Easy Macaroni Cheese Recipe

Easy Macaroni Cheese Recipe | AuthenticallyAsh.com

This Macaroni Cheese Recipe is my go-to meal when I have no idea what to make my family for supper or lunch. It is one of our family favorites. Mark has got so good at making this Macaroni Cheese Recipe, he can make it in 35 minutes. All the ingredients are pantry stables so I normally have everything I need to make it at the last minute.

Meal variation for toddlers: Give your toddlers some cooked macaroni, grated cheese and baby tomatoes on a plate and let them feed themselves.

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Cinnamon Jam Squares Recipe

Cinnamon Jam Squares Recipe download and print on AuthenticallyAsh.com

I absolutely love this Cinnamon Jam Squares Recipe. The only ingredients that are not pantry stables are the apricot jam and desiccated coconut. However, in my house we always have apricot jam. Apricot Jam is one of the most affordable flavours of jam in South Africa. I also normally have desiccated coconut because I often bake with it.

Tip: Desiccated coconut’s shelf life can be prolonged by keeping it in the freezer.

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Recipe No. 1 – Roast Mutton

Recipe 1 - Roast Mutton - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Recipe 1 – Roast Mutton – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

This recipe can be made with the leg, loin, shoulder or breast of the sheep.  The leg and loin are the most expensive parts of the sheep.  The shoulder and breast are medium in price.  It is not recommended to attempt this with the cheaper parts of the sheep/lamb, those are best suited for a stew.


  • Leg, loin, shoulder or breast of the sheep/lamb
  • 125ml (half a cup) flour
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) salt
  • 2.5ml (half teaspoon) pepper


  • Oven
  • Roasting dish with lid
  • small to medium mixing bowl
  • kitchen scale
  • kitchen timer


  1. Defrost the meat overnight, or for 3 hours during the day if the meat has been in the freezer.
  2. Heat oven to 190ºC (375ºF)
  3. Weigh the defrosted meat on the kitchen scale and make a note of its weight.  This will be used to calculate the cooking time.
  4. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in the mixing bowl
  5. Rub the flour mixture all over the meat
  6. Place meat into the roasting dish (it is recommended to put a wire rack under the meat in the dish, but not required)
  7. Calculate the cooking time as follows: For every 500g of meat, it needs to be cooked for 25 minutes, plus an extra 15 minutes at the end.  See chart below this method for more details.
  8. Put meat in the oven and set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes
  9. After 30 minutes reduce the heat to 160ºC (325ºF)
  10. Set the timer for the remaining cooking time
  11. Remove from the oven when your timer goes off and serve

Serve with:

  • Steamed Sweet Potato (35 minutes steam time)
  • Steamed Carrots (15 minutes steam time)
  • Steamed Broccoli (5 minutes steam time)
  • Fresh Tomato, Cucumber and Lettuce (chopped into a salad)
Cooking Times for Roast Mutton (Chart) - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Cooking Times for Roast Mutton (Chart) – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

Recipe Card for download and printing below:  You may share this as much as you want, but please always reference this source.  Thank you!

Recipe No. 1 - Roast Mutton - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Recipe No. 1 – Roast Mutton – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

Menu Planning – 13 tips for planning your family menu

I’ve been researching healthy menu planning and this post (and printable) are of my findings when doing this research.  This printable is on the first page of my recipe file.  Feel free to share it with whomever you wish, but please will you always reference the source (www.AuthenticallyAsh.com).

The .PDF can found here: Menu planning checklist and 13 Tips of when Menu Planning (printable)

During my research, I have realized that the most important aspect of planning a menu is to always keep in mind the nutritional value of the meal.  You can read my blog post about the basics of good nutrition if you haven’t done so already.

If you haven’t considered the health benefits of the food you are serving your family then what is the point of menu planning?  You might as well go and eat at your favorite fast food restaurant every day of the week.  Why do we eat at home?  I know that I do because it is better for my health.

So, keeping in mind the health benefits of the meal, what are the basics that we need every day?  I also mentioned this in my Good Nutrition Basics post, but I’m going to mention it again because it is so important.

  • Cereals: I’m not talking about the sugar coated breakfast cereals that you get in the shops.  Those are useless because there is way too much sugar in them.  Instead you must make sure you have one serving of Oats, Mealiemeal, Sorghum, Wheat or any unrefined cereal each day (preferably organic).  Also make sure you have one serving of wholewheat bread (that is 1 slice).  Cereals not only contain carbohydrates and fats, but also Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage. Carbohydrates provide heat and energy and Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage keep the body healthy.
  • Protein: These include Meat, Fish, Poultry, Beans, Lentils, Nuts, Cheese and Eggs.  Proteins are the body builders in the food groups.  They help your body repair itself.  You should get 1 serving of Meat, Fish or Poultry and 1-2 servings of Beans, Lentils, Nuts, Cheese and Eggs.
  • Vegetables:  Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes give you Carbohydrates, which provide your body with heat and energy.  Try to get 1 serving of potatoes or sweet potatoes per day. Also try to get 2 servings of cooked vegetables and 1 serving of raw vegetables.
  • Fruits:  Oranges, Guavas and Tomatoes give you Vitamin C.  Try to eat one of these fruits each day.  Also try to eat one serving of any other type of fruit.  Fruits provide your body with vitamins, minerals and roughage.
  • Sugar:  Try to cut out as much refined sugar as possible, substitute honey whenever possible.  I have been reading a lot of articles lately on how dangerous sugar really is for us.  It is being linked with Cancer and numerous other diseases.  I’m down to half a teaspoon of sugar in my coffee and tea now.

Here is an image from the .PDF I mentioned at the top of this post summarizing the above points:

Menu Planning Checklist - www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Menu Planning Checklist – www.AuthenticallyAsh.com

The second thing I discovered is that menu planning is all about variety.  Try to give the person eating your food as much variety as possible by:

  1. Plan a variety of different types of vegetables:  This means that you shouldn’t stick to all root vegetables, or all leafy vegetables, but rather pick 1 root vegetable, 1 leaf vegetable, 1 flowery vegetable and/or 1 squash type of vegetable.
  2. Variety of colour:  So in other words, don’t present the person eating your food with a plate filled with greens only (e.g. Marrow, Spinach and Broccoli).  Add in some orange, red or white vegetables.  The more appealing it is on the eyes the more appealing it is to the stomach.
  3. Variety of textures and shapes:  This is also to make it appealing to the eyes.  Don’t boil all the food into a mush, try to serve some raw (grated carrot), some whole (baked potatoes), some chopped (green beans) and some mashed (pumpkin).
  4. Variety of ingredients:  Try not to use the same main ingredient in two recipes.  For example, don’t make pumpkin pie for dessert and mashed pumpkin in the meal.

Third, it is all about making the different foods compliment each other.  This can easily be achieved by picking one main recipe and then keeping all the other foods on the plate as natural and neutral as possible.  You wouldn’t have a spicy bean curry dish with a rump steak, would you?  The two tastes would overpower each other.  Rather keep the rump steak as a delicious rump and add boiled spinach, chopped pumpkin and carrot salad to the plate.

And while I’m talking about picking recipe’s, it is a good idea to learn which fruits and vegetables are in season and grown locally.  Knowing this can greatly aid you in lowering your food expenses each month.  If you live in Alaska you would pay a small fortune for Kiwi fruit (which grows best in a tropical climate).  And strawberries (which are a Springtime berry) cost a lot more in winter and autumn, don’t they?  So by learning which fruits and vegetables are in season in which months, and knowing which fruits and vegetables are easily grown in your climate, you can dramatically cut down your grocery bill.  This information is essential to effective menu planning.

On the topic of saving money, I also discovered a hint towards saving money on your electricity/gas bill when you are cooking.  Cook together as much as possible. This means that if you are roasting a chicken, then consider also doing baked potatoes at the same time, or find a dessert recipe that needs a similar oven temperature, and cook the two together.  You can also consider boiling eggs at the same time that you boil potatoes (in the same pot!).

Keep the left-overs in mind.  If you plan to cook a recipe that serves 6 and there are only 2 in your household, that means that the meal should be able to feed the two of you for 3 meals.  This saves you electricity/gas again because you cook once for 2-3 days.  But make sure that you can keep the food that you have made for 3 days.  Fish doesn’t quite taste the same the next day, so you won’t be able to make a “serves 8” fish dish for 2 people.

If you have left overs in your refrigerator, then you should also find a way to incorporate them into your next meal.  Use up leftovers as quickly as possible.

Serve 1 hot dish a day.  I’m not talking about a spicy dish, I’m talking about a fully cooked dish. Even in summer, try to at least have 1 hot dish a day.  You can grill meat outdoors if you can’t handle the oven heat in your kitchen.

Serve a dessert after the main meal.  You don’t have to make a full baked pudding, but a sliced banana served with custard is just as nice.  Fruit makes a wonderful dessert, and what better way to make fruit appealing?  Just remember that with dessert it is best to keep the portion sizes small, it makes it more of a treat that way.

Eat at a table.  This isn’t really a menu planning tip, but rather something to think about while we are talking about menu planning.  By sitting at the table, and serving the food in the good dishes, you are encouraging family togetherness.  Meals should be about building your family togetherness.  Try to see each meal as a feast used to build relationships.  So if possible, try to eat at a table for every meal (breakfast, lunch and supper).  When you plan the menu, think how you are going to present each meal on the table.

Finally, you should plan your menu as long in advance as you can stick to.  It saves time and money to do once a week or once a month shopping, and it is beneficial to know in the morning what you should be defrosting for the nights meal.

This is what I have discovered while learning to do proper menu planning.  I hope that my notes have been a help to you.  I’m not pretending to be an expert on this topic, I’m just sharing what I have learned.  If you have any extra things to consider when menu planning, please drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your views.


Good Nutrition Basics

Good Nutrition basics - Authentically Ash ( www.authenticallyash.com )
Good nutrition infogram showing the basics of good nutrition and a balanced diet.

Good nutrition is a vital part of everyday human life.  If you are privileged enough to easily come by food, then it is your responsibility to ensure that your body gets what it needs to stay healthy.  And if you are a parent then it is your responsibility to make sure your children get what they need to stay healthy.  This is a basic overview of what I feel an average person should know about good nutrition.

There are 3 basic types of foods

  • Proteins are the foods that build and repair your body
  • Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage keep the body, its chemicals and mechanisms balanced
  • Carbohydrates and fats are converted into heat and energy, and if you don’t use them up they become body clutter.

Proteins (body builders) – The following foods contain proteins and help build and repair your body:

  • Nuts, Eggs and Fish (all edible kinds)
  • Cheese (all kinds)
  • Meat (birds, poultry, pigs, cattle, sheep and wild game)
  • Vegetables (dried beans, soya beans, lentils and peas)
  • Milk (whole, skimmed and buttermilk)

Vitamins, Minerals and Roughage – The following foods contain various kinds of vitamins, minerals and roughage which keep your body in balance

  • Fruit (all kinds, dried, fresh, cooked, berries, dates and tomatoes)
  • Vegetables (all kinds, green and leafy, yellow, raw and cooked)
  • Cereals (whole/unsifted flour, oats, mealiemeal, sorghum meal and soya bean flour)
  • Milk (whole, skimmed and buttermilk)

Carbohydrates and fats – The following foods contain carbohydrates and fats which are used to give your body energy and heat.

  • Vegetables and fruit (avocado pears, bananas, beetroot, dried peas, dried beans, mealies, sweet potatoes and potatoes)
  • Cereals (macaroni, tapioca, mealiemeal, wheat flour, rice, sago, spaghetti and maize products)
  • Sugars (sugar, honey, syrup, fresh and dried fruits, preserves, sweet desserts and sweet dishes)
  • Fats (butter, cream, animal fats, vegetable fats, oils and nuts)

You should try to get at least one serving of each at every meal!

Now, I’m sure you are wanting to know a sure fire way of making sure you stay healthy without needing to do too much meal planning.  That is why I made this check-list:

Eat these daily:

  • 1 to 2 servings of Meat, Fish or Poultry
  • 1 serving of dried beans, lentils, nuts or cheese whenever meat is not served with the meal
  • 500ml Milk per day (try to get organic)
  • 1 egg per day or 4 eggs per week
  • 1 serving potatoes or sweet potato
  • 2 servings of cooked vegetables
  • 1 serving of raw vegetables
  • 1 Orange, tomato or guava (high in Vitamin C!)
  • 1 serving of any other kind of fruit
  • 1-2 servings of wholewheat bread, oats, mealiemeal, sorghum, wheat or any unrefined cereal
  • Use honey instead of sugar whenever possible!!!
  • Use no more than 2 tablespoons of butter, cream, animal fats, vegetable fats or oils each day.

One serving, in this case, is the size of the palm of your hand, and the height of the tip of your thumb (from the knuckle to the point). In the case of cheese where this is the serving size of grated cheese, not whole cheese.

And don’t forget to drink lots of water!

On a personal note:  I was actually researching good nutrition yesterday and these are my notes.  I’m going to be working on implementing this in my family in the coming months.