St. Patrick’s Day Meal

Kilkenney Castle, Ireland

Kilkenney Castle, Ireland

I haven’t posted a food blog in a long while. So, I thought I’d share here what I made for dinner last night.

My husband is the one in our family that has the Irish “blood” in him. His maternal grandmother has Irish ancestors. Ever since we visited Ireland three years ago, we’ve enjoyed celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

I usually make Irish stew (with lamb not beef) and soda bread. This year, I saw a recipe for Colcannon, an authentic Irish dish. Though my son, who lived there for three months, doesn’t think he ever had it. Our usual dessert is Pavlova. No, it is not Irish. It is from New Zealand, named for a Russian ballerina. However, our first evening in Ireland, the cooks for the students made it for us parents. So, to us, it represents Ireland.

For the Colcannon, I list the amount of the ingredients I used. The recipe I used did not include amounts. What I made served four.

3 medium-sized potatoes

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 head cabbage, sliced thin

4 stalks Kale, roughly chopped

6 oz corned beef, cubed or sliced thin

Peel and boil the potatoes. Roughly mash with a little butter, milk, salt, pepper. Set aside. In a large pot (or same one you used to boil the potatoes), cook the onion in 1 tbls oil. When translucent, add the cabbage and Kale. Cook until wilted. Add the corned beef. Cook until warmed up. Add the potatoes and combine well. Add more salt and pepper to suit.

The delicious Pavlova.

The delicious Pavlova.

For the Pavlova recipe, you can go here for the recipe.

Those are my thoughts for today. Slainte!

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Christmas Cookie Tuesday #3–Mini-Kisses Thumbprint Cookies

I was ready for something chocolate-y. So, I decided to make these thumbprint cookies. They satisfied that chocolate craving just right.

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The dough is a mixture of butter and sugar and chocolate yumminess.

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Roll the dough into little balls, roll in sugar, and then put your thumb through the middle. Now the impression will puff up some when they bake. So, I just press it back down after coming out of the oven (be careful because it can burn your finger!)

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The recipe calls for miniature Kisses to be used. I couldn’t find any this year. I found Christmas-colored chocolate chips and used those instead. You could use a regular-sized Kiss, chopped Andes mints, or any other fun morsel that you’d like. I also did not color the frosting. I like the contrast with just white.

The recipe for these can be found here.

Week #1–Frosted Creams (molasses cookies)

Week #2–Melt-in-your-mouth Nut Strudel

Next week–Norwegian style sour-cream twists (I’m making these for a cookie exchange that I am hosting with my tennis-playing girlfriends.)

Those are my thoughts for today.

Christmas Cookie Tuesday #2–Melt-in-your-mouth Nut Strudel

What could be better than a cookie dough made of cream cheese and butter? Not much in my book except possibly chocolate.

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Melt-in-your-mouth Nut Strudel cookies are not that difficult to make considering they require rolling up dough. That is probably the most difficult part, but not so much to warrant not making these yummy cookies.

The dough has only four ingredients and is easily put together in a mixer. Then refrigerate and roll out. It can be a stiff dough to roll out, but just consider the muscles you are building while doing it.

DSCN5877The filling needs to be completely cooled before putting on the dough. Otherwise, it’ll melt the dough and make a mess. Believe me, I’ve done it! Also, make sure the pecans or walnuts are chopped fine. I didn’t do that this year and each bite had nuts falling into my lap.

My family loves these and they rarely stay around for too long. I’ve been making Melt-in-your-mouth Nuts Strudels since before my kids were born (so for over 21 years). I can’t remember where I got the recipe, but it looks like I cut it out of a magazine.

You can find the recipe here. Enjoy and let me know if you make them and what you think.

Last week’s cookie: Frosted Creams

Next week’s cookie: Mini-Kisses Thumbprint Cookies

Those are my thoughts for today.

Christmas Cookie Tuesday #1

I love making Christmas goodies. For some reason, I really like to bake during this time of year. Normally, I don’t like to bake. I don’t think I’m very good at it. I make pretty good pies and decent cookies, but that is about it. I really don’t have patience for baking. And the need to be precise is something that is difficult for me too. But making Christmas goodies brings out the baker in me for some reason.

So, for the next few weeks leading up to Christmas, I am going to post some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes on Tuesdays. I’ll feature one cookie each week. As always, the recipes can be found under the header “Recipes.” I’ll link to them for you also, so you can easily print them out.

Yummy molasses cookies–Frosted Creams

This week is Frosted Creams. I have no idea why they are called that. They aren’t frosted (or iced). These cookies were passed down from my grandmother. My mom made them and now I’ve been making them for years. The recipe may have been passed down to my grandma, too.

They are a soft molasses cookie. They are best if you roll them out a little thick. If you want a crisper cookie, roll them out thinner. I’m partial to soft cookies, so I like them thick.

We make these around Thanksgiving. I usually cut them out in pumpkin and turkey shapes. Those are large cookie cutters, so for some smaller cookies, I use a gingerbread man and a cat cutter.

My 18-year-old daughter loves these cookies and for the past few years, she has made them for us. It’s  fun to think about passing this recipe on down to her as the fourth (or more) generation to make these cookies.

Hope you enjoy them!

Next week: Melt-in-your-mouth Nut Strudel

Those are my thoughts for today.

My thrown-together bean soup

Do you ever have those times when you go to the pantry looking for some creativity? Maybe you have items in the pantry you need to use up, so you throw something together. The other night, I had both of those dilemmas. I was bored with the usual dinner stuff and went to my pantry looking to see what I had that maybe I needed to use up.

I found partial bags of dried kidney beans, great northern beans, and lentils. Now those dried beans won’t go bad anytime soon, but I knew they’d been in there for awhile, so maybe it was time to use them up. My mind started whirling and I came up with the idea to make soup with them.

I wanted it to be a bean and veggie soup. So after soaking the kidney and northern beans overnight. I put them plus the lentils into my crock pot. Next, I went to the refrigerator to see what I could add. OK, carrots and celery would be good. Then, to the freezer….how about corn and green beans. I would have liked to add peas, but we didn’t have any. I wanted something else and went back to the pantry and found two cans of diced tomatoes. I added those, juice and all. Next seasonings, how about thyme, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. I had 1 1/2 boxes of chicken broth and poured those in. Turned the crock pot on low and let it cook all day long.

As the day went on, it was smelling so good. But at about 4:00, I had another brilliant idea. I needed to add some pasta. Aha, I had a box of small shells. I cooked up half of the box and added that to the pot along with the water because there didn’t seem to be enough liquid. At 6:30, we were ready to eat. I had made some crescent rolls to go along with our bowls of thrown-together soup.

To pat myself on the back, I think it was rather tasty. Don’t ask me for measurements of the items I put in. I have no idea. I was throwing things together and not being precise. My husband thought it needed a little more seasoning. It seemed fine to me.

I think I could do this with less broth and add smoked sausage or hot dogs to make a meat and bean dish. But, personally, I liked it without meat.

So, go ahead. Head for your pantry or ‘fridge and throw something together tonight. If you do, share with me what you did. I love the creativity of cooking.

Those are my thoughts for today.

What I made for Sunday night dinner

We’ve started a little new tradition in our household – Sunday evening family time. We have a good meal together and then play a board game or cards.

I requested we start this tradition because with grown kids it is hard to find time to spend together (even when they are still living in our home). To purposefully plan something is important in our busy family. We include each of our kids “others” on purpose in hopes they feel a part of the family.

A couple of times, we’ve started in the afternoon by going bowling or to a park to throw the Frisbee around and play bocce.

Last week, we included our son’s girlfriend’s parents and brother. We had fun teaching them Liverpool rummy—a game I grew up playing.

Yesterday, I had dueling crock pots going. In one, I made apple butter ribs from the Crock Pot Girl and in the other my favorite baked beans. I also made spiced pumpkin buttermilk biscuits from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen and for dessert, Nutella Krispie Treats from the Pioneer Woman. It was a scrumptious meal followed by a game of Chinese Checkers.

Here are links to each of the recipes:

Crock Pot Apple Butter Ribs

Five Bean Casserole

Spiced Pumpkin Buttermilk Biscuits

Yes, my family had eaten half of the pan before I could take a picture of them!

Nutella Krispie Treats

Those are my thoughts for today!

Cashew, Blueberry, Whole-Wheat Pancakes

When we lived in Kansas City, we had a favorite breakfast spot–First Watch. My favorite item there was their Cashew Blue Pancakes. A couple of weeks ago, when my husband and I went to Chicago, we went to breakfast at West Egg Cafe and they had Cashew Blueberry Pancakes, also.

That got me to thinking, why haven’t I tried to make these myself? I have a very good whole-wheat pancake recipe, all I’d need to do would be to add chopped cashews and blueberries. One of those hit- yourself-on-the-forehead and say “duh” moments.

So, I did! The recipe is here.

Pancake mix with chopped cashews in it. The blueberries waiting to be added on the griddle.

Blueberries added–looking good! I like adding the blueberries when the batter is on the griddle to keep the batter from turning blue.

 

The finished batch waiting for the family to come and eat them.

My plate. They were so good.

Those are my thoughts for today.

 

Pasta with Corn, Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Bacon

This is one of those recipes that I tweaked. The original used zucchini instead of green beans and had a cream-based sauce. I have gotten so that I like pasta with lots of vegies and little or no sauce. So, I eliminated the cream sauce.

You can find the recipe here.

You don’t have to cook this much sweat corn for this pasta. I did so that I could freeze some.

Yummy green beans. Sadly there weren’t any fresh available at the farmer’s stand I visited.

Cooking it all together.

The pasta fully assembled….looking good!

Let’s eat!

Those are my thoughts for today.

 

 

 

 

Edamame Asian Salad

Last week, my husband had meetings in Chicago and I went along to be able to spend some more time with him. While he was at his meetings, I walked the Magnificent Mile and then went to the Corner Bakery for lunch. We had had breakfast there and I had spied some salads that looked yummy for lunch. So back I went. They also had outdoor seating and it was a beautiful day to sit outside and read while eating lunch. I got a combination of three different salads. One was an Asian edamame salad. It was very tasty, so I decided to try and make it at home. It turned out great.

You can find the recipe here.

Frozen edamame, thawed

 

Add chopped cucumber

 

Then, shredded carrots. I used pre-shredded carrots.

 

Fresh basil from my garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sliced green onions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished with dressing

 

Time to eat this yummy salad

The recipe for this Asian edamame salad can be found here. Let me know if you try it and what you think.

Those are my thoughts for today.

‘Tis the season for fresh produce

My husband paid a visit to his favorite farm market stand yesterday. It is on the route he takes back from Indianapolis. Several years ago, he was going up to our state capital at least once if not twice a week. It became routine for him to stop at this roadside market to pick up fresh produce for us.

Over the years, I’ve become very picky about produce. I like fresh, in-season items. They are just better tasting. I tried having a vegetable garden for three years. The first year, I had wonderful luck and got plenty of tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, and green peppers. The next year, the zucchini is all the garden seemed to produce. The third year, I pared back to just tomatoes and had minimal luck. So, the garden was tilled up and turned into an herb and rose garden.

Because I could get fresh produce easily at our local weekly farmers market and with my husband’s stops at his favorite place, we have been able to purchase local, fresh, in-season strawberries, blueberries, peaches, watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, sweet corn, etc. Yum! My mouth is watering already.

To me, there is nothing better than the food this time of year. I love to make salads, pies, and grill out.  Memorial Day is considered the start of summer and with my husband’s purchases today, I’m ready to start my summer cooking.

Those are my thoughts for today.