lunch – 15th November 2012

I know I menu planned. Even whilst I plan it I know I’ll never stick to it, it’s like a rule telling me what to do and the second something becomes just a little bit bossy I lose interest. So lunch today was this…

French bread spread with Boursin, grapes, tomatoes drizzled in garlic infused oil and balsamic vinegar sprinkled with just a touch of seasalt. A few black olives, a dollop of caramelised onions, a dollop of leftover homemade hummus and some grapes.

Serving as a reminder that fast food never needs to be junk.

hash browns

This week today my fad is eating less bread and so breakfast today was hash browns. What’s not to like about fried salty potatoes?

what you need: serves 1 (well maybe 2)

  • 3 largish new potatoes
  • a small onion
  • 1 egg
  • a sprinkle of salt and pepper
  • olive oil for frying

what you do:

  • peel and slice the onion into thin moons
  • wash the potatoes and keeping the skins on coarsely grate
  • squeeze the moisture out of the grated potatoes using hands/kitchen towel
  • mix in the beaten egg and some salt & black pepper.
  • warm a splosh of olive oil in a frying pan – dollop little piles of the mixture into the hot oil and squash down the a fork a little to flatten.
  • fry on a medium heat for 4-5 minutes each side until cooked through.

to serve:

piled on a plate maybe an extra dusting of salt and definitely a cup of coffee not tea. You could always make this more substantial by adding a spot of bacon, maybe a poached egg or a splat of beans or perhaps throw a chopped chilli into the hash brown mix and drizzle over a trickle of maple syrup when cooked.

minestrone soup

It’s soup weather now… soup, bread, cheese, it’s just what’s required lunch wise.

what you need:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 big red onion
  • 3 sticks celery
  • 3 big carrots
  • 2 courgettes
  • a bag of spinach (approx 150 – 200g)
  • tin of borlotti beans
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • a big splash of red wine
  • 1 pint chicken or veg stock
  • handful of tiny soup pasta (or snapped up spaghetti)

what you do:

  • peel and finely chop the garlic, onion and carrots, finely slice the celery.
  • add a big splash of olive oil to a large pan and gently fry the garlic, onion, carrot and celery for around 15 minutes
  • dice the courgettes and chop the spinach
  • add a splash of wine to the pan (you can leave this out or add a glass it’s up to you)
  • add the tinned tomatoes
  • add the courgettes, spinach and beans
  • add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes
  • add the pasta and cook for another 8-10 minutes
  • sprinkle on any chopped herbs and season to taste

to serve:

My preference is with parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and lots of black pepper, bread essential. This is also sent in thermos pots for packed lunches.

You may also like – spicy lentil soup or twister bread

meal plan Monday

This week I’ve gone with an Italian theme in order to boost energy levels and hopefully eat more healthily. The last week or so with poorly children eating habits have well… mainly been take away, nice at the time but afterwards blurgh! So this week it’s all Italian.


  • B – chocolate twister bread (okay… it’s LIKE a pain-au-chocolate… France, near Italy)
  • L – pasta & bean soup
  • D – braised chicken & artichokes with rosemary roast potatoes and green beans


  • B – chocolate twister bread…. again
  • L – minestrone soup
  • D – sausage & borlotti casserole with couscous and wilted spinach


  • B – pancakes (I’ll call them crepes then that’s almost Italian)
  • L – minestrone soup
  • D – flatbreads with beetroot, walnut & lentil salad, goats cheese and hummus


  • B – not sure it’s a long way off but it will involve coffee
  • L – hummus & sun-dried tomato twister bread
  • D – tomato & lentil sauce with short pasta


  • B – who knows
  • L – spanish omelette – tomatoes/olives/red onions/baby potatoes
  • D – pizza made with whatever veggies and cheese is left in the fridge

I’ll probably blog some of the recipes throughout the week.

Head over to Mrs M to see what everyone else is having this week….

chunky vegetable chilli

This is a very cheap dinner to make, it happily feeds six people. The recipe can be easily altered to suit what veggies you already have in and need to use up.

what you need:

  • large onion – red or brown
  • 2 big carrots
  • 2 peppers – any colour
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • tin of kidney beans
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • a grating of cacao or spoon of cocoa powder (optional)

what you do:

  • peel and chunkily chop all the veggies & garlic
  • add a splash of olive oil to the pan – add your veggies and cook gently for 10 minutes until softening
  • add the spices and continue to cook for 5 minutes
  • add the tomatoes and kidney beans and a can full of water
  • season with salt and pepper – add cocoa if using
  • transfer to oven on 180C for 2 hours or put in the slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours

to serve:

serve with boiled rice and a dollop of yogurt, also great just served with a chunk of bread, maybe a scattering of grated cheese.


  • if you are needing this meal to go a lot further – mix it into the rice and serve it as spicy veggie rice.
  • any leftovers are nice in a wrap for lunch the next day or maybe as a jacket potato topping.
  • spices are often available at much lower costs if you buy them from the world foods sections in supermarkets rather than the spice aisle….

spicy tomato and lentil soup

Simple, easy to make, filling.

what you need (serves 4):

  • small onion
  • 2 carrots
  • a large ripe plum tomato or two
  • a couple of handfuls of puy lentils
  • tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp of dried sage
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a splash of red wine
  • salt & pepper
  • a small crumbled chilli

what you do:

  • peel and chop the onion and carrots
  • chunkily chop the plum tomatoes
  • add a splash of olive oil to a saucepan – slowly fry the onions, carrots and plum tomato with the garlic and sage for 10 – 15 minutes
  • add the red wine, tin of chopped tomatoes, crumbled chilli and puy lentils
  • top up the pan with enough boiling water to cover everything well (approx 1-1 1/2 pints)
  • season with salt & pepper and leave to simmer for an hour – do keep an eye on it you made need to top up the water depending on the quantity of lentils you use.

to serve:

  • my preference is sprinkled with a mound of double gloucester cheese with plenty of homemade bread to dip in. I also send this in flasks for the children’s packed lunch.

Abel and Cole – fennel steaks

I’m trying to eat less meat, yes I have been watching River Cottage Veg Every Day again and yes every time I watch it I immediately want to be vegetarian and eat gorgeous simple veggie food.

This week in my Abel & Cole veg box I got a lovely big Fennel and a quick search of the recipe section on the Abel & Cole website brought up sizzled fennel steaks. Such a simple idea, so few ingredients and so I gave it a go, I did accessorise a little, think gorgeous bread, cheese and chilli….

The result was very moorish, aniseedy oozy melty chilli and cheesy a combination of all my favourite flavours and surprisingly filling (may have been related to the enormity of the bread… but you can never have too much bread, right?)

what you need (serves 2):

  • a big fat bulb of fennel
  • some nice bread (homemade is nicest)
  • lettuce (I used red oak leaf)
  • 250g mozzarella
  • dried chilli
  • lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • olive oil
  • a little salad – cucumber/plum tomatoes

what to do:

  • slice the fennel into thick slices
  • heat a good splash of oil in a frying pan and add the fennel slices
  • sprinkle them with salt, pepper, crumbled dried chilli and a good squirt of lemon juice
  • sizzle for around 5 minutes on each side
  • meanwhile… slice your bread, add your lettuce, tear strips of mozzarella, make a little side salad
  • add the sizzled fennel steaks to the bread on top of the mozzarella so it all turns oozy and melty.

to serve:

eat straight away, preferably with a nice glass of white wine…

store-cupboard fried rice

This is quick to make and can be made when you’ve not been shopping and all you have left in the deepest corner of the errr freezer is frozen veg. I’d say it was a healthier, quicker and much cheaper alternative to a take-away. This serves two greedily or four if you make a little addition of prawn crackers or those little thai rice ones.





what you need:

  • 1 mug of rice – any kind you like
  • 1 mug of frozen peas
  • 4 blocks of frozen chopped spinach
  • an onion if theres one languishing in the fridge draw
  • sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • a great big squirt of thai sweet chilli sauce
  • soy sauce

what you do:

  • peel and finely chop the onion
  • put the rice on to boil as per packet instructions
  • heat a splash of sesame oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • beat the eggs with a fork and quickly scramble in the wok – set to one side
  • add a little more oil then stir fry the onions, peas and spinach
  • once the rice is cooked add it to the wok along with the scrambled eggs
  • squirt in the chilli sauce and soy sauce


in a big dish, with or without crackers, preferably with Tiger Beer.

roast balsamic veggies pizza

I’m a fan of pizza, for relatively a small amount of money it’s possible to make lots of lovely pizza, especially popular when mini-guests come for tea.

what you need:

– dough

  • 400g bread flour
  • 3/4 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • good fat pinch of salt
  • approx. 200ml of tepid water

– tomato sauce

  • tin of plum tomatoes
  • small onion
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • good splash of olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of salt, grind of pepper

– the topping

  • selection of med veg – I used aubergine, green peppers, onion
  • handful of green olives
  • tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 250g mozzarella
  • dried oregano

what to do:

  • put the flour, yeast, salt, olive oil into a large bowl and tip in the water drop at a time to mix the ingredients by hand into a stiff dough – turn the dough onto a work surface and knead for 5 minutes.
  • transfer back into the bowl and cover in cling film put the bowl into a warm place and leave for around an hour.


  • turn the oven onto 200C
  • peel and chop the onion, aubergine and peppers, toss in a slosh of olive oil and tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • roast in the oven for approx 20 minutes until turning golden


  • peel the other onion and garlic, chop it using a food processor until its very fine.
  • add a splash of olive oil to a saucepan and tip in the garlic and onion – stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar and let it sizzle.
  • tip the plum tomatoes into the food processor and whizz until smooth
  • add the tomatoes to the saucepan, tip in the oregano, salt and pepper.
  • bring to the boil and then turn down to a low heat and simmer for 20 minutes

to assemble…

  • tip out your dough onto a work surface and split into two equal portions
  • roll the dough out thinly to the shape of your baking tray
  • transfer to a baking tray
  • top with the tomato sauce, roast veggies, olives and torn strips of mozzarella, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with oregano
  • bake until the cheese in golden and the bread risen.

to serve:

This is nice with potato wedges and a rather tasty little dish of coleslaw

red coleslaw

Quick and simple side-dish perfect with pizza or burgers.

what you need:

  • red cabbage
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 eating apples
  • 2 tbsp hot mango chutney
  • a huge big long squirt of mayonnaise

what you do:

  • finely shred the red cabbage
  • peel and cut the carrots into matchsticks
  • chop the apple into matchsticks
  • put everything in a large bowl – add the mango chutney and as much or as little mayo as you like
  • mix well

to serve:

Perfect with roast veggie pizza or falafel burgers