Slainte Ireland: Day 2 in the Green Isle

Top of the mornin’ to you all! Day 2 started off with Mike and I heading out bright and early, as everyone else was still sleeping. After hitting the hotel breakfast (The Malton has some fabulous coffee), we ran to the market for some apples, brown bread, jam and peanut butter for the remainder of the week. Upon our return, after having told the gang we’d be back shortly, the house was empty. Without an international phone plan or wifi, I got my first taste of group travel: waiting to meet up with people on a different schedule.

After about an hour, we all finally found each other and headed out to Ross castle, a medieval ruin that has been renovated to give you a view into a chieftons life back in days of old. The property sat within Killarney national park, and a beautiful lake lay at the base, with steep mountains rising around it. You can see why they chose this location many moons ago. The tour was fascinating and we all learned life in a castle was quite difficult; cold, drafty, and constantly being bombarded with enemy. It’s no wonder many had respiratory problems and the average life spanned only 35 years!

Guinness in Kenmare

Guinness in Kenmare

After soaking in the history, we drove to Kennmare a cute seaport town with colorful buildings, cute shops and lots of pubs. The castle had made us ravished so we headed into ODonaughs restaurant, a quainte little Irish pub. The food was warm (veggie soup with brown bread) and fresh (seafood cakes, fish and chips, salmon & mash potatoes). Lunch had revived us and we headed out and about, wondering in and out of the little shops. Mike amused us and played dress up, trying on all the golfer caps and even an Irish wool vest. He looked the part and had to make the purchase.

Mike playing Irishmen

Mike playing Irishmen

Meandering about came to an end and we headed back on the Ring of Kerry towards Killarney. Stopping alongside the road, we got out in what’s known as the Ladies view vista. Overlooking an inlet of ocean, the scene was breathtaking. The weather was quite wet and while it wasn’t raining, it definitely was damp and the ground squished below our feet. Totally worth the views though! A bit down the way from this stop was an old church next to a babbling brook. Quintessential Ireland.

Our last stop landed us in the Killarney brewery. The whole experience was lovely and we got to see a video about the brewery, meet the owner and head brewmaster and taste some of Ireland’s finest microbrew. It technically wasn’t a bar, so while they couldn’t sell us beer, we were able to sample after our ‘tour’. Mike and I got the IPA (rare in Ireland) and Sarah and Alan tried the Amber. The second round samples of Killarney stout tasted similar to a left hand milk stout and in my humble opinion, better than a Guinness. Such a cool spot and we were all glad to have discovered it.

Killarney Brewery

Killarney Brewery

The evening had gotten away from us, with the late start, forty minute drive to Kenmare, and brewery sampling and we headed to the hotel bar for a pre dinner drink. Holy hell, it was almost a quarter to nine pm! We ended up eating at the bar, as many of the shops in town were said to stop serving food at nine. So, we bellied up to the bar and had a meal and a night cap. A long day, so straight to bed!

Slainte Ireland: Day 1 in the Green Isle

Slainte! We embarked on a journey to the green isle this morning and we couldn’t be more excited, nor more ready for a vacation. Mike has been working non-stop for the past 3 weeks, trying to wrap up two major construction jobs (literally working through weekends and past 7pm at night!). And while I’ve not been doing physical labor (besides helping dig for a deck and run the Colfax half marathon last weekend) my work has been insane. We are in full need of this weeks holiday for sure!

Harpoon Brewery, Boston

Harpoon Brewery, Boston

First stop on this journey: Boston. Our layover from Denver in bean town was over 5 hours, so you bet your butt we headed out and about. The public transit in Boston is top notch and we took the silver line all the way to Harpoon Brewery for free! Here we had a rye IPA, a levethian IPA, and a regular Harpoon IPA. Delicious! They served pretzels as well, so we popped some of them and had a blast. Needing nourishment before our over the pond journey, we headed to a seafood shack right outside Harpoon brewery & had some tuna wraps before hopping on the silver line back to the airport. A bit of rush hour traffic made for an interesting ride, but all was well and we got to our gate, meeting Mike’s mom, just in time to board.

After only 5 hours, we touched down on the green isle. It was a bit cloudy, so after we scooped up our rental and waited for Mikes sister to land, we jetted off into our Ireland adventure. First stop: the Cliffs of Moher.

Our accommodations were in Killarney, a mere 2 1/2 hours south of Shannon airport. The cliffs of Moher were a meager 40 minutes north. A perfect first day sight, especially due to the proximity. The win whipped as we got out of the car to ascend to the cliffs. After piling a few extra layers of clothing on, we headed up to the breathtaking views. Jagged edges, plunging drops, violent waves meeting the base of the cliff. We took it all in in awe. There were paths that took you dangerously close to the edge, where those who dared could peak over the edge. Truly spectacular and absolutely worth the drive.

Back on the road again, off to our digs. The boys drove the cars, thank goodness because the stick shifts paired with driving on the left side of the road was crazy after having traveled for over 18 hours. After about 3 hours in the car, we arrived and checked into the gorgeous Malton hotel. A beautiful old stone building, with lovely restaurant, grounds and staff.

My goodness, My Guinness

My goodness, My Guinness

A quick hour and a half cat nap and we were refreshed and ready to venture out. For dinner at least! The Kenmare fit our palette perfectly and the ambiance was beautiful! But the best was the food!!! Our meals were extraordinary and really set the bar for the trip. Quinoa salad, fresh hake, seafood platter. Plus, a new local craft beer was discovered: Killarney pale ale. Delicious!

With our bellies full, Mike and I ventured out to a local watering hole while the others headed back to our holiday home. Alan, Sarah and Mike’s mom were beat. The music poured out of the pub we popped into and we each had a pint of the black stuff (Guinness). A lovely first day in Ireland indeed!!

Holy Mole: Cinco de Mayo meal in Review

Last Tuesday, Cinco de Mayo was in full effect in our house. Fiestas abound and to celebrate I cooked two delicious dishes: A quinoa breakfast bowl, with fresh guacamole and black beans & sweet potato and squash enchiladas with a homemade mole sauce. Sometimes you just want something elseOh, both were out of this world and super easy to make!

 

Homemade Guacamole

Homemade Guacamole

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl 

Mornings can be super busy, you’re trying to get out of the house, to work, dressed, dogs/baby fed….but I get bored with breakfast! I’m telling you this didn’t take much longer than throwing fruit into a blender. While you’re waiting for the Quinoa & beans to heat up, make the guacamole. Voila – a fabulous breakfast that’s WAY above boring.

Directions: 

Cook 1 cup of quinoa as directed (takes a bit more water than a 1:1 ratio). Heat up a can of black beans.  Chop some cilantro. Top with homemade guacamole!

Homemade Guacamole 

1 avocado
1/4 of a red onion, minced
2 lime wedges
1 garlic clove minced

Mix all ingredients (squeeze lime juice in, don’t throw the whole wedge!)

Mole Sauce

Mole Sauce

Sweet Potato & Squash Enchiladas with Mole Sauce

1 sweet potato diced into cubes
1 squash, 1 zucchini diced into cubes
2 gloves of garlic minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons water
2 cups of kale, chopped

Saute garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Add potato. Cook for a few minutes on med-high heat. Add water and stir until all is absorbed. Cook for another 5-8 minutes. Add Squash & zucchini. Add kale and sauté for another few minutes.

Spoon into tortilla wrappers, fold and put in a sprayed pan.

 

Mole Sauce

1/2 red onion minced
2 Garlic cloves
2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used a chunky natural)
1 tomato
1 cup veggie broth
1 tablespoon caco powder
3-4 squares dark chocolate
3 pablano peppers (or dried chili peppers) roasted – put in oven for 25 minutes at 375
1 tablespoon chili powder

Cook onion in olive oil for 3-4 minutes, add garlic. Cook another 4-5. Empty into a blender. Add broth, tomato, cacao powder, peanut butter, pablano peppers. Blend. Add to stove top in a pan and stir. Throw in chocolate bits and stir until melted.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas with a Mole Sauce!

Sweet Potato Enchiladas with a Mole Sauce!

Top the enchiladas with 1/2 the mole sauce – bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Use more mole sauce on the side if ya want!