Thursday, March 25, 2010

St. Patricks day celebration

I'm finally posting the results from our St. Patricks day celebration.  The recipe's are already on here except for Green Goddess dressing, which I'll put in another post.  It was really good! 
The line up was...
Green Salad w/green goddess dressing
Irish beef handpies
Shepherd's pie
Shamrock shaped pizza's
Shamrock shakes

Everything turned out great!  We never really celebrated St. Patricks day, but now that I have kids, it's just a reason to celebrate!  We love to make ordinary days more extraordinary.  We are far from Irish, but who says St. Patricks day is only for the Irish!  The day is to recognize Patrick who spread the news of the Gospel throughout Ireland.  That is worth celebrating!

shamrock appetizer

The table... w/a couple ppl's hands.  They're ready to go, no time for pics!

Our Shamrock Shaped pizza!  Thanks local pizza place!

Kids sporting they're St. Paddy's day necklaces/tattoos. 

C.J.... she loved her clover body jewelry... it's sparkly.

mmm!  Shamrock shake topped off w/whipped cream and of course green sprinkles!

Good friends!  We had some friends join our celebration and it made all the difference!
Thanks for coming friends!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shepherd's Pie

 When I was growing up Shepherd's pie was a layer of ground beef, then green beans and then mashed potatoes on top.  Not so exciting.  Plus, my mom never made home made mashed potatoes, they always came from a box.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned I actually really like mashed potatoes!!  Because once I was out of the house and had them somewhere else they tasted great!  Yes, because they were REAL!  I mean no offense or disrespect to my mom who is now in heaven.  She did what she knew, and actually was a good cook, I just didn't like those potato buds.  Anyway, I found this recipe, a traditional Irish one, on the food network and it brings much more flavor and interest compared to what I grew up with.  I hope you like it as well. 

Garlicky Potatoe topping:
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup beef broth
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound ground beef
2 to 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped, (about 1 cup)
3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed (if you don't like peas... just throw something else in)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 (12-ounce) bottle light or dark beer
1/2 cup beef broth
1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Swiss or Cheddar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


Prepare potato topping: In a large saucepan add the potatoes and garlic and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large bowl. Add the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the broth, butter, salt and pepper, and beat on low speed with a hand mixer until the potatoes are light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup broth. Do not overmix. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch round baking dish with nonstick spray.

Prepare filling: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and almost crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate; set aside.

Add the oil to the drippings in the skillet and put over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat, until the beef begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots, peas, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the beer, bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes Add the cooked bacon, the broth, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread the potato topping evenly over the beef mixture. Bake until the filling is hot, the topping is lightly browned and the edges are bubbly, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Let rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Here's the filling

Here is the almost finished product.  It just needs to bake and the cheese needs to be added.  I'm baking it on Wednesday so I'll post more pics then.  Along with the Shamrock Shaped Pizza.

Irish Beef Hand Pies

This is a recipe I made last year around St.  Patrick's day.  I got it from Everyday Food magazine.  These freeze very well, so it's a good one to make extra's of and share with a friend.  Or if you're bringing a meal you can grab just the right amount, a single, double, or more serving.

Irish Beef Hand Pies

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded
1/2 pound red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
1 pound ground beef sirloin
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Coarse salt and ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for rolling
2 piecrusts (9 inches each), homemade or store-bought


1.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium; add cabbage and potatoes. Cook until beginning to brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Add beef; cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, Worcestershire, thyme, and 1 cup water. Cover, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Lightly mash mixture with a fork. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.

2.On a lightly floured work surface, roll each crust into a 14-inch square; cut each into 4 equal squares. Place 1/2 cup filling on one half of each square, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the filling. Brush borders with water; fold dough over filling to enclose. Crimp edges with a fork to seal. With a paring knife or scissors, cut 3 small vents in each.

3.Transfer pies to 2 foil-lined rimmed baking sheets; bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.

4.To Freeze: Prepare through step 2. Arrange unbaked pies on a baking sheet (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Wrap each pie in foil. Place in a resealable plastic bag; freeze up to 2 months.

5.To Bake from Frozen: Proceed with step 3, increasing baking time to 28 to 30 minutes.

Makes 8 pies

Shamrock Shake

This is a citrus-ey delicious shake.  Usually when I think Shamrock Shake, I think McDonalds.  And, they are very good, but I wanted to do something a little more fruity. 

equal parts of lime sorbet and vanilla ice cream.  Then throw in some milk to thin it a little bit.
Put it in the blender, mix it up and enjoy!

Here's the festive kid friendly version.

St. Patricks Day

Here's what I'm cooking up for St. Patricks day...

Shepherds Pie
Irish hand pies
Shamrock shaped Pizza
Green  Salad with green goddess salad dressing
Shamrock Shakes

We had Shepherds Pie when I was growing up, and I liked it, but it wasn't one of my favorite meals.  This recipe looks alot more appealing to the taste buds!  We'll see how my attempt for a green goddess salad dressing goes, and I've got a fun kid-friendly shamrock shake.  It's not your McDonalds shake... which are great, but not all kids like mint. 

I'll be posting recipe's and pictures as the weekend goes on.  I'll also post pictures of our celebration after the 17th, St. Paddy's day. 

Do you have any St. Patricks Day traditions?  Any favorite foods in honor of the day?  I'd love to hear from you, and please if you have a recipe share it with me!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Simply Delicious Smoothie

I love Smoothies!  Especially in the summer when all the fruit is so in season!  This is my simple smoothie, easy to make and super good!  This one happens to be Strawberry banana, but you can use any combination of fruit.  Sometimes I use a triple berry with frozen fruit, it just depends on my mood, or really, what I have in the house!

The ingredients:  vanilla yogurt, milk, fruit, and peanut butter. 
Now if you're not a peanut butter fan, just leave it out.

Start with some yogurt. 
Sorry, I don't measure, but you'll figure it out. 
the yogurt makes it creamy.

Add some milk. 



and a dollop of peanut butter for protein.
(I love p.butter, so if you don't, just leave it out)

blend it up.


Smoothies are great because they are so versatile!  As I mentioned, use any fruit you like, you can add a bit of fruit juice too.  You can add ice cubes, or frozen fruit, protein powder, and the list goes on. 

What's your favorite combo?  I'd love to hear from you!


Yummy Oatmeal

If you are not an oatmeal fan, I would encourage you to try this one!  Oatmeal is a staple at our house.  It's nutritious and delicious.  But, I have talked to many that are not big oatmeal fans, (mainly those who want something healthy and filling) and I remember I felt that way once too.  I never liked it as a kid, and never really thought about it til I was an adult.  The problem was the way it was being served.  So here's my take on oatmeal.

1 cup old fashioned oats (not quick cook)
1 3/4 cups water
handful + dried craisins (or raisins or dried cherries)
handful of walnuts (or pecans)
handful of raw sunflower seeds (raw are the most beneficial for you)
all natural vanilla yogurt

Combine the oats, craisins and water, and cook on high until it comes to a boil, then turn it down to lowheat.  Meanwhile, place in bowls:
nuts and seeds (I used pecans today)

a dollop of yogurt

Top it with the oatmeal and mix it all together.

The oatmeal cooks very quickly so this is great even on a rushed morning and it will stay with you.  The oatmeal is done when it's a bit thick, but not sticking to the pan.  In the summer I like to use fresh fruit.  Strawberries and pecans are a great combination.  In the fall I like to make the oatmeal with raisins, and add apples to the bowl with a dash of cinnamon.  Dried fruit is great to cook in the oats, because it sweetens it and the fruit plumps.  But fresh fruit is best in the bowl, not cooked.
I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cornmeal Blueberry Scones

I made these this morning.  They taste like spring!  Or maybe I'm so excited for spring I wanted them to taste that way.  The glaze is lime-ey and bright.  I got this recipe off of Noble pig.  A friend found this blog and sent it my way.  Now I check it regularly. 
These are unique for scones because you don't have to knead or roll them.  They're almost like a drop biscuit--so easy to make.

Cornmeal Blueberry Scones
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter; cut up
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1-1/2 teaspoons lime zest
1 cup frozen blueberries*
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Nonstick cooking spray
3 to 4 teaspoons lime juice
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons chopped almonds, toasted

In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter until flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the cornmeal mixture adding buttermilk, egg and lime zest. With a fork beat the egg and buttermilk until combined. Stir all the batter together just until moistened being careful not to overmix here. Toss frozen blueberries with cornstarch to coat; add to flour mixture. Stir gently 3 to 5 turns, just until berries are incorporated (do not overmix).
Using a large spoon, drop dough into 10 or 12 mounds on a large baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray, leaving 1" between mounds. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until tops are golden. Remove from tray immediately onto a cooling rack.
For icing, in a small bowl whisk enough lime juice into powdered sugar until drizzling consistency. Drizzle over warm scones. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve warm.
*Leave berries in the freezer until ready to toss with cornstarch.