Making A Meal Of It – breakfast banana pancakes

Mr Six cooks up a mean veggie breakfast at the weekend.

But this morning I got up, leaving Mr Six to have a lie in, and decided to whip up these delicious little pancakes for our boys.

I’m not a fan of sugary breakfasts and school days see our children reaching for either a healthy cereal with fruit or Marmite on toast. But a long weekend off calls for something special. A treat.

I started by whizzing three bananas up in the blender, then I added two eggs and whizzed a little more.

I warmed a small amount of oil in the frying pan and poured three little ‘puddles’ of banana batter in.  You might find it difficult to flip these little pancakes, but let them develop a pleasing, light brown crust before attempting to move them (I found loosening them with a fish slice/palette knife and ‘bracing’ them against a wooden spoon made it a lot easier).

The batter made 15 little pancakes, which I kept warm whilst cooking each batch – then I piled them on to plates and served with a drizzle of syrup (I did say we were having a treat) and a handful of blueberries and a few raspberries.

These went down a storm. Teen 2 said that he would alter this to 2 bananas and one egg for breakfasts whilst at uni. He also said that he would like to try it with natural yogurt and fruit, leaving out the the syrup.

So there you have our easy weekend breakfast. Enjoy!

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Making A Meal Of It – Good Friday fish pie

Today is Good Friday, which traditionally means a fish meal.

Good Friday also means that Mr Six and I are off work (whoop whoop!)

I’ve really missed cooking – getting home so late and having a little one that needs attention (and an early night) means that we’ve been exhausting our menu plan of quick dinners – and although I obviously had all day to make a ‘proper’ family meal, I also wanted to make sure that I spent as much time as a family.

Enter Fish Pie.

As with all my meals, it relies heavily on frozen food. It’s so convenient, cost effective and retains all the nutrients. Also there are no hard and fast rules about quantities with my ‘recipes’, add as much or as little – or not at all – so that YOU enjoy it!

I started by putting some frozen fish fillets in a large pan (I used salmon, cod and smoked haddock for a mix of flavours), covering with milk, adding a bay leaf and bringing to the boil. I turned it off and left the fish just sit in the warm milk for a few minutes. Then I lifted it out, put the fillets into an oven proof dish and threw the bay leaf away.

In another pan, I gently fried some frozen leeks in a generous amount of butter, I added a little corn flour, stirred and then started to add the warm milk a little at a time, whilst stirring continuously. Once the sauce started to thicken, I added peas, sweetcorn, frozen chopped spinach and a little grated cheese, then poured the sauce over the fish.
Finally I topped the pie with mash potato (with a little sweet potato) and a little more grated cheese then cooked in the oven until golden.

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So easy, so tasty and real comfort food. Even the children loved it!

Hit me with your fish recipes as I’m always looking for new dishes…

Making A Meal Of It – cheats enchiladas

Sometimes you really need something tasty – but more importantly, super quick for dinner.

Teen 2 text me at work this afternoon to tell me that he had been invited out tonight and to ask if his friend could come round first. Obviously, that wasn’t an issue – but I wasn’t due home until almost 6 so I needed something super quick (and let’s be honest, something that would suit teenage boys).

I text home back to say it was all good – and to ask him to get two bags of Quorn pieces out of the freezer.

When we got home, I turned the oven on and Mr Six started grating some cheese. I emptied the two 500g bags of Quorn into a large pan – then in my blender I tipped two tins of chopped tomatoes, a huge squeeze of tomato purée, a tablespoon of hot chilli powder, a teaspoon each of cumin, cayenne and paprika and blended it all up.

I then poured 2/3 of the spicy tomato sauce over the Quorn and warmed it up. I added a generous handful (maybe two handfuls) of cheese, stirred it and then wrapped it up, using 10 wraps. I pored the remaining sauce over, topped with some more grated cheese then baked until golden.

It was simply delicious – if a little too spicy for Teen 3. But, like everything I make, all quantities are to taste so maybe just a teaspoon of chilli powder would suit those who don’t like it quite as hot. It was easily as good as any shop bought enchilada kit that we’ve tried – and I know that there were no hidden nasty additives.

I’m really in need of quick, cheap and tasty vegetarian meals so please feel free to link me to any of yours, I’d really appreciate it!

Making A Meal Of It – versatile vegetarian meals

I really fancied marking veggie quesadillas this weekend. It’s been a while since they featured on our menu plan. Mr Six bought me a lush new pan yesterday and I couldn’t wait to see how it compared to my old one, so it was a perfect excuse.

As I was getting the ingredients together, I thought about how I could use up leftovers. Teen 2 is off to uni after this year and he’s quite anxious to not waste money so I sat down and thought about how we could make this more versatile.

The basic mixture was all bought at my local Iceland (I’m a huge fan of frozen vegetables because they retain their goodness, I can use exactly how much I need without waste – and there’s no preparation!)

  • A handful of frozen chopped onion
  • A bag of frozen red and yellow peppers
  • A bag of frozen sliced courgettes
  • Frozen chopped garlic (to taste)
  • Two tins of baked beans, sauce rinsed off
  • A few sliced mushrooms
  • About a 1/3 of a bag of frozen, chopped spinach

I started by frying the veg until the water evaporated, added the garlic and beans and cooked a little longer. I separated the mixture into two large portions and two smaller portions.

PORTION 1 – I added some chopped chilli and stirred through. In my new pan I put a flour tortilla, a spoonful of mixture, some grated cheese and folded the tortilla over. I fried it on both sides and served with salsa and sour cream.

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PORTION 2 – I added some tomato purée and  small tin of green lentils. I tipped the mixture into an over proof dish, topped with buttery mash potato and a little grated cheese, then cooked in the over until golden.

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PORTION 3 – I put a few spoonfuls of the mixture on some shop bought pastry, folded the pastry over, crimped the edges and brushed with a little beaten egg.

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PORTION 4 – I stirred in a little pesto (chopped basil would have been fine) and simply poured over a bowl of pasta.

Just a few simple ingredients, giving four very different – and tasty – meals. Given that I’m also feeding a large family, I think the quantities here would keep Teen 2 in meals for some time. I just hope his halls has a freezer…

 

Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Tissue Mask

My skin is dry. Not typically dry, no dry, flaky patches. But dehydrated. Thirsty.

I used to use a serum and hydra moisturiser, but the formulation changed and nothing has really matched up. I also have to be careful as my skin can be incredibly sensitive.

So, after a busy morning of clearing snow from the drive – and then snowman building – Mr Six and I gingerly made our way to the supermarket for essentials (bread, milk, wine) and it was there that I spotted this moisture mask.

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I was intrigued. I saw a lady using one on Gogglebox last night and it looked an utterly absurd idea. But then, we all love a gimmick.

Garnier have a range for different skin types, but I chose one that super-hydrates and revitalises. It claims that after 15 minutes skin is intensely rehydrated, skin looks smoother and complexion is radiant – and that in 1 week fine lines appear reduced, skin looks plumper and skin radiance is revitalised.

When we got home I went for a shower, cleansed my skin, dried off and pulled on my pjs. I decided to give the moisture mask a go as if I had a reaction, I still had another full day before having to go back to work looking like Will Smith in Hitch…

The mask comes in a foil sachet which was easily opened. Inside, folded into four, was the coldest, squidgiest tissue I have ever experienced. I found it a little tricky to unfold – but it wasn’t exactly the Krypton Factor. I applied it to my face, tissue side on my skin, plastic side out.

I gently massaged the mask to get good contact then removed the plastic layer. I massaged it a little more, lifted the annoying flap that sat on my nostrils, then lay back and relaxed for 15 minutes.

I was surprised at how pleasant the whole experience was. The mask remained cool for the entire time – not chilly and uncomfortable, but tingly like menthol. If I’m honest, I almost fell asleep as it was so relaxing.

When my 15 minutes were up, I removed the mask and gently removed the excess serum with some cotton wool. I was surprised that there was no redness at all because my skin can react badly, but it was dewy. As I came downstairs, Mr Six noted that my fine lines looked lessened and my skin felt renewed and healthy.

I’m interested to see whether the effects last the week, as promised, but at £3 per treatment, it certainly won’t break the bank.

DISCLAIMER: I received no payment or incentive for this post.

Making A Meal Of It – Mumbai Street Food

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Technically, this isn’t a ‘Making A Meal Of It’ post. This is more of a ‘Fake Away’ post. But I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to shout about this new range: Mumbai Street Food from Iceland.

It’s been such a busy week so I was really looking forward to a fuss free weekend. Takeaway is incredibly costly, especially for a large family, but I needed a break from cooking so I bulk bought a selection of dishes (7 curries, a tray of bhajis and 4 portions of rice – which cost less than two portions of takeaway curry). The range is amazing; and what really got my attention was the number of vegetarian dishes – well done Iceland! – although there are plenty of meat dishes too.

Saturday evening loomed so I headed off to the kitchen, switched the oven on and rummaged in the freezer (this was as difficult as readying dinner got). Whilst the dishes were cooking, I finely chopped some cucumber, onion and a few tomatoes to add a bit of freshness, made a quick raita (yogurt, cucumber and mint) and warmed some naan breads.

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The children LOVED it – they could choose what they wanted, tapas style, and Munchkin who isn’t particularly adventurous ate and ate and ate. The fruity rice was a massive hit with everyone and we all had a favourite as there was a great choice of mild and hot dishes, from lentil dhal to paneer to tandoori shashlik – and even kale bhajis. Totally delicious.

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I massively underestimated how much food was in each tub – the new square containers are deceptively large – and at 4 dishes for just £5, Iceland’s answer to Fake Away certainly won’t break the bank!

Iceland have been in the press recently, thanks to their #toocoolforplastic announcement. Ready meals typically come in black plastic trays – but this range come in cardboard trays that are widely recyclable. Another bonus! Guilt free, prep free, environmentally friendly Saturday night Fake Away, what could be better?

I’d love to hear what you think if you try this range, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

*DICLAIMER – I have received no payment or incentive for writing this post, I just really enjoyed the range and wanted to shout about it*

Making A Meal Of It – Vegetarian ‘chicken and bacon’ pasta bake

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I’ve posted many times about how difficult it is to keep a large family happy at meal times – what one loves, another hates! I try to get around this by meal planning; I include everyone and hopefully they realise that although there may be a meal that they don’t like one night, there is a meal that they love and several that they can ‘put up with’.

This morning, sat at my desk, I text Mr Six to ask if he had any ideas for dinner. His response? Pasta.

Now, I love pasta. But we only ever have it with pesto and roast Mediterranean vegetables or with a stir through sauce or with a homemade tomato sauce. But I fancied something different. So I scoured my favourite supermarket website for some ideas and plumped for: chicken and bacon pasta.

This recipe is the result of a day of debating what would work and what I really fancied – and I actively encourage you to adapt it; don’t like some of the vegetables? Swap them out! Fancy something spicier? Whack in a chilli… Long time readers will know that my ‘recipes’ are very fluid when it comes to quantities as we all like things to our own taste. Also lots of the ingredients are frozen as vegetables retain their freshness and nutrition – plus they are so much more convenient as you use as little or as much as you need then pop them back.

You will need:

  • Frozen leeks
  • Garlic (chopped/sliced – I use frozen)
  • Frozen spinach
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Frozen Peas
  • Frozen broccoli
  • Quorn fillets
  • Vegetarian bacon
  • Pasta
  • Cornflour
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Cheese

I started by putting the Quorn fillets to steam then I fried some leeks on a low heat. I added garlic, spinach and chopped, fresh tomatoes to the leeks and continued to cook on low.

Meanwhile I boiled some water and started the pasta cooking. In another saucepan, I made a cheese sauce.

As the pasta cooked, I added broccoli and peas to the water. I chopped the vegetarian bacon and fried in a small frying pan.

Then I drained the pasta, finely sliced the Quorn and combined all the components (it might seem like a lot of pans, but Munchkin didn’t want any veg), turned it into a lasagne dish, topped with cheese and breadcrumbs, then baked until crispy.

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Quite honestly, it was delicious. Even vegetable-phobic Teen 2 had second helpings.

I think a little white wine in the sauce might be quite nice – and if you like, sliced mushrooms fried with the bacon.

Let me know how you would pimp this recipe as I’m always open to feedback

It’s A Sign – 365 Writing Prompts

Munchkin: It’s a long way to go on holiday, isn’t it mummy.

Me: Yes darling.

Munchkin: it’s a fast road.

Me: Yes darling.

Munchkin: There are lots of cars.

Me: Yes darling.

Munchkin: This next one is my favourite road.

Me: How do you know? We’ve never been here before…

Munchkin: Because there are no robots.

Me: No robots? How do you know?

Munchkin: Because the sign says so!

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Where That Place Used To Be – 365 Writing Prompts

I used to stand in front of the tape wall. In the music shop.

I used to watch him.

He would serve the customers. Chat. Laugh.

Then look over.

I would melt.

Sometimes he let the smile linger.

Sometimes it was accompanied by a wink.

He was beautiful.

Those moments made my heart soar.

Skipping school to play hangman. To flirt. To talk about music. Discuss life, hopes and our dreams.

Once, in a cold, dark November evening when the windows steamed up, a friend walked past, came in – and without speaking wrote something in the condensation.

A secret revealed. A truth for all to see.

My cheeks burned with embarrassment. But secretly I loved it.

So many years ago…

Almost 30 years.

Now, whenever we pop in to buy something, I find ‘my’ spot.

My place.

Where that place used to be.

The tapes are long gone. The wall now houses other things.

But I recognise my spot.

Muscle memory.

Happy memories.

And I long to pass when the windows steam up, in the hope that the message is revealed once more.

Kirklees Light Railway

Half term is always busy.

This year, we are without Teen 1 as he’s away at university. However, Teen 2 is working incredibly hard and has barely left his bedroom. Teen 3 has exams when school resumes so he’s been revising too. But we managed to persuade him to join us (and Munchkin) for a day out.

We set off bright and early and headed towards Huddersfield, to the Kirklees Light Railway. It’s not a place I knew a lot about – and it wasn’t particularly well signposted (however the SatNav got us right to the door without any problem) but I am SO pleased we went.

The Kirklees Light Railway is a 3 and a half mile long 15 inch gauge railway. It was opened in 1991 and runs from Clayton West to Shelley, via Cuckoo’s Nest and Skelmanthorpe. We were incredibly lucky with the weather. It was the beginning of November, yet we didn’t need our coats; the sun shone brightly and the changing colours of the leaves were stunning.

Munchkin needed to stretch his legs after a long car journey so he took advantage of the outdoor adventure playground, situated next to the large car park. Then we ventured in to the main building to get our tickets (a family ticket for two adults and two children currently costs £24 at the time of writing) and look around the gift shop.

Tickets last all day and you can ride the train as many times as you would like during that time. We took our first trip out. We took our seats in brightly painted, little wooden carriages. The scenery was beautiful and we spotted squirrels, rabbits and a heron along the line.

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When we arrived in Shelley we took full advantage of the tea room and ordered  hot drinks and slices of cake. Munchkin headed off to the playground that was alongside the track whilst we took in the spectacular views. We were able to have a chat with the lovely train driver who told us that during the summer months there is a bouncy castle and lawn games available. Then we headed back on the return journey.

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Mr Sixdegrees nipped to the car and brought our picnic to one of the tables so that we could eat in the sunshine and we watched the miniature train take children around the pond.

We enjoyed our trip so much that after lunch we travelled to Shelley again for another brew. Again we chatted to the train driver who told us that all the locomotives were built by the founder, Brian Taylor, and that volunteers assist in the maintenance of the railway.

The Kirklees Light Railway has special events throughout the year. Unfortunately we missed the Halloween ghost train but there are days out with Thomas The Tank Engine and even a Santa special!