Monday, March 17, 2014

Spinach Pancakes & Shepherd's Pie

I'm not Irish, nor do I plan on becoming Irish ever in my life, but if there's a holiday with food attached to it, you can bet I'll celebrate. This weekend the Naw hosted Quinn, and because he's a college kid and I'm his older sister, we ate like kings. Irish kings.

First, brunch. Besides our usual egg scramble, we stepped up our game with spinach pancakes. We put spinach in everything else around this house, so why not? It was a great way to get some green into our breakfast. I adapted this recipe to fit what we had for ingredients. Since we usually make pancakes from scratch, this was a fun way to keep up the tradition while trying something new. It's also nice that the green color comes from real food, not food coloring.

Spinach Pancakes

1 c raw spinach, packed
1 banana
1 c almond milk
1 tbsp syrup (I used blueberry, the original recipe calls for maple.)
1 egg, whisked (We've also tried these eggless, with success.)
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Puree the spinach, banana, milk, vanilla, and syrup in a blender.
Pour into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the egg.
In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
Pour dry ingredients into the wet mixture, mixing until just combined.
Place a skillet over medium heat.
Drop 1/4 cup of the batter on the pan per pancake. Cook until tops bubble, then flip to continue cooking until golden brown.

Green pancakes are all well and fine, but they're not exactly Irish. For something a bit more culturally relevant, we decided to make shepherd's pie. I used Martha's recipe, which calls for beef, not lamb, so maybe this is a farmer's pie instead? Quinn suggested "cow pie," but we all decided maybe that wasn't what we were looking for.

Shepherd's Pie

1 lb ground beef chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp flour
1 box/bag (10-12 ounces) frozen mixed vegetables (no need to thaw)
salt and pepper
3 c mashed potatoes

Preheat oven to 425.
Cut, boil, and mash potatoes.
While potatoes are cooking, brown the meat in a large skillet.
Add onions and garlic, cook until soft.
Add thyme, ketchup, and flour. Stir until combined.
Add vegetables, along with 1/2 c water, cook until vegetables are warmed through and liquid thickens.
Season with salt and pepper.
Spread mixture into baking dish.
Spread mashed potatoes evenly over beef and veggie mixture.
Place dish on a baking sheet and place in oven.
Bake until potatoes are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. (Our pie took longer; our oven is slow.)

Two years ago when Quinn visited for St. Patrick's Day weekend, we napped on the lakefront, got sunburns, and then returned home to make the biggest batch of mac & cheese we could manage. This year we stepped up our game with two successful meals, not to mention the pizza(s), popcorn, ice cream, tacos, tater tots, wings, and curry we also consumed. Is St. Patrick the patron saint of heartburn, by chance?

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