When Easter Sunday came round, I knew I had to prepare something nice for lunch not only because it was Easter but it also happened to be my mum’s birthday.
A rice based meal would have been very predictable and not to mention tedious; grilled chicken – been there, done that over and over. So after much deliberation with hubby and with Food Network providing bits of inspiration, I settled for a “meat platter” type meal. Of course this was music to hubby’s carnivorous taste buds.
The menu was partly inspired by Sunny Anderson of the Food Network’s “Cooking For Real” and some of my ideas. It consisted of Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Pan grilled Minute Steak on a bed of Mango Salsa, Spicy Meatballs, Potato Mash and a pallet cleansing cucumber and carrot salad all washed down with Sunny Anderson’s refreshing Mean Green Cucumber Juice.

It was sort of an ode to the Afro-Carribean diet with a twist.

I started by marinating the chicken over night, the only ingredient I left out of Sunny’s recipe was the fennel seed and I alternated dry ginger for fresh ginger (which I thought gave the marinade more of a kick). Following her recipe, I baked the chicken for 20 minutes skin-side down, and then made a glaze with some of the left over marinade and then finished it off for another 25 minutes in he oven at a higher temperature. My friend Uzo has a slightly different take on Jerk chicken. Check it out at Uzo’s Food Lab

Glazed Chicken


To make the cucumber juice, I used two large English Cucumbers; available at my local Spar grocery store. I recommend the English Cucumbers over the locally grown ones because the local ones have seeds. It was very easy to make and the result was simply refreshing and delicious.

Cucumber peel in blender and grated flesh prepped and ready for the simple syrup before blitzing


Blitzing cucumber peel and cooked flesh before sieving and chilling


Making the mango salsa was a breeze and I made it extra spicy so that the chopped fresh peppers would counter balance the sweetness of the chopped mango flesh. I also threw in some chopped red onion, chopped spring onions, chopped parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper and some lime juice. The salsa was accompanied with a simple pan seared minute steak which I drizzled with lime juice and set aside to rest.

The potato mash I made slight chunky to add some texture to the dish. I was fairly liberal with the butter and cream and with a sprinkling of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper it was ready in no time. It was the last dish I prepared so that it arrived at the table nice and hot.
The cucumber and carrot salad consisted of cucumber and carrot shavings and halved cherry tomatoes; it doesn’t get easier than that.
The meatballs were made from the classic meatball recipe which you will find in my “Anatomy of Feast” post and my “Back in the Saddle” post.
The dish came together nicely and each part complimented the other well. Not a single plate came back to the kitchen with any food on it. My mum was flattered that I made a special meal on her special day and my husband was pleased with the prominent helping of protein on his plate; all in all a winning menu.

Potato Mash, Caribbean Chicken, Meat balls, Minute Steak and Mango Salsa, Cucumber and Carrot Salad and Mean Green Cucumber Juice.

For me, tucking into the meal transported me to a sunny beach side resort………

TIP OF THE DAY: To make sure that your meals arrive at the table nice and hot or at least warm, put the serving dish/plate in a hot oven minutes before you plate up. NOTE: Ensure that the dishware is oven safe. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s Christmas, Easter, a wedding, a birthday, Mothers’ day, Fathers’ day, an Anniversary and every other celebration that mankind has designed to make gift giving more tedious than it already is.

Special executive Christmas gift boxes


If one were to choose to celebrate every occasion on the calendar, how many different gifts could you possibly give to one person? It all gets very confusing and I dare say casts a dark cloud on giving gifts.
Over time, I have found that the best gifts to give are the simple, useful items. Of course what is considered to be simple or useful is relative, however, there is little use in giving something that is of no use or value to the recipient.
Yes, we all know that friend or family member who seems to have it all, who never seems to need anything that you have to offer or that you could afford for that matter.

Gifts for children


I have known one of the best gift givers in the world for fourteen odd years now and I can honestly say that I have learned a lot from watching her assemble, wrap and primp a variety of items before presenting them to delighted persons. My best friend, Moji can dress a can of tuna and make it look like the last tin of sturgeon roe (a.k.a caviar) left on earth.

Christmas gift boxes


And so, following her lead, I have put my spin on gift giving and have had immense fun in the process. The first rule is to have a budget and stay within it. Secondly, know the recipient; it is entirely counter productive to give a Muslim friend a rum drenched cake or a diabetic a basket bursting with chocolate. Thirdly, where possible, use a collection of items to make up the gift. And finally, have the gift(s) beautifully packaged.

Arrangement ideas for gift boxes


So, for instance, do you want to give a gift to your husband who is a sweet tooth, mad about cars, thinks that Jeremy Clarkson is a sage and dreams of speeding down the autobahn in a sleek shiny Maserati? The solution is simple, you probably couldn’t afford to buy a Maserati for him (but if you can, great!) so buy a book about luxury sports cars, get a DVD box set of Top Gear, gather a collection of his favourite chocolates and candies (if they are shaped like a Maserati it would be a bonus). Wrap each item with the proper wrapping paper, assemble the items in a beautiful gift box and voila! You would have given him a simple useful gift that he would cherish (while he continues to nurse his dreams of driving a luxury car).

Masculine Christmas gift boxes


In my opinion the presentation of a gift is just as important as the gift itself. So be sure to experiment with various kinds of wrapping papers, trimmings, ribbons and bows. Also, make sure that the actual wrapping process is symmetrical and tidy. It is usually ideal to use soft wrapping paper or tissue wrap for cylindrical or curvy objects and heavier paper for square objects.
If you find that you do not enjoy wrapping gifts and hate to get embroiled in doing up fiddly bows then use the services of the professional gift wrapping department which most gift shops offer.
I thoroughly enjoyed shopping for and putting together all the gifts featured here. I find it to be therapeutic and especially rewarding when people gasp with surprise or coo with joy when they receive their gifts. A la prochaine! ๐Ÿ™‚

Christmas gift boxes assembled and ready for delivery