My Global Food Challenge

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Wedding Anniversary

Happy Anniversary! Mocha Chocolate Chunk Icebox Cake

Here is my rendition of Ina Garten’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake, it looked incredibly easy and delicious on “The Barefoot Contessa” Old School Retro Mix episode, so I had to try it for my anniversary. I know I am missing out on many great recipes as a cook who does not eat mascarpone or cream cheese (its substitute), and it certainly is difficult to come up with the right consistencies or flavors without them. But during an episode of “The Pioneer Woman”, Ree Drummond talked about one of her secret “weapons”, Cool Whip. So an idea was born, and here is my take on a delicious cake.

P.S. and as I am writing this entry on April 8, 2014, my family is still talking about the cake.

P.S.S. I used Cool Whip Lite because we had it on hand, and it still tasted great. I do want to try it with regular Cool Whip the next time and I have been told there will be a next time. If you use thinner cookies, and an 8″ springform pan, this recipe will make 5 layers, but trust me, the three layers with these thicker, chunkier cookies are perfectly scrumptious.

Link to recipe:

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St. Patrick’s Day

Our family is incredibly diverse, across nationalities, ethnicities, religion, etc., but sadly, as far as I know, there is no Irish ancestry or any link to Ireland.  When I was growing up, I was told that everyone could be Irish for a day on St. Patrick’s Day, if you wore green and celebrated the day.  I know there is great controversy over turning everything green and about really how Irish is Shepherd’s Pie, but my daughter wanted green beer and her boyfriend loves Shepherd’s Pie, so there you go.

Additions/Omissions:  not a fan of sour cream so used a little extra butter, had to leave out rosemary for one diner, used turkey bacon

Taste Test:  Harp beer was good (I’m not a big beer drinker) and one drop of food coloring does not hamper the taste.  Excellent Shepherd’s Pie, even without the sour cream and rosemary.                                                                                                         

Zip Facts about St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish, and the color green:

  • The Celts called their idea of heaven “Green Erin” a nickname eventually given to Ireland.
  • Green, the symbolic color of St. Patrick’s Day, is mainly due to the lush ground cover of clover over the entire country of Ireland, also known as the “Emerald Isle”.  The original color associated with St. Patrick’s is blue.
  • St. Patrick, born Maewyn Succat in Scotland, was known for being the first to use the Irish 3 leaf clover, also called the Shamrock, or Tri-foil, as an illustration of the doctrine of the Trinity. He did not drive the snakes out of Ireland because there were no snakes there.
  • There is a legend started around the 1700s that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns that will pinch anyone they can see.
  • In 1961, parade organizer Stephen Baily, head of Plumbers Local Union #110, discovered that a dye used to detect leaks in plumbing had escaped into the river.  Hence, the idea of dyeing the entire river bright green for St. Paddy’s was born.

Link to Recipe:

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A Gingerbread House…Finally!

Every year, for more years than I can remember, my kids have tried to make a gingerbread house.  I knew that it would be better if I made the ingredients from scratch, but I always ran out of time and bought a kit instead.  There was never enough icing (glue) and inevitably, the house would not stand up for very long.   One time, after several disappointing yearly attempts, I bought a Christmas tree gingerbread kit. All the kids had to do was place the pieces one on top of the other with a little icing in between, decorate the tree, and it held up until the end of the holidays.

My kids are young adults now, with many other interests and obligations, but thankfully still home for the holidays.  I bought a kit just in case, a Willy Wonka gingerbread house, and they actually had some time to spend together.  After the typical initial failure to glue the sides together, I extended the icing, which turned out to be a disaster, and resorted to buying some tubes of white frosting.  Finally, a house that stood up so well, we had to use a hammer to knock it down and several days of soaking to reclaim the plate at the end of the season.   

I love holiday traditions!

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Butter Cookies: A Christmas Tradition

I am not sure how far back this butter cookie recipe goes, but I know it is more than 60 years that my family was baking them for Christmas.  I took over the tradition more than 25 years ago from my mother, and as soon as my children were old enough, they looked forward to helping, signaling the beginning of the holiday season for them.  We now have three cookie presses, but I still have the original one that I started with, and a manual one from my grandmother.

Merry Christmas, Mom.