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In My Kitchen – February 2017

Happy New Year, everyone!

2017 crept up incredibly fast and the 10th February even faster! The last few weeks of 2016 I spent with my sister’s family helping out as she’s been a wee bit under the weather. I’m getting lots of nieces and nephew time.

So, how was everyone’s Christmas? Unlike last Christmas I didn’t get many food related items. In fact, besides chocolate, the only food related item I got was a gift of lunch at the prestigious Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. Which, in fairness, is a pretty epic present. I haven’t decided who to bring with me and when to go. Hopefully in the spring, though! My actually Christmas presents included Harry Potter themed pyjamas (these along with the Shelbourne may have won Christmas for me). My squeals of delight were all that my sister who gave it to me desired. For my birthday she also gave me HP related Christmas decorations, a paper craft, a reading lamp for bed that you wear around your neck. This is so handy for me as I love reading in bed but hate having to get up to turn off the light so instead I usually watch TV…no more!


(photo credit @ K O’Driscoll – I wasn’t able to take this photo so my sister very kindly helped me out)

However, we had lots of goodies to eat. Here are some of them! I made a couple of cheese boards over the Christmas. This one was to celebrate Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Christmas as Three Kings Day is known here. It featured hummus, paté, gorgonzola, edam, cheddar, chorizo and salami as well as some crisps. Below are my mom’s almond slices. I love when there are almonds on top. We also had her peanut butter balls and peppermint balls (not pictured). I believe some people call them buckeyes?  These tartlettes were incredibly yummy. I ate about 4 by myself! The crisps didn’t taste like their description but I’m not sure what they tasted like! They were pretty good, though.

christmas-treatsFor my birthday, from my sister’s family I got a myriad of food related gifts, which more than made up for Christmas: apricot chocolates, peanut sweets and a jar of Ya Kun Kaya Toast. It’s basically a coconut jam that’s very popular in Singapore. I’ve never had it before. Has anyone ever tried it? If so, did you like it? I haven’t tried it yet – saving it for a special occasion.


(photo credit @ K O’Driscoll – I wasn’t able to take this photo so my sister very kindly helped me out)


My other sister made me my own hobbit hole cake. I first read The Hobbit when I was about 7 or 8 and LOTR when I was about 10. To this day they are some of my favourite stories. Isn’t it adorable?


I also received this beautiful cookbook from my aunt who was visiting. I am in love! This aunt is the one who introduced my sister to the More-with-less  and Extending the Table cookbooks. I love Extending the Table and you can find two recipes adapted from that cookbook on this blog: Kusherie and Nepalese Spiced Tea. I am sure that this cookbook will also be excellent. Does anyone else have it?


(photo credit @ K O’Driscoll – I wasn’t able to take this photo so my sister very kindly helped me out)

When my aunt was visiting, she asked me to make some Korean food for her. I made my version of gimbap and adapted a bibimbap recipe of Maangchi’s. Maangchi is one of my favourite Korean food bloggers. You should check her out.


I also participated in Fiesta Friday’s Healthy Recipe Challenge. We had to incorporate two ingredients in a recipe: pineapple and a leafy green. This was my contribution (click the picture to bring you to the recipe)moms-chicken-pasta-salad

In my kitchen, I have some fruits, or rather cookies, from my baking labours! The big picture and the bottom right are slightly different versions of the same cookie. The ones on the top right are my Grandma’s Christmas Fork Cookies. I made these for a cookie exchange at the beginning of December.I’m not a confident baker but that’s my goal for this year: (technically it was also last years goal but I got sidetracked!) to increase my knowledge about baking and to bake more often. Most especially, not to be afraid of disasters. To that end I hope to share some stories about my baking adventures over the next year with my first post coming in a couple of weeks.  How about you all? Any resolutions cooking related? Blog related? Obviously, for me it’s to post more recipes and to participate more IMK and Fiesta Friday 


And that’s all folks. Please check out  for the other entries in this month’s In My Kitchen posts at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Thins and if you are interested in joining us, let her know.Thanks for hosting, Liz.



Fiesta Friday Healthy Recipe Challenge: Chicken, Almond, Pineapple and Spinach Pasta Salad.

What do you get if you cross an apple with a Christmas tree?

A pineapple!

~ Christmas Cracker Joke.

The following recipe evokes memories of summer picnics on the hill in the park under a blazing sun. All nine of us sitting on a picnic blanket munching at the different bowls of salads and treats we hauled up (ok, it wasn’t as far as the “haul” makes it seem – maximum a 10-15 minute walk  from our house) and running around playing chasing (tag) or stuck in the mud (a game where if you are caught you are “stuck” and have to stand with your legs wide so your rescuer can crawl under your legs to free you).

I always loved this salad – the crunch of almonds, celery and cucumber complemented the softness of the peas, pasta and tomato,  The sweetness of the pineapple contrasted with the lightly fragrant chicken and other more savoury vegetables. Now, even in other recipes when I make chicken pasta salad I always want to add pineapple – they are married together in my brain for always! As an adult, I love this salad even more because much of it can be prepared ahead of time – the meat, the pasta, and most of the vegetables. The dressing, tomatoes, cucumber, celery, pineapple and spinach can be added just before serving. When I lived in Korea, I’d make a big batch of this to last 2-3 days and I’d add these ingredients every morning.

This recipe is very faithful to what my mom would have prepared for us all those years ago – and that is still a summer favourite for all of us, even if the picnics are no longer a summer tradition. Somethings that are different to my mom’s recipe include leaving out the tomatoes – sun ripened ones are best! I also forgot that she uses celery, plus we had none in the house, so that was left out but if you like it and have it, then add it. We never would have had actual pineapple growing up – we’d always use a tin, in it’s own juice for this recipe. Additionally, my parents aren’t mad on spinach so we wouldn’t have really eaten it growing up. Instead, lettuce – usually ice-berg or little gem would have been put at the bottom of the bowl so you could mix it in yourself, as not everyone wanted to have lettuce with the salad. When I’ve made this before I’ve always complained that it never tasted exactly like mom’s – the missing ingredient? Curry powder. I asked her recently when I was 100% happy with the taste and realised that’s what was missing! So, don’t forget the curry powder.

This recipe, according to the USDA recipe calorie counter is about 3608 calories altogether but you can divide that by 6-8 portions which comes to about 600 calories each. I couldn’t find an option for stir-frying the chicken so I’m sure that adds a few calories more! Also, you can easily add any more or less of any ingredient, including the dressing. I’ll be honest I prefer a bit more mayonnaise in mine – but it’s what I’m used to.

I’m really excited to take part in my first Fiesta Friday recipe of the year and even more excited to take part in the Healthy Recipe Challenge. Angie is hosting us and it’s open until the 31st January so you’ve plenty of time to get at least one recipe in! If you don’t want to participate in the challenge you can still join us at  Fiesta Friday 154


Chicken, Almond, Pineapple and Spinach Pasta Salad.

6-8 portions

(slightly adapted from my mom’s recipe)



  • 3 chicken breasts, bite-size pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp curry powder (approx)*
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


  • 500g (approx) conchiglie/shell pasta cooked to al dente in salted water or (unsalted) chicken stock , drained and rinsed off in cold water, to cool.**
  • ½-¾ cup frozen petit pois, cooked in lightly salted water and cooled**
  • ¼-½ cup of sliced almond, lightly toasted under a grill/broiler and salted, then cooled
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 6-7 scallions, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • ½ quartered cucumber
  • 5-6 rings of fresh pineapple, in bitesize pieces** (approx)
  • 1 cup washed spinach (approx)
  • 2-3 stick celery, if using, washed and diced finely (optional)
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, if using, halved or 2-3 small tomatoes, quartered (optional)


  • 5-6 tbsp Hellmann’s Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Wholegrain Mustard
  • 2 tsp -1 tbsp pineapple juice
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high heat, add the chicken, curry powder and seasoning. Stir-fry.
  2. Once cooked and lightly browned, remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, boil a large pot of lightly salted water and add the pasta and cook as per package directions (I prefer to cook to 1 minute or so under the package directions).
  4. Drain, and rinse the pasta in cold water.
  5. Meanwhile, assemble the salad ingredients – starting with the pasta and peas. If eating right away, or within the next hour, add all the salad ingredients. If you are serving this later or the next day, leave out the pineapple, cucumber, spinach, tomatoes and celery, if using, until you are serving.
  6. Now, add the cooled chicken and toss again.
  7. Lastly just before serving, add the dressing ingredients and stir them in until everything is coated. If you want to add more mayonnaise or mustard, go ahead – it’s your salad now.

*I don’t know if this makes a difference but it might – we always use Schwartz Medium Curry Powder on our chicken.

**Alternatively, to save on pots and time, you can put the frozen petit pois in a colander and then drain the pasta onto the peas. Leave the pasta and the peas to cool naturally in the colander for a few minutes (thereby cooking the peas). Then rinse both under cold water.

***We would have used tinned pineapple, in it’s juice when I was a kid. If this is your option, but the tinned pineapple in the fridge overnight, unopened until ready to add it.


Celery is one of those things that always seems to cause food poisoning. I’ve had several friends get it and the culprit is always celery left in water. So, for a safety precaution,  I prefer to not add the celery until just before serving.



Leftover Butternut Squash and Potato Cakes

“The potato, like man, was not meant to dwell alone.”

 ~ Shila Hibben

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I hope you all enjoy the holiday with lots of loved ones. This last weekend we had our celebration – 14 around the table with the youngest being a 1 year old who was far more interested in walking around and saying “hi” to all the new faces. Besides our family: my parents, the 4 of us who live in Ireland, my brother-in-law and three nieces and nephew, we had four guests. Three of these guests are our regular guests of honour at Thanksgiving and the tradition of their company is as important as all the other Thanksgiving rituals. My mam, didn’t make her pineapple ham, or her lime-jello salad (both of which disappointed me) but we did have stuffing with pecans like Grandma used to make and my mom’s date roll that she found in a newspaper in Ireland but that similar to one her mom made, link here.


Leftovers are one of my favourite things about Thanksgiving and Christmas and a little like Ross from Friends, I have my favourite post-Thanksgiving sandwich. If you haven’t seen that episode, watch the clip below. It’s hilarious.

I actually have leftover butternut squash I was saving for today to make with the leftover potatoes from our celebration yesterday…only to find out we literally have only turkey, ham and a few pieces of dessert left to eat. That’s never happened before. We usually would have a bit of everything so you can have a mini-Thanksgiving dinner for your lunch the next day, if you so desired. Needless to say , like Ross, disappointed isn’t an understatement.

So, here’s hoping you have some leftovers that you can enjoy with this spicy but fairly healthy potato cake, that’s packed with iron, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C thanks to spinach and the butternut squash (source Also, by using the marinated butternut squash, it adds a lovely flavourful punch that doesn’t really need anything else. They are perfect for lunch or a late evening snack. I do recommend making these when you have leftovers of potatoes and the butternut squash at least, otherwise it’s quite the project (as you need at least 4 hours to make the butternut squash….). I personally preferred the ones with the cheese but without it they are a wee bit healthier! According to my sister, Katie, these are her favourite thing that I’ve made – the perfect amount of spice.

If you need some other ideas for Thanksgiving, why don’t you check out these recipes as well as the Date Roll, above:

Tomato, Orange and Lentil Soup


Nutella and Pumpkin French Toast Roll-ups


Apple and Bacon/Rasher Stuffed Mushrooms

christmas mushrooms

I am sharing this at Fiesta Friday #146 which is hosted as ever by the lovely Angie and her co-hosts,  Antonia @ Zoale and Petra @ Food Eat Love

Leftover Butternut Squash and Potato Cakes

(adapted from Smart Cooking 1  by Marita McGeady and Martina Cribben, which was my sister’s Home Economics book.)

Makes 9



  • 1¼- 1½ cups, leftover cold mashed potatoes
  • ¼ cup, leftover cold carrots
  • ¼-½ cup, leftover spicy marinated butternut squash
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ¼-½ cup, washed spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp, cream/plain flour
  • 3⅓ tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil/butter to fry


  1. With a potato masher, mash together the potatoes, butternut squash and carrots together.
  2. Add the onion, spinach, seasoning and cheese, if using, and mix together, along with 3 tbsp flour.
  3. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan, and then add to the potato cake mixture and mix well. If it’s too wet, add the final tablespoon of flour.
  4. Divide the mixture into three equal parts, and divide each of those sections into three further parts. Form into flatish circles.
  5. In a non-stick pan, add a mix of oil and butter. You want it to be barely coating the pan as otherwise the potato cakes are too oily.*
  6. Once golden brown, flip and cook the other side.
  7. Once cooked put on a plate covered with paper towel, to drain any excess oil.
  8. Eat hot with sour cream, ketchup or other condiment of your choice.

*If needed, which is what I did, heat the oil and butter mixture, and then pour off any excess so that it just barely skims the pan. If you have one of those olive oil sprays, that would be a good option as well





In My Kitchen – November 2016

It’s so long since I’ve participated with In My Kitchen. The last few months have been hectic – since my last post my family had another loss in my Grandma, also Mary Ann, who passed away on Easter Sunday, age 95. I finished and passed my CELTA course (yay!) and then started working and adjusting to life as an employee, after almost a year away from teaching, which was harder than I expected. I taught on and off for 4 months and I am now job hunting again. Once I finally adjusted to life as a teacher again, I got back in the kitchen and have been back at it a bit more consistently since the end of September.  It’s been great but slow going.

First up in my kitchen is a bowl I made a couple of years ago that is currently housing our eggs. I did a wood turning class about 5 years ago and it was one of the most fun classes I have ever taken. If I get a job again, I’d like to go back in the Spring.


Then there is this beautiful bowl our parish’s assistant priest brought back as  a gift when he returned home to Ethiopia. Aren’t the colours gorgeous?



For Hallowe’en, Monkey Nuts are really popular and we’ve a nice big bowl of them (also just figured out some new functions on my camera and this blur option was one. I love it!)


In my kitchen, or rather my bookcase, are some of my cookbooks. I have a few others than are scattered about the house due to some reorganising we are doing. Extending the Table is my favourite along with the McGuire Family Cookbook which is my Mom’s family’s recipes. Do you have a favourite cookbook?


I was house-sitting for my aunt while she and her husband travelled all over Asia: Japan, Shanghai and Duabi and these are the lovely presents she brought me back.



And that’s all folks. Please check out  for the other entries in this month’s In My Kitchen posts at Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things and if you are interested in joining us, let her know.Thanks for hosting, Liz.



Fiesta Friday 143: Warm Spicy Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with Pistachios

Pistachio nuts, the red ones, cure any problem.

~ Paula Danzinger

First off: Happy Hallowe’en! This is a picture I made with the Jam and the Melon. The Jam made the bat that’s flying across the window on the right, and they helped to glue on the clouds, bats and ghosts.


As I mentioned in my previous post, I consider my Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash to be a base recipe as I’ve been incorporating it into other recipes. This recipe is one I have been making for a couple of weeks and I started making it after getting a little inspiration from Elaine@foodbod when she shared her lunch with roasted carrots and pistachios and I realised that I only ever just eat pistachios. I mean, I mill through them like there is no tomorrow. I love them plain, roasted with salt, roasted with salt and pepper, roasted with cumin – you name it, I’ve probably eaten it. And yet, I’ve never taken the time to shell them, set them aside and use them for something else besides my mouth. When I saw Elaine’s lunch it was like a lightbulb going off in my head and I knew I had to incorporate them into an actual meal. I was house-sitting for my aunt the first time I made this salad and I loved it so much I made it again the following week. Admittedly, I ate a good bunch of the pistachios I shelled before I remembered that they were supposed to go into this salad…..

The spiciness of the butternut squash is offset by the creaminess of the avocado and the pistachios and seeds provide a lovely crunch that offers a nice contradiction to the softer elements. Additionally, pistachios assist with dietary fibre besides already contributing to your protein intake and YIPPEE they are heart-healthy! Always a nice side benefit for me.


Before moving on to the recipe, I am really excited to let you all know that I am co-hosting with Angie for Fiesta Friday#143 this week along with Judi from Cooking with Aunt Juju. As your co-host, I will be visiting and commenting on your Fiesta Friday posts as well as selecting features. As I’ve mentioned a few times already, Fiesta Friday is a great way to get to know new bloggers and it’s a lot of fun. Everyone is really nice, supportive and helpful. I’ve gotten to know some great bloggers from this event that runs from Friday to Tuesday every week, so even if you aren’t ready to Fiesta on Friday, you’ve another few days to get yourself in the party mood. If you decide to join Fiesta Friday, you need to make sure to link your blog post to Fiesta Friday as well as my blog and Cooking with Aunt Juju. That way we get a pingback and know that someone knew has joined the party. Also, so other readers and partiers know how to find your blog, tag your post with “Fiesta Friday”. For more information and to link to Fiesta Friday , click on the below image. Remember to be eligible for Features, you need to adhere to the guidelines.



Warm Spicy Butternut Squash Couscous Salad with Pistachios


Serves 2


  • approximately ½ cup uncooked couscous
  • 50-60 roasted and salted pistachios, shelled
  • 26 black olives, sliced into thirds
  • 1½-2 avocados, chopped
  • approximately ½ cup washed spinach, excess water squeezed out.
  • roasted butternut squash seeds
  • approximately half the Spicy Marinated Butternut Squash
  • a drizzle of the leftover oil from the marinated butternut squash (optional)


  1. Boil a kettle of water/pot of water.
  2. Meanwhile, place the desired amount of couscous into a heat-proof bowl and cover with the water once boiled and a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt. Leave for 5-10 minutes until the water to be absorbed. The couscous will swell as it absorbs the water.*
  3. Once ready, fluff with a fork and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, place the pistachios, olives, avocado, seeds, and spinach in a large bowl and mix together.
  5. Add the cooked couscous tossing gently.
  6. Add the butternut squash:
    1. For warm salad, add the butternut squash immediately after cooking and gently toss with the other ingredients and serve immediately.
    2. If you don’t want a warm salad, let the butternut squash and seeds cool first before adding to the other ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. As you mix the hot butternut squash through the salad, the spinach will wilt slightly.
  8. If you want it to be a little spicier or if you find the couscous a little dry, add some of the leftover oil.

*I don’t actually measure my couscous so this is approximation. I just pour it directly into a pot and judge visually if it’s enough. I over estimated today and I had extras, so I suggest mixing all your ingredients in (minus the squash) and adding the couscous tablespoon by tablespoon until you judge you’ve enough for two. If you have leftover couscous you could serve with some pesto.