My Favourite Meals of the Week

pork pre cooking  pork + bulgur wheat

This is how I cooked some pork loin steaks I bought (you guess it! HALF PRICE at Tesco’s). It is a sort of ‘casserole-y’ type dish where I just bunged some garlic, shallots, early potatoes, tomatoes and carrots topped with the pork into the oven. After about 20-30 minutes (I kind of lost track of the time), there were some lovely aromatic juices at the bottom of the dish so I added some bulgur wheat to bulk it up a bit and absorb everything.

finished port + veg casserole

In hindsight I would have pre-cooked the potatoes maybe for 10-15 minutes first so that they were a little softer. But all in all, quite a yummy little dish and very easy to make as everything is in one dish. It is also an easy one to keep in the fridge for leftovers the next day!

chicken noodle soup + veg

This chicken noodle soup/broth was really to use up some defrosted chicken stock I had in my fridge and my oh my did I feel full afterwards. It felt like I had eaten two meals – I actually had to stop half way for a ‘break’. To be fair I did use a whole courgette and half a lettuce as well as some prawns though. Eyes bigger than my belly.

steak and misc

I put the leftover garlic butter (‘recipe’ here) that I had made earlier that week into the pan to give the steak some lovely flavouring and cooked it more towards the well done side this time. After resting, cut into slices. De-licious. I just served with some roasted plum tomatoes (10 minutes in the oven on a moderate heat), a fried egg and rice. A bit of a miscellaneous dinner but I enjoyed every minute of it.

A Hearty Lunch/Dinner with Steak

So I got home this morning after running a 10km race which I cycled 20 minutes each way too – so yeah I was famished and needed to stock up my stomach on food! A few days ago Tesco had half price rump steaks and being a meat-lover, I just couldn’t resist the deal and bought a packet for my freezer. I cut them into slightly smaller pieces so they would last longer and pre-seasoned a little with salt and pepper before putting in to the freezer. Since I knew I was doing the 10km race, I’d already taken one piece out to defrost in anticipation of a hearty lunch when I got back. So here is what I made.

I had a red pepper that needed eating to I chopped it in half, drizzled a little oil on top, seasoned and then bunged onto a tray into the oven at a moderately high heat (about 180 degrees Celsius) to soften whilst I prepared everything else.

Next I took washed some ‘Charlotte’ potatoes keeping the skin on.

potato prep

The idea of making sautéed potatoes came from a Sorted food video I saw which I thought was a clever way of cooking them quickly without an oven – so this is how I did it.

I chopped them into small chunks/cubes of roughly even size so that they would cook quickly and at about the same rate.

cubed potatoes

Then I love using the leftover sundried tomato flavoured oil to give other foods the flavour so drizzled some into a hot pan. The potatoes take about 20 minutes turning every few minutes so they don’t burn. Season with salt, pepper and a light sprinkling of mixed herbs if preferable.

potato seasoning

Now time for the star of the show – the steak! Brush a little oil onto the sides and place carefully into a hot pan (I shared mine with the potatoes) for a few minutes. The cooking time will be dependant on how thick your steak is and also how you like it done.

sharing the pan!

I prefer medium so a few minutes on either side was perfect. Season a little more with salt and pepper in the pan if needed and then importantly, leave your steak to rest.

Looking a bit lonely on the plate!

Looking a bit lonely on the plate!

I left my steak for about 10-15 minutes before plating up with the sautéed potatoes and peppers. A hearty lunch or dinner for anyone which can also easily be multiplied!

A hearty lunch/dinner with steak

Homemade garlic bread

After seeing quite a few shop-bought garlic bread packs taken out of neighbouring freezers and shoved into the oven – I thought I would do a quick post of how to make your own garlic butter. I always find shop-bought garlic bread is nearly always far too buttery, so making your own is a slightly healthier alternative and in my view tastes fresher! To completely make your own garlic bread, you could make lovely little rolls or a baguette from a basic bread recipe – wholemeal is even better. I saw these ‘bake at home’ rolls in Tesco’s on sale and was inspired to make use them for garlic bread so used those instead.

All you will need is some:

-Butter

-Garlic

-Mixed herbs

-Bread rolls

Garlic bread ingredients

Now there isn’t really an exact ‘recipe’ for this garlic butter so you can just season according to personal taste. Crush and finely chop as much as possible some garlic cloves depending on how much garlic butter you want. For the six rolls here, I used one clove.

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Add a large knob of butter and mix together thoroughly. I also added in some dried mixed herbs at this point. Cut the rolls lengthways with a sharp knife and spread some of the garlic butter inside.

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These garlic bread rolls are easy to freeze so you can defrost them as and when you need them. Leftover garlic butter is delicious on toast or a served with steak. I actually ate them with the roast chicken wings, carrots and rice I had for dinner a few nights ago – it was a hearty meal for a starving person!

Hearty dinner

I actually par-boiled the carrots beforehand and then put them underneath the roasting chicken wings to absorb the flavour and juices for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.

Random eatings from my past week.

This post doesn’t quick make a ‘Dinners of the Week’ post since there are only four meals and I have been meaning to put it up for a while now. Anyway, my four ideas for filling and super quick dinners from the past few weeks are:

Salad and naan bread makes a minimal effort dinner after a long evening. (In this post  I explain my love for including sundried tomatoes in salad). This is a simple meal or snack and you can always add some meat or more carbohydrates to bulk it up a bit.

 

Fried rice with scrambled egg and prawns. I know I should have probably should have  included some greens here but again I was in a rush and laziness got the better of me… This was made also to use up my eggs that had been lying around for a little while. I will be doing an upcoming post on this in a little more detail but essentially I added shallots, egg, prawns, ginger and rice to make a warm bowl of comfort food.

 

Brown rice with sauteed courgettes and tomatoes was a little daring for me because I don’t normally like tomatoes cooked. But actually here the juiciness worked really well with the courgettes I found. (Cook the courgettes for about 8-10 minutes first before adding tomatoes). Brown rice is a healthy alternative to traditional white rice as it has been less ‘processed’ making it unmilled with only the outer husk layer having been removed. (It is very easy to cook in a rice cooker).

 

Red cabbage and carrots with quinoa and giant couscous + a random Ryvita cracker topped with Philadelphia is another example of my mish-mash jumbling of food together that needs eating. This was actually inspired by a Nigel Slater episode from his latest ‘Dish of the Day’ series (recipes can be found here) where he was focussing on ‘one pot cooking’ – my favourite kind in terms of washing up! I will be doing a post on this dish (hopefully soon as this was the same red cabbage from this post, I have just been very slow getting posts up!)

That’s it for now! Toodleloo.

Chicken dinner.

Here’s a quick post of my hearty dinner from a few nights ago where I had to use up some old potatoes and peppers.

On taking my chicken leg out from the freezer I waited a few hours until seasoning so that it would absorb the salt and pepper.

Prepare the potatoes by thinly slicing. Drizzle over some oil from the sundried tomato jar (yummy) or just use regular oil. Place on the top shelf of a hot 200 degree oven for about half an hour. Turn every 10 minutes or so. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and drizzle with a little oil before also adding to the oven for about 15 minutes until a little soft but retain their crunchiness. Check that the chicken has cooked and serve. I filled my peppers with some basmati I had and drizzle over a little more of the sundried tomato oil. You could use seasoned couscous fluffed with vegetable stock which would be super tasty, and add in cheese or other small grains etc. All in all, this is a filling meal which is relatively cheap and easy to prepare.

*Amendment from November 27th 2012 – On reflection I think that it would have been better to brown the meat at a high temperature in a pan first for a few minutes to get some colour and flavour first before putting into the oven. That would probably make it look more appetising too.

Dinners of the Week

I thought this would be quite an interesting post to do (please do let me know what you think of it in the comments) as dinners on a student budget could be quite interesting. I tried to steer away from the typical pasta, pesto and cheese for 7 nights a week as even though I do love that, it’s not the most varied diet is it? I also wasn’t quite sure how to include some fish into my food as I’m not a big fan but it’s important to get those essential oils and whatnots – but I returned from my Tesco’s trip today with 6 fillets of salmon which will go in the freezer for later (thank you mother for the help!) so will be using those soon. More bargain hunting included some meaty chicken legs and fillets and king prawns which are also sharing the freezer at the moment (I even put them in those little freezer bags and labelled them with dates too). I was really pleased with those because I find it a little harder to include some proper meat and fish in my diet because they are slightly more tricky to cook but hopefully I will get to try out some new recipes in the process! Anyway without further ado, here’s what I ate last week…

Saturday : My mish-mash dinner – Stir fried beansprouts with cucumber, chopped apple slices and two cheese ‘toasties’

I didn’t have much time because I got back late so I just cooked the vegetables to use them up and shoved in my carby toast to give it some ‘substance’ otherwise I would have just kept eating and eating!

Sunday : Beansprouts with a Fried Egg and Pepper accompanied by a generous bowl of rice

Unfortunately I had eaten all the rice by the time I remembered I was supposed to be photographing my ‘dinners of the week’ so it’s just the vegetable side dish really. I just bunged together some vegetables that needed eating and fried eggs make everything better!

Monday : Egg Fried Rice with Vegetables 

Once you’ve cooked the rice on the ancient hobs we have here, it’s relatively quick to make. Unfortunately you can’t really see the egg in the photo (I promise it’s there) and it would have been nice with a splash of soy sauce.

Tuesday : Pasta and Bolognese

I was thinking all afternoon ‘oh I’ll have that lovely bolognese with spaghetti I’ve taken out for defrosting’ and then what do I do? I only go and pour a whole load of pasta into the pot instead of spaghetti, and I was looking forward to doing some serious slurping! Oh well, it still tasted just as good.

Wednesday : Salmon with assorted vegetables and steamed rice

My new rice cooker was put to the test today and oh how I love it so, it is marvellous! My mother gave me a few tips on how to cook the salmon and it tasted yum indeed (dankeschön, yep I have been spelling it wrong)!

My new rice cooker!

Thursday : Egg fried rice with sweetcorn and king prawns

 

Friday : Roast Potato Chips with Carrot, Broccoli and Tomato

I had bought a bag of Charlotte potatoes which needed eating so decided to make them into healthy ‘chips’ – another one of my mother’s ideas… You basically just put a few tablespoons of oil into a baking tray and coat both sides of the thinly sliced potatoes. (I may do a very short blog post on these, they are so yummy they deserve it!)

I hope you enjoyed this longish post and Happy Eating!

 

Apologies for the varied background and lighting in the photos, it is quite difficult to control here (especially when I’m hungry)!

What’s in my kitchen?

So I was thinking of ideas for posts to do and I thought why not take a photo of what’s in my kitchen cupboard and fridge? I would always recommend for students especially to buy things on offer and check for bargains (but don’t go buying things unnecessarily just because they are on offer which you’ll never eat, assess whether it’s worth it).

– Some packs of Green Giant sweetcorn (my favourite) which are always useful to add to rice, pasta or a salad, or just straight out the can

– A few tins of canned tomatoes which I used for making some bolognese

– Pasta and spaghetti are a must in cupboard (I’ve got a few more in my room) as they are dry and store for ages

– That big box of Mingles isn’t actually full of mingles, it’s just to keep crackers/biscuits dry so they don’t go soggy (any old biscuit tin will do)

– Rice, I don’t recommend the Tesco basics long-grain rice, next time I will pay a bit more for some good tasting rice (cheaper to buy in bulk)

– Dried fruit like apples or apricots are good snacks, these can be expensive so I don’t have them all the time

– If you’ve spotted that unmistakable gold and red stripey packaging, yes I did go and and buy an 8 pack of Caramel bars because they are so DELICIOUS (my treat after I’ve worked hard in a sports session)

– Go Ahead bars and other cereal bars

– Green tea (the only kind I drink)

– Porridge oats

– Nut granola and bran flakes go really well together although since the granola wasn’t cheap cheap I ration myself to 3 spoonfuls per cereal bowl of bran flakes!

– Some fresh fruit, bananas and apples

– Little canisters of salt and pepper (you can get them really cheaply) and some mixed herbs (oh and a spare jar of pesto)

– Knorr’s chicken stock cubes, for flavouring vegetables

I saved the apple ‘trays’ to put my cutlery and knives in, they are just the right length although the chopsticks stick out a tiny bit. I also had a pack of tortilla wraps, onions and some garlic in a bottom cupboard.

– Pesto and cheese, friends for my pasta

– Activia intensely creamy apricot yoghurt pots (LOVE THESE!)

– Eggs, they are just so yummy.

– Fresh vegetables, when I took the photo I had a pack of beansprouts, a carrot, cucumber, and some peppers

– Leftover minced beef from the bolognese which will be going into the freezer too for the next time I make it

I would be careful with the fresh vegetables and fruit though because you don’t want to go overboard and buy loads (easily done when looking for bargains) as you won’t be able to eat them all at once (as they won’t keep for too long), so just have a rough idea about what sorts of fresh food you have at home when shopping. I don’t eat a lot of fish because I’m a bit fussy but will be out to get some salmon (buy a large piece and chop into smaller ones) or prawns as they store well in the freezer and give you lots of essential oils.

I totally forgot that we had an oven until a few days ago so all that’s in my freezer drawer is one pizza and some bolognese I made earlier. It’s really easy to make (see recipe here) and you can freeze a few portions so that they give you an hearty meal in no time.

(I don’t have the luxury of a chopping board yet I didn’t really get round to finely chopping anything) I also substituted the celery for pepper (put this in 20mins before the end) as I wouldn’t be able to finish the rest of the celery, but I love peppers. The same goes for ingredients like tomato puree, you don’t have to buy every little thing, just the important ones.

They are ready for the freezer when they have cooled.

So that was a rather long-winded post, I hope it wasn’t too boring but I tried to include a few tips and ideas about how to save money and plan ahead by buying food in bulk. Please do check out my other recipes by using the categories column on the right hand side or the ‘recent recipes’ column. I will be posting a ‘Dinners of the Week’ post to show how a few similar ingredients can make a tasty variety of meals. If you have any ideas for posts or quick and easy recipes to try out on a student budget, I welcome all suggestions! Cheerio.