30/09/2015

Hubby's Childhood Sandwich - What is your wierdest combination?

 
 
Hubby has been suggesting I try this sandwich combination for more than 5 years and each time I say "hell no!". It just can't work there is no way. I even asked if he wasn't pregnant with a weird craving or something. But I tried it and wow, I have to admit I love it! But don't tell Hubby because I will never hear the end of it...
 


 
 
So what is it already? I hear you ask. Well, it's Marmite, cheese and Golden Syrup on white bread with lots of lightly salted butter. Yes you read right: Marmite and syrup! It all stated with making a Marmite and cheese sandwich for the Little One. Nothing weird there as Marmite and cheese is a classic combination. But I was worried that even though she loves salty things like olives, she might not like Marmite (I even don't! I am a Bovril fan myself).
 


 
 
I then remembered Hubby's stories about the infamous Marmite and syrup sandwiches of his youth and I though, what the hell, let's try it. I used equal parts Marmite to syrup, spread it on one generously butters bread slice, topped it with Gouda cheese slices and ended with another buttered bread slice on top. I then stepped back and bravely brought a piece to my lips - knowing that I have to try it before presenting it to my girl.


 


I loved it. Absolutely loved it! The salty-sweet combination was brilliant and I immediately hated myself for missing out on this sandwich for the last 5 years.

 

What else have I been missing out on?

 
Add your most loved or even weirdest flavour combination in a comment below.

23/09/2015

Blueberry Baked Oats






 
I am having a love affair with baked oats. Really it is so easy to prepare on a Friday night while making dinner and you have a quick and healthy breakfast option for the whole weekend. Which means when the Little One suddenly decides at 08h00 that she is hungry NOW I can just cut a portion, pour over some milk and heat it up instead of resorting to cereal.
 


The options really are endless. I have done bigger ones before with Blueberries and Macadamia Nuts which were great and a Baked Caramel version as well. You can add any flavour combination you can think off. I also made a smaller Peanut Butter Baked version that looked ands smelled like one giant peanut butter cookie with great success.



Serves 8

• 1 1/2 cup oats (not the quick cooking kind)
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 2 cups light coconut milk
• 3 cups full cream milk
• 1/4 cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup desiccated coconut flakes
• 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
 
2. Pour the oats, salt, baking powder, milk and coconut milk in the bowl. Whisk lightly.
 
3. Add the coconut flakes and blueberries. Cover with foil otherwise the top browns too quickly.
 
4. Bake for 1 hour. The oats might still be slightly runny, but will get firmer as it cools down. If it is too runny cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.
 
 



I love having straight away but it really is best eaten the next day, heated with some milk and some fresh blueberries. You also added some of my Blueberry Compote. Just mush it down and enjoy.


 
 

19/09/2015

Baby led Weaning: How to avoid a picky eater!

 
One of the questions I get asked about Little Em (turning 2 soon) is how I get her to eat everything from raw mushrooms (her current favourite) to olives and gherkins (a previous favourite). And with so many new babies being born and so many babies becoming toddlers, I decided to share my little secret. Okay so it isn't really a secret. I incorporated two "rules" at home from 6 months onward. They weren't strict rules but I did try to follow them at least 80% of the time and I now see the great results.
 

 


Firstly, I did start my Little One on purees. She also went to a play school from 3 months and they only provided purees for lunch so I did what I could over weekends and at night for dinner. It didn't always work well - as you'll see below, it gets messy! But I did realise that if you expose them to new things while they are still young, they are more willing to try it.





So here they are:
  1. Allow him/her to feed themselves in other words "Baby-led Weaning"; and
  2. Try 1 new flavour or food a week - for the whole week.
 
I am a great believer in baby-led weaning and the earlier you start the better! Apparently a baby's gag reflex is relatively close to the middle of the tongue while young and 'moves' backwards as they get older. Meaning that gagging is earlier and so avoids chocking. Secondly it also allows them to get the had-eye co-ordination quicker and the get used to textures and whole food.

 
 
 
At first not much gets in (most end up either on the floor or her hair!) and that is why I loved a combination of baby-led weaning and purees because I knew she was still getting some foods in. But even with purees I would give her a spoon and I will have a second spoon to help a bit.
 
The type of food was as follows: above I made scrambled egg, a banana with the skin on (it helped with the grip) and cucumber slices (which also helped with the teething!).
 
 


I later added halved grapes and halved tomatoes to omelette's, french toast fingers and pancakes. Tomatoes became a firm favourite and as you would have noted it is included very often into her lunchboxes later.




She surprised me by loving de-stoned olives and gherkins. The salami was very rich and I avoided that after she got a bit nauseous from them above. Gagging is scary but natural, and I was fortunate enough that she never chocked. Some vomitting was also normal at the beginning especially as she was a real reflux baby but also because she regulated any chocking incidents herself. I also gave soft cheese and tried to provide one fruit and one veg at every meal.
 

 
 
I also didn't worry so much where she ate or how much she did eat. I did however ensure that she didn't drink milk before mealtimes to ensure she is hungry but not starving - that can lead to frustration. Sometimes she wouldn't eat anything but yoghurt for dinner.
 

 


These little plastic bibs came in handy and I still use them today. Above she is eating hot smoked salmon, blueberries and apricots. I don't like fish much and am allergic to shellfish but I didn't want her growing up with issues so she started eating calamari very young sometimes only sucking on them. She also eat liver and shrimp
 



At teething times she enjoyed homemade 'suckers' usually made with fruit juice and water. Always a winner. Just be warned - it gets messy! But it is part of the learning so endure it and teach her to help clean up like I did. At the beginning it was easier to place the food directly on the table or big tray as she would sometimes drop the food on the floor while playing with her plate but getting little sucktion cups to secure the plate (and the tray) helped a lot!



 
 
Now she is pedantic and has her own opinions on food but things like broccoli and other veggies are a non-issue. She has become aware what sweets and chocolate are which is a bit of a pain but nothing is off limits. I just add good things as well and try to limit sugar in other ways.
 
 
I hope this helps and that it works for you. It is never too late to start babe-led weaning but it works better form 6 months.
 


18/09/2015

Rugby World Cup Starts Today


The 2015 Rugby World Cup starts today and everyone is supporting a team. In our family we have South African, New Zealand and Australian supporters causing some friendly rivalry that is always exciting.




However something needs to sustain the energy throughout the rivalry and I have a few suggestions!


How about my famous Jalapeno Poppers with salami and feta deep fried or with cream cheese and mozzarella!




Or Sweet Jalapeno Poppers wrapped in bacon?




Or at least try the Sweet Jalapeno Popper Braai Sandwich or Original on Ciabatta"braaibroodjie" as a starter or a side.




 
If you want to go all traditional and South African why not make a South African Braai Pie to serve as pre-dinner snack?
 



If you are not a spice fan (really who doesn't need a little spice in their lives?) then try the Pizza Dippers with Pesto or the Homemade Sausage Rolls. All goes well with a few craft beers and even a glass of champagne for the girls while we ogle the well built guys in tight shirts (the only real reason we watch rugby anyway!).




And for dinner? If you are not doing the lamb chops and potato salad or Rice Salad (that's traditional fare for a South African braai by the way) then why not do Hawaiian Cheese Burger and Chips? Or something quick and extremely easy such as Chakalaka Cheese Hotdogs?


 
Whatever you do, just make sure you do it with friends and family because that is really, what this is all about!





16/09/2015

A Pink Baby Shower at Work

 
 
A colleague  recently survived a baby shower held at work and I had to share this with everyone. The detail and thought that went into the planning was so cute that it probably outdone most private parties. With a limited budget depending on what coworkers could contribute and a menu of pizza from a local pizza shop and party games meant a party that I will not soon forget.
 
 
 
I loved the pink and grey colour scheme and absolutely loved the 'chandelier'! I immediately asked whether the ladies wouldn't be able to do my Little One's second birthday coming up soon. The goodies used were either from home of cheaply sourced but ended up looking sophisticated and really elegant.
 
 

And the table was loaded with sweet stuff from a pretty cake to gorgeously light and fluffy cupcakes baked by a coworker and beautifully decorated.Little pink elephants adorned everything going perfectly with the chosen colours.
 
 
 
The sweets were all in pink and white, from marshmallows in 2 sizes, to pink and white coconut ice and candy covered peanuts. They also sourced some pink rice crispie treats from the Local Food Lovers Market.
 


Pink fluffy clouds in the form of candy floss was displayed in pretty pink boxes with white dots. And for drinks you had a choice between sparkling apple juice with strawberries or strawberry flavoured milk.


Pink roses and a silver damask table cloth and glass cake stands dressed up the muted pastel colours to something from a magazine. All that was left was to enjoy the festivities and wish R the best of luck with her baby girl, arriving soon.
 



Microwave Low Carb Coconut Bread

I have had a bit of a nightmare sugar fest the last couple of weeks which is so sad since I have such a healthy run food wise since the beginning of September. I was noticeably absent in August as a started a new job which is completely different from my previous one making me more office bound and having to research and learn so many new things. It is fantastic though as the subjects are so interesting. But as always the 'Hunger Monster' pops up when I am even slightly stressed and the only way to get the bugger to leave me for a few minutes it to drown him (and me) in goodies like chocolate! Terrible I know especially when you are trying to loose a few...
 


 
So cutting sugar was an obvious step. Cutting carbs then comes second as 'everyone knows carbs are just another form of sugar'. But as you might have picked up from my blog, I love my bread. I have french toast stuffed with nutella for breakfast for goodness sake!! So the only way to survive this 'healthy eating' phase is to make my own bread. I have made a almond flour low-carb bread before and it was convenient and tasty and so very filling!

I decided to try one with coconut flour this time and it worked even better! It is fluffier, slightly (but not very) sweet and the possibilities are endless. And again I made it in the microwave and it worked brilliantly. This time I made it fresh at work and even those with gluten allergy loved it. So give it a try:
 



What you need:

  • 1 TBSP melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 TBSP coconut flour (sifted to remove lumps if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
What to do:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl with a flat bottom, add the cooled butter (too hot and you will scramble the egg!) and flour and baking powder. Mix and then add the egg.
  2. Mix well removing all lumps. Don't be tempted to add water if you feel it is dry because if you add too much it won't cook in the middle.
  3. Smooth the top with the back of a wet spoon.
  4. Microwave for 90 seconds.
  5. If it is still raw in the middle then continue with 30 second intervals.
I cut the slice in half lenghtways and enjoy as normal but it is very filling!



14/09/2015

Lunchbox - Leftover Heroes

 
 

 


Leftover Heroes! As always, when you are tired, don't have a clue what to pack or have an empty fridge then re purpose leftovers. If you have a microwave then you have no excuse to enjoy a decent (and hot in the winter time) lunch everyday at work. And why throw out the leftovers and waste food you slaved the evening away on?
 

We had cottage pie (savoury mince with a mashed potato topping, nothing fancy but a family favourite) with orange green beans (I added orange juice and orange zest after steaming) so I decided to add the last bit to my lunch box. Quick and easy as always.



As a treat I added these beautiful red and juicy strawberries ands some baked cheese puffs.

I also added the cheese puffs to the Little One's lunchbox thinking she would love it as she loves cheese but was disappointed when I realised she didn't touch them! The yellow pepper, banana, red grapes, tomatoes and Laughing Cow cheese was devoured. The oldies but goodies.
 


05/09/2015

Mexican Breakfast Eggs For Hubby's Birthday!



 
Hubby is a real spice lover - specifically chili. Me not so much. Over the years I have learned to tolerate more than I use to but I can't eat the stuff by the gallons. Hubby would gladly add chili to his oatmeal if he could get away with it.



We ended up going away to Arniston with some friends for Hubby's birthday and I decided to make breakfast. I wanted to something special and not just the usual:bacon and eggs. Hubby's friend has an obsession with tomatoes (just like the Little One) and would gladly eat a can of tomatoes up with a spoon. Two extremes that I had to combine and I de3cided to add the chillies and tomatoes to a pan and then just add eggs!



The eggs are added to little holes made in the tomato mixture and then allowed to bubble away for a bit until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still soft. I added some pickled jalapenos to the mixture but just a little bit so the wives and even the kiddies could enjoy it too. Then I served it with a selection of rye bread or croissants and more chili sauce on the side. It was a huge hit and I will definitely make this again.



 What you need:

  • 8 eggs (2 per person)
  • 1 to 2 cans Indian spices chopped tomatoes (or Mexican spice etc or you can just add your own)
  • 2 chopped pickled jalapenos
  • big bunch fresh parsley or coriander or both, chopped
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • rye bread or croissants

What to do:

  1. Add the tomatoes, spices, jalapenos and half of the fresh coriander or parlsey to a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes to infuse.
  2. Make holes in the mixture and drop in each egg carefully not to break the yolk.
  3. Allow to slowly simmer for 10 minutes, checking that it doesn't get too hot at the bottom and burn.
  4. Before serving: sprinkle with fresh coriander and cheese and serve directly from the pan!
  5. Enjoy!



04/09/2015

Daily Dish

 
 
I have found the solution to all my troubles! A company called Daily Dish created a wonderful service that allows you to choose between 5 menus: anything from budget, low carb, vegetarian, no-pork or classic. They serve 2 or 4 people and it works like this:
 
 
 
  • You choose your menu;
  • Choose the amount of people to serve (2 or 4);
  • They deliver a box on Monday; and
  • You have exact portioned ingredients for 4 nights!
  • Cook the dish according to a recipe that is included; and
  • Every meal only takes about 30 minutes!
 
How amazing is this? I have already cooked with aubergine (which I would never have done before) and made meals completely new to me and Hubby says it is so tasty! I started with the classic box (pictured above) but now order the low carb version and merely add potatoes, rice or pasta which are staples I always have on hand.
 

I might never have to go grocery shopping again - okay that's a huge exaceration but I only have to buy the essentials and whatever I need for the Little One's lunch boxes. I order the 4 person menu and have enough for lunches as well saving me more than 200% in costs and no more wastage! I really am loving it. I just wish they provided a service where you could choose the menu as well as I always love about 75% of the recipes included.