February 25, 2013

One Tray Oven Roasted Vegetables, Parma Ham Wrapped Chicken, Goats Cheese + Pesto

Chicken is a staple in our house, that and minced steak. We could easily have chicken everyday during the week, chicken with: potatoes, pasta, cous cous, noodles, bread, tortillas...on and on. Honestly, it can get a little boring eating the same dinners over and over again. I'm not saying I don't like chicken-don't get me wrong, I lurve chicken! My favourite thing about it? Hands down its versatility.

During the week when everybody's just in from work, school or college it's the easiest thing to bung in the oven and you've got dinner within 30 to 45 minutes . 

I had a vision. I pictured this dish. I do that, quite a bit-envisage dishes or desserts when I'm in college, driving, painting my nails, cooking another dish, flipping through cookbooks or just laying in bed. Just about 99% of my day is taken up by food-the cooking of it, photographing of it, researching of it, eating of it, buying of it and concocting of it.    

I can't remember what I was doing when I thought of this recipe but I suppose it's a combination of many things I love-the combination of  juicy chicken and tart goat's cheese, oven roasted vegetables and fresh and vibrant pesto. Everything goes on one tray at various stages and dinner is on the table in 45 minutes. 

Look at how the goat's cheese and pesto melts over the oven roasted vegetables. So dreamy.


Holly, x

This recipe uses carrot, parsnip, red onion and sweet potato. You could add some butternut squash or celeriac if you like!  

Chop the vegetables into chunks-the sweet potato and parsnip bigger than the carrot as the carrot will take longer to cook. 

Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and get a roastin' for 25 minutes.

Wrap each chicken breast in a slice of Parma ham...

...after the vegetables have had 25 minutes in the oven, lay the chicken on top and allow to roast for another 15 minutes. 

As the chicken is cooking-grate the hard goat's cheese...

and mix with the pesto and milk.

After the chicken has had 15 minutes, dollop the pesto-goats cheese mixture around and toss over a few halved cherry tomatoes.

Roast for another 5-10 minutes.

Recipe, Serves 5 generously

2 Large Sweet Potatoes
3 Medium Red Onion
4 Parsnips
4 Carrots

5 Chicken Breasts
5 Slices Parma Ham
2 Tablespoons of Milk

100g Hard Goats Cheese
Handful Cherry Tomatoes
2 Heaped Tablespoons Pesto
Basil Leaves
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line a roasting tray with a sheet of baking parchment.
Chop the the sweet potato and parsnip into 2 inch chunks, the carrot into 1 inch chunks and the red onions into sixths.
Place the vegetables on the lined roasting tray-drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and toss.
Place in the preheated oven and roast for 25 minutes.

In the meantime wrap each chicken breast in a slice of Parma ham.
Remove the vegetables from the oven and lay the Parma wrapped chicken on top.
Return to the oven for 15 minutes. 

While the chicken is cooking-grate the goat's cheese into a bowl and mix with the pesto and milk.
Half the cherry tomatoes.
Remove the chicken from the oven-dollop the goats cheese in and around the chicken and vegetables and scatter the cherry tomatoes over.
Return to the oven for a further 5-10  minutes until the tomatoes break down ever so slightly and the cheese melts.. 
Scatter with fresh basil leaves before serving.

February 18, 2013

Honest Apple Pie // A Personal Favourite

Yesterday (Sunday) was the first day I felt Spring 2013. It was beautiful. Not only did I sleep like a baby the night before, I woke up naturally, refreshed to a blissful bright and crisp day. I couldn't help but be in a good mood. On top of that, I came downstairs where my Dad was cooking breakfast. I helped a little by making scrambled eggs!

Have a look at the light that was filtering into the kitchen. Since I started blogging in April last year, I have become very aware and excited about light. Excellent natural light just makes my day. It absolutely breaks my heart when it's not there-the trouble with living in Ireland! Today though- the light provided another reason to be happy in the kitchen!

The shopping had been done on Friday and there was a bowl of apples sitting on the worktop.   On Saturday, I went to bed laden with cook books and my iPhone. I was searching for inspiration as to what to do with the apples. I don't know why I even bothered looking up recipes because 9 times out of 10, I will always make an apple pie!

An apple pie is perfection. The great thing about it is, you can be as plain and as simple as you like or you can be as creative as your mind allows-using many different kinds of pastry or apple varieties, spices, flavourings and additional fruits. I kept it simple this time and again, 9 times  out of 10, I will. I am an advocate of simple cooking.

I love a decent pie filled high with towering fruit. I have said before that making a sandwich is an art-form and I believe the same thing about pie. Can you be religious about pie?! When you find a good recipe, stick to it but change it slightly every once in a while to keep it fresh.  However, make sure to keep the natural back bone of the pie present-homemade, honest and generous. 

This pie is honest and to be eaten with good people. The buttermilk pastry is super flaky and has a slightly salty note which compliments the sweet, tart apples that are lovingly coated in a reduced caramel liquid. It is a beautiful scene to be around! And the smells? Absolutely heavenly! Once the pie is baked I urge you to stick your nose to the centre and breath in deeply-you will be intoxicated with a warm, buttery, caramel, apple aroma. I asked my Mam to smell the pie, she said it was like a sweet autumn hedgerow. 

If you're lucky, when the pie is baking, the juices will ooze out and create a caramel river through the ridges of pastry. It makes for a real pretty picture!

I think yesterday could have been one of my favourite days-not that I did anything insane or memorable but wow- the family time, weather and food. These are the days that really count!


Holly, x

Once the dough is made, you will need 2/3 of it to line the pie dish. Re wrap the other 1/3 and place back in the fridge.

If you need pictures of how to make pastry you can use this recipe or this one.

Butter and flour the pie dish.

Roll the pastry out big even so that...

... it over hangs by 1 inch once in the pie dish. Trim the excess pastry with a scissors. 

Cover the pastry with clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.

Slice the apples, sprinkle with soft brown sugar, golden caster sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice.

Leave and allow the apples to macerate for 30 minutes-do you see the juices mixing with the sugars? This is a delicious apple caramel flavoured liquid.

After 30 minutes strain the liquid from the apples and boil down with 50g of butter.

This liquid then gets tossed with the apples..see how thick and syrupy it's gotten? Ridiculously good. 

Pile the apples into the chilled lined pie dish. Run a little cold water around the edge of the pastry. 

Roll the remaining 1/3 of pastry for the lid and lay on top. 

Again, trim the pastry so that it overhangs by an inch.

Use a fork or your fingers to seal and crimp the pastry. Egg wash and bake!

Recipe, serves 8-10 and hugely  adapted from Hostess with the Mostess

Buttermilk Pastry

375g Plain Flour, sieved
2 Tablespoons Caster Sugar
1 Teaspoon Flaky Salt
200g Cold Unsalted Butter, diced
1 Egg
150ml Buttermilk, Cold

In a bowl rub the cold cubes of butter into the flour, sugar and salt until the butter is the size of peas.
Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg.
Using your fingers in a claw shape work the egg into the flour adding 100ml of buttermilk.
Add more buttermilk if needed. 
Once the dough comes together, tip onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a neat  flat round ball. 
Wrap in clingfilm and place in for the fridge for 30-60 minutes-the pastry will need at least 30 minutes. 

Apple Pie Filling

8 Cooking Apples
150g Soft Brown Sugar
100g Golden Caster Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
50g Unsalted Butter
1 Heaped Tablespoon Cornstarch

Peel, quarter and core the apples. 
Cut each quarter into thin slices-about 8 slices per quarter. 
Place the apples in a bowl-sprinkle with the golden caster sugar, soft brown sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon.
Set aside and allow the apples to macerate until all the lovely juices escape and mix with the sugars.

In the meantime-remove the pastry from the fridge.
Cut the pastry, not quite in half and re wrap 1/3 and place it back in the fridge.
Butter and flour a 12 inch pie dish.
Roll the pastry out large enough to fit the the pie dish with an inch hanging over the sides.
Cover the pastry directly with cling film and place back in the fridge until ready to use.

After the apples have macerated-place them in a strainer sitting over a bowl to collect the liquid.
Place the apples back in the bowl.
Sprinkle with cornflour and mix well.
Pour the juices into a pot and bring to the boil with 50g of butter. 
Allow to bubble and reduce for about 8 minutes until you have roughly 125ml of liquid left.
Pour this over the apples and stir-the caramel will seize a little and clump. Don't mind-it'll melt again once the pie is baking.
Set the apples aside as you roll out your lid of pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180°C, place a rack on the bottom shelf and heat a baking tray in the oven.
Remove the last piece of pastry from the fridge and roll out on a floured work surface into a circle.
Roll the pastry big enough so that it will over hang by an inch.
Remove the lined pie dish from fridge.
Tip the apples into the centre and run a little cold water around the edge of the pastry.
Cover with the lid and crimp together, with a fork or your thumb, the overhanging inch of pastry.
Brush the top with a little milk and create 5 thin slits in the pastry with a knife.
Remove the heated tray from the oven, line with a sheet and parchment and place the pie dish on top. 
Bake at 180°C for 50-60 minutes until golden, oozy and the apples are soft. 
*if the pie is browning too quickly, cover with tin foil and uncover for the last 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

February 11, 2013

Red Velvet Cupcakes//Cream Cheese Frosting

February 14th is almost here again. That is Valentines Day if for some reason your are without this nugget of information! I think Valentines Day is a very cute occasion. It's really sweet, one day a year where you express your love for another. 

For some, it is a day filled with lovely surprises: red long stem roses, champagne and neat hand writing inside a cute card, signed lovingly from your one and only. Ok, does this happen? Like, in real life? Or is it only in the movies? Sappy, rom-com movies that star two beautiful highly paid actors-a movie that I will no doubt like. If Ryan Gosling is the male lead, I can't deny that I won't.  

If you are so fortunate to have a Valentine, perhaps you will receive a cupcake this February the 14th that looks like the one below. Lucky you, that is adorable.

However, not everyone is so fortunate to have a Valentine this year. That is why you may receive the below cupcake from a fellow single house mate or a sarcastic sibling. Then again, you may bake it and give it to yourself. Who cares, who's going to be watching?  

What is more appropriate than a red velvet cupcake for Valentines day? Red to go along with the red roses, the red love hearts, the red strawberries etc etc!

Even if you don't care about Valentines Day, these are a great cupcake to make and have all year round. A fluffy chocolate flavoured cupcake generously frosted with a tangy cream cheese frosting is acceptable any day, anywhere and at any time! Perhaps now?


Holly, x

Cream together the butter and sugar before adding in the egg and vanilla extract.

Slowly add in a 1/3 of the flour/cocoa powder mixture, alternating with the buttermilk until just mixed.

Add preferred gel food dye to the cupcake batter to give it its signature red look. 

Sometimes liquid food colouring can affect the outcome :) We want these cupcakes to turn out perfect!

Lastly, mix together the white wine vinegar and baking soda and fold the bubbles into the cupcake batter.

This vinegar/baking soda mixture lightens the cupcakes as they bake...making them cloud like and just the fluffiest thing ever!

Divide the cupcake batter evenly between 12 cupcake cases and bake...

...for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean.

Recipe, makes 12 cupcakes

185g Granluated Sugar
90g Butter, softened
1 Egg
1 1/2 Tablespoons Good Quality Cocoa Powder, (Green and Blacks)
225g Plain Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
200ml Buttermilk*
1-2 Tablespoons Red Gel Food Colouring
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 Teaspoon White Wine Vinegar or White Vinegar
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda

Preheat an oven to 180°C and line a cupcake tray with 12 paper cases.
In a mixer beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy-3 minutes. Use a spatula to clean down the bowl.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Clean down the bowl.
Sieve together the flour, cocoa powder and salt.
With the mixer on low add 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/2 the buttermilk. 
Alternate the flour and milk until all gone-making sure to end with flour.
Mix in 1-2 tablespoons of red gel food colouring-depending on how vibrant yours is.
In a little bowl, stir together the vinegar and baking powder until foaming.
Fold the bubbles into the cupcake batter.
Divide the cupcake batter between the 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20-22 minutes at 180°C  or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean. 
Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

*to make buttermilk, add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 200ml milk and allow to stand for 5 minutes. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

500g Icing Sugar, sieved
175g Cream Cheese
50g Butter, softened
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1-2 Tablespoons Milk
Sprinkles/Edible letters (I got mine in Dunnes Stores)

In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and 1/2 of the icing sugar until light and fluffy-2 minutes.
Add the remaining icing sugar and beat for another minute.
Add a little milk if the frosting it too thick.
Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

February 04, 2013

Nutella, Peanut Butter, Banana Hearts

I discovered a week ago that there is a holiday (?) taking place tomorrow, February 5th -World Nutella Day. Yep, this is a thing my friends! Are you horrified or overjoyed? I know my sister will be ecstatic. A day where it is acceptable to eat Nutella ALL day. Well, I don't know if it is acceptable but how else would one celebrate such a day? Please, tell me. 

If you are like me and my siblings, Nutella is a BIG deal. We weren't allowed  eat it when we were younger. It was an emotional day-a happy emotional day-when a jar successfully "got snuck" into the shopping trolley without Mam or Dad noticing! It was like gold. I think when we were smaller a jar of Nutella was bought once a year if we were lucky. I remember going to school and seeing friends with packed lunches of Nutella sandwiches (I remember the chocolate Nutella smiles on all their faces) while  I munched away on  a cheddar cheese sambo-not even a jam one.

 Now, as a more mature and responsible person (ha ha) I see the sense in my parents thinking and can definitely say that. 1) I have grown to love cheddar cheese and many other types of cheese. 2) I no longer envy those who have Nutella for lunch. 3) Nutella is still a treat for me. So, you must see my  need to post something in honour of a day that is all about Nutella.

I could have just posted two slices of white toasted bread spread generously with Nutella (still hard to beat), but you deserve more than that and these little beauties come close! These little heart shaped pastries filled with Nutella, peanut butter and banana show my love for it (and you) AND they will be a perfect treat for that special person on Valentines Day which is just around the corner!


Holly, x

Some light pastry making is the toughest thing about these lovely pastries.

An express run through: rub butter into flour, add wet mixture, cling wrap, chill in fridge, remove from fridge, roly roly, cut into hearts...

...fill with Nutella, peanut butter, sliced banana, marshmallow(if you like), cover with more pastry, crimp to seal, egg wash and bake!

Recipe, makes 18-24 hearts, depending on the size of your cutter


125g Plain Flour
1 Tablespoon Caster Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Maldon Salt or any flaky salt
85g Unsalted butter, diced and cold
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tablespoon White Wine Vinegar
Cold Water

Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the sugar and salt.
Rub the cold, diced butter into the flour until the butter is the size of peas.
Whisk the egg yolk and the vinegar.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the egg mixture.
Use a fork to stir the egg into the flour-add a little cold water to bring the pastry together if needed. 
Once the pastry comes together-wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

5-6 Tablespoons Nutella
5-6 Tablespoons Crunchy Peanut Butter
1-2 Ripe Bananas
Mini Marshmallows
1 Egg,for egg wash 

Preheat oven to 200°C
Remove the pastry from the fridge once it has chilled and relaxed.
Cut the pastry in half, returning one half to the fridge.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch (think-nice and thin)
Using a heart pastry cutter cut out 18-24 hearts.
Depending on how large your cutter is-add 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon each of Nutella and peanut butter to the pastry heart, leaving a small border around the edge.
Add 2 pieces of thinly sliced banana and 1-2 mini marshmallows.
Repeat this until the pastry is gone.
Egg wash the edges of the hearts.
Remove the second half of pastry from the fridge, roll it out, cut out hearts and cover the Nutella - banana goodness.
Use a fork to crimp the edges and seal the pastries.
Egg wash and bake at 200°C for 8-12 minutes
Allow to cool slightly before digging in-if you can!