26/02/2016

Suzie's Surprise 60th Birthday Party

This party was held in December as a surprise party for my mother's 60th. We chose a Mexican theme  as is it really so easy to prepare for and most can be done in advance. South Africa is not big on Mexican themes or Cinco de Mayo (which was the actual theme) so it took ordering decorations from 3 different places over a period of six months. But in the end it turned out great!




Obviously the most (MOST!) important part of any Mexican party is the tequila! We ended up having way to many flavours but surprisingly we weren't left with too many leftovers. We had bubblegum, chilli-choc, dark chocolate, white, gold, coffee and caramel. We added salt, limes and lemons for the white and gold tequilas. I also sourced some moustache straws which were a hit. In the middle big ice bucket I had Mexican beers that were part decor and part deliciously refreshing.





I also added a big container of water and lemon slices on the same table with tall glasses to encourage everyone to hydrate as much as possible.  However the Poncho's were the most popular! I don't have pictures of the starters but I decided to give the guest something to line their stomach with but with enough bite to also make them thirsty: peri-peri prawns and bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers.




The family is not big on tequila so we expected some of it to be a waste but everyone got in the mood. This table was really bare and very sticky after a long party. I bought plastic shot glasses (over a 100) and just discarded them instead having to wash them afterwards.




As always I used chalk pens to write the menu on the sliding door. This way everyone knew what we were having. I planned the time table as follows: starters within 30 minutes of guests arrival, then 1h30 hours later the main meal and 1 hour later dessert. I also had nacho chips everywhere with salsas so no one could go hungry.




As I said the Mexican theme (cinco da mayo is just a bit fancier) is easy to prepare for and the food can be done in advance so you just heat it up. Hubby and my cousin M were hard at work dishing up the final goodies for the food table. 





The food table was prepared with about 40 guests in mind. The menu was steak fajitas with all the toppings. We prepared the sliced onions and peppers the night before and fried it off. We also prepared the poppers ready to add to the oven to bake, grated the cheese and made guacamole and salsa in big tubs so we can just add more to the table if need be. The steaks were marinated to braai the next day.




I also made my version of Mexican corn which is corn on the cob, steamed, topped with fresh coriander, feta, lime juice and chilli. So easy and quick. I was worried I won't have enough limes as they can be scarce in RSA so I was hoarding them from about 4 months before the party.




To add to the table I also prepared Mexican rice which is cooked rice with corn kernels, peas, diced peppers, some tomato paste, chilli powder and lemon juice. 

   


So the toppings were plain salsa (diced tomato and onion), shredded lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and grated cheese. I sourced real corn tortillas, but really it was very difficult to find, and honestly, I think I missed a step because they didn't taste that nice. The tacos were great so I assume we had to fry them or something. But the flour tortillas were great!



 So all the guest had to do was grab a plate, choose a tortilla (corn or wheat) or taco, top with a mixture of steak, peppers and onions, add toppings and enjoy.




For those who liked it spicier, we had so many, many different chilli toppings in the form of salsas, sauce sand whole chilli's to choose from!




Obviously we had 2 margraritas (a pineapple coconut and a berries version) and one hell of a dessert table. I really struggled to get margarita glasses and ended up having to buy a whole bunch of them. But I get to use them for desserts in the future! I also sourced some Mexican glasses which I glued to the glass decanters and blow-up cacti. I also found these great blue and purple flowers that fitted the theme.





The cake was amazing and so beautiful! We had some speeches and then cut into a pink, purple and blue rainbow cake and as always The Mixing Bowl Cake Company outdid themselves! It was so pretty I almost didn't want to cut it. 




Isn't this skull too cute? They are piggy banks bought from CNA and they went with the theme beautifully. In all probability they started the theme! I bought these 6 months before we even started the planning.




As I was worried that the cake might not be enough to feed 40 people, I also added 20 cupcakes. We had chocolate-coffee and vanilla-lime flavoured cupcakes and weren't the little chilli's on top just too cute?




I also had these skull sugar cookies made and they were both delicious and so good looking! As people left the party I gave them these memento's though not many were left!




 Before I forget here is the recipe for the margaritas:

  • ½ a bottle of gold tequila in each
  • ½ a bottle of Trippe sec
  • juice of 5 limes (more if they are dry) in each
  • 4 litres of juice (coco-pine in one, mixed berries in the other)
  • lemon and lime slices for both
  • pineapple slices for one and strawberries for the other.




Woolworth's were selling these chilli plants and I just added the little Mexican plastic glasses to each as a quick decoration. The were freaking adorable and I planted the plants in my garden afterwards.




For when the energy started lagging abit I had these little cafiene chocolates stashed everywhere. The are tasty and has more of a caffiene kick than a cup of coffee! I just had to ensure the kiddies didn't get them. For them I had 2 pinatas filled with sweets to keep them occupied.





As a treat I ordered a Photo Booth and had everyone take at least one set of (four) photos. The company also had a guest book and printed 2 copies of each set. One was given to the guest (with magnets on the back) and the other was glued into the book and signed. At the end of the party we gave it to Suzie as her birthday gift.




As I began planing the party 12 months in advance, I had the fortune of inviting all my mom's brothers and sisters, even the ones in Namibia and cousin in Johannesburg. We planned the party around the arrival of the ones from Namibia with the excuse that as they have never had dinner at our house, we will have just a small braai at our place!



It worked great as she never suspected a thing. And as my perfect momento of the day I have a photo of all 3 generations! Again the best day ever!



22/02/2016

Low Carb Pizza

 


I had such a big pizza craving that I just couldn't handle it any more. I had a pizza premix but as I was struggling to roll it out (it was like concrete) I just lost it and threw it in the bin. I was hungry and I really did not feel like doing anything complicated!
 
 


And then I remembered this easy recipe! It took 2 minutes to make the base and then just waiting for it to crisp up before adding my toppings! I would however suggest using a proper non-stick baking mat or baking paper and flipping it over to bake the other side as well. I didn't do that and it was still really crispy - the only issue was it got stuck!

Truthfully my pizza craving was for a "proper pizza" not a low carb cardboard version. So while making this pizza, I wasn't expecting what I expected. I was pleasantly surprised and Hubby loved it despite the fact that he isn't following the low carb lifestyle!

What you need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 400ml grated cheese
Yip you read right - only 2 ingredients and it works with any cheese! Even gooey mozzarella!
What to do:

  • mix the ingredients well on a well oiled baking tray
  • bake in a preheated hot oven until crisp and it starts to brown
  • remove and add your toppings!
Note: I would suggest using baking paper or a special baking mat. My baking tray has seen better days so the cheese got a bit stuck which made slicing etc. very difficult.




Now for the toppings. I had a can of crushed tomatoes in the fridge so I added 2 tablespoons of it on top and spread it with the back of a spoon. It gives a fresh tomato taste instead of the overly concentrate taste you get if you use tomato paste.




I then added 7 slices of salami on top and on top of that I added sliced green peppers and de-piped olives. I also used a spring onion which I sliced thinly spread over the top. Add whatever you have in the fridge! Time to use those leftovers. If you don't have a can of tomatoes or don't want to open one especially then use tomato paste or even some pesto in it's place.




I included a bout a half cup of fresh coriander, which a just tore into pieces and I topped everything with mozzarella cheese. I baked it in the preheated oven until the cheese was melted and bubbly. Just like that we had dinner done!




Then I added my sliced avocado, some more fresh herbs and lost of pepper. I didn't add any salt as the cheese and salami already gives a lot of salt. You can bake the pizza with your avocado already included but I hate a hot avo!




As it was really filling I only had 2 slices but Hubby polished the rest. It really took less time than ordering a pizza in. And I had the added benefit of staying on track. Another craving busted with a low carb replacement that didn't taste like cardboard!



Go and give it a try!

18/02/2016

Low Carb Creamy Chicken Bake (Chicken-a-la-King)

 

 
I love creamy bakes with lost of sauce, however I hate a thin sauce. It should coat the meat and glue the rice together! I sued to make my sauce from a packet that included flour to thicken the sauce as it cooks and lost of flavour add-ins that are all artificial. Now I make this quick dinner and it taste amazing. You can make it with a cooked chicken boned but I only had chicken pieces so I cooked it from scratch.


Recipe adapted from the book "Low Carb is Lekker".

What do you need:

  • 8 chicken pieces
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 4 zucchinis
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1 stock cube
  • boiling water
  • lemon juice
What to do:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the butter in a frying pan that has a lid. Add the chicken and fry until brown.
  2. Dissolve the stock cube in a cup of boiling water. Add it to the chicken.
  3. Reduce the heat and put the lid on. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  4. Remove the lid and allow to simmer until the water is almost evaporated.
  5. Turn up the heat, add the rest of the butter.
  6. Fry the mushrooms until golden brown.
  7. Add the zucchini and fry for a few minutes more.
  8. Add the garlic, cream and lemon juice.
  9. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer until the sauce thickens.



Traditionally you enjoy this dish with rice. You can fake it with caulirice but I just steamed the cauliflower and enjoyed it as is.

Try it, you will love it at first sight.

13/02/2016

Valentine's Day: Date Night Jar



A date night jar by Monique


I have some amazingly talented people in my family! One of them is my cousin Monique ,who made me this beaitiful gift to share with Hubby when we have run out of ideas for date night: a date night jar!






And it is so simple to make, so if you don't have a gifted cousin to make one for you, you will just have to do it yourself! All you need is:
  • a mason jar,
  • some decorations such as above (available from most scrapbook shops),
  • wooden sticks
  • alphabet stickers or rinestones
  • hessing or any other material
  • extra decorations for the wooden sticks (as many as you want depending on how many ideas you have).




As it was a gift, Monique included vouchers in the jar as well, but knowing our time restraints, she also included money (enough for a movie or lunch etc) So cute! 




Here are some of the date ideas included in the jar:


Let's start with the lovey-dovey ideas.




Being a kid at heart is always a good idea and these ideas can be for the whole family.


The more personal choices...need I say more?



Outings such as the new Red bus route is something we always wanted to do and the Aquirium is loved by the Little One (this would be a family date) and I love me some cocktails. Even golden oldies such as a bowling night is a great idea and something we never even considered!



Then there are the stay-in nights - drop the kids off with granny and do one of these! I highly suggest you pick it on a Monday so you can book tickets or make arrangements by Friday.


No more excuses, let's go on a date!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!


10/02/2016

NEW Cape Town Burger Festival 13- 14 February 2016

I love burgers of any kind, I even had a great bunless burger recently (I will tell more about this lovely experience soon) but as a matter of urgency I need to tell you about a new festival to hit Cape Town: The Burger Festival!




There are going to be:

At least 25 Burger Vendors
10 Wine Estates
10 Craft Breweries
10 Artisan stands
Coffee bar
Cocktail Bar
&
Live Entertainment
 
For R75 per person!
 
 
It's going to be at the Jan van Riebeeck Sports grounds.
 
If you don't feel like going, why not make your own burgers? Try the Hawaiian Cheese Burger or the Green Goddess Burger.
 

 
Share your favourite burger recipes or maybe you have a fantastic burger-salad recipe we can try out?