What SheSays: Caribbean Sun Buffet

Caribbean Sun Buffet (serves approx. 12)
Spanish Wines
Caribbean or Mexican Beers (Red Stripe, Corona etc.)
Assorted Tortilla & Plantain Chips
*Mango Salsa
*Corn, Black Bean, Avocado & Tomato Salad with Chipotle-Lime Dressing
*Spicy Cole Slaw
*Cuban Roasted Pork with Mojo
Corn & Flour Tortillas
*Cuban Sandwiches
*Orange cupcakes with anisette-orange syrup or orange-amaretto syrup
Spicy dark chocolate

Mojito (makes 1) (can be made up to two weeks in advance)
Over crushed ice add 2 ½ tbsp. **minted syrup, 1 jigger rum, juice from ½ lime & splash of club soda
**Minted Syrup (can be made ahead) Bring to boil then simmer, 1 cup sugar and 1cup of water until sugar is dissolved. Take off heat and throw in a 1 ½ cups mint leaves and steep for an hour. Strain and store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use (may keep up to two weeks). Besides mojitos, I love using mint syrup on fresh melon and berries!

Mango Salsa (can be made up to a week in advance). This is a family favorite!
2 mangoes diced
1 red pepper diced
4 plum tomatoes diced (or 2 large tomatoes) – whatever looks best!
½ red onion diced (Or more if you like onion)
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely diced
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tbsp. Apple cider vinegar
Juice of one lemon & juice of two limes
1/2 to 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes (adjust to your desire of heat) & 2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
-Combine all ingredients except cilantro, cover and let sit one to two hours. Add cilantro before serving. May be refrigerated up to one week (It won’t last that long though because it’s yummy)!!

Corn, Black Bean, Tomato & Avocado Salad (can be made the day before but add avocado right before serving)
2 cans black beans rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn, thawed (fresh corn taken from ear then sautéed in a bit of olive oil is very yummy if you have time)!
1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
½ a finely diced chipotle from canned chipotle in adobo sauce (I added this to dressing below)
One to two avocadoes, large diced (if making ahead, add avocado right before serving)

Mix ingredients with Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette (adapted from Recipe by alaskafromscratch)
Juice of two limes 1 ½ tbsp. honey
1tblsp apple cider vinegar 1 ½ tbsp. adobo sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
-Whisk together dressing ingredients then toss with all salad ingredients except avocado up to day before. Add diced avocado before serving.

Spicy Cole Slaw (Can dice and shred carrots the day before but slice cabbage fresh)
3 cups thinly sliced cabbage (I love purple for the color)
¼ cup finely diced yellow onion
3 grated carrots
Mix with dressing (can be made the day before and refrigerated)
1/3 cup mayo ½ tsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sugar
-whisk dressing ingredients together and store covered in refrigerator until use
-toss dressing, sliced cabbage, onion and carrot before serving.

Cuban Roasted Pork with Mojo Sauce (Cuban Pork Pernil adapted from justapinch.com Pernil O Pierna Asada Estilo Cubano) (May be roasted the day before and reheated)
5-6 pound pork roast shoulder
1 ½ tbsp. kosher salt
*2 cups mojo sauce
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 large yellow onion
-The night before roasting cut several slits around pork roast and rub with kosher salt. Next massage in 1 cup of mojo sauce into pork then sprinkle oregano, ground cumin and freshly ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
-Take out of refrigerator and let sit on counter for one hour before roasting.
-Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
-Roast in preheated oven four to five hours until juices are clear and meat is fall apart tender. Baste with ½ cup of mojo sauce.
-Remove roast when done and let rest. Let pork cool to touch then shred or slice.
-Remove quite a bit of fat from pan drippings. (I put pan drippings in refrigerator to cool. Fat then hardens making it very easy to removes).
-To pan drippings, add thinly sliced yellow onion and sauté until onions are tender, and then add remaining ½ cup mojo sauce
– Add reserved pork back into onion mixture.
**Pork can either be shredded or sliced. Serve sliced pork over black beans and rice. Shredded pork can be served on tortillas with slaw and various salsas. Pork can also be used for traditional Cuban sandwiches.
Mojo Sauce
There are many variations for mojo sauce, some with oil and some without. When using the marinade for roast pork you really don’t need the oil as pork has enough fat. If using the marinade for poultry, fish or beef the oil helps to keep the meat from drying out. Mojo sauce calls for sour oranges. Typically around here we can’t find sour oranges, therefore a combination of orange and lime juice is used. Here is the sauce that I used.
Juice of three oranges Cloves from one head of garlic, peeled
Juice of one lemon 2 tbsp. fresh oregano (or 2 tsp. dried oregano)
Juice of two limes 1 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
-Add all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until liquefied. This should yield approximately two cups.

Cubano Sandwich
I had a sandwich like this for the first time in the airport in Port au Prince, Haiti so although not in Cuba, the sandwich I had was a take on the recipe below!

2- 16 in French bread (not baguette) or hoagie loaves (unless you can find Cuban bread…)
Yellow mustard- like good ol’ French’s (some sites argue that a traditional Cubano does not have mustard but only butter, so if you don’t like mustard, leave it off)!
Shredded or sliced pork
Deli ham (traditional cubano) or deli smoked turkey (because I have a lot of pork here)!
Mild Swiss cheese
Sliced dill pickles – sliced lengthwise makes it easy
-Bring ingredients to room temperature so that when grilling sandwiches the bread doesn’t burn before the cheese melts!
-Slice loaves lengthwise.
-Spread yellow mustard on each side of bread
-Layer 3-4 slices of ham or turkey on one side of bread
-Follow with a nice heap of sliced or shredded pork
-Lay pickle slices on top of pork
-Layer 3-4 slices of Swiss cheese
-Close and butter the outside of bread
-Use either a sandwich press or a griddle.
-Grill approx. 8-10 minutes with sandwich press, until cheese melts.
-If using a griddle, place a cast iron skillet or a heavy brick wrapped in tin foil to provide the “press” and grill on both sides (approx. 4-5 minutes per side until cheese melts).
– Since I’m serving as part of a buffet, I slice each sandwich diagonally into 2-3 inch slices.

Orange Cupcakes with Orange-Anisette syrup or Orange-Amaretto syrup
I have yet to duplicate a yummy yellow, citrus flavored cake we were served at the celebration dinner as we ended our work in Pignon, Haiti. The recipe below is a variation on an orange cupcake but uses syrup traditionally used for a Cuban Capuchino Cake (not to be confused with the coffee drink).
Cupcake recipe (adapted from recipe by Diane Rattray, southernfood.about.com)
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. Vanilla
1 tbsp. orange zest
½ cup orange juice
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached)
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Line 20-22 muffin tin with paper liners. I also lightly spray the paper liners
-Sift together dry ingredients (flour, baking soda & salt) in one bowl.
– In separate bowl, beat softened butter and sugar until light, then beat in eggs one at a time.
-Add vanilla, orange juice and zest to sugar-egg mixture until blended.
-Slowly beat in half of flour mixture.
-Blend in Buttermilk then beat in remaining flour mixture until smooth and blended.
-Fill muffin cups about ¾ full.
-Bake 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
-While warm and still in pan, spoon approximately 1 tsp. of orange based syrup on each cupcake.
-Serve warm or cold.
*Orange-Anisette syrup (found in some Cuban sites – anisette has a licorice flavor)
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup orange juice
½ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp. Anisette liquor
Bring first four ingredients to a boil then simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add anisette. Keep warm.
*Orange-Amaretto syrup (because I like an almond flavor better than a licorice flavor)!
1 ½ cups orange juice
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. amaretto
Bring first three ingredients to a boil then simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add butter and amaretto. Keep warm.

**Since I used two different syrups, I cut the syrup recipes in half and still had plenty of syrup!!

Minnesota Lake Afternoon Buffet

They are the afternoons we dream about on cold January days. A light breeze blows off the lake, the warm sun beating down on the dock, and a group of friends coming over to your lake place for dinner. It’s always fun to throw some steaks, burgers or hot dogs on the grill. But why not celebrate all that is Minnesota with a Minnesota Lake Afternoon cookout? This spread was created by lake lover Cheryl Lausch and includes walleye, wild rice, and rhubarb. All Minnesota staples. All that’s missing is a loon calling in the distance. For a complete listing of recipes including rhubarb cake and lemonade with blueberry ice cubes, go to shesaystv.areavoices.com.

Pan-fried Walleye Almandine (adapted from ricardocuisine.com)

4 Walleye Fillets
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
Juice of ¼ lemon
Splash of White wine
¼ cup slivered almonds
2 tsp. chopped capers (optional)

Bring walleye fillets to room temperature & season with salt & pepper.In a large non-stick skillet, heat pan over high heat until hot.Reduce heat to medium hot and add oil & half the butter.Add fish to pan so they are not crowded.Fry approximately three to four minutes a side until brown and center is flaky.Remove fish from pan to a warmed platter.Add remaining butter, juice of lemon, splash of wine, almonds and capers if desired.Poor sauce over fish and serve!

Wild Rice Salad

1 1/3 cup wild rice (preferably from Minnesota)!
3 ½ cups vegetable broth
2-3 stalks celery
1 red pepper
1 cup dried apricots
1/3 yellow onion
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper
¾ – 1 cup chopped parsley

Add wild rice & broth to pan and bring to a boil. Then simmer 35-40 minutes covered. Uncover to let liquid evaporate. Cook until al dente. You may need to drain rice. Set aside to cool.While rice cooks, dice celery, red pepper, apricots & onions.Wisk vinegar & olive oil then season to taste with salt & pepper.Toss together rice, chopped vegetables and dressing. If needed, add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste instead of salt. Mix in chopped parsley.Serve at room temperature.

Erma Mabel’s Rhubarb Cake, from The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York.

½ cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ cups chopped rhubarb (about 4 stalks)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Butter and flour 11 x 7 non-reactive baking dish.Cream butter and sugar until light, then mix in eggs one at a time.In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.Combine the milk and vanilla in another separate bowl.Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk/vanilla to butter mixture.Spread 2/3 of the batter in the prepared pan, and then sprinkle the rhubarb over batter.Spread remaining 1/3 of batter on top of rhubarb, spreading evenly but lightly so that rhubarb isn’t
pushed to bottom.Bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Serve food with cold lemonade and blueberry ice cubes (made by pouring lemonade and two or three blueberries into ice cube trays).

The Great Indoors: How to make sure vintage doesn’t equal junky

It’s been almost a month since cleanup week found antique lovers and bargain hunters rummaging through piles of would-be garbage on the city’s curbs. Perhaps you’re one of them; excited at first by what you found, now looking at it and wondering “what am I going to do with this thing?”

It’s something vintage decorators like Shannon Olson and Carrie Brusven understand. Olson writes a blog (vintagenorthdakotakitchen.areavoices.com) on her love of vintage decorating and baking. Brusven owns Rustic Trunk, a business which specializes in decorating for events using vintage or rustic pieces.

Both of their homes are covered in vintage pieces from the 19th and 20th century, much of it acquired from clean-up week, garage sales and discount bins. The rooms are full of conversation pieces. They feel warm and welcoming and you don’t feel like you’re sitting in the middle of a junk pile. But how do they do it? How do you avoid having your collections and vintage pieces from making your house feel cluttered? Here are their tips.

1. Find what you love and stick to it. Olson says she’s always loved enamel ware and old coffee pots. So when she sees one she picks it up. She doesn’t bother with something that’s close, but not quite right. All that will do is add to the clutter and it won’t ever be a favorite piece. The item should really speak to you. If it’s nice, but not quite right pass it up. Brusven especially likes pieces that have a story with them. That way it’s not just a knick knack on a shelf, it’s history.

2. A collection can be three items not 30. Collectors get obsessed. They see something they like and they think they need to have every one ever made. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Or consider buying it, but only displaying a handful. Brusven agrees. “When you have too many items on display, nothing stands out.” Less can be more.

3. While shopping at garage sales or on the curb consider the strategy of one in/one out. If you bring something home to use in decorating your home, consider taking something else away and putting it on your own curb for clean up week.

4. Vintage can be practical. There’s no reason vintage decorations can’t be functional too. Olson found an old rake handle in her neighbor’s garbage. She attached it to an old wooden cabinet door and uses it to hang necklaces in her bathroom. Her photo from the project has been a hit on Pinterest. Brusven found an old beat up cabinet that she repurposed into a lemonade stand or guest book stand for use at weddings or other events.

“No one would have wanted this thing. But we worked with it and it’s really a cute and fun piece now,” she says.

5. You’d be surprised what a little TLC can do. If you see something that’s really beat up, give it a little tender loving care and it can come back to life. Olson found an old dresser like one her grandmother once owned. It brought back so many memories but the top of the dresser was trashed. But Olson took it and gave it new life. She found old sheet music and covered the top of the dresser in it. That piece has become the primary dresser in her master bedroom.

For more ideas on vintage decorating and baking, visit Shannon Olson’s blog at vintagenorthdakotakitchen.areavoices.com and for more information on decorating for events go to rustictrunk.com.

The Great Indoors: Much better than lawn clippings!

It happens every few years. A particular type of produce turns trendy.

Kale is the latest “it” vegetable. The dark, leafy green is full of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber and carotenoids, and that’s just the beginning. Research has also shown that kale contains 45 different flavonoids with a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

After hearing all of this, I decided to try and bring this latest “superfood” to my dinner table. I found a recipe for a raw kale salad that included balsamic dressing and tomato. But my meat and potato Iowa farm boy husband who normally will eat whatever is placed in front of him drew the line with this. He said it tasted like lawn clippings. I figured it was a lost cause. But when my co-worker Josh Thomas started telling me how he made the sometimes tough and bitter vegetable into a delicious snack food, I was all ears.

Kale chips, while not quite as nutrient heavy as raw kale, are a nice way to get kale into your diet. Kale chips have the texture of thinly sliced potato chips, but have fewer calories and fat and more vitamins and minerals.

Kale Chips
• 1-2 bunches of Kale
• Sea Salt
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Parmesan Cheese

You will also need:
• A large Ziploc bag
• a pizza cutter
• baking sheets covered in foil

1) Wash and dry kale thoroughly, pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
2) Use a pizza cutter to remove the leaves from the stems, discard stems. Cut leaves into potato chip sized pieces.
3) Place kale into large Ziploc bag. Pour just enough olive oil to coat chips into bag, along with salt and parmesan cheese to taste. (NOTE: Be VERY conservative with the salt, a little goes a long way in this recipe)
4) After kale has been coated with olive oil and seasonings, place on baking sheet. Make sure kale is not touching each other (you may need more than one baking sheet). Bake kale for 20 minutes. If kale is not crispy, cook for an additional 2-5 minutes, or until kale is no longer soft (adding more olive oil will increase the baking time).
5) Let chips cool and enjoy! Store leftover chips in a paper bag to absorb the oil. Chips in plastic bags will get soggy.

The Great Indoors: Grilled Romaine with Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing

I was excited when I heard I would get to cook with a man who once called Mickey Mouse “Boss.” Tim Rosendahl’s culinary resume is longer than a shish kabob skewer. Rosendahl is a native of Fargo and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. His prestigious career has included stints at Red Lobster as vice president of food and beverages and at Walt Disney World as executive chef instructor and administrator of culinary development. But now he’s back home in Fargo to share his cooking wisdom with all of us. He’s teaching classes at Square One Rental Kitchen and Event Center, a facility in North Fargo which is available to professional caterers and amateur chefs alike for food and party preparations. The day we met Rosendahl snow was still on the ground and the winds were brisk, but we were thinking warmth and a tasty spin on a crisp, refreshing summer salad. Rosendahl showed us how to make a Grilled Romaine Salad with Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing. I had a hard time picturing that grilled lettuce could taste anything but wilty, but I was wrong. Slightly grilling the beautiful leaves brought out flavors in the romaine that otherwise might be hidden. And his homemade Caesar dressing far exceeded the store-bought dressings I’ve had. It was crisp, flavorful, and delicious. Mickey would be proud.

Grilled Romaine with Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing
Portions: 6
1 head of Romaine, (cut into 1/6) leave stem attached
4- Egg Yolks
2- T Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, shredded
3- T Roasted Garlic
1- t Anchovy, chopped fine or paste
12oz. – Olive Oil
1- Lemon Juice and Zest, chopped fine
1T- Worcestershire Sauce
Fresh ground Tri- Color Black Peppercorns, to taste

1. Put egg yolks, Dijon mustard, garlic, parmesan and anchovy’s in blender or food processor. Mix for 15 seconds.
2. Slowly drizzle olive oil into mixture on high speed.
3. While mixing add lemon juice, zest, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper.
4. Season to taste with more roasted garlic, pepper or lemon. Refrigerate immediately.
Keep refrigerated at all times.
5. Drizzle romaine wedges in olive oil and either grill or sear. Very hot.

Serve: Over freshly grilled romaine wedges

Garnishing ideas:
– grilled shrimp, chicken, or scallops
– seared anchovy fillets
– seared thin sliced lemons
– shredded parmesan cheese
– warm croutons
– grilled tomato wedges

For more information on Square One Rental Kitchens and Rosendahl’s classes go to: squareonekitchens.com.

The Great Indoors: Sorbet for the Sweet Tooth

My name is Tracy and I have a sweet tooth. Always have. Probably always will. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those
of us who need a little something sweet everyday. (In fact, I like to think it makes us extra sweet people. Yeah, I know. Whatever, right?) But too much sugar
is definitely not a good thing. So how do you satisfy the sweet tooth without sabotaging the diet?

Tanya Friesen of Ette Nutrition, a website that promotes healthy family living, says it can be done.

The trick isn’t to avoid your favorite sugar-filled snacks altogether, but rather enjoy a lower calorie treat, yet similar

This Strawberry Banana Sorbet is a great way to tame that sweet tooth while gaining vital
nutrients. Most importantly, you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of your favorite treats,
which can help you stick with your weight loss journey for the long run.

Strawberry Banana Sorbet


¾ cup Sobe Lifewater Strawberry Dragonfruit Flavor

1 (14 oz.) package Dole Ready-Cut Fruit Strawberries & Bananas (for best results allow to thaw for 15 minutes)

4 Pure Stevia packets


1 Place all ingredients into a Vitamix container or use a blender. Secure lid.

2 Select Low speed. Turn machine on and then switch to High speed. Use a tamper to press the
ingredients into the blades.

3 Mix for 30 to 60 seconds. Stop machine. Do not over mix or melting will occur. Divide recipe evenly
into 4 serving dishes and serve immediately .

Nutritional Information: Serving Size: ¼ of recipe, Serving Per Recipe 4, Total Fat 0g, Total Carbohydrates
18g, Protein 1g

The Great Indoors: Fantastic Cauliflower Crust Pizza – Seriously, I’m not kidding.

I have to admit I haven’t always been on board when someone suggests I substitute a favorite ingredient for something more healthful. Don’t get me wrong sometimes it’s a giant hit (non-fat Greek yogurt can be a nice substitute for sour cream or mayonnaise), but other times it falls far short (I have a hard time using applesauce instead of butter or sugar when I bake.) But in the case of today’s recipe, I’m happy to say this healthful substitution is a home run.

It’s called Cauliflower Crust Pizza and it’s from my friend Tanya Friesen, the owner of Ette Lifestyle, a business which helps families lead healthier lives.

It sounds a little odd, but using cauliflower in your pizza crust is a great idea and it saves on calories and carbohydrates while increasing your fiber intake.

BBQ Chicken Cauliflower Pizza

1/2 LARGE head cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
1 large egg
1/4 cup Mozzarella 2% Shredded Cheese (or try another kind!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon onion salt

¼ cup Kraft Honey Barbecue Sauce
¼ cup Onion
4 oz. Deli-fresh Grilled Chicken Breast, diced (or use fresh)
1/2 cup 2% Mexican Style Shredded Cheese


1. Rice cauliflower into small crumbles. You can use the food processor if you’d like, but you
just want crumbles, not puree. You’ll need a total of about 2 cups or so of cauliflower crumbles
(which is about half a large head of cauliflower). Place the cauliflower crumbles in a large bowl
and microwave for 8 minutes.

2. Prepare the crust: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet or pizza pan
with nonstick spray or place a piece of parchment paper on pan. In a medium bowl, mix the
cauliflower crumbles with the remaining crust ingredients. Pat the “crust” into a 9 to 12-inch
round on the prepared pan. Bake cauliflower crust for 15 minutes (or until golden). Remove the
crust from the oven and turn the heat up to broil.

3. Prepare the pizza: Spread the BBQ sauce on top of the baked crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border
around the edge. Sprinkle chicken, onion and cheese on top. Broil the pizza 3 to 4 minutes,
or until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into 4 slices and serve

Nutritional Information: Serving Size ¼ of pizza, Serving Per Recipe: 4, Total Fat 6g, Total Carbohydrates
14g, Protein 16g.

Find this recipe and many more at facebook.com/ettelifestyle or learn more about losing weight without
losing the lifestyle by visiting www.ettelifestyle.com. Tanya will also be starting a new blog on Areavoices in the coming weeks.

The Great Indoors: Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Is there anything good about this winter not wanting to end? An outdoor Easter egg hunt next week doesn’t look like a good idea, it’s hard to imagine we’ll be playing any rounds of golf anytime soon, and lazy days at the lake seem as far away as ever. Now that I’ve depressed all of us, let’s try and look on the bright side. There are no mosquitoes and there’s still time to enjoy warm, gooey comfort desserts that seem tastiest on blustery days.

Hannah Johnson is the host of Concordia College’s Cooking show and also a reporter at KVRR-TV. We wanted to get her off campus to share some of her favorite recipes.This one just happens to be one of those sweet concoctions that seem best suited for cold days. Johnson says her grandmother makes these Peanut Butter Oat Bars. She says she and her family enjoy them every year and they’re really easy to make. If we must endure winter in March at least we can make it a little sweeter.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars:

2/3 cup butter melted
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla
4 cups quick-cooking oatmeal

1 cup milk chocolate chips (Hannah prefers milk chocolate. Tracy votes semi-sweet).
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup peanut butter

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla: gradually add the oatmeal. Press into a greased 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake 400 degrees for 12 – 14 min or until edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, for topping, melt chips and peanut butter in micro or saucepan. Stir until blended. Spread over warm bars. Cool completely; refrigerate for 2-3 hours before cutting.

The Great Indoors: Irish “Potato” Candies

When you’re talking about St. Patrick’s Day cuisine most likely the staples come to mind: corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, Irish soda bread, and of course green beer. But how often do you hear about dessert? We know the Irish are a fun-loving people so why wouldn’t they enjoy something sweet after dinner? One of my favorite Irish people certainly does. Kathleen Boyle Wrigley is North Dakota’s 2nd lady (husband Drew Wrigley is the lieutenant governor). She says growing up in Philadelphia, St. Patrick’s Day was always a big deal for her very Irish family and Irish Potato Candies were a must for dessert.
This recipe doesn’t actually use any potatoes. The sweet candied balls rolled in cinnamon simply look like potatoes. Consider it a sweet nod to Irish culinary culture. For your St. Patrick’s Day party plate them surrounding a loaf of Irish soda bread or serve them along with a glass of Bailey’s Irish Crème. I think they’re also good served with graham crackers or vanilla wafers. They’re super easy to make, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the party – green beer and all!

Irish Potato Candies

¼ cup butter, softened
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 -5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1-2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth. Add the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar; beat until smooth. Mix in the coconut. Roll into balls or potato shapes, and roll in the cinnamon. Place onto a cookie sheet and chill to set. If desired, roll potatoes in cinnamon again for darker color.

The Great Indoors: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

When I heard that Forum reporter Anna Larson was doing a story on desserts that you make that contain alcohol, I was intrigued. I love a nice dessert and a nice after dinner cocktail. But why not be efficient and combine the two?

She was nice enough to show me how to make one of her favorite desserts: Chocolate Stout Cupcakes. She took the recipe from Dave Lieberman of The Food Network. But she made a few changes, most notably to the frosting, which is, and I’m not exaggerating,THE BEST FROSTING I’VE EVER HAD.

Here is Lieberman’s recipe with a few changes from Anna.

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purposeflour
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch fine salt
1 12 oz bottle stout beer (recommended: Guinness)
1 stick butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened at room temperature
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
1 (1-pound) box confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins or use paper liners. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender.


Two 8-oz. packages of reduced-fat cream cheese (Don’t use fat-free cream cheese! It won’t taste the same.)
2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps if you wish
1 stick of butter
1 tsp of vanilla extract or 1/4 tsp of vanilla bean paste
splash of heavy cream

Allow the cream cheese and butter to come to room temperature. Beat the cream cheese to soften it; add the butter. Beat to combine.

Slowly add the powdered sugar until you have a consistency that holds some shape. Add the vanilla and splash of heavy cream. You may need more powdered sugar after this step if you plan to pipe the frosting.