Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

Reality-based Menu for a Change

This week’s menu is not particularly inspiriting, but there is a good 75% chance that I’ll actually cook it.

Let’s start with yesterday – we were going to have tacos, until Iseult declared that it should be pancakes instead.  I told her, “have at it sweetcakes”.  So she made pancakes (I though they were rather sucktastic myself, but then I’m not a huge fan of pancakes – particularly when they’re chock full of chocolate chips).

Today (Tuesday) – wasn’t sure what I was going to make, but then this tasty one-pot chicken recipe showed up this morning in my FB Feed and I’m going to do a variation of it with chicken drumsticks and baby gold potatoes and leftover pearl onions.  It sounds tasty and I’m kind of busy today, so this fits our needs rather well.  Plus I have all the ingredients.

Wednesday – Seared chuck tender steak medallions (OK, I’m really no exactly sure what cut of meat they are, but that’s what they’re called at my local Publix and they’re waaay less expensive than tenderloin and super tasty); PB-coated sweet potato fries, green beans.

Thursday – Something with ground beef – maybe spaghetti and meatballs. And salad.  Or maybe soup of some kind.  It depends.  I saw a recipe for a white bean soup with dark greens that sounds pretty yum so might try that.

Friday – I have plans and they  have plans.

Well, that’s where we are.  What’s cooking at your place?

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Advent Baking Week 2 – Orange Ricotta Cookies with Dark Chocolate (updated)

People.  If you don’t bake any other cookie this year, bake THIS one from Two Peas & Their Pod (a favorite place of mine to hang out). I’m a bit at a loss for words to describe them.  They’re puffy and moist and cakey and a little dense (but not heavy).  They’re fragrant with orange zest.  Not too sweet.  Coated in an orange juice glaze.  Drizzled with dark chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chips – melted them in a Ziploc bag which I know you’re not supposed to do, then snipped the corner and liberally drizzled the chocolate over them). Angharad took some into work and came home with an empty tray and a bunch of requests for the recipe; Iseult announced that her friends devoured hers and would I please make more.  You bet I will. This is one of those recipes that I can see myself making over and over again and I can’t recommend it strongly enough. For those wondering why I’m not posting the actual recipe here, well, I thought I’d use this time to steer folks over to some of the sites I love.  Hopefully y’all will discover other delicious recipes that have your family and friends clamoring for more.

Edited to add a couple notes.

  • I used a large naval orange and a very fine microplane to zest it; ended up with about 1Tbsp. orange zest.
  • I used my OXO Good Grips Medium (1.5 Tbsp.) cookie scoop and they came out perfectly.
  • Bake these on parchment paper for a couple reasons – (1) they don’t stick and (2) you can slide the cookies on their sheet of parchment onto cooling racks and let them finish cooling there. But that’s not all. Just glaze them while they’re still on the parchment and you’ll have a lot less mess.
  • Finally – I needed a bit more orange glaze than the recipe called for and made up a little extra (1 Tbsp orange juice to 1/2 cup powdered sugar)Enjoy!

    The photo just does not do them justice. They’re one of the best things I have ever baked

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Guy Food that Girls Love

Bacon-wrapped, Cheeseburger-stuffed Jalapeños !!!!!

I made these for dinner one night last week. No, we didn’t have anything healthy to offset the atery-hardening goodness. The inspiration came from Oh Bite It (by way of The Drunken Spatula on FB); I loved the idea but wanted to make them a little heartier so that I could sort of pass them off as a meal with a semi-straight face (how exactly do you manage that, Maevey? Well, you skip the cream cheese (!) and use shredded potatoes instead)

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Drool-worthy, aren’t they?

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Yes – they tasted as good as they look

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A close-up view (sorry it’s so blurry)

Want to know how I made them?

Brown together:
2lb ground chuck
1 bag frozen onion
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic (I used the refrigerated kind)

Once browned, dump everything into a colander and drain the daylights out of it.

Prepare the 20 jalapenos:

Slice in half lengthwise
Remove seeds and ribs if you don’t want too much heat (I removed them but on retrospect that was a mistake and I’m going to leave them in next time – well I might wussify a couple for Iseult; Angharad doesn’t care – she hasn’t run across a food hot enough for her to not add some Sriracha – go figure)

In a very large bowl, combine:

1 package Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash brown Potatoes (don’t use the frozen ones – too much liquid)
4 – 5 cups cheese (I used cheddar but next time I’m going 50/50 cheddar and pepper jack
The drained meat mixture
Salt & Pepper – not a lot

Toss everything together until well combined.

Pack generous handfuls of the cheeseburger mixture into the peppers and wrap with a strip of bacon (you see what mine look like).

How much bacon do you need? I’m not sure – buy two pounds – you want about 40 slices – OK you want a slice for each jalapeno; it’s not like you can have too much bacon in the house or anything, right?  RIGHT??????

If you have leftover meat mixture (I did) then bake it up in a small casserole dish and eat it with bagel or pita chips 🙂

I lined a baking sheet with some foil and then placed a large cooling rack over it. You don’t want to bake these directly on the baking sheet – they end up mushy (I know because I baked some of them that way and just weren’t as good). Bake them for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees F (I’m typing this directly into wordpress and can’t get the “degree” thingie-symbol, but you know what I mean).

They’ll be hotter than the sun when they come out of the oven, so try and wait a nanosecond before cramming one into your mouth (I take no responsibility for any injuries incurred due to a lack of self control).

So there you are….guy food girls love.

Make these today and head over to Oh Bite It for other eye-rollingly delish recipes (and if you’re not following The Drunken Spatula on FB, well, start now)

[I corrected the spelling of Spatula (misspellings kind of annoy me).  It’s the one word I can never spell correctly – it comes out Saptula or Spatual or Sapluta… you get the picture.  Le Sigh.]

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Weeknight Supper – Chicken Milanese with Arugula, Apple and Walnut Salad

I have to share this – it’s so damn delicious and I’m going to apologize in advance for the fairly imprecise measurements and preparation technique. I found myself in the kitchen one night with a package of thinly sliced chicken breasts and really not sure what to do with them (they’re not my favorite thing to cook for the most part).  I’d been to Trader Joe’s that day and bought some Honeycrisp apples and Wild Rocket and suddenly it came to me – I could make crispy chicken with a kickass salad.

I cored, halved, and thinly sliced the apples and then tossed them with lemon juice which not only prevented nasty browning, but added a nice tart contrast to the sweetness of the apple. If you can’t find Honeycrisps or don’t like them (is that even possible), I’d go with another sweeter apple – maybe even a pear.  Anything tart will just not be pleasant.  I think that apple and walnut is one of the more sublime combinations, so I added toasted nuts to the mix.  If you don’t like walnuts, then substitute your own favorite.  The bitter-ish greens really hold up to the acid of the dressing (lemon & olive oil), as well as providing a lovely contrast to the sweet-tart apple and the crispy chicken. Finally I sprinkled some kosher salt over the top. Don’t skip that part.

All in all, this ended up being a perfect dinner salad, satisfying and just screaming “autumn” to me. It didn’t actually take a long time to make and if you’re a family with children, it’s a great opportunity to engage their help.  My mother made chicken Milanese all the time (of course she baked hers with tomato sauce and mozzarella and called it Chicken Parmesan) and my brothers and I loved to help her bread the chicken – messy, but fun.

Let’s get started.

  • 1.5 lb chicken cutlets (thinly sliced chicken breasts) – say 6, maybe
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2-3 eggs, well beaten (start with 2 and add an extra if needed)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (add a little more if needed)
  • Olive Oil for frying the chicken
  • Wild rocket (or arugula or watercress or other spicy green
  • 1 large Honeycrisp apple
  • ½ cup walnut meats, toasted
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

Prep the salad:

Core and halve and very thinly slice the apple (thin, but not quite shaved). Place the apples in a small bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, making sure that they’re completely coated.  This will keep the apples from turning an unpleasant brown and also is part of the joy of this salad.  Cover and refrigerate

Toast the walnuts (gently, because these babies will burn in an instant) and coarsely chop. Set aside.

Dump the greens in a large bowl and keep refrigerated (you can do this at the last minute if you want)

Prepare the chicken:

Heat the oven to 300˚F and place a large cooling rack over a baking sheet and set in the oven (I put the chicken in here to finish cooking through and also keep warm while I cook the rest of the chicken)

Set out three bowls or pie pans (or paper plates for the flour and bread crumbs if you want);

Combine the flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper

Lightly coat a cutlet with the seasoned flour. Dip in the eggs then in the breadcrumbs

Repeat with remaining chicken

Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium-high heat – you want the oil fairly hot when the chicken hit it. Cook the chicken in the hot oil until brown and crispy on each side (3-4 minutes per side)

Watch the oil – you may need to raise the temperature when initially adding the chicken, but then drop it down once the oil temp rises.

Put the chicken in the oven on prepared rack in the oven while you finish with the rest of the cutlets.

Once all the chicken is cooked finish assembling the dish.

Toss the greens with @3Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Taste it at this point.  I like mine fairly acidic, so adjust as needed, adding more juice/olive oil to suit your taste buds.  Put a large handful of greens on each plate; sprinkle with the walnuts.  Place a chicken cutlet on the greens and top with a handful of the lemon-coated apple sliced.  Sprinkle with kosher salt.

That’s it. Sweet-tart apples, crunchy walnuts, warm crispy chicken, belligerent greens – some stay cold and crunchy, some get a little wilted and that tiny burst of salt.  Perfect.

I found that I chicken cutlet per salad worked fine for us. But you can certainly add more for those with larger appetites.

I’d think this would serve 3 – 4 nicely – you might need a little more greens.

I really hope you try this out – it was so yum that it’s absolutely going to feature prominently for as long as I can get my hands on those apples. I might also add a little goat cheese.  Hmmmmm – something to think about.

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Let’s ignore that the table is not properly set, shall we, and just focus on the food.

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Cool Grown Up Treats for a Hot Weekend

Sometimes it’s nice to make an adult-version of kid-fare – and this is a simple and very nicely grown up version of everyone’s favorite gelatin dessert. I was first turned on to this by The Food Librarian – and have made it a number of times during the summer. It’s creamy and sweet and highly caffeinated – what’s not to love?

Let’s discuss a couple things. This needs to be made with really strong, fresh brewed coffee – and don’t think of using decaf (that’s just heretical). I made mine using a certain coffee chain’s “Verona” roast and I made it strong! Secondly, you’re going to use a whole can of sweetened condensed milk. There are no acceptable substitutes. Really, there aren’t.

OK, so now that we’ve talked ingredients, let’s talk pan size. I made mine in an 8×8-inch pan because I like that thickness. You can use a 9X13-inch pan or even a 7-11-inch. Just bear in mind, the larger the pan, the thinner the squares of gelatin will be. This is considered “finger gelatin”, so it’s firmer, allowing you to eat it with your fingers, legitimately (the other really fun part about this!).

So how to serve. well, I like to cut it into squares, put them on a chilled plate and top with a dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon or some ground sweet chocolate, like this one (NOT unsweetened cocoa powder). I suppose you could finely grate some semi-sweet chocolate over the top and that would be nice also.

Enough chitchat! Onto the recipe

• ½ cup cold water
• 3 packages unflavored gelatin
• 2 cups strong brewed HOT coffee
• 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk

Pour the cold water into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Allow the gelatin to bloom (get all fat and puffy and translucent), about 10 minutes. Add the coffee and stir gently until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir gently to thoroughly combine. Pour the gelatin into your pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8 to 10 hours or until firmly set. Cut into squares and enjoy.

You don’t actually have to cover the gelatin, but things tend to get spilled in my refrigerator, plus there are usually onions and other pungent occupants, and I prefer my sweets uncontaminated.

For other amazing gelatin desserts (she makes one with ice cream!!!!!!!), do head over to visit the Food Librarian’s website. You’ll be glad you did.

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Now that all the bubbles are dealt with (the back of a spoon works great), it’s ready to set up for a couple hours

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See those little bubbles – what happens when you don’t stir gently enough

 

 

 

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For Goodness Sake – Get Dressed Already!

No one likes to be caught naked (or underdressed for that matter) – and the same holds true for your salad greens.

While it may seem convenient grab a bottle off the supermarket shelf, let me offer that the investment of a few minutes over the weekend can result in a wealth of dressings to delight all sorts of palates – and greens.  I tend to like robust dressings largely because I tend to like greens that can support them – arugula, watercress, spinach, baby kale, etc.  Angharad leans this way also, but Iseult continues to run in the “make mine Ranch on romaine or ice berg, thankyouverymuchalready.”  I’m not putting down ranch dressing or romaine or ice berg lettuces either – and these dressings will work fine there also, but a little will tend to go a long way.

Wasabi Lime Dressing

  • 1 tube wasabi paste
  • 3-4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • ¼ cup roasted peanut oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

I throw all the ingredients in a mason jar, shake the daylights out of it, and voila, something wildly pungent and sinus clearing!  This is my version of Nigella Lawson’s dressing from her cookbook, “Nigella Express”.  I use a roasted peanut oil from Loriva which has a very dominant flavor; to balance it, I used an entire tube of wasabi paste and plenty of lime.  This is really going to come down to a matter of taste.  If you use regular peanut oil (or even another mild oil – and I will tell you right now that olive oil is not a good choice), then you can reduce the wasabi and lime.  Play around with it until you hit the sweet spot with your taste buds.

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

Add the Dijon, olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar to a canning jar or dressing cruet; make a paste of the garlic and salt; then add to the dressing ingredients.  Shake to combine.

This is my version of Hugh Acheson’s dressing for his Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad (from his cookbook, A New Turn in the South).  We like this dressing so much that I’ve taken to making a larger quantity and using it on a lot of salads, most recently my BST Salad (Bacon, Spinach & Tomato).  Let me also add that I’m completely addicted to the Brussels Sprouts Salad and have made it a fair number of times already.

Go-To Lemon Vinaigrette

  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 5 – 6 grinds black pepper

This one really is my go-to dressing and I always have it on hand.  One of the things I do quite frequently is buy a bag of “angel hair coleslaw” (sometimes I’m too busy to finely shred cabbage), add a shaved sweet onion (and maybe a shaved red bell pepper) and toss it with about ¼ – ⅓ cup of this dressing.  It makes a killer slaw for fish tacos or pork tacos or eating it straight from the bowl.

[Edited to add – I also make this with lime (use an equally substituted amount instead of lemon juice) and I actually prefer to make the slaw with the lime version.]

Green Apple Vinaigrette

  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (extra delicious if you can make with Meyer lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely minced shallot
  • 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup finely minced Granny Smith apple
  • ½ tsp. fleur-de-sel or fine sea salt

This is my version of a recipe from Epicurious for “Walnut Chicken Salad with Green Apple Vinaigrette”.   I love this salad and the dressing.  It’s tart and tangy and fresh.  It doesn’t keep particularly well  long periods (the apple takes on an unpleasant, mushy texture), so plan to use it within a couple days – and really, doesn’t take very long to make.

So now  you have some lovely dressings for your greens which can be shaken up in no time.   Your greens (and your family) will thank you.

(Note – I use my canning jars for everything but canning (haven’t acquired that super power yet).  One of the coolest things you can now buy are plastic lids for your jars – and I really like this for storing my dressings, etc.) 

 

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Yes, Really, I do Actually Cook for my Family…

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[Ed. I forgot to include a cup or so of the tomatillo sauce with the chicken mixture.  You CAN make a perfectly respectable filling without it, but I think it adds a little extra moisture and helps to bind the filling.]

Yes, folks, it’s a real, live recipe with picture!  These stuffed peppers were so delicious.  They do take a little while, but if you plan in advance (hahahahaha), you could make the sauce on the weekend and then reheat it.  You could also use a rotisserie chicken and have excellent results.  I use this chicken filling and the sauce for all kinds of things – enchiladas, Mexican “lasagna” using corn tortillas instead of pasta; it’s very versatile and you can adjust the seasonings to suit your tastes. Once I added some cream cheese and extra sauce, baked it for a bit and made a sort of hot dip for corn chips.  Very yum. So, without further ado, I give you..

 

Stuffed Poblanos with Salsa Verde

For The Salsa Verde:

  • 1.25lb tomatillos, well washed and quartered if large
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups chopped onion
  • 2 cans diced chilies
  • 1Tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock (preferably low sodium)

Cover the tomatillos with water in a deep sauce pan; bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until almost tender (about 5 minutes); drain well.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet and add the onions.  Sauté until translucent.  Add the onions to the tomatillos, along with the remaining ingredients and puree with a wand blender (or puree in batches with a regular blender – I don’t have one for reasons which have nothing to do with the recipe –then return to the sauce pan).  Heat the sauce to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and let simmer until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes or so.  This mixture tends to scorch rather easily, so keep an eye on it while bringing it to the boil, and do give it several stirs.

Again, you can make this ahead and then just heat it up.  It actually makes a ton of sauce.  This is not a spicy sauce, but you certainly could increase the heat by adding a jalapeno or two (chopped and sautéed with the onion) – leave the ribs and seeds for extra heat.

For the Poblanos:

  • 6 poblano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 3lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or a rotisserie chicken)
  • 4 cups chicken stock or water (don’t need if using the rotisserie chicken)
  • I can diced tomatoes with chilies (I used Rotelle), well drained
  • 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup salsa verde (can you believe I left this out?)

Heat the oven to 425˚F.  Line a large baking sheet with foil** and place the poblanos skin side up.  Roast for about 20 minutes or until slightly charred.  Remove the pan from the oven and fold the foil up around the peppers.  Let steam for about 10 minutes, then remove the skin from the peppers.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚F.

Simmer the chicken in the stock until tender; drain and coarsely chop – you want about three cups cooked chicken (but if you have a little more, that’s fine).  If you use a rotisserie chicken, just shred the meat (light and dark).

Combine the chicken, pepper jack cheese, drained tomatoes/chilies, cumin, oregano, and garlic powder, and about a cup of the salsa verde.

Place the chilies skinned side down on the baking sheet (you can use the same foil); fill the chilis with the chicken mixture.  Sprinkle with cheddar.  Bake for about 20 – 30 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and the cheese is melted.

Serve on a pool of salsa verde.

 

**I MUST tell you about Reynold’s Grilling Wrap – this is the best stuff.  It’s wide, like heavy duty foil, but one side is nonstick, so seriously, you line your large baking pans with this stuff and there’s no sticking and no cleanup.  It’s super heavy duty.  It can also be hard to find.  I buy it by the gross when I can find it.

 

Salsa Verde adapted from “More Chicken Breasts” by Diane Rozas

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Pimping The Kitchn Again

Soooo rather than finishing up my financial reports, I’m following updates from The Kitchn (y’all know how much I love that site).

And today they post THIS – Beef Tenderloin Sliders

I’m so making these.  But I’m going to use my favorite Horseradish-Dijon Cream (from Cuisine Holiday Menus 2010)

Whisk 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl to soft peaks (about double in volume) – and whisk this by hand – no mixer!

Add:
2Tbsp prepared horseradish (whatever is your favorite)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (again, your favorite, although I don’t recommend a grainy variety)
1 tsp. kosher salt

Continue whisking to medium peaks (will be about triple in volume)

This is the silkiest, most luscious accompaniment to beef (prime rib, tenderloin, you name it).

 

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A Little Something Tasty for Lunch

Miami Spice Cookbook

Photo Credit – Amazon

Yesterday I was sharing this salad recipe with a friend and then couldn’t stop thinking about it.
So, voila! Spinach Salad with Blood Oranges and Walnuts.

This recipe originally came from a much-used cookbook of mine, Miami Spice by Steven Raichlen, where it’s called “Spinach, Blood Orange and Macadamia Nut Salad”.
I made a couple adjustments, and that’s what you’ll see here. The original is lovely also and I’ll explain why I made the adjustments.

 

For the Salad:

3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
4 blood oranges, peeled and sectioned, juice reserved for dressing
5 cups baby spinach (arugula and watercress are nice too)

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Such Yummy Goodness

Layer the spinach in a large bowl; top with orange sections and walnuts.
Pour Dressing (below) over the salad and serve.

The Dressing

1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
Ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (or safflower oil is nice too)
Juice from the oranges
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.
Taste and adjust to your own preferences – sometimes the oranges are extra sweet, so a little more vinegar is nice.

So about those adjustments – well, the original recipe called for macadamia nuts, which are nice, but on the expensive side; the oil used is Hazelnut Oil – lovely to be sure, but also, very expensive and has very short shelf life, so if you don’t use it for much, kind of not worth the cost; I do use safflower oil in this sometimes; the original recipe also called for grilled corn kernels (don’t care much for them here); and finally, it called for sherry vinegar which I usually don’t have.  So there you are.  I like my version a lot and you can believe I eat tons of it when these oranges are in season.

Enjoy!

 

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Happy Corned Beef & Cabbage Day

AKA St. Patrick’s Day.  It’s going to be a little bit low-key here Chez Maeve et Filles.   Many meetings this week (which means I have to get dressed and trudge to my office).

We love corned beef & cabbage (with potatoes and carrots), so everybody is feeling a bit excited about dinner tonight.  Think I’ll whip up some Irish Soda Bread too.

I don’t actually have anything else to add.  Also I’m running later for first meeting, of course, and need to put gas in the car.  Plus locate actual office-appropriate attire.  Let’s hope at least one pair of tights has escaped Iseult’s “delicate” touch!

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