Since before we had kids, I have loved making my weekly menu. In a weird way I find it rather cathartic. Finding interesting recipes, that people in the house will eat. Plus there is the added challenge of minimising food waste and cost. Yes it is geeky, but I genuinely like it. Hence, why I’ve created my Family Menu.
Having kids adds an additional layer of complexity to my menu planning. What will they eat, what won’t they, what’s healthy. More importantly, what can one of us realistically prepare while looking after Thing 1&2? Also what are we going to eat? I like a fish stick, but it’s not going to be my regular dinner.
How to read my Family Menu
I thought I’d share my menu planning with you all. So, feel free to take a look. I’ve listed my weekly menu, but also any twists I may have made. I also have a handy little key for you.
|Big Helper Approved - get a munchkin involved.|
|KIDS -this is purely for the kids in the household|
|Family Favourites - for the whole family to sit and enjoy.|
|Sanity Savers - for meals when you just need something on the table and you’re ready to throw in the towel|
|BIG KIDS - This is for us adults.
This past week, however, was a different. I had Thing 2 recovering from a cold, and lousy weather. To top It off, it was half term. For those not familiar, essentially all school kids were off this week. Meaning, on lousy days the indoors would be packed. So a fun week.
That said, a slightly fun little family menu that the boys (and us) enjoyed. In particular I got to make my Cheeky Country Chicken Pie again, which I do love in cold weather!
See the menu HERE!
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Perfect for the chilly weather of autumn; Cheeky Country Chicken Pie with rough puff pastry.
Sure enough, things are getting cooler here. It was a shocking to get up early for work have to run back inside for a coat. Where did this come from? Just the other week it was warm enough to remind me of the height of summer??
Now, this is not a bad thing. While I do love the summer, and the food it inspires, cooler weather is brilliant. The bounty of the farmers markets beckon, rich dishes that demand to be simple and bold are the mainstays in our house. Usually this involves some form of slowly cooked meat, braised in beer or wine and a bit of butter chucked in for good measure.
Great plan, and I will get to that, however we are also trying to lose weight (although who isn’t) and save a bit of cash. I grew up having a traditional Sunday Lunch, or Sunday Roast, and I proudly carry that on. This past Sunday it was roast chicken, and thus when D and I had finished eating we have a substantial amount of chicken left over.
Never one to want to see food go to waste, instead I made a pie. Yes, diet may not have been the top priority this week. Instead, what we call a cheeky country chicken pie; filled with juicy chicken, fresh veg, tons of herbs and topped with a crispy rough puff pastry.
Enjoying a cheeky country chicken pie, well some cold white wine would do. Maybe a bottle of lager if you want to feel a bit English.
A pie, a cold drink, friend and family. You need some relaxing music, maybe acoustic. Vance Joy’s Mess is Mine seems like a good fit.
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Cheeky Country Chicken Pie!
Cheeky Country Chicken Pie
- 2 cups cooked chicken meat chopped
- 2-3 chopped carrots peeled and chopped
- 1/2 medium white onion finely chopped
- 2 strips of bacon finely sliced
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 stock of celery finely chopped
- 4-5 pieces of thyme leaves picked. Add even more if you feel like it.
- Small bunch of parsley
- 1 TB sauce flour
- 1 TB butter
- 1 Cup chicken stock
- Salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- 250 g flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 250 g cold butter
- 150 ml cold water
- Start with the rough puff pastry. Mix the flour and salt into a large bowl. Chop the butter in small chunks, add them to the bowl and use a pastry cutter or rub them in loosely. Keep it slightly chunky.
- Add 100ml of the cold water to the bowl of flour. Mix and add water only until the dough comes together. Chill for 30 min.
- Turn out dough on a floured board. Knead gently, you don’t want the butter to start to melt, and shape the dough into a rectangle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough in one direction only, roll the dough until 3 times the width, about 20 x 50cm. Do this quickly, again we want the butter to stay cold.
- Time for the turns! Fold the dough by taking the top and bottom third and fold over each other. Rotate (or turn!) the dough by a quarter and repeat step 3.
- Meanwhile, time to make filling. First, crisp the bacon in a pan. When crispy, drain and wipe out the pan.
- In the frying pan, melt the butter and toss in the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for about 5min.
- Add the chicken, herbs, and toss to combine. Add the chicken stock, and boil for a few minutes.
- Finally, mix the sauce flour with equal water. Pour this into the mixture, stir to combine and turn off the heat. Let the whole mixture cool, about an hour or more.
- Heat the oven to 200C. Pour the filling into your pie dish. Meanwhile, roll the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Place this over top, with a small slash or two to let air escape. You may need to put a bit of water on the edge of the pie dish to help it stick.
- Beat the egg, and brush your the top of the pastry with the egg wash. Place this into the hot oven, and bake for about 30min. When the top is nice and brown, your pie is done. Serve while warm.
Like clockwork, every summer we get a cold snap only to have it quickly reverse for a day or two. As such, I’m writing this post while hiding in the shadiest cool place in my house. By enough about my seeming inability to handle warm weather, this is about sandwiches, specifically my lunch for today: an oak smoked chicken and mozzarella pressed sandwich.
It seems like every cafe in the last ten plus years offers many panini options. Quiznos and Subway offer toasted sandwiches. We get it, people no longer consider sandwiches to be things that are only served cold. Yet I’ve never been tempted to buy a panini maker, considering it to be something else to crowd my small kitchen. I do however have a kick-ass cast iron pan.
So, back to my lunch. Last weekend we were visiting Edinburgh, and while there I visited a farmers market. One of the stands was selling fresh smoked food: fish, bacon, chicken and the like. It was very moreish, so I bought some smoked chicken to take back with me. And there it was, staring at me on the shelf in the fridge. The question about making a sandwich with oak smoked chicken, is how do you make it so you will get the flavour of the chicken and not have it washed out by other ingredients. Hence, the oak smoked chicken and mozzarella sandwich was born.
Starting with a demi-baguette, you put a thin layer of mayo on inside and then filled it with sliced chicken. Yet, how to make it gooey? Cheddar or provolone would be too flavourful and overpower the chicken. Instead, some fresh mozzarella would do the the trick, plus it is naturally stretchy. A little bit of fresh parsley and the sandwich it nearly done.
To get the cheese running, and crisp up the bread, I fire up the stove and heat the cast iron. I lightly smear some butter on the outside of the sandwich before wrapping it in some greaseproof paper. Into the pan it goes, with a heavy pot placed on top. After about 4min, carefully flip the parcel and cook on the other side. When the cheese is gooey, you’re smoked chicken and mozzarella sandwich is done and ready to be devoured.
I’ve also gone and added this to Fiesta Friday, which is a great link share site for food ideas!
With heat like this outside, its gotta be ice tea. Yes, the English don’t get iced tea (unlike the French and North Americans), so make some it you need to, it’s not that hard.
Thanks for listening to random playlists on Spotify I heard ‘This Girl’ by the Kungs and Cookin’ on 3 Burners. Give it a go, and think of a lazy late summer afternoon.
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Toasted oak smoked chicken and mozzarella pressed sandwich
- 6-8 slices of cooked oak smoked chicken
- ½ a fresh mozzarella ball sliced
- 2 Tbs mayonnaise
- Sprigs of fresh parsley
- 2 demi baguette
- Slice the baguettes in half and spread the mayo on both sides.
- Carefully stuff the baguettes with layers of chicken and cheese and top with some parsley
- Heat a heavy pan to a medium heat. Meanwhile lightly smear some butter on the outside of the sandwich before wrapping it in some greaseproof paper.
- Place the sandwich into the pan, place a heavy pot placed on top. After about 4min, carefully flip the parcel and cook on the other side. When the cheese is gooey, you’re done.
There is a little story behind my creation of these chipotle maple lime chicken wings. It actual goes back to before I moved to the UK, and was still living in Halifax. One of the first things I bought in my first apartment in Halifax was a barbecue. I must’ve picked it up for about 75 bucks from Walmart. It didn’t do anything fancy like a rotisserie or side grill, and looking back on it I’m pretty sure having it on my balcony violated the health and safety rules of my building. It was great when you can come back from rowing practice, just turn on the propane chuck on a few burgers or sausages and relax while drinking a cold beer.
Before I moved back to Halifax I have lived in the States for school, where my roommate was Tex (take a guess where he was from), was also a keen cook. His family was from San Antonio, and were passionate about barbecuing and deep-frying. With all that knowledge in the apartment I’m still not sure how I managed to lose weight that year. Tex’s knowledge on how to go and marinate chicken before frying it was revolutionary to me. And when I got my barbecue in Halifax I wondered if I could take that same principle to chicken wings.
‘Juicy, spicy, sweet, smoky and tangy . Chipotle maple lime chicken wings are the perfect relaxing food.’
Just before the summer ended I was decided the test my theory. Admittedly I also knew that that time I was going to be given my barbecue to my cousin before moving to the UK. And I figured if worse came to happen, I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning it up. As it turns out the method of marinating the wings in milk before barbecuing them makes them really really nice. They were the last thing I ever cooked on my first barbecue. To top it off, I needed to use up ingredients I had kicking around in my fridge, hence the chipotle maple lime chicken wings were born. Juicy, spicy, sweet, smoky and tangy . Chipotle maple lime chicken wings are the perfect relaxing food. It was well bittersweet eating those wings while sitting on a cardboard box filled my crap, but they along with the sauce were brilliant.
Sure, I had this originally with beer. However, its better with some fresh lemonade like this from Raepublic.
Well, I’m going to have to go local with this, and suggest listening to The Trews. Specifically their song Hollis and Morris. Mostly, because this is the corner I lived on in Hali.
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Chipotle Maple Lime Chicken Wings
- 1 cup milk semi-skinned or whole
- ½ red onion into slices
- 1 TB your favorite hot sauce
- Two garlic cloves crushed
- 1 lb of fresh chicken wings preferable with the skin still on
- 1 TB chipotle pepper puree
- 1 TB maple syrup
- 1 TB tomato paste
- ½ Red onion finely diced
- 1 garlic clove finely diced
- ½ cup water
- ½ tsp veg oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp herbs de provence
- ½ tsp salt
- Juice of half a lime
- Mix all the ingredients for the marinade, and place in the chicken wings. Put this in the fridge for a few hours, or overnight. When ready to use, take the wings out and pat them dry.
- For the sauce, heat the oil in a pot, and add the onion and garlic. Saute for a few minutes. Then add the chipotle puree. Finally add the other spices, maple syrup, tomato paste and half the water. Simmer for 10 minutes, it should be smooth and glossy but also coat the back of a spoon. Add a bit more water as needed. When you think you have the right consistency, take it off the heat. Before using, add the lime juice.
- Pre-heat the barbecue, and place the wings on. Slowly grill them, until they are cooked to your liking. Just before taking them off, dunk them in the sauce and place them on a cooler part of your grill before serving.
- Top with any leftover chopped red onion and some chopped cilantro. For good measure, grill half a lime and squeeze the juice over the fresh wings before serving.
For added fun, I added this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday!