I probably should have called this ‘Hey Pesto!’ because technically, pesto isn’t an ingredient. However, I use pesto all the time and in ridiculously large quantities so in my world it might as well be an ingredient!

Pesto, especially the really good stuff, can be quite expensive for small amounts, and while making it at home can be costly (depending on where you do your grocery shopping, if you’re like me it’s mostly at M&S), it’s super quick and easy, and there are no preservatives. I find that my own doesn’t go off as quickly.

The method for each of the recipes below is the same so I won’t bore you by writing it beneath each one. Honestly, it’s simple – just put everything into a food processor and blend! I usually start with the garlic and main ingredients, and I tend to wait to add the olive oil just before the final blend. How much oil you use is completely up to you. For example, if I’m using the pesto as a pasta sauce I’ll add far more than I would if the pesto was being used as a spread.

Make sure that the nuts, whether they be pine nuts, almonds or walnuts, have been toasted before you use them. To toast, simply spread them on a lined baking tray and put them in the oven (I use a fan oven) at 180 degrees for about ten minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, (we’ve had a few catastrophes)!!

First up: Basil Pesto

Yes, it is your standard pesto, and while this is fairly inexpensive to buy (depending on the brand of course), it is so much nicer if you make it yourself. My roommate always has a basil plant (aptly names Basil!) on the windowsill in the kitchen so I’ve no excuse not to make my own pesto!

What you need:

  • Basil – I use a few handfuls of leaves
  • Garlic clove
  • Handful of toasted Pine Nuts
  • Handful of grated Parmesan

Sundried Tomato and Almond Pesto

This is probably my favourite in this post. I love it as a pasta sauce (add extra olive oil), or I’ll put it in wraps with falafel or cheese. The parmesan is optional, but I always include it.

What you need:

  • Sundried Tomatoes – I use about 2/3rds of a jar as I devour the stuff!
  • Parmesan – a good handful
  • Garlic Clove
  • Flaked Almonds (don’t forget to toast them)
  • Olive Oil


The next two are a great way to add extra green, leafy veg to your diet without feeling like a rabbit! It’s also handy for using up spinach and kale before they go off if they’re leftover and sitting in the fridge.

Kale and Walnut Pesto

I make this based on taste. Kale can be extremely peppery, and with garlic adding to the kick, I taste as I go and try to balance the flavour by adding basil. It’s up to you how you make this one! I’d definitely recommend substituting the pine nuts with walnuts if you’re looking to add to the flavour.

What you need:

  • Handful of Kale
  • 1/2 Garlic Clove
  • Handful of Pine Nuts – I’m quite generous with this
  • Handful of Basil Leaves
  • Olive Oil

Spinach Pesto

I only eat spinach raw, I despise it cooked, and I find I can never make my way through a bag before the leaves wilt and go off. I hate waste and because this pesto lasts well it’s a great way of using up those leaves. As with the kale pesto, balancing the flavours and tasting as you go is the key.

What you need:

  • Handful of Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2 Garlic Clove
  • Pine Nuts
  • Handful of Parmesan
  • Olive Oil

Beetroot and Walnut Pesto

This pesto is divine with pasta, as a spread in sandwiches or wraps, but my favourite way to use it is if I’m making goats cheese crostini. A layer of this between the toast and cheese is just divine!

What you need:

  • Cooked Beets
  • Toasted Walnuts
  • Basil Leaves
  • Rocket Leaves
  • 1/2 Garlic Clove
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar

Now I’ve shared my secret pesto passion, I hope you’ll let me know if you make any of these! They’re super simple, and taste so good!

Enjoy! 🙂

I’m really excited to introduce a new feature on the blog: Ingredient of the Week! (I say week, talk about setting myself an unmanageable task!)
Anyway, what better ingredient to start with than an avocado; full of good fats, dietary fibre, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and vitamins K, B6, E and C. Avocados have a low sugar content, are a good source of energy, and great for your hair and skin, so if you didn’t have a reason to love them before, here you go.

However, we all know the struggles of finding the perfect avocado. You buy a couple, leave them for a day or two, and somehow you miss the moment they are perfect and instead find them black on the inside! There are many myths about avocados, but I’ve been told that putting them in the microwave can help soften them. I know growing up we used to put them in the hot press to speed up the process! If you have any tips on avocados, let me know!

Below you’ll find some delicious ways to use avocados. I put them in almost every salad I make, and they are definitely a necessity at every brunch, but I decided not to include the standard avocado recipes, (except for guac, that is a must!). Most of these recipes are geared towards those of you with a sweet tooth who are looking for a healthier substitute, and all of them are super-simple, so you’ve no excuse not to give them a go!

Guacamole



One of my favourite ways to eat avocado is to make my favourite guacamole. Although sometimes if I’m too lazy to make guacamole, (I’d hate to admit how often this happens) I’ll mash an avocado with sweet chilli sauce. It’s so simple and delicious on crackers or as a substitute for guacamole, depending on what you pair it with.

What you need:

  • Ripe Avocados x3
  • Red Onion
  • Red Chilli
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Lime
  • Coriander
  • Olive Oil

To start, peel the onion and deseed the chilli, then roughly chop both together. Scoop the flesh of the three avocados onto the board and chop all three. Add a few cherry tomatoes and a handful of coriander leaves and continue to chop until everything is well combined. Mix in a tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of a lime, then season with sea salt, black pepper and more lime juice, depending on how you like it. To serve, put some more coriander on top.

Variances: I use the entire red onion as I like the guacamole to have a good kick, but feel free to only use half, it is completely up to you! You can also add more chilli. I like my guacamole to be chunky, so I don’t chop all of the ingredients as finely as others may do. Again, it just depends on how you like it!

Avocado Pancakes


These pancakes are just divine, and as far as I’m concerned, you don’t need the excuse of Pancake Tuesday to make them. They are so easy to make up, really its just lots of mashing! I love them plain with maple syrup, or if my sweet tooth is taking charge, I add in dark chocolate chunks, for an extra gluttonous treat!

What you need:

  • 3/4 cup Flour (can use cream, self-raising, almond or coconut)
  • Ripe Avocado
  • Banana
  • Egg
  • 1/2 cup Milk (I use Almond Milk)
  • 1/4 Orange Juice (I use freshly squeezed)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Coconut oil or Butter for frying

Mash up the banana, avocado and orange juice. Mix in the egg and milk, and while adding in the flour and sugar continue to mash and mix until you have a good batter consistency. Heat the oil in the frying pan, and once hot add some batter and cook for two minutes on each side. They can burn quite easily so they need to be carefully watched. I had chocolate sauce leftover (see below) so drizzled some over the chocolate pancakes; divine!

Chocolate Avocado Brownies


These are richer and even more decadent than regular brownies, but far healthier! You only need a quarter cup of flour, and it can be cream, almond or coconut flour depending on what is in the cupboard.

What you need:

  • Extra Ripe Avocados x2
  • 1 Egg & 1 Egg White
  • 1/2 cup of Cocoa Powder (Cacao can also be used)
  • 1/2 cup of Brown Sugar (I use dark muscavado)
  • 1/4 cup Flour (can be cream, almond or coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Dark Chocolate Chunks (As many as you like!)
  • Coconut Oil
  • 8×8 Baking Tin
  • Greaseproof Paper
  • Food Processor or Blender (I use a nutribullet)

Preheat the oven to 180C, but as I always say, know your oven. (I set mine to 170C.) Line the baking tin with greaseproof paper. Blend the avocados, sugar and vanilla extract in a food processor until there are no chunks of avocado left. Then mix in the cacao, egg white, egg and salt. Blend until smooth and creamy. Mix in the flour and blend again. Stir in the chunks of chocolate. Pour the mixture into the tin and spread it evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the brownies are set. While they bake, melt some dark chocolate with a teaspoon of coconut oil, and once the brownies are cooling on a rack, drizzle the sauce over them. These brownies keep well for a couple of days, if they last that long!

Avocado Ice-Cream


What are brownies without something on the side? I’m not a fan of cream, but I’m a glutton for ice-cream. This is possibly the simplest way to make avocado ice-cream; you only need four ingredients!

What you need:

  • Banana
  • Avocado
  • 2 tablespoons Maple Syrup
  • 2 tablespoons Cacao or cocoa powder
  • Extras: chocolate chips, toasted almonds, coconut chips, or whatever tickles your fancy!

For prep, freeze the banana and avocado (both peeled) in a sandwich bag for four hours. Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until the correct consistency is reached. (Be patient, this will take a few minutes!) As a chocaholic, I always add in chocolate chips, but be sure to add in whatever extras you’d like! If there is leftover chocolate sauce from the brownies, be sure to pour it over the ice-cream for added chocolatey-ness.

Be sure to let me know if you try any of these out, or if you have other avocado recipes! 🙂

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…olives!

I hate letting food go to waste, and like to use everything in the fridge before it goes off, if I can. This week I found myself with far too many olives in the fridge and not enough time to eat them all, so I decided to make olive tapenade. But of course I had to make my rustic focaccia bread to eat it with! If you, like me, love bread and olives then scroll down for these super simple recipes.

Well, I say recipes. The foccacia bread is one I’ve been making for years, and the tapenade was a bit of a fluke but both are absolutely delicious, I promise!

First, the olive tapenade.

What you need:

  • Olives
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Capers
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Blender

I’d say I had about 200g of olives, and once I had made sure they were pitted I threw them all into the blender. I added in about 9 or 10 semi sundried tomatoes, two garlic cloves that had been soaked in olive oil, two teaspoons of capers and blended them all together. Then I added a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a tablespoon of olive oil, before a final blend. It’s completely at your own discretion how much oil you use as it will affect how thick or thin the consistency is. For an added kick you can add anchovies, but I prefer to make it without. I won’t lie, this was a complete experiment, but it was absolutely delicious.

Now for my favourite foccacia bread.

What you need:

  • 400g Strong White Flour
  • Packet of Yeast
  • 250ml Warm Water
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Baking Tray

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl make a well in the centre. Pour the water into the well, sprinkle the yeast over it and leave for 5 minutes to soften. Stir to dissolve, then mix in the flour until you have a sticky dough. Knead it into a soft dough on a floured surface. Place the dough in a bowl lined with oil and cover. Leave for 1-2 hours; the dough should double in size.

Roll out the dough, place it in an oiled tray and dimple it all over. Cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise for 45 mins. Place the tray in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-30 minutes. The bread should be golden brown and hollow when you tap it underneath. I tend to pour olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over the bread once I’ve taken it out, but you could add anything to it once its been taken out, or even do this before the final five minutes of baking. Rosemary, basil, tomato, olives, and parmesan, are all examples of ingredients to sprinkle on top. The bread keeps for a few days in a sealed container, but it is definitely at its best when it is fresh from the oven and lathered in butter.

One important note is to know your oven, mine recently had a new heating element installed and it’s much more efficient than it was. (Yes, I have burned many things as a result!)


I hope you’ll give these a go, and if you do be sure to let me know what you think! 🙂

Inspirefest!
Last week I had the privilege of attending Inspirefest; a two day arts, design, science and technology conference where some of the world’s most inspiring, intelligent and successful people shared their stories, knowledge and advice with attendees. Much of the discussion centred around the shift from STEM to STEAM: the ‘A’ referring to the important inclusion of the arts. The conference took place at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre; a venue I am only familiar with as a theatre, not a conference space, but it worked extremely well considering the nature of the event.

Before you scroll any further be warned: the word inspired will be used repeatedly throughout the post!


Inspirefest also holds fringe events in the evening, which kicked off with a networking event hosted by Accenture at The Dock. The inimitable Kelly Hoey along with Lorna Ross (she is so cool, I want to be her friend) and Accenture’s Vicky Godolphin led the session titled ‘Building Your Personal Brand’, which reinforced the importance of reputation, networking and knowing your own perspective; how this can add value and be a key differentiator. One of the main points I reflected on after this session was that every social interaction really is networking, and that while hard work will always pay off, networking by being considerate of others’ time, and being deliberate will help you to get ahead. Kelly Hoey has the most incredible energy and a brilliant smile, so much so that I left feeling empowered and inspired, before Inspirefest had even begun!

Over the course of the two days we heard from many different speakers, 75% of whom were female (#girlpower), all of whom introduced me to new ideas, theories, thoughts and topics. I had no knowledge of gaming, having never owned a playstation or gameboy growing up (the furthest I ever got was playing tennis on the Wii), but now, having listened to Eimear Noone and Rhianna Pratchett speak, I know that you don’t have to be a tech whizz to work in gaming, you can use your musical talents to compose for games, or your writing skills to create the characters and plots.

I must admit the discussions surrounding robotics and how realistic robots can be is mildly terrifying, especially as the world becomes more dependent on them each day. Scary or not, it is impossible not to be intrigued when Ms Ana Matronic (yes, of the Scissor Sisters fame, I was massively girl crushing) is pouring her enthusiasm and excitement on the topic all over the stage. Her personality is so electric that she has served to both increase my irrational fear of robots taking over the world (it began with seeing the movie iRobot – I was traumatised!), but also piqued my interest.

So many of these men and women left attendees feeling empowered and ready to take action. The incredible Anita Sands left us all with the challenge to be fearless, having told us that ‘learning to shush the roommate in your mind is the key to accepting change and moving forward’, something I certainly have struggled to do in the past. There’s always that voice in your head telling you the reasons not to move forward! She also reminded us that it is ‘not enough for women to have a seat at the table, we have to lean in and speak up’! And of course she is right; if we get that seat at the table then we are obliged to offer our opinions and expertise; only then will more seats become available.
I’m certainly at a juncture where I’m attempting to combine my passion for the arts and the drinks industry with my business masters into a sustainable creative career. Moving from theatre to business was a massive change for me, and it was extremely reassuring to be hear the stories of many of the speakers who had changed career path, or more poetically, changed perspective. I found I could relate immediately to the lovely Keri Kukral, who moved from ballet into science and technology; for her, the world of art was her home and she had to find a new one. Which she did, with great success. Another speaker who has had many shifts in career is the phenomenal Arlan Hamilton who has overcome so many obstacles to achieve her goals. We need more role models like Arlan, she truly is inspiring. Follow her on twitter @ArlanWasHere

The importance of elocution and speaking well in public was instilled in me from a young age by both my mother and my grandmother, and the high calibre of speakers at Inspirefest was truly astonishing. Unfortunately this meant that the couple who read from notes and failed to inject personality into their presentations stood out for the wrong reason. The most impressive, polished and eloquent of all was Arlene O’Neill, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Trinity College, who didn’t stumble or say ‘ehm’ once, and looked so comfortable standing in front of us all. Her work supporting teenage students in STEM through the Trinity Walton Club is phenomenal, and I wish I had been given access to a club like that growing up. She also had great shoes!

Many of these speakers told us their personal stories; not just of their path to success, but the reasons they found themselves on such a path. Everyone in the auditorium was moved by both Dr Sue Black and Monica Parker who laid bare their history and are proof that you can rebuild your life with the greatest effort and will. Their strength is admirable, their stories inspiring and they are so lovely on stage that you just want to make friends with them. Dr Sue Black has the most impressive pink hair I have ever seen, and I am insanely jealous of it, especially as my family and friends have firmly suggested that I should not attempt doing this to my hair again. I can’t pull it off in the same way! Monica Parker reminded us that we must ‘hatch or go bad’, and left us all feeling quite emotional as we reflected on the Japanese tradition of kintsugi; repairing something that is broken with precious minerals or stones. Michelle Cullen put it beautifully on Twitter “inspirefest is Kintsugi for the soul’.

As I am a keen fashion follower, it would be remiss of me to write a post like this and not mention the style that was seen on the Bord Gais stage. Highlights included Arlene O’Neill’s Louboutins, Anne O’Dea’s tunic top on day one and jewellery on day two, Kelly Hoey’s affinity for sequins, but most of all, the gorgeous Nilofer Merchant who wore a stunning sparkling Gucci skirt that I need to have in my wardrobe (apologies for the very blurred photo below)!

Izzy wheels, for those of you who don’t know, are an Irish business set up by two sisters to provide colourful wheel covers to wheelchair users. The girls are bubbly and bright, and bring so much personality and colour with them. Check them out on Instagram here to see just how colourful, creative and artistic wheels can be.

Inspirefest is partnered with the charity Debra, who fundraise to help EB sufferers. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the audience when we listened to the story of those who are affected by E.B.; both those who suffer from the disease, and their families. The charity had a stand on the first floor with other exhibitors and gave out tattoos of their butterfly symbol (see below). You can find out more about the charity here.

One of the main things I learned at Inspirefest was that I need to watch Star Wars and Star Trek. There were references to one or other in about 75% of the presentations, and I felt a bit silly not getting the jokes! I’ve also realised that I haven’t singled out any of the male speakers, and this is not intentional; they all shared ideas that resonated, it is just that for the first time in my experience, the female voice dominated the sessions and left a real and lasting impression. I certainly gleaned some valuable insights on presentation skills, mainly that the more personal the story shared, the more engaged the audience will be. But the main point to take away from the event is to just be your own authentic self, to silence the noise in your head, and to reach for your goals. As Dr Niamh Shaw said ‘Don’t give up on your impossible dreams’! So one week on, after much reflection and thought, I’m as inspired as I was leaving the Bord Gais last Friday and more determined than ever.

Yesterday I went to the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Electric as part of the Cork Dessert Festival. I won’t lie, I wasn’t aware there was a Cork Dessert Festival until yesterday, which is regrettable as I love dessert and sweet treats. Next year I plan to be more prepared! I adore afternoon tea, I think it is my favourite meal indulgence, after brunch of course! Surprisingly, I found out about the tea party through a post on LinkedIn, (typical that I spend my days trawling the site to find employment, and what I actually find is afternoon tea!).


The event was organised by ‘Ever After Vintage Events’ which is run by Elaine and Megan (both of whom were wearing fabulously mad hats!), and I must say they did a fantastic job. The area was decorated with tea cup bunting and hat bunting, there were funky top hats on the tables, all the cups for the G&Ts were exquisite, everyone had straws with a ‘drink me’ tag, and there was a scavenger hunt to find the ten Alice in Wonderland items dotted around the room. There was also a little box with four chocolates for everyone to take home which was a lovely touch.


When we arrived we were treated to a Kir Royale (my favourite type of bubbles!), and after that there was all you could drink gin flowing from teapots. The G&T was Gordon’s gin with tonic and a raspberry teabag. Verdict: DIVINE! I will definitely try to recreate it the next time the girls come over. The food was delicious; scones with jam and cream, warm sausage rolls and savoury muffins, smoked salmon on brown bread, meringues, cupcakes, cherry and lemon trifle, and in keeping with the theme the shortbread biscuits had ‘Eat Me’ written on them! Every little detail was thought of, and it was a brilliant afternoon. Most of what was served is on the daily afternoon tea menu at Electric here.


The only disappointment was that, because I love themed events, I had hoped that a ‘Mad Hat’ would be part of the dress code in keeping with the theme, but sadly there was no statement of such listed in the event details. I think it would have added to the fun of the event, and might have made the afternoon more sociable if people were invited to be a little creative with their outfit. We were seated at the long, high bar tables, rather than in small groups, and I’m much more likely to engage with the person next to me if they are wearing a ‘Mad Hat’.

Before the event I wasn’t aware that Electric did afternoon tea, but it turns out they have a variety of options for afternoon tea and the menu is available every day from 2-5pm. For more info check out their website here. I would definitely recommend them, especially because the service was excellent and the food was delicious; I couldn’t fault it. So if you’re looking for afternoon tea in Cork city centre, definitely check out Electric.

Until next time! 🙂

 

…and what better time to go live than the first of the month!

I’ve wanted to start a blog for the past few years, in fact it has been on at least two New Years resolution lists, but I kept putting it off. Now that I’m on the job hunt and freelancing, I figure I’ve no excuses left, so here goes!

My first foray into the blogging world was in 2013/2014 when I lived in California and used tumblr as a platform to share my experiences there with family and friends. It also served as a bit of a diary, and I’m lucky now to have so many documented memories from that year.

However, mirensomers.com will be completely different.

I have many nicknames, (Mazza, Mir, Mazzy, Mimi, Mirsie, Mazz to name a few) but I decided to use my own name for this site as I haven’t come across another Miren, at least, not yet! Guaranteed I’ll meet millions now haha!


For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a 24 year old from Cork living in Dublin for the past number of years. I’m currently trying to figure out the next step in my careervery fond of a good Snapchat filter and am rarely seen without my sunglasses on my head and a coffee in my hand.


My childhood dream was to be a musical theatre performer, but after doing an undergrad in Drama and Theatre Studies, I started working for Jameson and fell in love with the portfolio and the industry. Add an MSc in Business to that mix, and well, I didn’t make it to Broadway (yet!). We always blame the drink don’t we? I still attend the theatre regularly so you can expect plenty of reviews. I write for Irish Whiskey Magazine, so expect whisk(e)y blog posts too.

I believe that having a work:life balance is crucial for success, and for the past year I haven’t achieved that balance at all, (it was mostly work, and now it is all life!). So really, this blog is an attempt at achieving and documenting that. I love to travel, experience new places and things, and I tend to become quite passionate with topics I’m interested in and fully immerse myself in them. (Apologies to everyone who put up with me when I first got into whiskey, your tolerance was greatly appreciated!) Some of my current interests are whisk(e)y, gin, cocktails, food, fitness, fashion, beauty, design, interiors, books, coffee and of course the arts; music, theatre, film, dance… the list goes on and on!

So, on the off chance you’re interested in any of these things, then please follow along! 🙂