently poached the cauliflower for a few minutes first, then laid it on a bed of its green leaves then basically drowned it in a mustard cheese sauce, with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs before being baked to loveliness! It was a huge hit with all of us!

So thanks for bearing with me - I do promise a real recipe again soon!
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