Theme Nights

St. Patrick's Day Theme Night!

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St. Patrick’s Day is here and I had to take the opportunity for some green clad theming fun! Take a look at the fun and healthy menu that I created to celebrate the luckiest holiday of the year.

We started with the cutest appetizer of shamrock tortilla crisps and an avocado queso. The main meal consisted of shamrock steaks, green salad (see what I did there – only green vegies!), pan roasted garlic green beans and mushrooms, a lovely apple salad, and Watergate salad for dessert. Most of these dishes can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a few hours if you have a spare moment during the day. I know, stop laughing, I don’t have any either. The green goodness has taken over our house!

For our starter, I cut triangles from spinach tortillas. They were seasoned with a little garlic, salt, parsley and a dash of taco seasoning for fun. I baked those in the oven at 350 degrees until the tortillas were crispy. Our queso was storebought Mexican white queso. I added an avocado that I mashed until smooth. The best way to mix the two is to heat the queso first, then mix in the desired amount of avocado. If you have never cooked with avocado, it is a versatile and easy fruit to use. I love guacamole, so I bought two – one will go in the queso and one will morph into guac later in the week.

The easiest way to get to the flesh of the fruit is to take a large kitchen knife in your dominant hand, grasping the avocado in your other. Slice down to the large pit in the center and rotate the knife around the pit to cut the fruit in half. Twist the two sides in opposite directions to separate. The easiest way to remove the pit is to firmly tap the blade of the knife into the pit (be sure to get the pit and not your fingers!) and pull up. The pit should come right out. Scoop the fruit into a bowl and mash to the desired consistency. I like my guacamole chunky, but mashed the avocado to an almost paste consistency to add to the queso. YUM!

The steaks were surprisingly difficult to shape. I used a granny knife to score a shamrock shape in the eye of round stakes. Once the shape was defined, I removed the cookie cutter that I used as a template and freehanded the remainder of the trimming. I seasoned the steaks with a dose of salt and pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. I let those sit while my oven was heating on the broil setting. I thinly sliced some onion and placed a pat of Presedente butter with sea salt crystals along with some mushrooms for flavor. I cook the steaks to about 160 degrees (we like ours well done) which takes about five minutes on each side.

While the steaks are cooking away on the bottom shelf of the oven, I placed my green beans, mushrooms, fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and basil) along with some minced garlic and olive oil in a zip lock bag. I tossed in a pinch of salt for flavor and shook the bag to coat the vegies. Take the bag of vegies and spread evenly on a baking sheet and place those, covered in foil, on the top shelf of the oven until tender. Be sure to watch these and move them down to the bottom shelf and reduce the heat when the steaks are done.
Our leprechaun salad is easy breezy! Baby arugula, baby spinach, cucumbers, green peppers and an avocado ranch made for a light and crispy side that was healthy too! Dice ingredients and toss vegies. Move those to the fridge while you finish the rest of your meal.

Our apple salad is so very easy! This is one of those recipes that tastes like childhood for me. My Maw Maw made this salad all the time, especially in the summer. I loved it then, and I love it now! Dice 4 large apples or 6 small apples and place in a bowl. Add 1 cup of raisins and ½ cup of chopped pecans. Generally, I don’t tint the whipped topping before I add it to the salad, but in honor of the holiday, I will tint it green prior to mixing it into the salad. If you like a slightly tangy taste, you can add one 6 ounce cup of plain Greek yogurt in place of a portion of your whipped topping. Use just enough whipped topping and yogurt to thoroughly coat the fruit – I generally only use about ¾ of a container for this recipe.

Our Watergate salad will be for dessert. I can’t wait for Teeny to try this. He is either going to love it or hate it.

I mix two small packets of pistachio pudding and 1 container of whipped topping. Add one can of crushed pineapple, one bag of mini marshmallows (truthfully, I love the little devils, but I don’t usually use a full bag – don’t tell the kids!) and 1 cup of chopped pecans. Mix and place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to firm up. It is light and fluffy and absolutely amazing on a hot day!

I do love any reason to have a theme night!

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