St. Patty’s Day Faves

photo 2-32 {elf (because I don’t have lucky), hope, shine}

Happy St. Patty’s Day!! This was supposed to be a Friday Faves post last week, but of course I didn’t have my act together so it’s a Tuesday Faves this week.  I hope everyone has fun plans for the holiday, which is one of my favorites! I’m excited to put together an outfit this morning, and treat myself to a green beer or two tonight. Some fun thematic links and pics in the meantime:

  • Homemade Mint Milanos – yes please!
  • So sad I didn’t think ahead and make this this year – bookmarking for SPD 2016!
  • If only I had known Harper would be here by now, I would have ordered this for her.
  • I pinned these biscuits years ago and have yet to make them – also on next year’s to do list.
  • One of my very favorite B&B posts.

photo 1-38{and because I’m a complete glassybaby nerd: a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
everlasting, pumpkin, taxi, grass, blue bird, sweet pea, grace}

photo 2-30 {St. Patty’s Day cookie fun (with stencils!)}

photo 3-18{gorgeous greens}

photo 1-36 {and presents for the babies! books, bottles, hat (Coop’s dad is a C’s fan), bow}

Friday Faves

It’s hard to pick my highlights from the week, since on Wednesday night I flew out of Seattle (55 and rainy) and into sunny San Diego (blue skies and 80 degree temps). Icing on the cake (or rather, the cake itself, since he’s the reason for my visit – the sunshine is the icing), I got to meet my very dear friend Amanda’s 7 week old baby, Max. I only get to stay for a few days, so we’re going to pack in as many happy hours, beach trips, and Mexican food dinners as an infant’s schedule will allow. Luckily he’s one of the most easygoing babies I’ve ever seen, so that might be more than one would think.

Elf, Mistletoe, Grass

Elf, Mistletoe, Grass

My idea of decorating consists mainly of changing out my Glassybaby displays for the seasons and holidays. I love this St. Patty’s Day trio with the mini green hydrangea (at least that’s what I think they are). Technically two of these are “Christmas greens” – Elf was a birthday gift from my friend Kelly and Mistletoe I bought as a gift for someone else, but accidentally kept for myself. Oops! (Grass was a “thanks for helping with my wedding” gift from my cousin Anna). Last year they had a color called “Leprechaun” that I meant to get and didn’t, and now they no longer carry – but I think I need to add Emerald and Lucky to my collection for some true St. Patrick’s Day greens.

I bought a loaf of soda bread from a bakery near my house last March, and it was so delish that this year I was inspired to make it myself. I know I said I would stop with the Melissa Clark recipes, but I guess I meant after just one more. This one is so easy and so good – and if you’d like a more detailed explanation of soda bread, with better pictures, the recipe I used is almost identical to this one. The only differences are mine uses half the sugar, yogurt or sour cream rather than buttermilk, and part whole wheat flour rather than all white – but you could play around with the recipes and use whatever you have on hand.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway

From Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (see notes)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups plain whole milk yogurt (see notes)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups raisins
1 tablespoon caraway seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 10-inch round cake pan (I just used a cookie sheet with parchment paper).
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, taking care not to overmix. Fold in the raisins and caraway seeds. (Note: I had to quasi-knead the dough with my hands to get it combined, so it felt as though I was certainly overmixing, but my loaf still turned out great).
3. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Shape the dough into a round about 7 inches in diameter (it will spread to about 10 inches) and place it in the prepared cake pan. Score the round with a cross and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve warm if possible, or toast slices before serving.

Note: if you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour (I’ve never been able to, although I suppose I haven’t looked that hard), Melissa suggests using half whole wheat flour and half white – that’s what I did and mine turned out perfectly.

I popped into J. Crew on Tuesday in search of some warm-weather pieces for San Diego, and found another sale going on. This locket necklace was 40% off final sale – originally $48, and I paid $17. The little lockets all open up and everything – if only I had eight tiny little pictures.

Yesterday Amanda, Max and I had an amazing lunch at Tartine, a delicious French bakery “on the island” (that’s what locals call Coronado:)). I had an amazing spinach quiche, and then we split a mango cheesecake for dessert. I wish it could be vacation every day!

After lunch, we headed to the Hotel Del Coronado for an early happy hour. When I saw a drink called “blackberry basil” on the cocktkail list, I had to try it. If only it had been blueberries instead! It was to die for, and I think I might have to start putting basil in all my drinks now!

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend, wherever you may be! TGIF!!

St. Patty’s Day Dinner: Corned Beef & Cabbage and Grasshopper Brownies

I wish I could tell you that corned beef and cabbage is a family tradition, but truth be told I’d never actually had it until Friday. I’m pretty sure my grandma makes it every year, but somehow I’ve managed to avoid that dinner because honestly, could anything sound less appetizing? Technically, I’ve still never had corned beef (and never will), since I don’t eat red meat, but I did try the cabbage and it was delicious. I asked my dinner guests to give me their honest opinion on the corned beef potatoes, since I had to write about them as honestly as possible without firsthand knowledge, and they promised they were delicious and blog worthy, so here you go.

I’m really going to branch out and start writing about recipes from something other than my favorite cookbook soon, but I think this one is timely enough that it warrants being my fourth Melissa Clark recipe in as many weeks. I had mentioned to a couple friends awhile ago that I wanted to get through the entire “March” chapter, but that I was stuck on corned beef and cabbage – it sounds like my worst nightmare, so why would I ever make it. But when they both told me they loved corned beef and would be happy to be my taste testers, we decided to throw a little St. Patrick’s Day get together. The two best things about this recipe, in my opinion: (1) the corned beef it calls for is deli meat, so I didn’t have to cook it, and (2) it’s easy to make a vegetarian version if you, like me, like to cook meals your friends can enjoy even if they’re things you can’t eat. If you can’t find deli corned beef, though (I couldn’t find it at Safeway or Met Market, but luckily my co-hostess found it at QFC), you could do a corned beef brisket in the crock pot, or use any other deli meat or leftover roast-type meat. And although the vegetarian version is just a stuffed potato with butter and dill, I thought it was delicious and still very Irish.

A note for people unfamiliar with the traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe: from what I could garner from my limited research, it seems the corned beef and cabbage are usually cooked together, in a crock pot or dutch oven or something along those lines. I saw a Paula Deen recipe where she sautéed the cabbage in bacon grease and then added corned beef from a can, like spam. Excuse me while I vomit. I like this recipe because it’s essentially a doctored-up twice baked potato (yum) – I baked the potatoes the night before, but then was able to get everything else together in the hour between leaving work and my guests arriving. And you roast the cabbage as you would any other vegetable (the recipe just calls for oil and salt – I used black pepper as well, and was planning to add a little parmesan before I got distracted and forgot).

So, if you’re looking for an excuse to throw an easy St. Patrick’s Day party, just ask your friends to bring their drink of choice, and perhaps an app or a dessert (my friend Liza made the most delicious “Irish Car Bomb” cupcakes, and my friend Anna invented a fabulous green cocktail, recipe available upon request) and you could easily whip up corned beef and cabbage for ten in an hour. Also noteworthy: I think I spent less than $40 on all of the ingredients (to feed ten people!!) – the Irish might not be known for their cuisine, but I do appreciate their frugality.

And although our meal was delicious, it’s not all that visually appealing… I thought I would make some festive green brownies too. I’ve been waiting for an excuse to make these ever since I stumbled upon them when looking for Christmas cookie ideas back in December, and obviously St. Patrick’s Day is the best excuse possible. I hope this inspires some of you to throw a St. Patty’s day party of your own – or at least treat yourself to a Guinness or a fun green cocktail sometime between now and the 17th! If you have any St. Patty’s recipes or traditions of your own, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Baked Stuffed Potatoes with Corned Beef and Dill Butter

from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 4 (I multiplied by 2.5 to feed 10)

4 russet potatoes (10-12 ounces each), scrubbed well
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 pound thinly sliced corn beef, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub each potato with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pierce twice with a fork. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until the skin is crispy and the insides are tender when pierced with a fork, 1 hour to 70 minutes (possibly longer if you’re cooking more potatoes).

2. When the potatoes have cooled enough to handle, use a sharp knife to slice off the tops. Scoop out the insides, leaving about 1/4 inch attached to the skin, and transfer to a bowl. Add the corned beef, butter, dill, remaining salt, and pepper to the bowl and mash well with a fork.

3. Stuff the potato skins with the potato mixture.  Divide the topping among the potatoes and sprinkle with the cheese.  Return the potatoes to the oven and bake until heated through, about 10 minutes.  Run under the broiler for an additional 1-2 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese has melted.

Crispy Roasted Cabbage

from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

Serves 4-6 (I doubled the recipe to feed 10)

1 pound green cabbage (1 small or 1/2 large), cored (I used two medium-sized heads and they fed 10 perfectly)
Olive or peanut oil, for brushing
Pinch kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the cabbage into 1-inch-thick slices. Brush the slices with olive or peanut oil and place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Try to keep the pieces from falling apart (though if they do start to separate, that is okay).  Sprinkle the cabbage with a generous seasoning of salt.  Roast, turning once, until crispy and browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday Faves

TGIF! I really mean that this morning – what a long and dreary week. I swear I didn’t intend for this blog to be a forum for me to complain about the weather, but all of this rain – combined with my nasty cold and a deadline at work – has made me really grumpy all week. I’m counting on some sunshine this weekend – and the WCC tournament! – to get me out of my funk. In the meantime, a few highlights:

I found these cute little ceramic markers while I was out shopping this weekend and they motivated me to start thinking about replanting my herb “garden” (pots). I was really good about planting the basics last year (basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, Italian parsley), and it was so great to be able to just pop out onto the deck whenever I needed something for cooking (or cocktails). It might still be a little to cold to plant anything yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t shop for garden accessories. These vintage silverware ones (I’ve seen them at Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Etsy – all over, really) are pretty cute too. And don’t even get me started on the planters/pots that are on display everywhere – luckily I have limited space, or I could really do some damage.

Tonight my friend Krista and I are throwing a mini-dinner party for some friends, mainly as an excuse to make Corned Beef and Cabbage (recipes coming Monday – get excited:)) for an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration. I saw these on Pinterest, and thought they would be a fun dessert for the kids that are coming to dinner. Super easy – my friend Jenn once gave me the invaluable tip that you can always use a cake mix for cupcakes, so long as you make homemade frosting (I love this recipe) – and who doesn’t love Lucky Charms?

I bought this coconut macaroon candle on a whim the other day, and it makes me so happy to light it as soon as I get home each night. The coconut scent reminds me of Easter and Hawaii and cookies and all sorts of yummy things – and it’s about half the price of most of the candles at Anthro, so should you find yourself in need of a great hostess gift, this would be it!

I’ve been making a big effort lately to make myself a healthy smoothie for breakfast -starting out the day with protein, vitamins and minerals, fruits and veggies, etc. I usually just do almond milk, frozen berries, and my favorite protein powder (which includes powdered kale, woop!), but with all the buzz about green smoothies these days, this week I’ve been trying to do that instead. I used this recipe (she gives you two, I kind of do a combination of both), and it really is true that you can’t taste the spinach (or kale). While you will never hear me telling anyone to give up coffee, there really is something to be said for starting your morning with a big glass of greens. And it’s that much easier to ignore the pastry case at Starbucks when you go get your coffee afterwards.

Remember the muffins I talked about on Monday? I made them again – a healthier version this time – and they were SO good. Better than the original, IMHO. I just substituted 7 Tbsp coconut oil for the butter, and in lieu of 1.5 cups white flour I used 1/2 cup white flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup oat flour, and 1/3 cup almond meal. You could use whatever blend of flours you like, and while the heavier flours/meals make the muffin a little more dense, they give the muffin an oatmeal/nutty flavor that made them even more delicious than the white flour version. I also used brown sugar in place of 1/2 cup of the white sugar (using 1/2 cup brown and 1/4 cup white rather than all 3/4 cup white – and they were still pretty sweet, so I think you could leave out the white sugar altogether if you wanted). I omitted the crumble topping, threw in a little coconut with the blueberries, and the result was something that, while no green smoothie, is far more passable as breakfast than the sweeter version I made earlier. Healthy and delicious!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I hope it’s filled with sunshine and college basketball!