First Time For Everything

There has to be a first time for everything and in my case, yesterday was my first time ever cooking roast beef.

It’s not much of a life achievement, I know, but as someone who stopped eating roast beef in her teens it was undoubtedly uncharted territory. I always found roast beef to be rather dry and leathery, which was a shame as I love the taste of beef but ended up having it drowned out by flavor of mashed potato and gravy just to combat the dryness.

Last week Hubby requested roast beef for diner one night. He doesn’t normally make direct requests as he is happy to let me run the food budget and set meal plans so I was more than happy to try my hand at it.

My instincts said that slow roasting it would be best so I searched out a recipe and managed to find one that seemed to be fairly fool proof. Believe me, this I need!

I am pleased to say that, despite my use of dried mixed herbs instead of the fresh rosemary and thyme the recipe called for, it was a wonderful success! the meat was still pink in the middle and was lovely and tender! It was even yummy on our sandwiches this morning too!

Here’s to one more feather in my cap!

However … I forgot to take any photos … AGAIN! *rolls eyes*

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Forgetful With Success

I am quite familiar with having to ‘wing it’ as far as cooking goes, normally to my lack of preparation when it comes to ingredients. Last week I pulled a gammon joint out of the freezer and set it defrosting in the fridge however I promptly forgot about it until the day I had planned to make it.

When I saw “slow-cooked gammon” on my kitchen chalk board (The only way I can actually stick to a meal-plan) I rolled my eyes at myself as at 4pm on a Sunday with the shops shut there was no time to amend a recipe let alone actually use the 8 hour cooking recipe I had intended (add gammon to slow cooker, pour in contents of can of chopped pineapple and let it have at it).

So, with the need to cook the darn thing anyway I popped it into a pot of water and decided to settle for boiled ham. This particular joint didn’t have any skin to make crackling, neither did we have any honey for a glaze … *sigh*

Once it was cooked and I began on the other accompaniments, the Husbat flowed into the kitchen as some kind of culinary savior and started rummaging in the fridge and pulled out … a jar of sweet chili jam!

Yes, sweet chili JAM!

(Well … it is described as jelly but the seems to be to cater to international visitors … for me jelly goes with ice cream, not gammon)

I had purchased this from a National Trust gift shop at a castle we went to on a trip down south last summer (which I still need to post about here at some point!) but had completely forgotten about it, as with so many other things I buy. It was very nice and I am pleased that it can be purchased online from the National Trust web-shop.

Hubby then proceeds to score the top of the joint, grab a spoon from the drawer and empty half of the jar onto the unsuspecting lump of gammon! Needless to say I was bit surprised. My husband, while able to follow a recipe to the letter to create really nice meals, is not normally comfortable when I go off spec so this was something very new!

Into the oven it went for 20 or so minutes while I finished the rest of the meal. After removing the meat and letting it rest we took a tentative sample of the sweet chili glazed gammon … and it is quite possibly the nicest piece of gammon I have ever tried in my life!

The saltiness of the meat took away countered just enough of the sweetness in the chili so that it wasn’t overpowering and the slight heat from the chili worked amazingly well. Add in top a couple of slices of seared pineapple and it was quite possibly one of the best meals we have ever come up with! We at the whole thing between the two of us (which meant I have no leftovers for my lunch today, but oh well)!

The problem …

I forgot to take a photo.

*sigh*

 

 

The Last Of The Freezer Meals!

We are now on week 3 of Operation Use-What-We-Have-In-The-Freezer and the light is finally at the end of the tunnel. Most of the ‘main meal’ type things such as the endless number of chicken goujons, the beef burgers, the dices meats and bags after bags of potato products have all been consumed resulting a lot of nicely usable (and reorganisable) freezer space. The “sides” drawer is still full and the frozen veg has been topped up but pother than that it seems to be a success. On the cards this week is …

Monday:

Yesterday we had roast lamb joint with new potatoes and fine beans with a mint gravy. Now … it seems lamb and I do not get on and it was an over-cooked stringy monstrosity which meant that, as the meal was one of my husbands favorites and was supposed to be a cheer-up-glum-husband meal, it crashed and burned spectacularly. I think in the future I will stick to lamb shanks that you cook in a bag … Oh well.. onward and upwards

Tuesday:

Today I have Zumba class after work so I know I’m not going to have a massive appetite but will still want something to help recover from the energy drain. It may not be the healthiest of summer meals but tonight is a smoked bacon Quiche Loraine with a side salad and crusty bread. I’m avoiding having chips with it this time to try and keep fat levels down even a little bit.

Wednesday:

Time for the last supplies of an all time favorite – IKEA meatballs and mash with lingonberry sauce and IKEA gravy. It goes down perfectly every time and we have just enough in the freezer to feed the two of us and clear more space without it being too big of a meal.

Thursday:

Sweet chili chicken with jasmine rice. These two things have been sitting in the freezer for weeks now, both purchased from the “still fresh” isle at the supermarket where they have all of the reduced items. that would make this meal an absolute bargain for the both of us, I just hope the flavors compliment each other …

Friday:

Wifey’s day off. This is the day where it’s a take-out or bust! Or at a pinch something like a bung-in-the-oven fresh pizza from the local supermarket, something the husband can cook without too much difficulty.

Weekends are normally a bit of a “wing it” affair as it really does depend on what we have had to do that day as to what we feel like having for tea at the end of the day. All in all this has been a success as we have managed to get a lot of the long term stored food eaten and also saved quite a bit of money while doing so! Success all round I think (except for the lamb).

Small Succsess

Having received my Fitbit on Tuesday last week I have worn it almost constantly (with the only exception being when it made my wrist a bit sore on the first Friday night and then on the Saturday when it was on charge). While wearing ti overnight has taken quite a bit of getting used to, I am finding it amazingly useful!

It is making me so much more aware of exactly how much (or how little) exercise I really am doing! I have an office job in an office which is basically one room with only one other person in it. The door to our office is directly onto the car-park so it’s not even like we are in a larger building that I can roam around on a short break. I take less than 10 steps in any direction and I hit a wall … not very conducive to increasing exercise levels!

However the prompt feature of the fitbit is very useful in that it will tell me how fare off the 250 steps per hour target I am with 10 minutes to go. So if I get a prompt saying that I have below 100 steps to go, up I pop from my chair and pace back and forth like a stressed zoo animal for a couple of minutes. It’s a small step but I feel it is helping.

The ability to use the same program to log my food intake is also extremely useful. I have been using other apps previously but the fact that I am now getting a more accurate estimate on how many calories I am burning during the day, It helps me to control how much I eat. I am also becoming more aware of exactly what I am putting in my body and helps me to steer clear of any naughty snacks during the day!

For example, as I have been able to keep on track with my meal plans this week I have been able to log my breakfast after I have eaten it and then enter what we are going to be having for evening dinner at the same time. This helps me to plan how much I can take in during the day and helps to strengthen my resolve to resist the constant temptation of the Mcdonalds that is less than 5 minute walk from my office door! Especially after I looked up exactly how many calories are in one of their meals … yikes!

So things seem to have been working out with this! Thankfully I am starting to see the physical evidence of this in that since I received my fitbit and logged my starting weight I have lost 5lb!

Now to keep this ball rolling!

Last week I managed to stick with my meal plan as below:

  • Monday: Quiche Loraine with home made curly fries (yay for spiralizer) and salad
  • Tuesday: Smoked gammon steak with whips and vegetables
  • Wednesday: Curry with rice and naan bread (finally getting the hang of sticking to smaller portions of this)
  • Tuesday: chili sausage with roasted vegetables and home made wedges

Friday is as always a take-out night.

Next week will be a bit of a challenge as I have training at work in one of the other offices so for two nights this week I will be getting home late. But hopefully we will be able to stick to this plan:

  • Monday: Cheesy pasta with ham and roast veggies
  • Tuesday: Slow cooker beef and potato gratin (recipe by The Magical Slowcooker)
  • Wednesday: (training day 1) Pizza with garlic focaccia bread
  • Thursday: (training day 2) Fake-Friday takeaway
  • Friday: (bank holiday day off) Roast lamb with mash potato and vegetables

you may be thinking that none of this really looks all that healthy or low fat … well for me it’s not the fat content I am focusing on right now, it is portion size. Traditionally I have piled food high on the plate in order to provide myself and husband with what looks like a sufficient meal, when actually it is twice or three times what we should have. I have always ignored the “serving size” recommendations on the packaging. Now I am finally getting better at limiting what I put on the plate which is already having a great effect on how we feel after we have eaten a meal.

Fingers crossed I can keep this small success going!

(/EndRant)

Yet Another Bandwagon

Over the last few weeks life kind of got the better of us, leaving husband and myself feeling incredibly drained and rather touchy. The Motorhome we purchased needed a lit more work doing to it than we had imagined and now, 4 weeks since we took possession of it, it is still not ready for the road.

As a result of both our moods being low we have also fallen well short of our healthier eating plans. last week we had takeout Chinese on Thursday, pizza on Friday and a chip shop takeaway on Saturday followed by a McDonalds breakfast on Sunday morning! Comfort food it may be but I always find that while I enjoy this sort of food a lot more than I should, it actually makes me feel worse afterwards. I feel heavy and sluggish and just generally bleh.

Thankfully things do seem to be looking up as day by day the motorhome is inching closer to being ready and as it does, the mood improves too. This week I am trying to claw our way back into a better meal plan too. Monday was quiche and chips with salad, yesterday we had lasagna and garlic bread with a side salad and today is sausage and mash. Tomorrow we will be experimenting with Quorn kievs which should be interesting considering neither of us have ever eaten Quorn in our lives.

I have also decided to throw a bit of money at the problem and bought myself a Fitbit to try and help me focus on being active more. I work in an office which makes getting any form of exercise during the day rather difficult. My Fitbit arrived yesterday and it seems like it’s sleep monitoring system will be quite useful and today it has been buzzing away on my wrist to tell me to more my ass a bit more. It does feel strange just walking up and down the office while waiting to be taken off hold, I feel like a tiger pacing round it’s territory! luckily I work in a small office so my coworkers know what I’m doing and that I haven’t just gone round the twist!

Fingers crossed we will be able to stay on this particular bandwagon for a while.

A Successful Week

A few days ago I posted this about how I was going to try my very best to stick to a set meal plan for this week. Well, I am very pleased to say that for the first time since I started planning out the weeks meals, we have actually kept to the menu! This has had the added effect of my not even setting foot in the local supermarket once this week since I did the main food shop which has naturally saved us some money.

Let me tell you, that place is tempting. I my office building is actually directly behind an ASDA Megastore (which regretfully contains a branch of McDonnalds) so I am quite often tempted inside just to see what they have on offer which inevitably ends up in me spending somewhere in the region of an extra £20 or so.

Tonight is my night off from the kitchen so we will be having a takeout of some sort but this gives me the opportunity to formulate a plan for the next weeks meals. for me I find it most useful to start the plan for a Saturday so that I can include Saturday and Sunday’s dinners in my shopping list for the week.

We did have quite a few red meat meals last week so this week is much more poultry based with a couple of healthy options thrown in too.

Saturday: Chicken fajita mix with spiralizes sweet potato.
I’m still trying to get the hand of cooking sweet potato so fingers crossed this one will work out OK.

Sunday: Roast chicken with all the trimmings
I love a good Sunday roast and if we get a whole chicken for the two of us then we will have enough leftovers for a couple of extra meals or lunches out of it too.

Monday: Zucchini & Mushroom pasta with leftover chicken
Another trip out for my spiralizer, I will probably add something a little carby in there too as I find my system doesn’t react very well to zero carb meals.

Tuesday: Sweet chili chicken with jasmine rice
And the chicken week continues!

Wednesday: Individual steak and red wine pie and mash
Nothing beats a bit of comfort food to get you through the middle of the week.

Thursday: Hamwiches with potato wedges and vegetable mountain.
These things are my husbands most favorite food ever! I know they are unhealthy and processed beyond recognition but I do combine it with a load of fresh veg and home made wedges … and seriously, these things are sooooooo good!

Which then brings us up to next weeks take-out night!

Some of the above meals are from recipies I have found on blogs so I will post linkbacks to them when I can track them down again (I keep all of the recipes I like the sound of as print outs in a file in my kitchen).

Also, for some reason I find it quite funny that my spell checker wants to change the word “spiralized” to “liberalize”. America sounds like it needs more spiralizers (it wants to change that to ‘moralizers’) at the moment!

 

The Best Laid Plans

I do really like to plan out the weekly meals that I’m going to cook for myself and my husband each week, especially as it helps to keep a reign on what I buy from the supermarket. I have blogged about meal plans a couple of times but never realized there was a “linky” as I have seen people calling it! I’m a bit of a twitter fiend so naturally I do love a good hashtag and #MealPlanningMonday fulfills that love beautifully!

 My main trouble is sticking with the plan. The hubby is rather indecisive and doesn’t like to sit and plan the weeks meals with me but will wait until that morning before he decides he doesn’t want to have that particular thing for tea. However, this week should be good as he has decided to put a couple of suggestions forwards for things he would like to have, thankfully both of which I like too!

 So, here is what I will hopefully be making to our evening meals this week … *drumroll*

 Monday – Lasagna, garlic baguette and salad

I love lasagna, its simple, warming creamy and it is the perfect partner for garlic bread! This was husband choice no.1

 Tuesday – Rump steak with chips and veg

This is a big treat for us tonight, we hardly ever have steak at home so this should be a really nice hearty meal. As if you couldn’t guess, this was husband choice no.2 in a “man want meat!” moment.

Wednesday – Sausage & mash with veg and onion gravy

I have some really nice reduced fat pork and leak sausages which are just too good to go on a sausage butty at the weekend. The weather is set to be wet and cold so this is a simply yet filling favorite.

Thursday – Chili Con Cane with jacket potato and salad

I love chili but husband and I had Chinese food on Saturday and then the leftovers on Sunday so we didn’t want to have rice again so we decided on a baked potato!

Friday – Takeaway

Friday is this cooks day off 🙂

I plan my meals with Saturday as the start of the week as this works best for my weekly food shop but as we were doing a lot of work around the house and the garden this weekend (to be featured in a future blog post no doubt) we decided a cheeky Chinese takeaway would be a nice reward for some very hard work.

Now, I hope I have done this link thing right so all that remains to say is “happy #MealPlanningMonday weekly meal planners!!!”

Hijacked By Twins