Sunday, March 20, 2011

First Day of Spring

I deleted my post from the other day about having to rewrite my senior paper. In case anyone actually read it, if I said anything I shouldn't have I'm sorry. I'm not sure whether I did or not, but after second-guessing the post I removed it just in case. It has been a completely insane roller-coaster week, from doing nothing but writing my paper every night until I finished it, to the extreme relief and decompression of having it done and thinking that I was home free, to finding out I completely missed the point of the assignment and have to start over, not to mention making a complete idiot of myself in front of the professor. Fun, fun times. So I have a couple more weeks of lots and lots of work, and whatever the outcome, whether I'm able to graduate or not, I'm looking forward to finally being able to have a "normal" life with my family without having to deal with this.

Anyway, I don't know why I'm so excited about this, but it's the first day of spring! Wooo!! Looks like the weather will be nice enough to take a walk or something. Lovely.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.

Psalm 104:10-15, 31-34

Friday, March 18, 2011

Irish Lamb Stew & Sweet Potato Biscuits

A few years ago I was in the check-out at Walmart around St. Patrick's Day and saw a little booklet of "Irish" recipes from Taste of Home magazine. This is the booklet from which I got the cupcakes that Jackie posted. I'd never made anything else from it, so I decided to remedy that this year. Both of these recipes are from the booklet. The stew was pretty good, but what really impressed me were the biscuits. Oh goodness, they are so lovely I could eat them like cookies.

I'm posting the stew recipe as it is in the book, but we don't have a dutch oven (and we don't have room to store one), so instead we coated & browned the meat and then put all the ingredients in the crock pot. Turned out well, though a little soupy. I added some more half & half at the end to make it creamier. Also, I couldn't find lamb stew meat or pearl onions (Wal-mart and Kroger double-fail), so I cut up lamb shoulder chops from Kroger and half of a regular onion.


6 Tb. all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 lb. lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tb. vegetable oil
3 cups water
1/2 tsp. dill weed
8 pearl onions
3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup half & half cream

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 4 tablespoons flour, salt and pepper. Add lamb; shake to coat.

In a dutch oven, brown lamb in oil on all sides. Add water and dill; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is almost tender. Add the onions, carrots and potatoes. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until the meat and vegetables are tender.

In a small bowl, place remaining flour; stir in cream until smooth. Stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with biscuits. Yield: 6 servings.


2 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
7 Tb cold butter, divided
3 Tb. shortening
1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
6 Tb. milk

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Cut in 4 Tb. butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, combine the sweet potatoes and milk; stir into crumb mixture just until moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead 8-10 times. Pat or roll out to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter (I used a glass :)). Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Melt remaining butter; brush over dough. Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks. Serve warm. Yield: 1 1/2 dozen.

Editor's note: As a substitute for each cup of self-rising flour, place 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt in a measuring cup. Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.

Tonight I'm making another recipe from the Irish booklet - glazed mint brownies - for my parents and sister coming to visit tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crock Pot - Pineapple Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

Today I used my crock pot for the second time ever (the first time was Jackie's chicken soft tacos last week - yum!). The recipe I did for tonight is from the Slow Cooker Casseroles & More cookbook we received as a gift with the crock pot when we got married. You never know how good something will be from a cookbook instead of a friend who's tried it, but this one was tasty. The first recipe I made from the book was Apple Curry Chicken, also super good but not a crock pot recipe. I guess it falls under "& More". I can post that one too if anyone wants it.

Side note: I'm thinking of making Irish lamb stew for St. Patrick's Day - the recipe is not for a crock pot, but I think I might try to make it that way. Look at me, all slow cooker-savvy. Haha, okay, not quite. Oooh, another first - I've never made biscuits before, but I want to make some SWEET POTATO biscuits to go with the lamb stew. Woot!

Pineapple Chicken & Sweet Potatoes

2/3 cup plus 3 Tb. all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
6 chicken breasts
3 sweet potatoes, peeled & sliced
1 can (10 3/4 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup, undiluted
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 lb. mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. grated orange peel

Combine 2/3 cup flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, onion powder and black pepper in large bowl. Thoroughly coat chicken in flour mixture. Place sweet potatoes on bottom of slow cooker. Top with chicken.

Combine soup, juice, mushrooms, remaining 3 Tb. flour, sugar and orange peel in small bowl; stir well. Pour soup mixture into slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours. Serve chicken and sauce over rice.


- Either they used a bigger crock pot or the chicken breasts we got were huge, because I put 6 half breasts in and it was really full. I think we have a "normal" size oval one though.

- Damon thinks that it would be equally good if you use five spice instead of the nutmeg and cinnamon. He's the better cook; I'll take his word for it.

- I used the pineapple juice from a can of pineapple; if I make this again, I'll probably put in the pineapple chunks too, toward the end of the cooking time. The pineapple flavor didn't come through too much with just the juice. Including the fruit would add color too.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So I have to say, I have such a wonderful husband. Even though he has grad school stuff to work on too, he knows how stressed I am about my last class and he's been so supportive - encouraging me when I'm over tired and reigning me back in when I overreact to stuff, like not doing as well on my presentation as I'd wanted.

All I have left at this point is my senior paper, due on the 16th. Damon was so amazing this weekend - on Saturday morning he hung out with Eva so I could sleep in, later he took her for a drive so I could get some work done and came back with supplies to make me dinner (dude roasted a chicken!). I enjoyed going to church with my family on Sunday and got a nice break before getting back to research that night. He gets one day off during spring break so he took yesterday - he let me sleep in again and offered to take Eva to get groceries and bought me roses while he was out, just because.

Love that man.