10 Jul

Strawberry Pizza Pancakes – Ad

It’s a battle sometimes to get the kids to eat enough portions of fruit and vegetables in a day. I find myself having to resort to using every single Mam-trick in the book to convince them to add an extra portion into the day. 

They do however love strawberries and the beauty of this recipe is that the pancakes ‘look’ like a pizza but don’t have a savoury flavour at all.

This post has been sponsored by Bord Bia and if you’d like to get more information on how to celebrate strawberry season visit www.bordbia.ie/strawberries

My bigger problem though is making sure that the strawberries make it home from the shop without the kids snaffling them and munching them all on the way home. I’ve found this year that local strawberries need an extra day on the counter at room temperature to develop the perfect sweetness. I never keep my strawberries in the fridge because they are delicious when they aren’t chilled; the temperature they are when freshly picked is warm and that is the way they are meant to be eaten! 

Strawberry Pizza Pancakes (serves 5) 

Ingredients 

  • 250g (1 cup) plain flour 
  • 1 teaspoon bread soda/bicarbonate of soda 
  • 2 small-medium eggs (1 large egg should be fine either) 
  • 150ml buttermilk 
  • Optional 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying/greasing the pan. 

Method 

Put the flour and bread soda into a large bowl and stir so that they’re combined. Make a well in the centre and crack in the 2 eggs, pour in the buttermilk (add the vanilla extract if using). Whisk until you have a batter. Don’t worry too much if you have small lumps, as these should disappear after the next stage. 

Put the oil in a heavy, shallow non-stick frying pan (see notes on frying pan below). Before you put the pan on the heat, spread the oil over the surface. I like to use a little bit of kitchen paper for this. Next, put it on a medium heat and allow it to come to temperature. This takes about 5 minutes or so. Once the pan is hot, give the batter a second vigorous whisk and you should see those lumps disappear (or at worst get smaller, they’ll be gone completely in the cooking process don’t worry). 

Using a ladle as a measure, pour 1 portion onto the frying pan. Once the bubbles begin to appear on the surface of the pancake, and the batter has changed colour from pale to slightly darker, flip the pancake using a non-stick spatula. Cook for a further 1-2 minutes, until the pancake turns golden on both sides. Lift and serve. 

If you want to wait for all the pancakes to be cooked before serving, pop them onto a heat-proof plate and cover with a bit of baking parchment/tin foil, then a heavy tea towel to stop them from getting cold. Lift the “insulation” everytime you cook another batch to add to the pile. 

Serve the pancakes with a generous spread of fresh yoghurt (whatever flavour you fancy), sliced strawberries, and some beautiful fresh mint which compliments the strawberries perfectly. There’s no need to sweeten this recipe; nature’s treats are sweet enough! 

02 Jul

Sugar Free Strawberry Ice Pops – Ad

As soon as the new strawberries start to appear in the supermarket it’s a sure sign that Summer has arrived. Even if the weather doesn’t quite agree, there’s nothing like the sweet scent of strawberries wafting around the kitchen. This post has been sponsored by Bord Bia and if you’d like to get more information on how to celebrate strawberry season visit www.bordbia.ie/strawberries

I just can’t resist buying strawberries every week for the duration of the season. I know I’m luckier than many with one of the best local fruit farms in the country only 5 minutes down the road to get my produce from. Regardless of whether you buy your strawberries from the farm or supermarket, when you buy this fruit in season you can be guaranteed it’s local, hasn’t clocked up food miles, and they’ve not been long picked either.

Gone are the days where we can go to the local farm and pick our own, but there’s nothing stopping me getting the delicious strawberries as fresh as I possibly can. Picked early in the morning, before the sun gets too high, the punnets are ripe for collection by 10am.

This is a great sugar free recipe for strawberry ice pops that is very handy for introducing new foods and flavours to picky eaters. It’s also handy to use up a glut of the most flavourful fruit.

Ingredients (makes 6 ice pops)

  • 200g fresh strawberries, chopped
  • ½ mango, peeled and chopped
  • 100ml fresh orange juice

Method

Blitz the ingredients in a food processor/blender until you have a fine pulp. Carefully pour into ice pop molds.

Freeze for 3 hours at the top of your freezer before eating, although ideally overnight.

To get the ice pops out of their molds, dip each into a mug of warm water for 20 seconds before turning upside down (handle facing to the ground) and pulling the mold off upwards. This prevents any breakages/leaving the ice pop behind in the mold!

Recipe notes: As there is no sugar or sweetener added to this recipe it’s suitable for all ages from weaning (after 6 months). I have a good few of these ice pops on standby in the freezer because they’re far cheaper and better value than buying from the ice cream van. They can also count as 1 of your 7 a day portions of fruit and vegetables!

21 Apr

Leftover Lamb Pasta

I admit, not everybody will have eaten lamb today; lamb is relatively expensive to bu!. I’d bet though that if you did buy lamb for your Easter Sunday roast, you really don’t want to throw away any of that precious meat. This leftover lamb pasta recipe is especially designed for the itty bitty pieces that don’t come away easily when carving. They are perfect shredded into the sauce, browned until caramelised and cling to the pasta in nutty morsels.

Read More

20 Apr

Roast Lamb Feast

This Easter Sunday we’ll all gather as a family; my siblings, our partners, our children, and my parents, and we’ll enjoy this classic roast lamb feast. When I say a classic roast lamb feast that’s not strictly true in the Irish sense of the term. The flavours and the food that we will eat together are a reflection of us as a family. The meal speaks to us of a time spent in the Middle East when Dad was serving with UNIFIL and the youngest of us was still in nappies.

It’s a meal that we will all contribute to. I’ve already been told I’m responsible for the vegetables, which is really my favourite part anyway. The biggest battle in my house will be to get all the vegetables chopped without the kids depleting the serving platter. The beauty of serving a roast lamb feast in this way is that everybody gets to pick what they like. Some family members don’t like cucumbers, some love peppers; everybody will fill their pitta bread and plates before we sit down together and celebrate Easter as a family. Read More

05 Apr

Fruity Lunchbox Muffins

What do you put in your kids’ lunchboxes? Are you concerned with the contents of bought-in packets, or maybe you’re trying to lower the amount of plastic packaging within the lunchbox. These fruity lunchbox muffins are dual purpose. They have a healthy, yet stealthy portion of 1 of your 7-a-day recommended fruit and veg intake. The muffins also have a secret to reducing refined sugar in lunchbox treats that might surprise you.

Once a fortnight I make a batch of 24 muffins for the lunchboxes. I freeze what we don’t need immediately and simply take out what we need the night before school. That means the muffins are always fresh.

Fruity Lunchbox Muffins

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 3 free range eggs (cracked)
  • 400g plain flour (you can go 50:50 with wholemeal and plain flour if you like but the muffins will be denser)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and grated coarsely (use a box grater)
  • 100g fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 ripe bananas peeled
  • Handful of oats to sprinkle on top

Method

Preheat your fan oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Line 2 cupcake tins with muffin cases (24 in total).

Make sure all the above ingredients are at room temperature. Put everything into a very large stand mixer or food processor. Yep everything (I’m serious).

Switch the blender/mixer/processor on to low until the dry ingredients are combined with the wet ingredients. Once combined, move the dial to medium until you have a rich creamy batter. Turn off the machine.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion the muffin mixture into the case. Sprinkle oats on top of the muffin batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes before removing from the oven and allowing to cool. Freeze as you need them.

Note: To make half the batch, half all the ingredients except for the eggs; use 2 instead of 3.

29 Mar

Ale Marinated Steak Recipe

By covering the beef in an ale marinade you make your steak incredibly tender with a wonderful sweet malt flavour. Read More

26 Mar

Mango Salsa Recipe

I really love the fresh flavours in this salsa and I think that salsa is a great budget dish to offer guests to your home for celebrations. It promises fresh Summery flavours and I know (at the moment) the weather isn’t all that Summery at the moment. We can hope right? Read More

23 Mar

The Brexit Kitchen Stores

Did I get your attention there? Or maybe, like me, you rolled your eyes a little bit at the thoughts of stockpiling certain food items in advance of Brexit (in whatever form it eventually takes). Bear with me here though, because a fully stocked store cupboard is a thing of beauty and regardless of the UK imminently leaving the EU it’s a good idea.

What’s in my pre-Brexit store cupboards? It’s probably easier to list it out according to category:

Dry Stores

  • Beans – Black eyed, pinto, chickpeas (garbanzo), and butterbeans
  • Lentils
  • Seeds – Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower, Poppy, Nigella (onion seed)
  • Sugar – Caster, Granulated, Soft Brown, Dark Brown, Demerara (did you know it’s not produced in Ireland anymore?)
  • Flour – Plain, Self Raising, Strong, Type 00 (for pasta making), Wholemeal, Brown
  • Oats
  • Tinned Beans (blackbeans, pinto, chickpeas, butterbeans, and baked beans)
  • Passata
  • Tomato Puree
  • Oils – olive, sunflower, rapeseed, peanut
  • Dried Fruit – Raisins, currants, apricots, prunes, figs
  • Pasta – spaghetti, lasagne sheets, and several different pasta shapes
  • Rice – White, brown, basmati, pudding
  • Bulghar Wheat
  • Couscous
  • Stock Cubes
  • Tea
  • Coffee

Freezer

  • Loaves of bread
  • Meat – chicken, beef, pork, lamb
  • Fish
  • Pizzas (emergency use only)
  • Yoghurt
  • Vegetables – peas, sweetcorn, butternut squash
  • Fruit – gooseberries, raspberries, bananas (skin off), strawberries, blackcurrants, blackberries, blueberries, apple purée (perfect for baking)

How do I build up my stores? I simply buy a little bit extra every week and factor it into my shopping budget, the maximum I spend each week is €5 on the extra items but store items like beans are extremely good value and I can get plenty for that amount of money.

The idea is, Brexit aside, that I should be able to feed the family from the freezer and cupboards for up to a month or more in the event of me running out of cash. I’d really only need to buy milk (which I know I can also freeze but I don’t have space) and eggs.

I have to emphasise here, I’m not a hoarder! I rotate my stocks and we will eat absolutely everything in the presses in rotation. Once I reach a set limit on my store levels I restock. I also keep an eye out for special offers and deals to stock back up.

Do you only buy what you need? Do you keep large stores like I do or do you just top up 1 item as and when it runs out? Might you change your shopping habits in the coming weeks and months?

PS

It’s likely that there are some foodstuffs that are going to be more expensive in the next few months. However, buying locally produced seasonal food is always going to be more affordable. Think fruits and vegetables for example. The first of the Irish tomatoes left a farm local to me over the St Patrick’s Day weekend, and strawberries won’t be far behind, so keep an eye out in the supermarkets this week as choosing to buy Irish has a long-term impact on our local communities and economy.

04 Feb

Pork Wrap With Lime Salsa

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 4 Recipe 2

The second recipe in the series is another simple assembly job. If you intend on using the rice you used the night before you might like to read my tips for cooling rice quickly so that you don’t risk food poisoning.

Leftover pork can be a little bit bland and this is the reason why I pair the pork with a lime salsa. It’s extremely easy to make.

Ingredients

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced

Method

Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to sit in the fridge for about 1 hour before serving.

To assemble the pork wraps, heat a dry pan to medium on the hob.

On a clean surface fill a wholemeal wrap with a tablespoon of rice, pork, and black beans, top with some salsa. Roll the wrap tightly and then toast on the dry pan until heated through. Enjoy immediately!

PS: In the spirit of being open and honest, my 7 year old declined the assembled wrap and instead had the below bowl of leftover pork, baby peppers, and wholemeal wraps for his dinner. I had the contents of the wrap, but not the wrap. The rest of the family enjoyed the wraps!

02 Feb

Pork And Rice With Beans

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 4 Recipe 1

My friend Karin is originally from Brazil and her rice and beans are a thing of legend. She’s pretty partial to our free-range pork so a variation of her rice and beans recipe with a roast pork shoulder is the perfect way to marry her Brazilian traditional food and our Irish ingredients.

For the Beans.

Karin recommends rinsing the black beans at least 3 times to remove dust/dirt/residue and then soaking them overnight. Once they have soaked for at least 12 hours you can boil the beans on the hob for 1 hour.

Alternatively if you have a pressure cooker (her method of choice) put the beans and water in the pressure cooker and bring to pressure cooking point. Cook for 10 minutes, release the steam and then allow the beans to cool before serving.

You can also use a tin of cooked black beans, strain away the water and rinse them well.

Take 2 large onions, peel and chop them finely. In a large frying pan heat a tablespoon of oil (I used lard from the pork but plain cooking oil is fine). Put the frying pan on a low heat and fry off the onions until they turn translucent. Season well with salt. Take half the cooked onion out of the frying pan and use for the rice (see below). Add 3 finely chopped garlic cloves to the remaining onion and cook for a further 5 minutes. Finally, stir in the cooked black beans and mix so that everything is coated in the garlic and onions and heated through.

For the rice

Put half the cooked onion into a saucepan with a lid. Put the saucepan on a medium heat and pour in the dry rice you’re going to cook. Stir the rice so that it mixes with the onion and becomes a little bit chalky. Pour hot water over the rice, so that it is about 2 inches over the height of the rice in the saucepan. Put the lid on the saucepan, bring the contents to a slow simmer for 12 minutes. Serve once cooked.

For the Pork

I have cooked the bone-in pork shoulder (weighing about 2kg) with the skin on for 4 hours at 150 degrees. All I did was sprinkle a little salt on top before putting the pork into the oven. That makes the skin turn crispy. That’s my lot.

If you have a piece of pork that is smaller, reduce the cooking time. If the pork doesn’t have skin or fat to protect the roast, cover it with tinfoil. Once cooked, remove the pork from the oven and allow to stand/rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To Serve

The full meal can be served with plenty of fresh raw vegetables and green salad. We like grated carrot, fresh tomatoes, and rocket.

For the second meal don’t forget to keep at least half the pork, beans, and some rice to one side for tomorrow.

27 Jan

Roasted Veg Pasta

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 3 Recipe 2

If you made yesterday’s meal of Paprika Chicken with Vegetables you should by now have half of the vegetables along with the leftover chicken from the roast chicken.

This meal is now extremely simple.

Ingredients

  • Pasta (I used spaghetti here but any type is fine)
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • Leftover roasted vegetables
  • Leftover Chicken

Method

Boil some water and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Make only as much as you need (so check the portion sizes on the packet).

1 minute before your pasta is ready, lash spinach into the boiling water with the pasta. It’ll only take a minute to cook.

Strain away the pasta and spinach, leaving the hob on. Return the (empty) saucepan to the hob and put the leftover vegetables and chicken into the empty saucepan. Pour the pasta and spinach on top. Stir well so that all the ingredients are combined and heated through. Serve immediately.

PS: Apologies with the slight delay in posting this. We’ve had an eventful day and I’m only just getting onto the sofa after the Raheny 5 Mile today. Cxxx

26 Jan

Paprika Chicken With Vegetables

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 3 Recipe 1

Before I get started on the actual recipe for Paprika Chicken With Vegetables I want to ask you how many racks you have in your oven? Everytime I put a meal into my oven I hear my Grandmother admonishing me to make the most of the cooking space. In the past year I added a third rack to my (fan) oven which really makes a huge difference to what I can fit inside it to cook. Also, even with a fan oven you can still cook items on the bottom of the oven (yes seriously). Think of the bottom of the oven as a very warm spot which doesn’t necessarily have a reliable temperature so instead of cooking technical items like cake in the bottom of the oven, it’s ideal for slow roasting or comforting sweet dishes like crumbles.

If you think about it, once you put on your oven all that wasted space is wasted energy. With a little bit of organisation you can maximise what you cook and not increase your energy costs. Where can you get an additional rack? It seems that there isn’t much of an Irish market for them but you can definitely buy a spare rack from Amazon for about €13. However, if you have a grill pan in your top section of your double oven, or a grill pan that you continuously take in/out from your single oven you should just add that to your regular cooking racks to save money.

The secret to this week’s Make Once Eat Twice challenge is making the most of your oven space for a short period of time which will benefit you on the second day. Just in case you don’t have 3 racks in your oven there is another option when making the recipe, don’t worry!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium chicken
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large peppers, cut into chunks
  • 7/8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

For the Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (yes I know this sounds a lot but it has to go a long way!

Method

Preheat your (fan) oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Combine the seasoning ingredients in a large bowl and set to one side. Line 3 baking trays with non stick baking paper. Get a large basin of hot soapy water and have it at the ready.

Take Tray 1: Put the chicken on the tray (do not wash the chicken). Take 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mixture and rub it onto the skin of the chicken. Use the soapy water to immediately clean your hands once this is done. Put Tray 1 in the oven immediately.

Take Tray 2: Put the root vegetables on this tray; butternut squash, carrots, and parsnips. Take 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture and pour it over chunks of vegetables. Mix the vegetables well so they are coated in the seasoning. Once again wash your hands!

Take Tray 3: Put the soft items on this tray; tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Repeat the steps with the seasoning mixture and washing your hands.

The Large Bowl: There should be a small amount of seasoning left in the large bowl. Take the potatoes and toss them in this mixture. If you don’t want roast potatoes with your dinner, just make mashed potatoes as normal and skip this step.

After Tray 1 has been in the oven for 30 minutes, open the oven and carefully spoon the coated potatoes into the baking tray beside the chicken. Put Tray 2 in the oven.

Let the trays cook in the oven for another 30 minutes. If you have 3 racks in the oven, now add the third tray to the oven.

If you don’t have 3 racks, skip and leave the 2 trays in the oven for 1 hour in total. Put tray 3 into the oven when you remove Trays 1 & 2 after 1 hour’s cooking time (1 hour 30 minutes since you put the chicken in the oven).

Remove the chicken and roasted vegetables from the oven and serve your roast paprika chicken.

As this is a Make Once Eat Twice meal, reserve half of Tray 2 & Tray 3 for tomorrow. And don’t forget to pick any leftover chicken from the bones as well.

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