Simple Delicous Shepherd's Pie Irish Soda Bread Muffins and Pistachio Shortbread Cookies for St Patrick's Day  

Posted by Heidi

We started the day out with a walk in the foothills near our home.  During the few months that we enjoy green hills, I am always struck by how much it looks like Ireland.  Now that I have been there, I can say with absolute authority--it does!  In fact, there were places in Ireland where I felt like I was at home in Northern California.  I am so blessed to live here and so blessed to have visited Ireland. 

Ireland's national traditional colors are the gold and the green.  We see this in nature at this time of year and it is beautiful.

Setting a lovely table enhances any meal.  I used treasures that I acquired in Ireland as well as other pieces that I already owned (I have been crazy for Ireland for many decades so have collected quite a bit).

I also decorate the house for St. Patrick's Day.  I am not Catholic and my Irish blood is scant but I think all holidays are fun.  I love my little Irish lass doll with her cloth body and papier mache head.  Someone took great care in cutting out all of those shamrocks for her skirt.

I chose to make Shepherd's Pie (with hamburger since we are not fans of lamb) Irish soda bread muffins (gluten free) and Pistachio Shortbread cookies (both a gluten free and a glutinous version).

This Shepherd's Pie is very simple and incredibly delicious.  Peel four large potatoes and boil until cooked.  Mash them up with a little butter and about half a cup of shredded cheese (whatever kind you like).  As you are doing this, brown a pound (or two if you like) of hambuger.  When cooked, add beef broth and let it simmer a bit so that it isn't watery.  Fill a baking dish (any size and shape--the more potatoes and beef you use, the bigger the pan--these amounts will fit into a 9X9 cake pan) with the meat and spread evenly.  Pour frozen, mixed vegetables (whatever you like) evenly over the meat--use as many as you wish and will fit in your pan.  You can use fresh, too, but some things you will need to cook first, such as carrots.  Corn, peas, green beans, should be fine uncooked at this point.  Spread the cheesy potatoes evenly over the whole thing, add seasonings according to taste, and put in the oven for 25 minutes at 275 degrees.  I suppose you could leave it in longer if you like your potatoes browned.  Serve hot--yum!

These Irish Soda Bread Muffins are gluten free and very yummy.  The recipe is from the King Arthur Flour website.  I substituted equal amounts of flour for 1/4th cup coconut flour and 1/4th cup ground flax because they are tasty, good for you, and help hold gluten free baking together better.  Also, I did not sprinkle sugar on top.  In fact, if you like more traditional soda bread, I would add less sugar in the recipe, as well.  We liked them sweet--they were so good!

I baked gluten free cupcakes with whipped cream frosting and purchased regular ones for those in the house who don't eat gluten-free (it is not difficult to guess which ones are mine and which are store bought).

The Pistachio Shortbread Cookies are also a King Arthur Flour recipe. (The KAF version uses crushed pistachios on the top but I was fine with the amount of nuts already in the pudding mix.) The flour is added last so, right before, I divided the dough (this recipe is about two cups total at this point) and added gluten free flour to one and wheat flour to the other.  The recipe does not mention using a spring form pan as a very easy way to release these cookies (use parchment paper).  I did and it worked great.  Since I don't have two and needed to bake them at the same time, I put the gluten free dough on a regular cookie sheet lined with parchment and rolled it out into a circle about the same size as the spring form pan.  Since I don't have the expensive cookie press pans, etc., or a shamrock cookie cutter small enough, I used a 1" heart shaped cookie cutter to make the Irish knot work on the cookies.  A sprinkling of shamrock quins from Fancy Flours perked these right up.  These were delicious and really satisfied my craving for both sugar cookies and shortbread.

We ended the day out on the back patio by our "Celtic Corner" and enjoyed the beautiful, mild weather.  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at Tuesday, March 17, 2015 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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