March 14, 2011

My First Chi-Irish day! (2011)

This past weekend was the annual Chicago Irish Celebrations of St. Patrick's day. For those of you who don't know, there's a HUGE Irish population here, which equates to one hellavu party!
Photo Credit to my BF :)

They have a full blown parade, dye the river green and have bag pipers roaming the streets! AKA it's pretty much my heaven, being that I'm somewhat Irish (I'd share my full name, but I'm trying to be safe; needless to say there's a Rose and a 'Mc' involved). Technically we're Scottish royalty, based from the Clan McArthur. However, we were persecuted out of Scotland for being Presbyterian, and migrated to Ireland. From there my ancestors moved to South Carolina where they continue to reside almost 250 years later. Pretty neat stuff!
I must begin at the Beginning... my friend (we'll call her J) came in for the weekend on her way home for Spring Break. I went to the Party store at the tip of a friend, on the look out for Shamrock tights... I found my tights, but also found the below HILARIOUS items:
Irish Drinking Buddy
Yes Mom and Dad... that is a Shamrock Bra.... Just WOW! I am always in Shock'nAwe of what they'll come up with next for Holiday Celebrations... But J and I proceed to paint our nails green and prepare ourselves for an amazing weekend!
So to celebrate this fun holiday, a co-worker/friend/captain-of-my-flagfootball-team hosted a shindig at his river-side condo! On the way there BF got creative on the window of the cab... 5 min cab ride + bored 25 year old = odd sense of humor:
Can you see what he drew?
We had a great time, complete with Green mimosas (no they don't taste different), green eggs, and green bagels & cream cheese! He had a wonderful view of the river, however I'll admit to using my BF's picture above because he actually went down for the view where as the rest of us stayed warm and watched from the condo.
Afterward we decided to head out for a bit and enjoyed a local Irish Bar called River Shannon, not too far from BF's apt.
They were serving these amazing little shots out of shot-glass-necklaces they called 'River Water'; Tasted like a freaking Shamrock Shake! AMAZINGNESS! The crowd was lively, and there was no cover, which is always a plus.
Andy At Sushi-o-Sushi
Plus we were right down the street when we got hungry later on to go to 'Sushi-O-Sushi', one of BF's favorite places... where they happen to have this little thing called the 'Andy's Special': all you can eat sushi, all you can drink Saki bombs, for 6 people for 2.5hours.... INCREDIBLE!
After this, we were pretty much all done, as at that point the day had been a long one.
Sunday, I went to breakfast with J at a local eatery known as 'Nookies'... It's pretty much my favorite for breakfast in the area... In the summer they have these incredible crab cakes that they serve with poached eggs.... ugh I wish they had them year-round! But instead I go the biscuits and gravy with the poach eggs. VERY GOOD!  Afterward, I felt bad we had left BF to fend for himself so we stopped at a local bakery. We picked up a delicious assortment of macaroons to share amongst ourselves.

Soon after, J had to continue her journey home, and I was left with BF on his couch watching Starship Troopers (Don't let him tell you otherwise... it's SUPER CHEESY!)
We ended up going on a really nice walk along the lake to wear in his new hiking boots in preparation of his trip to the Grand Canyon this week!

After cleaning up and getting ready we made our way out to the Burbs for BF's family St. Patrick's day Celebration. Long story short: he, his brother, and dad are all going out to Vegas for March Madness, and thus we had to celebrate early! His mom mad an incredible Corn Beef and Cabbage meal, and Grandma made homemade soda bread! Everyone kept saying how 'unauthentic' it was, because it was actually tasty!

Overall I'd say the weekend was a total success! As always I'm sure I left out some details here and there... but probably to protect the innocent... ;)
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well! In preparation for the ACTUAL St. Patrick's day, I'm going to try to include some Irish recipes in each of this week's entries. Enjoy!

Shepherd's Pie


Garlicky Potato Topping:

  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 10 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray


  • 4 slices bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 to 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped, (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle light or dark beer
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Swiss or Cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


Prepare potato topping: In a large saucepan add the potatoes and garlic and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain. Transfer the potatoes and garlic to a large bowl. Add the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the broth, butter, salt and pepper, and beat on low speed with a hand mixer until the potatoes are light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining 1/4 cup broth. Do not overmix. Cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-inch round baking dish with nonstick spray.

Prepare filling: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally until browned and almost crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate; set aside.

Add the oil to the drippings in the skillet and put over medium heat. Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the sugar, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize, about 3 minutes. Stir in the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat, until the beef begins to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots, peas, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the beer, bring to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes Add the cooked bacon, the broth, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.

Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared baking dish. Spread the potato topping evenly over the beef mixture. Bake until the filling is hot, the topping is lightly browned and the edges are bubbly, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Let rest out of the oven for 10 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

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