03 March


Homemade Shamrock Shake

March 17: Feast Day of St. Patrick

McDonald’s offers the Shamrock Shake at select restaurants for a limited time only during a few weeks in February and March to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. But if we want to slurp up a smooth, mint flavored, light green colored ice cream dessert, we make our own Shamrock Shake at home to enjoy any time of the year. Get in a green mood and make a festive food like this easy homemade Shamrock Shake for St. Patrick’s Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • ¾ – 1 cup milk
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon mint extract
  • green food coloring
  • whipped cream
  • green sugar or shamrock-shaped sprinkles
  • maraschino cherry (red or green)

Directions

In a blender, combine the ice cream, milk and mint extract. Put a few drops of green food coloring to get the desired shade of green for the shake.

Blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass. Generously swirl whipped cream on top. Optional: Garnish with green sugar or shamrock-shaped sprinkles and a maraschino cherry. Insert a straw and serve immediately.

Notes

  • McDonald’s debuted the Shamrock Shake in 1970. It was a lemon/lime sherbet instead of today’s mint flavored ice cream shake.
  • That Irish elf sitting by our homemade Shamrock Shake above is Lucky the Leprechaun, mascot of General Mills’ Lucky Charms cereal.
  • Search our blog for more Irish-inspired or green-colored recipes to make in observation of the Feast Day of St. Patrick.

 

Pears Helene

(Poire belle Hélène)

March 15: National Pears Helene Day

We have posted recipes for Peach Melba and Melba Toast on our blog before. Now we are trying Pears Helene. All of these dishes were invented by a French chef during the 19th century.

Auguste Escoffier created Peach Melba at the Savoy Hotel in London, England, in 1892 or 1893, in honor of Australian opera singer Nellie Melba (he revised the recipe in 1900 when he became head chef at the Carlton Hotel). In 1897, Escoffier also made Melba Toast for her when she was ill.

Apparently, even great chefs need inspiration and motivation. Before Escoffier named his culinary creations after Nellie Melba, he was moved to make a fruity dessert from the operetta “La belle Hélène” by Jacques Offenbach (the operetta parodies the story of Helen’s elopement with Paris, which set off the Trojan War). And voilà—he invented Poire belle Hélène in 1864.

When we get stuck in a rut and routine in our kitchen, what inspires and motivates us is the theme for a food holiday. It gives us an idea of what to make for our meal as well as for our blog, and we also get to try out new and different recipes so cooking does not get to be the same old boring chore.

For National Pears Helene Day, we were inspired to make Poire belle Hélène. Simple poached pears are upgraded to a fancy dessert status when chocolate sauce is drizzled on them, sprinkled with toasted almond slices and served à la mode! Channel Chef Escoffier and be motivated to make Pears Helene for National Pears Helene Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 firm pears, Bosc or Bartlett, with stems
  • water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • almonds, sliced and toasted
  • 4 ounces (1 package) semi-sweet chocolate
  • ¼ cup milk
  • vanilla ice cream

Directions

Wash and peel the pears, leaving the stems intact. Place them in a large pot and fill with enough water to cover the pears. Stir in the sugar and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until the pears are softened. Drain and set aside to cool until ready to use.

Toast the almonds in a skillet to bring out the nutty flavor. Set aside to cool until ready to use. In a bowl, combine the chocolate with milk. Melt and stir until smooth.

Assemble a poached pear in a dessert dish. Pour chocolate sauce over the fruit. Scoop vanilla ice cream into the dish next to the pear. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.

Notes

 

Original Girl Scout Cookies

girlscoutdropcookies

March 12: Girl Scouts Birthday (founded in 1912)

Congratulations to the Girl Scouts, a non-profit organization whose mission is to build “girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place”, for reaching 100 years of their cookie sales program in 2017. The program, which began in 1917, helps fund its mission and sustain troop activities.

We sometimes buy Girl Scout cookies. Their “Thin Mints” are our favorite, especially when we eat them right out of the refrigerator! There are many other Girl Scout cookies, from “Samoas” (caramel de-lites) and “Tagalongs” (peanut butter patties) to the newest “S’mores” (introduced in 2017 for its 100th year of cookie sales history). Their basic sugar-shorbread cookie, “Trefoils”, which now bears the Girl Scout logo, was the first cookie to be sold by local troops en masse.

We tried out the original recipe, which is for a roll-out dough. But it was too sticky to handle and we ended up making drop cookies instead. Besides, we did not have a “trefoil” cookie cutter to make the shapes so we kept it simple.

In honor of the Girl Scouts birthday, bake their original cookie recipe and indulge in the sweet treat that started the seasonal sales a century ago.

Recipe

(Adapted from the Girl Scouts)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspon baking powder

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Beat in the egg. Stir in the milk. Add the vanilla extract.

girlscoutdropcookiessteps1

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture to make a sticky dough. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

girlscoutdropcookiessteps2

Scoop a tablespoon of the cookie dough onto lightly greased, foil or parchment paper lined baking sheets, leaving at least two inches between the dough to expand during baking. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

girlscoutdropcookiessteps3

Notes

  • We halved the recipe for this blog post, which yielded 1 ½ dozen 2-inch round drop cookies.
  • We substituted the vanilla extract for almond flavor and lessened the amount of sugar from ½ to 1/3 cup.
  • If making roll-out cookies, generously flour the surface and rolling pin before handling the cold dough. Roll out to ¼-inch thickness and cut out desired shapes. Sprinkle the top with sanding or colored sugars before baking.
  • Learn more about the Girl Scouts from their official website at http://www.girlscouts.org.

Green Peanut Butter Smoothie

Green Peanut Butter Smoothie

March 17: St. Patrick’s Day

We have seen the rivers in downtown Chicago and San Antonio being dyed green while we attended St. Patrick’s Day festivities (we used to live near those cities). In our beloved San Antonio, where Islander’s brother still resides, the river is drained annually for cleaning and maintenance. When the river is refilled back to its resplendence, a Mud Festival takes place to mark the occasion, complete with a Mud Pie Ball and the coronation of a Mud King and Queen (the winners raise the most money to help fund river projects).

Our bodies need cleaning and maintenance, too, to drain some of that “mud-crud” in our systems. So drink something green, like this healthy peanut butter smoothie made with dark leafy greens, on the Feast Day St. Patrick, the Emerald Isle’s patron saint. Sláinte (Irish cheers literally translated “to your health!”).

Recipe

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of kale/spinach/swiss chard medley
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup nut milk, cold (we use unsweetened almond or cashew milk)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (sometimes we also use almond butter)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

In a blender, place the vegetables, banana, almond milk, peanut butter and ground cinnamon.

Green Peanut Butter Smoothie

Seal the blender and blend until smooth. Pour into two small glasses and serve immediately.

Green Peanut Butter Smoothie

Notes

  • We use a Nutribullet extractor instead of a blender to make this green peanut butter smoothie. Islander has been drinking the full recipe as a meal replacement (breakfast or lunch) on Lent Fridays.
  • Search our blog for other Irish-inspired recipes for the Feast Day of St. Patrick.

Celery Soup

celery soup

March: National Celery Month

March 31: National Celery Day

The month of March is associated with the color green since the Emerald Isle’s patron saint, Patrick of Ireland, is honored on March 17.

This reminds us of when Islander used to work in retail at a bridal shop. She had to put tags on the new shipment of bridesmaids’ gowns in the trendiest colors of the time: aubergine and celadon. What exactly were those hues? Aubergine is French for eggplant and sounded more chic for a deep purple. So she figured that celadon meant celery since the color was close to that of the vegetable, too. Wrong. Celadon is a shade of green commonly used in Asian pottery. But Islander will remember the word association for celadon and celery.

That brings us to a celery soup recipe, which barely even cooks to the color of celadon! Even with the help of leeks as an ingredient, the white sour cream dilutes the whole green color of this dish. Although the color was disappointing, the soup was delicious.

Get some green gourmet going on and cook some celery soup during the month of March, National Celery Month, especially on the last day, March 31, National Celery Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • ½ cup sour cream

Directions

Prepare the vegetables by chopping and slicing the leeks, onions, garlic and celery.

celery soup

In a large pot, slowly melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the leeks, onions and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until softened but not browned (about 10 minutes). Add the celery and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes). Add 6-8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

celery soup

Transfer the soup in batches to a blender. Puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and heat through. Stir in the sour cream and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve hot with garnishes of celery sticks and sprinkles of parsley flakes.

celery soup

Notes 

  • At her oft-mentioned friend Lisa L.’s wedding in Germany, as the maid of honor Islander wore a light green gown. Although there are subtle differences in the hue’s shade, this particular dress manufacturer labeled it in a more understandable color instead of celadon: sage.
  • We like our celery soup thicker so only added 6 instead of 8 cups of water. Add more water to make a thinner soup.

 

Sfinge di San Giuseppe

(Cream Puffs of St. Joseph)

Sfinge di San Giuseppe

March 19: Feast Day of St. Joseph

In our nearly 19 years of marriage (since 1996), we have moved five times (excluding the time we lived apart for a year when Islander took a temporary job back home in Hawaii while Highlander stayed in New Jersey for his job). We are aware of the legend of the St. Joseph statue to sell a house—and we do have such a statue. But we have not followed tradition by burying it upside down in the front lawn when we put our homes on the market. We just relied on God for His timing and His care whenever we moved.

St. Joseph is known as the patron saint of real estate and home sales. The earthly father of the Jesus was a good role model to the Christ Child, providing a happy and stable home life to Jesus and his wife Mary. We admire the virtues of St. Joseph and are honoring him on his feast day by making an Italian-style cream puff called Sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Recipe

(Adapted from Recipe Goldmine)

For the filling

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup chocolate, grated (we used mini chocolate chips)
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped

Directions

In a bowl, cream the ricotta cheese with the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the vanilla.

Sfinge di San Giuseppe

Mix in the grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios. Cover and chill to thicken.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

For the cream puffs

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions

In a large pot, boil the water with the butter, sugar, lemon zest and salt. When the butter is melted, remove from heat. Add the flour and quickly stir until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

Return to the stovetop on medium heat and beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat and let the dough rest in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Scoop a tablespoon of the dough onto the baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

For the topping

  • Powdered sugar
  • Maraschino cherries, drained

Directions

When ready to serve, slice each puff and sandwich the filling between it. Or spoon the filling over the top of each puff. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle powdered sugar over the puffs and top each with a maraschino cherry. Serve immediately so the puffs do not get soggy.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

Notes

  • Various versions of the St. Joseph cream puff recipe are called sfinge/sfingi and zeppole/zeppola. Some deep fry the pastry balls/fritters, some are star-piped into circles, some are drizzled with chocolate and some have a custard-like cream filling piped inside.
  • Joseph has another feast day on May 1, which honors him as the patron saint of labor workers.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

March 17: Feast Day of St. Patrick

Highlander likes to eat oatmeal for breakfast to begin his workday at the top o’ the mornin’! And sometimes he can’t resist eating oatmeal cookies for a sweet snack to sustain him through the rest o’ the day. So especially in observance of St. Patrick’s Day, we used two Irish imported products to make Irish oatmeal cookies—McCann’s Irish Oatmeal and Kerrygold Butter. The recipe yields over three dozen cookies, which are enough to share with Highlander’s lucky co-workers! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

A wish that every day for you

will be happy from the start

and may you always have good luck

and a song within your heart.

~Irish Blessing

  

Recipe

(Adapted from McCann’s)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oatmeal
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts, chipped

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown and white sugars. Beat in the egg. Stir in the vanilla.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and ground cinnamon. Gradually add this to the butter mixture. Blend well. Stir in by hand the oatmeal, raisins and walnuts.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

Scoop a tablespoon onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with the ball of your hand. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: Approximately 3-4 dozen cookies.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

Notes

  • Highlander traced his ancestry to Ireland and is considered an Ulster-Scot. 
  • Search our blog for other Irish-inspired recipes for St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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