Sunday, 25 September 2011

Meal planning Monday: 26/09/11

This week's meal plan is about trying to lose some weight after a heavy weekend (me), using up freezer contents because it's full to bursting (and I can't be bothered to do a big weekly shop), and, later in the week, upping my carbohydrate intake because I have a 10K race on Sunday. We also have a lot of potatoes to use from the allotment!

Lunch: Homemade carrot and lentil soup
Dinner: Chilli from the freezer with rice and green salad

Lunch: Ratatouille from the freezer
Dinner: Poached salmon, mash, and veg

Lunch: Tuna and salad wrap
Dinner: Pork casserole from the freezer with veg or green salad

Lunch: Homemade curried chicken soup from freezer
Dinner: Fish, chips, and mushy peas

Lunch: Homemade Moroccan chickpea soup
Dinner: Sausages, boulangere potatoes, and homemade onion gravy

Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Chicken and broccoli cheesy pasta bake

Whatever my husband cooks for me!

Don't forget to check Mrs M's blog for meal plans that are more sensible and well thought out than mine :)

Monday, 19 September 2011

Meal planning Monday: 19/09/11

I've written this week's meal plan in a bit of a hurry. I had to check the fridge to see what we had (much hasty freezing of meat and fish ensued).

Anyway, here we go. Only 3 days because we're away for a family wedding from Thursday.

Beef steaks with roast potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and green beans.
(We missed our Sunday roast last week so this is compensation.)

Fish fingers, chips, and beans
(Had to get fish fingers in somewhere.)

Slow-cooked ribs with rice and sweetcorn

I'm on the lookout for a suitable recipe for the ribs. Let me know in the comments if you have a good one.

Don't forget to check Mrs M's blog for more ideas.

Monday, 12 September 2011


I've recently purchased a recipe book called Cookies, Muffins & Cakes. The book is easy to follow, the recipes use ingredients I have at home, and the photos are so tempting that I feel I must make everything straightaway!

Yesterday I made Viennese Fingers, which are delicious and as a result, won't last long! So today, I've made cinnamon spiced Lebkuchen with my daughter.

Makes about 30.

Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan). Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper.

10 oz plain flour
2 oz cornflour
2 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Sift all these dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre.

3.5 oz low-fat butter spread
8 oz golden syrup
2 tbsp skimmed milk

Melt these ingredients in a small pan until smooth. Pour into the well you made in the dry ingredients and, using a flat-bladed knife, mix until a wet dough is formed. Work with your hands to form into a ball.

Roll out on greaseproof paper until 7mm thick, then cut into shapes. Bake for 25 mins until golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

150g white chocolate
Mixed spice

Melt the chocolate over a pan of hot water until smooth. Dip half of each biscuit into the chocolate, then sprinkle with mixed spice. Leave on foil or greaseproof paper until set.

Meal planning Monday: 12/09/11

Hello again! Monday is here again, doesn't the week fly when the children are back at school?

Last week's dinners went very well, especially the Niku Jaga (Japanese style pork casserole). I was really pleased. Here's what we're having this week.

Turkey, green bean, and hoisin noodles
We have yet more green beans to use up; someone please remind me next year not to plant French climbing beans.

Fish, chips, and peas
Something easy because son is at beavers tonight.

Slow-braised pork in cider, with green beans
This is another recipe that can be prepared in advance and timed to be cooked when we get in from swimming.

Quinoa, courgette, and feta salad
I've fancied trying quinoa for months now, but I've always been a bit scared! We have lots of courgettes to use up so I hope this recipe works.

Beef fajitas

Chilli from the freezer and baked potatoes

Don't forget to check out Mrs M's blog for more meal ideas.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Cook's Thesaurus

When I was planning meals for this week I had to search for good substitutions for a few ingredients. I found this website, The Cook's Thesaurus, and I thought I would share it with you in case you might also find it useful.

I think this site will be really useful for me, especially because I like to attempt world cuisine at the last minute and I rarely have the actual ingredients in the cupboard!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Meal planning Monday: 05/09/11

Happy Monday! We're Back To School on Tuesday, I can't wait to get back into a good diet routine. I slipped quite badly these holidays and only my long-distance running has kept the weight off.

Last week was heavily influenced by green beans! I still have lots of courgettes, potatoes, and beans to use up, and now I have salad and tomatoes too, so let's see what I can do. Here's what we'll be eating this week.

Chicken and courgette lasagne.
I'm basing this meal on a recipe for courgette lasagne from the BBC Good Food website. To avoid complaints about there being "no meat", and since I have leftover chicken from Sunday, I'm going to add chopped cooked chicken to the courgette mix. I'm also substituting Parmesan for reduced fat cheddar and ricotta for light mozzarella (because I have those in the fridge!). Hopefully I will remember to blog the results.

Fishcakes, chips, and peas.
Back to school today, so giving the kids something they like for dinner. Sadly, I haven't made the fishcakes myself (although I have in the past!), these are courtesy of T E S C O.

Niku jaga, served with green beans
I was searching the Good Food website for a one-pot pork dish I could cook early and reheat for dinner. (Wednesday is "swimming lesson day" so I need to be organised about dinner.) I found this Japanese-style pork dish, which is cooked with potatoes and carrots. I thought my children might like it. I don't have mirin or saké, and I'm not buying them in especially, so I'm going to substitute mirin for apple juice (for the sweetness) and saké for chicken stock (or white wine if I have any in the house).

Tuna nicoise salad

Beef steak with homemade potato wedges, and salad

Chicken, potato, and bean curry
I hope this recipe goes down well because we might have to eat it again very soon, if we continue to produce green beans at the rate we are!

Roast lamb

Don't forget to check out the other meal plans on Mrs M's blog.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Zesty lemon buns

My family love lemon cake, and would happily devour Mr Kipling's lemon slices daily if I let them. Since I found this recipe, they've stopped requesting Mr Kipling and pester me to bake some of these buns instead. (Sorry Mr Kipling.)

Zesty lemon buns

125 g granulated sugar (or caster sugar, if you're organised and remember to buy it)
125 g reduced fat butter spread (I used an olive spread for these, works fine; you can use unsalted butter if you prefer)
zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs
125 g self-raising flour, sifted
2 tbsp lemon juice (I use the juice from one of the zested lemons, slightly more than 2 tbsp)

  • Preheat your oven to 180C (160C for a fan oven).
  • Cream the sugar, butter, and lemon zest together until light and fluffy. 
  • Beat the eggs and add to the mixture gradually, with a tablespoonful of the measured flour (to avoid curdling). 
  • Fold in the rest of the sifted flour and then add the lemon juice (the mixture goes foamy, almost like a mousse, at this stage).
  • Spoon the mixture into bun cases. The recipe says makes 12 but I got 20 from the mixture. (Why make 12 massive cakes when you can share the joy further and make 20 small buns?)
  • Cook in the oven for 18-20 minutes (check them after 18 minutes).
  • Allow to cool on a wire rack, then ice them with lemon glacé icing.

Lemon glacé icing

185 g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

  • Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and gently stir in the lemon juice. You might need more lemon juice (you could use the juice from the other zested lemon but I like my icing smooth, without lumps of lemon pulp).
  • Blob a spoonful of icing onto each bun and leave to set for about an hour (if you can wait that long).

Voilà! Check out my zesty buns.

I ate the one without icing :(

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Just one hour, running

My runs this week have been notable by their absence. I was completely shattered after the half marathon last weekend; my knees and hips ached all day Monday and I had to go for a walk to loosen them up in the end (sitting for 4 hours in a car didn't help much).

By Tuesday I was ready to stretch my legs at running club. I wasn't planning to run far if we had options! I just wanted to say "hi" to everyone really. We did some speedwork, which totalled 2.5 miles. I felt unfit and sluggish, which I was told was due to me still recovering from the race. I hadn't expected to feel so tired, but I took their advice and rested on Thursday. In fact, professional advice is to rest a day for every mile raced. So, in the next 2 weeks my runs should be easy.

After a bit of a diet blowout on Friday night I really needed to have a run today, if only to burn some excess calories! So I strapped my heart monitor on and told my husband I was "just going to run for an hour". I had no plans about distance at all; I had a vague route in mind, that was all.

I headed along Pendleton Way towards Arlesey, down the High Street, and then cut through West Drive to Fairfield Park. At the entrance to the estate I had run 4 miles. One of my knees was aching, but I had only run for 35 minutes, so I wanted to continue a bit further. I turned onto the Greenway, up the big hill (which I've not run up for months!), and home. Just under 7 miles in 66 minutes (pace around 9:40 min/mile). I was really pleased, and celebrated with a stretch and a bath :)

My focus now is on my local race, the Standalone 10K, which is on October 2nd. That's about 4 weeks away. I hope to achieve a time of around 53 minutes (I ran the course in that time a few weeks ago). My aim though is to help my friend Gill train for the race, so my next SmartCoach plan is all for her.

New look for Sog's blog

You might have noticed that I've had a little redesign. I was inspired to change after creating my new allotment blog: Once I'd finished fiddling with that one I couldn't resist having a go at this one.

Please admire the background image, which I painstakingly created out of photos of things important to me (family, running, my garden, camping, healthy food, baking, Lego, and Doctor Who!).

Thursday, 1 September 2011

The Bosu Ball

I wish this post were about a fabulous party, black tie for the men and ballgowns for the ladies. But no, it's this beast:

My weekly circuit training class contains a mix of exercises: cardio, abs, weights, strength. We've used the Bosu Ball before, for press ups, planks, etc. Recently, it's been for squats. Normal squats, squats with weights, squats on one leg. Can I manage these? Erm, not really. Unless you count a hypnotic 1-min wobble, with frantic air-grabbing as "manage" then no.

But I will get there.
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