23/12/2015

South African Christmas Menu

In Europe and the USA Christmas is a winter holiday with either snow or blazing cold wind and weather. In South Africa (and Australia) it is summer time, which makes a turkey, stuffing and hot sides just impossible. Nobody wants hot food on a hot day. So here is what we did for our BIG family in 2014! Lost of salads and cold meat platters with some traditional meat like beef tongue. These are great ideas even just for a BBQ or braai, something different, fresh and not too time consuming! Sorry about the blurry photo! We took amazing photo on the digitial camera and then lost the card!



Roasted Beet Salad with Goat's Cheese and balsamic dressing.

Basil, Chive, Cucumber and Corn Salad

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus with Hollandaise Sause

Carrot and Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Bacon and Pea Pasta Salad

Brusselsprout and Grapefruit Salad

This year we are only about a third of the people so we will be doing only 2 meat platters and 3 salads.


It is so amazing how quickly the little One grew this year. The leap between one year and two years are amazing. She talks so much, is very head strong but polite and friendly and really is my beautiful little baby girl. Last year she didn't understand anything but loved ripping up the paper. This year she understands the concept of 'gifts' but not yet the concept of Christmas (or the fact that we have more than 10 birthdays in December!). But we are getting there.


One issue is whether we are doing the whole Father Christmas- thing. You know: hide the presents until Christmas eve then bring them out and lie to our little girl saying someone broke into our house, judged her on her behaviour and then decided to give her some presents... okay so I guess you can see how I feel about it. Hubby is adamant that this is a part of her childhood and should be embraced. So I have left it up to him and also the talk one day when she realises there is no Santa. When I was young I questioned the whole idea and my mother never lied to me. I knew she was the one buying me a present and since we weren't rich I was taught to damn well appreciate it because I will only get a new toy on my Birthday in the middle of the year!

What do you do with your little ones?

But what ever it is you do: Have a happy and safe festive season!

07/12/2015

Alice in Wonderland High Tea at Work

 
 
I am fortunate to work at an office where some seriously creative individuals work. I mean organising a party for 30 to 40 people on the cheap, while still showing some creative flair and providing some decent grub is not any easy feat! Most of the events are held to support a charity and all the funds are collected from staff, while one or two staffers donate funds for the food.
 



 
We have held domino competitions, burger and rugby days and so on, but it was decided to do a buffet style event with a 'cover charge' instead of having people order a burger, waffle or pancake before hand. As the group of 5 that were selected to do this event consisted out of 1 vegan and 2 vegetarians and most of the staff having other religious requirements, a theme of Alice in Wonderland High Tea was selected.
 


 
And they organised it with as little fuss as possible: platters of miniature cakes and pastries were ordered from  local bakeries so they only had to plate it up and do as little as possible food wise.
 
 



The goodies were really scrumptious and there was enough for everyone. A small bit of  savoury were included in some sausage rolls and other mini pies and home made cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches.
 
 



To add to the theme they included flowers in quirky pots, some appropriate Alice playing cards with the white rabbit on and signs that said "eat me" or "drink me" next to food and coffee cups.




As the men also supported the Movember challenge of growing out their moustaches in support of men's health in November, we utilised the High Tea to have all the staff compare the growth, style and attitude of the men's hairy upper lip and vote for their favourite. The winner is to be announced at the year end function.
 
 


 
While enjoying or miniature cakes and coffee we had an unexpected fire drill which meant we had to leave the goodies and go outside. But the good thing about this theme was that we were able to leave and come back without it spoiling anything!
 



The food was great, the table looked beautiful and colourful and the theme worked with just a couple of cake stands needed for effect.



 
They were able to increase the amount of delectables by adding cheaper options (such a croissants and bagels and homemade cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches) to medium costs goodies (the fruit buns, fruit platter and savoury bites) to more expensive items (like the miniature tarts and cakes) to make everything look like a lot but not tasteless.
 


 
Everyone had a ball and dressed up in flowery ensembles with hats and ribbons. Without a doubt our Alice in Wonderland High Tea was a huge success and definitely a good idea for a not so expensive party whether in is a bachelors or a girly baby shower, maybe even a birthday party. All you need are cake stands, vibrant flowers and cake platters from a decent bakery!
 


 
 



23/11/2015

COHEN DIET | Breakfast Sandwich and Steak Lunch

 
 
Breakfast and lunch in one setting. I was so tired of doing the same breakfast - a 175ml plain fat free yoghurt, that I became adventurous! I am having a salad sandwich for breakfast again! 
 

I took about 1/2 a cup of smooth (creamed) cottage cheese and cheated a bit by adding smoked chilli's. I had some yellow peppers, red onion and lettuce leaves to add to 2 crispbreads. I will have to see whether having a 'sandwich' at 7am is a good idea, but anything is better than another plain yoghurt!


 
Lunch was a simple steak salad: left over steak which I just cut up into pieces, cherry tomatoes (not really allowed but it travels easier!), red onions and yellow pepper. I added parsley and lettuce for some freshness and my usual salad dressing of mayonnaise and vinegar.
 
 
 
 
I am not following Cohen 100% which you really should be being healthier is my main goal. If I eat a healthy lunch and breakfast everyday then my dinner choices should derail me too much...unless I over do it!
 
 


20/11/2015

COHEN DIET | Chicken Salad



This is probably the easiest way to do a healthy lunch: nothing fancy just a healthy grilled chicken lunch. Everything is very green though so I deviated and added a yellow/green pepper to the mix. I always add my salad leaves or lettuce just before eating at work or they might get too much moisture and go soggy. This way they stay fresh!
 
 


 
The chicken is cooked with just some salt and pepper and the salad dressing is mayonnaise and vinegar mixed. Breakfast was just plain boring yoghurt. I really need to find an alternative breakfast!
 


09/11/2015

COHEN DIET | Cottage Cheese Breakfast Sandwich


 
Having eggs for breakfast might be great on the weekends but a disaster on early weekday mornings. It's just not possible. And having a plain yoghurt every morning is so unsatisfactory. So I played around with cheese. Cottage cheese to be exact.
 


 
 
This little gem of an idea ended up tasting great while still providing me with a use for the vegetable allocation. If you just use the cheese then you are left with a cup of vegetables that you just don't know what to do with and I am not eating a salad at 7am!
 


 
 
So the sandwich is very easy: crackerbread topped with rocket or lettuce, some cottage cheese (plain or flavoured), green/yellow pepper and onions. I did however cheat a bit and added a non-Cohen flavouring to my cottage cheese but you can add herbs - preferably some coriander, salt, pepper and a bit of sweetener. I added this:
 
 


My new addiction! And not even available everywhere! It is a smoked pepper and chili concoction that I now add to absolutely everything! Brussel sprouts mixed with grated cheese and a teaspoon of this makes even Hubby devour it! You don't have to add a lot (1/4 tsp is what I added to the cottage cheese and reduce my veggie intake by 20g and didn't use any mayonnaise for the day to account for the oil). They apparently have the same flavour in a pesto! I can't wait to get hold of it! Fynbos Foods are available from certain outlets.
 
Give this a try! It would make great presents to the guys as well! trust me!
 


06/11/2015

Little One's Second Birthday Party | Daisy Duck Theme


 
So many things have happened in the last year with the Little One growing up so very fast. Sometimes I feel like she is a little adult in a toddler's body. Though with the "terrible two's" now making some appearances I might change my mind! I decided to spoil the Little One for her Birthday but also to make life easy for me. It means spending some cash but less stress- in other words I outsourced everything!
 




I did make life difficult for myself by trying to choose a less popular theme: Daisy Duck! But poor Daisy is seriously neglected in the merchandise department! I could only find Daisy Duck goodies that also had Minnie Mouse on. I however chose her for her colour scheme - pink, purple, white and a bit of turquoise.
 


The kids loved it and the purple was easy to convert to make it boy-friendly as well. I added Mickey Mouse colouring books and Mickey Mouse Club House lucky packets for the boys.
 



I order a jumping castle from BouncyKidz and they also provided the tables, chairs, table cloths and chair covers.The jumping castle was the best idea ever, it kept the kids busy and happy while also tiring them out for an easy nap. It was therefore the only entertainment I needed.
 
 


As I said, finding Daisy Duck merchandise was so difficult but I found some Minnie Mouse Boutique goodies and I just removed Minnie from the equations, well as much as I could. I decided to leave some of the Minnie Mouse goodies, where both characters were visible. What I lacked for quantity I made up with balloons. 80 balloons to be exact! I found someone to come and inflate the balloons at your home so no need to travel with them.
 
 


The food was simple: mini ham and pineapple pizzas, mini cheese hamburgers, chicken nuggets, sausages, samosas, mini quiches and fruit kebabs. A big variety but not too much in quantity. I knew the kids were going for the sweet stuff instead. I did try to limit the sweets though.



Now for the sweet stuff:



I splurged on some cute and delicious cupcakes and Daisy Duck cookies. Oh my gosh but these were delicious! And so darn pretty, I almost loath having people eat them! I had 20 cookies and 20 cupcakes and not a single one was left!
 
 

 
 
As the cookies had Daisy Duck's face on them, I opted for a cake topper on the cupcakes instead. I ordered 10 vanilla cupcakes and 10 chocolate cupcakes to account for everyone tastes.
 


 
 
I also found these pretty big marshmellow lollipops from Click's of all places. I just replaced the thin red bows with these huge pink bows and made a little Styrofoam board. The plates had both Minnie and Daisy Duck on them but they fitted with the theme. Doing a twin girls birthday party would be great with a Minnie and Daisy theme, so easy to decorate!
 

 


I added a big jug of Oros juice and paper cups that both children and adults could enjoy. I didn't make it to strong. The water jugs are from @Home but the spout is so low that I placed it on a cake stand to make pouring easier. It looked so adorable!
 



 
The food was available from the start of the party being 10h00 as most of the kids also have their snack time this time in the mornings at school. I also wanted them to eat some proper food before hitting the sugar. I added some popcorn in easy containers to snack on if the kids weren't too hungry. I bought a cute little Daisy Duck figurine that I added as decor.
 




I also made some lucky packets that had the following: a colour in in page, crayons, bubbles, stickers, pink milk, a straw and 1 sweet. These I added to the table as decor and it had a drink in it for easy access.
 
 

 
On the tables I also placed these colouring books which have special pens that looks white but shows colour only on the special colouring book pages - no staining on clothes or the rented table cloths! As almost all the kids at school in the Little One's class have their birthdays in October and November (I am not joking 18 kinds of which 16 have their birthdays in these 2 months, 2 in the same week as my little girl!) I decided to send the unused colouring books to school as a birthday treat instead of cupcakes or sweets.

 


No I didn't forget about the adults (and there were so many as the whole family always attend). I had the Little Pink Chef make platters for the adults too (she made everything for the kids' platter) and I was not disappointed! I added a jug of lemon water to the adults table and we had buckets with ciders in the garden.
 
 

 
The food were all small and easy to eat such as a selection of mini burgers: beef, chicken, camenbert etc. A real treat and easy to eat: just 3 bites!
 
 
 
We did have an abundant of toothpicks and I would request them to be greatly reduced next time, but it did have the advantage of keeping fingers away from the food. It just doesn't look too pretty... We had cheese platter, sausages, salamis and other cold meats, crackers and olives. Everything you need for a platter.
 
 
 
 
I also had fruit kebabs for the adults (something without carbs other than the cheese platter) and we had a great selection of wraps.
 
 


A whole table of goodies. Way too much food as always but I would rather have leftover that too little! I am paranoid like that. But what I suggest is that, because the party was between breakfast and lunch, you calculate 3 pieces for each adult. That way you won't be stuck with too much food. However as the platters were made the Saturday morning very early, we were still able to enjoy everything on Sunday. No waste.
 

 
I you want to get in contact with the balloon guy or the lady for the cupcakes and cookies, leave a comment I will reply with all the details!
 
 
Hope this inspired you or at least provided some ideas for your next event! Bring on Christmas!
 
 
 



03/11/2015

COHEN DIET: Chicken Salad


 
 
I know doing the same thing every day becomes boring quickly and especially with a diet, it also becomes difficult to follow. But really this is just so damn convenient!. I just can't get away from the salads! Luckily it is almost summer time when it gets so hot nothing else will do.
 
 

 
So what was included? Chicken pieces dices and cooked with some spices, salad goodies in the form of tomatoes, cucumber and red onion, some lettuce on the side and a dollop of mayonnaise. You can just mix these up and enjoy as is but I suggest buying a fluffy pita bread, warm it in the microwave for a few seconds, mix all the ingredients together and stuff it all into the pita!
 
I added some plain yoghurt which I had for breakfast and for lunch I also ate my orange for some sweetness.

01/11/2015

Motherland Coffee Shop

 
 
 

 
 
This coffee shop is pure evil. No definitely just stay away. Your diet will thank you later! This place sells some of the best chai coffee I have had in a long time but this isn't the reason I go back again and again. And we have one at the Mandela Rodes Place in St George's Mall in Cape Town.
 
 
 
It isn't even for their toasted fresh croissants with cheese and tomato (absolutely divine as a breakfast or quick lunch). But no it isn't even for the perfectly baked cookies or mini banana loaf cake (my go-to after a busy morning with loads of butter).
 




I return every time for their chocolate brownies. Almost cake-like in texture: fluffy and light but with soft chunks of chocolate in between. Sweet but not too sweet and a fantastic chocolate kick. I love these and always buy 2 because one just isn't enough!



As I said at the beginning: stay away! That leaves more brownies for me!