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Leprechauns and Rainbows: Cookies and cupcakes to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

We love St. Patrick’s Day. It all started when our son was four, in kindergarten and leprechauns invaded his school
13 Mar 2014 – 02:52 AM EDT

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We love St. Patrick’s Day. It all started when our son was four, in kindergarten and leprechauns invaded his school, turning everything green and leaving four-leaf clovers all around the classroom. Our son expected the same kind of trouble-making from the leprechauns at home, and so began a tradition that has carried on for many years. The troublesome little elves sneak in when no one is looking and turn everything – from gallons of milk to toilet water – green. As the kids have reached teen and tween status, they may not expect trouble making elves every year, but they do want green food. A little green food dye can turn an ordinary treat into the perfect St. Pat celebration. Here are some of our favorites:

Shamrock Cookies and Cupcakes

Shamrock cookies are an easy home-baked treat for school parties and home celebrations. We add green food dye to the dough to make the dough green, then sprinkle with green sugar crystals. Shamrock cupcakes are always a hit. Use a white cake mix and mix as directed. Put half the batter in the cupcake holders, then add five drops of green food dye prior to adding the rest of the cake batter to the cup. Bake as directed, and frost with green tinted frosting. The kids will love biting into these cupcakes to discover a hidden green surprise.

Rainbow Surprises

Everyone knows that leprechauns know where the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is, so rainbows are a great way to celebrate. Start with a stack of rainbow pancakes by mixing pancake batter, separating into six small bowls, and adding red, orange (yellow + red), yellow, green (blue + yellow), blue, and purple (red + blue) dye into the batter. The same idea can be used to make rainbow cupcakes. For a healthier treat, try creating a rainbow with fruit: red strawberries, orange wedges (mandarin works best), yellow pineapple chunks, green kiwi slices, blueberries, and purple seedless grapes. Use a little whip cream at each end for clouds, or make Pot of Gold cookies for the end of the rainbow. Leftover fruit can be added to .

Traditional Irish Fare

From colcannon (a dish made with kale and potatoes) to corned beef, Ireland’s food is a reflection of the agriculture of the region. Desserts like Guiness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Cream frosting are always a hit, but one of the most traditional Irish desserts is bread pudding. Here’s my favorite recipe:

2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup butter

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

6-8 slices of bread

Heat oven to 325ºF. Heat milk and butter over medium heat. In large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in bread, torn into chunks. Pour into ungreased 9-inch baking dish. Bake uncovered 45 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from edge comes out clean.

What are your favorite recipes and traditions for St. Patrick’s Day? Do the leprechauns come see you?