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A bowl of homemade sweet potato casserole, topped with granola and maple syrup

With more than twenty years worth of cooking under my apron, I’m always trying something new in the kitchen…but not when it comes to this sweet potato casserole. This incredibly “more-ish” recipe has been handed down three generations, from mother to daughter, and is perfect just the way it is.

What’s more? This recipe is easy to make, much simpler than Irish mashed potatoes, for example, and it freezes well. This really is the ultimate side dish for your holiday meal. Enjoy!

 

Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 lbs sweet potatoes

60g/4 tablespoons butter

2oz/1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

Directions

1. Scrub the sweet potatoes well.

2. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water until the potatoes are covered by 1-inch. Bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes or until a knife tip or skewer goes into the sweet potatoes easily.

2. Drain the sweet potatoes into a colander and peel immediately with a pairing knife while they are still hot {use a clean tea towel to protect your fingers, if necessary}.

3. While you are peeling the potatoes, put the butter into a saucepan and melt.

4. Place the peeled potatoes into a large bowl and mash. Next, add the brown sugar, cream, cinnamon and butter. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* To freeze, let the sweet potato cool completely, transfer to a freezer bag, remove any excess air, and store until needed.

** If you want to add a little crunch and saltiness to this dish, top it with my homemade granola {sans raisins}. And maybe add a little maple syrup too!

*** Curious to know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? Here’s the answer from epicurious.com.

 

 

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Yesterday was quite the day. Hurricane Ophelia battered the Irish countryside with wind gusts up to 170 km/h and heavy rain. Hundreds were left without water and power, many roads were blocked by debris, and three people lost their lives. Today a massive clean-up operation is under way.  Thankfully no harm came to those in our Irish home…and I hope the same is true for you and yours.

RTE Radio One and Met Éireann were fantastic company while the storm raged: entertaining and informing us all day long. Repeatedly we heard things like, “stay off the roads”, “secure your wheelie bins/trampolines”, “stay indoors {and watch The Lion King?!}”, “avoid coastal areas”, and “don’t swim in the sea”. Yes, there were some, dare I say “eejits”, out there swimming and kite surfing in the middle of the hurricane!

Overall, the news reporting was good, old-fashioned, practical. I love that about the Irish: as a whole, they rarely get hysterical and they mostly see the funny side of things.

Case in point…a woman called Joe Duffy’s Liveline yesterday to report “it’s windy here, Joe, good for the drying!”. Only an Irish mammy can be cute {smart} enough to turn a hurricane into a laundry drying exercise. My phone buzzed all afternoon with images sent by friends…thanks to Instagram’s #Ophelia.

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Between the fits of giggles and quick messages back and forth, I did manage to eek out a dinner of roast carrot and cumin soup, with a side of bread rolls made from leftover pizza dough {many thanks to thekitchn.com}.

Two white bowls filled with roast carrot and cumin soup

Cumin and roast carrots go beautifully together. In this soup, the cumin provides warmth and fragrant notes, while the roasted carrot adds a hint of sweetness and smokiness. This was and is the perfect stormy-weather meal.

Roasted Carrot and Cumin Soup

Serves 6

Ingredients

600g/1¼lb carrots, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

110g/3/4 cup onion, chopped

150g/1 cup potato, skin left on and chopped

30g/2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon cumin

1.2 litres/4 cups chicken stock

pinch of sugar

salt & pepper to taste

yogurt, crème fraîche or cream to garnish, optional

toasted almonds to garnish, optional

sprig of parsley to garnish, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F.

2. Place carrots in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and season well with salt and pepper.

3. Spread carrots in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, uncovered, in the oven for 20 minutes or until fully cooked and starting to caramalise. Watch carefully, a little color makes the carrots sweet…too much color and they will taste bitter. Stir occasionally. Remove from the oven and set aside.

4. In a saucepan, melt the butter. When it foams, add the onion, potato, cumin and sugar. Cover with a piece of parchment paper and a tight fitting lid. Leave to sweat gently on low heat for about 10 minutes.

5. Remove the lid. Discard the parchment paper. Add the roasted carrots and stock. Bring to the boil for 5 minutes.

6. Pour everything into a liquidizer (blender) and purée until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning.

7. Serve with a garnish of cream, crème fraîche or yogurt, parsley and toasted nuts.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Fun carrot facts can be found here, here, and here.

** Growing carrots is easy. Learn how to grow them in your home… here.

***Gorgeous carrot photos (carrot porn!) can be seen over at Pinterest.

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Looking for a delicious recipe for a busy mid-week supper? This Oven-Roasted Salmon may be your answer. It’s so easy to prepare, a child can do it. In fact, both my daughters learned to make this dish over the summer.

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A quick wash of the salmon, a squeeze of lemon, a pad of butter, a dash of salt and pepper, pop it into the oven for 15 minutes and you’re done. If you have the time or energy to jazz it up, play with the herb and fat combinations: sometimes I replace the butter with olive oil {or use both!} or I sprinkle some parsley, dill, tarragon, or lemon zest on top.

Oven roasted salmon, boiled potatoes, and a green salad on a white plate.

If you need another reason to make this recipe, consider this: salmon is a superfood. In our busy Irish home, I’ll take every opportunity to get good nutrition into my family. Salmon contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids {which support heart and eye healthy}, and it is an excellent source of vitamin B-12, vitamin D and Selenium.

Oven-Roasted Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 x 3oz salmon fillets

1/2 lemon

4 pads of butter

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Line a baking tray with aluminium and top with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. Rinse the salmon, pat dry with kitchen roll (paper towel), and, if needed, remove any bones.

3. Put the salmon fillets on the parchment paper, skin-side down, and squeeze lemon juice over them.

4. Top each with a small pad of butter.

5. Salt and pepper, as desired.

6. Roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked all the way through. Roasting times will vary depending on your oven and the thickness of the salmon.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Most nights, we serve boiled potatoes and a simple green salad with our salmon dinners.

** Wild or Farmed Salmon? See what the Time.com experts say here.

*** If you’re interested, here’s an article on how Norway avoids antibiotics in fish farming from the World Health Organization.

**** Invasive pink salmon are found on Irish shores recently. Learn more in this Irish Times article.

***** Two more salmon recipes from In an Irish Home: Salmon Fillets with Pesto & Pecorino and Salmon Pesto Pasta.

 

 

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Liebster Award

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As is always the case in the month of May, at least since my children hit secondary school (middle school/high school), I am desperately behind in life! You’d think with all my natural ability to Martha-Stewart the heck out of things, I’d be better organised and ready for May each year…but sadly…no. I am always caught off guard.

My excuse this year is that I took a quick side-trip to Las Vegas back in April to visit with friends and to attend a national conference for the oldest mother-daughter organisation in America called National Charity League, Inc. I had such a great time, learned loads, and loved the dancing, socialising, (ehem!) meetings. Here’s hoping someday NCL will be a global organisation: hint, hint…Ireland maybe?

So, with May nearly over, I finally sat down at my computer to blog. What a surprise to discover that In an Irish Home has been nominated for a Leibster Award! Hmmm…maybe I should take more frequent breaks from writing?! Anyway, a big THANK YOU to the lovely Jovana Smith, “Jo”, over at The Inquisitive Writer  for the nomination. I’m absolutely chuffed and I accept!

But before I get on with the rules of being nominated for a Leibster Award, here’s a little bit about Jo: She lives in New Jersey and enjoys writing whenever the spirit moves her. Lately she’s been inspired to write about gardening, custom Lego building, Washi tape, and how to have a happier life. What I especially appreciate about Jo’s writing is that she’s 12! What?! I know, right! Amazing!! Kids these days have so many distractions (did I mentioned I have two…kids…not distractions). It’s really incredible when you meet a young person who is focusing their energy and creating something special. So hats off to Jo…and please go check out her blog when you can.

So, what is a Leibster Award?

If you’re not familiar with it, a Liebster Award exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. Its origin is unknown, but many believe it started in Germany. Liebster means: dearest, sweetheart, favourite, endearing in German. The award follows the principles of a chain letter in that it is given and then forwarded to others. It’s also seen as a marketing tool: a chance to promote not only your own blog but others too. The rules vary and are changing all the time, so in essence there really aren’t many rules. And, finally, the choice lies within the receiver to accept the Leibster Award and pay it forward or end it all together.

What are “The Rules”?

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to his/her blog.
  • Answer 11 questions from that blogger
  • Give 11 facts about yourself
  • Nominate up to 11 bloggers (it’s ok if you don’t know enough people yet to nominate!!)
  • Ask 11 questions for them
  • Ask them to give 11 facts about themselves

Now, with all that out of the way…here we go…!

Jo’s Questions to Me:

1. Would your change your name? If so, what would it be and why? Nope! Funny, I’ve thought about that question before and know, unequivocally, I like my name.

2. Do you believe in luck? If so, why? Kind of…I believe in luck and hard work. Why? I’m not sure…I just believe there are miracles out there.

3. Where would you prefer to live besides where you live now? Nowhere. I like splitting my time between Ireland and America.

4. What book or magazine are you reading currently? Just finished reading Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians and am waiting for his next book China Rich Girlfriend to come out.

5. If you had another blog, what would it be about? DIYs? Cooking? Traveling? It would be an anonymous blog about raising kids.

6. Would you live in a tiny house? (aprox. 100-500 sq. ft) Absolutely!

7. Which decade are you most? (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, or 2010s) 1950’s.

8. What is your Zodiac sign? Libra.

9. Which time of day do you prefer most: morning light, daytime sun, a 7:00 p.m. sunset,  or a full moon? Sunset.

10. If you had a chance, would you meet up with all of your readers (for your blog) for coffee? Maybe not all of them, but definitely some of them.

11. If you could go back in time, which period would you go back in and why? I’d probably go back to the mid-1800’s in America when the West was being settled. The freedom of the period is exciting and it also seems to be a very romantic time too.

Offer 11 Facts about Yourself:

1: I’m very private.

2: When I’m under pressure, I don’t talk a lot.

3: I like being alone sometimes.

4: I’m a sunset girl, not a sunrise girl.

5: I’d love to be a race car driver.

6: I’m married to the best guy ever.

7: I love to read magazines.

8: I don’t like butter on my sandwiches.

9: I still believe in miracles.

10: I play the piano.

11: Some day, when I grow up, I’d love to do something that changes the world for the better.

Who are Your Nominees for the Liebster Award? My nominees are:

1. Campari & Sofa

2. Emerging Adult Eats

3. Nourished Peach

4. Kitchen Feasts

5. Cooking with a Wallflower

6. Jittery Cook

7. Eat Like a Girl

8. A Silver Voice from Ireland

9. Retirement & Beyond

10.The Travelling Pantry

11. Peters Food Adventures

* Please be sure to link back to me so I can read your answers!

My Questions to My Nominees are:

1. How did you decide on the title of your blog?

2. If you were to start another blog, what would it be?

3. Sweet or savoury, what’s your preference?

4. What’s your favourite dessert?

5. What’s your drink of choice?

6. What blogs do you read regularly?

7. If you could be anything (rock star, politician, doctor, parent)…what would you be?

8. Are you living to your potential? If so, how do you know?

9.) What’s one piece of advice you’d give your younger self?

10.) Why did you start blogging?

11.) What do you think is the most important character trait?

Thank you again Jo over at The Inquisitive Writer! And to all…happy writing!

 

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Are ye getting tired of me yet? If so, tá brón orm (I’m sorry)! 

It’s quiet in our Irish home at the moment…which has given me time to read the many St. Patrick’s Day messages that have been popping into my in-box, Twitter feed, and Facebook account all day from people around the world.

It’s truly amazing the effect this tiny island has had on the world!

So…I’m making this post short and sweet…here are the “Best of the Best” video messages others shared with me today.  I hope they make you smile too!

1. A Chinese man walks into a pub in Dublin…no, it’s not the start of a joke:

 

 

2. What a warm welcome from our national airline, Aer Lingus:

3. Sure it’s Tourism Ireland…but still…we’re like no place on earth:

4. Ireland…the country that inspires:

5. Dublin’s Parade from 1951…75,000 people turned out even back then:

6. Making Shepherd’s Pie with Donal Skehan on The Today Show in NYC:

6. A Guinness ad from my friends in Australia:

 

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“Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona daoibh!” …or Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you! What a wonderful day to be Irish…here or wherever you call home.

This day two years ago, Dublin Airport posted a message on Facebook about St. Patrick’s Day which was absolutely hilarious…so much so it was carried around the world. Last night, just to be sure everyone remembered it…they re-posted it as a video:

 

St. Patrick’s Day as we know it…is not really an Irish celebration at-all. But, to be sure, we’re not about to be outdone…hence Ireland has caught the St. Paddy’s Day bandwagon by its hoop-de-doo wheels and turned it into an event that brings more 370,000 people to our tiny island and a good few hundred million euro to our coffers.

There’s a lot about St. Patrick and St. Patrick’s Day the world-at-large does not know (some Irish citizens aren’t aware either!). Here are just a few of the facts:

* The 17th March celebration is actually the death date of St. Patrick. He is thought to have died on March 17, 461 and is said to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick.

* The good saint himself was, according to legend, born Maewyn Succat. It is said Maewyn changed his name to Patricius (or Patrick), which derives from the Latin term for “father figure,” after he became a priest.

* Blue, not green was originally the colour associated with St. Patrick. Some say it was the Irish Rebellion that officially tied Ireland to the colour green…other’s say it evolved over time and is linked to our “many shades of green” landscape.

* Originally drinking was not legally allowed in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, due to the fact that the day falls during Lent and Ireland is (was, and probably always will be) a very Catholic country. The law was repealed in 1961.

* In 1762, the first St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was held in New York City…not Dublin, Ireland.

* Ireland didn’t officially start celebrating St. Patrick’s Day as something other than a religious holiday until 1903, when Irish politician James O’Mara introduced a bill in Westminster that made it an official public holiday in Ireland.

The first ever St Patrick’s Day parade in Ireland was held in Waterford in 1903. The first official, state-sponsored St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin took place in 1931.The first St. Patrick’s Festival was held in Dublin over one day, and night, on March 17th 1996. It has since grown to a 4-5 day celebration.

At that brings us to today’s St. Patrick’s celebration in Dublin. There’s so much going on this year…here are just a few of the highlights:

In the Footsteps of St. Patrick Walking Tour – Over two hours, take a very special walk in celebration of Ireland’s national patron saint. Led by  renowned Dublin historian and author” Pat Liddy, walkers will see the places most tourists and many Dubliners miss. Discover the fascinating truth behind the legend of St. Patrick and the Dublin of his time. The tour starts at the corner of Suffolk & Andrew streets, beside the Molly Malone statue, and finishes at St Patrick’s Cathedral.

Funfairs: City at Play – This is an event my family has always enjoyed! From waltzers to family attractions to the carousel, there is something for everyone at the Funfairs.

St. Patrick’s Festival Parade – There are St. Patrick’s Day parades far older than the one held in Dublin…but our event is swiftly becoming the best of them all! This year’s theme, “Imagine If“, is the final stage of three years of parades highlighting Ireland’s past, present and future. Inspired by the imagination of the young people of Ireland…the parade will be a young person’s vision of Ireland over the next 100 years.

Big Day Out – At Merrion Square from 12-6pm, this free event will be bursting with energy, colour and whimsy. Children can enter The Book of Learning inside a Georgian House where UNESCO City of Literature opens up a world of magic, craft, creative writing and pet rats!  Just around the corner, SFI Science Zone gives budding scientists a chance to experiment with the enchanting world of science through amazing workshops, explosive shows and enthralling exhibitions.  Kids of all ages will enjoy getting their hands dirty at the Keelings Love to Grow Children’s Garden, where the first Irish strawberry of 2016 will be revealed. This and so much more make The Big Day Out event a true family affair.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

 

* For more information about Dublin’s St. Patrick’s Day, please click here.

** When did Ireland go from being blue to being green? Learn more here.

*** For more information about St. Patrick and his life, visit Catholic.org.

 

 

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There is a very old prayer attributed to Saint Patrick called “Patrick’s Hymn” or “The Lorica”. In Ireland we know it more commonly as “St. Patrick’s Breastplate” and “The Deer’s Cry”.

For centuries it was believed Saint Patrick wrote the hymn and sang it on the occasion when he and and a group of companions were on their way to the Hill of Tara to convert a great Irish king to Christianity. More recently, scholars suggest it was written by an anonymous author in the late 7th or early 8th century.

Whatever the case, it is a prayer/poem/hymn that reflects the spirit of the patron saint of Ireland. So, on this the feast day of Saint Patrick, I offer you his cherished prayer. God bless and Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Saint Patrick’s Hymn

I arise to-day

Through a mighty strength

With the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the Threeness

Thorough confession of the Oneness

In the society of the Creator.

 

I arise to-day

Through the strength of Christ with His baptism,

Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,

Through the strength of His resurrection with his ascension,

Through the strength of His descent for the Judgment of Doom.

 

I arise to-day

Through the strength of the rank of Cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In the service of the archangels,

In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,

In prays of Patriarchs,

In preachings of Apostles,

In faiths of Confessors,

In innocence of holy Virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

 

I arise to-day

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendour of fire,

Speed of lightening,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

 

I arise to-day

Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptation of vices,

From everyone who wishes me ill

Afar and anear

Alone and in a multitude.

 

I summon to-day all these powers between me and those evils:

Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul;

Against incantations of false prophets

Against black laws of Pagandom,

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

 

Christ to shield me to-day

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right hand, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,

Christ in every mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

 

I arise to-day

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity;

Through belief in the Threeness,

Through confession of the Oneness

Of the Creator of Creation.

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