Monday, 27 August 2012

Meal Planning Monday


I've just realised that I haven't really posted anything much this past week - although in part that's because I found out I was getting referrals from a dodgy site which put me off a bit!

Anyway, here's my meal plan for the week for At Home with Mrs M!'s weekly recipe linky - not terribly exciting (but then again it is the last week of the month!)

Smoked salmon & scrambled eggs on fresh wholemeal baguette with salad

Seafood paella with mussels, calamari and prawns - delicious!  (And using up leftover frozen seafood from last week!)

It's hockey followed by Rainbows, followed by Cubs - which means it's baked potatoes with tuna, sweetcorn and salad as there's not much time to prepare much else!

Vegetarian pasta made with garlic, oregano and tinned tomatoes simmered down into a thick sauce and served with a generous helping of Parmesan!

Portobello mushrooms and halloumi cheese burgers - done on the griddle pan so the cheese goes all crisp which is just how I love it!  Served on burger buns with salad and corn on the cob on the side.

I've also been informed (by my dairy free daughter) that I've to make some of my dairy free pancakes at the weekend to be coupled with dairy free Nutella (homemade - and yes, the recipe is here too!)

Phew - so that's today's slightly late Monday Meal Plan.   But better late than never, I guess!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Blimey - it's Meal Planning Monday Already!

Well, after joining in the Meal Plan Linky for the first time last week, here's week two's effort - which is a wee bit hurried as the weekend just disappeared!

Monday: Baked Sweet Potatoes with Tuna, Sweetcorn and Salad - exactly as it sounds. Easy, tasty and sneers 2 of their 5 a day into them painlessly!

Tuesday: Roast Beetroot Risotto - I have a glut of Beetroot in the garden (yay I LOVE Beetroot!) so I'm going to pull some up, wash it, cut into wedges, roast it for 40 mins then add to some risotto which I make with garlic, onion, veg stock, glass of white wine, a dollop of creme fraiche and lashings of Parmesan!

Wednesday: Mixed Seafood Pasta - have a bag of mixed seafood thatci'm just going to cook with some olive oil, garlic and saffron before adding to pasta with basil. Will be interesting to see if the kids eat it :-)

Thursday: Spanish Tortilla with Chorizo and Salad (homemade and delicious!)

Friday: Homemade Dairy Free Pizza - it's just me and Toots for tea on Friday so we're having pizza topped with roasted artichokes (she loves them), roasted peppers, olives and basil.

And we're only planning up to then as we're off camping at the weekend (fingers crossed for good weather!)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Inspirational Children

I read a post today which I just had to blog about as it demonstrates the power of the human spirit and, in particular, the strength and compassion of a little girl in the US and how it changed the lives of hundreds of others living thousands of miles away.

In my 'real job' I run my own fundraising consultancy and, reading through some of the leading fundraising blogs this morning, I came across a post by The Agitator, about charity: water a US charity and how they thanked donors to a campaign they ran last year.  By the end of the post (and more importantly, the link to the charity's video that accompanied their donor email) I had tears running down my face.

Last year, a little girl called Rachel decided she wanted to raise money for charity: water to help children in Africa to get fresh drinking water.  She decided she would raise $300 and asked everyone to donate to the charity instead of giving her birthday presents.  She raised $220 and told her mum she would try harder next year.  One month later, she was killed in a tragic car accident and the resulting publicity about this caring, considerate wee girl ended up bringing in donations of $1.2 million which help 149 communities across Africa (rather than the 15 people she had originally intended).

The attached video is on their website.  Have a hankie at the ready but I just had to write about it as the girl and her family are truly inspiring.  No-one wants to think of anything like this happening to their children but for her mother to continue to fundraise in her daughter's name is, I think, inspirational and courageous.  And I don't think for a minute I could do it.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Meal Planning Monday


Well, this is my first ever entry to meal planning Monday courtesy of the Meal Planning Linky on At Home with Mrs M! although far from being my first ever meal plan.  In fact, as Thrifty Mummy, meal planning is the one thing that I consistently do to actually try to keep the costs down.

As I live in Scotland, our wee angels go back to school this Wednesday - so no more leisurely dinners cooked with a glass of wine in hand and served well past 5pm.  Oh no, back to the REGIME which is probably reflected a wee bit in my meal plan for this week.  The theme being 'easy meals'.

Monday - Full English Salad (courtesy of BBC Good Food this month and reflective of the fact that I still have sausages and some salad left from our final BBQ *sniff* of the school holidays)

Tuesday - Baked potatoes with tuna, sweetcorn, mayo and salad

Wednesday - Spaghetti Bolognese (bulked out with courgettes and fresh tomatoes as the kids will have failed to consume any of their 5-a-day that I pack into their snacks and lunchboxes for school!)

Thursday - Sweet Potato, Egg and Chorizo Salad with crusty bread (a family favourite that I really should feature on this blog in my favourite recipe pages).  Essentially, it's griddled sweet potato slices and chorizo, served with boiled egg and salad and drizzled with a dressing made up of chorizo oil (from cooking) mixed with lemon juice and garlic.  Simple but delicious!

Friday - Thai Style Turkey Patties Served with sweet chilli sauce and salad

Saturday - Veggie Pasta (with sauce out of a jar!)

Sunday - Roast Chicken with new potatoes and roasted summer veg. 

Inspiring a Generation

OK, not London but Edinburgh's Olympic rings
So what was my favourite Olympics moment? 

Screaming at the TV while Chris Hoy belted over the line in the keirin? 
Jumping up and down while Andy Murray smashed Federer and claimed the gold? 
Crying with the two rowers who, after giving their all were gutted to have come in second? Watching Jess Ennis power over the line, Mo Farrah winning 2 golds or Tom Daly's huge grin as he leapt into the pool on winning bronze? 

And of course, let's not forget last night's closing ceremony which was quite bad (compared the the fantastic opening ceremony) but which was turned into an evening of triumph by the commenting on Twitter which was hilarious!

Actually, it's probably all of those moments and more besides but most of all the reaction of Cheeky Boy and Toots has made the whole Games come to life on our house. They've followed cycling, badminton, tennis, hockey, fencing, swimming and diving with huge enthusiasm. They've started a regime of warm ups and cool downs every morning and Toots even decided to take up running with her Mummy!

Today, Toots is off to practice her butterfly stroke in the pool (she's 6 and has already mastered the body wiggle part - I can't do it to save my life!) and CB can't wait for his next hockey tournament in a few weeks time and is desperate to get back to practice.

They're sporty kids already but having seen for themselves what hard work can achieve (rather than their folks banging on about it) they seem to have grasped that they do need to put the graft in BEFORE the tournaments can be won (for the moment at any rate).

So sharing the Olympics experience with the kids has definitely been the highlight for me.
All 3 of us try to get in on the Olympic action - 400 miles north but you get the drift.
Sir Chris Hoy's Post Box (well the one he got for the team sprint - his keirin win is actually in Hunter Square)

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Super Indulgent Summer Family Dinner - and it's Dairy Free!

To celebrate the fact that it has (finally) been sunny and, as we're nearing the end of the school holidays (boo), I cooked up a wee treat which I thought I'd share.

I love the fact that it's dairy free (for madam Toots) but we could all have it AND it still felt like we weren't compromising.  Toots often feels a bit left out when it comes to 'nice' food (by which she means 'totally indulgent') but this certainly didn't leave her complaining.

But please don't let the fact that it's got no dairy in it put you off - it's delicious, perfect for a summer celebratory dinner and more importantly, Cheeky Boy and Toots ate every last morsel (including the accompanying veg) and asked for seconds!!

Dairy Free Smoked Salmon Souffle Tart
I adapted this from the August 2012 edition of BBC Good Food. Toots can have eggs (she has thankfully grown out of that allergy).

Half 375g pack of shortcrust pastry (Jusrol is dairy free - and probably a few others too)
50g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
50g hard Stork (in the gold foil packet NOT the plastic tub)
300ml rice milk (almond or oat would probably do too but soya never cooks particularly well I find)
3 large eggs, separated
zest 1/2 a lemon
100g pack of smoked salmon slices (value range will do as it's being cooked in a tart with other ingredients rather than served on its own)

1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.  Roll out pastry (or be lazy and buy ready rolled like I did!) and use to line a 22cm tart tin - mine has a loose base so it's easy to get things back out of once they're cooked.  Leave excess pastry hanging over the edge (you'll trim this off once it's cooked).  Line with baking parchment and baking beans (I used a packet of out of date dried Scotch broth mix but lentils or dried peas/beans would do it) and bake blind for 15 mins.  Remove paper, press fork over the base to create little air holes and bake for 10 mins more.

2. Meanwhile, make the filling by putting Stork, flour and rice milk in a pan together.  Heat, stirring constantly, until it makes a VERY thick smooth sauce.  Stir in the egg yolks, lemon zest and seasoning.  Tip: if you like dill, add in 1tbsp at this point - I loathe it so omitted it!

3. Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk (or whisk attachment on your food mixer as I did - best and most used wedding present EVER even 12 years later) until they hold their shape, then fold carefully into the sauce.  You want to make sure that the air bubbles stay in so don't go mad stirring them in.

4. Tear the smoked salmon slices into large pieces and arrange half over the base of the tart.  Sppon over the soufflé sauce, then arrange the remaining smoked salmon on top with black pepper (and the dreaded dill if you like).  Bake for 25 - 30 mins until puffed up and golden.  Trim the edges et voila!  Lovely Sunday lunch/dinner served up with new potatoes and some broccoli.

Empty plates AND requests for seconds from everyone!  Now that is what I call a result.

Then for seconds we had...

Squidgy Chocolate Brownies
These are not only dairy free but are gluten free too - oh yes, did I mention Granny Thrifty is ceoliac?!  Courtesy of Nigella Express but with a tiny adaptation to make sure they were dairy free for Toots.

225g dark chocolate (70%)
225g Stork (the old gold tin foil pack again)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (not essence)
200g caster sugar (I used golden but ordinary fine)
3 eggs, beaten
150g ground almonds
100g chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 170C/gas mark 3. Melt chocolate and butter gently over a low heat.
2. Take pan off heat, mix in the vanilla and sugar and let it cool a little.
3. Beat eggs into the pan along with the ground almonds and chopped walnuts then turn into a 24cm square baking tin.  (I don't have one so used a similar sized square casserole dish which worked just as well).
4. Bake in the oven for 25 - 30 mins until the top is set but the filling is gooey beyond belief!  Once cooler, cut into 16 squares.

I then served this up with my Dairy Free Nutella made the week before and melted in the microwave for 30 seconds along with some homemade ice cream (for the grown ups and Cheeky Boy) and Swedish Glace for dairy free Toots (you can get it in Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda and the Co-op - the usual suspects and probably a few others too).

So, total indulgence (well, I had just done a spinning class!).

Let me know if you try either of these - and if you do, if you enjoy them.  Or are there any other adaptations you'd make?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Gorgeous Dairy Free Homemade Nutella

I've realised that I haven't blogged with a new recipe for a while - which is pretty appalling as I cook ALL the time.  Recently, after buying Cheeky Boy a pot of Nutella when he requested pancakes and Nutella for his birthday breakfast, I have had constant moans from Toots (who is dairy free and therefore, unable to enjoy the delights of Nutella - and quite a few other things too).

In a quest to stop the whining - and in the interests of trying out more dairy free recipes as she's also fussy as well as being dairy intolerant - I searched the internet and found this little beauty on The Londoner blog (thank you!)

Not entirely sure what blog etiquette is here but I've copied it out below (or you can hop on over to The Londoner's Nutella recipe here).

Anyway, it does go rather hard in the fridge overnight so I'd definitely leave it out for an hour before using.  And it's WAY too rich for me (not a massive chocolate lover myself) BUT it is delicious.  I think it would make a fabulous chocolate sauce (albeit very thick!) on ice cream and I am definitely going to try it out in the Frugal Family Homemade Nutella Cookies recipe too substituting the butter for hard Stork, of course (as it's dairy free)...

Homemade Nutella
150grams of hazelnuts
200grams of chocolate (milk would probably make it less rich but I had to use dairy free dark chocolate - for obvious reasons.  Next time I'd be tempted to up the cocoa quantity and reduce the chocolate to reduce the richness but obviously, that's entirely up to your own personal chocolate preference!)
120g icing sugar
60g cocoa powder
Vegetable or rapeseed oil (I used Black and Gold rapeseed oil from East Lothian)
and a clean jar - I sterilised it in the oven for 30 minutes on a low heat.

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C or 350°F 
2. Pour your hazelnuts into a baking tray and roast them on the middle shelf forabout 10 - 15mins.  If you're using unblanched hazelnuts (as I did) you'll need to take of the skins after roasting to stop the spread being too bitter - but don't worry about removing every last piece as it won't make too much difference as long as most of the skins have been removed.  You can do this by hand.
3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once the hazelnuts are ready, put them in a food processor and blend until turning into a hazelnut butter consistency - the smoother the better (although crunchy Nutella would be lovely too!)

4. Once blended, add all the dry ingredients, the melted chocolate and 2 tablespoons of whatever oil you've decided to use.  Blitz for a few seconds to combine before adding another tablespoon or so of oil then whizz for 10 - 15 minutes - basically until it looks like melted Nutella.
5. Then pour into the jar, seal tight and put in the fridge overnight.  

As I said, I'd give it an hour to soften up but it is absolutely delicious!  And, more importantly, now Toots has a dairy free chocolate spread/sauce that's all her own!