Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is a mildly sweet bread enlightened by raisins and caraway seeds. A favorite teatime treat or anytime snack alone or slathered with European salted butter, jam or honey. Toasted or not, you'll be hooked. I am happy to share my adapted version from a long-time family recipe. 

 

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Prep time @ 15 minutes Cook time @ 45 minutes Preheat Oven to 350 degrees

In a medium size mixing bowl add dry ingredients:

4 1/4 cup AP flour

3/4 cup Granulated sugar

2 Tbs Caraway seeds (optional but flavorful)

1 Tsp Baking soda

1 Tsp salt

Traditional soda bread has raisins either golden or sundried. I like to use a mix of both in addition to adding dried cranberries, dried blueberries and anything else I may have on hand. In past loaves, I've added diced dried pineapple, mango, papaya and more. It's totally up to you for the traditional and non-traditional options. The other option is to plump or not to plump your raisins. In this batch, my raisins seemed a bit dry so I placed them in a bowl and covered them with warm water and a splash of Irish whiskey. Why not give them a punch of subtle flavor! Let them soak for about 15 minutes before draining and make sure to squeeze out all the excess liquid with a cloth before adding to your mixture.

1 cup raisins or dried fruit of your choice (set aside)

3 Tbs Melted unsalted butter (reserve 1 Tbs to brush onto the loaves before baking)

1 1/2 Cups Buttermilk

2 Large Eggs

In a separate bowl combine the buttermilk and the eggs, mix well. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture. Before combining the two, add 2 Tbs melted butter and the raisins. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber scraper as much as possible. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth and incorporated about 4 minutes and a few turns of the dough. You'll feel it come together. This makes 1 large loaf or 2 individual loaves as I like to make and give away to a friend or family member. 

 

 

 Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining 1 Tbs of butter and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

Brush the tops of the loaves with the remaining 1 Tbs of butter and sprinkle with sugar (optional)

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Bless this Bread

With a sharp knife, cut a X across the top of each loaf.

Place loaves on baking mat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Check each loaf with a tester in the center to make sure it is cooked through. Remove from oven and transfer loaves to a rack. Slice and serve warm from the oven with butter and jam.

 

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Thai Coconut Curry Chicken Soup

This soup was inspired by my guilty, but not so healthy, pleasure of Chicken Pad Thai. One of my favorite dishes but not exactly on the low calorie, low carb list by any means. I gotta tell you that this recipe, as most of mine, was created in a organic and rustic manner by trying to incorporate flavors from one dish to recreate it into another. Typically my go-to chicken soup is the one my family, well mostly my kids, request which is Chicken Tortilla Soup. A soup I can whip up rather quickly these days but with the new year, I needed a new dish to add to my menu planning. If you like the heat of thai curry and coconut, you'll be just as pleased with this soup as I am. The best part is that once you create the base broth, you can add whatever veggies and ingredients to suit your tastes. I will give you my version and encourage you to play around with other add-ins or swap-outs once you feel comfortable with the process. 

 To begin, let's make your shopping list:  -Snow peas (3/4 cup halved)  -Red onion (1/2)  -Red bell pepper (1)  -Carrots (2)  -Cilantro (1/2 cup)  -Ginger root piece (1 Tbs diced)  -Garlic (2 cloves)  -Red curry paste (3 Tbs)  -Box (32 oz) Unsalted chicken broth  -1 can (14-15oz) Coconut milk   -Rotisserie chicken   -Pad Thai noodles  -Lime (1)  -Avocado (1)   

To begin, let's make your shopping list:

-Snow peas (3/4 cup halved)

-Red onion (1/2)

-Red bell pepper (1)

-Carrots (2)

-Cilantro (1/2 cup)

-Ginger root piece (1 Tbs diced)

-Garlic (2 cloves)

-Red curry paste (3 Tbs)

-Box (32 oz) Unsalted chicken broth

-1 can (14-15oz) Coconut milk 

-Rotisserie chicken 

-Pad Thai noodles

-Lime (1)

-Avocado (1)

 

 Prepping and organization will make the cooking process seamless. Cut your red onion in half and thinly slice one half of it and set aside. Peel and dice garlic and ginger root and set aside. Slice the snow peas into 1/2 or 1/3 depending on size. Julienne red bell pepper and carrots. roughly chop @ 1/2 cup cilantro.    

Prepping and organization will make the cooking process seamless. Cut your red onion in half and thinly slice one half of it and set aside. Peel and dice garlic and ginger root and set aside. Slice the snow peas into 1/2 or 1/3 depending on size. Julienne red bell pepper and carrots. roughly chop @ 1/2 cup cilantro. 

 

 Peel ginger easily by using a spoon to scrape off the skin. Dice/mince your garlic and ginger.

Peel ginger easily by using a spoon to scrape off the skin. Dice/mince your garlic and ginger.

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 Heat stockpot on medium heat before adding 1 Tbs vegetable oil. Once pot and oil are heated, add sliced onion and sauce until soft and translucent about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Heat stockpot on medium heat before adding 1 Tbs vegetable oil. Once pot and oil are heated, add sliced onion and sauce until soft and translucent about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

 Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Add the garlic and ginger and stir as not to burn. Once you get a fragrant aroma (about 1-2 minutes) from the garlic and ginger, turn the heat to medium low and add in the chili paste stirring to combine and not to burn. Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

 Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

Once the chili paste is incorporated with the onion and garlic mixture, add in the chicken broth. Turn the heat back to medium and bring to a low boil. Meanwhile cook a handful of Pad Thai noodles according to box directions and shred your chicken. 

 Once the broth mixture has come to the low boil, add the coconut milk, stirring to combine and bring back to temperature. Add shredded chicken, noodles and vegetable at this point. Let the mixture simmer on low until veggies are heated(about 10 minutes) and the flavors are absorbed into the noodles. 

Once the broth mixture has come to the low boil, add the coconut milk, stirring to combine and bring back to temperature. Add shredded chicken, noodles and vegetable at this point. Let the mixture simmer on low until veggies are heated(about 10 minutes) and the flavors are absorbed into the noodles. 

 Scoop into bowls, add a squeeze of lime and a lime wedge, slices of avocado and top with chopped cilantro. This dish is sure to become a new addition to your menu. I hope you enjoy it.   Bon Appetite!

Scoop into bowls, add a squeeze of lime and a lime wedge, slices of avocado and top with chopped cilantro. This dish is sure to become a new addition to your menu. I hope you enjoy it. 

Bon Appetite!

 Always make sure to stay safe at clean up time, especially when hand-washing your kitchen knives. We created the Skrub Knife Cleaner to protect home cooks from senseless injuries. Available here and on amazon prime. No more cuts!

Always make sure to stay safe at clean up time, especially when hand-washing your kitchen knives. We created the Skrub Knife Cleaner to protect home cooks from senseless injuries. Available here and on amazon prime. No more cuts!

Apple Clafoutis

What is a Clafoutis you say? pronounced {klafu tis} is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally cherries, arranges in a buttered dish and covered with a flan-like batter. I first had one while in the French countryside at a beautiful farmhouse-style boutique hotel while on my honeymoon. As with many things French, I fell in love with it. A variety of seasonal fruit can be adapted to this recipe as I have done here with apples. Depending on the fruit you select, you may need to adapt the flavorings. I like the combo of vanilla and almond extracts but certainly can stick to just vanilla. Fairly simple to put together with a few panty ingredients and an absolute delight to serve with a cup of coffee or dessert wine.

 

 Start with 3 Apples (honey crisp, granny smith, braeburn) a hearty baking apple.

Start with 3 Apples (honey crisp, granny smith, braeburn) a hearty baking apple.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

In a mixing bowl or blender combine the following:

3/4 Cup milk or cream

3 Large eggs

1/2 Cup Granulated sugar

2 Tbs melted, unsalted butter

1 Tsp Vanilla extract

1/2 Tsp Almond extract (optional)

Blend well to dissolve the sugar

To the wet mixture add:

3/4 Cup AP Flour

1/2 Tsp Salt

Blend well again to eliminate any lumps of flour and set aside.

Peel and core your apples and slice them very thinly (1/4" or less) A mandolin would come in handy at this stage.

In a heavy bottom pie dish or cast iron skillet, melt 1 Tbs butter 

After butter is completely melted, arrange your apple slices to cover the bottom of the dish or skillet. Pour your batter over the top of the apples and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

 

 My resident apple picker and sous chef

My resident apple picker and sous chef

 Select a hearty baking apple such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn

Select a hearty baking apple such as Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Braeburn

You will not be disappointed by this delightfully light apple dessert. A perfect finish to any dinner party. Add a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream to finish.

 

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Easy Chipotle Pork Tacos

A lean one pot meal literally cooks itself to perfection. I used pork tenderloin, a lean cut of meat to achieve a healthier version of taco or salad bowl if you prefer. The method of slow cooking with a sealed lid whether it be a slow cooker or Le Cruset pot, as I used, will result in a tender, juicy, flavorful meat.    

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The recipe is pretty simple. Mix the following spices together in a bowl.

2 Tsp ground Cumin

2 Tsp ground Chipotle powder or Chili powder

1 Tsp Mexican or Italian Oregano

1 Tsp Kosher Salt

1 Tsp Adobo Seasoning 

1/2 Tsp ground black pepper

Cut the pork tenderloin in 2 or 3 pieces depending on size. You want about a 4-5" piece each.

Coat the pork pieces in the dry rub and sear in a hot pot with 1 Tbs Oil

Sear 2 minutes per side

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To the pot add:

1/2 Thinly sliced onion

1-2 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce chopped  and 1 TBS adobo sauce

1/4 cup Orange Juice

Squeeze 1/2 lime 

Stir to combine. Cover pot with foil and place lid on top. The foil will seal the pot to allow steam and natural juices to remain in the pot and help to tenderize the meat. Turn burner to low and let simmer for at least 2 hours. After 2 hours, check for fork tender. If the meat easily falls apart, turn off the heat and cover for 10 minutes. Shred the meat with 2 forks and allow the juices to redistribute into the meat. 

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 Shred with two forks and allow juices to absorb back into the meat. 

Shred with two forks and allow juices to absorb back into the meat. 

Pumpkin Loaf

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WHAT FALL MEANS TO ME...

The smell of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves immediately conjures images of Fall.  Leaves blowing off the trees, pumpkins that adorn farm stands and front doorways and the appearance of colorful mums at the garden centers. It's funny how baking can make these images appear as if by magic or by childhood memories of coming home from school to the spicy scents of what summarizes to me the meaning of Fall. Looking into the oven window to see a craggy pumpkin loaf begging to be eaten immediately and dying that it needs to cool beforehand. I see the same look with my own children and know exactly what memories are being created with the scents of Fall in my home.

Equipment needed:

Mixing bowl

Large whisk

Rubber spatula

9"x4" Loaf pan or 12 Cup Muffin pan

Pantry Supplies:

1 Can 15 oz. Can Pumpkin Puree

 1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil

2  1/4 Cups Flour

1  2/3 cup Sugar

3 Eggs

1 tsp Cinnamon, 1/4 tsp Clove, 1/4 tsp Nutmeg,  3/4 tsp Ginger

3/4 tsp Salt, 3/4 tsp Baking Soda,  1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

 

Recipe:

In a mixing bowl combine pumpkin puree, sugar, oil, and eggs. Mix well. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add flour and mix to combine. Spray your loaf pan with non-stick spray and add batter. In a small bowl combine 2 Tbs granulated sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon. Cover the top of the unbaked loaf with the cinnamon/sugar mixture and bake in a 350 degree oven 65-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  This recipe can be adapted to make 12 + muffins as well.

 

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