Bangin’ Cheesy Chicken Nachos 

Happy New Year!

Whilst I’m sure most of you are breaking out your gym shoes and stocking up on healthy foods to start the New Year Detox, I’m piling on the chicken and cheese because #newyearnewme is a lie and we know it. January 1st approaches and we all feel the need to make instant fleeting changes to our lives. My question to you all is why?


Why wait until the calendar changes before you make a change? Why must the diet start on Monday? Why must your will to improve yourself depend on the Earth’s current position in its orbit around the sun? My message today: stop waiting. If you want to lose that extra 10 pounds, start now. If you’re not keen on joining but you feel pressured to do it because it’s what all your friends are doing: don’t do it. Stay at home, munch on these nachos, your wallet will be grateful. Your mind will be at ease 2 months later when they’ve all stopped going.


Instead of feeling the need to reinvent ourselves every 365 days, let us celebrate the spirit of new beginnings and having the chance to make this year our own whilst staying true to ourselves. Given this, I decided that the first recipe I share with you this year will be these crispy potatoes topped with chicken tossed in a barbecue sauce all sprinkled with a mountain of cheese. YES. I’ve made this about 5 times already and I can’t get enough of it. Sometimes I eat healthy and sometimes I feel the need to drown myself in spicy rich unhealthy stuff. Today, I just happen to be in the mood for the latter.

Bangin’ Cheesy Chicken Nachos 

Ingredients

Spice mix: 

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

½ tsp thyme

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp rosemary

½ tsp cayenne pepper

¼ cup olive oil

For the potatoes: 

3 large Russet Potatoes, sliced thinly

1/8 cup of the spice mix

For the chicken: 

500g or 1 pound of chicken breast meat, cut into ½ inch cubes

1/8 cup of the spice mix

3 tbsp brown sugar

For the sauce: 

½ tsp ground mustard

½ cup tomato sauce

½ cup sweet chilli sauce

¼ cup honey

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp white vinegar

For assembly: 

1 cup white cheddar or mozzarella cheese, grated

a handful of fresh parsley to garnish

Method

  1. Start by combining all the ingredients for the spice mix in a small bowl. Whisk well to ensure even distribution of the spices throughout the oil. Set aside for use later.
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and place the potatoes in a single layer. Drizzle the spice mix over the potatoes and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisping up. Once baked, remove the potatoes and let cool.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken. Add the remaining spice mix, brown sugar and mustard to the chicken breast meat and toss well to combine. Heat a large skillet on high and cook the chicken for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink on the outside. Remove to a bowl and use 2 forks to shred.
  4. In the same skillet, add all the ingredients for the sauce and whisk until incorporated. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened considerably and coats the back of a spoon. Return the shredded chicken to the skillet and stir until the chicken is coated in the sauce. Let cook for 2 minutes then remove to a bowl to cool.
  5. When ready to assemble, lightly grease a shallow frying pan/baking tray/Pyrex dish or whatever takes your fancy. I’ve tried this with all three and I’ve found that a frying pan works best for presentation. Preheat your broiler/grill.
  6. Layer the bottom with potatoes followed by the chicken and top with the grated cheese. Place the frying pan under the broiler/grill and bake for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted. If you’d like your cheese to be browned (shoutout I see you) then broil for closer to 10 minutes. Top with the fresh parsley and enjoy!


 

 

 

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Peach Mango Sorbet Floats

Anyone else have New Year Fever?! I’m working on converting all my angst and bitterness about 2016 into hope and excitement for the New Year. With a new year comes new opportunities, 365 chances for you to change your life. What are your resolutions for the New Year?


Personally, I choose not to make resolutions. Not because I fail to follow them through, but I believe that one shouldn’t have to wait for a new year to make a change. If I’m going to pledge to do something, let it be at any point during the year. I’m not necessarily opposed to New Year’s Resolutions, but I often find that by the end of February, people have given up on them. The gym membership card sits dusty and unused at the bottom of a drawer, the Paris brochure has been torn up and lies in the waste paper basket. Then at Christmas, when we recount our failed resolutions to our family members, we feel ashamed and wish we had done better. So what do we do? We make another New Year’s Resolution and promise to do better. Only to do the same thing again. It’s a toxic cycle and  as our time on earth is limited, I feel that there are better things I could spend my time doing.


Does drinking sorbet floats by the pool happen to be one of them? Yes. We all need to take time to ourselves sometimes, and I encourage you all to do that before this year comes to an end. Set aside some time to reflect what you did in 2016, the triumphs and defeats, the highs and lows, the positives and negatives. Think about how you can modify your behaviour such that 2017 is a year with greater wins and fewer losses. Let go of the bad stuff that happened and move into the new year with a clear conscience and an open heart. Make sure you’re holding one of these when it happens, okay?


This is literally the easiest recipe on the blog but the wow factor is right up there with even the most complicated of recipes. I started with this Coconut Mango Sorbet that I made this week and just topped it off with a bottle of sparking grape juice I had lying around. This is a must have if you’re going to be hosting this New Year’s Eve. You don’t necessarily have to use mango flavoured sorbet or even peach flavoured juice. Mixing and matching is most welcome here! A few ideas:

  • Raspberry Sorbet + Peach Juice
  • Coconut Sorbet + Strawberry Juice
  • Lime Sorbet + Tequila
  • Any flavour sorbet + Unflavoured Sparkling Juice

The aim here is to be as creative as possible, all within good reason of course.

Peach Mango Sorbet Floats             One 500ml bottle fills 5 glasses so plan accordingly

Ingredients

about 2 cups of mango sorbet, homemade or storebought 

1 500ml bottle of sparkling grape juice; peach flavoured

Method

Add one scoop of mango sorbet to the bottom of a champagne glass. Top with the sparkling grape juice. Serve and enjoy!

 

Whilst you’re here, check out the recipe for this Coconut Mango Sorbet I made this week too. Cheers to the New Year! 

 

Coconut Mango Sorbet

The only thing missing here is sitting poolside at a 5 star hotel in Bora Bora. GOALS.


It’s the middle of summer here in Zimbabwe, and saying that it’s hot outside has become an understatement. The climate here is predominantly savannah, so the long summer days are plagued by dry heat and occasionally violent thunderstorms. In other words, it’s my favourite time of year.

My favourite things about summer include going for early morning runs, when the birds sing the songs of their people to bring in the day. It also happens to be mating season so all creatures great and small are displaying their vocal prowess in the hopes of attracting a mate. From the humble toad to the crafty locust, there is never a quiet moment in my garden. The heavy rains have transformed my neighbourhood into a lush green wetland, and the views just take my breath away. Now that I think about it, I wouldn’t trade Harare for Bora Bora, even if you paid me.


I’ll sit back, relax and enjoy my mango sorbet poolside at my 5 star residence in Zimbabwe.

Coconut Mango Sorbet

Ingredients

¾ cup water

¾cup granulated sugar

3 large mangoes, deseeded and cut into ½ inch cubes

1 cup coconut milk

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil to make a simple syrup. Once boiled, remove to a bowl and refrigerate for an hour.
  2. Once the syrup has cooled, add the simple syrup, mango and coconut milk to a blender and pulse until fully combined. Pour into a loaf pan and freeze overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, remove from the freezer and let stand at least 10 minutes before attempting to scoop. Sit by the pool and enjoy!

 

There’s an even better way to enjoy this sorbet, and it’s with a cool glass of bubbly. Check out this recipe for Peach Mango Sorbet Floats

A Trio Of Canapés

Salut tout le monde! Christmas is done and dusted, now is the time to burn the Christmas tree and unpack the stilettos because NYE is on its way! I think we can all agree that 2016 is a year that nobody wants to remember, and there is nothing I look forward to more than watching it fizzle out with the fireworks on the 31st of December. If there is one way to make sure 2017 is memorable, it’s with these canapés.


They’re ridiculously easy to prepare, and you get 3 for the price of one! You don’t have to follow this recipe to the bone, you’re allowed to be creative here and add whatever you think will taste good here. A drizzle of balsamic vinegar here, a splash of tahini there, this is your chance to go wild.


These are best served to your guests as soon as they arrive as entrées: which comes from the French verb entrer, to enter. They make great amuse bouches or ‘mouth entertainment’ because I can guarantee a festival of flavour for your tastebuds. Pair these with a rocking champagne or prosecco and you’ve got yourself a banging NYE party!

A Trio Of Canapés                                                                                                  makes about 50 

To start you will need:

2 12-inch long baguettes

½ cup of butter, melted (if you like, you can add 1 tsp of crushed garlic to the butter and microwave for 20 seconds)


Preparing the bread:

Preheat your oven to 200 °C/400°F. Start by slicing the baguettes into ¾ inch thick slices. Too thick and your guests will have a wad of bread in their mouths, but if they’re too thin then the toppings won’t hold and they’ll fall apart. Lay the bread slices in a single layer across 3 baking pans.

Drizzle or brush the melted butter evenly across the sliced bread. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bread is lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and once cooled, divide the slices into 3 parts.

Caramelised Onion and Goat’s Cheese 

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter

2 large red onions, sliced thinly

about 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar or vegetable stock or water

¼ cup crumbled/grated goat’s cheese

Method

  1. Heat a heavy bottomed saucepan on high. Melt the butter before adding the red onions to caramelise. DO NOT STIR FOR THE FIRST 10 MINUTES unless the onions are starting to burn, then reduce the heat*. Cook for an extra 30 minutes, stirring as little as possible, I would recommend only turning the onions every 10 minutes. You will notice a dark brown sticky residue building up at the bottom of the pot, this is called the fond and we’ll deal with it later.
  2. At the 30 minute mark, taste the onions to check for degree of caramelisation. If they’re to your liking, then you may continue with the next step but if you want a deeper caramel flavour then cook for another 15 minutes, watching carefully that they don’t burn.
  3. Once you’re satisfied with your caramelised onions, add the 3 tbsp of balsamic vinegar/vegetable stock/water to your pan to deglaze it. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the fond up as you do this and mix it into the onions. Fond be gone! This contributes to the overall flavour of the onions. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  4. Top one third of the baguette slices with 2 tbsp of the cooled caramelised onions. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the crumbled goat’s cheese on top. Before serving, warm for 10 minutes in a preheated oven. These can also be served at room temperature if you’re short on time.

*The name of the game here is ‘Low and Slow’. Cook on low heat for a long period of time. If the heat is too high then your onions will be more burnt that caramelised. Patience is a virtue. Too much stirring disrupts the formation of the fond and your onions won’t be nearly as flavoursome.

 

Spinach Pesto, Roasted Tomatoes & Cheddar

Ingredients

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 tbsp olive oil

1 heaped tablespoon of mixed herbs

roughly 100g of white cheddar or mozarella, sliced into small rectangles (i.e 3 cm × 5 cm)

¼ cup spinach pesto (or whatever kind of pesto you fancy) homemade or storebought

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200 °C/400°F. In a large roasting pan, lay the tomatoes such that the cut side is facing upwards. Drizzle evenly with olive oil and mixed herbs. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  2. Top one third of the bread slices with the cheddar rectangles. Dollop with a teaspoon of spinach pesto and top with half a roasted cherry tomato. These should be served at room temperature.

 

Parmesan Garlic Herbed Mushrooms

Ingredients

3 tbsp butter

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp rosemary

1 and ½ cups button mushrooms, sliced

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

4 tbsp fresh cream

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Method

  1. In a large frying pan on high heat, add the butter, garlic, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Once the butter has melted, throw in the mushrooms and sauté until dark brown and reduced in size, stirring frequently. Add the Worcestershire sauce to deglaze the pan and scoop up any residue that has formed at the bottom of the pan. Pour the fresh cream and add ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste before removing to a separate bowl to let cool.
  2. Once cooled, top the last third of the baguette slices with 2 tbsp of the mushroom mixture before dusting with Parmesan cheese. Before serving, warm in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. Alternatively, these can be served at room temperature.

 

Okay so this can look overwhelming at first and whether you’re making one or all three, you probably have no idea where to start. So I’m adding a little guide to the bottom of this post to make it that much easier for you.

Order in which to prepare all 3 canapés: 

  1. Start by caramelising the onions. These take the longest to prepare so it makes sense to get them out of the way first.
  2. Whilst the onions are caramelising, slice the baguettes and cherry tomatoes. Toast the bread and roast the tomatoes at the same time in your oven as they take roughly the same time.
  3. Whilst the bread and tomatoes are in the oven, cook the mushrooms, making sure to be checking on the onions at the same time.
  4. Leave the bread, tomatoes and mushrooms to cool in the fridge whilst you finish up with the onions.
  5. Assemble and get ready to party because you’re a rockstar for getting all this done!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Christmas Cookies

These cookies are just #christmasgoals #cookiegoals #lifegoals, just GOALS. These came about by complete accident and I can honestly say that I am nothing but grateful.


2 weeks ago, I was sitting in my friend’s kitchen when I was possessed by a serious craving for cookies. Any kind of cookie: chocolate chip, ginger, even a raisin cookie would have been enough. I just needed a cookie. So we went digging in his pantry for some cookie ingredients and all he could come up with was a Pillsbury’s Chocolate Muffin Mix. Determined not to give up, we fudged a couple of measurements until we had a cookie-like consistency. Hopeful as ever, we shaped them into cookies and sat for what seemed like the longest 20 minutes in history. And by some miracle, we had created the most luscious cookies the world had ever seen. Desperate to recreate the miracle of the Drysdale kitchen, I dug deep into chocolate brownie recipes in the hope of having an official recipe for them.


2 weeks later, I struck gold with this masterpiece. These cookies are everything you could ever want and more- they have all the fudginess of brownies whilst maintaining the crunchiness associated with cookies. They are chocolatey enough to satiate your sugar needs but aren’t too sweet so your gran can devour them at Christmas too!


This recipe makes a large batch for you to distribute these over the festive season (if you don’t end up scoffing them all yourself like me) so go out and spread that Christmas cheer with these cookies!
Super Fudgy Chocolate Brownie Cookies                                                     makes about 30 

Ingredients

¾ cup margarine

50 g unsweetened cooking chocolate, roughly chopped

1 and ½ cups castor sugar + ½ cup dark brown sugar (you can just use plain castor sugar but the brown sugar really helps to bring out the fudginess)

3 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 2 tbsp water (optional but the coffee really brings out the chocolate flavour)

1 and ½ cups cocoa powder

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips

Optional: nonpareils for decorating e.g. hundreds and thousands (Inused chocolate mint flavour)

Method

In a large bowl, combine the butter and chocolate. Microwave in 20 second increments, whisking after each blast, until completely melted (it took me 40 seconds). Whisk in the castor sugar and brown sugar before cracking in the eggs and adding the vanilla essence and coffee. Whisk until fully combined.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and salt into the wet ingredients. Use a rubber spatula to fully incorporate it all. The batter will be slightly sticky. Fold in the chocolate chips. At this point, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. I know it’s a pain to wait to have cookies, and you’re perfectly welcome to skip this step but I would highly recommend chilling the dough for 8 hours.

Grease 2 baking sheets and line with parchment paper. Use a cookie scoop/tablespoon to portion the cookie dough onto the baking sheets, making sure to leave at least 3 cm of space in between adjacent cookies. These do spread quite a bit during baking. Sprinkle with extra chocolate chips/non pareils. To get the green cookies, I rolled the cookie dough in mint chocolate nonpareils. Bake in an oven preheated to 180°C/350°F for 10-15 minutes. Remove and let cool before devouring.

It’s better to underbake these than overbaking because then you’ll end up with a chewy cookie rather than a crunchy one. But hey, if you’re into crunchy cookies then increase the heat to 200°C/400°F. Also, these cookies are at their prime when they’ve been slighly underbaked. Happy munching!

Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry

Adjusting to a new diet has proven to be quite the challenge, but one of the most enlightening things is being introduced to a whole new section of the grocery store. 2 months ago, I probably would have scoffed at you if you brought chickpeas, lentils or butter beans anywhere near me. Now I embrace these staples as part of my daily regime.


The shocked looks I get when I tell people about my meat-less habits haven’t ceased to amuse me. I’m sure that most people have visions of me sitting on the kitchen floor, crying whilst clutching my bowl of lettuce and carrots. Little do they know that I curl up on the love seat with a hot bowl of curry in my lap, warm naan to my left and cold yogurt to my right. The grass is indeed greener on this side.


This dish starts with a homemade red curry paste that takes 5 minutes to prepare and can be stored in the fridge for all your future curry needs. YES.


What I love about lentils is their insane nutritional points and incredible versatility. These are easily slipped into any curry, wrap or salad. I look forward to exploring all the fun ways to exploit this sneaky little bean but for now, I’ll start with this curry.

 

Spicy Cashew Coconut Lentil Curry

For the red curry paste: 

1 red bell pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped

3 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp, grated ginger

2-6 chillies, I used 3

1 tbsp lemongrass, I used fresh from the garden but you can use pre-packaged

¼ cup fresh cilantro

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp each salt and black pepper

For the curry: 

olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ yellow onion, sliced thinly

½ red onion, sliced thinly

between 2 and 4 tbsp red curry paste, I used 3

1 14 oz can tinned tomatoes

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup dried brown lentils

2 cups water

½ cup chopped spinach, optional

salt and pepper to taste

rice + naan for serving as well as natural yogurt

cashews, parsley, lemon wedges for garnish

Method

Make the red curry paste

In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the red curry paste and pulse until combined. Add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s not blending well. Keep sealed in a glass jar and refrigerate until use. Will keep for up to 2 months in the fridge but you can freeze individual portions in ice trays if you would rather keep them frozen.

Make the lentil curry: 

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a deep saucepan and toast the cumin seeds for a minute before adding both the yellow and red onion. Fry the onions until translucent then add the red curry paste. Coat the onion in the paste and cook for another 2 minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil before adding the dried lentils and 2 cups of water. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

If after 30 minutes the curry is still very watery or is not at your desired consistency, increase heat to high and boil for 5-10 minutes or until it’s thick enough. Before serving,  add the spinach to the curry and cook on low for 5 minutes, or until wilted. Serve hot with rice, naan and cashews, dollop natural yogurt on top if the curry is too spicy for you.

 

Easy Peasy Lemon Crepes

Everybody always talks about whether pancakes or waffles are better. Nobody ever bothers to include crepes in the equation. The answer became obvious to me this week: crepes would always win. Crepes have the flexibility of an Olympic gymnast. Breakfast or dessert, sweet or savoury, hot or cold, crepes have got your back. The French scored a huge W with these guys, and you’d be surprised how simple it is to get a hotel worthy breakfast on your table in less than 30 minutes.


Also I have a new YouTube video up and these babies make a sneak feature! I just happened to be shooting these crepes before getting the idea to get up and film this video. No planned outline, no script, this is pure freestyle. Make sure to like and subscribe to my channel!

Easy Peasy Lemon Crepes                                                                                     makes 12 crepes

Ingredients

1 cup flour

300 ml milk

2 eggs

2 tbsp melted butter + extra for cooking

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp castor sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

about ½ cup lemon curd, homemade or storebought

optional: ¼ cup icing sugar for dusting

Method

  1. Add the flour to a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add half of the milk, and use a wooden spoon to gently draw the flour into the milk, mixing it in bit by bit until you have a thick dough. Stir the eggs into the mixture before adding the melted butter, salt, castor sugar and lemon juice. Continue stirring whilst you gradually pour in the rest of milk. The mixture should be runny*.
  2. Heat a large non stick pan on high and brush the pan with some of the extra melted butter. Be careful not to over-grease the pan because then the crepes won’t spread properly. Add a ladle-full  (about 3 tbsp) of batter to the hot pan and tip the sides of the pan so that the batter spreads evenly. When the edges of the crepe start to curl up, use a spatula (or your fingers) to gently flip the crepe over. Reserve to a plate and keep warm in the oven.  Repeat until you’ve used up all the crepe batter.
  3. To serve, dollop a tablespoon of lemon curd onto a crepe and spread evenly, leaving a ¼ inch border around the edges of the crepe. Fold the crepe in half, then in half again. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

*The original recipe called for resting the crepe batter for at least an hour before cooking. I can honestly tell you that I did try this and did not notice a considerable difference between the rested batter and unrested batter. In any case, who would want to wait 1 hour to have crepes?!