Cheese and Onion Crisp Cookies

Now bear with me. This you will either love or hate. Please don’t knock it till you try it. If you like the salty/sweet combo you will love these cookies. If you don’t there is something wrong with you!!! In blind tests conducted by me on unsuspecting friends and family, most did in fact like these cookies when they tasted them – interestingly not everyone figured out the ingredients!

Again, I’m grateful to the smitten kitchen for the fabulous recipe, though I did put an Irish twist on it with the cheese and onion 😉 I did not add extra salt to the cookie batter though I did go totally over the top and sprinkle crushed crisp crumbs, Maldon and drizzle chocolate too.

1 cup (225 grams) butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 grams) golden caster sugar,

1/2 cup demerara sugar – or a coarser sugar for rolling
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed crisps. I used Keogh’s Dubliner Cheese and Onion
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

For the topping:

1 tblsp crushed crisps, as above

1 1/2 tsps Maldon salt

4-6 squares of chocolate (at least 52%)melted, for drizzling
1 teaspoon butter

Preheat oven to 170c. Line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside. With a stand mixer, beat the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add vanilla, pecans, 1/2 cup crushed crisps and flour and gently mix until combined.

Place the coarser sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoon sized scoops of dough into a ball with your hands.  I used a cookie scoop to measure. Roll them in the sugar then place on the prepared tray – use a cup or drinking glass to gently flatten them.

Sprinkle each cookie with some crisp crumbs and a few flakes of salt.

Bake cookies until lightly golden at the edges, about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.

Melt the chocolate and butter until smooth and drizzle or dip the cookies and let set on a rack. Enjoy.

Halloumi with Balsamic Cherries and Lentils

This is another quick one which is a very handy starter or light meal, borne out of my purchase of the previously mentioned crate of cherries. It’s ready in less than 20 minutes and is just a little bit different. I used about 2/3 of a pack of halloumi for two light suppers but you could make a pack stretch to a starter for four. I just love halloumi – it’s so very tasty, moreish, fast to make and a pack can lurk in your fridge as a staple. In fact much of the ingredients below are store cupboard except for the fresh ones so it’s not a bad back up plan to have. I used the smoked garlic paste from Tesco and the chargrilled peppers were from a jar (Aldi) in the fridge. The puy lentils were of course my fav staple from Merchant Gourmet and the halloumi was from Tesco but widely available.

Ingredients to serve two as a light supper/starter

8-10 cherries, pitted and diced

2 tblsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp butter

1-2 tblsp oil

1-2 tblsp diced red onion

1/2 tsp smoked garlic paste

150g approx halloumi cheese sliced lengthways into six slices

1-2 slices of chargrilled peppers, drained and sliced

few leaves of thyme

1 pack of puy lentils

1-2 tblsp balsamic dressing (to taste)

some rocket leaves


Heat the butter in a medium sized pan. When melted, add the cherries and after a minute, the balsamic vinegar. Let it bubble down on a medium to low heat – keep your head away – the fumes are very unpleasant!!

Move the cherries around the pan, and don’t let them go entirely dry. Decant to a bowl and set aside for now.

Wipe out your pan and heat a tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and smoked garlic paste and soften for a couple of minutes. Add the thyme leaves. Now add the pack of lentils and the peppers and heat through. Remove and keep warm.

Wipe pan (last time I promise – but you’ll only have one pan to wash!) Heat remaining oil in the pan and now fry the halloumi for 1-2 minutes each side on a medium heat. Now stir some dressing through the warm lentils to taste. Get your plates ready – it’ll all be ready fast – put some rocket down on the plate and spoon the lentils over. Place the halloumi on top and spoon the cherries and their juices over. Serve and enjoy.


the dip to end all dips


I first came across warm dips when we were living in Toronto a number of years ago. There and then dips were, well, pedestrian. I, however, was transfixed! When going to parties and gatherings, people brought all variations of these DIPS. This is a version of my favourite. The warm artichoke dip. It has truly never met a carbohydrate it didn’t get along with, or a glass of wine for that matter. Serve it with any manner of breads, crackers, breadsticks, crudités and your favourite beverages. It certainly starts conversations! You can get tinned artichokes in brine (Epicure) in Supervalu, Avoca and Nolans in Clontarf. I haven’t tried it with the artichokes in oil – I’d imagine they’d be very oily. I’m now on the lookout for frozen artichokes…..!


Warm Artichoke Dip

1 tin of Artichokes in brine
1 cup (250ml) of mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup (250ml) of grated parmesan
black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 170C . Drain the tin of artichokes. Chop roughly and place in a bowl or a pyrex jug (I find the jug handy for the immersion blender). Add mayonnaise, garlic and some black pepper to taste. Blitz with a handheld immersion blender until reasonably smooth, but leaving some texture. Add most of the parmesan, retaining a couple of spoons for later.

Decant the dip into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake uncovered in the oven for 20 minutes, until the top is golden and bubbly. This will keep warm for a while no problem just as long as you can keep away from it. It’s very forgiving if the guests are late!

Serve with aforementioned delicious things to dip-in-the-dip!

Dry Rub for Steak


It’s Friday and we are having steaks which can sometimes fail to live up to the hype if flavour is a little lacking.

This is a tasty dry rub that you can make up, keep in a jar and rub on your steak or other meat before grilling or barbecuing. It’s a variation on the whole30 mocha rub, but I’ve omitted the ground coriander and cocoa.

At this point I feel I have to mention my measuring spoons which make me very very happy! They fit in the spice jars 😉 I love them, really.


2 tblsp instant coffee

1 tblsp maldon salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tblsp garlic salt

1 tblsp dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a jar and store until needed. Rub on your meat and leave at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before cooking. I prepped mine this afternoon with the spuds and wrapped the meat in cling film in the fridge. I then unwrapped at room temp before cooking.

Then, obviously, cook your steaks to your liking 🙂 I have a trusty chargrill pan which I use to sear the steaks and then finish them off in a hot oven, but everyone has their own routine.  I served the steaks this evening with gratin potatoes as I could prep these in advance and leave in the oven and also some sautéed spinach and mushrooms.



Breakfast Pancakes

Pancakes are a favourite weekend breakfast here (and sometimes midweek if I am feeling motivated!) They are very easy to make and you can incorporate all kinds of fillings and toppings to please everyone! The recipe below would be a nice hit this Sunday (hint hint!) These are US style puffy pancakes as opposed to the crepe style ones and are especially yummy with maple syrup and your favourite fruits, or even bacon if you are going to come over all Canadian! Best place for purchasing maple syrup is Aldi or Lidl – it’s the best value and pure 100% with none of that maple flavour golden syrup rubbish, which I am sure is a crime somewhere.


Pancakes (makes roughly 12- 16 depending on size, which serves about 2 adults and 2 kids who aren’t totally ravenous!)

1 and 1/2 cups plain flour (I sometimes use half plain and half fine wholewheat, no-one notices and I feel virtuous)

1 tblsp sugar

pinch salt

scant 3 tsp baking powder (i.e. use just under the third teaspoon)

1 large egg beaten

1 and 1/4 cups milk

2 tblsp melted butter, plus extra for the frying pan

Ideas to add to the pancakes: A mashed banana added into the batter after it rests, before cooking (maybe a few choc chips!) … some blueberries … my fav – very thinly sliced apple with a little sprinkle of cinnamon placed on top of the uncooked batter in the pan just before you flip it over … toasted nuts … I could go on but you get the picture!


Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the milk and egg together and gradually add into the dry ingredients and mix well. Don’t worry too much about the lumps, but do make sure there’s no flour lurking in there.

Leave this mix to sit for 10 minutes – use this time to prep the fruit you’ll serve.

Now whisk in your two spoons of melted butter (and mashed banana if using). Heat a little butter (with a touch of oil to stop it burning) in a large pan to medium/high and pour about 2-3 spoons of batter in per pancake.  (When they have set a little, then is the time to carefully place your really thin apple slices on top if using) They will be done on one side when little bubbles rise to the surface of the batter, so flip over and cook through for a minute or two more.

Keep the first batch warm (or feed everyone while you make more!)

Serve warm with maple syrup and any fruit of your choice. Also serve with lots of coffee if it is Father’s day and you are up making this breakfast very very early!

Simple Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemon


Another week, another menu plan! We were away at the weekend so I am sort of starting this week on the back foot – yuck! It’s nice to have a quick recipe like this one to hand when you are feeling less than inspired of a Monday! Feel free to add extra chicken – the recipe is quite forgiving in that regard. Oh and if you are 7 years old, scrape all the olives and mint off first before eating.

Ingredients to serve 4

8 chicken thighs (skinless and boneless)

2 tblsp plain flour

3 tsp ground cumin

good pinch salt (Maldon is great)

2 tblsp olive oil

250ml (1 cup) chicken or vegetable stock (I use Marigold Bouillion)

Juice of half a lemon and about 1/2 tsp of zest (or to your taste)

50g (1/2 cup) sliced black olives (I use the jarred ones in brine)

small handful of mint, chopped


Get a large ziplock bag and add the flour, cumin and salt. Seal and shake to mix. Add the chicken and seal and shake to mix again, coating the chicken with the cumin mix.

Heat the oil in a wide pan (with a lid for later) and add the chicken lifting it out of the bag with tongs, gently shaking off the excess flour before adding it to the pan. Brown the chicken until golden, 3-4 minutes each side. Now add the hot stock to the pan, together with the lemon juice and zest and stir gently. Bring to a gentle simmer, then put the lid on and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Check again, stirring in the olives and mint and letting simmer for the last 5 minutes. Check the thighs are cooked through. Serve with cous cous or quinoa (our fav!) and vegetables.

Strawberry Muffins

These muffins are just the thing for a rainy Wednesday afternoon. I had a punnet of Irish strawberries, so recently lovely that had all of a sudden become a little tired looking and were in need of a little extra attention in the form of butter, sugar and flour. Muffins are just the thing, only taking 20 or 25 minutes in the oven and (mostly!) only needing a bowl. The crumbly streusel topping added a little crunch, because well, WEDNESDAY!

I like to melt the butter slowly in a small saucepan, letting it brown, foam and become slightly nutty. Brown butter is a wonder! Watch it doesn’t burn though. Don’t worry though – this is not a necessary step if you don’t have the time or inclination for it.

A note: I like to use US cup measurements – I’ve tried to include equivalents where I can.

Ingredients to yield 16-18 muffins:-

250g or 2 cups strawberries, finely diced.

445g  or 3 cups plain flour

1 tblsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

300g or 1 1/2 cups caster sugar

225g or 1 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled.

3 large eggs

300ml or 1 1/4 cups milk

Streusel topping:

50g butter, cold

4 tblsp plain flour

4 tblsp brown sugar


Preheat your oven to 180C and line your muffin tins with liners.  Make the streusel topping. I like to grate the cold butter into the mix of the flour and brown sugar and bring it all together with a fork and or fingers until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside for later.

Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb of soda to a large bowl and mix. In a large jug/bowl, mix the milk, eggs and melted cooled butter together.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients in, folding them efficiently. Make sure they are all well incorporated, but don’t over mix. Now fold in the chopped strawberries.

Divide equally in the cases, filling 3/4 way. Spoon a generous tablespoon of streusel topping on top of each muffin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check after 20 – mine were done at around 21 minutes – golden and springy to the touch.

Let cool for 5-10 minutes in the tin, before removing to cool on a rack.

Put the kettle on and enjoy!


A Spin on the Bakewell.


Blueberry Coconut cake

A spin on the bakewell.

There’s nothing like a slice of cake with a cuppa is there? This one I came up with, adapting a recipe that I have almost worn out from baking (if that’s possible!) from BBC Good Food. It’s a cake version which takes the pressure off performing any kind of pastry miracle. This is almost always a good thing! It never fails. I chose to change it around a little, swapping the raspberries for blueberries and adding a little coconut for a change. I’ve also used strawberries and mixed berries in the original, which is a winner.



100g ground almonds

150g butter, softened to room temperature

140g caster sugar

140g self-raising flour

50g dessicated coconut

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

250g blueberries (fresh or frozen are fine)

2 tblsp flaked almonds


Preheat your oven to 180C or fan 160C. Butter and line the base of a 26cm loose bottom tin with baking parchment. Place the butter, ground almonds, sugar, flour, coconut, eggs, and vanilla into a food processor and blitz until smooth and well mixed. Smooth half the mix into the base of the tin. Place the berries on top of the mix, scattering fairly evenly. Smooth the rest of the mix over the berries and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top. Bake for 50 minutes until golden. Cool in the tin then remove carefully to plate. Dust with icing sugar and serve with a dollop of cream.


the first bite.

Welcome welcome. I’d like to think that you’ll find something inspiring here. Eventually. It’s my first foray into this, so I have a few recipes up my sleeve and I am frantically thinking of some witty anecdotes to dovetail nicely with them. You know, interesting things!! Although as we all know, when thinking of dinner ideas, interesting is often sacrificed for quick and whatever-they-will-all-eat.


With that in mind, I’m sharing a handy little number that I often feed my troops. It’s in the oven in a few, takes 25 minutes to cook and I like to serve it with spuds/rice/quinoa and whatever vegetables are in the fridge or those that are the least hateful as far are the kids are concerned. That can change on a daily basis, believe me. It’s even nice served cold in slices with a salad if you’ve any leftovers.

Tasty Parmesan Chicken

Serves 4



4  chicken breast fillets

4 tablespoons natural yoghurt

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

4 tablespoons grated parmesan

Salt and black pepper to season


Preheat your oven to 180C. I like to line a shallow baking tin with tinfoil and brush it with a little oil. Of late, I’ve even discovered the nonstick Bacofoil which is pretty handy! Minimise the washing up! Set this aside. Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of cling film and bash them with a rolling pin to flatten them a little. Place the flattened chicken breasts on the lined tray and season.

Mix the yoghurt, honey, mustard and garlic powder in a small bowl. Spread a spoon of the mixture on each flattened breast, taking care not to go over the edges. Sprinkle a spoon of parmesan on each chicken breast.


Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until golden and bubbling, making sure they are cooked through. Check the thickest part of each breast – any juices should run clear.