When people walk into our home there is generally an underlying waft of Shake’nVac accompanying whatever is cooking in the kitchen.
Whether He is around or out of town I am fanatical about meal plans. I like to keep it cheap, exciting and above all, easy. All of the following you can make if you are home alone and need to constantly wander off after children, hoovers, disappearing sanity.
I am constantly being asked for a copy of what I am making for dinner the following week so I thought that perhaps I would pop it on here too, just before you begin your grocery shopping list.
Monday: A Sneaky Roast Chicken
Use the best chicken you can afford. A corn fed supermarket bought one goes for around £7.00
PreHeat oven to 220*C
Stuff the inside of the bird with a whole lemon (pricked and microwaved for 30 seconds prior) and a handful of whichever fresh herbs you have mincing about at the back of the fridge. We tend to have thyme and mint.
Slice the flap (excuse me?!) above the open cavity and slide thin slivers of butter beneath the skin. Massage them down until you have covered its whole body. Pierce the skin surrounding the breast and thighs with cloves of garlic and end off with a grand seasoning of salt, pepper and olive oil.
In a roasting tin chuck in washed carrots, potatoes, parsnips, anything thats lying around from the week before, no need to peel or chop, and plonk your chicken on top.
Pop into the oven and adjust the temperature down to 200*C, set your timer for 45 minutes, sit down and watch DinnerDate. When that ends you’ll baste the chicken in its juices and if the veggies look a bit dry you’ll add some water to the tin to prevent burning. Re-set for the final 45 minutes and settle down to watch Millionaire Matchmaker with a glass of ice cold white wine.
Serve with gravy (We use Bisto) and a smug smile.
Tuesday: Chicken Pie with Green Beans
Using the chicken leftovers from the night before.
Preheat the oven to 200*C
Saute a chopped onion in some oil for around 10 minutes
In a separate container add 300ml of boiling water to a stock cube, before pouring into the saucepan, holding back around 50ml.
Add a tablespoon of cornflour to the remaining 50ml and stir into a paste before adding to the onions and stock.
Add 2 or 3 chopped carrots, celery, leek and some salt and pepper and allow to gently simmer for around 20 minutes.
It’s at this point you can pour a glass of wine while taking the puff pastry out of the fridge to reach room temperature and fold any laundry that’s just come off the line. The kids are fine. You’ve checked on them.
Pour the chicken pie filling into a pie dish and ease your rolled out puff pastry over the top, allowing it to hang over the sides – we aren’t entering any competitions for presentation, we are aiming for maximum yumminess. Pierce the centre of the pastry lid a few times and if you have the inclination crimp the borders. Finally brush the pastry with a little milk and pop into the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
Chuck your green beans into some salted simmering water and cook for 5-7 minutes. Dress with olive oil and salt.
Serve with pride and a bottle of cider. Also gravy and, if you’re feeling adventurous, a carrot and swede mash.
Wednesday – Chicken Broth with Cheese Dumplings
Look at what you have done! You are about to have created 3 meals from a £7 chicken. What?!
Into a stock pot or a large saucepan, toss:
The chicken carcass with remaining skin, fat, herbs & lemon from the initial roast..
An onion cut in to quarters
4 to 5 whole crushed cloves of garlic
3 to 4 carrots washed and cut in half or quarters
3 stalks of celery washed and halved.
750ml of chicken stock.
Stick it all on a very low heat on the stove top, covered, and … walk away. Hoover, watch Homes Under The hammer or Judge Rinder, check e-mails, drink coffee, chat to yourself, your child, your neighbour. Cut the grass, do the online grocery shop, iron some shirts, badly.
After 90 minutes or so, uncover and allow the stock to simmer and reduce.
I reckon one more episode of Escape to the Country and you can drain the stock through a sieve into a clean saucepan and allow it to simmer for a further 30 minutes to an hour, season to taste, skim the fat and nod to yourself at how flipping great you are.
For the Cheesy Dumplings, so, SO easy.
Makes 12 dumplings.
30g cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups of self raising flour
60g finely grated cheddar cheese
Rub the butter into the flour until crumbly. You can do this with the bowl on your lap if you are catching the end of Come Dine With Me or overseeing any homework that is being done.
Mix in the cheese and about 1/2 a cup of water to bind it all together. It will be sticky.
Roll large teaspoons of the mixture into balls.
Pop them into your simmering broth and cover for the around 8 minutes.
Season to taste.
Serve with a mothering glow and an ice cold glass of whatever is left in the fridge.
Thursday – Mexican Bean Burgers with Coleslaw, Beans and Chips.
Its a meat free meal and it’s one our favourites.
It is so straight forward.
Into the oven go the burgers – we use the Sainsbury’s Mexican smoky bean burgers. In go the frozen homestyle chips.
Coleslaw – grate cabbage, carrots and a few apples, mix with mayonnaise and a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard.
Beans – Heat up in a saucepan with the optional addition of some hot sauce and a few handfuls of grated cheese.
1 minute before the burgers are due out chuck in some brioche rolls to toast and layer a few slices of cheese on the burgers to melt.
To plate up; Build your cheese bean burger with salad leaves, tomatoes, avocado slices and lashings of mayonnaise, serve with a hunk of coleslaw and your hot beans. Salt and vinegar the chips. Naturally.
Serve with a wink, a, “Howdy!” and a refreshing beer or an icy rose wine. You are the best mum. Ever. Oh and the kids don’t get the beer or the wine. But you knew that.
Friday – Spag Bol that becomes Saturday Sloppy Joe’s
Saute onions and garlic (a lot of, like 4 cloves, I know! I’m sorry.) in a little oil on a very low heat for as long as you can stand there stirring. It’s a great excuse to have Him child mind for a while. If you can get to around 15 minutes you’re golden. As are the onions.
Add 500ml of beef stock, diced carrots and celery.
In go a tin of tomatoes.
A hefty shake of the Oregano bottle.
In a separate frying pan, brown off the mince and drain in a sieve. Sounds laborious, however it rids you of the excess water from the beef.
Browned mince into the bubbling tomato sauce. Salt and pepper. A glass or two of red wine (One for you, one for the pot etc.) and turn onto a very low heat to simmer.
Go and see if Him and Child are still alive. Hint that the washing needs to be brought in. The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (Cringe) is about to start. During the advert breaks pop back to give your amazing bolognaise a stir and a taste. One it has reduced, if you have a hand held blender, get to work and turn that sauce into a SAUCE.
Pour your spaghetti into a vat of salted, boiling water and leave to cook for 15 – 20 minutes until al dente. Drain and plate up.
Serve with grated cheese, a garlic loaf and a tomato & mixed leaf salad. Along with a large glass of the red. If there’s any left.
Saturday – Brunch – Sloppy Joes
Sloppy Joe’s -These can only ever be eaten for Saturday brunch. It is the rule. Nay. It is the LAW. Unless you have a mid week hangover (Silly Billy Mummy!) Totally cancels the first rule out.
Heat up left over bolognaise sauce.
Butter a sweet, soft Brioche roll.
Heap buttered fresh roll with hot bolognaise sauce. A handful of grated cheese is absolutely necessary.
Thank me later.
Serve with anything bubbly. Prosecco or a Berocca. Depending on the reason you have had to make a Sloppy Joe.
Until Next Time xoxo