Food, Life, Laughter and a little Cooking

Carrot Cake. Not just a pretty cake.

I love carrot cake.  But not the rich heavy kind where you KNOW it’s healthy.  I prefer to have a little piece of my little-bit-healthy but-very-tasty carrot cake.  As I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of vegetable cakes.  But this one is a personal favourite. I decided this time to change it up a bit. I had seen a picture of flames on a cake, and thought that the candied carrots would be VERY cool looking as decoration.  As with all aspiration cake ideas- they take time to work out the kinks. Next time? I’d try to get longer carrots, and might trim the peel so that they looked more like the flames I imagined!

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My Easy Cheesy Orzo Bake

Orzo is probably one of my favourite pasta types. Hands down.

Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that you can cook and serve in the same way you do rice. That is, you can boil it until the liquid is absorbed, cook it risotto-style, or bake it, which is what we are going to do.

Orzo Bake

And, because it is pasta, you can also cook it via the traditional pasta method where you drain away the excess cooking liquid after it is done.

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January Leftovers

The dreaded leftovers. Everyone has them, no one wants to eat them.  So there I am pondering my Terry’s chocolate orange (it’s not Terry’s it’s mine 😂😂 – love Dawn French).

I digress. What does one DO with a a leftover chocolate orange ?  Melt it down into some kind of confectionery chocolate dessert or the like? Not ideal obviously when we are *trying to be good*

Scones it is. Moderately sweet with a modicum of class making them acceptable to both create and eat in January.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange

Scones are made up of ingredients that will almost certainly include flour, a raising agent, milk, egg and a sweetener if they are the more traditional sweet scone.
Scones ALWAYS NEED to go into a pre- heated oven; the cooking times are short so they need that heat hit straight away.

Goddards House & gardens in North Yorkshire, was the family home of Noel Goddard Terry, creator of our aforementioned Terry’s Chocolate orange. Did you know it had a predecessor? The chocolate Apple……


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Roasted Chickpeas- Easy. Delicious. (Healthy!)

I don’t believe in the word diet. I believe in balance. In life. In health. In my day to day eating.
And although we are NOT chickpea fans in our house. Probably because I had the (dis)pleasure of entering my in-laws house on many an occasion to find they had gone out to the garden and left some chickpeas cooking to such an extent they were no longer recognisable in any shape or form. Just a lingering smell that is an offence to man and nature.  So. Not fans.

But….. beans and pulses need to be in our diet.  High in fibre, and economical to cook, they are the basis to many great vegetarian dishes, and non vegetarian dishes!! This recipe, is a snack, a really tasty snack….

Simple Roasted Chickpeas Recipe



2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil




To get the best value for this dish, start off using dried chickpeas.  A number of reasons, primarily because of your pocket. It’s MUCH cheaper to buy them like this.  And also- they are less processed like this.

Soak the chickpeas in LOTS of water for 8- 12 hours.


Then rinse with cold water, cover well with fresh cold water, and boil, uncovered for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat, cover and boil for a further 1 – 1 1/4 hours until cooked. Test for slight al dente texture.

Drain and dry REALLY well on kitchen paper.

Pre Heat the oven to 180˚C fan, toss the chickpeas in a bowl with the olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Add everything onto a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes until dark and crispy.


Drain again on kitchen paper and store in a airtight container.

Munch as necessary.



It’s the most DELICIOUS time of the Year- Christmas

I cannot believe I’m writing this again, Christmas seems so soon. And yet in some ways still so far away. But as I write this I have fruit soaking. pastry resting, and ideas bubbling away in my head.

Hamper goodies

I’ve updated my Jen’s Kitchen Shop page with all the details you need to order your hampers.

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Oat Pancakes- a healthier option

Oat pancakes, literally the first thoughts that entered my head when I woke up the other morning. Honestly. For those that question my love of food? Yes, it occupies my every waking moment! I have many recipes on my blog for pancakes- from the French crepe to the american style fluffy pile of lightness.  But for these I wanted to achieve a “reasonably” healthy alternative to the american pancake. And although NOT sponsored by Flahavan’s Organic Porridge oats, I feel I should be- we go through kilos of it a year, it is both a staple for breakfast and in my baking.

Oat Pancakes

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Garlic and Parmesan Bread Knots

A bread roll, I think, elevates dinner to dinner-party status.  And garlic bread is always a winner here on a Saturday night.  So these slightly more eloquent bread knots are easy to put together and delicious to eat.

Garlic and Parmesan Bread Knots

For the knots
500g flour
10g dried yeast
5 g salt
50g olive oil
300g warm water
5 cloves of garlic
For the garlic butter
100g salted butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
25g freshly grated parmesan

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Late to the Party- Spotify Part 1

For someone who just loves social media and technology, it took me a while to get on the whole Spotify bandwagon. No pun intended. And, if I’m perfectly honest, the whole subscription element was also a little scary.  Shouldn’t have been as I use Sage One for my accounts, and that’s based around a subscription model.  And seeing I was marketing for our Sage Business Partner business until recently, I should have been listening to my own propaganda.

As I often work late, and have a longish drive home, I often turn on my playlists in the jeep and sing my lungs out the whole way home.

I’m bringing you through one of my favourite playlists.  I’m an awful person for identifying life events, or periods of time with different songs, and sometimes I just identify with a lyric or two.

The first song- Something just like this– is on the playlist for none of the above reasons… I just love the tone of the lyrics, and the lines

I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss

really resonate for me. Very real world lyrics in a world of fake everything.

Next- Feel it still . Another one on the list for none of my usual caveats. I simply like this song, as it reminds me of another. “Wait a minute Mr. Postman”.  And no, noone else seems to get it either.

Both Ed Sheeran songs are there,well, because it’s easy listening and singing, especially “I see fire“.

A Thousand Years” is beautiful lyrically and musically.  And who won’t forget the Wedding Scene in Twilight.  Not me 😉

Take me to Church” well, that voice.  Who could ignore it.  And he’s an Irish entry. Supporting local and all that.

Run” by Snow Patrol is a family favourite.  Well, a favourite of the youngest and myself. More her favourite than mine…. I never was able to get the Greys Anatomy soundtracks.  Mores the pity.  There were some EXCELLENT covers. Run was introduced to a very wide audience thanks to Greys.

The Killers are top of my Spotify list of bands.  I was very lucky to be in the presence of the great Brandon Flowers.  And he can do no wrong.

Symphony” is on the best lyrics list. Corny, but goody.

Now I can’t find the key without you
And now your song is on repeat
And I’m dancin’ on to your heartbeat
And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete
Songs from “Moulin Rouge” make the list because I was in labour watching the film for the first time, and whether I was delusional from the pain, or simply unbelieving that Ewan McGregor can sing- both of the songs are good belters for the car.
So there were are, the first half of a long playlist.
So what’s on YOUR spotify playlist?


Breakfast- Marching a Hungry Army

They say an army marches on it’s stomach. Well, I’m not sure about an army, but I certainly do.  But sometimes when I get up early I’m not really in the hungry phase, and breakfast seems an effort. And if you don’t have time to make the whole scrambled eggs or french toast buffet selection, then porridge is the go to option.

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Supper Club Night at Jen’s Kitchen

Dear all!

I am holding a number of supper club nights over the summer at our home at Clonfadda. What’s a supper club? Basically I’m opening my home and kitchen up as a kind of underground restaurant.

You can book in with 6 or 7 of your friends, or book yourself in and meet new people.

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