About Michelle Loughran

I have a Master's degree in Journalism and am currently working in the Marketing and Communications department at BBC Northern Ireland. I love cooking and creating an online food blog has combined two of my passions, writing and cookery.

Limoncello trifle – a dessert for grown ups

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I have fond childhood memories of going to granny’s house for Christmas dinner. My sister and I playing with our new toys in the ‘good room’ while the smell of homemade soup and turkey filled the air.

There were two constants you could always be assured of; the gravy would be delicious and Christmas dinner would conclude with a bowl of trifle.

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Apple and cinnamon scones

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I have tried and tested many recipes for scones over the years and after numerous tweaks have finally created a version which incorporates a favourite flavour combination – apple and cinnamon.

When it comes to baking, I find the most difficult part is achieving a good rise, so remember not to overwork the dough before quickly cutting out the scones.

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Festive indulgence – a tradition to be preserved in this crazy year of new norms

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year, when catching up with family and friends, parties, and decadent food and drinks are usually enjoyed with a generous dollop of festive cheer.

In these uncertain times none of this can be taken for granted and 2020 has become a year many would prefer to forget.

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Chocolate chip and peanut cookies

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During the first lockdown I was guilty of piling on a few pounds. Pounds that are much harder to shift than the few in my bank account.

So in a bid to curb the waistline before the Christmas excess I have made a weekly promise to consume less treats. This starts with good intentions, but as mid-week approaches abstinence becomes harder and I crave a sweet fix.

To resolve this problem I have taught myself how to make cookies, adding peanuts to make them feel slightly healthier.

You can decide if the ability to make simple homemade cookies is a help or hindrance!  

Ingredients

  • 300 grams plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 50 grams light brown sugar
  • 50 grams caster sugar
  • 200 grams butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 200 grams milk chocolate (chopped into chunks)
  • 50 grams chopped unsalted peanuts

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  • Using an electric whisk, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth, then add the egg.
  • Sieve in the flour, baking soda and salt and fold through. 
  • Add the vanilla extract, chocolate and peanuts and mix well to form a dough.
  • Place the dough on a floured surface and roll into a sausage shape and cover with clingfilm.
  • Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes before cutting, for best results each cookie should be roughly 1 to 2 cm wide.
  • Place the cookies on the baking tray and bake for 10 -12 minutes.

A taste of home – giving the gift of food and drink this Christmas

With Christmas approaching, the sales and special offer notifications are crashing into my inbox on a daily basis and with that comes the temptation to buy things for myself and the loved ones of course.

While waking up on Christmas morning with lots of presents to open, might not be what the season is truly about, for me there is still an excitement attached to guessing what lies beneath the festive wrapping paper that never grows old. Continue reading

Let’s go dining way out west…

From infrastructure to public services, there is a feeling that those who live west of the Bann – the river effectively dividing Northern Ireland – are disadvantaged when it comes to investment and opportunity.

I grew up way out west, in the countryside between Cookstown and Omagh, but in the early 2000s moved to Belfast for university and ended up staying there as living and working in the city suits my lifestyle.

That doesn’t mean I have forgotten my culchie – an Irish word for rural folk – roots and will not hear an ill word spoken about my home county Tyrone, especially from east coast natives who imagine civilisation itself ends, a la the hills have eyes, about 20 miles outside Belfast. Continue reading

A cracking Spring Break in Poland

City breaks are my favourite type of holiday and this year I hoped to visit the USA on an epic city hopping tour taking in New York, Seattle and San Francisco.

Hopes and reality however, are two very different things and with a house to buy and eye-wateringly expensive flights getting in the way – the American Dream was on hold.

While the US trip got away from us this time, husband and I agreed to a more affordable Spring Break and with an abundance of great European cities practically on our doorstep, the holiday search moved closer to home. Continue reading

Greens Pizza; a lively new restaurant for Belfast’s bustling Ormeau Road

In recent years a number of new cafes and restaurants have set up shop on the Ormeau Road and Greens Pizza is the latest to open its doors in this popular area of South Belfast.

I have been living in the Ormeau area for several years now – before house prices started to rocket and the café culture took hold – and with close proximity to the city centre, a beautiful park and plenty of amenities I can see why it has been described as the new Ballyhackamore. Continue reading