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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: With All Things Green, St. Patrick’s Day Helps Usher In Spring

By Sherrie Norris

There seems to be an audible sigh of relief heard around the High Country that signals the pending arrival of spring. For the first winter (ever!) in this old gal’s life, I have seen no measurable snow. We had a “skiff” of snow one day this year down by the New River, east of Boone, and another with enough sleet to barely cover the ground, but there has been no accumulating snow in my immediate area. And I love snow.

My grandchildren do, as well, and they even took their new sleds down the hill beside our house on the day of the “skiff,” only to get mired up in the mud.

Did I say that I have always loved snow? And, I am clinging to the hope that we might just get one beautiful, ground-covering snowfall before this winter ends.(Maybe this weekend?) But, if we don’t, it’s OK, because I also love spring. And, it is almost here.

St. Patrick’s Day — wearing of the green, and all the fun that comes with the celebration — helps to elevate our moods and gets us to thinking of lighter, brighter days ahead. I’m more than OK right now
with shedding the winter covering of darkness and replacing it with fun in the sun.

Let’s begin to transition those thoughts with a few tried-and-true ideas for St. Paddy’s Day to get the party started. And, if we need to this weekend, we can always drag out the big cold-weather soup pot, one more time.

Triple Layer Fudge Mint Oreo Brownies
1 jar marshmallow creme
8 drops (or more) of green food coloring
1 box brownie mix
1 pkg. Mint Oreo Cookies
¾ cup white chocolate chips, melted
1 can vanilla frosting

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9×13-inch pan with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir together marshmallow fluff and 4 drops of food coloring, or until light green color is achieved. In a large bowl, prepare the brownie mix as directed on box, (water, oil, eggs) and then fold in 12 hand-crumbled Oreos.
Spread brownie batter in prepared pan. Drop about ½ cup of green marshmallow mixture onto brownie batter; reserve the remainder. Gently pull a knife through the batter in S-shaped curves for a swirled design. Bake 23 to 25 minutes or until brownies are set, being careful not to overbake. Cool completely. In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt white chocolate chips (microwave on high for 30 seconds; stir and microwave 30 seconds longer; stir until smooth, be careful — white chocolate scorches easily. Add melted white chocolate chips and vanilla frosting to the reserved green marshmallow mixture. Stir in 4 drops or more of food coloring, or until light green color is achieved, and spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle with remaining hand-crumbled Oreos, pressing slightly into the green mixture. Allow top layer to set fully before slicing and serving. Great chilled and stored in airtight container in fridge.

St. Paddy’s Cupcakes
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) instant pistachio pudding mix
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ cups 2% milk
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 container prepared cream cheese frosting
Green food coloring and gold sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, pudding mix, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; add to dry ingredients and mix until blended. Fill paper-lined muffin cups ¾ full. Bake at 375° until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-22 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Add food coloring to frosting if desired; frost cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles.

Key Lime Pie Dip
1 can regular or fat-free sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup key lime juice
½ cup marshmallow cream
Assorted fruit, Graham or animal crackers

In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice until thickened. Add in marshmallow cream and stir lightly. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Serve chilled with crackers or fruit.

Leprechaun Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 pkg. (3.4 ounces) instant pistachio pudding mix
2 large eggs, room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
Green food coloring, optional
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 pkg. butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars and pudding mix until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and extracts. If desired, add food coloring. Whisk together flour and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in chips and nuts (batter will be stiff). Scoop by tablespoon and shape into balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set and bottoms are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Let cool on pan for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.