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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
As Wednesdays are usually soccer nights, I always try to plan for a dinner that is as quick and easy as possible. I had a little more time than planned though, so I did a bit of creative cutting and frying of the chips.
The fish was Country Fry from Sea Harvest, baked in the oven. Baby carrots and mixed peas and corn. Potato sliced with the skin on, shallow fried in a little canola oil until just golden and crispy.
Crumbed Chicken Fillet Burgers with Healthy Stuff
I am half ashamed and half proud to say that I forgot that I wanted to bake some oven chips with our burgers, so it turned out to be quite a healthy burger dinner indeed!
I also confess that it would have looked better with white cheese, but in true Mamma style, I didn’t have any so I used regular ol’ yellow cheddar cheese and it was equally delicious, if not as pretty! Re-emphasising that this is MammaChef and not MasterChef! HashtagMommyCookingBlog!
Our sides were coleslaw and a very healthy and refreshing salad of cucumber, cherry tomatoes, basil, chickpeas and avo.
Happy, happy little bodies and full tummies all around!
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.