Batch Cooking!

Step 1 of Planning!

As I said yesterday, my biggest downfall is when I am not organised and I don’t have food ready to go. So today I have cooked tonights dinner – chicken Dopiaza (from an old Slimming World recipe leaflet I have), and a new dish from the Supervalu website – Mexican Leek and Black Bean Chilli for my batch cooked food to have to freeze and in the fridge for when I’m hungry.

I have been making this Three Bean Chilli from the Supervalu website over the past while and have been eating it topped with a small bit of cheese, and it doesn’t need a side like rice as it is so filling. And it is delicious. After the first time I started to add my own ingredients as to whatever I had in the fridge, and also I found I needed to probably triple the amount of spices that I put in – I like strong flavours!

Both of them are vegetarian and actually both from The Happy Pear, it is just that I got them from the Supervalu website. One of the things that I want to do is to make new healthy recipes, so that I don’t get bored with the same meals all the time, even though I’m actually ok with eating the same food over and over again lol.

Delighted to have some food batch cooked now, and my lunch ready to go as well. I found that I was picking at chocolate non stop while cooking the dinners so this means I will be able to get my dinner first and then cook for everyone else without picking.

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Day 21 of My Month of Gratitude

This week has been a week for looking for ideas for different food options and trying new recipes, hence todays addition to the list!

  1. My Husband
  2. My Children
  3. My Step-Children
  4. My Step-Grandchildren
  5. My Family
  6. My Friends
  7. My Home
  8. Our Utilities
  9. Our Health
  10. Education
  11. Coffee
  12. Technology
  13. Being Alive
  14. Baby Smiles and Laughs
  15. Special Occasions
  16. Healthcare
  17. Being Irish
  18. Being a SAHM
  19. Chocolate
  20. Books
  21. Online Recipes

I love cook books. There is something about flicking through the pages, looking at the pictures, maybe reading the little description by the author, that is just lovely. However even though I have loads of lovely cookbooks, and tried and tested cookbooks that I would have used years ago, when it comes to looking for a new recipe to try, I tend to go online.

I suppose it is the fact that you can search a type of meal and be given a list of twenty options, with reviews and sometimes pictures of people having tried to make their own version from the recipe, and you get to choose which you want to try. The problem of course is that there is too much choice and no quality control necessarily. Sure I’m not a chef or experienced food blogger or anything and yet I have posted recipes on here that I have tried. I know that I have made some recipes from blogs and I have not been impressed at all – but I have also found some absolutely delicious recipes too!

Just this week I wanted to find a recipe that I had made for a lentil curry a few years back and I remember it was quite nice. I had actually posted it on here (along with my complete failure of using split peas instead of lentils, duh!) and so then I was able to find the post and the link to the original recipe and make it again.

It is amazing to have such a wealth of different selections and experiences of recipes at our fingertips online, and I am really grateful for that!

Pancake Tuesday 2019!

Yum yum yum, I just love pancakes, and Pancake Tuesday is like a day made for me!

The rule in this house is Pancakes for Breakfast, Pancakes for Lunch, Pancakes for Dinner and Pancakes for Dessert!

This year I’m being very focused on trying to lose weight and I didn’t go mad with eating pancakes as I normally would – however I still did overindulge!

I made what I thought was a giant batch on Monday night, so it would be ready for Tuesday morning. My eldest girl got up and started making pancakes. I hadn’t planned on having any but she brought me one up in bed with sugar and lemon on it. Yum. I just had the one and refused any more. However the kids must have kept eating downstairs because the giant batch was very much reduced when I came down the stairs!

I sent them into school with the shop bought little mini fluffy pancakes along with their lunches.

For dinner then I made a savoury sauce for the pancakes. Myself and the hubby had it with mushrooms and chicken in the sauce, the older two kids had it with just chicken in it, and the 5 year old had plain chicken and grated cheese on hers. I used the sauce from this website here and instead of continuing and adding the green beans and fried onions, I just made it into the pancake sauce. (And by the way, the full green bean casserole is delicious, it is a very looked forward to addition to our Thanksgiving Dinner!).

For dessert then, there was a selection of different sweet pancakes chosen from butter and sugar, chocolate spread, chocolate spread and marshmallows, chocolate spread and marshmallows and icecream, chocolate spread and bananas and icecream (this one is lovely with some chopped nuts on it too, and also a spoonful of Baileys is delish!) and of course the hard to beat, and probably my favourite, the lemon, butter and sugar pancake!

I definitely wasn’t as on track yesterday as I should have been, but I definitely didn’t eat as many pancakes as I would normally. And now this morning I drew a line under it and we’re moving forward back on track!

The recipe that we use for pancakes is this one here from the Delia Smith website. We just multiply out the recipe a few times, at least 3 times the recipe if we all want to have some. And for yesterday, I made two batches and think 7 times the original recipe in total!

 

Pancakes… yum

So I know Pancake Tuesday isn’t until next week – but for pretty much all of February my kids request pancakes, on a pretty much daily basis.

I have two types of pancakes I make, one is the little round “American Style” pancakes, and then these, the bigger thinner ones.

I found this recipe on the Delia Smith website and it makes perfect pancakes, always!

For our family of two adults and three kids, and whoever happens to be here, I always make a triple batch. It also keeps in the fridge for a few days.

Ingredients (for the triple batch):

  • 330g plain flour
  • big pinch of salt
  • 600ml milk and 225ml water
  • 6 eggs
  • a big spoon of butter (over 50g)

On her website, she has the proper method outlined for mixing this. I just throw the first four ingredients into a bowl and whizz up with a hand food mixer. Then on the pancake pan I melt the butter and pour a small bit into the batter, but most into a bowl to use on the pan between each pancake. So they all get the buttery goodness!

I also think that my pancake pan and ladle are big parts of the success of the pancakes. I bought the flat pan in lidl about 2 years ago, to replace the one I had bought years before that. It was definitely less than 20euro and it came with a ladle. I was in a fancy pants pots and pans shop at the weekend and saw a pancake pan on sale for 65euro. My pan is perfect so keep an eye out for when they come into your local Lidl!

When it comes to frying the pancakes, rub the melted butter (on a piece of kitchen roll) onto the hot pan, pour on a ladle full of pancake (depending on how thick you like them – experiment!!) and roll it around to cover the pan fully. When the edges start to curl up off the pan, it means the bottom of the pan is starting to cook. After another minute, turn the pancake and cook the second side too.

Depending on who the pancake is for and what they want on it, I sometimes put a bit of butter on the cooked side of the pancake after I turn it, and when its melted I’ll put a spoon of sugar on while still on the pan so it melts into the butter a bit. Yum! And then the lemon when it comes off the pan.

The kids love golden syrup or chocolate spread (my homemade one, so at least it feels healthier!). I’ve tried savoury pancakes but they don’t go down very well here. If you’ve any ideas for easy toppings that could become family favourites, please let me know! 🙂

 

Taco Fries

Tonights dinner is one of our favourite here in this house. Homemade Taco Fries.

I love making homemade fries, and often used to use the deep fat fryer. Then in January I finally splashed out on a Tefal Actifry, after lusting after one for about 2 years! And I love it. I use it at least once or twice a week. It does take a good bit longer to cook the chips – but just means we have to be more organised!

The Taco spice mix is a blend that I found when doing Slimming World. I love the fact that Slimming World teaches people to cook from scratch using herbs and spices. I have always done most things from scratch but I used to use a taco spice mix that I bought. Now I always use this recipe.

What I did a few weeks ago was to mix a larger quantity – same proportions but just about 10 times as much so that I could have the spices premixed to make the prep even quicker. I now have that sitting up on my shelf in a jar and can just use a few spoons of that (to taste) when cooking the taco mince.

  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne chilli powser
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sweetner (I use sugar because I hate artificial sweetner)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

I add the spice mix into the mince, and vegetable that are already cooked, along with two tins of tomatoes, and leave simmer for about 20 minutes. I use onions, garlic, peppers, celery (finely chopped) and mushrooms. You could add as much vegetables in here as you wanted. I am also going to try this with lentils and red kidney beans as a vegetarian version.

And then for serving we use a shop bought taco sauce and grated cheese.

Each of us in the house has a different way they want their taco fries served. I am traditional with the fries, mince, cheese, taco sauce. The hubby likes his taco sauce and mince mixed together first, and then put on his chips and doesn’t mind whether there’s any cheese or not. The boy is mince, then fries, cheese, taco sauce. Miss Q likes her mince topped with cheese and taco sauce on one side and fries on the other. And Little Miss Z likes her chips on a plate with some taco sauce to dip in – no mince or cheese!

Paprika Potatoes!

Now I am aware I might be late to the party, but I have just made these, and they are so easy and so delicious!

The other day I was making a Spanish Omelette and I wasn’t using chorizo (it’s not free on Slimming World, and I had none anyway!) – so I wanted to add some extra flavour. So I decided to add salt and paprika to the potatoes while cooking. And Wow! I think they are my new obsession! I bought more salad potatoes and cooked them up so they’d be ready for me to make these again (which I already have)!

They are so simple:

Slice the (cooked) salad potatoes
Spray with fry light
Sprinkle on salt and paprika
Spray the frying pan with fry light and heat
Put the potatoes into the pan, with the sprayed and seasoned side facing down
Spray the tops of the potatoes and sprinkle on salt and paprika
After 1-2mins, turn over the potatoes and fry the other side for another 1-2mins
Then you’re ready to go!

They are really simple and really tasty. Usually potatoes need to be fried in butter, or have butter melting in while you’re eating them – but these really add such a flavour that you don’t miss the butter.

Spinach Cannelloni (Slimming World Friendly!)

I’ve realised that I need to have decent food on hand throughout the day, or else I pick at anything I can find – so I’ve been making up batches of this spinach cannelloni.

Because on Slimming World you eat 1/3 “superfree” (fruit or veg) with everything you eat, I’ve been trying to beef up the original recipe by adding more vegetables, such as onions, celery and peppers all chopped up small and added to the spinach mix inside the tubes!

I buy a box of cannelloni tubes, a packet of fresh spinach leaves and a tub of Quark (extra low fat soft cheese) – and then whatever extra veg, garlic, tins of tomatoes and cheese that I usually have.

The way to cook the spinach is to put it into a pot with a tablespoon or two of water (I actually just wash it and put it straight in to the pot without drying it)  and pop on the lid and let it cook down for about two minutes until its gone soft and limp. Then I take it out of the pot, put it on a plate and drain all the excess liquid off it and chop it up.

Next is to cook up whatever other veg you’re adding – lets say an onion, a stick of celery and a pepper, all chopped up small. Fry these up (in Frylight if you’re on Slimming World!). Once they’re cooked, I normally let them cool down a bit, before adding in the chopped spinach, and then the full tub of Quark. This is the mix that you’re going to fill your cannelloni tubes with.

Usually while the veg is all cooling down, I make a tomato sauce – just fry up a bit of garlic and add a few tins of tomato (or passata) and some fresh basil. I do try and almost squeeze the tomatoes with the spoon while they’re in the pot – because you really do need as much liquid as possible.

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The next step is quite messy – filling your tubes. You basically just have to roll up your sleeves and dive in 🙂 Make sure that you fill them as much as you can, I usually put my thumb over the base of the tube and push the filling down until it fills up completely.

When you have all the tubes filled, you put a layer of the tomato sauce (about half the sauce) across the bottom of the dish you’re cooking them in. In this case I decided to use a roast pan because I was making a large batch!

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On top of the sauce, put your filled tubes, and then top them all with the rest of the tomato sauce and add a scattering of grated cheese. If you’re doing Slimming World, you will need to use the cheese as a Healthy Extra, or syn it.

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Put it into the oven to bake for about 40 minutes, at around 180 degrees. You will need to make sure there’s enough liquid on top of them for the cannelloni tubes to cook properly. At times I have had to add a bit of water to help soften them up properly.

Of course I forgot to take an “after” picture of it cooked, I happily started eating it! 🙂 But it is delicious, and very handy to have in portions the fridge (or freezer) to take out and snack on (or have as a lunch or dinner!).