Summer (overnight) oats

Kickstart your day with this super breakfast, a perfect combination of goodness and taste which will keep you going right through until lunchtime. When my daughter was doing her Leaving Cert recently she often asked me to make this for her particularly on days where she had 2 exams.  Now the exams are over and I have shown her how to make it she could not believe how simple it was. It is made the night before so the oats have time to steep in the milk, use a bowl if you are going to eat it at home the next morning or use a portable container to ‘grab & go’ if you want to bring it with you say going to work the next day.  Traditional hot porridge is just not appealing during the Summer – this version is so much nicer. When I make it I don’t actually measure anything anymore and sometimes I use blueberries instead of raspberries or use a mixture of both. The ‘recipe’  (if you could call it that!)is adapted from one I saw originally in Derval O’Rourke’s book  ‘The Fit Foodie’. Continue reading

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Minestrone Soup (dinner in a bowl!)

 

You have probably guessed already that food is an obsession of mine and plays a kinda big role in my life i.e. if I am not eating it, I am thinking about it!  Apart from needing it to stay alive, food can be important to people for many different reasons. For example in our house at the moment it seems that there is a never-ending conveyor belt of different meals required and it is quite the full-time job trying to think of what to feed everyone and keeping the fridge stocked (there is only 4 of us!!). Darling daughter (DD) is in study mode for the Leaving Cert so as well as needing food to keep her fit and healthy, food is a real source of comfort in a gruelling schedule and can often be the highlight of her day. Darling son (DS) plays Senior Football(Gaelic) for which he trains 6 or 7 times a week, needs large amounts of carbs and protein for energy, strength and recovery – he seems to be always foraging in the fridge!  This ‘soup’ which is a meal in itself  keeps everyone happy whether it is for lunch, pre or post training or for supper. My daughter adores it as do I, it tastes great and takes just 2 minutes to re-heat in the microwave. Perfect for taking to school or work and really easy to make.

 
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins

4-6 Servings

Ingredients

150g (5oz) tinned haricot beans, drained & rinsed in cold water.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 leeks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
75g pancetta / smoked bacon pieces
1 litre (1½ pints) chicken or vegetable stock
1½ tablespoons tomato purée
1 bay leaf
75g (3oz) tiny pasta shapes
Freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
Grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano) to serve

How to make it!

  • Chop / cut the pancetta into small pieces (approx. 2cm) –  a scissors works best for this.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan
  • Add the chopped onion, garlic, diced leeks, carrots & celery and the bacon pieces.
  • Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat without colouring, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the drained & rinsed haricot beans to the pan.
  • Add the stock and tomato purée and bring to the boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 15/20 minutes until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the pasta into the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.
  • Season to taste
  • Serve with parmesan cheese grated over the top.

Curry in a hurry!

turkey-curry-3

There are few things that bring a little whoop of joy to my heart as much as when those magic words “that was soooo nice” are uttered at the dinner table. It makes all the time and effort that goes into planning and preparing a meal worthwhile. This high praise was given to the dish that I am sharing with you this week. The amazing thing about this dish is that it is one of the healthiest, leanest dinners that I cook. Continue reading

Feta Stuffed Butternut Squash


Feta & Butternut Squash

It’s all about green, white and gold today given the day that is in it, it feels like the right thing to do and an appropriate way to show support for our ‘boys in green’ as they play France in the Euros. This dish is another one to put on your list for your meat-free dinner day. It is easy to make as well as healthy, wholesome and really tasty as it contains a great combination of flavours. Many of the ingredients are ones that you can have in your store cupboard. Butternut Squash for example has a great shelf life – this particular one was in my vegetable drawer for at least a month! Feta cheese is also something you can have in your fridge as it has a long shelf life once unopened. To use the rest of a packet of feta you could make this Green Pea & Feta Cheese Omelette the next day. The other ingredients i.e. onions, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil would always be staples in my kitchen with the only ingredient that I might need to buy being the fresh mint.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40/50 minutes

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
½ – 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
80g / 3oz sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained & roughly chopped
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
100g / 4oz feta cheese, lightly crumbled
2 tablespoons of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400° F / Gas 6

  • Prepare the butternut squash by cutting it in half lengthways and scooping out the seeds with a spoon
  • Place the squash on a non-stick baking tray (or a tray lined with baking paper)
  • Roast in the oven for approx 30 minutes or until the butternut is soft, cooked through and has a slightly coloured surface (a larger squash will take longer to cook)
  • While the squash is in the oven heat the oil in a pan and add the onions.
  • Sweat over a low heat for 4-5 minutes until they are soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, mix the sun-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, crumbled feta, mint, cooked onions and garlic together.
  • Remove the butternut squash from the oven when cooked and scoop out some of the flesh to make space for the filing. (Keep the flesh for another dish). Fill the squash with the stuffing mixture, then return to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with some green veg.

PS – this reheats very well so you can enjoy it the next day as well !

NutritionLabel-5

Bacon & Asparagus Frittata

Bacon & Asparagus Frittata

You know when you come home, hungry (in my case usually ‘hangry’!) and need food fast, well instead of dialling your local takeaway this is the perfect answer and will be on your table even faster.  Tasty, quick, healthy and satisfying.  I made this one with asparagus, bacon pieces and finished it with some rocket but once you have eggs in stock you can just use whatever ingredients you have e.g. chorizo, cheddar, parma ham, sausage etc etc.   It is a great way to use up leftovers too.

Make sure you use a non-stick pan  – I always keep one purely for omelettes, pancakes etc. Otherwise you may be scraping your dinner out of the pan!

Serves 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
250g or 1 bundle of asparagus tips
75g of bacon pieces
4 large eggs
50g parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp chopped chives
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

  • Cook the asparagus in a pan of simmering salted water or steam over boiling water
  • Remove after 5 mins (they need to be tender and still bright green)
  • Drain, run under a cold tap and cut into pieces (approx. 1 inch)
  • Heat the frying pan and cook the bacon pieces for 3 to 4 minutes (no additional oil may be needed)
  • Lightly beat the eggs in a bowl, add the asparagus, parmesan and chives, stirring well.
  • Season with salt & pepper
  • Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook gently for 3 minutes, drawing back the edges with a wooden spatula and tipping the runny egg over the edge to help it set.
  • Cook over a gentle heat for 5 minutes and then place under a pre-heated grill, cooking for 2 minutes or until the top is set and lightly golden.
  • Remove and serve. Enjoy!

Spinach & Ricotta Polpetti

Spinach Polpette 1

This is a really easy, comforting and tasty vegetarian dish – I adore the combination of ricotta and spinach in just about anything particularly in filled pasta like tortellini or cannelloni. Plus you get a whopping portion of all that iron (so essential for all us women) and nutritional goodness in the spinach particularly when you use frozen spinach. The average bag of fresh spinach weighs approx. 180g and there is 400g of frozen spinach in this dish so you get the picture. This is good for you! Don’t be tempted to leave out the nutmeg, it really does add something special to the overall flavour of the dish. Continue reading

Stuffed chicken breast with leeks & bacon

Chicken stuffed leeks & bacon

I am often scratching my head trying to do something different or interesting with skinless chicken breasts. During the week it is all about speed and simplicity so my ‘go to’ recipe would be my chicken breasts with honey and mustard or perhaps a stir-fry or a curry. At the weekend I try to do something a little fancier if I have the time and this stuffed chicken is one of those dishes. This would also be a great dish to do if you were having anyone for dinner as it can be prepared in advance. As well as being delicious and moist, it is also a very healthy way to cook the chicken. I have used a leek & bacon mixture in the stuffing but you could equally invent your own or use the traditional sage & onion stuffing where any leftover chicken sliced thinly and would make a pretty tasty sandwich the next day. I am all for this type of cooking where a little bit extra or leftover can sort lunches for the next day.  Continue reading