Posts Tagged ‘Kim McGuire Recipe’

Irish lasagna in a baking dish with a green side salad

I’m sure every family has its own version of this classic Italian dish…but I promise you, you’ll want to give this recipe a try sometime.

In our Irish home, we table-tested many lasagna recipes over the years before realising we are truly, deeply, and madly in love with this Irish version dreamed up by my sister-in-law Ann. Thanks Ann!

What makes this recipe the clear winner for us is the absolute deliciousness of the dish. It’s comforting, without being too heavy, and it has lots of flavour. When paired with a side salad and a slice (or two) of homemade garlic bread, everyone leaves the table happy and satisfied. What’s more, my girls and sweet husband will take a slice in their lunch the next day. Don’t you just love it when a supper can become an easy-to-make lunch too?

Another reason Ann’s Weeknight Lasagna is a favourite in our home…it’s just so easy to make. Unlike traditional lasagna, there’s no béchamel sauce (also known as “white sauce” in Ireland) in this recipe. Instead, whole milk ricotta is added directly to the meat sauce, saving time but not scrimping on flavour. And, this recipe calls for precooked noodles, so there’s no hassle and time commitment there either. This recipe is just a win-win-win all around.

Ann’s Weeknight Lasagna can be assembled up to a day in advance and baked right before dinner (great for exam week or anytime everyone is helter skelter). It is great as a family meal, but it is also impressive enough to serve guests. Add a bottle (or two!) of vino, light some pillar candles, turn on some Italian music, and you’ve got the makings of a fun dinner party. And, you know I hate to be a Delia-Downer but I am ever-practical, if you’re looking for a meal to deliver to someone-in-need, this is the perfect, delicious, easy-to-make dish.

Oh, this weeknight lasagna, Irish-style, is good for so many reasons. It may not be your mum’s recipe, but all I can say is “try it…you’re gonna like it!”

Weeknight Lasagna à la Ann

Serves 8


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, diced

450g/1 pound lean minced beef (hamburger meat)

1 pinch of dried basil, oregano and rosemary

2 x 680gram/48 ounces spaghetti sauce

8 oz whole milk ricotta

227g/80z chopped mushrooms

box of oven ready lasagne pasta

16oz shredded mozzarella cheese


1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent.

3. Add mince, being sure to break it up into small pieces. Add oregano and rosemary to taste. When the mince is cooked thoroughly, drain off any excess fat, then add the spaghetti sauce, mushrooms and the whole milk ricotta. Mix well and remove from heat.

4. Into a 9 x 13 x2 inch-baking dish, spoon a thin layer of mince sauce. Top with a layer of lasagne noodles, do not let the noodles touch each other or the sides of the baking dish. Next add a layer of shredded mozzarella. Then top with lasagna noodles, and another layer of sauce. Repeat layers as before, until your top layer of sauce is just about even with your baking dish. Sprinkle with the last of the shredded mozzarella.

5. Cover dish with aluminum (tin foil) and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. (Alternatively, refrigerate until ready to use).

6. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

7. Remove from the oven, top with some finely grated Parmesan, if desired. Let sit for five minutes before cutting.





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Guinness Beef StewWell, it finally happened…

After four long weeks on the road, we finally found GOOD food. I mean REALLY good food.

Up till now we’ve been subsisting on fast-food, chain-food, and any and all kinds of rubbish-food. It’s been awful and we’ve become increasingly crankier by the day. The final straw came this morning, when we decided not to visit Yellowstone National Park because the traffic jams and crowds felt too overwhelming. You could say we didn’t have the stomach for it.

We needed real food…and soon…but where?

Heading into Butte, Montana, last night, I felt certain we weren’t going to find what we were looking for…sustenance. Aging headframes, derelict buildings (complete with ghost signs), and a 90-foot statue of the Virgin Mary glowing eerily in the distance doesn’t exactly scream, “Good-food served here!”.  But in Butte, the uptown is the downtown, the high is the low, and the locals know there is plenty of great-food ~ from Irish Pasties to creamy Guinness Stew ~ ready for the eating.

Known as “The Richest Hill on Earth”, “The Sodom of the West”, “Ireland’s Fifth Province” and, more recently, the town that is “A Mile High and a Mile Deep”, Butte was once a rich mining community filled with immigrants from around the world, particularly Ireland.

Butte Montana MinersThe first to arrive hailed from Mayo, Donegal and Cork, especially, the Beara Peninsula. By the early 1900s, Irish immigrants, mostly Catholic, made up one quarter of the population. Remarkably, by the turn of the last century, Butte was the most Irish-populated city in America. Almost every able man made his living in the mines, including Marcus Daly of Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan, who was known the world over as the Copper King. As co-owner of the Anaconda Mine, Daly was second in American wealth only to Rockefeller.

Though they came for the chance to strike it rich, the Irish never truly left Ireland behind. In Butte, they arrived and promptly built neighbourhoods with names like Finntown, Corktown, and Dublin Gulch. They kept their cultural and ethnic traditions alive through language, celebration and food.

It is the food, in particular, that interests me. As you recall at the start of this post I was lamenting our need for good-food on this road trip. To find it…and then have it be Irish-food…in the middle of Montana…is, well… fascinating. The meal we ate last night at Casagranda’s Steakhouse was as good as any I’ve ever had…and that’s not just hungry road trip talk!  Casagranda’s is known for its perfectly seasoned, hand cut, Rocky Mountain grown beef {which by the way is delicious} but it was the Guinness Beef Stew that bowled me over. Creamy, rich, hearty, and ever-so-slightly sweet, this stew is not like any other I have ever tasted.

The Bertoglio Building, Home of Casagranda’s Steakhouse

I spoke with Lisa Casagranda Randall, co-owner of Casagranda’s Steakhouse, by phone to ask her for a copy of the recipe and to ask if, by chance, she had Irish roots running through her family. Her last name sounds Italian but it turns out Lisa’s great grandparents were both from Ireland, Cork and Donegal to be exact. They came to Montana for work and ended up building a life. Lisa spent many of her summers in Butte visiting family and eventually moved permanently to the area. With her sister Carrie Casagranda Leary, Casagranda’s was born 11 years ago. The Guinness Stew I had last night originally started out as an appetizer served on bread. People liked it so much however, that it eventually became a permanent dish on the menu, with bread served on the side. And though she hasn’t had the chance to visit herself, Lisa hopes one day she’ll make it back to the home of her ancestors across the sea.

Truth be told, from what I saw of Butte, Lisa is living as close to Ireland as someone in America can. It’s very hard to put into words but Butte feels more authentically Irish than any place I’ve been: it’s not like Boston or New York or Chicago. I, for one, hope to make it back soon: perhaps for St. Patrick’s Day 2014. It would be great craic (fun) to see how they do it there. In the mean time, if you are on a road trip and going through Montana, be sure to call in to Butte. Not only will you get a delicious meal at Casagranda’s but also you will find lots of Irish charm, history, and culture at every turn.

Casagranda’s Steakhouse Guinness Beef Stew

Serves 6 to 8


900g/2 lbs stewing beef, trimmed of fat and cut into 2” (bite-size) pieces

50ml/¼ cup canola oil

2oz/¼ cup all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

1 can Guinness Draught (not Guinness Stout, which is too bitter)

500ml/2 cups beef broth

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1oz/ ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

80ml/ 1/3 cup red wine vinegar


1. Spread beef evenly across a sheet pan.

2. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sift flour over both sides of meat and evenly coat.

3.  Heat canola oil in a cast iron casserole dish until very hot.

4. Add the floured and seasoned beef and sear until golden brown on all sides.

5. Combine Guinness, stock, mustard, sugar and vinegar and mix well. Pour over beef and bring to a rapid boil.

6. Reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is very tender.

7. Serve on its own or “traditional style” over mashed potatoes.


Related Articles:

Great Photos and a list of things to do in Butte at: http://theroadtriphound.com/2013/07/29/when-an-uptown-goes-underground-keeping-the-history-alive-in-butte-montana/

An Irish Times article about Butte at: http://www.ktvq.com/news/butte-most-irish-town-in-america-/#_

A road trip guide to Butte at http://biggestballofstring.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/36w-jan-9-butte-montana/

More great photos and information about Butte at: http://www.ramonaflightner.com/2012/09/04/butte-montana/

Butte’s Irish Language Immersion Programme at http://uhblog.ulsterheritage.com/2010/04/loading.html

An Irish woman’s view of Butte at http://missoulian.com/news/local/an-irish-woman-s-story-of-chance-leads-to-butte/article_59bef3f6-8eb7-11e2-b714-001a4bcf887a.html

The life and death of an Irish copper heiress at http://observer.com/2013/09/odd-but-not-out-of-it-eccentric-heiress-huguette-clark-had-her-wits-about-her-says-new-book/

Marcus Daly at http://dalymansion.org/history/mrdaly.php

NY Times Death Notice for Marcus Daly at http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F10F1FF73B5E14728FDDAA0994D9415B808CF1D3

Butte Today at http://www.mainstreetbutte.org

Interior designer, Bob Richter visits and reports on Butte for the Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-richter/rich-in-history-land-and-_b_4095295.html

Timothy Egan writes about his recent trip to Butte for The New York Times at http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/12/true-irish/?_r=0

Rants and Reflections on Butte at http://fl250.blogspot.com/2006/06/butte-montana.html

Tried and True Recipes from Three Sisters from Butte at http://tseas.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/tried-and-true-recipes-of-butte-montana.pdf

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IMG_2876In an effort to keep the family healthy this year, I’m starting our busy winter days with a delicious smoothie. Seems I’m not the only one thinking this way: even the Irish Rugby Football Union has a list of smoothies it suggests to fans and athletes!

The smoothie of choice in our Irish home this week is mango pineapple.

What’s your favourite smoothie?

Mango Pineapple Smoothie

Serves 4


1 cup/4oz frozen or fresh pineapple

1 cup/4oz frozen or fresh mango

1 banana

1/2 cup/4oz plain Greek yogurt

1 cup/8oz orange juice

squeeze of honey


1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

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It’s that time of year again when cold season is right around the corner.

Before the family comes down with something awful, I’ve decided to take a proactive step and beef up our collective immune system. My tools of defense are simple: sleep, a daily multi-vitamin, exercise, and adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet.

We already eat well, so the overhaul for us is not really about lunch or supper… it’s breakfast.

This week we’re adding a healthy smoothie to our morning routine. Today we started with Martha Stewart’s Green Machine Smoothie. Packed with spinach, avocado and a granny smith apple, this tasty drink is full of vitamins and fibre. The lovely bright green colour, reminiscent of Ireland’s rolling spring landscape, is a bonus {that’s what I told the children}.

Come back next week and see what new smoothie we’ll be drinking to help us stay “fighting fit” this winter. I promise to only publish the smoothies we enjoy! Until then, stay healthy.

Martha Stewart’s Green Machine Smoothie

Serves 4

1oz/1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves

10oz/1 1/4 cups white grape juice or pear juice (apple juice works well too)

1/2 avocado

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into small pieces

1 cup ice


1. Blend spinach leaves, juice, avocado, apple, and ice.


Note: Was rereading an article published in The Irish Times on 13 September 2013 (see Related Articles below) and wanted to include it with this posting. It makes for interesting reading.

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It’s official: In an Irish Home is ONE! 52 posts and nearly 10,000 visitors in the first year is pretty good given I had absolutely no idea where this project would go when it began.

What I did know from day one was three things: 1) I wanted an outlet for writing and receiving feedback; 2) I needed to create something outside the realm of mum and wife; and 3) being a committed plan-aholic, I craved a distraction from the growing realisation that our oldest daughter will soon be leaving home (yes, I know it’s still 5+ years away).

A few magazines offered me column space but I’d been down that road before and the deadlines, directed copy, and little or no interaction with readers left me wanting something more intimate and flexible. The blogosphere seemed an ideal fit for all my needs. But how?

The “how” question was overwhelming at first.

How do you start a blog? How do you build a following? How do you know what to write? How do you decide on a blog publisher? How, how, how?!

For a few months I played with ideas and read other blogs. In the end, against “traditional” blog thinking of niche writing and branding, I launched into writing about the things I love (cooking, family, Ireland, gardening and traveling) and decided the rest would sort itself out.

Luckily, things have been great. I settled on WordPress to host this blog and LOVE it! I learned to embed video into a post. I figured out how to use Flickr Creative Commons. I reached out to people I never would have called on. I picked up my Nikon D80. And, I met some lovely, encouraging, people from all over the world.

It’s been a fun first year but there’s still so much room for improvement. For example, my photos are pretty wretched. Somehow I’ve got to learn to use the camera “properly”. Also, I have to write more authentically. The subtitle of this blog is, “What Life is REALLY Like Behind the Hall Door”. So many times I’ve wanted to write about an experience and haven’t because I was afraid of the repercussions. Living in a small community, and having a big voice, can come back to haunt you.

Thankfully, there’s always next year…wait…that’s this year. Oh well, we’ll see what the next twelve months bring.

In the meantime, I hope you will continue this journey of adventure, living between Ireland and America, cooking, raising a family, gardening organically, and traveling with me. Your company is uplifting. Your feedback is motivating. Thank you. Thank you!

And finally, in celebration of a successful first year, here’s a recipe for Rocky Road Biscuits from Avoca Handweaver’s Tea Time cookbook. These more-ish chocolate treats are worthy of any special occasion and they’re absolutely a doddle to make. Enjoy.

Rocky Road Biscuits

Makes 12-15


480g milk chocolate, broken into pieces (I used a combination of dark and milk chocolate)

100g digestive biscuits (works out to be 7 McVitie’s or 7 Graham Crackers)

2 cups marshmallows/80g to 100g (if using large ones, cut them in half)

¾ cup/80g shelled hazelnuts, skinned and toasted


1. Place the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Melt slowly, stirring occasionally.

2. Line a lightly greased Swiss roll tin with parchment paper.

3. Roughly break up the biscuits by hand and put in the bottom of the tin.

4. Dot half the marshmallows and all of the hazelnuts around the biscuits.

5. Pour the melted chocolate over the top, and shake the tin to get an even mix.

6. Dot with the remaining marshmallows over the top.

7. Chill in the fridge until just set. Remove and cut into squares using a sharp knife.

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Tonight, in this Irish Home, my lovely family is out. I am alone and the feeling is…delicious!

It’s been a hell of a week, I don’t mind telling you. The school year has come to an end and, as is always the case, the last five days have been utter chaos. Final exams, sports days, music recitals, choir concerts, art shows, teacher meetings, desks cleared, books and everything imaginable brought home for sorting and cleaning – wshew. All you Dear Readers who have children understand that this is only the beginning of the end of school madness!

My shoulders are tight. My head hasn’t stopped pounding for two days. Oh, I need this night to myself…if only as a reward for getting our family through another successful school year. Yes, school is out, bring on summer.

So what is the perfect dinner for one? For me, on this evening, it is a light omelet and a simple spinach salad.

And that is exactly what I made tonight, with the help of Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food cookbook. I set a pretty table in the back garden just for myself. I poured a virgin Rhubarb & Mint Mojito. I lit the candles in my Tipperary Crystal holders and cut lilacs fresh from the tree to complete the picture. With some soft music playing in the background, I dined alone and finally started to unwind.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer in our Irish Home. After a good night sleep (and this evening to myself), I’ll be ready. Hope you are too!

Omelet with Mushroom, Spinach, Tomato and Manchego

Serves One


2 eggs, cracked into a medium bowl

2 tablespoons chopped tomato (no seeds)

1 brown mushroom, sliced

8 spinach leaves, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons Manchego, grated

1 tablespoon butter

salt and pepper to taste


1. Prepare all the ingredients and have ready before starting to cook.

2. Preheat a six-inch heavy or nonstick pan for 3 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat. When the pan is completely heated, add the butter.

3. While the butter is melting and foaming, beat the two eggs with a fork. Do not beat the eggs into a completely homogenous mixture, just beat until well combined. Grind pepper into the eggs as desired.

4. When the butter stops foaming, add a pinch of salt to the eggs, mix quickly, and pour into the hot pan.

5. Turn the heat up to medium. As the egg begins to set, pull the edges towards the center with a spatula, allowing uncooked egg to flow over the exposed bottom of the hot pan and cook.

6. When most of the egg is set, sprinkle the tomato, spinach, mushroom and cheese over the top. Cook for a moment to heat the cheese. Fold the omelet in half over itself and slide onto a plate. Serve immediately with the spinach salad below.

Spinach Salad

Serves One


a handful of spinach leaves, torn

1/2 tomato, sliced and deseeded

1/2 avocado, sliced thinly

red onion, thinly sliced, to taste

1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a medium bowl, add the spinach, tomato, avocado and red onion.

2. Add the red wine vinegar and olive oil.

3. Crack fresh pepper and grind salt, to taste.

4. Mix well and serve immediately.

Additional Notes, Related Articles & Credit:

* Update 5/11/17: I used my garlicky marinated tomatoes in an omelet this morning and my sweet husband commented on how lovely they tasted.

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