Perfect Pecan Cookies

Feeling stressed? Well I was feeling a bit stressed earlier this week so, finding myself home alone, I decided to bake these delicious Pecan Cookies.  Not the way I normally bake though which usually means throwing something together at the same time as cooking the dinner and while I am quite an organised person I can be very a messy cook !

So on my kitchen counter there would be bowls, wooden spoons, a weighing scales, ingredients, mobile phone, post, cookbook ….you get the picture! Not ideal and so often leads to those baking disasters where an ingredient is forgotten or added twice.

So I cleared the counter of anything that wasn’t related to the cookies, measured out all my ingredients and even got my baking trays ready. For the next half  hour all I had to think of was mixing the soft cookie dough, totally satisfying and relaxing.

The cookies took only 10 minutes to make and another 10 minutes to bake so nothing more to do other than put the kettle on.  Try it, pick an easy recipe like this one and savour the process!  Continue reading

Advertisements

Ribollita

 

This is just the job to warm you up on a freezing cold day – my last post was for a delicious comforting meaty stew however my good friend Liz has asked me for a vegetarian option and I think this would give a beef stew a good run for it’s money any day! One of the nice things about this dish is it is so quick to make plus it is a wonderful way of turning what are pretty much staple ingredients into a really tasty and wholesome meal.  The name Ribollita literally means “reboiled”, in fact an authentic Ribollita takes about three days to taste its best –  it was a way for thrifty Tuscan cooks to use leftover vegetables, bread and beans from the week.

Continue reading

Leek, potato & spinach soup with chorizo

This is what you and your family need right now on these cold, wintery days. Warm, nutritious and comforting and really easy to make. Adding spinach to the soup has two purposes – it adds nutrients and it also gives the soup a lovely green colour. The fried chorizo cubes lift this ordinary soup into something special –  I adore chorizo but you could also use fried bacon pieces or if you want to make it fully vegetarian or vegan just leave these out and use water or vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock.

Preparation: 15 minutes. Cooking Time: 30/40 minutes

Ingredients

4 large leeks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, chopped small
50g butter
850ml chicken stock (or water for vegetarian / vegan option)
150ml milk
Couple of handfuls of baby spinach leaves (washed and trimmed of any tough stalks)
Chorizo – cut into cubes (or bacon pieces if you prefer – leave out for vegetarian / vegan option)

How to make it:

  • Trim off the tops and roots of the leeks, discarding the tough outer layer
  • Prepare the leeks by splitting them in half lengthways and slice them up quite finely, then rinse and drain them
  • In a large thick-based saucepan melt the butter on a low heat then add the leeks, potatoes and onion, stirring them with a wooden spoon so they get a nice coating of butter
  • Season with salt & pepper
  • Cover and let the vegetables sweat over a very low heat for about 10/15 minutes – key a very close eye on them so they don’t burn or stick to the bottom (this has happened to me in the past I have to admit!)
  • Add the stock and bring to a simmer, put the lid back on and simmer gently for approx. 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the milk and the spinach leaves and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  • Liquidise the soup using a blender.

To serve:

Heat the chorizo in a dry non-stick pan for 2/3 minutes (it won’t need any oil as it will release it’s own) until it is nice and crispy to serve. Enjoy!

SaveSaveSaveSave

‘Good for You’ Chocolate Mousse

Ok guys, no excuses not to make this easy-peasy dessert with just 3 ingredients – chocolate, cream and eggs and a measly 207 calories per portion!  Not only is it simple but it makes it into my ‘healthy eating’ category because there is no added sugar. If the fact that it is super delicious, easy to make and low in calories isn’t enough to convince you to make it then the fact that dark chocolate is also good for your heart, circulation and brain should be the deal clincher! The other bonus is that this is ready after just 2 hours in the fridge.

The only sugar in this recipe is whatever is contained in the dark chocolate itself. I  used chocolate with 74% cocoa solids (from Lidl).

The recipe is adapted from a recipe contained in Rachel Allen’s book Rachel’s Favourite Foods.

Makes 6 small (50ml) glasses

Ingredients

120g (4½ oz) dark chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids)
120ml (4fl oz) cream
2 eggs, separated

How to make it

  • Break up the chocolate into small pieces.
  • In a saucepan, bring the cream up to the boil then turn off the heat.
  • Add the chocolate to the cream and stir until the chocolate is melted.
  • In a separate large clean & dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff
  • Stir a quarter of the egg white into the chocolate mixture
  • Gently fold in the rest of the egg white, being careful not to knock all the air out.
  • Spoon into little glasses or cups
  • Leave for an hour or two in the fridge to set
  • Decorate / serve as you like, with a raspberry on the top, blob of whipped cream or a little gold dust.

My advice then is to hide and keep it all for yourself!

SaveSave

Sunshine vegetable stew

 

sunshine-veg-stew

You have only to look at the colours in this dish to get a nice warm feeling and that it would fit the bill perfectly for lunch on a cold Winter’s day. I made this dish to bring to work for my lunch and I got two of these containers so 2 days’  lunches were sorted. I really like to try and bring my own food to work for at least 2/3 days a week from a healthy eating point of view and also from the cost point of view – I can easily spend €50 a week on good coffee and bad sandwiches! An added bonus is that the ingredients (apart from the fresh coriander) are either store cupboard ingredients i.e. coconut milk, tinned chickpeas or vegetables that have a good shelf life i.e. sweet potato, butternut squash, onion, garlic. These are ingredients that I would always have in the press because they are so versatile and can be used in lots of dishes.  This stew is vegetarian and vegan so can go towards one of your weekly meat-free meals.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 10/15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 mins

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
½ butternut squash, skin / seeds removed and diced
400ml vegetable stock
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Place a large pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil.
  • Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and sauté gently for 6-8 minutes until tender.
  • Add the garlic, turmeric and curry powder and cook for a further 2 minutes
  • Add the sweet potato and butternut squash chunks and stir until coated in the spices
  • Pour in the vegetable stock, coconut milk and chickpeas
  • Bring back to a steady simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
  • Check the seasoning, stir through the coriander *and serve ( could also be served with rice to make a larger meal of it)

*If you are making this like I was to bring to work don’t stir in the coriander until you are re-heating it.

 

Yummy Custard Tarts

custard-tarts-2

You won’t believe the operation that went into photographing these tarts! I like to take my own photos for each recipe that I post and each recipe is one that I have made recently so I can write about them while they are fresh in my mind. At this time of year food photography is really challenging because of the shortage of daylight. So, to give you an example – I made the tarts in this photo on a Sunday evening, it was too late in the day to take photos so in order to be able to take the photos the next day I first had to hide the tarts so they wouldn’t be eaten! On Monday then I ran in the door from work around 4pm, took over the kitchen and basically had about 30 mins to whip out the tarts to try and get some decent shots. I needn’t tell you I was getting some funny looks while this was going on! Sometimes I would take about 40 photos before I even have one or two I am happy with and sometimes they are all rubbish which can be really annoying. If I don’t get a decent shot the trouble is the food is eaten and I have to start all over again! Continue reading

Smoked Trout Paté with Carrot Salad & Pitta Chips

smoked-trout-pate-7

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks called The Diet for Food Lovers by Jennifer Irvine – it is a beautiful book of healthy, delicious recipes (and the pictures are beautiful too!). This particular recipe looks like there is a lot to it but it is actually very simple and easy – perfect with a glass of wine or as a starter if you were having anyone for dinner. The paté takes just 5 mins to make, the carrot salad,  10 mins and the pitta ‘chips’ take 5 mins to prepare and about 15 mins to bake in the oven.  Instead of making the pitta chips you could have some toasted wholemeal or rye bread or even some melba toast with the paté. The pitta chips are worth trying though as they are surprisingly tasty (and a healthy alternative to tortilla chips) and take only minutes to make – my daughter loves them and took them in her lunchbox when I made them recently. And who would ever have thought of a carrot salad? It looks beautiful and the dressing really turns it into something special. Continue reading