Where to find inspiration?
Our quick and easy meal plan for last week was really made up by the scruff of it’s pants! It did still come out very well but I have to say that with the weather being as odd as it has been the last few weeks, I found it quite hard to come up with inspiration. When it’s hot and sunny I would think of fresh and summery ideas. When it’s cold I would go for warm comfort food. I pushed through though and went mostly on what I had around the house already.
It was also SuperDad’s birthday and the guest of honour gets to choose whatever they want for dinner. He gave his vote to Blake, who decided on chicken leg and potatoes. Mamma played with the idea and waved my little wand (spoon) to come up with the week’s most popular recipe, which was grilled chicken and smashed potato salad. It received a big thumbs up from this adorable little boy, whose mommy sent me these gorgeous pictures of him absolutely loving his meal.
I have to add that we are all raving about his awesome Lego eating set! If you want to rush out and get yourself one, head over to Makro. I couldn’t find it online, but they can be found in store. Certain items also available at TakeAlot. The range is from Placematix and comes with cutlery as well.
Easy as Pie… so to speak
I find pie quite daunting to make, actually. In any case, my recipes must always be easy and quick to make so that’s where I start when looking for ideas. It does narrow things down.
Onwards and upwards to the yummy business!
Fish, rice and veg is plain, simple, the easiest thing ever and you can add any vegetables of your choice. I have a few rice lovers around so plain rice with anything is always a winner. Gluten free of course and adding the chickpeas gives an extra protein boost.
Time seems to be absolutely spinning past us and these past weeks have gone by in a blur. I have been so super busy between business and blog (definitely not complaining) that when I find a spare moment it’s gold, it’s so precious and I wouldn’t waste it on negativity.
Yet, I see people who still manage to complain about anything and everything. Do they not see that by focusing on all the negativity, they are creating more negativity in their own lives? Try, for just one day, not to complain and instead find something positive to focus on. See how it changes your perspective and even your reality.
The Democratic Meal Planner – One kid, one vote!
In light of all the political goings on around us recently, I decided to give democracy a chance to rule the meal planner. I feel like I’m making myself sound very much like a food dictator… She who holds the wooden spoon, rules the plates! It’s for their own good though, trust me!
The boys are very modern in their political views and combined their votes to effect community rule over the first two days. This worked out very well for them as they got to have both their favourites. SuperDad is always happy with pasta and basil pesto is also a favourite. Of course they go so well together as a combo! Somebody had to be the carb police and that happened to be me (can’t quite get rid of the dictatorship). My favourite treat as a meal must be salmon. It has become so expensive, even in frozen steaks, that we really only have it on the odd occasion.
Fish shopping tip!
I did discover something quite interesting though… Our local Food Lover’s Market has a fantastic fish section and if you can hold your breath long enough, you might just find a very good deal!
As an example, the prepared, fresh salmon portions on the day were R299.00 per kilogram. In comparison, Woolworths’ fresh Norwegian salmon portions are R500.00 per kilogram, but that’s not the point. If you select a whole salmon, they will fillet it for you, package the quantity that you want and the price on the day was R179.99 per kilogram. That is a major difference!
As usual, just going that little bit further to be aware of where our food comes from, I looked into the sourcing of the salmon and found this on Food Lover’s Market website:
Although Food Lovers market currently procures farmed Norwegian Salmon which is on the WWF-SASSI orange-list we are implementing a procurement strategy that aligns with SASSI procurement guideline for Salmon. This means that all Norwegian on Food Lover’s shelves will come from farms that are affiliated to the Global Salmon Initiative (GSI – http://globalsalmoninitiative.org/) by January 2019. These farms have committed to work towards meeting the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard for responsible aquaculture by 2020. Food Lover’s has full traceability back to all source farms and is annually tracking progress of these farms towards their 2020 ASC target.
Sustainable is good and I like the accountability and action plan.
This post really is becoming quite political! I have a soapbox and everything! I think it’s about time for the good stuff!
The Recipe Cards
Remember you can sign up to the newsletter to get your meal planner and recipe cards all together in advance, in your inbox! Alternatively you are two weeks behind… and have to come all the way here to MammaChef Jozi to download them… Then again, I love your visits and the more the better! So I tell you what, do both!
Needless to say, we all thoroughly enjoyed this week’s dinners. Blake, who is four, has recently taken to proclaiming every meal as the best food he has ever eaten! The people have spoken!
Alright, I think that is more than enough of my political commentary. I will leave you with this thought. Whatever your mood, whatever is going on in life, try to get yourself just one level up on the emotional scale! If you’re feeling dejected, try to find something that makes you feel content. Anxiety looks for something that brings peace and so on. The point is to raise your vibration! I’ll expand on this a little more later on. If you can (and it’s always possible)… Smile!
Gluten Free, Finger Licking, No Bake Pecan Nut Brownies
I can’t imagine anything looking better than these right now! Healthy ingredients like almond flour and coconut oil make them totally guilt free and no baking… well they didn’t even need to be more awesome!
3 roughly heaped up table spoons of solid coconut oil.
3 table spoons of honey or maple syrup (you can use more or less according to taste).
1 slab of good quality dark chocolate – I used #Lindt – A Touch of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate.
About a cup of Pecan nuts – broken up.
About half a cup of almond flour and half a cup of cocoa (you can always add more later on).
Vanilla extract or essence.
TIP!! #toastyournuts !!
I lightly toasted the pecans and almond flour in the oven for about 10 minutes. Toasting nuts activates the flavour and gives it a crisp and toasty texture and taste.
Heat up the first 2 ingredients on low heat until it starts to simmer.
Mix in the dark chocolate until melted and remove from heat.
Mix in the nuts, almond flour, cocoa and vanilla and stir around.
If it looks as if it is still a bit runny, you can add more almond flour or cocoa.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread out the mixture evenly, gently pressing down.
Let it cool down in the fridge for about an hour.
Cut into pieces.
Women’s Day Week
This week was a short one as we had a public holiday right in the middle – Women’s Day. In case you don’t really know why we commemorate Women’s Day, here’s some background from Wikipedia:
National Women’s Day is a South African public holiday celebrated annually on 9 August. The day commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20 000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanisation, and manage migrant labour during the apartheid era. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on 9 August 1994. In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans.
More on this day and what it means in another post to come!
Monday – Haloumi, Lentil & Vegetable Bake
Gluten and sugar free, packed with loads of healthy stuff and really, really delicious! Diced butternut, thickly chopped red onions, sliced leeks (we got the biggest leeks I have ever seen in my life!) baked at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. Add a tin of organic brown lentils, a tin of peeled and diced tomatoes, season with salt, pepper, mixed herbs and paprika. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Place thickly sliced haloumi on top of the veg and grill for around 8 minutes or until melted and golden brown.
Tuesday – Baked Hake, Mashed Potatoes, Sauteed Bacon & Cabbage
Wednesday – Chicken Broccoli Pasta Bake
Chicken strips sautéed in butter and olive oil with chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Penne pasta boiled with broccoli.
Mix all together in a large, deep oven dish. Add 1 cup fresh cream, 1-2 cups of mozzarella. Mix well. Top with Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
Thursday – Lamb Chops with Potato & Leek Gratin
The most succulent lamb chops with a creamy potato and leek gratin.
Sauté finely sliced leeks over low-medium heat for about 10 minutes. Should be soft but not brown. Slice unpeeled potatoes thinly and nuke them in the microwave on high for 5 minutes just to speed up the cooking time a bit. .
When leeks are cooked, season with salt and pepper, then pack alternating layers of the potato and leeks into an oven dish.
Pour in a cup of cream, sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese. Add a bit more salt and pepper to suit your tastebuds.
Bake at 180 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
Lamb chops seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled on our George Foreman grill.
Friday – Toasted Cheese!
Good old toasted cheese on ciabatta bread.
Chicken, chickpea & spinach curry
What could be better than a wonderful curry on a wintery Wednesday to ward off the worries of the working week?
This is a completely made up curry recipe (following the general curry guidelines), which I initially made far too spicy for the boys and had to tone down substantiaby adding more and more vegetables (which is not a bad thing). Point being, my quantities are probably not quite accurate but luckily, curry is one of those things you can adjust as you taste and keep going along. It was super tasty and definitely something I plan on making more often.
Incidentally, some people popped in quickly while I was cooking and all commented on the amazing aroma of coconut curry wafting through and around the house.
Heat a little olive oil over medium high heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion, a heaped teaspoon each of crushed garlic and finely chopped ginger, a heaped teaspoon of Woolworths medium curry mixture. Of course you could also add chilli if you don’t have to worry about sensitive tastebuds. Fry while stirring, for about 2 minutes.
Meanwhile, put 2 cups of Basmati rice cooking, following the packet instructions
Add 8-10 cubed skinless, boneless chicken thighs and brown all over. Next, add a tin of diced/chopped tomatoes, half a tin of chickpeas, a chicken stock cube, a quarter cup of water and half to a whole tin of coconut cream (this is where the tasting is important). Mix well and turn down the heat to a simmer once it has come to a boil.
If you are using chopped, frozen spinach then this is the right time to add it, then leave to cook for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce has thickened a bit. If you are using fresh spinach, let the curry simmer for 15 minutes and then add the spinach to cook for the last 5 minutes.
Warm up a naan bread or 2 in the oven and serve up! This recipe comfortably feeds 6.
If you have a special curry recipe, please share it with me and you might just be featured soon!
Even the little spinach critics in our house loved this! Creamy spinach in juicy chicken breast, served with fluffy sautéed potatoes and broccoli (just because I felt like lots of green stuff).
Switch oven on to bake at 230 degrees C.
Peel and dice 6 potatoes, place into a large pan with a pinch or two of salt, cover with water and boil for 5 minutes. Drain, shake them onto a tray lined with kitchen paper and leave to cool.
Cook 2 cups of frozen spinach in the microwave as per packet instructions (or boil in a pot – with microwave cooking there is just less water to squeeze out of the cooked spinach). Empty cooked spinach into a bowl and mix in 1 cup feta cheese and 1 cup cream cheese, 2 teaspoons crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
Lay 4-6 large chicken breasts flat on a glass cutting board. Cut a pocket into the thick side of the breast. Try not to cut right through to the other side.
Use a spoon to divide the filling and stuff into the chicken breast pocket. Season with some more salt and pepper.
Heat some olive oil in an oven proof pan over medium-high temp, then add stuffed chicken breasts, on the flat side and fry for 5 minutes then turn over. Next, place the pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Once in the oven, steam broccoli florets.
Heat another glug of olive oil in a large non-stick pan, on medium high heat. Add potatoes in a single layer and let them sizzle but don’t stir until they start to brown underneath. Turn 2-3 times in a total of 8 minutes cooking time, so that they are nicely browned all over. I didn’t use a non-stick pan and mine became delicious fluffy potato squares. Still good but not quite what I was going for! Drain on kitchen paper and season with ground salt.
Check chicken – add an extra 2-5 minutes cooking time if your chicken breasts are super thick. If you poke the chicken with a fork and juices run clear, it is cooked.
This week’s meals are intended to be as quick and easy as possible due to the current state of sleeping arrangements in our happy home… Just to paint a picture for you, last night I went to lie down with my eldest son, Wade who is eight, to have a chat before bedtime. It’s possible I fell asleep before him!
I vaguely remember moving myself over to my little three year old’s bed when he called for me during the night, as he does on most nights. After a short blank which could have been sleep, I opened my eyes to see same three year old, Blake, get up and make his way to the bed where I should have been, to go and sleep next to Dad. I close my eyes for a second…
Lights on and Wade is looking at me. There has been a night time incident which requires new pyjamas and removal of sheets. I give up my temporary bed and head to the main bedroom where I shift over a sideways Blake and finally find a slither of space in my very own bed…. and I’m wide awake.
I possibly got a blink or two in before it became time to rise and shine!
Hence, quick and easy meals! Recipe below…
Place a large pan on medium high heat and preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Season 6 chicken drumsticks with ground salt & pepper, Portuguese chicken spice (or seasoning of your choice). Add olive oil to heated pan and brown chicken for 2 minutes per side.
While the chicken browns, place 600g baby potatoes in a plastic bag, loosely knotted, and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Next, transfer chicken and baby potatoes into a shallow oven dish, add brussels sprouts if desired. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and brussels, season with ground salt & black pepper. Roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. Pour a glass of wine!
With 10 minutes to go, steam baby carrots and green beans. Serve!
Yours in daytime snoozes,