Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Nachos with Smoked Chicken

Friday nights at Homemade Heaven can be rather hectic. There is lots of driving to fetch children, walk dogs and of course the lack of enthusiasm to cook or mess the kitchen before the weekend has even started.

This easy, throw together meal is so simple that even the smallest member of the family can help. It is very sociable eating too and would work very well as a starter for an informal dinner party. 

Nachos are a Tex-Mex dish from northern Mexico, you can add any protein you like or leave it out for a lighter meal or vegetarian dish. Always ensure it is possible to eat this dish with your fingers, there are Nachos Police who arrest people who use eating utensils with this dish.

I used chunky cottage cheese, as it was on special (bonus on the wallet) and it worked really well. Traditionally you should use sour cream, but I found that the little people like the cottage cheese better.  
As you read the recipe you will see there are lots of optional ingredients or alternatives. This is the best thing about this dish, you can add whatever you like and use up any leftover ingredients stock piled from the week.

Nachos with Smoked Chicken

250g Bag of Doritos (I used the cheese flavour, but you can spice it up with a hotter flavour)

250g Smoked Chicken sliced into bite size pieces
1/2 Sweet Yellow Pepper chopped small
10ml Garlic (Fresh chopped is best, less if you using garlic powder)
15ml Butter
2 medium Tomatoes Chopped (or use halved cherry tomatoes)
10 small Spring Onions Chopped
250g Tub Plain Chunky Cottage Cheese
Olive Oil
Handful of chopped Fresh Coriander (You can omit this if you don't have or like)
Chopped Fresh Chilli (Optional)
Black Pepper 
300g Grated Cheddar

Place the whole bag chips on a big oven proof platter
In a pan, on a medium heat, fry the chicken, peppers and garlic until heated through and peppers slightly softened.      
Remove from the heat and add the tomatoes and spring onions, stir through.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes to heat the tomatoes slightly.
Evenly place the chicken mix on top of the chips, to ensure that everyone gets some with each serving.
Top with the cottage cheese, you can't spread this but ensure that there are some "blobs" everywhere.
Add the fresh coriander and chilli (if using).
Season with lots of ground black pepper
Top evenly with lots of cheese.

Bake under the grill for 5 minutes until golden and all the cheese has melted.
Add friends and family and ENJOY!!!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Creamy Chicken Salad with Mango and Almonds

As my friends and family in the Northern hemisphere languish in the icy grip of winter, we in Cape Town are enjoying enduring a heat wave. The country is in the strangle hold of the worst drought in 10 decades. People all over South Africa are donating bottles of water to be delivered to the towns were there is just no more water left.

Amazing pictures of truck loads of animal feed being delivered in convoy. While we are a country in distress, it is beautiful to see how people are standing together.

Cooking and eating big hot meals is about as far from my mind as the memory of rain is in Cape Town.

This creamy chicken salad, with mango and almonds was a huge winner - As we always say "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner"!!

Creamy Chicken Salad with Almonds and Mango
Serves 2

4 chicken breasts sliced into 1"chunks
1 Onion sliced
15ml Tomato Paste
10ml Curry powder
80ml Chutney
80ml Mayonnaise
5ml Sugar
20ml Apricot Jam
125ml Plain Yoghurt
10ml Lemon Juice
Salt and Black Pepper
Oil for frying

Salad for Serving
Salad leaves
1 disk Feta Cheese
1 Mango peeled and cut into bite size pieces
40g Toasted Flaked Almonds (I toasted them myself in a dry pan)
Fresh coriander or basil for garnish (optional)

Fry the Chicken in a little oil until turning golden, but not cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add the onions to the pan and more oil if necessary.
Fry onions until soft.
Add the tomato paste and the curry powder and fry for 1 minute.
Add rest of the ingredients (except the salad ingredients).
Stir the sauce and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Add the chicken and cook until chicken is cooked through.
Check seasoning and adjust.
Turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Place the salad leaves on the plate.
Place the chicken coated in the sauce on the leaves.
I didn't use all the sauce but add as much as you would like to your salad.
Place pieces of mango around the plate.
Sprinkle with feta and almonds.
Top with garnish and black pepper.

Serve and enjoy

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Creamy Basil Pesto Salad Dressing

I have a basil fetish going on at the moment. It's quite fortuitous that I have a large garden and an accommodating gardener husband, who has planted 5 different varieties (so far) and found space for the ever growing demand for more.

I never knew there were so many kinds, I always just accepted that common garden basil, was exactly that - basil common to the garden. Oh no, there are different colours, ethnic groups, sizes and flavours that make my garden sound more like a UN conference than a garden.

This recipe is not an original idea, it's been around the "salad dressing circles" for years, but it is my first attempt and I am very happy with the result.
Quick,easy and very good with all the salads which we eat at this time of the year.

I am hoping that by the end of summer, I will have my garden established enough to be able to eat from it with only occasional help from the outside.

Creamy Basil Pesto Salad Dressing

80ml Mayonnaise
160ml Fresh Cream
30 - 45ml Fresh Lemon Juice
80ml Basil Pesto (store bought is great I like Pesto Princess)
10ml Fresh Chopped Garlic
2.5ml Black Pepper
Salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients together and adjust seasoning to taste.
If you like it more tart, you can add more lemon juice.
I store mine in used Grolsch bottles.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Life is Funny like that

How the wheels of my life have turned. I look back 2 years and I hardly recognize the person in those photographs (she is so skinny). Her life was so different, she was strong in such different ways to me now.

This girl does still enjoy cooking, family and the outdoors. Although the way she enjoys them now is vastly different. I now cook with lots of butter, cream and have been know to now even add fruit and nuts into savoury dishes. Who would have thought an old dog like me could master so many new tricks!

Another change is the addition of 2 family members, Roxy and Dude and from tonight we'll have Jack too. Becoming a pack leader and doggie Mom has changed me into that person everyone laughs at in the office.  I run my life around these dogs (don't tell them I called them dogs, they think they are humans!).

So this is some of how I have changed and become a different person. I am happy. It is a different happy than before, and don't read "sad happy" into that. I am truly blessed and my heart is overflowing, but I am different - I feel things differently now.

There is a large piece of my naivety that has been lost. I have learned very hard lessons, very quickly. I know about pain, loss and being alone, I had never experienced that before. This is not a bad thing, it is a different thing and has made me different. I look at things differently and live very differently.

I embrace life a lot quicker than before. I take opportunities quicker, live on the edge and take more risks. I am aware with every decision that life is just far too short. You don't get a second chance and you never know when it's going to be "Just too late".

 I don't judge those who are different, although I do keep reminding them not to wait too long to enjoy things, because they might wait too long.

I had to take this time to share with you where I am. I don't want to be labeled as brave or strong - I was forced into an unthinkable situation and have survived.
How well have I survived? I am guessing it is too early to tell, but I am happy and for a long time I didn't think I could be really happy again.  

Thank you to everyone who has shared this journey with me. Thank you for judging me, for supporting me and loving me. Everyone of you have helped me become who I am and I hope you'll continue to do it for a very long time to come.

The biggest thing is the incredible man that I have in my life. I have embraced this happy with both hands, my life is good and am moving forward on a new adventure shortly which will bring more into my life than I could have dreamed possible.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Creamy Potato and Broccoli

"Necessity is the Mother of Invention"

The best meals I can remember making, have one thing in common - necessity. Usually it is not the necessity to eat, but the necessity to make do with the ingredients I have.

This happened to me last week - I was handed baby potatoes, broccoli, cream and bacon and asked if I could, " Just make something please". Game on, I got over to the stove and 20 minutes later we were enjoying a feast fit for the working class.

This recipe is totally adaptable, and you can add anything (but the kitchen sink). Play with the herbs, the vegetables, add smoked chicken, leave out the bacon. I would even try frozen vegetables for the "end of the month" meals.

Creamy Potato and Broccoli

This recipe works perfectly if doubled

1kg Baby Potatoes
1 head of Broccoli - cut into florets
100g of Bacon - cut into 1" pieces
500ml of Cream
45ml Chutney (I like Mrs Balls)
1 medium Onion thinly sliced
30ml of Corn flour
Salt and Black Pepper
Optional - Fresh herbs (I used sage, coriander and basil)

Boil the potatoes until soft.

Fry the bacon and onion in a little oil until soft and golden brown.

Add the chutney and the cream, salt and pepper.

Mix the corn flour with a little water and stir into the sauce.

Leave to cook and thicken.

Remove 3/4 of the bacon and set aside.

With a stick blender blend the sauce in the pan.

(If you don't have a stick blender you can omit this step).

Return the bacon and add the broccoli and cook until broccoli is tender.

If the sauce is too thick, you can add a dash of milk to thin it down.

Add the fresh herbs just before serving.

Place the potatoes on a dish and pour over the sauce with the broccoli and bacon.

I like to add an extra grinding of black pepper before serving.

Sit back and wait for the compliments......

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water."

It is not your business to succeed, but to do what is right : when you have done so, the rest lies with God.
C.S. Lewis

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