Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty's Day.

When I was a kid, my mom would always make corned beef and cabbage with red potatoes on St. Patrick's Day. I was never a big meat eater but I always loved that meal. It's just so weird, you know? Unlike anything else we ate the rest of the year.

While I love the idea of carrying on a family tradition, I really don't like cooking meat (even the hot pink kind that doesn't look like meat). So for our St. Patrick's Day celebration this year, I went with a vegetarian Shepherd's Pie.

Actually I made two - one for us, and one for our lovely friends who just welcomed a new baby boy into the world. (Mama is Patricia, hence St. Patty's Day and not St. Paddy's Day which seems as weird as shortening John to Jack but is apparently the correct spelling.).


Shepherd's Pie is a great drop off meal and I loved that I could bring them something kinda festive that would taste good with a nice cold Guinness (which I also brought... What?! It's good for milk production!).


I wish I could give you an exact recipe but I'm just not that kind of cook. This isn't a very fussy thing to make though, so I'll give you a rough idea of what I did and the next time you get desperate for some vegetarian comfort food, you can throw together a version of your own.

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

What you'll need:
Lentils
Vegetable Broth
Onion
Garlic
Thyme
Sage
Mushrooms
Mixed Vegetables
Mashed Potatoes
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Salt & Pepper

What you'll do:
Cook the lentils according to the package (in broth if you have it). While those are cooking, saute an onion in a little olive oil. Add a clove or two of garlic, some sage and thyme (or whatever herbs you like), salt & pepper, and some chopped up mushrooms. Stir it a bit and let it cook for a couple minutes. Add a little broth then dump in your veggies (I used two small bags of frozen mixed vegetables this time and it was kind of the best).


Cover and let simmer while the lentils finish cooking. Once they're done, mix them in with your veggies (you can add more broth if you accidentally leave the stove on low while you run to drop your kid off at newspaper class and half your lentils stick to the pan and the other half turn out okay but kinda dry). Make mashed potatoes (peel them, cut them into chunks, boil them in salted water until tender, drain them then mash 'em up with a little buttermilk, salt & butter - or however you like!).


Put the veggie/lentil mixture into a pie pan (or whatever), cover with a good inch or so of mashed potatoes and top with shredded cheese. Since everything is already hot, you can just stick your pie under the broiler for a few minutes until the cheese is browned and bubbly (or leave it for a few more minutes until it's burned...seriously, not my day for cooking!).


(Finn told me he loved the cake. It took me a minute to realize he meant the pie. Shepherd's pie...)

If you're feeling ambitious, you can make some gravy to serve on the side. It's really good so you should probably Google it if you don't already know how to make gravy (Bill's the gravy man in our house). I'd do it for you but I'm running out of steam and still have lots of clean up to do before bed...


We also made Irish Shortbread which was a first. I was going to do Irish Soda Bread but I figured the new baby's big brother would probably prefer something sweet and since it's a really big deal to have a little brother, cookies were an obvious choice. Super easy, totally delicious and possibly laced with magical powers (the batch we kept at home has completely disappeared!).

Irish Shortbread

1 1/2 c flour
3/4 c cornstarch
3/4 c confectioners' sugar
1 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature

Mix all ingredients until soft.


Roll into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Press with a fork.


Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for about 18 minutes (shortbread should not brown). We added a few green sprinkles after we took the cookies out of the oven (not that anyone noticed as we were shoveling them into our mouths...).

Not exactly health food, but it's a beer drinking holiday - what do you expect?!

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!


Happy St. Patrick's Day! xo

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