Traditional Irish Colcannon

Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish that combines potatoes, cabbage or kale, onion, basic cream/milk and butter. It is also a dish that at one point in time I might have turned my nose up to. Cabbage or kale? Really? Why would you ruin perfectly good mashed potatoes with cabbage? Oh my how I was wrong and I am so glad that I’ve come around to the wonderful world of cabbage. Truth be told, I’ve been on a bit of cabbage kick lately. I’ve finally realized just how flavorful and delicious it can be. (It’s that same cabbage kick that led me to using it for this colcannon, but it’s also delicious (and packed with nutrients) when you use kale instead.)

The flavor and deliciousness of cabbage really shines through in this colcannon recipe. What I like about this particular recipe is that the cabbage is sautéed with butter and onions instead of boiled like in many other recipes. That really enhances the richness of the entire dish, making this the perfect St. Patrick’s day meal side dish. I served mine alongside Beer Braised Beef with Onions (recipe to come!). The old saying about a perfect Irish meal being a six-pack and a potato was given new meaning with that combo!

Which reminds me, are you excited about St. Patrick’s day yet? Just 4 more days away! Do you have any St. Patrick’s day traditions?

 

 

Fish and Chips

There are few foods that bring me right back to St. Patrick’s day and Irish pubs quite like Fish and Chips. The crispy and golden fried fish dipped in delicious tartar sauce. The fries soaked with malt vinegar. Mmm…. A little piece of Irish heaven.

I couldn’t let this year pass with satisfying my craving for this delicious meal. Of course the only way to make it even better is to make it homemade!

I have to admit that deep frying foods at home has always made me really nervous. The huge pot of basically boiling oil was super intimidating to me. But it was time to conquer my fear. Once I got all of my ingredients prepped, I was surprised at how simple it was. To make sure I was able to fully devote my attention to frying the fish, I decided to oven bake the fries. It was nice because I was able to have both things going at once and didn’t have to worry about keeping the fries warm, though I’m sure deep fried fries would be amazing. If you would like to fry your fries, check out Laura’s blog, Tide and Thyme, for those instructions.

Got Fish?
Foil Packet Soy-Lime Salmon with Green Beans
Foil Baked Fish with Black Beans and Corn
Homemade Fish Sticks
Pepper Jack and Cilantro Stuffed Swordfish

Chicken and Basil Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

Jesse is a funny guy. Lately there has been a common recurrence in his reviews of dinner, “It was good/great/amazing/OK, but it would be even better with potatoes.” The man loves his potatoes, and thinks that they should be an ingredient in every meal. Chicken and rice, calzones, hoagies, soup… you name it. Don’t get me wrong, I like potatoes too, but rice AND potatoes in one meal?

After several evenings of, “Where’s the potatoes?” and after finding 2 of the largest potatoes I’ve ever seen at the market, a light bulb went off. It was time to take his potato love to an extreme. And thus was born the STUFFED Twice Baked Potato. Would you like some potatoes with your potatoes?

These potatoes can not be tagged as an “Easy Weeknight Dinner”, not because they’re difficult just because they can be a bit time consuming. Don’t worry, they are well worth the time and effort.  Knowing the time/effort required for twice baked potatoes,  I really wanted the potato to be the star of this meal so I opted to add chicken to the stuffing. It was nice to not have to worry about preparing a main course and in the end the meal was filling and satisfying.

Chicken and Basil Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

Ingredients
2-3 Idaho baking potatoes (depending on their size, mine were HUGE so I just made 2)
Olive oil and kosher salt for coating
1 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth
small handful fresh basil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
Juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

Directions
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.

Scrub the outside of the potatoes really well, then pat dry with paper towels, prick each potato with a fork 6-8 times, and place on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle each potato with about a teaspoon of oil and use a pastry brush to evenly distribute over surface then sprinkle with kosher salt. Flip the potatoes and repeat on the other side. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, or until they are tender when pricked and the internal temperature reads 210 F (100 C).

When the potatoes are close to being done, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and saute for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the half and half and broth. Stir well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. In the meantime, chop the basil. After the sauce has simmered, add the basil, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon juice. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Once the potatoes have finished baking, cut them in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the insides, leaving a thin shell around the edges, then return the shells, open side up, to the baking sheet. Place the potato guts in a bowl. Use a fork to slightly mash the potatoes. Pour the sauce into the bowl with the potatoes and stir to incorporate. Add the cooked shredded chicken and stir.

Fill the potato shells with the filling, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and return them to the hot oven for 10 minutes, switching to the broiler for the last minute or so if the cheese hasn’t yet started to turn golden brown.

Serve hot with a small side salad or steamed vegetables.

Adapted from Kayotic Kitchen

Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Turkey


One of the problems I have with moving is that I have a LOT of stuff. Especially when it comes to the kitchen. I am not exageratting when I say that half of our storage unit is San Diego is kitchen stuff. Dishes, pots, pans, appliances, cupcake liners, cooking tools, towels, cupcake liners, baking tools, corning ware, cupcake liners…. See what I mean? So. Much. Stuff. But all of that is fine because it can be stored and it can and will all be used again (and I actually get to go through it when we are back in San Diego and pick out some of the more important stuff to bring back to China!) But what wasn’t so fine was the amount of food in my pantry and refrigerator that couldn’t very make it China, but also can’t be stored to wait for our return.

So during my last week in San Diego I was left with arduous task of sorting food. What could I give away to friends? What (if anything!) could be stored? What could I use before I left? What would (sadly) need to be pitched.

In the end I decided to make a box of dry goods that could safely be stored for 2 months and eventually go back to China with me. I also labeled a few bags and set them just outside of the trash area at the apartment complex (I went back and forth about this, but in the end I would see the same few homeless people going through and picking out bottles/cans every morning and I thought maybe they would appreciate a few boxes of [good] snacks and if not it was right there and could go out with the trash. I would have handed them to them myself but my schedule was crazy that last week). I also was able to give some things away to friends and very few things needed to actually be thrown away.

This meal actually started out as just an attempt to use up remaining perishable foods and it turned into something much more memorable. Warm and comforting. Rich and filling. As an added bonus, I really appreciated having the left overs in a time that may have otherwise been filled with fast food, as I did all of my last minute packing and moving.


Shepherd’s Pie with Ground Turkey

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 small-medium onion, diced
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped*
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
Kosher salt to taste
1 lb ground turkey**
3/4 cup frozen vegetables, I used lima beans, corn, and peas
1/2 tsp pepper
pinch (~1/4 tsp) nutmeg
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp cold water
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2-2 cups mashed potatoes***

* I think that the fresh herbs were what really made this dish shine. You can substitute dry if you need to (adjusting the amounts since dry herbs have a more concentrated flavor) but if you have access to fresh, use them!
**Typically Shepherd’s Pie is made with beef or lamb, but turkey is what I had on hand.
***I had leftover mashed potatoes, but I would guess 4-5 medium or 3-4 large potatoes for this amount of meat, mashed anyway you like, in my case with s&p, garlic, butter, milk, and sour cream.

Directions
Preheat oven to 375.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the fresh rosemary and thyme cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then cook until the meat has browned and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Pour in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the frozen vegetables and bring to a simmer. While the broth is coming to a simmer, whisk together the corn starch and cold water then stir into the simmering broth. Cook for 1 minute or until it starts to thicken then reduce the heat to medium-low, add the milk and cook for another minute.

If you were using a skillet, carefully transfer the contents of the skillet to a baking dish, other wise just make sure the mixture is evenly distributed around the bottom of the dutch oven. Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the mixture (I found it was easiest to drop heaping spoonfuls all over then use the back of the spoon to “meld” the heaps together). Place the baking dish or dutch oven in preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes, then turn oven to broil and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the peaks of the potatoes start to turn golden brown.

Sunny Side Up original recipe, inspired by the many Shepherd’s Pie I’ve eaten throughout my life