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. 

Cheese and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas

Ok, so my taste buds are like my taste in music.  Pathetic.  They are like the Chris Kirkpatrick of taste buds.  (100 points if you get that reference!!)

Apparently, though, my husband, who claims to have good taste in music has wimpy taste buds, too.  So, there’s that.  A plus on my side.

My poor two year old cried and cried, “It’s too spicy!”  Sorry, Sam.

The funny side to the story is, however, they were SO spicy, but we couldn’t stop eating them.  They were that good.  We were shoving milk and bread in to our mouths after every bite, trying desperately to quench the burn, but we kept eating.  Even getting seconds!!

The moral of the story is, I will be making these again…just maybe without the jalapenos.  

Cheese and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas

from Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen–BUY THIS COOKBOOK!! SO GOOD!!

Quick Red Chile Sauce

1 Tb canola or corn oil

1 small onion

4 md garlic cloves, minced

1 lg chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced, with 1 Tb sauce

2 Tb chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 C canned tomato sauce

3/4 C water

1 tb fresh lime juice

salt

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, until shimmering.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 min.  Add the garlic, chipotle, adobo sauce, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano and cook until very fragrant.  Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer to blend the flavors, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the lime juice and adjust the seasonings, adding salt to taste.  The sauce can be cooled and refrigerated in an air tight container for a day or two.

Filling and Tortillas

1 Tb Canola or Corn oil

1 lb onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

2 oz drained pickled jalapenos, finely chopped (Omit if you are lame like me)

1/3 C chopped cilantro (fresh)

10 6-inch corn tortillas

Nonstick vegetable spray

Heat the oil in a medium skillet, over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add the onions, sugar, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to brown slightly, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned deeply and very soft, about 15 minutes.  Scrape the onions into a medium bowl and cool to room temperature.  Add 1 1/2 C of cheese, the pickled jalapenos, and cilantro to the bowl with the onions and toss to combine.

Move the oven racks to the lower-middle and upper-middle positions and heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Spread half of the chile sauce evenly across the bottom of a 13-by-9 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.  Divide the tortillas among two large rimmed baking sheets and generously spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray.  Bake the tortillas for 3 minutes, or until pliable enough to roll easily.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and increase the heat to 400 degrees.  

Doing one tortilla at a time, spoon about 1/4 C of filling across the center of the tortilla and then gently roll the tortilla tightly.  Put seam side down in the baking dish.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Spoon sauce remaining sauce over tortillas, making sure each tortilla is coated completely.  Then sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until the enchiladas are hot, about 20 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,

Kara

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

 

Red Velvet Cupcakes #1

My sister is getting married next August.  We’re on a mission to find THE best Red Velvet Cake recipe.  I think this one is it, but she’s not convinced.  She’s going to have to recreate perfection if she is going to top this one.  I hope she accepts the challenge!  In short, over the next year, you may see several Red Velvet recipes, but in the end, the best shall be named.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2¼ cups cake flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder, not dutch processed
2 tablespoons red food coloring
12 tablespoons (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups granulated sugar

Frosting
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in large measuring cup. Mix cocoa with food coloring in small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

2. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as necessary. Add one-third of flour mixture and beat on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add half of buttermilk mixture and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl as necessary and repeat with half of remaining flour mixture, remaining buttermilk mixture, and finally remaining flour mixture. Scrape down bowl, add cocoa mixture, and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, give batter final stir. Scrape into prepared pans and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes then turn out onto rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

3. For the frosting: With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in vanilla and salt. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. When cakes are cooled, spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with second cake layer and spread top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 3 days.

Chocolate Caramel Commotion

I have a dance party in my car every morning on the way to work.  My two year old claims that Katy Perry’s “The One That Got Away” is his old song because his new song is Selena Gomez’s “Need You Like a Love Song”.  I caught him singing “Moves Like Jagger” while he was building with blocks.

While this makes me happy because my taste in music is trash, my husband is not so thrilled.  He is a high school band director.  He makes my two sons listen to Coltrane, Charlie Parker, and Ella Fitzgerald as they go to bed.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is fabulous.  I just think its funny that I never catch him (my son) humming “A-Train”.

Its funny how all the things you “say” you’re going to do when you’re a parent get thrown out the window.  I said I would always make my kids listen to Raffi, Disney music, and Craig and Company.  The music I grew up listening to.  Then, I realized, this meant I had to listen to it too.  Over and over and over and over…

So, now its a compromise.  My son marches around the house to Les Miserables “Do You Hear the People Sing” one minute and air guitars to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.  He can recognize Michael Jackson and Coldplay by voice and I think its all good.

Hey, my parents made me listen to Van Morrison, The Carpenters, Harry Chapin, and Blood, Sweat and Tears.  Its the same thing, right?

Chocolate Caramel Commotion Bars (Yes, they do cause a commotion)

original recipe Unknown

Layer 1: Cookie Crust (Martha Stewart)

27 store-bought chocolate wafer cookies

1 Tb plus 1 1/2 tsp sugar

Table Salt

6 Tb Butter

Grease a 9-by-13 baking dish and line with parchment. Pulse wafers in a food processor until finely ground, and transfer to a bowl.  Add sugar and a pinch of table salt.  Melt 6 Tb butter, and stir into crumbs.  Press into bottom of dish.  Bake for 10 minutes. Cool.

Layer 2: Chocolate

2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 C Butter

1 14 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk

1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt chocolate and butter.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from heat, add condensed milk and vanilla.  Stir until smooth.  Spread over cookie layer.  Let cool.

Layer 3:  Peanut Butter Nougat

1/4 C Butter

1 C Sugar

1/4  C heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 C marshmallow cream

1/4 C creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 C chopped peanuts, or walnuts

Melt butter in medium saucepan, over high heat.  Add sugar and whipping cream, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Stir in marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and peanuts.  Spread over chocolate layer.  Let cool.

Layer 4: Caramel Layer:

1 14 oz package caramels, unwrapped   (You can buy ready to go caramel bits in the baking aisle of your grocery store.  That’s what I used, no hours of unwrapping plastic)

1/4 C whipping cream

1/2 C shredded coconut

Melt caramels and whipping cream in a small saucepan until smooth.  Spread over nougat layer.  Sprinkle with coconut.  Let cool.

Layer 5: Chocolate Butterscotch

1 C semi-sweet chocolate

1/4 C butterscotch

3/4 C creamy peanut butter

Melt and stir all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Spread over caramel layer.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips and peanuts/walnuts.  Let cool for at least two hours to 24 hours.

Cut into squares and serve.

Baked Potato Soup (Crock Pot)

Ok, so…this isn’t healthy.  It isn’t vegan.  It isn’t even vegetarian. But it is easy, and when you’ve been sick for two days straight and your body hates you and you STILL need to make dinner, this is your weapon.  Your fight against every flu bug in your body begins and ends here.  

Oh, and its delicious too!

Baked Potato Soup

30 oz frozen hash browns with peppers and onions

3 C chicken broth

1 Can Cream of Broccoli Soup

2 Tb onion or garlic flakes (I use Tastefully Simple’s Garlic Garlic)

Salt and Pepper

8 oz cream cheese

Garnish: Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon, Green Onions

In a crock pot, put all  ingredients except for the cream cheese and garnish.  Stir to mix.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Stir with a whisk until smooth.  15 minutes prior to serving, add cream cheese and stir.  Garnish as desired.

 

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who watched Real Housewives of Beverly Hills last night?  I am dying to call my sister and ask what happened!!  I am a sucker for reality shows.  Bravo totally knows what they are doing too.  Those marathons are so addictive.  Starting the next episode as soon as the last one ended should be illegal.  

These cookies are very tasty, and are invented by none other than the best Real Housewife herself, Bethenny Frankel!  The original post is here.

She says to bake them for 35 minutes, but I think that’s (in the words of my sister) crazytown station.  Mine only took 15 minutes, so definitely keep an eye on them!

The dough is also very crumbly and on the dry side. I rolled them in my hand to get them to stick, and then flattened it on the tray.

I also didn’t have oat flour, so I used rolled oats.  I pulsed them in my food processor for about 1 minute.  Maybe that’s why it only took 15 minutes…hmm…

On a completely different note, I return to work tomorrow.  I’ve had a great 10 months with my boys, and am sad to see it come to an end.  My posts will probably consists of DiGiorno Pizza and Chinese Take Out.  I apologize in advance!

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Bethenny Frankel

  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup raw organic sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup mashed overripe banana (≈1 large banana)
 
Preparation
    1. Preheat oven to 350°
    2. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
    3. On a non-stick cookie sheet (or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper), scoop batter with a medium sized ice cream scoop.  Space cookies evenly on baking sheet.
    4. Cook 35 minutes, rotating halfway through.  The cookies should have a slightly brown edge and come out clean when poked with a toothpick.
 

 

Vegan Banana Muffins

I was looking for a Vegan Banana Muffin recipe for breakfast this morning.  Most of the sites described this as a Vegan Dessert.  Muffins are not  dessert.  They are breakfast.  I might need to rethink my future, if this in Vegan World muffins are dessert.  We won’t play nicely together.

Shhh…these aren’t vegan chocolate chips.  

Vegan Banana Muffins

from EatingCleanRecipes.com

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk or almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sucanat or organic evaporated cane sugar
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/4 cup canola or safflower oil
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 regular size (2 1/2-inch) muffin cups with paper baking cups. (Or, coat muffin cups with cooking spray.)

In large bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

Stir together soymilk and vinegar; let stand 2 minutes until thickened. In medium bowl mix soymilk mixture, sucanat, banana, oil and vanilla until well blended. Add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter among muffin cups.

Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until browned and toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 muffins

 

Baked Ricotta Cheese Balls

Sometimes, all you can say is, yum!

Baked Ricotta Cheese Balls

found and tweaked from allrecipes.com

1 small container (about 10 oz) ricotta cheese, drained

A large handful of Romano Cheese

1 palmful of minced fresh parsley

1 pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 egg yolk, reserve white

2 egg whites

1 C seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat an oven to 425.  

In a small bowl, combine ricotta, romano, parsley, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and egg yolk.  Stir to combine.  Roll into small balls, about the size of a bouncy ball.  Leave to sit on cookie sheet to dry out.  

In separate bowls, place the egg whites and bread crumbs.  Dip cheese balls into egg whites then coat with bread crumbs.  Place on cookie sheet.  Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes, or until bread crumbs brown.  Serve with marinara sauce.

 

“Little Ear” Pasta with Broccoli

I watched Moneyball last night.  It was great and I don’t even like baseball!  I’m a disappointment to my dad, I’m sure.  

There are some actors that I will see any movie they make, just because they are in it, among these are Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Brad Pitt.  What if they made a movie together?  Oh my gosh!  When I was a teenager, Brad Pitt was filming the movie Twelve Monkeys in Philadelphia. I lived about 45 minutes away.  I remember being crazy with the fact that he “was so close to me”.  It was a pathetic crush.  His pictures were all over my walls.  I used to watch that scene in Legends of the Fall when he tipped his hat and the water dripped off, over and over and over and over.  So sad.  

Fortunately, he was a good actor, and has remained around for me to obsess over.  Unfortunately, he is with Angelina Jolie (who irritates me to no end) and not me.  

Maybe if I made this pasta for him, he’d change his mind.  Probably not, but just maybe…

Little Ear Pasta with Broccoli

from the Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

 

2 bunches of broccoli

sea salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 Tb extra virgin olive oil

6 oil-packed anchovies, or to taste

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 lb orecchiette or other pasta

water

black pepper

 

Clean and coarsely chop the broccoli.  Bring about 1 inch of salted water to boil in a heavy sauvepan.  Add the broccoli and cook until it is tender, about 5-10 minutes.  Set the pan of broccoli aside, and keep warm.

In a separate skillet or saute pan, gently saute the garlic in the olive oil until it is soft, then melt in the anchovies by crushing them in the garlicky oil with a fork.  Add the red pepper and stir to mix well.  Turn the garlic-pepper oil into the broccoli and mix.

Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water until done.  Drain the pasta immediately combine with the broccoli.  Turn into a warm serving bowl, add pepper, and serve in a large bowl.