Monthly Archives: January 2013

Shepherd’s Pie

I have spent the past 18 days in a vastly different way than I had anticipated. The day after Christmas my dad, the original creator of Orts of Sorts, had a massive stroke. The first 5 days I spent a great deal of time in his room and by his side. On the 7th day they moved him into a rehab hospital. I have visited him daily, and some days multiple times. The object of being at the rehab hospital is intensive rehabilitative therapy so I (as well as my entire family) am allowing him is three to four hours of therapy a day. He is doing physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
The reason I am sharing this information is that I have all but stopped cooking at home. I spend my free time with my dad, or helping my mom. I hope to get into a rhythm or flow to do the things that I was previously doing (writing, reading, spending time with my girls) and still have ample time to spend with my dad. I have been working on achieving this balance over the last 10 days. I have no doubts that it will happen.

The major baking product that I have undertaken recently was on New Year’s Eve. I wanted to re-direct the focus of my household to a positive event. I made Shepherd’s Pie, as it was one of The Hubs favorite dishes from Ireland. I looked at numerous recipes online and found one that seemed the most similar to what he had enjoyed. I took the opportunity to teach Daughter Number 2 how to make homemade mashed potatoes, which may have been a mistake. She is a freak for mashed potatoes. She has made them three times since.

I followed the recipe exactly, using beef and not lamb. Everyone in the house (who can eat ground meat) loved this dish. It is absolutely 100% guaranteed to be made again. With no changes. It’s hard to improve on perfection! The Hubs wasn’t convinced that he would eat much if any. He didn’t feel into it. I’m sure he was thinking about when we took my parents to Ireland last fall. He did manage to sit down and eat a serving of the Shepherd’s Pie. Then another. And yet, another. I think that is a pretty good sign that he liked it. Another sign is the very simple fact that we ate it heated up for leftovers, and still enjoyed it! I recommend this recipe to anyone who wants to taste what a traditional Irish Shepherd’s Pie tastes like. The only side dish I served was crusty bread. That’s all it needed!
I will be cooking and baking again soon so look forward to some great recipes. I will keep you informed of Dad’s progress during rehab. I am convinced all of this will be exciting!

With positive expectation~

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Posted by on January 13, 2013 in Uncategorized


Christmas Eve 2012

Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House

It really seems like just yesterday that I was writing my post for December 24th, 2011. So much has happened in the past 365 days!
What’s happening today is that I am spending time with my 2 littlest angels and finishing up on my holiday baking (and other holiday preps). I have my Gingerbread house drying on a rack. I have Tiger Butter and Peppermint Bark hardening. Yes, this Christmas is going to be good!

Tiger Butter• 8 ounces white chocolate or white almond bark
• ½ cup creamy peanut butter
• 8 ounces semi-sweet or milk chocolate

Line an 8 X 8 or 7 X 11 pan with waxed paper. In a glass bowl, melt the white chocolate in the microwave on medium-low power at 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds until it is completely melted. Stir in the peanut butter. Pour the peanut butter mixture into the prepared pan. Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave, as above. Pour the chocolate over the peanut butter mixture in three rows. Take a clean table knife and run it gently down each of the three row, in alternating directions. Wipe the knife clean and then run the knife back and forth across the chocolate lines, in alternating directions to make a marble or “tiger stripe” pattern. Let cool to room temperature and cut or break into squares or pieces.

The Tiger Butter was a huge hit, especially with The Hubs! (That’s always a good thing).
I moved on to making Peppermint Bark. I have always wanted to try it, as I look forward every year to buying it at Christmas Time. I didn’t really follow a recipe. I like the Ghirardelli Peppermint with Dark Chocolate Bark, so I thought I would emulate that.

Peppermint Bark

8 ounces dark chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package of white almond bark
½ cup crushed peppermint candy canes

Line an 8 X 8 or 7 X 11 pan with waxed paper. In the bowl of a food processor, place unwrapped candy canes, and pulse several times until they are chopped fine, but not powdery. In a glass bowl, melt the dark chocolate in the microwave on medium-low power at 30 second intervals, stirring after each 30 seconds until it is completely melted. Pour into the prepared pan. Melt the white bark in a glass bowl in the microwave, as above. Add ½ of the chopped candy canes to the almond bark and stir until it is well mixed. Pour the almond bark over the chocolate. Let cool slightly and sprinkle the remaining candy canes over the top. Let cool to room temperature and cut or break into pieces. Store in a covered container.

Last baking task of Christmas Eve 2012 was to make and decorate a Gingerbread house. This year’s house was maybe my all-time favorite! I used pastel colored candies instead of traditional red and green. I found some interesting rope marshmallows that we trimmed to line the front and back, used wafer candies on the roof and a candy necklace we cut apart as ‘lights’. The girls and I had such a good time baking and decorating it.

What a great way to spend our Christmas Eve!

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Posted by on January 3, 2013 in Uncategorized