a midweek chicken roast

There is (almost) a downside to my roughly planning meals for the month in that I don’t always know what we’ll be doing. This month Phil hasn’t been here for 3 Sunday’s so the whole chicken that I brought for a Sunday dinner was still sitting in the freezer and being a medium sized chicken, there were plans for it to create at least 2 meals. So we ate a roast dinner on a Wednesday instead…

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Aiming for a 1pm lunch, just before 11.30 I rub some butter under the skin of the chicken breasts and place in a roasting tin with a tiny bit of oil on the bottom. It then goes in the oven for an hour and a half, Basting a couple of times when I remember/get chance.

I then take the boy upstairs for his nap before getting on with the next bit.

In the muffin tin, which I use more for making Yorkshires now, I put a teaspoon or slightly more of oil in 10 of the holes, this then goes in the oven to heat up.

Next I make up the Yorkshire pudding mix, 300ml of milk, 150g plain flour and one egg, whisked together, I then put this to the side until it’s time to bake.

I also mix up have a packet (proper homemade stuffing is a Christmas treat) of sage and onion stuffing mix, and leave to cool.

And finally prep the veg, this time I was doing mash otherwise potatoes are par boiled after the chickens gone in the oven. We also had cabbage, french and runner beans. With them ready in the pans covered in water, all that needed doing was switching things on.

So at 12.10 About 50 minutex before dinner I spoon the stuffing mix into balls on a lightly greased baking tray, poor the Yorkshire batter into the 10 oiled holes in the muffin tin and check the chicken hasn’t browned too much to need covering with foil.

I then sit down for 15minutes before Jack wakes up.

When Jack returns from nap time, I turn on the potatoes and and veg to simmer for 20ish minutes/until cooked and set the table.

Just before 1pm, I take out the chicken, pour all the (clear) juices into a frying pan and place the chicken to rest on the serving plate with a piece of foil covering it.

I then make the gravy but adding a little water, a teaspoon of marmite, pepper and mixed herbs, bring it to the boil and mix a table spoon of cornflour with a splash of water and pour into the gravy to thicken, keep stirring between checking, the veg is cooked, mashing potatoes and ensuring that the Yorkshires and stuffing are crisp but not burnt! This is the hardest bit of a roast!

But knowing everything is cooked it goes onto plates and the table and we get to enjoy a Wednesday lunchtime roast chicken dinner!

And the leftovers, the leftover Yorkshire puddings went in the freezer, the leftover chicken breast were used for pizza topping the next day and I pulled the remaining chicken off the bones and boiled up the carcass to make a stock with the intention of making a chicken soup but two days later I hadn’t and didn’t want to use chicken that had been sat in the fridge for a few days.

What leftover chicken dishes do you like?

toddler crafts: homemade playdough

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Tuesday night last week I happened to make playdough, I found a recipe for no-cook playdough and had a go.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 2 tbsps vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tbsps cream of tartar
  • 1 to 1.5 cups of boiling water
  • food colouring

And it’s so easy to make!

Mix the flour, salt and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl then mix in the oil.
Add a little food colouring to the boiling water, I used my sugarflair gel colours so I got a nice strong colour.
Bix by bit pour the water into the flour mix, mixing until it becomes a sticky dough.
Leave to cool, I think I left it for half an hour or so.
Knead until it’s no longer sticky.
Keep in an air tight tub.

Wednesday afternoon I collected together a few bits and pieces jigsaw shapes, straws, bottle tops, shower curtain rings, to play with the dough and we got going.

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First just playing and feeling the new texture. Jack briefly tried to eat it but then didn’t bother for the rest of the time….

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broccoli and stilton soup

On the Saturday we went to collect the vegetables from the farm on the list to pick up was a broccoli, since we have 2 bags of broccoli already frozen in the freezer I figured I’d make it into soup, so off I go to Tesco and come back with a block of stilton, then I go to make the soup and realise I hadn’t actually picked it up from the farm, doh! But eventually I got some broccoli and I made the soup and it was really easy and I wondered why I’d never made it before.

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Recipe…. Continue reading

Jack and paint!

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Last Wednesday Jack had his first proper experience of paint! (I’m not counting his hand prints for Christmas cards last year!) It’s something I’d been meaning to get round to doing for a few weeks and in a spur of the moment decision finishing lunch we went out and brought kids paints and brushes from Wilko’s and got going.

Out came the red polka dotted table cloth and some of the collection of yogurt pots I’ve been saving on the kitchen window sill, Jack in an old t-shirt of mine to minimise the amount of paint on clothing, and he got to work. Exploring the paint with different brushes and sponges and his fingers too of course, he even tried to eat it too.

Half an hour later he was of course a terrible mess with paint up his arms, between all his fingers and on his face, but he’d filled too pieces of paper, there wasn’t paint on the floor and I think he’d enjoyed himself. It just meant that he had a bath before tea not after!

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The next morning I put his art up on the wall, it’s things like this that make a family home.

mini veggie pasties

My little Jack goes off with Nanny on a Friday (currently, it was Thursday) so he has a fun day with swimming lessons at the moment and I get to catch up on jobs around the house (it’s so much easier to hoover/hang washing/clean the bathroom without a toddler following you around!). And I make him up a little pack lunch, there’s one problem my not really fussy little boy just doesn’t eat sandwiches, he doesn’t like cheese or eat ham, he’ll occasionally eat a tuna sweetcorn wrap but not sandwich, no filling between bread. So instead I try to keep a stash of savoury muffins and pasties in the freezer for him.

The River Cottage Baby and Toddler cookbook has a great recipe for double potato pies, with regular potato, sweet potato and sweetcorn filling but with an empty freezer and only half a sweet potato in I decided to make up my own mixed veg version.

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what we’ve been eating…

I’ve been having a mini discussion on Facebook about meal planning after I posted this picture on Instagram of my slightly excessive organisation of the freezer contents and thought that I’d write about it here too.

IMG_20140905_154404I shop for a 3/4 week period, usually doing a shop for a couple of days then the big online shop a few days later when I receive some money. We have a chest freezer in our cellar and it’s made life so much easier as previously with only the little 2 shelf freezer I had to shop every few days and couldn’t easily batch cook.

Online food shopping is great because I can start to add things to the basket as we run out and then go through with ideas for meals jumping from department to department, keeping an eye on the total. It also means that I don’t have to leave the sofa and precariously balance everything on a pushchair to get home!

I don’t plan exactly what meals we’ll have, just have some ideas, as we get our vegetables from Woodhouse Farm still and never quite know what we’ll get and it’s hard to know 4 weeks in advance what your plans are.

So this month we have eaten…

Setember 1st – 7th
Monday: Beef enchiladas with salad and guacamole
Tuesday: Sausage whorls with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and potatoes
Wednesday: (dinner out)
Thursday: Ginger and lime chicken with rice and vegetables
Friday:Pork chorizo burgers with cooked tomato salsa
Saturday:Pasta bolognaise (a huge batch made that created 2 lasagnes to freeze)
Sunday: Beef casserole with Yorkshire puddings, mash potatoes and vegetables

September 8th – 14th
Monday: Bangers and mash with vegetables
Tuesday: Fishcakes with minty potatoes and vegetables
Wednesday: Baked potatoes with chilli con carne (chilli from the freezer)
Thursday: (dinner out)~
Friday: Saag paneer with rice and naan
Saturday: Bean casserole with toast and cheese
Sunday: (dinner out)

September 15th – 21st
Monday: Pulled pork wraps with tomato and pepper salsa and yogurt
Tuesday: Lasagne and garlic bread (lasagne from the freezer)
Wednesday: Stir-fried sweet and sour beef, veg and noodles
Thursday: Aubergine and courgette risotto with salmon
Friday: Corned beef hash with baked beans
Saturday: Spicy lentil and chickpeas in tomatoes with cous cous
Sunday: Baked potatoes with cheese sauce and bacon and vegetables

September 22nd – 28th
Monday: Chinese style pork belly and egg friend rice
Tuesday: Spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread (meatballs from freezer)
Wednesday: Roast chicken dinner (as Phil’s not been here on Sunday’s)
Thursday: Homemade pizza using leftover chicken
Friday: Lentil and vegetable pasta bake (with lentil bolognaise from freezer)
Saturday: Cassoulet with crusty bread
Sunday: Mushroom risotto with extra vegetables and crispy bacon

The days in italics are when Phil’s not here this month and we can eat anything as I don’t have to accommodate his ‘fussy’ eating. I’m quite impressed that there are 25 different dinners there, yes several are pasta based and there are a couple of risottos and 2 baked potatoes but with different flavours.
The non-meat dinners that myself and Jack are eating whilst Phil’s away are mostly leftover when we’ve eaten all the meat out of them as I’ve been putting anything that’s portion sized in the freezer.
And I’ve been enjoying not having to think up dinner everyday and have been remembering to take the meat out the freezer the night before too.

How about you, do you meal plan? Weekly? Fortnightly? Monthly?

 

 

babywearing is awesome!

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For Jack’s arrival we had a travel system all ready with it’s carrycot, car seat and stroller options and despite Jack seemingly never wanting to leave my arms he was actually quite good at being pushed around in it, he’d even sleep! But apart from doing the food shopping when the large basket was very useful, it’s really quite bulky for getting in and out of some of the smaller shops and cafes in Lichfield and I felt disconnected especially when we swapped to the stroller which isn’t parent facing.

Having a velcro baby that barely would be put down for 10 minutes was hard, although I welcomed the times I’d sit on the sofa with a newborn Jack asleep in my arms as a lovely chance to rest and close my eyes myself, when he got bigger I started to want to do some other things or even just get the washing up done and tidy up a bit!

It was then that I started to think about getting a sling, I’d been given instructions and rings to make a ring sling. But after making it, I just couldn’t use it comfortably. Partly because the information with it gave instructions for a cradle carry which always meant that I’d have Jack’s feet digging into my hip bone, he never look comfortable and unless I was still holding him to take some of his weight it wasn’t really much use.
I’ve since learnt that the cradle hold in a ring sling isn’t recommend as can put baby’s chin on their chest blocking their airways and I’ve found much better ways at using the ring sling with baby upright, especially with a hip carry.

Next stop on my babywearing adventure was a woven wrap thanks to seeing two lovely ladies on my instagram feed wearing their babies. And this is where I fell in love with babywearing.

I purchased a Colimacon et Cie Miel et Malice size 6 wrap in a my favourite turquoise colour from here and waited for the post to arrive.

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I quickly learnt to get him in a front carry ( I think this is a simple front carry from the excess of wrap to tie) and yay look, two free hands, I could do things again!

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carrot and sweet potato soup

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I would start this post with ‘Now Autumn is on it’s way it’s the perfect season for soup’ but I really like soup and I’ve been eating (drinking/slurping) it through the summer months too. Though now the weather is beginning to get cooler I’ve been ‘teaching’ Jack to eat his with a spoon, I say teaching it’s more give him a spoon and let him get on with it and most of the time he tries to eat it with his hands, but he has learnt to dip his bread into the bowl.

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This week I made carrot and sweet potato soup, the orange, sweet tasting vegetables usually going down with Jack especially as he’s particularly fond of carrots currently. I prefer my soups smooth, otherwise I think I get confused whether I need to chew or slurp, plus I don’t have to chop anything into bite sized pieces, just roughly chop!

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sausage whorls and roasted vegetables

If I had the money to I’d do all my shopping in Waitrose, I like how the shelves aren’t piled up to the ceiling, the dark green branding isn’t over powering, the staff are always friendly and you get free tea! Along with the bread (best supermarket loaf I think) I really like their meat, I usually buy meat in the supermarket 3 for £10 sections as it usually makes my money go further and Waitrose always have a more interesting selection especially in the summer months when their barbecue meats are included.

This week, thanks to some £3 off £10 vouchers I’d been emailed, I  picked up some BBQ thin beef steaks which I cut into strips and with some peppers, tomatoes and onions turned into enchilada filling, and these chorizo sausage whorls  I’ve also now learnt that a whorls is a spiral or circular pattern.

As I wasn’t going to barbecue them, I’m not sure I’m allowed to touch the barbeque, I decided to create a sort of Mediterranean style bake, here’s what I did.

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my introduction into quilting or crafting with a baby

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When Jack was just a couple of months old my mum sent me this crazy lady’s video of jelly roll quilting. I brought 2 Moda jelly rolls pretty much straight away, this which is called Comma and another (further down) which is Twenty Three, the buying bit was easy with a feeding or sleeping baby on me the laptop was usually in easy reach!

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It took until August to get sewing, at this point, Jack was nearly 6 months old and could be distracted and occupied enough by by sister for a couple of hours at a time. I think I managed to get all the strips joined and half of the folding and stitching to join it as a quilt. I think this was the first time I’d done anything for months that was just for me and I really enjoyed thinking about something quite frivolous.

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