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By Terri Hahn

It's St. Patrick's Day! Celebrate with traditional foods, green treats


March 11, 2021

Photo courtesy of McCormick

Fuzzy Leprechaun: Fizzy, fuzzy, fantastic. Whip-up this sweet n' tasty St. Patrick's Day cocktail for your favorite (adult) leprechauns using peach schnapps, orange juice and a splash of seltzer, then turn it lucky green with food coloring.

March 17 is just a week away so it's time to get ready for St. Patrick's Day.

But first a bit of history (thanks

St. Patrick's Day observes of the death of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. The holiday has evolved into a celebration of Irish culture with parades, special foods, music, dancing, drinking and a whole lot of green.

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated annually on March 17, the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for more 1,000 years. On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

St. Patrick, who lived during the fifth century, is the patron saint of Ireland and its national apostle. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people.

In the centuries following Patrick's death (believed to have been on March 17, 461), the mythology surrounding his life became ever more ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well-known legend of St. Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover, the shamrock.

Since around the ninth or 10th century, people in Ireland have been observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St. Patrick on March 17. The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland but in America. Records show that a St. Patrick's Day parade took place on March 17, 1601, in a Spanish colony in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. The parade, and a St. Patrick's Day celebration a year earlier were organized by the Spanish Colony's Irish vicar Ricardo Artur.

More than a century later, homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City on March 17, 1772, to honor the Irish patron saint. Enthusiasm for the St. Patrick's Day parades in New York City, Boston and other early American cities only grew from there.

Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick's Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated around the world in locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia. Popular St. Patrick's Day recipes include Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage and champ. In the United States, people often wear green on St. Patrick's Day.

Now that we know why we are celebrating, let's work on the menu. Let's start with a traditional Irish Stew and classic Corned Beef and Cabbage. Then we'll add a couple of green treats and a drink or two. Sound good? I think so.

Erin go Bragh!


Traditionally, lamb shoulder chops or leftover bits of beef are used to make this peppery stew. In this recipe, flavorful lean beef is simmered with vegetables in an aromatic broth. The long cooking time brings out all the subtle flavors of the meat and vegetables, while the potatoes retain their texture and shape.

Irish Stew

2 pounds potatoes (4 medium potatoes) peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick

3 cups onions, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced

2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch lengths

12 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1-1/2 teaspoons dry thyme

Salt, to taste

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

2 pounds boneless blade steaks (6 lamb shoulder chops can be substituted)

12 ounces prepared beef broth

3 tablespoons flour

Fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

On the bottom of a 3-quart casserole dish or heavy pot with a lid, spread half the potatoes, onions and carrots. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Top with 6 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon of dry thyme. Place the blade steaks or chops on top of the vegetables. Top the meat with the remaining potatoes, onions and carrots. Season well with more salt and pepper. Top with remaining dry thyme.

Cover the stew with the beef broth and enough cold water to barely cover the top layer of vegetables in the pot. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 2-1/2 hours until the meat and potatoes are fork tender.

Remove the meat, potatoes, and vegetables from the pot. Discard the thyme stalks if using fresh thyme.

In a small bowl, blend 3 tablespoons of flour with enough water to make a smooth paste. With a wire whisk, blend the flour mixture into the hot broth. Stir well to dissolve the mixture. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the potatoes, vegetables and a piece of meat on plates or in large bowls. Top with sauce and garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 472 calories; 492 mg sodium; 17 g fat; 38 g protein; 112 mg cholesterol

Recipe from: Idaho Potato Commission

This traditional Irish favorite is a one-pot, complete meal that is so easy to prepare, you won't want to save it for just the wearing o' the green.

Corned Beef and Cabbage

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours, 45 minutes

1 corned beef brisket, trimmed (3 pounds)

1 small onion, quartered

2 tablespoons mixed pickling spice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

8 small red potatoes

2 cups baby carrots or 8 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces

1 small head cabbage, cored and cut into 8 wedges

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

Place brisket in 6-quart saucepot or Dutch oven. Cover with about 2 quarts water. Add onion, pickling spice and garlic; cover.

Bring just to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 2 hours. (Do not boil.) Add potatoes and carrots; simmer 30 minutes longer. Add cabbage; simmer 15 minutes longer. Remove brisket and vegetables from saucepot.

Slice brisket across the grain. Mix butter and parsley; brush on vegetables.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 393 calories, 1349 mg sodium, 25 g fat, 19 g carbohydrates, 119 mg cholesterol, 23 g protein, 5 g fiber.

Recipe from: McCormick;

Everyone will be dancing a jig after one delicious bite of these minty green candy crunch clusters.

Minty Green Popcorn Clusters

12 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn

4 cups mini marshmallows

2 tablespoons butter or light olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon green food coloring

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

1 cup green M&Ms or similar candy

Place popcorn in large mixing bowl.

In saucepan set over medium heat, melt marshmallows, butter and salt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from heat; stir in food coloring and peppermint extract.

Immediately toss marshmallow mixture with popcorn; let cool for 2 to 3 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Toss with chocolate candies.

Shape 3 tablespoonfuls of popcorn mixture into small cluster; repeat with remaining popcorn mixture to make about 32 clusters. Place on waxed paper–lined baking sheet; let cool completely.

Makes 32 clusters.

Recipe from: the Popcorn Board

For St. Patrick's Day, tint your cupcakes in shades of green with food color.

Green Ombre Cupcakes


1 package (15 ounces) white cake mix

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Green food color


1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 package 16 ounces confectioners' sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Prepare cake mix as directed on package, using whole eggs. Stir in vanilla. Divide batter evenly into 2 bowls. Stir 75 drops (about 3/4 teaspoon) food color into one bowl, tinting batter dark green. Stir 15 drops food color into second bowl, tinting batter medium green.

Spoon heaping 1 tablespoon of the dark green batter into each of 18 paper-lined muffin cups; spread gently into an even layer. Repeat with medium green batter, spreading over dark green batter.

Bake as directed on package for cupcakes. Cool cupcakes on wire rack.

For the frosting: Beat butter and vanilla in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar, beating well after each addition and scraping sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add milk; beat until light and fluffy.

Stir in 3 drops food color to tint frosting light green. Frost cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

Nutritional information per serving: 337 calories; 300 mg sodium; 17 g fat; 44 g carbohydrates; 58 mg cholesterol; 2 g protein; 1 g fiber.

Recipe from: McCormick;

Scatter golden foil-wrapped chocolate candy coins over and around these emerald green crispy treats. You'll think you've found the Irish pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

Luck of the Irish Crispy Treats

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 package (10 ounces) marshmallows

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon green food color

6 cups crispy rice cereal

Line a 13-by-9-inch pan with foil. Lightly butter or spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Melt butter in large saucepan or Dutch oven on low heat. Add marshmallows; stir constantly until marshmallows are melted. Remove from heat. OR Melt butter and marshmallows in large microwavable bowl on HIGH for 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Stir in vanilla and food color until smooth. Quickly add cereal to marshmallow mixture and stir until well coated.

Press into prepared pan using a buttered spatula. Cool. Cut into bars or use a shamrock-shaped cookie cutter.

Makes 24 (2-inch square) servings.

Nutritional information per serving: 82 calories, 84 mg sodium, 2 g fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 5 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 0 g fiber.

Recipe from: McCormick;

Fizzy, fuzzy, fantastic. Whip-up this sweet n' tasty St. Patrick's Day cocktail for your favorite (adult) leprechauns using peach schnapps, orange juice and a splash of seltzer, then turn it lucky green with food coloring.

Fuzzy Leprechaun

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup peach schnapps

5 drops green food color

Splash seltzer water

Fill cocktail shaker half full with ice. Add juice, peach schnapps and food color; shake until well mixed and chilled. Strain into beverage glass. Top with a splash of seltzer water. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Recipe from: McCormick;

Quench the thirst of your little leprechauns with green-tinted raspberry lemonade.

Photo courtesy of McCormick

For St. Patrick's Day, tint your cupcakes in shades of green with food color. Green Ombre Cupcakes will add an extra spark to any holiday celebraton.

Leprechaun Lemonade

4 cups prepared lemonade

1/2 teaspoon raspberry extract

15 drops green food color

Mix all ingredients in pitcher. Serve over ice in beverage glasses.

Makes 4 (1-cup) servings.

Variations: For Strawberry Leprechaun Lemonade, use imitation strawberry extract in place of the raspberry extract. For a grown-up version, stir in 1/2 cup Limoncello.

Recipe from: McCormick;

Terri Hahn of Osceola has worked in food media for more than 30 years and has won numerous state and national awards for her writing. Email her at [email protected]


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