Monday, 31 August 2015

Menu Plan (31st August 2015)

It's back to school this week and I am hoping to run down my freezer to make space for lots of home-made freezer meals for when time is short. Very much a mixed bag and I know not the healthiest.

Monday - Paella (ready made frozen)
Tuesday - Soup and Toasties
Wednesday - Beef Casserole
Thursday - Fish and Chips
Friday -Turkey mince tacos
Saturday - Pizza (I am out all day so Craig is in charge)
Sunday - Chinese dim sum and crispy duck.

Hopefully that will run the freezer down almost to empty ready to be stocked up with more nutritious meals.

Hope you have a good week.

Cheat's Chicken Fried Rice

Whilst I was working away a couple of years ago I needed to find recipes that Craig or Emma would be able to make without much hassle. I found this originally on Netmums but it has been adapted by Craig to suit our tastes. It is by far the quickest and easiest recipe for Chicken Fried Rice I have found and it great if time is of the essence during the week. It can also be adapted very easily to suit your family's tastes

Ingredients (serves 4 generously)
450g skinless and boneless chicken (cut into bite sized pieces)
3 packs of Express Rice (we use Uncle Bens Chicken Fried Rice and 2 Egg Fried rice)
Teaspoon of lazy garlic
Tablespoon of oil
About a tablespoon of soy sauce
Pinch of mixed herbs
Pinch of 5 spice powder
Tin of Sweetcorn (drained)

 Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, chicken, herbs, 5 spice and soy sauce and cook until chicken is done.
Meanwhile heat the rice (microwave or pan)
Once rice and chicken are cooked combine in the frying pan.
Add sweetcorn and cook until sweetcorn is warm.
Serve immediately with Prawn crackers and any other accompaniments you wish.

See Quick and Simple. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Menu Plan (24th August 2015)

Back to menu planning after a week's break. It is the last full week of the school holidays. Craig is off three days so he is going to be doing most of the cooking. He enjoys cooking but doesn't do anything to fancy. The meals this week are using up things in the cupboard that Craig can cook and the kids will eat.

Monday - Slow cooked pork steaks in a creamy mushroom sauce
Tuesday- Spaghetti Carbonara
Wednesday - Cheaters Chicken Fried Rice (recipe to follow)
Thursday - Tacos
Friday - Beef Casserole in the slow cooker
Saturday- Shopping day for school/college so eating out.

We are at a christening on Sunday so will probably be something quick from the freezer if we are hungry.

Linking up with Mrs M as usual.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Bounce Below

We recently visited Bounce Below in the Llechwdd Slate Caverns in Blaneau Ffestiniog. I admit I booked it without really finding out what was involved, I thought it was just nets suspended a few feet above floor in a cavern. I had read from the reviews that we would probably be worn out at the end and I was prepared for that, but that was about it really. Little did I know…
You are advised to arrive about half an hour before your allocated time which in our case was 5.00pm. I would definitely recommend booking well in advance if you want an early slot and it is not advisable to just turn up, especially during the school holidays and weekends as you are unlikely to get in. There are only about 34 people allowed in a particular time slot as they need to limit the number on the nets at any one time. It cost £20 each and you are on the nets for an hour.
Once we had been kitted out with helmets, and in the case of those who weren’t fully covered on their arms and legs a jumpsuit, we were then escorted into the caverns. You don’t go down into the cavern, it is a short flat walk to the nets and you arrive on the platform. It id there you get to see the full extent of the nets in the cavern and the lighting makes it look absolutely amazing and wondrous. It was only then that I knew I had made a mistake. Craig does not like heights and is very uncomfortable in confined spaces. There are three nets in the main cavern, stacked one above the other and the only way to go down to them is via a net chute and the only way up is a narrow enclosed rope ladder. The highest net is about 100 metres up and the lowest is about 2 metres from the floor of the cavern. I thought there is no way Craig would go on. I will give him credit though as he did and he stayed on for the full hour. He didn’t go up or down to the different levels though.
There is one net in the second cavern and I have to admit I was a little freaked out when I went on that. That one was probable about 80 metres up and beneath you there were people zip wiring. With the lighting in that cavern and the fact the net was black it looked like you were floating in mid air. Although I went on it I have to admit I didn’t stay on for long simply because all I could think about was what would happen if the ropes or the net snapped. I didn’t get that feeling in the main cavern as I know there were other nets underneath me that would break the fall.
To move between the levels you had to go down a chute. It was a bit snug and you definitely need to cover your face as the chute is made from ropes. I enjoyed going down the chutes and would not have been bothered if they had been longer. Going up a level was done by scrambling up an enclosed rope ladder. These varied in length depending on the level. This was the tiring part of the experience unless you are quite fit.
The kids loved it and I frequently lost sight of them as they were all over the place. Matthew loved the chutes and he spent most of the hour going up and down the levels. He didn’t pluck up the courage to almost jump down the chutes like some of the other kids were doing. One of the rules is that you don’t jump down the chutes and there were members of staff overseeing the use of the chutes and ladders.
Overall I really enjoyed the experience and the unexpected workout I got. Even though I thought £20 was a lot to pay for one hour after doing it then I think it is really good value for money ( I am sure Craig would not agree with me) The kids said they would be there every weekend if we lived closer they loved it that much. We will be returning as Emma wants to do the Zip Wire experience that is there for her birthday. She wanted to do it that day but we did not have time and we also heard that it was £50 each.

I apologise for the lack of photos. It was quite dark in the cavern and my camera was not up to the job.

Further details about Bounce Below can be found here

Monday, 10 August 2015

Menu Plan (20th August 2015)

Another week of trying to use up what is in the freezer and cupboards so minimal shopping needed.

Only 5 days as we are going away for a few days on Saturday and I am out Monday and Tuesday so meals will have to be quick and simple.

Monday - Soup and Toasties
Tuesday - Fajita steak with rice (no tortillas)
Wednesday - Garlic Chicken with Potatoes and veg
Thursday - Chilli con Carne 
Friday - Fish and Chips (did not have last week)

Linking up with Mrs M to see what other people are having and get inspiration for the future.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Menu Plan (3rd August 2015)

Last weeks menu plan didn't quite go to plan as I was getting home from work a lot later than planned due to traffic.

I am only out of the office for one day so hopefully this week will be a little better. Another plus is that I haven't had to go shopping over the weekend as I looked in the freezer and cupboards to see what I could use. I will have to buy some milk and fruit but that I can pick up when needed at a lunchtime.

So this weeks menu plan is as follows

Monday - Tuna Pasta Bake (didn't get made last week)
Tuesday - Chicken Fried Rice (something Emma can do as I won't be home until after  9.00pm and Craig is also out)
Wednesday - Pork in Mushroom Sauce with potatoes and vegetables
Thursday - Our 22nd Wedding Anniversary so we are going out for a meal. Kids will probably have takeaway.
Friday - Fish, Chips and Mushy Peas
Saturday - at Mother in Laws after Birthday Party
Sunday -Lasagne, Salad and Garlic Bread

Mrs M is still on holiday so no link up this week.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Kitchen Appliances- Dust gatherers or Life Savers

Our combination oven/microwave gave up the ghost on us about two months ago. We had had it for 13 years so we could not complain. It was  about a week to payday so we thought we would wait until then to get another. Craig wanted to get another combination oven but I wasn’t bothered and was happy to get just a basic microwave as we did not really use all the features that were available.
As of today and we still have not bought a replacement as both of us realised we did not really miss it. There has only been one time when it was missed and that was when some food needed reheating. I have decided that most things I used to do in the microwave (porridge and scrambled eggs) actually taste better when done on the hob even if they do take a couple of minutes longer. So I am not going to rush to buy a replacement any time soon.
This got me thinking about other kitchen appliances we have and could we do without. My husband would not replace the dishwasher if it broke as he never uses it saying he does a better job. He doesn’t complain though when I load the dishwasher when he can’t be bothered to wash the dishes after dinner.
Craig loves his gadgets and appliances but in most cases for me they are nothing but dust collectors. We have a perfectly good oven and hob that will cook everything we need so why take up work top space with gadgets that cost money and don’t always save you time. Such items include, a George Foreman grill, an electric pan that is supposed to save you using your hob rings, a sandwich toaster and a Halogen oven. All of those things are currently sat unused on top of the fridge or on a shelf in the garage. The only time I find appliances useful are if they are able to do something  which we are unable to do. In my house this is my Nespresso Coffee Machine, Nutri Ninja and my electric mixer. I also use my slow cooker quite a lot as we have a gas oven and I don’t really fancy leaving the oven on when there is no-one in the house.
I have obviously not included the washing machine as I think for most people it is an essential alongside the fridge freezer and the oven. My tumble dryer I only really use in winter. Even in summer when the weather is bad I will put the clothes on the airer to dry in the house as they still dry within the day.
What kitchen appliances could you not live without and what have you bought and never used? I would love to hear people’s opinions.