Monday, March 14, 2011

Meal Planner Monday

I'm feeling stronger everyday and now my goal is to get back to some kind of normal routine. I haven't been at my computer much since I came home from the hospital and through much of my recovery, so sitting here typing this feels good. Since it's Monday I feel I owe you a weeks worth of meals. And since its the week of Saint Patrick's day I feel that I should give it an Irish spin. Everyone's Irish for Saint Patty's day right?! SO here we go!

Cottage Pie
3 cups minced or finely diced leftover roast beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 to 4 cups leftover or fresh mashed potatoes, prepared with milk, butter, salt, and pepper
3 tablespoons sour cream, optional
1 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese
Sweet Hungarian paprika

Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish. Heat oven to 350°.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until softened and lightly browned. Add beef and butter and sauté for about 1 minute longer. Stir in the flour until blended. Add beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and peas and carrots. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into the prepared baking dish. If using leftover mashed potatoes, warm them in a saucepan with a little butter or milk until softened. Stir sour cream and cheese into the potatoes. Spoon potatoes evenly over the beef layer and sprinkle lightly with paprika.
Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until hot and bubbly. If desired, turn on the broiler to brown the top for just a minute or two, but watch carefully to prevent burning.
Serves 4.

Casserole Roast Chicken with Leeks and Bacon
3lbs chicken
8oz  bacon
1lb leeks, trimmed
1 splash of sunflower oil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley
                                                                 1cup light cream
                                                                 salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350f
Cut the white parts of the leeks into rounds and wash them well. Cut the bacon into bits. Remove lumps of fat from inside the end of the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Rub the butter over the breast and legs of the chicken and put it breast side down into a casserole. Allow it to brown on a gentle heat this can take 5-8 minutes. As soon as the breast is golden remove from the casserole and keep aside. Add pieces of bacon to the casserole with a splash of oil. Cook the bacon until golden, add the sliced leeks and toss together in the bacon fat. Season with pepper. Place the chicken on top of the leaks and bacon and cover the casserole. Put into the oven on moderate heat for 1 hour until chicken is fully cooked. When chicken is cooked remove to a serving dish lift out the leeks and bacon with a perforated spoon. Skim the juices of all fat. Add the stock and cream and bring to the boil. The sauce should not be too thick, just thick enough to coat lightly the back of a spoon. Allow to simmer on a low heat while you carve the chicken . Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve

Steak and Guinness Pie by Closet Cooking
(makes 6 servings)

4 slices bacon (sliced)
1 pound beef (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 onion (sliced)
2 stalks celery (sliced)
2 carrots (cut into bite sized pieces)
4 ounces mushrooms (quartered)
2 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 can Guinness
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon thyme (chopped)
1 tablespoon rosemary (chopped)
1 bay leaf
2 pie crusts
1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

1. Cook the bacon and set aside leaving the grease in the pan.
2. Add the beef and brown on all sides and set aside.
3. Add the onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
5. Add the guinness and deglaze the pan.
6. Add the stock, bacon, beef, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
7. Reduce the heat and simmer until the beef is tender, about 2-3 hours.
8. Place the first pie crust into the bottom of a pie plate and pour the beef stew in.
9. Sprinkle the cheese over the beef stew and cover with the top pie crust.
10. Mix the egg and water and brush it onto the top of the pie crust.
11. Bake in a preheated 350 oven until golden brown on top, about 30-40 minutes.

Irish Farmhouse Breakfast
I have fond memories of a particularly sunny summer a year or two ago when I stayed in a farmhouse on the Dingle peninsula. As well as the good weather I remember the breakfasts.
Start off with a freshly-cut half grapefruit with a dusting of superfine sugar, followed by a bowl of smooth oatmeal porridge gently cooked in milk and served with an individual jug of cream. After that comes rashers, sausages and eggs, the lot served with scones and brown bread warm from the oven, honey, homemade preserves, fresh butter and a pot of tea.
For each person gently fry two sausages over a low heat until well cooked through and golden brown on the outside. Also fry a couple of slices each of black and white pudding. Remove from the pan and keep hot. Drain off the fat, as it is somewhat indigestible, and fry two rashers of bacon, having first cut off the rind. Now fry a couple of eggs in the bacon fat, spooning the hot fat over the yolks to set them. Fry a few mushrooms, half a tomato and a slice or two of potato cake each. Add a pat of butter if there is not sufficient bacon fat, but do not cook in butter alone as it burns at too low a temperature.

Country Stew
1 lb cubed beef or lamb
2 large potatoes
1 packet of Knorr country stew mix

 Fry 1 lb of cubed beef or lamb in a pan until cooked through. Peel and chop 2 large potatoes. Mix the contents of Knorr country stew mix with 20 oz or 1 pint of cold water and bring to a boil. Add the beef and potatoes and simmer with a lid on for 1-2 hours or until meat is tender.

Dublin Coddle
1 lb best sausages
8oz streaky bacon
1 cup stock or water
6 medium potatoes
2 medium onions
salt and pepper
(serves four)

Cut the bacon into 1in squares. Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan which has a well-fitting lid, add the sausages and the bacon and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the sausages and bacon and save the liquid. Cut each sausage into four or five pieces. Peel the potatoes and cut into thick slices. Skin the onions and slice them. Assemble a layer of potatoes in the saucepan, followed by a layer of onions and then half the sausages and bacon. Repeat the process once more and then finish off with a layer of potatoes. Pour the reserved stock over and season lightly to taste. Cover and simmer gently for about an hour. Adjust the seasoning and serve piping hot.

If these difficult Irish meals aren't your thing why not try an Irish dessert like these below:

Irish Chocolate Cake
The "Irishness" of this lovely chocolate cake is thanks not only to the wonderful liqueur used in the filling, but also to a certain, very Irish, ingredient in the cake mixture itself, which contributes to its moistness.

6oz self-raising flour
1/2tsp salt
2oz dark chocolate
4oz butter
6oz caster sugar or super fine sugar
3oz cooked mashed potato
2 eggs, beaten
4tbsp milk

4oz dark chocolate
4fl oz double cream
2oz icing sugar
3tbsp Irish cream liqueur

Preheat oven to 375°F, and grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Sift flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Melt chocolate in a bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar together until fluffy, then beat in the chocolate and mashed potato. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour with each addition. Fold in the rest of the flour and stir in the milk. Divide mixture between cake tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is firm but springy to the touch. Remove from oven and after a few minutes, turn out on a cooling rack. While the cake is cooling, make the filling. Melt the chocolate as before, stir in the other ingredients and mix well. Use the filling to sandwich the sponge layers together and coat the top and sides of the cake.

 Kerry Apple Cake

This cake does not keep very well, but that is not usually a problem, as you can be sure it will disappear very quickly! It is best eaten warm with cream or Greek-style yoghurt, and is also perfect with cheese.

6oz butter
6oz caster sugar or super fine sugar
2 eggs, beaten
8oz self-raising flour
2 medium cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1tsp lemon rind
2tbsp Demerara sugar or natural brown sugar (crystals)
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease and line 2lb loaf tin. Cream, butter and sugar. Gradually add eggs and flour. Stir in apples and lemon rind. Pour into the tin and sprinkle with sugar and spices. Bake for 1- 1 1/2 hours.

 If you're still put off by all the work you could always fall back on the good old green food coloring trick and dye your spaghetti green.

Happy cooking!


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