I really love one-pot dishes and especially ones that taste better on the day after they are cooked. This is definitely the case with chilli con carne, as the flavours in the sauce tend to develop when left refrigerated for a day. This sauce also freezes well. The quantity below is enough for two dinners at my house. On day two, I generally use the leftover Chilli con Carne for wraps with some salad leaves, grated cheese and sour cream or mayo. These wraps are delicious and I serve them with some homemade wedges and salad. This dish is also quite nutritious especially with the addition of the kidney beans. Kidney beans work well in this dish and in any simmered dishes where they can absorb the flavours of the other ingredients. They are an excellent source of fibre and are high in protein. Kidney beans are also a very good source of molybdenum, which aids in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. This recipe is based on a recipe from Rachel Allen's first book.

Chilli Con Carne

2 large Onions
700g lean minced beef
5 cloves Garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 red or yellow peppers, sliced
2 green or red chillies, finely chopped, seeds left in if you like your chillies fiery
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 x 400g tin red Kidney beans, drained
1 tsp brown sugar

To serve
Boiled rice
125ml Soured cream
2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
4 tbsp Cheddar cheese, grated
Lime wedges

  1. Heat the olive oil in a casserole, or saucepan and fry the meat until it changes colour - about 5-7 minutes. 
  2. Add the onion and garlic and stir for a minute or so before tipping in the tinned tomatoes, chopped chillies, peppers, and a good pinch of salt.
  3. Cover the pan and simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the liquid reduced to a thick sauce. If it gets too dry during cooking, pour in a little more water.
  4. Add the cumin, ground coriander, kidney beans (and a little of the bean liquid, if you like) and the brown sugar. Simmer for a further 10 mins before serving with rice, a spoonful of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, lime wedges and coriander leaves as a garnish. If you are catering for a crowd place each of these in separate bowls on the table for your guests to help themselves.

As I mentioned, I'm expecting my fourth child in March and I have found this pregnancy much tougher than any of the others. I'm not sure if this because it is my fourth or maybe I'm carrying a girl! Either way, I'm completely drained and seem to have every pregnancy-related complaint possible. My Vitamin B12 and my Ferritin (iron stores) are particularly low and even though I'm receiving injections for both, I'm trying to optimise my intake of vitamins and minerals in my daily diet. With this in mind, I came up with a recipe for brown bread which is packed with lots of nutritious sesame and sunflower seeds. These seeds are rich in beneficial minerals, especially copper, manganese and calcium, they also contain high amounts of vitamin B1 and vitamin E and (importantly for me) iron. I also included milled linseed, which can be used to substitute some flour in any bread or cake recipe to increase their nutritional value. Linseed is the richest source of omega 3 fatty acids found in nature. 

Soda bread only takes a matter of minutes to make and your own homemade version is much more nutritious than any you could buy in a supermarket. When I am making bread with the children in my cooking classes, I always use a recipe for bread that can be poured into a baking tin, however, this recipe requires a little kneading. This bread is best eaten on the day it is baked but it is still good for a day or so after, especially toasted.

Multi-Seed Brown Bread

225g plain flour
75g wholemeal flour
50g milled linseed
1 tsp bread soda
50g sunflower seeds
25g sesame seeds{keep a few for sprinkling on top}
300ml buttermilk
1 tbsp runny honey

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C / fan 220°C / gas mark 7. Sieve all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the seeds and mix well.
2. Mix the buttermilk with the honey.
3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour all the liquid in at once.
4. Using one hand, with your fingers stiff and outstretched like a claw, stir in a full circular movement from the centre to the outside of the bowl. The dough should be softish, not too wet and sticky.
5. When it all comes together turn it out onto a floured work surface. Wash and dry your hands.
6. Knead gently for a minute and pat the dough into shape.
7. Grease a 2lb cake tin with butter. place the dough in the tin and cut a deep cross on the loaf and prick the four corners. Sprinkle with a few extra seeds.
8. Bake in a preheated oven for 40 mins or until cooked.
9. Tap the bottom of the bread, when it is cooked it will sound hollow. Cool on a wire rack.

For such a small fruit, blueberries pack a powerful health punch. According to recent research, they beat forty other fruit and vegetables on nutrients levels. They provide a high concentration of antioxidants, and what’s more, they may help to fight infections, boost memory and be anti-ageing.
One way to enjoy blueberries is in a smoothie. I love this nutritious drink, full of vitamins, calcium, and probiotics. It only takes a matter of minutes to prepare. In my house, I promote this as a blueberry milkshake and my boys love it as a breakfast treat.

Blueberry Bliss

150g fresh or frozen blueberries
2 bananas 
1 tsp vanilla extract
500ml thick natural bio yoghurt (Glenisk) or yoghurt of your choice
300ml milk

1. Peel the bananas and roughly chop.
2. Put them into the blender with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Whiz in the blender until the mixture is smooth, thick and creamy.
4. Pour into 4 tall glasses and enjoy.
I decided to start this blog as I really love to cook and over the past few years I have tried out so many different dishes. I am constantly being asked by friends and family for different recipes, so I thought a blog would be an easy way to share recipes with others. I live with my husband, Diarmuid, and three boys: Jack (7), Tiarnán (4), and Fionn (2). I am expecting my 4th child in March. My Dad also lives with us and during the holidays we have a very special man, who we love very much, called Nicholas, who comes to stay (Nick has Cerebral Palsy and my parents had fostered him as a child. Now, he spends his holiday time between my sister, Fiona, and me). All in all a busy household with many different nutritional needs, likes and dislikes.

I qualified as a nurse at St James's Hospital in 2000. Following that, I completed a Bachelor of Nursing Degree at Trinity College Dublin. I worked in many different areas from A&E to paediatrics. I worked for 2 years as a practice nurse at a local medical centre.

After the birth of Fionn in 2007, I decided to start cookery classes for children in my kitchen and Killachonna Cookery School was established. The classes have been a wonderful success and last summer due to the increasing demand I ran my classes from the local secondary school home economics room.

Even though I am not a professionally qualified chef I have been lucky enough to attend the Ballymaloe Cookery School on a number of occasions and participate in many different short courses. It is always a wonderful experience and each time I leave with some extra knowledge and many recipes to try out.

Through this blog, I would like to share some recipes that have been a success for me with my family and with my students who have been as young as six.

That's all for now. Nessa.