Monthly Archives: January 2013

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas from Farmers Choice

heart on plate

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and I am sure, that just like me, you struggle with what to get your partner every year! I get bored with buying the usual socks, chocolates, wine or flowers. This year, I am going to do something different and cook my husband a feast for Valentine’s Day, cutting out the hassle of finding a babysitter or eating at a full, busy and noisy restaurant which can kill the romance mood.

You can find lots of Valentine’s Day dinner recipes; however our favourite is steak, chips and béarnaise sauce. It is very simple to make but hard to get everything perfect so practice beforehand to make sure it is right. Béarnaise sauce can be a bit fiddly especially if you have not made it before. My husband’s favourite is prawns; however I am not really a fan. For a seafood starter which we will both like, we enjoy scallops served simply in the shell and a dipping sauce or scallops served with pancetta and peas.

For pudding, the tradition seems to be chocolate so a chocolate fondant would be lovely. Impressive to look at but can be hard to get right so for something less stressful, how about a big slab of chocolate brownie to share between two. If you want to avoid chocolate altogether, how about a refreshing lemon tart or a crème brulee. Whatever  you cook this Valentines, cook it with love and your effort will show on the plate when you give it to your loved one.


Meal Planning Monday – 28th January 2013

Are your week's as busy as mine are at the moment? During busy weeks I am very glad that I discovered this meal planning lark. It takes the stress out of worrying what we are going to eat that night, meaning I know exactly what I going to cook and when. I can also take into consideration what we are doing and plan my meals around so that nothing is wasted. Meal planning is a revelation and I wish I had started doing it much sooner.

Monday: Ribs for Stuart, leftover chicken casserole (from yesterday) for me

Tuesday: Steak, chips and pepper sauce

Wednesday: Homemade Pizzas

Thursday: Soup and bread

Friday: Takeaway

Saturday: Night out with Stuart

Sunday: To be decided


For more meal plans, please see Mrs M's linky


Dish Of The Month – Honey & Mustard Sausages and Carrot Mash


Here is a very late entry to a new challenge set by Janice of Farmergirl's Kitchen and Susan of A Little Bit of Heaven on a Plate. They would like us to cook any dish of Nigel Slater's once a month and share some of our home cooking. I love Nigel Slater so this is right up my street. I enjoy his simple laid back approach to cooking and the way he can turn simple ingredients into something amazing.

I have been watching re-runs of his 'Simple Suppers' programme on Good Food recently and saw his honey and mustard sausages with carrot mash on it. I love sausage and mash and by adding the glaze to the sausages plus serving them with a carrot mash seems to give sausage and mash, a new funkier edge.

I am unable to find the recipe on the BBC Food website but there is a version of it here. I altered the recipe slightly by adding a small amount of English mustard to the glaze, along with some golden syrup as my honey was running low. I also added some fresh coriander to the mash. I loved eating this dish and I look forward to making it again soon! :-)



Product Review: Press 81 Cider


Stuart and I are both cider drinkers so when I was to try new Press 81 cider from Aston Manor cider makers in Malvern, Worcester I jumped at the chance. My first impression was of how modern and interesting the bottles were. It is the first cider to ever be sold in an aluminium bottle and has cold activation technology in it which tells the drinker when is the perfect time to drink it. As cider is considered a traditional drink, I think the bottle design will go a long way into making it trendy and appealing to a younger generation of drinkers.

We tried both the apple and pear varieties and were very impressed with the flavour of both. The flavour was crisp and sharp. Stuart and I both agreed we could enjoy a few of these on a warm summer's day in a pub beer garden. I shall be seeking them out when I go out in the future and I recommend that you do too!

Disclosure: I was sent 4 bottles of Press 81 cider for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.


Supermarket Review: Midlands Cooperative

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to review my shopping experience at my local Midlands Cooperative supermarket in Dibdale Road, Dudley, West Midlands. I planned an entire week of dishes purchased when we went shopping there. Now we have tried all the food, I am now ready to give you my verdict on our entire experience.

Shopping Experience: We arrived at the store at about 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. The store car park was quiet and we were able to get a parent and child car parking space with ease. We went in and got a trolley and put Thomas in it. Unfortunately, we discovered that the trolleys did not have a lap strap to hold Thomas in so all the round the shop, he was able to move about quite easily. I did not think he would fall out but I was a bit on edge as he was moving about quite a bit.

The store was well laid out and despite not being as large as some other supermarkets in the wider area, it had a good selection of products which were all easy to find and logically laid out. I was impressed to find Iberico Chorizo and some Dorset Cereals porridge which I have been looking for a while. The baby area was small but had everything you needed. The fruit and vegetables had some empty areas but staff were refilling the shelves as we went round the store. When we got to the till to pay, there was only one person on. We did not have to queue for long but the people behind us did. (We had a trolley load!!) I think they should of brought someone else onto the till to assist the people behind us quicker.

Food Experience: For a week, we ate every dinner and some bits in between from the store (see meal plan) and I have to say, we were generally very impressed. We loved the Hot and Spicy chicken breasts and the tear & share garlic bread. All the meat and fish was of the highest quality. We were slightly disappointed by the steak and ale pie and the chilli con carne sauce as they were lacked in flavour and slightly bland. They both have the potential to be improved and I am sure with a few minor tweaks they would be amazing. The fajitas were from Discovery and were are on offer at the time of our visit. They were gorgeous and we will have them again in the future.

Overall Experience: We were very impressed with our overall experience. The store had a wide ranging selection of products, was well laid out and all the food sold there was of the highest quality. I wish we lived closer to this supermarket as I would probably go there quite a bit if I did not need to do a big shop but needed more than a corner shop range offered. I am going to keep my fingers crossed that they open one nearer to me soon!

Disclosure: I recieved a £10 gift voucher to put towards my shopping at the Cooperative. I have told them about the shopping trolley issue and they are looking into it. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review


Meal Planning Monday – 21st January 2013

Here we are again, another Monday! I managed to stick to the meal plan last week so you will be getting a few review of my shopping and food experience from the Midlands Cooperative tomorrow or Wednesday.

This week, as we have lots of snow around I have gone for a simple meal plan with things I either have in the freezer or can get from the little supermarket down the road. I had hoped to be a bit more adventurous this week but I don't think this week is the best time to do it.

Monday: Steak pie, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Tuesday: Chicken curry, rice and naan breads

Wednesday: Fish, chips and mushy peas

Thursday: Sausages, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Friday: Takeaway

Saturday: Beef Adobo with rice (from 200 Slow Cooker Recipes from Sara Lewis)

Sunday: To be decided

For more meal plans, please see Mrs M's Linky


Meal Planning Monday – 14th January 2013

Sorry I am a day late with this post. I am having one of those week’s where it feels like someone has stolen my energy. I hope they bring it back soon whoever they are! We mostly stuck to the meal plan last week but the fish, chips and mushy peas got dropped as we sneaked in an extra takeaway (naughty us!!), however they are frozen/tinned it will keep for another week.
This week my meal planning is slightly different as I have been invited by the Midlands Cooperative to review one of their supermarkets and the food they sell. Therefore, the majority of our food this week is coming from them. I will be writing a post next week about what we thought of our shopping experience and the quality of their products.
All food purchased at The Cooperative unless otherwise stated
Monday: Pizza takeaway (I know another one! – having a lazy start to the week)
Tuesday: Hot and Spicy Elmwood chicken breasts with chips
Wednesday: Pasta with Mediterranean sauce and garlic bread
Thursday: Salmon, new potatoes and salad
Friday: Chilli Con Carne made with jar of chilli sauce and rice
Saturday: Takeaway
Sunday: Chicken Fajitas – We are going on a shooting/archery experience for the day and need something quick and easy to make once we get home

For more meal plans, please see Mrs M’s Linky
Disclosure: I was sent a £10 gift voucher to do my shopping at the Midlands Cooperative and review my experience

Meal Planning Monday 7th January 2013


Another week gone already! Where is the time going? I pretty much stuck to my meal plan last week, I just swapped the fish stew and the paella around otherwise we would of had rice two days in a row. I did not do do a roast dinner yesterday, I cooked beef stew in the slow cooker instead. Here are a couple of pictures of the food I cooked last week so you can see I am actually cooking what I say I am!!


Flashy Fish Stew from Jamie Oliver's 15 Minute Meals

Beef Stew


Here is what I am cooking this week:

Monday: Salmon, new potatoes and salad

Tuesday: Chicken Kiev, new potatoes and salad

Wednesday: Soup and bread

Thursday: Cinema and meal out with hubby

Friday: Takeaway

Saturday: Fish, chips and mushy peas

Sunday: Roast Chicken Sunday Lunch


For more meal plans, please see Mrs M's linky


The Best and The Laziest Brownies In The World!!

As it is the new year and everyone has lots of resolutions to drink less, eat healthier and get fitter, I decided to do the complete opposite of that and share with you, the best and the laziest brownies in the world recipe. These brownies are so good and so easy to make, I am sure they will counter any back to work/school January blues!!!

I originally discovered this recipe through Twitter/Instagram where a couple of blogging friends were discussing something called ‘Slutty Brownies’. Even the name seemed intriguing to me and I knew I had to find out more. I was pointed to the apparent source for the original recipe on The Londoner blog. The recipe only contains three ingredients; chocolate cookie dough mix, chocolate brownie mix and Oreo cookies. Anyone can make them as they are so easy. They are called slutty as they are made with ready mixes/packages but I am sure you could make your own brownie and cookie dough mix if you like. My version of the recipe is below. For other versions, please see my fellow blogging friends:

Mari’s World

The Boy And Me

Slutty Brownies


  • 1 packet of chocolate brownie mix
  • 1 packet of cookie dough mix
  • 1 pack of Oreos
  • Eggs or water to make up packet mixes as described on the packet
  • A greased foil tray, a normal tray lined with tin foil or a greased silicone tray (The Boy And Me used a loaf tin which I think I will do next time)


  1. Make up the cookie dough mix and chocolate brownie mix as per the package instructions
  2. Put the cookie dough as a thick layer at the bottom of the tin
  3. Top with as many Oreo biscuits as your tin allows
  4. Pour the chocolate brownie mix over the top and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 20-30 minutes
  5. Eat and enjoy!!

I really urge everyone to give this recipe a go. It is so easy and delicious. It really feels like a treat which is perfect to sort out any case of the January blues!!


Happy New Year 2013 and Thank You!


Happy new year everyone! Hope you had a good one. We went to some friends for a couple of hours but had to return due to a very tired Thomas. We celebrated instead by drinking champagne and watching the fireworks. I have done a resolutions post on this blog since it started and have no plans to stop now!!

I am hoping that 2013 will be a year of change for my blog and myself too. I am looking to move the blog to self hosted so there will be some more discreet advertising on the site and my sponsored posting may increase. Any sponsored posts/advertisements will be marked clearly so you as my reader have the choice not to read them should you wish. Sponsored posts/advertisements annoy me greatly when they are on any blog in great number so I will always keep that in mind when I accept them. I will also ensure they suitable for my reader base. If they do start annoying you, please let me know.

I am also looking at setting up my own company related to the food business (more to follow in another post soon when things are in motion) part time and I have dreams of publishing an Ebook too.

I have some posts from 2012 which I need to catch up with over the next few weeks but then after it will be new content including new recipes suitable for all the family. I intend to carry on meal planning and am hoping it will be a regular feature on the blog for the future.

Thank you for keeping on reading Jo's Kitchen. It is greatly appreciated. I enter my fifth year of blogging this year and intend to keep going strong for a while yet!

Thank you all again and I hope you have a fantastic 2013!!! :-)


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