Irish Soda Bread

My favorite holiday that’s not Christmas or Thanksgiving is coming up! No, not the one that you drink green beer and hit your local bar at 6 a.m. in your effort to be drunk by the time the morning news is on.  The OTHER one; the REAL St. Patrick’s Day.  

The one where your mom puts on the Irish Rovers and we pretend we know how to  jig.  The one where you eat piles of corned beef, lots of potatoes, a few carrots, and skip the cabbage.  And yes, the one where you eat Irish Soda Bread JUST so you can slather it with butter.  That is the St. Patrick’s Day I will be celebrating.  Won’t you please join me?

Classic Irish Soda Bread (minus caraway seeds and raisins)

from Cook’s Illustrated

 3 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface 
1 cup cake flour 
2 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda 
1-1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar 
1-1/2 teaspoons table salt 
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 tablespoons softened + 1 tablespoon melted) 
1-1/2 cups buttermilk 

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Whisk flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in large bowl. 
3. Work softened butter into dry ingredients with fork or fingertips until texture resembles coarse crumbs. 
4. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork just until dough begins to come together. 
5. Turn out onto flour-coated work surface; knead until dough just becomes cohesive and bumpy, 12 to 14 turns. (Do not knead until dough is smooth, or bread will be tough.) 
6. Pat dough into a round about 6 inches in diameter and 2 inches high; place on greased or parchment-lined baking sheet or in cast-iron pot, if using. 
7. Place the loaf on a cookie sheet and cut a cross shape into the top. 
8. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into center of loaf comes out clean or internal temperature reaches 180 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes. 
9. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter; cool to room temperature, 30 to 40 minutes. 


Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

Dear Sir, 

Why does it cost $150 to buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four?  I am strongly opposed to this, and my bank account hates it even more.  I am not quite sure what you’re goal is, sir, but I don’t think it’s fair to charge so much for fruits and vegetables.  If tiny robots bagged my groceries and loaded them into my car, I would understand this enormous bill, however, they did not.  I know this because I bagged my own, and I’m pretty sure I put them in the trunk myself.  I don’t use your in store coffee shop/sushi bar/florist/dry cleaner/in store day care, and I didn’t see anyone else using them either, so we could start there.  Please lower your prices, sir.  I want to buy a Kinnect, so I can do Dance Central 2 in my living room, more than broccoli and cauliflower.  

Yours Truly,


Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread

from 101 Cookbooks

 1 cup / 4.5 oz / 125g all-purpose flour

1 cup / 5 oz / 140g whole wheat flour
3/4 cup / 4.5 oz / 125 g dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup / 4 oz / 115 g coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup / 80 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups / 12 oz / 340 g mashed, VERY ripe bananas (~3 bananas)
1/4 cup / 60 ml plain, whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the glaze:
1/2 cup / 3 oz / 85 g sifted dark muscovado or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350° F, and place a rack in the center. Grease a 9- by 5- inch (23 x 13 cm) loaf pan, or equivalent.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate pieces and combine well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the olive oil, eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, zest, and vanilla. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes. You want to get that beautiful color on the cake, but at the same time you don’t want to bake all the moisture out of it. So the minute you’re in that zone, pull it. Erring on the side of under-baking versus over.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn the loaf out of the pan to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together the sugars and the lemon juice until smooth. When the cake is completely cool, drizzle the glaze on top of the cake, spreading with a spatula to cover.
Serves 10.

Adapted from Cook This Now: 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make, Hyperion, October, 2011


Breakfast for Dinner and Easy Little Bread

There is something totally comforting about breakfast for dinner.  I don’t quite know why I love it so much, but I do.  It’s like taking your day and standing it on it’s head, and sometimes, that’s a good thing.

Add to that comfort, fresh, warm bread, right out of the oven, and you’ve got yourself a cozy night in the making.

The star of this show is definitely the bread.  The eggs are just scrambled, then mixed with an herb cream cheese (green onions, chives, tarragon, thyme, oregano, dill and basil, with some salt and pepper to finish it off).  The bread is super easy, and can be done after work, while you’re making  just about anything.

Easy Little Bread

from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/4 C Luke Warm Water

1 packet of quick rise yeast

1 TB runny honey

1 C all-purpose flour

1 C whole wheat flour

1 C rolled oats (not the quick kind)

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

2 tb melted butter for brushing


In a medium bowl, sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Stir in the honey and set aside for a few minutes, until the yeast blooms and swells a bit – 5 – 10 minutes.

In the meantime, mix the flours, oats, and salt in a large bowl. Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir very well.

Brush a 8-cup loaf pan generously with some of the melted butter. Turn the dough into the tin, cover with a clean, slightly damp cloth, and set in a warm place for 30 minutes, to rise.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C, with a rack in the middle. When ready, bake the bread for 35-40 minutes, until golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan. I finish things up by leaving the bread under the broiler for just a heartbeat – to give the top a bit deeper color. Remove from oven, and turn the bread out of the pan quickly. Let it cool on a rack so it doesn’t steam in the pan. Serve warm, slathered with butter.

Makes 1 loaf.


Blueberry Muffins

Dear Mom,

You should really come visit me more often.

I would make these for you, if you would.

I know how much you love your blueberry muffins.

I’m only a train ride away.

And these yummy muffins would be waiting for you upon your arrival.

Hope to see you soon!

Love, Kara

Blueberry Muffins

Barely Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Originally Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces or 71 grams) unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces or 100 grams) dark brown sugar (originally white sugar)
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used Plain Non-fat Greek)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces or 191 grams) all-purpose flour (I used wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoon (7 grams or 1/4 ounce) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces or 105 grams) blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, don’t bother defrosting)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or spray each cup with a nonstick spray. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well, then yogurt and zest. Put flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a sifter and sift half of dry ingredients over batter. Mix until combined. Sift remaining dry ingredients into batter and mix just until the flour disappears. Gently fold in your blueberries. The dough will be quite thick (and even thicker, if you used a full-fat Greek-style yogurt), closer to a cookie dough, which is why an ice cream scoop is a great tool to fill your muffin cups. You’re looking for them to be about 3/4 full, nothing more, so you might only need 9 instead of 10 cups. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until tops are golden and a tester inserted into the center of muffins comes out clean. Let cool on rack.

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Soup with Rosemary Popovers

So, usually, my Meatless Monday’s are REALLY healthy.  Today, not so much.  BUT, before you run away, it’s not horribly unhealthy.  So, please, stick around.

Let’s talk pumpkin soup first, shall we?  This soup is creamy and velvety, and reheats really well.  The original recipe calls for Evaporated Milk, I’d tell you I had none, but that would be a lie.  What really happened is that I brought my EM out from my pantry, made the full recipe, and opened my can of EM, only to find it had completely gone bad, and in a really disgusting, foul way.  We’re talking mold on the inside of the can.  I checked the expiration date, sure that there had to be some manufacturer’s error, to find that it expired in 2006.  Things that have happened to me since I bought that can of EM:

I bought my first house, got a dog, got a teaching job, had my first son, moved to my new house, and had my second son.  Needless to say, that can has seen a lot.

So, frantically, I searched for something in my fridge that would do the job.  I had used the last of my milk for the popovers, so what I had left was plain greek yogurt.  I am happy to tell you, it worked out really well.  

And, this soup goes awesomely with these bad boys:

I had some leftover rosemary from my Sweet Potato Pierogies, so I threw it in with the popover batter.  This resulted in something beautiful.  This one was my favorite:

I love popovers.  Has anyone else gone to Afternoon Tea at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia, Maine?  Such a cool place.  If you can get there, go.Popovers are one of those things that someone must have totally messed up when they were making rolls, and came up with something even better.

Enjoy this combo!  I know I did!

Pumpkin Soup

4 Tablespoons Butter***
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 whole Onion, Diced
1-¼ teaspoon Curry Powder
½ teaspoons Salt (omit, if using greek yogurt, combine and puree, then salt to taste)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspince
⅛ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper 
3 cups Chicken Broth (I used Vegetable Broth, for a truly Meatless Monday)
1 15 oz can Pumpkin (Not Pumpkin Pie filling)
1 C plain greek yogurt, original calls for Evaporated Milk

Melt butter and saute onions and garlic until golden brown. Add spices and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes. Add pumpkin, stirring till smooth. Add yogurt. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes; do not boil.

In batches, transfer soup to a blender or food processor. Process till very smooth. Serve hot. 

**You can probably cut the butter down by half and have the same flavor and texture.


Rosemary Popovers

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 eggs

1 C Milk

1 TB melted butter, cooled

1 C flour

1/2 tsp salt

5 tsp oil (If using a muffin tin…if you are cool and have a popover pan, then it would be 3 tsp, 1/2 tsp for each popover cup)

1 Tb fresh rosemary

1 Tb parsley

In a blender, combine milk, eggs, and butter until smooth. Add flour and salt.  Blend at high speed until combined and bubbly, about 1 min.  

While you let the batter sit, move the oven rack to the lowest setting, and preheat the oven to 450.  Prepare muffin tin by placing 1/2 tsp of oil in each of the ten outer tins, leaving the inside two empty.  Put in oven for about 2 minutes (at 450).

Remove pan from the oven and quickly fill the outer tins with batter.  Return to the oven for 20 minutes.  DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR!

Rotate the pan and reduce heat to 350.  Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Peanut Butter and Banana Muffins/Bread

Things that go together:

Peas and Carrots

Socks and Shoes

Ernie and Bert

Cookies and Milk

Pizza and Beer


Peanut Butter and Bananas


Now, you may not agree with me there, but frankly, I don’t care.  Elvis would, and that’s all that matters.  Here are what would surely be his favorite muffins.

They are, however, a nut allergists worst nightmare. (Sorry again, Lisa!)


Peanut Butter Banana Muffins (Low-fat)

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Originally from Cooking Light

Makes: one 9×5-inch loaf or 12 muffins


1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

1/3 cup plain or vanilla fat free yogurt

1/3 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 C maple syrup

1/4 C Hershey’s Syrup (optional)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour or cake flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal (I’ve also baked this bread without the flaxseed meal… because I forgot to add it, and the bread was still moist and delicious)

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Powdered Sugar for dusting

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, flaxseed meal, baking soda, salt, ground cinnamon and ground allspice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together  mashed bananas, yogurt, peanut butter and melted butter.  Whisk in eggs and sugars.  Blend mixture until no sugar lumps remain.

Pour the wet mixture into the larger bowl with the dry ingredients.  Fold together with a spatula until no more flour bits remain.  Fold in the chopped nuts as well.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and cake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges of the pan and inverting the bread onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This bread lasts, well wrapped at room temperature,for up to 4 days.  It is also great to store, well wrapped, in the freezer.


Artisan Bread in 5 minutes

I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever buy bread at the store again.

Taken from

Adapted from ”Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

    • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
    • 3 cups water
    • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough (*you can replace about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of white flour with any whole grain flour with great results).
    • Cornmeal

1. In a large bowl, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups warm water. Add flour, and stir to combine completely. Let dough rise in a warm place for at least two hours, until it rises and collapses (up to 5 hours – or even overnight won’t hurt it). The dough may be baked at this point, or refrigerated for later use.

2. Cover dough, but make sure it is not airtight – gases need to escape – and place in fridge. When you are ready to use it, throw a small fistful of flour on the surface and use a serrated knife to cut off a piece of the size you desire. (The authors recommend a 1 pound loaf – which means cutting off grapefruit-sized piece of dough). Turning the dough in your hands, stretch the surface of the dough and tuck in under. The surface will be smooth, and the bottom with be bunched.

3. Dust a pizza peel (or any flat surface)with cornmeal. Allow dough to rest in a warm place for 40 minutes – longer (up to an hour and a half) if you use some whole wheat flour in place of the white, or if you make a larger loaf.

4. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees with baking stone (or overturned baking sheet) inside on the middle rack, plus a shallow pan on the top rack. Throw a small fistful of flour over the dough, slash it 2-4 times with a serrated knife (in a cross, a tic-tac-toe, or a fan), and slide it into the oven, onto the baking stone. Throw 1-2 cups of tap water into the shallow pan, and quickly shut the oven door to trap steam inside. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is well browned and bread sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom