Chilli Con Carne

Nothing says comfort quite like a warming bowl of Chilli right? And helping me to eat “clean” without breaking the bank is Colruyt (a Belgian retail store that offers good quality, fresh ingredients with a no fuss attitude).

Can you believe that I had never eaten (or even had the inclination to even try) a bowl of Chilli before I moved to Brussels 10 years ago? But one fine (rainy Belgian) day, my Spanish friend, Sonia, had invited a few of us around for a meal and produced this magnificent meal and I was hooked.

I begged her for the recipe, which she kindly provided and I have been making it regularly ever since. The below has some minor adaptions to the original recipe that she gave me but in essence has not been altered too much!

Chilli con Carne

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon paprika
1Tablespoon oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves – crushed
2 red chillies, chopped
500g mince (I use a combination of pork/beef)
tin of tomato paste
500ml Passatta
425g tin of red kidney beans (I like to use the variant that is already in chilli sauce)
1 green pepper – diced
200g tin of sweetcorn
250ml stock (I prefer to use chicken stock)
1 teaspoon brown sugar

  1. Heat frying pan over a medium heat
  2. Add cumin, allspice, chilli flakes and paprika and *dry fry* for about a minute to release the flavours
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and spices and cook for 2-3minutes
  4. Add garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute
  5. Add mince and cook on a high heat for 4-5minutes until the meat has browned
  6. Add the tomato paste, passatta, beans, green pepper, sweetcorn, sugar and stock
  7. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Top with some diced Avocado, cream cheese or a sprinkle of grated cheese… the choice is yours!

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Ginger Chicken Stir-fry

The following recipe is from the South Africa Quick n Easy Chicken Recipe book (and I have had it for years!!) … and it truly is so quick and easy – not to mention tasty, proving that eating clean doesn’t have to be boring or bland! I added the vegetables to the recipe to bulk it up.

I have recently joined an online community called SLEEKGEEK in the hopes of getting fitter and healthier (notice that I don’t say that I have joined a club to lose weight, although, should this be a by-product of a lifestyle change, I will definitely not be complaining!).

This online community focuses on encouraging people to get healthy… by providing the support, motivation and recommendations on how to achieve goals (whether it be to lose weight, get fit or to revamp your lifestyle).

My cousin (Eric) is one of the co-founders and our entire family has been so incredibly proud of his transformation! He lost 30kg 3years ago and has maintained the loss, while living a healthy, active and “normal” life. By normal – I mean that he does drink alcohol, he does eat cake, pizza, burgers, etc… but he manages his lifestyle sustainably and therefore has turned into a bit of a *Brad Pitt* Adonis looking bloke – sorry ladies, he is currently in a relationship!

This introduction to SleekGeek is the reason why some of my forthcoming recipes are going to be on the healthier side than my normal cake and treats kind of posts… please bear with me, I promise that I wont blog about anything that I wouldn’t normally eat and enjoy! And there will of course be the normal blog posts about cake and restaurants in the coming weeks too.

Ginger Chicken Stir-fry

350g chicken breasts, chopped
1 Tablespoon corn flour
2 Tablespoons soya sauce
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons grated or finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of broccoli, chopped
1 cup of white button mushrooms, chopped
1 cup of carrots, chopped

  • Place chopped chicken into a bowl
  • Mix corn flour and 1 tablespoon of soya sauce together and pour over chopped chicken and leave to one side
  • Mix together vinegar, sugar and fresh ginger in another bowl
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok
  • Brown chicken and then add the ginger sauce and vegetables, as well as an additional tablespoon of soya sauce
  • Cook for a further 5-10minutes until vegetables are done

3 portions; Total Calories: 978 (326 per portion)

Easy Rocky Road

Leftover Easter chocolate and leftover wine are myths in our house… except that having a toddler in the house means that the amount of chocolate available around the Easter season had increased (even for me!).

Monkey is 2,5 years old and although we only gifted her one (Peppa Pig) chocolate Easter Egg… I had purchased more goodies for our Easter table (for the adult guests) and of course… this meant more chocolate in the house after the celebratory luncheon. I do tend to “over cater”….

I was flipping through Jamie’s America cookbook and kept coming back to his Rocky Road recipe… typically a type of biscuit/chocolate hybrid with nuts, marshmallows, etc etc… so good….

Rocky Road

400g chocolate
Handful of pretzels
Handful of mini marshmallows
Handful of pistachio nuts (roughly chopped)
100g raisins
leftover mini eggs

  • Melt the chocolate over a water-bath
  • Stir in chopped nuts, marshmallows, pretzels, etc. leaving a handful to one side for decorative purposes
  • smooth the mix over a grease-paper in a baking tin and then “decorate” with your remaining ingredients
  • Leave to cool/set (I put mine in the fridge for 20minutes before breaking or cutting into chunks)

Blueberry Courgette Bread (SRC)

As many of you might remember from previous blog posts – I used to belong to a *Secret Santa* type of blog swap called Secret Recipe Club (SRC) but the concept was disbanded a while back due to a number of reasons.

The great news is that they decided to re-install an annual event… so this year, I got to review the blog called Troyers Loving Life. And as I read the “about me” page, I was convinced that Kirstin was talking about me when she described herself and her favourite things (clean house without having to clean it; cooking; reading and her connection to God). She is mom to 2 daughters and has been married for 26 years (#marriagegoals as we will celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary this year!). I also got sucked into her home renovation posts from 2008…. probably because (kindred spirits again), we bought an apartment in 2017 and had it fully renovated before moving in… kitchen; bathrooms, walls being knocked down and new walls being built. An exciting and nerve wracking time all rolled into one!

I loved scrolling through her recipe list and drooling over different recipes like her Watermelon-Strawberry juice with Basil (but as watermelon isn’t in season, I had to veto this one); Cauliflower cheese bread which is Gluten Free and is earmarked for another day; but eventually decided that I wanted to recreate her Blueberry and Zucchini Bread recipe.

When I told HIM about this recipe, he was completely baffled … even until he took his first mouthful, he was still hesitant. But in the end, it received his stamp of approval along with mine and our 2,5year old toddler.

Would I make it again? Yes… I love how moist the bread is and although you see flecks of green, it is easy to forget that this has a vegetable in it!

One point to note is that in the Kirstin’s original recipe, she makes it into 2 loaves while I made 1 large loaf meaning that cooking time increased from 50min to 1hr20min.

Blueberry Courgette Bread

3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups courgette (grated)
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup frozen blueberries

  • In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, vanilla & sugar
  • Fold in the courgette
  • Beat in flour, salt, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon
  • Fold in the blueberries
  • Pour into a greased loaf tin
  • Bake for 1hour 20min at 180C (or 15-20minutes if you are making into muffins)

GåRD Nordic Kitchen in Brussels

Last year, I was contact by a PR agency to see if I would be interested in visiting Gård Nordic Kitchen in Brussels. Normally, our restaurant reviews are by our own unannounced visits and we mostly only share a review about experiences that we enjoy – so this was one of the exceptions to accept a dinner invitation with the sole-purpose of preparing a review (and as we agreed, we would only write about it if we truly enjoyed it).

Well – we had to change the date a few times due to personal reasons (work schedules, death in the family, etc)… but finally we had the babysitter booked and HIM/I headed out for a *date night* one cold and snowy Saturday in March.

I hadn’t realized that the restaurant was at the entrance to the Courtyard by Marriott Brussels EU, but upon entering, you don’t feel like you are in a hotel, but rather that you are in a funky, inviting restaurant/bar. I particularly loved the open gas fire place and was exceptionally happy that we got a table right next to it (especially since we also had the window next to us overlooking the melting snow after a mini storm in Brussels the previous day).

Plus they have this amazing blue/white tiled big dining table which looks like it could be perfect for a big group of people (family/corporate/friends/etc)…and obviously insta-perfect!

In true Nordic fashion, the décor is functional but modern. No table clothes but decent fabric napkins!

After ordering a bottle of red wine, we shared a starter of Beetroot with figs & chestnut and a touch of Liège syrup (14€). Unfortunately, they had run out of figs but the 2 beetroot types was delicious and the goats cheese with toasted chestnut was a delightful salty compliment to the sweet beetroot taste.

For Main course, HIM ordered the Duck Filet dressed with a wild berry sauce and potato gratin (25€). He asked for it to be cooked well as he is not a fan of pink/bloody meat in any format… and they managed to cook it well without impacting on its juiciness and taste! HIM was very pleased!

I had had the Entrecote with homemade Andalouse sauce and fries (22€).

nothing says *happiness* like crispy Belgian Fries…..

With our bellies full, we were not even tempted by their dessert menu and opted to walk a bit before taking the Metro home.

Would I return? yes… it has the same laid back feel as the Vini Davini restaurant at the bottom of the Jam Hotel in St Gilles (which serves Italian food) but offering a different cuisine! It is a good location for EU employees due to its proximity to their offices, as well as for those tourists visiting Brussels, where they can be assured of a good meal at their hotel after a day of exploring the city. Win win

Gård Nordic Kitchen (Brussels)

address: Rue Joseph II, 1000, Brussels, BELGIUM
telephone: +32 2 893 0170
website: http://www.gard-nordickitchen.com/brussel/
email: brussels@gard-nordickitchen.com
Opening hours: BREAKFAST: Mon-Fri 06h30-10h00; Sat-Sun: 07h00-12h00; LUNCH: Mon-Fri: 12h00-14h00; DINNER: Mon-Sun: 17h00-23h00 plus the Bar is open from 11h00-01h00 each day.

Disclaimer: I feel it is very important to disclose that we were guests of the restaurant, although our server was not aware that we were guests/bloggers and we paid the bill at the end of our experience (and were re-imbursed afterwards). I do promise that this a 100% accurate review of our experience.

Ancho Mexican Restaurant in Brussels

M and I recently had  a mid-week girls night out… HIM was working and I had booked the babysitter for Monkey (who had already been put to bed :)). It was such a lovely outing to catch up over delicious food (without miniature interruptions) and something that I look forward to reinstating in the months ahead!

M had been itching to try out a Mexican restaurant called Ancho close to Place Stephanie and I was of course happy to oblige (especially since it was a 5minute walk from our apartment).

After ordering a beer, I checked out the multi-lingual menu and we decided to share a portion of Nachos Gourmand (11,90€ = corn chips topped with meat, beans, sour cream, cheese sauce, pico de gallo and guacamole). I have to confess that my exposure to Nachos is limited but I had expected “melted cheese” on top, not sure if that is the South African interpretation… but nonetheless theirs was very tasty and we managed to finish of the dish successfully!

M ordered Pork Tacos as her main (9.50€ for 2 or 11,90€ for 3) with an extra portion of guacamole (1.50€) and enjoyed every mouthful.

I had a “bowl” (9,90€)… essentially you can choose your base (burrito, nachos, bowl or salad) and then your topping (beef, chicken, pork, steak (extra 1€), vegetables, etc); your rice (lemon & coriander or cucuma); your beans (white or black); topped with pico de gallo (spicy or not) and finally sauce (sour cream, red salsa, green salsa or their homemade sauce). Again… guacamole was 1,50€ extra….

My bowl consisted of chicken, lemon/coriander rice, black beans, spicy pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole… and was delicious however not spicy at all (for my palate)… so I utilized the table sauces to add an extra zing….

All in all – we left with full bellies and big grins….

The restaurant itself was not very full (but it was a Monday evening and rainy at that), but the number of bicycle and motorbike delivery men traipsing in to collect orders was phenomenal!! I think we counted over 11 in the space of 90minutes! So clearly people in Brussels prefer their Mexican chow in the comfort of their own home! Décor wise – it is simple but modern with spots of colour (mustard… which is my go-to favourite winter colour to wear at the moment so I felt like I completely blended in to my surroundings).

Staff were friendly, efficient & multi-lingual, but pretty much left us to ourselves once we had ordered and they had delivered the food. Making it feel very much like a fast food establishment rather than a fully-fledged restaurant. (Not that this is an issue at all… just don’t expect attentive waitrons)

Would I go back? Most probably….

FYI – there are 2 branches… one in Waterloo and one in St-Gilles. We visited the latter!

ANCHO

Address: Rue Jourdan 14, 1060, Saint-Gilles, Brussels, BELGIUM
Telephone: +32 2 463 2246
website: http://www.ancho.be
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11h30-14h30 & 18h00-22h00; Sat: 11h30-22h00 & Sun: 11h30-14h30 (Brussels) & Sun: 17h30-22h00 (Waterloo)

Banana Bread

There are always bananas in our house – either green, yellow or turning a nasty shade of brown. There are always frozen bananas in our freezer which are perfect for smoothies or fake ice-cream. And I regularly bake a banana bread with the excuse that I am using up the over-ripe bananas…. any excuse really 🙂

I have no idea where this recipe came from as it is in my hand-written recipe book… which probably came from my mothers hand-written recipe book. But origins aside – it is an absolute winner! Quick, easy and tasty.

Banana Bread

150g butter
cup of sugar
2 eggs
cup of mashed banana
1 banana sliced length ways
60ml plain yoghurt
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda)

  1. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, mashed banana & yoghurt together
  2. Sift in Flour, bicarb & baking powder
  3. Beat on a low speed
  4. Pour into a greased loaf tin
  5. Arrange sliced banana on top
  6. Bake at 180C for 50-60min

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

I wonder if other people enjoy reading cookbooks as much as I do? I don’t always make everything that I see, but I can spend hours paging through each one. And sometimes, I even try to recreate the recipe (or worse… I adapt it based on my fridge/store cupboard ingredients).

Which is exactly how I managed to make this apple and blueberry cobbler, which is now a firm favourite in our household and has been repeated numerous times using different fruit!

The original recipe is a Peach Cobbler from Jamie Oliver which I had seen in Jamie’s America cookbook, but I changed the fruit portion and kept the cobbler recipe (almost) the same. It is a SURE winner and a definite “repeat” in our household.

Apple and Blueberry Cobbler

4 apples, peeled/cored & diced
1 cup of blueberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice from 1 lemon

100g self-raising flour
50g caster sugar
100g butter, chilled & cut into small cubes
pinch of salt

  • Place the apples, cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the apples are soft.
  • Remove from heat and place into an ovenproof dish along with the fresh blueberries
  • To make the cobbler topping, place the flour/sugar/butter/salt into a food processor.
  • Pulse until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of water & pulse again – the mixture will form a dough now
  • Spoon this mixture over the fruit
  • Bake at 180C for 20minutes

Breakfast at Steenberg Bistro 1862

Everyone has an instagram crush… right?? Well mine is Candice Bresler of Damsel in a Dress (previously known as the Gorgeous Gourmet) and scrolling through her instagram posts always has me either green with envy or in absolute awe with her fun-size fashion sense or her delicious food & wine escapades in and around Cape Town.

I have had the pleasure of meeting up with her & her husband once before at De Grendel in 2013 (my review of their restaurant is here) but reached out to meet up with her again (this time with HIM & Monkey in tow) and she graciously accepted and suggested breakfast at Steenberg’s Bistro 1862.

We had visited Catharina’s on Steenberg wine estate on our visit to South Africa last year but had yet to try out the Bistro which is on the same grounds. As we entered Bistro 1862, a super stylish restaurant, my heart dropped… this wasn’t looking to be child-friendly at all – but we managed to keep Monkey occupied for most of the breakfast with an iPad of games, videos and even allowed her to meander off to the outside area with it’s water feature (which she fortunately could not get into… otherwise we would have had a serious problem). Thankfully, the restaurant was not full and her jaunts were not frowned upon by other patrons (as far as I could tell).

Candice & Luke were gracious and engaging with their pint-sized dining companion (and us) and happily provided suggestions on what to order for breakfast. They also joined me in quaffing some delicious MCC while we nibbled on brioche buns drenched in honey while perusing the menu.

The boys went for Eggs Benedict: Bacon 1862 (a serious SLAB of piggy), rosti, poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and cherry tomato (R86)

While Candice & I dined on Schrooms on Toast: assorted mushrooms, gorgonzola cream, chives & buttered English spinach (R82)

French toast for Monkey off the kids menu (which I landed up eating as she wasn’t too interested)

Toast & preserves (R32) – which I eventually ordered for Monkey in the hopes that she would consume something while we were there….

Would we return? Food was delicious and probably the first spot were they weren’t overly generous with portions. Staff were attentive, pleasant and efficient. I would return – but definitely without the Monkey for a relaxed date lunch/dinner or with friends & family.

STEENBERG BISTO 1862

Address: Steenberg Estate, Steenberg Road, Constantia Valley, 7945, Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA
Telephone: +27 21 713 2222
http://www.steenbergfarm.com/bistro1682
Open 7 days a week: 09h00-11h00 (Breakfast); 12h00-15h00 (lunch) & 17h00-20h00 (Tapas)

Welteveden Wine Estate in Stellenbosch

While on our holiday, we were keen to get out and about to a few child-friendly spots in the Cape Town (and surrounds area) – so I googled “child-friendly wine farms” and stumbled upon Welteveden Estate in Stellenbosch.

So as a mid-morning mid-week (breakfast) outing, HIM, Mommabear, Monkey and I attempted to find this estate. In terms of signage, and as beautiful as their billboard is, at the intersection traffic lights of R304 & Welgevonden Blvd, it was essentially unreadable. So after a google maps consultation and a minor detour, we finally arrived… again to a very quiet estate.

Ample parking and a short walk to their restaurant with outdoor seating (of which only one table of 2 moms was occupied watching as their kids were exploring & having fun) overlooking the stream, some lovely green grass and a small play area (2 plastic jungle gyms).

We also went to explore their “Carnival” area – an impressive outdoor playground of which children’s dreams are made of. With an on-site pizzeria where kids can even build their own pizza, a fully stocked bar (obviously for the adults in tow) and a confectionary corner – it was beyond impressive. The only problem was that we had arrived in the morning and were not really keen on eating pizza for breakfast (only after a big night out ;)).

The friendly waiter offered to see if he could bring us the food from their other restaurant while our Monkey got to check out the enormous play area… but unfortunately this was not possible, so we headed back to their main restaurant  and the smaller play area. Trust me, I am not complaining – this was more than most other places have and we were happy to have most of the place to ourselves!

Breakfasts are served from 09h00-11h45 and are on the generous size! HIM ordered the Farm breakfast (R70): Farm eggs, bacon, plaas wors, smoor tomato, mushrooms and wood fire oven bread.

Mommabear opted for the Open Omelette (R65): Black forest ham, brie and mushrooms served with toasted baguette.

And I was won over by the Green Asparagus, soft poached eggs (my favourite) and gypsy ham pancake (R70). I have to confess that I didn’t enjoy the asparagus as they had been overcooked and were really limp, but the soft poached eggs were perfection and those pancakes!!!!

Would we return? Yes. Probably at lunch time so that Monkey could take full advantage of the Carnival area and/or to enjoy the restaurant’s lunch menu which has had me drooling since I read it.

WELTEVEDEN ESTATE

address: Welgevonden Blvd, Cloetesville, Stellenbosch, 7600, SOUTH AFRICA
telephone: +27 21 889-6588
http://www.weltevredenestate.com