Monday, 21 October 2013

Menu Plan Monday: 19/10 - 25/10

Linking up with for Menu Plan Monday 

Saturday: The brisket I ordered for our Sunday roast had an expiry date of the day it was delivered, so it was brisket, rice & peas, yorkshire pudding, and corn on the cob for Saturday's supper.  

Sunday: Since we did Sunday roast for Saturday, I kept thing quick & easy with sweet & sour pork on Sunday. Meant a lot of relaxing time for me :) 

Monday: I’m trying out a couple of autumn salads this week. First up is apple, beet, & pear salad. We’ll be having this with white gondola bread from the farmer's market & some brie.  

Tuesday: With a relatively healthy meal the day before, we’ll go the comfort food route on Tuesday with beef quesadillas and creamed spinach. I still have some leftover rice & peas so I'm planning to put it into the quesadillas.

Wednesday: The plan is to go to playgroup on Wednesday, so I’m going to try a relaxed evening meal of roasted pear salad, brie, and sourdough bread.

Thursday: After two dinner-salad-days and with a meatless Friday before us we’ll probably be craving a hearty meal for Thursday, so I’m going to cook some of the meatballs my mum made on her visit and we’ll have spaghetti with meatballs (and garlic bread). She froze two huge batches of them so I may be able to make enough cooked food to freeze for a second easy reheat meal.  

Friday: Pizza Night!!!

Now a look at last week’s plan in practice:

Saturday’s dinner ended up delicious but it didn’t seem like it was going to make it. For some reason I just can’t get rice to cook properly in England. The water to rice ratio (2:1) never works so I eyeball the liquids to a level I know will cut it. This doesn’t work, however, if I’m making rice-with-stuff, like rice & peas or rice pilaf. So the rice burned on the bottom and took FOURTY MINUTES to cook through, while the sweet & sour glaze on my ham slowly burned itself onto the baking sheet (still haven’t managed to get it all off), and dinner was kind of lukewarm, and the rice wasn’t spicy enough because I was serving it again on Sunday and didn’t want to over-pepper our guests, and I just pretended that the smoky flavour, from the burnt bottom, was supposed to be there. That said, even with all the accidents it’s hard to go wrong with ham and rice & peas, so we enjoyed our meal when we finally got it.

Thanksgiving Dinner on Sunday was excellent, or so I’ve been told. Between juggling the children (I had help but I’m also a mother so I am more in tune with their capability for destruction than anyone else on the planet) and being tired from getting everything to the table, I wasn’t really able to savour the fruits of my labour. But I was pleased that everything went smoothly & according to plan – mostly due, I think, to doing all the chopping prep the evening before.  

Monday, as planned, I was out for dinner. I had a lovely meal of sausages & mash with carmelized red onion gravy & two giant onion rings. Many North Americans may complain about British food but I have little sympathy for this. You want a good meal in England? Go to a local pub of good repute and order something English. My meal may sound simple but it was excellent.

Tuesday was a day from hell, with both kids screaming and fussing all day, so I was glad that dinner involved almost no work. Reheating enchiladas proved almost too difficult a task – I forgot to put them in the oven! I managed to find the dregs of my energy to make creamed spinach as a side. I vaguely followed my usual creamed spinach recipe, but cut down a lot of the time consuming bits – I just sautéed a red onion and two cloves of garlic in butter & olive oil, tossed in some thawed & drained frozen baby leaf spinach, and doused the mixture in the remains of the Thanksgiving double cream. It was to die for.

On Wednesday I met up with some friends for lunch and the day sort of flew by in a haze of going out and coming home. It was pouring with rain and the kids & I got soaked. I was really glad that I’d planned leftovers of our hearty corn & sausage chowder for this night, as I had no energy and just wanted something warm and filling. I never got around to making biscuits so we had it with a cheese baguette.

We were almost completely out of most staples by Thursday so I took the children on a morning fun run to Tesco. There was a “dine in” sample truck there, which meant Walter and I could sample a good range of things. It kept him occupied and gave a nice treat to the day. Best for me was that the samples included wine... I wonder if anyone noticed me downing the glass when Emily started screaming and Walter tried to escape from the front of our buggy. Anyway, one motivator for our Tesco trip was the need to get another baguette for our meatball subs. I served them with a side ‘salad’ of sauteed peppers, red onion, garlic, and tomato. It was a real winner with everyone but Walter, who ate his bread & vegetables and the proceeded to chuck the meatball pieces onto the floor.

For Friday's pizza night we decided to use some of the red pesto we had left from our meatball subs. David did a pesto base, topped by sauce, topped by shaved garlic. It was a real winner, because the oil in the pesto gave a nice bit of flavour to the pizza without making it too soggy. We think it’s a new winning combination in our quest for the ultimate at home pizza.


  1. Fail-safe rice cooking, the Chinese way Rob taught me that never goes wrong (I couldn't produce anything but mush before):
    1. Rinse rice with cold water then fill pot with cold water 'til there is an equal depth of water above the rice as rice (basically double the total depth. I use my finger to test, doesn't need to be dead on).
    2. Put on the lid.
    3. Turn on the gas/electric hob high.
    4. When it starts boiling vigorously, put the pot on the smallest ring you have, turn to the lowest gas setting (or if electric hob, leave it sitting on the ring but turn off the power).
    6. When it is ready, you should be able to see holes in the rice (no water should be visible), should be 10-15 mins, depending on variety. At this point, you can take off the lid quick to taste test.
    Always results in light fluffy rice for me. There is normally a thin layer of gluten stuck to the bottom of the pan, but it won't be burnt (Rob likes to peel it out and eat it, but he has Chinese genes.)

    1. Thanks for the tip! I tried it last night and it was perfect :)