Introducing… Smartmat

I recently got the opportunity to test out another food box delivery company… this time SMARTMAT (I also attended their launch party – which you can read about here)

smartmat-logo

As already mentioned – The concept is pretty simple – Smartmat helps you & your family to eat healthy & tasty food by supplying the ingredients and recipes to your home each week. That’s right – they do the shopping, provide the meal planners and deliver directly to your home… so all you have to do is the actual cooking (and eating of course).

They offer formula’s for 1, 2 or 4 people for 3, 4 or 5 meals… even offering Vegetarian, Quick/Easy & breakfast choices.

The meals are at least 25% organic, have no unnecessary additives or preservatives and focus on providing sustainable fish and local meat choices to create varied, healthy & original recipes.

Cost wise – they are little bit more expensive than FreshBox but when you calculate how much you spend on eating out… it still works out cheaper (in my opinion) plus it takes all the hassle out of creating menu plans and shopping, etc!

  • cost for 4 meals for 1 person = 49euros
  • cost for 4 meals for 2 people = 65euros
  • cost for 3 meals for 4 people = 75euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 4 people = 109euros

Once you sign up – you receive your delivery date – but your delivery time is only confirmed 4days beforehand and ta-da… the box is delivered.

The box that I received to review contained 4 meals for 2 people – a fish dish, a poultry dish & a meat dish – plus a punnet of strawberries (and recipe card) to make some cocktails!

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Portion sizes were very generous and the meat dish (hot dogs) was actually enough for 2 meals rather than 1 (I only did 2 of the 4 hot dog rolls and used the 2nd avo for another salad later on)!

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Plus I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed making (and eating) these….

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Additional comments:

  1. Negative: The menu/recipes did not match the images printed next to them (oops :))
  2. Positive: Website is available in both Dutch & French
  3. Positive: The website provides 3weeks of menu’s – last week, current week and the following week

Would I make use of this again? Most probably – the contents of the box were super fresh, healthy and more than generous – plus there was a good ratio of fruit/vegetables, protein and carbs – giving the impression that it was a truly balanced diet. And of course – the ease of not having to think about what to cook, grocery shop, etc… makes life so much easier… leaving you time to do the things that you truly enjoy (like eat :))

Disclosure: I feel it is very important to disclose that I did not pay for this box – but I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of my experience & I was not reimbursed for writing this.

Traditional Apple Tart (SRC)

Yes, friends – it is SRC (Secret Recipe Club) reveal time of the month ago!

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Just in case you haven’t previously read any posts about SRC – it is an international blog swap concept whereby once a month, each blogger is allocated another bloggers site to make & share a recipe from their collection! Pretty awesome concept, eh?

Anyhoo – this month I got allocated a blog where I though ” I love this woman”!!! Seriously…. The Tasty Cheapskate‘s blog was amusing, fun and full of life (not to mention yummy recipes) – so much so, that I for once, I actually wished that we lived on the same continent so that I could meet up with her for a cup of coffee (or even a glass of water).

Don’t discount her for her blog name (excuse the pun) – she is a stay at home wife/mom who has some awesome recipes that are simple, quick & oh-so-tasty… and she delivers them with humour & as her name suggests… on a cheaper budget! I really um-ed & ah-ed over her Coconut chocolate bites (think *bounty* bars) & her Classic apple pie recipe – with the latter winning!

I loved how simple this apple pie recipe was – probably because I cheated a bit and used already made pastry because she said that I could (or you can use her recipe for butter pie crust here) and also because I loved her comment about the pre-oven pies looking like breast augmentation that has gone wrong – hee hee….

These were super easy to make and every easier to eat…. a definite treat for a Sunday afternoon! I made them into individual pies instead of one big one… but the recipe is much the same (except that I reduced my cooking time somewhat)

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Classic Apple Pie

7 apples
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup of sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pastry

  • Roll out half of the pastry into lightly greased pie dish
  • Peel & slice apples
  • Place diced apple pieces with sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt & lemon juice
  • Put apple mixture into pie crust – now as The Tasty Cheapskate tells us… it may look like there is too much apple…. but put your trust in this…. everything will be ok!
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  • Place the other half of the pastry on top of the apple pie mixture and using your fingers, pinch the pastry together to seal (you may even want to wet your fingers with water for this) – and it is true – breast augmentation gone wrong :)
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  • Using your knife, cut some slits into the top pastry to allow the steam to escape
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  • Bake for 15minutes at 200C
  • Then reduce temperature to 180C for 30minutes more
  • Cool & enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

This past weekend, I didn’t feel like the normal weekend breakfast… I was all smoothie-ed out, wasn’t keen on toast or porridge or  cereal … or fruit … or… but I was feeling up for something on the sweet side…

So I decided a little bit of baking was an order… because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a freshly baked muffin still warm from the oven for breakfast, eh??? (Especially when ones husband wakes one up at 7am on a Sunday morning concerned that one has overslept and will be late for work… forgetting that it is Sunday… and you have the whole morning still ahead and you can’t go back to sleep!)

I found this recipe on the BBC Good Food Website and have to admit that it was super easy to make and ready very quickly.

Would I make it again? Yes – but this time I would use normal chocolate chips instead of the dark chocolate chips that I had used – as the darker the chocolate, the more bitter the taste. (HIM likes them sweet)

choc chip muffins 1

Chocolate Chip Muffins

300g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
50g butter, cold & cubed
100g sugar
150g chocolate chips
2 eggs
225ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

  • sift flour & baking powder
  • rub the cold cubed butter into the dry mixture to create crumbs
  • Stir through the sugar & chocolate chips
  • Beat the eggs with the milk & vanilla essence separately, then add to the dry mixture
  • Briefly mix (not too much – just enough to make the mixture wet)
  • Bake for 15-20min at 200C

choc chip muffins 2 choc chip muffins 4

 

Introducing: Hello Fresh Box

Last week, I spoke about attending a SMARTMAT event (read about it here) as well as testing out FLAVOUR DELIVERED (read about it here) – I was also recently given the opportunity to test out a food box delivery from a company called Hello Fresh.

HelloFresh

The concept is pretty similar – you can order a box of ingredients, which are delivered along with recipe cards – taking the hassle out of meal planning and grocery shopping. Which means that the only thing that you need to do is get into the kitchen and cook (and obviously eat!).

Firstly – you select what type of food box delivery you want – Original (Meat/Fish – which is what I got to test), Vegetarian or a humble (but yummy) Fruit box.

Secondly – you select the number of people you wish to feed (from an 1-6 people) and then you decide on whether you want ingredients for 3 meals or 5 meals! Prices are pretty reasonable… in my opinion, especially when you consider what eating out costs!

  • cost for 3 meals for 1 person = 36euros
  • cost for 3 meals for 2 people = 43euros
  • cost for 3 meals for 3 people = 53euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 1 person = 46euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 2 people = 53euros
  • cost for 5 meals for 3 people = 73euros

And finally – indicate the day & time slot that works best for you – keeping in mind that deliveries are only done on Monday & Tuesday evenings between 16h30 & 22h30.

Now onto the box itself………

hello fresh box

Mine arrived with ingredients for 2 people for 3 meals – a fish dish, a chicken dish & a vegetarian dish:

hello fresh box inside

I can honestly say that the cost difference for 1 person to 2 persons makes getting the 2ppl box much more economical… and lets be honest, if you are going to spend 30-40minutes cooking dinner for yourself – it is always nice to have some leftovers for the next days lunch or the freezer, right? And I also believe that 3 meals is sufficient for my lifestyle – my rationale behind this statement is that I don’t have time to cook 5 weeknights in a row… I am often out at least 2-3nights a week and our weekends are more “ad hoc” with regards to cooking or going out… plus we like the choice of last minute planning on the weekend.

In terms of meal planning – the menu’s are set for each week – so you don’t have any choice in mixing & matching meals from other weeks – but what it does do is give you the opportunity to make something that you ordinarily wouldn’t have thought of!

As you can see from below – I made each of the 3 meals… and although the protein offerings were on the smaller side – the veg & carbs were plentiful!

hello fresh box meals

Comments about their website –

  1. Positive: you can see what menu’s are available for the following weeks
  2. Negative: The Belgian website is only available in Dutch…

Would I make use of this again? I would definitely consider it – with the upcoming birth of our daughter – I am pretty sure that domestic chores like meal planning & grocery shopping are going to be pretty low on my list of things to do and if there are opportunities to ease daily life… then this is going to be one of them!

Hello Fresh is currently available in both Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, UK, US & Australia (although each country has a somewhat different offering)

Disclosure: I feel it is very important to disclose that I did not pay for this box – but I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of my experience & I was not reimbursed for writing this.

Introducing… Flavour Delivered

Just before I went to South Africa on holiday, I was lucky enough to receive a spice kit from Flavour Delivered – another company that has joined the food delivery system by offering to delivery Indian spice kits (as well as the recipes) directly to your home.

The difference that Flavour Delivered offers is that there is no perishables in your delivery – meaning that you can make up your meal whenever you want to! (Obviously spices lose a bit of their taste over time, so the earlier you make this, the fresher it will be!)

The concept is pretty simple – 25€ gets you 3 spice kits (Meat, fish or vegetarian… ) delivered to your door over the space of a 3 month subscription (i.e. 1 spice kit per month over a 3month period). With each kit providing the recipe & spices for 1 Indian meal (including sides) for 4 people.

The up side of this concept is that if you love a good curry but don’t want to go out and buy 20 large spice jars … you don’t have to! You get the perfectly measured out quantities of each spice in the kit – so there is no hassle or wastage! (As I don’t cook a lot of curries from scratch – this was a huge benefit for me!)

I got sent a spice kit for a vegetarian curry dish consisting of Tandoori Mushroom, chilli-coriander naan bread & cucumber Raita:

spices

So this past Sunday – I finally had the time & energy to try it out! Starting with the Chilli-coriander naan… which took 1 and 1/2 hours of preparation – but in the end was totally worth it… as I had never made naan bread from scratch before and it was delicious!

ingredients
chilli-coriander naan ingredients
Homemade chilli & coriander naan bread
Homemade chilli & coriander naan bread – still warm and brushed with dripping butter… Mmmm

The Tandoori Mushroom dish took 40min prep time and I started it about half way through the proofing period of the naan bread

Tandoori mushroom ingredients
Tandoori mushroom ingredients
Final Tandoori Mushroom curry
Final Tandoori Mushroom curry

and of course the cucumber raita took just a few minutes of chopping, mixing, etc which was easy to do while other items where bubbling away, etc. In total – it took me 2hours in the kitchen before we sat down to eat – this is normally longer than I would normally spend making a Sunday night supper – but in the end – both HIM and I enjoyed the fruits of my labour!

curry 5

Our little coffee table was literally groaning under the amount of food (and this isn’t even all of it!!! There were still 4 more naans to be cooked and still some curry in the pot! But as mentioned – this was a meal for 4 people… not 2 (and a bit) :))

curry 2

HIM and I both thoroughly enjoyed the meal (and due to the quantity – we will happily be eating off the leftovers this week) – but we both agreed that the tandoori curry would have been “meatier” and we both would have upped the spiciness – HIM is convinced that I used the wrong type of chilli. (HIM also had a 2nd helping – which is ALWAYS a good sign!)

curry 1

Would we make it again? Yes – I would love to do this again, but as mentioned, I would make it with chicken and up the heat! I think that this is a great family or friends sharing kind of meal… a definite crowd pleaser!

Flavour Delivered offers bloggers the opportunity to try out a spice kit – (limited number per month) – all you have to do is complete the media form telling them more about your blog!

Disclosure: I feel it is very important to disclose that I did not pay for this kit – but I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of my experience & I was not reimbursed for writing this.

Birthday Cake

Please tell me how it is possible that the days, weeks, months and even years are flying by so fast??? I am pretty sure that it was just the other day that I was looking forward to turning *28* (that secret age that all woman love)… and now I look back thinking “Was I really 28, xx number of years ago????”

Anyhoo – as an intro to birthday cake baking – this is also where I start to share that the future will probably hold more Children’s Birthday Cake creations than adult ones… so lets just sit back, relax and enjoy this adult version. (And no, an adult version doesn’t mean that there is alcohol involved… although that probably would have been a fun idea too!)

I found a recipe in the BBC Good Food Magazine for a Raspberry ripple cake… and although I didn’t follow the full recipe – I did love the sponge cake portion so much that I had to use it here!

I also did my own “inspired” icing – using a combination of cream cheese, butter, cocoa & icing sugar.

Would I make again? Yes, this sponge cake recipe is a sure make-again winner for any celebration cake!

birthday cake

BIRTHDAY CAKE

300g butter
335g flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
400g caster sugar
6 large eggs (separated)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
185ml milk
80g raspberry jam (for the layers)

  • Beat butter & 300g of sugar until light & fluffy using an electric beater
  • Beat in egg yolks (one at a time)
  • Add the vanilla extract
  • In another bowl, sift flour & baking powder
  • Turn the electric down to low in the butter mixture and add a third of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk
  • Repeat
  • then add final third of flour mixture
  • Place egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk with remaining sugar to create silky soft peaks
  • Gradually fold the egg mixture in cake batter
  • Divide into 2 (or 3) greased & lined baking tins
  • Bake at 180C for 30minutes (or until a cocktail stick inserted comes out clean)
  • Leave to cool for 10minutes before removing from tin and cooling completely

I used raspberry jam to sandwich the 2 sponges together and lathered on my own icing concoction… so feel free to get creative here!

birthday cake 3

Introducing SmartMat

I recently got the pleasure of being invited to a SMARTMAT launch in Brussels.

The concept is pretty simple – Smartmat helps you & your family to eat healthy & tasty food by supplying the ingredients and recipes to your home each week. That’s right – they do the shopping, provide the meal planners and deliver directly to your home… so all you have to do is the actual cooking (and eating of course).

They offer formula’s for 1, 2 or 4 people for 3, 4 or 5 meals… even offering Vegetarian, Quick/Easy & breakfast choices.

The meals are at least 25% organic, have no unnecessary additives or preservatives and focus on providing sustainable fish and local meat choices to create varied, healthy & original recipes.

I will be receiving a box from them in the next few weeks – so stay tuned for more details about the contents…..

smart mat3

So that is what SMARTMAT is all about… and as I mentioned – I was lucky enough to attend one of their launch events at the Yoghurt Farm in Ixelles, Brussels in the middle of June (hosted by the PR agency Nightingale).

smart mat 5

Firstly – the venue was decked out in a Swedish MidSommar theme (as the date was correct and of course, Anders, the head of Smartmat is originally Swedish although having lived in Belgium for the last 20years)

That is Anders telling us more about the evening and the SMARTMAT concept
That is Anders telling us more about the evening and the SMARTMAT concept

Think cosy, country feeling …..

smart mat 2

After enjoying a home-made vodka cranberry cocktail (virgin for moi)

smart mat 1

We settled down on the outdoor terrace to enjoy a slice of Smörgåstårta – which is a Scandinavian savoury cake (slices of bread spread with avocado, carrots, leeks and cream cheese and decorated … even with edible flowers!)

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Some enjoyed it with a shot of schnapps (while I looked on … jealously… but at 38% alcohol content, I was probably better off not drinking it!)

smart mat 9

And then we moved inside for our mains… home-made Smartmat hamburgers…on a guacamole bed, nestled in a soft hamburger roll.

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What started out as a simple, humble burger was easily “pimped” out by the add-on bowls on the table – featuring leaves of green (aka lettuce), slices of tomato & onion, crispy onion pieces, pickles, sauces which included a delicious homemade ketchup… and BAM… the makings of a KING burger where there.

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For those who were still hungry… a second round of burgers was distributed… but I had my eye on the prize…

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The Yoghurt Farm provided dessert… home-made frozen yoghurt which could be uniquely topped based on the individuals preference! I opted for freshly chopped pineapple, berry coulis (which is made on site), chocolate granola and chocolate chips (don’t judge me on the amount of chocolate… I use the excuse that I am eating for two… and my little girl has a sweet tooth :) – plus I have to confess that I could have consumed my body weight in this dessert it was SOOOO good!)

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Not only was I super impressed by the Smartmat concept and the amazing frozen yoghurt – we were also allowed to build our own bouquet to take home (7 flowers, that were supposed to be placed under my pillow that night in order to dream of my future husband… I still joked and asked if I would dream of my 2nd husband!) before leaving with our goodie bag (co-organized with Dille & Kamille)

Once again – an enormous thank you to The Yoghurt Farm, Nightingale & Smartmat for a truly memorable evening!

Pancakes

Last Sunday evening – I started dreaming of pancakes – I really have no idea why… but those little circular sweet treats were bouncing around in my subconscious and *hints* to HIM to make them fell a bit short. (Note to self – “Hints don’t work on men”)

Anyhoo – this past weekend, I relayed the story to friends and we laughed at how I had expected HIM to catch my hints… and eventually agreed that (no matter what) Sunday was going to be pancake day…. No hints necessary – just do it…  And so it was!

Pancakes 1

(The Recipe came from a torn out magazine – which has no reference on the page to title or even issue… so I am unable to give credit)

I made the batter & attempted the first 2… but HIM was the real expert in making & flipping them!

pancakes 2

We kept it simple – I doused mine in sugar & cinnamon & freshly squeezed lemon juice (served with some fresh berries) – while HIM ate his lathered in nutella or caramel or maple syrup (he basically ate one of each).

They were delicious and I can honestly say, easy to make… so this might easily become a Sunday evening tradition in the future!

pancakes 4

Pancakes

100g flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
300ml milk
1 Tablespoon oil

  • Sift the flour with a pinch of salt
  • Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs
  • Add a little of the milk & oil
  • Whisk from the centre, gradually incorporating the flour until you get a thick paste
  • Add the rest of the milk and continue to whisk until you get a smooth consistency
  • Rest for 20minutes
  • Using a soup ladle – add the liquid to a non-stick frying pan – tilting the pan to ensure that you get an even round layer
  • cook for 30seconds and then flip up
  • cook for a further 30seconds

Mmm – enjoy!

pancakes 3

Quick Crustless Savoury Tart (Quiche)

I recently celebrated a birthday (amazing how they come around EVERY year…) and we did this by inviting friends over to our place for a bit of brunch.

I had originally said that I was going to keep it simple – croissants, cheese, ham, fruit and maybe a cake… but the day before, I decided to do a little bit more… and that meant freshly baked blueberry muffins, lemon drizzle loaf, fruit kebabs, a birthday cake (recipe coming soon) and for those with more of a savoury tooth… this crustless savoury tart (quiche)

crustless quiche 1

The recipe is in the Snowflake book of baking that my mom gave me in 2001 and is probably the most used cookbook in my kitchen and every recipe that I have tried from it has been a success! From jam slices to Biscuits for a biscuit maker to apple tart recipes.. they have all been simple and super tasty!

Would I make this Crustless Savoury Tart (quiche) again? hell yes… it goes down an absolute treat and is ready in just under an hour!

Crustless Savoury Tart (Quiche)

250g bacon (chopped)
250g button mushrooms (chopped)
salt to taste
15ml butter
a good pinch of dried herbs
200g grated cheese (I used cheddar)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
50ml self-raising flour

  • Fry bacon in a frying pan – add mushrooms, salt, herbs and butter about half way through cooking
  • When cooked – place in the bottom of a greased ovenproof dish
  • Sprinkle the cheese over
  • Beat eggs, milk and flour together & pour over ingredients in the dish
  • Bake at 180C for 30min (or until the top is golden brown & mixture is set)

crustless quiche 2

No churn Strawberry Ice-cream

There has been 2 things that have been top of mind recently thanks to pregnancy cravings… firstly, fruit (which is a good thing… or at least in moderation) and the second item has been ice-cream.

What was a bi-monthly treat (seriously – I didn’t eat more than 6 ice-creams a year) has now turned into a weekly (ok, multiple times a week) requirement…. to the extent where I really need to say to myself “you don’t need this“.

Dietician, Jen Hall, recommended making my own… but I think she had something a bit different in mind :) like freezing banana pieces, blitzing those with berries and having the healthy version… but I found this No churn Strawberry ice-cream recipe on Yummy Tummy and just had to give it a go… (“Jen, I promise that I will be making the healthy version soon as well!”)

no churn strawberry ice cream 5

It took a few minutes to make, overnight to freeze and I have been enjoying a few scoops over the last few days (not every day, ok!). Would I make it again? Yes… but this time with a few frozen banana’s too :)

And what a great way to use a glut of fruit, eh?

no churn strawberry ice cream 1

No churn strawberry ice-cream

1kg strawberries (washed, hulled & roughly chopped)
2 tins of condensed milk
500ml cream

  • Purée the strawberries (I left a few a bit roughly chopped so that I could get a bit of texture)
  • Using an electric beater, mix together the condense milk & cream (just to thicken it a bit)
  • Add the 2 mixtures together
  • Place into air-tight containers & freeze overnight

no churn strawberry ice cream 3

no churn strawberry ice cream 6