How I’ve found three months of no meat Mondays

I’m going to start this off by saying, I love meat. A lot. Bacon, chicken, lamb, literally anything. But as a New Year’s Resolution I thought it would be interesting to see how we’d cope as a family with one meat free meal a week. Here’s how we’ve got on, how I’m finding it three months down the line and a few of my favourite meatless meals.

I have to say it’s been pretty successful! For me at least. We got into a massive rut with what we were having for tea, especially on a Monday. It was a rotation of chilli and sausage and bean casserole because we had the ingredients and it was easy to shove it all in the slow cooker. By forcing ourselves to ‘go veggie’ for one day a week we’ve had loads of different meals that we probably wouldn’t have made otherwise. At first everything looked a bit same-y, curry after curry, but as the weeks have gone on we’ve found a load of different recipes which have made me excited to get home on a Monday night. So I think we might be getting into a bit of a groove now. It can be easy to just pick curries and variations of spicy butternut squash. But we’ve started to incorporate different meals each week which changes it up a bit. Here are a few of my favourite recipes we’ve cooked over the last three months.

My favourite meat free recipes

Curried vegetable patties – These were fab! From Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start book they may have been a bit of a faff to make they were really delicious. They were packed with lots of different veg and we had one patty with other veg and a really tasty mango chutney yogurt mixture. This recipe also made enough patties to have for lunches which was great and tasted just as nice cold.

Black bean enchiladas – Amazing! Another one that was a bit faffy but equally delicious this is one where I 100% don’t miss the meat. We used a recipe from a random magazine but I’ve linked one that looks similar. A tasty black bean mixture inside the tortilla topped with cheese and then a yummy tomato sauce. We also served it with a bit of guac and it was great. Writing about it is making my mouth water and I may recommend we have it next week.

Butternut Squash Pasta Bake – Another one from Tom Kerridge, I think I could eat this every week. The recipe isn’t perfect and the next time we make it we will probably change a few things up, e.g put crushed chillis into it, but it was really tasty. It’s pretty much macaroni cheese but with pureed roasted butternut squash in the sauce and breadcrumbs and roasted squash sprinkled on top. Seriously delicious, really filling, probably not fab for you health wise but in my top teas to eat at the minute.

Do you have any favourite veggie recipes. I’m always open to new ones to add to my list for Mondays!

Cumin!

Curry time! I’m going to give you a massive spoiler, this place was AMAZING! We were going to go to La Tasca for a casual Friday meal but for some reason they are getting rid of the one in Nottingham so it was back to the drawing board on places to go. A lot of suggestions were batted around but then someone came up with this little gem, in the top 20 on trip advisor, and off we were on our merry way. It’s in the most random place across a main road but apparently this isn’t so random because there are loads of nice looking restaurants surrounding it so they might be getting a little try soon. The staff were really friendly, the atmosphere was really nice and chilled and I’d definitely go back. No, onto the food!

We just dived straight into mains so I had a Murg Makhini which was chicken in a creamy tomato sauce with rice and a garlic naan. It was so delicious! Everything was totally to die for. The chicken was moist (hate that word but it was so moist) and tender and the sauce was creamy and had a bit of heat to it but filled with spices that would make my tongue want to explode. The rice was your standard rice but was nice all the same and the garlic naan was great. You got lots of it which I love because I love bread and dipping it in the leftover sauce. There was plenty of food but I didn’t feel over faced and I lapped it all up! I would definitely come back here and try a little bit more, maybe some starters and a few more sides. I totally recommend coming here for a curry and if you don’t feel like leaving the house you can get a Deliveroo which is all kinds of amazing!

Pizza Express!

Pizza Express is one of those places where I’ve been a few times but not one that I think about when I think of places to eat. Weird I know. I’ve been a couple times and never really rated it but this visit was surprisingly very nice! I’d choose a different thing to have for main but other than that it was a very enjoyable visit! Let’s get into it.

For starter we all shared a portion of calamari, doughballs with cheese and brushed. They were all delicious and if I was to go back I’d happily have all of these again. The calamari was Bella Italia good, and if you know me then you’ll know nothing beats BI calamari but this is definitely a close second. They were nicely breaded and perfectly seasoned with a great texture that wasn’t awful and chewy that can sometimes happen to squid. The dip was great, I have no idea what it was but it went really nicely with the squid. I’ve had the doughballs before and liked them but the addition of the cheese really made a difference. It was a little strange in the fact that there was more cheese on the plate than stuck to the dough but with a bit of tactical dipping and sticking it was delicious. The garlic butter was nice and soft as well but there could of done with a little more of it. Last but not least is the brushetta. Slightly different to a normal brushetta it was on a giant doughball and was covered in onions, tomato and pesto. Everything was delicious. The dough was soft, the tomatoes were fresh and the pesto was really tasty and brought everything together. An all round fantastic starter!

For my main I decided to go out of my comfort zone so I chose the Autumno pizza which had chorizo, butternut squash, spinach and goats cheese on it. I came to the conclusion that I hate goats cheese, hate it. It tastes really weird and infects everything it touches. So it’s safe to say this wasn’t a great thing for me to eat but there were elements that were nice. The butternut squash was soft and sweet and the chorizo added a nice meaty flavour. The only other thing I’d say about this pizza was that there was a bit too much base and it was all a bit doughy but other than that it was nice.

La Cachette! (Take Seven)

I know, I know, I’m sorry but I have literally not been out to eat since I got back to uni so another La Cachette post will just have to do, okay?! This meal was a good one though. It was my uni farewell and I made three very good choices, all of which were super delicious.

For starter I went for the salmon ballontine which I think is lightly cooked salmon (don’t quote me on that) which was covered in herbs and served with creme fraiche. This was delicious and a really great starter. It was light so set me up for the meal very nicely and had so much flavour. The salmon was super duper soft with a great texture and the herbs gave it a nice taste. I liked how the creme fraiche was spread all across the place because not only did it make the plate look pretty but it was easier to add to the salmon than if it was in a lump. Everything was tasty, I can’t sing it’s praises enough, gorgeous!

I’ve never had lamb cutlets. Don’t shoot me! It’s just never come up. This dish was amazing. It was a shoulder and cutlet of lamb with carrots, onions, boulangere potato and pesto, sounds like a lot but it all worked so well together! The shoulder just melted in the mouth and the cutlets were insane! Perfectly cooked, soft and really really tasty. You’d think that the pesto (which is called sauce verde on the menu but it tasted just like pesto) would be a bit out of place on the plate but it completely complimented the dish! The carrots were tasty and caramelised and the potato were crispy on the top but soft underneath. I couldn’t fault it, seriously amazing.

For dessert I wanted something a little bit lighter than a pudding or a cake so I went for the lavender creme brûlée. I was a little sceptical about the flavour of lavender but I have say I was very impressed. It was just a hint of flavour but it somehow made the brûlée mixture more creamy. Delicious! It was cooked perfectly inside and had a lovely crispy top. The dessert came with a chocolate sable. two short chocolate biscuits sandwiched together with a chocolate cream. This was the star of the show. Not too sickly but still chocolate-y and delicious, what more do you want!

La Cachette! (Take Six)

I know, I know, back here again but there is a reason! La Cachette recently relaunched with a whole new look in the restaurant and a brand new menu. I was really excited to try some things out and because I work there it meant that I had a long time to decide what to have. The menu is the same sort of thing but there are lots of new additions so I was in my element choosing what to have! So without further ado, let’s go!

For starter I went for the scallops in a clam chowder. It was very tasty. The scallops were perfectly cooked and there was just the right amount of it. The clam chowder was very tasty, it had a creamy texture but wasn’t too thick so was a nice sauce to go with the scallops. Everything was well seasoned and I don’t know what else to say about this dish other than I wouldn’t hesitate to have it again.

This is the best main course I’ve had here, period. So good! It was chicken with gnocchi and a fricassee of peas, which is peas in a creamy sauce. I don’t know what it was that made this dish so incredible but the combination of flavours and the way everything was cooked was amazing and I lapped it all up. The chicken was so moist and perfectly cooked and the skin was really crispy which was great for me because I’m a huge fan of chicken skin. Although I’m not the biggest fan of peas, they really worked in this setting and the creamy sauce was a dream. I wasn’t expecting the gnocchi to be as good as it was but I think it could have been the star of the show. It was soft and creamy with a lot of herby flavour. Loved it all!

Tarte au citron for dessert and it was very good. Nothing that special but the pastry was delicious and the filling was nice and creamy. Not too much of a lemon-y flavour but that didn’t matter too much because it was still coming through. The cassis sorbet was very strong and for me in was a little bit much. The flavours would have been nice together but the cassis just overwhelmed everything on the plate. Still a nice dessert though.

Harvester! (Take Two)

Want a place to get some delicious food at low low prices? Wow, that sounded like a cheese-y advert but it’s true. Harvester offers some pretty good stuff and is very cheap! I never really step out of the box when I go because I love what I have too much but the main meal is different to the last post I wrote about Harvester.

I went for the Southern Fried Chicken with chips and asked for it without peas and BBQ sauce but with peppercorn sauce instead. Because it was on the early bird menu everything was set so the sauce was extra but it was so worth it. Chicken and peppercorn sauce may seem like a very weird combo but it was delicious. It came with two chicken pieces which were really crispy and tasty and then a fair amount of chips. For me the portion size was perfect and I’m not bothered about random salad on the side because I just leave it anyway.

The dessert was the rocky horror brownie sundae that I had last time so if you want to read my thoughts on that then read this post.

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George’s! (Take Three)

Another trip to Nottingham means another trip to George’s to introduce more family members to its foodie goodness. And the exciting news was that they’d changed the menu slightly so I could try something completely different. I even went for a different pudding (I know, no doughnuts!).

For my main I went for the beef bourguignon pie with roasted shallots and chips. It was delicious! The top of the pie looks a bit weird because of the shallots but they were very tasty and sweet. The pie filling was really flavourful and full of sauce. There was so much meat which was great for the size of the pie and the price and the shortcrust pastry was so delicious and there was just enough of it. The chips, as always were fluffy and crispy and perfect and the portion size of the whole meal was perfect. I seriously don’t think that I’d be able to finish a full portion though as I’ve always had a lunch portion.

This very weird and wonderful creation was a nutella and banana sandwich and I don’t know how I feel about it. It was basically nutella and banana, in bread and then deep fried. When I got it I was definitely surprised, I didn’t really know what it would be but I didn’t think deep fried bread would be part of the equation. The filling was very tasty and I could have that by the bucket load but I don’t think that the bread was really my thing. The blue banana ice cream was really the star of the show. It was just a banana flavour but it was nice and cooling and I think that the next time I go I’ll just have that with heaps of cream on!

La Cachette! (Take Five)

Guess who’s back, back again! You know you love it and just because I go to the same place doesn’t mean I don’t try to have different things, I do try! This time round there were some particularly yummy things on the menu and it was quite hard to choose what to have.

For starter I went for scallops with asparagus, jersey royal potatoes, a bacon crumb and a hollandaise sauce. I’m always loathed to go for the scallops because on the early bird menu it’s a £3 or £5 surcharge I can never remember which I think is a bit excessive. But when I have it I’m always glad when I do because they’re so delicious! This time round I got three huge scallops which were cooked beautifully and were soft and tasty and the bacon crumb was delicious as well and went really nicely with the scallops. I don’t like jersey royals so I left those but the asparagus was nice and I like the fact that they were thin sticks as I normally have big, fat pieces of asparagus. The sauce was incredible! Creamy and tasty and it really brought everything together. Portion size was perfect and I couldn’t fault it, other than the potatoes which isn’t really a fault just because I don’t like them.

My main was lamb epigramme with dauphinoise potatoes, pea puree, pimento and capers. This was super delicious but I think that I’d have preferred it as a starter rather than a main, I don’t know why but I just do. The epigramme itself was like a fishcake but with lamb, shredded lamb coated in breadcrumbs. It was really nice but a little dry so I’d have preferred a thicker sauce to go with it. The potatoes were delicious! Crispy on the top but soft and buttery and they went really nicely with the lamb and moistened it up a little bit. The pea puree was very good and the was plenty of it. I’ve never properly tried pimento (pimentos, I have no idea) before and I was a real fan. They were vinegar-y and added a different flavour and texture to the dish which went well with the lamb.

Chocolate moooooousse! Loved this! To give it its full name it was a chocolate and salted caramel mousse with creme fresh jellies and roasted banana. The chocolate mousse was really creamy and full of chocolate flavour. When you hit the centre there was a soft salted caramel centre which went perfectly with the chocolate and there was just the right amount, except there was more mousse than one person could handle. If it was half the size then the portion would have been perfect. The banana was sweet and it had crystallised on the top so it had a crunch. The texture of the jellies was interesting and I liked the inclusion as it was a fresh yet creamy. I’d definitely polish this off all over again!

Naansters!

This is a bit of an usual post for a Tuesday but it’s also quite exciting. I was contacted by the people at Naanster to see if I would review some of their products and I was all for that so fast forward a few weeks and here we are. There were three flavours that I received, I think that there might be a vegetarian one as well, and they were balti chicken, chicken tikka and beef madras. The concept is that they are a quick snack, or lunch which is when I had them, that are easy to eat on the go. All you need is a microwave (I know that sounds a bit weird but what I mean is that you don’t need a plate or to assemble anything) and in 90 seconds you have a delicious curry wrap. Inside they have the main curry with rice and mango chutney all handily wrapped in a naan bread.

My favourite out of the bunch was the chicken tikka one because it was packed full of sauce and flavour. None of them were particularly spicy but this one didn’t have much if any which I was totally fine with. As soon as I took the first bite I could taste the mango chutney and it was delish! I think that the sauce made it. It wasn’t too much that it dripped out of the sides, which is actually true of everything because it’s really easy to eat and nothing awkwardly drops out. Some of the things I found with all of them was that there were random peas in it, and when I say random I mean that there were about three in every wrap. To me there wasn’t really any point in them being there. The chicken balti wrap was a lot like the tikka one but it had less sauce and a little bit more of a kick to it. The beef madras one was very nice and definitely the spiciest of the bunch. What I found that it lacked however was a change in textures as the mince was the same as the rice, etc, whereas the chicken ones had a lump of chicken which made it more interesting to eat. The naan breads are the unsung heroes of this product. They hold everything but  are super soft and doughy in the centre which is what I think a naan bread should be like. The only problem was that because they were folded over the part where the folds connected were very thick and became very hard in the microwave which were a bit stiff to eat sometimes but weren’t too last.