Simple pasta with olive oil and garlic. Bacon always wins the kids over! The quickest of meals to whip up when there just isn’t time.
Yes it is the best ever Macaroni & Cheese
Being a recipe by Nigella Lawson, you just know it’s going to be something you can’t get enough of! She proclaimed it to be the best ever Macaroni and Cheese and you know what? She really was telling the truth!
Furthermore, you might expect a ton of cheese and unhealthy ingredients but there’s only half a cup of cheddar and a third of a cup of feta. I used wholewheat macaroni to add some extra fibre to the mix. Plus hidden sweet potato for the kids! It’s a very sneaky and absolutely amazing trick.
This is our Meat Free Monday dish, not quite vegan but vegetarian. For any other day I think it would also be great with some added crispy bacon bits.
Find the original recipe by Nigella here.
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.
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!
Nothing says “comfort food” like a warm, creamy baked canneloni. Loaded with lots of good, green spinach to make it healthy too!
This will definitely become a firm family favourite.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!