Let’s take the time to celebrate love this weekend. Whether it is with our loved ones or friends, let’s celebrate the presence of dear people in our lives. To do so, I have curated this special menu just for you. 🙂
Chicken bites with chicken bites
For the appetizer, I propose to you chicken bites with jalapenos sauce. This recipe is from a fellow food blogger, Elsie from Afrovitalityeats that has been so gracious to collaborate with me on this menu. We have been doing lives on Instagram this week and it has been so much fun. She is such a sweet person inside and out. Her blog revisits great African dishes that are so decadent and colorful. You should definitely check her out.
I marinated my chicken thighs with shallots, ginger, parsley, garlic , salt and a dash of olive oil.
Here is the link to her delicious jalapenos sauce.
Amaranth leaves soup
This soup is one of my favorite soup. The layers of flavours in this soup are so deep and indulging.
Eggplants(aubergines) with fish recipe
Although not popular as a main dish, eggplants with smoked fish make the perfect entrée for valentine’s day. This dish will satisfy you without making you feel too full.
You can have fried plantains or sweet potatoes as a side dish.
African beignets with raspberry sauce and pineapple recipe
Exquisite! Fried pineapples bring so much texture to this dessert, it is amazing! The beignets absorbs well the raspberry sauce which bounces off the pineapple perfectly.
There you have it. A great dinner that can be made for 2 or more and that is everything but boring.
I hope you take the time to cherish this precious day with your loved ones and that you make great memories at the dinner table.
Happy valentine’s day!
Christmas Menus Ideas for 2020
Happy holidays! Cheers to making the most out of this end of the year! Am I the only one that is scrambling on last minute things like food, gifts, planning?! I have always told myself that I would be better prepared during the holidays but I am always rushing; Mailing cards, trying to find gifts or stressing about gifts not making it on time! I know, I am probably procrastinating too much…
This year though, I should say, I got into a little funk where I didn’t feel like doing much, but my kids were so excited that I didn’t want them to have a morose Christmas because I didn’t feel like it. So, getting the Christmas cards ready, gifts, etc got me excited again and here I am scrambling.
One thing that I would always do was looking for menus ideas whether it is for Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day brunch or Christmas Day dinner. I would go on Pinterest trying to create a menu that suits my family and I would pick ideas for 10 different menus to create my own. I have never came across an african menu for Christmas. With that said, I thought I would create one for anybody who loves african food and would want to eat a little bit of everything for Christmas. The idea is to make your life easier and help you organize to have a successful meal plan for the holidays.
I have prepared two menus that have relatively easy recipes that can be interchangeable.
Here is the Menu #1
This came be overwhelming to look at BUT if you plan ahead you can have this menu done in no time and actually enjoy the day with your family.
What can be cooked ahead of time?
Amaranth leaves (biteku teku) stew recipe can be made the day before and you will store it in the fridge. Just bring it to a simmer in a sauce pan and voila!
Spicy rice with lemongrass recipe is another great recipe that can be cooked at least six hours before dinner. I wouldn’t cook it the day before since this rice is better served warm. If you make it the day before, watch out for the bottom of the pan when warming it up. The rice can get burned and the whole pan will have a burned odour.
Chicken Yassa with rice recipe can be marinated the day before. This would cut your cooking time in half for this recipe.
Broiled mackerel with quinoa recipe can also be marinated the day before. This would just leave you 12 min of broiling in the oven and your main dish would be ready!
Plantains with Avocado and Mango recipe can be prepped for in advance. You can slice your mangoes and avocados. Put them in separate containers and store them in your fridge. Make sure to drizzle some lemon juice on your avocados to prevent them from turning brown.
What needs to be cooked the day of the event?
Gluten free mango cake with cassava and corn flour needs to be baked the day of the event for better taste. Although I prefer to make my dessert the day before, this cake needs to be made the day of the event. Otherwise, it will be like eating bread made the day before…exactly.
Sorrel (Ngayi ngayi) salad recipe needs to be made the day of since a salad is always eaten fresh. You can actually bake the sweet potatoes ahead of time and store them at room temperature up to six hours before.
What drinks would you recommend?
You can drink whatever you want. However, if you are a wine drinker, I would suggest to start with some red wine of your choice since we have beef as an appetizer and later move to white chilled wine that would go very well with your chicken or fish.
I personally feel like this menu is the easiest of the two. Full of colours and flavours, these recipes are nothing but boring.
What can be cooked ahead of time?
Liboké with boiled plantains recipe can be made ahead of time.This can actually be made in the morning and kept in the baking dish. Once ready to serve, you can warm it up by warming up on low heat for 10 min.
Pumpkin soup with butternut squash and ginger recipe can also be made the day before without adding the cooking cream. When you are ready to eat, add the cooking and finish the recipe from that step.
Plantains with Avocado and Mango like mentioned earlier, avocados and mangos can be sliced ahead of time.
Salted fish with sweet potatoes recipe is another recipe that can be prepped the day before. You can soak the fish in cold water the night before and cook it the following morning hours before dinner.
What needs to be cooked the day of the event?
Red fufu with lamb chops and sautéed spinach need to be made just before eating. Here, you will find out how to make your fufu red.
African beignets (puff puff) with mango sauce recipe needs to be made the day of. The beignets are delicious when they are fresh and fluffy. You can add some raspberry sorbet that balances well with the mango sauce with a mint leaf for the extra touch.
Easy Mango Salad with feta cheese is like any salad recipe. Best served fresh.
What drinks would you recommend?
A prosecco would be perfect with the liboké (steamed fish) or the salted fish recipe. Again any beverage would work.
What 2020 has taught me
What 2020 has taught me so far? Let me start by saying that I pray that you and your loved ones are safe and sound wherever you are. In spite of all the uncertainty for the future, we are hopeful that God will see us through. Like many people, our family has suffered losses throughout this pandemic. As if that wasn’t painful enough, not being able to get together and properly say our goodbyes and pay respect was truly excruciating and heartbreaking. For a few months I dreaded phone calls for fear of hearing bad news. I even stopped watching the news on a daily basis in order to be in a good place mentally for my family. Instead of watching the news, I would check online to see what was going on in my area and in the world every couple of days. That was it!
Despite all that, sometimes the news comes to you whether you like it or not. George Floyd. This one was a punch in the gut. It hit me hard. There are images that you cannot un-see. I couldn’t watch the whole video; it was too much. The few minutes that I watched have marked me profoundly. You get all sort of emotions while trying to process everything that is going on in your city, country and the world. For sure, 2020 made itself known. It made us stare in the mirror and act on what we believe. Racism, health, our values, our beliefs, we have to choose what we believe and act accordingly. Whatever anchored our being was revealed. Imagine, the entire world affected by the same thing at the same time. I have made a point to really take the time to reflect and not miss what this year is teaching me.
Lesson #1 Be intentional with your time.
I don’t know about you but sometimes it feels like there isn’t enough time in the day. You make excuses and believe it is because you don’t have time, but you realize that this is just an excuse. If you really want to do something, you will make it a priority and find the time for it. It has been good to spend uninterrupted time together as a family. We got to reconnect as a whole and really see our kids’ personalities blossom in front of our eyes. Priceless.
I would find myself getting very busy with projects, but I had to remind myself that family time is the most important thing. As a parent, you learn so much about your children and about yourself through them. We enjoyed having family meals, going on walks, having great debates and more. All this not just for one day but for months. That was really refreshing.
Lesson# 2 I don’t need much to survive.
We live in such a materialistic world that it is easy to confuse a want for a need. Due to my husband’s job, we were confined earlier than everybody else in the city. I have learned that (don’t tell my husband this, LOL), in all honesty, I don’t need much to survive. It was gratifying to go for weeks without buying anything. I realized that there is a lot of “stuff” that we buy that just ends up being clutter, EXCEPT shoes, of course! LOL
Lesson#3 Educate your kids on colour and what it means to be human.
I feel like this one was forced on us by 2020. My kids are young so I have always thought that I would have more in-depth conversations about race much later in life. You hear about kids asking very tough questions on race and it doesn’t really register until “YOUR” kids ask you those questions. I loathe that there is even a discussion about it. Questions such as: “Maman, why do they call me black while I am brown?” “Why are they called white while they aren’t even white but pink?”Maman? “Why were people put aside because of the skin color?” “Why are Adam and Eve white in the books?” ”Were they really white?” I look at those precious innocent souls and realize that in those moments my answers will shape how they see and treat people. Honestly, it can be intimating and nerve wrecking at the same time…
Lesson#4 I need to know more about my immune system
This virus made me educate myself even more on immune system, on how our bodies work, natural remedies and so on… It has been fascinating to learn about how our body regenerates cells… pretty amazing. I got tips on what to do on a daily basis to keep my immune system strong. I have realized that the more I know about the human body the more empowered I feel. Knowledge is key indeed. Here is a great article that talks about it. [https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system]
Lesson#5. It is impossible to get bored.
There is so much you can learn, teach, share. I got the chance to learn so many things that I have an interest for and it is amazing. Yes, I have four kids, I was homeschooling three classes, I had laundry to do and my men (husband and 4 sons) eat like it is a full-time job. LOL. I am sure some of you can relate to some extent. It didn’t stop me from focusing on educating myself more on blogging, cooking, etc… All I had to do was to organize myself well ahead of time. I never had the feeling of being “stuck” at home, but I really got the chance to focus on what I am currently passionate about.
Although we are still in 2020, I will cherish the lessons learned so far and, I trust that when it is all said and done, we are resilient, and we will be alright in the end. Keep at it!
Live your best life!