Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 27th February

Preparing for the week ahead gives me a small sense of calm.  Of knowing where I'm heading and how I might get there.  This week has begun busily - don't they all?!  Miss Mischief is going to be baptised on Sunday during the morning service so I've been madly texting family to let them know, and getting rsvp's back - all very last minute!  Uni started yesterday so I've been wandering quietly through each unit to see what's what.  You can't imagine how excited I was to discover that my 3rd year subject basically finishes half way through the semester, apart from an assignment due at the end.  Third year's will be on teaching rounds so the unit basically stops.

One of the things I'm still figuring out is the best time to menu plan and grocery shop.  I used to do it while Miss Mischief was at Girls' Brigade.  She's no longer doing that and my week has changed from last year as well.  I must confess, shopping as soon as I've dropped the kids off at school is almost dreamy - there's no one there at that time of the morning.  Probably because families in public schools are still dashing about trying to get their kids off to school.

This week's meal plan is looking like it might include:
Monday:  Chicken teriyaki, rice
Tuesday:  Pork & apple hot pot (Nigella Kitchen, p.464)
Wednesday:  Tomato & bacon pasta
Thursday:  Chicken schnitzel, vegies
Friday:  Sloppy Joe's
Saturday:  Looking for inspiration.....?
Sunday:  Chicken & dumpling soup

Even though I don't work on Tuesday's I go to staff meetings after school so I'm trying out a new Nigella recipe that will take a nice slow cook.  I'll get it ready before I go and it will be done when we get home.  I love it when a little bit of organisation becomes my best friend.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Cabin Fever

Fry's Hut.  Photo credit: abc.net.au

I've had a couple of delicious sounding weekday lunch suggestions - keep them coming!  I'm being inspired already.

Do you ever find yourself oscillating between two places at the same time?  Uni doesn't start til Monday and I'm working one day less per week.  I find myself quite tired - especially after days like today.  I seem to need the extra day to rest.  Yet I'm oh-so bored with the extra day at home.  I feel like I'm being naughty, coming home on a Tuesday morning!  I'm sure the days will soon fill themselves with little effort from me.  And I'll get better at being home more.  For now I'm cooling my heels and watching episodes of The Cosby Show without the children.  Much to their chagrin. 

It seems my youngest brother has a touch of Cabin Fever too.  To combat our combined boredom we're meeting after school drop off and heading into Costco together.  He's on a scouting trip for prices and package sizes.  Me?  Well....he needs someone who's a member to go with him.  I can't deny the man, now can I?  He needs me.  So the two of us and his precious little 3yo pixie-like daughter will take a little drive.  I don't even need anything...except to enjoy the trip.  And the company.  

After all, pixie-like little girls are the most precious things ever.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Menu Part 2

 photo credit:  allrecipes.asia

The cure for an extra week without Uni?  Menu Planning.  And grocery shopping.  I finally have the week all sorted for meals...and lunches.  The kids will enjoy the addition of salami for lunch variety, I'm sure.  They get so bored with sandwiches.  And I don't blame them - I don't eat sandwiches very often.  My current favourite lunch is an assortment of antipasto bits and pieces.  Homecooked sliced egglant, roasted tomatoes and roasted capsicums with cheese, olives, carrot sticks & hommus with ham...and salami.

This week we're headed into some more warm weather again.  While Miss Sunshine and I are longing for the day that we can rug up, Dh has been doing mini happy-dances about there being more of summer.  I'm just so grateful for cooling that allows me to plan whatever I feel like without worrying about how hot the house will get.  And it will get warmer in here now that Dh has finished cutting back some hedges that were giving a little bit of shade.

Monday:  Roast chicken, vegies
Tuesday:  Pasta bolognaise
Wednesday:  Honey mustard chicken drumsticks, vegies
Thursday:  Nigella's meatloaf, salad
Friday:  Baked potatoes, coleslaw, cheese, bacon
Saturday:  Chicken kebabs, salad
Sunday:  ???

Inspire me - What's your favourite weekday lunch?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Monday Menu Plan: Week Beginning 20 February

After a whole four days of boredom bliss Semester 1 starts today.  In truth, I feel far less excited about it than I did this time last year.  I kind of feel like I did with my third pregnancy - I just wanted the baby... if only I could've had him without 9 months of discomfort.  If only I could have my degree without having to go through the process of turning in assignments and doing lots of boring reading.  Oh I know - it's all important learning.  It just feels like I'm on pause, waiting for the action that is to come.

The girls came home last night, tired but happy.  Their first church youth camp was apparently a success.  We spent the weekend wondering how they were doing.  And I realise their school camp (they go together this year) later this term, which is 6 nights/7 days, will be a very long camp indeed.  And if last night is anything to go by, resettling into home takes a little bit of time.  You need a bit of time to get your head from where you've been to where you are.  Mr Busy doesn't understand!

I've not shopped or planned our meals this week yet.  At this point we're having a roast chicken tonight and pasta tomorrow night.  Otherwise, your guess is as good as mine.  Perhaps I need to do this over breakfast, or the week will be painful.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

All in a Week

photo credi: art.com

I didn't mean to disappear for a whole week, but it has been a long tiring week.  I submitted my final assignment for my summer unit this morning.  It was a frustrating task due to an unclear description.  And it has consumed my thoughts for far too long and now I have a whole four days before semester 1 begins.  A whole four days of ignoring study.  Beautiful.  Despite how lovely it is to have a break from those demands it is somewhat boring at home with nothing much to do.  I'm not very good at being unoccupied anymore.

For meals this week we've had fairly boring sorts of things - chicken stir fry using some frozen vegies I had, roast lamb, chicken and chips...because I just couldn't make myself do any more when I got home yesterday.  Tonight it's meant to be prawn and mango curry.  I suppose I could get the things I missed when I shopped, seeing as how the girls have a pre-camp shopping list for me for the weekend.

I think I need a weekend of other people feeding me, rather than me feeding other people.  No matter how much I enjoy cooking there are just some days when I wish I could be saved from it.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Recipe: Osso Bucco

Remember a couple of months ago I was intent on using up the beef that was in my freezer?  I think I have found a use for the last of it.  A few weeks back I tried out a recipe for osso bucco, since I had some pieces of it amongst the beef that we received.  Turns out this is a very simple recipe, but really, really tasty.  No, I mean *really*.  Mr Busy is always wary about new things and even he was won over with the first bite.

There are many recipes about the place for this, mine came from my Family Circle Italitan cookbook.  Last night we had this again, only I used up the last of the eye fillet and round steak....and it still tasted really good.  Of course the marrow in the osso bucco adds flavour and Miss Mischief wasn't able to eat the marrow when we were done - a particular delicacy in her mind.

Osso Bucco

1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
1 brown onions, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup (40g) plain flour, for coating
Salt & freshly ground pepper
8 (about 1.5kg) veal osso bucco
1 cup (250ml) white wine
400g can diced tomatoes
1 cup (250ml) beef stock
Creamy mashed potato, to serve

1.      Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced). Heat half the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until softened. Remove from pan and set aside.

2.      Season flour with salt and pepper. Coat osso bucco in flour, shaking off any excess. Heat remaining oil in the frying pan over medium-high heat. Add meat and cook for 2-3 minutes each side or until well browned. Transfer meat to a large ovenproof dish. Spoon over the vegetables.

3.      Increase pan heat to high and add the wine. Boil for 2 minutes, scraping any tasty bits off the base of the pan. Stir in the tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil. Pour over the meat in the dish. The meat should be covered by the liquid. Cover with a lid and cook for 1 3/4-2 hours or until the meat is very tender and the sauce thickens.

4.      Serve accompanied by the mash.

I haven't had any white wine around when I've made this so I just increased the beef stock - you really do need the liquid quantity.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Weekly Menu Plan: Week Beginning 6 February

This week's menu comes belatedly.  I could give you all kinds of excuses, but they would be exactly that.  Excuses.  In any case I was prompted by Dh who asked on behalf of someone else what was for dinner tonight.  It's been a big kitchen week around here with Miss Sunshine making muffins for her VCE Psychology class last night.  I remembered to make playdough for one of my students who needs the sensory input and whose playdough was completely gross.  Lunches, breakfasts and awaiting the arrival of some young friends who are joining us for the weekend mean we are all set to keep giving that poor kitchen a real work out!  In fact, I believe brownies may be necessary to soothe what may be a tumultuous Friday evening.  Not for me....the kids!

Monday:  Chicken & mango curry; rice
Tuesday:  Roast chicken; vegies
Wednesday:  Osso bucco; mashed potato
Thursday:  Asian soup (maybe corn) and dim sims
Friday:  Spaghetti bolognaise
Saturday:  Roast lamb; vegies
Sunday:  I think I may be out of kitchen puff by this point!

My beautiful girls are off to join youth group at our new church on Friday evening.  This is a bit of a new adventure for them (and us) having not been involved in the youth program in our previous church.  It brings us a great deal of joy to see them enthusiastic about getting involved.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Nigella's Meatloaf

photo: foodnetwork.com

The Nigella Kitchen series has just finished airing on ABC here and I have had the pleasure of sitting down each Tuesday evening to watch.  Sometimes Dh has joined me, if he's been home.  This meatloaf earned a "hmmmm...that would be nice", so I had to try it.  Don't get me wrong - I love my regular meatloaf recipe.  It's tasty, moist, quite traditional.  Everything a good meatloaf recipe should be - there's a link on my sidebar.  But every now and then you have to be adventurous and try a new twist just to see if you'll stick with the old favourite, or change things every now and then.

This recipe was easy, simple and quick to put together and very tasty.  I ended up using half a kilo of minced beef and half a kilo of sausage mince, because that's what I had.  Seems to be a constant theme for me....I don't have this so I swap it with that.

I have leftovers for lunch today along with some roasted capsicum and eggplant, cheese and olives.  And hopefully noone else will eat it on me today.  That box  now has my name on it!