Simple, satisfying and healthy. This is a tasty vegetarian dish which I would serve with an easy rocket, cucumber & olive salad in the summer or a good helping of warm wilted garlic buttery spinach in the winter. Some crusty bread on the side wouldn’t go astray either.
Serves 3 to 4
You will need: 1 large Aubergine 1 onion 6 mushrooms 2 cloves garlic 1 tbsp oregano 1 tin lentils 1 tin chopped tomatoes Some oil 50g+ parmesan
Method: Preheat Oven to 180C Chop onion and soften in a saucepan with a little oil for 5 minutes over medium heat Chop mushrooms to bitesize pieces, add to onion and cook 5 more minutes Crush 2 cloves of garlic, add into onion and mushrooms and cook further 2 minutes Add Oregano and stir well Add drained lentils and tin of chopped tomatoes, stir to combine, bring to the boil until bubbling then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes Meanwhile slice the Aubergine into rounds and fry ob both sides in a little oil until turning brown Grate approx half a wedge of parmesan (50/75g) Layer half of the lentil sauce into an oven proof baking dish, then layer half of the sliced aubergines and top with half of the grated cheese. Repeat layer : sauce, aubergine, parmesan Bake in the hot oven for 25 to 30 mins until aubergines are nice and soft. Enjoy!
This is one of my recipes of the summer but so robust and hearty it will fare well at any time of the year. It was enjoyed a deux with my husband in beautiful West Cork in mid-August. The photos below the ingredients and method will show you how this came together. A side of paprika baby roast potatoes would be excellent with this or keep it light with a side of dressed mixed leaves. Here I’ve simply served with some pan-fried courgette and a side of garlic bread.
Ingredients: (to serve 2) 2 chicken breasts & a little oil to pan-fry 3 garlic cloves 2 tbsp chopped parsley (reserve 1 to garnish) 1 tbsp chopped sundried tomatoes 2 slices brie Method: Pre-heat the oven to 200 Heat some oil in a frying pan Slice each chicken breast lenghtways along one side but leave closed Pan-fry the chicken breasts until golden on each side Meanwhile chop the garlic, parsley & sundried tomatoes and mix together (keep back 1 tbsp of the parsley for garnish) Open out the chicken breast (see pics below) and top with the tomato mix Oven cook for 5 minutes Place a slice of brie on each chicken breast and sandwich it closed Return to the oven to cook for a further 5 minutes Ready to serve with whatever you fancy
A new favourite for me, so simple & tasty. xx Sheila
Really the spelling doesn’t matter now does it? The thing I want to share with you is the fact that you can bake it. Yes you can bake bulgur wheat!!! Baking it in a dish like this alongside chicken, onions and garlic means the flavour enhancement is huge.
This dish is for a day that you don’t really feel like cooking but are in need of something decent and comforting. There is only a tiny bit of prep to this and it then more or less looks after itself over the course of an hour which will give you time to do a few bits – like put the bins out and unload the dishwasher because the last few people who encountered the FULL to overflowing bins and dishwasher chose to ignore them, didn’t they?
I’ll show you a few pictures here first of how the dish came together and you’ll find the written ingredients list and method below them….
You will need / Ingredients: Chicken pieces – skin on – I used thighs A little oil 2 onions 6 garlic cloves 1 tin chickpeas Hot paprika Tomato passata – 500g Bulgar Wheat – 250g Frozen Veg – 450g Chicken Stock – 500ml – from cube is fine 1 lemon 1 tbsp chopped parsley 4 tbsp greek yoghurt Half cucumber Method: Pre-heat the oven to 200C Open the frozen veg onto a plate and leave to semi-defrost Peel and chop the two onions into wedges, peel and slice each garlic clove in two Arrange the chicken pieces in the base of large oven proof casserole dish Place the onion, garlic and drained chickpeas in between the chicken pieces Pour a little oil onto the chicken and pour the tomato passata in between the chicken pieces Sprinkle hot paprika on top Bake in the hot oven for 30 minutes Prepare a raita (sauce/dressing) by combining the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 4 tbsp greek yoghurt and half a cucumber cut into small cubes After the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes remove from the oven and scatter the bulgur on top – in between the chicken pieces, then scatter the semi-defrosted vegetables on top and press down with a fork so everything is touching some tomato Lastly pour over the hot chicken stock and continue to bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Serve dressed with some raita.
You are busy enough aren’t you? So here’s the short of it – grab a copy of this table and get your child to pick from 1, 2 & 3 and please (for your sake) make them make their own lunch
NOTE: Because of allergies most school policy is NOT to bring anything with peanuts in – so exclude peanut butter from above
THE LONG VERSION
You are busy enough aren’t you?
And now you are expected to make packed lunches because the kids are going back to school.
I am now a very wise woman on the last year of school lunch making as my 5th & 6th child enter their Leaving Cert year. So listen to me. Learn from my mistakes.
Make your kid make their own lunch. It is amazing what a child is capable of given the tools and the opportunity
Besides saving you time there is actually a better chance that they will eat it because child A knows that they don’t like apples and child B knows that they only like green grapes and by the time you’ve gotten to child Z you will have mixed up all the lunch boxes anyway.
I’m going to give you something – here’s a link to the school lunches 1,2,3 table I devised a few years back – print it out laminate it or just have it on your phone – get your child to make their choices themselves – perhaps even help out in shopping for what they want as well.
No.1 = RED rows – Choose from the top row in Red, pick a Protein, a Plus 1 & Dress it up No.2 = GREEN – Pick 1 No.3 = PURPLE – Pick 1
Want to read even more?
I’ve been in your shoes – several times and I’ve written about it before too. So if you want even more ideas and to check out what I learned over the years follow the links below to check out these three posts.
When you look in your food cupboards and they are full but much of it is ingredients that you may have bought to do one particular dish and you’re left with all these half used packets and jars. That’s happening. For me the current situation is apricots (tagine), sesame seeds (stir-fry) and ground-almonds (cake). I’ve lots of other ingredients likes sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds that I am fairly good to use up – toasted over salads when I think of it etc. – but the ground-almonds had been there for quite a while. Adding them onto baked salmon was experimental and it worked, introducing a nice texture of crumb and nutty taste.
This is such a simple thing to do that a recipe is hardly required. I will however give it below the picture!
You will need / Ingredients: Salmon pieces A little oil Ground almonds Fresh basil to serve – optional Method: Pre-heat the oven to 200C Place the salmon pieces in an oven-proof dish and bake for 15 minutes Remove from the oven, scatter the ground almonds over the oven and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes (turn up the heat to 220C if you’d really like to get a colour on the crumb)
That’s it. Simple. Enjoy with some baked baby potatoes or salad. I’ve served with some garlic and herb flatbreads above. xx Sheila
A very substantial and vibrant vegetable dish, add an easy protein source such as cheese and chicken and your meal will be complete.
I love to take shortcuts in the kitchen and over the past couple of years I’ve been blitzing things like kale, broccoli, cauliflower etc to create a vegetable ‘crumb’ in the food processor and then I quickly ‘cook’ it by placing it in a colander over a large saucepan and then pouring over boiling hot water from the kettle, squishing out the excess moisture with a spatula and that’s it, veg is ready!
Turmeric & Vegetable Couscous:
You will need / Ingredients: Knob Butter 250g couscous 1 tsp turmeric 300ml hot stock (vegetable or chicken made up from a cube is fine) Handful cranberries (optional) Juice of 1 lemon Handful pumpkin seeds 6 sweet baby peppers or 1 red pepper 1 cucumber 2 spring onion 1 head broccoli
Method: Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan Stir in the turmeric and the couscous and cranberries with a wooden spoon – turn off the heat Pour in the hot stock, cover the saucepan with a lid and set aside for the couscous to absorb the liquid for 5 minutes Toast the pumpkin seeds in a hot dry frying pan for a minute until they start to change colour, set aside Chop the sweet baby peppers into bite-size pieces. Cut the cucumber in half, length-ways – scrape out the wet pulp and seeds with a spoon and then cube the cucumber Chop up the spring onion Blitz the head of broccoli using a food processor to a crumb-like texture, then place in a colander over a saucepan, pour over boiling water from the kettle, then press the excess moisture through the colander. Use a fork to fluff up the couscous and pour in the lemon juice and mix it through Place the couscous in a large serving dish with the broccoli and combine with the broccoli crumb, top with the chopped peppers, cucumber, spring onion and pumpkin seeds and mix well. Ready to serve!
I would eat this with some oven baked chicken pieces simply roasted, skin on with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Leftovers make for a delicious lunch. xx Sheila
This has been my Friday night go-to recipe of late. A hot oven cooks both the Chilli Chicken and Nachos with minimal interruption and all you have to do is a bit of chopping in the prep. work for the Nachos.
Ideal when all you really want to do is put your feet up after a busy week and maybe sip and something chilled accompanied by tasty food.
You will need : (Serves 4 approx. – easily double quantities to feed more!)
Nachos Ingredients: 250g tomatoes 1 red onion 1 red pepper 50g Jalapenos Oil to drizzle Salt & Pepper Garlic Granules Chilli Powder – Hot 200g pack Tortilla Chips Cheese to grate or tear e.g. mozzarella, cheddar, manchego – whatever you like
Chicken Ingredients: 350g Mini chicken fillets Juice & Zest of lime 4 tbsp hot sauce 2 tbsp tomato puree 1 tsp chopped chilli 1 tsp garlic granules Maple syrup to drizzle for last 5 mins of cooking
Chicken Cooking Instruction : Pre-heat the fan oven to 220C Place the chicken mini fillets in a baking dish Combine the other ingredients in a small jug or cup (except maple syrup) – juice & zest of lime, hot sauce, tomato puree, chopped chilli, garlic granules, mix them together then pour over the chicken Cook the chicken in the hot oven for 15 minutes Drizzle over some maple syrup & cook for 5 minutes more
Nachos Cooking Instruction : While the chicken cooks, chop the tomatoes, red pepper, red onion & jalepenos. Combine these chopped ingredients in a large baking tray Drizzle over some oil, season with salt and pepper and spice up with garlic granules and hot chilli powder – a nice dusting will do. Mix well and spread out over base of tray or two trays if you need more room Scatter tortilla chips on top Top with grated cheese Cook in the hot oven for 5 to 10 minutes (try to time this so will be ready when chicken is ready).
Suggest you serve the Nachos & Chilli Chicken with some rocket leaves or salad.
NOTE: The same coating for the chilli chicken works really well with chicken pieces – like chicken thighs with skin on, cook for longer though – approx. 40 minutes
Come sit with me in a beautiful square in Alicante. Let’s dine together at a table for two at La Piazza. Look in front of you at the imposing Cathedral de San Nicolas with its huge doors embracing tourists and watch as the Spanish Guitarist tunes his guitar. Listen as he plays. Savour the moment. This is as romantic as it gets.
Nothing is hurried here but the service at La Piazza is gloriously efficient and I’m searching for a word to adequately describe the discretion of the waiting staff. The wine will come and it will be delicious. The servers, all beautiful and youthful with impeccable manners, will treat you like a VIP and the food will be faultless.
You will find La Piazza restaurant at Plaza Del Abad Penalva. They also have a large bar next door.
If the Chocolate Coulant is still on the menu when you dine there do indulge but do not share, it is perfection.
Don’t forget to look up. Beautiful windows are everywhere.
We stayed at the Melia Alicante which is wonderfully located near the old town and just beside Playa del Postiguet (beach) and the marina.
I can’t wait to dine again at La Piazza, Alicante. xx Sheila
A recent family celebration saw us foray over the county bounds yet again and enter the Kingdom of Kerry. I’ve been on so many trips there of late I’ve lost count. And again she was glowing in her splendour.
Our trip had to be quick owing to sporting commitments but it’s amazing what you can achieve in 24 hours.
First up was lunch in Killarney and Cafe du Parc will now be one of my go-tos for food, service and location. Set in the Killarney Plaza Hotel you are in the heart of the town and we had seats beside the window where you could watch the horse-drawn jaunting cars go by. Food was delicious and speedily delivered by very friendly and efficient staff. The pictures will speak for themselves.
Onwards then to Inch Beach (if you choose to drive on it, do not go too far or you may end up having to be rescued by a tractor – but that’s another story!). A vast and spectacular beach you simply have to stop there every time you pass it. A short drive from Inch brings you to the cosy village of Annascaul. Ancestral home of the Antarctic explorer Tom Crean a visit to the South Pole Inn was next on the list. A wonderful ambience awaits you here and in our other watering hole Patcheen’s an equal welcome. Good food is provided in both.
Some of our party stayed in a large air b&b house and I stayed in The Old Anchor B&B which was scrupulously clean and comfortable.
Annascaul has a touristy, welcoming vibe but without the noisy bustle of close-by Dingle. For a more relaxed Kerry break I recommend it.
Ireland is beautiful everyday and as I write she is bathing in sunshine and all the better for it. West Cork is one of my favourite corners, a place to which I regularly escape when I can. I find calm there. Kerry though. Kerry is very special. She is magic.
A couple of weeks ago I had reason for a flying visit to Dingle and roamed its little maze of streets in search of a coffee. We found the Pantrí. And Coffee. And Amazing Crumble. Look :
Their Facebook page has the following information : (Details current on 14th May 2019)
“Pantrí is a small cafe with a gorgeous hidden garden right in the centre of Dingle town. We serve Breakfast/Brunch and lunch using quality local and organic produce where we can. Plenty of Veggie/Vegan/GF options available too so pop in!
Cosy café and gorgeous garden right on Lower Main St. Dingle, Co:Kerry. Serving Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, fresh pressed juices and coffee Open every day except Tuesday 10am-4pm (Food until 3pm) Sunday Brunch all day 10am-3pm“
It is a true little Gem, with a lovely garden space out the back and I highly recommend you give this a try.
Next up is Sammy’s. Not technically in Dingle but close enough. If you are visiting Dingle you will surely stop off at Inch Strand.
Sammy’s restaurant has been taken over in 2019 by the Kilkenny Group and on the day we visited food and service were excellent. Good coffee too!
It’s been a couple of weeks now since my visit and I can’t wait to go back!
Pudding. There’s something about that word that conjures up comfort. Something you’ll be hankering as Autumn envelops you bringing darker evenings, cooler air and while you sleep a sprinkling of frost may even be dusting your doorstep. I can’t get enough of apple in desserts at this time of year; crumbles, tarts and yes oh yes please, pudding. This would be epic after a long Sunday lunch or an evening of entertainment and something sure to send the recipients over that edge into blissful food coma.
There are some blackberry stragglers still clung to the hedgerows if you get a chance to look or you’ll find them with fruit in the supermarket and those cooking apples are still abundant and inexpensive. The battery mixture of this almost forms a cake but with all the moistness of the fruit it will never dry into sponginess but will remain sumptuously soft and yielding. As moist as it already is I do recommend that you take it to the next level and serve with some softly whipped fresh cream.
Apple and Blackberry Pudding : (Serves 9)
You will need:
175g unsalted butter
250ml carton whipping cream
225g caster sugar
400g cooking apples (2 large or 3 medium)
300g plain flour
Butter to grease the dish Method: Preheat the oven to 180oC/Gas Mark 6 and grease a baking/pudding dish 25x25cm with butter.
Heat the butter and cream together in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Leave to cool a little.
Whisk the caster sugar and the eggs together for a few minutes until thick and set aside.
Prepare the fruit by coring, peeling and slicing the apples into rings, and washing the blackberries.
Add the butter and cream mixture to the eggs and sugar mixture, and whisk together.
Gently fold in the sifted flour to make a thick batter.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and push in the apple rings.
Scatter the blackberries over the top and push some of them down into the batter.
Bake for 45–50 minutes and test the mixture with a skewer – if it comes away clean the cake is cooked.
Great served hot, straight from the oven, with some cream.
Sunday morning, he took two of the lads to football training and I jumped out of bed knowing that food had to be got for their return and a decent dinner made as the twin girls had a football match later in the afternoon. No ordinary football match – a Senior County Final and a replay at that – so woe betide me if there were no food. Off I went, fitting in a yoga class and then a flit through the supermarket. On my return however they were back and my hero of a husband was already cleaning the kitchen with Niall having cooked for them all. They had polished off scrambled eggs and black pudding and there was no panic for me to cook. I didn’t mention that I had stopped off for a scone and a cappuccino in between the yoga and the shopping did I? It’s an official habit of mine now, a scone with Irish butter and a cappuccino. It’s usually accompanied by a catch up on my Instagram Feed and those stories can be very distracting!
This lack of time pressure made my foray into the kitchen so much more enjoyable. It is so much nicer to cook when you yourself are not starving and the masses are not persistently inquiring as to the nature of the dish and ‘when will it be ready?’
I had intended on a quick cook dish though and proceeded with my plan. Oven was preheated, vegetables quickly chopped and then topped in a large baking dish with some berbere dusted chicken mini fillets.
Is Berbere new to you? It is to me. A recently discovered (by me!) Ethiopian origin spice blend similar to Ras El Hanout but with a really gentle warmth. I found it on the shelves of my local Dunnes Stores and have been using it for the past week or so and it’s going down well with everyone.
The Berbere baked chicken was accompanied by harissa spiced couscous with a little coriander mixed through and a good dollop of natural yoghurt spiked with lemon juice and topped with a sprinkling of Berbere for colour.
Baked Berbere Chicken: You will need:
A few baby potatoes
1 red pepper
1 red onion
Olive oil or rapeseed oil
Mini chicken fillets 400-700g (judge by how many you want to feed!)
Berbere spice blend
Serve with couscous made with tsp harissa paste and some coriander
Natural yoghurt spiked with lemon juice and dusted with berbere. Method:
Preheat the fan oven to 200C
Microwave the baby potatoes for 5 to 10 mins until easy to cut through
Cube the aubergine and courgette
Deseed and slice the red pepper
Peel and slice the red onion
Scatter the vegetables in the base of a large baking dish
Slice the par-cooked baby potatoes and scatter on top
Drizzle some oil over the vegetables and then mix them around
Place the chicken mini fillets on top of the chopped vegetables, drizzle with some oil and dust with berbere.
Cook in the hot oven for 25 to 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through – turning the chicken over midway through cooking and dusting with a little more berbere.