Monthly Budget and Meal Planning Workshop

Monthly Budget and Meal Planning Workshop ad
I will be running another budget and meal planning workshop in the new year!This course will give you valuable tools for monthly budgeting as well as meal planning for each month to enable you to stay within that budget and won’t have you running to the shops every day or find yourself stuck with making the same old meals. Great recipe ideas to inspire you for everyday cooking as well as entertaining! I also give you my ‘Kitchen Essentials List’ for must have ingredients as well as equipment that makes your life a whole lot easier!

Date: Saturday 1 February 2014

Time: 9am – 12pm

Venue: Bryanston Area (venue to be confirmed)

Cost: R270 per person (includes a CD with recipe ideas, monthly planning templates for a year as well as a budget template for a year. It also includes some light refreshments and snacks for the morning)

50% (R135) will be required to secure your place. Bookings have just opened. Cut off date is Monday 20 January. The balance can be paid via EFT or cash on the morning.

To reserve your spot please email and I will give you the banking details.

Hope to see you there! 


Mushroom Farfalle

Mushroom farfalle pic

I made this one for a Friday night dinner. I had to bake my son’s birthday cake so I wanted something quick and easy to throw together. Another vegetarian one. One mouthful from my 15 year old son and he looks up and says “Delicious Mom, but where’s the meat?”. I think I will be giving up on the vegetarian meals for my family. It’s clearly not working! However, if you don’t have a growing teenage boy in your home and you can do it, then I highly recommend this one. It was super quick and very tasty. I loved that the addition of the cottage cheese made it creamy but without the calories! Winner! 🙂 I used Portabello mushrooms as we don’t get chestnut mushrooms very easily here. But the portobello were a perfect substitute. So delicious!

25g dried porcini mushrooms

Olive Oil

2 – 4 cloves of garlic

½ small dried chili

250g chestnut mushrooms

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

320g dried farfalle

1 tsp truffle oil

1 lemon

½ bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley

150g low fat cottage cheese

  • Put the porcini into a mug and just cover with boiling water. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the large frying pan, squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher, crumble in the dried chili and tear in the mushrooms. Strip in the thyme leaves, then add the soaked porcini (with the water they soaked in) and toss and fry for a few minutes.
  • Put the pasta into a large pan, cover with boiling salted water and cook according to packet instructions.
  • Tip the mushrooms into a food processor and whiz until fairly smooth, then return to the pan and add 3 small ladles of pasta cooking water and the truffle oil, season to taste and simmer gently.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a cupful of the starchy cooking water, then toss the pasta with the sauce, loosening with a splash of cooking water, if needed.
  • Finely grate over the lemon  zest, finely chop and add most of the top leafy half of the parsley along with the cottage cheese, then toss together and serve straight away.

Recipe and Photo from Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals

Serves 4

Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad

Photo 2013-11-09, 7 22 19 PM (1)

I’ve seen a few recipes for watermelon salad and it made me quite curious! I made this one by Nigella the other night as a side dish to some Chicken thighs that I cooked with chinese 5 – spice and sweet chili sauce, sesame seeds and rice noodles.  It worked beautifully together. You may be hesitant to try black olives, feta and red onion with watermelon!! But it’s a fantastic combination 🙂  The little trick with soaking red onions in lime (or lemon juice) works brilliantly if you want to add red onion to any salad. I will use that trick for the rest of my life! 🙂

1 small red onion

4 limes

1.5 kilograms watermelon (sweet and ripe)

250 grams feta cheese

1 bunch fresh flatleaf parsley

1 bunch fresh mint (chopped)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

100 grams pitted black olives

black pepper

  • Peel and halve the red onion and cut into very fine half-moons and put in a small bowl to steep with the lime juice, to bring out the transparent pinkness in the onions and diminish their rasp. Two limes’ worth should do it, but you can find the fruits disappointingly dried up and barren when you cut them in half, in which case add more.
  • Remove the rind and pips from the watermelon, and cut into approximately 4cm / 1½ inch triangular chunks, if that makes sense (maths is not my strong point). Cut the feta into similar sized pieces and put them both into a large, wide shallow bowl. Tear off sprigs of parsley so that it is used like a salad leaf, rather than a garnish, and add to the bowl along with the chopped mint.
  • Tip the now glowingly puce onions, along with their pink juices over the salad in the bowl, add the oil and olives, then using your hands toss the salad very gently so that the feta and melon don’t lose their shape. Add a good grinding of black pepper and taste to see whether the dressing needs more lime.

Recipe by Nigella

The photo is mine

Ricotta Fritters in Tomato Sauce and Grilled Vegetable Salad with a Yoghurt Mint Dressing

Ricotta Fritters and Grilled veg salad

So I decided to go where I have never ventured before, and that was to serve my husband and son a vegetarian meal! I am so keen to do a meat free meal once a week. I think it will save money, widen our horizons, push my creativity to get interesting with vegetables and for our overall health. I did this meal from my Jamie book but I didn’t do his salad, I created one of my own which was really delicious, fresh and sweet! The ricotta fritters were tasty! I used a blob of yoghurt and 2 eggs to moisten the fritters batter a little because the type of ricotta cheese that I used was a bit dry. So try to find a brand (Woolworths has a good one) that sells a moist ricotta. My 15 year old son suggested that I should do some chicken with it next time (boys hey?) but my husband and friend who joined us really enjoyed it. I will make it again!

Ricotta Fritters

For the Sauce:

25g dried porcini mushrooms

4 Anchovy fillets (optional)

1 dried red chilli

2 cloves of garlic

700g passata

8 black olives / Calmata olives (stone in)

½ a bunch of fresh basil

For the Fritters:

1 large egg (or 2 medium eggs)

400g ricotta cheese

1 whole nutmeg, for grating (or 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg)

1 lemon

40g Parmesan cheese

1 heaped tbsp flour

Olive Oil

Balsamic vinegar

For the veggie salad:

3 small peppers (orange, red and yellow)

6 baby marrows

A small bunch of asparagus

Olive oil, salt and pepper

1 tsp BBQ spice

For the Yoghurt dressing:

3 Tbsp plain yoghurt

10ml Dijon mustard

1 handful fresh mint, finely chopped

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Put the porcini mushrooms in a mug and cover with boiling water.
  • Crack the egg into a mixing bowl, add the ricotta, finely grate in ¼ of the nutmeg (or add the ground nutmeg) and the zest of the lemon. Add the parmesan and flour and then beat together.
  • Put 1 tbsp of olive oil into the frying pan, then use a tablespoon to spoon in 8 large dollops of the mixture, turning carefully when nicely golden.
  • Put the anchovies (if using) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the casserole pan, crumble in the dried chilli, and squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher.
  • Finely chop and add the porcini with half of their soaking water and the passata. Season with salt (remember that anchovies are naturally salty) and pepper and bring to the boil.
  • Squash and add the olives, discarding the stones.
  • Pick and reserve a few basil leaves, then chop the rest and add to the sauce.
  • Let that simmer for a few minutes.
  • **I found that I had to add about a tablespoon of Xylitol (to keep the calories down) to the sauce, but you can add some sugar if you like to offset the bitterness of the tomatoes.**
  • Meanwhile, chop up your vegetables and put them into a mixing bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and BBQ spice and rub all of that into the veggies. Then in batches, put into a hot griddle pan until tender (but not soft!). Set aside and continue until all your veggies are done.
  • Place the veggies into a serving dish or platter to cool slightly.
  • Mix all the yoghurt dressing ingredients together and put ‘blobs’ of the dressing over the veggies.
  • Place the fritters on top of the sauce, then scatter over the reserved basil leaves. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar (this makes a BIG difference!) and serve with lemon wedges and the Vegetable salad.

Ricotta Fritters and Sauce Recipe by Jamie Oliver

The Veggie salad recipe is mine.

Enjoy! xx

Chicken and Roast Vegetable Lasagna

Chicken and Roast Vegetable

I make my own lasagna for this dish because quite frankly I enjoy the therapeutic benefits of it. My husband says I am mad so you can decide if you want to do that. If so, see my “hand made pasta” recipe on this blog. If you want to use dry lasagna sheets, thats perfectly fine!

I would recommend that you try this on a weekend as it is quite time consuming. You are looking at about 1 hour 45 mins of prep time and a further 35 minutes of baking and resting time. so it’s not a quick one. But it is well worth the effort. I doubled the recipe and fed 15 people last night. I thought I would have had loads of leftovers, alas…. it was flattened!

I use the rotisserie chicken (that I buy in my supermarket already cooked) because unlike what my husband thinks, I am not THAT mad! And I also find that the chicken is just lovely and moist which really does make a difference!

1 box of Lasagna Sheets

OR if you would like to make your own pasta use the recipe here: 

1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken

4 rounds feta cheese

250g mozzarella cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground sea salt

1 tbsp dried sweet basil

For the white sauce:

100g butter

100g plain flour

1 litre full cream milk

100g grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

For the Roast Veggies:

Olive oil

Butter for frying

1 large or 2 medium butternuts

Balsamic reduction

1tbsp fresh thyme leaves (no stalks) or dried thyme is also ok

2 large sweet potatoes

1 punnet baby marrows

2 large leeks

For the mushroom sauce:

Butter for frying

300g button mushrooms

½ tsp paprika

1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

  • Preheat your oven to 200 C
  • Line 2 baking trays with foil and rub with a little bit of olive oil.
  • Peel and slice the butternut and sweet potatoes into rounds about 1cm thick. Place the butternut on one of the baking sheets with some balsamic reduction drizzled on top. Sprinkle with the thyme leaves, salt and pepper. On the other baking sheet place the sweet potatoes with a little drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the trays in the oven and roast until nicely golden. Turn the veggies over once about halfway through cooking so you get some good colour. They will take about 20 – 25 minutes to cook.
  • When they are done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool and then turn your oven down to 180C
  • Meanwhile you can start the sauce. on a low heat, melt 100g butter in a medium saucepan, add in the flour and mix into a paste. Warm the milk up in the microwave for about 2 minutes and then add to the butter and flour paste a little bit at a time until incorporated. Turn the heat up to medium and stir continuously for a few minutes until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Add 50g of the Parmesan cheese, and season to taste with some salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside, stirring it every now and then to prevent a skin from forming.
  • Slice the mushrooms up in a food processor and tip them into a frying pan with about 30g butter, the garlic, paprika and some salt and pepper and stir until the mushrooms are cooked. Then add about 1 cup of the white sauce to the mushroom mixture and the cheddar cheese and mix until combined. Set the mushroom sauce aside.
  • Slice the baby marrows and leaks up and put them into a frying pan with a little butter and some salt and pepper to taste and fry until soft and cooked through.
  • While the marrows are cooking, break the chicken up into bite size pieces and set aside.
  • In a large pot of water, precook the lasagna sheets (if using dry sheets) until soft and put them one side (don’t put them on top of each other as they will stick together)

To assemble the lasagna:

  • Get a large casserole dish and place a little bit of the white sauce on the bottom and then a layer of the lasagna sheets
  • Next, place the butternut rounds on the lasagna sheets in a layer. Using your fingers, break up the feta over the butternut evenly.
  • Drizzle with a little bit of white sauce, just in blobs. Don’t cover with too much sauce.
  • Another layer of lasagna sheets. Then do a layer of the chicken bits and then pour the mushroom sauce over the chicken, covering the chicken completely.
  • Another layer of lasagna sheets, then do a layer of the sweet potatoes and then top the sweet potatoes with the baby marrow and leek mixture. And drizzle with some white sauce.
  • Another layer of lasagna sheets and then top with mozzarella and the dried sweet basil.
  • Place the lid on your casserole (or cover with tin foil) and bake for 25 minutes. Take the lid / foil off after that and grill until the cheese turns golden brown and bubbles.
  • Rest for about 5 – 10 minutes in a warm place before serving.

Serves 6 – 8.

Peanut Satay Pork Rice Paper Rolls


Delicious little rolls that are healthy and taste great!  The nice thing about these is that you can put just about anything in them! mine change all the time. I made these on Saturday for a picnic which worked so well! I packed them into little containers and they were the perfect picnic treat.

For the wraps:

1 x 500g pork fillet

1 tsp chinese 5 spice

20 rice paper discs

1 red baby cabbage (thinly sliced)

3 carrots (finely julienned)

1 punnet watercress (torn up)

1 packet of baby spinach (torn up)

100g almond flakes

100g dried coconut shavings

3 tbs sesame seeds

Sesame oil

For the Satay sauce

2 Tbsp oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp dried chilli flakes (or fresh chili)

60ml peanut butter

80ml Hoisin Sauce

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 cup coconut cream or milk (I used the coconut milk – way less fattening)

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar


  • To make the sauce, heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the garlic and chilli. Combine the rest of the ingredients and add to  the saucepan. Stir over medium heat for about 2 – 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • While the sauce is cooling, take a clean dry frying pan and on a medium to high heat, toast your almond and coconut flakes until golden brown. (stirring constantly) Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Finely slice the pork fillet, season with salt, pepper and the chinese 5 spice. Heat some sesame oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the pork and stir fry quickly until JUST done! Add about half a cup of the sauce when it is done, mix it up and remove from the heat and place into a separate bowl so that it can cool down.
  • Get a casserole dish wide enough to fit a rice paper disc in and fill it with warm  (not boiling) water
  • Place a clean, dry towel on your work surface. You need at least half a bath towel worth of space… I hope that makes sense.
  • One at a time, place a rice paper disc in the warm water and wait about a minute until it is soft, take it out and place it flat on the towel for a few seconds, then fold in half, but slightly more on the side resting on the towel (look at the pictures below).
  • When you have done that to 10 discs you can fill them.  Mix the carrots, cabbage, spinach and watercress together in a bowl  and place a little of that veg mixture on each half moon shaped rice paper disc. Then put a little of the almond and coconut flakes on.


  • Next, take some of the pork mixture and place this on top of the almonds, coconut and veg mixture.


  • Now you can roll these babies!
  • Fold the bottom section (the curved side) up over the mixture (it will just go over the bottom bit of mixture)
  • Then take the left side and fold it over the mixture and roll from left to right over the ’empty flap’ until you get a roll resembling this:


  • The rice paper is pretty sticky (it’s amazing stuff) and will stick to itself so as soon as you have completed the roll, the rice paper will seal itself. EASY PEASY!
  • Continue with this process until all your rolls are done and you can then pack them up for a picnic or serve them on a platter with a little bowl of your satay dipping sauce. (which is missing from my photo – sorry)


They are quite cute and can stand up by themselves, making your plating fun and interesting.

Feel free to change it up! you can put fillings in like sweet chilli chicken with cabbage dressed in olive oil, soy sauce and white wine vinegar and some sugar (see my oriental cabbage salad recipe)  or you can do Pork with plain hoisin sauce and some lettuce, carrots and cucumber… ah – just use your imagination. Its endless really!


Serves 4 – 5

Asian Fish with Miso Noodles and Crunchy Veg

Aisan Fish, miso noodles and crunchy veg0001

I’m just loving Asian flavours at the moment. They tend to wake up so many of the dishes that we have become so use to making. On my menu plans I would often have “Fish and salad” or “Fish and veggies” to try and keep things healthy. I would pop some frozen fish into the oven and roast some veggies or throw together a bit of a salad. And as enjoyable and healthy and quick that was, I was soooo bored with it! This recipe is just as healthy and quick but the flavours just whack you in the mouth and make you feel as though you are eating something very special and some what exotic…

If some of the ingredients look foreign to you, fear not!  You can find them all at a Chinese Supermarket (and even some good supermarkets) If you need names, email me and I can recommend a few in the Johannesburg area. But please don’t be put off by ingredients that you have never used or seen before. Cooking is about being adventurous! And you can trust me with this one!

I used fresh salmon and fresh hake which made a big difference. Don’t use the frozen stuff… your taste buds will thank you.

I really loved the veg combo!! oh my goodness! The difference that a spash of soy sauce, olive oil and lime juice can make to some veggies is just phenomenal, and mixed up with the noodles…. mmmm! A WNNING dish!  Enjoy!! xxx


2 tsp sesame oil

300g salmon fillet, skin off and pin boned

300g of any white fish fillet, skin off and pin boned

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 lime

1 tbsp runny honey

2 springs fresh coriander


1 x 15g sachet of miso paste

2 tbsp low-salt soy sauce, plus extra to serve

5 dried kaffir lime leaves

3 nests of fine egg noodles

1 fresh red chilli

½ a cucumber

200g sugar snap peas

4 spring onions

1 little gem lettuce

200g radishes

1 lime

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Preheat your oven to 200 C
  • Rub half the sesame oil on a small shallow baking dish or ovenproof serving platter.
  • Pat both fish dry with kitchen paper, slice them into 1.5 cm-thick strips and arrange randomly around the dish or platter. Cut the Salmon slightly thicker as it tends to cool a little quicker than the white fish.
  • Rub gently with the rest of the sesame oil, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and season with salt and pepper.
  • Scatter over half the juice, then drizzle over the honey.
  • Place in the oven to cook through (about 7 minutes)
  • Pour 1 litre of boiling water into a casserole pan with the miso paste, soy sauce, crumbled lime leaves and noodles, making sure they’re fully submerged.
  • Slice the chilli and add to the broth. Finely slice the cucumber. Sugar snaps, trimmed spring onions, lettuce and radishes in a food processor.
  • Tip the sliced veg into a bowl and dress with the juice of 1 lime, a little soy sauce and the extra olive oil.
  • Check the noodles and switch off the heat when they’re done, drain most of the excess liquid, leaving some. Season to taste with soy sauce.
  • Pile the veg in the centre of the noodles and toss together at the table.
  • Serve the fish sprinkled with coriander leaves.

Recipe and photo by Jamie Oliver

Serves 4

Seared Asian Tuna, Coconut Rice and Jiggy Jiggy Greens

Seared Tuna, coconut rice and jiggy jiggy hreens0002

Another one from the fabulous Jamie Oliver! This recipe has rocketed right to the top of my favourites list!

WOW. . .

It was date night on Saturday and I wanted to make my husband something delicious and special for dinner without having to spend hours in the kitchen! (not on date night! come on!) I had planned to do this meal as it seemed to tick all the boxes. It was quick, easy and man oh man…. the flavours!  We were in heaven. The beautiful freshness of the grapefruit juice adds something amazing and the green tea (strange I know) and sesame crust is just to die for.

What a treat!! I just can not recommend this one enough….


1 x 400g tin light coconut milk

1 x coconut tin (300g) of basmati rice or jasmin rice

1 lime


1 x 450g piece of yellowfin tuna steak

2 x green tea bags

1 tbsp black and white sesame seeds (mixed)

Olive oil

Pickled ginger

2 spring onions

1 fresh red chilli

The juice of 1 small pink grapefruit

low salt soy sauce

½ bunch fresh coriander


2 bok choi

1 large bunch of asparagus (300g)

200g tenderstem broccoli

2 tsp sesame oil, plus extra to serve

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp teriyaki sauce

  • Pour the coconut milk, 1 tins worth of rice and 1 tin of boiling water into a small pan. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, cover and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat off.
  • Halve the tuna lengthways, then empty the contents of the tea bags on to a board with the sesame seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roll and press the tuna in the flavours to coat, then put in the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sear for about 40 seconds on each side, then remove to a plate, leaving the pan on the heat.
  • Halve the bok choi, then finely slice in a food processor with the trimmed asparagus and broccoli.
  • Put the sesame oil into the frying pan and turn the heat up to high. Squash in the unpeeled garlic through a garlic crusher, then tip in the sliced greens. Toss and move around for 2 minutes, then season to taste with Teriyaki Sauce and remove from heat.
  • Arrange pieces of pickled ginger around a serving platter and about a tablespoon of the juice.
  • Finely slice the trimmed spring onions and chilli and sprinkle over the top.
  • Squeeze over the grapefruit juice and season to taste.
  • Slice the tuna 1cm thick and place on the dressing, drizzle with a little soy sauce, then sprinkle with coriander leaves and a few dribbles  of sesame oil.
  • Serve with the rice, lime wedges and greens.

Serves 4

Recipe and photo by Jamie Oliver