Thursday, 27 February 2014

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

How long does it take to write a blog post? A life time. This is one of those posts that has taken a lifetime of experience to write.

This isn't going to be extremely profound, but these are things I have to write about because if I don't write it down, I might lose it forever.

My New Year resolutions don't matter to me anymore. I have found myself constantly writing down things to be grateful for, least I forget how lucky I really am. I speak freely about my circumstances and have found a strengthening of my Faith. But all this certainly doesn't made me brave. It just means like you, I woke up this morning and went through the usual rituals (albeit slower than before) and life carried on.

The first lesson I learnt this year is, "Not to Sweat the Small Stuff", there really is no time to waste. Life is so short and what you think is so important a this exact moment, might be the last thought or deed you share with a particular person.

How terrible to live with your last conversation being about how much leaving the toilet seat up irritates you. There is a limited amount of time you have to be with the ones you love,  don't spend them pointing out how short they fall of your expectations. I challenge you to re-evaluate your expectations and weigh them up against the chance it might be the last thing you say.

I am not advocating not standing up for what you really believe, but the trivia of life consumes us so much,we miss out on enjoying a person for who they truly are. If that person makes your life unbearable, perhaps you should detox and detach. I have done that, the freedom in a minimalist approach to friends is liberating.

So there you have my first in "Truths I have learnt in Life". I hope someone will think twice before they speak and save themselves the guilt that could have been changed to joy in a blink of an eye.

Real Joy. Here is boy who never saw his dreams come true.                      Picture Huntshots

Thursday, 20 February 2014

A Loss at Homemade Heaven

Homemade Heaven lost it's biggest fan and editor my husband Keith. On the 7th of January the man who believed anything was possible, died tragically in in a car crash - together with the newest addition to our family, my son Nordin.

I too was injured in the crash and am now not mobile for a while. But this won't stop me from showing just how much I had learnt about perseverance from Keith. I now do "Cooking with Crutches" or "Meals on Wheechairs".

Apologies for the photo quality and styling and any spelling mistakes. It's not always that easy with one hand or from the seated position or with my terrible grammar, but I will try to keep everyone out there full of lovely meals.

Thank you for those who have followed all the progress over the all the years and I look forward to sharing this new chapter of my life.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Tikka Chicken Marsala - From Scratch or Pre-Packed Sauce

What excitement at Homemade Heaven, when you have 2 recipes from 2 bloggers for the same dish, made 2 different ways and both equally satisfying.

The first recipe is a dinner in a flash, the other is a remake of the original made from scratch. We have not only given you the recipes, but also a review and cost comparison.

This is a first for Homemade Heaven and I really hope not the last, as it has been very informative for me and I know that you as the readers are going to enjoy following this series.

I start with Dinner in a Flash recipe by Cupcakes and Couscous, Teresa Ulyate

Chicken Tikka with fragrant rice:

1 cup basmati rice
8 whole cloves
4 cups water
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped
4 chicken breast fillets, cubed
200ml Ina Paarman tikka curry sauce
400g tin peeled and chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cream
a handful of fresh coriander leaves + extra to garnish
Step 1.) Place the basmati rice, cloves and water in a saucepan. Cover and leave to soak
Step 2.) Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
Step 3.) Add the cubed chicken and fry for 3 minutes to seal.
Step 4.) Meanwhile, place the saucepan of rice over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked through.
Step 5.) Add the tikka curry sauce and tomatoes to the chicken. Mix well, cover the saucepan and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 6.) Stir in the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Tear the coriander leaves into the curry, mix and continue to simmer until heated through.
Step 7.) Remove the cloves from the rice. Spoon the rice and chicken tikka onto heated plates, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.

Review by  Cupcakes and Couscous, Teresa Ulyate
Product: Ina Paarman Tikka Curry Coat and Cook Sauce (200ml)
Factory shop cost: R7.50 (on special)
Retail price: R17.99 (Pick ‘n Pay)
Total prep & cooking time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Cost: R62.44 for the whole dish / R15.61 per serving:

• I have calculated the cost using the retail price of the tikka sauce (R17.99) as most people would not have access to the factory shop / discounted price.
• This cost is for the chicken tikka only and does not include the rice – let me know if you need rice cost too.
Thoughts on the product:
I definitely have a “make-it-from-scratch” approach when it comes to cooking and baking – however there are a few exceptions. Curry pastes is one of those! There are some great ones on the market that I feel really deliver on flavour and make it convenient for me to whip up a hearty and satisfying meal quickly and easily. I tend to use the curry pastes and haven’t tried many curry sauces, but Ina’s tikka cook and coat sauce did not disappoint!
Ease of use: It couldn’t get much simpler. The product is shelf stable with a long shelf life. All I needed to do was grab the pack off my pantry shelf, snip it open and pour it in!
Flavour: This sauce did not disappoint - it had a full, rich and well-rounded flavour. I didn’t feel as though anything was missing. It was hotter than I expected though (the pack stated “medium heat”). As you will see in my recipe I also added a tin of tomatoes – I was worried that this might dilute the flavour slightly but this was not the case. The flavour was perfect, and actually I think that if I hadn’t added the tomatoes it would definitely have been too hot for me! I realise that heat is a personal preference and that lots of customers probably like this, but I could have done with a little less heat.
General – as with all of Ina’s products the sauce is extremely versatile. It can be made on the stove top or used in the oven. It is suited to chicken, red meat, fish and veg and can be made using cream or coconut milk. I love that I can use 1 product in so many different ways!

Dinner in a flash! - Chicken Tikka with Fragrant Rice
Okay, so now you've all rushed off to buy the ready made sauce and left me holding a bowl of this 

Homemade Heaven Tikka Chicken Marsala
Serves 6 generous portions (Could be 8 if I didn't have teenage boys)

500g cup plain yogurt
4 Large Garlic Cloves
1 2" Knob of Ginger peeled 
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 Chicken Breasts, Skinned and de-boned and cut into chunks.

Using a pestle and mortar pound the garlic, ginger, salt and black pepper, until a fine paste.
In a large zip lock bag mix the paste and the rest of the ingredients and marinade for 6 hours or over night.

4 teaspoons olive oil
3 Large Garlic cloves
2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
50g packet of tomato paste
1 tablespoon garam masala or eleven -in-one masala
2 teaspoons paprika
250g of  Tomato Puree
500g Roma Cocktail tomatoes cut in half
2 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Sachet of Chicken or vegetable Stock
1 to 2 cups water ( I used closer to 2 cups)
Oil, for grilling
Freshly chopped Coriander Leaves

Place a large griddle pan over high heat 
Place another large sauce pan on medium heat and warm oil
Add the Garlic Paste and Chilli flakes
Fry until lightly browned 
Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the paste has darkened in color, keep stirring
Add the Marsala of your choice and paprika, fry for about 1 minute.
Add the tomato puree, give a gentle stir.
Add the tomatoes, sugar, stock sachet, salt, and 1 cup water.
Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until thickened, Add more water depending on how your sauce thickens.
Cook for about 20 minutes
Using an immersion blender process sauce until smooth. 

In the hot grilled pan, fry the pieces of marinaded chicken until charred - not cooked. 
Add the charred pieces of chicken to the cooking sauce.
Cook for a further 10 - 15 minutes, until sauce is nicely thickened.
Add the Corriander to the sauce, leaving some for garnish.
**** You can add 125ml of cream to this recipe, once the chicken is cooked and before adding the coriander.

Serve with basmati rice and naan bread.

Cost for dish : R 80,00 total of R11.42 per person (for 7 servings)

While there is a certain amount of preparation involved, especially if you take the cheaper route like I do, and de-bone and skin the chicken myself.
I did not find any of the steps very complicated and the sauce did not need much attention, except for the occasional stir. 
The char grilling is messy, but the small burnt pieces certainly did add a lovely flavour. I would like to next time, do the grilling over the coals - but that would incur more cost and time.
Teresa's palate is tender and not used to heat - my family enjoy our food on the spicy to very spicy side. This recipe for me, had a slight spiciness - but I do warn those who have a more delicate taste buds, to cut back or cut out the crushed red chilli.  
Of course adding the cream would help temper the spiciness.
I would certainly make this without hesitation for a weekday meal, if I had the forethought to do the marinade 6 hours or the night before.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Old Fashioned Pineapple and Coconut Cake

Things are back to great at Homemade Heaven central. I'm so inspired, I have more blog posts lined up than time to put them all out there.

As a celebration for my parents coming to visit, I decided to make a '40's inspired cake I found here. But before you run off to see the original, I have made some changes - more 2013 than 1945!

I was so happy to see the wonderful response to my Butter Chicken,  I re-created another Indian/British delight - Tikka Chicken Marsala. I'll be posting 2 recipes for this, one made by me and another by a fellow prominent South African blogger Cupcakes and Couscous, Teresa Ulyate. It will awaken your creative juices, and challenge you to either make it yourself or have dinner in a flash with the help of cook-in sauce.

But all that next week, now lets eat cake.

Old Fashioned Pineapple and Coconut Cake

1½ cups of white sugar
2 Cups of cake flour
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla essence
485g tin of crushed pineapple, undrained

Pre-heat your over to 180ºC
Blend all the ingredients in a bowl until well mixed.
Grease a 25cm square baking tin.
Pour mixture into the tin and bake for about 40 minutes, until cooked through.
When you remove the cake from the oven pour the icing straight over. I poked a holes into the hot cake to allow the syrup to drain through.

While the cake is baking make the icing.

1/2 c. Coconut Oil
½ Cup sugar
1 Cup evaporated milk
1 Cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp. vanilla

In a sauce pan, add the first 3 ingredients and simmer until sugar has melted.
Add the coconut and allow to simmer for another 10-15 minutes until sauce is reduced.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Butter Chicken, the Sound of Music

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings ,These are a few of my favorite things....When the dog bites, when the bee stings, When I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, And then I don't feel so bad.

So I have been feeling down the past few days, have been eating worms - my own big plate of them. The weather hasn't helped much either - cold and wet and getting colder and wetter each day.

Then I started to hear the reports of how other's have been suffering, not only in Cape Town, all around the world. You only have to spend a few minutes on any news site and you'll know just how hard other peoples lives are.

 I also remembered back to many moons ago, when I was an extra in our school play, The Sound of Music. It was a soundtrack I knew very well, as it was one of the vinyls my parents had, which my Mom loved to play for us, especially on rainy days.

I started to think of some of my favourite things, and now I don't feel so bad.

This Butter Chicken recipe is certainly not the most authentic one you'll find, but I love it and it's tried and tested and I have never had anything other than compliments on it. It's a happy day meal for me, as it is a real indulgence with butter and cream - but who's complaining? Not me!

Butter Chicken

5 Skinned and Boned Chicken Breasts
100 g Butter
Oil for frying onion
1 Large Onion, sliced and chopped
¾ Cup of Tomato Puree
¾ Cup of Cream
¾ Cup of Plain Yoghurt
2 ml of Cayenne Pepper or Paprika (your choice)
Salt and Pepper
1 Handful of Roughly Chopped Fresh Coriander leaves
1 Squeeze of Fresh Lemon juice
Fresh tomato to garnish (optional)

Chop the chicken into 3cm cubes.
Heat a pot on the stove, and add the butter.
Fry the chicken in the butter until just turning golden.
Remove the butter and the chicken
Add enough oil to fry the onion until soft and starting to colour
Add the tomato puree, yogurt, cream, cayenne and season to taste.
Add back all the fired chicken and butter.
Stir and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.
The sauce will thicken and reduce down by about half.
If you want to speed up the thickening sauce, remove the lid and increase the heat.
Occasionally stir until ready.
Just before you serve, add the coriander and squeeze of lemon juice.
Cook for 1 minute more and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Serve with lots of basmati rice and fresh tomatoes.

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

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

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


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