Archive | August, 2013

Sticky Honey and Garlic Meatball Salad

21 Aug

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I am a big fan of a generous plate of tender meatballs smothered in a classic tomato sauce sitting atop a beautiful mound of fresh spaghetti but we all need a change sometimes and this recipe is perfect for that. The actual meatballs are quite basic but the sauce is just to die for, it is sweet and sticky and chock full of garlic. It uses all ingredients that everyone should have lurking around their cupboards and it would go beautifully with any sort of meat. I think it would be perfect for chicken in a wrap.

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I serve these over a fresh, crisp salad instead of the usual pasta which makes the dish much lighter and ideal for Summer. It would also be great stuffed into a crunchy baguette if your feeling hungrier! I’m off to the beautiful Italy tomorrow so I will try to post while I’m there but if I don’t I will hopefully be back on Tuesday. It will be tough work but i’ll try to sample as many gelato flavors as I can to report back to you. A big task but I’m up to it, Ciao! 😀

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Sticky Glazed Garlic and Honey Meatball Salad (Serves 2-3)

250-300g lean mince beef

1 small egg. lightly beaten

1/2cup breadcrumbs

1tsp mixed herbs

1/2 onion, finely diced

2tbsp Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper

For the Sauce:

1/2tbsp sesame oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup honey

2tbsp soy sauce

For the Salad:

a handful of iceberg lettuce, shredded

1/4 cucumber, diced

1/2 pepper, sliced thinly

2-3tbsp tinned sweetcorn, drained

6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 small carrots, thinly sliced or grated

grated parmesan, to serve

  • Preheat the grill to high.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the mince, egg, breadcrumbs, herbs, onion, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper using clean hands preferably.
  • Shape the beef mixture into roughly 10 meatballs and place on a lined tray.
  • Cook under the grill for 6-8mins on both sides or until the meat is cooked all the way through.
  • Meanwhile make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat then add the minced garlic and cook for 1-2mins to soften. Add the ketchup, honey and soy sauce and bring to the boil, mixing continuously.
  • Turn the heat down to a simmer and let reduce for 5mins.
  • Once the meatballs are cooked add them to the pot with the sauce and toss to coat.
  • Toss the salad ingredients together then divide between bowls, top with meatballs and extra sauce and dust with a fine grating of parmesan.

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Mature Cheddar and Sage Scones

19 Aug

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There is something soothing about going into the kitchen early in the morning and turning simple, everyday ingredients into something magnificent. It really relaxes me and always ensures I have a really calm and happy day. Things are so hectic at the moment because of the Florence trip (I’m soooo excited!) so I really needed something to chill me out, this was the perfect answer. Not only did I have a great baking “therapy” session to start my day but I ended up with these fantastic scones and believe me nothing smells better coming out of the oven then super cheesy scones!

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The sage and mustard are subtle but compliment the cheesy flavors well. The one thing I would highly recommend is that you use really tangy mature cheddar so that you have a real sharpness from the scones. These are great as is or used to accompany loads of different meals such as scrambled eggs for a decadent brunch, a steaming bowl of soup for lunch or alongside a meaty main for dinner.

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Mature Cheddar and Sage Scones (Makes 5-6)

225g plain flour

1tsp cream of tartar

1/2tsp baking soda

a pinch of salt

50g butter, cold and cubed

70g mature cheddar, grated (Plus extra for the top)

1 heaped tsp dried sage

21/2tsp mustard powder

a pinch of salt and pepper

1/4 pint milk, plus a drop extra for glazing)

  • Preheat the oven to 230°c/450°f.
  • Sieve the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the cubed butter and rub into the flour using your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the grated cheese, sage, mustard powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Make a well in the centre and add most of the milk. Mix together with a wooden spoon, add the remaining milk if necessary until it forms a soft dough.
  • Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1inch thick, cut into roughly five rounds.
  • Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Brush with some extra milk and top with more grated cheese.
  • Bake in the oven for 10mins until golden.

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Homemade Digestive Biscuits

18 Aug

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I’m seriously on a homemade biscuit role between the oreos, jammy dodgers and now these. I love it! It is so cool being able to recreate classic favorites at home and being able to present a box of delectable tea time treats to visitors with their cup of steaming tea. Now that is something that will really make somebodies day.

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Digestives are actually just a sort of wholemeal shortbread biscuit and of course I covered mine in chocolate to make them completely irresistible. These are easy cookies to make but really time consuming so it’s a recipe to make when you have a few hours to settle into the kitchen and enjoy an afternoon of biscuit smells wafting through the house and several cups of tea being consumed!

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Homemade Digestive Biscuits

1 cup plain flour

1/2 cup ground flaxseed (You can sub in any of the following: Wheat germ, Oat bran, Finely ground bran cereal or a mixture)

1/2tsp baking powder

1/4tsp baking soda

1/4tsp cream of tartar

pinch of salt

30g butter, cold and cubed

2tbsp vegetable oil

90g light brown sugar

3tbsp light cream

1tsp vanilla extract

iciong sugar for dusting

100-150g milk chocolate

  • To a food processor, add the flour, flaxseed (Or substitution), baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt and whizz to combine.
  • Add the butter, oil and sugar and whizz again to combine making sure there are no butter chunks left.
  • Finally add the cream and vanilla and whizz again. It should resemble a soft but not wet dough. If you think it is a bit wet, turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead a few tbsp flour into it. Wrap up in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30mins or preferably the freezer for about 15mins until firm.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°.
  • Cut out two large sheets of baking parchment and dust both lightly with icing sugar. Roll the dough out to about 1/8inch thick between the two sheets and peel the top sheet off.
  • Cut into circles and remove the excess dough, transfer to a large baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 15mins. Let cool on the tray.
  • Repeat with the rest of the dough until it is all used up.
  • Once all the cookies are cool, melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30sec bursts, stirring between each interval until smooth.
  • Dip the cookies in the melted chocolate, using a knife to spread it out evenly then get a clean toothpick and draw several lines across the biscuit then draw similar lines in downwards motions on the biscuit creating the traditional digestive look.
  • Let the chocolate set then have a tea party!

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Tuna Chickpea Salad with Honey Harissa Dressing

16 Aug

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A quick salad packed with protein and other good stuff is always high on my list of favorite foods to eat, especially when I’ve had a hectic day and all I want to do is chill with a tasty dinner. This dinner is so quick and the harissa dressing adds bag loads of flavor with practically no effort at all. Me and mom just booked a last minute holiday to Florence, Italy for next week and I am so excited! Although it does mean there is heaps of last minute organizing to get sorted which is why I had no time for a fancy, elaborate dinner tonight.

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Not only was time a benefit of this dish but it is super healthy too. I am watching what I eat between now and Florence because I am planning on eating pizza and pasta and gelato til I’m blue in the face because god knows when I’ll get such an amazing opportunity again. I’m planning on taking loads of photos, roughly half will probably end up being of food! If anybody has any suggestions of good places to either see or eat in while we are there, I would love your advice 🙂

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Tuna Chickpea Salad with Honey Harissa Dressing (Serves 2)

1tbsp olive oil, plus extra for tuna steak if using

1/2 courgette, finely diced

1/2 red pepper, finely diced

1/2 yellow pepper, finely diced

2 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 small beetroot, finely diced

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained

1 tuna steak or 1 tin tuna in brine, drained

 For the Dressing:

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2tbsp honey

juice of 1/2 lemon

1tsp harissa paste

salt and pepper, to taste

  • If using a tuna steak, heat 1tbsp oil in a large frying pan and cook for 4-5mins on each side for a well done steak or until it is no longer pink in the middle. Transfer to a cutting board and cut or flake into rough chunks. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in  a large frying pan over high heat. Add the courgette, peppers, spring onions and garlic. Saute until softened 2-3mins then add the beetroot, tomato and chickpeas and cook for a further 1-2mins.
  • Divide between bowls, scatter tuna chunks on top and drizzle generously with the dressing. Serve with Corn on the cob or some steamed broccoli.

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Cake Batter Funfetti Popcorn with Crispy M&M’s

15 Aug

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I love funfetti! It has to be the most adorable baking trend ever and when it is mixed with popcorn it becomes even more adorable. Unfortunately i find it impossible to find really colorful sprinkles here in the West of Ireland which is why mine is slightly dull… If anybody knows where I could get some it would be great if you’d let me know! 🙂 I organised to go to the movies with one of my friends Amy because I haven’t seen her all Summer and we were really due a good catch up.

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She is a pretty darn good baker herself, and I knew she would appreciate a good homemade cinema snack. Not only do I love homemade snacks but cinema food is outrageously priced and there is no way you will ever catch me buying indulgences there! Even with all this complaining about cinema food, I have to admit that I love munching into salty popcorn with my eyes glued to the screen of a good movie so I stuck with my popcorn roots and came up with this baby.

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It is pure indulgence but the coating to popcorn ratio is perfect so even though the chocolate cake batter flavors are quite rich, it doesn’t make the completed recipe sickly. My favorite m&m’s are the crispy ones that you get in the blue packet but any sort would still be delicious. Amy loved it and I found it so additive that I had all mine eaten before the movie even started (So be warned!)

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Cake Batter Funfetti Popcorn with Crispy M&M’s

1 bag plain, natural popcorn (I use Kelkin)

100g white chocolate

1 1/2tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 heaped cup vanilla cake batter mix from a box

colorful sprinkles

1 large bag crispy m&m’s

  • Make the popcorn according to the packet instructions and tip into a large bowl.
  • Line a large baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30sec bursts, mixing between each burst until smooth. Stir in the oil and cake mix until smooth.
  • Drizzle 3/4 of the chocolate mixture into the popcorn and scatter loads of sprinkles and 3/4 of the bag of m&m’s. Toss with your hands until everything is coated evenly.
  • Tip the popcorn out onto the prepared tray and drizzle with the leftover melted chocolate and scatter more sprinkles and the rest of the m&m’s over to finish.
  • Leave for at least 30mins until the chocolate has hardened then transfer to a bowl or little baggies if your bringing it with you.

 

Crisp Sun Dried Tomato and Parmesan Polenta Triangles

13 Aug

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I have always been curious about polenta and for the longest time I barely even knew what it was, but I decided it was time to expand my food palate. I always thought the look of grilled polenta looked much more appetizing then the soft version so I went searching for a tasty recipe and found this gem. It is flavored lightly with sun dried tomato and parmesan which brings it up to a whole new level and pairs beautifully with a simple ratatouille. This is a handy dish because is better if made the night before and quick grilled before serving. You could mix all sorts of flavors through this  or even make a sweet version.

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Crisp Sun Dried Tomato and Parmesan Polenta Triangles (Serves 4)

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup polenta/cornmeal

3 sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

1/4 cup grated parmesan

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2tsp dried basil

1/2tsp dried oregano

1tbsp olive oil

  • Bring  the stock to the boil in a small pot.
  • Take it off the heat and add the polenta, sun dried tomatoes, parmesan, garlic and herbs and mix to combine.
  • Leave until the polenta becomes fluffy and all the stock is absorbed.
  • Grease a round/square baking tin or dish and add the polenta, spreading it out in an even layer.
  • Chill in the fridge overnight or at least 3-4hrs.
  • Cut into slices and heat the oil in a large griddle pan. Add the polenta slices and grill for 2-3mins on each side until crisp and lightly golden.

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Homemade Jammy Dodgers

11 Aug

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Jammy dodgers, what a brilliant classic biscuit. Kids and adults alike adore it and it pairs with tea like cinnamon to apples. Dunk it in a hot cuppa and you get a perfectly tender biscuit with sticky jammy filling that’s starting to melt ever so slightly… Have you filled the kettle yet? This homemade version is even better then the packet ones with a rich, buttery biscuit that crumbles heavenly when you take a bite yet holds its shape perfectly otherwise and and is sandwiched with a sweet strawberry jam centre.

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These have been taste tested by little people which, as everyone knows, are always the worlds best critics so I know for sure they make the cut! Making your own is great fun because you play around with this simple recipe by adding flavors such as almond, cocoa or lemon to the biscuit and have a blast trying all sorts of funky jam flavors or even use curds, nutella or nut butter for the middle, just don’t return them to the oven for the second time if using anything other then jam.

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These keep great in a sealed tin or jar for up to a week, if they manage to linger that length of time. The last great aspect of this biscuit, is that they are pretty as a picture and you can use all sorts of mini cookie cutters for the middle cut out which will entertain kids to no end and bring a smile to anyone’s face.

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Homemade Jammy Dodgers (Makes 40-50 biscuits)

2 cups plain flour

1 cup icing sugar

A pinch of salt

250g butter, chilled and cubed

1 egg

3tsp vanilla extract

Jam of your choice (I use strawberry)

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, icing sugar and salt.
  • Add the cubed butter and use your fingers to rub it into to the flour until it resembles fine bread crumbs.
  • Add the egg and vanilla and use a wooden spoon to bring it all together and form a soft dough.
  • Wrap the dough in cling film and chill in the fridge for about 30mins.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°c/350°f and grease and line two large baking sheets with baking parchment.
  • Take half out of the fridge and roll out on a well floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Cut into circles, cutting a middle section from the centre of half the biscuits.
  • Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 10-12mins until lightly browned.
  • Let cool for 1-2mins then add 1/2-1tsp of jam on each bottom biscuit and sandwich the top biscuit on top.
  • Repeat with all the cookies and place bake in the oven for 5mins to set the jam.
  • Let cool and serve with a hot cup of whatever you fancy. Store the rest in an airtight container for up to a week.

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