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!
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!
Start counting sleeps
Nevermind cooking for this week… it’s just about time to start looking forward to Christmas! I’m not really ready to start looking back on the year just yet, save to say that it has been a rollercoaster, eventful, surprising, stressful but wonderful one!
We have just come back from a lovely, week long family holiday in Mpumalanga. I had time to relax, catch a few rays of sun on my nearly translucent winter skin and think up lots of ideas for the blog (and of course for business). The mind never actually stops working on something or other!
See what’s cooking this week
Those early birds who have subscribed over the past few weeks would have received the brand spanking new and gorgeously colourful Meal Planner in a new email format today! Yay for you!
In case you haven’t signed up just yet, you can do so *right now* on the home page in the “sign up” bar… and of course, you can get this week’s planner right here!
It’s all free because I want to help everyone eat better, cook better and feel better! The only thing I ask is for you to keep giving me all your feedback, photos and ideas to make this little idea be the best that it possibly can!
Last week’s meal planner was introduced with fanfare as we were featured on one of my absolute favourite blogs, Mom of Two Little Girls! It’s such an honour to be featured in this brilliant series by someone I completely admire and adore! Link to her post here.
You can also download last week’s printable meal planner on my post here!
The fun thing is that this week, we will be cooking together (if you choose to start on Monday) and you will see my photos pop up as we go along! Hopefully I can stick to my own recipes! Please don’t be shy to post your photos in the comments on Facebook and also share any tasty changes or additions you have made. I love, love, love all your yummy ideas too.
Our recipe cards are all ready to go too! Subscribers can download and print them now, stick up on your fridge or whatever works!
If you are not subscribed I am sad to say you will have to wait until the week’s roundup to get the recipe cards. On the menu this week is:
Seafood Rice & Chorizo (the easy version)
Speaking of imminent holidays, I have decided that my little layer of winter blubber also needs to disappear before beach time. Yes, my guys love me just the way I am but I like to be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t have a whole lot to lose, but I don’t have much time either! First step is lots of water.
More on that later though, for now I need to go shopping! Wishing you a beautiful week!
Perfect Banana Muffins
Sundays at MammaChef’s house in Jozi are very often for golf, for half the family and baking for the other half. Then of course, lunch and eating of the bakes comes after that! My baking definitely needs all the practice it can get but I must say that Blake absolutely loves baking. These banana muffins are just so easy and perfectly moist, even I can’t mess them up!
It’s such a fun thing for us to do together and we both enjoy every second of it. We always have to bake a few extra because the boys always want to take some to school for their teachers and their friends.
Baking has therefore become all about sharing the love!
Keeping it healthy(ish)
The original recipe comes from somewhere on Pinterest but I changed it quite a bit, as I usually do. I used Stoneground Wholemeal flour from Champagne Valley which is GMO free, full of it’s natural vitamins and minerals and unbleached.
They also have loads of delicious recipes on their website, by the way!
I received the flour as an extra surprise in my Munching Mongoose organic produce box for the week and I ended up using it for quite a few different things. Awesome products just give a different taste!
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- pinch salt
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1/3 cup butter
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
Spray muffin tins well with baking spray. Peel bananas, break into smaller pieces and mash in a bowl together with the butter, using a fork. Blend until the mixture is creamy and smooth, not too lumpy.
Add the egg, sugar and vanilla and combine. Stir in salt and baking soda. Next, add the flour and chocolate chips, mixing until just combined (not too much mixing).
Divide into muffin tin and bake for 18-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when pierced into the muffin.
Moist, delicious and perfect for a snack or even for a sweet breakfast. You could also substitute the chocolate chips with berries or whatever else your heart desires!
Remember to #mammachefjozi when you try these! I love seeing your recipes and additions too!
The Braai Broodjie
I have always loved a good old, classic Braai Broodjie… The idea is that you prepare your sandwiches (broodjies) almost like you would with a toasted cheese and after your meat has been cooked on the braai, the last thing you do is place your broodjie in a folding braai grid and toast them over the coals.
I always loved the braai broodjie, that is until I had the one made by my friend, Christel (famous for her Creative Cooking features here on MammaChef Jozi). Now I am addicted to them! I don’t actually need anything else in my life, other than wine! Okay I may be taking it a bit far, but try it for yourself and you will understand.
We went away on a ladies weekend about a year ago to a lovely little cottage outside Parys in the Free State. The four of us have been friends ever since our first year out of high school, when we all enrolled for a year long diploma in Tourism Management. It was definitely one of the highlight years of my life and we have memories and stories to last us a lifetime! We also have friendships from that year to last a lifetime and the four of us try to get away together at least once a year, even though we now live some distance from eachother.
On this particular weekend, we each brought our contribution to the meal. One friend brought her braai skills, another made the wonderful salad, another brought the most amazing chicken espetadas and Christel graced us with her braai broodjies and now – I have the recipe forever immortalised on the interwebs!
Without any further delay…
The Very Best Braai Broodjie Recipe Ever
Butter the bread generously, each mm up to the edges!!! There’s always some debate about butter on the inside or outside – you can choose. I buttered the inside.
After that, spread the secret ingredient on one slice : apricot jam. If you don’t have jam, use Mrs H.S Balls Original Recipe Chutney.
Add slices of tomato on top of the jam.
Add roughly chopped up onions on top of the tomatoes.
Salt and pepper.
Add cheddar cheese on top of everything. Please don’t be shy. You can also add Mozzarella cheese.
Close in a braai grid.
Place on braai after meat was taken off. Turn frequently. Take off when outside is crisp and the cheese is melted.
Best sandwich ever!!!
The last few weeks have really been a bit rough, exhilarating and amazing, but rough. So much so that I have neglected my beloved blog (although I have been able to keep our Facebook page and Instagram going full steam with all our dinner ideas – so please check in there whenever you want to!)
I will post a piece soon with all the news, save to say that it has been challenging, exciting, painful and there may be steam coming out of my ears at this very moment, as my brain is working at the speed of light!
Snapshot of this week’s dinner ideas
1 Butternut, cut into pieces, with skin (or without)
Pack of Broccoli,
A pack of thin sweet carrots
1 Red onion, sliced
Crushed garlic to taste (I used garlic flakes)
Salt & Pepper
A few tablespoons of double thick Cream
I cheat a little bit by steaming my veggies in the mic, before I put it in the oven. Put the Butternut, Broccoli and Carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add a little bit of water. Cover tightly with cling film or a roasting bag. Make sure there’s a little hole in the film or bag to release some of the steam – you don’t want the veggies to go ‘BOOM’!! Microwave on high for about 3 – 4 minutes.
Drain the excess water. Add all the veggies into an oven dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven on 180° for about 30 – 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes or so, add a few tablespoons of double thick cream and mix about. Crumble Feta cheese over and put back in the oven.
You can use your own discretion when it comes to when you want to take it out of the oven.
Tuesday – SuperDad cooks Lamb Chops
Succulent, grilled lamb chops with mashed potato, mixed corn and peas and a side of butter beans dressed with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Wednesday – Spicy Beef & Vegetable Curry
Brown 800g beef cubes in a large pot with some olive oil over high heat, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.
Sauté 2 chopped onions until soft, then add 1/4 cup of korma curry paste and mix. Add 6 diced potatoes, 2 cups cauliflower, 2 tins chopped tomatoes and a cup of beef stock.
Add the beef and juices into the mix. Season with salt and pepper. I also added about 2tsp each of turmeric and paprika, just because. Add in a cup of frozen peas.
Cook in normal pot for at least an hour, in low cooker for 8hours on low or 3-4 hours on high.
Serve with Basmati rice and some plain yoghurt.
Gluten free, high in protein!
Thursday – Caldo Verde (Green soup with Kale)
We have made this one before! Link here
That was the week’s roundup! Followed by a busy and beautiful weekend with family!
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.
This Saturday, I felt like something a little bit different. I had mince, bread rolls and eggs and I have been looking at so many delicious looking shakshukas all over the “food web” lately, I thought it’s about time to try my own!
It was really, really a fantastic meal! Definitely something we will be having often in the future!
Chop 1 onion and sauté with 1tsp chopped garlic over high heat. Add 500g beef mince and season with 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce, ground coarse salt and black pepper. Cook until well browned.
Add 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1-2 tsp dried Italian herbs and smoked red chilli flakes to taste. Stir in 1 Knorr beef stock pot and half a tin of boiled water. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until sauce has reduced.
Make a hole in the mince and crack an egg into it, repeat with 4-5 more eggs. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes over low heat until egg is softly cooked. Remember if you are serving up from the pan that the egg will continue to cook, so dish up and eat as soon as possible.
We served this with rolls toasted in the oven, sprinkled with some more chilli flakes and jalapeños for the chilli lovers!