Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Irish Cheesy "Nacho" Potato Chips with Corned Beef

"Potato chips drenched in beer cheese, topped with garlic corned beef and a bit of dill sauerkraut, broiled to perfection...the perfect food to accompany beer!"

It isn't often I go overboard. After all a girl does have to watch her figure. In my case I'm not sure what figure that is, but I don't post many foods slathered with gooey cheese on a base of potato chips. Well, like never. And you know I adore potato chips. Potatoes plus salt fried equals pure heaven to me. But somehow St. Patrick's Day brings out the worst in me. Maybe my past history of drinking to much green beer has lingered within.

After discovering an enticing recipe of cheese sauce-known to some as Welsh rarebit-I decided that it was time to take all my favorite Irish foods and make something totally decadent. Something totally salty and crispy and lush with cheese; perfect as a base for corned beef and possibly some sauerkraut, for those who desire a healthy bit of probiotics.

 It was time to concoct the perfect beer drinking food. The one that sops up what's left in your intestines, the one that just might possibly make it possible for you to drive after a night of beer drinking, or Irish whiskey. But no! Let's leave that to Uber. However let's not leave these potato chip nachos sitting on the bar. The ones we made dinner of just last night and alas, without the beer. This easy simple recipe that will make everyone feeling like they found the pot of gold. And they did, only in the form of dill or honey mustard kettle chips, slathered with beer cheese, found not in a pot, but in a cast iron skillet.

So go overboard. Double the beer cheese.  Dive in. Pretend it's spring break. Lord, how I miss those. Find that pot of gold and that cute little leprechaun and break out the beer. It's St. Paddie's Day my friends! Slainte!

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Yield: 2-4 servings  Print Recipe

Irish Cheesy "Nacho" Potato Chips with Corned Beef

Potato chips drenched in beer cheese, topped with garlic corned beef and a bit of dill sauerkraut, broiled to perfection...the perfect food to accompany beer!
prep time: 15 MINScook time: 5 MINStotal time: 20 mins


  • 1 T butter
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 - 3/4 Guinness stout
  • 1 T Worcestershire
  • 4 oz extra sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 4 cups of Kettle Chips (I used Honey Mustard and Dill Pickle.)
  • 4-8 ounces of thinly sliced corned beef (I used Boars Head, but leftovers work well, too!)
  • 1/2 c well drained sauerkraut (I found some dill garlic sauerkraut.)
  • 4 finely chopped green onions


  1. Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in flour and whisk until golden. Make sure there are no lumps. Cook until golden brown.
  2. Add mustard and cayenne and stir until incorporated. Add beer and Worcestershire and stir until combined. Reduce heat to low and stir in cheese until it is melted and smooth.
  3. Preheat broiler to high. In a lightly oiled cast iron skillet, place 4 cups of potato chips. Top with corned beef. Make sure it is tucked over and under chips. Pour cheese sauce over top.
  4. Place skillet under broiler and broil until cheese is bubbly and chips are a touch dark. This only takes a few minutes so watch carefully. Remove from broiler and top with drained sauerkraut (if using) and scallions.
Created using The Recipes Generator

More Irish Favorites:

Irish Grilled Cheese Sandwich   Irish Bacon Buttermilk Pie   Corned Beef,  Potato, Cabbage Pie


Friday, March 10, 2017

One Pot Pasta with Artichokes, Mushrooms and Cheese

"This one pot pasta earned Manservant's seal of approval. Filled with lots of mushrooms, artichokes and creamy cheese, this one pot pasta is ready in under thirty minutes!"

One pot pasta has been around awhile. Was it dear Martha that started this trend? I don't know for sure, but it has certainly solved many a meal time crisis. I always have pasta in the house and I can always whip something up with it, but I love the idea of only using one pot. That means NO second pot to boil the pasta. Let's face it some days I'm just feeling lazy. For that matter some weeks I'm just feeling lazy, and I think this week was it.

Now many one pot pastas are great the day you make them. Reheating them is often a different story. The pasta tastes limp and watery and just isn't the same which isn't good for two people because I assure you we can't eat a pound of pasta in one sitting. never. Even if we wanted too. Besides I always want leftovers and pasta makes the perfect microwaveable lunch.

Enter the little ears orecchiette. Are you all ears yet? This sturdy pasta shape is ideal for one pot pasta. It is hard to over cook and it reheats like a dream. That means pasta for lunch and all through the week. Perfect for a lazy person like me. It was also a great meal for someone who hadn't made it to the grocery in a week. This recipe used up some not quite so fresh anymore mushrooms, some delectable dried mushrooms, one can of artichokes and a good hunk of goat's cheese that was taking up real estate in the fridge. You may not see the cheese in the photo, because I forgot to put it on. But trust me this pasta needs that cheese, just like salad needs dressing.

I actually was surprised that Manservant asked for seconds. He is a man that loves his meat, but the mushrooms made this hearty and filling. There you have it. His official seal of approval and even better this is ready in less than thirty. Minutes, that is. That's quicker than pizza delivery. Just sayin'!

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yield: 4-6 servingsprint recipe

One Pot Pasta with Artichokes, Mushrooms and Cheese

This one pot pasta earned Manservant's seal of approval. Filled with lots of mushrooms, artichokes and creamy cheese, this luscious pasta is ready in under thirty minutes!
prep time: 10 MINScook time: 15 MINStotal time: 25 mins


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 c dried assorted mushrooms such as porcinis and shitakes, rehydrated (Save the liquid)
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 14 oz orecchiette or other pasta
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, quartered and drained
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • 1/3 c parmesan cheese grated
  • 4 ounces goat's cheese, (sliced into rounds-1 for each serving)
  • Fresh chopped Italian parsley for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add diced onions, fresh mushrooms and saute until lightly gold. Add garlic and saute another minute.
  2. Add rehydrated mushrooms, mushroom liquid, pasta, broth, seasonings and artichoke hearts. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Stir and turn to low heat. Simmer with lid 10 to 15 minutes depending on what type of pasta you are using. Remove lid. Check pasta and make sure it is al dente and that it is the consistency you want. Check for seasoning. It may need some salt and pepper. Stir in parmesan. Stir in heavy cream and if you want a dollop on top, that's OK, too.
  3. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley and top each with a round of goat's cheese.
Created using The Recipes Generator

A Few More to Try:

       Spaghetti Bolognese                  Linguini with Clam Sauce                    Ziti Al Fresco

Friday, March 3, 2017

Challah Bread (My Favorite Friday Treat)

"Challah is my favorite Friday bread. Well, it is my favorite any time bread. Filled with sweetness, it is perfect for toasting or just sliced and buttered. Not hard to make, it could even be made in a loaf pan."

My Grandma Fanny used to say, "Let everyone else eat cake. I'll take the bread." Personally I think she was on to something. Growing up our bread consisted of bread from Pepperidge Farm, which was pretty good, and  maybe a French baguette when Jewel moved to town. I remember once we wanted to eat what all the other kids were eating so mom came home with a loaf of either Wonder bread or Rainbo. We immediately noticed how it stuck to the roof of our mouth and when we toasted it, the aroma of lard spread through out the kitchen. Now we never kept kosher, but that was one smell my father decided we could do without.

Our family never had a challah on the table, as there was nowhere to get a challah in Kankakee. I think for special events at the temple, someone would drive up north to procure a challah. You can rest assured my mother never tried to bake one. As a child my mother lit the candles and my dad said the kiddish blessing over wine, and we probably had a roast and a dairy noodle kugel-oy vey-but that was the extent of our Shabbat dinner, which usually meant running off to temple so us kids could sing in the junior choir.

 When I found myself at Colorado State, a long way from Illinois, my parents actually visited for parent's weekend. Being a good child I let them take me to a Hillel meeting, and it was there I met what was to become my second family. I am forever grateful for that meeting. It was there I met the warmest family of  seven, who have stuck with me for better or worse.  (And as a side note to Zoe, who thinks I have no friends that I have kept in touch with from college-well here ya go! I must say though that it was more thanks to them than me, that we stayed in touch over all these years.) This family who had recently arrived from Israel, made my parents very happy when they promised to watch over me and  that very same evening they invited me to a Shabbat dinner.

I, of course, asked what I could bring, and the person who was to become my dearest friend I'm sure said, "No need", and then for some reason I found myself saying with great confidence, "I'll bring the challah". I had recently brought a bread book and must have been enticed by the challah recipe in it. That's the only reason I can think of that I offered two loaves of challah, something that I had never baked in my life!  Well, I relied on that recipe for many years. It produced two lovely loaves of challah that were devoured each Friday night by 5 kids and guests and I found myself quickly known as the challah baker. And so it was that each Friday I found myself baking challah, attending a Shabbat dinner,  and then leaving at a reasonable time to go drink a vast quantity of beer. After all I was in college. This continued for I think three years, before they left to go home and suddenly my challah baking days were over... until I myself had kids.

Through these years I've found myself experimenting with many recipes and varieties of challah. To tell you the truth there is not a bad challah in the lot. Schmeared with butter, toasted, made into French toast, used as sandwich bread or in bread pudding, challah is the work horse bread in my kitchen. There is nothing that makes my house smell better than a fresh floor cleaned with Murphy's soap or a loaf of challah baking.

Challah has many traditions that surround it. In my mind it isn't JUST bread. It is special bread. There are rituals associated with it. During the Israelites forty years of wandering the Sinai, manna fell from heaven 6 days a week, but on Fridays two portions fell. The manna was kept fresh by the dew that surrounded it. It is that reason that two loaves of challah are served on Friday night, usually covered   with seeds such as sesame or poppy, to remind us of the dew that kept the manna fresh. The challah is covered in a special cloth as the blessing over wine is said first. We cover the challahs so they won't be "shamed" because any other night the challah is blessed first. By first blessing the wine and sanctifying the Sabbath, we are indicating that the meal is an extension of the kiddish and the breaking of bread is the beginning of that meal to honor the Sabbath.

Though many breads can be used for Shabbat, a three or six braided challah is the most traditional. If one places two 6 braided challahs on the table they are said to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Challah braids can have many meanings but one often mentioned is that a three braided challah reminds us to honor the Sabbath and observe it and the third strand represents unification. During the week when all can be a bit helter skelter as we look out toward the world;  the end of the week we come together and look inward and reflect in peaceful harmony as everything comes together on Shabbat. Most challah covers are embroidered with "in honor of Shabbat or holiday" but I am still trying to figure out what mine says!  In our home after the blessing is said, we tear the challah rather than slice it. Not everyone does, but we believe that a knife signifies violence and the Sabbath is about peace.

Challah contains eggs which makes it a richer bread, more deserving of a special occasion. It is also sweeter, unlike daily bread which often doesn't contain sugar. Challah can be made from wheat, oats, rye, spelt or barley. Generally a challah used in a Shabbat meal is made without dairy-so no butter or milk allowed. Not keeping kosher, I often sub in both. I do admit to only serving one challah and freezing the other for future use! Challah recipes are varied, but most contain the same ingredients-it is the proportions that are different. Some may contain more eggs, others less. Some contain honey. Others contain sugar or even sugar and honey. I prefer a lighter, sweeter, moist challah and others want a more dense, not too sweet challah.

There are more rituals associated with challah, but I think it's time we get down to the nitty gritty. I'm giving you a great recipe from Bon Appetit. Like I said I've tried many and all are similar, but this one makes two huge challahs or 3 small ones and I think more is better. I use my Kitchen-Aid to knead the dough. Often I've kept the dough over night in the fridge and let it rise again the next morning. Depending on the heat of your home, this may take awhile. My other method involves preheating my oven to the lowest setting, turning it off after it is preheated, and then placing the bowl of dough in the oven to rise. Make sure to leave the oven door open if you try this.

Time to get baking!

yield: 2 large loaves or 3 smallishprint recipe

Challah Bread

Challah is my favorite Friday bread. Well, it is my favorite any time bread. Filled with sweetness, it is perfect for toasting or just sliced and buttered. Not hard to make, it could even be made in a loaf pan.
prep time: 3 hourcook time: 35 MINStotal time: 3 hours and 35 mins


  • 2 1/4 ounce envelopes active dry yeast
  • 2 t plus 3/4 to 1 c sugar (depending on how sweet you like your challah)
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 4 3/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 c melted butter or canola oil
  • 7 c all purpose, unbleached flour
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • sesame or poppy seeds for sprinkling


  1. Whisk yeast and 1/4 c warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. How to tell if your water is just warm? I let my tap run hot and as long as I can comfortably put my hand under the faucet, I consider it warm. Let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk eggs, salt, 1/2 c melted butter or oil, 3/4 c sugar and 2 c warm water in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture and 7 cups of flour to yeast mixture. Beat with dough hook until dough is smooth and elastic, and very sticky and pulls away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes. Or you may knead by hand for about the same amount of time.
  3. Grease a large bowl with a bit of oil and transfer dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2-2 hours.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a large cylindrical roll. Divide into 6 portions. Shape each into a 17" long rope.
  5. Grease 2 rimmed baking sheets or use a silpat pad or parchment paper. Place 3 ropes side by side on the prepared baking sheet. Working with one challah at a time, pinch three ropes together at one end. Braid, then pinch ends together and tuck under. Let sit in a warm place until 1 1/2 times larger, about 60 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 325. Beat egg yolks and 2 T water in a small bowl. Working with one loaf at a time, brush dough with egg wash and sprinkle with your choice of seeds. Bake first loaf 15 minutes, then increase oven temperature to 425 and continue baking until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped, 15-20 minutes more. Let cool on baking sheet.
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 325, then leave oven door open 5 seconds to cool down. Repeat baking with remaining dough.
  8. Challah can be made three days ahead, keep tightly wrapped at room temperature or freeze. Let cool before storing.
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More to try:
        Onion Lover's Twist               Maple Glazed Challah Rolls                  Chocolate Babka


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