Andrea Mara

Official website

A Week in Dinners under the new Head Chef

Every now and then, Sinéad from Bumbles of Rice runs a linky where she shares details of a typical week in dinners, and invites others to do the same. For me, as a distinctly average cook, I like this a lot, because it makes me feel normal to see that other people are dishing up not-always-fancy food. And as a non-food-blogger, I like the outlet to post some photos and recipes. Food blogger for a week as such.

The biggest culinary change in our house since I last joined this linky is that I’m now chief cook. Prior to that, mid-week dinners were cooked by our lovely childminder, and one of the top 400 things I feared about switching to WAHM-hood (along with poverty, loss of identity, cleaning, and abject failure) was being in charge of the cooking.

But to my surprise, it has turned out to be one of the things I don’t mind too much about being home in the afternoons. It’s almost therapeutic after a morning of work and school runs, to listen to homework while chopping peppers.

And I have lovely assistant, in the shape of a four-year-old who likes to help, but occasionally goes rogue. Which is how we end up with black pepper in pancakes and milk in spaghetti Bolognese. Actually, what was I saying about therapeutic? Anyway, this is our week in dinners:

Monday: Thai Prawn Red (Curry)

I can’t use the word curry or the kids won’t eat it, but having had success with Sinéad’s Coconut and Basil Chicken, I decided to make this old favourite and see if they’d eat it. It’s an adaptation of a Rachel Allen recipe and it’s a cinch – coconut milk, soya sauce, sugar, good quality red curry paste, mushrooms, green peppers and prawns. Everyone ate it, though the peppers were mostly ignored.

thai red curry - office mum

Tuesday: Homemade beans on toast followed by pancakes

I’m always confused about what to do for dinner on pancake Tuesday – a full meal? Something small? Pancakes with savoury fillings? Or just straight to the lemon and sugar variety?

This year, I decided to do homemade beans on toast, to get some protein into them before we hit the carb and sugar fest.

I used this really straight forward recipe – basically you make a sauce with tinned tomatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper, paprika, sugar, and red wine vinegar, then add in chick peas. Half way through, I spotted that the recipe was to “serve one, generously” – I was trying to make enough for five. Luckily, pancakes…

It was my first ever time making pancakes for pancake Tuesday, and our first time to sit down as a family with an extravaganza of toppings, and it was AMAZING. Best pancake Tuesday ever.

pancake toppings - office mum

Wednesday: Baked pasta

Not my favourite, but requested by the kids, and on the plus side, it had a tonne of hidden vegetables – courgettes, onions, tomatoes and red pepper all puréed into passata, then mixed into cooked pasta, layered with Parma ham, topped with parmesan, and into the oven for twenty minutes.


Thursday: Chicken and roasted peppers

This is one of my favourite “throw everything into the oven and do nothing else” recipes ever. You put chicken fillets in a relatively deep oven dish, tip in a jar of roasted peppers, some olive oil, cloves of garlic (no need to chop or crush), white wine vinegar and black olives. Mix it all together, cover the dish, and put in the oven until the chicken is done. For extra laziness, I serve it with the baby potatoes that come in the microwavable bag (because they’re already washed – that makes me so happy)

Friday: Prawn pasta and peanut brownies (not together)

When we had prawns on Monday, my six-year-old asked if we could have them again soon but with pasta, so on Friday, I obliged. This is a really simple dinner that everyone eats. It’s a bit makey-uppy but basically this is it:

You need:

  • Around 10 tomatoes, cut in half (I only had 5, so added a punnet of cherry tomatoes)
  • A few cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Cooked prawns
  • Spaghetti

Put the tomato halves in a shallow oven dish, then press the little pieces of chopped garlic into the tomatoes

Pour olive oil and balsamic over the tomatoes, season, and put in a hot oven for about 15 to 20 minutes

Put on the spaghetti

With about five minutes to go, add the prawns to the tomatoes and swish them around so they’re covered in the juices

Drain the spaghetti, then tip in the tomatoes and prawns, mix and serve. Ideally with crusty bread to mop up the juice.


baker boy - office mum
Baker boy

We also made peanut butter brownies on Friday, from this recipe. Much to the kids’ horror, they were a bit peanutty, so they were mostly all for me (yum).

peanut butter brownies - office mum

As head chefs go, I’m a little lazy, and I’ve a lot to learn. But so far, I don’t hate it. Especially as my husband takes over at the weekend. Steak, mmm…

week in dinners

To see what Sinéad cooked, or to join the linky, click the link above.





Click the button below to sign up to my Penguin newsletter.