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Donal Skehan recipes: Family favourites from his brand-new TV show

These winning family dinners from my new TV show are sure to warm up darker days ahead

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Rory O'Connell, The Joy of Food

Rory O'Connell, The Joy of Food

Italian Chicken

Italian Chicken

McNally Farm

McNally Farm

Shepard's Pie

Shepard's Pie

Rainbow

Rainbow

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Let's start with a bit of honesty: becoming a dad has been the single hardest thing I've ever done. Instagram may tell a different story, but for every smiling family shot and sweet memory, there have been countless sleepless nights, the onslaught of dirty nappies, and days where you have no idea how to keep it all together. Nobody can prepare you for the life change that ensues and I think, nearly three years in, we're still attempting to find that new pace.

That being said, there are plenty of wonderful moments, first steps, birthdays and all those little milestones that make this stage really special. There was a certain sense of irony as I was planning the recipes for my new TV show, Donal's Family Food in Minutes, in the depths of lockdown earlier this year, kids hanging out of us as we attempted Zoom calls, family visits through windows, and brief walks outdoors spent sidestepping strangers. It was a time when we all longed for big family meals shared around the kitchen table - the stuff we had dreamed of when living far from home with two small children. As we stare down the barrel of a tumultuous winter, I have filled each episode of the new series with recipes that bring warmth, comfort and perhaps a little certainty to uncertain times.

Say what you will, but I do believe making and eating sticky toffee pudding slathered in salted caramel sauce can heal a great many woes. So, as we collectively transition to a whole new view of what time spent with loved ones looks like, I want to share some recipes from the new show that may ease the change. A one-pan Italian-American winter warmer made with chicken thighs and Italian sausage infused with white wine and vinegar for a tangy, rich finish; a showstopper shepherd's pie with slow-braised lamb shanks topped with velvety mash; and, finally, that super-satisfying sticky toffee pudding.