Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Broccoli and Leek Bake

Broccoli and Leek Bake

One day I was making creamy leeks but decided I wanted a bit more texture, so this was the result. This dish works well with chicken or lamb but any type of roast meat would work. I think breadcrumbs are something that everyone should have to hand, we all have times where bread has gone hard on us, especially crusty loaves or baguettes, so instead of turfing them out why not blitz them up and freeze them.

Calories 1519
380 per portion
Serves 4:
1 head of broccoli
2 large leeks
2 shallots
50g of butter
50g of flour
175ml semi-skimmed milk
100g low-fat cheddar cheese
Half a nutmeg
A vegetable stockpot/cube
Large handful of breadcrumbs
100g Parmesan cheese

Cut the broccoli into small pieces and steam or par-boil them.
Cut and wash the leek then thinly slice. Finely chop the shallots and add them and the butter to a pan on a medium-high heat, sauté for a few mins before stirring in the flour. Once it is all absorbed add the leeks and sauté for another few mins until softened.
Stir in the milk a little at a time over a low heat until you have a creamy consistency, add in the grated cheddar and stir until dissolved. Grate in the nutmeg and add the stockpot or ‘crumb’ in the stock cube. Again stir until dissolved.

Add the steamed broccoli, give all a good stir then transfer it to a suitable sized oven dish. Level out the contents and add a layer of breadcrumbs topped with the grated Parmesan cheese. Place in a preheated oven at 200°c and bake for 25 mins until golden and crunchy on top and bubbling around the edges.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Honey Glazed Ham

I love to make a good ham from time to time, I always make a bigger one than I need to so I'll have plenty of leftovers for during the week. I find that I can make a few meals out of the leftovers if I plan ahead... and of course there is nothing like a good ham sandwich too later that evening with a cuppa.

Honey Glazed Ham

Serves 6-8:
2kg unsmoked boneless joint
1 carrot
1 onion
2 sticks celery
A teaspoon of black peppercorns
A teaspoon of coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
Cloves for studding

For the Glaze:
200g Demerara sugar
25ml white wine vinegar
100ml dry white wine
200g honey


Place the ham into a large pot and cover with cold water. Peel and chop the carrot and onion and roughly chop the celery, add these to the pot along with the black peppercorns, coriander seeds and bay leaves.  Bring the pot to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer for 2 ½ hours. Skim off any impurities on the water surface and top up with water if needed during the cooking time.

Carefully pour the cooking liquid away and allow the ham to cool slightly on a plate. Preheat the oven to 180°c. Place the ham into a suitable sized roasting tin. Carefully cut away the skin with a thin layer of fat leaving a layer on the ham. Score the fat with a knife in a criss-cross pattern and stud these with cloves.
To make the glaze, put the sugar, vinegar and wine into a pan and bring to the boil. Add the honey and bring to the boil again and remove from the heat.

Pour half the glaze over the ham and roast in the oven for 15 mins. Remove from the oven and pour the rest of the glaze over. Roast for a further 30-35 mins basting and turning the roasting tin a few times to get an even colour all over.

This ham can be made a day or 2 in advance of when you need it.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage

So, who's enjoying my new recipes?? 
Here is one from the book, it's actually bursting with flavour and makes the perfect mid-week dinner!!!

Stuffed Pork Chops with Sage

This is my take on quite a regular weekly dinner for some. This version really ups the flavour stakes and will definitely leave you wanting more. Serve up on a large platter and let everyone dive in and help themselves.
Tip: The chops can be prepared the night before and left in the fridge

Serves 4:
1kg of floury potatoes, diced with skins left on
4 thick pork chops on the bone
1 bulb of garlic
200g packet of bacon lardons
24 fresh sage leaves
2oz of softened butter
4 dried apricots finely diced
Rapeseed oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220°c. Put the potatoes into a saucepan of salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for 4-5 mins; you only want to par-boil them. Drain them in a colander and let them dry off in the steam.
Lay the pork chops flat on a chopping board and insert a small paring knife in horizontally into the chop and make a hidden pocket making sure the tip of the knife does not come out either side.

On a clean board place the butter, dried apricots, a finely chopped clove of garlic, 8 chopped sage leaves and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Now mash all together with a fork making it into a flavoured butter. Push this butter equally into the pockets of the pork chops.

Take 8 leaves of sage and dress them in rapeseed oil and then dip one side down in some plain flour and push one flour side down onto each side of the chops. Set aside.

In a large oven dish pour in the potatoes along with the bacon lardons and the rest of the cloves of garlic, season and drizzle with oil. Place into the preheated oven. After 10 mins place a frying pan onto a hot hob and add a drizzle of oil, when the pan is really hot put in the chops and fry for 10 mins turning occasionally to get them nice and golden.

Remove the dish from the oven and add the chops on top in a layer, pop back into the oven for 10-15 mins depending on the thickness of the chops.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Homemade Pesto

Homemade Pesto

There are certain things that can be bought pre-made for our convenience that taste wonderful and eliminate the need to make ourselves. Then there are some things that, when homemade, would beat anything that mass production could even dream of producing hands down… Pesto is the latter.
Some things are worth a little time and effort. This is a very basic and standard recipe but once you make your own you will taste the difference.

Serves 4
¼ clove of garlic
Pinch of sea salt
An extra-large bunch of basil
A small handful of pine nuts
Small handful of Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper


On a small dry frying pan, lightly toast the pine nuts over a medium high heat, shake them around and don’t colour them too much.
Using a food processor, place in the garlic, salt and picked leaves from the basil. Give it a good blitz until finely chopped. Add in the pine nuts and blitz again.
Scoop out the contents into a mixing bowl, add in ¾ of the grated parmesan cheese and stir it in while drizzling in the olive oil, until you have an oozy mix. Add a generous pinch of freshly crushed black pepper and taste. Adjust seasoning if need be.

Add in the rest of the Parmesan and more olive oil until you have reached the consistency you desire. Continue to taste check, this is your pesto, it should taste how you like it.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Healthy Cookies

A few healthy cookies, and by god they hit the spot. Apple slices, some with peanut butter, choc chips and pumpkin seeds, the others with nutella, chopped walnuts and white choc chips. 

Averaging a tiny little 50 calories each.

Just pat dry the apples slices with kitchen paper before putting on the spread.

Its that simple... Enjoy!!!

Healthy cookies

Healthy cookies

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Super Smoothies

Super Smoothies

I personally think that Smoothies make a great breakfast; they can be really healthy (depending on the ingredients) and super quick to make if you are in a rush in the mornings.
There are so many combinations you can try and as always experimentation is key… Let yourself go, live a little!
 Here are 4 of my favourites…
**You can use coconut milk, almond milk etc
 here instead if dairy milk for an even healthier 

Breakfast of Champions

This has a great balance of Carbs, Protein and good fats to kick start your day.
1 glass of skimmed milk
1 ripe banana
30g porridge oats
1 tablespoon of drinking chocolate powder
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of honey
Blend until smooth

Cranberry and Raspberry Smoothie

200ml cranberry juice
100ml skimmed milk
100ml natural low-fat yogurt
150g frozen raspberries
1 tablespoon of honey
Blend until smooth

Beetroot Smoothie

A glass of skimmed milk
3-4 pre-cooked baby beetroots
1 banana
30g porridge oats
A squirt of honey
Blend until smooth

Green Smoothie

1 glass of apple juice
1 banana
A good handful of spinach
A handful of green grapes

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Oreo chocolate cake

I know lately I have been harping on about the weather... but this picture I posted on Instagram just about sums up our Irish summer... 

So its Wednesday, mid-week, hump day... so here is a recipe that will cheer you up... maybe give you some inspiration for an indulgent treat at some stage soon...
This is a recipe that I made on TV3's Late Lunch Live back before Christmas... I'm only getting to post it now!

Oreo chocolate cake

Makes two 8” sandwich tins (20cm) or one 8x3 inch round cake tin
225g softened unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (optional)
4 eggs
190g self-raising flour
35g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
A little milk if required at room temperature

For the ganache
225g dark chocolate
284ml double cream

For the Oreo buttercream frosting
375g unsalted butter softened
1teaspoon vanilla extract
750g icing sugar
1 single pack of Oreos

Before you do anything else, pre-heat the oven to 182 degrees C/360 degrees F/Gas mark 4_. Prepare two 20cm (8inch) sandwich tins by greasing them thoroughly and lining the base with non-stick parchment.
Place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat it until it is pale and light. Add the sugar and continue beating until it's light and fluffy. Break the eggs into a separate bowl and beat them lightly.
Add the eggs a spoon at a time to the batter mix, beating in each addition thoroughly before adding the next. This is so the mix won’t split.
Sift the self raising flour, cocoa powder and salt together. Use a large spoon, fold in the sieved flour to the egg and butter mixture. The mix should now be ready, however if it looks a bit thick, add in a drop of room temperature milk to loosen it
Divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins. Tap the tins down gently to expel any large air pockets and level the cakes. Place into the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes.
When ready, cool on a cooling wire rack and remove the baking parchment.

For the ganache
Coarsely chop up the dark chocolate on a clean chopping board and place in a heatproof mixing bowl. Over a medium heat on the hob, heat the double cream in a saucepan until it starts to boil. Once it starts bubbling remove it from the heat and carefully pour it over the chocolate in the bowl. Stir until all the chocolate has melted and you are left with a glossy ganache.

For the buttercream
Gently soften the butter and start to beat in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Sift in the icing sugar and continue to beat well until the mix is pale and smooth.
Remove the Oreos from the pack and set 3 or 4 aside for decoration. Remove the centres from the other Oreos and bash them up in a sandwich bag using a rolling pin. Pour the crumbed Oreos into the buttercream and mix through using a wooden spoon.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

It's Sunday, It's The 2nd August and we should be baking in sunshine... but instead we are looking out at a grey miserable day waiting on the clouds to burst open yet again. So to cheer myself and hopefully you good folk up, I have created this gorgeous little piece of food heaven... Enjoy, I know I will!!!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

Serves 6-8:
1 pint of double cream
300g soft cheese
12 Digestive biscuits
6 Gingernut biscuits
4 oz butter
200g white chocolate
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
300g fresh raspberries

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake


Put all the biscuits into a large strong sandwich bag and bash with a rolling pin or put through a blender to crush up. Melt down the butter over a medium heat and pour over the crushed biscuits in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Put the mix into a 8 or 9 inch loose bottom tin or a spring release cake tin and firm down to form a compact even layer (a potato masher is the job here). Place in a fridge for a half hour.

In a heat proof bowl melt the chocolate over a pot of simmering water.Add the vegetable oil and stir it well in, this loosens the melting chocolate into a nice smooth consistency. Once smooth and loosened, allow to cool slightly

Place the soft cheese and sugar into a bowl and pour in the double cream. Whisk this mix until it starts to firm. Add in most of the melted chocolate, keep some aside to pipe over for decoration, and fold into the mixture. Add in a small handful of the raspberries in and gently fold through so as to not break them up. 

Spoon the mixture over the top of biscuit base and smooth over with a small palette knife. Decorate the top with the remaining raspberries and pipe the remaining white chocolate over the top.
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