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 →
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!
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!
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.
To make this simple and delicious meal of shakshuka (baked eggs) you’ll need half of the sauce made yesterday for the taco fries. Although to be fair you could make this first, and the taco fries second if you wanted to! I use small baking dishes for everyone in the family so each person gets a dish with sauce and 1 egg. However, if you don’t have these you can bake this meal in a large ovenproof baking dish and dole out the individual portions once cooked. Ingredients (serves 5 people)
Half of the sauce recipe made yesterday
Handful of fresh coriander
1 large lime cut into wedges
Crusty bread or pitta bread
Method Preheat a fan oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Spoon the sauce into a large oven proof baking dish. Put the baking dish into the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes (this allows the sauce to warm through). Using a large spoon make 5 pockets/dimples in the sauce and immediately crack an egg into each space. Cover the baking dish with a large saucepan lid or tinfoil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve your shakshuka/baked eggs with torn coriander leaves on top, crusty bread for dunking into the sauce, and a wedge of lime on the side to give it an extra sour kick (this is my 7 year old’s favourite part). 4 recipes down, only 100 to go!!! Eek!
I know I’m a week behind, don’t worry that will be fixed over the coming months! Unfortunately the entire family came down with the flu this past week and everything had to go on hold while I dealt with that. This week’s recipe is based around a vegetable and bean stew which I use to make a taco fries dish on day one, and day two will follow tomorrow. Once again this is a low fat recipe making it slimmer friendly, it’s high in fibre and protein. Remember this sauce will do you for 2 full sized family meals (family of 5) and it’s like a hug in a bowl this one. The kids love it; when I asked them which dish I’d make this week from the list this was what they opted for. The 10 year old wanted a vegetarian meal that he loves and the 7 year old (who doesn’t like cheese) said he wanted it plant-based. The biggest challenge is always convincing my husband that he doesn’t need meat to complete a main meal and the great news is he doesn’t feel hard done by with the taco fries.
Ingredients (for the sauce)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 peppers, chopped
1 teaspoon each of salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, and paprika
2 tablespoons tomato puree
100g split yellow peas or red lentils (either is fine or a combination of both works too)
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tin of chickpeas (including the water)
1 carton of tomato passata
1 teaspoon runny honey
For the Taco Fries
1kg of baby potatoes
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
1 teaspoon each of paprika and onion salt (optional)
2 scallions/spring onions chopped
100g of grated cheddar cheese (optional)
Method Place a large saucepan (which has a sturdy lid) on a medium heat. Into the saucepan add the olive oil, onion, and peppers. Stir for about 3 minutes so that they start to soften. Next add the ground spices and the tomato puree. Stir so that the puree starts to cook in the heat and coat the peppers and onions. Pour in the split peas and stir well so that they are also coated in the sauce mixture. Stir for another 2-3 minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients. Stir one more time and wait until the sauce starts to simmer. Cover the saucepan and turn the heat to low. Cook the sauce on low for 90 mins. After 90 mins, turn your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Slice the baby potatoes into quarters. Toss the sliced baby potatoes in a large bowl with the sunflower oil and spices. Put the coated baby potatoes onto a non-stick oven tray and roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. To Serve Serve the cooked homemade potato wedges/fries, with spoonfuls of the sauce on top. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese and chopped scallions on top of the sauce, finally add a wedge of lime on the side of the dish and enjoy while piping hot. Don’t forget you should keep half of your sauce for the second meal the following day! The cheddar cheese is optional, if you are making this a vegan dish then leave it out.
Notes on storage: As this dish doesn’t have any meat or dairy in it, the sauce will store in a sealed container in your fridge for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the sauce for another time and it will keep in the deep freeze for up to 3 months once it’s stored correctly. I use glass containers to store sauces in the freezer if that helps.
Yesterday I made a braised beef with seasonal veg dish and using the leftovers I’ve now made a cottage pie.
I’ll keep it simple, because my recipes have to take little time in the kitchen. The only additional ingredients you will need are about 200g of frozen peas and sweetcorn, plus a small amount of grated cheese.
Shred the remaining beef from the previous meal and stir it into the leftover gravy.
Preheat your fan oven to 150 degrees Celsius.
Spoon the gravy and beef mixture into a large baking dish. Top with the frozen vegetables.
Spoon the leftover mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables and gravy mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.
Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, until all the food is warmed through and serve immediately.
If you want to, this meal is also perfect for freezing so once assembled, cover well and put straight into the freezer where it will keep for up to 1 month. Ensure it is completely defrosted before cooking in the oven.
For the first in the recipe series I’ve gone back to a family favourite. Mam used to make this braised beef dish in a heavy casserole dish with a lid. The homely flavours come thanks to the veg that all comes from a local farm. It doesn’t get more Irish than this.
Ingredients 3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped 1kg housekeepers cut of beef (note remove any string or elastic before cooking) 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks 1/2 small turnip (or swede) peeled and chopped 1 litre of vegetable stock (use hot water and 1 vegetable stock cube) 1 heaped tablespoon cornflour
For Serving Mashed potatoes (make enough for 2 meals)
Method For the braised flavour you will need to sear the onions and the beef. So first grab your casserole dish, put it on a high heat and fry the onions in a teaspoon of vegetable oil until they turn brown/charred. Remove the onions from the dish and put them on a plate.
With the dish still on high, sear all sides of the beef so that it’s dark brown. Add the onions back to the dish, the rest of the vegetables, and then the stock. Cover the casserole dish and reduce the heat so that the stock is on a slow simmer. Cook for 3-4 hours. Note the stock should reach a maximum of halfway up the piece of beef, it should not be covered in the stock.
Adapted for the slow cooker: Fry the onions and then the beef in a frying pan before putting them into your slow cooker. Add the chopped vegetables, stock, put the lid on top and cook on high for 5-6 hours.
Before serving, remove the beef from the dish/slow cooker. Remember you have to keep half for your second dish tomorrow so it may be easier to cut it in half and cover now before serving dinner.
In a small cup mix 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour with a splash of cold water until you get a loose paste. With the vegetables and the stock still on the heat, quickly stir this paste into the mixture. It should thicken the mixture to a gravy instantly. Once again, half of this mixture is to be reserved for your second meal.
Serve the beef with the vegetables in gravy with mash on the side. I’ve served ours with buttered cabbage as I got some fresh from the farm yesterday and I love the vibrant colours.
One of the main reasons why I love this recipe so much is because all of the vegetables used here are Irish and in season. It makes it very budget friendly for what is a very frugal time of the year.
Cover the leftover food and chill the food when it reaches room temperature. I’ll have the second recipe for you tomorrow!
Breakfasts don’t have to be boring with this take on french toast that all the family will love. Guaranteed protein from the eggs, seeds, and fresh greek yoghurt, will keep you feeling fuller for longer and give essential energy for training sessions and school.
This is one of my kids’ favourite breakfasts. They pester me to make it for them every morning! Read More →
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.
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.
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.
The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes makes a delicious sauce and as an extra bonus, there’s no chopping in this simple vegan dish.
300g cherry tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons olive oil
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).
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 →
Let’s talk about leftover cooked rice. I’ve found it’s impossible to cook a pot of rice and not have some leftovers. Particularly when I’m cooking for a gang, it’s difficult to calculate who will eat what quantities. Monday may be the day that the 6-year-old will eat it all and ask for leftovers, but it could also be the day he decides to refuse the dinner point-blank.
The trick when using leftover rice is to cool it down immediately once you’ve cooked it through. In this house it means rinsing the rice in ice-cold water for a few minutes until it’s cold. Then I pack it into a sandwich bag and put the rice into the fridge straight away. When reheating, the rice has to be cooked to a high temperature, which is why something like fried rice made in a wok or large pan fits the bill perfectly. Read More →
The past two weekends, while I’ve been doing cookery demonstrations with Lidl Ireland on the road, I continuously say that if you have a bag of spuds (potatoes) and a tray of eggs you’ll never go hungry. I say this because I’m trying to explain what it’s like to live as a family on a tight food budget and yet try to pack as many nutrients as you can into your daily diet.
That’s how essential potatoes are to planning my family’s meals for the week. At the moment there’s a bag of Pat Moore’s beautiful new potatoes in the kitchen which I used for this recipe. There’s also plenty of spuds at the allotment to be dug but there is no greater storage spot than nature’s larder (the ground) at the moment so they’ll stay there for a while longer.