These ghoulish cookies would make an interesting centrepiece for any Halloween feast. The recipe is quite simply one for shortbread cookies, but by carefully moulding and decorating each one they can be made to resemble fingers. Happy Halloween!

100g icing sugar
200g butter, softened
300g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
16 blanched almonds

250g icing sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp red food colouring

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas mark 5.
  2. Using an electric mixture beat the icing sugar and butter until soft and well combined. This should take about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and with the mixer on a low speed gradually add the flour. Don’t over beat and once combined bring the dough together into a ball, place it on a sheet of greaseproof paper, cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes, to harden slightly.
  4. Take from the fridge and with a tablespoon of the dough at each time, with your hands, roll into a shape of a finger. Squeeze the ‘finger’ to give the impression of a knuckle. Make indentations with a knife to represent knuckle ridges. Prepare two tins with a sheet of greaseproof paper on each. Careful transfer the raw cookies to the trays. Add a blanched almond to the tip of the finger to look like a fingernail. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-14 minutes, depending on their thickness.
  5. While the cookies are cooking prepare the icing. In a medium sized bowl combine the icing sugar with the water and food colouring. Add a few more drops of water if required, or add some more icing sugar if the mixture appears too thin.
  6. Take the cookies from the oven and place them on a wire rack. Immediately after taking them from the oven lift the almond, place a blob of the red icing and then firmly stick the almond back on the cookie. Dot about half a teaspoon of icing at the base of the cookie, as seen in the photo.
  7. Allow to set before serving.

We love a good Halloween party in our house. This ghoulish feast is one of the easiest parties to cater for, as really anything goes, and the gorier the food can look, the better. When there are faces to be painted and a house to be decorated, I never put myself under too much pressure where the food is concerned. Once there are a few spooky looking treats, which I generally prepare a day or so in advance, and a large bowl of some kind of punch, for the children to self-ladle into goblets, the party is in full swing. This could be why Halloween is my favourite holiday; with a little imagination, and even less expense, an evening filled with magical memories is ever so easily achievable.

Halloween is quickly approaching so, over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to share with you some of my favourite Halloween treats to make with little ones. First up, Mummy Cookie Cake Pops!

Mummy Cookie Cake Pops

These Mummy Cookie Cake Pops are so visually impressive that you’d be forgiven for thinking that they are simply for show and may not deliver on taste. I must tell you, however, that even the adults fight over these when I make them. Using just a few simple ingredients, there is little to do to create these wonderful treats. The method is straightforward, however, I must stress the importance of refrigerating the pops in between each step, to ensure they set properly. The white chocolate sets perfectly over the refrigerated pop, giving a satisfying crunch of thick chocolate when bit into, before being met by the soft truffle-like centre. They are deliciously irresistible to both children and adults alike.

Makes 20 
300g Oreo biscuits
150g cream cheese
20 cake pop sticks or wooden sticks
Sprinkle of icing sugar
50g ready-to-roll icing
200g white chocolate
40 candy eyes

  1. Using a food processor, blitz the Oreos for a few minutes, until they resemble crumbs. Add the cream cheese and continue to blend for a minute or so. The Oreos and cream cheese will combine to look almost like a ball of dough.
  2. Scoop out into a bowl, cover with cling film and pop into the fridge for an hour to stiffen up.
  3. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Take the Oreo mixture from the fridge. Take a spoonful of the mix and quickly mould into a ball using your hands. Insert a stick into the top of the Oreo ball and place on the prepared tray. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to set.
  4. Meanwhile, sprinkle a little icing sugar on a worktop and thinly roll out the piece of ready-to-roll icing. Cut into small thin strips, which will act as the mummy’s cloth wrapping. Place on a plate along with the candy eyes, ready for assembling the pops.
  5. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of just boiled water. Take the pops from the fridge and dip each one into the melted chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. Then immediately stick on the two eyes and add a few strips of icing. Place upright to set, possibly in a glass filled with sugar. They will set in a few minutes. Once the chocolate is hard, place the decorated pops back onto the greaseproof paper lined tray and refrigerate for a further few hours before serving.
  6. These pops can then be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Don’t leave these pops sitting out of the fridge for too long, as they may begin to melt a little.

In Ireland, we're very fortunate to have potato growers, on our doorstep, who are passionate about producing the best of potatoes for our dinner table. Potatoes have always been immersed as a part of our history and this long standing merit should be celebrated. When better to honor our potatoes, and the people behind them, than on National Potato Day, which happens to be taking place today, October 7th. It has been reported in recent years the sale of potatoes have decreased, but with a new campaign, being driven by Bord Bia and AHDB Potatoes, things are hopefully looking up for our spuds. As consumers we greatly influence what stays on our supermarkets shelves, so our support is needed for the humble spud and all the jobs they create in Ireland.

I was really thrilled when asked to come on board to help promote the potato campaign. I'm not sure if there is any other ingredient in my kitchen that is as versatile as the humble spud. Soups, salads, casseroles and pies are all on the cards once I've a stash of potatoes in the veggie box. A simple potato soup, packed with fresh herbs from the garden, is my go-to lunch when there is little in the larder and time is limited. This chowder recipe I'm sharing with you today is basically a creamy soup, but it is packed full of goodness with the addition of locally grown potatoes and nutritious fresh fish. Potatoes are especially rich in potassium and are a great source of fibre.

Fish, which is bursting with omega-3 fatty acids, is a great choice for all the family, as it will help to keep bones healthy. This chowder is deliciously indulgent but, in fact, once the cream is omitted, it isn't terribly high in calories. If preferred, simply substitute the cream at the end with a little additional milk. For the fish in the dish, I'm using a mixture of salmon, smoked haddock and cod. Most fishmongers will have no problem preparing the fish for you, but many will have a similar mixture already prepared and ready to use. A bowl of this potato seafood chowder is a meal in itself, but it also pairs perfectly with some traditional Irish soda bread.

Potato Seafood Chowder

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 -25 minutes
Serves: 4 - 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
2 medium carrots, diced
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
25g butter
1tbsp flour
300ml milk, hot
700ml fish or vegetable stock
450g any potatoes in season, peeled and diced
150g salmon, skinned and diced
150g smoked haddock, skinned and diced
150g cod, skinned and diced
100ml cream
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Season with a little salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes until softened, stirring regularly.
  2. Add the butter. Once frothing, stir through the flour and cook for 1 minute. Continuing to stir, little by little add the hot milk.
  3. Bring to a gentle simmer and pour in the stock. Add the potatoes. Simmer for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are almost cooked.
  4. Add the salmon, haddock and cod into the saucepan. Simmer for 7-10 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
  5. Stir through the cream, parsley and half of the chives. Check the seasoning and simmer for one more minute. Ladle into deep, wide bowls, sprinkle with the remaining chives and serve with a few slices of buttered brown bread.

If you are looking for a little potato-based recipe inspiration head over to 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 #TastyPotatoes and #NationalPotatoDay.

Disclosure: 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.

As a child I loved coffee, and to this day I still adore it. Even though it wouldn't necessarily be a drink of choice I would offer to my own little ones, one of my boys is particularly drawn to coffee-scented treats and cakes. As a traditional tiramisu recipe calls for raw eggs, alcohol and strong coffee, I decided to try out a child-friendly version. The result was delicious, and it turned out to be a great hit with my coffee-loving young man. This tiramisu can be divided between six glasses or alternatively assembled in one large bowl. It would be the perfect dessert if catering to a large gathering when you are hoping to please both old and young palates, or maybe just make it as a weekend treat. 

2 tbsp decaf coffee granules 
1 tbsp brown sugar 
300ml recently boiled water 
50ml cream 
250g mascarpone 
1 tbsp vanilla extract 
50g icing sugar 
120g sponge fingers 
2 tsp cocoa powder 
25g milk chocolate 

  1. To a jug, add the coffee granules and brown sugar. Top up with 300ml of recently boiled water. Stir to combine and place to one side to cool completely before using. 
  2. Place the cream, mascarpone, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a large bowl. Whisk together until well combined and the mixture has the consistency of whipped cream. 
  3. Add a spoonful of the creamy mixture to the bottom of each of the glasses. 
  4. Place the cooled coffee into a shallow dish. Break each of the sponge fingers into four and quickly dip them into the coffee, allowing some coffee to soak in, but be careful that the fingers don't get soggy. Add a layer of soaked biscuits to each glass. Add some more of the creamy mixture. Dust over a thin layer of cocoa powder. Repeat with another layer of sponges and finish with a layer of the creamy mixture. Dust generously with cocoa powder. 
  5. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Before serving, roughly grate a layer of chocolate over each tiramisu. Enjoy!