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Monthly Archives: March 2014

St. Patrick’s Day Feast 2014

St. Patrick’s Day Feast 2014

I’m super excited to write about what I did to celebrate my favorite holiday! Being of Irish ancestry, along with 56 Million other Americans, I have always celebrated St. Patrick’s (Padraig, if you’re hardcore) Day with flourish and enthusiasm. Since early in my life I have not attended school (grade school, high school, college) or work on St. Patrick’s Day. This was no exception.

I had planned my menu on the 16th to prepare for St. Patrick’s Day. I would be making Shepherd’s Pie, Boiled Cabbage, Soda Bread, and dessert. Alright, I hadn’t chosen dessert yet, but I wanted to find something “authentic”. I finally found what sounded like a good dessert to accompany our meal: Apple Amber. Not a fancy dish or one that plays off of any Irish beverages.

I used the Shepherd’s Pie recipe that I had found last year and have made several times. I did use lamb in it this time, which made the Hubs very happy. I didn’t eat much, as I prefer not to eat lamb. He said it was the best I’d ever made and I should only ever make it with lamb. Well, it would keep from eating it…so that might be a good thing!

Daughter Number Two does not eat red meat, and gave up all meat (anything with a face) for Lent, so she volunteered to make the mashed potatoes to top the Shepherd’s Pie so she could make a large bunch in order to ensure she had something to eat. She peeled and mashed 5 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, by hand. That’s what I call dedication.

I invited my mother down for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I’m so glad we invited her and even happier that she came. We had a great time around the table, laughing and reminiscing about our trip to Ireland. The dinner was delicious (don’t tell my mom it was lamb) and the dessert was something I will definitely try again!

I found this recipe along with some history here…

http://www.europeancuisines.com/Ireland-Desserts-Apple-Amber-Tart-Meringue-Pie

Apple Amber

  • Pastry dough for a single-crust pie
  • 4 cooking apples, totaling about 1 pound, cored and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Juice of one lemon, strained
  • 3 large eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus 3 Tablespoons

First, prepare the pie crust in a suitable pie dish. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Grate the apples on a coarse grater (or the grating disc of a food processor). Add the 2 tablespoons of water to a small heavy pot, heat until steaming, add the apples, and cook over medium heat until the grated apple reduces itself to a puree. (The apple bits do not have to completely disappear into the puree. It’s all right to leave some texture.) Remove from heat.

Beat the egg yolks slightly. Add the lemon and 1/2 cup of the sugar to the apple puree: then add the egg, and stir well. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and bake for twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, start beating the egg whites, adding the remaining sugar gradually as you continue beating. Whip until stiff peaks form. When the pie has had its first twenty minutes in the oven, remove it and spread the meringue over the top of the pie, sealing it to the edges of the crust. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes, or until nicely browned.

As I said, I will make the Apple Amber again. I didn’t cook the apples long enough. Other than that it had a delightful taste and the meringue turned out perfectly!

We had some Guinness with dinner and some Irish coffees with / for dessert. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our Irish Heritage!

Slainté!

 

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Posted by on March 23, 2014 in recipe

 

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Lenten Journey – One Pot Wonders

On my Lenten journey I have discovered a couple of easy weeknight meals. I’m going to call them “one-pot” wonders, because they can be made (mostly) in one pot. Or at the very least, without dirtying a kitchen full of dishes!
Both of these were called successes by Daughters 3 and 4. I don’t think there was enough meat in either one of them for The Hubs, who also called them ‘bland’. I find that to be a knee-slapper considering he doesn’t like things too spicy!
The first dish is a quick and easy fried rice. I literally threw this together in under 30 minutes! I had some leftover pork loin and leftover rice that needed to be used. I’m glad they didn’t go to waste.

Pork Fried Rice

  • ½ Tablespoon Sesame oil
  • 8 ounces leftover lean pork loin (or chop), diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 – 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups leftover (or cold) rice
  • 1 Tablespoon Hoisin
  • 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add pork, peas and carrots, and green onions. Cook until carrots start to soften, stirring to prevent sticking or burning, about 10 minutes. Push pork and vegetables to one side of the skillet and add beaten egg to the empty part of the skillet. Toss egg gently to scramble. As the egg sets, add the pork mixture into the egg mixture. Add the rice, Hoisin, soy sauce, garlic and ginger the pan. Toss gently to mix, continuing to stir gently for 5-10 minutes until the egg is set and all of the ingredients are combined thoroughly. Reduce heat and continue to toss gently until everything is heated through.

The next one-pot wonder is a quick chicken dish. I didn’t use leftover chicken breast, but that would have cut down on prep time and cook time!

Chicken and Asparagus Pasta Toss

  • 12-16 ounces uncooked pasta (rotini, penne, shells, bow ties)
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into small pieces
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, snapped and cut into about 2” pieces
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese

In a large dutch oven cook pasta. Drain pasta and set aside. Add olive oil to dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and uncooked chicken. Saute until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add cooked chicken to a bowl or dish with cooked pasta. Set aside. Add chicken broth and minced garlic to dutch oven. Add asparagus spears and cover with a lid. Boil gently until crisp tender. Remove asparagus to bowl with pasta and chicken. Add pepper, salt, and parmesan cheese and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
This goes well with a crusty bread and green salad.

I am enjoying my journey thus far, and hope you are sticking to your own Lenten pledges. Look forward to more of my journey in the days and weeks to come!

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

A New Food Journey

A New Food Journey

I would love to be sharing some fabulous food making adventures with you during this post. Alas, that is not the case.

I have been travelling so much for work, family, and fun that I have done very little cooking since Valentine’s Day, and even less ‘new’ cooking or baking.

What I am sharing with you today is what I have given up for Lent. I have given up eating out for Lent. One might think this means that I am not going to be travelling. Not so, friends. Not so. In fact I have already had one small business trip just this past week. I made sure to pack food for my breakfasts, lunches, and suppers. It was harder than I had anticipated. I am so wired to eating out when I am on the road that it was a real effort to NOT stop and pick up something for breakfast, even though I had eaten before I left the house (3:30 in the morning) and packed a second breakfast – knowing my destination was a 4 ½ hour drive. I passed by a total of 7 Golden Arches on my morning journey. I did allow myself to stop at a coffee place mid-way through my drive (I had already consumed both of the 16 ounce cups I had brewed to take), but did not get any food items, just a black coffee. Lunch wasn’t so bad, because I was not going to leave where I was working to drive to lunch. I just ate my pre-packed lunch with the employees at the facility. Supper was another story. As soon as I got back in my car I started thinking about what I was going to have for dinner. What was on the way to the hotel? What was close to the hotel? Then my brain did a Homer Simpson “DOH”. I would be eating in my hotel room from what I had pre-packed. That worked. I like the food I packed. It was just a different routine.

The next morning my breakfast was a bit of a challenge. I usually have smoothies for breakfast at home. I add the various fruits, veggies, and milk together, and with my Magic Bullet (did you use the accent?) whip up a lovely little breakfast. Ah, but at home I don’t get annoyed with the hum of the mini-fridge in the middle of the night and get up to turn it down, only to discover in the morning that I have turned it to Sub-Zero. Everything was frozen. The almond milk was frozen. The blueberries were frozen. My baby spinach was frozen into a solid mass. Thank goodness I had not put my bananas in the fridge, and I had brought PB2! I was able to thaw the milk in hot water in the sink. It worked out just fine.

There were no hiccups with the food on the rest of the trip and I am thrilled to say that I am feeling fantastic about my decision. I will definitely keep you up to date on the progress and hopefully be able to share some amazing new recipes with you as I go down this journey. Wish me luck!

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Almond Joy Cheesecake

Almond Joy Cheesecake

Valentine’s Day and Snow days really wiped me out! So much so that I’m just getting around to sharing the rest of the fantastic-ness that was Valentine’s Day weekend.

I wanted to make a fabulous dinner for the family to show them how much I love them, and just how much they mean to me. Nothing says love like high fat and outrageous calorie food! I decided to try my hand at lobster tails. I decided that broiled was the way to go. It was so easy and they were SO delicious! If it weren’t for the cost of lobster, I would be making these every week! I also took this opportunity to clarify butter; another first for me. It was also easy. In fact, it was so easy that I had Daughter Number Three do most of it for me. She was thrilled.

lobster

For dessert, I had found a recipe in the “Mother Wonderful’s Cheesecakes” book that I had purchased in November. It was a recipe for “Almond Joy” Cheesecake. I made a few changes to the recipe and what I came away with was a simply divine and almost overly decadent dessert! It is with great “Joy” that I share this recipe with you.

Almond Joy Cheesecake

Crust

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar

Filling

  • 3-8 ounce packages cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Salt, pinch
  •  4 larges eggs

Topping

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds
  • Shaved chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For crust, melt butter in in a microwave proof measuring cup. Combine melted butter with cooked crumbs and sugar in a food processor or bowl until thoroughly blended. Press small amounts of crumb mix all the way up the sides of an ungreased 10-inch springform pan and then press remaining crumb mix over bottom of pan.
For filling, whip cream cheese with hand mixer (or in a stand mixer) on the highest speed for 5 minutes, then add sugar and beat for 2 minutes more. Add extract and slt and blend together thoroughly. Add the eggs, one at a time, keeping the mixer on the lowest speed in order to prevent too much air from destroying the proper consistency of the batter; mix just until each egg has been incorporated into the batter. Pour batter into crust and bake in preheated oven. Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on cooling rack for 10 minutes while your prepare the glaze.
For topping, combine sour cream, sugar, and extract with a rubber spatula in in a glass bowl. Spread evenly and smoothly over top of baked filling. Sprinkle with coconut, almonds, and return to oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately place in refrigerator to cool. When cooled, add shaved pieces of semi-sweet chocolate. Remove from springform pan to a platter. Serve cold.

This was well received by everyone who tried it. It was definitely one of the richest cheesecakes I have ever made, and possibly ever eaten. It is definitely one I will make again, but only for special occasions!

Please take the opportunity to try this morsel for a special occasion of your own!

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2014 in recipe

 

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