Thursday 25 April 2013

Me & Cooking

**OK this is not the sort of post I normally do - but it's been sitting in my drafts for a couple of weeks and I think it may end up being useful to someone out there (probably just me, when I try to remember where I found the recipes that I link to) - so I'm going with it anyway... it's a cooking/recipes/menu planning special!

One of the most frustrating things about being an an accidental stay at home mum is having to cook, what feels like, all the time.

I used to like cooking, mainly because I like the eating bit. I really love food. I'd get in from work with a bag of ingredients, have a drink, music turned up (or maybe a bit of radio 4...) and cook a meal.
Then I met Hugh, who is frankly a better cook than me (he would kindly say 'different, not better' I expect) and it was more tempting to drink the wine, listen to the music and watch him cook than do it myself.

Now I'm at home I tend to feel like I should be the one cooking, but the cooking no longer feels like a leisurely pursuit, but more of a chore, with Henry round my ankles pulling at my clothes and Coco moaning that she doesn't want to have whatever it is that I'm slaving away to make - half the time I'm hungry when cooking too, never good for my mood so I'm adding to the unhappy mix behaving like a half-starved crazy woman.
Sometimes I do just give up and Hugh will get home to me polishing off the left-overs of some thrown together at the last minute meal (pasta pesto most likely) and complaining that we've got no food, or I'm too tired to cook... and too tired to even think about cooking. What a lucky man he is.

So I need to get my cooking mojo back (and my shopping one too, but that is for another day). Lia at Dizzy Loves Icy seems to love cooking and it's making me a little jealous! Lia's photos of all her prepped ingredients are so mouth-watering (it's very annoying that most of the time I'm reading her blog at about 11pm, the last time that I feel like suddenly cooking up a meal) but it is inspiring. Her recipes look like the type of things you cook when you LOVE cooking... I really want to love, or at least like, cooking again, because for all my hatred of cooking I still spend a good deal of time in the kitchen making dodgy meals that I don't really actually fancy eating.

SO... A couple of weeks ago (for what ended up being a bit of a one-off week) I decided to get in control and make an extra effort to make some GOOD meals. And you know what? It was great and I kind of did enjoy it.
I just need to doing that every week, which feels like a lot of work.

But anyway, here's what I/we did.

Day 1. Roast Chicken
We cooked a VERY* large roast chicken with roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Always goes down well.
*it needed to be large as the 'leftovers' are used in all the following meals...

Day 2. Tacos - as inspired by Lia over at Dizzy Loves Icy (of course!)
I made a big batch of Lia's spicy sauce. Before we added some left over roast chicken I filled a couple of pots for the freezer so next time we have left over roast chicken we can have an almost ready made meal of tacos again.
Coco and Henry had a milder version of the sauce before the chipotles en adobo had been added to spice things up.
We had lots of avocado and tomato and salad on the side to give us a good amount of veg with this meal.
I stocked up on Mexican ingredients at The Cool Chili Co at Borough market (as shown here).

Day 3. Mushroom risotto
I'd kind of fallen out of love with risotto - but made with a good chicken stock from our roast chicken and lots of garlic and mushrooms this was pretty good - and a hit with the small people too.
This risotto recipe that my friend Annabel made a few times while she was staying with us is a good one.  

Day 4. Piri Piri Chicken
A spicy one for grown ups only (I think the children had pasta this evening... or maybe seconds of risotto, I can't remember). We have got rather addicted to Jamie Oliver's 30 minute (ahem) Piri Piri Chicken recipe - the sweet potato mash with lots of herbs and feta cheese is delicious, pretty healthy and also popular with children so we make sure there are left-overs for them.
Using left over roast chicken works too and saves on cooking time.

Day 5. Curry and Rice
This was a bit of a left-field success story. I wanted to make a mild curry that Coco and Henry would like. I found the recipe on a forum here -  it sounded good so I went with it, I'm so pleased I did as it's sure to be repeated

1 onion
3 carrots (and I'm sure you could put in lots of other veg if you wanted)
1 tbs mild curry powder
4 tbs red lentils
1 can of coconut milk

1. Fry the carrots and onion in olive oil over a medium heat until they start to soften.
2. Add the curry powder and cook for anther couple of minutes
3. Pour in the lentils and enough boiling water to cover what's in the pan. Cook over a low heat for about 1/2 an hour, stirring every now and again, if the mixture looks a bit dry add some more water.
4. When the lentils are soft stir in a can of coconut milk.
5. Leave it to cool for a bit then blend until smooth with a hand blender or in a food processor.
6. Add the left over chicken or veg or prawns to make your final curry.

This recipe makes quite a lot of sauce so, again I used some and froze a couple of pots for another day, we do love leftovers in this house.
Hugh and I actually also defrosted some more spicy aubergine curry from the freezer that we added to this meal. He has a thing about always having more than one curry. We had lots of cucumber raita and popadoms to pimp it all up too.

So there you have it, a week of suppers for a family of four -
And now I'm feeling really hungry.


  1. Well done mate, does make me.tired just reading.that but I'm still impressed! Xxx


  2. Mmmm! That Piri Piri chicken looks good! I am so hungry reading that list - and thanks for the mention! It came at just the right time and gave me a little boost :)