My young men have a particular fondness for their Sticky Ribs, and if ribs are ever spotted on a restaurant menu at least one of the boys will order a portion. You'll pick up bacon ribs for a few euros in the butchers, making them a great option for feeding a hungry crowd. The marinade mixture I use isn't too spicy, so it caters favourably for both young and old. Once the ribs have been poached, I normally pop them into the oven, but if the barbeque is lit the smoky flavour will add even more deliciousness to these tasty ribs.


Sweet & Sticky Ribs 

Ingredients
1.5kg baby back bacon ribs
10 black peppercorns
1 onion, peeled and cut into chunks
1lt apple juice

Marinade
75g tomato ketchup
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp tabasco sauce
2 cloves garlic, crushed

1tbsp sesame seeds

Method

1. Add the ribs, peppercorns and onion to a large saucepan. Pour over the apple juice, then add enough water to completely submerge the ribs.
2. Place on a medium heat. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about an hour and a half.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
4. In a large casserole dish combine all the marinade ingredients. Take the ribs from the pot. To dry, dab with some kitchen paper. Place the ribs into the casserole dish and coat well with the marinade. Gently pour in one cup of water to the bottom of the dish, but don't pour the water oven the ribs. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the ribs are nice and sticky.
5. Take from the oven and sprinkle over the sesame seeds. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
6. Enjoy on their own or with some baked potatoes and coleslaw. Alternatively, you could serve with my Nutty Carrot & Red Onion Salad, which goes particularly well with the sticky ribs. 


If you have some leftover Easter egg chocolate hanging around, and fancy making some treats with the children, I guarantee these mini nests will be a great hit. I like to pop little decorations into each one, but if you prefer they can be filled with mini eggs or jelly beans.


Chocolate Coconut Nests

Ingredients
200g white chocolate, roughly chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g Rice Krispies
25g desiccated coconut

Method
1. Add the chocolate and coconut oil to a microwavable bowl and gently melt together, on a low heat in the microwave, removing the bowl every 20 seconds or so to give the mixture a stir. Once melted, add the vanilla extract and stir well to combine.
2. Place the Rice Krispies and coconut into a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture. Stir to combine.
3. Line cupcake tins with 18 cupcake cases. Add a spoonful of the mixture into each case and carefully make a little indentation in the centre to create a nest shape.
4. Place in the fridge for 1 hour to set. Decorate with mini Easter decorations or eggs, and serve.

Like most children, my four get more Easter eggs than they need, and as much as I try to somewhat limit how much chocolate is consumed, there always seems to be a few tummy ache sufferers each Easter Sunday night. I suffer from migraines, and one of my triggers is chocolate so, as a rule, I stay clear of it, but my vice would certainly be cake. So much so that I could easily be joining the tummy ache parade from overindulging. During the holidays, if you've had your fill of after-dinner chocolate, try out a batch of my lemony Easter muffins. The cake mixture is spongy and fluffy, while the frosting is luscious, but surprising light, due to the addition of the cream cheese. Also, as these muffins are like mini cakes, and the portion size is in place, the chances of feasting solely on cake is just a tiny bit less likely. Happy Easter!



Lemony Easter Muffins

Ingredients
225g Flora Buttery or butter, softened
225g caster sugar
Zest of one lemon
3 free-range eggs
280g self-raising flour, sieved
1 pot (125g) of lemon flavored yogurt

For the icing
75g full fat cream cheese
75g butter, softened
300g icing sugar, sieved
1 tsp lemon extract
drop of yellow food colouring

To decorate
16 mini chocolate eggs

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C(fan)/gas mark 6.
2. Divide 16 muffin cases between two bun trays.
3. Place the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest into a bowl, and cream together until it is a pale yellow colour, which takes about 5-7 minutes.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time, with a little flour- to prevent the mixture from curdling. Mix well.
5. Add the remaining flour then combine well. Fold in the yogurt.
6. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases.
7. Bake in the oven for about 20 mins, or until golden brown in colour and a skewer comes out dry. Cool on a wire tray.
8. To make the icing; Place the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar into a bowl and beat together until smooth and creamy. Stir in the lemon extract and add a drop of yellow food colouring.
9. When the muffins have completely cooled, either pipe or spread approximately a spoonful of the icing over each bun and decorate with some mini chocolate eggs.
My children love meatballs, and one of their favourite dinners would have to be a mountain of mini meatballs with spaghetti, all smothered in a rich tomato sauce. For a quick dinner option, or supper, meatballs make a great pitta-filler, especially when lots of lovely fresh salad leaves are added and a good dollop of your favourite sauce. I've included an easy to make tzatziki recipe here, which pairs deliciously with the meatballs, but a little mayonnaise or, better still, garlic mayo would be perfect in its place.



Meatball-Stuffed Pittas with Tzatziki

Ingredients

Meatball Mix
450g good-quality minced beef
Few sprigs of fresh chives, finely snipped
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 large egg, free-range or organic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Tzatziki
200g Greek yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and grated
Squeeze of lemon
1/2 clove garlic, finely grated
1tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

To Serve
4 pittas, lightly toasted
Salad leaves

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°fan/ 180°C/gas mark 6.
  2. Add the minced beef, chives, mustard, tomato ketchup and smoked paprika to a large bowl. Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. With clean hands, scrunch and mix all the ingredients well.
  3. Using wet hands roll the mixture into about 16 meatballs. Place them in an oven-proof baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and place in the preheated oven, for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown and cooked through. Check by cutting one in half to make sure there are no signs of any pink meat.
  4. To make the tzatziki, combine the Greek yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, garlic and mint in a bowl and season with a little salt and pepper.
  5. To assemble, slit open the lightly toasted pittas. Slather a good sized spoonful of the tzatziki inside. Add a handful of salad leaves and stuff in four meatballs to each pitta. Wrap with a napkin and enjoy straight away.