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Go gourmet on St. Patrick’s Day

Beef & Guinness pot pie is a tasty way to celebrate the ‘wearin’ o’ the green’ on March 17. Submitted Photo

Whether you’re planning on celebrating this St. Patrick’s Day by wishing for a little “luck o’ the Irish” or trying to find the fabled “pot of gold,” there’s no denying that Irish-themed food will be on menus everywhere.

     It’s not unusual to see Guinness stout or Irish whiskey in the description of an item on a menu or a “wee bit” of green food coloring mixed into a pitcher of your favorite brew.

     A few of these items will also make an appearance at my dinner table along with leprechaun jokes and clover leaf crafts from my son.

     My first recipe, Beef & Guinness Pot Pie, might just be a little “pot o’ gold.” There’s something comforting about a fresh pot pie. In this recipe, the dark undertones of Guinness give the sauce a smooth, rich taste and make it perfect for dipping the buttery pie crust.

     Tender vegetables and melt-in-your-mouth beef bring all the comforts of a “made by mom” pot roast dinner in one amazing little dish. The low and slow cooking process used for the filling allows for the Guinness to make its way into every tender vegetable and piece of beef and allows for the sweetness of the carrots and molasses to reduce any bitterness from the brew.

     These pot pies can be baked right away, or if you’re a planner for busy weeknights, they can be made ahead and frozen. Just add 20 minutes onto the bake time and tent foil over the top of the pie crust for the first 30 minutes of baking.

     It’s so easy, and much more appealing to come home to at the end of a busy work day than any pre-made frozen microwaveable meal.

     After indulging in those little pots of goodness, you may find yourself craving a little something sweet. This frozen yogurt is simple and won’t put too much strain on your belt. This is also the part of the meal where green food coloring comes into play in my recipe for Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt.

     I started using Greek yogurt a few years ago instead of making an ice cream base simply because I was in a hurry and I’ve been hooked ever since. It takes away the hassle of having to cook the base and let it cool before attempting to put it into your ice cream maker. And you end up with a deliciously frozen soft serve treat in a few minutes or a scoop-able bowl in a few hours.

     Though when I first started to experiment, I discovered a problem. Sometimes, my frozen yogurt would freeze to the point that I’d have to let it sit for 30 minutes before serving. I did a little research and found there were three things you can add to ensure your frozen yogurt stays scoopable: fat, sugar and alcohol.

     I’ve enlisted the help of all three in this recipe by using 2 percent Greek yogurt, granulated white sugar and vanilla vodka. I leave out the alcohol and opt for a few extra tablespoons of sugar or heavy cream when I make it for my son. Also, if the use of food coloring makes you uncomfortable, you can always leave it out and it won’t affect the flavor, but for our little St. Patrick’s Day-themed meal, I knew I had to use it.

Mint chocolate chip frozen yogurt

Mint Chocolate Chip Frozen Yogurt

  • 2 cups of 2 percent Greek yogurt, plain, well-chilled
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla vodka (or plain)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar, white granulated
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips, finely chopped

     Place the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer for 24 hours before beginning. In a medium bowl, combine well-chilled Greek yogurt, peppermint and vanilla extracts, vodka and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.

     Place the mixture into the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. With 5 minutes left in the churn time, add the chopped chocolate pieces. Finish the churning process and remove the mixture from the bowl and place it into a freezer-safe container. Let the mixture firm up for 1 hour before serving. Serves: 4.

Beef & Guinness Pot Pie

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • ½ cup diced carrots
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms, I used crimini
  • 1½ teaspoon caraway seed
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, dried
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard, or country style
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (plus one tbsp water to make a slurry)
  • 2 pre-made, ready to roll pie crust dough sheets
  • Egg wash (1 egg, 2 tablespoon water whisked together)

     Place meat, flour and first amounts of kosher salt and pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Shake until evenly coated. In large, heavy-bottom sauce pan, heat the first amount of olive oil until shimmering over high heat. Add meat and brown on all sides. Don’t overcrowd the pan, cook in batches if necessary. Do not cook the meat through all the way, just until golden brown.

     Remove meat from the pan and set aside. Add second amount of olive oil, garlic and vegetables. Stir and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent and vegetables are tender. Add caraway seed, rosemary and the second amount of salt and pepper. Add mustard and molasses and stir until well-coated. Add Guinness to the pan and be sure to scrape all of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add cornstarch slurry and stir until mixture begins to thicken.

     Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While mixture is simmering, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Roll dough sheets until 1/8, inch thick and lightly trace the outline of your ramekins or baking containers. Cut the dough, leaving enough for a 1-inch overhang on the edges.

     Scoop 1 cup of beef mixture into ramekins. Top each one with pie crust and cut slits to vent. Using a pastry brush (or a paper towel when in a pinch), brush each pie crust with egg wash. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet to catch spills. Bake 45 minutes or until crust is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.   Serves: 4.

                Karley is a manager for dining services at the University of North Dakota as well as caterer, cooking instructor and writes a food blog at

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