Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Chinese Chicken, Peppers & Black Bean Sauce – Slow Cooker Recipe

31st January & I hope you’re keeping well.  Time is nigh to celebrate with Recipe No. 1 of 2020.  Welcome to the real beginning of the New Year because January was complete and utter drudge now wasn’t it?  I’ve been expanding my repertoire of Slow Cooker recipes and have worked on perfecting this Chinese one, it was good before, and now it’s better.  Next I have to work on the Chicken Curry one as it’s been constructively critiqued as a little bland and a little watery!

First up are the photos and then if you’d like to try it out the ingredients and method are below.

Chinese Chicken, Peppers & Black Bean Sauce.

You will need:
1kg chicken breast – cut into chunks
1 onion
3 red chillies
2 peppers (i used 1 red, 1 green)
2 tins black beans
1 tsp cornflour
100ml water
4 tbsp grated ginger or ginger puree
2 tbsp garlic puree or 3 crushed garlic cloves
12 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp golden syrup
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar or red/white wine vinegar
1 tbsp chilli flakes
peanuts & spring onion to garnish
suggest boiled rice to serve
Place chicken chunks in the base of the Slow Cooker
Next add in chopped onion chunks, 3 finely chopped red chillies, 2 sliced peppers
Drain the black beans and add these next
In a jug mix together the 1 tsp cornflour and 100ml cold water
Into the jug add the remaining ingredients : ginger, garlic, soy sauce, golden syrup, vinegar, chilli flakes
Mix well
Cook on high in the slow cooker for 4 hours
Chop up spring onion and scatter on top along with peanuts before serving with some boiled rice.
xx Sheila

Posted in Recipes

Chicken & Wedges

6 ingredient Chicken Marinade. And whether you choose to give it any time to marinate or not is entirely up to you. Does it make a difference? If you think about it really, all it means is that the marinade has been in contact with the chicken for a bit of time but does it penetrate through the skin and get absorbed any more than it does when it’s cooking? i’m not convinced that it really makes all that much of a difference. The advantage of marinating in advance is that bit of prep. is out of the way so from that point of view it would prove worthwhile.

You will need:
Chicken pieces skin-on (I used breast on bone ‘supremes’ & thighs)
1 tbsp oil (plus a little to drizzle over potato wedges)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp chilli puree (or chopped chilli)
1 tbsp garlic puree (or crushed garlic)
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp smoked paprika
Potatoes for wedges

In the baking dish mix together the 6 marinade ingredients : 1 tbsp each of oil, balsamic vinegar, chilli puree, garlic puree, dark brown sugar, smoked paprika
Note : I use a silicone pastry brush to mix the ingredients (less to wash)
Baste the chicken pieces with the mixed marinade using a pastry brush
Leave to marinate in the fridge for an hour or so (could also prep. the night before)
When ready to cook heat the oven to 200C
Cook the chicken for 45 minutes
Slice the potatoes into wedges, place in an ovenproof baking dish, drizzle with some oil and put into the oven to cook
AFTER 20 minutes of chicken cooking time, remove both chicken and wedges from the oven, carefully pour all the cooking juices from the chicken onto the potatoes, mix well, then return both dishes to the oven to continue cooking for a further 25 minutes until the chicken is nicely browned and cooked through and the potatoes are tender.
[works well with berbere roast cauliflower & crumbled cauliflower cheese – 2 new recipes that will be posted after this one]


Posted in Recipes

Aubergine Parmigiana

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

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.

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Brie Stuffed Chicken Breast

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.

brie stuffed chicken

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
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

brie stuffed chicken

A new favourite for me, so simple & tasty.
xx Sheila

Posted in Recipes, What's for Dinner Mom?

Baked Chicken & Bulghar Wheat (or is it bulgur or bulgar?!)

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….

A packet of frozen veg, patiently defrosting for the first 30 mins of cooking time……..
Bulgar gets added AFTER chicken has cooked for 30 minutes first
This goes back in the oven for a further 30 minutes

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
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.

xx Sheila

Posted in Recipes

School Lunches – Easy as 1, 2, 3 ! or is it…..???


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


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.

(Here’s another link if you would like to read the definitive guide to school lunches)

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.

2012, 2011, 2010

Good Luck!

xx Sheila

Posted in Recipes

Almond Salmon

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!

Cooked almond salmon with salad

Almond Salmon

You will need / Ingredients:
Salmon pieces
A little oil
Ground almonds
Fresh basil to serve – optional
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

Posted in Recipes

Turmeric & Vegetable Couscous

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

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

Posted in Recipes

Nachos & Chilli Chicken

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.

Nachos and Chilli Chicken

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.

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

Nachos base ingredients combined
Chicken and Nachos on plate

Why can’t everyday be Friday?!
xx Sheila

Posted in Recipes

La Piazza Alicante

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.

Cathedral in Alicante
Cathedral in Alicante

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.

White Wine at La Piazza
Sea Bass at La Piazza
Sea Bass for him
Dinner at La Piazza
Baked Salmon for me

You will find La Piazza restaurant at Plaza Del Abad Penalva. They also have a large bar next door.

Plaza Del Abad Penalva

If the Chocolate Coulant is still on the menu when you dine there do indulge but do not share, it is perfection.

Chocolate Coulant La Piazza

Don’t forget to look up. Beautiful windows are everywhere.

La Piazza Windows
Alicante window

We stayed at the Melia Alicante which is wonderfully located near the old town and just beside Playa del Postiguet (beach) and the marina.

Melia Alicante

I can’t wait to dine again at La Piazza, Alicante.
xx Sheila

Posted in Recipes

Kerry Again! Eat in Killarney, Stay in Annascaul.

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.

Inch Beach

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.

Killarney Plaza Hotel

Cafe du Parc

Cafe du Parc

Cafe du Parc

Cafe du Parc

Cafe du Parc

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.



Posted in Recipes, Restaurants

Dine in Dingle

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 :

Pantri Dingle Doorway

Fruit Cumble Pantri Dingle

Coffee Crumble Cream Pantri Dingle
Flowers Pantri Dingle

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.
Inch Strand Dingle

Benches at Inch Strand

Sammys 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!
Sammys Restaurant
Toastie at Inch Strand

Fish & Chips at Sammys

Coffee at Inch Strand
It’s been a couple of weeks now since my visit and I can’t wait to go back!