Baked Bean Shepards Pie

Comforting Baked Bean Shepard’s Pie

Mum's Best Baked Bean Shepards Pie
Mum’s Best Baked Bean Shepards Pie

Shepard’s Pie is one of my all-time favourite recipes. We used to have it all the time for dinner when I was younger, and there was nothing better than coming in the door from school and into a warm kitchen to a piping hot casserole dish of Shepard’s Pie. You don’t see people make it as much anymore as people are moving away from traditional food in favour of exotic foreign dishes, but I think that’s their loss. This is one of the best, comforting and wholesome dishes in existence.

Shepard's Pie - My Favourite Winter Dish
Shepard’s Pie – My Favourite Winter Dish

The beans may sounds really weird if you haven’t already tried them. But trust me, adding baked beans to a Shepard’s Pie will be the best decision you ever make and you will never look back. My mum used always add a tin of beans to her Shepard’s Pie when we were small kids, but as we got older we wouldn’t let her make it without the layer of beans. As well as tasting delicious, they add more protein and fibre to your meal too.

Slice Open This Meaty, Beany Dish Of Comforting Heaven
Slice Open This Meaty, Beany Dish Of Comforting Heaven

Ingredients:

Potato layer

7-8 large potatoes (local)

2 tbsp butter

Bean layer:

1 tin canelli beans

1/2 tin chopped tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp honey

Lamb layer:

1lb mince lamb

2 carrots

2 sticks celery

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 beef stock cube

1 tbsp tomato paste

  1. Boil the potatoes for about 15 to 20 minute, until cooked through and soft. Peel and mash with the butter and a little salt and pepper until all is soft and well combined. Don’t over mash or it will lose it’s fluffiness!
  2. For the beans… Crush the garlic and fry for a minute in some oil in a saucepan, add the tomatoes, beans and honey and let simmer away for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. For the meat.. Grate the carrots and celery. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Fry them all together in some olive oil for about 10-15 minutes until totally soft. Add the lamb mince and cook for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently to ensure it’s browned all over. Pop your stock cube into a mug of boiling water, when dissolved stir into your meat mix. Add in the tomato paste too. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Get your casserole dish out, line with a smear of butter. Layer in the cooked lamb mix, then layer in the beans then top with the mashed potato. Make a wave pattern with a fork on the potato, top with a little more butter. Cook in an oven preheated to 180C for about 40 minutes.
  5. Serve with buttery peas and eat straight away!

This freezes perfectly, I often make a big dish of it and then portion up the pieces so I can have individual meals quickly during the week. You could add in herbs too, in fact I had parsley but forgot to add it in! Not necessary though.

Grate Up Your Veggies As Finely As You Can
Grate Up Your Veggies As Finely As You Can
Add In Your Lamb Mince, Break Up WIth A Wooden Spoon And Cook Through
Add In Your Lamb Mince, Break Up WIth A Wooden Spoon And Cook Through
Add In Stock And Tomato Paste, Reduce Down
Add In Stock And Tomato Paste, Reduce Down
Layer The Glorious Beans On Top Of Your Lamb
Layer The Glorious Beans On Top Of Your Lamb
Add You Mash, Make Waves With A Fork And Sprinkle WIth Butter Knobs
Add You Mash, Make Waves With A Fork And Sprinkle WIth Butter Knobs
TaDa!!! The Nicest Shepard's Pie... Ever.
TaDa!!! The Nicest Shepard’s Pie… Ever.
It Won't Win Any Beauty Pageants, But My God Does It Taste Amazing
It Won’t Win Any Beauty Pageants, But My God Does It Taste Amazing
These Chocolate Spotted Puppies Make A Perfect Tea Time Spread

Nutty Chocolate and Cranberry Spotted Puppies

When it comes to the simple pleasures in life, there are few things I love more than buttered bread hot from the oven, cake and chocolate. Thankfully this recipe is an amalgamation of all of those things! I’m a total bread fiend (hence working for free in a bakery last year) and have already waxed lyrical about my love of Spotted Dog when I made it earlier this year here. These Spotted Puppies are mini versions, like little scones, of the popular and traditional Irish Spotted Dog.

Butter Is Good For The Soul, Especially When Eaten On Top Of These Bad Boys
Butter Is Good For The Soul, Especially When Eaten On Top Of These Bad Boys

The Spotted Dog is basically a slightly sweet and fruity soda bread. I decided to pimp these puppies out with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Sorry to be boastful, but they were incredible. Make sure to eat them hot from the oven slathered in salted butter… Delicious!

Buttery Little Bundles Of Chocolate, Cranberry and Walnut Glory
Buttery Little Bundles Of Chocolate, Cranberry and Walnut Glory
Warm From The Oven With The Chocolate Still Gooey
Warm From The Oven With The Chocolate Still Gooey

Ingredients:

450g plain/cream flour

1 tsp bread soda (bicarb of soda)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

350ml buttermilk

1 egg

100g dark choc chips (I just chopped a bar into little chunks)

100g cranberries

75g chopped walnuts

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C. Sieve the flour into a bowl (I actually never sieve it because I am lazy, but it helps get more air into the mix), stir in the salt, sugar,  walnuts, chocolate and cranberries. Make a well in the centre of the mix.
  2. Your wet mix (buttermilk and egg) should make 400ml, to be safe pop your egg into the measuring jug and then add the buttermilk until you hit the 400ml mark. Give it a quick whisk.
  3. Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and start bringing it together by using your hand (stiff like a claw) to bring the dry mix into the centre. Keep doing this until just combined. The most important thing with this, or any soda bread, is not to overmix it or it will become tough.
  4. When just combined divide the mix into six portions and pop it onto an oiled tray. Put into the oven immediately, again if you leave it out before putting it in the oven it will loose it’s lightness.
  5. After the first 5 minutes you can turn the heat down to 200C, then let them bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. When cooked slice open and butter with generous helpings of salted butter immediately! No need for jam. it will just mask the flavours of your beautiful fillings.
  7. Enjoy!
Stir Your Buttermilk Into A Well Into Your Beautiful Spotted Dog Mixture
Stir Your Buttermilk Into A Well Into Your Beautiful Spotted Dog Mixture
Your Spotted Dog Mixture Is Ready To Be Turned Into Puppies Once It Has Just Come Together Like So
Your Spotted Dog Mixture Is Ready To Be Turned Into Puppies Once It Has Just Come Together Like So
These Chocolatey Cranberry and Walnut Puppies Are Ready For The Oven
These Chocolatey Cranberry and Walnut Puppies Are Ready For The Oven
Hot From The Oven - Eat These ASAP To Enjoy Maximum Melted Chocolate Pleasure
Hot From The Oven – Eat These ASAP To Enjoy Maximum Melted Chocolate Pleasure
These Chocolate Spotted Puppies Make A Perfect Tea Time Spread
These Chocolate Spotted Puppies Make A Perfect Tea Time Spread
Dig Into Your Fancy Purple Basil and Lemon Ricotta Pasta

Purple Basil (Yes PURPLE Basil) And Lemon Ricotta Pasta

This pasta looks the business doesn’t it? Well it tastes amazing too. In actual fact, it’s super quick and easy to make, and cheap as chips too. All you have to do really is cook the pasta and stir in everything else.

As this is a simple dish you’re relying on the lemon, basil, parmesan and black pepper to give it a bold kick of flavour, so be generous with each of them. Purple basil tastes the exact same as normal basil, so don’t despair if you can’t get your hands on it, this will turn out the exact same with the regular stuff. Whip this up for a fancy looking but super simple supper after work during the week to put a pep in your step!

The Easiest But Prettiest Cheesy Pasta You Could Hope To Make
The Easiest But Prettiest Cheesy Pasta You Could Hope To Make
Dig In To Pure And Utter Cheesy Carby Deliciousness
Dig In To Pure And Utter Cheesy Carby Deliciousness

Ingredients (serves 2):

200g pasta

100g Ricotta

2tbsp Grated Parmesan

Zest of 2 Lemons

Basil (purple if you can find it!)

Salt & Pepper

Lemon Ricotta And Purple Basil Pasta - A Thing Of Beauty Really
Lemon Ricotta And Purple Basil Pasta – A Thing Of Beauty Really
  1. Boil the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. I take mine off a minute or two early so that it’s al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water.
  2. Roughly chop your basil and set aside. I use a good bit, about a handful.
  3. Stir in the ricotta,  parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Have a taste and adjust with more salt, pepper or cheese if needed. You may need to loosen it out with a little of the cooking water or even some olive oil for a silky finish.
  4. Top with more grated parmesan and black pepper and an artistic sprig of basil! Enjoy.
The Bones Of Your Ingredients - Simple But Great Quality
The Bones Of Your Ingredients – Simple But Great Quality
Feel Free To Go Crazy With The Pasta If You're A Fan Of The Novely Factor Like Me
Feel Free To Go Crazy With The Pasta If You’re A Fan Of The Novely Factor Like Me
Stir In Your Ricotta - Be Generous With The Cheese
Stir In Your Ricotta – Be Generous With The Cheese
Add In Your Lemon Zest, Pepper, Parmesan and Salt
Add In Your Lemon Zest, Pepper, Parmesan and Salt
Stir In Your Purple Basil... Yes PURPLE Basil
Stir In Your Purple Basil… Yes PURPLE Basil
Dig Into Your Fancy Purple Basil and Lemon Ricotta Pasta
Dig Into Your Fancy Purple Basil and Lemon Ricotta Pasta
Mouth Watering Beetroot, Kale and Mozarella Salad

Farmer’s Market Simple Summer Salad

You Might Be Thinking "How Can A Salad Look So Decadent?!"
You Might Be Thinking “How Can A Salad Look So Decadent?!”
Beetroot, Kale and Mozzarella Salad In All Its Glory
Beetroot, Kale and Mozzarella Salad In All Its Glory

This is a really, really easy salad. It’s just a ‘throw-everything-together’ kind of a recipe. Just a bit of chopping and massaging… Yes massaging. To be honest though, most nights during the week I tend to eat really easy dishes like this as it’s hard to find time to cook something complicated from scratch after a long day at work.

I bought most of the ingredients at the Temple Bar Farmer’s Market last weekend. The beautiful black kale and fresh beetroot are from McNally’s organic farm, the delicious apple balsamic vinegar is from Llewellyns Orchard,  the Irish buffalo mozzarella is from Toonsbridge Dairy (if you follow this blog you’ll see I use it ALL the time, that’s because it is the ambrosia of the Gods). I also got some macadamia nut oil from my local health food shop, The Hopsack (which is a real gem by the way), to massage the kale. Kale has a gorgeous texture and there’s no need to cook it if you massage it with a little oil. This softens it a little and you’ll visibly notice the colour become more vivid , I think it vastly improves the texture and flavour. You can use whatever oil you like but macadamia is packed with healthy fats and had a beautiful, subtle, nutty taste that’s perfect for salad dressings.

All in all this is a very easy, healthy and delicious salad, so get to it and whip it up!

Lovely Farmer's Market Ingredients
Lovely Farmer’s Market Ingredients

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale

1 large raw beetroot (okay I suppose you can use the cooked prepackaged ones if you must)

1 ball of fresh mozzarella

Balsamic vinegar

Macadamia oil (or other mild tasting oil like rapeseed)

Pistachios

  1. Rinse the kale. Remove the stalks/ribs of the kale (you can’t eat these, or at least without difficulty) and slice the kale into fine ribbons. In a bowl massage a tablespoon of oil into the kale leaves for about a minute.
  2. Wash the beetroot well and remove the roots. Slice finely on a mandolin and mix into your bowl of kale.
  3. Tear up your mozzarella and scatter on top. Drizzle with balsamic oil.
  4. Roughly chop your pistachios and scatter on top of the salad.
  5. Enjoy!
Slice The Kale Finely Into Ribbons... Hardly Rocket Science
Slice The Kale Finely Into Ribbons… Hardly Rocket Science
Massage The Kale Seductively With Some Macadamia Oil
Massage The Kale Seductively With Some Macadamia Oil
Slice The Beetroot Finely On A Mandolin
Slice The Beetroot Finely On A Mandolin
Throw Everything In a Bowl
Throw Everything In a Bowl

Dig In And Feel Virtuous

Green Goddess Quiche

Green Goddess Broccoli and Feta Quiche

Perfect Healthy Little Dinner

Delicious and Nutritious Dinner

I’ve had quite the month of indulgent food, and I really need to step away from the bread and the chocolate and eat healthily for a while to restore a bit of balance. But the problem is I just love good food, I can’t resist something comforting and delicious, and a miserable cucumber salad ain’t my kind of jam.

I had a total craving for quiche last weekend, I just wanted something rich and comforting with a crumbly, biscuity crust. I decided to put my mind to it and make the most health freaky quiche that still tastes incredible… Sounds too good to be true, I know.

This quiche is filling and rich, yet surprisingly light (I know that makes no sense). Packed with green goodness but with enough sharp feta it packs a nice punch. The crust was the experiment and thankfully worked out great, you could definitely use it for sweet tarts too. This is the perfect summer dish if you’re trying to be healthy, but like me are a bit of a glutton at heart.

Lets Hope You Like Green Veggies

Ingredients:

Crust

1/2 mug oats

1/2 mug ground almond

3 tbsp melted coconut oil

Water

Filling

1 head broccoli (or a packet of tender stem broccoli)

1 bunch spring onions

1/2 courgette (optional, I just had some leftover in the fridge so chucked it in)

1 packet feta cheese

6 eggs

Milk

Salt & Pepper

  1. Blend the oats with a hand blender into a powder. Then throw in a mixing bowl with the ground almond, melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt, mix together with a spoon until it comes together. It will still be totally crumbly so don’t worry. Add in a few tablespoons of water and mix together more, this should help it come together so it’s combined.
  2. This pastry is not like a normal pastry so don’t worry that it will keep falling apart. Roll out between two sheets of cling film and then squish it into a quiche tin. I say squish because it will for sure fall apart, but you just need to squish the bits in and patch it up. Throw it into the fridge for 30 mins and it will harden up nicely (at this point you will feel much more confident that it won’t be a total disaster)
  3. Chop the head of broccoli into little florets and slice the courgette and spring onions finely. Throw them all into a large pot with a little coconut oil, salt, pepper and a splash of water with the lid on, stir occasionally. You basically just want to soften these for 10 minutes, the steam from the water should keep them moist and turn them a vibrant green, they shouldn’t catch on the base of the pan. When just slightly soft take out of the pan and drain any excess water if there is any.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Sprinkle half your cheese on the base of the chilled quiche, then scatter your veggies and top up with the egg, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Throw into an oven preheated to 180C for 40 minutes.
  6. You can eat it hot from the oven with salad, or cold the next day for your lunch. Enjoy!

Chuck All Your Crust Ingredients In A Bowl

Mix It With A Fork Until It Just Comes Together

Roll Out Dough

Squish Your Crust Dough Into A Tin

Scatter The Chilled Crust With Feta Cheese

Fill In With Cooked Veggies, Egg and More Cheese

Green Goddess Quiche

Feels Naughty But Totally Nice!

Delicious Soft Salty Olive Bread With Crispy Crust

Outrageously Olivey Olive Bread

I have recently been on holidays in Italy (yet again), drawn back by the lure of bread, cheese, pizza, pasta and gelato. I just love holidays in Italy, being able to chill out on a beautiful beach with a book, take breaks for ice-cream (it’s holidays okay…), dip into a seaside restaurant for fresh fish for lunch with a bottle of local wine, more sunbathing, then pre-dinner drinks followed by a big plate of fresh pasta heaped with seafood, butter, herbs and prawns, and more wine, and bread… Lots of bread. Okay I’m getting a little distracted and hungry again just thinking about it.

Beautiful Fresh Salty Olive Bread... Mmmmm!
Beautiful Fresh Salty Olive Bread… Mmmmm!

One of my favourite things to eat there is a Caprese salad with fresh, local buffalo mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and basil mopped up with crusty bread. While I was in Puglia I had some of the most incredible olive breads and decided that I had to make one as soon as I got back. So off to the market I trotted and filled up a bag of salty, black olives. While my bread looks brown it’s actually white, all the kneading of the olives into the dough coloured it. You could always add the olives into the bread after kneading for a dramatic contrast.

This bread is made using fast-action yeast and so is very quick and easy to make. Why not make it this weekend and enjoy it with some fresh mozzarella and a good bottle of red?

Olive Bread Slathered With Hummus Is Beyond Delicious
Olive Bread Slathered With Hummus Is Beyond Delicious
So Good I Bit A Chunk Of It Off Before I Finished Taking Pictures
So Good I Bit A Chunk Of It Off Before I Finished Taking Pictures

 

Ingredients

500g white bread flour

1 large handful black olives chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 pinch salt

1 sachet of fast action yeast

300ml warm water

1 heaped teaspoon of brown sugar

  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt and oil. Give it a quick stir and then stir in the yeast.
  2. Now stir in the water and stir for a minute until all ingredients are combined. You can either add in the olives now, or after kneading so that the bread is less brown in colour.
  3. Knead the bread on a clean, floured surface for at least 10 minutes, or if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook you could throw it in that for half the time.
  4. Shape the dough and coat it with a little olive oil. Pop it into an oiled bowl and cover in cling film. Leave it in a warm place until it has double in size which can take between 1.5 – 2 hours.
  5. When the dough has risen bake in an oven, preheated to 220c for 35-40 minutes. A trick here is to throw a few ice cubs or half a glass of water into the oven 5 minutes before putting the bread in, the steam will help create a nice crust on the bread. I like to slash a blade or sharp knife across the top of the bread too before putting it in the oven to allow the steam to escape.
  6. The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Let the bread cool on a wire rack and enjoy with some butter, cheese or hummus!
Knead The Dough For Ten Minutes
Knead The Dough For Ten Minutes
Leave The Bread To Prove Until Doubled In Size
Leave The Bread To Prove Until Doubled In Size
A Nice Big Chunk Of Fresh Olive Bread Hot From The Oven
A Nice Big Chunk Of Fresh Olive Bread Hot From The Oven
Delicious Soft Salty Olive Bread With Crispy Crust
Delicious Soft Salty Olive Bread With Crispy Crust
IMG_5113

Pomegranate and Quinoa Sexy Supermodel Salad

So Healthy And Delicious
So Healthy And Delicious
A Salad People Will Actually Enjoy
A Salad People Will Actually Enjoy

Ok so I have no idea what most supermodels eat (probably a packet of cigarettes and a diet coke), but I still live in hope that eating dishes like this will bring me one step closer becoming Miranda Kerr.

Maybe not. If not I won’t be too upset though as this taste so delicious, it’s one of those salads that doesn’t really feel like a salad. I like it best as a side with some fish, meat or quiche. It’s a perfect side for a BBQ. It’s full of all the good stuff especially quinoa which is a really high protein grain.

With the weather looking mighty for the rest of the summer (I hope I didn’t jinx that), this is definitely one worth banging out.

Little Bowl of Salad Heaven
Little Bowl of Salad Heaven

Ingredients:

1 mug dried quinoa grains

1/2 chicken or veg stock cube

2 peeled garlic cloves

1 large handful mangetout

1 bunch spring onions

3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds

Seeds of 1 pomegranate

Zest of 1 lemon

  1. Rinse the quinoa really well in a sieve under water. This is important as the coating of quinoa has a soapy residue so if you don’t rinse it well it will taste yuck. Tip the rinsed grains into a pot of boiling water with the chicken stock cube and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and let simmer away for about 15-20 minute- until cooked through. It needs a bit, not to be mushy.
  2. Chop the scallions and fry in a little oil the set aside. Slice the mangtout and pop in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and pop into a bowl of icy water. Strain and set aside.
  3. When the quinoa is cooked through, strain it and pop into a serving bowl. Add in the spring onions, mangetout, 2 tbsp of the almonds, most of the pomegranate seeds and most of the lemon zest.
  4. Stir it all together and to serve sprinkle with some more of the almonds, lemon zest and pomegranate.
  5. Serve immediately but this will keep well for a few days in the fridge.
Cook The Quinoa With Some Stock and Garlic
Cook The Quinoa With Some Stock and Garlic
Lovely Fluffy Quinoa
Lovely Fluffy Quinoa
Fry The Scallions Until Almost Soft
Fry The Scallions Until Almost Soft
Blanch Your Mangetout
Blanch Your Mangetout
The Easiest Way To Get The Pomegranate Seeds Out Is By Pushing It Inside Out
The Easiest Way To Get The Pomegranate Seeds Out Is By Pushing It Inside Out
Garnish And Serve
Garnish And Serve
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