When we think of “festive meals”, I’m quite sure everyone thinks of different things. For some it’s the roasts and the spread that Mom or Gran have spent days on. Some might think of a braai day with family games. Your family might have the full on turduckin with stuffing et al… One thing most of us have in common is that it’s a special time with loved ones and some kind of food!
My dear friend, who blogs at Mom of Two Little Girls, recently published a Christmas series. Across this series, she collected a fantastic storybook collection of Christmas traditions from different people. MammaChef Jozi even made it into the mix and you can read my family’s story and the rest of the collection here.
I don’t usually do the cooking over the festive season. Our special days are traditionally spent in the homes of my parents or my in-laws. Wherever we are it’s an all out Christmas feast and the most wonderful time!
This year however will be something different, the first time that we are away for Christmas and I’m still thinking about what to do for lunch… The daily meals over the holiday season, in my opinion, should be easy, summery and designed for sharing.
I was also asked by some followers on Twitter for festive recipes. So I looked around for some inspiration and came up with the fabulous festive feasts here…
If you were watching my social media, you would have noticed that I thought this particular recipe was absolutely awful. Whether it was because I had too many anchovies or the mustard dressing was too bitter when combined with the anchovies… it just wasn’t right.
However, there were some things about it that attracted me to trying it in the first place. After having tried it there were also elements of it that I loved.
So, I have kept the good stuff and changed the bad stuff for you!
It’s a very healthy, refreshing break in the indulgence of Christmas menus.
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!
Good grief, it’s Wednesday and I haven’t posted a summary of last week yet! Where does the time go?! Or should I say… time flies when you’re having fun! This is definitely the truth!
Monday: (Meat Free) Zucchini & Mushrooms
Tuesday: Flop Proof Cottage Pie
Wednesday: Chicken, Chickpea & Spinach Curry
Thursday: Pan Seared Fish with Tomato, Basil & White Wine Sauce
Friday: Easy Peasy Gluten Free Chorizo Pasta
Please have a look at my gallery of Sunday’s incredible buffet lunch at Aurelia’s, The D’Oreale Grande Hotel at Emperor’s Palace
The family came together to celebrate my Sister- and Brother-in-Law’s 30th wedding anniversary! A very special occasion celebrating two extremely special people, their exemplary marriage and the beautiful family and memories that they have created. So much love (and so much food)!
My parents came for lunch on Fathers Day weekend and as I don’t get to cook for them all that often (we usually spend more time at their house) I wanted to make something warm, saucy and delicious.
On the menu was chicken thighs cooked in the most divine creamy sundried tomato sauce, roasted baby potatoes with garlic and herbs, sauteed baby marrows and young carrots. The second best part, after the sauce, was the freshly baked Portuguese rolls from our local Portuguese bakery which were perfect to mop up all the creamy deliciousness and even became a second meal – rolls and sauce!
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Season 16 chicken thighs with ground coarse salt and black pepper.
Place 1kg baby potatoes into a large, shallow oven dish or roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil, add a few knobs of butter, ground salt and pepper and Italian mixed herbs. Place into the oven to start roasting while preparing the chicken. Total cooking time should be around an hour, give the dish a shake/mix every 15 minutes or so. The special trick to my potatoes is to forget about them so that they don’t quite burn but become slightly charred and crispy on the outside.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large, deep frying pan over high heat. Add chicken thighs, skin down first and brown on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Do this in batches if necessary, then remove chicken and place into an oven dish.
If necessary, add another tablespoon of butter to the pan. Add 2 teaspoons crushed garlic, a sprinkling of smoked chilli flakes (to taste) and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add to this 2 cups chicken stock, 1 cup double thick cream, 2/3 cup jullienne sundried tomatoes (drained of olive oil), 1/2 cup grated Parmesan and 1/2 teaspoon each of dried basil, thyme, oregano. Simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Pour sauce over the chicken thighs and place into the oven for about 30 minutes or until completely cooked through.
Quarter 8 young carrots and 8 baby marrows lengthways. Put the carrots into a small plastic bag, tie a loose knot and microwave them on high for 5 minutes. Empty carrots (and any juices) into a frying pan with a small glug of olive oil and add the baby marrows. I sauteed/steamed them with a lid on for a while to nicely soften the marrows, then removed the lid and let them stir fry to get some lovely brown colouring.
I then opened a bottle of ice cold Fat Bastard Chardonnay which is one of my favourites that just complimented the creamy dish so well.
This is a meal that you should take your time cooking and also take your time eating and enjoying with your family! Let us know what you did for Fathers Day?
PS… love you, Dad!