Chargrilled Vegetable Pasta

Left over dips and a zest free lemon

What is a person to do with a spoonful of olive dip, a couple of spoons of aubergine and red pepper dip and a zestless lemon?

Chargrilled veg pasta

Add a few other ingredients and create an awesome pasta dish, that’s what!

This is a bit of an unfair recipe really, because unless you’ve made the olive dip and the aubergine and red pepper dip that I’ve previously posted, and have some leftover, then you won’t be able to make this exact dish.

Still, I decided to post anyway partly because those factors might have aligned for you, but perhaps more to demonstrate the fundamental principle that making pasta sauce is a good way to use up leftover dips like these, or salsa, or a bean dip, or any other non-creamy dip really.

Orange bell pepper and artichokes in oil

Ingredients
Enough pasta for your serving requirements
3-4 tablespoons of leftover dips (the non-creamy variety)
1 red onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
A splash or two of olive oil
Passata – probably about 150-200ml
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
A couple of squeezes of lemon juice
Vegetables for chargrilling – I used an orange bell pepper and some artichokes in lemon oil but courgettes, aubergines and the like would be great too.
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
Music

Put your pasta on to cook – follow instructions on packet – when ready, drain and keep warm.

Chargrilled vegetables

Meanwhile, brush your chosen vegetables with oil and cook on a very hot griddle or grill, until chargrilled.  Conveniently, this should take about the same amount of time as it does for the pasta to cook and for you to make the sauce 🙂

If they’re done sooner, pop them on a plate and keep them warm.

Red onion, thyme and garlic

Heat a splash of oil in a large pan and cooked the diced onions until just starting to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for a few more moments.

Passata

Add your leftover dips and enough passata to loosen the mixture but not make it runny – today we’re making a coating sauce, not a bowl of soup 😉

Tip in your cooked pasta and gently stir to make sure it’s all well coated with sauce.

Squeeze in the lemon juice and sprinkle over the thyme leaves, stir and allow to warm through for another minute or so.

Arrange vegetables on top

Season to taste and serve with chargrilled vegetables arranged on top.

Beam with pride – by using up leftovers instead of leaving them at the back of the fridge to fester quietly into the afterlife, you did a little bit to help the planet.

Tuck into your dinner with gusto (or some other dining companion if you prefer 😉 )

x

Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Blue Cheese Sauce

This recipe arose due to the need to use up several bits and pieces in the Renegade stores – the cheese and cream being the main driving factors.
Oh the hardship 😉
The resulting dish turned out to be very quick and easy to make, but felt like a real treat – another great midweek meal.

Chicken with mushrooms and blue cheese sauceServes 2

Ingredients
2 skinless chicken breasts
a sprinkling of olive oil
6-8 mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 knobs of butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75-100ml white wine
1 chicken stockpot/stock cube
2 dessert spoons (ish) of crème fraîche – leave it out if you don’t have any
1 large tablespoon of cream cheese – I used chive flavoured Philadelphia
100-125ml double cream
125-150g gorgonzola, cubed – or other blue cheese of your choice
2 teaspoons of fresh parsley, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

Depending on the cheese you use, and how much of it, you may also need a couple of heaped teaspoons of cornflour, mixed to a runny paste with a little cold water, to thicken the sauce

Music

First you need to butterfly your chicken breasts.

Place your hand flat on top of the chicken – this holds it still and keeps your fingers out of the way at the same time.

Use a sharp pointed knife, and starting at the fat end of the breast, slice across the chicken, almost but not quite cutting it in half. It should still be joined at one edge and you should be able to open it up like a book – or a butterfly’s wings.

cover with cling flim and bash

Once you’ve done that, cover with cling film and bash with a rolling pin.  Not too much – you want to tenderise and flatten it, not pulp and obliterate it.

Rub lightly with olive oil and cook on a preheated grill, turning once, for around 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.

mushrooms

Meanwhile, melt a knob of butter in a large pan and heat until it foams.

Add your sliced mushrooms in a single layer and cook, turning once, until both sides are beautifully browned.  Remove from pan but keep warm.

sauce ingredients

Make your sauce by melting a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat then cooking the crushed garlic for a minute or so.

Add wine and stockpot/cube and heat until stockpot has melted.

Add cream cheese, crème fraîche, cream and blue cheese and continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the cheese has melted.  Do not allow to boil.

If necessary, thicken with a little cornflour paste.

Stir in chopped parsley and plenty of black pepper.

Chicken mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Place cooked chicken breast onto a warmed plate, arrange sautéed mushrooms on top and pour over the blue cheese sauce.

Chicken breast with mushrooms and blue cheese sauce

Served with petit pois and green beans sautéed in herb butter, and oven baked sweet potato chips.

x

Thai Style Meatballs with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Thai style meatballs on noodles

Fragrantly spiced meatballs on a bed of noodles, smothered in a creamy but fiery peanut sauce: a quick, easy and very tasty meal, ideal for mid-week when cooking motivation is fading and take-out food is looking appealing.  Way better than ordering in, and not that much more effort.

meatball ingredientsIngredients

For the meatballs
500g minced meat (I used beef here but go with what you like)
4-5 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 dessert spoon fresh ginger root, grated
½ lime – zest and juice
A small handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
1 egg

curry paste ingredientsFor the sauce
1 tin coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons peanut butter – smooth or crunchy, as is your desire

For the curry paste
6-7 shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
3-4 red chillies
1 teaspoon peppercorns – crushed
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)
½ lemon – zest only
½ lime – zest and juice
A handful of fresh coriander leaves

A couple of tablespoons of oil for frying

Noodles or rice to serve

Music

You’ll need a plate or tray for putting the rolled meatballs on – one that will fit in your fridge.  Got one?  Grand!

all the meatball ingredients in a bowl

Put all the meatball ingredients into a bowl and, using your hands, mix together.

roll into balls

Shape into 16-20 small meatballs and chill in the fridge for about 20 minutes (or 10 in the freezer, but don’t forget about them!)

prepared curry paste ingredients

Put all the curry paste ingredients into a food processor.  Or you can use a pestle and mortar – it brings out more oils, and therefore flavours, but my word do you have to work for them!

ground to a paste

Grind to a thick paste.

Coconut milk

Heat around a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan until it reaches sizzling point then add your curry paste.  Cook, stirring, for a few minutes then add coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer.

Peanut butter

Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter and continue to heat until sauce has thickened.  You may need to use a hand whisk to bring together the oils.  Keep warm on a low heat while you fry up your meatballs; stir occasionally to keep it from sticking.

Thai style meatballs with spicy peanut sauce

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and cook the meatballs until they’re evenly browned all over and piping hot in the middle.

Arrange meatballs on noodles or rice, pour over peanut sauce and finish with a sprinkling of chopped spring onion.

Ta da!  Dinner’s done!

x

Stuffed Peppers

After a slightly confused conversation with Chef J recently I feel I should explain something, for the benefit of the non-European readers amongst you: what we call ‘minced’ beef/pork/lamb you would call ‘ground’ meat.

You should also be aware that mincemeat (all one word) has nothing to do with meat at all (any more) and is in fact a sweet mixture made with dried fruit, spices, suet and sugar, used for filling pies at Christmas. I say ‘any more’ because originally there was chopped up meat in the mixture; I believe it was a way of using up roast meat left overs, with the spices used to help disguise the less than fresh quality of said meat, but that may be wrong…who knows what went on in the minds of 17th century cooks?!

Does that all make sense?  We don’t want any Rachel’s trifle type dishes now, do we 😉

halved peppers

Serves 4 hungry people

Ingredients
4 red peppers, washed halved and de-seeded
500g minced pork (or beef or lamb – as you fancy)
1-2 red onions, finely diced
1-2 celery sticks, finely diced
1-2 carrots, finely diced (no need to peel unless they’re very old carrots)
a good glug of olive oil
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 red chillies, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 slices of cheese – not pre-sliced, processed nastiness – some slabs of something good, like a very mature cheddar, carved from the block.  Don’t forget to eat one or two pieces, for quality control purposes.

For the sauce
a splosh of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 courgette, diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock pot/stock cube
½ a glass of white wine (optional)

Music

Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C/350°F

diced courgette and onion with tinned tomatoesFor the sauce – heat the olive oil, add onions and courgettes and cook over a low heat until the onions begin to caramelise (go a little bit brown and sticky!)

Add wine, tinned tomatoes and stock pot. Stir well to mix, bring to a simmer then turn off heat and set to one side.

diced red onion, carrot and celeryIn a different pan, heat a small amount of oil, add minced pork and cook, stirring, until there is no pink left.  Drain off any excess fat, put in a bowl and set to one side.

Now heat another glug of olive oil, add onions, celery and carrots and cook over a medium to low heat until soft but not brown.

spices and chopped garlicAdd chillies, garlic and spices and cook for another minute or so.

Throw the cooked meat back in and give it a good stirring to be sure everything’s mixed well.

Pour a layer of sauce into the bottom of an oven proof dish,keeping a few tablespoons in reserve for topping your peppers.

slices of cheese on topFill each pepper half with meat mixture, squashing it down well with the back of your spoon. Top each one with a spoonful of the reserved sauce and a slice of cheese then place into the sauce bedded dish.

Baked peppersBake in the preheated oven for around 45 minutes, or until the pepper has cooked. To test cookedness, you’ll have to put on you asbestos fingers and give it a little squeeze – I know of no other way!

served on a bed of riceServe on a bed of steamed rice with now thickened sauce spooned over or around.
x

Cod & Chorizo Stew

The weather had been fractious all day and by evening it was building itself up into a proper little temper tantrum – the wind was flinging things around streets and gardens, and the rain was sounding like small stones as it hit the windows in intermittent bursts.  It was a night most conducive to snuggling on the sofa, watching something silly on TV and eating something from a bowl.

Served codI’d taken some cod loin out of the freezer, intending to have it roasted with vegetables, but that plan was quickly cancelled in favour of this cod and chorizo stew.

In the process of making it I discovered a terrible gap in our spice collection…

Edvard_Munch_-_The_Scream_-_Google_Art_Project…no smoked paprika!! 😉

I’ve included paprika in the recipe because, although good without, the dish needed it to elevate it to wonderful status.

Ingredients
300g cod loin, cut into chunks
A splosh of olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2-3 celery sticks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
100g chorizo, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½-1 teaspoon dried oregano
½-1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
Approx. 250ml dry cider (or dry white wine)
2 tins chopped tomatoes
10-12 cherry tomatoes
1 vegetable stockpot (or stock cube)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

(Always makes me think of Chef J 🙂 )

First, make sure the living room’s ready for your return – close the curtains, turn on the lamps, get the cushions just how you like them…

Ok, now we’re ready to cook!
Diced onion, celery and carrotYou need a pan with a lid.  Heat the oil in that pan and add chopped onions, celery and carrot.  Swish everything around to make sure it’s well mixed and lightly coated with oil.  Cook over a low temperature, with the lid on, for 15-20 minutes.  Stir and prod occasionally.

Chopped chorizo and dried oregano

Add chorizo, oregano, garlic, smoked paprika, and most of the thyme (keep some back for garnish) and cook for a further 3-5 minutes.Chopped red pepperAdd chopped pepper and continue to cook over a low heat, with the lid on, until your pepper is just soft around the edges and your mix looks…Cooked soffritto with chorizo and peppers…something like this!

CiderTurn up the heat a little, add cider (or wine) and simmer with the lid off until the liquid is reduced by about half.

Cherry tomatoes

Veg stockpot

Add tinned tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and stockpot (or cube).  Simmer for 10-15 minutes, with the lid off, until liquid has reduced and started to thicken.From this to this

Before and after reduction: not the best pictures but if you click on them to enlarge and study them quite closely, like a spot the difference, you can see the changes 😉
Add cod chunksAdd cod chunks, pop the lid back on and cook for a further 3-5 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through.

Cooked codSeason to taste, sprinkle over reserved thyme and serve with mashed potatoes or crusty bread.  Or both.

Cod & Chorizo Stew with Mashed PotatoesNow, take your bowl and go snuggle up in your cosy living room 🙂
x

Herb crusted pork with apple and dried plum stuffing

Some experimenting took place on the 10th and final day of the Cupboard Challenge when I needed to use up pork chops, apples and cider, but didn’t want to go the obvious (and for us, usual) route of pork in apple and cider sauce.

Plated chopsDeeper cupboard digging and a bit more thought produced these rather tasty herb encrusted, fruit stuffed pork chops.  Not the prettiest dish ever, but fine tasting!

CognacSoaking the dried plums in brandy or cognac isn’t entirely necessary, but I felt it added a welcome extra flavour dimension.  If you haven’t got any hanging around, don’t worry, just skip the first step of the recipe.

To serve two

Ingredients
2 boneless pork chops
5-6 soft dried plums (prunes), chopped
3-4 tablespoons brandy or cognac
A splash of olive oil
A knob of butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 eating apple, skin on, chopped
Small sprig of fresh sage leaves
1-2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
Packet of dried gluten free sage & onion stuffing mix (or you could mix gluten free breadcrumbs, chopped herbs and a little grated cheese – or you could use wheaty versions if gluten doesn’t hurt you)
Approx. 150ml dry cider
150ml (ish) single cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

Set the oven to preheat at gas mark 5/190°C/375°F

Dried plums

If using brandy/cognac, place chopped prunes into a shallow bowl and sprinkle over alcohol.

Sage and onionAppleHeat olive oil and gently cook chopped onion and apple.  Don’t brown them, just soften them.

Apple, onion and dried plumsAdd chopped dried plums and brandy; continue to cook, stirring, until liquid has cooked off (if you haven’t soaked the plums, you obviously won’t need to do this step!)

Wholegrain mustardRemove from heat.  Stir in wholegrain mustard then set to one side until cool enough to handle.

Pork chopsUsing a sharp knife, carefully cut slits into the pork chops to create pockets for the stuffing.

Stuffed chopsFill pockets with cooked apple, dried plum and onion mix.  There will be mixture left over…keep this for making the sauce.

I didn’t feel it necessary, but if you’d like to quickly brown off each side of your chops in a hot frying pan, now’s the time.

Gf stuffing mixMake up the gluten free stuffing mix using slightly less water than indicated on the packet, and adding in a good knob of butter.

Topped chopsPress mix onto stuffed chops, cover loosely with tin foil and pop into preheated oven to bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on the size and stuffedness of chops).

Baked chopsRemove tin foil for last 10-15 minutes of cooking to allow topping to crisp up and brown.

Single creamWhile the pork is baking, make the sauce:

Add cider to the remaining cooked apple, plum and onion mix, simmer until liquid is reduced to around half.

Tip into a food processor/blender, add cream and blitz.

Return to pan and cook down until thickened.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

Plated chopsSpoon a puddle of sauce onto the plate and place pork chop on top.  We had ours with mashed potato and broccoli, which was ok; however, I think a mixed root mash and mangetout would have been even better.  What do you think?
x

Quick and Easy Creamy Seafood Stew

Much as I want to forge ahead with posting recipes from the birthday banquet, I really should finish up the Cupboard Challenge recipes first.  After all, one purpose of this blog is to help me practice discipline, to learn to see one project through before flitting off to another 😉

This seafood stew, from day eight of the challenge, used up some odds ‘n’ sods of fishy things from the freezer – a hot-smoked salmon fillet, a handful of king prawns and a bake-in-the-bag cod thing bought by Barn on an occasion when he’d been left to fend for himself.  You can easily amend the recipe according to what you have available.

To serve two

Ingredients
A glug of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
A small portion of frozen peas
A really good slug of white wine. In fact, make it two.
300ml chicken stock (or even better, fish stock)
2 teaspoons cornflour, mixed to a paste with cold water
Approx. 400g mixed seafood (if frozen, defrosted; if fillets or large pieces, cut into chunks)
Approx. 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
A pinch of fresh thyme leaves
About half a tub of crème fraîche
Lots of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt
Music

Ready to make an easy, satisfying dinner?  Ok then, let’s get cracking…

Carrot, celery, onionHeat the olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion, carrot and celery on a low heat, for 10-15 minutes, until soft but not brown.

GarlicAdd the crushed garlic and cook for another minute or so.

Frosty peas

Toss in the frozen peas.  They don’t have to be as frosty as these ones.White wineGlug in the wine and simmer on a high heat until reduced to about half.

Pour in the stock, add the cornflour mix, turn up the heat slightly and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.

Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened.

SeafoodSeason, then add the seafood…

Chopped herbs…and thyme, and most of the parsley.

creme fraicheSimmer for a few more minutes, until fish is piping hot, then stir in the crème fraîche.

Creamy Seafood StewHeat gently for a another minute, just to bring the temperature back up, then scatter with the remaining parsley.  Add more black pepper.  Serve with buttered, crusty bread.
x

Stinky mushrooms (mushrooms in blue cheese)

Day 7 of the Cupboard Challenge presented an unmotivated Renegade household with mushrooms and blue cheese that urgently needed using up…it really had to be stinky mushrooms.  This was absolutely no hardship, because stinky mushrooms are flippin’ delicious!

They make the perfect, easy wind down meal for a stay-in Friday (she says, as if on a ‘normal’ Friday social fluttering is the standard order of things – there are  pandas with more active social lives than mine).  These mushrooms also make a great starter when served in individual dishes and browned off under a hot grill.

For this meal we had them with baked potatoes.  If you’re planning to do the same and they’re not yet ready, I suggest you whack those spuds into the oven straight away.  Now bugger off to do something else until 10 minutes before they’re done.

Back so soon?

To serve two

Ingredients
5-6 decent sized mushrooms (chestnut ones are great but we only had white ones in)
A knob of butter and a little oil
Approx 150ml Single cream
1 teaspoon-ish mustard
A chunk of blue cheese – cubed
A tiny end piece of Parmesan – grated (optional)
A handful of fresh parsley – roughly chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

MushroomsClean or peel mushrooms, and slice.
Browned mushrooms

Heat butter and oil in a frying pan then add the mushrooms.

If you want to make sure you get beautifully browned fungi, remember Julia’s edict: “Don’t crowd the mushrooms!” 😉  Cook in batches; drain on kitchen roll.

Cheese sauce ingredients

Cheese sauceWipe the pan clean with kitchen roll.  Add cream, cheese (both blue and Parmesan, if using) and mustard; stir over a low heat until cheese has melted.

Add mushrooms back into pan and stir to coat with sauce.

Adjust seasoning to taste and stir in chopped parsley.

Baked potatoIf you’re having this as a starter or stand alone dish, pile the mushrooms into individual dishes, top with a little grated parmesan and brown under a hot grill.

If you’re having the mushrooms in baked potatoes, cut open the spuds, slather in some butter and add a good dose of black pepper.
Served in baked potatoes, with saladPile sauced mushrooms into baked potatoes and serve with a salad of chopped apple, celery and rocket (no dressing required).

Eat with feet up, while watching nonsense TV.  If possible, wash it all down with an ice cold bottle of cider.

And relaaax….
x

Fantastically Flavoursome Pasta Bake

Day 6 of the Cupboard Challenge, and in the process of preparing dishes for Big Sis’ impending birthday celebration I’d managed to add a couple of red peppers to our supplies.  For a short while I was worried that this might be cheating, but then I remembered…this is my game so I can make up the rules.

It’s not cheating.
To any VIPs reading this: I know, and I’ll say it before you do – 7 or 47, some things never change 😀

The beauty of this dish, as with much of what we cook, is that it’s pretty willing to flex according to what you have in your stores.  Treat the following as a guide…this is by no means a recipe that needs to be slavishly followed!

OrecchietteNote however, that the shape of your pasta does make a difference to the finished dish.  I like to use orecchiette for this as all the chopped pieces of meat and veg get caught and held in the pasta dimples.  Little tubes, like tortiglioni work well too, as do the small shell shapes of conchigliette.  Long pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine is not so great.

Number of servings depends on how much of everything you use, and on how big the receiving appetites are.;-)

Ingredients
Sufficient cooked pasta for your serving requirements.
Courgette – diced
Red pepper – diced
Soffritto
 Dried porcini mushrooms – soaked in hot water for around 30 mins (keep the liquid for the sauce)
A handful of diced pancetta
A splash of olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan for topping

Sauce Ingredients
Another splash of olive oil
Crushed garlic – a lot or a little, as you prefer
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a good splash of the mushroom soaking liquid
1 chicken stock pot (or stock cube)
Approx. 150g crème fraîche (or more, or less…flexible, remember? 😉 )
A few sprigs of fresh thyme – leaves picked from stalks
More sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Music

Got your groove on?  And your apron if you wear one?  Let’s set to it then…

Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200°C/400°F.

Put your cooked pasta into a large bowl.

Drain the mushrooms (keeping the liquid) and roughly chop – add to the pasta.

Prepared vegHeat the oil and cook the soffritto over a medium heat until it starts to soften.  Turn up the heat a little and add the red pepper and courgettes; continue to cook until the peppers are just beginning to soften and the courgettes are starting to brown.

Add to the pasta and mushrooms.

Cubed pancettaChuck the pancetta into the same pan used for the vegetables, and fry until beginning to crisp.  Soak off excess fat with kitchen roll, then add to pasta and veg.

Pasta mixMix pasta, veg and pancetta together, season with salt and pepper, then tip into a shallow, oven proof dish.

See what I mean about those lovely veggies getting held in the pasta?  Like teeny tiny serving bowls they are 😉

Garlic and thymeNow for the sauce:  wipe out your pan with kitchen roll, leaving the thinnest layer of pancetta fat…sauté the crushed garlic in that (just a few seconds)

Tinned chopped tomatoes

Chicken stockpotAdd the chopped tomatoes, stock pot and some mushroom liquid.  Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Creme fraicheRemove pan from heat.  Stir in crème fraîche, thyme leaves, salt and pepper.

Liberally sprinkled with grated parmesanPour sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan.  Be liberal but not insanely generous…you want it to crisp up a bit, not end up in a gloopy blob.

Baked cheese often seems to look burned in my photos - in reality this was perfectly browned ;-)
Baked cheese often seems to look burned in my photos – in reality this was perfectly browned 😉

Bake in the preheated oven for around 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbling.

Pasta bake with baked fennelOn this occasion we had baked fennel on the side, but a fresh green salad is good too.

In its baked form this dish wasn’t wildly photogenic…but does it really matter when something tastes this good?
x

Steak ‘n’ salad

The last few days have been utter madness.

Firstly, someone drove into the back of the car Barn was travelling to work in.  Fortunately no-one was seriously injured, and for that I am truly grateful.

However, Barn and one of his colleagues sustained some damage to neck, shoulder and back.  Barn has been a little vexed and cranky about this; not because of the discomfort per se, more because it’s impeding his usual gym routine – challenging times for this born again fitness enthusiast (and his long suffering wife 😉 )

Additionally, things have been particularly  demanding at the day job – it’s one of our busy periods, so long and late shifts are currently fairly standard. On top of that it seems that anything that could go wrong, has been going wrong, particularly anything computerised; we barely get one thing sorted when another implodes. Pile on top of that a couple of ‘problem’ employees, impending deadlines for important paperwork, and a sudden procedural change that requires my whole team to be retrained.  A tad stressful.

Crazy EmpressNow, just for good measure, let’s add in the Crazy Empress, who has suddenly decided to spend 90% of her waking time sitting at closed doors crying to be let in/out.  It’s not that she wants to actually be somewhere…she just wants to be on the other side of any closed door.  As soon as you let her through, she wants to come back again.  So essentially, all internal house doors must be open, or she will cry.  That’s such fun!

MoochFinally, we have Mooch who, never wanting to be left out of anything, has decided to cry every time the cat does.  Not for anything, just because the cat’s doing it.  It’s like having a pair of toddlers in the house.

Perhaps then, you will understand why on Day 5 of the Cupboard Challenge, I was seeking the easiest of easy food?  Comfort food with a vitamin punch was needed, sought and found in the form of steak, baked potato, salad and blue cheese dressing.

And some music to go with it…

I’m absolutely positive you don’t need me to tell you how to cook a steak, so I’m not going to.

Steak, baked potato and saladI used up a lovely little piece of fillet steak that had been loitering in a corner of the freezer just waiting for me to want it;  Barn had half a chicken but I forgot to photograph that.  I’m sure you can imagine what half a roast chicken looks like.

Salad stuffI’m pretty sure you can bake a potato and make a salad too.  This is what went into my salad.

Blue cheese dressingI made a blue cheese dressing by mashing some Danish Blue together with mayonnaise; in the absence of soured cream I loosened it with a little balsamic dressing.  The consistency was more like a dip and visually it was a bit like cement, but my word, it tasted divine!

Steak, salad and baked potatoAnd there you have it – a simple, comforting, nutritious dinner to fortify the flagging Renegades.

I hope you’re all having a smoother week than we are?

If not, hang in there, the weekend’s coming! 🙂

x