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?

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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!

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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.

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Focaccia Blitz Bread

The February ‘What’s Baking’ theme is bread! I’m so glad-it’s something that I’ve really struggled with over the years. Since I gave my bread machine away I’ve been really concentrating on my technique rather than relying on a machine. I’ve been able to bake it pretty successfully and am gaining confidence each time it comes out of the oven warm, yummy and smelling divine.

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This focaccia is really tasty. It’s light, full of beautiful holes and the flavor is really lovely. I cut some slices half-wise horizontally and made panini, I toasted and put jam for breakfast (Trader Joe’s reduced sugar strawberry is delicious on it) and ate it with just a slice of cheddar cheese and granny smith apple. Either way-it’s a winner.

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Blitz Bread: Focaccia

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (to drizzle into pan)
  • 1&1/2 cups warm water (110f degrees)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (for the dough)
  • 1&1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3&1/2 cups King Arthur AP Flour
  • 1 tbsp Instant Yeast (I used SAF)
  • dried herbs for sprinkling on top

Instructions:

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 pan and drizzle the 2 tbsp olive oil into it and swirl to coat. Set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients and beat on high using an electric mixer for 60 seconds.
  3. Scoop the batter (it’s sticky) into the pan, cover with a damp tea towel and let it rise in a warm area at room temperature for an hour until it becomes puffy.
  4. When the dough is almost risen for the hour preheat the oven to 375.
  5. Gently poke the dough with your fingertip.
  6. Drizzle it with the remaining oil, sprinkle with dried herbs and bake until its golden brown-25 to 30 minutes.
  7. Remove it from the oven, allow it to rest for 5 minutes then turn it out onto a cooling rack.
  8. Eat some right away with olive oil and fresh herbs.

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Perfect Easy Homemade Bread

I’ve been trying my hand at homemade bread (without the use of a bread maker) for quite a few years. Something always went wrong. It was too dense, it just didn’t cook right, all kinds of issues. And it was frustrating!  For hundreds, no thousands, of years people had been baking all kinds of delicious bread-why couldn’t I get it right?!

Until I found this recipe.  It’s an easy no-knead herb-topped cibatta-like yeast bread that comes together easily and bakes to a golden-brown deliciousness that will make your house smell amazing.

The minute this bread came out of the oven my homemade bread woes were over. It’s perfect. It’s sumptuous. It’s light, it’s crispy, it’s tasty.  You can dip it in oil with spices. You can make a panino. You can make a regular sandwich. You can dip it into soups or clean the plate of sauce. You can make croutons. You can just pull pieces off and eat them like I did.

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Perfect Easy Homemade Bread

Ingredients

  • 2& 1/2 tsp dry yeast (I used King Arthur Flower’s saf-instant yeast)
  • 2 cups 110F degree water ( I used an instant read meat thermometer to be sure it’s correct)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • Melted butter
  • dried herb blend for topping
  • sea salt for topping

Instructions

  1. Mix yeast and warm water in a glass bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. After the 10 minutes pour the yeast and water mixture into a large stainless steel mixing bowl . Add the sugar salt and flour. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix or your bread will not be good.
  3. Cover it with a tea towel, put it in a warm place without drafts and let it double in size–about an hour to 90 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it.
  4. After rising, split it into 2 equal rounds and place each on a rimmed baking sheet drizzled with a bit of olive oil.  Let rise until doubled again.
  5. Preheat oven to 425F.
  6. Brush the top of each with the butter and sprinkle with herb blend and sea salt. I used King Arthur Flour’s Parmesan Garlic Bread Dipping Blend.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes then (leaving the bread in the oven) reduce heat to 375F and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Place on racks to cool.
I couldn't wait for it to cool!! YUM!

I couldn’t wait for it to cool!! YUM!

Uncooked dough ready for butter and herbs.

Uncooked dough ready for butter and herbs.

 

Uncooked dough with butter and herbs ready for baking.

Uncooked dough with butter and herbs ready for baking.

 

Bread right out of the oven.

Bread right out of the oven.

 

Adapted from www.yummyhealthyeasy.com to whom I will be forever grateful for this wonderful recipe.

Roasted Garlic & Pecorino Romano Bread

This bread so so so so tasty. The roasted garlic is such a nice mellow flavor. That paired with some freshly grated pecorino and you have a winner!

I served this bread with the bucatini that I made on Sunday night and it was perfect. I was lucky enough to get the last small loaf of italian bread at the store-perfect for 2.

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Roasted Garlic & Pecorino Romano Bread

Ingredients:

Roasted Garlic:

  • 1 head garlic
  • 2-3 tsp olive oil

Bread:

  • Roasted garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp very soft light salted butter
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
  • small loaf fresh italian bread (about 7 slices total)

Instructions:

Roasted Garlic:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Using a sharp paring knife cut the top 1/4 inch off of the head of garlic.
  3. Place it in a small dish, drizzle with the olive oil, cover, and roast for 45-60 minutes or until cloves are very soft. Set aside to cool.
  4. When cool enough to handle squeeze the soft garlic out of the papery wrapper which contains the clove.

Bread:

Keep  oven warm from garlic or preheat to 325f.

  1. Cut 1/2-3/4 inch wide slices in the bread. Don’t cut all the way through, leave the slices attached at the bottom.
  2. Gently separate the end slice from the 2nd slice (leaving them attached) and spread a small amount of the butter on one side. On the side facing the buttered side smear some of the garlic and then sprinkle with some cheese.  Gently press the slices back together again. Repeat with each slice.
  3. When they’re all buttered/garlicked/cheesed wrap the bread in foil and seal it up.
  4. Place it in the oven for about 10 minutes to get everything yummy and warm and melty.

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Note: this makes one small loaf of bread-only about 3 slices per person. If you’re using a regular bakery sized loaf you’ll have to use more of everything.

Crispy Parmesan Bread

Often when I make pasta or soup I’ll make up some of this delicious crunch bread to have on the side. It’s great to eat plain or to wipe up the last bits of a bowl of soup or sauce.

And it couldn’t be easier to make. You can use pretty much any bread.  You need to use freshly grated parmesan though-something that you should keep on hand at all times anyway.

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Crunchy Parmesan Bread

Ingredients:

  • Small baguette or other soft crust long loaf such as italian bread
  • Butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Cut bread into the desired shapes and put into the toaster oven to toast very slowly.
  2. When they’re just a touch brown remove the bread and spread a bit of butter over the bread.  Return to the oven and melt the butter.
  3. Remove and sprinkle the parmesan cheese and then put back in the oven for a few more minutes.  Watch it carefully-parmesan burns quickly. Remove when just melty.
  4. Enjoy!!

My Mom used to make these for me. She doens’t have a blog (but she should) so they’re originally her idea 🙂

Cornbread

I don’t think there’s anything that goes better with chili than fresh cornbread. Sure you can buy a boxed mix or muffins but it’s so easy to make from scratch why bother with either of those? 

Husband and I had planned to go out and watch Sunday football this past weekend but were unable to due to unforseen circumstances. So we decided to make it a fun day inside instead. I served this bread with Sunday Aftenoon Chili.

Here’s an easy recipe that delivers a tall bread perfect for dipping or sopping up or just enjoying plain. It’s got that slightly sweet cornbread taste, isn’t gritty, and is delicious hot but also very tasty cold for left overs. The crust is beautifully crisp. It contains corn kernels which adds a nice texture and taste but you could just as easily leave them out or replace with something else-scallions, bacon pieces or anything else that you’d like. See those yummy kernels in there?

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Cornbread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350.  Spray a 9×9 pyrex or similar baking dish with non-stick baking spray and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl whisk ingredients cornmeal through and including salt.
  3. In another bowl beat together the eggs, buttermilk and butter. When combined add the corn.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and fold until just combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove the dish from the oven and let the cornbread rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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Recipe from Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cookbook.

Baked French Toast

I  haven’t posted anything new (aside of the 1 year blogiversary) because I had a lovely vacation and birthday in New Hampshire with family.  The hotel where we stayed has full kitchens in the units so we do some cooking while we’re there.  I made a taco dinner one night  with this delicious slow cooker taco beef, along with cilantro lime rice, zingy corn salsa and yummy cookies

I chose to make this Baked French Toast one morning for breakfast. There were 6 of us there and we only had one small piece left over.

It was easy to make-I just brought the ingredients and a baking dish with me. It was a fast assembly and easy cooking-perfect for a crowd and not a lot of work.

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Baked French Toast

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 16 slices white bread (1lb or 650gram loaf such as Pepperidge Farm)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 tsp table salt

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450. In a small bowl whisk the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. On 1 or 2 baking sheets (you’ll have to lay the bread slices flat. If you have 2 baking sheets use them, if not you’ll just use 1 twice) with foil. Spread about 1tsp of butter onto one side of each slice of bread.  Place non-buttered side down on the baking sheet until all are buttered. Sprinkle each with 1tsp of the cinnamon sugar.  Put the tray(s) into the oven and bake until the bread is golden and the cinnamon sugar is a bit crusty–about 8-11 minutes. Watch the bread carefully.  When the bread is finished cooking reduce the oven temp to 375 and set the bread aside to cool a bit. Set the extra cinnamon sugar aside for later.
  2. Butter a 9×13 baking dish well. Cut 2 slices of bread in half horizontally and set aside. Lay half of the bread in one row and half in another row the length of the dish, overlapping each other.  Finish the last piece in each with one of the halves and snuggle the other 2 halves under the bread on the other end of the row.  They will look like those rows of cards that fall onto each other (see photo above).
  3. In a bowl whisk the milk, salt and eggs together and pour evenly over the bread. Let it sit for 15 minutes minimum (or overnight).
  4. Use the remaining cinnamon sugar from step 1 and sprinkle it over the bread before you put the dish in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes until slightly puffy and golden. Press gently from one side to the other to make sure that no liquid will press out of the bread.
  5. Serve immediately with syrup or powdered sugar or anything else you’d like.

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Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

Note: the next time I make this I will use less custard to keep the bottom layer more crispy.

Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich

There’s that saying ‘even the best laid plans’……..well that’s what happened last night. I was all set to go home after work and grill chicken, slice avocado, slap some bacon and pesto and cheese on a delicious toasted roll and enjoy a great sandwich for dinner. Not so much. My supermarket didn’t have any more of the rolls I wanted, my avocado had passed it’s ‘edible’ stage and I screwed up the pesto. So that sandwich never happened. It sill sounds really good so I will make it sometime.

What I ended up with instead was DELICIOUS!! Grilled chicken, melty white cheddar, tangy BBQ sauce, crispy bacon and delicious toasted french bread. Really simple yes but really YUM!!!!  After one bite I wasn’t sorry the other sandwich hadn’t worked out. BBQ sauce always reminds me of the west for some reason-like John Wayne riding into the sunset shooting his rifle into the sky as he goes. So that’s why I named this sandwhich what I did. Enjoy!!

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Cowgirl Chicken Sandwich 

Ingredients (for 2 sandwiches):

  • 1 large chicken breast (boneless, skinless) about 1/2 lb cut into 2 even 1/4 pieces (give or take with the weight)
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • 6 pieces cooked bacon (2 &1/2 for each sandwich, 1 for the dog 🙂 
  • white cheddar cheese sliced thin-as much as you want
  • Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce-as much as you want
  • Pieces of french bread cut in half length-wise or kaiser rolls

Instructions:

  1. Preheat grill pan or grill or panini press or whatever you’ll use to cook the chicken.
  2. Season the chicken on both sides with S&P and set aside until the cooking vessel is ready.
  3. Cook the bacon and set aside (and give that one piece to your dog 🙂
  4. Cook until about 30 seconds from being done then top with the bbq sauce and then the cheese. Since I used my panini press I closed the lid but let it just hover over the chicken to melt the cheese and heat the sauce.
  5. Put a little sauce on the bottom piece of bread, top with chicken, place the bacon on top of the chicken, add a little more sauce if you want, and then put the top piece of bread.
  6. Eat it!

Velvet Pumpkin Bread

The weather has gotten so nice and cool this week-high 70s during the day, low 60s at night-a great change from the super-humid hot weather we had for the past few weeks. So the air conditioning is off, the windows are open and it feels great-in other words the fall bug has bitten me. I was looking through some of the cookbooks that I’ve picked up for my Kindle and came across the Gooseberry Pumpkin Cookbook that I’d purchased last year- link.

This recipe made 2 gorgeous delicious loaves of super-moist, amazingly tasty pumpkin bread and they were really easy to make. Wow did my house smell amazing while they were cooking too!! I left one loaf at home and brought one to work for my co-workers to enjoy today.

(Next fall when I make this I’d like to try using greek yogurt instead of the oil. I’m not sure of the conversion amounts though-I will have to find out and put an alternate ingredient on this recipe.)

Velvet Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1&1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin (one 16 oz can)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray 2 9″x5″ loaf pans with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon 3 times and set aside.  In a large bowl combine oil and sugar and mix well then blend in flour mixture. Add the eggs and pumpkin and mix well.  Pour batter into the 2 prepared pans and bake for 1 hour.

Makes 2 loaves.