Caitriona Redmond

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Pork Wrap With Lime Salsa

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 19:49

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 4 Recipe 2

The second recipe in the series is another simple assembly job. If you intend on using the rice you used the night before you might like to read my tips for cooling rice quickly so that you don’t risk food poisoning.

Leftover pork can be a little bit bland and this is the reason why I pair the pork with a lime salsa. It’s extremely easy to make.


  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Red onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced


Stir all the ingredients together in a bowl and leave to sit in the fridge for about 1 hour before serving.

To assemble the pork wraps, heat a dry pan to medium on the hob.

On a clean surface fill a wholemeal wrap with a tablespoon of rice, pork, and black beans, top with some salsa. Roll the wrap tightly and then toast on the dry pan until heated through. Enjoy immediately!

PS: In the spirit of being open and honest, my 7 year old declined the assembled wrap and instead had the below bowl of leftover pork, baby peppers, and wholemeal wraps for his dinner. I had the contents of the wrap, but not the wrap. The rest of the family enjoyed the wraps!

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Pork And Rice With Beans

Sat, 02/02/2019 - 19:56

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 4 Recipe 1

My friend Karin is originally from Brazil and her rice and beans are a thing of legend. She’s pretty partial to our free-range pork so a variation of her rice and beans recipe with a roast pork shoulder is the perfect way to marry her Brazilian traditional food and our Irish ingredients.

For the Beans.

Karin recommends rinsing the black beans at least 3 times to remove dust/dirt/residue and then soaking them overnight. Once they have soaked for at least 12 hours you can boil the beans on the hob for 1 hour.

Alternatively if you have a slow cooker (her method of choice) put the beans and water in the slow cooker and bring to pressure cooking point. Cook for 10 minutes, release the steam and then allow the beans to cool before serving.

You can also use a tin of cooked black beans, strain away the water and rinse them well.

Take 2 large onions, peel and chop them finely. In a large frying pan heat a tablespoon of oil (I used lard from the pork but plain cooking oil is fine). Put the frying pan on a low heat and fry off the onions until they turn translucent. Season well with salt. Take half the cooked onion out of the frying pan and use for the rice (see below). Add 3 finely chopped garlic cloves to the remaining onion and cook for a further 5 minutes. Finally, stir in the cooked black beans and mix so that everything is coated in the garlic and onions and heated through.

For the rice

Put half the cooked onion into a saucepan with a lid. Put the saucepan on a medium heat and pour in the dry rice you’re going to cook. Stir the rice so that it mixes with the onion and becomes a little bit chalky. Pour hot water over the rice, so that it is about 2 inches over the height of the rice in the saucepan. Put the lid on the saucepan, bring the contents to a slow simmer for 12 minutes. Serve once cooked.

For the Pork

I have cooked the bone-in pork shoulder (weighing about 2kg) with the skin on for 4 hours at 150 degrees. All I did was sprinkle a little salt on top before putting the pork into the oven. That makes the skin turn crispy. That’s my lot.

If you have a piece of pork that is smaller, reduce the cooking time. If the pork doesn’t have skin or fat to protect the roast, cover it with tinfoil. Once cooked, remove the pork from the oven and allow to stand/rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.

To Serve

The full meal can be served with plenty of fresh raw vegetables and green salad. We like grated carrot, fresh tomatoes, and rocket.

For the second meal don’t forget to keep at least half the pork, beans, and some rice to one side for tomorrow.

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Roasted Veg Pasta

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 19:34

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 3 Recipe 2

If you made yesterday’s meal of Paprika Chicken with Vegetables you should by now have half of the vegetables along with the leftover chicken from the roast chicken.

This meal is now extremely simple.


  • Pasta (I used spaghetti here but any type is fine)
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • Leftover roasted vegetables
  • Leftover Chicken


Boil some water and cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Make only as much as you need (so check the portion sizes on the packet).

1 minute before your pasta is ready, lash spinach into the boiling water with the pasta. It’ll only take a minute to cook.

Strain away the pasta and spinach, leaving the hob on. Return the (empty) saucepan to the hob and put the leftover vegetables and chicken into the empty saucepan. Pour the pasta and spinach on top. Stir well so that all the ingredients are combined and heated through. Serve immediately.

PS: Apologies with the slight delay in posting this. We’ve had an eventful day and I’m only just getting onto the sofa after the Raheny 5 Mile today. Cxxx

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Paprika Chicken With Vegetables

Sat, 01/26/2019 - 17:47

Make Once Eat Twice

Week 3 Recipe 1

Before I get started on the actual recipe for Paprika Chicken With Vegetables I want to ask you how many racks you have in your oven? Everytime I put a meal into my oven I hear my Grandmother admonishing me to make the most of the cooking space. In the past year I added a third rack to my (fan) oven which really makes a huge difference to what I can fit inside it to cook. Also, even with a fan oven you can still cook items on the bottom of the oven (yes seriously). Think of the bottom of the oven as a very warm spot which doesn’t necessarily have a reliable temperature so instead of cooking technical items like cake in the bottom of the oven, it’s ideal for slow roasting or comforting sweet dishes like crumbles.

If you think about it, once you put on your oven all that wasted space is wasted energy. With a little bit of organisation you can maximise what you cook and not increase your energy costs. Where can you get an additional rack? It seems that there isn’t much of an Irish market for them but you can definitely buy a spare rack from Amazon for about €13. However, if you have a grill pan in your top section of your double oven, or a grill pan that you continuously take in/out from your single oven you should just add that to your regular cooking racks to save money.

The secret to this week’s Make Once Eat Twice challenge is making the most of your oven space for a short period of time which will benefit you on the second day. Just in case you don’t have 3 racks in your oven there is another option when making the recipe, don’t worry!


  • 1 medium chicken
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large peppers, cut into chunks
  • 7/8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

For the Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (yes I know this sounds a lot but it has to go a long way!


Preheat your (fan) oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Combine the seasoning ingredients in a large bowl and set to one side. Line 3 baking trays with non stick baking paper. Get a large basin of hot soapy water and have it at the ready.

Take Tray 1: Put the chicken on the tray (do not wash the chicken). Take 1 teaspoon of the seasoning mixture and rub it onto the skin of the chicken. Use the soapy water to immediately clean your hands once this is done. Put Tray 1 in the oven immediately.

Take Tray 2: Put the root vegetables on this tray; butternut squash, carrots, and parsnips. Take 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture and pour it over chunks of vegetables. Mix the vegetables well so they are coated in the seasoning. Once again wash your hands!

Take Tray 3: Put the soft items on this tray; tomatoes, peppers, and onions. Repeat the steps with the seasoning mixture and washing your hands.

The Large Bowl: There should be a small amount of seasoning left in the large bowl. Take the potatoes and toss them in this mixture. If you don’t want roast potatoes with your dinner, just make mashed potatoes as normal and skip this step.

After Tray 1 has been in the oven for 30 minutes, open the oven and carefully spoon the coated potatoes into the baking tray beside the chicken. Put Tray 2 in the oven.

Let the trays cook in the oven for another 30 minutes. If you have 3 racks in the oven, now add the third tray to the oven.

If you don’t have 3 racks, skip and leave the 2 trays in the oven for 1 hour in total. Put tray 3 into the oven when you remove Trays 1 & 2 after 1 hour’s cooking time (1 hour 30 minutes since you put the chicken in the oven).

Remove the chicken and roasted vegetables from the oven and serve your roast paprika chicken.

As this is a Make Once Eat Twice meal, reserve half of Tray 2 & Tray 3 for tomorrow. And don’t forget to pick any leftover chicken from the bones as well.

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Shakshuka – Baked Eggs

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 15:00

Week 2: Recipe 2

Make Once Eat Twice

To make this simple and delicious meal of shakshuka (baked eggs) you’ll need half of the sauce made yesterday for the taco fries. Although to be fair you could make this first, and the taco fries second if you wanted to! I use small baking dishes for everyone in the family so each person gets a dish with sauce and 1 egg. However, if you don’t have these you can bake this meal in a large ovenproof baking dish and dole out the individual portions once cooked. Ingredients (serves 5 people)

  • Half of the sauce recipe made yesterday
  • 5 eggs
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • 1 large lime cut into wedges
  • Crusty bread or pitta bread

Method Preheat a fan oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Spoon the sauce into a large oven proof baking dish. Put the baking dish into the preheated oven for about 10-15 minutes (this allows the sauce to warm through). Using a large spoon make 5 pockets/dimples in the sauce and immediately crack an egg into each space. Cover the baking dish with a large saucepan lid or tinfoil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Serve your shakshuka/baked eggs with torn coriander leaves on top, crusty bread for dunking into the sauce, and a wedge of lime on the side to give it an extra sour kick (this is my 7 year old’s favourite part). 4 recipes down, only 100 to go!!! Eek!

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Taco Fries

Sat, 01/19/2019 - 17:39

Week 2: Recipe 1

Make Once Eat Twice

I know I’m a week behind, don’t worry that will be fixed over the coming months! Unfortunately the entire family came down with the flu this past week and everything had to go on hold while I dealt with that. This week’s recipe is based around a vegetable and bean stew which I use to make a taco fries dish on day one, and day two will follow tomorrow. Once again this is a low fat recipe making it slimmer friendly, it’s high in fibre and protein. Remember this sauce will do you for 2 full sized family meals (family of 5) and it’s like a hug in a bowl this one. The kids love it; when I asked them which dish I’d make this week from the list this was what they opted for. The 10 year old wanted a vegetarian meal that he loves and the 7 year old (who doesn’t like cheese) said he wanted it plant-based. The biggest challenge is always convincing my husband that he doesn’t need meat to complete a main meal and the great news is he doesn’t feel hard done by with the taco fries.

Ingredients (for the sauce)

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 peppers, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each of salt, ground cumin, garlic powder, and paprika
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 100g split yellow peas or red lentils (either is fine or a combination of both works too)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tin of chickpeas (including the water)
  • 1 carton of tomato passata
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey

For the Taco Fries

  • 1kg of baby potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon each of paprika and onion salt (optional)
  • 2 scallions/spring onions chopped
  • 100g of grated cheddar cheese (optional)
  • 2 limes

Method Place a large saucepan (which has a sturdy lid) on a medium heat. Into the saucepan add the olive oil, onion, and peppers. Stir for about 3 minutes so that they start to soften. Next add the ground spices and the tomato puree. Stir so that the puree starts to cook in the heat and coat the peppers and onions. Pour in the split peas and stir well so that they are also coated in the sauce mixture. Stir for another 2-3 minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients. Stir one more time and wait until the sauce starts to simmer. Cover the saucepan and turn the heat to low. Cook the sauce on low for 90 mins. After 90 mins, turn your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Slice the baby potatoes into quarters. Toss the sliced baby potatoes in a large bowl with the sunflower oil and spices. Put the coated baby potatoes onto a non-stick oven tray and roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. To Serve Serve the cooked homemade potato wedges/fries, with spoonfuls of the sauce on top. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese and chopped scallions on top of the sauce, finally add a wedge of lime on the side of the dish and enjoy while piping hot. Don’t forget you should keep half of your sauce for the second meal the following day! The cheddar cheese is optional, if you are making this a vegan dish then leave it out.

Notes on storage: As this dish doesn’t have any meat or dairy in it, the sauce will store in a sealed container in your fridge for up to 4 days. Alternatively, you can freeze the sauce for another time and it will keep in the deep freeze for up to 3 months once it’s stored correctly. I use glass containers to store sauces in the freezer if that helps.

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Cottage Pie Leftovers Recipe

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 18:28

Week 1: Recipe 2

Make Once Eat Twice

Yesterday I made a braised beef with seasonal veg dish and using the leftovers I’ve now made a cottage pie.

I’ll keep it simple, because my recipes have to take little time in the kitchen. The only additional ingredients you will need are about 200g of frozen peas and sweetcorn, plus a small amount of grated cheese.

Shred the remaining beef from the previous meal and stir it into the leftover gravy.

Preheat your fan oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Spoon the gravy and beef mixture into a large baking dish. Top with the frozen vegetables.

Spoon the leftover mashed potatoes on top of the vegetables and gravy mixture. Sprinkle grated cheese on top of the mashed potatoes.

Cook in the oven for 45 minutes, until all the food is warmed through and serve immediately.

If you want to, this meal is also perfect for freezing so once assembled, cover well and put straight into the freezer where it will keep for up to 1 month. Ensure it is completely defrosted before cooking in the oven.

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Braised Beef With Seasonal Veg

Sat, 01/05/2019 - 19:26

Week 1: Recipe 1

Make Once Eat Twice

For the first in the recipe series I’ve gone back to a family favourite. Mam used to make this braised beef dish in a heavy casserole dish with a lid. The homely flavours come thanks to the veg that all comes from a local farm. It doesn’t get more Irish than this.

3 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
1kg housekeepers cut of beef (note remove any string or elastic before cooking)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
1/2 small turnip (or swede) peeled and chopped
1 litre of vegetable stock (use hot water and 1 vegetable stock cube)
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour

For Serving
Mashed potatoes (make enough for 2 meals)

For the braised flavour you will need to sear the onions and the beef. So first grab your casserole dish, put it on a high heat and fry the onions in a teaspoon of vegetable oil until they turn brown/charred. Remove the onions from the dish and put them on a plate.

With the dish still on high, sear all sides of the beef so that it’s dark brown. Add the onions back to the dish, the rest of the vegetables, and then the stock. Cover the casserole dish and reduce the heat so that the stock is on a slow simmer. Cook for 3-4 hours. Note the stock should reach a maximum of halfway up the piece of beef, it should not be covered in the stock.

Adapted for the slow cooker: Fry the onions and then the beef in a frying pan before putting them into your slow cooker. Add the chopped vegetables, stock, put the lid on top and cook on high for 5-6 hours.

Before serving, remove the beef from the dish/slow cooker. Remember you have to keep half for your second dish tomorrow so it may be easier to cut it in half and cover now before serving dinner.

In a small cup mix 1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour with a splash of cold water until you get a loose paste. With the vegetables and the stock still on the heat, quickly stir this paste into the mixture. It should thicken the mixture to a gravy instantly. Once again, half of this mixture is to be reserved for your second meal.

Serve the beef with the vegetables in gravy with mash on the side. I’ve served ours with buttered cabbage as I got some fresh from the farm yesterday and I love the vibrant colours.

One of the main reasons why I love this recipe so much is because all of the vegetables used here are Irish and in season. It makes it very budget friendly for what is a very frugal time of the year.

Cover the leftover food and chill the food when it reaches room temperature. I’ll have the second recipe for you tomorrow!

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Ham Soup With Dumplings

Sun, 12/23/2018 - 10:36

This ham soup with dumplings is a great one-pot meal. You could even freeze the cooking water from the ham on Christmas Day and reheat it to make the soup at a later date.

Ham Soup With Dumplings

  • Servings: 5
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 litre ham cooking liquid/stock
  • 1/2 turnip/swede, peeled and chopped into dice sized pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into dice sized pieces
  • 100g of dried soup mix
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 spring onions/scallions finely chopped
  • 30g melted butter
  • 70ml cold water
  • 400g shredded, cooked ham

Take a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with a firm lid. Pour in the stock, soup mix and chopped vegetables and bring to a simmer. Put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, scallions and melted butter. Then slowly pour in the cold water in quarters. Stir the mixture with a fork and stop adding water when you have a stiff dough.

Once the vegetables in the pot are cooked and tender, stir in the shredded ham. Shape the dough into small ping-pong sized balls. Sit them on top of the soup. Put the lid back on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Using a large spoon, gently turn the dough over and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

Serve in large soup bowls and eat with a spoon. NB: Soup mix is a dried mixture of pulses that you can buy in your supermarket. There are 2 types. One requires presoaking, I only buy the ready to use version! You’ll typically find a mixture of barley, wheat, lentils and small beans in the mixture.  Very handy for bulking up a soup or stew and adding fibre to your diet.

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Make Ahead Cookies

Fri, 12/21/2018 - 17:22

These malted milk treats have a beautiful fudgy flavour thanks to the malted milk powder that I use in the baking process. There are a couple of brand names if you’re looking to pick it up for yourself. The ones that are easiest to find in the supermarket are Ovaltine & Horlicks.

Allegedly, the malted milk that I like is used in a large Irish diner-style chain of restaurants for their malted milkshake.  Ever wanted to make one yourself at home?  Simply add a couple of tablespoons to some quality partially melted vanilla ice cream.

The first thing you could do with the malted milk is to include them in some food-themed gifts for Christmas.

That includes some fudge cookies in a jar inspired by The Pink Whisk:

Also some malted hot chocolate inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe from an old show of his. Both gifts will go down splendidly well.

What will be a huge hit though have been my malted milk malteaser cookies.  As per usual with my cookies, the dough can be chilled in advance and baked within 3 days or frozen for up to a month before baking.  This recipe makes approximately 20 large cookies which are chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside.

make ahead cookies

  • Servings: 20
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 90g Malted Milk Extract
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 85g butter at room temperature
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 packet Malteasers (malt balls covered in chocolate)


Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celcius and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof baking paper.

Cream the milk extract, caster sugar and butter together until light and fluffy. Beat in the 2 eggs until fully combined then add the flour and baking powder and mix again. Finally crush the malteasers in your hands before stirring them into the cookie dough.

Using a dessert spoon, spoon the mixture directly onto the tray, leaving a lot of space between each cookie.  I normally bake only 4 on each tray so you will need to rotate your trays, however it’s rare you’d bake the whole batch all at once. That is, unless your step-daughter decides to stick her fingers in each of the cookies on one tray as soon as they come out of the oven.  Ahem.

Bake in the oven for between 9-12 minutes.  As soon as they start to turn golden brown, remove the trays and leave the cookies on the baking paper for 10 minutes before gently moving with a spatula to a cooling rack.  The cookies will keep for up to 7 days in a sealed container kept in a cool, dry location but honestly I’d refrigerate or freeze your dough and bake these cookies fresh.

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Braised Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Chilli

Thu, 12/20/2018 - 21:25

It’s the season to love your brassicas.  No it’s not a dirty word, it’s a family of vegetables.  Included in these are the brussels sprout and this is what I did with some this week.

Brassicas are a fantastic family of vegetables and if you’d like to learn loads about them then click here.

Lets not fuss about though, you either love or hate brussels sprouts and according to the link above, that relationship is down to your genes.

All I know is that I ruddy love these little green snotballs as they are affectionately referred to in our family.  All of us do. Come Christmas Day when we were growing up Mam & Dad struggled to keep enough on the table to satisfy myself and my siblings.

It can be hard to judge when sprouts are cooked just right and you can end up with either hard, impenetrable little bullets or balls of slush that have been overboiled.

Prepare your sprouts by trimming the ends and peeling off the outer leaves until you’re left with pale green, firm brussels sprouts. Then cut a small “x” or cross into the bottom of each one.  Some people argue that it makes no difference to the cooking but it’s something we’ve always done in our family so I’m happy to continue the tradition.

Try braising your sprouts (a net bag of about 250g) in 100ml of water and 50g (I know I know artery clogging) of butter with 3 shaved garlic cloves interspersed between them in a shallow baking dish, covered in greaseproof paper.  Pop your dish into a warm fan oven of about 125 degrees Celcius for at least 1 hour. Check the edges of the dish often in case you need to top up with a dribble of water to prevent them from drying out.

For extra flavour use ham water instead of regular tap water for the braising liquid.

On Christmas Day, once the oven is turned off and your bird is resting you could pop a dish of prepared sprouts into the base of the oven to braise in the residual heat.  This is a great idea if you have an Aga or similar.

Serve by tipping the dish upside down so that the sprouts nestle in the paper that covered them during cooking, season and sprinkle with slivers of freshly cut hot chilli if you dare or perhaps even some torn preserved lemons.

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Braised Red Cabbage

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 18:32

Most Sundays there is a market that himself likes to visit. It’s not too far from home, as the kids would say it’s “a spin”. Normally he rambles around with the kids and sometimes picks me up bits for photographs and at the end of his stroll he always drops by the vegetable stall. Most of their vegetables are either grown in the next county or sourced fairly locally and they are cheap.

Day 18 of my Christmas with Caitríona series is a classic Christmas recipe!

On Sunday he couldn’t believe his luck when he got a big red cabbage bigger than his head (this is very big) for €1. Score! He also picked up buckets of other vegetables including some fresh kale, carrots, apples and parsnips for under a fiver.

What better side dish to put with turkey than braised red cabbage? It’s lovely hot or cold. In fact, I had some cold today with some cheese on toast for lunch.

Braised Red Cabbage
  • Servings: 5
  • Time: 70 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 15g of butter
  • 1 teaspoon each of ground ginger, cumin and coriander
  • 2 apples, peeled and chopped
  • 300g shredded red cabbage
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of white wine/white balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml water

Melt the butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Sprinkle in the ground spices and stir for about a minute so that they toast in the warmth. Add the apples and coat them in the spiced butter. Stir around for 5 minutes until they soften.

Take the cabbage and add it to the saucepan, stir so it’s mixed with the apples then add the sugar, vinegar and water.  Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium low, cover the saucepan and simmer for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

Bear in mind that we are a low-salt family so I don’t add seasoning. You may like to add a half teaspoon of salt with the sugar.

Braised cabbage can be eaten immediately and is a great side dish with pork, turkey or game. Alternatively spoon the cabbage into a sterlised jar and allow to come to room temperature before sealing. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

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The Big Christmas Food Shop

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 08:03

If, like me, you’ve got that slightly rising panicked feeling about Christmas Dinner and what the last shop before Christmas Day will cost, stop now and have a little read of Day 17 of my Christmas With Caitríona series.

That last shop for us is probably my most stressful shop and this year I am cutting back on Christmas shopping. I’ll do it at some stage before the end of the week ahead, and then pick up the fresh fruit and vegetables, along with the meat on Christmas Eve. You would think that the shops won’t be open for nearly a week, as was the tradition years ago, but in truth the shops will barely close for longer than 36 hours all told and the local supermarket will reopen on St Stephen’s Day. The reason why I do a large shop before Christmas Day isn’t that I’m trying to stock up the cupboards, it’s so that I don’t have to go near a shop unless I absolutely have to. There is great escape in shutting the door on Christmas Eve and knowing that the next couple of days are for family only.

This trip to the supermarket before the main day though is the one where we are prone to the most amount of impulse buys. There are Christmas traditions in our house that revolve around food. For example it was always a treat for my siblings and I to have Sugarpuffs on Christmas morning; there were always tins of chocolates to be scoffed along with bags of King crisps in hubby’s house (always King at Christmas from a cardboard box); and tins of premium biscuits, nevermind bottles of lemonade and alcohol for visitors.

If I’m typing this and the pressure is rising in my chest then I can imagine it is for you too. So here are a few, short bullet points for you to try and bear in mind for the next couple of days so that you can try cutting back on Christmas Shopping.

  • Make your list & check it twice (if it’s good enough for Santa, it’s good enough for you).
  • Go without kids (no attacks of the gimme-gimme to spend more money).
  • Know your budget.
  • Only buy what you need.
  • Be brutal, if there are items that you rarely eat or you always have in the cupboard for months afterward then scrap them and don’t buy.
  • Make sure you have storage space so you’re not falling over a Turkey or the Ham hasn’t taken up all the fridge.
  • Likewise make sure your oven can handle all this food you’re intending to cook.
  • Many hands make light work. Sometimes one of my sisters and I do the big shop together and each push the trolley through the supermarket side by side. It makes the shop easier for us and we have a bit of a laugh too.

Above all, don’t panic!

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Flavoured Salt

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 12:15

This is a great recipe to use up your leftover meat from the Christmas dinner. This is a tray bake that can be lifted from plain and simple eating (not a bad thing after Christmas excess) to a meal with a zing from some flavoured salt.

Turkey and ham are staples on our dinner-table on Christmas Day. Yet when the main meal has been cleared away there is still a turkey to break down, stock to be made and the ham to be divided into portions. There is always leftovers. The generosity on the day itself led, last year, to me having over 20 meals worth of cooked meat in the freezer for the weeks beyond. While we all love turkey and ham there are only so many times we’re happy to eat a classic roast dinner and yet I don’t fancy having to be too inventive in the kitchen with leftovers because I prefer not to make work for myself.

This flavoured salt theoretically should keep until Christmas if you make it now and keep it in a clean dry jar.

Flavoured Salt (makes enough for at least 10 meals) Ingredients
  • 50g sea salt
  • 2 stalks of fresh rosemary
  •  Freshly grated rind of 1 organic lemon

Put the salt into a heavy pestle & mortar, add the leaves only from the rosemary stalks. Grind well. Stir in the fresh rind of the lemon.

Spread out the ground salt on a flat surface lined with baking paper and leave in a warm dry spot. I used the oven after cooking dinner a few nights back. I left the salt in the cooling temp of the oven overnight and it dried out a good bit.

Store in a dry container with a tight seal on the lid. Sprinkle as flavouring on your meal or bread of choice.

And so to the tray-bake.

Leftover Turkey Tray-Bake (serves 5) Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used rapeseed oil here)
  • 1kg of small potatoes with the skins on
  • 4 red onions peeled
  • 3 generous handfuls of cooked turkey/chicken meat
  • Flavoured salt

Preheat your (fan) oven to 180 degrees Celcius.

Take a large ovenproof dish and pour the oil into the bottom. Slice the potatoes to 2cm from the bottom, Cut the onions into quarters. Toss the potatoes and onions in the oil then reposition so that the cut sides of the potatoes faces upwards. Put the ovenproof dish into the oven for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, remove from the oven and add the turkey meat. Gently stir so that they are coated in the cooking oil and won’t stick to the dish.  Return the dish to the oven for a further 15 minutes.

Serve immediately with a light sprinkling of the flavoured salt and a side salad or steamed vegetables of your choice.

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Simple Handscrub & Lotion Bars

Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:02
Simple Handscrub

This is the kind of gift that a small child can make, and actually they’d probably love the feeling of squishing the oil and other ingredients together. We used organic ingredients because we’d rather use them where we have the option.

  • 250g Raw Organic Coconut Oil
  • 200g Organic Sugar
  • 50g Coarse Organic Sea Salt (I like using Oriel Sea Salt, a local producer)
  • 1 Organic Vanilla Pod

Into a large bowl, weigh out the coconut oil, sugar and sea salt. Split the vanilla pod down the middle and using the flat end of the knife, scrape out the seeds into the bowl.

Take a fork and mix all the ingredients together until well combined and/or wearing rubber gloves, squish everything together into a paste. Decant into 1 large tub or smaller jars. 500g of this scrub should do quite a number of hand scrubs!

Body & Bathing Lotion Bars

These are fantastic. You can see a couple of them have pink glitter in them. We were experimenting and used some edible pink glitter in the end of the mixture. Something we won’t do again. Pink glitter aside, the lotion bars are made using just 3 ingredients.

They are very stable in cool temperatures but don’t leave them by the radiator! To use in the bath, pop 1 into a mug of boiling water and stir until dissolved, then pour the mixture into a bath with hot running water. To use as a body lotion, hold in your hands for a couple of minutes until the oils start to release and simply rub in. I use small silicone moulds to make these little bars. The circular bars are about the size of a €2 coin in diameter and twice as thick. You can certainly make this mixture in bigger bars though. Silicone moulds are the way to go here.

Just to note on the beeswax options. You can pick up organic beeswax from your local certified beekeeper (let me know if you find somebody locally as I’ve found organic beeswax hard to source), you can buy it online in bar form or if happen to have a suitable hive source you can use the raw beeswax from there providing you don’t need it later on in the year. I couldn’t find a suitable source locally so used bars that I bought online.


200g Raw Organic Coconut Oil

100g Organic Beeswax

1 Organic Vanilla Pod


Fill a large saucepan partway with hot water. Put this on a low heat then sit a glass bowl on top of the saucepan, ensuring that the bottom doesn’t touch the water below (if it does then pour some water out). Put the coconut oil and beeswax into the glass bowl and allow to dissolve into oil. The beeswax takes longer than the coconut oil and this does take a while. Don’t worry!

Once the wax and oil have melted together, cut the vanilla pod lengthways, scrape out the seeds using the flat side of the knife and stir them into the oil mixture. Allow to infuse for 2 minutes before carefully pouring the liquid oil CAUTION HOT into silicone moulds. Cooling time depends on the size of your silicone moulds. Mine were small and only took 2 hours. If you use larger cupcake sized moulds then expect to allow about 12 hours or overnight cooling before you pop them out.

Store the bars in a cool, dry spot, away from direct sunlight.

This is a quick reminder that this recipe is Day 12 of ‘Christmas with Caitríona’ which is a 24 day series of Christmas content across my blog/YouTube channel etc aimed at saving you time and money in the run up to Christmas. I hope you like it and if so please do share the tips and tricks with your friends and family. Cxxx 

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Chocolate Biscuit Christmas Pudding

Tue, 12/11/2018 - 20:00

Not everybody is a fan of desserts with dried fruits in them.  However, I really love the appearance of a Christmas pudding. So we get around this by making a chocolate biscuit Christmas pudding cake. I like to lace mine with crunchy malteasers but you can add in any chocolates, sweets or nuts that you like!

As this recipe has no baking to be done I think it’s a brilliant one to make with children with little supervision. Once again I have a video to go along with the recipe on YouTube!

Chocolate Biscuit Christmas Pudding

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

  • 500g digestive and rich tea biscuits (or similar)
  • 100g butter
  • 100ml golden syrup
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 50g plain or dark chocolate
  • 1 large packet of malteasers (share pack works best here)

Take 2 large heavy duty sandwich bags and put one inside the other. Fill the inner bag with the biscuits and channel the anger in your life at the moment batter the bejeepers out of it with a rolling pin or wooden spoon.

Get a big heavy bottomed saucepan, stick it on top of a weighing scales and measure out the butter, golden syrup, caster sugar and chocolate directly into the saucepan. Put the saucepan on a medium-low heat on the hob and stir occasionally.

Line a pudding bowl really well with cling film.

Once the contents of the saucepan have turned to a liquid and the sugar has completely dissolved, pour in the crumbled biscuits. Stir well until they are well coated with the liquid. Take the coated biscuit mixture and press it firmly into the lined pudding bowl along with the malteasers; layer by layer.

Cover the pudding bowl and chill for at least 4 hours before decorating with melted chocolate and serving. Alternatively, this recipe will freeze well for up to 1 month so it’s a great one to make well ahead of the big day!

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Mulled Cider Recipe

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 17:53

Day 10: This is a twist on the traditional mulled wine, it’s a mulled cider! To make an alcohol free version for kids/non drinkers, substitute the cider for pressed apple juice instead. There are some beautiful Irish apple juices to be bought at this time of the year. Personally I love both Stameen Farm and Llewellyns Orchard juices for local juices (and ciders) but whatever you can get your hands on is fine. Do yourself a favour though, don’t use juices made from concentrate, you just won’t get the same flavour.

Mulled Cider

  • Servings: 5
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print


  • 1 litre of cider
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 all spice berries
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 apple


Take a large saucepan and put it on a low/medium heat. Fill the saucepan with the cider, and add the aromatics above. Slice the lemon and apple into thin slices and pop them into the saucepan too.

Stir with a wooden spoon and allow to warm through for about 20 minutes. Make sure it doesn’t come to the boil. Once warm through, serve immediately in mugs and enjoy.

This mulled cider recipe goes perfectly with blue cheese and crackers. The blue cheese is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet and tart drink.

Obviously the children had the non-alcoholic version which is actually my favourite.

If you have a slow cooker, pop all the ingredients in the slow cooker on high for 90 mins before serving.

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Make ahead homemade stuffing recipe

Sat, 12/08/2018 - 17:33

The beauty of this stuffing recipe is that it can be made well in advance. No more faffing around the day before Christmas, if you make this stuffing this week and lash it into the freezer then it’s all good to go on the big day.

I was only chatting to Mam about this last night. We really love our stuffing in our family. This is the most basic, simple stuffing recipe that you can make. There’s nothing wrong with changing the spices or adding dried fruit to the mixture, we just like to stick with the classics!

To make life easier I’ve recorded this video to go along with the recipe below:

homemade stuffing recipe

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 100g butter
  • 300g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 pack of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, picked fromthe stem
  • Salt & Pepper


Put the butter and the diced onions into a large saucepan. Cook on low until the onions become translucent (see through) and soft. Once the onions are cooked, pour the breadcrumbs into the saucepan and stir so that they soak up the butter and onion mixture. Add the chopped parsley and thyme, then turn off the heat. Stir well so that everything is mixed together.

Decant into a large freezer proof container and freeze for up to 1 month in advance of cooking the stuffing. Allow to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours in advance of cooking.

If you made it this far! This is a quick reminder that this recipe is Day 8 of ‘Christmas with Caitríona’ which is a 24 day series of Christmas content across my blog/YouTube channel etc aimed at saving you time and money in the run up to Christmas. I hope you like it and if so please do share the tips and tricks with your friends and family. Thank you as always for reading. Cxxx

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Christmas Fruit Parcels

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 15:42

These Christmas Fruit Parcels are a lighter alternative to cakes and puddings and have no suet and very little fat, no eggs and can be prepared quickly. They can easily be adapted for vegans too.The beauty of the recipe is that it is great if you have a vegan/vegetarian/lactose intolerant guest.

With no eggs in the recipe either, the only thing you need to worry about is the wheat in the filo pastry but always check the labels for the exact ingredients.

Did I mention the recipe is refined sugar free as well? The only sugars in this dessert are those from the fruit.  It really doesn’t get much better than that.

On Christmas Eve buy some fresh filo pastry from your local supermarket.  You should find it in the chiller section. If you’re worried you won’t get some at the last minute then buy some now and freeze the packet of pastry until next week. In a pinch, some wonton wrappers will do either.

Christmas Fruit Parcels

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 20 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 100g Dried Fruit
  • 1/2 Cup of Orange Juice
  • 2 Cooking Apples (Bramleys are good or Granny Smith apples will do if you’re stuck)
  • 1 Packet of Fresh Filo Pastry
  • 30g Melted Butter (coconut oil for lactose intolerant/vegan guests)


The night before, make sure your filo is out of the freezer  (if you put it there) and defrost in the fridge overnight. Pour the orange juice and dried fruit into a bowl then mix well and cover. Leave overnight and forget about it.

On Christmas Day, peel the apples then grate them into the dried fruit mix and stir well. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celcius. Spread out the filo pastry and cut the sheets into 4 equal (square) pieces. Most filo packets come with 6 sheets so this will give you 24 squares or 12 parcels. In the middle of 12 of the squares put a teaspoon of the mixture. Brush the outside of the squares with melted butter then bring the edges together to make the parcel. You will now have 12 parcels and 12 empty squares. Put the parcels into the middle of the empty squares, brush the edges again and bring those together so that each parcel has 2 layers of pastry. Put the parcels onto a tray lined with greaseproof baking paper then bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Once golden and crispy at the edges, remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving with a dusting of icing sugar, maybe a splash of cream/brandy butter/custard/ice-cream on the side?

  • If making this dessert for a vegan or lactose intolerant guest then substitute the regular (dairy) butter for coconut oil instead.
  • If your guests don’t like dried fruit then don’t put it in at all but I’d suggest that along with the grated apple you could add some chopped crystallised ginger which will sweeten and spice the mix slightly.
  • For a bit of punch add some whiskey or brandy when soaking the fruit with orange juice the night before if you wish.

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Dishwasher Vodka

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 14:37

Normally when infusing alcohol with spices or fruit you have to wait a number of months for the best flavour. This is a cheat’s version, called dishwasher vodka, which if made today will be ready for drinking or gifting tomorrow!

When I first heard about this particular infusion trick I was a bit doubtful but hey I’m always the type of person to give something a go once. The original link I saw infused vodka with chocolate bars. That’s a shocking waste of chocolate if you ask me and as Christmas is on the way I’ve an alternative option which adds seasonal tones to your vodka. However, don’t let my Winter spices be the only way to infuse your vodka in the dishwasher. This is perfect with skittles but make sure you use just one colour skittles so that you don’t have a muddy brown colour vodka. Red or green colours work particularly well here.

The instructions are simple but follow them closely!

Dishwasher Vodka

  • Servings: 30
  • Time: 10 mins
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print


  • 500ml Vodka
  • 3 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 stick of cinnamon


Half fill a glass bottle with a rubber stopper with vodka. As the vodka is going to be spiced and we are all on a budget I would suggest a bargain tipple from your local superstore such as Lidl (disclosure as you may already know I’m a Brand Ambassador for Lidl but they’ve not asked me to mention in this post).

Add 3 tablespoons of demerara sugar, 1 vanilla pod and 1 stick of cinnamon (or cassia bark) to the bottle. Note, in my pictures I used 2 sticks and I found this a little bit overpowering but if you like cinnamon go right ahead.

Make sure the bottle is closed & sealed tightly then shake well for 2 mins. Put some welly into it!

Place the bottle on its side on the top shelf of the dishwasher. Fill the rest of the dishwasher as normal and run it on a full “dirty” setting. For me that is 130 mins at approximately 60 degrees Celcius.

When the dishwasher is finished, leave the bottle to completely cool on the top rack.

DO NOT open the bottle until it is stone cold.

Once cold, shake the bottle one more time and leave standing upright for 3 hours. Serve on plenty of ice if you’re going to drink it neat. Decant into mini bottles or jars for presents and decorate the bottles with bows.

Mix with soda water or decent ginger ale for a bit of sparkle. Just to add the yellow/orange cubes are recyclable ice cubes; if you don’t like your drinks watered down they are the bizzo.

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