Sunday, 30 September 2012

Juice Challenge! Less Junk More Juice!

As winter is setting in, so are the sniffles and colds. I am glad to see October on the horizon and look forward to making a few changes in my diet. When I say change I really mean additions! I plan on incorporating  a few power foods to up my immune system and energy levels in preparation for the winter. Last Saturday I was delighted to be able to attend a Juice Day in Limerick run by Moira Geary of the Mind Experts Academy. The day was really informative, inspiring and thought provoking. I am all fired up and ready to go this week with an assortment of delicious juices that I hope are going to give me the kick start I need. For the next few days, I will be sharing my 'Juice of the Day' recipe along with all it's delicious benefits!


Getting Started
On the 'Juice Day' Moira emphasized the importance of veggie juices as well as fruit juices. You might think vegetable juices....eh no thanks, but actually when mixed with the right ingredients juiced vegetables can be just as delicious as fruit juices. As you all know I have a sweet tooth, so I was a little apprehensive at first, but I have to say I've been converted. Over the next few days I'll be trying a combination of both fruit and vegetable juices.....don't chicken out just because it sounds a bit weird, juicing can be very surprising and the majority of the time you will be pleasantly surprised!

Juicer
The juicer I use is the Philips HR1861/00 Professional Aluminium Juicer which retails at about €99. This juicer is a centrifugal juicer. You don't have to peel your fruit or vegetables, you simple place them straight down the chute! It is easy to clean and is dishwasher safe. All in all this is a perfect starter juicer. Mine even came with a free Jason Vale 'Juice Master' recipe book, which is so useful when getting started.

Why Juice?
The question is why not! Juicing is needless to say really good for you and allows you to acquire a multitude of really beneficial vitamins and minerals really easily. I learnt a lot last weekend with Moira about the role of enzymes in our bodies and their benefits. Fresh juices are packed full of enzymes. When we drink juices we assimilate vitamins and minerals very easily. When we eat fruit although it is still really good for us, our bodies have to work a little harder to break down the fruit and work it through our digestive systems. Moira emphasized that incorporating juicing into your everyday lifestyle can be really simple if you want it to be! What I really like is when I am juicing I can see exactly what is in my drink and I know that there isn't anything 'extra' in it to preserve it! The juices I make myself taste so different to ones I buy. They are packed with flavour and are really tasty and refreshing!



Anything else I need to know?
If your planning on taking up juicing and you want to bring your juices to work, it is really important to pick up an air tight container which also blocks out light. Light and air will destroy the vitamins and minerals in juice over a relatively short period of time. These aluminium bottles from Dealz are a steal at just €1.49 and do the job perfectly!

E-D's Notes:
  • Check out the Mind Experts Academy Website for some of Moira's other work as well as upcoming 'Juice Days': http://www.moirageary.com/
  • The Philips Juicer I am using is available from Argos at a special price of  €99 at the moment.
  • The key to juicing is being prepared, I've stock up well this week making sure I have lots of fruit and vegetables to juice. Fail to prepare.....prepare to fail!
E-D's Links:

Thursday, 27 September 2012

To Arthur.... Guinness Brownies!

Today is September 27th 2012....meaning it's Arthur's Day 2012! Arhur's day commemorates the man behind the magic that is Guinness! At 17.59 today, everybody lifted their pint of the black stuff.....to Arthur! This evening I wasn't feeling too great so going out for Arthur's day was off the cards. I'm inflicted with the female form of man-flu...which of course is commonly know as a cold! Instead of heading out, I decided to make some alcoholic treats for Molly and I to enjoy at home along with a box of Kleenex! These brownies are ridiculously rich! They boast a gooey chocolate and Guinness centre, topped with a bailey and cream cheese layer and finally Jameson infused chocolate for the all important penmanship! I gobbled one down with a hot whiskey, whilst Molly tucked into his with the perfect accompaniment a pint of Guinness!

Guinness Brownies with Baileys & Jameson Top

The Brownie 
Ingredients:
240g Plain flour
100g Cocoa Powder
225g butter
400g sugar
½ teaspoon salt
125ml Guinness
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 tablespoons Jameson
1 teaspoon baking soda

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 160C. Line a 13 x 9 inch tin with tin foil.Place the butter and sugar in a free- 
    standing mixer on a medium speed and beat until well combined. Then slowly add the egg 
    and vanilla essence.
2. Place the cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Then add ½ of the flour 
    mix into the mixer, followed by ½ of the Guinness. Gently mix and once combined add the 
    remaining flour, followed by the Guinness. Mix together slowly until well combined. 
3. Remove 4 tablespoons of the mixture and place in a bowl, then pour the Jameson into the 
    bowl and mix well and place in the fridge. Put the remaining mixture into the the lined tin, 
    spreading well across the base of the tin. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.



The Baileys Topping
Ingredients:
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
340g cream cheese
65g icing sugar
60ml Baileys  

Method:
1. Place all of the ingredients into a mixer and beat until well combined.

What Next.......
Remove the chilled Brownie base from the fridge. Pour the Baileys topping over the base. Then using a piping bag complete the writing or decoration of your choice.








    E-D's Notes:
     - These are delicious warm or cold. They keep really well (up to 3 days) if kept in an air tight 
        container.
     -  You can use a piping bag to add any kind of detail or design you wish using the 
        Jameson chocolate topping that you set aside in the fridge. Make sure this is well chilled 
        before starting to pipe....otherwise it can get a little messy!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Baby Cakes!

Just experienced the 2nd night of my sugar craft course...and I have to say that tonight, our tutor really upped the ante! This evening we were modelling 'babies' out of edible petal paste and dressing them in a beautifully detailed robe and bonnet. By the end of the class when I looked at my 'baby' I was actually quite taken aback by what I had created! The detail and design of the babies robe and bonnet is amazing. This baby would be the perfect topper for a christening cake or for a birthday cake for someone who loves babies! It can also be adapted for a 'Baby's First Christmas' cake by using red petal paste trimmed with white. 





  • One of the most difficult skills covered in this evening's class was learning how to create the 'frill' detail on the edges of the bonnet and robe. One of the most useful and relatively easy skills was learning how to create the beautiful 3D bow which sits on the baby's back.
  • Using petal paste was a first for me this evening. It has the appearance of sugar paste or roll out icing but is much stickier and stiffer. It is much easier to roll out very thin. If the petal paste begins to feel sticky in your hands you can use cornflour to prevent this. It is really important when working with petal paste to keep it sealed in a plastic bag when not working with it as it dries out REALLY quickly!
  • Our tutor recommended a great website called 'www.stuff4cakes.ie' last week to source some of the materials we would be using this week. I ordered a multitude from the website and it all arrived the next day! Very efficient service and at very competitive prices.

E-D's Notes:
  • I plan to do a post in the coming weeks on tips and techniques for sugar craft creations. If you have any specific questions about how this baby was created I would be happy to answer any questions!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Hair Care Best Buys

When it comes to looking and feeling good there are lots of things we can buy, use and do in order to give ourselves a 'pick me up'. This evening I thought I'd give you a little look into the contents of my shower shelf and all the delightful shampoos and conditioner that I am currently in the process of trying and testing. A few years back my brother openly admitted to me that he loved going to stay in other peoples houses for one reason....so that when he got up to have a shower in the morning he could try and test the contents of their bathroom. Though this sounds hilarious it is quite true, it's such a great opportunity to try out new stuff. With that in mind I have to say that my bathroom is indeed a pick and mix of products! My brother would probably become disorientated and confused at the range of choice....so probably best that he is over 17,000km away in Sydney. I love buying and trying a few different products at a time, meaning that I have lots of choice when in the shower and seem to constantly have something new to try. The following are the 7 products on my shower shelf at the moment which are relatively 'new' to me. So here they are in no particular order.....


1. Lee Stafford 'Hair Growth' Shampoo
    I bough this shampoo a couple of months back when trying 
    to boost my hair growth. I had gotten a little concerned that  
    my hair growth seemed to have stagnated and was eager 
    to find a solution or strategy and kick start the growth 
    process. Does this shampoo do that? Being honest I'm not 
    too sure. This 200ml bottle retails at almost €11.00 (when 
    not on special offer). There is also a conditioner and growth 
    treatment in the range. My thought process when buying 
    this shampoo was that it's not going to do any harm, so the 
    least I can do is give it go. Other things that are said to  
    improve and stimulate hair growth include: massaging  
    peppermint oil into the scalp, brushing your hair with a boar 
    bristle brush everyday and using a clarifying shampoo 
    every 7-10 days. Using these strategies along with this 
    shampoo (and the other products in the range) will certainly 
    improve your chances of promoting hair growth, along with 
    improving your diet and trimming your hair regularly. All in 
    all, this is a good shampoo, regardless of whether or not it actually promotes hair growth, but 
    with a price tag of  €11.00 it's a a little pricey!

2. James Brown London 'High Gloss Conditioner'

I have to say I absolutely love this conditioner. I have used many conditioners in the last twelve months and I have to say this one definitely makes it into the top two (Along with Keratase 'Ciment Anti-Usure'). The formula has a really pleasant smell and leaves my hair feeling very soft and slinky without feeling heavy and greasy. I usually comb this through my hair whilst in the shower, leave for 2-3 minutes and then rinse off. I have yet to try the shampoo in this range but when the opportunity arises (i.e. when it's on special offer in Boots!) I will be sure to pick up a bottle and try it. I am really pleased with this product and would highly recommend it!

3. Tony & Guy 'Shampoo for Advanced Detox'
This is a type of clarifying shampoo, intended for occasional use in order to remove product build up and dirt from your hair. I do really like this shampoo but fear that perhaps the placebo effect has consumed me! I like the idea of using this shampoo every two weeks or so. I feel that it removes build up and grime and gives my hair a new lease of life. I definitely feel that my hair has a shine after I use it. All in all I would recommend this shampoo. For under €9.00, seeing as you only use it occasionally, it seems to last a life time! It is hard to find a good clarifying shampoo at a reasonable price, but this one does seem to tick all of the boxes!

4. Soap & Glory 'Glad  
    Hair Day' Shampoo 
    First and foremost even if this container was empty, I would 
    be happy to keep it in my shower, simply because the 
    packaging is so alluring. I love it! It's really old school and 
    like all the 'Soap & Glory' products bears a witty and 
    thought provoking title. The shampoo itself is very 
    functional, smells delicious and leaves my hair feeling 
    clean. I definitely feel I need a good dollop of conditioner 
    after using this product as it does leave my hair feeling a   
    little dry after rinsing. All in all if I got this as a present again 
    I'd be happy. Would I go out and buy it.....probably not.

5. James Brown 'Photo Fabulous Voluminous Shampoo & Conditioner'
This pair are relative newcomers to the shower shelf and the jury is still out, so to speak! I definitely prefer the James Brown 'High Gloss' conditioner range as I much prefer  the scent and the way the conditioner leaves my hair feeling. That said I do think that this shampoo and conditioner contribute to voluminous locks, but just how much, I am not yet sure. The packaging again is modern, arty and attractive and looks 'cool' on the shelf. I do like this pair of products but I am not sure how effective they are in producing a 'volumising effect'. I feel that my hair tends to get 'greasy' quicker when I use these products.

6. Keratase Resistance 'Age Recharge' Treatment
    This leave in mask is a once a month job. I bought this 
    product over a year ago along with the 'Bain de Force' 
    shampoo and 'Ciment Anti-Usure' conditioner. I have to say 
    I absolutely love these products. I bought them from a local 
    hair salon and with a 20% discount the three products still 
    set me back €60 in total. That said the shampoo and conditioner lasted me almost 6 months 
    and this treatment pot is still 2/3 full. The Keratase range really is the 'creme de la creme' of
haircare and really does make all the
difference to the condition and appearance of your hair. This treatment does not come with directions. I asked my hairdresser who told me to do the following: When using you  should apply a thin layer from root to tip, using a comb through towel dried hair. Allow to sit in hair for up to 10minutes. Then rinse through, first with warm water, followed by cold.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Oh My Lemon Meringue Pie!

Just another manic Monday! I'm finding it hard to adjust to the complete and utter drought of exposure to any kind of sunlight, as it seems to be dark when I get up and dark when I'm getting home already. That said I'm looking forward to soups and stews in the coming weeks, wearing woolly tights, along with boots as we move into winter! I had a really lovely weekend with my parents, and yesterday my mother indulged me by helping me make a Lemon Meringue Pie. My Mom is an expert when it comes to Lemon Meringue and I really fancied a slice of heaven before setting off on my journey back to Dublin yesterday evening. Lemon Meringue isn't the most difficult of desserts, but that said, it isn't the easiest either! The filling is so tangy and the meringue so creamy....the perfect combination!

Oh My Lemon Meringue Pie

Serves 6
Preheat oven to 190C

You will need:
8 inch fluted flan tin
Ceramic beads

For the pastry
50g butter (cold from the fridge)
100g flour
Cold water (30-40ml)
Pinch of salt

1. Cube the butter. Place the butter, salt and flour in free-standing mixer on medium to high 
    speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Then add the water a little at a time until 
    the mixture comes together to form a dough. You may not need all of the water, once the 
    dough ball starts to form then stop adding the water, otherwise the dough will be too sticky. 
2. Place the dough in cling-film and chill in the fridge for 30minutes.
3. Roll out pastry on a floured board to a thickness of 8mm. Gently fold the pastry over and fold 
    again. This will help you to place the pastry in the centre of the tin. Then open out the pastry,  
    push into the edges and and trim off the excess, using a knife and cutting away from you. 
4. Place the baking beads in the pastry case, ensuring that they are supporting the edges. Then 
    place in the oven for 20-25minutes baking blind.




For the filling:
2 lemons (rind and juice)
275ml water
3 level teaspoons of cornflour
50g sugar
2 large egg yolks
40g butter

1. Measure the cold water in a jug, and place the cornflour and sugar in a bowl. Using as much 
    of the water as needed,  to mix the cornflour into a smooth paste.
2. Place the remaining water in a saucepan along with the lemon rind and bring to the boil. 
    Then pour the water in on top of the cornflour paste in the bowl and mix until smooth.
3. Pour contents of bowl back into the saucepan and bring back to the boil, allowing it to 
    simmer for 1 minute.
4. Removing the saucepan from the heat, add the egg yolks, butter and lemon juice. Mix well 
    and then pour into the pastry case.




For the meringue:
2 large egg whites
110g sugar 

1. Using a handheld or free standing whisk, whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form 
    stiff peaks. Beat in the sugar a little at a time. 
2. Using a fork, add the meringue mixture on top of the lemon filled pastry. Start on the outside 
    working in. You can use a spatula or piping bag if you want to make some decorative swirls 
    or designs.
3. Place in the oven at 150C for 45minutes or until the top is golden brown.






E-D's Notes:
- Remember when working with pastry, you need to keep everything cold.
- You can also make these in individual 3 or 4 inch fluted tins for single desserts at a dinner
  party.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Tasty Turkey Burgers

Only one more sleep until the Friday feeling takes over. This week has been really busy, and to say I'm exhausted is an understatement! I am looking forward to spending my weekend at home in the west with my parents. I'm also looking forward to home cooking and drinking good wine, but tonight I was in a hurry and needed to rustle up something quick, easy and tasty! 

I admit, Turkey burgers at first sound a little odd.....I have to agree in the beginning I was not entirely convinced as I really do like getting my teeth into a nice juicy home-made beef burger. That said as I have gotten older, I have gotten a little wiser and I'm open to trying new things. 
I first saw Turkey mince whilst shopping in Aldi one day whilst browsing. What actually caught my attention was the price compared to beef mince. At €2.59 for 400g it seemed like good value so I decided to buy it and would think about what to do with it later. One of the benefits of turkey mince vs. beef mince is it is actually a much healthier alternative and is much lower in saturated fat but yet is still very tasty! The recipe below is what I came up with and I have been making them regularly ever since. Molly loves these as does my Dad. You can serve them in a traditional burger bun or a toasted pita bread.



Turkey Burgers

Makes: 3 large or 4 small burgers

Ingredients:
400g of turkey mince
4 teaspoons of red pesto
1 large onion (finely chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
Paremesan shavings (how much is up to you!)
Seasame seed buns
Handful of spinach leaves (chopped).
Condiments of your choice!

Method:
1. Place the mince, chopped onion, garlic, chopped spinach and pesto in a large bowl. Using 
    your hands combine the ingredients together. Season well with salt and pepper.
2. Using your hands shape the mince into rounds and set aside.
3. Heat a small amount of olive oil on a frying pan and allow to heat. Place the burgers on the  
    frying pan and cook on a medium heat for 10minutes or until cooked through. Alternatively 
    you can grill the burgers. 
4. Toast the sesame seed buns (or a pita bread if you prefer). Place the parmesan cheese on 
     top of the burger and melt under the grill.
5. Add additional fillings of your choice....I included some tasty spinach and rocket leaves on 
     top of the parmesan.
6. Tuck in and enjoy! 






E-D's Notes:
- Turkey mince is now widely available in most supermarkets.
- I usually make 2 large burgers and wrap the third uncooked on a plate in cling film for Molly's 
  lunch the next day.
- Make sure the onion is finely chopped, as if the burger is too 'chunky' it will not hold it's shape 
  and will come apart on the frying pan.