Halloween is just around the corner and the boys are exceptionally busy making costumes and practicing Trick or Treat rhymes. The house is suitably decorated and all we have left to do is plan the food for our party. The children love honeycomb and only recently did I realise just how easy it is to make. It's very inexpensive and simply takes a couple of minutes to prepare. The contents of the saucepan get very hot, so I would advise keeping the little ones away, until it comes to bashing it into pieces; a job that my Millie very much enjoyed!

1/2 teasp sunflower oil
120g caster sugar
60g golden syrup
1 teasp bread soda, sieved

1. Prepare a small baking tray by drizzling over the oil and using a pastry brush, evenly grease the tray. Put the sugar and golden syrup into a medium sized saucepan. Give it a stir to combine then place on the heat.
2. Heat gently, until the sugar has melted, gently moving the saucepan if one side is bubbling a little higher. Simmer for 2 minutes being careful that it doesn't burn. Once it darkens in colour, remove from the heat and whisk in the sieved bread soda, very quickly. The mixture will begin to foam.
3. Immediately turn the mixture into the prepared tin. Leave for an hour to set.
4. Remove from the tin and break into pieces by hand or bash a little with a rolling pin. It can then be used sprinkled over ice-cream or dipped in some chocolate it's perfect as a tasty treat. Store in an air- tight container for up to 2 days.

I also have a few suggestions on my Halloween page that I will be making again this year.
Have a Happy Halloween!

Late September-early October happens to be one of my favourite times of the year. Autumn as a season doesn't hold the same expectation as summer, yet in recent years it seems that we have been experiencing fairly similar weather both in summer and autumn. This of course makes autumn the somewhat superior season as throwing on an extra layer of clothing is rarely met begrudgingly, since winter is fast approaching. Also with the slightly cooler weather, it's the time of year for hearty, filling dishes to be re-introduced to the kitchen. The children are now back to school, after their long summer break, but still the evenings are bright enough and not too cold to let them get some fresh air after their homework. I love heading out with the children for Autumn walks in the countryside. The colours on display are so beautiful and at every turn there is the chance to pick a few berries or gather some other foragable goods. Never collecting enough to make even a small batch of jam I generally use the foraged fruit in a crumble or maybe just sprinkled over some pancakes to create a fruity treat. This time of year also sees great preparations for what not only is loved by my children but also by myself, Halloween. I have always been an avid Halloween fan and now that the children are getting older, and even more involved with the party preparations, this is indeed a very exciting time in our house. I never put myself under too much pressure with the party food, once there are a few ghoulish looking goodies and a big bowl of a funny looking drink, for the kids to ladle into big cups or goblets, they are all more than happy. There are a few Halloween party ideas on my Halloween Page.

Cookie Monsters

If you are looking for a cookery based activity, for your Halloween party, creating these hungry cookie monsters will keep children very happy. You could make up a few that will give the children lots of ideas for creating their own little monsters. The cookies can be homemade but for less hassle a few packets of your favourite chocolate chip cookie will do the trick.

16 chocolate chip cookies
60g soft butter
40g cream cheese
200g icing sugar, sifted
1 teasp vanilla extract
food colouring - colour of your choice

To Decorate
mini smarties
chocolate chips
liquorish laces

1. Make the icing by combining the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Blend well, using a wooden spoon.
2. Slowly add the icing sugar and continue to blend. Add the vanilla extract, blend until pale and fluffy. Divide the icing between three bowls and add a tiny drop of different food colouring to each.
3. Sandwich together two cookies with a spoonful of icing. Do the same for the rest of the cookies and then decorate your monsters using chocolate chips for the teeth and stick marshmallows on the top, using a little icing as glue. 

A home with four children running around the place, an always unpredictable number for dinner and an ever growing outdoor family can be a pretty busy place to spend ones day. However it's important to have hobbies. For some that may be swimming, walking or having coffee with friends. For me I love to write my blog posts and spend time snapping food pics. It's a fantastic hobby that gives me a fabulous outlet from my busy hub. I must tell you, if you haven't realised from previous posts, that I am a dreamer but I genuinely believe that most dreams can be achievable. About four years ago, while I was escorting Jack to his Saturday classes at CTYI, I always had a few hours to spare. I wasn't anyway Internet savy so there was no distraction from Twitter or Facebook and it was also prior to my blogging days. With time on my hands I decided to try and pen a children's novel. I must say that this was one of my least outrageous ideas, of the past ten years and it wasn't going to cost me anything more than my time. After I had each chapter written I would read it to the children. They found this all very exciting and I in turn found myself imagining that someday this would be on the shelves of a book store and my children would read it to their children. I liked to dream! I became quite unwell while pregnant with Millie and could barely perform everyday tasks, never mind write a book, so this was left to one side.

When I started the blog I was giving cookery classes, from my kitchen, so this was a wonderful way to bring together my love of writing with my passion for food. I started to write for the Westmeath Independent and Easy Parenting also blogging events were now becoming a regular occurrence.  I was busy, but the dream of finishing my book or starting a new one was always lurking at the back of my mind. Then out of the blue, earlier this year, I received an e-mail from Eoin Purcell, the commissioning editor at New Island, querying if I had possibly thought about writing a cookbook. To say that I was over excited was an understatement. We met the following week and I've been stuck into writing the book ever since. It's a book that is mostly recipe based but is supported by everything that is part of my everyday life.
The name of my book will be Apron Strings. A name that Diarmuid, my husband, came up with and I instantly fell in love with it. Even though the past few months have been extremely busy for me, and the rest of the family, I've thoroughly enjoying all the writing and the photography{above being one of those photos}, so I sincerely hope that you will all enjoy reading it too. I'm at a very exciting stage as I almost have the manuscript complete, but I still have a bunch of photos left to take. Thank you to all of you who read the blog and to my blogging friends, you give me such great support. This is truly a dream come true for me.
Apron Strings will be on the shelves of book stores {and the boot of my car}, from April 2013.
I'm sure a lot of research has taken place to find out how to get consumers to purchase as much as possible, in a supermarket. The location of the special offers and the sweets near the till, for the tired toddler who's calling the shots after an hour long shop, are all part of the plan to get us to buy more. Many I don't succumb to, however one supermarket tactic that I can't ignore, especially if hungry, is the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries. Many's the time I've been lured to the baking department and a couple of pastries will ultimately make their way into my trolley. Perfect to accompany that momentous cuppa  after returning home from a shopping trip with four children.
One part of Saturday mornings that I truly relish is having the time for a proper sit down breakfast, with all the children. It may just be cereal and juice, but everyone around the kitchen table is always a good start to the day. This weekend I decided I would make some little pastries to have with breakfast. I had some shop bought puff pastry in the fridge so whipping them up was no difficult fate. My absolute favourite pastry is the pecan and maple variety, so these are what I made. They are fairly sweet, and you certainly wouldn't eat them every morning, but as a treat they work out rather nice.

Maple & Pecan Puffs

1 sheet of puff pastry, if frozen thawed
100g pecans, plus a few extra for topping
60mls maple syrup
50g soft brown sugar
25g soft butter


1. Pre heat the oven to 200 C/ 390 F.

2. Roll out the puff pastry and place on a sheet of grease proof paper.
3. Place the pecans in a food processor and blitz for a few seconds. Add the maple syrup, butter and sugar. Blitz to a smooth mixture.
4. Using a sharp knife cut the pastry into 2 inch wide strips from the outer edge of the pastry and about the quarter of the way to the middle of the pastry.
5. Spoon the mixture in the middle of the pastry.
6. Fold the strips of pastry towards the centre, over lapping each of the strips, which will form a plait effect. Brush with a little water and sprinkle over a few chopped pecans.
7. Place on a large baking tray, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
8. While still hot, brush with a little maple syrup, which gives the pasties a nice shine.    
These days my kids, especially the boys, seem to be constantly in search of their next bite to eat. They are active lads and during school time it seems more difficult to keep them contently fed. I tend to pack quite a substantial school lunch for each, with wholesome options that are sure to fill them, yet still, they will return from a day of school famished and barely have seatbelts on before they are chanting the 'What's for dinner?' line. If dinner isn't ready I will normally have some snacks in mind for them on their return home. One of their favourites is these Packed Potato Skins and what I tend to rustle up if I happen to have the oven already on for that day's dinner. These potatoes also make a great accompaniment to a spicy chili dish or a casserole of any description. This recipe makes quite a few so wrap some in cling film and freeze for up to a week, ready for another day's snack. They are delicious and nutritious and will keep little ones going, at least until they finish their homework!


10 baking potatoes
150g Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
200g strong cheddar cheese
3 spring onions, chopped finely
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C(fan)/200C/gas mark 5. Scrub the potatoes well and prick them a few times with a fork. Bake for about 1½ hours, or until the skins are crisp. Once the potatoes cool slightly, cut them in half lengthways and scoop the insides into a bowl and mash well.
2. Put the skins of the potatoes on a tray ready to fill them.
3. Combine the yogurt with the mustard. Grate the cheese, and add 150g of it to the cooled potato along with the yogurt, mustard and spring onions. Season with a little freshly ground pepper.
4. Making sure that the potato skins are fitting snugly on the baking tray, spoon the potato mixture into each one. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden.


In other news, I am delighted to let you know that I am a finalist in The Irish Blog AwardsThank you to anyone who nominated me and to the judges who voted for me. I am absolutely thrilled and extremely honoured to be in a category with such talented bloggers. 

Best Food/Drink Blog – Finalists