Jelly beans are a go to for the special Easter baskets. I like jelly beans, but only if they have flavor. I don’t like the jelly beans that are bland and all taste the same, I want the different colors to taste like different flavors. Mike and Ike have flavored jelly beans that are pretty cool. You can pick up different assortments, like fruit flavored, or tart, or even cinnamon – which I usually hate, but didn’t this time they were good too. I loved the assortments, and I also like that on the bag, there’s a guide to tell you which one you picked – like banana, pineapple, cherry, citrus punch, lemon lime. They also have a specialty box made with fruit juice (but it also contains sugar and corn syrup) – with a specially Mike and Ike shaped Easter Treats. So don’t forget the jelly beans, and pick up some that have flavor like Mike and Ike!
Disclosure: I was sent some jelly beans in order to do this review, the opinion presented and the photograph are my own.Diana
Recently, my sister brought up our family’s ethnic heritage. I think every family should explore their roots, and cook authentic recipes as a way to share that heritage. My grandfather’s parents were both born and raised in different areas of Ireland and migrated to the United States in the late 1800s, and early 1900s. A review of Irish Country Cooking – More Than 100 Recipes For Today’s Table seemed like a very appropriate review for me. While this book contains all of the regular St. Paddy’s Day food of Corned Beef and Cabbage or Shepherd’s Pie, it introduces a few new ones plus a few out of box surprises like Hungarian Goulash. My Hungarian grandmother who was married to my Irish grandfather would have had a chuckle.
The Irish Countrywoman’s Association
The hard covered book was compiled by the Irish Countrywoman’s Association. The ICA was founded in 1910 and consists of over 700 local guilds throughout Ireland. Over the years these guilds produced their own local cookbooks with recipes passed down in families from generation to generation. This book – Irish Country Cooking is a compilation of 100 of the best recipes from those local cookbook collections.
Irish Country Cooking – the book
I tried out a few of the recipes and I liked how well they came out. I made the Crusted Rack of Lamb with Orange and Olive Salad. My lamb looked exactly like the photo in the book and tasted great too. I shared it with my family for my birthday dinner. My husband and son also loved the Colcannon – a very traditional potato and cabbage dish.
Speaking of photos – there are plenty, though not every recipe has a photo, most do. There is a table of contents in the front and an index by ingredient in the back (just the way I like it).
We have all of the regulars like Soups, Starters, Main Meals, Side Dishes – which include preserves as well as side dishes and dips, sauces and stocks. Then we have the sweets which include cakes, puddings and desserts. To add to the content it starts out with an introduction from the ICA national president, a note from the editor, and a few words from guest chefs. This book also contains useful equipment and a glossary.
What else is cool about the recipes:
- It’s written in American Cooking Measures and in English Cooking units, so 225g of mushrooms is 8oz and you will see both.
- There are nuggets of information pages – like How to Cook on a Budget, or How to Get Baking.
- It comes with an attached ribbon to hold your page. That sounds like a trivial thing, but I find it useful.
- You get the author, the guild they belong to, and sometimes a little blurb about them. So you know what area of Ireland, the recipe comes from.
The only drawback is that it doesn’t have nutrition labels so that you can adjust something if it goes over your dietary limits.
All around this is a really nice book for authentic Irish recipes, some I have seen before and many I have not. I plan on using it to inspire some of my own contributions to the family meal.
Disclosure: I was sent a review copy in order to complete this review. This is not a sponsored or paid post. The review is based on my opinion of the book, and is not influenced by anything else.
The lamb neck is often an overlooked piece of lamb that people don’t ask their butcher for. I went to a lamb cutting class and when asked which part of the lamb was the favorite, I don’t remember what my response was, but I remember the response of another person, because he said lamb neck. The butcher said it was one of the lower costing and under-valued. My Braised Lamb Neck Stew Over Polenta is a delicious way to prepare this under utilized part of the lamb that is so delicious.
Lamb neck is a very fatty piece, with a lot of bones, because of this the meat is full of flavor. It also means, that it’s more of a stew piece instead of a steak or thick roast. After you cook it, you have to wade in with your fingers, pull the meat out and the bones and also drain all of the grease to get to the flavor filled stock. It’s a bit of work, but really worth it. I served it over polenta this time, but a nice root vegetable mash or potato mash would be great. Serving it over a nice thick Sourdough would work well for sopping up that great gravy.Diana
Spring is officially here, and the time has come to change things up from the vegetables and fruit that overwinter in the basement to the freshly growing like asparagus. Red pepper isn’t too local right now, but the southern states have a little coming ripe right now. This Spring Red Pepper and Asparagus Frittata is light, but full of flavor. It’s great for Sunday Brunch or even for a quick worknight dinner.Diana
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and Green is the color of choice (or if you are anti-green, then it’s orange but that’s a different story). Deviled eggs are great for any gathering and with the help of Wholly Guacamole, my Deviled Green Guac Eggs are a fast way to put together an appetizer for your St. Paddy’s Day gathering. I put my own ingredients together along with a sample of Wholly Guacamole that I received and when my son saw what I was mixing up, he was intrigued and delighted. He said that it had to be healthier than mayo, and I had to agree. My husband had a taste when he came home from work and he was equally delighted. We all agree that this makes a fantastic bite.
You can find Wholly Guacamole in the refrigerated produce section of the store. If you have more time, you can make up your own guacamole using avocados, garlic powder and lemon or lime to keep from turning brown. If you wish for a little more heat use the Spicy Guac or add some hot peppers. More Wholly recipes can be found on Pinterest – and if you like discounts check out the coupon tab on their Facebook Page.
Green pea shoots make a great 3 leaf cloverish like green to sprinkle around the eggs and give it a little Irish flair on your serving plate.Diana
So breakfast this morning uses up the black bean dip that I made last night. I’ll get that recipe in here too, but I wanted to show off my soft tacos that we had this morning. It was fast and easy to put together and eat – before heading out to shovel more snow.
Scramble eggs, throw a soft tortilla spread with black bean dip (or refried beans if you like) and some swiss cheese (or cheddar or your favorite) onto a cookie sheet with a silicon sheet lining it into the oven. Top with some quick guacamole made with chopped up avocado and minced shallots. Fold it up and eat.Diana
I received a box of Valentine’s Day Candy from Sees to try out. Sees candy has been American made since 1921 founded on Mary Sees basic principle of quality without compromise. This really is a quality chocolate, made without preservatives. The Chocolate is rich, and the fillings sweet and delicious without being cloying. I’ll say it again, it’s quality chocolate.
There are two hundred shops across the US including Columbus, OH , and you can still get Valentines candy delivered to your door by Valentines day with their free two day shipping upgrade available in their online store right now.
Disclosure: I received a box of Sees Candy to sample in order to do the review. There was no monetary compensation for this review and the opinions are my own.Diana
If you are space or seasoning-ally challenged, it’s nice to have a little magic on hand, like the kind Spike Gourmet Natural Seasonings provides. I do have a cabinet full of spice jars and seasonings, however most are not blends, but single spices – which means I have to search and put together my own combinations. That’s okay for me, but my son and husband prefer to have the blends ready for them. They don’t want to search through individual jars, give them a couple of jars, not a handful or more. My son likes all the combinations and while my husband has to avoid a few due to being on a low sodium diet, my son is claiming any and all that my husband is not able to enjoy in our recipes. Spike Gourmet Natural Seasonings is giving away all of the same magic seasonings that they sent to me to try out, 1 jar each of : Original Magic, Salt Free Magic, Hot N’ Spicy Magic, Vegit Magic, 5 Herb Magic, Onion Magic, Garlic Magic, Vege-Sal, Lemon Pepper Magic and Tenderizer Magic.
We’ve been trying out the Magic Seasonings by Spike the last few weeks. My son adds the garlic, the onion powder and the Salt Free Magic along with the 5 Herb Magic to tomato sauce for use with pasta. He also made oven baked fries (in which he was very heavy handed in the spices there but we’re experimenting) using the onion, garlic, salt free magic and the Vegit – a low sodium spice (along with a bunch of black pepper). My husband was out of town so I used the Original Magic Seasoning in a Potato, Sausage and Veggie dish. The spices are good, and though the print on the bottle is really small, I can read that most of the ingredients are natural and good, though I’m a little foggy on hydrolyzed soy protein and these are natural, but not organic. There is a little caking, but that’s because there isn’t an anti-caking agent added and that’s more than fine with me.
Disclosure: I received ten jars of Spike Brand Gourmet Natural Seasonings to try out for this review. I have not received compensation for this review or to hold a giveaway. My opinions are my own.Diana
I told you I was going healthy for the Superbowl. We brought this – Chicken, Chard, Bean and Butternut Squash Soup. We also brought some berries and greek yogurt with honey – plus vegan chocolate avocado cupcakes. We did splurge though because my sister in law made some awesome queso with sausage that was great with chips and they also had some Buffalo Wild Wings. It was a small gathering, but there was plenty of food and even though our favorite team disappointed, we had a good time (well most of us).
I bought my butternut squash last fall at the farmer’s market. We put them into baskets and stored them on shelves in the unheated basement. The food doesn’t freeze down there, but it does get rather nippy downstairs. Last year I tried storing them in a warmer spot, but some of my squash went bad. This year, they are in perfect condition and not even drying out. I’m thrilled that we put up a nice shelving unit to use for winter storage.
Anyway, I also have been trying to work with beans more, but dry beans not canned beans, and so that was the start of this soup. I roasted most of the vegetables in a glass pan in the oven until almost cooked. I also baked the chicken breast rather than fry it up. I wanted the broth to be clear when I served it and not muddied, which is why I did it this way. And to give it a nice bright taste, I grated lemon peel and squeezed lemon juice into it. This soup is one of my best tasting, I recommend it for family dinner, or a gathering of friends, or just the two of you.Diana
When thinking of appetizers, cauliflower and potatoes smashed together make a great combination, while adding a little more nutrition. Your family and friends may figure out that there is something a little different about the potatoes, but only a little different. I went a little further to make it healthy, by cutting down on the sodium. I added a little chevre, some herbs and bread crumbs.
Bread is one of the worst when it comes to sodium, and regular bread crumbs are really bad. In order to still have a breadcrumb that works, I buy my own low sodium bread (there are a couple of gluten-free rice bread brands that work), and then make my own breadcrumbs. Bake the bread on low until it hardens, and then using mini-blender or smoothie maker grind the toasted bread into crumbs.