I had decided that I wasn't going to address the current Coronavirus situation on my blog - mostly because I prefer to keep this space, lighthearted and more of an escape from the stresses and realities of life rather than addressing the hard truths. BUT, then made a trip to the grocery store and I felt like it was my obligation as a food blogger to share my thoughts.
I went shopping last Friday, not out of desperation or panic, but to out of necessity, to pick up the weekly groceries that I needed to feed my family for the week. I'm sure that my grocery store experience was very similar to all of yours last week. Empty shelves and cleaned out coolers. Desperate shoppers buying up canned foods, milk, meats, poultry, diapers and every bit of soap and sanitizer that they could get their hands on. There were long lines at the register and anxious, frustrated shoppers who weren't able to get what they needed.
We are living in such a weird time right now. We're all trying to navigating through the overwhelming amount of information about the Coronavirus and doing our best to take unprecedented precautions and preparations to protect and prepare ourselves and our families. It can all be quite overwhelming.
I can only assume from the amount of food that everyone has purchased last week, that they are preparing to follow the CDC guidelines and practice social distancing for the next few weeks. Kids are home and parents are working from home - that means that someone is going to have to feed all these people. This is the reason that I decided to blog about the Coronavirus.
So for those of you who picked up a package of turkey legs simply because that was the only thing left in the meat case, I got you. Use the search box on my recipe index page to find a recipe for almost anything. Chicken wings, Italian sausage, ground beef and pork chops - I've got recipes for all of those ingredients. Search through my recipes this week if you've got ingredients that you need to use up.
I was late to the party and I didn't have much luck finding meats and poultry at the grocery store last week. They were also sold out of soup, dried pasta and bread so we're improvising this week. I did manage to come home with a bag of potatoes so - potato skins it is. These cheesy potato skins are going to make our self-imposed home quarantine much more tolerable -- and delicious. 🥔
Cheesy Potato Skins
4 russet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cheddar cheese
fresh chives, chopped
Top each potato with cheese and place under broiler until melted.
Serve potato skins with sour cream, crumbled bacon and fresh chives.
I think America is the most resilient country in the world. We rally when times are tough. We are at our best when things are at their worst. I've watched as communities come together to feed children who won't be able to eat their breakfast and lunch at school this month. I commend all of the brave healthcare workers who are working selflessly to care for others. My prayers are will you all.
Happy St. Patrick's Day 🍀
My food blog is doubling as a travel blog today so that I can share the adventures of our epic journey through the amazingly serene country of Ireland last month. If you had 4 days to spend in Ireland - What would you do? Where would you go? What would you eat? There's so much to see and experience on this amazing island that I feel like two weeks would hardly be sufficient time to take it all in. We had only four days to soak in what is arguably the most beautiful place on the earth. 😬
Our four day journey through Ireland was fleeting to say the least. I did my research though and put together a jam packed itinerary loaded with the things and places that we wanted to see the most. We hit the ground running as soon my plane touched down in the land of rolling green hills, castles, sheer cliffs and ultra-friendly locals. 🇮🇪
Our goal was to make our way through both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland during our visit to the Emerald Isle. Ireland is a singular land mass but it's actually divided into two independent nations. The Republic of Ireland, which comprises most of the land mass, and Northern Ireland, which is a part of the United Kingdom. - Now you know.
We may have come home exhausted but I feel like we got a good taste of Ireland over the 96 hours that we immersed ourselves in Irish culture. We experienced the colorful cities, the quaint small towns, the endless green pastures of sheep, the rugged coastlines, the lively music and the best, most delicious food that Ireland has to offer. We also encountered some of the wildest, most unpredictable weather that we've ever experienced. Sun, rain, rainbows, snow, hail and insanely strong winds - all within a 30 minute window. ☀️🌦🌈 🌨💨
Our time in Ireland was so short and we didn't want to waste the time it takes to even eat a single meal. So we skipped right past Burger King and intentionally sought out the pubs and restaurants where the locals ate and drank. We ended up watching soccer matches with the locals, listening to musicians play traditional Irish instruments and drinking Irish whiskey and beer while sitting elbow to elbow with the notoriously friendly citizens of Ireland. (All things on my list of things to do while in Ireland, by the way.)
The food that we ate on our trip was surprisingly delicious. The most consistent food that we were served in Ireland was homemade brown soda bread. It was served to us at breakfast, lunch AND dinner. I was a fan. 🍞I ate it with a smear of jam in the morning, smothered in Irish butter with my lunch and as a sponge to mop of the sauce from my dinner plate. The Irish brown bread that we had in Ireland was amazing.
I couldn't let an opportunity like St. Patrick's Day pass without sharing a recipe for the food that I would describe as the most quintessential to Irish culture. (The potato is a close second.)
My Americanized version of traditional Irish Soda bread looks a little different from the bread that's made in Ireland. First of all, I'm not Irish and second of all, I don't have access to Irish flour. I thought it best to rely on Cook's Illustrated to recreate this recipe with ingredients that are readily available in American supermarkets and I think they did a fantastic job.
Irish Brown Soda Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
Cool completely on wire rack before slicing.
I want to hear from all of my followers who are either from or have spend some time travelling though Ireland. I'm already starting to think about an itinerary for my next trip to the Emerald Isle. What are the places that I absolutely must see? Experiences that I can't miss? Foods that I have to taste? I'd love to have your input. Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day. ☘️
24 years ago today, my whole world changed - I earned the title of "mom". What a wonderful day that was - the happiest and scariest day of my life. We were over the moon excited to meet our sweet baby. We counted his fingers and toes over and over again. We watched him breathe while he slept and panicked and alerted nurses that there was something wrong when he got the hiccups. 🤦🏻♀️
In the months leading up to this birth day - we prepared for our our new addition. We set up a nursery and we read the parenting books. We felt like we were adequately prepared for this new stage of life. We knew how to take an infants temperature and perform CPR if necessary but as far as parenting - we were CLUELESS. I'm still not really sure why in the world the hospital staff ever saw us fit to take this child home. Apparently they were unaware that we had no idea what we were doing. I'd say that 90% of the first year of his life, we were wingin it. But somehow, he survived - and so did we! 👶🏻
Year two was a little easier. We felt like seasoned, experienced parents and we were eager to impart our parenting advice on anyone willing to listen. Our curious little toddler was an accomplished climber - very accomplished. 😂 He never walked - only ran everywhere he wanted to go.
This energetic toddler didn't but his first tooth until he was 15 months old. I was absolutely obsessed with his little toothless grin but when all my friends babies started getting teeth around 6 months, I had another first time parent overreacting moment. 😬 I packed him up and and ran him to the dentist. Despite my pleas to x-ray his gums, the dentist assured me that he did have teeth. 🦷
My child's lack of choppers may have been a concern for me but it certainly never slowed down his food consumption. This kid could "gum" almost anything. Spaghetti, meatballs, vegetables, bagels - he ate it all.
Since I was a stay at home mom to only one little, tiny, toothless human, I spent hours cooking and pureeing food during his first year of life. I'm not sure that he ever even tasted food from a baby jar. I would just cook vegetables and protein and put it in the blender and he would gum it up. (Don't get too excited: It was a whole different story when I was responsible for keeping two tiny humans alive.) 😂
One of the things that I would make for dinner a lot during that couple years of parenting was potatoes and chicken. Those were always two foods that I could always count on him eating. And as an added bonus - we liked them too. He still eats chicken and potatoes and now that he has a full set of teeth - I don't have to puree it for him anymore.
Chicken Kebabs with Potatoes and Broccoli
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tablespoons red curry paste
1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2" pieces
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon red curry paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 pound broccoli, cut into 2" florets
Remove from oven when chicken registers 160 degrees. Serve with vegetables and sauce.
Happy Birthday Little Buddy!
Food memories are intense. Just the aroma of a margherita pizza, instantly transports me back to the city of Venice where I was served the best pizza margherita pizza that I'd ever tasted. 🍕 I can't help but reminisce about Hawaii when I see an Acai bowl on a menu. 🥣 And a single sip of strong Irish coffee makes me think of the extraordinary pubs that we visited in Ireland. ☕️
I not only associate foods with places, I also associate specific foods with certain people in my life. It's the reason that I can't eat rubarb without thinking about one grandmother or eat chicken nuggets without reminiscing about my other grandmother. A triple layer coconut cake will always remind me of my husband. And it's impossible to make anything with chocolate and peanut butter without thinking about my second child who's the only person I know with a sweet tooth as big as mine. 😅
Apple Hand Pies bring with them all the family feels for me. We started the tradition of taking the kids to the North Georgia mountain every Fall for an apple picking adventure, when they were very young. It was always a fun day of apple picking and hiking and of course eating fried apple pies. I'd like to think that it was the lure of freshly picked apples that drew us to the mountains year after year, but in all honesty, it was the pies that made the journey worthwhile. 🍎
When my kids were young, the topic of fried apple pies would work its way into our dinner conversations as least once a month. Someone would reminisce about how much they loved them or how they were looking forward to our next trip to get more fried apple pies. (The apple picking simply became a means to an end.) 😂 We don't always get to take out apple pie trip anymore since the kids have moved out so I thought I would try my hand at making a homemade version at home this year. Go big or go home, right?
My apple pies are different from the beloved North Georgia fried apple pies. First of all, mine version are baked - not fried. They're stuffed with deliciously rehydrated apples coated in a black pepper, cardamom and clove syrup. They are surprisingly different and yet they still bring back all the memories of our Fall family trips.
Dried Apple Hand Pies
4 cups unsweetened apple cider
3 cups dried apple slices
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/8 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 whole cloves
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 recipe pie dough
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Remember that go big or go home option? I decided that I would go REALLY big with this recipe. I put together about 4 dozen of these little babies so I could save some for a rainy day. I assembled all of the pies, wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in ziploc bags before tucking them away in my freezer. You can actually bake these right from the freezer if you add 5-10 minutes to the baking time. 🥧
What's better than eating a chocolate sugar cookie? Eating TWO chocolate sugar cookies stuffed with a layer of creamy white chocolate filling! 😁Anyone else feel like they're getting away with something when they eat a filled cookie? Like you've somehow worked the system by getting two cookies with and a scrumptious filling that really only counts as only one serving of dessert? Tricking myself into consuming a bonus cookie really isn't as hard as you might think. 😂
Based on my 2 for one cookie argument, you probably think that I'm a fan of the super popular Oreo cookie. Not true. I'm actually a fan of the cookie portion - just not the filling. And in case you're wondering, I still count the top and bottom cookies as one - since it was once one cookie, before I scraped out the filling. 💁🏻♀️
I want to be really clear - my Double Chocolate Sandwich cookies are NOT an Oreo want-to-be. They may have similarities to the Oreo - two chocolate cookies and all, but these are different - deliciously different.
I'll be the first to admit that white chocolate really isn't my cup of tea. BUT, this white chocolate and whipped cream filling sandwiched between two dark chocolate cookies is heavenly. The white and dark chocolate compliment each other perfectly.
Double Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 stick butter
1 3/4 teaspoons vanilla
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
I have a whole new level of appreciation for St. Patrick's Day since my trip to Ireland last month. I fell in love with the country and the people of Ireland, immediately. Next week, I want to recreate all the amazing food that we ate in the Irish pubs. And for dessert - double chocolate shamrock cookies. ☘️
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