24 December 2011

Meal planning to Christmas!

This week's meal plan is a remarkable thing.  I say that, because right up until Christmas Day (Sunday), hubby has chosen (and is doing the lion's share of the cooking) all the meals.  I'm really not sure how or why this has happened, but I am grateful for it - as it has given me a couple of hours' space in each day, with which to catch up with the blog here!

So, without further ado, here is what is on the menu this week :

Tues : Pizza for son & heir plus Green
Pesto, Red Pepper, Olive & Goat Cheese Tart with salad for us adults.
Wed : Bolognese Pasta
Thur : Chicken & Sweetcorn Dinner Wraps, Broccoli, Carrots & Green Beans
with a parsley sauce
Fri : Bacon & Asparagus Risotto
Sat (Xmas Eve) : Chinese Takeaway
Sun (Xmas Day) : Roast Sirloin of Beef, Ottolenghi's Fennel & Cherry Tomato Crumble Gratin, Roasted Butternut Squash, Roast Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon,
Yorkshire Puddings and Port Gravy.
Mon : (Boxing Day) Sandwiches.

Exciting stuff, eh?

The Tart we had on Tuesday was one which we decided on the filling for, then went out and bought each ingredient.  It was absolutely fantastic - and together with the salad of beetroot, cucumber and salad leaves - was such a great success.

Watch out for the blog post which details the tart, as you'll undoubtedly want to give it a go!

Wednesday's Bolognese Pasta started out life as an ordinary Bolognese sauce to be had over spirali pasta.  However, hubby had a number of great ingredients at his fingertips and used them well.  He included red wine along with char-grilled red peppers - and had the expert help of son & heir, who decided to become involved somewhere along the line.

Hubby Head Chef also became down-graded to Sous Chef somewhere along the line too - and son & heir took up the mantle of being Head Chef to the point of dishing up.  He did a good job - and it was nice to see him interested in cooking, as his guitar has taken up all of his attention, just lately.

The end result was really very nice indeed - a lovely change from a thick tomato sauce.  I'd have quite happily continued eating that, if I hadn't have filled up so quickly!

Thursday's Chicken & Sweetcorn Dinner Wraps was something that I had a lot of trouble getting my head around.  Hubby had a picture in his mind, though, that he was going for - and it was based around a Chicken & Sweetcorn Crepe.  The wraps we use, these days, are corn wraps (as they're better for me than flour wraps) and I was having trouble seeing how they were going to go with broccoli, carrots and green beans along with parsley sauce.

Having both seen and tasted the dish, I take my hat off to him - as the chicken & sweetcorn was dressed in a lovely white sauce, all of which was wrapped in a corn wrap and then baked in the oven.  This, basically, converted the wrap into a kind of pie affair - which worked perfectly.  I was surprised and delighted by this one - and will blog the recipe in due course, as it's very well worth passing on.

Friday found poor old hubby in the kitchen yet again, this time creating one of his legendary risottos.  Son & heir had requested a chorizo risotto, which had somehow transmogrified into a "something with bacon" risotto by the time we got to doing the shopping list.  Knowing that son & heir likes asparagus - and in our efforts to encourage any eating of anything green - we swallowed our reluctance to buy out of season vegetables and bought some Moroccan asparagus.  The ensuing Asparagus & Bacon risotto was completely gorgeous, as only hubby's risotto can be.

Saturday (Christmas Eve) is our one guaranteed night off from cooking.  We've tried to make it a family tradition that on Christmas Eve we always have a takeaway of one sort or another.  Financial constraints have precluded us from carrying out this tradition in the past, but we're living up to it this year.  We must be getting better at forward planning, or something!  I understand that, at the last count, we had all voted for a Chinese.  Suits me!

Which brings us to Christmas Day.

Now then, where else would I begin, but with breakfast?  In years gone by, we've had a "special" breakfast on Christmas Day.  However, what with all the unwrapping of son & heir's Christmas stocking, then cooking the breakfast, the day has begun to slip behind on timings before we've even started.

So this year, we're going to have a bit of a French breakfast of coffee, croissants and pain au chocolat - which is a whole lot easier to prepare and clear up from and which will (hopefully) buy us a bit more time.  Of course, what we'll spend that time doing will probably be teasing son & heir about when we're going to be opening the main presents, plus teasing the poor boy that he's got Vegetable Casserole for lunch and teasing him a bit more that we've decided not to watch t.v. in the evening and play Ludo instead.  He'll be begging for eggs & bacon for breakfast next year.

We've decided to eschew the traditional Turkey for Christmas lunch this year.  After all, how could we hope to beat the superlative Kelly Bronze Turkey that came in the Foreman & Field box from Knorr?  Just couldn't be done - not on our budget, anyway - and, to be honest, we've done the Roast Turkey thing now and are looking for something different.

Hence, we popped down to the local Butcher this morning and picked up our 1kg piece of Sirloin of Beef.  1kg doesn't look like much, represented in Sirloin, does it?  Still, it's large enough for the three of us for a Christmas Dinner, which is what it's all about.

To accompany the beef, I'm planning on making the Ottolenghi Fennel & Cherry Tomato Crumble Gratin (which is just glorious), some roasted Butternut Squash (tossed with salt, pepper & garlic), some roast Potatoes for son & heir (he loves them), the ubiquitous Brussels Sprouts with bacon (it's not Christmas unless you've had a sprout), Yorkshire Puddings and a good beef gravy (which may well morph into a port gravy) - all accompanied by various mustards and horseradish sauce, of course.

My Mum has provided us with the traditional Christmas Pudding and I'm hoping that this next year she'll be prepared to hand the job of making the puddings for the family over to me.  Not that her puddings are bad - far from it, they are normally incredibly rich and delicious (if a tad heavy on the nuts!) - but I'd just like to a) take the weight of the task from her shoulders and b) feel that the baton has been handed over.

Christmas Day afternoon, I shall have to make an Avocado Pie to take to my parents' house the following day, as I said we'd only accept the invitation if she let me do dessert!  I'm looking forward to another Avocado Pie, as the last one was super-delicious.

We're all into simplicity on Christmas Day evening - and if anyone gets peckish, I've laid in several boxes of "chuck it in the oven" party nibbles.  We've cheese (Cheddar, Stilton, Red Leicester and a fabulously fragrant (*cough*) Pie d'Angloys which is currently stinking out the fridge) and crackers, together with piccalilli and olives - not to mention the mince pies, nuts and fruit that are the unspoken backbone to Christmas.  So I don't think we'll starve.

Boxing Day takes us off to spend best part of the day with my parents, as I said above.  I'm looking forward to the meal we'll be sharing, as my expectation (I may be proved wrong!) is that we'll be having our traditional Boxing Day lunch of cold turkey, bubble & squeak (drool!), fried potatoes (drool again!), buttered new potatoes (excessive, I know), baked beans, peas and carrots.  Hubby couldn't quite believe his eyes the first time we sat down to this meal, as he considers that a carrot should never share plate space with baked beans.  Along with the pickled walnuts and Branston pickle, redcurrant jelly, cold devils on horseback and cold stuffing balls, this is my favourite dinner EVER.

I can't help but think that, next week, we'll be on salads so as to get over all the rich food.  But hey!  It's Christmas!

Here's wishing you and yours the best Christmas ever, with lots of great food, big happy surprises, good health and loving company.


  1. I'm determined to keep my boxing day meals light and virtuous, but looking at the menu plan is making me hungry again. I hope you had a merry xmas!

  2. Our Boxing Day dinner was at my Parents' house - and as hoped (by me, if nobody else! lol) we had cold turkey, bubble & squeak, baked beans, carrots, pickles (including pickled walnuts) and all the lovely things that make up our traditional Boxing Day dinner. It was lovely! We had a very quiet Christmas Day - just the three of us - but it was lovely, all the same.

  3. I've not really noticed corn wraps before, will have to have a look next time I am shopping!

    Wraps I've found do bake well, remember many moons baking filling them with chilli, then topping with a creamy tomato sauce and baking, was delicious! Sadly have to avoid tomatoes nowadays but was successful!

    Hope you had a great Christmas, happy new year! xx

  4. I generally find them in amongst the Mexican stuff, Anne. Our Asda puts wraps in about 3 different places - but corn ones are only in the mexican bit.

    Yes, hubby makes some lovely chilli burritos like that - gorgeous! :)


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