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Homemade cranberry sauce in a white bowl with a vintage spoon surrounded by Christmas decor

I still remember, with some embarrassment, the first time I made homemade cranberry sauce. I was not yet engaged but having Christmas dinner, all the same, with my now husband’s parents and extended family. After Christmas morning mass, everyone descended on the home of my future in-laws, Dan and Mary Rose, for breakfast, present opening, and, much later in the day, supper. While the men watched the news and sport on T.V., the women retired to the kitchen to make the Christmas dinner {with much laughter and chat}.

Being a guest and wanting to make a good impression, I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Mary Rose replied, “you can make the cranberry sauce”.  In my innocence, I thought that’ll be an easy job. ThenI asked for a can opener. “Why would you need a can opener?”, she asked. “You know”, I said, “to make the cranberry sauce.”

For a moment the room went silent and I could feel my cheeks turn a funny shade of pink. Growing up, the only cranberry sauce I had ever eaten came from a tin can. It slid out nicely, if you opened the can at both ends. To serve, you sliced it neatly on the plate.

My future mother-in-law cocked her head and looked at me for a moment. Then, without missing a beat, she took a bag of Ocean Spray cranberries off the counter, a bag I had not seen, and handed them to me. In the nicest of ways she said, “we make them this way in Ireland”.

And with that, my future mother-in-law and my future sisters-in-law handed me a pot, a big spoon, the sugar, a weigh scale, and everything else I needed to turn American cranberries into an Irish side dish. Nary a word was said about my misstep. Those warm women took me into their hearts and homes that day. I am forever thankful for their love and gentle guidance through the years and for teaching me to make {from scratch!} this very delicious cranberry sauce. Enjoy!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

340g/12oz fresh cranberries

Directions

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

2. Add the cranberries and bring everything back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You can use the back of a spoon to pop the cranberries if you prefer your cranberry sauce smooth.

3. Remove from the heat and pour the sauce into a bowl, cover and allow to cool completely before putting into the refrigerator.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* For additional flavour, add a cinnamon stick or slices of fresh ginger to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove before serving.

** If you like your cranberry sauce boozy, stir in 1 tablespoon of rum, brandy, or whiskey to the cranberry sauce right after taking it off the hob {stove}.

*** For a citrusy zing, Add the peel of an orange to the water and simmer with the cranberries. Remove the peel before serving.

**** The American cranberry sauce I remember from my childhood from the good folks over at kitchn.com.

Serene

It took me a long time, a very long time, to fall in love with Ireland. I was young and foolish, when we first arrived, and I longed for the familiarity of the country I grew up in, the people I knew well, and a life faster-paced. But, slowly, oh so slowly, this serene country grew on me…like moss taking over a field.

Rolling green Irish countryside with ancient trees and cows grazing in the distance

Today I appreciate what I once did not. I love how at every turn something arresting catches my eye…like this field near our home. Notice how the land rolls softly at crooked angles, emerald green. Imagine cow bellows being carried softly on the breeze, and leaves rustling loosely in the wind. See the old trees huddled together, while one brave one stands tall and stately on its own. And sense the darkened cotton-ball clouds rolling overhead.

If you will, take a moment…blot out the words…and just look at the photo. Drink it in. Does it make you feel serene? I hope it does: then you too will share a tiny bit of what it took me a long, oh so long, time to realise: Ireland is an extraordinary place. Slán.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credits:

* WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Serene

** Want to stay at an Irish farm? Check out this article from The Irish Independent newspaper!

 

 

Two jars of overnight oats topped with yogurt and blueberriesOvernight porridge {oatmeal} is a familiar thing in our Irish home. To make, I bring a pot of steel cut oats, covered in water, to the boil and then turn off the heat and leave overnight. In the morning, I add a little extra water to the oats, give them a quick stir and reheat. This recipe couldn’t be simpler to make.

But, as my children have gotten older, it has become harder to get them to eat breakfast before they head off to school. So, our beloved hot porridge oats have gone by the wayside and in their place I’ve started making a different kind of overnight porridge: the no-cook kind.

And, you know what? My kids love it. They can grab and go straight from the fridge at home, saving them pocket money, and they can eat their brekkie when they are hungry…not when I want them to eat. The morning argument of “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” is gone and I am thrilled.

A close up of a spoon of overnight oats with two jars filled with overnight oats in the background

This recipe is a win-win for everyone. Once you try it, I know you’re going to like it for your kids too. In fact, make an extra one for yourself…it’s just that good!

 

Overnight Oatmeal

Makes One

Ingredients

40g rolled oats, not steel cut or instant

75ml milk/almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon flax seed and/or chia seeds

a pinch of salt

2-3 tablespoons yogurt

fruit to top

Directions

1. Combine the oats, milk, vanilla, honey, salt and flax and/or chia seeds in a glass container and mix well.

2. Top with yogurt and fruit and put the lid on the container.

3. Refrigerate overnight.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Overnight oats don’t need to be eaten the next morning: they’re good for about three days after you make them. Just know, however, that the porridge will get soggier the longer you leave it. And, if you are going to leave it a few days, don’t add the yogurt or fruit when you make this recipe…add just before you eat it.

** The beauty of this recipe is it can be changed up pretty much however you like. For example, you can add pumpkin seeds or any other kind of seed you like. You can add other stuff like chopped nuts, shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, or dried fruit. How about a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom or stir in some cocoa powder or matcha powder? You could change up the sweetener and add maple syrup, agave, date sugar, brown sugar, or even white sugar, A small squeeze of lemon juice would add a tang to your oats too. The options are endless.

*** For an easy-to-make, and delicious, recipe for traditional Irish steel cut porridge, please click here.

 

 

Wishes from In an Irish Home to You and Yours

I have so much to be thankful for today and every day: my sweet family {the inlaws and the outlaws!}, wonderful, supportive, friends, and you…the fabulous visitors who call-in to this blog every day!

From the bottom to the top of my Irish heart…THANK YOU!

Thank you for visiting In an Irish Home, for leaving your comments, and for sharing what you like with me and others.
Wishing you and those you love a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

 

 

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 Potato Casserole

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.

 

 

 

A large bowl of Irish mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and Christmas

Today we’re making mashed potatoes in our Irish home. And not just any mash either. We’re making velvety, creamy, delicious mashed potatoes. The kind with just the right amount of butter and milk {or cream} and salt added in. The kind that makes you go back to the table for seconds, even when you’re full.

As well as being a seriously homey comfort food, this Master Recipe, forms the base of other well known Irish potato dishes like Colcannon and Champ. It can also be turned into tasty potato cakes with the addition of some grated cheese, herbs, and rashers {bacon}. When topped with smoked salmon or a poached egg, potato cakes make an ideal brunch or light supper.

This recipe freezes well too. Which means you can double batch it for Thanksgiving and reheat it for Christmas {which is exactly what we’re doing today}. To freeze, let the mashed potato cool completely, transfer to a freezer bag, and store until needed. Easy-peasy. If you prefer individual servings, you can scoop out tea-cup-portions of the cooled mashed potatoes onto a Silpat-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer overnight or until the potatoes are completely frozen. Then put the individual servings into a freezer bag and store in the freezer.

To re-heat frozen mashed potatoes, simple chose the method that works best for you: microwave, stove top, oven or slow cooker.

Velvety Irish Mashed Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 kilogram/2lbs unpeeled potatoes, preferably Golden Wonders or Kerr’s Pinks in Ireland or Russet or Yukon Gold in America

250ml/8oz/1 cup milk and/or cream {or mix half-and-half}

112g/8 tablespoons butter

salt and pepper

Directions

1. Scrub the potatoes well.

2. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water until the potatoes are covered by 1-inch. Add a big pinch of salt to the water and bring to the boil over high heat.

3. Boil for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low, pour off about half the water, add a lid to the saucepan, and let the potatoes steam for another 20-30 minutes or until a knife tip or skewer goes into the potatoes easily.

4. Drain the potatoes in 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}.

5. While you are peeling the potatoes, put the milk and butter into a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.

5. Place the peeled potatoes into a large bowl and mash by hand or use a potato ricer for quicker results.

6. Pour half the hot milk and butter into the potatoes and stir well. Add more milk and butter until you get the smooth potato consistency you prefer. {You may not need all that you have prepared or you might need a little more, depending on how dry the potatoes are}.

7. Season with salt and pepper. Taste. Correct the season as you like and serve.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* You may, of course, peel the potatoes before you boil them, but leaving the skins on during the boiling process gives the mashed potato an lovely flavour.

** Using a potato ricer or food mill will give your mashed potatoes a smoother, creamier, texture than mashing with a potato masher. Darina and Rachel Allen, of Ballymaloe, recommend placing them in an electric food mixer using the paddle attachment to mash them.

*** Never use a blender or food processor to whip your potatoes: you’ll be left with a gluey mess if you do.

**** If you have a composter, throw the peeled potato skins into it to help feed next year’s garden bounty.

 

Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes in a big pot

In a world of fake news…it’s hard to know the truth. So it is with some skepticism that I write today that Jamie Oliver may be retiring. For years, Britain’s cheeky, yet charming, celebrity chef has been talking about wanting to spend more time with his wife and five children. Thus far, however, he’s continued turning out fabulous cookbooks and good tv shows, all the while teaching the world to eat more healthily and mindfully.

I have been a big fan of Jamie Oliver for years, partly because I love his ease with food and recipes and also…strange as it may seem…because he reminds me of my younger brother. Both men are kind-hearted, popular with women, great with kids, teachers of many, and they love to cook. Funny enough…about a year before Jamie Oliver made it big, I said to my little brother…”you should write a cookbook for guys…with all your talk of a handful of this, a bunch of that…you don’t measure anything…you cook from the heart”. Who knew this laid back style of cooking would take the world by storm?

Anyway, if the news is true, I doubt he’ll be gone from the spotlight for long. At 42, Jamie’s got a lot of years ahead of him to share his genius.

Speaking of genius…today’s blog post for Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes is quite simply…amazing. It has been one of my go-to dishes for the longest time. What makes it such a star is how you literally, in Jamie’s words, chuck everything into a pot and whack it into the oven. Then you can go and do something for 90 minutes and when it’s done you’ll have a feast to feed the family.

This dish is so good, it doesn’t need tweaking and it is so beautiful that you’ll be proud to present it at a dinner party along side a crusty loaf of bread and a big garden salad. Some might say this is a summer-time dish, but I think it’s perfect on these cold, dark, winter nights. Enjoy!

Jamie Oliver’s Tender & Crisp Chicken Legs with Sweet Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

higher-welfare chicken legs, jointed

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

big bunch fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped

big handfuls red and yellow cherry tomatoes and ripe plum or beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes halved, plum tomatoes quartered

whole bulb garlic, broken into cloves

fresh red chile, finely chopped {I use a pinch of dried chile flakes}

Olive oil

One 14.5-ounce/410g tinned cannelini beans, drained and rinsed, optional

handfuls new potatoes, scrubbed, optional

Directions

1. Heat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Season your chicken pieces all over and put them into a snug-fitting pan in one layer.

2. Throw in all the basil leaves and stalks, then chuck in your tomatoes.

3. Scatter the garlic cloves into the pan with the chopped chile and drizzle over some olive oil. Mix around a bit, pushing the tomatoes underneath.

4. Place in the oven for 1½ hours, turning any of the exposed tomatoes halfway through, until the chicken skin is crisp and the meat falls off the bone.

5. If you fancy, you can add some drained cannelini beans or some sliced new potatoes to the pan and cook them with the chicken. Or you can serve the chicken with some simple mashed potato. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins before serving. You could even make it part of a pasta dish – remove the chicken meat from the bone and shred it, then toss into a bowl of linguini or spaghetti and serve at once.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* For another delicious, easy to make, chicken dish…please see my friend Linda McCaffrey’s gorgeous chicken casserole. It’s another one pot dish I think you’ll love.

 

 

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