End of year school fundraiser with Maria Doyle Kennedy

The first time I saw Maria Doyle Kennedy in clós na scoile I gave her a big “Hellloooo!” which is nice as she was a new parent in the school. Very welcoming of me eh? Nice for her: I was mortified of course because I obviously couldn’t separate fiction from reality and was in the middle of watching Dexter on Netflix… Cringe.

Maria Doyle Kennedy in Dexter Season 5
Maria Doyle Kennedy in Dexter Season 5

So yep we have a star of stage and screen in pobal na scoile but we’re way cool about it…. Ahem. I’m not just telling you this because I’m more than a little starstruck. Maria is playing a fundraiser gig for the school* on Thursday 26th June in the Odessa Club, Dame Court, Dublin. It’s the second last day of term so expect high spirits and even if you aren’t associated with the school what a great way to round off the school term even if terms are a distant memory for you. Come along – it’s €20 on the door for a great cause and a great gig. Bargain!

*Excuse me not mentioning the name of the school. It’s one of my online rules in order to protect the nippers. I know it’s not rocket science to work it out but I prefer not to make it easy. I feel crazy paranoid but I decided early on never to mention their regular haunts online.

All the trimmings chicken curry (weekly menu)


Lunch: Soup carrot and thyme – this got sidelined until the next week as hungry folk arrived home from their morning music classes demanding any kind of bread with melted cheese. This drives me mad as I feel they have sandwich based lunches at school during the week and I want them to learn how to think beyond sandwiches for lunch. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a big sandwich fan. A perfect delivery method. I try to ring the changes during the week with the kids by using pita, wraps, muffins, crackers but it always comes back to ham, chicken or cheese. Well I suppose it’s a darn site better than fussy younger me with my butter sandwiches. My secondary school friends will remember my penchant for cheese and branston pickle. In fact my mother dropped in a lunchbox of these into Holles St for me while I was labouring with Nipper 2.0! This is also the reason I don’t always include lunch in the menus because usually it’s not worth writing about. However

Chicken curry with all the trimmings
Chicken curry with all the trimmings

Dinner: Chicken curry with all the trimmings. This is Himself’s speciality to which my middle brother will avow. Middle brother, his wife, and his kids came home from Paris and we invited them to join us for dinner. Somewhere amidst the mayhem everyone ate. Some kids just ate rice, some just naan, some just curry, some just banana but everyone ate something and we all caught up. A year later or so they were back again and we invited them over for the afternoon and dinner. Somewhere during the meal I got a very strong sense of deja vu and suddenly realised we were serving them chicken curry with all the trimmings again. No-one minded as it is truly delicious. You can get the recipe on Himself’s blog. In fact that is all he has on his blog….


Lunch: We had a big breakfast and an early dinner so lunch was whatever was going. There were no leftovers from the Chicken curry.

Dinner: Macaroni cheese – I was home alone with the kids so made sure to make something simple that I knew they would eat. Plenty of carbs meant they would sleep soundly too.



Casserole Amandine - potatoes, carrots, peas, ground almonds, turmeric and egg.
Casserole Amandine – potatoes, carrots, peas, ground almonds, turmeric and egg.

Dinner: Casserole amandine – this is an old recipe from my vegetarian teenage years. It’s the ultimate comfort food but to be fair it isn’t the most appealing looking. Occasionally I do a clear out of our recipe books, discarding the really useless ones. However if there’s one or two recipes in them that I have made I will cut out and keep that recipe. This was the fate of Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Cooking from which Casserole Amandine was the only recipe kept.


Salmon Alfredo getting shnarfed by Nipper 2.0
Salmon Alfredo getting shnarfed by Nipper 2.0


Dinner: Pasta salmon Alfredo – the kids love this. I like it for it’s speed but I’m not so keen on the cream. Tuesdays are nearly always a quick pasta dish as Himself is out and eats when he gets in. There was smoked salmon on special offer the previous Friday so I bought three. I ended up giving one away, using one for this and one of my favourite salads and one is in the freezer.



Dinner: Fish pie: mostly a big hit. I think there was some grimacing from Nipper 1.0. I made the Express Fish Pie from The ICA Cookbook (actually from the freebie leaflet that came with the Irish Times a while back but when I get a bigger recipe bookshelf, it might go on it. Maybe I should start loading them onto my Kindle app on the iPad…)


Dinner: Bolognese with rice: Thursday has become freezer dinner night because we usually don’t get home until after 5 due to after school activities. Don’t expect any exciting innovation on Thursdays. About once a month I will cook something another day of the week with the sole intention of making 3 dinners from it. Bolognese is particularly good as it freezes well and can be used for pasta, rice or baked potatoes and at a push it could be used for cottage not shepherds pie.

 Friday Pizza

20 bliain ag fás – apparently.

This week was quiet hectic, kicking off with my 20 year school reunion on Friday. Yes I know I don’t think so either 😉 Although I did stay out until 4am I was sensible with the demon drink and felt fine for the next big do on Saturday. My father in law turned 80 last week so we all got together for food, drink, music and song. It was fabulous! But I really felt all the excesses for the rest of the week. Hmmm maybe it is 20 years since I was in school… Still haven’t learnt a thing about being sensible. Hurrah! Many of my in-laws are amazing musicians. Some of my readers will have heard them at our wedding no doubt. I think between my family, my in-laws and the Outlaws we probably cover the whole gamut of musical styles. So on Saturday, I sang my version of this amazing song, The Book of Love by the Magnetic Fields. It has a strong resonance for me because I first heard it on Valentine’s Day last year. This was an especially difficult time for my in-laws but I knew they would appreciate this song with its down-to-earth romanticism. It’s bitter sweet for me. Here is Peter Gabriel singing it live and lovely.

Music may be the food of love but we’re here to talk actual food so excuse the slight diversion but I like to share many things.


Lunch: Gnocchi with pesto – I needed a good carbie lunch that I knew they would eat as Fridays are shaping up to be a super busy afternoon too. Nipper 1.0 had his first choir practice in the city centre so I had to keep everyone going for that. To keep crankiness at bay I also brought along Babaduck’s Amazing Star bars (kind of swanky rocky road) and Wellington Splats (my squares that had gotten battered on their travels.)

Dinner: Pizza as usual. Well I went out for dinner with my old school chums. I had a delicious but very garlicky broccoli pasta dish in Marios in Ranelagh. I probably hadn’t been there for about 20 years either!


Lunch: Bagels with choice of filling on the hoof before hitting the road.

Dinnner: Pops’ bash with goodies galore.


Lunch: We weren’t 100% sure where we’d end up for lunch but due to certain so-called being incapacitated we left early-ish. We stopped en route to Dublin at The Tap, a place, I’ve been watching develop over the years driving up and down. The drive is too short to justify a stop but I was starving so we stopped off and had a lovely lunch. An unusual spot where the kids found much to amuse themselves. Apart from the too-tall glasses that restaurants seem to always give to kids and which they always then spill they were also very kid-friendly.

Dinner: Bolognese from the freezer. I love my freezer as I was now officially exhausted.


Lunch: Hot dogs which are one of the nippers’ absolute favourite lunch options. Why do I bother…?

Dinner: Chicken and couscous – this title doesn’t really do this amazing dish justice. I absolutely will post this recipe as it is a favourite with the family.


Lunch: Leftover chicken and couscous for some and I honestly can’t remember what the others had.

Dinner: Pasta with roasted brocolli – this was only grand. It was a bit dry so I ended up larruping olive oil on the finished dish thus over-riding any “skinniness”.


Lunch: Whole wheat pasta with oven dried and garlic sauce

Dinner: Candied pork with sweet potato wedges and green beans


Lunch: I had soup from the freezer. PB &J on the hoof for everyone else as we dashed about.

Dinner: Roast trout & little taters with carrots. This fish dish was a hit. I’m getting there!

Friday Pizza

Back to school and breathe menu

Six hour spiced lamb with 40 cloves of garlic
It’s been a hectic week with kids going back to school, stacks of work and a huge family do to wrap up the week. This blog has never been my life but about my life so it always comes second.
Baguette with choice of fillings. Saturday is nearly always an easy sandwich option, sometimes soup, sometimes pasta or gnocchi. Once music lessons kick off for the boys again we’ll likely picnic,  eat out  or scrounge from my parents on Saturday lunchtime.

Jamie Oliver’s Satay chicken with noodles – this gets an outing every once in a while and I know I’m not the first to say it takes way more than thirty minutes to prepare. Even if by some miracle you manage to make the meal in 30 minutes it’s going to take you twice as long as normal to do the washing up. I should write a real 30 minute meal book… Anyway this is a delicious and tasty meal with meat on a stick which scores highly with the nippers and noodles – double points from them!

Six hour spiced lamb with 40 cloves of garlic
Six hour spiced lamb with 40 cloves of garlic

Six hour spiced lamb with couscous. Yep six hours. Himself saw the recipe in the Guardian the previous week and with lamb at a good price in Superquinn we would have been mad not to try it. Mad. While the lamb was pull apart tender the flavour was not as awesome as you would expect. But once it was on we were able to go out to the cinema and come back and still have time to chill out before dinner.

I also made Spinach & Thyme pasties today thinking they would make perfect lunchbox fodder. I was wrong as I would discover during the week.
Spinach & thyme pasties in lunchboxes were not appreciated. I got very cross and refused to make the children super noodles which they will demand for lunch everyday and which I never make. I complained bitterly about the fact that there was no way that super noodles tasted nicer and only mad people could think these delicious little triangles filled with yummy spinach, feta and flavourings were anything except mouthwateringly gorgeous. They didn’t agree and nibbled the corners from them.
Chili with rice. Unearthed from the freezer, loved by all.
Beetroot soup for me and Himself. Also unearthed from the freezer. I regularly make soup, maybe once a week and freeze it for midweek lunches.
Pasta with Sage and Rosemary Sauce. This sounds far more exotic than it is but it is absolutely delicious and a firm family favourite. Here’s a Vine of me making it:

Meatloaf with tomato and basil sauce. Another recipe from Rachel Allen’s Home Cooking, a book I came across by chance but have found invaluable, not least because most of the recipes are designed for six diners. This was my very first time making meatloaf. We decided to make it because my brother  told me it was a favourite in his family. A deciding factor for the nippers as well is that this is Johnny Test’s dad’s go to dish. Anyway, Rachel’s version was eaten and appreciated by all but I felt it was a bit bland. Coincidentally we weren’t the only family eating Meatloaf on Wednesday as I divined from Bibliocook’s Instagram and she pointed me at this recipe which sounds much more lipsmacking. I love her tip about pitta bread for breadcrumbs because I never have whitebread but will always have pitta. I know, I know, far from pitta you were raised etc.
Needless to say we sang this throughout dinner because I remember how much I enjoyed my parents’ singing as a child myself… Hah!

I had intended to give the nippers Meatloaf in their luncboxes but they weren’t going for it. However they did demand it for their afterschool snack.
Dinner was supposed to be Sole á la meunière but my local friendly fishmonger had known so I opted for whiting. I subjected it to this Steamed Minted Whiting with Soured Cream which was yet again another unsuccessful fish dish. My big problem with fish is that I don’t like the taste or texture of it generally so when I’m planning a fish meal I can’t visualise how the meal will fare. I had plenty of mint and creme fraiche so this recipe seemed like a good option for dinner. It wasn’t. So I have passed the task for next week’s fish dinner to Himself and removed my bad taste in fish dishes from the aquation. Heh!
Packed lunches
Pizza for nippers as we are away out to a family do!

Menu week commencing 22 August

I’m very late posting this week’s menu. I should be working on next week’s at this stage! However it’s been a crazy week getting ready for La Rentrée and fitting in all those last minute activities we didn’t manage to make time for earlier this summer.
Quick and easy meals today as we headed up north for the afternoon to visit our newest grandniece. Yes I am officially ancient.
From the freezer: Jamaican me crazy chili with tortillas etc.
Picnic pot luck: tabbouleh,potato salad, and red currant muffins. We were invited to the gorgeous Avondale by family for a picnic and we all brought a few bits and bobs to picnic on. I made muffins with the last of the red currants from the garden.
Poached eggs on brown bread – an easy but delicious tea. Still didn’t manage to mop the floor afterwards. I blame the aftereffects of the wasp sting. My first ever (and hopefully last ever) wasp sting.
Beans on toast – turned into wholewheat pasta and pesto due to little visitors’ dietary requirements and the fact that I had no bread. Still blaming that wasp sting.
Macaroni cheese with all the trimmings by request from Nipper 3.0 who started in the Naíonra today. All the trimmings means with a tin of chopped tomatoes in the cheese sauce and bacon lardons on the top. Oh me heart! This was requested because I’ve been experimenting with healthier options that haven’t gone down too well at all.
Beetroot soup for me and Nipper 2.0 and I can’t remember what the other two had. Toasted sandwiches from the George Foreman grill.
Linguine with mint and almond pesto and tomatoes from River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall which was a massive hit. Nipper 1.0 who isn’t madly keen on cooked tomatoes and usually ferrets them out. However as they are raw in this dish he gobbled them all down. I am definitely going to cultivate some mint in the garden for future use in this dinner. Yum!
Lunch in Joburger with family after swimming as it is the last day of the holidays.
Chicken pie a la Jamie Oliver which Himself made as I ironed 35 labels onto school uniforms. Why on earth do two boys need 35 items of clothes just for school. Snooze.

Packed lunches because they were back to school. Disgracefully uninspired on their first day but we’ll get better! I had garlicky mushrooms with granny smith apple and philadelphia on toasted vienna roll.
Salmon with potatoes and corn on the cob by request from the schoolgoers. As usual I made a mess of the salmon by getting all fancy with the salmon. The fishmonger was very happy to see us back after the holidays. I avoid shopping with the children so hadn’t visited while I had three in tow.
Packed lunches: Turkey slices and cranberry sauce – a marginal improvement. They also get cherry tomatoes, pistachio nuts and raisins.
Pizza (of course)
The list
Mint * 2 (could have done with at least one more)
Parsley (ditto)
Leeks * 2
Spring onions
Low fat mature cheddar (Dubliner or Kilmeaden)
Cherry tomatoes
Chicken breasts
Nat yog
Creme fraiche
Almond slivers
Blanched almonds
Strong white
Plain flour
Self raising flour
Juice tropicana
Tinned tomatoes
Cat food
Kids’ toothpaste
Buy Thursday
Corn on cob