What we eat and how we make it

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Happy birthday to me!

It’s my birthday!

Sorry I haven’t been posting for a while – I am the queen of starting things with good intentions and then giving them up. But I’m not giving up on this – I was just on a break 🙂

Anyway, did I mention IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!??

When you reach a certain age (over 30 but I’m not saying how much over) birthdays become a bit of a non-event. Especially when they are on a Wednesday and there are the usual school runs and after school activities to be done. I did go for a lovely lunch with my mum at McKees in Craigantlet and ate far too much, resulting in an afternoon of being very unproductive but I don’t care because IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!

And I got presents!

From my mum, I got these MTNG sandals from TK Maxx but in a pewter colour instead of gold (I’m wearing them as I type – I’m never one for keeping things for a special occasion)


From Dave – well, this is quite a long story

During the Easter holidays, my sister in law and I saw a girl wearing yellow jeans and a breton top pretty much exactly like this and it made me lust after yellow jeans. So I bought myself these ones from Boden


Now the fact that they were in the kids department should have made me think the sizing was not going to be generous but when they arrived they pretty much wouldn’t go past my knees – back they went!

So my lovely husband took it upon himself to get me a pair and for Mother’s day – these Replay ones appeared, which were the perfect colour the perfect length but only just made it over my childbearing hips – back they went!


So, today – another pair of yellow jeans – these ones from Hilfiger Denim. Great colour (a bit brighter than in this picture) and they just about buttoned up, but were VERY low rise and were about 3 inches too long – so they are packaged up and ready to go back tomorrow!




Lessons learnt:

1. I am not a size 28 in jeans – stop kidding yourself, Janine!

2. Always get the receipt.

3. I’m not sure I actually want yellow skinny jeans anymore.

But the good news is we are going on a birthday trip to Dublin (including an overnight stay – yippee!) next weekend so maybe he gets to try and buy me another present then!



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I visited a friend yesterday afternoon and had some yummy brownies from True Food Cafe (yeah, I know – the diet!). They were so good and reminded me that I used to make brownies quite a lot but haven’t for ages.

So today I made brownies 🙂

I use a recipe from a Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall book called The River Cottage Family Cookbook which I think is out of print now but you can pick it up second hand – I think it’s a great cookbook.

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However, as usual, I didn’t have quite the right ingredients so here are my alterations!

Ingredients (with my substitutes)

250g dark chocolate (I used a mix of dark and milk but the dark was very dark – 90% – purchased by my husband to prove how tough he was – seems 90% chocolate is too baddass for him!)

200g butter

200g caster sugar (not a drop of white sugar in our house so I used demerara – figured it might give them a caramel flavour)

3 eggs (I buy my eggs in mixed sizes and the ones left seemed a bit tiny so I used 4)

125g plain flour

50g cocoa powder (The whole mix seemed chocolately enough so I just added an extra 50g of flour instead)

100g broken walnuts (I’m planning on breaking the healthy snack rule and sending these into school tomorrow so had to keep them strictly nut free!)


Melt together the chocolate and the butter.

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In another bowl whisk the eggs and sugar until creamy.

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Add the chocolate to the eggs and mix well. Sieve in the flour (or don’t sieve if you are lazy like me) and stir well.

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Pour into a tin foiled lined baking dish and bake at 160C for about 25 mins or until set but still squidgy (I overcooked mine a bit as I forgot about them!)


Obviously I will eat none of these (teehee!) but I’ll let you know what the kids thought of them 🙂

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Things other than food

The culinary treats in our house today are very limited. It’s Wednesday and I’m fed up cooking so the kids are having chicken nuggets and chips. My food is going to be more virtuous but equally boring as I purchased a new bikini the other day so, of course, immediately put myself on a diet – Blah.

So what shall we talk about?

How about the conversation I have just eavesdropped between Becca (age 2 1/2) and Sasha (my mother in law’s 15 year old dog, who has just arrived for her holidays)

Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca  – ‘Are you sad, Sasha?’

Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca – ‘Do you miss your mummy? She’s on her holidays’

Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca – ‘Do you want a doggie treat?’

 Sasha – Whimper/howl in sadness

Becca – ‘Go away Sasha – there is nothing more I can do for you!’

Hmmm – I suspect she may have picked this particular parenting skill up from me!




Or how about this delightful piece of art which came home in Matthew’s bag today


If you can’t read it clearly, it says ‘To Dad – here’s your bum cheeks’

Now I’m all for the kids having the freedom to write and draw whatever comes into their mind but what train of thought could Matthew’s mind possibly have been following to lead to that picture? Definitely one for the fridge I think 🙂

Have your kids made you laugh today?


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It’s Tuesday – can only mean one thing :)


There is not much to be said about the preparation of tacos – fry mince, add seasoning, heat shells, cut veg and serve!

The only quirk today was that I didn’t actually have any taco seasoning so I used half  a pack of jalfrezi spices which has been lurking in the cupboard – tasted grand.

Here is the photographic evidence

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This afternoon has been a bit hectic and I was going to come on here and have a rant about it but I’m not because I actually had a lovely morning and lunchtime catching up my some of my friends – it’s amazing how quickly we forget the good things in a day once something a bit hard or challenging happens! (Remind me of that when I’m ranting another day!)

How was your day 🙂


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Take two on leftover egg yolks.

But before I start with the food – is anyone else collecting these free Lego models from the Daily Mail?  You get one free each day you buy the paper and take the voucher into Easons (here in Northern Ireland – or WHSmith in the rest of the UK)

My kids were so excited about getting them, as they are with most things Lego, so like a good wee mummy, I’ve been waiting outside the door of Easons every morning so make sure I get one – don’t think I need have bothered as they always have loads of them but it gets me up and about early!

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They are cool aren’t they 🙂 My only problem now is how to divide 7 free models between 4 children!

So…the egg yolks!


I made two more pavlovas at the weekend for a party so had 12 (gulp!) egg yolks to use up – 6 were used to make french toast for lunch which didn’t taste a lot different to french toast made with whole eggs.

The other 6 are being turned into carbonara tonight following this recipe (with a few little alterations – I’m adding some cream cheese as it needs used up)

I started by putting the egg yolks, chopped parsley (my parsley plant was a bit sparse – hence my sad looking parsley), cream cheese and the grated Parmesan cheese in the bowl that I was serving the dish in and mixed them altogether. The only thing that cooks the egg is the heat of the pasta so this recipe probably isn’t for you if you are pregnant.

I fried the bacon and onion in a pan and deglazed with some white wine (you could just use some water or light stock)




Once the bacon mix is cooked and cooled, add to the serving bowl with the egg mix – I know this looks awful but bear with it – it really tastes good!


Cook your pasta and, before draining, keep a cupful of the cooking water. Once drained, add the pasta to the serving bowl and stir until the bacon/egg mix is well combined with the pasta. If it seems too dry, add some of the reserved cooking water which will make the dish lovely and creamy. Serve immediately – don’t decide to go and try and find the kids now – if they didn’t come when you first called them, it’s their loss –  just eat the whole thing yourself 🙂

I served this with garlic and rosemary bread made from a packet mix which is truly yummy and makes people think I’m a baking maestro even though all I do is throw it in the food mixer  – Brilliant.

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What are you having for dinner tonight?


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Giro Fever

Today is the start of a pretty big weekend here in Northern Ireland – the Giro D’Italia is starting here and we went to watch it.

I have to confess to having a severe lack of enthusiasm for all things cycling related, mainly because my lovely husband spends 5 hours most Saturday mornings out on his bike (don’t feel too sorry for me – he gets sole custody of the kids most Saturday afternoons!)

However, after a dull start this morning, the sun came out so we decided to head up to Stormont where Dave’s cycle club had arranged an event to watch the time trials. The dress code for the day was pink so we painted our nails (well, the girls did) and found whatever pink clothes we could find and headed up.


We drove as far as the Harbour Estate, just outside Holywood, and took advantage of the free park and ride service from there. So much more relaxing then trying to find a parking space nearer and a fab view from the top of a double decker bus.

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When we got to Stormont, the club had arranged lunch at Storm in A Teacup, a bistro type place just outside the gates of the estate. Great food (I had a spicy sausage stew with mash) and a really good atmosphere. The weather was great for most of the afternoon and even when it did start to rain, there were lots of trees to shelter under.

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A really great afternoon and so nice to see the people of Belfast out in force supporting this event – may there be many more of them!

Were any of you there?



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Clearing the cupboards

Hello, my name is Janine and I’m a foodaholic.

It’s not that I can’t control my eating (although some days that is a problem) but I can’t control my buying of food. I see things on the shelf and, especially if they are a bit of a bargain, I have to buy them. Even if they are the most random foods and I will probably struggle to ever make a meal out of them.

Well today’s lunch is an attempt to use up one of these random purchases – bacon jam.


Now, I didn’t buy this on it’s own – it came as part of a food sampler pack I bought from Flavourly as part of a sign up deal because I got a great discount code. I’m a sucker for things like this, they are a bit like Christmas hampers, you get the most random stuff! But I think it reminds me of lucky bags we used to get as kids, the thrill is in the unknown.

I couldn’t really get my head round what I was supposed to do with it so it has sat in the cupboard for a good few months…until today!

Reading reviews of it online, it sounded a bit like a chutney so I got out the brie and oatcakes and cracked open the jar.



It’s marketed as a smooth, smoky relish with bacon but I’d say it’s more of a pate flavour than jam or chutney but there is certainly a sweetness to it which makes it very moreish. In fact, I could eat it with a spoon out of the jar which is always a sign of a good food!

Definitely recommend 🙂

Oh – and here’s how much I ate – maybe I can’t control my eating after all!




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Junk food dinner

Wednesday night is traditionally (is doing something for one year long enough to make it a tradition? – I think so) junk food dinner night. Last year we had a lot of after school activities on a Wednesday so dinner was something from the freezer, typically chicken nuggets and chips. The day isn’t so busy this year but the tradition has remained – I think there would be a McGinty family outcry if I tried to change it.

However, what with Easter and Bank Holidays, the last few weeks have been filled with junk food so I’m trying to make tonight a little bit more healthy than usual and so we have homemade turkey burgers and wedges on the menu. I’m making a mix of sweet potato and ordinary potato wedges as I think all sweet potato might be a step too far for my kids at the moment.

The recipe for the burgers is here on the BBC Good Food website and I’m kinda winging it with the wedges. I’m serving it with sliced pepper which the kids seem to think is a treat so we will roll with that idea 🙂

I’ve never bought turkey mince before but bought this from Westin Gourmet, an online butcher, when they were doing an offer on other meat so it’s been sitting in my freezer waiting for me to get inspired – today is your lucky day turkey mince!

The recipe on the website is pretty self explanatory (I used regular onions instead of spring onions and fried them first) so here’s some pictures of how I made it.

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The lump of white stuff on the sweet potato is coconut oil which I’m experimenting with at the moment – you can find out more about it here.

And the verdict – They were happy – Yay!  Admittedly, they did only get 2 sweet potato wedges each but they burgers were not even questioned as being anything different from the normal ones so I think it’s a success.

Now if only I can find something that will replicate chicken dippers 🙂



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The problem with mushrooms…

… is that my kids won’t eat them. Now I can completely understand this – their slimy texture is the exact same reason I won’t eat bananas but I love mushrooms and I want to cook them – so my kids will have to eat them.


But I need to be a little bit sneaky about it 🙂

I have to confess to sneaking a lot of ingredients my kids claim to not like into food – it’s the only way we are ever going get near the recommended 7 portions of fruit and veg a day! They aren’t completely anti-veg but the limit of what they will willingly put on their plate is carrots, broccoli and sweetcorn. So I hide the extra veg – here are the most successful hides:

Mince stew – carrots, green lentils, parsnip, turnip, sweet potato, mushrooms (sometimes!)

Bolognaise – peppers, carrots, sweet potato, squash, red lentils.

Mash – turnip, sweet potato, celeriac, parsnip

But no matter how small I chop them, they always spot the mushrooms! So tonight the blender came out

I normally make a chicken bake thing with white sauce and breadcrumbs on top – tonight, instead of a normal white sauce, I cooked some mushrooms, added stock and cream cheese and blitzed the life out of it.


Now, it certainly still looked quite mushroomy to me but once I added the chicken and topped with breadcrumbs it looked ok.


Well – they ate it and no-one asked any questions, not even when I gave Matthew a full spoonful of the sauce to clear his plate, so I think we won!

Am I bad? – a little 🙂 And if they outright ask me, I will tell them what’s in it but the older I get, the more I realise the phrase, ‘kids don’t know what’s good for them’ is so true and if I don’t at least try to change their tastes, their natural instinct will be to stick to white and beige food forever.

(I know – mushrooms are beige – but you know what I mean!)

What about you? Are your kids good fruit and veg eaters or do you battle with them like me?



p.s. Found this on the camera, look at this boy and his perfect curls and his deep brown eyes- he’s so gorgeous even when you only see half his face 🙂