A Magically Delicious St. Paddy’s Day

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Faith and Begorrah, March 17th is a mere two weeks away and soon people across the country will be parading around in shiny green hats and “Kiss Me I’m Irish” t-shirts, consuming mass quantities of green beer or shots of Jameson whiskey, and engaging in various festivities (or shenanigans) to celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. My good friend Kathy is three-quarters Irish, my daughter Meghan and grandson Dylan almost half and I know a slew of others whose ancestors hailed from the Emerald Isle. But, on St. Patrick’s Day it doesn’t really matter what nationality you are because everyone’s a Murphy, Kelly or Sullivan in spirit, right?

If you’d rather skip the pub scene and observe the holiday at home, consider inviting a few friends over for a traditional Irish meal of Corned Beef & Cabbage with Soda Bread, along with a pint of ale or a glass of limeade. You’ll want to save room for dessert, of course, and what could be more fitting than Guinness Cake! You may not be a fan of the bold stout, but this moist, mouthwatering and decadent chocolate confection with heavenly cream cheese frosting is sure to win you over!

Give these recipes a try and who knows? They may become a St. Patrick’s Day tradition!

Corned Beef Cabbage
Instead of dining out, enjoy a traditional Irish feast of Corned Beef & Cabbage at home!

Corned Beef & Cabbage 
Ingredients:
3 lbs. corned beef brisket
Water, to cover meat
2 tbsp. pickling spices
3 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. peppercorns
1 head cabbage
Directions: Place corned beef with all the seasonings in a large stockpot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. If not tender after 2 hours, keep checking at 15 minute intervals. Remove corned beef, save broth for cabbage. Cut cabbage into wedges, place in a large pan, cover with broth from the beef and simmer until tender. Keep cabbage warm in broth until needed. Serve corned beef and cabbage together with some boiled potatoes and carrots. Don’t forget the mustard!
Recipe courtesy of Food.com

Don’t care for corned beef? Check out this recipe for Irish Beef Stew

Irish Soda Bread 
Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted
Directions: Preheat oven to 325º F. Grease 9×5 inch loaf pan. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to flour mixture. Mix until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour in prepared pan. Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in bread comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Note: for better flavor, wrap in foil for several hours or overnight.

Chocolate Guinness Cake (Pictured at the top. The photo was taken by my friend Mary Haehn – she baked the cake too!)
Ingredients:
1 cup Guinness (stout beer)
10 tbsp. (1 stick + 2 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups superfine (granulated) sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
Topping:
1-1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Directions: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside. In a large saucepan, heat Guinness and butter on medium-low heat until butter melts. Remove from the heat; whisk in sugar and cocoa until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Combine flour and baking soda; whisk into beer mixture until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until risen and firm, about 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan. Remove sides of pan. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and cream; beat until smooth and spreadable (do not over-beat). Remove cake from the pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Spread icing on top of cake so it resembles a frothy pint of beer. Refrigerate leftovers, it there are any.
Nigella Lawson’s recipe from NYTimes.com

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I’m a wee bit Scotch-Irish and although I have no idea what that means, you can bet your blarney stone I’ll be wearing green on March 17th!

Tasty Ways to Start Your Day

Tasty Ways to Start Your Day

Everyone from moms to nutrition experts contend we should start the day with a good, hearty breakfast. Yeah, well, I work full-time so most mornings I’ll just have a cup of coffee and a piece of toast or a small carton of yogurt, which I tend to scarf down as I head out the door. I realize that’s not enough to sustain me until lunch, but with everything I need to do to get ready in the morning (shower, dress, style my hair, put on makeup), I don’t really have time to whip up an omelet or some fancy fruit smoothie. My husband usually makes pancakes from a mix or pops a frozen waffle in the toaster. Sometimes he’ll eat leftover cake or pie (I swear, the guy could live on desserts!). Bottom line: we don’t put a lot of thought and effort into our morning meal during the week.

That’s why we look forward to Saturday, when we can indulge in more satisfying breakfast fare like homemade pancakes or waffles with sausage, some kind of eggs with ham, or French toast with bacon. We don’t worry about calories (often times we skip lunch anyway) and we take time to savor every bite.

My specialty is scrambled eggs. I like to spice mine up with a little cheddar cheese, green chiles and a dash of cayenne, or add ingredients like ground turkey, roasted peppers (I buy them frozen), onions, mushrooms and spinach to give them more flavor and texture. My husband gets in the act with his own French toast concoction. Not to brag or anything, but I have to say our breakfast creations are pretty flippin’ delicious!

The proof is in the pudding (or in this case, the batter?). I’ve included a few of my favorite recipes to tantalize your taste buds.

Tasty waffles
Homemade waffles taste exceptionally good with whipped cream and select berries.

Grandma Vi’s Buttermilk Waffles (Worth all time and effort, believe me!)
Ingredients:
2 eggs (beat whites separately)
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour (scant)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup melted butter
Directions: In large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients and set aside. In large bowl, beat egg yolks thoroughly with a whisk. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk to egg yolks and beat. Add 1/2 cup sifted dry ingredients and rest of buttermilk and whisk together. Mix in rest of dry ingredients (do not overmix). Stir in melted butter. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter with a rubber spatula. Pre-heat waffle iron and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle about 1/3 cup of batter onto each section of the waffle iron (be careful not to overfill). Close lid and cook about 3 or 5 minutes, until steaming stops and waffles are crisp and golden. Place waffles on cookie sheet in warm oven until ready to serve. Top with butter and maple syrup, or whipped cream and fresh berries.

Casserole with sausage, bacon and apples in a pumpkin sauce

Sausage & Cheese Strata (A great make-ahead dish for brunch!)
Ingredients:
12 eggs
12 slices white bread (torn into bite size pieces)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I use sharp cheddar)
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
3-1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped onion
1 lb. pork sausage, crumbled
1 cup chopped green pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 350°. Brown sausage in a large skillet, pour grease from pan and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, mustard, salt and ground pepper. Stir in bread, cheese, sausage, onion and green pepper; pour mixture into greased 13″x9″ baking pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake uncovered for 75 minutes or until set. Variation: Substitute 1-1/2 cups cubed ham for sausage.

Country-Style French Toast (Extra spices turn a basic recipe into something magnifique!)
Ingredients:
Loaf of French bread, sliced or 8 slices of white bread, slightly dry
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
2/3 cup milk
Butter
Directions: Whisk eggs in a wide shallow bowl. Stir in rest of ingredients and mix until well-blended. Heat griddle or skillet coated with a thin layer of butter on low or medium heat. Add bread slices to egg mixture, one at a time, coating both sides (do not soak). Place bread slices on griddle/skillet and heat slowly until each side is golden brown. Serve warm with butter and maple syrup or sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serves 4.

You’ll find hundreds of enticing breakfast recipes on Pinterest.

Bon appétit!