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.
A Special Occasion Calling for Cake
We always like to bake something for Super Dad’s birthday. The decision making is a difficult process… he has had Barney cupcakes, he has had chocolate cake sprinkled with really everything Wade could get his hands on. This year, Blake got to choose the Birthday Dinner. He also requested party packs with popcorn for all his friends at school. This didn’t materialise, needless to say.
Since he was choosing dinner, I chose the baking based on what was at hand. I had plenty of carrots and as I went through recipes hunting for a good one, I found that I already had just about everything I needed for these delicious carrot cake muffins (are they actually cupcakes though?). Carrot cake with buttery cream cheese icing is probably one of my favourite things. It has to be super moist, must have the little crunch of nuts and must have loads of icing! These definitely didn’t disappoint and I will be keeping this recipe close!
Just before I start, I have to say that one of the most annoying things when I’m working from a recipe is scrolling up and down to see the amount of ingredients. My recipes may not look quite like the standard recipe format, but it just works much easier for me.
Carrot Cake Muffins Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sunflower oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 3/4 cups grated carrot (I used about 6 medium sized carrots)
1/2 cup pecan nuts, chopped.
Halved pecan nuts for topping
For the Icing
- 100 g cream cheese, softened
75 g butter, softened
- 2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
- 1 1/4 cups icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C and spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.
Add 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tbsp caster sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp mixed spice, 1 3/4 cup carrots and 1/2 cup chopped pecan nuts together in a mixing bowl. Make a hole in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Pour 3/4 cup milk, 1 beaten egg, 1/2 cup sunflower oil into the hole and fold all together until just combined.
Spoon into the cups in the muffin pan. The cups will be just about full, this is not a problem as they don’t rise a whole lot.
Bake for about 22 minutes until beautifully golden and with a slightly crispy texture. Remove from oven and let them cool completely.
To make the icing, add 100 g cream cheese, 75 g butter and 2 tsp lemon rind. Stir in 1 1/4 cup icing sugar, then beat all together until fluffy and light.
Spread the cream cheese icing onto the carrot cake muffins when cooled, top with pecan nuts and enjoy!
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!
Meat Free Monday
You may have noticed that MammaChef Jozi is an avid supporter of Meat Free Mondays (see the South African Facebook page here). So what’s the big deal?
Lowering your carbon footprint – this includes greenhouse gasses which are produced by livestock, farming, transportation and the masses of water it takes to produce meat.
Think of the animals – commercial farming methods have lead to unimaginable treatment of animals and going one step further than Meat Free Monday, it would be a good idea to be conscious of where your food comes from.
Your health – Reducing intake of meat has been proven to lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancers. When planning a meat free meal, we tend to focus on adding even more nutrition to our plant based meals, thereby including foods with more polyunsaturated fats, plant protein, fibre and vitamins.
Why Monday? Well, Monday just seems like a good day, doesn’t it?
So… if not, why not?
Cheesy Mexican Rice
I ended up making an enormous wok type pot of this and after dinner, there was only enough left for one of us to take for lunch. It was so, so very yummy and I really just chucked a lot of stuff in a pot and waited for it to cook (while having my little glass of wine)….
Cook 1,5 cups rice (white long grain or any of your choice) according to packet instructions.
While the rice is cooking, saute 1 chopped onion and 1 tsp chopped garlic in a large oven proof wok or pot/pan for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 tsp dried oregano and paprika and stir well.
Add in a tin of brown lentils, 3/4 tin chopped tomatoes, 3/4 tin of red kidney beans, 1 cup frozen corn, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 Knorr vegetable stock pot and 1/2 cup water.
Cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the liquid has cooked down.
Set the oven to grill.
Add the cooked rice to the veg mixture, top with 200g finely grated mature cheddar cheese and pop the whole pan in the oven for about 5 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.
Sprinkle chopped spring onion over the top and add as many optional extras as you wish – we added fresh chopped chilli and extra cheese (I love cheese). You could also add avo, sour cream, tacos for crunch, etc.
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!
Crispy pork schnitzel with spicy rice and veg
Just good old Mamma food for Tuesday – crispy pork schnitzel from WOOLWORTHS with my special spicy rice, fresh asparagus and corn. Every last crumb was eaten!
I followed the cooking instructions on the pack for the pork schnitzels, however I did grill them at the end for about 2 minutes per side just to give them some extra colour.
I make my spicy rice by frying up some chopped onion, red and yellow pepper. About 5 minutes before the rice is completely cooked, I add 3-4 tablespoons of Robertson’s Spice for Rice, 2 tablespoons butter and the fried veg.
Mielies boiled and asparagus steamed.
Spaghetti bolognese to me is like my most comfy pair of fluffy winter slippers… it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. My ultimate comfort food (with loads of cheese) and I dare say one day my boys might tell people that nobody could make good old spag-bol like their Mamma! It’s their absolute favourite and makes a regular appearance on our weekly dinner menu.
Fry 1 chopped onion, 2 teaspoons crushed garlic over high heat until soft. Add 700g lean mince, season with ground salt, pepper and a dash or two of Worcester sauce. Brown well. The trick is to leave the mince to almost char on the bottom of the pan and then let the tomatoes pick up all the flavour.
Add 2 tins chopped and peeled tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1-2 tsp paprika, Italian mixed herbs. Lower heat and leave to simmer for around 20 minutes.
Cook a large pot of gluten free spaghetti according to instructions. Always add about 60ml pasta water to the sauce before draining – adds a little extra shine and makes for a lovely consistency.
Stir in some finely sliced fresh basil before plating. Serve with grated mature cheddar or Parmesan cheese.
This recipe is dedicated to PicknPay – for the great special on mince, SanRemoPasta as always for the best gluten free spaghetti and last but absolutely not least, RobertsonWinery for an equally comfy and smooth Merlot!
Wishing you an amazing week!
While Mamma was on action cricket duty with the little guys, Super Dad had his turn in the kitchen for this week. He doesn’t cook for us often, but when he does it’s always amazing!
These fish parcels are super easy and super delicious. They started off with each fillet being baked in it’s own foil “parcel” but Mamma decided that we don’t have time for all that! They kept the name though, just because it works.
Place 4-6 frozen hake fillets into a glass oven dish. Drizzle with a good glug of olive oil, ground coarse salt and black pepper. Squeeze over juice of half a lemon, then cut slices of lemon and randomly arrange them into the dish as well.
Cover the fish with 4 handfuls of baby spinach leaves, crumble 3/4 cup of feta cheese on top and add 1/2 packet (or as many as you like) pitted green olives.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes until the fish flakes easily using a fork.
Serve with white rice. I like to use the juices from the fish dish to dress my rice.
Everyone who has had this at Casa MammaChef in Jozi has loved it and I’m sure you will too! Send us your photos, comments or ideas, we love to hear from you!
Happy Youth Day! Wishing you all a beautiful and peaceful long weekend!
Simple, good food with lots of love and another special secret ingredient!
Place 6 lamb loin chops into a dish, add a small handful of rosemary leaves, thyme and a good grinding of coarse salt & black pepper. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and mix to coat the lamb chops all over. Leave to stand for 20 minutes.
Peel and quarter 8 large potatoes, place in a pot with cold, salted water on high heat and boil for 15-20 minutes.
Place the lamb chops upright (on the fatty side) into a frying pan on high heat to render down some of the fat and make it nice and crispy. Once browned, turn the chops onto their flat side and cook for 2,5 minutes on each side. Once done, remove from heat and leave to rest while finishing off the cooking. Use the remaining juices in the pan as a delicious gravy for the mash.
While chops are frying, place 2 cups frozen baby carrots, 1 cup frozen peas into a microwave dish. Cover with clingwrap and microwave on high for 6 minutes or until cooked through.
Drain water from potatoes, leave them in the covered pot to stand and steam for a minute or 2. Add some milk and butter to taste (or replace with coconut milk) and here’s the secret ingredient – 0,5 to 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard, pinch of salt and mash.
We added chickpeas (tinned) dressed with olive oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper as an extra nutritious side.
Easy peasy and approved by kids!
#MeatFreeMonday but with loads of cheese! Our chilly Monday comfort food is my secret recipe Macaroni and Cheese, with a super salad on the side.
Okay I will tell you the secret… I only use Ina Paarman creamy cheese sauce and top with matured cheddar and extra parmesan. It’s amazing and we never have any leftovers for lunch.
Salad: cucumber, cherry tomatoes, four beans, olives, feta, olive oil, balsamic, s & p