My father was always proud of his Irish heritage. Unfortunately, as a child, I didn’t pay much attention to the stories he told. For me, St. Patrick’s Day was when I got to dress up in green and wear buttons like, “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” Mom would stink up the house cooking corned beef and cabbage, which I now love, and she would make Jello for dessert: lime Jello with chunks of cream cheese and chopped walnuts. Now, my husband thought I was crazy, so I made it for him. He loved it, especially with some fresh whipped cream on top.

The fact that we were Irish never registered with me then. My dad has since passed, as well as my opportunity to appreciate his stories. So, in honor of not paying attention to my dad, I try to learn new and fun facts about the old country, which I hope you find entertaining and educational.

I learned only this week that the classical Latin name for the island of Ireland was Hibernia and there is a Hibernia Society of Utah that “promotes and preserves Irish history, culture and tradition. Irish immigrants played a big part in Utah in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Many Irish came to work on the railroad or in the mines. Park City was once a mining town, and donations from those miners helped build St. Mary’s of the Assumption, one of the oldest Catholic churches in Utah.

I continued my education and learned that “Bat” Masterson – gunfighter, buffalo hunter, frontier lawman and newspaperman – was the son of a woman named McGurk from Northern Ireland. Billy the Kid, whose real name was Henry McCarty, was the son of Irish immigrants. The Irish influences here in the West, good and bad, were something I never thought of.

One thing I do know, corned beef seems to taste better on March 17. But what do you do with the leftovers? Here is a quick and easy recipe I found on the Pillsbury website that is perfect for a lighter meal served with a side salad or veggie.

This Mini Rueben Pot Pie recipe is a twist on Reuben sandwich. You will need the following ingredients:

8 oz thinly sliced cooked corned beef, coarsely chopped

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese (4 oz)

1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon caraway seed, if desired

1 can (16.3 oz) Flaky Layers refrigerated biscuits

Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease or spray eight regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray.

Mix together the corned beef, cheese, soup, mustard and caraway seed until well combined.

Flatten and press each biscuit into about a 5” circle. Place 1/3 cup of the meat mixture into the center of each circle. Gently pull edges up and around filling, and place into muffin cups. Pull edges of dough over filling toward center; pleat and pinch dough gently to hold in place, leaving some of the filling exposed.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool one minute and the mini pies should pop right out of the pan.

This is such a versatile recipe and can be used on any kind of leftover meat. Try using leftover roast beef and substituting golden mushroom soup instead of the regular. Ham is a perfect partner to the ingredients as listed above. Use your imagination, and whatever meat and cheese you have in the fridge.

So, while you can, listen to the old folks. Pay attention to the stories they tell about their youth and your family history. And in the words of an old Irish blessing: Like the gold of the sun, like the light of the day, may the luck of the Irish shine bright on your way. Like the glow of a star, and the lilt of a song, may these be your joys all your life long.