March Meals: The Highlights

March was a bit of an odd month food wise.  And also weather wise.  Just what on earth is going on with the weather?  First it looks like Spring is on the way, I start shedding layers and then the snow comes and temperatures plummet.  I’m planning salad type meals and then we have to crank up the heating.  I’m just dreading the ‘when shall we turn the heating off?’ conversation.  It’s always too early as far as I’m concerned. 

Food wise, the good habits and routine (balance of fish/meat/vegetables and cutting back on junk) I’d been fostering went out the window due to the fact I was away from home on a training course for a week and then another week raiding the freezer leftovers as The Husband was away.  So, I’ve only got about two and a half weeks of actual cooking that required more than warming something up on the top of the stove.  Still, two and a half weeks is better than nothing.  And you thought this was going to be a short post…..

Thursday 1st March

Sweet potato, spinach, chard and chickpea curry

Looking back through my meal-planning notebook I don’t seem to have written down where I got this idea.  So, there is the potential that I made it up? But that doesn’t sound right.  It doesn’t sound like me at all.  It’s quite similar to things I’ve made in the past but I distinctly remember making this to use up some vegetables so maybe I did make it up. Ah, well.  I have no record at all of what went in it other than the obvious.

Friday 2nd March

Burger and chips (Good Housekeeping Cookery Book)

Chip Friday = something with chips = burger and chips.  I’ve made this many, many times.  It’s the same burger I featured in my ponderings about harissa but without the harissa and is based on an idea I got from Good Housekeeping.

Saturday 3rd March

Chicken provencale stew with mash (Rachel Allen Favourite Food For Friends)

Gosh, the 3rd March seems a very long time ago now. I can barely remember this.  There was chicken, yes, lots of chicken and there were tomatoes and also lots and lots of olives.  Oh, and a huge pile of creamy, buttery mash.  And herbs. It went into the oven and I forgot about it for 40 mins, which gave me time to think about things other than food like….erm………

Sunday 4th March

M&S chicken and coconut wrap, crisps and LEON brownie

And so I was released in to the world to learn things.  It was the week of lots of snow, it was blumming cold and travel plans were disrupted countrywide.  It was the week my flight was delayed, I was briefly separated from my bag (and my blogging notebook!) and I didn’t get chance to eat a proper meal i.e. one cooked by my fair hand.  The flight delay gave me the gift of time and I read my book.  And my bag going AWOL saved me from having to carry it across London, which was blissful.  During my journey my evening ‘meal’ was a chicken and coconut wrap, an expensive bag of crisps and, to console myself due to being on my own, and away from home I treated myself to a LEON brownie from Kings Cross station.

Monday 5th March – Friday 9th March

A week of eating out.  All in all a decent week of consumption.  Highlights included chips almost every day (What?! I was on holiday!), perfectly cooked bulgar wheat, and lots of crispy coated fried things.  Low lights included more than slightly sticky tables, a fusty smell I just couldn’t place, and an incredibly mediocre meal accompanied by very loud German electro pop at an airport hotel.  Not that I’m against German electro pop per se, I’m just not a fan of it while I’m eating.  Although, the music may have spurred me on to get the whole awful experience over with much faster than I would otherwise have done if the music hadn’t been playing.  I also discovered that I don’t much care for camembert.  During the week I asked food questions of my friendly waiter (to which I already knew the answer) in an attempt to make human contact.  I found a labyrinthine bookshop and bought a cookbook (how could I not?). I would have got more except my return journey across London carrying the cursed bag was on my mind.  It was only after I’d visited the bookshop did I discover there was an upstairs that I completely missed.  For the sake of my arms, it’s probably a good thing.

Saturday 10th March

Movie night nachos (Good Food Magazine April 2016)

The best nachos I’ve ever had.  Black beans and chorizo fried with paprika and drizzled with honey a top tortilla chips then covered with cheese, chopped chilli and coriander served with guacamole and pickled red onion and radish salsa.  Phew! A pre-movie meal worthy of a Saturday night.

Sunday 11th March

Barnsley chops, roast potatoes, butter beans and chard with lemon (Jamie Oliver Jamie at Home)

A chance encounter with a couple of big, fat, juicy lamb chops helped me tick something off my TBC (To Be Cooked) list.  I’d never even seen Barnsley chops before so I bought them without a moment of hesitation.  There was no hesitation but there was a slight delay as I listened to a lovely elderly couple in the queue in front of me debate which animal they thought the chops were from.

Monday 12th March

Roast vegetable and avocado salad with quinoa (Good Food Magazine April 2016)

Avocado salad with quinoa (or Californian salad as it’s called in the recipe) with the roast vegetables leftover from yesterday’s mini roast dinner.  I’ve got a bit of a thing for avocado at the moment.  I know avocado are ultra trendy for reasons unknown to me and I usually go out of my way to avoid trends but don’t worry, you won’t find any avocado sculptures on here.  I’m only interested in eating it and not making it look pretty.  I mean, that should be perfectly obvious if you have a look back through my pictures.  Pretty is not my main objective.

Tuesday 13th March

Mushroom risotto and sugar snap peas (Olive magazine 101 seasonal treats)

Spring is supposed to be on the way but it’s still really REALLY cold at the moment.  There’s no sign of the daffodils yet and I’m still in my winter dog walking gear.  I’m torn between wanting to break into spring meals and wanting to go back to hibernating with warming comforting meals.  With this risotto, warm and comforting it is then.

Wednesday 14th March

Cannellini bean and chorizo hash (The Goodness of Ginger and Turmeric by Emily Jonzen)

Cannellini and chorizo hash

Turmeric is really good for you, did you know that?  I’m cooking from the new cookbook I got while I was away on my training course.  I love this hash.  Lots of flavour and it’s topped with a fried egg!  There are a few of ‘The Goodness of…’ cookbooks out there.  I just thought there were a few one offs but now it looks like a series, which is bad news because I do like to get a complete set so I’d better make some room on the bookshelf.

Thursday 15th March and Friday 16th March

Freezer leftovers

And I’m flying solo.  Meal for one. Freezer raid special.

Saturday 17th March

Lemon chicken with rocket and courgette couscous (Jamie magazine No. 57)

Thought I’d rustle up something fresh for the weekend.  Meal for four for one turns into meal for one and then seemingly unending leftovers for lunch the next week (with the exception of the chicken.  That ran out pretty early on as per good food hygiene rules and all that).  This was the meal that just didn’t know when to give up and I was happy to see the end of it.  It was good, don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t 5 days in a row good.

Sunday 18th March

Sirloin steak, chard and roast potatoes

Oh oh! Just LOOK what I’m treating myself to while The Husband’s away!  That’s right, completely spoiled myself with a steak.  And just for the record, roasting potatoes for one person is not a waste of time.

Monday 19th March – Wednesday 21st March

Pork sausages with pumpkin and chickpeas (Jamie 15 minute meals)

I managed to stretch this over a few days, which was handy since I’m now doing ALL the chores.  I have to do my own washing up – urgh!  So minimal effort in the kitchen means minimal effort at the sink.  I had half a butternut squash to use up so I made winter squash penne from Jamie but without the pasta.  Turns out it goes really well with sausages.  While looking for something to do with the pumpkin I found a recipe for pumpkin and amaretto tart.  I need to make this tart.  Not this week though but sometime soon.

Thursday 22nd March

Scrambled egg on toast

Erm, what happened here?  Sometimes you just want something quick and good.  Scrambled eggs on toast was it.

Friday 23rd March

Flash fried Moroccan chicken (Nigel Slater The 30-minute cook)  and 3 Moroccan salads (No-cook cookbook by Orlando Murrin)

An attempt to recover from a history of terrible ‘no-cook’ decisions so I went with a safe, easy option.  I mean, what is more ‘no-cook’ than a salad which doesn’t contain any cooked ingredients?  The no-cook rules mean you can use cooked things in the dish but they must be cooked prior to assembly. Obviously. That doesn’t make sense.  For example you can use cooked leftover chicken and it will still be a no-cook meal.  The 3 salads were beetroot and rosewater, carrot and harissa and tomato and lemon.  The flash fried Moroccan chicken was juicy after half an hour in a marinade and I only put a tiny bit of home grown chilli in so it was possible to eat without requiring some remediation measures.

Saturday 24th March

Southern fried chicken and chips (Antony Worrall Thompson How to buy and cook real meat)

Another proper Saturday night treat meal.  Back in the day, many moons ago, mum used to bake chicken with a cornflake coating and it was amazing.  It was so tasty and juicy and just oozed fat everywhere.  I don’t make cornflake chicken (I am planning to start) but what I do make is southern fried chicken, which apparently according to AWT is deeply unfashionable.  This may have been the case when the book was published in 2003.  I fly in the face of trend then and now and make it anyway.  We like this so much that we served it as the ‘second supper’ on our wedding day.  I’m not going to lie; a lot of people said they really enjoyed the chicken and in fact had a great day celebrating our special day with us.  We had a great day too. It was the best day. And not just because of the fried chicken.

Sunday 25th March

Lamb shank with white wine and leeks (Jamie magazine No. 9)

Lamb shanks in white wine and leeks

Cooking lamb shanks is a first for me.  And unfortunately I didn’t put it on my culinary challenges for 2018 list which is a shame because it always feels so good to cross something off a list.  Any list, it doesn’t matter.  The meal was everything I’d hoped it would be and more.  I’m pleased to report the meat was soft, yielding and tender and fell off the bone with ease which is the trademark of a perfectly cooked lamb shank.  It went very nicely with roasted potatoes and rocket salad too, thank you very much

Monday 26th March

Asian fish, broccoli and brown rice (Delicious magazine healthy eating leaflet February 2007)

A simple post-gym meal of baked salmon with ginger, garlic, soy and chilli sauce with roasted brocolli and plain brown rice.  A satisfying, healthy meal of gym champions.  Also, leftovers are good cold all mixed together for lunch the next day.

Tuesday 27th March

Thai style beef curry (Good Housekeeping New Cooking)

Now I’ve not made this meal for a long time.  It was while making this I realised I could grind my own spices to make the spice paste base for the curry.  Just as long as I take care to contain (or avoid injury from, if containment isn’t possible) any rogue seeds pinging their way out of the pestle (or mortar? Which one is it?!).  And now I can manage to fry meat properly the sirloin steak was tender and not at all dry.  So tasty.  Coconut, cashews, tomato, chilli, beef, spices served with plain basmati rice.  And bonus leftovers too.

Wednesday 28th March

Mexican tomato and rice soup (Jamie 15 Minute Meals)

I made a batch of this for my work lunches but I wasn’t completely bowled over by it.  With my enthusiasm waning I thought a good way to get through it without having to eat it all myself would be to make it an evening meal and then The Husband can share in the tomato goodness.  It filled a hole and I didn’t have to eat it all myself.  Mission accomplished.

Thursday 29th March

Pesto chicken, chips and green beans (Good Housekeeping New Cooking)

I moved chip Friday to Thursday as we’re out on Friday.  I got the idea for this from Good Housekeeping but I ended up going off piste with the pesto and just threw handfuls of things into the blender (thankfully without breaking anything) and then checked to see what it tasted like.  It tasted good.  A perfect balance of cheese, olive oil and rocket.  Unfortunately no basil but we managed.  I made a surplus of pesto as is always the way isn’t it? And you’ll have to wait till April’s meal review to see what I did with it.  And if that doesn’t keep you hanging on for more I don’t know what will.

Friday 30th March

We went Out For Tea!

Saturday 31st March

Halloumi, courgette and lentils (The Goodness of Ginger and Turmeric by Emily Jonzen)

Halloumi, courgette and lentils

The second thing I’ve tried out of the turmeric and ginger cookbook.  It was an unusual combination for me but it worked so well.  And I had leftover lentils for lunch another day that I warmed up with some cream and ate with some buttered crusty bread.  Oh my goodness, so good.  The halloumi and courgette were marinated in chilli, turmeric, lemon and oil and then fried on a high-ish heat to get all chargilled like. And the lentils were cooked in vegetable stock.  Oh, and then assemble!  It’s a new way with halloumi for me and I love the turmeric.  A brilliant combination.

It looks like March was a bit Jamie heavy doesn’t it?  And considering the range of cookbooks I have I don’t really seem to have used them a great deal this month.  I shall have to rectify that and diversify a little for April and May.


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