Category Archives: Food

Irish Potato Cheddar Soup


Four years ago (the last time I was in Ireland) I was almost three months pregnant with my oldest daughter. I was sicker than a dog. I could hardly eat a bite and survived most of the trip on cereal and toast. One afternoon, we headed to a local pub for a bite and I had the most amazing veggie soup I’d ever had. I was so thrilled to be able to keep something down and this soup hit the spot. I knew it had leeks and potatoes in it but I couldn’t figure out what else there was (because the person had blended it all together). I came across this recipe from Whole Foods and I must say, it’s better than the original I’ve been pining over for all these years!



Irish Potato Cheddar Soup

3TBS. Unsalted Butter

3  large leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped

2  pounds medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks

1 (48 ounce) box Chicken Broth

3  cups 2% milk

1 1/2  teaspoon fine sea salt

6   sprigs fresh thyme

1  pound asparagus, ends trimmed, thinly sliced into coins

2  cups (1/2 lb) grated Kilaree Cheddar, divided (I used Dubliner but really, anything will work).

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring often, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, milk, salt and thyme; bring just to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until potatoes are very tender, 20 to 25 minutes; discard thyme.

Working in batches, carefully purée soup in a blender until smooth (or use a hand blender), and then return to pot. (Note: I am more of the kind that likes having the nice chunks of asparagus and potatoes so I skipped this step). Return to a simmer, add asparagus and cook until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, gently stir in 1 1/2 cups cheddar and ladle into bowls. Garnish with remaining cheddar and serve.

This recipe is AMAZING with some nice hot bread out of the oven.


Slow Low Country Boil


I’m somewhat of a crock pot fanatic. I mean that while at the same time having spent years only using it for pot roast. Seriously, pathetic.


Those days are LONG gone. I now use it for EVERYTHING. So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest I HAD to try it. The meal is very similar to some I’ve had in great seafood restaurants (including an amazing meal in Maine several years ago). I also liked it because I’m sorta weird about seafood–I don’t cook it often because when it’s bad, it’s REALLY bad. This made it seem super easy to just toss in (and it was!).

Here’s the modified version I used (because the person that originally used this recipe must have had the biggest crock pot ever made. I cut the original recipe in half so it’d all fit.


3-4 quarts cold water
1/4 cup Old Bay or other spicy seasoning (less if you can’t handle spicy)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more, to taste
4 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 yellow onion, diced
1 head garlic, halved
2-2 1/2 pounds small red potatoes
3-4 ears corn, shucked, each cut into 4 pieces
2 pounds smoked sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch slices
2 pounds medium shrimp, in the shell, deveined



In a slow cooker combine the water, Old Bay seasoning, salt, celery, onion, garlic and potatoes and cook on low heat until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, 4-6 hours.

Add the corn and sausage to the crock pot and simmer until the corn is tender, 1-2 more hours. Add the shrimp and simmer until opaque, 20 to 30 minutes more. Taste the broth and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve immediately.


Homemade Taco Seasoning


We LOVE tacos in our home and typically eat them once per week. I used to buy a taco seasoning blend from a local spice manufacturer–but I noticed that their regular blend and even their bold were a little to blah for my tastes. Plus it was SUPER expensive given the amount we use. I found this recipe online a year ago and have been using it ever since. It’s fun to play with a bit (I like more garlic then is normally calls for). The family LOVES it. Even my toddler eats it. I will say I usually double or triple the recipe to make enough to last for a while.


Homemade Taco Seasoning

This recipe makes 1 oz.


1TBS Chili Powder

1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp. Onion Powder

1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (I just use crushed red pepper)

1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano

1/2 tsp. Paprika

1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin

1 tsp. Sea Salt

1 tsp. Black Pepper

Just mix it all together and store in an airtight container.


Chocolate Protein Shake


After I found this recipe for a chocolate protein shake on Pinterest, I decided to give it a whirl. I’m officially hooked. The original recipe swears it tastes just like a Wendy’s frosty, but I wouldn’t go that far. I actually don’t add all of the ingredients because a couple are more speciality items that I didn’t want to buy until I knew I liked the general taste of it. I’ve been burned on smoothie/protein shake recipes too many times!


Protein Frosty
Serves one


3/4 cup (6 ounces) Almond milk (or milk of your choice, I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

10-15 Ice cubes

1 scoop Vanilla protein powder

1-2 TB Unsweetened cocoa powder (depending on how chocolatey you like it, I use 1TBS)

1/4 tsp Xanthan gum (Supposedly this is the KEY ingredient, but honestly I haven’t used it and it still tastes great!)

1/4 tsp Guar gum (or use more xanthan if you don’t have guar) (Again, I haven’t added this yet because I HATE buying weird ingredients if I’m not sure ill use them ).

Sweetener of choice (frozen banana, stevia packet, a few dates, xylitol, or agave) I use stevia.





Now, I’ve stumbled upon an “ah ha” moment while making this. I hate cleaning my blender. Such a pain. Until I actually read my blender (after 7 years) and realized there was a setting called “easy clean”. It was as if angels were singing the chorus of “Hallelujah”. I added water to fill about half the blender and two drops of dish soap and blended. Viola! Clean blender.


Yes, I realize this is relatively common sense-but it never clicked for me until now. I will definitely be using my blender much more often!

Quick, no knead homemade bread without a bread maker!


I hate kitchen gadgets. I really do. Unless I know I’ll use them constantly it’s not something I like to keep lying around (which is why this summer I am yard selling a ton of wedding presents from seven years ago–I figure if I haven’t used them in seven years I won’t ever). But, I LOVE homemade bread. The smell, the taste, everything. I still refuse to bite the bullet and buy a bread maker and because of this handy recipe I found on Pinterest, I may not have to.


Crusty Bread Recipe

– 3c White Unbleached Flour

– 1 3/4 tsp. Kosher Salt

– 1/2 tsp. Rapid Rise Yeast

– 1 1/2 c Water


In a large bowl add flour, salt and yeast. Mix well (I use a fork or whisk). Add water and mix.


Cover with plastic wrap and leave out (NOTE: DO NOT PUT IN THE FRIDGE) for 12-18 hours.


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. The original recipe post the person used a 5.5 quart cast iron pot. She said you could use anything with a lid that would work in the oven. I don’t have anything that will work for that. What I do have, however, is a large Pyrex glass bowl. I’ve made it now each time using the same bowl–some times covering it with tin foil and other times not. I prefer not as the bread is more golden brown and crustier. No need to oil the pot/bowl/whatever you use. As soon as the oven in preheated place the bowl/pot in the oven for 30 minutes to warm up.

In the meantime, dump the dough onto a floured surface. NO NEED TO KNEAD THE DOUGH! Just shape it into a round loaf, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.


Carefully remove the pot from the oven (it will be insanely hot). Dump the load in the pot (I flour my hands because the dough is super sticky). Put the lid on and cook for 30 minutes. If you do use a lid, after the 30 minutes remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes .



St. Patrick’s Day Recap


We got WAY behind on our 17 days. In fact I think we made it to about 10 or 12 days and then life caused us to miss a few. But I will say this one was probably Rory’s favorite art projects:

577793_10151510832850042_218664535_nIt’s high praise when she asks to do something again and shows it to everyone that sets foot in the house. Those are Rolo wrappers btw. I had fun eating the candy in order to have enough for the project. Take one for the team.

Luckily, St. Patrick’s Day was on a weekend this year which allowed for a new level of craziness to ensue at our home. Here’s a little run down on what that meant for us.

The night before one of the books we read “The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day” (we have  a bunch of these “The Night Before…” books and I just adore them). We made a leprechaun trap using a treasure chest that Rory already has and setting out gold doubloons (because of course, Liam the leprechaun LOVES gold). We went to bed with visions of shamrocks, Irish music and gold dancing in our heads. We woke up to a shamrock trail leading to gifts and a trap that had been messed around a bit. Liam was a bit too tricky for our trap and in his wake he left some turned over furniture, green milk, green toilet water, a tea party with Rory’s stuffed animals and some footprints! We’ll get him next year.


We also woke up to some gifts. Now, before you think I’m completely insane I must preface these gifts. My husband and I are both of Irish descent and we love our culture and wish to pass it on to our daughters. St. Patrick’s Day gifts are all things to celebrate our culture. Most often times it’s Irish books–for the girls it’s books of Irish myths, legends and folklore. For myself and my husband it’s more novels by Irish authors or books about Irish history. As the girls grow it will meld into music, hopefully art, etc. We want them to grow up with a love and respect for where they’ve come from.


We also had a yummy day of food. Now, most of Irish food is based on some sort of dare. I can’t imagine eating Irish cuisine daily–although I’d be 100 lbs. lighter for sure. So because of this, we decided against a “traditional Irish breakfast” (by that I mean the stuff they serve the tourists and pass off as authentic) and decided on rainbow pancakes. Rory thought this was so cool–and had fun deciding which color each person got (because they were HUGE you could only eat one each). The fun part was the presentation–about once a month I like to dress up our breakfast with our silver serving tray, tea service, etc. Rory LOVES this (she thinks it’s a tea party and inevitably ends with us deciding it’s our Merry Unbirthday and we have to sing to each other–thanks, Alice in Wonderland). Notice that Liam the leprechaun also turned our milk green (btw not the best idea for picky toddlers but you can quickly help them change their mind if you take a sip and say it’s lucky milk). For lunch, I made a simple PB&J and cut the bread out into a circle using a glass drinking cup. I shredded some carrots we had on hand, cut a “hat” out of a green apple and used black gel icing to make a face and instantly we had a Liam the Leprechaun sandwich! We had one happy camper on our hands who actually ate their carrots for once. The day before, we made shamrock shaped (don’t judge) cupcakes by using three marbles in the muffin tin. They of course didn’t turn out the way they did on Pinterest (like anything ever does). They were good enough for Rory and once we cut stems out of mint leave candies and used black gel frosting to make faces, she was pleased with the finished project. St. Patrick’s Day dinner was rounded out with the Irish American tradition of corned beef and cabbage. Yes, it’s Irish American NOT Irish during the Irish diaspora the new immigrants from Ireland couldn’t find the type of salted meat they were used to and so they “borrowed” the salted brisket from their Jewish neighbors.


Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

(it means “St. Patrick’s Day blessings upon you!”)

Broccoli Cheddar Soup


I’m OBSESSED with soup. There is nothing better to me after a long day at work in 20 degree weather to come home and eat warm, home cooked soup. Extra points if I was able to make it in the crock pot. I absolutely love Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup. I have pinned about 10 different recipes on Pinterest in the search for the perfect one. Here’s the recipe I made last night; originally from My Blessed Life.


Broccoli Cheddar Soup

  • 2 T. Butter, melted
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 c. half and half
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 lb. fresh broccoli
  • 2 cups, julienned carrots
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated  (I only used 14oz. and it was super cheesy)

Saute onion in butter.  Set aside.   Whisk butter and flour over medium heat for 3-5 minutes.  Stir constantly and slowly add half and half.  Add chicken stock, still whisking.

Simmer 20 minutes.

Add broccoli, carrots and onion.  Cook over low heat until veggies are tender – about 20-25 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  The soup will have thickened by now.

Carefully transfer soup mixture to blender and puree.  Return soup to pot (or crock pot) over low heat.  Add cheese.  Stir until well blended.  Add nutmeg right before serving.

Makes 8-10 servings.

It was amazing. Seriously. Nice and thick, great flavor and perfect with the fresh bread I had baked that morning. At first I didn’t blend it in the blender in the end (we love soup with nice chunks of veggies) but I will say as someone who HATES onions this had to be fixed because I took a chunk of onion and was done with that business. Not terribly difficult to make, and Rory loved it. High praise!