Hold on to your hats people, I’ve been cooking. And not my usual style of cooking which generally involves hotting things up. Proper cooking. This is the same girl that wrote a post a few years back titled, “Why I Hate Cooking.”
My idea to try a week of cooking came partly from being bored of eating the same things every week and partly from being desperate for a new activity to keep myself occupied during lockdown.
I don’t think I’m ready for MasterChef just yet but as someone who never really cooks, I’m feeling proud of myself after this week’s efforts. See what you think…
FRIDAY – NO FUSS SHEPHERD’S PIE
Serves – 4, so enough left over for another meal if cooking for 2.
Shepherd’s pie – the king of winter comfort food. This was no fuss as promised so I loved it! So delicious hence the portion size photographed. A straightforward dish to make and definitely tastier than a shop bought oven or microwave shepherd’s pie. What more can I say?
SATURDAY – LIME TORTILLAS TOPPED WITH RED PEPPER, AVOCADO, FETA AND TOMATO SALSA
Recipe – Make a tomato salsa following these instructions – https://www.olivemagazine.com/guides/how-to/tomato-salsa. Chop up 1 x red pepper and sauté in a pan with some olive oil. Chop up half an avocado and dice 100g of feta. Scatter the peppers, avocado and feta over a generous portion of Doritos Hint Of Lime Tortilla Chips and spoon as much salsa as desired over the top. Serve with hummus and sour cream and chive dip.
Serves – Salsa serves 4, the toppings were for 2 people and let’s not mention how many portions the Doritos should have covered!
This is the perfect concoction for a Saturday night tea in front of the telly. We polished off the leftover Doritos and salsa with a film later on that night. A cheeky but not too naughty weekend treat. It’s just a case of putting whatever you fancy on top of tortilla chips. Apart from making the salsa which required a bit of effort, the rest was pretty much as basic as it gets. Basic but oh so tasty. We’d actually planned on putting more toppings on but the salsa packed such a punch with its blend of tomatoes, chillies, onions and lime, we didn’t need any more flavours. FYI, we couldn’t get hold of the jalapeño chillies listed in the salsa recipe so just used normal chillies instead. If you like a hot salsa, I would highly recommend doing the same!
SUNDAY – CAULIFLOWER SOUP
Serves – 4-6, so there was plenty left over for us to have for lunch on the following days.
You really can’t beat homemade soup. The bbc good food site suggests throwing this cauliflower soup together for lunch or a light supper…when you fill your bowl as high as I do then go back for seconds it stands up as a satisfying tea! As you would expect, it’s jam-packed with cauliflower and has onion and celery thrown into the mix so it’s great for making a dent in your 5-a-day. This was definite value for money for us as there was so much left over and none of it went to waste.
MONDAY – SAUSAGES WITH PESTO MASH
Serves – 2, but the mash could have easily served 4!
I actually found this recipe when I was searching through the ‘Five ingredients or less recipes’ collection on the bbc good food website. Don’t be alarmed, I have actually made sausage and mash before. I’ve got to say though, pesto mash (basically potatoes mashed using pesto instead of butter and milk) is a game changer. I’ve never had pesto mash before and didn’t think mashed potatoes could be improved upon. I love vine tomatoes so using those as an accompaniment to the meal instead of the usual veg choices made a really nice change. Ridiculously easy to make and a filling tea.
TUESDAY – GNOCCHI AND TOMATO BAKE
Serves – 4, but we scoffed the lot. Whoops!
We’ve had many a pasta bake but never a gnocchi bake. If you like gnocchi then you need to give this a try. It’s quick and easy, stodgy, tomatoey and cheesy! Just what you need on a January evening.
WEDNESDAY – CREAMY GARLIC CHICKEN PENNE
Serves – 4, so we had the leftovers for lunch the next day.
We’re big pasta fans in our house but usually stick to the standard pasta meals like pasta bake and spag bol. The sauce was very rich but we managed to avoid heartburn. An indulgent Italian style meal that hit the spot after a long day. You can never go wrong with lashings of parmesan in my opinion.
THURSDAY – PERI PERI CHICKEN THIGHS WITH ROASTED POTATOES AND VEG
Recipe – Chop up 2 x Maris Piper potatoes and put in a pan of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are simmering, marinate 4 x chicken thighs with a Bramwells Medium Peri-peri Marinade 35g sachet and peel 1 x red onion and chop into wedges. Drain the potatoes and add to a roasting tin along with the chicken thighs and onions. Season and drizzle with olive oil. Put in the oven and leave to cook for 45 minutes at gas mark 6. Stick the broccoli and cauliflower on during the last 5-10 minutes.
Serves – 2.
Okay, so my presentation skills had slipped a little come day 7 of cooking. As you can probably tell, I remembered to take a photo after I’d already started tucking in. I know the ketchup on the roast potatoes will raise a few eyebrows but I can’t help my love for the combo. (My best friend was very amused when I sent her the above photo.) This was a mouth-watering tea with all the chicken juices and spice. Minimal effort and minimal washing up so it’s a win win.
Overall, I have enjoyed my week of cooking. I think it makes a big difference actually having the time to do it though. I was still relieved to have the super quick and easy meals on some days. With my normal work routine, I would have to do a fair bit of meal prepping in advance to keep up the cooking. Doable, I would just need to commit to it and be well-organised.
I did find that I couldn’t always prepare the ingredients in anywhere near as quick a time as was suggested but perhaps with some practice I would get faster.
What I did enjoy the most was knowing what we were having for tea every day that week in advance. It had already been planned out with all the ingredients for each recipe already bought at the weekly food shop. No more of those tedious conversations that go something like this – “What do you want for tea?” “I don’t know. What do you want?” “I don’t know. What do you fancy?”
I feel like there’s definitely been less waste this week and what a bonus that quite a few of the meals provided lunch for the next day. It was cheaper too despite that fact my shopping list had doubled in length.
If you were wanting to transform your diet and make it healthier, I would say this type of fore-planning would definitely be the way to go to ensure you stuck to your goal.
I realise that the recipes I chose for this week weren’t that adventurous but everyone has to start somewhere. Also, who says good food recipes have to be complicated?
I’ve given myself a pat on the back and I’m now on the lookout for new recipes for another week of cooking. I think I’d call that a success, wouldn’t you?