Thursday, April 7, 2011

Easter Holibags

April is the month of no return; the kids are at school for a total of approx. 7 days, the rest being dedicated to Easter holidays, bank holidays, the Royal Wedding and there may be an election in there too.   So how do you keep them entertained?   No, seriously, HOW.........?   Nah, only kidding, I have this down to a tee after years of practice.   It's a finely tuned balance of food, entertainment, jammie days and the occasional throwing money at the situation.

The secret is not to peak too early ain't that the truth....; so here's how it's going so far: Saturday after school ends, have great friends who throw a party or throw it yourself to celebrate the start of the holidays and who will supply you with a constant flow of gin and champagne, the kids a constant supply of sweeties, Easter egg hunts and dvds.   A bit of sunshine helps, if you can arrange it as an hour at the park for the kids, and only the kids, you'll be sitting sipping that gin and tonic helps tremendously.

The Sunday, arrange for some visitors...not too early, you've been drinking gin remember, but not too late either, you'll be in need of those bacon rolls and lemon cake to aid your recovery.   It just so happened it was Mothers Day...perfect; breakfast in bed, for me a toasted bagel with smoked salmon and cream cheese and huge mugs of tea....then up to make the cake and then chill on the sofa with the Sunday papers until mum and sisters arrive.   See, we're all happy; the kids are happy to see their family, adrenalin pounds at the excitement of it all tiring them out and you get to sit still.  And eat.   Doing not much at all.   That's important.  

So they've had a busy weekend, it's time to take stock and chill for a few days but only if it's raining; if it's sunny, you must go out in Glasgow as we don't know when that rare ball in the sky might surface once more or at least, throw the kids out but in general, Monday is the day for jammies, dvds, cookies, food and games.

Tuesday was a wee bit similar, truth be told I spent the day cooking, see below, but it gets them ready for a nice long walk to the train station come Wednesday for a trip the the cinema .   By 7.30pm, they're home, fed and tired and mum can go meet her pals at the pub.   


That leads us nicely to today; the girls are having a pony day where they get to clean out, pony ride etc. and me and the lad get to have some laddie time:
"So, Fraser, what shall we do today?"
"Stay in, play the Wii"
"The sun is shining, son, lets go do something"
"I think that would be good, but for now, I really think you should have a coffee and a biscuit first and why don't you go on the computer for a wee while?   You deserve it"

Hence my bloggy update.  

Now to the issue of food: this week, I cooked Martha's Beef Goulash, Moroccan Style Chicken with Couscous and my Original Chilli recipe; I've experimented over the past year with chilli, my favourite having sirloin steak in it as well as mince but you know how I like to get value for money and although it is indeed a tasty chilli, the sirloin and extra ingredients push up the cost enormously.   My original chilli costs less and is a good starting point where extra ingredients can be added.  

Helen's Original Chilli

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced (I like the long, pointed peppers as sweeter) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 500g lean minced beef
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram or mixed herbs containing marjoram
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 410g can red kidney beans 
  • Square of dark chocolate
  • Teaspoon cocoa powder
  • Half cup coffee

  1. Add oil to a large pan and add the onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium; stir occasionally.  Once the onions are soft, add the garlic, red pepper, chilli, paprika and cumin. Give it a stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Brown the mince. Turn the heat up, add the meat to the pan and brown; break up the mince with your wooden spoon.  Keep stirring and breaking up the mince until totally browned.
  3. Mix the stock cube with 300ml/1⁄2 pint of hot water. Pour this into the pan with the mince. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and the marjoram, sugar, cocoa powder, coffee, tomato puree and add a good shake of salt and pepper. Stir.
  4. Bring to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on. Turn down the heat until it is simmering and leave for 1 hour. Stir every now and then.
  5. Add the beans and chocolate.   Bring to the boil again, and gently simmer without the lid for another 15 minutes, adding a little water if you think it needs it. Taste and season well.   Have a wee bowlful because hey, you made it, you deserve it but then leave for at least an hour or overnight before serving for dinner as the flavours really get a chance to adhere.
* I serve mine with flatbread or rice, topped with a little grated cheese and natural yoghurt.
** Add chopped up chillies for an extra kick.


Janice said...

Hope you are enjoying these sunny days we've had this weekend and that you had your jammie days on Monday and Tuesday when it was persisting down!

Unknown Mami said...

Hey Beautiful, so nice to catch up with ya.

At Home With SewSuzanne said...

I just love your blog!!! So well done. I am giving you the Stylish Blog Award!!!
Happy Monday!

Jane - Kitchen Stools Direct said...

Just tried your original Chilli recipe over the weekend and served it with rice. The teens loved it. Thanks a ton!

Helen McGinn said...

Thanks lovely peeps, so sorry haven't replied sooner, been up to my neck in work. :O)

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Mark Gordon said...

I like Easter so much!
This is great holiday for me:)


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