Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Happy Saint Patricks Day

My dad's father was Irish and his mother was German which made him half Irish and me a wee bit Irish. 

  I'm not sure who enjoys celebrating St. Patrick's Day more, the Irish or the Irish Americans.  Did you know that the first St. Patrick's Day Parade was held in New York City in 1792?  And that the original soda bread was made by the Native Americans right here in North America hundreds of years before it made it to Ireland?  Wherever it came from the Irish have made it their own.  It's just not Saint Patrick's Day without leprechauns, shamrocks and Irish soda bread.

I used to have a wonderful recipe for Soda Bread which I used to make and bring to school each year in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland, but then several years went by when Saint Patrick's day didn't fall on a school day and over time I lost my recipe.  This year, I decided to revive the tradition but I needed to find a new recipe.  Last night I put it to the test.

This is my loaf all ready to go into the oven.  There are several traditional reasons given for why the cross is cut across the top.  Some believed it was to allow the devil to escape the bread while it baked and thus bring good luck.  Others say it's just so the bread can be easily broken into four pieces.  Still others believe it to be the Christian cross.

Here it is all crusty and warm from the oven...

and finally all sliced and ready to share with friends.  I hope you enjoy the day.  Don't forget to wear green and put an O' in front of your name.  After all everyone is a wee bit Irish on Saint Patrick's Day.

May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
The rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tea Parties and Daffodils

Winter returned with a vengeance today with cold, blustery winds, rain, dropping temperatures and fresh snow on the mountaintops.  But I never would have expected it just two days before when we welcomed a possible candidate to fill our pulpit over the weekend.  Our church has been without a permanent pastor since last summer and we were excited to welcome this new young pastor and his family as they came to visit our congregation. 

One of the activities planned during their stay was a lovely tea party on Saturday morning given to honor the pastor's wife.  About 40 ladies from the church came to enjoy fellowship together.

Each table was set with hand embroidered white linens, charming little teapots and lovely china dishes. On each plate lay a pink tulip tied with a ribbon to each napkin.

Then, there were all the lovely treats that make a tea party so special, scones with raspberry jam, quiche, dainty sandwiches and fresh fruit followed by fruit tarts and cookies.

 The gorgeous quilts hanging on the walls were handmade by the mother of our hostess.  Everything was so lovely, it made me wish we were all dressed in summery floral dresses with big floppy hats.  But alas, this is 21st century American casualness at its best, or worst depending on how you look at it.   Ah well, everyone had a wonderful time and that's all that really matters in the end.

That's my mother sitting in front wearing her pretty blue scarf.

 After leaving the church later in the morning I came upon this parkway filled with golden daffodils in a neighborhood just a few blocks away.  I just had to stop to enjoy the flowers as well as this beautiful spring like day.

Of all the flowers to choose from, daffodils are one my favorites.  They are such perky flowers and yellow is one of my favorite colors.

I first fell in love with daffodils when I was 16.  My mother had severely injured her back and had to spend several weeks in the hospital. Even after she came home she was on complete bed rest for many more weeks.  I suddenly became the "lady of the house" responsible for getting meals on the table (that's when I really learned to cook), and keeping the house running for my dad and brothers.  Everyone helped out, but with my dad at work all day the major responsibility was mine when I got home from school each day.

Whenever my dad went to the hospital he would send me out into
the garden to pick some daffodils for him to take to my mom.  That's when I first noticed how happy they made me feel whenever, I saw them.  Indeed, A.A. Milne says "A house with daffodils in it is a house lit up, whether or no the sun be shining outside."

 Still today, whenever I see their bright, sunny petals, my spirit immediately rises up a little higher than before.  I hope they brighten your day as they brightened mine.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hot Bean Dip

My husband had a "Guys Night Out" this past weekend.  It was just a night of snacks and cards, but he needed to make a contribution to the party.  So I whipped up some Hot Bean Dip with tortilla chips to take along.  It's one of those great snacks that's quick to make and is usually a favorite on the table.  I used to make it every year for my youngest son's annual birthday sleepover.  Now he makes it himself to share with friends.

I simply cook some ground beef.

 Next, I mix it with a can of refried beans and some taco seasoning and spread it into a baking dish.

Then I take sour cream and green taco sauce and mix it together,

 And spread it over the top of the meat mixture.

Finally, I top it with grated cheddar cheese.

Then, bake in the oven and in a few minutes it's ready to go.  Serve with tortilla chips.  It's a bit messy when you spoon it out but everyone agrees, it's delicious!

PS:  I have to laugh when I see what the camera picks up.  I can see, I spilled a little bit of cheese.  That shadow of the pan was my son cooking up some chicken to make his Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.  It was a busy night in the kitchen.

Hot Bean Dip
1 lb. xtra lean ground beef
1 can (16 oz) refried beans
2 TBSP Taco Seasoning
1 cup sour cream
1/2 bottle green taco sauce 
1 1/2  cups grated cheddar cheese

Brown the ground beef in a skillet.  Add the refried beans and taco seasoning.  Mix well and spread into a greased baking dish.  Mix together the sour cream and taco seasoning and spread over the meat mixture.  Top with grated cheese.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


While I was making the dip I noticed some overripe bananas on the counter.  So after everyone left for the evening I decided to bake a loaf of banana nut bread. 

I love any kind of nut bread, especially when I can enjoy it with the egg and sausage casserole I made for breakfast this weekend.  

 Now that's a tasty breakfast!  Bless this food and thank you, Lord.