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Saint Patrick’s Day Recipes


Do you have any St. Patrick's Day traditions?

Our one tradition each year for St. Patrick's Day is to make St. Patrick's Day cupcakes using a recipe that I found a long time ago in a magazine. I often make the cupcakes for Valentine's day too by using vanilla pudding and decorating the tops of the cupcakes with pink or red colored sugar and M & M's.

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Each year around St. Patrick's Day you see corned beef on sale for a good price at many grocery stores.

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Last year I found a really good recipe for corned beef brisket that can be prepared in the crock pot. It works well for us as a Sunday meal. At first I was skeptical about the need to glaze it and put it under the broiler just before serving it, but it really does add a lot of flavor and eye appeal. So, if you try this recipe please go the extra mile and make the effort to add the glaze. Here are the recipes and pictures of the finished products:

St. Patrick's Day Cupcakes

1 3/4 cups flour
4 oz. package instant pistachio pudding mix
3/4 cup chocolate chips (minis are nice here)
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 cup butter frosting (recipe follows)
green colored sugar
green M & M's (minis are nice here too)

Line muffin tins with papers. (I like to use the white ones.) In a large bowl stir together the flour, pudding mix, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. In a small bowl stir together the eggs, milk, oil, and almond extract. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dry ingredients are moistened--you can do this by hand--no mixer needed. Fill the muffin papers 2/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 mins. Cool, then frost with the butter frosting, sprinkle with green sugar, and top with three green M & M's in a shamrock pattern. Makes 18 delicious cupcakes.

Butter Frosting
2 1/2 Tbsps. softened butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
3/4 tsp. almond extract
1-2 Tbsps. milk

Blend all ingredients together and use to frost cupcakes.

To save money on the M & M's buy a bag of red and green ones at Christmas time and squirrel them away. Then you will be prepared for both Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day!

Here are some pink ones I made for a friend's birthday in February. I did use a different icing recipe for these since I was trying to make them a little "fancier."

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Orange Marmalade Corned Beef

1 piece corned beef brisket (I prefer the flat cut rather than the point cut)
3 cups water
1 bay leaf
4 whole cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup orange marmalade
potatoes (I like to use red ones cut into pieces)
carrots (baby carrots work well or use regular ones peeled and cut up)

Rinse all the goo off the corned beef and place in the crock pot. Add the water, bay leaf, and cloves. You can cook this for 6-8 hours on low, or for Sunday dinner cook 2 hours on high, add potatoes and carrots and then cook for 4 more hours. Before serving remove the beef from the slow cooker and cut off the fat. Place the meat on a broiler pan. (To ease clean up place a small amount of water in the bottom section and then spray the top slotted part with pan spray.) Prepare a glaze from the brown sugar, mustard, and marmalade. Glaze the meat and then place under the broiler for 3-5 mins. Slice and serve with the remaining glaze.

Here's the finished product:

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Becka

A tale of two lentils and a two year old


Do you like lentils? I don't think I ever ate them until I was an adult. I grew up in the midwest where we ate a lot of great northern beans, navy beans, and kidney beans, but not lentils, blackeyed peas, or pinto beans.

The nice thing about lentils is that they cook quickly and don't need presoaking. At the moment I have two kinds of lentils in my cupboard.

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My favorite lentils are these tiny green ones that are French lentils or lentils du puy (pictured here on the left). I first had them in France a number of years ago and at that time they became my favorites. I had difficulty finding them around here until a couple of years ago when I discovered them at one of our favorite restaurants here in Greenville, The Pita House. They have a large array of middle eastern groceries including a rainbow of lentils. Unfortunately I still had some of the less favored brown lentils (pictured on the right) in my pantry, so this week I decided to try a new soup recipe to use up some of them. It was actually pretty good, so give it a try if you like lentils. In a future post I will give you my favorite lentil recipe, so stay tuned, lentil lovers.

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The recipe follows a picture of our grandson, Drew (who probably doesn't care for lentils) who just turned two!

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Lentil Soup
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup dried lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 cup peeled and diced carrot
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/2 cup chopped celery
generous grinding of black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. beef soup base or bouillon
4 cups water
2 cups tomato sauce (I used spaghetti sauce)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Brown ground beef in large soup kettle. Drain off fat and add onions and celery and cook a couple of minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except the vinegar. Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer covered until vegetables and lentils are tender, about 30-40 mins. Just before serving add the vinegar.

Becka

Cake mix rolls


This weekend we had our annual missions breakfast at church. We have a church wide breakfast and then a missionary speaker. Some of the men in the church prepare the breakfast and the ladies are asked to bring sweet rolls or muffins. I was asked to bring two dozen and decided to make these cake mix rolls. They are easy to mix up and remind me of an Entenmann's coffee cake in texture. Here's the recipe:

Cake Mix Rolls

1 box yellow cake mix
5 cups bread flour
2 pkgs. or two Tablespoons yeast
2 1/2 cups water (120-130 degrees)

Cinnamon Filling
1/4 cup soft margarine or butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsps. cinnamon

Cream Cheese Filling
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsps. sugar

Glaze
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsps. milk

In a large bowl combine the dry cake mix, the bread flour, and the yeast. Whisk together with a wire whisk. Add the warm water and stir well. No kneading is necessary. Cover and let rest for 10 mins.

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In the meantime mix together the sugar and cinnamon for the cinnamon filling.

Next thoroughly combine the ingredients for the cream cheese filling.

After the dough has rested for 10 mins. cut the dough in half, letting one half rest in the covered bowl while you work the other half. On a floured surface roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spread with the soft margarine or butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

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Roll up as you would a jelly roll. Cut the roll into approximately 18 pieces and arrange in greased baking pans.

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You can use 9" x 13" pans for a dozen rolls or round cake pans or pie pans for six rolls. Let the rolls double in size--the rolls will probably touch each other when fully risen. This will take about 15-30 mins. depending on how warm your kitchen is.

Make an indentation in each roll with a tablespoon and fill with a spoonful of the cream cheese filling.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 mins. or until lightly browned. Cool slightly and then swirl on the glaze.

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Try to eat just one!
Makes about three dozen.

Becka

Strawberry Pie


I read in the paper last week that this is the peak of strawberry season in Florida. Then I saw that one of our local grocery stores had strawberries on sale for a really good price. That clinched it--we had to have strawberry pie for dessert Sunday.

This is a really old recipe that I got from one of my teachers when I was in school. I have modified it some over the years to make the filling a bit firmer.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Crust:
1/2 cup margarine
2 Tbsps. sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsps. flour (the extra 2 Tbsps. flour may not be necessary in some areas)

Blend together the margarine, sugar, and flour. (I use the mixer for this.) This should form a dough. Pat into a 9" pie pan with your fingertips.

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Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 mins. Set aside to cool. This can be made a couple of days in advance if desired.

Filling:
1 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup cold water
2 Tbsps. dry strawberry gelatin
1 quart strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into bite size pieces
Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add cold water. Bring to a boil and boil a full minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add the gelatin. Stir for another minute or so to completely dissolve the gelatin. Pour over the prepared berries and then refrigerate for two hours to thicken. Pour the thickened filling into the cooled pie crust.

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Chill for several hours or overnight. Serve with whipped cream or whipped topping.

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A delicious taste of spring!

Becka

Calzones


Calzones are another item that you can make from pizza dough. Here is how I do it:

Calzones
1/2 recipe of pizza dough
15 oz. ricotta cheese (can use the part skim)
1 egg
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Mix together the ricotta, the egg, and the shredded mozzarella and set aside.

Divide the dough into 4 or 5 portions, depending upon your appetite and the number of people you are feeding. Roll each piece of dough into a circle about the size of a dessert plate. Place some of the ricotta mixture on half of the dough circle.

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Fold over the dough to cover the filling and crimp the edges to seal with a crimper or with a fork.

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Place the completed turnovers on a baking sheet (I like to line this with parchment or use a silpat). Brush with a little oil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 mins. Serve with heated spaghetti sauce.

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You can vary these by adding well drained spinach or chopped pepperoni to the filling.
If you have any leftover you can reheat them at 375 degrees for about 15 mins.
I hope you will give them a try.

Becka