Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St Patrick's Day

You all know by now that I'm a Notre Dame alum proud of her Irish heritage.  So of course St. Patty's Day is a celebration in my family!  My dad loved Corned Beef and Cabbage, but I'm just not a fan, so I normally make something different.  This year was especially fun because with two toddlers, we got to have a Leprechaun Hunt in our house, and when everyone arrived home from school and work, we found a big mess left by our little prankster...and some of his treasure!  It looked like he ran off in a hurry, so perhaps we scared him off when we opened the garage door!  So, we enjoyed a festive Irish meal with some of our leprechaun's abandoned treasure (chocolate "golden" coins) for dessert.  I hope you love this meal as much as we did!  Slainte!


Irish Soda Bread
Guinness Chocolate Cheesecake


Irish Stew

Having graduated from Notre Dame and having some Irish heritage in my family roots, St Patrick's Day is cause for celebration in my house.  Normally I whip up a Shepherd's Pie, but this year I wanted to do something a little bit different.  I'm not a big fan of corned beef and cabbage, and I remember a fabulous Irish Stew that I had in Cork when I visited Ireland years ago.  This year I did some research and found this fabulous recipe.  My husband gobbled up the leftovers before I could holler "Blarney!" so I guess I'll just have to make it again!!

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound sirloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 onion, coarsely chopped 
3 carrots, coarsely chopped 
1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 325.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot, and brown the meat, stirring to brown the cubes on all sides. Sprinkle with flour, and stir lightly to coat with flour. Stir in onion, carrots, dark beer, bay leaves, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil, and cover.

Place the Dutch oven into the preheated oven, and cook until the beef is very tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 45 minutes.

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.

Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mash the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.

To serve, place a scoop of colcannon onto a plate, make a hollow, and fill with braised beef stew.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Colcannon

3 slices bacon
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/4 cup milk, warmed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Place the bacon in a large, deep skillet, and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Drain the bacon slices on a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon and set aside.

Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a minute or two.

Place the potatoes into a large bowl, and add milk, butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Mash the potatoes with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Stir in the crumbled bacon, and parsley until well combined.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Parmesan Steak Fries

I've tried making French fries before.  While tasty, they didn't have the right crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside texture for my liking.  And, I'll be honest, when it comes to fries, I tend to prefer the smaller shoestring variety than large steakhouse styles.  Until I made these.  Not only are they super easy, but they're incredibly versatile.  There are endless ways to change the flavors and seasonings to fit just about any meal.  And let's face it, when you're serving a steak dinner, big wedges of potato are a whole lot more sophisticated than a side of fries!  Serve these with your favorite dipping sauce or a dollop of flavored butter....or eat them plain.  The world is your oyster; enjoy!

3 large egg whites
3 baking potatoes
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the egg whites into a shallow dish.  Wash the potatoes and cut each into 6 long spears.  Add to the egg whites and turn to coat.  Place the parmesan in a separate shallow dish.

One at a time, remove the potato spears from the egg whites, allowing the excess to drip off.  Roll the spear in the parmesan, coating each spear evenly on all sides.  Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake, without turning, until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from Great Food Fast by Martha Stewart Living.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Long Life Noodles

Long life noodles are served at Chinese New Year celebrations as well as birthday meals; tradition says that if you break (or cut) one of these noodles, you'll have bad luck.  Regardless, the peanuty sauce and crispy veggies are the perfect accompaniment to most main courses.  I served these with a teriyaki-marinated salmon filets, but they'd be just as yummy as a bed for shrimp or scallops...or the protein of your choice really.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 pound soba noodles or spaghetti
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/4 cup minced cilantro

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Stir constantly until the peanut butter melts.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the snow peas, carrots, red bell pepper, and scallions.

Cook the noodles until al dente in a large pot of boiling water.  Stir the noodles into the vegetable mixture and add the peanut sauce.  Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.

Serves 6-8.

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Garlic Broccoli

I love broccoli!  So when I made a Chinese New Year themed meal and was searching for recipes for something green (come on, I'm a mom, and every meal needs a veggie!) I was so excited to find this.  The green color brightens any dish, and the crispy texture is the perfect compliment to fluffy fried rice.  Leave out the crushed red pepper flakes if you're serving this to the kiddos, it's a bit spicy, even for adult palates!

1 tablespoon canola oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound broccoli florets
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the canola oil over medium-low heat in a wok or large skillet.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, allowing them to infuse the oil for 3-4 minutes.  Increase the heat to medium and add the broccoli.  Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.  Add stock, soy sauce, and pepper.  Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, until broccoli is tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated.

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crispy Orange Beef

I like Chinese take-out (who doesn't!?) but I'm not a fan of that gross uber-full feeling I have every time I eat it.  However, given that Chinese New Year is this week, and I was having a slight craving for some sweet and sour chicken, I decided to make this dish at home.  My husband likes the beef options better, and I wanted something on the spicy side.  Enter this fabulous dish.  It was just the perfect combination of sweet and spicy, making it the perfect marriage for take-out that was cooked-in!  Enjoy over a pile of white rice (mine looks a little brown because I cooked it in beef stock).  Don't forget the fortune cookies!

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, cut into thin strips, or use "stew" beef like I did
1/3 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons honey
4 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
1 cup canola oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
zest and juice of 1 orange
8 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced for garnish
white rice, for serving

Toss beef with cornstarch to evenly coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  While the meat is chilling, combine soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin sauce, honey, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and water.  Set aside.

In a wok or heavy skillet, heat the canola oil.  Fry the beef in batches until browned, about 3 minutes per batch.  Remove to paper towels to drain.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons oil from the wok.  Heat the oil over medium heat and add the garlic, ginger, orange zest and juice, and scallions.  Stir fry for 5 minutes.  Add the beef and stir in the reserved sauce.  Raise the heat to medium-high and stir until sauce thickens.  Serve over steamed rice with the orange slices on top.

Serves 4.

Recipe adapted from The Comfort Table, by Katie Lee.
 Ms. enPlace