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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happeep Easter!

I owe you one more March Meatloaf Madness recipe...and I've got it ready...but I want to interrupt this regularly scheduled post to bring you a short feature on an iconic Easter classic.  You know what I'm talking about...Peeps!


People love 'em, hate 'em, eat 'em, and even play with 'em.  Over the years they've achieved quite a cult following and through the miracle of internet are now easily available year round. There are Peep Eating competition and Peep Art contests all over the country.  My favorite is the Washington Post Peeps Diorama competition.  No Easter basket seems complete without a brightly colored pack of Peeps in it.

But how did this all happen?

Marshmallow chicks did exist before they became the cult phenonmena they are today.  In the mid-20th century, the Rodda Candy Company in Lancaster, PA was well-known for two things -- it's jelly beans and its handpiped marshmallow chicks.  In 1953, they were acquired by a company called Just Born from Bethlehem, PA.

Just Born was started in 1910 by a Russian immigrant name Sam Born.  Just Born had an innovative way with candy technology.  They were the company responsible for making Jimmies, those yummy chocolate sprinkles, and for the hard chocolate candy coating for ice cream bars.  In 1916 they invented a machine that mechanically inserted sticks in lollipops.

When they took over Rodda, Bob Born developed a process that made it possible to mass-produce the yellow marshmallow chicks and it's took off from there.  It wasn't until the 1980s that pink Peep bunnies hit the scene.  Peeps were only available in yellow, pink and white until 1995 when purple was introduced to the Peeps palette, followed by blue in 1998.

In the late 1990s, flavored Peeps were offered to the public.  First vanilla, then strawberry and in 2002 chocolate peeps were introduced.  This year, in honor of their 60th anniversary, Just Born offered white speckled vanilla creme Peeps.  MmmMmm!

So PeepPeep Hooray for these sugar-coated marshmallow puffs of sweet goodness!  We look forward to the next anniversary celebration.

And Happy Easter everyone!  Hope you are enjoying a wonderful day with family and friends sharing in the joy of this holiday.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

March Meatloaf Madness #2

I like our next finalist because not only does it have lots of cheese -- you can never go wrong with lots of cheese -- but you make it in a pie pan!  It's cake loafy not bread loafy.  Round meatloaf?  What will they come up with next?

Marie's Meat Loaf

1 lb ground beef (85-90% lean)
1 slightly beaten egg
1 piece of white bread torn in small pieces   I used an artisan loaf for artistic flair
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese -- 1/2 cup goes in the loaf, save the other 1/2 cup to go on top
1/3 lg onion, chopped
1 tsp celery seed
a couple good dashes of Worcestershire sauce  I consider 3-5 "good"
Prego pasta sauce (or any other brand), enough to cover the meat loaf really well

Mix everything together.

Form into a round, slightly flattened loaf.

Put meal loaf into a pie pan.   Marie uses a glass one and so did I, easy clean up!

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and drain off any grease.  Then smother with pasta sauce, then top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Return to the over and bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes for the loaf to set up.

To serve, pie slice and top with pasta sauce scooped out of the baking pan.

Mucho gusto!


Definitely recommend going with the higher lean percentage meat (less fat percentage).  It will result in less loaf shrinkage and less grease to drain off after the initial baking.

I used Bertolli Tomato & Basil pasta sauce...nummers!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March Meatloaf Madness #1

We have our first M3 finalist.  I like this one, not only because you make it in a muffin tin, but because it's both low sodium and gluten-free. Fun and different and very dietary restriction-friendly.

Michelle's Meatloaf "Muffins"

1tsp olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion   = 1 med onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrots   = 1 med carrot
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced   = 2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup ketchup, divided   Michelle uses Heinz no-salt added ketchup
1-1/2 lbs ground beef, extra lean   can use ground turkey or pork as well
1 cup oatmeal   Michelle recommends McCann's Irish Oatmeal Quick Cooking Rolled Oats
2 tbsp prepared mustard   Michelle uses Dijon, I used brown spicy
1 tsp Worchestershire   Michelle uses the low sodium version
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 lg eggs
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add chopped onion, chopped carrot, dried oregano and minced garlic.  Saute until carrots just get soft, about 7 minutes. 

Remove from heat, allow to cool.

Combine onion mixture, 1/2 cup ketchup and the remaining ingredients, except cooking spray, in a large bowl.

Spoon the meat mixture into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.  Top each with 2 tsp of remaining ketchup. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until a thermostat registers 160 degrees.  Let stand for 5 minutes.


This recipe is gluten free and low sodium.  I usually double the recipe to fill 24 muffin cups and freeze several of hem.  Then you can pulloutone at a time.  They are great for portion control -- if you can eat just one!


Thank you Michelle!  Appreciate the submission and even more I appreciate the new addition to the recipe collection.  Tres yummers and healthy and no, I cannot eat just one. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Good and Good for You: Carrots

We're coming up on bunny season so was feeling inspired.  Let's talk carrots.


Carrots have been around a long, looooong time.  Native to Afghanistan, they were cultivated in the Mediterranean in the BCs.  As with many fruits and veggies, the ancient Greeks and Romans ingested them medicinally before they used them as a food source.

Carrots were used to relieve stomach aliments and increase virility.  Whether it was their phallic shape or association with rabbits who symbolized fertility, carrots were considered an aphrodisiac and eating carrots before lovemaking was thought to increase sperm count.  From what I've read, the preference was carrots stewed with sugar..weird.

In the 13th century, people were starting to become aware of carrots, but they were not recognized on a widespread scale until the 16th century. In England they were considered an exotic item and used primarily for their fluffy green tops which were used to decorate the hats of ladies in the court of King James I.  Carrots are a member of the parsley family so share the same foofy greenery, but are considered slightly toxic so not edible (always remove the greenery).

Carrots come in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow to red to purple.  Asian varieties land on the purple end of the spectrum and resemble beets. The bright orange carrot that we know and love today was a variety developed and cultivated by the Dutch in the Middle Ages which made them much more attractive than the bitter, lumpy purple roots they started out as.

Carrots made their way to the New World via the Colonists and were quickly adopted by the native culture.

So why are these roots so good for you?  Let me fill you in on that.

Carrots are chocked full of carotene which gets converted to vitamin A in the liver which is good for detoxification and promoting healthy eye sight.  They are rich in vitamins B, C and E as well.  Carotenes help protect against high blood cholestrol.

The darker orange a carrot is, the more carotenes it contains.  The carotenes provide the bright orange color you see and if you eat a monstrous load of carrots, it has been known to cause your skin to appear orange.  A mild, though harmless reaction and you would probably need to eat a TON of carrots.

Carrots are belived to offer protection against some cancers and cardiovascular disease, and keeping lungs healthy.  Carrots are also rich in fiber and contain calcium and potassium.

Carrots are one of the few root veggies you can eat raw, but to release the most nutrients, you really want to cook them slightly.  Stir-frying or steaming them will give you the heat you need to release the nutrients but still keep them crunchy. Though if you prefer them raw, serving them in a salad with some oil (like flax oil) will help unlease the nutrients as well.

So carrots, not just another pretty face in the veggie isle.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Minny Guinny

I can think of no better way to end this St. Patty's Day weekend than with a drink and a toast.

I'd like to dedicate this post is to my besties Juli & F who are hitting the road for new life adventures.

May the winds of fortune sail you
May you sail a gentle sea
May it always be the other guy
Who says "this drink's on me"!  

Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Minny Guinny

1-1/2 oz Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur)
1/2 oz Bailey's (or other Irish cream liqueur)

Pour the Kahlua in a tall thin shot glass. 

Hold a spoon upsidedown over the top of the shot glass at an angle and pour the Bailey's on it so that it flows down the spoon onto the top of the Kahlua.  Or you can try to pour it in directly, but do it slowly and carefully without the spoon.

Bottom's up!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Irish Cream Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumble

So before you get confused by the recipe and photos that follow, let me tell you a little story.  I'd like to call this, The Cheesecake-Pudding Exchange: A Learning Experience by K2.

I found this fabulous looking recipe for a no bake cheesecake in a cookbook that my parents brought back from their trip to Ireland last year.  Because it was a European cookbook, I needed to make some adjustments, but there may have been some issues with the translation to U.S. kitchen-friendliness.

Everything seemed to go according to plan until it was time to release the "cheesecake" from the springform pan.  As the dessert squelched from its confines and my Ahhhh moment turned into an Ooooohhhh moment, I realized that something had gone awry.  I didn't have time to remake it for this post, but fortunately all was not lost.  Though expecting a creamy delicious cheesecake with chocolate chip cookie crust, I found myself with a creamy delicious pudding with chocolate chip cookie crumble instead.  In my book, a very doable exchange.

So...if you like pudding, follow the recipe below as indicated.  If you want to try and succeed where I fell a little short, see the revised "cake" ingredient list which includes suggested changes to make it what it should have been.

Irish Cream Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumble
formerly known as No Bake Chocolate Irish Cream Cheesecake

1-1/2 cups crushed chocolate chip cookies see Notes
4 tbsp butter, melted

"cake" pudding
1-1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw, food processed
12 oz fat free cream cheese
15 fl oz heavy cream or Half and Half, room temp
3 tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream

revised "cake"
1-1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup Sugar in the Raw, food processed
12 oz cream cheese, softened do NOT use Fat Free
1-3/4 cups heavy cream or Half and Half, room temp
3 tbsp Bailey's Irish Cream

Cheesecake crust:  Line the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan.  If non-stick, use cooking spray or shortening to grease the sides with.

Put the cookies in a zip lock bag and crush them to crumbs with a rolling pin.  Pour the crumbs into a small bowl.

Melt your butter in a small saucepan over low heat or in the microwave for 25-35 seconds.  Pour the butter over the crumbs and mix until the crumbs are moistened evenly.

Cheesecake crust:  Press the crumbs into the bottom of the lined springform pan
Pudding crumble:  Press the crumbs out on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.
I used a fork to spread them out and then pressed them down.

Put the pan in the fridge and let the crust/crumble chill for at least 1 hour.

Melt the chocolate together.  You can either either melt them in a heatproof bowl set over a sauce pan of simmering hot water or melt them in a thick-bottomed sauce pan over low heat.  Once melted, leave to cool. Just room temp cool or slightly above that, not cold cool.

Take your Sugar in the Raw and toss it into a food processor.  Pulse for 1-2 minutes, then let process for another 1-2 minutes.  Set aside.  see Notes

In a mixer, beat sugar and cream cheese together until smooth.

Then remove bowl from mixer and fold in the heavy cream with a spoon or spatula, a bit at a time, until well blended.

Next fold in the melted chocolate until well blended.

Finally, stir in the Irish Cream.

Cheesecake:  Spoon the mixture into the springform pan over the crust.
Pudding:  Pour the mixture into a bowl.

Cover the pan/bowl with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.  Let chill for at least 2 hours or until very firm (cheesecake) or much less jiggley (pudding).

Cheesecake:  When you're ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the springform pan and slide onto a serving dish.  Using a knife dipped in hot water (to get a clean cut), slice cheese cake and serve.
Pudding:  Scoop into small bowls, crumble the crumble over top and serve.

Garnish with fresh berries and/or a cheeky dollop of whipped cream.


So, I think one of my problems is that I used fat free cream cheese which is very malleable, even when cold.  For cheesecake, you want cream cheese with a little more structure to it so don't skimp and do go full fat with your cream cheese.

I would also reduce the amount of heavy cream added to the mixture.  I kind of realized when I could pour my batter, versus spooning it out, that I might have a consistency problem with the batter.  These two adjustments should make a big difference, but I would recommend adding the cream a bit at a time and use your best judgment in determining how thick/thin your batter is. 

12 (1/2 oz) cookies = 6 oz (what the original recipe called for) = 1-1/2 cups crushed.  I used store-bought (versus homemade) because I wanted them to have that kind of crispycrunchyness that makes for good crumb action.

The original recipe calls for golden caster sugar, which is a finer, unprocessed sugar than we have here.  You could substitute superfine white sugar, but there is a slight taste difference.  By food processing the Sugar in the Raw (left-before, right-after), you get the finer texture you need for this recipe without being too grainy like regular processed sugar.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Minty Irish Coffee

Experiment time...this is my take on an Irish Coffee.  And it turns into this crazy toxic green color as you drink it. :)  Awesome.

Minty Irish Coffee

6 oz brewed coffee
1 tsp sugar
1 oz shot Jameson's Irish Whiskey
1 generous tbsp whipped cream, room temp
1/2 oz Creme de Menthe

In an 8 oz coffee cup, stir together coffee, sugar, and whiskey until sugar is dissolved.

Cover with whipped cream.

Pour Creme de Menthe over the whipped cream.

The traditional way to drink an Irish Coffee is not to stir it anymore, but sip it through the cream.


Don't forget about March Meatloaf Madness!  Send me your favorite meatloaf recipes so I can try out some new stuff.  Hoping to get some more good stuff before Wednesday!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Edamame Hummus

Okay, it's not Irish, but it is green!  Got this idea from a caterer I work with and wanted to see if I could put together my own version of an edamame spread she does.  I based the recipe on the ingredients used in making hummus so...edamame hummus, here you go.

Edamame Hummus

6 oz. shelled, fully cooked edamame (soybeans)
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp water
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil

Put edamame in a food processor (or blender) with the salt and pulse on low until beans are broken down.  Will be pretty grainy.

Add the water and blend on high until beans start to come together.  Slowly drizzle in the lemon juice and oil until it looks like a rough puree.

May need to scrape down the sides during the process because edamame is very mealy and doesn't blend as easily as garbanzo or black beans do when making hummus.

Serve with your favorite dipping veggies or toasted pita wedges.


If you haven't tried edamame before, you should give them a whirl.  They are high in protein, with almost the same amount found in meat and eggs only without the cholestrol. 

The key thing to note about edamame is that you don't want to eat them raw; raw soybeans are toxic and need to be steamed or boiled before eaten.  You can find shelled ready-to-eat edamame in the vegetable section at most grocery stores.

You can eat them plain or server with a sprinkle of sea salt.  If you order them in a restaurant, they will bring out the steamed pods and you can suck or chew the beans out of their pods.

They make a great addition to salads or stir-fry, and make a mighty fine hummus as well.  Use it in lieu of hummus in a wrap or spread it on a crostini and top with your favorite seafood.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chicken-Leek-Potato Pie

With everyone's favorite green holiday coming up, I thought I would feature some tradition Irish dishes to help with the countdown.

Here is a pub favorite I think you'll like.  It's a savory chicken dish that's light on the belly but full on flavor.

Chicken-Leek-Potato Pie

2 medium yellow potatoes, cubed
4 oz butter
2 medium skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium leek, sliced (both white and green parts)
2-1/2 tbsp flour
1-1/2 cups milk, room temp
1 tsp brown mustard
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
8 oz filo dough
salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling water for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the cubed chicken until browned, about 3-4 minutes.

Add leeks to the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring all the while.

Stir in flour and cook for an additional minute.  Slowly add in the milk and bring mixture to a boil.

Add the mustard, sage, salt and pepper.  Continue cooking for another minute, then remove from heat.  Stir in potatoes and allow to sit while you prepare the pan.

Take half the filo and line the bottom of a deep baking dish. The one I used measures 9x11 inches.

Pour your chicken mixture on top of the filo.

Melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter.  Lay a single filo sheet over the chicken and brush with some melted butter.  Add a second and third sheet, and do the same.

Slice the remaining filo into strips and crumple them artistically on top.

Brush with the rest of the melted butter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.


Most traditional recipes call for mushrooms, but not being a fan, I left them out.  If you want fungi in your dish, add a cup of sliced mushrooms to the pan when you add the leeks and cook them up together.

If you didn't want to use filo, the filling would work just as well with a regular pie crust.

If you wanted to make another variation, try substituting lamb or mutton for the chicken.  The sage in the recipe would complement either of those meats as well.