Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Vodka Pasta!

 

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Ever had a recipe just follow you around? One you keep seeing and then find yourself dreaming about? I’ve had that recently.

It started when I saw the Pasta Alla Vodka Recipe on The Pioneer Woman a while back. I was intrigued by it but put it to the back of my mind. I was reminded of it again though when I watched the recipe being cooked on YouTube by Laura Vitale, from Laurainthekitchen.com. Then on Wednesday, I saw it on Babaduck Babbles and was drooling at, even looking at the recipe on Thursday to drool some more. Friday I treated myself to Donal Skehan’s new book, Kitchen Hero and lo and behold, what’s the very first recipe in the book? Vodka Penne! So that night I made myself a dish and it was so good I made it again Saturday for lunch!

And one of the best things about it is it’s super quick and super simple to make!

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Vodka Pasta

Serves 4

Ingredients

350g Penne

25g Butter

125g bacon, chopped (or pancetta)

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped

4 tbsp Vodka

200ml Double Cream

3 tbsp tomato purée

Salt and pepper, to taste

Freshly grated cheese (parmesan is best, I only had cheddar)

Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

Method

1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta as instructed.

2. Heat butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add bacon bit and fry for 3-5 minutes, until golden.

3. Add in onion and garlic to bacon and fry for 1 minute or so.

4. Add the vodka and allow to simmer for a minute before adding tomato purée and cream. Simmer gently for 5 minutes until sauce has thickened.

5. Test the sauce for taste and add salt and pepper accordingly.

6. Drain pasta and add sauce. Mix well to make sure the sauce clings nicely to the pasta. Place in serving bowls and garnish with grated Parmesan.

7. Dig and enjoy!

Adapted from Kitchen Hero by Donal Skehan (who in turn thanks Lorraine Fanneran of La Cucina restaurant in Limerick).

This sauce is beautiful, the right combination of creamy and tomatoey. It’s thick and clings to the pasta nicely. Don’t just use penne, in fact I didn’t either days I made it. First night I used Fusilli (a mixture of white and brown) and on Saturday I used Tripoline. And I’d just like to point out that while I may not have had any fancy pants Parmesan to use, the vodka I added was Grey Goose *increases fanciness of dish x10*. Though saying that, I don’t think it really wants what kind of vodka is used (correct me if I’m wrong!).

Go on, try it, you won’t be disappointed. I’m not the only one enjoying the craze these days, Mammy’s Kitchen had a bowl yesterday and was equally impressed as I was!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Things to Do Before You Die

 

There was an interesting post on Beaut.ie a couple of weeks ago about Ten Things to Do Before You Die. And it got me thinking. Not just about all the things I want to do and places I want to see. But also about the list I made when I was 11/12. I went rooting around my room and sure enough, I found the list! So here it is, all spelling mistakes corrected, all the things I have so far achieved bolded and comments in italics!

1. Learn languages (French, German & Spanish). I’ve bolded French as I studied it in school but it’s certainly rusty!

2. Pass my exams (Junior Cert and Leaving Cert). You can tell I wrote this as a young un as college exams never crossed my mind! But I am pleased to say I passed those too!

3. Travel the world. A work in progress

4. Dye Hair (Normal colour and wild colour). I’ve never had the balls to put a fun colour like blue or purple into my hair, though I really want to try it

5. Get a small tattoo. Not sure if I want to do this still

6. Stay in touch with all my friends. I wrote this list after moving after 5th class. And no, it didn’t happen then to be honest, except for a handful of people.

7. Get a good job. Again, work in progress

8. Bungee jump. I was certainly a more fearless back then, I’m now afraid of heights but it’s something I’d still half consider maybe possibly doing.

9. Parachute. Again, heights. Again, maybe.

10. Zorb

11. Swim with dolphins. Not so keen on this, but I would still do it if I had the chance

12. Learn to drive and pass exam. Not only both of these but I now have my very first car!

13. Try to beat a World Record. Ambitious wasn’t I?!

14. Learn to fly an aeroplane. See the above comment

15. Design clothes and make them

16. Learn to use a sewing machine

17. Stay fit and healthy. Nope, can’t say this one has worked out but it can still be achieved!

18. Go to a concert. My first one being Justin Timberlake!

19. Be in a movie or TV show

20. Scuba dive

21. Go to the Ice Hotel. Still REALLY want to do this one!

22. Have a weird pet. Umm, no thanks!

23. Appear in a magazine

24. Become a vegetarian for a month. Something I often think about doing, just for the experience

25. Learn a martial art. I once won a free karate term, went to one and decided it most definitely wasn’t for me!

26. Go to a health farm/spa. Anyone want to treat me?!

27. Stop biting my nails and grow them. After years of trying, I have succeeded!

28. Go to a yoga course

29. Learn 1st aid. I’ve learnt basic 1st aid in TY, I would love to do a more in depth one though

30. Learn to belly dance

31. Adopt an animal. I think I meant more sponsor an animal, like in a zoo, but now if I was going to get a pet, I think I would adopt one from an animal shelter

32. Kiss the Blarney Stone. I’d forgotten this was on the list! I did it earlier this year on 2nd January

33. Learn to ski. Nowhere close to learning!

34. Go on a rollercoaster

It’s funny how your ambitions and goals change as you get older. Looking at this list, I see I was definitely more ambitious and more confident in myself. And a bit in vague (like travel the world, I only mentioned one place I specifically wanted to go to and that was the bloody Blarney Stone!).

I say my list has changed considerably. There’s still things on here I would like to do, but I know there’s so much more I want to do and more importantly, so much more I want to see in the world. I think I’ll make an updated list some time soon and post it here!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oh when it all, all falls down…

 

So no sooner had I spoken about getting back on track, with my new job and all, it is announced the place is closing! Typical really. And while I was initially rather upset about it all, I’m beginning to try see the positive. Which for someone who is naturally pessimistic and slightly cynical like me is a major achievement.

This wasn’t just something that happened out of the blue, it was expected for quite a while but at the same time it happened pretty quickly. At first I was gutted for myself, after all my fears of getting a job, my indecisiveness of whether I wanted to work in the field I studied in college and finally conquering all this, it feels like fate has decided to be cruel to me. This job, while temporary, would give me experience for my CV, build my confidence and allow me to save to go travelling, something I’ve been really wanting to do since sitting my final exam almost a whole year ago (was it really that long?!). Then I felt even worse for everyone else at work, people who have worked there all their lives, people who had bigger problems that me, families, mortgages, real responsibilities.

While it all seems quite bleak, there is some positive. At least I think there is. I was so scared to get a job, the longer time went on without one, the more and more afraid I got. I don’t know why really, I’ve always enjoyed working. I was just really nervous and anxious about everything after I left college. I’ve now proven to myself that I can get a job and be good at it, that it isn’t all that scary. I’ve got loads of practice driving in a city as well, something I had never done before starting this job and something I was just as scared of doing. And yet now I do it every day. And the world isn’t going anywhere, it’ll still be there for me to travel and see for many many years to come. And who knows, I might be there long enough for me to save some money and go travelling after all!

My Little Pony…

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I walked out my home a few weeks ago and was greeted to this sight! I was quite surprised as there were so many of them but I thought they looked really cute and sweet.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Signs I’m Getting Old

Despite still being pretty darn young, recently I’ve had several things happen to me that has made me realise I’m getting old! Whether I like it or not. These include:
-Not getting asked for ID when buying alcohol in Tesco. Twice. This being Tesco who are notorious for checking ID, at least they always have been.
-Not wanting to go out on a Friday night and actually looking forward to watching The Late Late.
-Listening the Larry Gogan’s Golden Hour on 2FM and hearing songs from my childhood. I used to hate listening to it as a child, as I never knew any of the songs. Now I know most of them!
-Finding music is too loud when I go out. Especially on a Friday when I’d rather be at home watching The Late Late.
-Catching myself sounding exactly like my mother.
-I walk out of the supermarket and forget where I’ve parked. And then proceed to wander around the car park until I find my car

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Irish Foodies Chocalong

White Chocolate Cake
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I unfortunately couldn’t do the Irish Foodies Cookalong last Friday as I was so busy with work. And I was seriously stumped at what to make. If I had known a chocolate cookalong was coming up I probably would have made my Chocolate Truffles then! Nevertheless, as it so happened I had to make a cake for my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone. I also thought it would be a great time to bust out my Le Creuset heart shaped pan (the ending result didn’t look too heart shaped though!).
I based it roughly on a cake I made for my sister’s 18th, Ultimate Chocolate Cake from BBC Good Food but instead I decided to use white chocolate as I thought it was more suiting for a 25th Anniversary Cake!
White Chocolate Sponge Cake with Buttercream Icing
Ingredients
Sponge Cake
130g butter, room temperature
130g caster sugar
200g self raising flour
3 eggs, beaten
Vanilla essence
Buttercream Icing
150g icing sugar
75g butter, room temperature
Vanilla essence
White Chocolate Ganache
225g white chocolate
180g cream
25g butter
Method:
1. For the sponge cake, heat oven to 180°C. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and fluffy. Add half the beaten eggs and flour and beat in. Add the remaining egg mixture with a teaspoon of vanilla essence and beat. Fold in the remaining flour gently until all is incorporated. If you find the mixture if a tad bit too dry, add a small dash of milk to moisten it up again.
2. Divide the mixture into cake pans. I used two, but one layer was rather large so if I were to make this again I’d probably divide amongst 3 pans. Bake in oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and a knife comes out clean when inserted to the middle of the cake. Allow to cool fully.
3. For the buttercream icing, cream the icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Add a dash of vanilla essence and beat to incorporate. Cover with a damp tea towel until needed.
4. For the white chocolate ganache, heat the butter and cream in a saucepan until it comes to a boil. Take immediately off the heat and pour over the white chocolate in a bowl. Stir until all the chocolate is melted. I tried to cover my cake in the ganache straight away but it was thick enough so I’d leave to cool for a few minutes so it has a chance to thicken up.
5. To assemble the cake, sandwich the layers together with the buttercream icing. Spread the ganache over the outside to coat, allow to set and then apply the second layer. Applying a second layer will make the recently icing smoother and less likely to have cake crumbs mixed in it!
6. Decorate as you wish and then devour!
Of course, if you want to make this extra chocolatey, you can add some melted chocolate to sponge mixture or to the buttercream icing. Or you can use milk or dark chocolate. Beware though, the above recipe is rich enough without the addition of extra chocolate!
I plan on making a cake similar to this very soon but instead I want to make it a chocolate orange cake. Watch this space……
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

New Year’s Resolution Update!

So I haven’t forgotten about this, I’m still working on my resolutions for the year. I thought I’d do an update to show my progress!
1. Cook 12 savoury/dinner dishes
Two dishes so far, the Asian Chicken Noodle Broth and a fish pie. Which I was told was nice, I wouldn’t know seeing as I don’t like fish!
2. Make 12 new sweet dishes
Two things made, chocolate mousse and green velvet cupcakes. Again, I’m slacking loads in this but I know I’ll complete it. There was also the Chocolate Truffle Cupcakes with White Chocolate icing but I don’t count that really.
3. Read 25 books
I have completed 8 so far and also have at least another 5 started. I have a habit of chopping and changing books. I might make a separate thread for this with the books I’ve read.
4. Watch 50 films I’ve never seen before
I’ve seen 10 so far, including 3 trips to the cinema, two DVDs rented from the library and 1 documentary.
5. Eat more fruit and veg
Erm, I had forgotten about this one to be honest! Oh dear…
6. Lose weight and exercise more
I started off really well with this one, I lost a good amount of weight in January but this I slipped and put most of it back on. I need to focus more on this one!
7. Write more on the blog
Erm……
8. Get a job
Check!
The other thing I spoke about was learning a new skill, but I hadn’t decided what. Well, after that I did a sewing class! Borrowed my Mum’s sewing machine (which I think is as old as I am) and finally learnt how to use it. I’ve been wanting to learn for years and years now so it was great. I need to keep up with it though, I’m going to look at Craftster and see if there’s any simple projects I can make.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Update!

Hello! I’m still alive. I haven’t posted in ages despite really wanting to. I’ve just become so busy in the past few weeks. Since being unemployed since the end of 2009, I’ve finally got a job! Yay! At the moment I’m being trained in and if they decide to keep me on, I’ll be covering sick days and holidays. It’s not huge but it’s in the area of work I studied for in college and there is a possibility I get more work so I’m excited. I’ve finished 3 weeks out of 4 of training and I like it so far.
I’ve also got my first car! My Mum bought it for me and I’ll be paying her back, instead of getting a loan out, so I’m very lucky in that sense. It’s a Toyota Corolla and I’ve been driving it every day to work. The amount of independence having your own car brings is unreal. I wish I had realised it years ago, so I would have been more focused on getting my license.
The last thing really is that I’ve been sick for the past week, which is when I really wanted to buckle down and get some posts published. It’s always the way! And it’s typical that I start work and get sick, so upset by that but there’s nothing you can do about it!
Oh ya, I just remembered! I went to get my eyes checked a month ago and was told I no longer need glasses! My eyes got better all by themselves! Super eyes
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