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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.
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
Saturday: Night out with Stuart
Sunday: To be decided
For more meal plans, please see Mrs M's linky
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!
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.
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
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
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
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
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