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

Ingredients

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

Method
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 www.potato.ie 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.


Ingredients

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

Method
  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.


Ingredients

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

Method
  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.


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

Method
  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.


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

Method
  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.