Monday, March 31, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays March 30th - April 6th

It's unbelievable how quickly the weeks seem to be flying past just now! Not that I'm complaining - I am so ready for it to be Spring after what seems like a really long Winter. Thankfully for us the sun is shining today and hopefully it will stick around for a good few days before those April Showers make themselves a little too familiar for my liking! Of course with the change of the Seasons comes yet more colds to our house and this time we are all full of it, which is thankfully a pretty rare occurrence. It did however, mean that yesterday's 'Best Ever Ribs' were postponed as understandably Scott didn't want to spend 5 hours smoking them to not be able to taste the final delicious result, so instead we opted for Grilled Fish Tacos with plenty of Fiery Roasted Red Pepper Salsa which was just what the doctor ordered!.... Although I have a confession to make......I recently impulsively bought some pans for making Tortilla Bowls. Honestly I was really hesitant as to whether they would work or not so I decided to give them a go for the Chilli Salad Bowls that we had on Saturday, fully expecting the worst. Instead I was completely surprised because they worked perfectly! A little too perfectly to be honest because now I have a new obsession with putting everything in Tortilla Bowls!... I am not joking! Thankfully Scott and Ben loved them as well so they were delighted for Sunday night's Fish "tacos" to be served in bowls instead of typical tacos. For now though I am putting them away and vow not to take them out for at least another week......maybe!

This week we have Cook Club to look forward to so Saturdays menu will be a surprise for the time being but I will update first thing on Sunday morning with what we had and whether it was a success or not! If you are interested in checking out our previous menus you can have a look here.

And finally as promised I have a few more links to this week's Meal Plan so that if you fancy it you can easily find the recipes and join in. I hope you all have a great week x

Monday March 31st - Sunday April 6th 

                                  Monday  -     Thai Red Curry with Chicken & Bamboo Shoots & Jasmine  Rice 
                                  Tuesday -      Sausage, Olive & Tomato Pasta with Salad
                                  Wednesday - Leftovers
                                  Thursday -     Crustless Pizza from Nigella Kitchen (p.26) 
                                  Friday -         Mustard Pork Chops with Crispy Gnocchi and Salad
                                  Saturday -     Cook Club here - Theme = Street Food! (See Cook Club Menus to                                                            see what we had)
                                  Sunday -       Best Ever Ribs; Coleslaw & Salad 

  As always don't forget you can add links to your Weekly Meal Plans in the comments section below.     

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays March 24th - 30th

A little late in the day but finally here is this week's menu for Meal Planning Mondays! After a fantastic weekend which included lots of wonderful food I have been a little stuck for inspiration this week so I have a couple of days that have still to be decided. In an effort to be more budget conscious I am trying to use what we have in the freezer without overloading us with the same meats! I also let Ben pick a meal for one night this week and it was no surprise that he chose Chicken Strips - one of his all time favourite meals!

Apologies again for the lack of links - I'm working on coming up with meals that have links either to my blog or other websites but at the same time trying to work on some new recipe ideas. Next week I will be a lot more organised.....honestly!

Monday March 24th - Sunday 30th 

                                  Monday  -     Chicken Provençal with Brown Rice (don't ask!!)                       
                                  Tuesday -      Spaghetti with Broccolini, Garlic & Chilli (New recipe!)
                                  Wednesday - Leftovers
                                  Thursday -     Yellow Fish Curry with Jasmine Rice
                                  Friday -         Chicken StripsPotato Wedges & Salad (chosen by Ben)
                                  Saturday -     Chilli Salad Bowls
                                  Sunday -       Best Ever Ribs; Coleslaw & Salad (Updated recipe coming soon!)

As always don't forget you can add links to your Weekly Meal Plans in the comments section below. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Butternut Squash 'Mac' & Cheese

I love Butternut Squash and combined with a cheese sauce it makes for a fabulous variation of the classic pasta dish, Mac and Cheese. It adds a lovely richness to the dish and a real sweetness which kids especially love. I am very fortunate that Ben is a great eater and thankfully loves vegetables but if you have a child (or other family member!) that isn't so keen on veg then this is a great way to sneak it in to their meals.

I wouldn't normally add cream cheese to my Macaroni & Cheese and to be honest the first time I tried it was purely because I had a lot of cream cheese needing used up so I thought why not? It turned out that the tang of the cream cheese balanced the sweetness of the squash so well that I kept it as part of the permanent recipe. If you would rather not use cream cheese however, then simply replace with 85g or 3oz of your favourite cheese such as mozzarella or gruyere.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays March 17th - 23rd

Well as I mentioned in last week's updated post on Meal Planning Monday's, last week was a bit of a disaster as I was ill for the better part of it! Needless to say there were some definite changes to the meal plan but we got there in the end and for the most part still ate well! One of the meals that I didn't make however was the Chicken Provencal so that will (hopefully!) be appearing this week instead since I do now have all of the ingredients. Last week is a good lesson on showing no matter how organised you are things don't always go according to plan but if you can stay fairly flexible then meal planning still works really well. Of course the other advantage to meal planning is that if you do get sick then it's fairly easy to pass the baton on, so to speak, to someone else in the house as everything is already planned out! Have a great week everyone.

Monday March 17th - Sunday 23rd  

                                  Monday  -     Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese and Salad
                                                       (Also to make Carrot & Lentil Soup for lunch)
                                  Tuesday -      Ham & Pea Risotto served with Broccoli with Lemon & Parmesan
                                  Wednesday - Chicken Provençal with Crostini & Salad
                                                       (Also to make Split Pea & Ham Soup for lunch)
                                  Thursday -     Leftovers for the boys - Girls Night Out for me!
                                  Friday -         Spaghetti & Turkey Meatballs; Caesar Salad & Garlic Bread                                                        (as chosen by my niece who is staying!)
                                  Saturday -     Night off :)
                                  Sunday -       Leftover Spaghetti & Meatballs & Salad

(I'm sorry that there are so few links to this week's recipes but some of them are new recipes that I am working on and hope to have up on the blog soon. The Chicken Provençal recipe is taken from The Hairy Dieters: Eat for Life which I am in the middle of reviewing.)

Don't forget if you make a Weekly Meal Plan you can share it by adding a link in the comments section below.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays March 10th - 16th

As promised here is Week 2 of my new series on Meal Planning Mondays. I had a little bit more trouble planning out this week's meals as the weather is really changing and although our clocks changed this past weekend, it's still pretty cold and wet out, so I am still in the 'Comfort Food Zone'! Apologies to those of you enjoying the sun - this is a Winter Menu!

If you like to plan your Weekly Meal Plans feel free to share and add your links in the comments section below.

Monday March 10th - Sunday 16th

                               Monday -     Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese (new recipe!) & Salad
                                                    Penne Pasta with Basic Tomato Sauce & Salad*
                               Tuesday -      Chicken Chow Mein (From The Hairy Dieters Eat For Life)
                               Wednesday - Lasagne (half original recipe) with Salad
                               Thursday -     Leftover Lasagne
                               Friday -         Gorgeous Fish Stew with Garlic Croutons (From the Hairy Dieters: How                                                      to Love Food & Lose Weight)
                               Saturday -     Chicken Provençal (From The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life) with Crostini                                                          & Salad
                               Sunday -        Family over for Dinner: Spiral Ham; Shwarties; Green Beans; Salad                                                             & Coleslaw; Vanilla Creme Brulee


*Well as I noted last week on the first Meal Planning Monday's post, when meal planning, things don't always go to plan so you need to allow some wiggle room. Normally I would hope that the reason for changing plans is due to being invited out or some other equally exciting event but occasionally it's not. Case in point - my lovely Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese that I was planning to make today (and photograph so I could post it here in the near future) is unfortunately on hold as I am sick and can't face a trip to the supermarket for my ingredients. In addition to that hubby is held up at work and so won't be home until late so thankfully for me my go-to meal when I feel under the weather is a simple pasta dish with a very easy tomato sauce that my son loves. I always have ingredients for that on hand! So there you have it, Day 1 and we're swapping things already! Here's hoping I am feeling better tomorrow and can get shopping and back to my plans!!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cookbook Review ~ The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight

After the excesses of Christmas, a celebratory weekend in Seattle and then 3 weeks on holiday back home in Scotland I needed to lose some weight so I ordered this book with the hope it would inspire and encourage me with some new recipe ideas. The Hairy Dieters: How to Love Food and Lose Weight isn't a new cookbook (it was originally published in 2012) but from what I have read it has received a lot of praise so I was keen to give it a go.

For those of you unfamiliar with 'The Hairy Dieters' they are more commonly known as 'The Hairy Bikers' or Si King and Dave Myers. Over the years they have become national treasures in the UK, and have 12 cookbooks as well as several accompanying television series behind them. These guys know what they are doing and love food. Of course that love of food led to a large weight gain between the two so they decided it was time to watch their waistlines and work on losing some weight. The result was a combined loss of 6 stone (84lbs) and a cookbook dedicated to healthy recipes that will help everyone lose some weight while still loving food.

Now I realise that for a lot of you a review of a diet book may not be too interesting, however to me this really isn't a diet book. On first glance when I looked through the book, my initial thought was 'this is how I cook anyway'. It is simply good recipes where you use sensible choices to cut calories and control your portion size.

There are 10 chapters dedicated to recipes including 'One-Pan Dishes'; 'Grills and Roasts'; 'Pies'; 'Pasta & Rice' and me favourite, 'Fakeaways'. There is also a very useful chapter on Menus for your First Week to help you get started with you weight loss plan.

After bookmarking a lot of recipes I managed to narrow things down and tested 5 recipes.....

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meal Planning Mondays March 3rd - 9th

Anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE to plan and organise things. I have often been told I should be an event planner as not only do I love planning parties and events but I am a list maker extraordinaire!! I seriously have lists for lists (I kid you not!) so it's probably no surprise that every Sunday I plan out my meals for the following week.

There are many advantages to Meal Planning and if you have 30 minutes to sit down with a cup of tea or coffee (or even a glass of wine!) then you have time to plan your meals. Now I know a lot of people like to do giant batch cooking on one day of the week so they are set to go but I'm not one of them. Generally I don't have the time or energy to spend a full afternoon or better part of a day cooking but I do like to know that I am semi organised for the week ahead so this is why I plan out our meals. It makes shopping so much easier as you know exactly what you are shopping for and the theory goes that it means you will also spend less money. Since shopping for food is my weakness I can't quite attest to that being completely true (in my case) but if you stick strongly to a shopping list and don't buy on a whim then meal planning definitely also helps with sticking to a budget.

For all of those reasons I have decided to start a new weekly series of 'Meal Planning Mondays' where I will share our meal plans for the week. Where possible I'll include links to recipes and if the series really takes off then I would be happy to include shopping lists as well.

Of course I'm not alone when it comes to meal planning. Lots of people find meal planning to be a necessity that takes little time to do but solves the daily problem of deciding what on earth you are having for dinner, especially after a long day when you haven't defrosted anything or the fridge is empty! One thing I would say however, is that I only ever plan about 5 meals for the week. Generally we will always have leftovers on at least one night of the week and let's be honest, as the week passes plans do change so you might end up being invited to family or friends for dinner (yay!) or eating out. For those reasons don't stick too rigidly to your plan and keep it flexible until you know what works for you.

So there you have it - Meal Planning Mondays are a go and without further ado here is my plan for this week......

Monday March 3rd - Sunday 9th 

                                        Monday: Albondigas Soup (Turkey Meatball Soup)
                                        Tuesday: Fresh Tomato Pasta with Salad
                                        Wednesday: Chicken Bhuna (from The Hairy Dieters Eat for Life)
                                        Thursday: Leftovers
                                        Friday: Beef Stroganoff (from the Hairy Dieters Eat for Life)
                                        Saturday: Mushroom & Ham Calzone
                                        Sunday: 5 Hour Smoked Ribs; Coleslaw & Salad

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