No matter how many children we have, whether we leave the house to work or are tied to the school-time runs, I think most parents have a similar approach to weekday family meals. Dinner needs to be nutritious enough to sustain the busy lifestyle a modern life dictates. They must be filling enough to carry us, and especially energetic little ones, to the next meal. But, rather important for the designated cook, it's paramount that the family meals we make can be rustled up with ease using as few pots and pans as possible. Stews, casseroles and any one-pot dish fit best into this category, simply served with a big pot of creamy mash, pasta or rice. This tasty fish dish will be prepared and on the table in just over half an hour. I like to serve it with some brown rice, but creamy mashed potato would also be delicious. I've listed cod in the ingredient list, but feel free to use your favourite fish of choice. 

Cod in a Rich Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, finely diced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt and pepper
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 cod pieces, approx. 200g each
100g mature cheddar cheese, grated
A handful of fresh basil leaves

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C /Gas mark 6. Drizzle the oil into a frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and pepper. Turn the heat to low and sauté for 5 minutes, until the veg is soft.
  2. Sprinkle over the smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer over a low heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Place half of the sauce at the base of a medium-sized, oven-proof dish. Place the cod pieces on top, and add the remaining sauce over. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. After this time, take form the oven and sprinkle over the grated cheese. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  5. To serve, tear the basil leaves and sprinkle over the fish. Serve with boiled brown rice or mashed potato and steamed peas.
Pancakes are so easy to make, and this is one of the reasons I have loved making them with the children over the years. The pancake recipe below is a little different from the standard pancake mix, but it's still very tasty. These wholesome pancakes contain lots of goodness and nutrients from the porridge oats, eggs and banana. Within the pancake mixture, there's no need for any added sugar, as they're naturally sweetened by the ripe banana. These oaty banana pancakes make for a delicious low-sugar breakfast treat any day of the week.

50g porridge oats
2 eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp olive oil

To Serve
Fresh berries & a drizzle of maple syrup or honey


1. Combine the oats, eggs, banana and cinnamon using a Nutri-Bullet, a hand blender or in a food processor. Blend for about 1 minute or until the mixture is of a smooth consistency. Leave the batter to sit for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
2. Place a large, non-stick pan over a medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add 6 small ladlefuls to the pan. If using a small pan, do this in two batches. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden in colour.
3. Serve immediately with a few fresh berries.   
Last week, I was delighted to appear on an episode of Ear to the Ground. In the kitchen of The Merry Mill, I baked some gluten-free, oaty fruit muffins. This is the home to the Scully family, and together they grow, harvest and mill their oats on the family farm. These oats are organic and completely gluten-free. Isn't that fantastic! Both the Scully family and the crew from Ear to the Ground were so welcoming to me and Jack, and they were really lovely to work with. If you missed this episode of Ear to the Ground, and you'd like to see this family farm in action, you'll find the episode on the RTE player.

Here is the recipe for those tasty fruit muffins I made.

Oaty Fruit Muffins

These oaty muffins are packed with nutrients and flavour. Not all oats are gluten-free, so check the packaging to ensure they are packed in a gluten-free environment.  

225g gluten-free oats
1tsp gluten-free baking powder
2 small (150g) bananas
2 eggs
75ml sunflower oil
75ml milk
50ml honey/maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g raspberries
50g blueberries
2 tbsp oats


1. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/ fan 170°C/gas mark 5. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.
2. Place the gluten-free oats in a food processor and blitz until fine, which will take about a minute. Add the gluten-free baking powder and blitz to combine.
3. Mash the bananas and add to a jug with the eggs, sunflower oil, milk, honey/maple syrup and vanilla extract. Add to the processor and blitz together for 1-2 minutes, stopping at intervals to scrap the mixture from the side.
4.  Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cases. Top each one with either a few raspberries or blueberries and gently press to ensure they stick. Sprinkle some oats over each muffin.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to cool on a wire tray. These muffins will keep for up to 3 days in an air-tight container. 

Some of the 'behind the scenes' pics.


Recently, I've been trying to have a few meat-free days each week. This hasn't been an easy task, as my young boys all love meat-heavy dishes. However, something else they are all fans of is a nice curry, so this korma dish, slowly but surely, has become a regular on our dinner menu. This is the ideal dish to make when your cupboards are a little bare, but you still have plenty of fresh vegetables to use up. I love the addition of butternut squash to a curry, but any sort of vegetables will work well in this dish. This korma is packed full of nutrients and flavour, and the leftovers are also delicious the next day. It's equally nice served with either rice or noodles.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
black pepper
1 tin of tomatoes
200ml vegetable stock
200ml (1/2 tin) coconut milk
1 small butternut squash, peeled & roughly diced
1 sweet potato (350g), peeled & roughly diced
2 small carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
1 leek, dark green bits trimmed off, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

To serve
fresh coriander leaves
boiled brown rice


  1. Over a medium heat, add the olive oil to a large saucepan. Once it has heated through add the onion and turn down the heat. Stir well and then sauté over the low heat for 7-10minutes, being careful that the onions don't start to brown. Add the garlic and stir through, before adding the curry powder, cumin and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  2. Next, add all of the remaining ingredients to the pot. Simmer over a low heat for 50 minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. To serve, ladle into bowls, scatter over some fresh coriander leaves and serve alongside some boiled brown rice.  

I don't think I can remember a day my mother didn't cook a pot of potatoes for dinner. Even on the warmest of summer days, if a dinner of cold meats and salads was on the cards, potatoes would still be there, simmering away on the stove. Potatoes were part and parcel of our daily dinners, and to this day I still cherish their deliciousness, but as a mother, I especially appreciate their versatility. Soups, salads, omelettes or casseroles; there are so many meal options to consider once I've potatoes in my kitchen. 

There is something most delicious about new season, Irish potatoes. They're bursting with flavour, and little is needed to boost their profile in any dish. I'd happily eat a plateful of new potatoes, simply sprinkled with sea salt and coated with a little glaze of good, Irish butter. In this recipe I created for the 'Potatoes More Than A Bit On The Side' campaign, the Irish potato is the star ingredient. Potatoes are the traditional 'superfood'. They're 100% natural and they're rich in minerals, especially potassium, as well as being a great source of fibre. At this time of year Irish potatoes can be picked up in every shop and market around the country. When we purchase Irish potatoes we're supporting our local growers who passionately produce delicious potatoes for our consumption. 

Patatas Bravas with Chorizo & Eggs

Patatas Bravas is a dish many of us will associate with holidaying abroad, but it's an ever so easy dish to recreate at home. Little cubes of fried potatoes, coated in a slightly spicy tomato sauce, makes this dish flavoursome enough to enjoy on its own, but the combination of flavours makes for a wonderful base for many dishes. Any grilled meat or roasted vegetables would work deliciously well served alongside the tomato drenched potatoes. Patatas bravas may be most associated as a snack to enjoy with a nice glass of red, however as an everyday dish it may be best suited to the family breakfast or brunch menu, especially when an egg is popped on top. Chorizo, with its pungent flavours, pairs perfectly alongside any tomato based dish, it also adds to the smoky tones of the paprika. However, it can easily be omitted if you'd prefer this dish as a vegetarian option.

Patatas Bravas with Chorizo & Eggs

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4


For the potatoes
500g new potatoes, scrubbed clean
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

For the sauce
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Pinch of chilli flakes
400g tin of cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
80g chorizo, roughly diced

For the eggs
1tsp olive oil
4 free-range eggs

For the garnish
Fresh chives

1. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/ fan 200°C/gas mark 7.
2. Chop the potatoes into small cubes and dry with some kitchen paper. Drizzle the olive oil on a large baking tray and place in the hot oven for two minutes. Take from the oven and add the potato cubes. Carefully, toss the potato cubes in the hot oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. Return to the oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes, depending on the size of the cubes, until brown and crispy. Take from the oven half way through cooking to turn the potato pieces. 
3. For the sauce, add the olive oil to a medium-sized frying pan and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the garlic, smoked paprika and chilli flakes, and continue to cook for one minute.
4. Add the tin of cherry tomatoes and sugar. Season with a little salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes. After this time, add the chorizo and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.
5. Next, cook the eggs by adding a drizzle of olive oil to a hot frying pan. Crack in the eggs and fry to your liking.
6. Once cooked and crispy, take the potatoes from the oven. Take the tomato sauce from the heat, add the potato pieces and stir to combine.
7. Divide between four plates, top each with a fried egg and garnish with some chopped chives. Serve with a slice of soda bread to mop up all the juices. Enjoy!

If you are looking for a little potato-based recipe inspiration head over to where you will find many delicious and interesting recipes.

To keep up to date with the Potatoes: More than a Bit on the Side campaign, follow their Facebook page Potatoes: More than a Bit on the Side, on Instagram at potatoes_morethanabitontheside and over on Twitter at TastyPotatoes using the #TastyPotatoes hashtag.

Disclosure:  I'm always happy to come on board with this campaign, as in our home we're huge fans of the humble spud. All views are my own, but I was commissioned by the people behind the Potatoes: More Than a Bit on the Side campaign to create and share this delicious potato-based recipe with you.

It can be rather difficult to plan for a picnic with the unpredictable weather we've come to associate with an Irish summer. Once the summer holidays are upon us, hail, rain or shine, my little lady, Millie, will throw a blanket onto the grass and declare it to be an appropriate day for her, and her teddies, to eat al-fresco. The rest us, however, prefer to have the heat of the sun on our backs before we're lured into lunch in the outdoors. As we're never too sure from one day to the next if the sun will shine, picnics of the impromptu kind are most common in my house. Therefore, normally, whatever is served at the picnic must be conjured up from whatever is in the fridge or press at that time. A few easy to create dishes, along with some fruit and something to drink has often been turned into a portable feast fit for a king or queen, as any meal is special when surrounded by loved ones.

Peanut Butter & Banana Wraps

Peanut butter and banana make a super combination. It's one I love on brown bread, but these made-in-minutes wraps have a great appeal to little ones. So easy to put together, they'll be able to make these wraps all by themselves.


4 tbsp peanut butter
4 wholemeal flour tortilla wraps
2 small bananas, thinly sliced
2 tbsp honey

  1. Spread a tablespoon of peanut butter evenly over each tortilla wrap. Top with the banana slices and drizzle each one with a little honey.
  2. Roll up the tortillas tight. Cut in half and serve.

Cheese & Apple Lunch Kebabs

Children will love the sight of these lunch kebabs in their picnic hamper. Chunks of cheese along with some apple is a good combination, but cubed cucumber, chicken and grapes work well too.


2 apples, cut into small chunks
Squeeze of lemon
100g cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
Handful of lettuce leaves

  1. Place the chunks of apple into a bowl. Add a squeeze of lemon and stir to combine. This will help to keep the apple from browning.
  2. Using 8 short wooden skewers, layer the apple, cheese and lettuce onto each one.
  3. Serve straight away or wrap with cling film and place in a cooled lunchbox for your picnic.

Fairy Bread Jam Sandwiches

When my children were younger each one of them loved the children's television show Hi-5. It was the Hi-5 crew who introduced my little ones to this colourful treat, Fairy Bread. It's quite sugary, so certainly not for every day, but when an impromptu picnic is on the cards fairy bread jam sandwiches are ideal. They can be rustled up in seconds and make a super cute addition to the picnic feast.

4 slices of white sliced bread
2 tbsp jam of choice
2 tbsp hundreds & thousands

  1. Cut the crusts from the bread and spread the jam on one side of each slice of bread. Press the slices of bread together. Cut each sandwich into quarters, making eight triangles.
  2. Spread a little butter on the outside of each sandwich, on both sides. Generously sprinkle over the hundreds & thousands and serve.

No Bake Oaty Bites

These scrumptious oaty bites can be prepared in minutes, using everyday store ingredients. I love the flavour of the peanut butter with the oats, but any nut butter, such as cashew or almond would work well in its place.

makes about 15
100g peanut butter
50g honey
2tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g porridge oats
50g Rice Krispies

  1. In a small saucepan over a low heat gently melt the peanut butter, honey, coconut oil and vanilla extract together. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour the oats and Rice Krispies into a large bowl. 
  2. Pour over the melted mixture and stir well to combine. Pop into the fridge for 30 minutes. This will set the mixture a little, making it easier to handle. 
  3. Line a freezer-proof tray with parchment paper. Take a spoonful of the mixture at a time. Using your hands, scrunch together to form a ball. Place on the tray. Repeat until all the mixture has been used. 
  4. Place the tray into the freezer for 30 minutes. Once set, they're ready to be served or pop the oaty bites into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to three days.

This 'Impromptu Picnic' is taken from my Easy Parenting column, summer 2016.
My young men have a particular fondness for their Sticky Ribs, and if ribs are ever spotted on a restaurant menu at least one of the boys will order a portion. You'll pick up bacon ribs for a few euros in the butchers, making them a great option for feeding a hungry crowd. The marinade mixture I use isn't too spicy, so it caters favourably for both young and old. Once the ribs have been poached, I normally pop them into the oven, but if the barbeque is lit the smoky flavour will add even more deliciousness to these tasty ribs.

Sweet & Sticky Ribs 

1.5kg baby back bacon ribs
10 black peppercorns
1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1lt apple juice

75g tomato ketchup
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed

1tbsp sesame seeds


1. Add the ribs, peppercorns and onion to a large saucepan. Pour over the apple juice, then add enough water to completely submerge the ribs.
2. Place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about an hour and a half.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
4. In a large casserole dish combine all the marinade ingredients. Take the ribs from the pot. To dry, dab with some kitchen paper. Place the ribs into the casserole dish and coat well with the marinade. Gently pour in one cup of water to the bottom of the dish, but don't pour the water oven the ribs. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the ribs are nice and sticky.
5. Take from the oven and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
6. Enjoy on their own or with some baked potatoes and coleslaw. Alternatively, you could serve with my Nutty Carrot & Red Onion Salad, which goes particularly well with the sticky ribs.