In my house the meal times tend to be a little more irregular during the summer holidays. The structured routine during the school term allows for set dining times and, in turn, I find myself having a pot of stew, curry or soup always ready for the return of the school goers. As much as I love the continuity of the school day routine, I’m always ready to embrace the more relaxed mealtimes once July is upon us. Naturally I still like to serve dishes that are nutritious, as well as tasty, but time is generally the essence, so my summertime meals are ones that can be rustled up in a hurry. Like in many households, our old reliable barbecue is ever ready at the back door, throughout the summer months. Even though I still find myself predominantly cooking at my stove, that barbeque vibe of handheld meals is still prominent for my summer months. Burgers, fajitas and hot dogs, of sort, all work wonderfully well when you're trying to make the most of our Irish summer sun.

Chicken Fajitas with Caramelised Red Onion & Peppers

Summer or winter alike, fajitas are one of my all time favourite fast, family dishes. To enhance the flavour of the chicken I generally like to leave it marinating for a few hours, however if you're pushed for time you can cook the coated chicken straight away. Fried onions and peppers are a must for my fajitas, but simply adding a little balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, towards the end of cooking, transforms them into something very special.

½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
A few twists of black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
4 chicken fillets, sliced into strips

Caramelised Red Onion & Peppers 
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, cut into slices
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp soft brown sugar

Harissa Spiced Sour Cream Topping
150g sour cream
1 tsp harissa
Sprinkle of smoked paprika

To Serve
4 large flour tortillas
Grated cheese


  1. Combine the lemon juice, smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground cumin, black pepper and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the chicken strips and combine well, making sure that all the chicken is coated. Cover and place in the fridge to marinade for at least 4 hours.
  2. Place a large pan or wok over a medium heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. When hot add the onion and pepper and stir fry, until they are cooked through. Add the vinegar and brown sugar. Stir well and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Over a very low heat keep warm, until the chicken is ready to be served.
  3. Heat a large griddle pan. Dry fry the flour tortillas, one at a time, for a minute on each side. Remove to a warmed plate.
  4. Next, add the chicken strips and stirring regularly, fry the chicken until cooked through and nicely charred.
  5. To make the topping combine the sour cream together with the harissa and then sprinkle over a little smoked paprika.
  6. To serve, add some chicken, caramelised onions and peppers to each tortilla, along with some lettuce and a little grated cheese. Top with a dollop of the harissa spiced sour cream.

I feel very privileged to be building a career out of something that I gain so much pleasure from. I love all the different elements to writing my columns; the recipe development, the styling, the photography and the personal introductions. I have a weekly column with the Westmeath Independent, a bi-monthly column with Easy Parenting magazine, and I'm ever so proud to announce that I now have a new column, starting this week, in The Farmer's Journal, Irish Country Living. Coming from a farming background, The Farmer's Journal was the best read paper in our house each week. Both of my parents were such loyal readers, and as I grew older I too became a fan of this ever informative publication. On the back of a chapter from Apron Strings, which was titled 'Home Nurse', I was asked by Mairead Lavery, the editor of Irish Country Living, to write a four part series last winter. I received lots of lovely positive feedback from these features so, earlier this year, when I was asked to write a regular 'Home Nurse' column I jumped at the opportunity.
I trained as a nurse, and completed my degree at Trinity College Dublin, before working in many varied areas of nursing. My nursing background has certainly aided me in writing these columns, but I'm very much writing them from a carer's perspective, basing them on my experience as a 'home nurse', in a home setting. For many years I cared for my Dad, who was convalescing from different complaints, and previous to this my dear Mother, who was living with Multiple Myeloma. Without even having a family member seriously unwell, at some point we all take on the role of the home nurse. As a mother, the role of the home nurse can frequently be called upon, from sniffles and fevers, to eczema and grazes. Through this column, I want to share with you all that I've learnt through the years. The recipes that I've developed may be nutrient-specific to someone, for example, nursing a fracture, however within a busy family home it's fundamental that the dishes are pleasing to the entire family. As I learnt, it is a huge worry when a loved one is sick, and you certainly don't need the hassle of cooking two or three different meals. I have many different topics planned for my upcoming columns and I'm very much looking forward to sharing them with the readers of Irish Country Living. They also have an on-line subscription option, so you don't have to feel left-out, if you're not residing in Ireland.