09/12/2014

Hotdog, Red Pepper and Feta Mini Crustless Quiche





These little quiches are so quick to make and are great hot with a salad or cold for a lunch box treat. I made them as a quick on the go little breakfast that I can eat on the run and they are low carb! How to make them can differ day and night: from using scramble egg to just adding a whole egg to each cup. So too the filling - clean out your fridge from all the bobs and ends.



Before you start, preheat the oven to 180ºC and spray a 6-hole muffin pan with cook-and-spray. I had hot dogs in the fridge. Too many for the little one to eat (she gets half a hot dog cut up as a snack) and eating just a hot dog can never be nutritious. I used 2 hot dogs, sliced and divided between 6 muffin cups.



You can use ham, salami hot smoked salmon or any meat, even leftover steak and mince. I then added ½ a diced red pepper. It would have also tasted great with peppadew or some chili. I also added 1 feta cheese wheel, crumbled and divided between the 6 cups. I also bought some fantastic bacon and onion relish from Woolworth's that taste fantastic and add a bit of sweetness but you can add sweet chili sauce or some chutney or leave it out altogether.



As I mentioned you can at this stage merely take 6 eggs and break an egg into each cup. I however hate the tasteless white part of an egg so I took 6 eggs and quickly scrambled them with a fork and divided it up between the 6 cups. Don't add salt if you are using feta or any salty filling.


Then there is the cheese. You can mix 1 cup of shredded cheese, divided between the 6 cups into the filling, or if you choose (or like me forget the cheese completely!) place it on top. If you don't like the cheese to brown too much then make the quiches for 5 minutes, remove and top with cheese and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the egg is just set.



Don't bake it too long as the eggs will continue to cook once you remove it from the oven and will become very dry if baked too long.

RECAP: makes 6 mini quiches

  • 2 hot dogs, sliced
  • ½ a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 feta cheese wheel, crumbled
  • 3 tsp relish, ½ a tsp per cup
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven of 180ºC for 15 minutes or until the egg is set and the cheese is bubbly.

These also make great additions to a picnic.

  


02/12/2014

Curry Chicken, Blueberry and Cashew Nut Salad


I am not a salad person. Not even in the summer months. In actual fact when it gets really hot I crave a curry or a traditional South African stew with lamb chops and cabbage...hmmm. Okay you guessed it, it is, supposedly, summer in South Africa. I say supposedly because in Cape Town we have 2 seasons only: rainy or windy. If it's not raining we have hurricane strength winds. Okay, I exaggerate, but not by much.


But even I have to admit, for the purpose of a lunchbox, nothing beats a salad. But you have to pack it right or you get these terrible soggy leaves and everything is soggy. I tend to go for the lazy approach and prepare my salad in the lunchbox (so no washing up afterwards and no wasting any of the sauce!). For the curry sauce I use the following: 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon full fat plain yoghurt, 1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar, ½ a teaspoon curry powder and ½ a teaspoon turmeric powder.


I just mix everything up the night before so it has time to sit but the other option is to microwave it for a few seconds to "cook" the sauce a bit. If all else fails use Ina Paarman's Creamy Curry sauce that is ready to pour as a substitute.


I then add about ½ a cup to ¾ cup shredded and cooked chicken directly into the sauce. Then I add ½ a cup of fresh blueberries (for sweetness) and ½ a cup of raw, unsalted cashew nuts (for crunch). I don't add cucumber or any other veggies as they tend to go a bit soggy too. If you do want to add some veggies I suggest to add it the next morning on top of the chicken mixture.


You are more than welcome to add some finely chopped red onions or green peppers or any other salad veggies you like but this combination with just salad leaves is perfect for me. Plus this allows me to prepare everything the night before up to this point, put it in the fridge and just add the fresh leaves the next morning.


I add 1 cup of fresh rocket leaves as the peppery taste goes so well with the curry chicken. I just place it on top of the mixture and don't mix it in for 2 reasons: firstly it doesn't really touch the saucy chicken so it will stay fresh and crisp until lunch time and secondly, I just grab a plate and turn the whole thing over and have a beautiful salad of green leaves on the bottom and my curry chicken mixture on top.



The quantities used are just an estimate. Salads are really hard to get wrong. Use what you have in the fridge and in the amounts you feel like.


26/11/2014

Ham and Cheese Breakfast Bake




I am such a lazy hostess. I hate being in the kitchen, especially early mornings. I especially hate having to stand in front of a hot stove in order to prepare breakfast for the family. That's why they get porridge. I hate having to prepare breakfast for a crowd even more. Everyone likes their eggs different (soft, hard, sunny side up, scrambled) and even their bacon preferences differ (crispy, soft, back bacon, lots of fat). Aargh, it's enough to make me scream and refuse to have any guest over!

This breakfast bake was prepared with just bread, ham, cheese and eggs the night before and then just popped into the oven and served while still hot. Add a few Rosa tomatoes and cucumber slices for a balanced breakfast. Any lazy hostess' dream breakfast. If you just can't stand arranging the sandwiches so they look delicious and everyone can see the ham and cheese. then just dice everything, mix well and follow from step 6. It will still look pretty sliced.

What do you need:

  • french loaf bread, sliced
  • 1 packet sliced ham
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup shredded Cheddar
What to do:

  1. Butter an oven proof baking dish. 
  2. Place one row of bread slices against the side, upright, so the tops are in line with the dish.
  3. Add a slice of ham, again so the top shows.
  4. Add another slice of bread. You now have a ham sandwich sanding on its side, upright.
  5. Next add cheese and another row of bread. Keep alternating between the ham and cheese until the whole dish is full.
  6. Next, in a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk and mustard together. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour over the bread and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
  8. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sprinkle with ½ a cup of cheese. Bake until puffed and done in the centre, about 1 hour.
Another option is to add slices tomato with the cheese or replace the ham with the cheese. You can also replace the french loaf with croissants.

19/11/2014

Gingerbread House





This really does take about 3 days to do (and that's what all the recipes say) but we pushed it into a day and a half. We baked and build the house on the Saturday and decorated the Sunday. Next time (we are making this our yearly tradition from now on with the little one) I will bake the dough in sheets and cut out the shapes when I take it from the oven and the cookie is still soft. Then I will be sure the shapes are perfect as they tend to shrink and move while baking.



This recipe is enough for 2 houses and some gingerbread men.

  • 360g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 300g syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 tablespoon mixed spice
  • 3 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour



For the edible glue:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1,5 kg icing sugar sifted



  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Cut out the following paper patterns for the gingerbread house template (I bought this Gingerbread House Kit).
  3. Cream the sugar and butter until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one by one and mix well.
  5. Add the sugar, zest and lemon juice. Mix until well combined.
  6. Meanwhile sift the flour, baking powder and spices.
  7. Add flour cup for cup to the butter mixture until a dough forms.
  8. Add the dough hook and 'knead' for a few minutes.
  9. Fold in baking parchment and rest for 1 hour in the fridge.
  10. Knead the dough until its elastic and roll it out to about 0.5 cm. (we did it at 0.25 cm and it was too thin).
  11. Cut out the shapes for the sides and roof.
  12. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  13. Allow to cool and dry over night.




To make the 'edible glue':
  1. Beat the egg whites until peaks form.
  2. Add 1 cup of sugar at a time beating well.
  3. When all the sugar is incorporated, use to glue house together (it's like working with marshmallows but dries really hard).
  4. Allow to dry overnight.




Then start decorating the house using sweets, biscuits or whatever else you can think of. We used coconut as snow for the finishing touch.








14/11/2014

South Arican Braai Pie


The "Braai Pie" is making a big comeback on all the cooking circuits in South Africa. And really it is ingenius. A filo pastry shell filled with goodies that you "braai" or barbeque on an open wood fire!





Hubby saw the idea somewhere (yes I was just as amazed by this fact as you are!) and just had to try it over our weekend away. As I wasn't involved in any way (except to take pictures) I must admit I was pleasanty surprised by how easy it is. Just a word of advice: coat the the BBQ grill (braai rooster) liberally with oil or the pasrty sticks to it.


INGREDIENTS


    • 2 rolls puff pastry, defrosted
    • 15ml sunflower oil
    • 1 onion, finely diced
    • 1 packet salami
    • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
    • ½ cup chutney or sweet chilli sauce
    • 1 cup leftover steak, diced
    • 1 egg, lightly whisked

METHOD
  1. Heat oil in a pan and gently fry the onion until soft. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.
  2. Spray the braai grid well with baking spray on both sides or use a brush to coat with oil.
  3. Unroll one of the rolls of puff pastry onto the first grid.
  4. Place a layer of salami overlapping if possible. Spread with some chutney or sweet chilli sauce on top.
  5. Sprinkle the onions and chopped steak on top.
  6. Add a layer of the cheese.
  7. Place the second roll of puff pastry on top
  8. Using your finger tips seal the edges of the pastry as if making a pie.
  9. Lightly brush with egg wash before placing on the braai and make three small incisions in the top of the pastry using a small knife to allow the steam to escape.
  10. Place high on a very cool braai and allow to cook for about 20 minutes turning the pie over often until the pastry is cooked and crispy.


Why not enjoy it with these amazing curry lamb chops? We had some left over pie with breakfast the next morning, heated in the microwave and it tasted great!



10/11/2014

Curry Lamb Chops



This really is a fantastic way of preparing lamb chops to be barbequed. You can do this up to three days ahead and because you marinate the meat for so long you can use the cheaper cuts that usually too tough as they go amazingy soft. I prepare this usually on a wednesday if we are to go away for a weekend and as always a great hit. I served this with a slice of real South African Braai Pie. Give it a try. If you don't have 3 days try to at least marinate the chops for 24 hours and use better cuts.


The wonderful recipe is from Jan Braai and his fantastic book called "Fireworks". Don't change anything!
Ingredients
  • 2– 2,5 kg lamb chops (I prefer leg but chump or thick rib also work well)
  • 2 tots oil or butter
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • peeled and grated ginger (equal to the garlic in volume)
  • 2 tots curry powder
  • ½ tot turmeric
  • ½ tot salt
  • 2 cups brown vinegar
  • 1 × 450 g tin fine or smooth apricot jam
  • 4 bay leaves (torn)

Method
  1. Fry the onions in the oil for about 4 minutes until they are soft and golden but not brown.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, curry powder and turmeric and fry for another 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the vinegar, jam and salt and heat until boiling.
  4. Remove from the heat and let the marinade cool down to room temperature. I put the whole pot in the zink with lots of cold water.
  5. Place the chops in a marinating bowl, add the torn bay leaves and pour the cooled-down marinade over the meat. Stir thoroughly ensuring all sides of the chops are in contact with marinade. Cover the bowl.
  6. Marinate for at least 24 hours, two or three days is better. Turn the chops every 8–12 hours during this time.
  7. Braai for about 8–10 minutes on hot coals and serve.

03/11/2014

Waffles with White Chocolate Chips and Blueberries | Homemade Yoghurt


Yes you can use a box mix and still be a good mother but why when it really is just so quick and easy to make your own and do it with less sugar? I bought a Krups Waffle Maker and decided to really give it a go. As always a quick waffle batter recipe is included which I used with some alterations. But if you want delicious waffle/pancake box mix use Nomu's Pancake and Waffle Mix which turned out fantastic and has 2 pouches so you don't have to use it all in one go.



Waffle Batter:


  • 2 ½ cups self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp rice syrup/stevia/sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ cup oil


  1. Sift the flour
  2. Beat the eggs and milk together. 
  3. Add to all the dry ingredients.
  4. Add rice syrup if using.
  5. Cook waffles. 
Alternatively separate the egg whites and  beat to a thick foam. Beat the egg yolks with the milk. And follow the recipe and gently fold in the egg whites last.



I add the goodies in the machine on top of the uncooked batter in this instance I added small white chocolate chips and blueberries which is the squashed into the batter when you close the lid. But add anything you like. 


Instead of cream and syrup I served mine with homemade yogurt that I make in this yoghurt machine and using Woolworth's double cream yoghurt as a started and full cream UHT milk. Instead of 9 hour I leave it for 11 or 12 so it comes out thick and smooth. Hubby though it was cream!


In an attempt to go sugar free (deleting all unnecessary sugar from the family diet) I realised how much sugar is added to Little Em's food especially yoghurt! And as she has yoghurt every day I decided that my one good deed a week is to make 7 of these little pots on a monday, leaving enough yoghurt for me and Em. I got her to eat plain full cream yoghurt without any additions within 1 week!

What is your good deed for every week?


31/10/2014

Happy Halloween throwback!


It's Halloween in the USA. South Africa is getting on board with spooky sweets and cute outfits etc available from most shops. I just wish it would be even bigger here. I would be the first one to dress up and walk the streets! But lets stick with lunchbox goodies. Here is a throwback recipe I forgot to share.



What do you need:
  • Kit Kats, chilled
  • White chocolate, melted and dyed green
  • Black or brown gel icing
  • Rolo chocolates
  • Candy "eyes"
  • Twizzler Black Licorice Twists, cut into thin slices



What must you do:
  1. Brush white chocolate on top third of a Kit Kat.
  2. Press a Rolo into the chocolate on top of the Kit Kat. If the chocolate has set, use icing or additional chocolate to get it to stick.
  3. Press two candy "eyes" into the white chocolate for the eyes.
  4. To create the stitch above on the cheek, use black gel icing to draw a horizontal line and drag a toothpick through the line to create a stitch effect.
  5. Press a thin slice of licorice into the white chocolate for the mouth. If needed, use icing to get it to stick.
  6. Press two small slices of licorice into the side of the Kit Kat to create the bolts.
Enjoy!

30/10/2014

Quick Avo and Cheese Toast




What to do when you are just way too busy to prepare a proper lunch box and you just can't stomach another stint of leftovers? Well throw a couple of rye bread slices in a bag, add an avocado and a couple of Kiri Cheese squares and there you go! Quick, easy and even cheap and if you double the bread and cheese to 4 slices and 4 cheese squares you have enough for 2 days! Or if you are me, then lunch and a 3pm snack...


This is my go to lunch and if I'm very busy at work I might even have this lunch 2 to 3 times a week (like the last couple of weeks). Rye is very good for sustenance, the cheese for my protein and my good fats from the avocado. Sugar free lunch that doesn't take forever to prepare.

What is your go to lunch that is easy and healthy?

22/10/2014

Little Em turns 1!


I'm still shocked that a whole year has gone by! 


I just had to start with this beautiful photo taken by Lizelle Krige Photography at Paarlberg Nature Reserve and even though Little Em was a bit sick, hadn't slept at all that day and refused to smile for most of the photoshoot, it still came out great.


Now too the party. I'm not a "pink" loving type of girl and Little Em gets confused as a little boy because I love putting her in jeans and a T-shirt but with Woolworth's going Hello Kitty crazy ever since she was born, the theme grew on me. I might go so far as to say that I am a Hello Kitty convert and can't wait to fly via Hong Kong again! So many things to buy...


Unfortunatly the craze has died down a lot by the time the party was to take place and I didn't buy the goodies while I could. So I had to improvise a lot of the stuff. The dolls, balloons and flags carried the theme so well and the cake stood proud in the middle of the table. (More on the cake later).


I found this adorable bright pink wooden doll house and used little Hello Kitty dolls in it to add some colour to the table. I also had some fresh flowers (pink & white roses and my favourite flower: tulips).


I also had some goodies from our trip to Phuket that I added: pink strawberry flavoured Kitkat chocolates and Hello Kitty pez dispensers. I also found little Hello Kitty lego figarines which I also added to the gift bags.


I recently discovered the joys of liquid chalk markers and used it on the window and sliding door. On the window I added the Menu being: Peanut butter and jam sandwiches; Ham and cheese sandwiches; Fruit kebabs; Cream cheese mice; Kebabs, potato salad, Pesto Noodle salad, mixed salad and rolls (more on that later). On the sliding door was the following info given all in regards to Little Em's first year: weighing 8,9kg, 174 463 thing put in her mouth (most hoping to be chocolate), 3 hospital visits, 1 tumble from the bed but she can climb down carefully by herself now, 4 teeth, 387 baths, 7 facial expressions and 4 flights from Cape Town via Dubai to Phuket and back.


Now the food and drinks: these milk drinks were so quick to make and added so much to the whole rainbow theme. I printed happy birthday printouts, cut them and just added them to the bottles. I also had Hello Kitty juice from Woolwoth's which were grabbed by the kiddies.


I made gift bags with toys, colouring books, sweeties, gifts, bubbles and some of these cookies made especially for the party. I collected stuff to add to the bags for about 6 months so was able to add a lot without it costing too much at once. I also send some of the cookies to school and gave them to grown-ups for take-home gifts.


I didn't want to have just sweets and unhealthy selections so I added these fruit kebabs in rainbow colors: green kiwi, yellow pineapple, orange melon, red strawberry, pink raspberry and a blueberry. These were a great hit with the kiddies and grown-ups alike and I was so glad I added them to the menu.


I made 2 different sandwiches: ham & cheese and peanut butter & jam in 3 different shapes. The little ham and cheese hearts were a big hit with Little Em and the other 1-year-olds as they were small and easy to handle.


The peanut butter and jam sandwiches were cut into flowers (more difficult that you would think as the mould was just slightly too big!) and the ham and cheese sandwiches were cut into crowns with a heart cutout in the centre which I displayed separately.


We made these little mice to go with the whole theme of Hello Kitty. They were easy to assemble but the cheese were very cold so they cracked a bit. I used chocolate buttons for the ears, chocolate drops for the nose and liquorice for the tails.


I had 2 tables and 7 chairs set up with Hello Kitty mugs and paper napkins. Everything planned and then never used! All the kiddies ended up sitting at the wooden bench so we moved the plates and everything over. And I bought the table and chairs especially for the party. Maybe they will use it next year...


Aunt Michelle bought a lot of Hello Kitty goodies at the local China Town and these balloon rattles were a big hit. It has a bell on the inside to amuse the kids while being safe and no-one can get hurt.


What did the multitude of grown-ups eat? We had a menu of Sosaties (kebabs) of chicken, pork and beef marinated in different sauces braaied (barbecued) outside, 3 salads and hotdog rolls. The idea being that each person takes a kebab and puts it on a roll very much like a hotdog. But being South Africans, they demolished the kebabs 2 at a time, only some had rolls and many ignored the salads!


We had a very South African potato salad made by my mother-in-law, a tomato, mozzarella and pesto noodle salad and a green sale with feta, raspberries and blueberries.


Just look at that beautiful face! The birthday girl didn't understand all the attention and looked at everyone with the funniest expression when we sang happy birthday.


And now the most important part: THE CAKE! When the need for an amazing cake arises I always turn to Karen from the The Mixing Bowl Cake Company who also made Little Em's christening cake and this amazing Finding Nemo Cake so obviously I wanted a beautiful cake to be the centre piece of the whole party but also taste great and boy did Karen deliver! 


I alone had about 6 pieces (and I'm probably forgetting about another 3) for dinner and again breakfast the next day. It was such a shame though that I had to cut into the cake in the first place. It was just so pretty with so much detail.


But just look and the inside! Soft rainbow colours that fitted the theme perfectly. And so moist too. The cake was still amazing 4 days later! We had 2 layers so a lot of leftovers. I had half of the left over cake personally giving me one hell of a sugar rush and a migraine to boot but so worth it.



The best part though is the fact that the 7 little ones really had a great time. There was so much to do and eat that they never got bored and misbehaved. I rented some extra toys to put in the garden from Paula's Party Stuff and it really was a great way so entertain the kiddies. Something I will do again though Em got so many toys that I really don't have to rent any ever again.


Thank you so much to everyone for helping me make Little Em's first birthday party such a success. Now to start planning next year's party. Any ideas?