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Posts Tagged ‘Recipes’

Andy Williams may have been singing about Christmas when he crooned It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but for me, hands down, autumn is the hap-happiest season of all! Back in the day when I was a big-haired, cowboy boot wearing, Texas girl, I used to call this season… “sweater weather”. Back then, I lived for the cooler weekends when I could throw on a pair of well worn jeans, a cozy jumper {sweater} and head off to some grassy field an hour or so outside of Dallas for a bit of antique shopping.

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Now, my life is so different. I’m a wife and mother. We split our time between Ireland and America. And our home is fully furnished {finally!}. I still live for the weekends, but now I’m much more likely to get out for a hike, throw myself on the sofa and relax with a stash of newspapers and magazines or get creative in the kitchen whipping up recipes…{truth be told, a spot of retail therapy in Dundrum also makes the list!}

This past Bank Holiday Monday was a perfect day for being in the kitchen. Among other autumn treats, I made Pumpkin Maple Granola, which I double batched because it disappears so quickly. The base recipe is Nadia’s Granola. We love this incredibly more-ish treat but, let’s be honest, it’s nice to change things up every now and again. With that and sweater weather in mind, I created this simple, delicious, Pumpkin Pecan Maple Granola. It takes only 40 minutes to mix and bake and has 11 ingredients: pumpkin pureé, mixed spice, pecans and cranberries…oh my!  And, the smell will drive you around the bend: it’s like a yummy pumpkin spice candle.

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If you prefer to substitute currants or raisins for the cranberries…go for it. Ditto if you want to use a different type of nut…or not nuts at all. This granola doesn’t have any of that over-the-top sugariness that you’ll find in store bought granola. We enjoy it in a multitude of ways: over Weetabix, Special K, yogurt, fresh fruit, ice cream, or by the handful.

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I know the last few days have been cold in Ireland, but I hope you are making time for yourself and your friends/loved ones outdoors in our beautiful countryside. With Halloween less than 24 hours away, be safe, enjoy the candy, carved pumpkins, costumes and bonfires…autumn is truly a magical season.

~ XoK

Pumpkin Pecan Maple Granola

Makes 5 cups/600 grams

Ingredients

50 ml/2oz/¼ cup maple syrup

28g/1oz/¼ cup brown sugar

50 ml/2oz/¼ cup olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mixed spice {pumpkin spice}

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

76g/2.7oz/1/3 cup pumpkin pureé

340g/12oz/3 cups rolled oats

118g/4.2oz/1 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped into pieces

130g/4.6oz/1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

50g/1.8 oz/1/3 cup cranberries

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F.

2. Mix first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Add oats and mix to coat.

4. Spread mixture out on a large, rimmed, baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes.

5. Add the pecans and pumpkin seeds and bake for another 15 minutes. Continue to stir every 5 minutes.

6. Remove the hot muesli from the oven and allow to cool completely before adding cranberries. Store in a sealed container to keep fresh.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* If you live in Ireland, you can buy Pumpkin pureé year round at Fallon & Byrne.

** Oats are said to reduce harmful LDL cholesterol. To learn more, check-out this article from Mayo Clinic online.

*** Getting outdoors is incredibly healthy for the body, the spirit and the mind. If you’re in Ireland, or visiting soon, check out these articles and websites for places to hike in Ireland. My personal favorites are Glendalough, Killiney Hill, Big Sugarloaf, Bray Head, The Gap of Dunloe, The Giant’s Causeway and the Howth Cliff Walk.

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Looking for a delicious recipe for a busy mid-week supper? This Oven-Roasted Salmon may be your answer. It’s so easy to prepare, a child can do it. In fact, both my daughters learned to make this dish over the summer.

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A quick wash of the salmon, a squeeze of lemon, a pad of butter, a dash of salt and pepper, pop it into the oven for 15 minutes and you’re done. If you have the time or energy to jazz it up, play with the herb and fat combinations: sometimes I replace the butter with olive oil {or use both!} or I sprinkle some parsley, dill, tarragon, or lemon zest on top.

Oven roasted salmon, boiled potatoes, and a green salad on a white plate.

If you need another reason to make this recipe, consider this: salmon is a superfood. In our busy Irish home, I’ll take every opportunity to get good nutrition into my family. Salmon contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids {which support heart and eye healthy}, and it is an excellent source of vitamin B-12, vitamin D and Selenium.

Oven-Roasted Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 x 3oz salmon fillets

1/2 lemon

4 pads of butter

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with aluminium and top with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Rinse the salmon, pat dry with kitchen roll (paper towel), and, if needed, remove any bones.

3. Put the salmon fillets on the parchment paper, skin-side down, and squeeze lemon juice over them.

4. Top each with a small pad of butter.

5. Salt and pepper, as desired.

6. Roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked all the way through. Roasting times will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of the salmon.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Most nights, we serve boiled potatoes and a simple green salad with our salmon dinners.

** Wild or Farmed Salmon? See what the Time.com experts say here.

*** If you’re interested, here’s an article on how Norway avoids antibiotics in fish farming from the World Health Organization.

**** Invasive pink salmon are found on Irish shores recently. Learn more in this Irish Times article.

***** Two more salmon recipes from In an Irish Home: Salmon Fillets with Pesto & Pecorino and Salmon Pesto Pasta.

 

 

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IMG_4192As we round out week three on our epic road trip across North-West America, our foursome has become a threesome. My wonderfully gifted, beautiful, sweet, funny, eldest daughter is staying at Concordia for an extra immersion experience. She loves languages and has proficiency in three of them, including Irish. We’ll pick her up in less than ten days and return home to Ireland, but it was with a heavy heart that I kissed her today and said good-bye.

She’s growing up fast…this baby girl of mine…faster than I expected. Not yet a real teen, she is looking beyond the safety of our home and wondering about the world around her.  Secondary school, boys, make up, fashion, parties, dating…I can hardly believe it’s time for us to address these issues in depth. Heck, what I mean to say is it’s hard to believe we’re actually having to LIVE these issues in depth. We’ve talked about them plenty. The dress rehearsal is over and the real show is just beginning. Where has the time gone?

DSC_0100I remember her Baptism day like it was just yesterday. She wasn’t even a month old. I was doing up the pearl buttons on the back of her Irish Christening gown, while my husband held her to his chest. “Why are you crying?”, he asked. “Are you ok?” My lovely husband…so concerned and so bewildered at the same time. “No, Love. Don’t you know? This is the first of her five white dresses.”, I choked out between sobs. “Her what?!”

Her five white dresses.

Growing up a Catholic girl, I can define my life in a series of dresses…all of them white. There’s the Baptism gown, followed by the Communion, Confirmation, graduation, and, finally, the wedding gown. On that special day so many years ago, I realised that our daughter’s Baptism day was the beginning of the end. The first time I understood that precious babies, placed carefully in our arms, are only ours on loan for a {brief} period of time. These amazing children we so desperately want and love are ours by the grace of God and we don’t get to keep them. He gives them to us and then demands we let them go.

We’re only two dresses into her life right now, but I am already struggling with the idea of letting go. Three dresses remain. Most likely she’ll leave our Irish home long before she dons the final dress. It makes me sad and I can hardly bear thinking about it. But, I must…for her sake…and for mine.

Little by little, I let the sadness escape. I liken it to fiddling with a balloon. Because you don’t want to let all the air out at once, you pull back on the sides of the mouth piece and let a little out at a time.  Today was one of those times. We hugged. We kissed. I imparted a few gems of wisdom and then turned completely on my heels {with a glance or two back}, got in the car, waved, and drove away. Through tears, I could see her in my rear view mirror, standing in the gravel car park, waving back.

IMG_4142The last few weeks have been tough. Four of us, strong personalities, in a car traveling the highways of North-West America. Those roads are pretty dull, yet our experience has been anything but. We’ve argued. We’ve cried. We’ve shouted. We’ve smelled bad. We’ve been sick. Through it all…we’ve been together. I know it has not always been easy but it has been special. There’s still several hundred miles ahead of us. I don’t have to wonder any more whether this adventure has been worth it. I already know that it has.

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