Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas pudding muffins!

Hope no one is offended by my wooden boards.....

Christmas pudding is one of those things that you either love or hate. I spent my childhood hating it and now I love it. Not any Christmas pudding mind, it has to be my mothers. No recipe just a handful of this, a handful of that and the obligatory bottle of stout. wrapped lovingly in a special pudding cloth and steamed for hours before being hung from a broom handle to cool. I still remember the smell in the old back kitchen in Dublin to this day and the condensation on the inside of the windows as it was steamed. 

I couldn't resist these candy stripe muffin cases!
This was the first year that my mother didn't make a pudding but luckily I had a small one that I had wrapped carefully and stored away last year that I could indulge in. Still perfect after twelve months wrapped up and tasted completely delicious.

I hate any sort of food waste and when I came across this recipe to use up leftover pudding I decided to give it a bash. I always love Rachel Allen recipes and this is another one to keep on file and use again.

I didn't use the whiskey/sherry/brandy in my mix but delicious hazelnut Baileys and I topped them with a mascarpone icing made up of;

250g mascarpone cheese
100g icing sugar
a generous splash of Baileys

Mix the mascarpone, sieve in the icing sugar and stir in the baileys before piping or spreading onto your muffins.

Honestly not staged, he was just bringing the muffins for a walk!
So that's my Christmas dishes over with until next December. I have enjoyed sharing them with you over the last couple of weeks. I am looking forward to seeing what 2013 has to bring and I wish you and yours a very happy and healthy new year, xxx.

A Christmas present from me to me!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I did it my way!

I have recently read a few articles online giving food bloggers advice as to what's hot and what's not for 2013. I am sure these posts are all just in jest and they provide an amusing read but the one point I would like to make is that your food blog is exactly that, yours. I will be continuing to use my whitewashed boards, my patterned linens, my strings of twine and my children if I wish. Your blog is meant to be a snapshot into your life, sharing memories and recipes that you adore and conveying feelings into words and pictures. So my advice to my fellow bloggers is do it your way, use props, don't use props, do whatever pleases you because that little corner of the World Wide Web is yours and it's up to you to put your stamp on it!
Rant over! Here is my favourite picture of some string, oh and a mince swirl.....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silent Sunday.....Lough Boora Parklands.

An Offaly long walk.......

Sky Train

Muddy swinging legs....

Boora pyramid.

Midday shadows.

Proud head.
Happy feet!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful girl!

In the lead.....

Did I win?
Boora convergence & cycles.

All onboard!

Where is my nest gone?

Ruaille Buaille!

Sibling rivalry....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cranberry sauce!

11 days of madness ahead before I can eat myself into a food coma and can fall asleep in front of the fire! Christmas dinner is always my most favourite meal of the year to cook. I love planning the starters and dessert but the main course is always delicious roast turkey with all the trimmings. It's not possible to have the dinner without the accompanying cranberry sauce, so easy to make and so much more tasty than anything you will find in a jar. If made now this sauce will sit happily in a dark place for at least three weeks and the flavours will intensify. Hope you manage to find 7 minutes between now and the big day to prepare a jar!

You will need:

1 cup of muscovada sugar
1 cup of gin
250g cranberries
Peel of 1 satsuma
1/2 tsp of ground coriander

Place everything in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil whilst stirring.

When all the cranberries have popped turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Place in a sterilised jar and leave until required.

One of my favourite things to eat over the festive season is a giant festive sandwich. Delicious thick sliced bread smeared with cranberry sauce, cold roast turkey, cold baked ham, parsley & thyme stuffing and a sprinkle of salt. My mouth is watering, bring on the 25th!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mincemeat crumble cake!

Delicious little juicy satsumas.
Satsumas and cinnamon are one of my favourite Christmas flavour combinations. A mere whiff of some cinnamon and I am transported back to my childhood. Open fires, Christmas pudding and lots of paper decorations all spring to mind. This weekend my house will be transformed into a Christmas haven and the excitement will start to build about the arrival of the man in red. Am almost as excited as the children, this is most definitely my favourite time of the year! I came across this recipe online and can guarantee it is delicious, even more so if you use your own homemade mincemeat.

I sprinkled the top of my crumble cake with some icing sugar and the zest of a satsuma, delicious! I have a brand shiny new posh oven and this was the first thing that I made in it! Am looking forward to baking and sharing some more Christmas treats with you this month!

Nollaig Shona duit!

Do ye like me new cake stand?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lashings & lashings of ginger beer!


I always felt hard done by as a kid growing up in Ireland. It seemed unfair to me that the kids across the pond in Great Britain had the privilege of attending boarding school and spent their summers solving mysteries and going on adventures while I was here playing hopscotch. I jest of course but there was something magical about the novels I devoured in my formative years. Midnight feasts, tuck boxes and picnic baskets were the highlight of my novels, even back then I was obsessed by food. Potted meat sandwiches, tins of condensed milk, hard boiled eggs and slabs of chocolate cake all washed down with lashings of ginger beer was the stuff of dreams for me. Us poor Irish kids had TK red lemonade and tayto crisps, doesn't quite have the same ring to it! I came across this recipe for ginger beer by chance and thought it would be a nice addition to my Christmas table or as a mixer with some spicy rum, delicious! 

So basically its lemons, ginger, muscovado sugar and soda water that combines to create this delicious nectar.

So take some lemons.....what? Doesn't everyone store their lemons outside on the grass?

Get some fresh ginger, if your grocer doesn't wrap it up with twine and wrap it in greaseproof paper you need to find a new one........

Wrap a decanter in twine before straining your liquid in.
The twine adds a certain je ne sais quoi. Don't forget the sprigs of fresh mint either.

Freeze some slices of lime and place a slice in each glass before pouring.

I have frozen the remainder of mine into ice cubes which I am looking forward to adding to a beverage or two over the coming weeks! If you are a food blogger or enjoy taking food pictures I think you will enjoy this article! Thanks to for the link.

I am guilty as charged on almost all counts but hey that's what us food bloggers do!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Low & slow shoulder of lamb....

I have said it before and I will say it again, I just love Sundays! Long hours stretching ahead full of pottering around the kitchen and a spot of relaxation awaits me after I arise. Nothing says Sunday more than a full table and a Sunday roast. I had a shoulder of lamb today which was a first for me but definitely not going to be the last time I cook it, it was meltingly delicious.

I made a rub comprising of a bunch of chopped rosemary leaves, some thyme leaves, zest and juice of a lemon, two teaspoons of honey, salt, pepper and some rapeseed oil. Put little slits all over the shoulder before rubbing in the mixture. Place on a bed of root vegetables before placing in a preheated oven at 180 degrees. Immediately drop the heat to 150 degrees and leave until meat is easily shredded with two forks. I cooked mine for four hours, before shredding it and devouring some in the kitchen!

Sprinkle some chopped mint leaves on top before serving with some herby stuffing and some flash fried pak choi for a delicious and super simple Sunday lunch.

If you are looking for me you will find me on the sofa...........

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Savita. Ar dheis dé go raibh a hanam.

It beggars belief that in the year 2012 a woman was left to die an agonising death because we are a "catholic" country. Imagine being in so much pain that you repeatedly asked for a doctor to terminate a pregnancy that nature was in the throes of terminating and being refused.

At 17 weeks pregnant I can imagine how precious Savita's baby was to her. So many plans and dreams to be made, delight at the first little flutters of life in the womb and excitement at a new little addition to the family. The heartbreak then of an impending miscarriage and despite pleas to help nature run its course there was point blank refusal. How would you feel if it was your mother, daughter, sister, niece or friend lying there begging for help? It doesn't bear thinking about.

So this great little country that we live in is under the scrutiny of the world today. It's time for us to make a stand and let it be known that Ireland is changing. No longer should the Catholic Church be allowed determine whether a woman can live or die. Write to your local representatives and let it be known that you are not happy and things have got to change or are we going to wait for more women to die in this barbaric manner?

I am so sad that Savita will never get to experience the joys that motherhood brings, all of that was cruelly snatched away from her. No baby cuddles and sloppy toddler kisses to enjoy. No school reports and shouts from the sideline of a soccer pitch. Let her death not be in vain.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mincemeat Swirls

It's a thoroughly miserable evening here in Clara. The rain is lashing against the front windows and it's starting to get dark but my house is warm, cosy and full of laughter. It's sometimes nice to take a moment and just look around. Don't get me wrong my children are world champions in fighting with each other but on a day such as this they are best pals and I love to see them have fun together.
My jars of mincemeat are not really meant to be opened for another week but I couldn't resist making these little swirly buns as a treat for after dinner. To make sure they are delicious I have sampled a few, honestly no need to thank me.......

You will need

50g butter
200ml milk
7g dried yeast
50g sugar
375g cream flour
Pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
Melt the butter over a low heat before adding the milk.
When this is lukewarm remove from the heat and add the yeast, sugar and salt.
Slowly add the flour until the mixture forms a dough, turn onto floured surface and knead for 3 minutes.
Leave to rise in a greased bowl, covered, for 45 minutes.
When dough has risen roll out into a rectangular shape.
Spread the mincemeatover the entire rectangle.
From the long side roll the dough to form a swiss roll shape before slicing into 16 pieces.
Place in muffin cases.
Bake in  oven for 10 minutes or until they are golden on top.
Leave to cool on wire racks.

So there is my recipe to help brighten up a dark and dreary evening. More Christmas recipes to follow in the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A trip to the bog and a bundt.....

Sometimes having three children is a little overwhelming. Even when my husband is here we are still outnumbered! November is always my loneliest month as my husband is an accountant and the tax deadline looms into the not too distant future. Today for him is a working Sunday but we will still try and squeeze in a family roast this evening before I head off to work. We are like ships in the nights these days, some would probably say it is the secret to a happy marriage.......;-) There was a long full day stretching ahead of the children and I today so I thought a spot of baking and a quick jaunt around our local bog would keep them amused. Clara bog is such a gorgeous, peaceful place and one of my favourite places in the world. There is a wooden boardwalk covering a full loop and its such a great place for a stroll or a run. Don't let the picture above fool you, I had to bribe them all to hold hands. The 9 year old is too cool for that crack, the 4 year old is too independent to hold anyone's hand and the two year old is just a little madam!

This is them at their happiest, free to run and no sibling's hands to be held just the open road!
I popped this bundt cake into the oven just before we left and on our return we were greeted with the gorgeous aroma. A pot of tea was made and slices of cake dealed out to help restore their energy after their run!
I love coming across new blogs to read when googling for recipes and this is where I found this one...
It made for a really tasty and moist cake. I made a maple icing to drizzle on top which was simply made up with 50g icing sugar, a drizzle of maple syrup and enough water to loosen it, very nice!

So now the chicken is the oven, the potatoes are waiting to be mashed and carrots to be steamed. Only thing missing is Mr Ryan, Sundays arent the same without him. xx

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Homemade mincemeat!

Well the season to be jolly is almost upon us and for certain it is my favourite time of the year! Christmas always evokes great memories of years gone by. The huge queue to see Santa at Clery's that used to wind the whole way around the shop, Switzer's window which always involved what seemed to be an exotic trip over the ha'penny bridge to the south-side and the inevitable trip into the Pro Cathedral to admire the crib. Those days are gone now and it's my turn to create memories for my own brood who hopefully in turn will do the same for theirs.

I purchased Rachel Allen's latest book recently and I came across this recipe for mincemeat. I adore the stuff, I have even been known to spread it on toast! I hope I can wait the two weeks it takes to mature before indulging. Anyway what better way to kick off the memory making season than knocking up a batch of this?

Makes 2.7kg
You will need;

2 large cooking apples, peeled, voted and cut into chunks
Juice & zest of 2 oranges & 2 lemons
250g shredded suet
275g raisins
275g currants
275g sultanas
125g mixed peel
650g dark brown sugar
50g nibbed almonds
2tsp mixed spice
75ml brandy or whiskey

Place the chunks of apple in a saucepan with a teaspoon of water. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat until soft. Set aside to cool.
Put all the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix with the apple.
Pour into sterilised jars and leave to mature in a dark place for two weeks.
Stored this way the mincemeat should be perfect for at least a year.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Recipe for a perfect Sunday brunch......

Gather some friends together......

Have the obligatory rashers and sausages and maybe some cheese....

Throw a pear frangipane tart into the mix.......

and maybe some spiced pumpkin muffins....

Some treats for the kids.....

An indulgent orange and almond croissant pudding

A selection of juices......

and a little baby cuddle to round it off! Perfect Sunday!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Oreo cupcakes!

I can never resist a bargain, a snack pack of Oreo cookies was just €1:50 this week in Tesco so I couldn't leave them behind. To make these you will need all 20 biscuits. Two for the toddler in payment for helping to mix the bun mixture without breaking your favourite baking bowl, four to shovel in your mouth and gobble as fast as you can, twelve for the bottom of each cupcake case and two to crush to sprinkle on top of your buttercream icing! Am sure these will go down as well in your house as they did in mine!

You will need;

120g butter, softened
120g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
90g self raising flour
30g cocoa powder
1tbsp milk
14 Oreo cookies (+6, wink, wink)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees & line your cupcake tins with cases. Place an Oreo cookie at the base of each.

Cream the butter & sugar together.

Add in half the beaten eggs, combine.

Add in a tablespoon of sieved flour.

Stir in remaining eggs.

Add the rest of the flour and the cocoa powder, lightly stir.

Add the milk and give a final stir.

Spoon equal amounts into each case.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

To decorate;

150g icing sugar
50g cocoa powder
100g softened butter

Mix all ingredients together to make a stiff icing.

Spoon into an icing bag fitted with a Wilton 1M icing nozzle.

Pipe a swirl of icing on top of each bun.

Decorate with two Oreo cookies which you have crushed into crumbs! Nice little treat to have with a glass of ice cold milk, great twist to the usual cookies!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Baked chocolate custard with eyeballs, bones and skullbones......

If you have made this before you will have been left with eight lonely looking egg yolks in a bowl! Countless times I have refrigerated them only to remember them several days later when all they are suitable for is the compost bin! After making a gorgeous pavlova at the weekend I was adamant I wasn't going to forget about the gorgeous golden yolks sitting patiently in the fridge.

Mousse, curds and pasta were all options but I decided on a baked chocolate custard as I knew the two youngest men in my life would be well impressed upon their return from school, especially with the addition of the eyeballs, bones and skulls!

You will need;

200ml full fat milk
50g cocoa powder
8 egg yolks
80g caster sugar
200ml cream

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Bring the milk and cocoa powder to the boil.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until creamy.
Take the milk mixture from the hob and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Stir in the yolk mixture and the cream before pouring into four ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a roasting dish and pour some water into the roasting dish so that the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Place in oven until the custard has set, approximately 20 minutes.
Leave to cool before decorating with some gorey eyeballs and whatever other halloween candy you can get your greasy paws on!

I have entered my photo in Action Against Hunger’s Love Food Give Food Instagram Competition. You can find out more about the competition and how to enter here.

My marathon running husband......

Next Monday my lovely husband is running the Dublin city marathon. Would love if you had a minute to read his words below. Don't worry if you can't sponsor him just maybe we will all be a little bit more aware of all the little lights that never got a chance to shine.

"As most of you know I’m doing the Dublin City Marathon on Monday 29th October. I set myself a target two and a half years ago to do the marathon in 2012, thinking it would never come around, but now it’s only a couple of days away! So after months of training it is upon me and I am running in memory of Oja Prunty, a little baby who was born prematurely and only stayed with us for 5 minutes before he was called home. Oja is the son of good friends of mine, Mark & Nitai, and they experienced a pain no parent should ever have to experience when Oja died. The money I hope to raise will be passed on to:

• A Little Lifetime Foundation (

• Friends of the Coombe (

Oja will never be forgotten and I hope by doing this small deed it will help the people who helped Mark and Nitai when Oja passed away. I would be grateful for any donations that you could give and have set up an online account for ease of contribution."

To read more about Oja click on the following link

You never said you were leaving​
You never said goodbye
You were gone before I knew it
And only God knew why

A million times I needed you
A million times I cried
If love alone could have saved you
You would never have died

In life I loved you dearly
In death I love you still
In my heart you hold a place
That nobody could ever fill

It broke my heart y to lose you
But you didn’t go alone
For part of me went with you
The day God called you home.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Coffee & walnut loaf!

It's either a blog feast or a famine around my kitchen table these days! I know other bloggers have strict schedules for blogposts etc but to be honest this is my hobby and much as I know ye all hang around on the interweb all day waiting for me to publish a new post, some weeks there may not be any! ;-)

This is a handy little recipe to have to hand and can be easily converted to a lemon, summer fruits, chocolate or whatever takes your fancy loaf. I fancied a coffee and walnut loaf so that is what I made!

What you need;

Simply weigh three eggs in their shell....mine weighed 200g, match the weights of the other ingredients to this weight!
200g butter
200g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
Espresso shot

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and grease a loaf tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the eggs which you have lightly whisked.
Sieve in the flour and fold.
Lightly stir in the espresso shot.
Pour into the loaf tin and place in the oven.
Bake until a skewer comes out clean, approximately 45 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

It's perfect to eat as it is but I fancied a bit of crunch! I added two teaspoons of freshly made coffee to 50g of icing sugar before drizzling over the cake. Crush a handful of walnuts and scatter on top!
Voila a deliciously moist interior with a lovely crunchy exterior. Perfection!

I entered this picture in Action Against Hunger’s Love Food Give Food Instagram Competition. I’ve just found out my photo was selected as one of the top 20 in the competition and so will be entered in the Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year Competition.