Irish Soda Bread

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day everybody! I have got a lovely recipe for you today. This is the recipe for the Irish Soda Bread my Nana made when I was younger. I know, I know, my Nana wasn’t Irish, but she got this recipe from a friend of the family and this recipe is the bomb diggity. (I just wanted to say bomb diggity). BUT, in all seriousness, this recipe is great.  It’s a dense, flavorful bread and to me, the caraway seeds are what really gives this bread such a great flavor so don’t skimp on them.

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The absolute best part about this recipe? It’s super easy. So, open up a Guinness and give it a whirl.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease an 8 inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl with a whisk.

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Create a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk.

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Use a spatula or a spoon to start mixing the ingredients together.

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Once it forms into a sticky dough use your hands to finish the mixing. Be gentle with the dough and do not over mix. It’s a bit messy but a quick process.

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Shape the dough into a round loaf and put into the prepared round pan.

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Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 60 minutes. The bread is finished when it is lightly browned on top and pulling away from the edge of the pan.

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This bread is excellent toasted and then generously slathered with butter or jam. Store the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Looking for more great St. Patrick’s Day recipes? Check out one of my favorites, Guinness Cupcakes.

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Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 4 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 c raisins
  • 2 c buttermilk

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease an 8 inch round cake pan. In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients (including the raisins) in a bowl with a whisk.

Create a well in the center of the bowl and add the buttermilk. Use a spatula or a spoon to start mixing the ingredients together.

Once it forms into a sticky dough use your hands to finish the mixing. Be gentle with the dough and do not over mix. It’s a bit messy but a quick process.

Shape the dough into a round loaf and put into the prepared round pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 60 minutes. The bread is finished when it is lightly browned on top and pulling away from the edge of the pan.

This bread is excellent toasted and then generously slathered with butter or jam. Store the loaf wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

Roasted Mushrooms and Buttermilk Biscuits

Alright people, Thanksgiving is less than a week away and it is time to get your game faces on!

We all know the main players at the Thanksgiving table; a big ol’ roasted turkey, mouth-watering mashed potatoes, and stuffing, stuffing stuffing. This year, for the very first time, I am hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner! I am so excited and I am looking for ways to make our table really special with some non-conventional side dishes.

Here are two potential side dishes that I’ve tried out already that get my seal of approval.

Side Dish # 1: Roasted Mushrooms

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These make the cut because I absolutely love the earthiness that roasted mushrooms bring to the table and they complement turkey and gravy oh, so well. These are easy to make and will certainly impress your guests (or your hosts if you have offered to bring a dish).

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cooled bacon fat (Optional, but this really takes these mushrooms to the next level)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425. Lightly coat at 9×9 pan or small roasting pan with cooking spray or butter. Next, clean the mushrooms with a damp, clean towel. Toss the cleaned mushrooms with the olive oil, bacon fat, salt, and pepper and place in prepared pan. Roast for 25 minutes , stirring the mushrooms gently after 12 minutes.

Allow the mushrooms to cool slightly after roasting and top with fresh parsley before serving.

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Pretty easy, right? Don’t let that fool you, this side dish tastes amazing and can easily become a favorite, and definitely has a place at my Thanksgiving table this year.

Side Dish #2: Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

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Growing up, I was more likely to see hearty Italian rolls or a slew of mini muffins to accompany my Thanksgiving meal. Over the years, however, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the buttermilk biscuit and I thought it might make a nice and unique (in my experience) addition to the Thanksgiving table.  This recipe is also very simple. (Noticing a theme? Roasting a turkey can be tricky enough, the rest of the dishes should be easy to make!)

Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click to view the original recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes, plus 1/2 tbsp melted
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions or a handful of chives, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Rearrange oven placing  the racks towards the bottom of the stove, then preheat your oven to 425 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Using a pastry cutter or fork (or your hands), cut the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is well combined and has a coarse texture.

Next, add the buttermilk, cheese, and chives and mix until combined, and a unified dough is formed (I like to use my hands to mix together but a spoon works just fine).

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Place the dough onto a well floured surface and roll out to 1 inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter or the top of a water glass.

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Cut the biscuits close together. Gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough out to 1 inch to cut the remainder of the biscuits. Arrange the biscuits on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing the biscuits 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

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These can be made in advance and stored in air-tight containers. This recipe makes just shy of 2 dozen biscuits.

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If you enjoyed this article, stay tuned; I’ve got one more post coming up to help you get in the mood for Thanksgiving. I’ll be posting it Monday morning and it will include one more side dish suggestion along with a round up of some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes from around the web. If you don’t want to miss this and other upcoming posts join my other reckless readers and subscribe to receive new posts by email.

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Roasted Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb baby portobello mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cooled bacon fat (Optional, but this really takes these mushrooms to the next level)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • fresh parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 425. Lightly coat at 9×9 pan or small roasting pan with cooking spray or butter. Next, clean the mushrooms with a damp, clean towel.

Toss the cleaned mushrooms with the olive oil, bacon fat, salt, and pepper and place in prepared pan. Roast for 25 minutes , stirring the mushrooms gently after 12 minutes.

Allow the mushrooms to cool slightly after roasting and top with fresh parsley before serving.

 

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Cheddar-Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart (click to view the original recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes, plus 1/2 tbsp melted
  • 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/4 c cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions or a handful of chives, cut into small pieces

Directions:

Rearrange oven placing  the racks towards the bottom of the stove, then preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Using a pastry cutter or fork (or your hands), cut the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is well combined and has a coarse texture.

Next, add the buttermilk, cheese, and chives and mix until combined, and a unified dough is formed (I like to use my hands to mix together but a spoon works just fine). Do not over mix (over mixing = tough biscuits).

Place the dough onto a well floured surface and roll out to 1 inch thick. Cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter or the top of a water glass.

Cut the biscuits close together. Gather up the scraps and re-roll the dough out to 1 inch to cut the remainder of the biscuits. Arrange the biscuits on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, placing the biscuits 1 inch apart. Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

These can be made in advance and stored in air-tight containers. This recipe makes just shy of 2 dozen biscuits.

 

Homemade Hummus & Crostini

My favorite holiday is almost here! Guys, I love, love, love Thanksgiving. It is by far the best holiday, and in preparation for this glorious holiday I have been whipping up some delicious posts for you this week!

This post is all about homemade hummus and crostini. This is an easy snack that can served before the big meal, so if you need to put something out for your guests to munch on, or if someone asks you to bring something to share, this my easy, make-ahead suggestion to you.

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This is the recipe my Mom uses. She makes hummus for almost all holidays and big family parties. I remember making it with her back when we thought it was better to skin the chickpeas first (trust me, it does not make a noticeable difference), and I always associate hummus with holiday times and special occasions (even though I eat it all year round!). So, let’s get this hummus started already!

Hummus

adapted from:

The Complete Middle East Cookbook
by: Tess Mallos

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2/3 cup tahini (available in some supermarkets and in most deli’s)*
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 can water (use the chickpea can)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste

*A note on this ingredient, if you cannot find tahini, sesame oil will do, just add to taste, 1 tsp at a time.

Are you ready for these super hard instructions?

Directions:

Place all ingredients (except salt) in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add salt to taste.

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So here’s the thing about hummus, yes you can absolutely buy it at the store, and it tastes great, but homemade hummus tastes even better to me and I also like to make a chunkier hummus than you generally see in stores. So give it a try, and let me know how you think it compares. Additions such as roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts, or roasted red peppers are welcome!

Next, let’s make some crunchy homemade crostini to go with our hummus!

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Crostini

Ingredients:

  • 1 baquette, cut into slices
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried oragano

*A note on this ingredient; These can be seasoned many different ways and still come out delicious! The flavor combinations are endless and can be tailored to match whatever is intended to top the crostini.

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the baquette slices on a cookie sheet. They can be very close together. Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spices.

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Bake for 30-40 minutes until level of desired toasted perfection is achieved. I like mine to be fairly dark and golden brown, but they are also good when only slightly toasted, so feel free to play with the bake time on this recipe.

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I love these because they are so easy to make and great make ahead snacks for any dinner party. They can be topped with hummus, or meat and cheese or pretty much any topping making them a very versatile snack, and a nice homemade touch to any party.

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Coming up later this week: Non-traditional Thanksgiving sides to accompany your turkey!


 

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Hummus

adapted from The Complete Middle East Cookbook by Tess Mallos

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 2/3 cup tahini (available in some supermarkets and in most deli’s)*
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/2 can water (use the chickpea can)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • salt to taste

*A note on this ingredient, if you cannot find tahini, sesame oil will do, just add to taste, 1 tsp at a time.

Directions:

Place all ingredients (except salt) in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Taste. Add salt to taste.

 

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Crostini

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette, cut into slices
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a cookie sheet. They can be very close together. Brush the slices of bread with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with spices.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until level of desired toasted perfection is achieved. I like mine to be fairly dark and golden brown, but they are also good when only slightly toasted, so feel free to play with the bake time on this recipe.

 

Cheesy Pull Apart Biscuits

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A few weeks ago I made some Monkey Bread Muffins  from Pioneer Woman, and they were so amazingly delicious. Seriously, you should stop what you’re doing right now and make these yummy treats. They were so easy to make they got me thinking about savory applications of this recipe. So after some slight tinkering, this is the result; a cheesy pull apart biscuit. Brace yourself, because these rock.

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Here’s what you’ll need for this naughty biscuit;

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube/can of premade biscuit dough, I used Pillsbury Grands
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 1 clove)
  • Parmesan or Romano Cheese, grated
  • Cheddar, grated
  • jalapeno, chopped finely (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375

Start by cutting up the butter into small slices and put one pat of butter in the bottom of a muffin tin. (If you use a can of Pillsbury Grands you will get 11 muffins).

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How much is a pat of butter? This much:

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Next cut up the preformed biscuits into fourths and put the dough in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

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Drizzle the dough with 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, a (teeny tiny) dash of salt, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Using your hands, toss the dough until it is evenly coated.

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Next, gently roll the dough into balls and place 3 in each muffin tin.

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Now, you can stop right there and top them with more butter and cheese and they will be delicious, wonderful biscuits. OR, you could take it a bit further if you dare…

If you wanted to, you could create little pockets full of cheese and jalapeno. I warn you, these are not for the feint of heart! Because these are so delicious, so very wonderful you will want to eat them all the time. I warned you.

If you choose to create cheesy spicy pockets, simply fill each fourth of dough with small amount of diced jalapeno and grated cheddar cheese.

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Seal it together by pinching the sides together and place into the muffin tin.

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Now top the muffins with a dash more of cheese, and the remaining small pats of butter.

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Bake in the oven for 19-22 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and lovely. Eat while they are hot. But try not to eat all of them yourself. Or if you do, no judgements, these are pretty yummy.

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Cheesy Pull Apart Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1 tube/can of pre-made biscuit dough, I used Pillsbury Grands
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic (about 1 clove)
  • Parmesan or Romano Cheese, grated
  • Cheddar, grated
  • jalapeno, chopped finely (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut up the butter into small slices and put one pat of butter in the bottom of a muffin tin. (If you use a can of Pillsbury Grands you will get 11 muffins).

Next cut up the preformed biscuits into fourths and put the dough in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Drizzle the dough with 1/2 tsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, a (teeny tiny) dash of salt, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Using your hands, toss the dough until it is evenly coated.

Fill each fourth of dough with small amount of diced jalapeno and grated cheddar cheese. Seal it together by pinching the sides together and place into the muffin tin. Now, top the muffins with a dash more of cheese, and the remaining small pats of butter.

Bake in the oven for 19-22 minutes. The tops will be golden brown and lovely. Serve warm.

Pumpkin Frankenstein Muffins

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*Article originally posted on www.Somverville.Patch.com*

A monster mash of delicious fall flavors!

These muffins certainly don’t look like Frankenstein, but this month when I sought out to create the ultimate pumpkin muffin recipe, I decided to borrow bits and pieces from other muffin recipes I had tried in the past.

First, let me explain my ideal muffin. To me the most important qualities in a muffin are a fantastic flavor and a texture that isn’t too heavy and is in no way dry. I’m also looking for a muffin that doesn’t make me feel guilty, but isn’t so healthy that I feel like I’m eating saw dust.

I started by looking at three different muffin recipes. The first was your typical, straight-up unhealthy but still delicious pumpkin muffin, the next was a stripped-down recipe that included whole wheat flour and a ton of pumpkin, and the third was a Morning Glory muffin.

Morning Glory muffins vary a lot but generally they tend to be a healthy breakfast muffin, often containing fruit, veggies, seeds and/or nuts. Between the three different approaches to making muffins, I had a lot to work with. I also had the idea to incorporate Greek yogurt so that the muffins had a tiny bit of protein in them.

After a few failed attempts and some mediocre results, I finally created a recipe that was yielding the kind of muffin I was dreaming of. I settled on using half whole wheat flour and half all-purpose flour. I wanted whole wheat flour in there so the muffin would have some fiber, but not so much that the flavor was overpowering.

I also decided that sifting the dry ingredients together and then gently folding them into the wet ingredients was imperative to yield the right kind of texture that wasn’t too heavy. The sifting and the gentle folding technique helps keep the overall texture of the muffins lighter.

I also experimented with adding applesauce and carrots in the batter. The applesauce ended up overpowering the pumpkin flavor and in the end had to be cut from the recipe. The carrots added no flavor and seemed like a sneaky way to get some extra veggies in.

A quick note on the pumpkin puree: This time of year it is easy to find a can of already cooked and pureed pumpkin and works very well for this recipe. If you are feeling a little more hands-on, pumpkin puree can also be easily made at home.

To do this you’ll need 1-2 small baking pumpkins (not the same as the ones you would use for making jack-o-lanterns). Using a sharp knife, remove the stem and slice the pumpkin in half length-wise. Scrape out the center pulp and seeds.

Next, place the pumpkin halves on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The pumpkin will be a light golden brown when done. Peel the skin from the pumpkin and puree the pumpkin in a food processer until smooth. If it looks too dry, add in a few tablespoons of water during the pulsing to add moisture.

 

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Pumpkin Frankenstein Muffins
Ingredients:
2 eggs
1/2 c plain greek yogurt (2% or full fat)
1 c brown sugar
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
2 grated carrots
1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 tsp baking soda

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a mixing bowl sift together the whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl use a whisk to beat the eggs until frothy and light in color. Next whisk in the yogurt until well combined followed by the brown sugar, whisking in ½ a cup at a time. Finally whisk in the pumpkin puree and grated carrots.

Now it is time to combine the dry and wet ingredients. Begin by adding a third of the dry ingredients to the wet. Use a spatula to gently fold the ingredients together until well combined. Once the mixture is homogenous, continue to fold in the remainder of the dry ingredients in a third at a time.

Finally using a 1/3 c measuring cup, scoop the batter into a lined muffin pan. This recipe yields 18-20 muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes. When the muffins are finished a tooth pick inserted into the center will come out clean.