American Irish Soda Bread

My Irish ancestors, the McGinns, who lived in County Cork would no doubt hang me for even naming this bread like the soda bread that they used to make. It’s so not Irish Soda Bread-but American Soda Bread just sounds all wrong doesn’t it?

image

While they’d hang me, they’d probably cut me down the minute they tasted the bread–as it’s delicious. It’s not dry and crumbly like most. It’s more of a light cake or treat bread. It also doesn’t have raisins which is my doing-I hate them in breads.

Make it-it’s so easy and so so so yummy!

image

American Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

For bread:

  • 12.75 ozs self rising flour (I used King Arthur Brand)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 4.25 ozs granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tbsp caraway seeds (or more or less per taste)
  • 1 large egg
  • 14ozs light buttermilk
  • 2 ozs unsalted butter, melted
  • feel free to add currants, dried cranberries or raisins.

For topping:

  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp sparkling sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375f. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl add the flour, baking soda, sugar and seeds. Whisk to combine and break up any lumps.
  3. In another bowl add the egg and buttermilk and whisk until completely combined.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, working quickly and gently. Do not overmix. Add the butter and continue to stir gently but thoroughly to incorporate all ingredients. The dough will first seem very wet from the butter but when you continue to stir it will come together beautifully.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out and drag your finger around the inside of the pan to make a moat.
  6. Drizzle the milk over the top of the dough (the  moat will keep it from going down into the pan) and sprinkle the sugar evenly all over.
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes.  When it’s done an instant read thermometer inserted into the center will read 200-210F. The top will be golden brown and a knife inserted will come out clean.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven, allow it to cool for 5 minutes then run a knife around the outside to loosen any suck areas. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve.

Yield: 1 loaf. Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe.

Note: I served this with whipped honey butter. Soften 1/2 stick of butter, put it in a mixing bowl, squirt honey in to taste and go to it with your electric mixer until fluffy and light.  Use as much or as little honey as you’d like. And let your dog taste it to make sure it’s perfect.

image

 

Pepperoni Roll-Ups

I hosted Christmas Eve again this year and, for dinner, served this Bolognese with some fun pasta and a gorgeous green salad. For appetizers I kept it simple-some hummus, crackers, cheese, olives etc… I wanted to serve something warm also though.  These pepperoni roll-ups fit the bill perfectly. Super easy to make and even more delicious! I followed the recipe but I think next time I will halve everything and make double the amount at half of the size.

I think you could probably make these ahead of time and leave them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them.

image

Pepperoni Roll-Ups

 Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz tube of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 16 slices of quarter-sized pepperoni, cut into quarters
  • 2 pieces of 1oz mozzarella string cheese (2ozs total) cut into quarters
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning (or oregano, garlic salt and onion powder)
  • 1/2-1 cup pizza sauce for dipping

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a rimmed baking tray.
  2. Unroll the dough and separate it into the 8 outlined triangles. On each piece place 8 quarters of pepperoni then place the piece of cheese on the small corner and roll it up starting with the short side. Pinch the seam across the dough to seal. Sprinkle with the Italian seasoning.
  3. Place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes. Watch them carefully.
  4. Warm the pizza sauce while they’re baking.
  5. Remove them from the oven and let them sit for 2-3 minutes then serve immediately with the warmed pizza sauce for dipping.

image

 

Adapted from Taste of Home.

 

Gingerbread Cookies

I’m not sure why but I’d never made gingerbread before. The recipes always scared me a bit. Maybe it was the molasses. I do love it though–such a not-sweet cookie and so ‘holiday’.

I was so glad (and somewhat terrified) when the What’s Baking group theme was revealed-GINGERBREAD!

And you know what? I was afraid for no reason. They were so easy to make! Such a small ingredient list, a simple procedure.  I’ll admit the first batch that I cut into man shapes ended up looking like aliens-but I figured out that it was because I rolled the dough too thin and it got warm.  You need to keep your dough COLD. Really really cold. And keep it rolled to no thinner than 1/4 inch.

While the recipe stated to roll half of the dough at a time, I found using only 1/4 was much easier for me to keep the temperature right.

So have fun!! Fear not!!

I didn’t get to decorate my gingerbread cookies. Since I was serving them as part of the dessert for my Christmas Eve get together I decided to let everyone decorate their own-how fun it was!  Since I’m not the best with decorating cookies it saved me some crooked-decorating humiliation too.

image

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 cup molasses (regular/original)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 & 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour (I used King Arthur brand)

image

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, salt and spices.
  2. Pour the butter mixture into a large mixing bowl and set it aside to let it cool to lukewarm. Then beat in the egg.
  3. Whisk the baking powder and baking soda into the flour. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  4. Stir until completely combined. Don’t over-mix.
  5. Divide the dough into 4 even pieces and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Cool them in the refrigerator for at least an hour-but up to one day.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. When the dough has chilled sufficiently roll it to 1/4 inch thickness using parchment paper on the bottom and plastic wrap on top.
  8. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and carefully transfer the shape to the prepared baking sheet. Reroll and cut the scraps or add to the batch in the fridge.
  9. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until firm. Mine took exactly 9 minutes as I like them a bit chewy.
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute or 2 then carefully (I use my fish spatula for this) transfer them to cooling racks.
  11. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  12. Once cooled completely you can decorate them. The cookies will keep for at least a week in an airtight container un-decorated.

I used moose, owl, snowflake and the typical gingerbread man cookie cutters. They came out great!!

image image

 

Here’s the ‘make your own’ set up. Some sprinkles, some frosting pens….

image

 

Adapted from King Arthur Flour’s recipe.

image

Crash Hot Potatoes

These are the potatoes I made for this year’s St. Patrick’s Day dinner. I had heard about these so many times but had never made them. I thought they came out really delicous-and they couldn’t be easier to make. Boil, mash, sprinkle, bake. That’s it. I used Red A potatoes. They were perfect with the corned beef and cabbage-neither of which I cook the traditional way.

 

image

Crash Hot Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs of red potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • fresh rosemary

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook until fork tender. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
  3. On a large baking sheet drizzle the olive oil. Place the potatoes a bit apart from each other. Using a potato masher gently press down to mash a bit then turn the masher 90 degrees and gently mash a bit more.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and rosemary and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and crispy.

Recipe courtesy of pioneerwoman.com

Note: one of those eating with us has a sodium intake restriction so I did not salt the water. I  made one row of potatoes with a large gap from the others and did not sprinkle any salt on them. What a convenient way of accommodating a restriction yet making the same dish for all.

Dijon Roasted Cabbage

This year for St. Patrick’s Day dinner I made my corned beef, cabbage and potatoes. Truth be told I’m not a fan of boiled cabbage. Or boiled potatoes. I probably roast vegetables 99% of the time that I  make them. They get just a little crunchy on the ends and they are so so so yummy.   And cabbage is so good for you-you don’t want to boil all of that goodness away.

I was so glad to find this recipe!  The addition of the dijon really intrigued me and I we were not disappointed. The cabbage was delicious! It was cooked perfectly-firm and a bit crunchy on the tips not at all like boiled. If you’re looking for a new way to prepare your cabbage try this-it’s excellent.  It’s cut into wedges before it’s roasted which makes it a snap to serve-everyone gets a wedge.

image

Dijon Roasted Cabbage

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head green cabbage, core removed and cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • fleur de sel to taste
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine evenly.
  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet large enough for all of the cabbage with foil. Place the wedges (not overlapping) on the baking sheet.  Pour the mustard mix evenly over the cabbage and cover with another sheet of foil.
  4. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, remove the foil and roast another 10 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.

Adapted from skinnyms.com

 

Scallion & Dill Pickle Dip

Recently I’ve seen a ton of ‘dill pickle dips’ floating around online. I LOVE dill pickles but felt they could be improved on a bit-some used dried dill or just cream cheese so I came up with my own.  The scallions add another layer of flavor and the fresh dill really ties everything together.

I served it with some delicious super crunchy kettle chips for a St. Patrick’s Day app.

It can be made ahead of time and put into the fridge for hours until you’re ready to serve it.

image

Scallion & Dill Pickle Dip

Ingredients:

  • 4 ozs. reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature (not fat free neufchatel cheese)
  • 1/2 cup very finely chopped dill pickles (please get the freshest, best quality pickles that you can)
  • 2-3 tbsp dill pickle juice (to taste and texture)
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp low fat sour cream
  • 2 scallions, green and white, chopped into 1/4-1/8 sized pieces

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl mash the cream cheese to make sure it’s fully softened.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients (2 tbsp of the juice to start with, add the additional after mixing if desired) except the scallion and mix well to combine.
  3. Gently fold in the scallions until incorporated.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours before serving.
  5. Serve with crispy potato chips.

 

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

I don’t think that there’s anything better with pot roast than mashed potatoes.  For my Christmas Eve dinner I served these potatoes with this pot roast and these roasted veggies.

I had pinned this recipe quite a while ago and was so glad that I made them! The lack of butter and cream made me feel better about eating them, the sour cream and ranch flavors made them tangy and savory and delicious.

image

Ranch Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 1oz packet Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
  • 3lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • chives for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil, lower heat to simmer, and cook uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes fall apart when pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the large pot.  Mash them up until smooth.
  3. Stir in seasoning and sour cream until evenly blended.
  4. Place in serving dish, sprinkle with chives and serve.

Adapted from hiddenvalley.com

Roasted Carrots, Parsnips and Green Beans

Roasting veggies is my favorite way to cook them. Is it your favorite way as well? They stay so crispy and the flavors are so nice! A simple olive oil, salt and pepper is all that’s needed to make them yummy.  And it made for a beautifully colorful dish.

Hmmmm orange, white and green. I’ll remember that for St. Patrick’s Day.

I served these on Christmas Eve along with this Pot Roast and mashed potatoes and they were perfect.  I had intended on making only carrots but there were no purple ones to be found at the store that day so i picked up some parsnips instead. I already had the green beans at home.

image

Roast Carrots,  Parsnips and Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 3 bunches baby carrots (the real baby carrots-not the little ones in the bag), about 1 lb, peeled and cut into inch lengths.
  • 1/2 lb parsnips, peeled and cut into pieces the same size as the carrots
  • 1 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed, cut into the same size as the parsnips and carrots
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Spread out all of the carrots and parsnips onto the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
  4. Cook in the oven for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, add the green beans, spread them around and add more olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder if needed.
  6. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and serve right away.

Christmas Eve Pot Roast

My family doesn’t usually do much on Christmas Eve. This year though, since Husband and Mom and I and In-Laws were all off I decided to have a Christmas Eve dinner at my house. The evening was so much fun. We started with some easy pickies-different olives, some hummus, cheese and crackers and then moved on to dinner then had some dessert and exchanged some presents.  It seemed almost too perfect that it also started to snow while we were opening presents.  Not much-just flurries-but I couldn’t have planned a better backdrop. Thanks Mother Nature!!

The menu was very simple-pot roast, roasted veggies and ranch mashed potatoes–and it was perfect.  We had only a little of everything left-and those left overs were gone the next day.  Allow yourself time to sear the meat properly-it makes all the difference in the end.

The pot roast-so simple to cook and so delicious! My father in law proclaimed it perfect and the best he’s ever had!!  It was a flavorful comforting meal perfect for a holiday get together.

image

Christmas Eve Pot Roast

Ingredients:

  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  4.75 lb chuck roast*
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 whole medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into 2 inch rings then halved
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1 cup red wine (I used chianti)
  • 3 cups low fat low sodium beef broth
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 275f.
  2. Salt and pepper the roast generously.
  3. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven (mine is a 6 qt) over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until browned. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the carrots to the pot and stir them around for a few minutes until they’re slightly  browned. Remove and set aside with onions.
  5. If the pan needs a bit more oil add it now.  Place the roast into the pan and sear it for about a minute (or until a nice brown crust developes), then repeat for all sides–even the ends. Set aside with the onions and carrots.
  6. Add the wine to the pot and scape up all of the bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon.  Put the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the roast halfway.
  7. Put the onions, carrots and fresh herbs into the liquid in the pot.
  8. Put the lid on and roast in the oven for 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Brown the meat so that it looks like this.

image

The roast was so tender that I couldn’t slice it-I just pulled the meat apart and served it that way.

image

If your roast is smaller it will take less time to cook. Plan on 3 hours for a 3lb roast.

I was also able to find some beautiful flowers in Christmas-y colors for the table. Red and white carnations with some really adorable puffy greens-they reminded me of something Dr. Seuss would think up.

image

Adapted from Ree Drummond via Food Network.

Creme au Chocolat Meringuee (frozen chocolate mousse made with meringue)

This recipe comes from Simone ‘Simca’ Beck (you know her-she’s the lady who co-authored Mastering the Art of French Cooking with Julia Child).  Simca’s cookbook named Simca’s Cuisine is a book full of great menus for different occasions and this recipe comes from ‘A menu for all seasons’ which also includes pork braised with bourbon, timbales of lettuce pureed with shallots and cream, sauteed broccoli and a green salad with vinaigrette.  Perhaps next time I will make the other dishes from the menu but I only made the frozen chocolate this time.

 My Grandmother gave me this book (it was hers and it’s a First Edition!!) for Christmas this past year and while reading through it I saw this recipe and have kept it in mind since then for Mom. You see this past weekend was Mother’s Day weekend and my Mom LOVES chocolate mousse.  I mean loves-it’s her favorite dessert-so it was only fitting.

choc2

I’ll be honest. It was intimidating making a recipe from this book. There are no photos (which like to have), some of the other dishes seemed so rare/unheard of/dishes from back in the day (timbales of lettuce?! say what?!) and it’s by Simca. But once I took time to read and understand the recipe, measure out everything before I started and carefully follow her instructions it was really pretty easy.  It also didn’t take long at all to put together.  I did not include the optional Nougatine but I would imagine it adds a nice crunch (see bottom of post for recipe).

This mousse is RICH. Super rich. It’s not overly sweet at all because of the coffee added but rich none-the-less.  I must admit I’m not a huge chocolate fan-but I like this-a lot.  It’s not the typical lighter chocolate mousse infused with air.  It’s a dark, very dark chocolatey velvety textured concoction.  I imagine that fresh whipped cream on top would really be delicious as well.

We served it with a pot of tea and grilled pineapple as you can see in the photo below. The somewhat tart somewhat sweet warm pineapple went really well with the rich chocolate.  By the way if you’ve never grilled pineapple you’re really missing out.  We also drizzled some of  this caramel sauce onto it. Yummy!!!

choc3

Creme au Chocolat Meringuee (frozen chocolate mousse made with meringue)

Ingredients:

  • 1&1/2 tbsp powdered instant coffee (I used 3 envelopes of Starbucks Via Colombia)
  • 7 ozs German’s sweet chocolate (cut into small pieces)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 7 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 tbsp confectioners sugar

Instructions:

  1. Set a double boiler on the stove and heat to a simmer.  Add the coffee and 1.5 tbsp boiling water and stir to dissolve.  Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium sized bowl beat the yolks and granulated sugar with a hand-held mixer until they are pale and creamy yellow.  Place the double boiler with chocolate back over the heat and stir in the egg yolk mixture. Stir until it almost reaches a boil then remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer beat the egg whites with the salt until they are white and frothy-about 2 minutes. Then add the vanilla and confectioners sugar and beat for about 5 minutes longer until the whites have increased in volume and the meringue is firm and very white ( look for a peak at the end of a finger dragged through).
  4. Gently fold the meringue into the tepid chocolate mixture (rewarm if necessary) being careful to incorporate all of the chocolate and meringue without breaking the egg whites.
  5. Pour into containers and place in freezer.

Nougatine (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup walnuts or other nuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Put the walnuts into the oven to warm but not brown.
  3. Oil a metal baking sheet.
  4. Put 3 tbsp of water with the sugar into an enameled sauce pan and boil to form a light caramel sauce. Immediately add the warmed walnuts, stir to distribute the walnuts, and pour the nougatine onto the baking sheet and spread it into an even layer.
  5. Set it aside to cool and harden and then chop into rough pieces.

choc1

Previous Older Entries