Wednesday, March 20, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Celebration

K, we have gagged down a lot of green food over the years in honor of some silly, little leprechaun.  Green waffles, green milk and lots of green pasta in green sauce.  Gets old!  Last year for dinner I made meatloaf with cheesy scalloped potatoes that looked like gold coins, green veggies and green salad and that was definitely an improvement of sorts.  But this year I decided I wanted to try some authentic Irish recipes and create a new tradition......

Well, with the big birthday party on the actual holiday and me being completely sleep deprived from sewing all of those aprons, we celebrated a little bit late.  Gotta admit, I was tempted to just take a pass, but my kids kept wondering when the Leprechaun was coming to mess up our home and leave little gold coins.  And they kept talking about our traditional breakfast of green belgian waffles with banana "coins" and it made me feel good to know that all of these silly things I do sometimes really do create fun memories for them, no matter how small and goofy they may seem at the time.

So, today we enjoyed our traditional green breakfast and after school all of the kiddos came home and raced around to find all of the cold coins hidden in the mess of disturbed pillows, knocked over pictures frames and such.

Then, I made green apple smoothies!!!  
This has been a family joke for a long time because of  
Seriously, if you haven't watched these, go now!  Hilarious.  
We make lots of smoothies after school and the kids have been asking me to create a green apple one.  So, I found a recipe and made a few modifications.  Sooo yummy!!!  But don't let your kids see the ingredients or watch you make it, because it's made with spinach!  And will make them strong!  (Trust me, this will be much funnier if you watch the episode!)

Green Apple Smoothie
1 banana, cut in chunks
1 cup green grapes
6 oz. vanilla low fat yogurt
1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
milk and ice

Blend everything until smooth, adding enough milk and ice to achieve desired consistency.  I doubled the recipe and had enough for five large smoothies.  Added whipped cream, green straws and mini vanilla wafers for the occasion.

Dinner consisted of traditional corned beef with cabbage, red potatoes, carrots and Irish soda bread.  This was the first time I'd ever tried corned beef, and I didn't love it, but the kids enjoyed it and thought it was fun to be trying something new.  The bread, however, we all enjoyed and the recipe I found I was really easy.  I think we'll try this one again soon and play around with some variations.  Also makes me really want to try baking some artisan breads.......

Irish Soda Bread

4 - 4 1/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Whisk together 4 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large bowl.  Use a pastry cutter to work butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal.  Make a well in the center of flour mixture and add beaten egg and buttermilk.  Mix with wooden spoon until too stiff to stir.  Flour hands, gently knead just long enough to form a rough ball.  You want the dough to be a little sticky and just barely coming together, so don't overwork it and add as little flour as possible.  Shape into a round loaf and place on a greased baking sheet.  Score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an "X" shape.  Bake about 35-45 minutes, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

This bread tastes best fresh out of the oven, so serve warm and enjoy!

Highlight for the kids was definitely my attempt at a three layer rainbow cake for dessert  K, didn't work out exactly how I envisioned it, but still a fun surprise!  I tripled a simple white cake recipe then divided the batter into six bowls and dyed each one a color of the rainbow.  Next I layered two colors in each of my round pans.  Red with orange.  Green with yellow.  And blue with purple.  I thought they went in pretty evenly, but seeing how they actually baked I think I will use separate pans for each color next time.  A friend of mine also does this with cupcakes, and layers each of the colors in a liner and tops them with whipped cream "clouds" and a little gold coin.  Love that idea too!

Simple White Cake

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9x9 or round cake pan.  Cream sugar and butter.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in vanilla.  Combine flour and baking powder, ( I like to sift mine), add to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in milk until batter is smooth.  Pour into prepared pan. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes.  Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.  
For cupcakes, bake 20-25 minutes.

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