Latest Posts

Fiesta Friday #165 Aubergine Rarebit

“Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.”

~ M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942)

Hello, fellow Fiesta Friday-ers! And everyone else who reads this blog – despite the fact I haven’t posted anything in weeks! Thank you for sticking with me because I certainly don’t deserve it. It only hit me this week (after almost a year of teaching) that I actually have more free time in the evenings than I’ve realised and more than I had in Korea. Even when I walk home and especially when I am teaching groups of teenagers because I tend to just need to adjust or adapt lesson plans rather than needing to completely start from scratch. I don’t know why it took me so long to realise this but it did. However, as a result, I’ve finally, properly, been testing a recipe. Until now when I was recipe testing I’d do a bit here, a  bit there and then nothing for weeks and then it would be months until I posted a recipe. Hopefully, this new-found free time will mean more kitchen time. Let’s hope I’m with teenagers for quite a few weeks yet!

Well, on-wards and upwards to the recipe! As you may know, if you follow me on Instagram, I’ve been doing the Blood Sugar Diet. Basically, you eat 800 calories a day, avoiding carbs but indulging in fat and protein – so woohoo for the butter and the pork chops! Boohoo for the potatoes, rice and pasta. I found it really hard in the beginning but thanks to the fact that all the women in my family, living in Ireland, are doing this together it made it easier to keep at it. I haven’t been great at it – in fact from the 15th -22nd March I was diabolical and ate everything in sight. My excuse? My dad’s birthday, St Patrick’s day and my baba sister came to visit all in the same few days. However, I went straight back to being good when she left. I’m a bit hit and miss at the minute as I did enjoy some French Toast and half a potato waffle this weekend but I’ve noticed that I just don’t need or want as much carbs as I once did. Also, even better, I actually have lost weight. My sisters didn’t feel that they really did in comparison so perhaps I DO have high blood sugar.

I will admit most of the meals I’ve had have been pretty great and fresh tasting but overall nothing special that one would really share. I don’t even really even use a dressing on my salads instead trusting to avocado or beetroot to provide a more natural dressing.  However, one recipe that I’ve made recently has become a firm favourite for me. I made it originally a couple of weeks ago but wasn’t 100% happy with it. I did some testing last week to see how I liked the aubergine and once I decided on the method, I then worked on the “rarebit” part. My mom and my brother were my testers, and I’m really happy with their very constructive feedback. My mom just tested today’s batch (and also kept on today’s second batch as I was at The Jam’s 6th birthday. Happy Birthday, kiddo! )

One of my family’s favourite recipes that we all love to make and use quite frequently (at least the meat eaters in our family) is this Chicken Rarebit recipe that’s available on the BBC Good Food website (click here). It’s amazing and if you eat meat and want something that will wow your friends and doesn’t take too much preparation or cooking time look no further. It’s a firm family favourite for a reason.  A few times, particularly in the last year I’ve been thinking about a vegetarian version and I’ve finally come up with an adaptation that I just love and am so excited to share with you.

This recipe isn’t the lowest in calories but if you stick to the portion size suggested you’re looking at approximately 135 calories for around 4 big rounds, and 6 small rounds. So, if you are like me and generally stick to 200 calories each for breakfast and lunch and 400 towards dinner, you are still in a good place.  Unfortunately, these wee aubergine rarebits are so good that it’s hard to resist and remember that you are trying to be good and not eat all of them in one go! I suggest that you use a cast-iron griddle pan to brown the aubergine before placing in the oven with the toppings but if you don’t possess one of those, you could also broil/grill the aubergine on both sides. We have a top grill (if you don’t know what I’m talking about click here), and I’ve browned them there on the lowest heat setting. I’d suggest browning all the aubergine first and then add them to an ovenproof dish before dividing the cheese mixture between them. That way you won’t add too much cheese to one batch and then run out when preparing your second batch (which happened to me today). While cherry tomatoes on the vine are preferable, I’ve also used piccolo tomatoes and baby plum tomatoes, so feel free to experiment. However, don’t use the common tomato but stick to the small versions. If I had some different coloured tomatoes I would have definitely tried that out as well.  As the tomatoes brown, they release their juices a bit and mix with the cheese to form a lovely sauce. If some of this sauce spills off the rarebit into the ovenproof dish, scrap it out and use it on your potatoes or in your pasta for some extra oompf.

Well, that’s way more chat than I meant to give ye, so without any more ado, you will find this recipe shared at Fiesta Friday #165 which is hosted by the ever lovely Angie and her co-hosts this week are Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes. You should check out their blogs as well as Fiesta Friday – do join the party it’s always great fun and you can get so many wonderful ideas there. Here’s the recipe:

As you can see, way too much cheese was put on some of these rarebits. Still delicious, though!

Aubergine Rarebit

(adapted from BBC Good Food)

Approximately 6 servings (4 big rounds or six small rounds  per serving)

Approximately 135 calories per serving


  • 2 aubergines, sliced into rounds (you should have somewhere between 30-40 rounds between two aubergines)
  • Table salt
  • Olive oil (approx 1 tablespoon)
  • 100g Kilmeaden Mature Red Cheddar, or other strong red cheese
  • ½ tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 3 tbsp whole milk (I use Avonmore)
  •  1 cherry tomato per round (or other small tomato like piccolo)


  1. Put the aubergine rounds onto a chopping board and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the mixture – grate the 100g of cheese into a bowl. Then, add the mustard and milk and mix together. Set aside.
  3. Rinse the cherry tomatoes and set aside.
  4. After 30 minutes, rinse the salt off the aubergine rounds and then place between paper napkin and pat dry. If using a cast iron griddle pan, brush some olive oil over the pan and place over medium heat. You may need to adjust your temperature, to prevent the pan from smoking.
  5. Brush each round with olive oil and then place in the griddle pan. Let them cook for a couple of minutes until lightly browned, and then turn them over, cooking for another few minutes If you are using a broiler/grill after brushing the rounds with oil, place under the grill on low heat and then turn over after then are nicely browned.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare an ovenproof dish by brushing oil with oil, and pre-heat your oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. When the aubergine are all browned, add to the ovenproof dish. You may need to do two batches or use a second ovenproof dish. Divide the cheese mixture between all the rounds and then place a cherry tomato on top.
  7. Pop in the oven for between 20 to 30 minutes or until the cheese and tomatoes are a little browned.
  8. Serve immediately as best eaten hot.


Leftovers: If, like me you have leftovers, you can throw them under a grill/broiler on low heat to warm up. You shouldn’t need more than 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can use them in the next recipe which is absolutely delicious and a great way to enjoy leftovers.

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.