Recipe Round-Up: Top 5 Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

Five St.Patricks Day Recipes

Every year I’m reminded that I really should start making more Irish food. There’s so many great options, and I tend to neglect them which is really a shame. St. Patrick’s Day offers a selection of great foods to indulge in. Some of my favorites are listed here. They’re all so good I can’t really pick favorites. They’re all easy to make and quick to prepare–even if you’ve had a few Guinnesses ;).
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Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

Homemade Tomato Sauce

Who doesn’t love fresh tomato sauce? It takes a bit longer than opening up a jar or a can but the results are totally worth it. It’s hard to even call the stuff out of a jar and freshly made sauce even the same thing. When the sauce is the highlight of a dish it’s especially important to get the most flavor out of the tomatoes. To get that intense flavor, I roasted the tomatoes on the broil setting until the skins were well charred. This helps to concentrate the flavor of the tomatoes. While broiling the tomatoes, I added in some garlic cloves to get that amazing roasted garlic flavor into the sauce. Remember to remove the skins before pureeing because they tend to roll up into tiny little tomato skin skewers.

The recipe makes a lot so I was able to freeze it in batches so it should last a while. It works great for pretty much any pasta recipe that requires a red sauce and it’s especially good for lasagna or eggplant parmesan since you can tailor the water content to be thicker and less watery than conventional pasta sauces.
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African Chicken and Peanut Stew with Yams

African Chicken and Peanut Stew

This stew is a simple and flavorful recipe that combines savory, peanuty flavors with chicken and yams. My favorite part is the gravy that is flavored with peanut butter, toasted red chilis, garlic and fresh ginger. It reminds me a bit of an Indian curry gravy and has a similar consistency to a Massaman Curry. I would suggest using chicken meat on the bone (thighs or drumsticks) to get some of that lovely flavor into the sauce as well. You just have to fish out the chicken after its cooked and shred the meat. If you’re short on time, you can always get boneless/skinless thighs instead. The meat tends to fall of the bone after cooking it slowly for over an hour so it pretty much does the work for you. The combination of the spicy and peanuty gravy with the slow cooked chicken and yams was perfect for a chilly February day! Serve with a side of white or brown rice and garnish with cilantro.
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Banana Bread Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Pop Quiz: How are bone broths and banana bread similar? Besides that they are both alliterations of the letter ‘b’, they transform normally “throw away” items into delicious food. These kinds of recipes are some of my favorite things to make. I think I just like the efficiency and, in my opinion, the transformation of these ingredients. This recipe elevates the humble brown banana (that arguably belongs in the compost bin) to a delicious dessert!

To make this recipe a little bit healthier I put in a small amount of whole wheat flour along with cake flour. I really liked the resulting texture from these two flours and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. I was worried that the wheat flour would make the texture too rough but it seems that the fineness of the cake flour balanced out the roughness of the wheat. If you don’t have these on hand, all purpose flour works just fine. As for the frosting, I wanted a frosting that doesn’t have a whole lot of sweetness since the cake isn’t very sweet either. My goal was to make a muffin/cupcake hybrid so that it wasn’t overly sweet but still retained some of the finer qualities of a cupcake. The frosting was especially addictive and combined well with the banana flavor!
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Beef Enchilada Soup

Enchilada Soup

Tex-mex food is awesome in pretty much every form, including soup! A lot of the U.S. has been dealing with some epic winter weather so to all of you fighting the deluge of snow (hey Chicago!), enchiladas are the perfect winter comfort food. This recipe is super easy to make with hardly any prep time involved. You can buy pre-made enchilada sauce at the grocery store but it’s fresher and easy to make at home. In my opinion it’s worth it to whip up a batch before you start cooking the soup. It can be made several days ahead of time as well if you’re short on cooking time. Possible toppings include: tortilla chips/strips, avocado slices, cilantro, lime slices, diced red onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream…I could go on. The end result was delicious with minimal effort. It can be easily converted to the slow cooker, just add everything into the pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours or 3-4 hours on high!
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Jambalaya Soup

Jambalaya Soup

Jambalaya is one of my favorite Cajun dishes. Since I’ve made the dish a few times, I realized that it could easily be transformed into a soup! This recipe is filled with delicious Cajun flavors. I’m fortunate to have a local butcher that makes great Cajun sausage which I used for this recipe. It’s not the same as Andouille sausage which is smoked and usually sold pre-cooked. Instead, this sausage is sold uncooked/unsmoked and is flavored with Cajun seasoning. It crumbles apart easily so it makes for a better sausage for soup. If you can find this type of Cajun sausage great, but if you can’t there’s always Andouille sausage which is tasty as well.

When I made this soup I was out of shrimp and didn’t have time to pick some up. In a pinch, I decided to use a traditional ingredient found in, believe it or not, Vietnamese cooking. The secret ingredient to this soup is…wait for it…fish sauce! I know, it sounds crazy but it really is a great way to get some of that briny/salty flavor into the stock without having to shuck and boil several pounds of shrimp shells. If you prefer to use shrimp for the stock, go for it, but this was a handy way to get that good flavor in a pinch. Not having shrimp in this soup wasn’t that big of a deal for me since I felt that all the necessary flavors were there. I served the soup with Cornbread Muffins which made a great side dish (and for dunking!)
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Stuffed Pepper Soup

Stuffed Pepper Soup 2

I’m a big fan of stuffed pepper recipes. Peppers make for a great food “vessel,” but eating a whole pepper can be a bit awkward. I’ve found that the filling-to-pepper ratio can be a little out of wack and most of the time I’m left with too much pepper and not enough filling. This soup takes care of that problem quite well and combines all the flavors of a stuffed pepper without the ratio problems. I was surprised at how similar it tasted to your basic stuffed pepper recipe! One trick I advise using with this recipe: In order to avoid the rice from absorbing too much of the valuable broth I cook the servings separately and add them in to each bowl. I’ve learned that pasta, noodles and rice love to soak up the broth you took pains to prepare and I use this trick on almost every soup recipe now. This recipe has become a staple weeknight meal and makes a lot for several days. Makes for some tasty leftovers when you’re too busy to make dinner each night.
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White Bean, Sausage & Cabbage Soup

Sausage, White Bean and Cabbage Soup

Happy New Years! We have officially arrived in January, the doldrums of winter and in my opinion, the year’s worst month. January has the coldest weather and by now I’m missing the holiday cheer. The one thing to look forward to is the days getting longer and more excuses to eat hearty soups! This soup is great for the “mean month” and helps chase away the winter chill. The soup is loaded with spicy sausage, beans, fresh veggies and herbs. Make it with homemade chicken stock and you have a nutrient rich broth to stave off the flu and common cold (no, the old wive’s tale is not a myth; it does give your immune system a boost). Serve it up with crusty french bread for dunking and plenty of sliced parmigiano reggiano!
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Wild Rice Soup with Bacon and Butternut Squash

Wild Rice Soup

For the winter months nothing beats a hot bowl of wild rice soup! I tend to avoid creamy soups due to their heaviness but I decided to give it a try. In the past I’ve made it as a broth-based soup instead of cream-based. Even though it doesn’t skimp on the cream and bacon, it wasn’t especially heavy which was surprising. I made this recipe with the leftover bones I froze from the Thanksgiving turkey. The recipe for homemade stock (swap out chicken for turkey) can be found here. The soup is also packed with butternut squash, corn and other veggies.  For the rice, I decided to save the broth and not add it into the soup as it cooked; that way the rice didn’t absorb all the tasty broth. I really liked how this turned out and it was a perfect recipe for the holidays!
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