Archive | August, 2012

Simple Lasagne

31 Aug

Lasagna is a dish I am always trying to improve and find the best way of making because I am a very fussy person when it comes to my lasagna. There is many different ways of making a lasagna, my method tries to reduce the creaminess, as I don’t like creamy dishes, and really pack in loads of flavor while keeping it  simple and stable. There is no set rules to a lasagna so you can follow my recipe or feel free to chop and change bits of it to suit your taste. The main thing about a lasagna, in my opinion, is to have fun while making it or even get your kids involved. I hope you like my version of lasagna and enjoy!

Simple Lasagna

500g beef mince

1-2tbsp olive oil

400g tin chopped tomatoes

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2tsp dried oregano

1/2tsp dried basil

1-2tsp sugar

salt and pepper

6 lasagna sheets

1 ball of mozzarella, sliced

1/2 tub of ricotta

50g Parmesan, finely grated

1/2 tsp dried oregano

2 tomatoes, thickly sliced

  • Preheat the oven to 200ºc/375ºf and grease the bottom of a small square ovenproof dish.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the beef mince, onion and garlic and cook, stirring regularly, until the mince is fully cooked. Add the tinned tomatoes, oregano, basil, sugar and season to taste.
  • Cook the lasagna sheets according to the packet instructions, then lay them out flat on the counter to cool slightly.
  • To assemble the lasagna, lay two lasagna sheets on the bottom of the dish, spread a bit of the ricotta on them, then lay out a third of the mozzarella in an even layer. Spread half of the mince on next, then repeat the steps, lasagna sheets, ricotta, mozzarella and mince.
  • Finally put the last two sheets of lasagna on then spread with a little more ricotta, the rest of the mozzarella and the Parmesan. Lay the sliced tomatoes on top, then sprinkle with oregano and season with saalt and pepper.
  • Bake in the oven until the cheese on top is melted and the tomatoes are slightly charred.
  • Remove and cut into squares and serve with a crisp green salad.


Chilli Jam Chicken

29 Aug

This recipe is the perfect midweek supper because the chicken can be put in the marinade in the morning, ready to cook when needed. It is a simple marinade and can be flung together easily. This dish is packed with flavor and the chicken  is moist and tender. It can be served with rice or for a lighter meal, some steamed green beans and a crunchy salad.

Chilli Jam Chicken (Serves 4)

1tbsp rapeseed oil

1tbsp soy sauce

1tbsp rice wine vinegar/white wine vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2cm piece of root ginger, finely chopped

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped

1 spring onion, finely chopped

4 chicken breasts/thighs

6tbsp chilli jam

  • Preheat the oven to 190ºc/350ºf. Mix the rapeseed oil, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, chilli and spring onion in a large oven proof dish. Whisk together and add the chicken, toss to coat. At this point you can cover the chicken and leave to marinate in the fridge.
  • If you are using chicken breasts, bake in the oven for 25-30mins then using a pastry brush, spread the chilli jam on the chicken and bake in the oven for another 5mins.
  • If you are using the chicken thighs, bake in the oven for 35mins then brush on the chilli jam and bake for a further 10mins.
  • Serve straight from the oven with rice and steamed greens.

Mapley Apple Cake

28 Aug

Anything to do with apples always catches my eye.I just can’t help it, the tart apples can just be balanced out so perfectly by something sweet e.g. the maple syrup to create a superbly sweet yet balanced cake, genius. This cake is light and moist and can be used as a dessert served with some ice-cream or as a tea time treat with tea or coffee. It is a straight forward recipe and could even be made with kids.

Mapley Apple Cake ( 1 x 20cm cake)

110g butter, softened

200g soft light brown sugar

2 eggs

210g plain flour

1tbsp baking powder

pinch of salt

1-2tsp cinnamon

250g granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced( about 3 apples)

4tbsp maple syrup

For the Apple Fan:

1-2 granny smith apples

1 knob of butter

1-2tbsp dark brown sugar

2tsp maple syrup

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/350ºf and grease and line a 20cm pop bottom cake tin.
  • With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time.
  • Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and fold into the mix until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in the apples and pour into the cake tin and smooth the top into an even layer. Bake in the oven for 45-55mins until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Make holes in the top of the cake with a wooden skewer and slowly pour the maple syrup over the cake allowing it to soak in.
  • Allow to cool in the tin the remove.
  • For the apple fan, peel, core and slice the apples into thin segments. Put the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a frying pan over a medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the apples and cook until they are slightly softened. Taste and add more sugar or maple syrup if necessary.
  • Arrange in a fan on the cake.

Puppy Pictures

22 Aug

I’m really sorry about my lack of recipe posts lately and I just wanted to show you guys a few pictures of the reasons for my absence.



Lamb and Apricot Tagine

22 Aug

This is a real hearty dish yet healthy and full of flavor. It is not overly sweet like some tagines, it just has a subtle sweetness from the apricots. The lamb is so tender after its long cooking that it is practically falling apart and just melts in your mouth.  This a great dish to make in big batches and freeze it, so handy. It is quick and easy to throw together and doesn’t have too many ingredients, perfect to throw on the night before or in the morning of a busy day and at the end of the day, tadaa, you have a delicious meal. I served mine with brussel sprouts, because they were just ready from the garden but feel free to leave them out or use a different vegetable. 🙂

Lamb and Apricot Tagine (Serves 4)

2tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced/finely chopped

1tbsp ras el hanout(You should be able to find this in any large supermarket)

1tsp dried coriander

700g lamb leg, diced and fat removed

5 carrots, roughly chopped

200g dried apricots

400g can chopped tomatoes

500ml lamb/beef stock

zest of 1 lemon

300g coucous

460ml stock

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/350ºf. Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole dish, add the onion and cook for 5mins until softened. Then add the garlic, ras el hanout and coriander and cook for 2mins more, stirring constantly to prevent it burning.
  • Add the lamb, carrots, apricots, chopped tomatoes and stock and season well with salt and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and transfer to the oven to cook for 1hr, then turn the temp down to 160ºc/ºf and cook until the lamb is tender, about 30-45mins.
  • About 10mins, before the tagine is finished, put the couscous in a bowl and pour over the stock. Put a plate over the bowl and leave until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 10mins.
  • Check the tagines seasoning and add the lemon zest. Fluff the couscous with a fork then serve with the tagine.

Apple and Blackberry Pie

21 Aug


My inspiration to have a bash at making a pie came from a big bag full of cooking apples a family friend gave us and fresh blackberries I picked off the hedge today. They all looked so fresh and bursting with flavor that I just had to make something. This is a pretty basic pie but I have to say it was quite delicious. Serve it hot with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of cream and it is pretty damn heavenly. I hate to say it but I think I can feel Fall/Autumn creeping in again and if your feeling a bit sad about the warm Summer ending then this is the pie for you.It sums up in one little dish all the good things that come with Fall/Autumn. It will really brighten up your day! 😀


Apple and Blackberry Pie( 1 x 9inch pie)

65g castor sugar

113g/1 stick butter, softened

250g flour

1 egg

600-700g brambly/granny smith apples, peeled, cored and diced

50-75g dark brown sugar

2tsp cinnamon, or more to taste

a punnet of blackberries

1 egg, beaten for egg wash

  • Preheat the oven to 210ºc/410ºf and grease a 9inch pie dish.
  • For the pastry, with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Then beat in your egg followed by the flour until a dough starts to form. Try not to over mix it.
  • Turn the pastry out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for 2 hours or even overnight, until it has firmed up.
  • In the meantime, put all your apple in a medium pot add the sugar and cinnamon and cook over a medium heat, tasting and adding more cinnamon or sugar if necessary, until the apple has slightly softened.
  • Once the pastry is firm, roll out half quite thin but not breaking apart and lay over your pie dish. Egg wash around the edge, then put in your stewed apple and scatter the blackberries over the apple.
  • Roll out the second half of the pastry and lay on top of the pie. Pick the pie up and hold it by the bottom in one hand, then cut the excess pastry off the edge using a knife. With your thumb, press down all the way around the edge to seal the pastry. Cut a cross in the middle of the pie, egg wash it and sprinkle with some brown sugar.
  • Bake the pie for 5mins then turn down the temp to 180ºc/350ºf and bake until the pastry is golden brown and crisp, 15-25mins.



Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

18 Aug

I made these cookies for a gathering we were having at the house and they went down an absolute treat. I put them out on the counter and when I turned around again the tin was half empty. Everyone was raving about them and I think I may have actually found the king of all chocolate chip cookies. They are chewy and crisp on the edges and have an amazing flavor. A great treat for a party, picnic or a family gathering as they look super yummy and travel really well.

2 cups plus 2tbsp plain flour

3/4tsp baking powder

1/4tsp salt

170g/1 1/2 sticks butter, melted

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

2tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups milk and white chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 170ºc/325ºf and line 2 large cookie trays with baking parchment.
  • Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
  • In another bowl mix the melted butter and 2 sugars together, then beat in the egg, egg yolk and vanilla until incorporated then beat in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips until it forms a sticky dough.
  • Put the dough in a line on some baking parchment and roll it into a sausage. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  • Cut into thick slices and spread out far apart on the cookie trays, you may need to do it in 2 batches. Bake for 15-18mins until golden and slightly crisp on the outside.
  • Allow to cool on the trays then devour!

Moist Tea Brack

18 Aug

This is a traditional Irish tea brack that is perfect with a of cup of tea, utter bliss. It is extremely moist and full of flavor. It actually gets better after a few days as the flavors mingle and develop. A straight forward recipe that always delivers  It is easy to transport and is a perfect tea time treat.

200ml strong hot tea

150g soft dark brown sugar

50ml whiskey

300g dried mixed fruit e.g. raisins, currants, sultanas

small pot of glace cherries, halved

50g blanched almonds, roughly chopped

1 egg, beaten

150g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

2tsp mixed spice, or to taste

1tbsp honey to glaze, optional

  • Mix the sugar, whiskey, dried fruit, glace cherries and blanched almonds into the hot tea and leave to sit overnight( you could even leave it for 2 nights for an even moister brack).
  • The next day,preheat the oven to 170ºc/325ºf and grease and line a 2lb/9x5inch tin.
  • Beat the egg into the soaked fruit mix then sieve in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice and fold in until incorporated.
  • Pour the mix into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 55-65mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
  • While the brack is still hot you can brush it with the honey if you wish. Allow to cool in the tin then slice and serve slathered with butter or on its own.

Oaty Caramel Bars

16 Aug

I tried out this recipe after a friend of mine asked if I would make a treat for one of her group meetings. I was looking for something simple and quick  due to my then impending pups, and this ticked all the boxes plus looked completely delicious. I gave it a go and after changing one or two things, I’m in love. The caramel layer is extremely rich but it is very nicely balanced by the oats, making the bar much more balanced.

2 cups plain flour

1tsp baking soda

1/4tsp salt

1 cup butter. softened

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar

2 cups oats

400g tin of caramel( or you can make homemade)

150g milk chocolate chips

1 cup pecans/walnuts/hazelnuts

  • Preheat the oven to 180ºc/350ºf and grease and line a 9x13inch baking tray.
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.
  • With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy then on low, slowly mix in the flour followed by the oats until a crumbly dough is formed.
  • Pack half the crumble mix into the tin and bake in the oven for 10mins. Meanwhile put your caramel in a saucepan over a low heat and slowly warm the caramel until  it is slightly more runny.
  • Take the crumble base out of the oven and scatter the chocolate chips and nuts over, then pour in your caramel in an even layer. Finally scatter the rest of the crumble mix on top evenly.
  • Bake in the oven for about 15mins, until light golden.
  • When it is done let cool to room temp then put in the fridge for at least 2 hours or even overnight. Cut into squares and eat!

My New Arrivals

16 Aug

Hey Everyone, I’m really sorry I haven’t been posting any yummy recipes these last few days but it is because my golden retriever, Sophie, just had seven beautiful puppies. I may not have new recipes up for a couple of days but bare with me! Pictures of the bundles of joy will be posted soon!

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