Meal Planning Monday 3.6.13

Back again to the meal planning blog.   Last week, I was in Disney so relied on the good to OK to average to poor offerings from Mickey Mouse.   I do miss the breakfasts though!

Dinner on Wednesday was a pizza bought from a supermarket in the motorway services on the way home.   Thursday was defrosted sausages and Friday was cheesy mushroom pasta followed by apple crumble.



I’ve been using this apple crumble recipe for 30 years now since I was at school.   The exercise book is my original one from my Home Economics class when we actually learned to cook rather than whatever they do for GCSE nowadays.   I didn’t take Home Ec O Level (yes, I was educated that long ago!), but it did give me the basics of what to do.   I think some of the other recipes use ounces and lard and other prehistoric terms, but this recipe has translated well and I now make a gluten free version that goes down well with the whole family.

This week, the family will be eating:

Monday: Gluten free chicken and ham pie using leftover chicken from Sunday’s roast and freezer dive for me

Tuesday: Italian baked pollock with Jersey royals

Wednesday: Vegetable pasta bake

Thursday:Vegetable goulash and rice

Friday: Ham, egg and chips

Saturday: Freezer dive

Sunday: I’ll think of something!

 As usual, I am linking to Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday blog and hoping to get some inspiration for next week from some of the other bloggers.

Meal Planning Monday 20.5 13

Last week’s menu went well and most things went to plan.   I even made a veggie chilli which I batched up for the freezer for the days when the meat eaters are having the main meal.

What didn’t go to plan was my diet.   One of my Rainbows moved up to Brownies and presented me with a big box of Celebrations.   Well, it would be rude not to!   And watching Eurovision is always better with Baileys!

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When I’m planning my menu for the week, I use a pad from Organised Mum.

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The left hand side is for planning out the week’s menu, and as I go through, I work out what ingredients I need to buy and add them in sections – frozen, dairy, drinks etc.   The shopping list detaches via perforation for you to take to the supermarket.   The pad has a magnetic strip at the back for attaching to the fridge, or there is a hole at the top for hanging on a hook.   There is also a clip for a pencil at the bottom, so as long as your kids don’t run off with it like mine do, you always have one to hand when you want to jot down something midweek.

Monday – Fish Pie

Tuesday – Sausage Casserole (and veggie chilli for me)

Wednesday – Pie or Chicken Nuggets

Thursday – Spaghetti Bolognese

Friday – Ham, Egg and Chips

Saturday and Sunday – Flexible days in case of eating out, takeaways or using stuff up

I am also using up some of the contents of the fridge to make some pasta sauces for freezing, and I’ll also be doing one of my regular stock checks.   Perhaps next week will just be freezer dive week!

I am linking to Mrs M’s Meal Planning Monday blog.   Pop along to see what everyone else has planned.

Meal Planning Monday 13.5.13

After my first Meal Planning Monday two weeks ago, last week was a non-starter because of May Fair and cake.

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I baked this lot on Sunday for the school and WI stalls, and on Monday itself, I was on my craft stall from 9.30-5.30 so the last thing I wanted to do was blog about food!

This week is another week of being a busy mum and Guide leader, and I need to get back on the straight and narrow with my Slimming World diet.

Monday – freezer dive

Tuesday – sun-dried tomato and chicken pilaf (and quorn korma and rice)

Wednesday – sausages, mash and beans

Thursday – slow braised pork and ratatouille with mash

Friday – pasta bolognese

Saturday – ham, egg and chips

Sunday – use up whatever is left!

Pop over to Mrs M’s blog to see what everyone else has planned this week.

May Fair – Craft, fudge and lots of cake

Yesterday was the annual Standon May Fair.   As usual I had my Craftyguider stall to raise funds for my Guide group.   As well as this, I am a mum of two girls at a school that has a cake stall there every year that parents donate cakes to, a WI Vice President with our group running a stall with free cake and some sideshow games, and a Rainbow Guider of a unit which sells fudge.

I’ve been rebuilding my stocks of craft items that sell well at this event, so over the last few weeks I’ve been getting to grips with my hot melt glue gun, making badges and fabric mirrors, and getting some new greetings card designs made.   I’ve also got new point of sale materials, organised the float, and made sure the string and sellotape were packed.

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I think it turned out very well, and we definitely had a successful trading day.   Two of my Assistant Guiders helped me during the day, one staying from set up to shut down, and two of my 30 Guides helped sell at points during the day.   Other Guides passing the stall were made to come and spend money!

The WI were doing a Guess the Weight of the Cake, Guess the Number of Buttons in the Jar (one of our secretaries counted over 3000 buttons into a jar!), and Guess Where Jess the Cat Is game for the kids.   They made a fabulous job of making the stall look gorgeous, talked to passers by and got quite a few women to sign up.   Members also contributed cake to be handed out free.

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As I love baking, I made a couple of tray bakes for the WI stall.   The other 4 cakes in the picture went to the school stall.   I had a text from a mum saying that they may be abandoning the stall as the number of cakes donated at school were really down.   I bought a few extra ingredients and doubled my donation to 4 cakes.   I hope they did well.

The 4th stall I contributed to was the Rainbow stall.   As the Rainbow leader couldn’t cut fudge this year, I organised some mums to come round to mine to chop it up and weigh it into individual 100g bags.

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After 2 hours, we had it all finished, and the fudge sold out in record time.

Thank goodness for the lovely British bank holiday weather!

Meal Planning Monday 29.4.13

I am a fairly regular meal planner, but today is my first ‘Meal Planning Monday’.

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Meal planning in our house is always tricky.   I am a demi-vegetarian which means I don’t eat anything more intelligent than a halibut.   I am also about 8 weeks into Slimming World and need to factor this in too.   Husband on the other hand loves his meat.   He is gluten intolerant though, and also can’t eat onions (or anything related to onions like garlic or leeks), or spicy food, all of which I love.   Youngest has an intolerance to anything that comes out of the slow cooker unless it comes with pasta, and eldest will eat most things.

As well as being a mum, I am also a volunteer, so I spend a lot of my time doing school runs, swimming lessons, running Guides and Rainbows and the school craft club, attending WI and committee meetings, Guiders meetings and school meetings.   This means that I have to carefully plan what I am cooking, how long it will take me, will I be there to cook or do I need to use the slow cooker or leave instructions for someone to bung some pasta on.

This week we are sticking with tried and tested recipes as I have a manic week with meetings, volunteering and preparing for May Fair when I am running one stall and baking and preparing food for 3 others.

Monday – Fish pie

Tuesday – Vegetable goulash

Wednesday – Ham, egg and chips (or double egg and chips)

Thursday – Creamy pesto chicken and pasta (or quorn bolognese from the freezer)

Friday – Cottage pie (or quorn korma and rice)

Saturday – Macaroni cheese

Sunday- who knows!   I’ll be baking cakes all day for May Fair on Monday so hopefully it’ll be takeaway or freezer diving!

Pop over to Mrs M’s blog to see what everyone else has planned for this week.

Gluten Free Baking – Cake Angels

Over the next week or so I will have to bake a lot for the WI and school stalls at the local May Day celebrations, as well as when I host some Rainbow mums chopping fudge for the Rainbow stall (as bribery!).   This is in addition to preparing for the Guide stall when I will be selling my Craftyguider goods (no cake involved!).

As a warm up, youngest Craftyguidelet and I made some raspberry and white chocolate muffins.

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As daddy is gluten intolerant, we try and make gluten free cakes.   An excellent purchase recently was the Cake Angels book by Julia Thomas.   In the past I’ve used (and loved) Phil Vickery’s Seriously Good! books, but the recipes require blends of different flours, some of which need to be bought online from shops that charge large p&p rates.   The Cake Angels book uses standard gluten free flours available from most supermarkets.

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The recipe is for both dairy and gluten intolerants, but as dairy isn’t a problem in our house, I just substituted standard yogurt, chocolate and butter.

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The batter looked a bit strange when it went into the cake cases, but the finished result was lovely.   Little Craftyguidelet was very proud serving them to the family.

Julia Thomas started her dairy free baking following cancer when she was expecting her first child.   She then moved on to gluten free baking when a friend asked for gluten and wheat free cakes for her son.   She developed a bespoke baking service and couriered cakes to customers, before putting some of her best recipes in her Cake Angels book.

So far I’ve tried the Chocolate banana loaf, Lemon loaf, Sticky toffee traybake, Chocolate brownies, Lemon butterfly cakes, and Almond and cherry cupcakes, and all have turned out well.   You really don’t miss the gluten.

If you want to bake a cake without dairy or gluten, most cakes have a version contained in the book.   There are even frosting recipes at the back.     It’s a really good starter book for baking for intolerances, and as long as you can get hold of some xanthan gum which adds texture to the gluten free flour, you should end up with a great result to satisfy both intolerants and gluten eaters alike.

I bought this book myself and all opinions expressed are my own.   The only benefit I have had is the delicious cakes baked using the recipes!

Cake, cake and more cake

Warning: This blog post can seriously damage your diet.

I have recently joined Slimming World.   Week one I lost 3.5 pounds!   Go me!!!   However I have synned.   Big time.

Cake number one

My baby girl turned 4 on Friday (how did that happen?) and husband insisted she had a cake on her birthday.   As she was going to have a cake on Sunday at her family party, I hadn’t planned on this.   So a quick trip to Sainsburys to get a ready made gluten free sponge (so husband could participate in the cake eating), some icing and some decorations later and this cake was born.   I wish I’d had a chance to make my own as it wasn’t great.

Cake numbers two, three, four and five and a bit

I am a member of the Cambridge Clandestine Cake Club.   It’s a great excuse to bake something special, try other people’s baking, chat about cake with friends and did I mention eat cake?   Lots of cake!   On Saturday we had a not-so-clandestine meet-up in Waterstones Cambridge to showcase the club and the new Clandestine Cake Club book which is fantastic.

The cake in the pic is by Miss Sue Flay of the Secluded Tea Party fame and features in the book.   It’s perfect to make kids hyper by all accounts.

My contribution was the Rhubarb and Custard cake from the book.   The frosting was gorgeous but there was probably twice the amount I needed to ice my cake.   It was the first cake I tried from the selection as it fell onto my hand while I was cutting it (honest guv).

I also had slices of banana and maple syrup cake, ginger and lemon cake, and grapefruit and mandarin cake.   I also had to sample the Tuck Shop cake made by Miss Sue Flay and it was gorgeous.

The cakes were devoured by the Cambridge book buying public, and as fast as they arrived, they disappeared.

I took my cake hangover home and went straight to sleep when I got there (not completely due to the sugar rush for lunch).

Cake number six

On Sunday, as well as celebrating Mother’s Day, we went out bowling with the family for Baby Craftyguidelet’s birthday.   This cake was the most impressive, but unfortunately I didn’t get a photo on my phone.   I’ll have to wait until husband downloads one from his camera.   This image shows the backdrop for a stage, on which stood Keira, the popstar in Barbie’s Princess and the Popstar (cruelly bypassed for an Oscar or BAFTA).   There was lots of glitter, shimmer sugar, and black food colouring on top of a chocolate cake, and it was made by my professional cake decorator sister.   Between her and my Master Baker and Confectioner dad, we are always spoilt for fabulous cakes on birthdays.

My diet starts again (well, apart from another slice today but that doesn’t count, does it?), and I promise to be a good girl tomorrow.   Weigh in on Wednesday doesn’t look promising, but there are no birthdays or cake clubs in the near future so I might stand a chance.


Weekly Bake Off

Recently I found @weeklybakeoff on twitter.   Amy tweets every week with one of the recipes from Mary Berry’s 100 Cake and Bakes.   Once announced on Monday, anyone who wants to join in can bake the recipe and then post their pics by Sunday.   All entries are posted on the Weekly Bake Off blog  and a guest judge selects the star baker.

I don’t have the 100 Cakes and Bakes book, but the recipes seem to be in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible which I do have.   I thought it was a brilliant idea as I tend to get a recipe book and just stick with a few recipes.   This would make me actually try things I wouldn’t normally.

My first week was 3 weeks ago for the American Chocolate Ripple Cheesecake.

I would never have tried this before.   I did vary from the recipe by making it gluten free as my husband is gluten intolerant, and it would’ve been too much for me and the Craftyguidelets to eat on our own.   It was delicious but incredibly rich.   It’s not greatly rippled as my 3 year old helped me make it and she doesn’t do subtle marbling!

The following week was chocolate and walnut brownies which I didn’t make as the only nut eater in our house is the gluten intolerant hubby!   I could’ve adjusted it, but I thought it defeated one of the main reasons for making the cake in the first place.   Instead I made the Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake which Amy has made before and recommended.   I had some lemons to use up so thought it was a good idea.

By the time I photographed them, a lot had gone.   This is the best recipe for Lemon Drizzle cake I’ve ever tasted.   Gorgeous!   Definitely one to try again.

I did try the madeira cake last week.   Another bake I would’ve overlooked as I always thought it was a plain cake.

Such a light, yummy cake with a hint of lemon.   Lovely!

I’ve also dallied with Mary’s Blueberry muffins as I had loads of squishy blueberries in my last shopping delivery, and her Mincemeat Loaf Cake as I’ve got lots of homemade mincemeat to use up.   Hubby has benefited from some gluten free chocolate fudge muffins which were in April’s BBC Good Food magazine.   You wouldn’t realise they were gluten free.

This week is Cherry cake.   My book lists it as English Cherry Cake so the lovely Amy checked my recipe to see if it was the right one.   The quantities are different but the recipe is the same, so I’m heading to Sainsburys tomorrow for ingredients.

This is rubbish for my waistline but so much fun!

Baking with the craftyguidelets

My two little girls are my craftyguidelets.   The eldest is 5, and although she’s definitely daddy’s girl, her ambition when she’s a grown up is to be a mummy.   I’m not sure which part of my job she likes, but I must be doing something right!   The youngest is almost 3 and a mummy’s girl.   She can sing a great ‘craftyguider dot com’ jingle.

One of my aims for this year is to bake regularly with the craftyguidelets.   They love baking but I have to make sure they don’t bake together as they are so competitive.   There’s only so much mixing a cake can take, and the step ladder really only takes one girl at a time.

They both joined forces with daddy to make my birthday cake, and this weekend we did more baking.

The 2 year old and I made gluten free toffee chocolate fudge brownie muffins (daddy is gluten intolerant) from Phil Vickery’s fabulous Seriously Good! Gluten Free Baking

They taste great whether you eat gluten or not.

The 5 year old chose a gluten free light sponge from the book.   I think she was swayed by the icing on the top.   This didn’t go as well as the muffins.   I think I need to experiment more with oven temperatures and timings, but we ended up with a nice cake.

The icing is actually pink, but it’s a bad photo.

She’s part of the fifth or sixth generation of bakers in our family.   My dad is a master baker and confectioner so it’s in her genes!