Monthly Archives: January 2012

Rainy Day Baking

There’s been some shocking weather in Dublin over the last 36 hours – pretty steady rain with some fog and chilly mist thrown in for good measure. While I’m a big supporter of throwing on the wellies and going puddle jumping, there is only so much rain two parents and one toddler can take and only so many hours of Peppa Pig that can be watched. Fortunately, my little man has developed an interest in the kitchen, so that kept us entertained for a while yesterday.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m always chopping something, or the fabulous set of kiddie cookware that his godmother gave him for Christmas, but he’s gotten very curious about pots bubbling on the stove and loves anything that involves cracking an egg. Here are two store cupboard recipes perfect for rainy day baking with a small person.

The first is this genius recipe from Food52 founder Merrill Stubbs. With only five ingredients and an opportunity to use the electric hand mixer, this is the perfect recipe to occupy little hands, fill your house with a sweet, buttery fragrance, and accompany the necessary rainy day cup of Earl Grey.

The second recipe is even easier and the one I went for yesterday, as it only has three ingredients. Seriously. Just three. My friend Monica posted it on Facebook not too long ago and it has become my go-to emergency cookie. I’m not sure of its origins, but it’s this easy:

1cup/200 grams sugar
1cup/250 grams peanut butter
1 egg

Mix ingredients. Roll into balls. Flatten with fork, bake on parchment-lined try for 10 minutes at 350F/180C degrees. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. It’s a struggle.

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Filed under Quick & Easy, Sweet Stuff

Deskfast

Today’s post is inspired by a great article by Roisin Ingle in this week’s Irish Times about dining al desko – a popular activity these days, as post-Christmas credit card bills loom and desires to book a summer holiday blossom. We’re all looking for a way out the sandwich rut and her article as well as this post and this piece offer some great suggestions that I will definitely be trying over the coming weeks, especially the Easy Duck Pie in Ingle’s article and Peanut Chicken Noodle Salad in Usborne’s – yum.

No matter how hard I try, I will never be a morning person, even if I am an early riser these days, and I need to be up and about for an hour or two before I really develop an appetite for breakfast, so Monday-Friday I often eat breakfast at my desk. I’ve been trying to keep breakfast a bit more inspired recently, as a result of a great Christmas gift. My husband bought me a fantastic insulated coffee mug, which turned out to be the gift that keeps on giving. We had a million plastic ones lying around the place, but this stainless steel beauty keep liquids hot for up to four hours. This means that I can brew a pot of filter coffee at home, pour it into my mug, pop it into my bag, run around like a mad woman dropping my son off at creche and chasing buses, and arrive at work with a lovely, hot cup of coffee to savor – all for mere pennies! A quality cup of coffee deserves an equal partner, so I’ve made an effort to trade my slice of toast, bowl of Special K, or (I’ll be honest here…) my Cuisine de France Pain au Chocolat for something a little more upscale. Here are two recipes that I love…

The first is Bill Granger’s Cinnamon Crunch Muesli. This is not yo mama’s muesli…it’s rich, crunchy, and so delicious that it feels a little too naughty for breakfast, but it’s chock full of oats and nuts. (He uses almonds, but I have also used hazelnuts – pecans would probably be nice too). The recipe makes loads and it keeps for weeks in an airtight container. I like to make a batch and leave it in a jar on the counter. I tip a few spoonfuls into a little container while my coffee is brewing, throw it in my bag with a yogurt (this is my current favourite brand). Happy days!

Museli Ready for the Oven

Muesli for the Week

Yogurt and Muesli Parfait with a Honey Drizzle

The second recipe is one that I’ve been making as long as I remember. I’m not sure of its origins, but it’s my mom’s favourite recipe for blueberry muffins. They are super easy and delicious to a ridiculous degree. I like to make a batch on Sunday night and bring them to work or stick them in my son’s lunchbox throughout the week. They’re a lot better than store bought muffins because despite the fact that they contain a bit of butter, they’re relatively low in sugar and have tons of blueberries (antioxidants!) in them. I’ll include metric and American measurements in the recipe.

Blueberry Muffins a la Peggy

2 1/2 c. (300g) plain flour (if you’re feeling virtuous you can use whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 c.  (100g) white sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 c. (280ml) milk

6T. (80 g) unsalted butter, melted

1t. vanilla

1 egg

1 cup (140g) blueberries

Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat milk, egg, and vanilla. Mix the wet with the dry and fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes. Voila!

Blueberry Goodness

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Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Quick & Easy, Uncategorized

An Ode to Slow Cooking

The beginning of 2012 began much  like the last weeks of 2011 – at top speed. After a fun-filled Christmas and very mellow New Year, my family burst back into action in the beginning of January with a bunch of new things in the mix for all of us, including a new job description, a college course and potty training – whew! It’s been hectic, but also fantastic to start the year off with a bang. As ever, the challenge to put a healthy dinner on the table presents itself. I won’t lie…I have relied on my local pizza place once or twice, but the real godsend to our dinner table has been my slow cooker.

With just a tiny bit of preparation, the slow cooker is a busy family’s best friend. Admittedly, they are bulky items that can take up a lot of cupboard space, but I love mine to bits. Generally, any recipe that calls for slow cooking in a Dutch oven is suitable for adaptation to a slow cooker, but the web is crawling with suggestions for easy, delicious meals that can be prepared in minutes. I’ve come across two particularly brilliant recipes lately, both from Real Simple magazine. The first was this lovely Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that was the perfect antidote to a wet, windy Wednesday evening. Coming home from work to a house smelling of lovely, rich, Indian spices was just brilliant, and all I had to do was cook some rice. The next week, I made this gorgeous vegetarian chili, which made enough for two meals, one of which is currently stashed in my freezer for another busy week.

At 8 am, dinner looked a bit like this:

A few tins were opened; an onion, sweet potato, and red pepper were chopped.

8 hours later, dinner was ready!

Yum!

Happy cooking!

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Filed under Quick & Easy, Weekday