Mint and Lime Quinoa Salad

26 Apr

I’ve been making this salad lately its quick, tasty, contains a superfood and is a fab accompaniment to BBQ meats especially lamb.

If you follow me on twitter you’ll be aware that I made a holy show of myself recently attempting to cook quinoa. I added 1 cup grain, 2 cups water and brought to the boil for 7 min but the grain wasn’t performing as usual, that is to puff up and become somewhat translucent .. so I continued to boil it … and boil it and boil it! I was SWEATING as my guests were arriving in no time. It was only after a number of very panicked tweets asking had anyone else EVER had UNCOOKABLE quinoa did the dreadful truth dawn on me…. Wait for it …. I had picked up the wrong bag and was boiling .. SESAME SEEDS. I did not know whether to laugh or cry … I seriously considered deleting my twitter account such was public shame! But there were more pressing matters … my guests were still going to arrive so I had to burst off to the supermarket to acquire some actual quinoa (of course there was only frightfully expensive organic sort in kilo bags for sale…of course!!!!) ..everything worked out fine, the salad was gorgeous and I had a great story to tell over dinner. I did however look like I’d been dragged through a ditch backwards as I’d spent my allotted “getting ready time” rally driving back from the supermarket!

The lessons learned are as follows: 1. No matter how much you cooked sesame seeds they will not become quinoa 2. If buying your grains/seeds in bulk and inclined to be an eejet, label the bags!

Mint and Lime Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 2 limes
A handful of fresh mint leaves chopped
A handful of fresh corinader or italian parsley chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
A handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons diced red onion- or use 2 chopped spring onions
1 garlic clove, minced
Boil the quinoa in 2 cups fresh water with a pinch of salt for seven minutes
Drain, retaining as much water as possible, topping up with boiling water from the kettle. (There needs to be sufficient water to steam and not dry out, but not so much that the sieve is sitting in the water)
Steam the quinoa for a further 7 min in the sieve over the boiling water, cover with a double layer of kitchen paper and place saucepan lid on top. This will result in lovely fluffy and light quinoa.
Scoop the cooked quinoa into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Toss lightly with a fork until combined.
Taste test and adjust seasonings.
Cover and chill.
This salad can be eaten warm (as it was in the story above) but is also really good cold and lasts a few days in the fridge
Adapted from this recipe 
SJ x

Salted Caramel Halloumi & Apple

24 Apr

Halloumi is a food that I have known about for years, eaten once or twice in restaurants but never prepared at home until I moved here.

Never heard of it or don’t know what it is … here’s the spiel:

Halloumi or Hallumi is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goats’ and sheep milk, and sometimes also cows’ milk. It has a high melting point and so can easily be fried or grilled. Halloumi is set with rennet and is unusual in that no acid or acid-producing bacterium is used in its preparation.


If you’ve never tried it then do, its different to other cheeses in texture and makes a great meaty addition to salads. The only way I have ever eaten it is sliced and fried or grilled …and my friend tells me its great done on the BBQ so I must try that soon!  Trust me its delish!

This recipe is from Sarah Wilson and is a really handy and quick snack when you’re hungry but trying not to reach for sweet or unhealthy food.


1 apple sliced into 5mm wedges
6 slices haloumi cheese (cut 5mm thick)
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional but reccomended by me)

Place the haloumi and apple slices in a hot non-stick pan.

Shake the pan a little so the haloumi juice spreads and coats the apple.

Cook both sides (until both apple and haloumi are a lovely caramel colour).

Toss cinnamon and salt over the lot and serve.

Beware you are going to want to lick the plate!


My thoughts on emigration

17 Apr

I was asked this week to write an opinion piece on emigration and returning to Ireland. So I did!

SJ x

The Holy Grail: A long lasting lipstick that actually lasts a long time!

14 Apr

My lovely neighbour Carol always has gorgeous bright lipstick on and I mean always! I’ve seen her in the pool playing with her grandkids with a perfect fuschia pink pout. As someone who has perfect lipstick for about 15 minutes max I was quite jealous but just presumed it was another thing these antipodean women do with ease, along with tanning evenly, throwing their hair up in incredibly stylish top knots and having legs that seem to GO. ON. FOR. EVER. But it seems there is a secret to Carol’s perfection, when she mentioned recently that she sells lipstick I was intrigued so she insisted I try it out. LipSense from the American company SeneGence is the product in question. Application is simple first the colour is applied, its dries almost instantly so you can layer it up to the desired intensity. Then a gloss is popped over the top! Voila! Super shiny lips in a range of beautiful colours. So I tried it in Blu-Red, it was a beautiful red and I felt fab wearing it! I then drank numerous glasses of wine, ate all sorts of nibbles & dips and talked non stop for at least 4 hours and do you know what?? My lips were still a perfect shiny blue red! In fact they were still almost perfect the next morning due to the fact I didn’t take my make up off the night before, yes I know I will regret such mortal sins in years to come…

SJ x

April and Autumnal … sort of!

12 Apr

Is it just me or is 2013 speeding along at a rate of noughts?

A quick run through on what I have been up to lately …. No I’m still not working. No I don’t want to talk about it.

Sugar Free Update.

I have now been on the sugar-free wagon for over 14 weeks, I stayed off fruit completely for 3 weeks in February and then slowly reintroduced it into my diet but the strange thing is I don’t really enjoy it as much now! I have no desire for anything sweet at all, although I do enjoy the sweetness I can now taste in milk, corn on the cob, beetroot and carrots but the overwhelming urge for a sweet fix is long gone. That is of course not to say that it won’t come back once the long cold, wet Winter months set in but I am hopeful that I can continue as I am. I bought a little jar of Chai Spices and am planning on adding that to hot milk for a nice warming drink, I already enjoy a glass of cold milk with a spoon of cinnamon added in a few times a week, it is honestly so delicious, naturally sweet and fragrant! I have bags of activated nuts (hee hee) in the freezer and a handful make a lovely snack or chopped up are a great addition to salads, curries etc. My attempt to avoid gluten hasn’t gone quite so well especially since I can’t resist the Sourdough bread at the Subi Farmer’s market (must find out the name of the baker actually). However, I am limiting wheat to one meal a day and finding it easy enough to stick to that. I haven’t lost any weight which is rather disappointing as I was sure Elizabeth Jagger would be handing over her dark haired supermodel status to me by now but I do feel great, my skin is really good and I have loads of energy! All in all its been one of my more successful endeavours of late …..


As the weather is getting cooler, or at least it did before heating up again to the hottest April day for some ridiculous amount of years but its raining today so am hoping it will cool down again I’m done with heat for the moment, last week I joined a running group that I first heard about at Christmas. ParkRun is a worldwide endeavour which sees volunteers organising a 5 kilometre run. Its free to partake and its good fun as well as a good way to get exercise for people like me that will stop running if I am on my own and the going gets tough but hate to lose face in front of bunch of friends or strangers! Last Saturday morning at 8am after encountering a number of route diversions, typical, we arrived at the designated starting point to meet our friends. There was a group warm up, a number of instructions and off we went … it was my first decent run in a very long time due in part to the hot weather but in another bigger part to my incredible laziness. Anyway I made it around the 5K albeit in a bad state by the end, there was a terrible steep hill to finish! But I soon recovered and felt great, there’s an amazing sense of accomplishment in finishing a course and that’s the feeling I must keep in my mind when I feel like stopping. The weather got very hot this week so I didn’t make it out for another run but tomorrow morning is my second ParkRun and I am really looking forward to the feeling afterwards … the actual running I still find tough …but worth it! Have a look on the site and see is there one near you, there’s at least two in Dublin and you could set one up in your local area!

The Library: My newest favourite place

I love the library! I’ve been borrowing books and DVDs at least once a week lately, its so much fun I get to leave with armfuls of entertainment .. cook books, books on beauty, fiction, fact, DVDs of movies I never saw or ones I love to watch over and over, TV series I never caught .. its fantastic and its all free! Some books I’ve loved and some I haven’t but that is in essence what is so great about the library I get to try before I buy 🙂

Another related discovery has been Downton Abbey … seriously how did I miss this?? Its AMAZING! I LOVE IT! So far I’ve watched Series 1 & 2 and the Christmas special so I now need to track down the remaining series and find out what happens with Mary and Matthew, Sybil and Branson, the dreadful Edith, Mr Bates and Anna and my absolute favourite character the Dowager or “Granny”…I did like His Lordship allot until that carry on with the maid, I’ll say no more!

So the Summer is over and Autumn is here … although its still warm daylight is increasingly diminishing and I am remembering last winter with horror but determined not to let myself be as bored or housebound as I was last year … might be time to get the crochet back out too ..

SJ xx


Munchkin Pumpkins

20 Mar


These little beauties were too cute not to share!
SJ x

Its February .. the month of love and no sugar!

8 Feb


Dry January got off to a spectacular start and continued as such for exactly 14 days and 16 hours … then a rat strolled across our yard as nonchalant as you like, I could be mistaken but I think he was smoking a cigarette – YES he  was THAT CALM!

What followed was the freak out of all freak outs on my part and after a brief draining of blood from his face a very calm taking control of the situation by Dave! Rats are one of my biggest fears in life, second only to death and in joint place with falling and breaking all my teeth, so as you can imagine I wasn’t too happy seeing one in the middle of what had been a lovely afternoon. Mr Rat, as the neighbours have taken to calling it (they had been watching him for a while it seems .. no, I don’t understand this either) had eaten all our chillies and was probably heading for the capsicums which were starting to rot in the sun. Dave disposed of all our veggie plants in one swift movement, laid poison, set traps and poured me a glass of wine. There really was nothing else for it, the only way to stop me crying was to have me drinking!

The rest of January although not strictly dry was very restrained until Australia Day which became a 4 day weekend of immeasurable fun lubricated with various alcoholic beverages … Oh the fireworks! The laughing! The fun!


And shur then it was February ….

I started reading about going sugar free in earnest after Christmas, my main source was Sarah Wilson’s blog and e-books. Any fans of Masterchef Australia may remember Sarah presented the first series, she has an autoimmune disease as do I so this really interested me as she claims to have healed herself and lost weight by cutting fructose and wheat from her diet. It was something I had been thinking about for years so I decided it was finally time to give it a shot. So from Feb 1st I have not eaten any fructose including that in fruit and avoided wheat as much as possible, I am doing really well! My tastebuds have recovered to such an extent that a glass of full fat milk now tastes deliciously sweet!

This week I joined the local library, it was such a shock to see how high tech libraries have become its a long way from the stuffy little place we used frequent in Arklow in search of Roald Dahl & Enid Blyton books! For one thing the books check themselves out these days, you can keep them for 21 days, there’s dvds too and its not quiet AT ALL! My main reason for joining was that I wanted to read another book on giving up sugar called Sweet Poison by David Gillespie, Sarah Wilson refers to him as an inspiration. The book is incredible, I read it in 24 hours (it would have been less but I had to keep stopping to get into the pool and sleep) and would recommend it to anyone interested in health, the food industry, why we are getting fatter, heart disease, cancer, diabetes or just looking to expand their knowledge base (in other words info-hungry like myself!).

I’m not going to try and convert everyone but if you have ever wondered why humans are doing more exercise than ever but getting fatter, eating more low-fat/light products than ever but getting fatter and why this has all come about in our lifetimes this subject is worth looking into!  Oh and don’t worry I will be eating fruit again in a few weeks, I am detoxing totally first then I’ll start eating it again.

Are you wondering what I am eating? If so let me know and I’ll do a post on a few meals ….

Today I made these rice paper rolls, very simple and filled with all sorts from the fridge such as peanut butter, courgette/zucchini, cucumber, carrot, capsicum/pepper, fresh coriander, last night’s roast chicken, avocado (of course!) …I’ve munched on 3 as I’ve been writing this! Other filling ideas are cold rice, noodles, meats, prawns really anything works as long as its not liquidy.  Great with a simple little dipping sauce of lime juice, tamari (soya sauce) and chilli …


Of course February is the month of love with Valentine’s Day falling slap bang in the middle of month! I just love love and not just the romantic hallmark flowers and chocolates sort but the real life best friends, sisters, parents, family, being there for each other, knowing you are not alone in this big bad world sort of love! In the past few weeks I have come across some really beautiful stories that I want to share … if you’re a Hurley get the Kleenex out ..

Bill and Shelley: Their love story 

The Race Grows Sweeter Near its Final Lap 

Ada Bryant and Robert Haire 

And lest we forget those that were not so lucky to know love in life …. Margaret Magdelene No. 322 

And as for me well I am super lucky and know first hand all sorts of real love but none so greater than what I feel for my early Valentines gift …. isn’t she a beauty????

20130208-131155.jpgYip, I’m as shallow as they come ,

Be good,

SJ xx