Tag Archives: St. Patrick’s Day

5 for Friday: St. Patrick’s Day Edition!


Taking a break from the books this week since it’s St. Paddy’s Day! I’m not Irish, but sometimes I celebrate like I am. 🙂

Here are 5 of my St. Paddy’s Day Faves:

  1. Food:

    • Creamy Reuben Soup – I made this for the first time on Wednesday. My husband devoured nearly 3 bowls of it! (For the record, I loved it, too.) Okay, so Reubens are not technically Irish, but the corned beef and sauerkraut (cabbage), makes me feel like Reubens kind of are…  Besides, a local bar always makes a version that Rob always dreams of this time of year. I wanted to see if I could do it justice. The verdict? This one might be better. Make it no! Side Note: I never really had a Reuben sandwich until I met Rob. He and his parents always ordered them when we ate out!
    • Corned Beef and Cabbage – Truth be told, this is not a traditional Irish dish either! It’s more Irish-American. This was our go-to recipe every year, a few years back. I don’t think I’ll be making it again, though. The Soup has won out for eternity.
    • Irish Bread – I think Irish Soda Bread might be Irish-American, too. I don’t remember ever having that when I was in Ireland.I do miss their brown bread, though! Maybe I’ll have to try whip up a batch of that next year. Anyone have a fave recipe?
  2. Drinks:

    • Guinness – People think that Guinness is such a heavy beer because it is dark and maybe also because of the foamy head. While it may be heavier than the lager you are drinking, Guinness really isn’t as think or full-bodied as you may think it is. There are several stouts that have much more flavor and richness than Guinness. So give it a try! Sometimes, I’ll drink a Guinness when I want something lighter – it has so fewer calories than many other beers! Plus, there are so many concoctions you can make, including the Black Velvet in this post.
    • Whiskey – I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, but my husband and friend Jen tend to like Johnny Jump Ups (a shot of whiskey in cider). But we did do a tasting while in Ireland. So much fun!
    • Irish Sangria – Want something a little nontraditional and fit for the beautiful weather we are supposed to have this weekend? Try the Irish Sangria in my Sangria post!
  3. Entertainment:

    • Irish Music – You can’t easily find trad in the U.S. but when you do, especially on this special day, it’s wonderful. We love the music at St. Paul’s FREE Irish Fair every August. And we go to see the non-traditional, but always fun Gaelic Storm whenever they are in town!
  4. Memories:

    • My friend Jen and I started a tradition when we backpacked Europe after college to find an Irish Pub in every country. My husband and I carry on this tradition to this day whenever we travel like we did here, here, here, here, here and here.
    • Almost two of those 10 weeks backpacking in Europe backpacking were spent in Ireland. I was most at peace in Dingle. I still remember that day and the calm I felt on the boat while in search of a the view of Fungie the dolphin. Although, hanging with my friend Colm in Dublin and Dundalk was wicked fun!
    • Then we took a family trip to Ireland with Rob’s parents in 2012. Here’s a link to my last post about that wonderful trip. If you scroll down to the bottom of that post, you’ve got a link to all of my posts about that trip on the bottom. We were chauffeured around The Isle by Ray with Walk with Me and made some friends with locals in Dublin. {Hi Ross!} We do need to plan a trip back. {Sigh.}| I haven’t seen the south yet!
  5. Lastly:

    • Our very own Shamrock:


Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

What is your favorite thing about this holiday?


NOLA: Irish Pubs & Dive Bars


I know. I know… Today was supposed to be my post on my favorite meal in New Orleans.

But it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s only appropriate to move this post on Irish Pubs and Dive Bars to today, right?

Back in 2000, when my friend Jen and I backpacked Europe, we started a tradition of finding an Irish pub in every country we visited. My husband and I carry on that tradition when we are traveling to this day.

Since I’ve been writing this blog, we’ve found them in St. Augustine, Gladwin, Australia, Las Vegas and, of course, many in Ireland.  But there, they just call them, well… pubs.

The last time I was in New Orleans, my friends Jen, Kim and I found this one:


We grew fond of it and went back there a couple of times during our week-long trip. It was also where we spent the rest of our evening with our new Aussie friends after ringing the New Year in Jackson Square.

I knew I wanted to find it again.

So we did. IMG_1622

We had a pint with our friend Javad there.  There was the usual Guinness, Smithwicks and Magners on tap, but also some local brews.


Notice those badges on the wall in back? Those are police and fire department patches from all over the United States. It’s tradition here!

On this trip, I learned that there is more than one Irish Pub in New Orleans. Javad kept bringing the name of one up, but I can’t recall it at the moment. And just a block from The Kerry is Ryan’s Irish Pub, where you can sit on a stool like this.

Ryan's Irish Pub

We found some locals hanging out here. That’s where we got some restaurant recommendations. Ryan’s offers even more local brews. I’ve always been a fan of the Purple Haze.


There’s also Molly’s at the Market


…where Rob had the best Hot Buttered Rum of his life.

And while we know that New Orleans has plenty of fancy cocktail bars, they also have a share of dive bars.

One of our friend Javad’s favorites is the Toulouse Dive Bar, appropriately named because it is on Toulouse Street.


You know you are someplace special, when the jukebox is a coffin and the loo is behind the bookcase.


Rob thought it was straight out of a Scooby Doo cartoon. This is the only way you’ll know where to go…


Toulouse is also where I had my first Irish Car Bomb. Whatever you do, please don’t order those in Ireland. {Trust me on this one.}

Then there is the Apple Barrel, located just below the Adolfo’s Restaurant on Frenchman Street. Adolfo’s does not take reservations; so you’ll most likely be spending your time down at the Apple Barrel while you wait. It’s tiny in here; but they’ve got music playing many nights of the week.

And somehow, someway, a Dangerous Man sticker was posted in the bathroom. I’m feeling pretty proud of our Minneapolis brewery here, in the bathroom nonetheless.


If you aren’t sure what to order to drink at the Apple Barrel, go with wine in a cup. Or, if you are feeling courageous, order a Sazerac, you’ll get it in any glassware they have available.


This one tasted just as good as I’ve had anywhere else in the city!

Speaking of dive bars… that’s where you are going to find my favorite meal of this trip. I promise that post will go up tomorrow!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

New Orleans 2015 Trip Posts:






Turning the Corner


I woke up Friday morning and it was like something changed! I am beginning to feel so much better and I’ve slowly been cutting back the dosage of the pain killers. I can’t believe how things are turning around. A week ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I’d be feeling this good.

Friday was my first day out of the house since March 6th – the date of my back surgery. Rob had the day off from work, so he took me out to lunch to see how I’d do. I was feeling quite good, so we even went to Ikea AND grocery shopping. It felt great to be out of the house and the walking did me well, too. I think I’m going to start walking on the treadmill, too, to get in some exercise and strengthen my back. Walking is highly encouraged.

Speaking of walking, have you signed up for the Challenge Obesity 5k Run/Walk yet? It’s on Sunday, April 21st in St. Paul.  You can register here. Click on the right to register and choose Team Registration. When prompted, choose Season It Already as your team!

I honestly don’t intend on running (that is the week of my 6-week post-op doctor appointment), but I do want to walk it! And the absolute worst case scenario, I will be a spectator cheering you all on. But really, that’s my last resort. I don’t want to sit this one out.

I’m going to step away from the online food journal for a while. I think taking pictures and recording everything on my blog made me obsess and think about food the entire time I was cooped up in the house. I haven’t yet weighed myself, but I can tell that I’ve put on a few pounds. {I know I have to give myself a break with the lack of movement I had.} And since I actually put real pants on on Friday, I could feel it in my clothes, too.

This weekend, in addition to my lunch out, IKEA stop and grocery shopping, I made some Crockpot Corned Beef and Cabbage using *this recipe* in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Corned Beef & Cabbage

I didn’t grow up eating Corned Beef & Cabbage and I don’t think I ever really had it for the first time until after college. It’s not something I ever crave, but I made it the first time last year for St. Patrick’s Day because my husband loves it. I used the recipe above and he enjoyed it so much that I decided not to change it up. In fact, I really like it, too. This will be the recipe I’ll be using year after year!

On Saturday, I was feeling so good that I felt up to going out to dinner and to see a band. We made sure that I had a seat, so that I wouldn’t be pushed around in a crowd. However, on Sunday morning, I decided that I probably had pushed it too far. I had plans of things to get done on Sunday, but didn’t end up doing any of them. I spent much of the day in bed sleeping and on the couch watching TV.

The thing was that I had every intention of going back to work today. But although I went to bed early last night, I didn’t wake up until 8:30 this morning. And I don’t feel so hot. It’s more my stomach than anything, but I was a little sore, too. So we’ll see. Maybe I’ll make it there for a few hours. Maybe I’ll give it another day. It just goes to show that even if you are feeling significantly better, you shouldn’t push it. There’s no point in going backwards. Still, I am quite anxious to get back to work.

And although spring isn’t quite here yet in Minnesota, I have an extreme urge to do some spring cleaning, organizing and purging. I’ve already started with cleaning out our coffee/tea cupboard, but I’m still trying to hold myself back and not do too much.

Are you itching to clean or reorganize this time of year?

If so, do you have any rituals or things in particular that you do?



Finnish Bistro – St. Paul


Where else would one go on St. Patrick’s Day?

The Finnish Bistro of course!

Yes, that’s what my husband and I did! We had a Groupon for the Finnish Bistro in St. Paul and thought it would be a great place to dine on St. Patrick’s Saturday night without reservations. The Groupon {and this was a real Groupon} included:

For $20, you get a European dinner for two after 4 p.m. (up to a $45.90 total value). The meal includes the following:

  • Two entrées (up to an $13.95 value each)
  • Two sodas, juices, glasses of wine, or beers (up to a $9 value each)

I’ve mentioned in my Groupon post how these deals often get us out to restaurants we may not have known about and locations we may not know that well. Not having heard of this place before, I checked out the menu and was intrigued. While it featured Finnish and other Scandinavian dishes, the menu also included Mediterranean and Eastern European delights as well as grilled cheese and quesadillas. I knew my husband could handle it. 🙂

Besides, I live in a state known for its Scandinavian heritage. It’s time I learned a bit more about this. And having grown up in a primarily German and Polish part of eastern Wisconsin, I don’t think going to IKEA near the Mall of America counts.

We probably arrived around 5 or 6 pm. We walked in and saw a huge bakery display case:

Are Danishes in Finland called Finnishes? 🙂

We noticed that this was the type of place where we had to order at the counter. I don’t know why, but this disappointed me. {Interestingly, this is how Pardon My French works and it has never bothered me there. I love that place!} Maybe it’s the “bistro” feel I was looking for instead?

Believe it or not, there was a big group {they must not have been Irish} and only one person taking and delivering orders to the table. This was fine because we needed some time to mull over the menu.

I really did want to try something Scandinavian. However, this didn’t look like a place where I’d normally order fish. So I asked the gal behind the counter, “How’s the salmon?”

Without hesitation, she said, “Oh! It’s excellent here!”

“Great! I’ll have the salmon lefse.”

“That’s my favorite item on the menu! It’s the only thing that I order exactly as it’s read on the menu. You’ll love it.”

Rob placed his order, we put our tip in the jar, and she handed us our drinks. We found a little table near the window and sipped on our Finnish Porters!

We were quite pleased!

When our meal arrived, my plate was beautiful:

Lohi (salmon) Lefse with a small side salad

The only time I could have possibly had lefse before was when I went to visit my friend Erika in Seattle. We took a day trip to a little Scandinavian town called Poulsbo. If we did have lefse, I don’t remember what it tasted like. The company was more important. 🙂

So not knowing what lefse really is, Rob and I ripped off a piece of the wrap. Yum!  Tasted like potato. Sure enough, it’s a type of flatbread made of potato, milk or cream and flour. I loved it.  Ask my husband: I love all things potato. However, by the time I tasted all of the yummy ingredients inside, the lefse flavor faded into the background…

salmon, wilted spinach, roasted red pepper and onion

This was the most flavorful salmon that I’ve ever had! I couldn’t get over the seasoning. Look at the picture! You can even see specks of pepper. I was completely blown away. What a completely satisfying meal. There is no doubt that I’d order this again.

So, what did Rob order? The Baltic Special Flatbread Pizza:

The Baltic Special: Grilled Kielbasa sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, black olives, sautéed garlic & mozzarella on red sauce.

Rob’s Verdict: Much better than Black Sheep Pizza we had the week before. I tried it… cheesy, garlicky, and wait – Kielbasa? I’m home!

My Verdict: Definitely worth it! If we are ever in the area again, we’ll stop. It’s a quaint neighborhood with Muffaletta on the corner, a restaurant I’d been to once a few years back. There’s also a cute little wine shoppe across the road, too. It’s affectionately called “The Little Wine Shoppe”. 🙂 We picked up a couple of bottles before heading home.

Have you been to Finnish Bistro?

How about a little neighborhood restaurant?

If so, what did you like about it?

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

It’s funny how big a celebration St. Patrick’s Day is in the U.S., even for those of us who aren’t Irish.

I happily participate as if I am!

In fact, years ago, I read in a Lonely Planet guidebook of Chicago that St. Patrick’s Day is the chance for Americans to celebrate the Irish that’s in their blood… or those who’d just like to celebrate with Irish beer in their blood. Or something to that effect. It made me laugh.

What’s even funnier is that we Americans celebrate in some ways that the Irish do not. For example:

  • Green Beer
  • Corned Beef and Cabbage

There are other things things that Americans think of as “Irish”, but are really things that evolved in the U.S. and have come to be celebrated by Irish Americans. I absolutely love the song by Gaelic Storm on their album Cabbage, “Raised on Black and Tans” that comically pokes at how we in the U.S. celebrate, take pride in, and relate to our Irish heritage:

I was raised on Black & Tans,
Ronnie Drew and ‘Van the Man’
I go to mass on Sunday
And then it’s back to the pub on Monday
I’ve got a sister Meghan
With a Celtic cross tattoo
I’ll tell you a few stories
And every one of them is true

My mother’s, brother’s, sister’s, cousin’s, auntie’s,
Uncle Barney’s, father’s, brother had a cousin from Killarney

My great-granddad and his mates
They tried to make it to the States
His uncle, he was a failure
He got deported off to Australia
So they stowed upon a steamer
On the famous White Star Line
I was raised upon these stories
Since I was the age of nine…

More of the song here.

It’s all in good fun.

But some stuff just isn’t funny. My husband sent me this article yesterday about Nike naming a new sneaker the “Black and Tan” in order to “honor the country leading up to St. Patrick’s Day.” If someone at Nike would just have used our good friend The Google to look up “Black & Tans”, they would have learned that this was a term used in the 1920s for a suppressive British military group known for its violence against Irish natives.

And while here in the U.S., we usually concoct a “Black and Tan” by mixing a stout (black) with a pale ale (tan); these are not commonly consumed in Ireland. And when they are, they are not ordered as a “Black and Tan”. To do so would be considered disrespectful. Gaelic Storm playfully created ” Raised on Black and Tans” to illustrate that the passion for the Irish heritage in the U.S. is the genuine, even if the symbols are not quite accurate. {By the way, they are a fun concert to a attend. We see them every time they are in town!}

Black and Tan

I have a feeling St. Patrick’s Day will be crazy this year due to it being on Saturday. {But really, nothing’s stopping anyone from celebrating the weekend of St. Patrick’s Day. So, I’m sure it’s crazy every year.} I’m just not one to flock with mass crowds for these types of events.

You won’t find me:

  • in Dublin on St. Patrick’s Day
  • in New Orleans for Mardi Gras
  • in New York City on New Year’s Eve.

You won’t even find me at the Target Center or Xcel Energy Center for a concert. I prefer a smaller venue. {Okay, so I will attend the Irish Fair in St. Paul in the summer. It’s summer, it’s outdoors, and it’s free! And Gaelic Storm will be a headliner this year!}

What I would like to do next year is the Minneapolis-St. Paul Get Lucky 7K. This just looks like so much fun! Anyone want to join me? And since I’m not Irish, with my luck, we probably won’t have the crazy good weather next year that we have this year. It’s going to be in the 70s this weekend!

Also, I’m going to take a shot at making my first ever corned beef and cabbage for my honey using this recipe. Although there is another great recipe over at Skinny Taste that intrigues me, too.

What are you doing for St. Patrick’s Day?

Do you celebrate? And if so, what are some of your traditions?