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A(nother) Week in Dinners

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A while back Sinéad from Bumbles of Rice shared some of her family’s real life dinners and asked other mama bloggers to do the same. I shared a post several months ago when she had her last linky and now we’re at it again! I love this, partly because it’s a great way to get simple weeknight dinner ideas, but mostly because it shows the real side of bloggers’ lives – the side you don’t get to see too often. I’ll admit, I’m not proud of many of these dinners, but I work full time, mother full time and write when I can grab a spare moment. By 5 pm I simply don’t care what we eat, as long as we eat!

I am proud that there’s a lot less fast food this time around – I’d say that also has to do with living on the farm and not having any nearby fast food outlets (aside from one chipper in the village – and that’s really a once in a while thing).

I’m less proud of the lack of sunlight at 5 pm these days, making my photos not-so-enticing looking.

So here it is: my honest, barefaced, truthful week in dinners:

Last Sunday:

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I made this awesome Sriracha Meatloaf as I had mince in the fridge. We had it with creamy buttermilk mashed potatoes and a spinach & arugula salad. Maeve wouldn’t touch the green stuff but she loved the meatloaf. Patrick had seconds and then took leftovers for lunch.

Monday:

We had a smorgasbord. Hummus (shop bought), salad, cold chicken, leftover pizza from Saturday night (spinach & tomato), fruit & scones from work. A nice, hot cup of tea. Bliss (and so easy; I need easy on a Monday).

Tuesday:

I was in Dublin all day for a Bord Bia conference and didn’t get home til 7:30 – neither did Patrick, who works in Waterford. Maeve was with our (saintly) childminder til then, and we were all exhausted and starving. We had a quick meal – leftover meatloaf & mash from Sunday, beans and an egg. It was not a proper meal (not one veggie!), but did the trick.

Wednesday:

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On Wednesday Patrick worked from home, making my life slightly easier. Know what’s not easy, though? Trying to remember what I made for dinner Wednesday night.

I’m pretty sure it was the aloo gobi, though (I might have mixed up Wednesday and Thursday). I made a really easy, healthy curry with cauliflower, chickpeas, green peas and potato. The base is one large onion (sauteed in clarified butter), fresh ginger, garlic and chili, 2 tsp garam masala, 2 tsp basic curry powder, 1 heaping tsp turmeric, 2 tins of tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable broth (or just water, you don’t have to be fancy), salt & pepper and the veggies and chickpeas. We had it with basmati rice. Everyone loved it.

Thursday:

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So this is either the aloo gobi or this pasta I make once a week. It’s cheap, cheerful, easy and tasty. Pork mince, onion, mushrooms, spinach, pesto, a bit of butter, grano padano & spaghetti. Maeve’s favourite dish (she’s started saying “pash-ta”).

Friday:

I had a staff dinner at Parker’s Restaurant in Holycross, so before I left I made ham, cheese and coleslaw sandwiches. Patrick gave me a ride in and got chips for himself on the way home. I gorged on halloumi tartlet, striploin steak with onion rings & peach crumble (oh, and a little bit of wine).

Saturday:

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What a crazy busy day Saturday was. We had our first calf the night before so there was lots of work to do on the farm to get ready for all the other babies coming our way. Also, it was a nice day so we spent lots of time outside and played. Maeve and I did the weekly shop in the morning and when her dad & granddad came in later that afternoon I made pork schnitzel (boneless loin chops flattened, breaded & fried), roasted new potatoes and frozen mixed vegetables. It was just what the doctor ordered.

So there you have it; my truthful week in dinners. Frozen veggies, pre-washed salad leaves and, when in doubt, a tin of beans are truly my best friends these days. How about you? If you want to read more weeks in dinners, click on the badge at the top of the post! There are lots of great ideas out there for quick, healthy meals for parents and kids. Thanks Sinéad!

Sriracha Glazed Meatloaf

16309632331_350a999463_z So… I need to start this post by telling you how completely THRILLED I am with my new logo and header, designed by my dear friend, fellow mama, crafter extraordinaire & author of the most fabulous blog Where Wishes Come From, Sadhbh (pronounced “Sive” as in five, for all my fellow North Americans). She’s got beautiful twin girls and her gorgeously creative blog is all about celebrations and fun, achievable crafting projects for busy moms and kids. I basically look at her blog and sigh.

It’s interesting to see how others perceive you – often we’re so unsatisfied with ourselves and feel like we need to change. The likeness Sadhbh created of me left me totally floored, in a good way. She caught an inner essence I didn’t know many people saw (plus, she put a maple leaf on my chef hat! *cue happy sobbing*). So thank you, sweet Sadhbh! I hope I can return the favour tenfold.

So the blog got a bit of a makeover, and recently my meatloaf did, as well.

15691796663_70b6a9278b_z I never ate meatloaf growing up. Like brussels sprouts and liver, my mom never made it and, as a result, never made us eat it. Now I have a healthy respect for the potential meatloaf can have as a budget/kid/family friendly meal and none of the negative associations some might have acquired over the years.

Now that I’m back to work full time and Patrick is travelling to and from Waterford nearly every day, I appreciate meatloaf more than ever. How easily it comes together, how fool-proof it is, how Maeve will actually eat it. It’s not really a traditional Irish meal but my family is more than happy to wolf it down. It works on every level.

Don’t get me wrong, though. If you’re anti-meatloaf I also totally understand how it can sometimes be a soul-crushing, depression-inducing, grey-looking lump of meat if too little care is taken.

But ground beef? Streaky bacon? They’re such great flavour carriers. So much potential. 

That’s what brought me to this sriracha meatloaf. That, and when Patrick was in Boston on business last year he brought home a lot of sriracha sauce. The only issue? It was Trader Joe’s brand, not the Rooster. He thought the Trader Joe’s version might taste the same but it just doesn’t.

As a result, it’s been sitting in the fridge for awhile. Traditional meatloaf gets covered in a ketchup-based sauce, so I thought sriracha would probably work, too. And it did! Because, sriracha.

Now that I use sriracha instead of ketchup, I can’t ever go back. Adding a few more Southeast Asian ingredients to the ground beef mix only makes this meatloaf better. The Trader Joe’s sriracha sauce is a bit on the sweet side so I’ve been able to completely substitute the ketchup, but if you’re using the Rooster brand or another authentic hot brand you might want to go 50/50, to avoid it being too spicy.

Unless you like it spicy. In that case, go nuts. 16125783187_f918edc508_z Sriracha Glazed Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1 lb (about 450g) medium ground beef (you want a little fat for flavour, so try not to use lean)

1 lb smoked streaky bacon

4 slices of white bread

1 1/2 cups full fat milk OR coconut milk (if you’re feeling wild)

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced (I just squeeze in some shop-bought garlic paste)

1 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh ginger (or, see above – just buy the paste)

1/2 Tbsp chili paste

1/2 tsp dried lemongrass (optional)

2 eggs

Salt and Pepper (2 tsp each)

For the sauce:

1 cup sriracha sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius, no fan).
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, tear the bread into small chunks. Pour the milk over to soak. Add the garlic, chili, ginger, lemongrass, salt and pepper. Mix up the eggs and throw them in the bowl, too.
  • The bread should be nicely soaked by now. Using a fork, mash all the ingredients together. You want a mixture that resembles paste. You don’t want to physically see chunks of bread.
  • Add the beef to the bowl and, using your hands (take off your rings; it gets messy) mix everything together.
  • Turn the mixture out onto the baking sheet and form it into a cylindrical loaf.
  • Wrap the loaf in the streak bacon.
  • Mix the three ingredients to make the sauce. Pour half over the loaf and spread it around.
  • Bake for one hour. Let it sit for five minutes when you take it out of the oven. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top before slicing.
  • Serve with buttermilk mashed potato, stir-fried noodles or aromatic rice. Makes great leftovers!

*Tip: use a serrated knife (a bread knife) to slice the loaf. You’ll make cleaner cuts through the bacon.

Newfie-style Turkey Pie

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Happy New Year!

The holidays were a bit of a whirlwind for me. My 1.5 year old learned about, and quickly mastered the art of, opening presents. I fed eight family members and one Taiwanese co-worker on Christmas Day. I worked right up until Christmas Eve because, in the food industry, Christmas is always the busiest, most wonderful time of the year (also, I just love making cranberry sauce – can you blame me?!). Oh, and I didn’t wrap anything until the very last minute (egg nog in hand, House of Cards playing on Netflix).

I used to feel indifferent about Christmas in Ireland. I wasn’t into most Irish traditions because they felt foreign to me. This year, it felt different. Maybe it’s because I have a kid and these Irish traditions will be hers, or maybe I’m just feeling more at home in Ireland. It could also be the fact that I haven’t been home to Nova Scotia for Christmas in nearly five years. It doesn’t matter. The point is, I was looking forward to it this year, and it was a wonderful holiday.

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Christmas Eve was all about having drinks, playing games and being with family. Christmas Day was all. about. the. turkey.

And it was a really good turkey.

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I could go on about the fact that it was brined to perfection, or stuffed with herbs and lemons & basted in butter, but that would only be half the story.

In reality, a mere week before Christmas I was freaking out worried about where I’d get my turkey. It was crunch time and after a very long online search for the perfect, free-range bronze turkey I was still unsure about what to do. It’s hard buying something online when you have no idea what it will look like when it arrives at your door.

I was just about to click “send” and hope for the best, when Imen McDonnell of the acclaimed Irish blog Farmette sent out a random tweet. She was wondering if anyone wanted one of her turkeys for Christmas, as she just had them butchered and had two left to sell. This solved my problem.

Having read about these turkeys on her blog, I knew she loved them, that they had a good life and that they were definitely the size she said they were. I asked her to save one for me, sent Patrick to collect the bird from her a few days later and that was it.

The verdict on Christmas Day? It was the best turkey any of us had ever had.

Imen, I think the love and effort you put into raising your little fellas made the ultimate difference. Thanks for letting me take one of your precious flock.

Anywho.

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I still have leftover turkey in my freezer from our Christmas feast, and more of this pie is in its future. While Patrick, Maeve and I were in St. John’s this past summer, someone (aka the wonderful Stephen Lee from Mallard Cottage) told us we should go to Fabulous Foods for our lunch. It’s kind of a takeaway/deli on Merrymeeting Road (well off the trodden path) and is a favourite local haunt – mostly because of their addictive turkey pie and generous servings of fries, dressing & gravy (real Newfoundland food).

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Months after being there I still daydream about this pie – the flaky crust, moist (but not soupy) filling, the fact that you can eat it with or without utensils. We were with my best bud from university & her partner. We took our pies to a local park and ate while Maeve crawled around. It was a great day to begin with, but the pie made it better (how many times have I ended a sentence with that?).

This recipe is just me having go at re-creating the pie. It’s a pretty decent effort, but I haven’t had any Newfies around to taste-test so can’t be sure. The pies at Fabulous Foods are smaller as they’re meant to be an entire portion, while this one feeds 8-10 people.

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Newfie-style Turkey Pie

Ingredients:

1 recipe shortcrust pie dough (use butter!)

2 cups cooked, shredded turkey

2 cups cold stuffing (yup, the stuffing from Christmas dinner!), roughly chopped

2 cups gravy (again, I used leftover gravy from Christmas dinner)

Handful or fresh sage, finely chopped OR 2 tsp dried savory 

1 cup frozen peas

1 Tbsp butter

Sea salt & pepper, to taste

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:

  • Make your pie dough, divide in half & chill for 30 minutes.
  • While the dough chills, melt the butter in a big pan. Add the shredded turkey, stuffing, sage or savory & gravy. Cook slowly until everything comes together to a simmer. Take off the heat. Season to taste.
  • Add the frozen peas to the mix and toss. Set aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan).
  • Roll out one half of the pie dough. Use it to line the bottom of a large pie pan.
  • Add the turkey filling to the pie pan (don’t worry if it looks like it’s too much).
  • Roll out the other half of the pie dough and place over the top of the pie pan. Lightly press the edges of the pie dough together, trim the excess dough (leaving about 1/2 inch of overhang), fold the edges inwards and flute or press down with a fork. Cut a few slits in the top of the pie so steam will be able to escape.
  • Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the top of the pie with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. Serve with mashed potato (and, if your chives are growing in January like mine are, add some to the mash).

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Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season!

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