Toddler Chores

 I recently read about a Europe family, that coddled their child so much, that by the time he went to school he couldn't do anything for himself. He was actually classified as being developmentally challenged! Well, at least I won't have that problem as my Mom puts the Little One to work on a regular basis. 

The great thing is, at the age of 3 she's too young to have an attitude about helping yet. And if you get the Little Ones to help as soon as possible, you shouldn't have that problem later. In actual fact, she loves doing these chores as she feels like such a grown-up doing them.

Kids are very resourceful. They think they can do everything and you will be pleasantly surprised about how much that can and should do. The only thing is safety. Even washing dishes we remove the knives or anything sharp. Think practical. To get an idea why not go to Your Modern Family for a quick printable list?


Aloe Ridge Self Catering House near Swellendam

We decided to finally take the weekend away holiday we were supposed to take when the Little One got sick. It's getting close to the end of year and I haven't had my annual vacation yet so I am close to tears from tiredness and stress. We took the newlyweds with to add to the fun and I must admit it was fantastic! 

Where do we go you ask? Well we headed to Swellendam to a place called Aloe Ridge. It provides the most beautiful self-catering houses ever with access to the main bar which is in front of the biggest piece of green grass ever! (See the first photo!)

The place is really beautiful and the houses even better (if that's possible)> Each house has 2 full (huge) bedrooms with on-suite bathrooms. Each bathroom has a bath and an inside shower as well as an outside shower. Imagine, a shower under the stars...

It also has an open-plan kitchen (with dishwasher!), dining area and living room with a fire place and TV for the winter. In summer you go outside where there is a big patio overlooking the Breederiver with a braai and a swimming pool. The place is so good you never want to leave.

I really do love this place and would go every weekend if it was possible. If you ever come to Cape Town, go make a turn here. You can go river rafting, relax in the sun or have a pizza at the local tavern.

These 2 girls accidentally ended up wearing the same pajamas...I had to share though cousin might kill me! 😉


Healthy lunch

The Little Princess is having 2 meatballs, some baby carrots, sugarsnap peas, red pepper slices and mini corn with half an orange and some blueberries. I do so well with her lunch box every day but when I prepare mine I tend to just add leftovers or don't prepare one at all! So bad for my health as I am then stuck with getting a quick take away which isn't always healthy.

To fix that I added some leftover chicken, steamed broccoli and cauliflower dressed with salt and peeper and the other half of the orange. This was dinner and really good, so when I am happy with dinner then it really is good enough for lunch.

How do you prevent the lunchbox blues?


Choc-Chip Banana Bread

I love banana bread. So much that I can eat a whole loaf smothered in butter in a day! In the old days you could only really enjoy this treat when Mom or Granny baked it. Now you can buy it at the local store, but in the cake section to give you an idea that it is supposed to be a treat and not treated like bread!

That doesn't stop me from adding a heap of butter! But I have realized that I can make it a lot more healthier by baking it myself. While this does take an hour in the oven, the preparation side is really only a few minutes with a little elbow crease.

 What you need:

  • 115g butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 140g cake flour (or 280g cake flour only)
  • 140g whole-wheat cake flour
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5 ripe bananas
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ cup dark chocolate shards/chips

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to a moderate 180°C.
  2. Grease a standard loaf tin with some butter and line with grease-proof paper.
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave for 20 seconds or until JUST melted
  4. In a big bowl, cream the butter and sugar. You can use an electric mixer but I use good old elbow grease for this.
  5. Add one egg at a time and mix well to ensure it is incorporated before adding the second one.
  6. Sift flours and salt onto the mixture.
  7. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork until smooth.
  8. Add the bananas, chocolate, vanilla and mix well.
  9. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and place in the middle of the oven.
  10. Bake 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Allow to cool in the pan then remove and slice.
  12. Enjoy with a big spread of butter while it is still slightly warm.

How good does this look? Next time I'm thinking of adding some berries to the mixture instead of the chocolate. What do you think will be a good combination?


Christmas Gingerbread House

It's that time of year again and we need to entertain the Little One and her cousins. But this year we were really smart. I bought 3 sets of "gingerbread house kits" that had all the pieces of the house was already prepared and baked!


All we (as the grown ups) had to do is put the house together and prepare the icing for the "glue". I must admit, I think we had almost as much fun as the kids. It is so satisfying seeing something go from the boring 2 dimensions to something exciting in 3 dimensions!

The only downside of buying per-prepared houses are that some pieces were broken when we opened the packets. The solution is to use some of the "glue" and apply liberally to the inside of the crack and allow to dry before construction the house. Now the fun part (or dirty party if you are the house cleaner): the kiddies get to decorate the house!

We found the best way was to mix some icing sugar with as little water as possible (otherwise it runs of the roof!), spread it on the sides of the roof and give the kids a whole bunch of sweets to decorate. We also bought cute little gingerbread men and helped glue it to the houses. My cousin also made these cute little Christmas tree cupcakes, which we just added to the houses as decoration.

If you do wish to make your own then use this recipe. 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

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.

Just look at how much fun they are having! 

So here is to a Merry Christmas to you all and a prosper (and fabulous) new year!


Curry Oxtail Potjie

We have made an Oxtail Potjie before. Its like a stew but made in a big South African black pot (which we call a "potjie"). Its done over a few flames to allow it to simmer for a few hours and is really great for using the meaty cuts that love a slow roast. I love the oxtail version that just work great but you can even do a chicken one that takes only an hour.

But I just had to add this great recipe. I must apologize for the photos: it was dark, the people were hungry and they started eating, so I didn't have much time or space to do a proper photo. Usually we serve rice with a stew or "potjie" like this but since this was a curry based stew, I added bread and Naan to dip in the delicious sauce! This was such a success we will be making it again and again!

What you need:

  • 3 x packets oxtail (I use Woolworths as theirs are already prepared)
  • 2 x stock pots or stock cubes (I used Knorr)
  • 1 x small can tomato paste
  • 1 x can butter beans rinsed
  • 2 x onions chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1/2 cup hot curry powder
  • 100ml curry paste (any kind you fancy)
  • 1/4 cup turmeric powder
  •  2 tbsp chilli flakes
  • 3x garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 4 x potatoes chopped into big cubes or a bunch of mini potatoes, sliced in half
  •  3 x carrots chopped into big rings
  • 3 x sweet potatoes chopped into big cubes
  • 3 tsp maize meal/mazina/thickening agent
  • Butter or oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Boiling water

What to do:

  1. Get the coals ready for a steady heat. 
  2. If you are not using Woolworths then clean the meat by quickly rinsing it under water and removing the fattiest sections. Pat dry before browning.
  3. In a big black 'poitjie kos'-pot (a cast iron pot) add enough butter/oil to brown the meat. Do this in batches if your pot is too small.
  4. When the meat is browned, remove the meat and add the onions.
  5. Then add all the spices, mixed herbs, bay leaves, garlic, chilli flakes and curry paste.
  6. Keep stirring until the onions are browned and everything is fragrant. 
  7. Add the meat back.
  8.  In a big measuring jug, add the stock pots, tomato paste and hot water, stir until dissolved. Add it to the pot.
  9. Take another measuring jug filled with hot water and keep it next to the pot.
  10.  Add enough of the water to almost cover the meat. 
  11. Allow it to simmer for about 4 hours (you can reduce the cooking time to 2 hours but the meat might be tough by the end of the cooking process). 
  12.  Stir occasionally and ensure that the pot doesn't cook dry. Add more water if needed.
  13. After about 4 hours of simmering, taste the sauce. If it's not spicy enough add ore curry powder (but not too much!)
  14. Add the potato, sweet potato, carrots and beans to the pot. 
  15.  Continue to simmer for about and 1 to 1 and a 1/2 hours until the potatoes are cooked through.
  16.  Add the coconut cream to the pot.
  17. Mix the mazina/thickening agent with a little water and stir until smooth.
  18. Slowly add it to the pot while stirring continuously in small circles. Stir through the whole pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
  19. Serve with rice and/or bread, naan, chutney or whatever you usually have with your curry.
  20. Enjoy!


Cohen Diet - Chicken Sandwich

I am loving the roasted onions and peppers and I am basically adding it to everything except my yoghurt! By roasting the veggies you are bringing out their sweetness and by adding garlic and fresh coriander you are also adding some serious flavour.

I start every week by measuring out 5 days' worth of onion and peppers that amounts to about 50% of my allotted vegetable portion for lunch. I weigh it all before I cook, then I weigh it again after the cooking process to account for volume loss. I then divide it by 5 and just add a fresh vegetable for the other 50% (either lettuce and tomatoes or in this case a cucumber, sliced). This makes meal preparation each morning very easy.

For this sandwich I steamed my chicken and shredded it once cooked. Added 1 tsp of mayonnaise, fresh coriander and salt and pepper. I added my portion of prepared onions and peppers (which I diced a bit) and mixed it all. I do this the night before so the flavours can develop. For the rest of my vegetables I included some cucumber batons. Quick and delicious!


Cohen Diet Friendly Stirfry Dinner

Being on a diet and attending dinner outside of the controlled confines of your home can be daunting. It seems like you are defeating your good intentions merely by opening the front door. But sometimes it merely is a state of mind.

I was recently invited to a "do-it-yourself" stir fry evening. I must say this is a brilliant idea if you are entertaining a bunch of people who all have different dietary requirements and want to eat at different times. Basically you prepare a protein and some veggies and a starch (here it was rice but egg noodles work just as good) and a couple of sauces. Allow each person to select what they want to eat and have a designated cook stand by with the gas grill to fry it all up.

I chose the mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onions and patty-pans with some sliced steak. As I wasn't going first I didn't add any sauces as the residual sauces on the grill helped. I added some vinegar though for taste. I wasn't sure about my portions so I uses a small plate.

The food was so good that I didn't mind skipping the rice! So next time, look at what is available and what you can eat instead of only focusing on what you can't.


Cohen Diet Meal Prep and Dinner for Hubby in One Step

Don't these look great? And they were so tasty too. All this while doing my weekly meal prep for my diet. I decided I am not making 2 completely different meals, I will just add some carbs and fat to Hubby and the Little One's meals instead.

So how do I meal prep? Well, easy actually. I measure out my lunch ingredients, cook it, weigh it again (to account for loss while cooking) and divide it up for the whole week. Then I can just add the ingredients in my lunch box and go. I prepared my chicken by cooking 500g of copped chicken breast with paprika and fresh coriander and some lemon juice.

Then I did the same with onions, peppers (are supposed to use green peppers but waste not want not) and some tomatoes. I added garlic, chili and fresh coriander with a splash of vinegar. Cooked until caramelised and weighed again.

For Hubby's dinner I took a small wholewheat tortilla which I spread with cream cheese and some avocado. I topped it with some chicken and onion mixture. I added 3 slices mozzarella and some fresh leaves and another tortilla. I fried it in a frying pan until crispy then flipped it around to cook on the other side. Make sure the cheese is melted before removing. Slice like a pizza and enjoy! 

I enjoyed my chicken and onion mixture on 2 cracker breads with some mayonnaise.

Quick and easy and enough lunches for the whole week!


Cohen Diet lunch - the steak sandwich again

I just had to share this photo. I made a big helping of the onions and peppers and had some leftover steak so I had this again. This steak sandwich is so good that even Hubby loved it.

Try it and let me know what you think?


Cohen Diet: Baked Mushrooms and Mozzarella 'Garlic' Bread

I love the fact that, while most diary products are excluded in the Cohen Diet, you are allowed cheese, especially mozzarella. You can do so much with proper cheese! One of the easiest recipes is this portabella mushrooms filled with cheese.

It really is so easy: use spray and cook and spray a baking tray. Place the mushrooms in the pan and add salt, pepper and garlic. You can add fresh coriander, some ginger and even some chilies. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 30 minutes.

The only issue is that you are limited in the amount of vegetables you can eat and invariably have some cheese left over. What do you do? You make cheesy garlic cracker bread!

Take some garlic an mix it with 1 tsp mayonnaise. Spread it on 2 cracker breads.  Top with fresh coriander and the rest of the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted.

A quicker lunch or dinner is not possible! So enjoy!