Guinness Black Lager Corned Beef Hash ~ Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’ll be cooking my favorite Corned Beef Hash this weekend…reminiscing about sitting in my favorite pub with my guy enjoying our hearty breakfast!

Guinness Black Lager  Corned Beef Hash

Makes 6 hearty servings

Place raw corned beef brisket (approximately 2 pounds) in a slow cooker. Cover with Guinness Black Lager (2 – 3 bottles) and sprinkle with spice packet that is included in the corned beef package. Cook on high for 4 hours or until corned beef can be cut easily with a knife.  Turn off heat and allow to cool. Cut corned beef into small cubes (cut off any fat) and set aside.

1 small onion, diced

24  fingerling potatoes sliced into thin slices

4 ounces butter (+ more butter if needed)

freshly ground black pepper

12 eggs

Rye, whole wheat or French bread toast

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and sauté until onions are transparent and starting to brown. Add fingerling potatoes and spread evenly across the bottom of the skillet. Allow to cook over medium heat until potatoes are soft and lightly browned. Add more butter if needed to keep the potatoes from sticking to skillet.  Sprinkle potatoes with freshly ground black pepper.  Keep potato onion mixture warm while preparing eggs.

Prepare over-easy/medium or poached eggs to serve with corned beef hash and serve with your favorite type of toast.

Somebody is looking forward to Corned Beef Hash!

We’ve had an unusually cold March in Southwest Virginia, so we often wake up to a pile of kitties cuddling on the bed.  They get in some fun poses!

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Irish Cheddar And Potato Gratin + Guinness Stout

Irish Cheddar And Potato Gratin

A hearty dish that can be served as a main dish or a side. Perfectly paired with Guinness Stout. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Recipe compliments of Murray’s Cheese

Serves 4


4 lbs. russet potatoes, washed and thinly sliced (soak in water to prevent browning)

2 1/2 cups Murray’s Irish Cheddar, grated

1/2 TBSP Murray’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 tsp thyme, minced

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

(I added some freshly cracked black pepper to the onion mixture)

1/4 lb. bacon, diced

1 bunch scallions, chopped

(I added a little chopped fresh parsley on top)


1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Butter a square baking dish.  Layer 1 lb of sliced potatoes into the pan. Next add 1/4 cup of grated Murray’s Irish Cheddar. Repeat until all potatoes and cheese are used.

3.  In a medium saucepan sauté onions and thyme in Murray’s extra virgin olive oil.  Once the onions are caramelized, add the heavy cream. When warmed, pour over the potatoes.

4. Place in oven (I put my pan on a baking sheet to catch any cream that bubbled over)  and bake for an hour until the potatoes are tender and cheese bubbly.

5. Remove from oven and top with bacon and scallions.

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Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day brunch…Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail made with Green Peppercorn Vodka…

Green Peppercorn Vodka

1 cup vodka

2 tablespoons green peppercorns

1 tablespoon pink peppercorns

1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

Place vodka in a mason jar.  Put peppercorns in a mortar and pestle.  Grind peppercorns with pestle until most of the peppercorns are broken apart.

Place mashed peppercorns in the vodka. Seal the jar with a secure lid. Shake jar and place in refrigerator.  Keep the jar in the refrigerator for a couple of days (or longer), shake jar every day for the first couple of days.  After the vodka is infused with the pepper flavor which takes a couple of days, strain the peppercorns out of the vodka and return the vodka to the jar and refrigerate (I like to keep a few peppercorns in my vodka just to spice up my Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail).

Bloody Leprechaun Ice Cubes 

Place olives and cornichons in various size ice cube trays (I like the oversize square ice cube trays because extra-large ice cubes last longer in my cocktail).  Cover with water and add a drop or two of green food coloring. Give the water a little stir and freeze the cubes.

Bloody Leprechaun Cocktail

1.5 ounces green peppercorn vodka

11 ounces tomato juice

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

6 splashes Worcestershire sauce

3 drops hot sauce (green hot sauce is perfect for this recipe!)

Squeeze one wedge of fresh lime

2 Bloody Leprechaun Ice Cubes

Garnish with green ~ celery, cornichons, green pimento stuffed olives, lime slices.

Place ice in cocktail shaker, filling halfway full.  Pour green pepper vodka and tomato juice to shaker then add horseradish,  Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. (Add more horseradish, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste.) Cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled. Strain into a highball glass over Bloody Leprechaun ice cubes. Add a few of the peppercorns from the vodka to the cocktail if desired. Garnish with celery stalk, cornichons, green olives and lime slices.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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Enjoy Special Club Champagne With Chili-Lime Crab Salad

One of my favorite Spring recipes by Sue Zemanick, Food and Wine Magazine (with a few little twists that I enjoy with this salad).

I chill appetizer bowls and appetizer forks in the freezer for serving this salad.

Chile-Lime Crab Salad With Tomato And Avacado

4 servings

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeno

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish

1/2 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper (I substitute the black pepper with ground pink peppercorns for an extra kick)

1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

1 1/2 Hass avocados, diced (1/2 inch)

1/3 cup minced red onion

1 large heirloom tomato , cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices (if tomatoes are not in season I omit the tomatoes)

Tortilla chips, for serving (I substitute lime tortilla chips)

I add these two garnishes for the top of the salad ~ 1/2 cup cooked fresh corn kernels off the cob and 1/3 cup finely diced red radishes.

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, vegetable oil, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper (a good grind of pink peppercorns).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
  3. Place a tomato slice on each plate and season with salt. Top with the avocado and the crab and garnish with the cilantro.   Garnish with fresh corn kernels, finely diced radishes. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with lime tortilla chips.

A fabulous pairing with the Chili-Lime Crab Salad ~

2011 Roland Special Club Blanc de Blancs Champagne

I purchased this lovely champagne locally at Tinnell’s Finer Foods, Roanoke, Virginia.  It is also available on-line.

100% Chardonnay grapes.   One of the consummate symbols of quality in Champagne, the “Special Club” label is allowed only on the best wines from top vintages if they pass muster after a series of blind tastings and all the other producer-members of “The Club”  (an elite group of growers formed in 1971) unanimously agree. Roland Champion’s 2011 Special Club Blanc des Blancs earned that distinction. $65 range.  Beautifully balanced and buttery with lovely bubbles.  Excellent with lobster and crabmeat.

Information about the “Special Club” from

To be a member of this Club, Champagne producers have to elaborate their Cuvées in their own facility, meaning the pressing, bottling, ridding, disgorging, etc., have to be done at the domaine/estate. Then, only the Recoltants-Manipulants are accepted. Everybody has to respect the Club’s rules to ensure the quality. These rules include: * Only vintages * Two tastings to control the quality: the first one after the blending, when the wine is still “Vin Clair” (juice) and another after the 3 years (or more) of ageing “sur lattes”. There are 26 members, each of whom can produce his Special Club with his own techniques: * blending or “monocru” (only one grape variety) * “blanc de blancs” or “blanc de noirs”; ageing from 3 to 10 years, brut or extra-brut. 4 year ageing minimum Strict selection of plots only made out of our old vineyards.

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Washington Bubbles To Start The Celebration!

I totally agree with Larry the Wine Guy. Hats off to Treveri on creating delightful sparkling wines at such a reasonable price. Recently I reviewed Treveri Rosé on… “A lovely weekend sparkling!  It’s fresh, it’s pink, it’s peachy, it’s fizzy, and it’s only $13.99.  A blend of Syrah and Chardonnay from the Yakima Valley in Washington State.”

Larry The Wine Guy

Bubbles Not Just For Celebrations

I always say that sparkling wines or Champagne are usually thought by most average consumers to be Celebration Wines. I drink them all the time and so should you. They are one of the most food friendly category of wines. They pair with almost everything and almost every cheese as well. Since it is Washington State Wine Month All March and ABC Fine Wine And Spirits The A B C Stands for ALWAYS BE CELEBRATING, I wanted to review for you a Direct To You (Proprietary) Bubbly they carry from the Evergreen State to kick off the Month Of March and hopefully Kick off every month for the rest of your wine drinking lives.

Treveri Cellars

Treveri Grieb FamilyMeet The Grieb Family. The guy in the middle is DA BUBBLES man of Washington State. Juergen Grieb (Owner and Winemaker) was born and raised in Trier, Germany, where…

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Crispy Smashed Herbed Potatoes To Celebrate National Potato Lovers Month

February Is National Potato Lovers Month

Sometimes it’s just plain fun to play with our food.  Smashed potatoes are the perfect example.  Make lots because they will disappear fast!

Smashed Lemon Herb Crispy Potatoes 

Fill a large stock pot with lightly salted water. Bring water to a boil.  Place small Yukon or Red Skin Potatoes in boiling water and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.  The potatoes can be prepared immediately or place them in a plastic bag and store in refrigerator overnight.

To smash and top potatoes:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit

Spray cookie sheet lightly with vegetable spray

Cut potatoes in half and smash with bottom of a can (wash bottom of can before smashing the potatoes)

Drizzle 1 teaspoon melted butter over each smashed potato

Sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Top with a mixture of finely chopped basil, chives and parsley. Drizzle each potato with 1/2 teaspoon (or a little less depending on the size of the potato) olive oil. The olive oil will help crisp up the potato.

Top herbs a sprinkling of frozen grated lemon and 1 tablespoon finely grated sharp cheddar cheese per smashed potato

To make frozen grated lemon:  Place a washed lemon in the freezer section of  your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get  your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need  to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your  foods.  The lemon seeds catch on the grater so there is no need to worry about seeds getting into your grated lemon.

Bake smashed potatoes for 8 – 10 minutes in 450 degree Fahrenheit oven. (Watch carefully so that the potatoes do not burn.)  Potatoes should be very crispy on top.

Serve warm with a bit of sour cream and/or ketchup.  Applesauce and sour cream is also a delicious garnish for this dish.

Have fun playing around with the toppings on the smashed potatoes ~ try a variety of herbs and grated cheeses or spreadable cheeses.  Delicious for lunch, dinner, a snack, even breakfast!

The definition of Bon Vivant is:  A person who lives luxuriously and enjoys good food and drink.

To pair with the smashed potatoes I served Bon Vivant Sparkling Wine from California.  California Sparkling Wine made in the French style,using the traditional méthode champenoise. This sparkler is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Several sources compare it to Veuve Clicquot, but I think that is more true for the yellow label rather than the bubbles inside. I am glad I tried it, but found it be just an average sparkling wine.  $20 range.

So I finished the glass of Bon Vivant and moved on to Pinot Noir.  As the weather gets warmer…we’ve had record-breaking warm weather in Roanoke, Virginia during February, 2018…the warmest it’s been in 100 years!  …my taste turns towards Pinot Noir. One of my favorite things to do is sit outside on the deck with a glass of Pinot Noir.  Although potato dishes are not necessarily classic Pinot Noir pairings, I found the earthy herbs and pop of lemon in the smashed potatoes to pair with the Pinot Noir quite well. Plus, I was just in the mood for a nice Pinot.

Sojourn Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2011

Lush, rich cherry flavors with spice and cola notes.  Balanced with a long finish.  $45 range.  Our source for this wine, Wines ‘Til Sold Out  recommends Sojourn:  “This is the kind of Pinot that California Drinkers dream about!”  On the palate you get ripe cherries, cranberries, cola, nutmeg, vanilla and shitake mushrooms.

This is what the kitties were up to when I innocently turned my back to start cooking in my kitchen this morning!  Empty brown paper bags are a particular favorite around our house.

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Why I love Pink Peppercorns and Pink Champagne On National Margarita Day!

Today is National Margarita Day ~ February 22, 2018. Please keep reading to get my favorite margarita recipe ~ Pink Champagne Lemonade Margaritas!

But first…let’s talk about another one of my favorites…pink peppercorns and other funky color seasonings…

Love Salt and Pepper!

Fun facts about Pink Peppercorns:

  1. Always good to have pink peppercorns on hand because they add a pop of spicy peppery flavor to any savory dish.  They are available on -line if you can’t find them locally. Frontier Co-Op grinder bottle is one of my favorites.
  2. They may seem expensive ($8 to $12 for a .80 ounce bottle)  but they last forever, a little grind goes a long way.
  3. Pink peppercorns are not peppercorns at all.  They are a dried berry of the shrub Schinus molle, commonly known as the Peruvian peppertree. They do look like peppercorns and they have a peppery flavor.
  4. A word of peppercorns are members of the cashew family, they may cause allergic reactions including anaphylaxis for persons with a tree nut allergy. I had no idea until I read about this yesterday.   Over the years I’ve developed a tree nut allergy (not severe thankfully) so there goes my  love of pink peppercorns. For those of you who do not suffer this allergy please enjoy pink peppercorns for me!

Fun facts about Himalayan Pink Salt:

Himalayan pink salt is used to flavor food.  It is also used to make salt lamps which are illuminated with an electric light or candle inside. Both the salt used on food and the salt lamps are said to have health benefits, but I’ll let y’all decide on your own about that.

Blocks of Himalayan salt are also used as serving dishes. These blocks of salt can be heated (heat on the grill to serve grilled meats) or chilled to serve sushi, fruits and cheese. The salt blocks give the food a delicate salt flavor.

Fun facts about Green Peppercorns:

  1.  These peppercorns are packed in a vinegar brine.
  2.  They are meant to be eaten whole.
  3. My Mom popped a few green peppercorns (whole) in her Bolognese Sauce. Gave her sauce a little peppery punch which was delicious!
  4. Green Peppercorns are perfect in Steak au Poivre.  Here’s a link to a Food Network recipe for Steak au Poivre with a mushroom, green peppercorn and Dijon sauce:

green peppercorn bowl

green peppercorn ingredients

Green Peppercorn Boursin Green Bean Salad

One of my favorite salads ~ so much flavor with so little effort!

Yield: 3 servings

1 pound fresh green beans, stems removed, cut in half

1 teaspoon green peppercorns (packed in brine) mashed with a mortar and pestle

5. 2 ounces Shallot and Chive Boursin Cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1 heaping teaspoon grated frozen lemon ( Place a washed lemon in the freezer section of  your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get  your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need  to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your  foods.  The lemon seeds catch on the grater so there is no need to worry about seeds getting into your grated lemon.

1/8 teaspoon salt

Fill medium size stockpot half way full of water. Bring water to a boil.  Add green beans and cook until crisp tender (do not undercook or overcook the green beans) 8 – 10 minutes.  Immediately drain the water off the green beans and “shock” them by dropping them in  ice water so that they will stop cooking. Quickly remove them from the ice water and pat dry. Place the beans in a salad bowl and mix in the Boursin cheese.  Add the mashed green peppercorns, tarragon, grated frozen lemon and salt.  Stir with large spoon to combine all of the ingredients.  The Boursin will become creamy and will coat the green beans.  Cover the green bean salad and place in refrigerator until service.


The book What to Drink with What You Eat recommends rosé champagne to pair with black pepper.  Here’s my suggestion for a rosé sparkling wine that will be good to splash on top of the Pink Champagne Lemonade Margaritas (recipe below):

Chandon Rosé California Sparkling Wine ~ strawberry and ripe cherry flavors.  $22 range.

Now on to the Margaritas!

I often take food/drink photographs on my kitchen floor because the sun beams onto the floor perfectly for photos.  I have 4 very curious kitties and they often wander into the photo. Today “Ziggy Elman” (named after the Jazz trumpeter) wandered into the photo of my Pink Lemonade Champagne Margaritas. It looks like he took a lick of my margarita. He did not. He was just licking his lips anticipating getting a lick of it  (which I would never allow).

margarita kitty

Pink Champagne Lemonade Margarita

One of the fun things about this cocktail is that when you finish the cocktail you get to eat the blackberries that have been soaking in the margarita…yum!

Rim margarita glasses by dipping them in lime juice and then rolling the edges in fine sugar (“Extra Fine” otherwise known as “Fine” sugar is best for rimming cocktail glasses because it has the smallest crystal of all white sugars.  It has a delicate appearance and dissolves easily into cold drinks). Locally I purchase fine sugar at Fresh Market or it is available on-line.  Place margarita glasses in the freezer to chill  while preparing your cocktails.

12 ounces frozen pink lemonade, thawed

(use empty lemonade can to measure water, tequila and orange liqueur)

1 can water

1 can tequila

1/4 can orange liqueur

Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine ~ a splish splash for each drink (optional)

Blackberries and limes for garnish

Lime slices and fine sugar to rim the margarita glasses

Place the pink lemonade, water, tequila and orange liqueur in a large pitcher. Stir with a big spoon until all ingredients are combined.  In batches, place margarita mixture and ice in a blender container. Blend until ice is finely crushed.  Serve in chilled margarita glasses.  Top each cocktail with a splash of Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine. Drop a few blackberries into the margaritas and then cut slits in some blackberries to set on the sides of the glasses.  Place one thin lime slice in each glass. Place any unused portion of this cocktail in a freezer container and place in freezer to keep cold for refills.

pink lemonade magaritas














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