01 Oct

Chickpea Stew Recipe – Ad

When Knorr Ireland approached me and asked me if I’d be interested in devising a simple recipe to use their stockpots I was delighted to take on the challenge because I do use stockpots and stockcubes on a regular basis. Even though I do make my own homemade stock in the slow cooker, I don’t always have stock to hand when the freezer is full of other things. It is simply a very handy option to add flavour to a meal.

Let’s talk about fibre for a minute though. I’ve become obsessed with healthy fibre in our diets. Without fibre things become a little bit backed up. One source of fibre I can always persuade the boys to eat is chickpeas. Whatever I make if there’s chickpeas in it then I know I’m onto a winner for a family meal. The boys demolish this chickpea stew anytime I make it. So does the fussy teenager because she loves the ‘curry flavour’. This is a winner on so many levels. It’s the perfect plant-based meal for a Meat Free Monday or a side dish to go with meat if you wish.

Shortly after this picture was taken the cheeky monkey lost that wiggley tooth at the front by the way.

You will notice that I’ve not put any added salt into this recipe. There is plenty of flavour from the garam masala powder and the stockpot so there’s no need for additional salt. Something I’m very happy about as I do try to be careful about the salt in our diets.

Chickpea Stew

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Garam Masala powder
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin of chickpeas, do not drain
  • 1 Knorr Vegetable Stockpot

Method

Place a large saucepan on a medium heat. Pour in the sunflower oil, onion, and pepper. Stir well for about 3 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the garam masala powder and stir once again so that the spices coat the vegetables and warm through in the heat.

Pour the chopped carrot and full tin of chickpeas (including the water) into the saucepan. Stir until the liquid begins to gently bubble.

Stir in the vegetable stockpot until it dissolves in the sauce.

Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low for 30 minutes before serving with crusty bread or a bowl of brown rice.

Disclosure: This blogpost was sponsored by Knorr Ireland. If you want to learn more about my policies around disclosure and sponsorship, please click this link.

20 Sep

Roasted Tomato Pasta Recipe

It feels weird, to be writing recipes with a big race looming over me. I am obsessing about food in the days of the lead up to the race. I’ve found that easing off meat protein does help my stomach a little bit so I’ve started moving towards a more plant-based diet and move away from meat. Without my gallbladder I struggle to digest fatty proteins and certain sauces so it’s important for me to be careful with my meals so that I don’t end up in a bad way on a race day. This is one of my easy dinners because it’s so simple to make with minimal mess. Pasta and rice are my favourite carbohydrates the day before a race anyway so it fits the bill!

Saturday will mark my second half marathon this year and I’m hoping that I can at least better my first-ever time of 3:15:48. Even if I shave 48 seconds off that time I’ll come in under the cut-off time for the Dublin City Marathon. I’ve been training very hard the past couple of weeks, despite being laid low with a bad ear infection so I’m praying it all pays off on the day.

I’ll keep you posted!

Roasted Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes makes a delicious sauce and as an extra bonus, there’s no chopping in this simple vegan dish.

Ingredients

  • 300g cherry tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300g spaghetti

Method

Preheat your fan oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Take a heavy roasting dish and fill with the whole cherry tomatoes, cloves of garlic, and olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper, then stir. Roast in the oven for 20 mins, then turn the heat off but leave the dish in the oven while you cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and add to the roasting dish with the tomatoes and garlic. Stir well so that the pasta is coated in the oil and roasted tomatoes. Serve immediately with fresh thyme or basil.

If you prefer a meat based protein with this dish you could top with fresh mozzarella or grilled chicken. For a vegan option roast the chickpeas with the tomatoes (this is my personal favourite).

13 Sep

45 Days To Go – Dublin City Marathon

The photograph? That’s me completing the Great Ireland Run 10K race in the Phoenix Park in the Spring this year. I hate running photographs with a passion. They are never flattering.

I’m embracing the running photographs though. I started running in December 2017 when I previously wouldn’t have even run after an ice cream van. Each photograph tells a story that is far much more than a race.

You know all those photos you see tagged on Instagram with #FitFam? The vast, vast majority of those photos are posed and edited by people who want to appear their best ‘for the insta’. My running photos however can’t be edited, they’re a snapshot of me completing a difficult task and making a step towards being fitter. So even if I don’t seem to be as perfect as the posed gym photographs, I know that I am holding my own.

In the meantime I’m trying to ignore a long list of questions, 45 days out from Dublin City Marathon 2018.

  • What the actual heck have I signed myself up for?
  • Why did I think that running a marathon in 2018 would be a good idea?
  • What if I don’t finish it in under the cut-off time of 7 hours?
  • Am I going to injure myself by exercising for 6+ hours non-stop?
  • Will there still be somebody at the finish line to meet me?

Just some of the questions going through my mind at the moment.

I feel like I’m walking a tightrope; trying to juggle home, work, and slot in training. I knew that undertaking a marathon and all the training that it entailed would be difficult. I didn’t realise that I would be followed around by so many questions.

This week I had to go away for work for a few days. Everything was going swimmingly until I found out that J (my husband) had an accident which has resulted in him having to pull out of training and of course the marathon for this year. He’s torn the muscles in his back pretty badly and is devastated. Yet I still had to pull on my gear and go for a long slow run that day with all the doubts rattling around inside of my head.

J has been my running buddy from last December. We started off on this mission to run a marathon together and it’s shattering to accept that we won’t be crossing the finish line side-by-side. I know that seeing me continue to train and work towards the goal that we held together is very difficult for him and I am just praying that he will be there to meet me once I cross the finish line.

I’ve called in the big guns. My regular training with the club will finally resume this week (I’ve been away a good bit so training on my own), I’ve also booked a Chi Running workshop. I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Training for a marathon I’m learning is about training yourself internally to cope with the doubts, questions, and niggles. It is as much about mental resilience as it is about physical resilience.

13 Aug

Simple Chicken Tray Bake Recipe

Trying to eat healthily when you’re short on time is difficult which is why I have come up with this recipe. It only takes 18 minutes to cook in the oven, tastes even nicer the second day for your lunch, and is packed full of colourful vegetables that will make you feel incredibly virtuous. The key to this recipe is not to stint on the herbs. Increase the quantities if you’re serving more than 3 people for a meal or if you want to batch cook for work or school the following day. The great news is I have a very simple recipe video for you to follow!

Note: Most of the ingredients here are roughly chopped. Don’t worry about fine knife-work, just make sure you have generous chunks for roasting. Read More

06 Aug

Wholemeal Honey Buns Recipe

The beauty of this recipe is that, once made, the buns will freeze for up to a month in advance. They are perfect for lunchboxes as they contain no refined sugar and also no nuts (just in case your school has a nut-ban). By adding wholemeal flour and oats, the buns are low-GI which will prevent dreaded sugar spikes. If you’re a teacher with a class of over 30 pupils, sugar spikes and subsequent crashes, are your enemy.

If you decided to make muffins instead you’d get 12 from this recipe but I prefer to make buns. We always ate buns in our house when we were growing up, not massive muffins so I’ve gone back to the traditional size. The regular bun is just the right size for a lunchbox or after school treat anyway.

Read More

30 Jul

Quick Pickles – Quickles Recipe

My Nana was the first person I saw make quickles. I remember one day she had set out a platter of vegetables for a Summer Salad and she’d made some quick pickles with some button mushrooms on one side, cucumber on the other, and finally onions. My Grandfather was a divil for the pickles and strong flavours. He loved pickles and fresh peppery scallions with his salad for tea and Nana loved to make people happy with her food.

It’s only now I can appreciate how economical quick pickles are. Whatever you don’t eat is perfectly preserved and can be eaten over successive days cold from the fridge. I love my pickled vegetables with a crunch so this is the ideal burger topping I think. The secret to perfectly melty cheese on top of a burger (by the way) is to put the slices of cheese on top of the burger then cover the pan or grill for 1 minute before serving.

Here’s another simple video so you can see how simple they are to make and enjoy, messing optional…

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23 Jul

BBQ Fruit Salad Recipe

Yesterday marked a running milestone; the first of the race series in the lead up to Dublin City Marathon (97 days away). The first in the race series isn’t too challenging at only a 10km road race. Only! I can say that now given that I’ve run plenty of 10km races in the past 6 months since I started to put one foot in front of the other. Back in December it seemed just as unobtainable as a marathon. The next in the race series is a 10 mile run in September and it’s simply a case of getting the miles in the legs between now and then. I’ve already finished a half marathon which is shorter so I know I can do it. It’s all about building up my stamina.

That race yesterday was in incredibly humid conditions which made it difficult but it helped to have himself finish alongside me and see fellow club members at the finish line. Support, just like a good bra, makes all the difference when running.

When it comes to cooking at home I’m still on a minimal-effort buzz. Anything to stop from having to spend too much time in my tiny kitchen with little ventilation. If I can cook on the BBQ then I’ll cook 3 meals a day on it, including desserts! If you are cooking on the BBQ, allow the coals to cool a little before making this wonderful fruit salad which is full of caramel flavours. I like to finish mine off with toasted bread for texture but it’s fine without.

Once again I have a simple recipe video for you to follow!


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17 Jul

Super-Quick Salmon Noodles

Having spent the last 2 weekends presenting cookery demonstrations on a roadshow, one of the most important messages I shared was that parents need to put themselves under less pressure to cook the ‘meat and 2 veg’ dinner and instead embrace speedy cooking dishes. Especially now, as the weather has been so warm and tempers can get frayed in the heat, family meals that can be prepared with minimal fuss are the way to go.

As I was leaving Cork yesterday a guest at the demonstration came up to tell me that she loved this mentality and that spending so much time in the kitchen is over rated. This is a variation on a speedy noodle salad that I hope you will enjoy. If you look carefully you’ll see that there is little to no cooking in the recipe and the ingredients can be easily assembled. Read More

10 Jul

Cod Parcel Recipe

Turning a classic style restaurant dish of fish in a parcel (or en papillote to give it the technical term) into a meal that all the family can enjoy either from the oven or the BBQ isn’t complicated.

The beauty of this meal is that you can serve the cod and vegetables inside of the parcel they are cooked in and this reduces the cleaning up. I was only discussing this at a cookery demonstration last weekend; how adapting recipes to suit your family means that all the generations can get involved in preparing dinner. I’m the first to admit I am a control-freak in the kitchen and part of that comes from my desire to nurture my gang. However, this completely sabotages my need to take it easy on myself. Meals that don’t have much preparation, cooking time, or clean up afterwards are my Holy Grail when it comes to spending time at the stove.

To show you that I’ve put my money where my mouth is… here’s a video I made of myself preparing the recipe so that you can see just how simple it is.

Read More

21 Jun

Beetroot and Feta salad

My biggest battle with food at the moment is finding a dish that’s simple to prepare and light to eat. The life of a freelancer can be a bit unusual in that I have to roll with the work when it comes in. The past couple of weeks has been particularly jam-packed in terms of jobs-on-the-go, and while I always have a slow cooker meal underway for the kids, eating a full meal after 8pm at night is always going to be a challenge for me.

In the past 7 days I’ve worked with 2 separate TV crews, and there’s more to film this evening with TG4. Tune into Nationwide on Monday evening for a peek at the allotments and my tiny kitchen (yes it is that small, and yes that is where all my recipes are developed). The work with TG4 I’ll let you know when the airing date is confirmed! Read More

08 Jun

Honey Roasted Pork Recipe

It’s barbecue weather in our house at the moment. Well I say it is but actually the rest of the family are off playing in sunny gardens and eating barbecue food with my Parents-In-Law. I, however, am in the home office working away. I’ve reached that point in the day where I can’t think straight for too long and I’m flitting from task to task to try to keep on going.

The problem with Bank Holidays when you’re self-employed is that they aren’t technically a day off. I’ve had to cram as much work as I could into four days this week and hence I’m working late. That could be why I’m feeling a little bit overwhelmed this week. It could also be down to the fact that I signed up for a half marathon next weekend; that impending Birthday, an exciting TV project, another food festival, or it could just be that I don’t have enough hours in the day.

Which is why easy and simple recipes are my go-to at the moment. I really don’t want to be spending hours in the kitchen. There are restorative cuddles to be had with the boys, I want to catch up with himself, and if I’m stuck at the hob cooking away then I’m missing out. This is one of my recipes that I fall back on no matter what the weather. It’s perfect with comforting baked beans in the cold weather but goes just as well with a light salad and wraps in the Summer. Read More

29 May

May Update 2018

Oh look I found the blog again under a pile of laundry and paperwork in my so-called-office (aka the laundry area). I didn’t stop blogging for a spell on purpose, I just had so much stuff on that I struggled to find the time. Anyway sure look-it. I’m back and I’ve got loads of interesting things coming up and good news that I thought I’d share it here!

The recipes are back; I have a shed-load of recipes in drafts which I’m going to drip-feed to you over the next couple of weeks including some beautiful main courses for family meals, along with some simple sweet treats. If you’ve been following me on Instagram (click here if you don’t already and would like to), you’ll have seen some sneak peeks. Writing recipes is something I love to do because it’s a chance for me to get creative in the kitchen.

Bloom In The Park is this week! Jeepers how the heck did it come around that quickly? I’m a massive fan of the festival anyway but this year I’ll be demonstrating some of my favourite recipes at the Fun In The Farm area. If you will be at Bloom please come and say hello. I’m also joining a GIY discussion panel at their area on the Saturday so it’ll be a jam-packed festival with food and growing food top of the agenda. If, like me, you like gardens and food then expect me to fill your timeline full of gorgeous pictures from tomorrow until Monday. Bloom, created by Bord Bia, opens to the general public from Thursday morning. Read More

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