Happy 2015, everyone!

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy 2015! Hope you were all able to stay up and see the new year being rung in. If you weren’t, don’t feel bad. My husband had a long nap in the afternoon, and he still turned in early. 🙂

But, beforehand I was able to share this dinner with him. It’s homemade cabbage rolls with bacon on top, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa and onions, and served with rustic red potato mash.

New Year's cabbage rolls, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa and onions, and served with rustic red potato mash

New Year’s cabbage rolls, sauteed cabbage with kielbasa and onions, and served with rustic red potato mash.

It was all tasty, and we washed it down with this great non-alcoholic sparkling wine drink I found at the grocery store. I really like it. I’m not a fan of booze, or champagne, but I like the taste of this drink. A lot. We finished the bottle as I did the dinner dishes.

2014-12-31 22.48.45It’s about ten minutes to the big moment, and my husband is now sitting on the couch. I guess he wanted to wait it out with me after all. Aww. He’s a total sweetheart.

I’m not one for resolutions, but if you are, I wish you the best in keeping them. Conviction is the key. Conviction and a clear goal without any other voice in your head telling you change isn’t possible. It is. Totally.

Ok, we’re down to five minutes left in 2014. Get your drinks, noise makers and lips ready, kids.

Talk to you in next year!

Erin Go Braugh!

2014-03-16 18.44.58I made us a dinner of typical Irish fare on Sunday. It was the only time we’ll have dinner together for at least four nights, so I bumped it up one day. I couldn’t get my hands on a brisket or even a basic beef roast (all sold out), so I used a pork roast instead. If I wanted to do it up right, I would have made a bi-fold cut in it so I could stuff and roll it up, but I bought it already trussed. I’m also lazy at times. Hee.

2014-03-16 13.07.33So, from around the plate above in a clockwise direction: pork roast slices that were cut thinly but still held onto a bit of the meat rubbed crust I created, and they’re sitting beside heaps of Carrie’s mom’s fantastic colcannon I made with Nappa cabbage instead of standard green variety. Finally, there is some green beans I boiled then pan fried with shallots, a splash of white vinegar, salt and a few dribbles of hoisen sauce to give it a deep earthy, umami flavour to complete the whole meal.

This meal was amazing. Oh, I almost forgot! I made up the shamrock shake knock-offs to wash it all down with. The boy didn’t like it but I thought it was fairly close to what I remember McDonald’s version tasting like.

2014-03-16 18.52.50After all of the dishes, I sat down and immediately food coma crashed for a quick 25 minute nap on the couch. Whoops. 🙂

Anyway, here is the recipe for the colcannon. I subbed out the mace for cardamom because I never stock mace. I haven’t found a use for it the 45 yrs I have been alive outside of this one recipe, so forget that. My spice stash is already out of control. 😀

2014-03-16 19.22.08Carrie’s Mum’s Colcannon:
1 1/4 lbs Russet or Yellow Potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 C Leeks (the whites only) or Yellow Onions, thinly sliced
1 C Whole Milk
1/2 C Butter, unsalted
1/2 Tea Ground Mace (or any other suitable substitute)
1 1/4 lbs Cabbage
1 Tbsp Oil
Sea Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper
1 Tbsp Fresh Herb (parsley, basil or cilantro – whichever you prefer)

Cook cabbage in water and oil until tender, drain, chop fine, set aside and keep warm.

Cook potatoes until tender, drain and mash by hand.

Simmer the leeks in milk for 10 minutes, keep warm and do not drain.

Add the leeks and milk and the cooked cabbage to the mashed potatoes. Season with mace and salt and pepper to taste and beat by hand until well mixed yet still fluffy.

Plop into a bowl or on a platter, top with butter and parsley and serve immediately.

2014-03-16 09.48.17AND! As a bonus, here are two shots of the Apple Strudel I created on Saturday night out of boredom when the husband was busy at work. It’s lovely looking, and tasty. The cinnamon flavoured Kahlua really pops in this dish. This is definitely an adults’ version you’d serve with strong coffee or a dessert wine.

2014-03-16 09.52.00It made a tasty and somewhat unusual breakfast choice for us today, I’ll tell you that. But, we both liked it. We even cracked open the French Vanilla ice cream to enjoy it with. What? Like none of you would have done the same thing? Please! Don’t lie. 😉

Homemade Roasted Peppers

peppers2[ Roasted Peppers – image from Google Images ]

Bet you didn’t know how easy it is to roast your own peppers at home. It is. And I do this often. I love roasted peppers. They are the perfect burger and sandwich topper in my books. I eat them all year long. Over chicken, over beef, over pork, over turkey — there is nothing that can’t be improved by being topped with roasted peppers. Nothing.

This is my method for roasted peppers done bare bones style, but certainly you can store the finished roasted peppers in a jar with some mild homemade oil-based brine if you like. I wouldn’t fill the jar with the brine until after all the peppers have been placed inside it. And even then, I wouldn’t fill the jar more than a third of the way with the brine because, as the roasted peppers rest in the fridge, they will release liquid from the cooked meal. That typically fills the jar up about half way.

Okay, here’s how I do my roasted peppers:

First turn your oven on to its broiler setting, then wash, dry and cut up the peppers into manageable sections so the peeling stage isn’t a huge mess and risky (since I’m klutzy and have a habit of dropping everything I come into contact with).

From there, I place the peppers flesh down on a lined baking sheet. I use parchment paper, but when I run out, I use tin foil and it works just as well. You’ll want something on the baking pan because the charring goo tends to burn and stick to your pans, and trust me – no one has time for that kind of cleaning nightmare!

When you have all the peppers on your lined baking pan, place it on the middle rack and leave the door ajar about 1-2 inches. Set your oven timer for 15 minutes and wait. And try not to panic when you see the skins turning black. All of them. All over. This is what you’re after. It’s totally normal, and ok.

RoastedPeppers-Broiling[ Click to embiggen ]

RoastedPeppers-Blackened[ Click to embiggen ]

After they’re done broiling, take the baking pan out and immediately move the peppers to a waiting bowl or dish you can cover with plastic wrap. Cover the bowl and let the heat sweat the skin off of the meal for 5-10 minutes. When you can hold them in your hand without needing burn cream, you’re ready to get down to business. 🙂

After 15 minutes, grab a small bowl and pull back the plastic wrap, and prepare to get your hands dirty. And wet, and sorta icky. The fun’s about to get started, kids! 😀

RoastedPeppers-Sweating[ Click to embiggen ]

Holding a section at a time in your hands, start pushing the skin away from the flesh. You should be able to do this with complete ease. If you get a few peppers with some attached skin, put those peppers back on the baking pan and roast them another 5 minutes before sweating them again for five minutes. Don’t panic, this happens to me once in awhile, too. It’s no big deal.

RoastedPeppers-Peeling[ Click to embiggen ]

You should be able to get your thumb or finger under the skin and push, pull or pinch the skin away from the pepper meal when the roasting is completed. Discard the skin into the small bowl before green binning it during your clean up.

When the whole lot has been skinned completely, carefully place them into a glass jar with a tight fitting or sealing lid. Let the full jar rest 10 minutes on your counter until you can hold the jar without it feeling too hot to handle. At that point, you can put it into your fridge to stop the continued cooking process. Ideally you’ll want to place this on a shelf away from any dairy that can curdle for the first 12 hours. After that, I tend to store mine in the fridge door because they never last long enough to spoil anyway.

Pick the peppers out of the jar with tongs or a fork to enjoy without the juice. If the peppers are too wet for your liking, dab them with a paper towel before consuming them. When serving the roasted peppers to a crowd, strain the whole jar into a bowl with a small mesh strainer in it to catch the peppers. Reserve the juices in the jar for the leftovers, if there any.

Enjoy liberally as part of your next antipasto plate, or on top of meat, in and on top of a veggy dip, as part of a rice skillet, or in a deli or panini sandwich!