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Friday, March 12, 2021

Your Favorite “Irish” Foods for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is in just a few days. My family has a couple of favorite themed foods for this holiday. One is a shamrock-shaped cookie. Some years I make gingerbread shamrocks and other years I make sugar cookies, either frosted with green icing or sprinkled with green sugar crystals or any green sprinkles leftover from Christmas baking. 

Shamrock-shaped cookies and I go way back. When I was in the 4th grade, my mother was one of the room mothers for my classroom. This meant that for special days in the school year, my mother and one other mother made treats for all of my classmates, and we had a little party in the last 30 minutes of the school day. St. Patrick's Day was on a Tuesday that year. I remember because the afternoon before, I got to help my mom make some cookies while she stood at the ironing board, pressing my father's shirts for work. (Monday was laundry day, and it always ended with a pile of shirts to be pressed.) My mother let me use her shamrock cookie cutter to cut the dough that she had rolled out. The baked cookies were set aside while we all ate dinner. After I went to bed that night, my mom decorated the cookies. The next morning, I peeked under the lid of the large, rectangular Tupperware carrier sitting on the kitchen counter and saw that my mother had frosted the cookies in white and green, making curlicues of green frosting on all of the leaves of each shamrock. I remember feeling so proud of my mother's cookies, thinking about them as I waited through the day in school. The skinny, red second hand of the classroom's wall clock clicked throughout the afternoon hours, the movement from one second to the next feeling painfully slow. At last, the two room mothers appeared in the doorway. They poured cups of punch and placed those beautiful cookies on napkins, one for each of us. We lived just up the hill from the school, so my mother walked home with me after the class party. She said something about my big smile as we stepped off the curb and into the street. I just said that I was feeling happy that day. 

The other food that I can't not serve for St. Patrick's Day is cabbage. I love cabbage. I love it as a slaw or sautéed with onions. The caramelized onions add sweetness to the pungent, cooked shreds of cabbage. This delicious dish only needs a sprinkling of salt and a dash of pepper to finish.

I've shared two of my favorite St. Patrick's Day foods and now I'm wondering, what are your favorite Irish-inspired foods for St. Patrick's Day? Share in the comments! 


  1. The only real "themed" food I've ever made for St. Patrick's Day is Corned Beef and Cabbage. I don't do it every year, but have a few times, and was thinking yesterday that maybe I should this year.

    Your reminiscing about the lovely cookies your mom made for your school party made me a little sad and nostalgic for the days when we could have homemade treats at school. Sadly, these days, everything has to be storebought, which to me, is not nearly as special, in addition to being much more expensive.

    1. Hi Cat,
      I find that sad, too, that treats in school and other organizations now all have to be commercial. It means that it's basically the same treats over and over. Plus, little opportunity for a family to share something special from their particular heritage.

      Our church has a coffee hour after services. In the past, treats have been a combo of homemade and commercial. I've been wondering if once our area can gather again for church if treats will have to always be commercial from now on. For me, that would mean I couldn't eat most of them because of allergies/sensitivities to commercial additives. But also, I'd be sad that I couldn't bake something special when it was my turn to provide treats.

      Corned beef and cabbage sounds like a great St. Patrick's Day meal!

  2. That's a sweet memory of your mom. :)

    My husband makes the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal at this time of year. We don't necessarily eat it on St. Patty's Day but we get it in the ballpark, time-wise. He also makes a corned beef sandwich on rye bread with fried apples out of the leftovers, which is very yummy. When we aren't in the middle of a pandemic, a favorite September activity is to go to the Michigan Irish Music Festival, which is held in our area. It's a big event with multiple music stages and different activities--Irish dancing, traditional Irish competitive games, even a tent with a display of a traditional Irish funeral wake (it's tastefully done and a fun way to learn something about history and culture). Of course there are lots of food vendors as well, and one of the meals we have enjoyed has been Irish bangers and mash. That's a long lead-in to say that, for the second time, I made that meal for dinner this past week. Aldi has Irish-themed foods on sale right now and one of the items is chicken bangers (sausages). I found a recipe online--it's pretty simple and calls for an onion gravy to go over the sausage and mashed potatoes. Like you, Lili, I find that doing occasional themed meals is a fairly simple and enjoyable way to mix things up and have a little fun.

    I also make Irish soda bread but that's sort of a year-round (well, ok, fall and winter) thing I do to go with soup or stew.

    1. Hi Kris,
      You're full of great Irish-themed ideas! I love the bangers and mash and soda bread. Your area Irish festival sounds like a lot of fun. I agree, these themed meals are thrifty fun for our whole family, and something that we can easily do at home.

      My daughters were born on St. Patrick's Day, so we tend to do the Irish foods throughout the week and not on the day, so they can choose their birthday meal and not "have" to have corned beef and cabbage every year for their birthday dinner. One thing for sure I'm making this week -- Spotted Dog over the weekend, a yummy sweet, quick bread with raisins.

  3. Though not Irish my husband loves corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's day. I'll serve it with parsley potatoes, onions, and carrots. The bread too. My husband loves traditions.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Your St. Patrick's Day dinner sounds delicious! I'm sure your husband really appreciates this meal.

  4. That was a very nice story about the St. Patrick's Day cookies. You can tell that it is still a warm memory for you and inspired you to do similar things for your family. I have another St. Patrick Day cookie memory although not nearly as special as yours. My husband and I met and started dating in grad school. He defended his thesis on St. Patrick Day and I made shamrock cookies to celebrate afterwards. It was a big deal at the time because all of our time was spent at school in labs and I did very little cooking let alone something like cutout cookies. I still have that cookie cutter. I should dig it up and make cookies (she says knowing there is about a 10% chance that that is going to happen.)

    We always take advantage of the cabbage sales around this time of year and have some kind of cabbage stew. I don't like corned beef (and it's not the healthiest) so I don't buy or cook it. However, the carnivores love it and I think that it's on the menu this weekend along with cabbage.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      Your St. Patrick's Day cookie story is sweet. Maybe you can just get the cookie cutter out and reminisce while not actually baking. I think I knew you and your husband met in university. But I didn't know that you had a science background, too. What field is your degree(s) in? For some reason (since you've worked in libraries), I think I thought you were an English major or something similar.

      A really good cabbage stew sounds great to me right now. I'll be checking around for cabbage sales in my area. The last few years I haven't seen those super great prices on cabbage in March. I hope you do have those sales in your area.

    2. I have a grad degree in geology and in my other life worked as an exploration geologist for a major oil company. My husband has a grad degree in geophysics which was in the same department where we met although we never had any classes together.

      BTW, I did not like English and was thrilled when I tested out of my second semester of Freshman English. I only had 1 English class my whole college career. :)

    3. That's interesting, Live and Learn. Thanks for answering my question.

  5. I was just at winco yesterday. They had cabbage for 38 cents a lb-cheapest price for me this year. I bought one head is all. I didn’t buy a corned beef, but I do have one in the freezer I may cook this week. I mostly want the cabbage and potatoes cooked in that delicious corned beef broth. I can take or leave the corned beef. We have no other traditions. St Patrick’s Day is a HUGE deal here, but it never has been for me, so we usually just eat corned beef and cabbage and otherwise it’s just another day.

    1. Thanks for your info, Diane. I may be making a trip to WinCo this week.
      St. Patrick's Day seems to be more of a drinking holiday than anything else in my area. Not my thing. But I do love cabbage and potatoes.
      Have a great week, Diane!

  6. I'm a little late to this Irish "party" but wanted to say in our area, cabbage was $ .15/lb in our regional Food Lion! That was definitely a steal. The going prices at other stores was in the .25-.39/lb range. I bought a big ol' head of cabbage. My husband said it looked like a bowling ball, and it did! So far, I've made some slaw with a bit of it. More meals ahead!


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