Friday, August 26, 2011

Nessa's Family Kitchen's Self Sufficiency Salad


Out in our garden we have a little greenhouse. At this time of year there is always an abundance of salad leaves and tomatoes to be harvested. It makes putting together a healthy tea very easy.
I love a plate of salad leaves and herbs with a drizzle of my salad dressing, which I make up about once a week and have handy in the fridge. To make it extra tasty and nutritious I like to add a few chunks of cheese {any type}, some toasted cashews, a little beetroot and always a sliced hard boiled egg.  Served with some homemade soda or a piece of toasted ciabatta this is a meal fit for a King!

We love eggs and quite often have them poached for brekkie, fried with homemade wedges or baked for brunch. To keep up with our demand for fresh eggs a couple of weeks ago we bought 5 more hens to add to the 5 we already had. For anyone who has hens, or is lucky enough to have access to farm fresh eggs, you'll agree that there is no comparison between these eggs and the eggs bought in the shops, even if they are free range or organic. As someone who bakes a lot I would also notice a notable difference in my cakes and sponges when made with fresh eggs from my little hens. For any egg lovers or bakers that have some room in the back garden I would definitely recommend purchasing a few hens. They really are easy to take care of and the reward of the most delicious eggs each morning is just fantastic.

I would be delighted if I was severed such a salad anywhere as it's perfectly healthy as well as being so scrumptious. Such a meal can easily be created with shop or market bought ingredient. For me it is so satisfying to serve up a meal where many of the ingredients came straight from the back garden.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nessa's Family Kitchen Chicken Goujons with a Creamy Garlic Dip

Most children seem to just love chicken nuggets or goujons. Whether it's a birthday party or a family get together they always seem to make an appearance somewhere on the menu. There are many different variety in the shops but there are none so nice as the ones you will make yourself.
With such a vast amount of chickens being imported into Ireland each week I always enquire to the origin of the chicken that I order in a restaurant or buy from a butcher. When at all possible I like to buy Irish and there are plenty of perfectly good Irish chickens on the market so why are so many imported into Ireland? Why cost of course, as consumers we always want to feel like we are getting a good deal but surely we would all pay that little bit extra if it meant that our chicken didn't have to travel thousands of miles to reach our plates. It's important for our economy that we buy Irish but also for our health, as traceability of the bird is obviously easier but also there are many strict protocols within the food sector that must be adhered to in Ireland. Luckily I don't need to travel far to be assured of free range Irish chicken as my butcher, John Gillivan in Moate, only sells chickens from the Cavan based Chicken Farm, Cootehill. Don't be afraid to ask where your chicken is from because if consumers are looking for more Irish products on the shelves then the retailers will have to meet that demand.
These chicken goujons are a marvellous way to include a high quality protein into a child's diet. Chicken is also packed with Vitamin B and Selenium which makes these goujons not only very tasty but also so nutritious. Children love to help with meal preparation and I always find that they can be more interested in a dish that they have had some input in. Once you have the three bowls set up it is easy for little hands to prepare the goujons, just make sure to wash hands well before and after.  
These goujons are delicious served on their own or with ketchup but for a flavoursome alternative try my Creamy Garlic Dip.
Enjoy!


Chicken Goujons

Ingredients   
3 Free Range Chicken Breasts
50g (2oz) Plain Flour
1 teasp smoked paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
100g (4oz) breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) Parmesan cheese (finely grated)
3 tablespoons sunflower oil/olive oil

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 375° F/ gas mark 5.
2. Cut the chicken into strips, about 5 per chicken breast.
3. Place the flour in the mixing bowl with the smoked paprika, a little salt and pepper.
4. Place the egg in another bowl and beat with a fork.
5. Mix the breadcrumbs and the finely grated cheese in another bowl.
6. Toss the goujons in the flour, then remove and shake off the excess flour.
7. Dip the goujons in the beaten egg. Remove from the egg letting any extra egg drip off.
8. Next, toss the goujons into the breadcrumb mix. Gently shake off crumbs that don’t stick.
9. Lay the goujons on a plate. They can be cooked at this stage but if you have time, cover with cling film and put in the fridge for an hour.
10. Place the baking trays in a preheated oven for 2 mins. Remove and drizzle the base of it with the oil.
11. Carefully place the goujons in a single layer. Bake in the oven for 15-20mins, turning them over half way through.
When they are golden brown and completely cooked remove from the oven and serve immediately with the creamy garlic dip or sauce of your choice.



Creamy Garlic Dip

Ingredients   
4 tbsp Greek Yogurt
2 tbsp Mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
Squeeze of lemon

Method
In a bowl combine all the ingredients together.
The dip will keep for one week in a container in the fridge.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Family Fun for National Potato Day

Keogh’s Potatoes have organised Ireland’s first ever national day of spud appreciation and want you to join in the fun! With lots of fun activities and tasty dishes to try this promises to be a real fun event.








Official Press Release:


*Who doesn’t love Spuds? But just in case you have forgotten how lovely they are the *Keogh family *want you to fall in love again with Ireland’s national vegetable, the one and only Potato, with the first ever national day of potato appreciation on Thursday 25th August.On Thursday 25th August, Keogh’s are celebrating Ireland's first 
*National Potato Day* by encouraging everyone to eat at least one potato on the day,
by taking up some of their special offers in stores nationwide and if you
are in Dublin you can join in the *Spud Games* in Merrion Square!  The
Spud Games are a bit of fun where everyone is welcome to come and celebrate
all that is ‘spud’tastic and remind the people of Ireland just how tasty and
cheerful the humble spud can be!

Keogh’s have been growing potatoes in North County Dublin for more than
four generations and these Irish farmers really know how to grow a spud with
love. Whether you like your potato baked, fried, roasted, boiled, jacket on
or off, join in this celebration and enjoy at least one potato or indulge in
a potato recipe on National Potato Day.

There will be plenty of “smashin” potato games in Merrion Square with
adaptations of traditional favourites to introduce such games as, the spud
sack and the spud n’ spoon races or even make your own Mr. and Mrs. Potato
Head, competitions and yummy potato dishes and goodies for all the family.

Peter Keogh, Director of Keogh’s Potatoes said, ‘*What's not to love about
the potato, it is a delicious vegetable that is so Irish it is part of our
heritage and culture.  We want people to embrace the spud and see its 
versatility, good value and tastiness, but most of all we want people to be reminded of how much they love potatoes on National Potato Day 2011*.”

National Potato Day* is brought to you by *Keoghs,* to remind the nation
of just how delicious and nutritious the spud is! The next time you buy a
bag of spuds, not only are you getting a great meal but you are supporting
local Irish produce and business. Potatoes are low fat, suit all budgets,

adaptable to all pallets and a great source of vitamins and minerals but
most of all Irish Spuds are delicious!

It's great to be involved in a day like National Potato Day. Potatoes
have been a staple of the Irish diet for centuries and are still the main
provider of vitamin C in the Irish diet.  They are naturally low in fat,
which makes them a perfect part of any healthy meal and eaten in their

jackets they are a source of folic acid" *commented Dietician Sarah Keogh.

For more information on Ireland's 1st National Potato Day on Thursday 25th
August and The Spud Games in Merrion Sq., Dublin visit:
http://www.facebook.com/KeoghsPotatoes

 To find out more about Keogh's and some yummy potato recipes visit:
 www.keoghs.ie

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Creamy Pork with Apples & Sage



Today I made a really quick and tasty dinner that I thought I'd share with you as it's really delicious. It's based on a recipe I read in this month's Good Food Magazine. I was actually just going to post this on my facebook page and for some reason it wouldn't load so I decided to pop it on here. 

Creamy Pork with Apples & Sage

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
3 eating apples
4 pork chops
400mls veg/chicken stock
1 teasp wholegrain mustard
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

Method
1. Heat a large frying pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil.
2. Add 3 chopped eating apples and fry till golden(about 10 mins).
3. Remove from pan, put to one side and add the pork chops. Fry for about 6 minutes on either side until cooked through.
4. Add 400mls stock & 1 teasp wholegrain mustard and let bubble for 5 mins.
5. Add 2 tbsp sour cream & 1 tbsp chopped fresh Sage. Return the apples to the pan and heat for 5 more mins.
Serve with mash potatoes and veg of your choice.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hidden Veg Pasta Bake with Chicken Strips

Some parents are lucky enough to have children that actually welcome whole vegetables on their plates, however with my boys most veg need to be encouraged or even disguised. A vegetable soup or even a vegetable curry is better received when there is no visible evidence of healthy vegetables lurking in their bowls. I dread rows at the kitchen table so in a bid to avoid them I generally try to cook foods in a way that I know my kids will eat and more importantly enjoy. Anyway I find that day to day life runs a little smoother when all in the house have eaten well!
 My reliable hand blender has become an invaluble piece of equipement in my kitchen. When blending a sauce or soup you are still introducing lots of wonderful flavours and nutrition to a dish without suspicious little ones realising what they are enjoying.  Luckily I know this fussiness is short lived and I won't be forever reliant on my trusty hand blender. Until then I am content to blend my sauces in a bid to keep peace at mealtimes.






Hidden Veg Pasta Bake with Chicken Strips


Ingredients

For the Pasta Sauce

25g Butter
drizzle of olive oil
1 red onion, diced

1/2 stick of celery 
1/2 cougette, diced
1/2 red pepper, sliced

100g mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp caster sugar
1tsp chilli powder
 

2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
100mls water
2 tsp Fresh Basil, chopped
150ml cream



For the fried chicken
3 chicken fillets, cut into strips
2 tbsp plain flour 
knob of butter and drizzle of rapeseed oil

500g cooked wholewheat pasta
50g Parmesan, grated

125g mozzarella, sliced


Method

 Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
1. Melt the butter with the drizzle of oil in a large saucepan, and add the onion, courgette, red pepper, mushroom and garlic. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the sugar.
2. Cook on a medium heat for about five minutes untill the vegetables have just begun to soften. Add the tomatoes and water. Cook for a further ten minutes.
3. Add the chilli powder, cream and basil to the pan. Simmer until the mixture has reduced, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, as necessary. Blend the sauce together using a hand blender.
4. Toss the chicken in the seasoned flour. 

5. Melt the butter with a drizzle of oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken strips. Cook on both sides until golden and cooked through.
6. Add the cooked pasta and cooked chicken strips to the pasta sauce and stir well.
7. Transfer all to an oven proof casserole dish. Sprinkle the cheeses over the top.
8. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese has melted and the dish is golden.





This article was published in Issue one of Easy Parenting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baby Food - Pureed Pear with Greek Yogurt and Wheatgerm

This baby dish has been a real favourite for my little ones over the years. I love that it is such a nutritionally balanced dish, packed with goodness and as a dessert or snack it is perfect for growing tummies. Pureed pear makes for a wonderful introduction to solids, as it is so appealing to the young palate with it's sweet flavour. 

It is important to choose only sweet fruit that is completely ripe for your baby's fruit purees. When your baby is around 8 mths the pear puree can be combined with greek yoghurt and wheatgerm for a very satisfying dish. Full fat Organic Greek yogurt makes a good choice for infants, as it is more fattening than other standard yoghurts. This is most beneficial for babies as they need fats in their diets for proper growth. It is also higher in protein and has less sodium than regular yogurts. There are so many benefits with including wheatgerm in your baby's diet. It is packed with vitamins and minerals and is particularly high in Vitamin E and Iron. Just a sprinkle over your baby's pureed pear and Greek yogurt is a great way to give an already healthy dish a considerable nutritional boost. 




 

Pear Puree


Ingredients
2  ripe pears, peeled and cored
3 tbsp pure apple juice or boiled water
  

Method

1.Chop your pear into small even sized pieces. Put these into a heavy based saucepan with the apple juice or water. 
2.Cover the pan and cook over a low heat, for about 3 mins, until the pear is tender.
3.Blend the pear to a smooth puree using an electric hand blender.
4.Spoon a little puree into your baby’s bowl and serve either lukewarm or cold.



Pear Puree with Greek Yogurt and Wheatgerm


Combine 2 tablespoons of the pear puree with 2 tablespoons or Organic Greek yogurt. 
Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon of wheatgerm and stir to combine. 







This article was published in Issue One of Easy Parenting. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lemon Meringue Parfait with Berry Sauce


Diarmuid and I were married an unbelievable 11 years this Friday. My wedding day seemed like it was only a few years ago but when I considered all that has happened in those 11 years I nearly consider it as being longer. I was a mere twenty two year old when I walked up the aisle, which when I think of it seems so young but I was neither indecisive or immature. I knew exactly what I wanted and top of my list was to get married to this man that I loved so dearly and start our life together. Like all marriages we've had plenty of ups and downs but together we certainly make a good team. One thing we do share is the love of good food and that's something that makes my time in the kitchen worthwhile! I was making some Noodle Soup for our anniversary dinner Friday evening and for dessert I made this delicious Lemon Meringue Parfait. A quick and easy dessert perfect for entertaining.





This is such an easy dessert to prepare made with just a few ingredients. I love lemon curd and have many uses for it in baking. Before making this I was unsure if it would freeze well or if it would crystallize but it remained smooth and added a lovely zestiness to what would otherwise be a frozen eton mess.  Last Winter when I was devising my recipes for my Christmas Course I wanted to offer as many 'make ahead' dishes as possible and this was one dessert that I included. This is a perfect stress free dessert as it will happily sit in the freezer for a week or so before serving and then the addition of the coulis and raspberries makes it look that bit more impressive.

Lemon Meringue Parfait with Berry Sauce

Ingredients
250ml cream, whipped
6 meringues, crushed into pieces
200g (18oz) raspberries, quartered
4 tablespoons lemon curd

To Serve
Raspberries
Raspberry coulis

Method
  1. Line 6 ramekin with double cling film. Whip the cream till thick then fold in the remaining ingredients.
  2. Freeze in the ramekins or a bowl/ an ice-cream container or a cling film lined loaf tin.
  3. Take out of the freezer 10 minutes before serving. When serving drizzle with some coulis and serve with some fresh berries.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Holidaying in Cork



We arrived back home on Saturday from a really lovely family holiday in East Cork. For the most part it was sunny which made easy planning of daily activities. When away I like to make the most of amenities so we managed to get to Fota Wildlife Park, of course the beach was a massive attraction to the kids however it proved awkward with Millie who protested to only wanting to get in the water. Fionn turned 4 last week so a trip to the cinema followed by bowling and a visit to a play centre fitted in nicely on one of the wet days.
















Somewhere that we hadn't visited before and it most certainly was worth a visit was The Blarney Stone and Castle. The grounds are magnificent with so many interesting hidden areas that the children just loved exploring. I'm sorry to say that I didn't kiss the stone. I did attempt to climb the winding stairs to reach the top of the castle but I buckled. I'm not terribly good with either heights or confined spaces so being stuck in a tight que while slowly climbing to the top of the tower made me feel a little light headed and in fear that I might collapse back on the American tourist, that were behind me, I apologetically squeezed passed them with Millie on my hip. To my disbelief Fionn, who's only 4, had no issue with climbing the tower and in turn lay back and kissed the stone without batting an eyelid! I was so proud of him!
















While on holidays I found it quite difficult to eat to the standard that I would at home, its just wonderful to have plenty of fresh veggies and fruit in the back garden as well as fresh eggs. Of course not having my well stocked store cupboard and many kitchen bits and bobs also influenced what meals I cooked while away. We limited the amount of times we ate out with the children as more often its expensive and in many cases at least two out of the four would barely finish what they order so I find picnics are always the best option. One of the days we stopped at a cafe as it was a little blustery and a bowl of soup was sure to warm us up. As always I ask plenty of questions before deciding what to order. On enquiring whether the soup was home made the young girl glanced to an older girl and both answered 'yes'. I went on to order soup for each of us but once it reached the counter I could see little pieces of imitation veg floating on the top. I had a little taste and with it's distinctive packet soup flavour I knew this vegetable soup had never seen any vegetables. I had five hungry kids at the table awaiting their soup so I was buying it anyway but I had to advise this young girl that 'I don't think this is home made' in turn she was completely insistent that it was. If their version of 'homemade' was mixing a packet with with some milk and water, well yes it was 'homemade'. I felt like a child who had to get the last word in of a fight 'NOT HOMEMADE!'

Adults and children will enjoy a trip to Ballymaloe Cookery School. The gardens are very impressive and you might even bump into Darina or Rachel!




Diarmuid's parents joined us for two of the days and this gave us the opportunity to dine out one of the evenings. The house which we stayed in was a mere two minute drive from Ballymaloe House so this was our chosen eatery. In all the times I travelled to Cork and visited Ballymaloe I never actually had a meal at the house. I have always wanted to but the opportunity never arose. I was so excited about the prospect of a child-free meal and where better to enjoy this than in the the beautiful setting of Ballymaloe. On our arrival we were given the choice of three tables. We choose one by a window which had a beautiful view but also was conducive to taking a few photos. On reading the menu it seemed fairly straight forward, no unusual ingredient but plenty of choice.

We both had a Potato & Fresh Herb Soup to start which was seasoned well with a lovely creaminess. Lots of deliciously fresh bread accompanied it. Next I had a Beetroot, Marsh Samphire & Knockalara Salad which was simple but bursting with fresh flavours. Diarmuid had the Pate Campagne which was so tasty and had lots of pistachio nuts flecked through it. For main I had Cod with Scallops and Diarmuid had Beef, both really scrumptious meals. The cod was the nicest I've ever had and when I complimented it to the waiter he replied that it was only caught earlier that day in Ballycotton. Such comments I love to hear when eating out and not that 'Mr Knorr' had been busy over a stove all night ;) To accompany our main were some carrots, new potatoes and a green salad. To my husbands delight seconds were offered not only of the veg and spuds but also more meat.


The staff at Ballymaloe were all perfectly groomed and so nice and friendly, each eager to make our dining experience a good one. The cheese course consisted of some well chosen local cheeses with little homemade crackers. For dessert one of the young waitresses wheeled over a very well presented dessert trolley on which was a lemon tart, poached plums, fresh plums, carageen moss pudding, meringue roulade and homemade vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. I opted for a little taste of everything! As if all that wasn't enough some pretty little petit fours were offered with our very nice cup of coffee.




Each dish completely showcased the freshness of their ingredients. There were so many delicious dishes that I could see myself recreating at home. What an amazing dining experience that was a complete treat that surpassed all my expectations.
After a week away it's always lovely to come home especially when ladened down with lots of lovely memories of a fun family holiday.
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