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March 17, 2013

O'Potato Soup!

The Celtic tunes were playing, the food was plentiful, and the laughs shared among friends were loud and heartfelt. 

In keeping with tradition, last night we had a house full of friends to enjoy a St. Patrick's Day feast with all the fixings -- corned beef and cabbage, carrots and potatoes, Irish soda bread -- and of course, a variety of beers.  Friends rounded out the menu with an array of appetizers and an impressive spread of desserts.  A true feast!

Also in keeping with tradition, this morning Jeff made a fabulous corned beef hash that the boys enjoyed with eggs and toast.  Yum!!   

I guess everyone is watching their intake of starch these days though -- because we had a ridiculous quantity of potatoes left over this year.  So much so, that I had to figure out something to do with them -- they're just too yummy after soaking up all the flavor from the corned beef.  I've never made potato soup before, but I figured I would give it a whirl.

This is definitely NOT your traditional potato soup -- and never, in a million years, did I think my "winging it" recipe would be good enough to blog about -- but this soup was pretty darn good if I do say so myself!  Needless to say, I apologize for not having pictures of the process, but it's pretty straight forward. 

Here goes.  Let's call it O'Potato Soup!

You'll Need...
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
About a cup of carrots, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
6-8 potatoes, boiled
About 2 cups of milk
3 Tbs. flour
Pepper to taste
2 Tbs. sour cream
About a cup of corned beef, chopped

Step by Step
  • Add onion, celery & carrots to stock pot along with chicken broth.  Bring to boil and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are starting to soften
  • While it's simmering, take 2 of the boiled potatoes and chop them up into bite size pieces, set aside
  • Cut the remaining potatoes into large chunks and put into a blender or food processor.
  • Add the majority of the broth/veggie combo into the blender, leaving about 1 cup (or a little more) in the stock pot 
  • Puree the potatoes & broth until a smooth consistency
  • In a separate bowl, whisk milk and flour
  • Add to blender along with sour cream; mix well
  • Return puree to stock pot and mix with remaining broth/veggies
  • Add pepper to taste
  • Add corned beef and allow to simmer
If you're not a fan of corned beef, I'm sure you could use bacon.... or no meat at all if you'd rather.  That said, the corned beef adds a lot of salt to the recipe, so if you don't use it, I'm sure you'll need to add salt for flavor. 

For my first time ever making a creamed soup, I was really happy with the consistency.  It definitely wasn't watery, but it wasn't a total puree either.  Keeping some of the veggies in tact and adding the corned beef was just perfect.

I used skim milk and light sour cream to try to keep the fat content in check.  Plugging all the ingredients into the Weight Watchers recipe builder, it looks like it's about 4 points for a 1 cup serving.   Not too bad for such a hearty soup!
Enjoy -- and Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my blog world friends!

March 13, 2013

Soda Bread So Good, Even a Kitty Will Love It!

In my previous post, you saw our naughty little kitty on top of our refrigerator enjoying some fresh baked Irish Soda Bread!  One reader commented that the bread must be pretty good for a cat to love it -- and indeed it is delicious! 

With St. Patrick's Day quickly approaching, I thought it would be worth sharing the recipe, just in case anyone is looking to make their own this year. 

This recipe is pretty straight forward.  Both of my sons made it for their Creative Foods class and the flavor was outstanding! 

We followed the recipe exactly as written, using a cast iron skillet. It definitely needed a few extra minutes baking time to make sure it baked through.  Matt reminded me that we when we made it the last time, we deviated slightly from the recipe as written -- using a loaf pan rather than forming into a round and baking on a sheet.  The major difference is that with a loaf pan the bread keeps its shape and gets a little "taller."   

No matter how you make it -- beware of sneaky kitties who will try to steal a nibble!

Enjoy -- and please let me know how it works out for you!

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

4 to 41/2 cups flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup raisins
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk


1. Preheat oven to 425°. Sift together 4 cups of flour, thesugar, salt, and baking
soda into a large mixing bowl.

2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, work butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then stir in raisins.

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiffto stir. Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowljust long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with,add in some more flour. Do not over knead! Transfer dough to a lightly flouredsurface and shape into a round loaf.

4. Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a bakingsheet. Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about 1/2'' deep in an"X" shape. Transfer to oven and bake until bread is golden and bottomsounds hollow when tapped with a knife, about 35-45 minutes. (If you use a castiron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat upthan a baking sheet.) Check for doneness also byinserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it'sdone.

Hint 1: If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent thebreadwith some aluminum foil.

Hint 2: If you use a cast iron skillet to cook thebread in the oven, be very careful when you take the pan out. It's easy toforget that the handle is extremely hot. Cool the handle with an ice cube, orput a pot holder over it.

Transfer bread to a rack to let cool briefly. Servebread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted.


March 5, 2013

Treasure Chest

So I thought we had hidden the Irish Soda Bread from the cat. I was mistaken.