Cooking

Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites

Irish cheddar and mushroom potato bites are tasty little appetizers, that can even double up as a side dish. These versatile little morsels are perfect for parties, especially Irish themed celebrations.

Preparation can be completed ahead of time. The only step required at party time is to pop them in the oven until the cheese melts with ooey gooey goodness.

Three Potato Bites

This recipe is similar to ones for loaded baked potatoes, but rather than using a big, old Idaho potato, these scrumptious little mouthfuls call for baby red potatoes.

Boil the spuds first, scoop out the flesh, mix in some extra deliciousness, reload the skins, sprinkle with cheese, bake and here ya go!

They really are simpler than they sound.

Ingredients for cheese and mushroom potato bite appetizers

Ingredients for Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites:

 

  • 15 small read potatoes
  • 8 ounces of shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces of butter (halved)
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • parsley to garnish

Steaming red potatoes

First step involves boiling up those potatoes. I like to steam mine. When they’re cooked I just turn off the ring and let them cool in the pot. If you boil them, once the spuds are fork tender, strain them, then leave them to cool so that you won’t burn your fingers when you scoop out the flesh.

Chopped mushroom and garlic for potato bites

Next chop up the mushrooms into fairly fine pieces. Then mince the garlic.  While the potatoes are cooling cook up the mushrooms.

Turn the oven on to 425 degrees F. to pre-heat at this point.

 

Sauteed chopped mushrooms with garlic and thyme

Melt half the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the chopped mushrooms and garlic and cook in the butter for about 3 minutes.

Add the chopped fresh thyme leaves.

Potato shells with flesh scooped out for appetizer filling

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle cut each one in half. Now you want to be able to lay the potatoes on a flat surface so don’t cut them directly in the center where the potato is shortest.  Hold the spud so the pointier end is up and slice down through it. That way you’ll have a flatter surface on which to balance the potato shell.

Next scoop out the center of each potato half using a melon baller.  Put the scooped flesh into a mixing bowl. Now don’t scoop right down to the skin or your appetizers will fall apart. Leave enough flesh so the sides are well supported.

I line up the skins on a foil covered baking sheet, that I spray with a little oil.  Cheese will ooze everywhere when you cook these babies so the foil makes clean up a cinch.

Adding grated cheddar cheese to mashed potatoes

Mash all the potato flesh in the bowl, add the milk and the other half of the melted butter. 

Season with pepper and salt.  

Add about 2/3′s of the cheese, reserving the last third to sprinkle on top of the appetizers.

Mixing mushrooms and mashed potato for appetizer filling

Next add the cooked mushroom mixture and combine everything together.

Now you’re ready to reload those potato skins.

 

Halved cooked red potatoes with mashed potato and mushroom topping

I use my melon baller  once again, to refill the potato shells with this scrumptious mixture.

Topping potato bites with grated Irish cheddar cheese

Once they’re all loaded there’s one final step, and for me it’s the crucial step to ensure these little morsels are extra tasty.

Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top of each potato bite.

I like to use Kerrygold Dubliner cheese. It is a really sharp, white cheddar, but I love the extra tang it adds to these little bites.

Bake the appetizers in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

They’re ready when they cheese has melted and is turning a light golden brown.

If you prepare these appetizers ahead of time, and keep them refrigerated prior to cooking, they’ll require the full 20 minutes, maybe longer, to heat through.

Garnishing potato bites for St. Patrick's Day party.

Once they’re cooked I like to stand them on some paper towels to absorb any excess grease.  Let them cool slightly before garnishing.

Party Appetizers - Cheese and Mushroom Potato Bites

Serve these potato bites warm as party finger food, or they also make a lovely side for chops and steaks.

I hope you like these potato appetizes as much as I do.  They’re hard to photograph well. I don’t think these shots do them justice.

Trust me the hint of thyme with the mushrooms and creamy potato filling is simply scrummy.

Wishing you all perfect parties, with plenty easy finger foods, that can be prepared ahead of time.

Here’s the printable recipe:

 

Cheesy Mushroom Potato Bites

Serves 15
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 50 minutes
Meal type Appetizer
Occasion Casual Party
Region Irish
Cheddar and mushroom potato bites are tasty little appetizers, that can even double up as a side dish. These versatile little morsels are perfect for parties, especially Irish themed celebrations.

Ingredients

  • 15 Small red potatoes
  • 8oz shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 4oz butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8oz mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley (to garnish)

Directions

Step 1 Place the potatoes in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes for 20 minutes until tender.
Step 2 Drain the potato water and let the potatoes stand until cool enough to handle.
Step 3 Melt half the butter in a large skillet. Stir in the mushrooms and minced garlic. Sautée over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the chopped fresh thyme and turn off the heat.
Step 4 Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Step 5 Cut each potato in half. Scoop out the center of each potato using a melon baller, collecting the potato in a bowl. Put the potato shells to the side.
Step 6 Melt the remaining butter in the microwave for 15 seconds. Add to the potatoes with the milk. Mash together. Season to taste. Add 2/3's of the cheese and all of the mushroom mixture. Combine well together.
Step 7 Place the potato skins on a foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with cooking oil. Spoon equal amounts of the filling into each shell. Sprinkle the remaining grated cheese on top of each potato.
Step 8 Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15 to 20 minutes. The appetizers are ready when the cheese is melted and turning a light golden brown color.
Step 9 Cool the potato bites on paper towels. Garnish with parsley and serve warm.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

Irish American Mom

Beans On Toast – An Easy Lunchtime Staple For Irish Moms

Beans on toast featured regularly on my lunchtime menu as an Irish kid – a simple, nutritious meal I’m quite certain continues to be eaten regularly by many Irish and English children.

Beans on Toast

An American friend once asked me about Irish lunchtime menus. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the all-American, easy, lunchtime staple. No PB & J for me when I was growing up in Ireland. Even after spending over twenty years in the United States, I still don’t appreciate them.  I must confess I find it very hard to eat a peanut butter sandwich. The whole bread, jelly, and peanut butter combination is just too sticky for my Irish trained palate.

When posed with this Irish lunchtime inquiry I had to think for a minute before answering. What is the inexpensive, go-to lunch for Irish mothers? The answer I believe is beans on toast.

Now it’s not a menu item for school lunch boxes, but for midday meals served at home, beans on toast are just perfect.  In fact, beans on toast may be found on breakfast, lunch and dinner menus in many Irish or English homes, especially when budgets are tight.

Should I use a singular verb after beans on toast, or the plural form?  Beans on toast ‘is’ or should I type beans on toast “are”????  Not sure what the answer is, but I hope you’ll forgive any beany grammatical errors.

An Irish Lunch - Beans on Toast

Many Americans are probably saying “what’s the deal?”  For those whose palates are trained on spicy foods this meal may seem very bland. But let’s face it, we Irish think salt and pepper are spices, so beans on toast suit us perfectly.

And into the bargain they’re cheap and easy to store. A can of beans in the pantry and you’re set.

Furthermore, beans in red sauce are one of the most inexpensive forms of protein available to a busy mom, and preparation is a snap. (That “furthermore” is really making me sound like a bean aficionado.)

Here are my cooking instructions:

  • Heat some beans in a saucepan.
  • Toast a slice of bread.
  • Butter the toast if you wish.
  • Then pile the beans and sauce on top.

Some beans on toast connoisseurs forego the butter, but I find a slice of thick white toast spread with Kerrygold butter is a perfect bean base.  The salty butter adds a lovely complimentary flavor to the beans.

Fried Egg with Beans on Toast

To beef the beans up for dinner, a poached or fried egg can be served right on top. I suppose beefing them up is the wrong word when using an egg, but you know what I mean.

I hope you like how over cooked that fried egg is by American standards, but that’s how they turn out when fried Irish style. No sunny sides up or over easys for an Irish cook.

Another option is to top them off with a slice of grilled or fried tomato, and two slices of bacon or rashers as we say in Ireland. Yummy! Yummy! Yummy!

I knew someone who liked to spread Marmite on their toast, before topping it off with beans. Marmite is a dark brown, salty, savory spread made from yeast extract. Not for me, but everyone adds their own little touches to make their beans on toast special.

Finely diced onion can be caramelized in a pan before adding the beans for heating. A dash of Worcestershire sauce and mustard kick the flavor up a notch.  I suppose these steps bring the beans a little closer to American BBQ beans.

A slice of cheese, grilled to melting point on the toast, is delicious hidden beneath the beans. My mouth is now watering thinking about bland old beans on toast.

As children we loved to drink a cold glass of milk with our beans, but as I grew older I replaced the milk with a nice cup of hot tea with a little dash of milk. Again, most Americans are probably aghast at this menu combination. But the plain old fact is, I have Irish taste buds.

English Lunch - Beans on Toast

Here in America I buy vegetarian beans. No pork and beans in this house. I’m not fond of a piece of  pork rind floating in my beans as they heat. A can of vegetarian beans reminds me of Irish beans the most.  Luckily, my local supermarket stocks Heinz vegetarian beans.

The brand of choice when I was growing up in Ireland was Bachelor’s beans. Their advertising logo consisted of two little men singing to their hearts’ content:

“Bachelors! Bachelors!”

 

Anyone remember them?

 

I’d say there were, and probably still are, many Irish bachelors whose cooking repertoires consist of beans on toast; no more; no less.  The after affects of said beans may be one of the reasons for the aforementioned state of  bachelorhood.     :)

Wishing you all happy and easy lunchtimes.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

Easy Appetizers – Shrimp and Cucumber Bites

When I think of super easy starters, cucumber and shrimp appetizers immediately spring to mind. When it comes to party finger foods, these are fantastic. They also taste wonderful with brunch, or served as low-fat snacks.

Shrimp and cucumber appetizer for St. Paddy's Day.

Shrimp and cucumber starters are so easy to assemble I make them for many occasions – summer barbecues, Christmas feasts, New Year’s parties and Paddy’s Day get-togethers.  The list goes on and on.

Even though I never tasted cold shrimp until I came to America, these super easy nibblers qualify as perfect Irish party food in my book. The secret is in the colors.

These ingredients proudly boast the colors of the Irish flag – green, white and orange, so why not make them when celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

Party Starters with shrimp and cucumber

Another reason to love these easy, elegant snacks is their low-calorie count. Cucumbers are a healthy alternative to crackers. The herb cream cheese lends delicious buttery texture, complimenting the coolness of the cucumber and shrimp.

And into the bargain, you can’t beat a no-cook party starter, especially during the hot summer months, when I try to avoid turning my oven on, or even lighting up a burner indoors.

These are great for summertime hors d’oeuvres.  When I was a kid I loved to say “horse devours”, and I was very good at devouring every morsel put on a plate before me.  I wish my boys would eat like I did when I was young.  Only my little girl licks her lips for foods like cold shrimp and cucumbers.

I suppose this technically isn’t a recipe at all. Just one look at the picture and it’s pretty easy to guess how to put these wee bites together.

Ingredients for cucumber and shrimp starters

All you need is three ingredients to make this easy appetizer: cucumber, garlic and herb cream cheese spread, and of course, the star of the show, the shrimp.

To make life extra easy I love to buy peeled, deveined, and cooked shrimp.  If frozen I thaw them according to the package directions, pat them dry with paper towels and season them with a little salt and pepper.

 

Peeling a cucumber in stripes

I like to go all fancy and create stripes on the cucumbers with my peeler before slicing them up. 

Sliced cucumber

The variation of green shades makes the starters look more appetizing, but then again I am partial to forty shades of green.

Pat the cucumber slices dry with paper towels before assembling the appetizers.

If you don’t wish to buy pre-made garlic and herb creamed cheese you can always create your own white spread to hold the cucumber and shrimp together. 

One alternative I sometimes use is a mixture of softened cream cheese, sour cream, dill, chopped fresh chives, fresh lemon juice, and salt. This creates a delicious spread.

But nine times out of ten I take the easy route and buy a pre-made spread.

Steps for assembling shrimp and cucumber starter

Next comes assembly time. Take a slice of cucumber. Add a dollop of cheese spread, and then add a shrimp on top.

 

Easy Irish Appetizers

Voilà – an easy-peasy, simple starter that’s healthy and tasty too.  And don’t forget, when March rolls around, these little bites are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

Here’s the printable recipe:

Easy Shrimp and Cucumber Appetizers

Serves 10
Prep time 15 minutes
Meal type Appetizer, Starter
Occasion Casual Party
Cucumber and shrimp appetizers are fantastic party starters or finger food, that also taste wonderful with brunch, or served as low-fat snacks.

Ingredients

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 1/2 cup garlic and herb creamed cheese
  • 30 peeled, deveined and cooked shrimp
  • salt and pepper to season shrimp

Directions

Step 1 Thaw the shrimp per package instructions if using frozen shrimp. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the shrimp with about 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper to season.
Step 2 Peel 4 vertical stripes of skin from the outside of each cucumber, alternating dark peel and light no-peel stripes. Cut each cucumber into 3/4 inch wide slices. Dry off the cucumber slices using paper towels.
Step 3 Add a teaspoon of cream cheese spread on top of each cucumber slice.
Step 4 Place one shrimp on top of each cucumber slice.
Step 5 Serve cold.

I hope you enjoy these light, crunchy, and flavorful starters as much as I do.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

Nectarine and Blackcurrant Galette

Galette is a French term for an open, free-form, rustic tart. It’s a perfect summer treat to use and display the beautiful fruits of summer in a totally delicious way.

The pastry crust in a galette can take many forms, but one of my favorite ways to build a galette is with a sheet of puff pastry.

A dollop of cream on fruit pie

Who doesn’t love puff pastry?  I sometimes make my own, but 9 times out of 10 I take the easy way out and buy pre-made sheets at the grocery store.  Good old puff pastry makes it so easy to assemble an impressive looking dessert in double quick time and with minimal effort.

I’m one home cook who ADORES puff pastry.

Last summer when I was home in Ireland I baked a puff pastry nectarine and blackcurrant galette. My sister grew an abundant crop of blackcurrants so I needed to create a recipe to use them up in a tasty way.

I didn’t share this recipe last year when I discovered the reason why blackcurrants are so hard to find in the United States. But then I realized this tart will be just as scrumptious if made with blueberries instead of blackcurrants, so I decided to go ahead and share it.

Ingredients for Nectarine and blackcurrant galette

Ingredients:

 

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry
  • 1 egg (beaten to use for egg wash on pastry)
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 2 large nectarines
  • 1 cup blackcurrants (blueberries can be substituted)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons of apricot jam
  • splash of boiling water

 

Preparing crust for fruit galette

Defrost the puff pastry sheet per package instructions.  This usually takes about 45 minutes at room temperature.

Next prepare the sheet pan or baking sheet as we say in Ireland.  Use parchment paper to line a 13″ x 9″ sheet pan. If you only own a larger pan it will work just fine, since the puff pastry doesn’t have to lay right up against the sides of the pan.

Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.

Lay the sheet of thawed pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut a 1 inch strip from all four edges.

Brush the outer edges of the pastry sheet with egg wash and lay the strips of pastry over the edges to create a frame. Remove excess pieces so that there is only one layer of pastry forming the frame at the corners.

Lightly prick the base of the galette with a fork to prevent it from bubbling up while cooking.

Brush the melted butter over the base and sprinkle it with the ground almonds. Keep the almonds within the frame.

 

Sprinkling sugar on sliced nectarines for a galette

Halve the nectarines and remove the inner stone. Slice them evenly then toss the pieces in lemon juice.

Lay the nectarine pieces over the galette. I like to place them in two even lines at the top and bottom of the tart, and them fill the center with the extra pieces.

Mix the sugar and corn starch together and sprinkle over the nectarines.

Nectarines and blackcurrants on an open face tart

Spread the blackcurrants over the nectarines. Blueberries are absolutely delicious in this dessert. The end product is far sweeter than when using tart blackcurrants. If you like a sweeter galette when using blackcurrants, feel free to use an additional few tablespoons of sugar.

Applying egg wash to pastry for a galette

Brush the edges or the frame of the galette with the egg wash. This will create a lovely golden crust.

Tenting edges of a galette with foil to prevent burning

Bake the tart in the pre-heated 400° F oven for 25 minutes. 

If the edges start to brown too quickly, cover them with an aluminum foil tent.

Apricot glaze for a galette

Just before the galette is cooked prepare the glaze by microwaving the apricot jam with a dash of boiling water for about 20 seconds. Mix it together well.

Baked nectarine and blackcurrant galette

Remove the cooked tart from the oven.

Glazing the fruit on a galette

Brush the top of the fruit with the jam glaze. This creates a lovely, appetizing sheen on the fruit.

 

Slice of nectarine and blackcurrant galette with cream

This galette is delicious served cold, or I like it when it is just a little bit warm with a big a dollop of cream or ice cream.

Here is the printable recipe:

Nectarine and Blackcurrant Galette

Serves 10
Prep time 40 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 1 hours, 5 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Nectarine and blackcurrant galette is an open, free-form, rustic tart, and is a perfect way to use display the beautiful fruits of summer in a totally delicious way.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 1 egg (beaten to use as egg wash for pastry)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 2 Large nectarines
  • 1 cup blackcurrants (blueberries can be substituted)
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 3 tablespoons apricot jam
  • splash of boiling water

Directions

Step 1 Defrost the puff pastry sheet per package instructions.
Step 2 Line a 13" x 9" sheet pan with parchment paper and pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
Step 3 Lay the sheet of thawed pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut a 1 inch strip from all four edges.
Step 4 Place the large puff pastry piece on the parchment lined sheet pan. Prick it lightly with a fork. Brush a one inch strip along the edge of the pastry with egg wash. Place the strips of pastry over the edges to create a frame, cutting away any excess.
Step 5 Brush the base of the galette with melted butter. Sprinkle the ground almonds over the base of the galette, making sure not to cover the pastry edges.
Step 6 Slice the nectarines evenly, removing the inner stone. Sprinkle the nectarines with lemon juice, then layer them over the almonds.
Step 7 Mix the corn starch with the sugar and sprinkle over the nectarines. Spread the blackcurrants evenly over the nectarines.
Step 8 Refrigerate for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.
Step 9 Bake for 25 minutes. Cover the pastry edges with an aluminum foil tent if the pastry is browning too quickly.
Step 10 Heat the apricot jam and a splash of boiling water in the microwave for about 20 seconds. Mix well and then brush over the top of the cooked galette.
Step 11 Cool before slicing. Serve with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

Happy summer baking!

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

Irish American Mom

Reader Recipe – Modified Irish Sponge Cake

Aimee, a reader from Lexington, Kentucky used my Irish sponge recipe to bake a delicious birthday cake.  She modified my recipe in the most amazing ways.

Home ground whole wheat pastry flour replaces cake flour, a substitution I would never have dreamed of making. Sucanat replaces refined processed sugar.  Maple syrup sweetens the whipping cream, to create a decadent, luscious filling. Her final creation looks fantastic.

Sponge Cake with whole wheat flourImage Credit

Aimee’s Food Philosophy:

 

Aimee loves to cook from scratch. I love this quotation on her website.

 

“The food you eat can be either the safest

and most powerful form of medicine

OR the slowest form of poison.”

– Ann Wigmore

 

Here is how Aimee describes her food philosophy:

“A “real foodie” is someone who cooks “traditional” food. We cook stuff from scratch using real ingredients, like raw milk, grass-fed beef, eggs from chickens that run around outdoors, whole grains, sourdough and yogurt starters, mineral-rich sea salt, and natural sweeteners like honey and real maple syrup.

We don’t use modern foods that are either fake, super-refined, or denatured. This includes modern vegetable oils like Crisco and margarine, soy milk, meat from factory farms, pasteurized milk from cows eating corn and soybeans, refined white flour, factory-made sweeteners like HFCS or even refined white sugar, or commercial yeast.

We believe in eating wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that come from nature. So we shop at farmer’s markets or buy direct from the farmer, or we grow food in our own backyards.”

 

And so here is Aimee’s modified sponge cake recipe, for a less sugary treat.

Ingredients:

    • 4 large eggs
    • 1/2 cup sucanat, which is unprocessed cane sugar.
    • 3/4 cups plus two tablespoons of home-ground whole wheat pastry flour.
    • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup strawberry or raspberry jam (Aimee used homemade jam)
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 2 tablespoons  maple syrup

 

Directions: 

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9-inch round baking pans with non-stick spray infused with flour, or grease with butter and dust with a light coating of flour.

Step 2: Add the eggs and sugar to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar for 6 to 8 minutes until the mixture has increased in volume and thickened to a consistency of whipped heavy cream.

Step 3: In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder together. Spoon half the flour into the egg mixture and gently fold it in using a spatula. Repeat with the second half of the flour, folding gently to fully incorporate the flour. Add the vanilla essence with the flour if desired.

Step 4: Pour half of the cake mixture into each of the prepared baking pans. Bake in the preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes. The sponges will be golden brown, with a slight spring to the touch when cooked.

Step 5: Remove the sponges from the oven and cool on a wire tray.

Step 6: Whip the heavy cream using an electric beater until thick. Add the maple syrup to sweeten if desired. Spread jam on the inner surface of each sponge. Place one layer on a plate, spreading the cream over the jam. Sandwich the cream with the upper sponge layer.

Step 7: Decorate by sifting a fine layer of confectioners’ sugar on top. Slice to serve.

sponge cake with candlesImage Credit

 

Look how good this cake looks decorated with colorful candles. An Irish sponge cake definitely makes a perfect birthday cake in my recipe book.

A big thank you to Aimee for making these wonderful modifications, to transform an old Irish favorite.  My mom always made sponge cakes to celebrate birthdays when I was a little girl in Dublin. I’m happy to see that tradition continuing on this side of the Atlantic.

 

 

Slán agus beannacht leat!

(Goodbye and blessings)

 

 

Irish American Mom

 

Note:  If you are a home cook who would like to share a recipe with Irish or Irish American origins, please feel free to contact me using the form below. If approved, your recipe could be the next one featured on Irish American Mom’s reader recipes.