Posted in Recipes

Chapter 4 (Guacamole)

Snacks. In good times or bad times snacks are always a constant.

Eva opened a large bag of Mexican tortilla chips and a pot of Greek yogurt and then whipped up some guacamole for herself and Viv to snack on.


You will need:

2 Avocados
1 small red onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove
Juice of 1 Lime
2 tbsp Greek Yogurt
Fresh coriander optional


Combine the mashed ripe Avocados with finely chopped red onion and mix well.
Add in the crushed garlic, lime juice and Greek yogurt and combine.
Season to your liking with salt and pepper and add in some chopped coriander if you like it.

Eva liked to keep the guacamole chunky.

 ‘Mmm these are addictive,’ said Viv as she scooped up some guacamole with a tortilla chip.

‘Thanks for coming hon.’

‘Are you kidding me girl, sure where else would I be?’


….more next week

Posted in Recipes

Chapter 2 (Stuffed Peppers)

And then there’s lunch, lunch is always a good idea…..

Basil pesto optional, but if you like it go for it…..

‘I know yeah, roll on the summer.  Are you hungry?’

‘Starving, I skipped breakfast this morning and my stomach is speaking to me now,’ replied Viv.

Turning back to the menu and regretting her breakfast of cream cheese loaded bagel, Eva decided on the stuffed peppers with a side salad. 

‘Stuffed Peppers’ (Serves 2)

You will need:
2 large red peppers
75g cherry tomatoes (4) quartered
2 cloves garlic crushed or finely chopped
1 medium carrot peeled
1 small red onion finely chopped
2 handfuls / 35g breadcrumbs (1 slice bread made into breadcrumbs)
Handful fresh herbs such as parsley
Olive oil
8 mini mozzarella balls (bocconcini or ciliegine)
Small chunk / 35g parmesan grated.

Preheat the oven to 190oC.
Cut the tops off the peppers to create a cap and then de-seed them.  Put pepper bases and tops into the hot oven, drizzle some oil and top and bake for 10 minutes.
While they are cooking use the vegetable peeler to make carrot ribbons in a large bowl.  Add in the finely chopped red onion, garlic, mozzarella balls and quartered cherry tomatoes.  Season with salt & pepper.
In a separate bowl mix together the breadcrumbs, chopped parsley and grated parmesan.
Remove the semi-cooked peppers from the oven and spill out and discard any juices that may have gathered then fill the bases with the tomato mixture and top generously with the breadcrumbs.  Return to the oven with the pepper tops on the side to cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Serve with pepper caps on top and with a simple baby leaf salad and dressing.

As they ate lunch Eva brought up her plans to return to work.


….more next week.

Posted in Recipes

Chapter 1 (Scrambled Eggs on Toast)

Sure where else could a story begin but with breakfast…..

(Or poached, poached are delicious too, so long as the bacon is crispy though)

Glancing at the clock she saw that it was almost nine thirty and thought that they had better get a move on if they were ever going to get away for the week-end. Alan was still clueless and the thought of surprising him excited her as she rustled around the kitchen. Eva whipped up a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs made with real butter and cream, some diced crispy bacon and fresh chopped chives. Chunky brown bread smothered with butter and steaming hot coffee completed the lot.

Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Crispy Bacon & Chives’ (Serves 2)

You will need:

4 eggs, splash cream, knob real butter, 3 rashers of bacon, oil to fry, a few chives.

Lightly beat the eggs and a little cream together in a bowl, using a fork or whisk.
Chop the bacon into pieces using a kitchen scissors and fry until crispy in a little oil.
While the bacon cooks melt the knob of butter in a saucepan over a medium heat, once melted turn up the heat a little and adding in the eggs keep stirring the eggs as they cook, using a wooden spoon or spatula to stop them from sticking.

Meanwhile fry up the rashers in a little oil until crispy.  Once the eggs are cooked serve garnished with the chopped up crispy rashers and snipped chives.

‘Smells wonderful,’ Alan enthused as he entered the kitchen.  He poured himself a mug of coffee, sat on one of the high stools at the counter and buried his nose in the sports section of the paper.

‘Did you notice anything Alan?’ Eva inquired.

‘Hmm, sorry what did you say?’ he replied speaking directly to the Munster Rugby captain in the paper.

‘I said did you notice anything?’ she repeated feeling slightly miffed now.

‘No,’ he said this time lifting his head.  ‘Should I?Oh yeah, your hair is it?  Did you get it done? Yes, it’s lovely.’

Eva smiled brightly as she said ‘Yes Alan, I did get my hair done, but that wasn’t it.  Haven’t you noticed how quiet it is?’

‘What do you mean?’ he replied looking over at her more intently now as he raised a brow.

‘The kids, Alan.  The kids aren’t here.’

‘Why, where are they?’

‘They’re at your mother’s for the week-end and I’ve booked us into SilverBirch House for a night of wining and dining and whatever else you fancy,’ she giggled with a coquettish smile.

‘Oh…., oh, great,’ he replied ‘fantastic, yeah,’ as he began to tuck in to a plate of the rich creamy scrambled egg speckled with chives and crispy bacon. ‘Yum,’ he said, ‘this is delicious.’

‘Glad you like it,’ Eva replied as she watched him consume a forkful of the sublime concoction. There was a satisfaction to be had from preparing and cooking good food and then watching it being savoured and enjoyed. His reaction to the surprise of a weekend away wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as Eva had anticipated though, but things had been sprung on him and Alan really wasn’t a spontaneous or excitable kind of guy. As he sat there enjoying the food she had prepared she decided not to tell him about the plans she had cancelled for the previous evening. There wasn’t any point now anyway and she didn’t want him to think that she had been disappointed.


….more next week.

Posted in Recipes

Simple Salmon Supper, Emergency Sauce & the gist of it all.

Ras el hanout. It sounds exotic and it is. If you’d like to read more about this warming spice blend use the ‘Search by ingredients’ area of this site (in side-bar to right of this post if you are on a pc).

You’ll also find it in Tesco or a spice store and possibly other supermarkets where I haven’t found it yet. You can also make it too, again if you’re interested search in the ingredients box of this blog ->

….but you’re probably just here for the recipe.

Simple Salmon Supper:

Ingredients :
Salmon Darnes
Drizzle oil
Good scattering of Ras el Hanout
Into hot oven for approx. 15 minutes

Emergency Sauce:

Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Tomato & Chill Relish
Ras el Hanout
Use your own excellent judgement to combine the above until you make enough sauce to dollop on your salmon. Check your fridge, other things that you can swap in to make great emergency sauce = yoghurt, creme fraiche, vinegars, lemon juice, sweet chilli sauce, hot sauce, mustard, pesto, capers etc.

When it comes to cooking you really don’t need to be spoon-fed line by line instructions, exact quantities and cooking temperatures. Trust your instinct, swap things in and out and your cooking experience will become simpler and faster. All you need is a rough idea of what ingredients work well together and the gist of the method. Gist, now there’s an underused and underrated word for you.

Trust yourself & cook!

Simple Salmon Supper – Ras el Hanout baked Salmon Darnes served with couscous, tenderstem broccoli & a dollop of emergency sauce

xo Sheila

Posted in Recipes

Easy Dinner & is Instagram no longer where to share?

More often than not when it comes to food and especially the main meal of the day I just want to eat something simple but super tasty. After a day of work it is very difficult to turn around and cook something at all and much easier to throw on a pizza or pick up some fast takeaway but you know and need to remind yourself that cooking can be as simple and fast as that too. You do need to have done the shopping at some stage though! An empty fridge will not yield a tempting meal. So do yourself a favour and get a food shop in : lots of veg, your preferred protein and stock up on those things that will bring flavour – garlic, lemon, chillies, spices, honey etc.

Think about the flavours you like and put those things together – I love a combination of bitter & sweet, hence the sugar and vinegar of the pickle served with the sweet chicken strips on leaves is my idea of a simple & tasty meal.

Red Onion Pickle

Slice Red onion, sprinkle with red wine vinegar & sugar
Leave to marinade while you cook the chicken strips
Tastes even better the next day

Is Instagram not for photos anymore?

So what’s that about then? I generally just pick up on mutterings and snippets of things as they filter through the ether and don’t have time to explore on detail however what I’m hearing is that the Insta moguls are leaning in preference more towards video content than still images. What does that actually mean? When you search for something you’re going to be returned with moving pictures rather than still images perhaps. I don’t see that it will really matter. If it’s only pictures you want to see that is the content you will seek out.

So here is one of my recent Insta dinners & Insta recipes. I think the visual along with limited text should be enough for the time pressed. Be inspired then make it your way.

Chicken Strips – Le Photo
Chicken Strips – Le Recipe

xo Sheila

Posted in Recipes

7 things that will make you feel good in January 2021

  • Delete the bad / duplicate photos on your phone
  • File 7 things (even if you just file them straight into the recycling bin)
  • Backup your photos [if it died or was robbed would you be able to access them somewhere – if not fix that!]
  • Back up your laptop / pc [if it died or was robbed would you be able to access the files you need somewhere – if not fix that!]
  • Check your utilities supplier is giving you the best deal and if not change it – if you are not the one who takes care of this kind of stuff check your phone network / deal is the best you could be on and if not change that
  • Cook or bake something that you have never cooked before
  • Take a long bubble bath

xo Sheila

Posted in Recipes

No clue what to cook for dinner? Eat Some Fish!

This is me today. We’d chicken yesterday, beef the day before and I’m not in the humour for pork so I’m thinking fish. Today I want quick, I want easy, and I want very little prep. so I’m going with the Tray Bake.

If you’re looking for some fishy ideas why not check some of these out (there are more fish recipes in the menu bar):

Links to the recipes pictured here are below each picture

First up is hake :

Tray Bake

Next a seafood paella


Or how about Salmon made tastier with some soy :

Salmon in Soy Sauce
Salmon in Soy

Finally a delicate beauty, Sea Bass

Sea Bass Parcel


xo Sheila

Posted in Recipes

What is Irish Cooking?

Irish Cooking, what does it mean to you? My daughter asked me recently for a recommendation of something Irish to cook for her French flatmates and what immediately sprung to mind was bacon & cabbage, then brown-bread and then scones.

I’ve heard it said before that Irish cooking is a celebration of Irish ingredients rather than a cuisine in itself. But if you’re in France you’re not about to go sourcing or importing Irish ingredients to impress the frenchies. You’ll shop in the markets and you’ll use the best of French ingredients but to cook up something with a bit of Irish flair. So wherever you are you can cook Irish too.

May I suggest….

  • Cinnamon and Apple Honeyed Porridge for breakfast and a snack of Apple and Raisin Wholemeal Breakfast Muffins.
  • Maybe you’d fancy some Caramelised Red Onion Soda Bread topped with a local cheese.
  • Lunch could be a Winter Warmer Peppered Parsnip, Potato and Leek Soup.
  • Take our love of Cauliflower to create a Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Curry
  • Does a Creamy Cheese and Onion Potato Bake sound tasty?
  • How about the humble spud – try out one of my Eight Ways with Baked Potatoes
  • Then there’s Parsley and Thyme Stuffed Chicken with Red Cabbage
  • Sticky Sweet Roast Skeaghanore Duck Breast
  • Beef and Onion Hotpot
  • Irish Angus Fillet Steaks with Portabello Mushrooms
  • Cheat’s Wellington with Jameson Jus
  • Cranberry Pork Chops
  • Honey-Glazed Rashers with Lemon and Vegetable Couscous
  • Bacon, Cheese and Chutney Quesadilla
  • Potato Farls with Crispy Rashers
  • White Pudding with Pea Purée and Champ
  • Carrot, Parsnip and Bramley Apple Mash
  • Mustardy Mash (yes, we love our spuds)
  • Parsley Stalk Potato Salad
  • Pea and Garlic Crostini
  • Blackberry and Apple Chutney
  • and to finish how about some Rhubarb Crumble with freshly whipped cream

So what else do you consider to be Irish Food? I’d love to know what you think or what else you would suggest. These are all from Irish recipes from my cookbook Enjoy!

[Currently on Special Offer at 4.99 – click the link to buy direct from my Irish Publisher – Mercier Press]

Well hopefully this provides ample for Ellie to chose from !
xo Sheila

Posted in Recipes

Irish Made Craft & Design

Here’s some of the finds from Irish businesses that I consider beautiful & worthwhile gifting. In order to make it even easier to find all these beautiful Irish brands when you’re doing your shopping online this year I’ve posted direct links to their sites & my suggested picks from them below the photo gallery:

(I’ll add more as I find them)

Here are the direct site links & my picks

Toris Totes – For a unique, one of a kind beautifully lined and expertly made tote bag – You’ll find Tori over on Instagram @toristotes

Ballyvolane House – The Great Indoors Box

St Tola – Irish Goat Cheese – Clare Brunch Box

Killenure Castle Dexter Leather – the black sliotar

Eddie Doherty Handwoven Tweed – the navy herringbone cap

Urban Fabric by Orla Healy – the Clock House, Mallow A4 Framed

Irish Pens – the Shannon Rollerball pen in Irish Elm bright crome

Grá Chocolates – the Grá Chocolate Baubles

Under the Willow – the prints

Eco Clothing – the Spring Hoodie in Sunset Orange & the Eco Tote Bag

Kopper Kreation – the Copper Letter Holder

Inner Island Jewellery – Namara Earring in 9ct Gold

Alan Meredith Studio – the Fumed Dearcàn

John Ryan Ceramics – the Water Carafe

Cristal na Rinne – the Ceo Decanter & ceo tumblers

Wild Atlantic Seaweed Baths – gift vouchers

Arran Street East – the Large Jug

Dunbeacon Pottery – the Coffee Cups

Peter Mahony Art – Wintering Creek

Caulfield Country Boards – the Oversized Oval server

Ballyshane – the Grange Large Cheeseboard

Fred O’Mahony Woodturning – the 15” Spalted Bowl

Waters And Wild – the sweet basil & bergamot way de parfum

Rathbornes – Dublin Dusk scented candle

Shangarry Potters- the classic cup mugs & the classic small pasta bowls http://

Kaiko Studio – concert decorative sphere

Lovato Candles – any candle with silver lid

Foxford – Grey, Bone & White Block Throw –

McNutt of Donegal – Linen Lambswool Scarf – CIA

Hushabye Farm Alpacas – the Alpaca pillows

Anchor and Bee – the Ultraviolet Knits book /

& lastly a bit of Self Promotion (currently on Special offer at 4.99) :
Mercier Press – my cookbook Enjoy!

Happy Shopping! xo Sheila

Posted in Recipes

9 Bog Standard Basic Dinners – It will all work out in the end.

The world has gone fecking bananas. 7 months on and I’m still not used to it. Last night for instance I was out with a group of friends for dinner and no matter what we spoke about it always came back to COVID-19. At one stage mid-conversation I asked one of them is this real, are we really having this conversation and she was exactly the same, none of us are used to this and I don’t think we ever can be.

It is a waiting game. Time will pass. Everything will change again and it will all work out in the end – ‘How?’… you ask…. ‘I don’t know it always does’ … and if you’re unsure about that then I recommend you take the time to watch or rewatch ‘Shakespeare in Love.’

In the meantime it’s good to ground yourself with familiar and comforting things like these 9 bog standard basic dinners.

1. Chilli Con Carne

2. Ratatouille Chicken

3. Pan fried whiting, carrot & parsnip mash, mashed potatoes & parsley sauce

4. Bangers & Mash with red onion gravy, swede & side of crispy potato skins

5. Baked paprika chicken & potatoes with super fast veg

6. Baked Salmon, Baked courgette topped with Parmesan & lemon & chilli couscous

7. Chicken & chickpea curry

8. Spaghetti Bolognese

9. Bacon & Cabbage with mash and parsley sauce


xo Sheila.

Posted in Recipes

How to make Basil Pesto

Home-made Basil Pesto.

The Italians know what they’re at when it comes to food.  They keep it simple and tasty.  Fresh crusty bread, some mozzarella, juicy ripe tomatoes generously drizzled with fresh basil pesto. Incredible.  A recipe that needs few words my one recommendation is that you use a food processor with a small bowl or a mini-chopper to combine the ingredients.

Ingredients for 350 ml of pesto
50g pine nuts
Large bunch of fresh basil leaves (25g)
50g Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves
200ml olive oil

Lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry heated frying pan over a medium heat until they begin to take on a golden colour, then remove from the heat. (Watch them carefully as they burn easily.)
Rinse and roughly chop the basil.
Finely grate the Parmesan and peel and crush the garlic.
Combine everything with the olive oil in a food processor or mini chopper, and blend until smooth.
Store in a sterilised old jam jar in the fridge.



Posted in Recipes

How to Make Pasta Carbonara – Remembering Paola Tullio

As the anniversary of Paola Tullio’s death approaches (5th June 2015) I’d like to celebrate and remember this wonderful man.  It was his voice, his manner and his presence.  All of that gently surfed and beautifully traversed the radio wavelengths into your kitchen or office or wherever it was that you happened to be when you had the pleasure to hear him.  For me that was frequently in the car.  Probably most often on my way to collect my kids from school I would catch Paola’s regular ‘Food’ slot with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk.  Listening to Paola was therapeutic, the fact that he was an Italian talking about food was a bonus.

Paola’s was a very distinctive, mesmeric voice, he reminded me of a softer version of Albert Finney, another beautiful voice.

I never got to meet Paola but I had the absolute joy of hearing him say my name and review my first cookbook with Sean Moncrieff on his radio progamme.  Thankfully he liked it and declared ‘Gimme the Recipe’ a ‘very good book.’  Thrilled was a complete understatement at the time and now it is a very fond and cherished memory.

I don’t know if he had even seen my Carbonara recipe in that book but boy was I thankful that I had not included cream in mine, a complete no-no for Paola.

Paola you are missed and remembered and I will never put cream in my Carbonara.

How to make Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara

Having played around with a number of Carbonara recipes, some with cream, some with wine and then pared them back and chopped and changed quantities, I eventually came up with this recipe which is simple and scrumptious. Not being a huge fan of pasta, this is one meal that has surprised me by how much I enjoy it. The heat of the pasta cooks the eggs as you stir them in and the Parmesan forms a smooth sauce with a little of the cooking water. This meal can be on the table in 20 minutes.

Ingredients – serves 4–5

400g dried spaghetti or any pasta
1012 rashers or a packet of 10 slices of cooked ham* (approximately 300g)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
3 eggs
100g Parmesan
Black pepper
Small handful of fresh parsley to garnish


Boil a large saucepan full of water and once it is boiling put the pasta on to cook for 6-8 minutes (or according to pack instructions).
While the pasta is cooking, chop up the rashers or cooked ham and cook in a large frying pan with the olive oil for 5 minutes.
Next, peel and crush the garlic cloves and add them to the meat to cook for 1 minute.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl and grate in half of the Parmesan. Give this a good whisk together. Grate and reserve the other half of the Parmesan for later.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it, reserving about a cupful of the cooking water.
Take the frying pan with the cooked rashers off the heat. Add the cooked pasta to the rashers and garlic and then pour the Parmesan and egg mixture over this with enough of the cooking water to moisten it and mix well. The heat of the pasta will cook the egg as you stir it through the pasta.
Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Serve with the remaining grated Parmesan sprinkled on top, garnished with freshly chopped parsley and some garlic bread on the side.

Tip: Home-made garlic bread can be made very easily by mashing some butter with a crushed clove of garlic and generously buttering a baguette or ciabatta with it and then grilling it until the garlic butter melts.

* If you are using pre-cooked ham, it could be ham that you have left over from a cooked joint or slices of packed cooked ham. Frying it up with the olive oil and then adding crushed garlic as above will heat it up and enhance the colour and flavour.

Enjoy xx,