Monday, November 19, 2012

Making Boxty to Get a Man!

I am attempting to make up for my laziness of the past few days!  Lots of good food to share tonight...

A couple weeks ago, Mark and I went out to dinner with the Butterfields.  It's all quite perfect: Mark and Ian grew up together, and Dianah and I are friends at work.  Anyway, we went to O'Connors and got some lovely Irish fare.  I tried something I have never heard of: a boxty.  The menu said it was a potato scallion pancake, and I love all three things, so I gave it a try... and it was amazing.  Soft but firm, incredibly flavorful, served with sour cream and apple sauce... I know it sounds weird but please read on.  I immediately knew that I had to try this out myself.  I did some research and I feel like a really half-assed Irish girl; apparently boxty is a very popular traditional Irish dish!  In fact, there is even a saying:

Boxty in the griddle,
Boxty in the pan,
If you can't make a boxty,
Then you'll never get a man!

As soon as I read that, for obvious reasons I knew I had to make a boxty!  Yesterday we had leftover mashed potatoes, which the recipe calls for, so I gave it a shot.  You need both mashed and grated potatoes, which helps give it that part hash brown/ part pancake texture.  It's flavored with salt, pepper, and scallions, but I swear the flavor is so full and bursting that it feels like half the spice cabinet is in there.  You have to pan fry them in butter, which we all know is not my forte, but I was able to get them perfectly browned on each side, and they were absolutely delicious.  Artie and Johanna happened to be here while I was making them, and he said he has ordered boxty before from O'Connor's, so I was concerned that I'd be measured up against the professionals, but everyone agreed that they were delicious.  I wish I'd had some apple sauce to serve them with.  If you have leftover mashed potatoes any time soon (and hello, it's Thanksgiving week!) then you need to give these a shot.  They are so good, and it is like the ultimate comfort food!

That covered it for lunch, and then I had bought all the ingredients for dinner last weekend and had to use it up soon because - get ready for this - there is meat involved.  When I was younger, I liked shepherd's pie, which is gross because ground beef is horrible, but I think if you slather mashed potatoes on top of anything, I would probably eat it.  When I saw this recipe on Skinny Taste a week or so ago, I knew I wanted to try it out.  It's basically a "skinny" shepherd's pie, with ground turkey instead of beef, and mashed sweet potato instead of regular on top.  Inside are a mix of other veggies, like parsnip (definitely my first time buying a parsnip) and mushrooms.  There's also some rosemary in there, which you know I love.  It did take me a while to throw it together, because I had to brown the meat, cook the veggies, make the sauce, and mash the potatotes, but in the end, my family really liked it.  Well, I should add that there was a lot of whining over the presence of mushrooms, but the flavors really were pretty great.  My mom even loved it, and had it for lunch today!  I thought it was delicious too, but ground turkey is not my favorite thing.  If I could manage this  without any meat, all would be well!

The view inside the baking dish!
Mushroom Alert!

Tonight for dinner, I made caprese lasagna roll-ups.  I love caprese salad, and lately I even love lasagnas (no meat of course!) so this recipe intrigued me.  Lasagna noodles, mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta cheeses, basil and sliced tomato, all rolled up and baked with a little tomato sauce?  Sounds great to me!  The recipe even claimed to be easier than lasagna, which I may have to disagree with because it took me a while to roll up everything, but it wasn't too bad. I did find that it was much, much easier to spread the cheese mixture on the noodles once they were cooled; when they were warm, the cheese just pushed to one side and wouldn't spread, so if you try this, wait till they cool!  Spread 'em with cheese, top them with slices of tomato and spinkles of fresh basil, and voila: you're done.  Toss them in a baking dish with some tomato sauce and more mozzarella, and you officially have a meal that pleased each and every one of my family members without any complaints!  And you know how rarely that happens.  Mom said what she loved was that every bite has noodles, cheese, and tomato, whereas in regular lasagna, the layers can get messed up and you can end up chomping on just filling.  Mom and Alex had two, and Rach and I at first split one because we'd both been very bad snackers this afternoon, but then Rachael loved her half so much that she had another!  I made 9 (I snuck one extra roll-up in there!) for 5 people and I think all but 1 went.  Success!  These babies will appear on our table again. 
All rolled up and ready to bake!

One day left of this two-day work week and then it's Thanksgiving vacation!!! :)

sweet potato turkey shepherd's pie
caprese lasagna roll-ups

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