Broccoli, Bacon, Cheese & Chicken Bake
This recipe looked fantastic when I found it, but was even better than expected! An instant family favourite, the boys loved it, yes, even though it was mainly broccoli. That’s always a measure of a successful dinner… the broccoli and chicken baking together result in such tasty juices at the bottom of the dish. If you were to add rice to the mix (not necessary at all) you would have a lovely broth to go with it.
Blanch the broccoli before baking to enhance the colour and flavour.
Inspiration from everywhere
Has Summer forgotten about us? Wherever you go lately, people are discussing how strange the weather has been. Of course we won’t complain about the rain, we just wish we could send some of ours down to Cape Town to alleviate the drought… which reminds me of the campaigns I’ve seen all over Social Media, making travellers aware of the restrictions in place. If you are heading to Cape Town this December, one of the campaigns you can follow on Twitter is #waterwisetourismCT with very helpful tips and updates for conscious water usage.
The inspiration for this particular week’s meals therefore came from everywhere but the weather! My eldest son came back from a holiday with his father on Monday and got to choose dinner… and so it became Pizza Monday! In my opinion, any week that starts with pizza can only be a great week!
The Meal Planner
Download your meal planner here and click on the recipe name below for the printable recipe card.
Tuesday’s recipe came from the lovely people at Pauli’s Food Co. I often rave about their sauces but this is the first time that I decided to try one of their recipes. There are so many delicious ideas on their blog as well and I was fortunate enough to be given quite a few of their recipe cards on my last visit to them. This Pauli’s Tomali Marinaded Chicken Pieces was one of them.
My Low Carb Cottage Pie has somewhat celebrity status in our house. It’s completely flop proof (I promise) and I have a few different variations of the same recipe. I have done a vegan cottage pie using lentils and sweet potato, of course there’s the regular potato mash version which is the perfect comfort food and when looking for some low carb inspiration I just added a little twist and topped it with sweet potato mash instead.
Thursday’s dinner popped into my mind as I was walking through the isles of the grocery shop, listening to a very chirpy rendition of Jingle Bells.
This Chicken & Red Pepper Pesto Pasta includes some spinach to add some healthy greenery to your gut. I used Ina Paarman’s Red Pepper Pesto and this is a dish you can literally serve up in 15 minutes!
There are so many options for pasta now and you can find just about anything to suit your dietary preference. Use some wholewheat pasta, gluten free pasta or even butternut spaghetti to change it up.
I shall call this one Fridge Friday, as the inspiration really came from the fridge. I had cooked some beetroot that was waiting to be roasted, had some carrots and hey presto! Kassler Chops & Roast Carrot, Beetroot and Lentil Salad
On the day, I ended up using Canellini beans instead of lentils, which were still tasty but I would have preferred lentils I think.
Over the next few weeks I will be trying out some “Festive” recipes. To help me with some inspiration for those, let me know what makes a festive recipe for you? Is it something that takes hours to cook like a turkey with all the sides? Is it summery and light (if you’re in a Summer Christmas zone like us, of course)?
Drop me a little note in the comments below or give me a shout on any of my social media! Love hearing from you as always!
The easiest meals I could possibly come up with (challenge to self accepted!)
Still in the beginning phases of my business and looking at how this week would be going, my meal planning on Sunday last week was all about what I already had in the kitchen (saving some precious cents) and what would take the least amount of time or be so easy that I could just stick it in the oven and carry on with other things until the timer goes off. The very easiest meals for my life at that moment! Obviously they still had to uphold the MammaChef Jozi standards, being healthy and not boring!
I’m actually quite proud of achieving exactly what I set out to do… although I really must start printing out my recipe cards myself! That will save me a good few minutes of searching too!
The Big D
I have alluded to it in last week’s post but I will just come right out and say it… I’m officially on a Diet. Those of you who know me, know that I’m not the biggest of people and I’m normally quite comfortable in my own skin. I have never been prone to on and off diets (and I will add that I am highly allergic to gyms) but as the years and the wrinkles add up, it seems that the metabolism isn’t quite what it used to be.
With December and beach time glimmering on the horizon – it’s time to get back into a shape that I’m comfortable with. I do have a plan that works for me, is focused on healthy weight loss, fits into my days and lifestyle easily (therefore more easy meals), doesn’t cost buckets of money and doesn’t inconvenience my family! It’s pretty much perfect!
The main ingredients of my Big D Plan are:
- Intermittent Fasting – read more information here. I eat for 8 hours and fast for 16 hours each day. I feel less hungry, less bloated and full of energy, in a nutshell.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – in a cup of water with a teaspoon of honey first thing every morning. Loads of health benefits, good for skin, supposed to break down fat. My gran firmly believed in it too and the smell always reminds me of her… which also makes it more pleasant to consume!
- Water! 2-3 litres per day. The bladder does get used to it!
- Smart Lunch – My lunch is at around 12pm and because it’s the easiest thing in the world, wherever I am at that point during the day, I have my bowl of FutureLife. I either have the Smart Fibre – it does contain gluten but packs a lot of fibre and comes with probiotics – or I have Zero Smart Food – gluten free, no added cane sugar, lots of goodness in a little box.
- Healthy snacks – fruit and nuts, seeds, only raw and in their natural form. Helps for the occasional sugar craving.
- Off limits – sugar, dairy limited to plain yoghurt and cheese, avoid gluten.
- Dinner – whatever is on my meal plan! I do make a variety of vegetables and meats or fish, so it’s easy to cut out the carb portion for myself (eg. bread or potato) and when I do pasta I generally have gluten free. I still have my glass or two of red wine! Red only as it has less sugar than white and does have health benefits.
It’s very much based on the Mediterranean diet and also follows anti-inflammatory guidelines. Works for me, losing weight, feeling awesome and I only have another maybe 4 kgs to lose so I should be good to go in time for the Christmas Feast! Yippee!
Get to the Meal Plan already!
Let me not keep you in suspense any longer… Below is the downloadable Meal Planner for the easiest cooking week ever, as well as the recipe cards for each day’s easy meal.
And there you have it! It’s just starting to rain outside and I am looking forward to a lovely, chilled evening at home. It is, as per usual, Pizza Friday and I have absolutely no idea what we’re having. Day off!
If you would be at all interested in my runaround on the hunt for Wade’s new Epipen this week and the service that won the “little guy” a new loyal customer, head on over to my LinkedIn article here.
To get next week’s meal planner and recipe cards in your inbox on Monday, just enter your email address in the little purple box somewhere along the top of your screen… it’s for you, for free! Otherwise you will have to wait for the posted one all the way on next Friday, doesn’t sound like a good idea to me!
Wishing you a beautiful weekend, be safe and be light!
Well into the second half
I honestly feel as if I blinked and half a year went past! It seems like everyone I speak to keeps saying how time is just flying past… everyone must be having fun! In this age of “busy-ness” it is so increasingly important to stop (pause or yield) even for just a second every now and then, to smell the roses. Of course you could also smell the coffee, or the curry, or the “little-boy-fresh-from-the-sandpit” hair… but make sure you make your moments last as long as possible!
Last week’s supper summary
I keep trying to think of a name for the weekly roundup and can’t seem to find any cool and catchy… It will come to me! I do welcome any suggestions too!
Veggie stir fry, egg noodles & honey soy sauce
Boil a packet of medium egg noodles according to instructions on the packet. Heat some oil in a wok (or just a large, deep pan) over high heat and add some chopped garlic. Add in the vegetables and stir fry away. Add cooked noodles to the vegetables, add Ina Paarman honey-soy sauce and mix well to distribute the sauce evenly. Serve up steaming hot, with some fresh chilli and an extra splash of soy sauce for the grownups. Meat Free on Mondays as usual!
Caprese chicken thighs
Deboned chicken thighs, pan seared. Place a slice of tomato, a slice of mozzarella and some fresh basil leaves on the chicken. Season with ground salt and black pepper. Pop the pan into the oven to bake until cooked through, while heating the ciabatta, for around 10 minutes. Steam fresh broccoli florets and peas.
Simple beef stroganoff
Cook 1,5 cups white rice according to instructions. Melt 1tbsp butter in a large pan. Brown 400g beef cubes (I used rump) then remove from pan and set aside for later. Add 2-3tbsp butter to the pan, saute 1 chopped onion and 1 cup sliced white mushrooms until soft and just golden. Add garlic and cook half a minute until fragrant. Add 2tsp dried sage, 2 tbsp flour and stir well for about 2 minutes. The aroma coming from the pan at this point is just amazing! (Stop and smell the sage)
Slowly stir in 1,5 cups beef stock, 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 0,5tbsp soy sauce. Add the browned beef back in. Simmer for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 3tbsp sour cream and 1tbsp cream. Serve with rice.
Chicken strips fried over high heat. Seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, a few chilli flakes and crushed garlic. Add red onion and sliced peppers. Fill tortillas with whatever takes your fancy – mashed avo with lemon juice, sour cream, tomato, lettuce, jalapeños, cheese… Easy, yummy, healthy, good stuff!
Easy for the weekend
Gluten free bacon pasta
Sautéed onion, garlic, bacon cut into strips. Tin chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, 1 cup frozen peas. Gluten free penne pasta a la San Remo, fresh basil, Parmesan.
Crumbed Chicken Fillet Burgers with Healthy Stuff
I am half ashamed and half proud to say that I forgot that I wanted to bake some oven chips with our burgers, so it turned out to be quite a healthy burger dinner indeed!
I also confess that it would have looked better with white cheese, but in true Mamma style, I didn’t have any so I used regular ol’ yellow cheddar cheese and it was equally delicious, if not as pretty! Re-emphasising that this is MammaChef and not MasterChef! HashtagMommyCookingBlog!
Our sides were coleslaw and a very healthy and refreshing salad of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, basil, chickpeas and avo.
Happy, happy little bodies and full tummies all around!
Last week’s dinner ideas roundup…
Tuesday – pork schnitzel with spicy rice and veg
Wednesday – SuperDad’s pulled chicken wraps
Thursday – lamb chops and roast vegetables
#PizzaFriday – no need to elaborate!
All from WOOLWORTHS SA – even the pizza!
This week’s meal plan is still a secret… even from me, to be quite honest! I just haven’t had time to sit down and do the planning. Although I do have a few ideas bubbling in my brain.
SuperDad does dinner
Last night turned into a switcheroo as Dad was working slightly late, leaving me on soccer duty and SuperDad on chef duty.
He seems to have the equivalent of “green fingers” in the kitchen. He doesn’t cook often but when he does, it’s always a big hit!
I did have something quick and easy planned as soccer nights leave very little time for cooking, so you could say he was set up for success. Enter Woolies Pulled Chicken with every colour of the rainbow that you could possibly fit into a wrap!
Seriously, when you arrive home in the dark and very close to frozen, to a poured glass of wine and a table set with a picture like this you can’t help but glow with happiness!
Each person got to put together their own wrap with choice of fillings, toppings and sauces, which is always fun for the kids. Besides the vegetables we also added homemade guacamole, humus, jalapeños…
The chicken is so tasty that it barely needs any of the extras, but it does look fantastic!