Category Archives: Food & Drink

Recipe: Easy Lemon & Vanilla Shortbread

I like doing a little bakey-bakey with Jacob. Especially if we’ve been up since 7am, have gone through having breakfast & putting everything away and he’s gotten so bored with his Thomas The Tank Engine track that he’s started to deliberately shove Thomas off the railway bridges and saying ‘Oh no…’ in a really unconvincing way.

Last week, we made shortbread for the first time. It would have been the usual cupcakes scenario that I know Jacob has the adequate attention span for, but we hadn’t one single solitary egg in the house. We delved into our recipe books and Jacob pointed out ‘That one!’ to the shortbread page. Thankfully, no eggs, and as I usually like, shag-all effort needed! BOOM!



Mix 4oz plain flour, a pinch of salt and 2oz castor sugar in a bowl. Takes all of 10 seconds.

Split 1 x vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape out the vanilla seeds. This usually wrecks my head – I find if you squeeze it on both sides between your fingers, it makes it a little ‘fatter’ and easier to split open with a sharp knife. Chuck in the seeds along with the grated rind of 1 x lemon.

Chop 4oz butter into small pieces into the bowl and get your hands in there until the mixture resembles a soft dough. (I usually give Jacob a tiny bit in a separate small bowl so that he can ‘help’. It’s REALLY HELPFUL when it ends up in his or Pearl’s hair… but it is fun for him, so no matter!).IMG_2176

Press the dough into the tin of your choice – I used the back of a dessert spoon to flatten it down. Press a fork around all the edges to give it a little fancy design (much like our grannies used to do on the edges of apple tarts!)

With a sharp knife, mark the dough out into the pieces/shapes that you would like to have in the end, and prick it all over with the tip of a fork. Lightly is best, so probably don’t let your two year old get involved on this one ;o)

Bake in a preheated oven on 150 degrees celsius for 45-50 mins. Cool it in the tin for a few mins, sprinkle with a little more castor sugar. After another couple of mins, cut out the portions and leave it on a wire rack to cool completely.

The smell of sugar and lemon in the kitchen was deeeelicious, and Jacob and I really enjoyed scoffing them after lunch! Furthermore, Thomas lived to see another day….





RECIPE: Pumpkin Pie

The last time I made pumpkin pie, I’m pretty sure was about ten years ago when I worked in Luigi Malones in Temple Bar, and my co-manager Kate who is from LA, gave me the recipe. Kate is also an amazing baker and cook and continues to shame me with the photos of her amazing family dinners on Facebook. By comparison, if I were to post photos of my family dinners (especially on Fridays), you would generally have nothing to ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ahh’ over other than how well placed the chips are in between the slices of batch bread.

IMG_1853Anyhoo, as it happens, Ass Monkey now informs me that he is a fan of the pumpkin pie (5 and a half years on? I’m pretty sure he makes this shit up) and so Jacob and I have made a valiant attempt on his behalf. I would like to note that I am not a fan of pumpkin pie, it is nowhere near sweet enough for me, but had no major argument against making it because it’s one of those recipes that I love – you chuck it all into one bowl. Amazeballs.

For the butter crust, I threw 2 x cups plain flour, a pinch of salt, 3 x sticks of butter and 1 x egg in together. When the dough formed, I popped it in the fridge for a few mins.

I always hit YouTube and All Recipes for baking ideas if I haven’t a bog what I’m doing (which is pretty frequently, let’s be honest!). I flick through until I find a recipe that I can manage and have all the ingredients for, and usually go with that. All Recipes was my source for the ‘Perfect Pumpkin Pie’ recipe this time too. Here’s what you need:

1 x can pumpkin (IF you’re mental, you can buy a fresh pumpkin, carve out the insides and then blend them down to use instead)

1 x can condensed milk

2 x eggs

1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, nutmeg and salt

Chuck them all in together and whisk away. Pour into the crust. Cook in a 225 degree pre-heated oven for 15 mins, then reduce heat to 180 degrees for a further 40 mins (or until you shtick a knife in there and it comes out clean).

Enjoy! xxx




Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies

I got up with Jacob this morning and thought ‘What the f*ck am I going to do with you today?!’ Yesterday, he went for a swimming lesson, the playground, in to the city to see Santa, ate mince pies…. Today, I’m exhausted. If we even make it to the shop for milk, I’d be surprised.

So whenever I have days like this (or it’s lashing rain), I can always be guaranteed that baking something together will kill a bit of time. There’s also a major cute factor as I help Jacob into his ‘Mammy’s Little Helper’ apron ;o)

Today’s recipe: Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies from NYC’s Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.





1 1/2 cup plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon cinnamon – chuck into a bowl & stir

2 sticks butter, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup normal white sugar – lob in together & mix ’til creamy

1 egg, 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract – whisk into butter mixture. Fire the flour mix into the butter mix

Add in 1 1/2 cup porridge oats & 1 cup of shredded coconut. (It gets pretty tough to hand mix


IMG_1840at this stage so flex those muscles!! I also throw in a drop of milk if the mixture is very dry at this stage, just to make it bond a bit better).

And that’s it!! Pop tablespoonfuls of the mixture onto 2 baking trays with a sheet of baking parchment on them, in the oven at about 190 degrees.

And then shove them into your gob with a nice cuppa. Enjoy! x



See the easiest chocolate biscuit cake recipe here! My First Chocca Biscuit Cake!

My Ikea Shame

Ikea. We’ve all been there and if we’re smart, we’ve never been there on Sundays when it’s HELL ON EARTH. Tuesday mornings is my preferred time of week to visit, as I can tend to get in and out in under an hour and a half if I plan it right. My usual ‘route’ is backwards – not for me the following of the red arrows on the floor, despite what all those sandy haired Swedish-looking customers think of me – oh no. I like to hit the kid’s section, and work my way backwards and then hit the market place downstairs, which, for me, is when the fun really starts. I love the image I have in my head of my crazy shopper self – arms flailing as I reach for yet another pack of 12 scented candles to add to the ignored pile in a bag under the sink, or another pot plant that I hope won’t die in the office (and it will).

I scootch through the checkouts, hit the lifts to the car and I’m gone … under normal circumstances. I always ignore the fast food grub at the checkouts (especially since that meat report during the year…shudder), and the samples of cake in the food store (especially since I have common sense and know that everyone has had their lightbulb-buying hands all over them).

But last week, I was running late. I was running late and it was getting to 2pm – waaaay past lunch time. I was overcome with hunger pains and a slight panic that if I got lost on my way back to the office, which I normally do, it could be another hour before I got some grub into me. I don’t do hungry well, never have – I once caused such a shit storm in a hotel in Wexford about my breakfast going M.I.A. that they upgraded me to a suite (granted, I was pregnant at the time and actually, in hindsight, I think that they just felt really sorry for Ass Monkey).

So I did The Unthinkable – I parked myself and my trolley in the queue for the fast food and ordered a hot dog and chips. I mean, the smell of Almost Meat nearly took me over. I consoled my deluded self that at least I was going to wash it down with my bottle of water and not a fizzy drink, as I suffocated the entire roll and meat in tomato ketchup.

I shoved it all into a takeaway bag and made for the car park. The actual inhaling of food that went on when I sat in my seat cannot be underestimated. It was that kind of wolfing down that requires your nostrils to work overtime to help you to breathe, so not only do you look like a pig with ketchup on your cheeks, half-opened salt packets in your hair and disgusting pieces of hot dog skin between your teeth – but you sound like a hog too.

Just as I thought that my dirty little secret was going to stay that way – my carbohydrate-junkie self happened to turn to see a lady and her teenage son sitting in the car next to mine, staring at me with their mouths agog. Snared. Snared stuffing my face with junk food in my car in the Ikea car park. The horrors.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I started to completely cack myself laughing, because all I could think about was this: Will & Grace

(Sorry, Ikea car park neighbors!!) x


My First Chocca Biscuit Cake!!

If you know me as I know you think you might know me by now… ;o) … I do love to make or bake pressies for people (if I have the time), rather than just buy something from the shop. So when my good pal Charlie O’Donoghue was turning 13… that was all the excuse I needed to get baking!

I’m not a flashy, fancy cake decorator or anything. I like quick recipes: anything that can be done in under 20 minutes AND whose ingredients can all be lobbed into the one bowl is my friend. On this basis, it is altogether extraordinary that I made my first chocolate biscuit cake two weeks ago! Not only does it REQUIRE that you shove all the ingredients into one bowl – you don’t even have to bake it afterwards. That’s right, it just gets chucked into the fridge until it’s done. Genius.

I just like thinking about a thing, and then Googling a thing – so I Googled ‘Best Chocolate Biscuit Cake Recipe’ and was directed to an amazing site called Cake In The Country. The entire theme of the site has a great wit about it, so I look forward to the email updates I’ve subscribed for!

Here’s how it all went down:

2 x 150 gram packets of dark chocolate – melted in a bowl over hot water

18 Rich Tea Biscuits – broken into quite small bits – chucked into bowl when choc was melted

1 x Twix bar – chopped up and chucked in

1/2 large bag Maltesers – chopped in half, chucked in

Just Outta The Fridge!

Just Outta The Fridge!

1/2 large bag Crunchie broken bits – chucked in

1 x small Snickers – chopped and chucked

1/2 bag mimi marshmallows – chucked

1 x small tin of condensed milk – mixed in with everything else at the very end before pouring into a loaf tin that I lined with greaseproof paper.

Pat it all down with the back of a spoon and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. I left mine overnight.

For the icing, I got the mixer out and beat 2 sticks of butter and a tablespoon of milk together.

Covered in delish chocolate buttercream icing.

Covered in delish chocolate buttercream icing.

While it was doing it’s thing, I melted a packet of Dr. Oetker’s chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave (30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir!) which I then added to the butter and milk mixture after it had cooled a little. Next was a teaspoon of vanilla into the mixer for 3 minutes and finally I sifted about a cup and a half of icing sugar in until the consistency was gloopy enough to spread on the cake!


Lastly, since it was nearly Hallowe’en and all, I sprinkled some candy bats and ghosts on top and sent it off for scoffing. Happy Birthday Charlie! x

The finished chocolate biscuit cake for Charlie!

The finished chocolate biscuit cake for my main man Charlie!