Pinch-Proof Dinner

St. Patrick’s Day is a fun, festive holiday. Share some Irish history with the family and invite everyone to help prepare this delicious, lucky feast!

Story and Photography by Kerry Guice

Pinch Proof St. Patrick's Day Dinner recipes

Have you ever wondered why we “go green” on St. Patrick’s Day? The history of the color green and Ireland started over 600 years ago. In the 15th century, Henry VIII claimed to be king of Ireland and actually flew a blue flag. However, during the Great Irish Rebellion of 1641, the Catholic rebels flew a green flag while trying to defeat the authority of the English crown. The color associated with the English protestants was orange (today, the Irish flag is comprised of both green and orange stripes, with a white stripe in the middle symbolizing peace between these two groups). In the 18th century the progressives (Society of United Irishmen) wore green coats, green and white striped trousers, and green felt hats to promote their republican ideas. The shamrock is another Irish symbol, and it’s said that St. Patrick himself used the three leaves on the shamrock to teach about the holy trinity. In the 1850s in the United States, Irish immigrants wore green as a symbol of pride for their home country and thus started the tradition of wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. If one didn’t wear green, others would pinch them and say they should be ashamed.

Today that tradition continues, but instead it is now associated with the Irish legend that tiny mischievous fairies called leprechauns like to pinch people, and wearing green makes you invisible to them. Side note: If you happen to see one, you should catch him, because leprechauns are the only ones who can lead you to the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

Learning the history behind the holiday makes dinner on St. Patrick’s Day even more fun! In honor of Ireland, I wanted to make Shepherd’s Pie. In honor of the fact that I have two kids, I decided to replace the mashed potato topping with tater tots! I chose the kids’ favorite green veggies (I say favorite, but I really mean the only ones they’ll eat) and made an all-green salad (the Irish rebels would be proud!).

Green ice cubes are an easy way to feel festive, and for dessert I’m ditching the food coloring and going for a naturally green(ish) key lime pie popsicle. These are so creamy, sweet and tart that you’ll feel like you've found the pot of gold! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Shepherd's Tater Tot Pie recipe

Shepherd's Tater Tot Pie

1 pound ground beef
1 cup corn
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup half and half
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1 bag frozen tater tots (I prefer Alexia tater tots)

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large pan on medium high, brown the ground beef and garlic. Without draining the meat, lower heat to medium add 3 tablespoons of flour, stirring to combine. When flour is dissolved into the fat from the meat, add the vegetables, beef broth and half and half. Add all seasonings and stir to combine.

Bring mixture to a simmer, then remove from heat and pour into either a pie pan or square 9-by-9-inch glass baking dish (do not use a dark pan—clear or white works best). Sprinkle the cheese on top. Arrange tater tots on top of the cheese in a single layer. You won’t use all the tater tots. Place in preheated oven and bake 30 minutes, until tater tots are browned. Serve hot.

Key Lime Piesicles recipe

Key Lime Piesicles

 For the popsicle:
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup Greek yogurt
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 6 limes (about 7 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon orange extract
Pinch sea salt

For the Crumble:
⅔ cup crumbled/crushed shortbread cookies
2 tablespoons melted butter
Zest of 1 lime

 In small bowl, combine crushed cookies, melted butter and the zest of 1 lime. Stir to coat evenly and set aside. In a blender, add all ingredients for the popsicle and blend until thoroughly combined. Sprinkle a little of the crumble mixture in each mold, then pour popsicle mix, finishing with another sprinkle of crumble mixture, pressing down gently so it sticks to the popsicle as it freezes. Freeze overnight or at least 8 hours.

Leprechaun salad recipe

Leprechaun Salad

1 head butter lettuce, torn
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1 stalk celery, sliced
4 broccoli florets, chopped
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Pinch salt and pepper


Green Ice St. Patrick's Day recipe

Green Ice

Green grapes

Tear mint leaves, and slice limes. Add to ice cube tray with green grapes and cover with water. Let freeze. Add to water, club soda or lemonade!