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Category Archives: What’s for Dinner

What’s for Dinner: Pasta and Veggies

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Hubby had a craving for veggies this week so I decided to do a stir-fry with a twist.  It turned out pretty yummy.

I’m just going to give the recipe for the veggies.  Prepare your favorite pasta to accompany them.  I used spaghetti because its what I had available. 

For this recipe I took ideas from a variety of other recipes and made up my own.  Hope you enjoy.

Step 1: Prepare your favorite veggies.  I used

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Green Onion
  • Dhania (Coriander)

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I think next time I would like to add

  • Cauliflower
  • Red Peppers
  • Corn

Basically slice everything.  For the carrots and zucchini cut into thin strips.

Step 2: Heat oil in frying pan until hot.  Add veggies one by one.  I started with carrots, then the zucchini, followed by broccoli, then mushrooms and finished with the green onions and dhania.  After each addition stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.

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Step 3: Add about 1/2 a cup of chicken broth, stir and cover.  Let simmer until veggies are soft. (Because I was making this to Benji to eat and because hubby doesn’t like crunchy veggies I let the veggies cook until they were quite soft).

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Step 4: Add 1-2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce, Salt, Pepper and any other desired seasonings to taste.

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Step 5: Serve and enjoy.

This recipe as shown will make 4 medium servings.


Meal Plan

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After Benji started eating solid foods I started making meal plans for the family.  I made this nice worksheet with spots for Breakfast, Lunch and Supper 7 days a week for us and a separate spot for Benji, as well as a place to note what the activities for each day were and even the groceries needed.  I would make 2 or more weeks of meal plans at a time, trying to balance all three meals and make sure that our diet was balanced.

After a couple of months I didn’t have the motivation to sit down for an hour or more trying to figure out what to feed my family.  So I went back to the old way of figuring something out about 30 minutes before we wanted to eat.  Hubby ended up making a lot of meals because I didn’t feel like cooking since I didn’t know what to make.

Four week ago I decided we needed to go back to meal plans but I needed a new method that would work better for us.  I decided to make a weekly meal plan for supper only.  We figure out breakfast each morning unless I want to make something special and lunch is usually leftovers or something light and quick like sandwiches.  I usually don’t bother planning a meal for Sunday.  Either we do something fun like pancakes and popcorn or hubby figures out what to eat and makes it. 🙂

I usually make the plan on Saturday or Sunday for the following week.  The gives me a chance to see what’s already available in the kitchen so I can use it.  I also try to create the meal plan around one or two proteins.  One week we did chicken, another week pork and beans, last week I used beef and fish.  This week hubby suggested we do more veggies.

I also did away with the fancy worksheet and decided to go basic.  My new method looks like this:

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A whiteboard (which I think is actually a leftover for my college days 🙂 hung in the kitchen with a dry erase marker and eraser.  I have my meals for the week on top and my grocery list and to do list on the bottom.   I’ve seen very nice meal plan boards on Pinterest and would love to try one but for now this is working great.

The meal plan for this week is:

  • Monday: Rice and Cabbage
  • Tuesday: Pasta with Stir Fried Veggies
  • Wednesday: Beans and Chapatti (traditional Kenyan flat bread similar to tortillas)
  • Thursday: Beef Stew and Ugali (traditional Kenyan food made with maize flour)
  • Friday: Cheese and Spinach Calzones
  • Saturday: Meat Loaf, Mash Potatoes and Veggies.

I’m loving the fact that my grocery list is almost entirely veggies.  Hubby will have to pick those up at the market – I don’t bother buying anything at the market since I’d be charged 2 or 3 times as much as hubby is.

My favorite thing about meal plans is that the whole day I know what I’m making for supper, what I need to do to make it and when I need to get started.  I end up being much more motivated to cook than when I spend 15 minutes or more trying to figure out what I can make with the cook already available in house.  I also love the fact that I know the ingredients I need for the whole week and can make sure I have them when I need them.

What’s For Dinner: Homemade Mac N’ Cheese

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Since I’ve started dong meal plans we’ve tried a number of new recipes.  One of our favorites was Pasta Primavera from Taste of Home.  Its a simple pasta dish with veggies and a yummy sauce.  On the meal plan yesterday was Mac n’ Cheese was sausage.  Since I’m out of the Mac and Cheese powder sachets from the states (not so healthy but so, so easy) I had to come up with a alternative easy Mac n’ Cheese.  Hubby has a problem with white sauce (apparently the flour doesn’t get cooked enough and he usually gets a tummyache)  so a white sauce based cheese mix was out.  Then I thought I should just modify the yummy sauce from the Pasta Primavera and that’s just what I did.  And it was super yummy.  So here we go (an copy and paste friendly version is at the bottom).

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.  Put pasta to boil.  I use about 250gm of Penne Pasta.  Be sure to salt the water.

Chop 1 small onion.

Chop 3 sausages (our sausages are very similar to hot dogs in the states so you could substitute 2 hot dogs here) into small pieces.

Prepare one chicken bullion cube (or use any other chicken stock…canned/homemade etc…I used chicken broth left from boiling part of a chicken when I made the sauce for the Pasta Primavera).

Shred the cheese.  I used Gouda because it is our favorite.  I used a little over a cup of shredded cheese, use more or less depending on how cheesy you want the sauce.

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Step 2: Saute the onions in 1 Tablespoon of butter or margarine.  Once the onions are soft add sausages and cook for about 2 minutes. blog1 (576x1024)

Step 3:  Add chicken soup (I used about 1/2 a cup…use more of less depending on how think you want your soup.  You can always add more later to thin the sauce).   Cover and let simmer for 2 –3 minutes. Turn off heat and add cheese.  Stir until completely melted.  Add any desired seasonings.  If your chicken broth was salted you shouldn’t need to add any salt.


Step 4: Drain pasta and return to pan.  Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.  Enjoy!

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Easy Homemade Mac N’ Cheese

  • Pasta of choice
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 sausages (I use Beef Smokies)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 – 2 cups thinly shredded cheese (I use Gouda but any favorite cheese should work)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
  • Desired seasonings
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package.
  2. Chop onion and sausage and shred cheese
  3. Saute onion in butter or margarine until tender.  Add sausages and cook for 2-3 more minutes
  4. Add chicken broth, stir well.  Cover and let simmer for 2-3 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and add cheese.  Stir until completely melted.
  6. Add seasonings as desired
  7. Drain pasta and return to pan.  Pour sauce over pasta and mix well
  8. Enjoy.

This recipe makes 4 medium sized servings.

What’s For Dinner: Fish and chips

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I’ve been wanting to try a fried fish in batter for a while so I put it on the meal plan for this week.  It turned out pretty yummy.  Hubby and I really enjoyed it although I felt like it needed more salt.  Benji cried through the first half of the meal, spit out the crusty part of the fist and refused to eat chips (french fries) with tomato sauce (ketchup). 

A couple of weeks ago we discovered a great way to make oven roasted potatoes.  It also works well for making chips (french fries) in the oven instead of deep frying them. Since I’m always looking for ways to make yummy food healthier and easier I fell in love with this way of making chips right away.

So here goes.  I’ll give the step-by-step with pictures and a easy to copy and paste version at the end. 

Step 1: Peel potatoes, wash and cut into desired size. (I used about 12 small potatoes for the 3 of us and we had leftovers).  Put in a bowl or pan and cover with hot water (hot tap water works fine although I used boiling water from my electric water jug). Soak the potatoes for 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C (450 F)

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Step 2: Prepare the pan.  Either use a non-stick baking pan or line the pan with foil.  Add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan (this keeps the potatoes from sticking as they cook). 

Step 3:Drain water from potatoes and pat dry.   Return to bowl and add oil.  I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons which was more than enough.  Season to taste with salt and any other seasonings you like.  I added onion powder since hubby loves it. Stir well to ensure all that potatoes are coated. 

Step 4: Put the potatoes in the prepared pan.  DO NOT STIR, just spread the potatoes so that they are even. 

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Step 5: Cover the pan with foil and seal the edges. Pop them in the oven.

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Step 6: Cook for approximately 20 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size of your potato pieces.  If you want them to get crispy uncover them for the last 5 or so minutes. 

While your chips are baking you can make the fish.  Actually I would suggest you start preparing the fish while the potatoes are soaking. 

Step 1: Cut your fish into small pieces (I used 2 large fillets and cut them each into 4 pieces)

Step 2: Prepare the batter.  First mix 3/4-1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of oil and 1 egg.  Then add 1 cup of flour, 4 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. (I didn’t think the salt was enough, next time I think I’ll rub a little salt and onion powder directly onto the fish to ensure they are well seasoned).  Mix well.New folder4 (683x1024)

Step 3:  Dip fish in batter and fry in hot oil (about a 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan, add as necessary).  Let each side cook until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes).

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Remove your chips from the oven and serve your fish and chips.  You might want to serve with tomato sauce (ketchup) and tartar sauce.  Enjoy your yummy meal. I know we did. 

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Oven Chips/French Fries:

  • – Potatoes (peeled and cut to desired size)( use 5-6 small potatoes per serving)
  • – Hot Water
  • – Oil
  • – Salt
  • – Any Other seasonings desired
  1. Place potatoes in a bowl or pan and cover with hot water. 
  2. Allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.  Prepare a baking pan by adding enough oil to cover the bottom. 
  3. Preheat oven to 220C/450F
  4. Drain potatoes and pat dry.  Add oil (1/2 Tablespoon per serving), salt and any other seasonings and stir well to ensure all the potatoes are coated with oil.
  5. Put potatoes in pan and spread evenly (it is ok if they overlap if the potatoes are cut thin, if they are cut thick use a baking pan large enough to allow you to spread them in one layer)
  6. Cover the pan with foil and seal tightly.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes.  If you want the potatoes to be crispy on the outside uncover for the last 5-10 minutes.


Fish in Batter: (Recipe adapted from The Newcomer’s Guide to Cooking in Africa)

  • 3/4 to 1 cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup salad oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • Fish fillets cut into desired sizes
  1. Mix water, egg and oil in a bowl. 
  2. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt and mix well
  3. Dip fish pieces in batter one at a time
  4. Fry in about 1/4 inch hot oil. 
  5. Fry each side until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes for each side)
  6. Remove from pan.

N/B This recipe made more than enough batter for 2 large fillets.  It should be enough to cook 4 medium fillets.  I used Tilapia but I assume that this recipe would work well with other types of fish.

As a last thing I think I should try to be as real as possible on this blog so here is a picture of what the other side of my kitchen looked like while I was cooking. :) 

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