This is the dish I demonstrated at The Ploughing Championship with (did I mention before?!) Neven Maguire. There are some ingredients I almost always have in my press and fridge which means I'm never stuck when we need a super quick dinner. This recipe is a firm favourite in my house. It's unusual for me to cook only one dinner but this dish suits all. The sauce is perfect with pasta or rice. My father who must have his daily portion of spuds will even have some of the chicken in the sauce with mashed potatoes. It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and cook this dish, and it is really delicious.

Chicken in a Creamy White Wine Sauce

500g penne pasta
1tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, grated
180ml white wine
100ml chicken stock or 1/2 knorr stock pot dissolved in 100ml water
4 chicken breast, diced
200g mushrooms, sliced
180ml cream

flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Handful of baby spinach (optional)

Optional Roux (to thicken)

To Serve
Parmesan( to grate over)
Crusty bread
Green Salad


  1. Prepare the pasta according to the pack instructions.
  2. Heat a large frying pan and add a little olive oil and a knob of butter.
  3. Add the onion and cook until the onions are soft but not coloured. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for a minute.
  4. Add the wine and chicken stock. Let that bubble for five minutes.
  5. Add the chicken, mushrooms, cream and parsley.
  6. Stir well and bring the sauce back to the boil.
  7. Turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes until the chicken is fully cooked. Just a minute before serving stir in the spinach(a great way to increase the nutritional content).
  8. Mix the chicken and sauce with the cooked pasta.
  9. Serve in a large bowl with fresh parmesan grated over. Serve with either a green salad or green beans and crusty bread, to mop up all the sauce.

On Tuesday I was privileged to attend the  Ploughing Championship courtesy of The Irish Farmers Journal. Situated on a farm in Athy covering 700 acres was the setting for the occasion. With over 1000 exhibitors there was something to interest everyone, from fashion to food and of course plenty of  farm related products.
I won a prize to cook with the lovely Neven Maguire. A natural in front of a crowd, Neven has the ability to engage with an audience as if he was chatting at his kitchen table. I loved the whole experience and am thrilled that I got to cook with Neven and as an added bonus I received a voucher for his impressive restaurant.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I left not only with wonderful memories but also with the anticipation of another exciting culinary experience at MacNean House!!

Mairead Lavery - Editor of  Irish Country Living(Farmers Journal) introducing the demonstration. Mairead and her team were so friendly and made me feel very welcome on the day.

The dish which I cooked will feature in next weeks Farmers Journal but I will pop the recipe up on the blog later.

This is a super quick dessert and one I have relied on a few times when unexpected visitors called!! A jar of ready- made toffee is a very convenient ingredient to have in the store press. Banoffi is such a simple dessert and one I regularly made for family occasions, as a child, making the biscuit base. This recipe is an even simpler variation! Either place the biscuit on a plate or crumble into a glass and top as described below.


1x400g (14oz) tin condensed milk or 1 jar of ready-made toffee (such as Ballyshiel)
8-12 digestive biscuits
3 bananas
freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
225ml (8fl oz) whipped cream
chocolate curls made from about 175g (6oz) chocolate

8-12 individual glasses or small plates bowls

1. To make the toffee put the unopened tin of condensed milk into a saucepan and cover with hot water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 3 hours.
2. Place a biscuit on each plate. Peel and slice the bananas and toss in the lemon juice(this helps to stop the banana turning brown). Place on top of the biscuit. Top with a little toffee. Put a blob of lightly whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with flaked almonds and decorate with a few chocolate curls.

Today I have spent a good part of the day baking. I love to have an excuse to bake but I have a particularly good excuse to try out recipes! In the morning I am hosting a coffee morning which is in aid of The Hospice. A new Hospice has just opened in Athlone and like many facilities it is expensive to run and values any money from fund raising events.
My mother lost her battle with cancer only three years ago. To lose a loved one is devastating. The time spent in the hospital was such a difficult time both for mam and our family. Even though we couldn't bring mam home before she passed away we were fortunate to have a private room in the hospital with very considerate staff. The Hospice has facilities and staff that can help to alleviate some of the stress by providing a home from home environment when it is needed.
If you are in Moate tomorrow morning pay me a visit and enjoy a Bewleys coffee and some nice treats, and help to support a really worthy cause.
For anybody who follows this blog, you may have noticed that fish recipes aren't too plentiful. I used to love fresh fish and regularly when eating out fish was often my dish of choice. However, I was somewhat put off fish last summer. I was in the early stages of pregnancy and my father was recommended a new diet for his psoriasis, which included a lot of fish. If you have been pregnant and experienced morning sickness you may agree with me that the horrible feeling of nausea to certain aromas, even post-pregnancy, can be quite severe. Unfortunately, I have been avoiding fish for the past year until I was recently served it at a friend's house and the nausea boundary was broken. Since then, fish is back on the menu. As we all know, fish is a real 'superfood' boasting many nutrients, such as essential fatty acids.  

This recipe is from Jamie’s Ministry of Food by Jamie Oliver. I am a huge fan of Jamie and have tried out many of his recipes from his various books. Jamie claims that with this book anybody could be taught to cook in 24 hours. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks they are unable to cook or else anybody who likes quick, easy and delicious recipes. This book is packed with so many great recipes, it is one of my favourite cookbooks.

This fish dish is so simple to put together – a portion of salmon, a handful of green beans, a dollop of good-quality pesto and a little squeeze of lemon juice. Such a great combination. It's lovely with rice, or new potatoes, or crusty bread. For a dinner party, feel free to use a whole fillet of salmon and treat it exactly the same way, just cook it for twice as long – it will look very dramatic when you open up the parcel at the table.

Salmon Baked in a Foil Parcel With Green Beans & Pesto

2 handfuls of green beans
1 lemon
2x 200g salmon fillets, skin on, scaled, bones removed
2 heaped tbsp green pesto
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat your oven to fan 200ºC/220ºC/gas mark 6.
  2. Trim your beans by cutting off the stalk ends but leave the wispy tips on.
  3. Halve one of the lemons.
  4. Cut just under a metre of kitchen foil and fold it in half to give you two layers.
  5. Put a handful of green beans in the middle of the foil
  6. Lay a salmon fillet, skin side down, across the beans and spoon over a good tablespoon of green pesto.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze over the juice from one of the lemon halves and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Put the foil edges together and scrunch them up to seal the parcel.
  9. Repeat these steps to make your second salmon fillet parcel and place both foil parcels on a baking tray.
  10. Place the baking tray into your hot oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  11. Remove the tray from the oven and let it stand for a minute before carefully unwrapping and checking that the salmon is cooked through.
  12. Either serve the foil parcels on plates as they are, or carefully unwrap them before serving.

It is now high season for blackberries. Hedgerows and clumps of briars are laden down with these delicious berries. As with most fruit this year the crop is plentiful. Generally, I would transform blackberries into a jam but since I haven't yet recovered from my 'jam making marathon' in June I opted to turn these beautiful berries into a coulis.

Blackberry picking is a tradition in our house that the children really look forward to, however, beware it is difficult to retrieve the berries without getting a few thorns.

Blackberry Coulis

Blackberry Coulis is a wonderfully versatile fruity sauce, which is perfect for a wide variety of desserts. I stirred some through my basic bun mixture which made them quite moist.
The coulis will be perfect in the fridge for 3-4 days, but it also freezes extremely well  and should last for up to 3 months in the freezer.


Makes about 150ml/¼ pint

250g blackberries
50g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

1. Put the blackberries and sugar into a small pan with 100ml/31⁄2fl oz water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 mins until the fruit is soft. Stir in the vanilla, remove and cool a little.
2. Tip the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor, and whizz to a purée, then strain through a sieve, rubbing it through with the back of a ladle or spoon. Serve warm or chilled.
3. Keeps in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.