Friday, 27 February 2015

Toffee Tops

I've been making these bad boys since I was about 10 years old - they're my staple traybake :)

7 oz plain flour
4 oz butter
1 egg, beaten with a little cold water
2 tbsp icing sugar
1 can condensed milk
3 oz brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 oz butter
3 tbsp golden syrup
300 g milk chocolate


  1. Sieve the flour into a mixing bowl. Cut the butter in.
  2. Rub in the butter either with your finger tips or a dough blender.
  3. When the mixture resembles breadcrumbs, sieve in the icing sugar and mix through. 
  4. Add in the egg mixture a bit at a time and bring the mixture together into a dough, adding as much egg as you need to do this without it going sticky or wet.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and lightly knead into shape. 
  6. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 20 mins to relax.
  7. Preheat oven to 200C. Turn dough out onto floured surface. Roll out to the size of the tray (6x12 is what I used).
  8. Cover with greaseproof paper and baking beads and bake in the oven for 20 mins. 
  9. Remove greaseproof and beads and return to the oven for 15 mins to brown. Allow to cool.
  10. For the filling, put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Heat and stir, allowing everything to melt together.
  11. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. 
  12. Pour over the cooled base and allow to set.
  13. For the topping, melt the chocolate in the microwave and spread over the cooled filling.
  14. Cut into 24 squares and enjoy.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Emma's Beef

This recipe is from the wonderful Emma over at - she's amazing at making great food from simple ingredients :) Amongst many other things too! I got this recipe from her blog, and I adapted it to suit what I had in the fridge at the time. It has become known fondly in our house as "Emma's Beef" in honour of the creator haha :D

I've made this using sour cream, creme fraiche or cream cheese, or a combination of any of those, depending on what's in the fridge. Usually, I'll use Lidl's light cream cheese, it's got I think 4% fat and is only 70-odd cents for a pack. (or Tesco's version of same, it's more expensive but because of their price promise you always get a voucher for the difference anyway).

Emma's Beef
2 onions, chopped
10 mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 green peppers, sliced
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
250 g sour cream, creme fraiche or cream cheese
500 g pack of beef strips (stirfry beef steak)
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
squeeze of lemon juice
Enough tagliatelle for 4 people


  1. Put the beef in a bowl with the vinegar and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Mix well to coat with marinade. Set aside and leave to marinate a bit. You can use this time following to chop your veg.
  2. Heat a tbsp of olive oil/rapeseed oil in a large frying pan. Fry onions, mushrooms, garlic and peppers for 5-6 minutes until softened. Cook pasta.
  3. Add the beef and marinade to the pan. Fry for about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add in the sour cream (or alternative) and the mustard. Mix well and bring to a simmer. 
  5. Serve with tagliatelle, crusty bread and a big glass of red wine :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Pita Pizza

Very quick, very easy, and so variable! We used sweetcorn and pepperoni on ours.

Pitta Pizzas
1 tube tomato purée
3 tsp garlic powder/granules
1 tbsp crushed fresh chillis (I used country garden, I think Schwartz, Very Lazy and Tesco Ingredients do them as well)
black pepper

Whatever you like really! Examples:
1/2 tin sweetcorn, drained
10 slices pepperoni, halved
small tin of tuna, drained
1 red pepper, sliced
roast chicken pieces
spinach, goat's cheese and sundried tomatoes

4 pitta pockets (wholemeal, plain, whatever)
1/3 red onion, finely chopped
100 g mozzarella, grated


  1. Preheat oven to 190C. 
  2. Mix together sauce ingredients in a bowl. Spread some onto one side of each pitta.
  3. Sprinkle red onion evenly across the sauce. Top with a handful of mozzarella onto each pizza.
  4. Place your topping ingredients on top.
  5. Bake in the oven on baking trays for 12-15 mins until the cheese is melted, the base has turned brown around the edges and it's sizzling. 

Sunday, 15 February 2015


My mum makes the most amazing lasagne. Both Sam and I have been craving it all week, but she already had steak taken out of the freezer for the dinner tonight so she said no can do. So, I took matters into my own hands, and decided to go about making my first ever lasagne, like mammy makes. Big step. Lots of pressure, and fear of failure. What if it wasn't nice? What if I failed? But I tried anyway, and my god was it worth it. May I say may have been the best lasagne I've ever tasted. But that could be because Mum hasn't made lasagne in so long that I just can't remember the taste of hers.

Anyway, lasagne is the ultimate comfort food for me; pasta, creamy white sauce and a tomato-based sauce, all in one dish with cheese on top is heaven.

It dirties a lot of dishes, so after I put it in the oven, I take full advantage of the waiting time by filling up the sink and getting the pans washed so I only have the baking dish to clean afterwards.


about 15 sheets lasagne
Tomato sauce
454 g pack of lean minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, finely chopped
3 sticks of celery, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
10 mushrooms, sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 carton tomato passata
half a tube tomato purée
1 tbsp dried basil
40 ml red wine
White sauce
1.5 pints milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 oz butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp dried basil
4 tbsp cornflour, blended with some milk
60 g cheddar/mozzarella, grated


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Grease a 12" x 12" pan.
  2. For the tomato sauce, heat some olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the mince, and brown. Season with salt and pepper and add the basil.
  3. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic to the beef. Add a small bit of boiling water, and simmer for 5 mins.
  4. Add the tinned tomatoes, passata, and tomato puree. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes until the carrots are softened. 
  5. Add the mushrooms, stir in the mushrooms and wine and simmer for 5 more minutes. Taste and season again if necessary. 
  6. For the white sauce, heat the butter in a saucepan. When melted, sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes until softened and the flavours are released. 
  7. Stir in the dried basil and add the milk. Bring to the boil and immediately reduce to a simmer.
  8. Take off the heat and stir in the cornflour. 
  9. Bring back to the boil and stir until thickened. Add more blended-with-milk cornflour if needs be. 
  10. Starting with the mince tomato mixture, start layering into the greased pan in the following order: mince-lasagne sheets-white sauce-mince-lasagne sheets-white sauce. This will give you three layers; finish off with white sauce and sprinkle the cheese on top.
  11. Bake in the oven for 25 mins until the lasagne sheets are cooked and the top is browned and bubbling.
  12. Serve with garlic bread, a green salad and a big glass of red wine :) 

Fish Pie

This is like one big pie of comfort food! It's so tasty, and not too badly unhealthy I suppose. Could be worse!

You could use fish pie mix or fresh fish, but the frozen fish in Tesco is a lot cheaper and just as suitable - per 100g it's cheaper to buy a bag of frozen salmon and a bag of frozen cod. If I was feeling particularly flush I would have bought a bag of frozen smoked haddock too, but I wasn't, so I didn't. But it would have added a lovely extra bit of flavour. So that's always something that can be varied - choose whatever fish you have on hand or is on offer at the time to use in the dish. You can also change the veg too - peppers or peas would be good as well. You could add some grated cheese on top of the potatoes as well if you'd like.

This dish contains loads of milk (I used Avonmore's low-fat Supermilk) so you get the nutrition boost of calcium, magnesium, potassium and all the other good things milk has to offer. Avonmore lactose free milk would also be fine, or even soy milk I suppose, but I haven't tried that in this dish myself. I recommend low-fat milk to try and keep the saturated fat and calorie levels down, but if full-fat is your choice or what you have on hand, go for it.

The fish is a great source of protein - both cod and salmon are low in calories and high in protein, both being a good source of vitamin B12, phosphorus, iodine, selenium and potassium, along with smaller quantities of other vitamins and minerals; along with those already listed, salmon is a good source of vitamin D, vitamins B3 (niacin) and B6 and omega-3 fatty acids. So basically they're very nutritionally dense in relation to their calorie content - very healthy foods!

Sweetcorn is a source of folic acid and other B vitamins and vitamin C, and is a source of antioxidants such as betacarotine. Sun-dried tomatoes are high in fibre, and provide some omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well, due to being packed in oil. They're a good source of vitamins C, B6, riboflavin, niacin, and of magnesium, copper and manganese too. They're a great source of potassium, with one serving providing almost half the RDA of potassium. Sun-dried tomatoes are also high in antioxidants - they contain a significant amount of lycopene.

Fish Pie
1 onion, diced
1 large tin sweetcorn, drained
1/2 a jar of sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
3 frozen salmon pieces
3 frozen cod pieces
2 oz butter
2 pints milk
3 tbsp cornflour, blended with some milk
1 tbsp dried basil

For the potato topping
~12 potatoes, peeled and chopped into big chunks and rinsed
1 oz butter
good splash milk
2 tbsp sour cream
1 tbsp dried basil


  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Place the fish pieces on a greased baking tray and bake in preheated oven for 2 mins until cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, boil the spuds until soft, about 8-10 mins. 
  3. When the potatoes are done, drain and add the butter, milk, sour cream and basil and mash well, ensuring everything is well mixed. Set aside.
  4. Heat the 2 oz butter in a saucepan. When melted add the onions and fry until softened. 
  5. Add the milk, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the cornflour milk blend. 
  6. Bring back to the boil and stir continuously until thickened. If needs be, add more cornflour - be sure to take it off the heat when adding cornflour and stir it in immediately.
  7. When the fish is cooked, break into pieces - about 1.5" chunks. Add to the white sauce, along with the tomatoes, sweetcorn and basil. Stir well.
  8. Pour the mixture into a greased 10 inch square dish. 
  9. Add the potatoes - the filling isn't heavy enough to support the potato very well, so add it on in small spoonfuls so you don't have to spread it much - just plop it on over the whole dish.
  10. Place the dish on a baking tray to catch any overspill. Bake in the oven for 15 mins until the filling is bubbling and the potatoes are slightly browned. Serve with some peas and garlic bread.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sausage and Bean Stew

This is a real homely recipe, and sort of a healthy version of sausages and baked beans. I like to use top quality sausages for this recipe to give it a really nice flavour - Tesco Finest Chorizo Style Sausages are my favourite - they have a really dense meaty texture and a great flavour - they're also 2 packs for €4.75 pretty much all the time.

This dish is high in fibre and protein from the beans, contains loads of cooked tomatoes so gives you a lycopene boost - known for its antioxidant properties and you get a veggy boost from the carrots, celery and onions too. You can add chilli to this dish if you want a spicy kick, but I chose to leave it out to make it more appealing to everyone in the family on this occasion.

Sausage and Bean Stew
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 onions, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 sticks celery, washed and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tins tomatoes (whatever kind you want, chopped, whole, with herbs, with chilli, whatever)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
8 sausages
1 tin butter beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
2 tins cannellini beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 dessert spoon wholegrain mustard
Rice or Couscous to serve


  1. Heat half the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Add a bit of water if needs be and some black pepper. Cook for 10 minutes until softened. 
  2. Add in the tins of tomatoes, herbs and a can of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins. 
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the sausages until browned and cooked through. Put on the rice/couscous at this stage too.
  4. Add the sausages to the tomato mixture then add the beans. Stir well.
  5. Bring back to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Stir in the mustard and season to taste. 
  6. Serve with rice and some crusty bread.