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.
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.
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!
Christel‘s Creative Cooking recipe is our Meat Free Monday meal (for yesterday)…
This recipe could be a side with so many things! So yummy looking, yummy tasting and cleverly carb conscious too!
1 small packet of Zucchini. Cut into thickish slices.
1 small packet of mushrooms (you can also use brown mushrooms for a more earthy taste). Cut in half.
One pan/pot for the Zucchini’s, one pan/pot for the mushrooms. You can use one pot but mushrooms tend to become very watery and the Zucchini don’t like to swim 😉.
Pan fry lightly in butter until al dente (You don’t want it to get soggy). Add a bit of salt & pepper and oregano flakes while frying.
Remove from pan and let cool for a bit in a glass bowl.
Once cooled, crumble some Feta cheese and sprinkle with a little bit of WOOLWORTHS SA Nut & Seed Sprinkles. You can use any other nuts as well.
You can also drizzle with olive oil if you want.
You can eat it as is, on a #meatfree day or have it as a side dish.
Due to a massive power failure on Monday and soccer training etc., we had an easy backup dinner in the form of roast Woolies chicken. Our #MeatFreeMonday recipe therefore is a fabulous friend feature by Christél Schutte.
Homemade Tomato Soup which also doubles as a pasta sauce if you prefer!
Salt and Black Pepper.
1 Red onion chopped up with garlic, sautéed in a pot with olive oil or butter for a few minutes.
Add about 8 chopped up Roma tomatoes. Roma tomatoes from WOOLWORTHS SA are the best for soups and sauces.
Add a bit of your favourite white wine.
Let it simmer for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.
Secret ingredient is tomato paste – it gives it the beautiful red colour.
At the end, add a bit of pouring/cooking cream for thickness.
At this stage you have the best pasta sauce. Add some chopped up olives. Snip up chives or coriander or both. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
Take tomato mix off the stove and blend with a stick blender until soupy.
Sprinkle with chives and/or coriander. Crumble some Feta. Eat with croutons or ciabatta bread.
If you find the tomato too acidic, adding a teaspoon or two of sugar will relieve this.
Beautiful, warm, delicious!
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.
Continuing with the super quick and easy theme this week, this Chorizo Pasta is so simple and so very yummy! The only trick to this is that you must get very good quality chorizo… just any old one won’t do. We have a secret chorizo supplier, that is so secret, even I haven’t been to the shop (couldn’t tell you where it is either)! Therefore, I am very lucky that I get given a few from my sister in law to freeze and I am extremely lucky if SuperDad gets a chance to pop in there and get some for us, normally for a special occasion. For those who don’t have access to the holy grail of sausage, Woolies has a good quality one as well, this is a Spanish Chorizo.
Cook 250g gluten free penne pasta according to instructions on the packet. Here are some tips for cooking gluten free pasta:
- Add plenty of salt to the water to add to the taste – 2tbs in a medium-large pot of water.
- Do not add oil to the water.
- Stir constantly for the first 3 minutes of cooking time to ensure that the pasta doesn’t stick.
Chop 1 onion and one yellow pepper (if I had a red one as well I would have used half of each). Fry in a glug of olive oil until soft. Add a teaspoon or 2 of crushed garlic, 1 sliced chorizo sausage and fry for 3-5 minutes or until the chorizo releases it’s oils and is nicely browned all over. Add 3-4 handfuls baby spinach and allow the leaves just to wilt before removing the pan from the heat.
Drain pasta and pour it into a pasta dish. Mix in the sausage and fried veg. Add pitted calamata olives, crumbled feta cheese. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, ground salt and pepper.
Do you have a go-to quick and easy meal? Please share with us!
Another one of my favourite things about winter (other than my most comfy pair of slippers) is soup. This split pea soup is absolutely delicious served piping hot with a warm and crispy bread roll.
Since it’s a slow cooker recipe as well, there’s practically no work to be done other than chuck ingredients into the pot and go on your merry little way! Super easy! In fact, as I was on my way home on Tuesday afternoon, I suddenly realised that I would arrive home to delicious soup that has already been cooked and the only thing I had to do was pop the rolls into the oven, dish up and take a photo for you! Happy, happy, happiness!
If you don’t have a minute for chopping/grating stuff, WOOLWORTHS SA fresh split pea soup mix also works fantastically! Just add some herbs and bits and bobs and away you go!
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 large carrots, grated
- 3 chopped celery ribs
- 1 Large leek, chopped and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon (heaped) crushed garlic
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley OR some fresh sprigs
- 500grams dried green split peas
- 6 cups Vegetable stock
- ground salt & black pepper
- Optional: diced ham or bacon
Toss all the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 3-4 hours.
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!