Now that school has started again, we are once more in the plod of normality. For all that people (particularly the mass media) talk about parents 'surviving' the holidays I, for one, love them. To have both my babies at home all day, every day, is heaven for me. To make our own rules and basically have fun for 6 weeks at a pop is even better than that.
Back to reality means back to the routines of old; planning our meals and shopping less often. It also means checking the school meals plan so as not to give Chris the same, or similar, meals twice in one day. I am very keen on the ethos os this, and sit down every week to plan our meals add make my shopping list. Some weeks have meals more elaborate than others, by reason of visitors or out-of-the-ordinary events. But the eve of the weekend, especially the end of the first full week back seemed to demand a fanfare of some sort. Friday night is, after all, always a special occasion, however small!
Fruity Spiced Chicken
6-8 chicken thighs
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
2 tsp Jamaican jerk seasoning
200ml pineapple juice
50g creamed coconut
1/2 tsp cornflour
Put the peppers in an ovenproof dish. Slash the chicken pieces a couple of times, then lay them on top of the peppers. Sprinkle the jerk seasoning over the chicken and pat it into the skin. Heat the pineapple juice to boiling point, then blend in the coconut and cornflour. Pour this over the chicken, letting it run into the dish, then bake at 180°c for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is well cooked.
This was lovely served with plain rice (courtesy, as always, of the sainted rice machine) to soak up the lovely juices but, as usual, I felt it necessary to gild the lily; my Black Bean and Sweetcorn Salad provided the extra note required. This is so easy, a quick assembly job in the morning that even I can cope with (having two children under 5 and a 10 mile drive to school of a morning).
I cook the black beans by soaking them in boiling water from the kettle for an hour, then bunging in the slow-cooker with more boiling water from the kettle and leaving them overnight, before draining them, rinsing them with cold water and continuing as below. I realise that not everyone has a slow-cooker to cook the beans this way, but no matter. Some supermarkets sell canned black beans (not ours yet, sadly) Happily, even if you do, like me, live deep in the heart of Banjo-land, Mexgrocer can provide you with canned black beans by mail-order. Hooray for the internet!
Black Bean and Sweetcorn Salad
This does make a lot, but it is lovely for lunch, especially in a tortilla 'wrap' with some sour cream or guacamole (or both for that matter).
140g dried black beans, soaked and cooked
250g sweetcorn, defrosted if frozen
4 spring onion, chopped finely
handful chopped parsley
juice of 1/2 lime
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground chilli
Combine all the ingredients in a big bowl. Stir well, cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or all day. Try to avoid eating spoonfuls throughout the afternoon (though it must be said that, for me, this is a counsel of perfection!)