Monday, March 12, 2018

Delicious Irish Brown Soda Bread

We were wowed by this recipe.  It was well worth the effort to find the wheat bran and wheat germ for the recipe.

This is the only recipe that I have found that comes close to the bread we had when traveling in Ireland.

Needless to say, be sure to use fresh flour and baking powder, and it is best to weigh the flour or to air-fluff your flour before measuring it out into cups, so that you don't get a heavy dough.

Irish Brown Soda Bread
(Cook's Illustrated March-April 2018)

Makes one 8 inch loaf

2 cups (11 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
2 t. sugar
1.5 t. baking powder
1.5 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 cups buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly grease an 8 inch round (I used a square) cake pan.
Whisk together the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Add buttermilk, and stir with a rubber spatula until all flour is moistened and dough forms soft, ragged mass.
(You can skip this step)
Transfer the dough to counter and gently shape into a 6 inch round (surface will be craggy.  Tom said mine looked like a mountain range.)
Transfer to prepared pan. Using serrated knife, cut 1/2 inch deep cross about 5 inches long on top of loaf.
Bake until loaf is lightly browned and center registers 185 degrees, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, if  you remember to do it.
Invert loaf onto wire rack.  Reinvert loaf and let cool for at least 1 hour.  Slice and serve.
Our bread lasted for several days, in a plastic bag, although it was the best on the first day.  On the last day, it was delicious toasted for breakfast.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup

We loved this recipe.  Had it for dinner several times in a row and didn't get tired of it at all.

The spice mix is a great combination:  smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon, plus red pepper flakes for heat.  The soup has lots of texture from the chard, chickpeas, lentils, and orzo.  And we loved the tomato herb broth. Lemon adds brightness.

Plan plenty of time to prep your ingredients.  Once you have them ready, it will take another 45 minutes to an hour to complete the soup and have it ready to serve.

Moroccan Lentil and Chickpea Soup
(from Cook's Illustrated March-April 2018)

Serves 6 to 8 generously

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. grated fresh ginger
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. smoked paprika
1 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. ground cinnamon (Ceylon)
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
3/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley (divided in two)
4 cups chicken broth (I used 6 cups)
4 cups water (I used 2 cups)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup lentils (they said brown, I used green), picked over and rinsed
1 (28 ounce ) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup orzo
4 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I used a mix of chard and kale)
2 T. lemon juice
salt and pepper

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat.  (Yes, it looks like too much oil! but go ahead) until shimmering.  Add onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent and starting to brown, 7 to 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.  (Do not let your garlic burn.) Stir in coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon and pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in 1/2 cup cilantro and 1/4 cup parsley and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the broth, water, chickpeas, and lentils; increase heat to high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium low, partially cover, and gently simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and pasta and simmer, partially covered for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in chard and continue to cook, partially covered, until pasta is tender, about 5 minutes longer.

Off heat, stir in lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, and remaining 1/4 cup parsley.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.



Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies (King Arthur)

A Pan Full of Brownies Waiting to Cool Before Cutting

I was surprised to see a brownie recipe on the back of my King Arthur all-purpose flour.  They aren't in the business of selling cocoa.

I had just made a fancy-pants version of brownies from Fine Cooking and they were a total gooey-mess-fest, so I thought maybe simpler would be better.

I noticed that King Arthur's recipe used a combination of butter and oil, when most recipes use butter only.

These brownies are basic but that doesn't mean they aren't good!  They are.  They are chewy, moist and chocolaty.

They are on the thinner side.  If you want thicker brownies, you can make them in a smaller pan  Just increase the baking time to compensate.

Note:  These can be made with gluten-free flour substitute.

Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies
(King Arthur Flour)

1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cocoa (any kind)
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1 t. espresso powder
3 large eggs (room temperature)
8 T. (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9x13" pan.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir together until smooth.

Pour into the prepared pan.  Spread, if necessary to make the batter even throughout.

Bake for 25- 26 minutes or until a tester (toothpick) comes out clean.  Don't overbake.

Remove from the oven and let them cool completely in the pan.

Once completely cool, cut into squares.

Freezes well.


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Squirrel Chocolate Cookies

Squirrel and Nut Christmas Cookie Platters 

Looking back at the cookies we made over the holidays, Tom's chocolate squirrels were surprisingly good and worth making again. (I'll let Tom explain sometime why squirrels were appropriate.)  The recipe was on the card that came with the cookie cutter which I found at Wegman's.  You can see the full range of cookie cutters here at

I enjoyed visiting their site.  They have over 2100 designs and you can order them online, too.   They have an extensive list of recipes which will come in handy in the future. 

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Ann Clark started the cookie cutter company using her pig design.  The family run company is based in Vermont, and has become a big success!  They are the biggest cookie cutter manufacturer in the USA.

I wonder what Ben Clark, Ann's son, who runs the company, thinks of the proposed tariffs on steel.

Squirrel Chocolate Cookies
(from Ann Clark Cookie Cutters)

Makes about 12-14 squirrels

Cream together:
1 1/4 cup soft butter
1 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat in:
1 egg

3 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 t. salt

Mix well.  Chill dough for three hours.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out 1/4" thick and cut into shapes.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.  Frost and decorate or eat just plain.  Enjoy!  Ann

3/4 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
1 T. butter
1 T. milk
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. lemon juice

Melt butter, combine all ingredients, and beat until smooth.  Add food coloring if desired.  Yield:  1/3 cup.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Coffee Shortbread Dipped In Chocolate by Colleen

A friend has a cookie exchange party every year on her birthday. She serves baked potatoes and salad and drinks and everyone brings a couple dozen cookies. It is a good time and I just went to the 10th annual party! Which presents a small problem in that I’ve already brought all my “go-to” recipes in the past. So I decided to bring something new and I wanted the presentation to be good as she puts all the cookies out on display on her dining table. So I did a little research and came up with this recipe. —-Colleen

Coffee Shortbread Dipped in Chocolate

3 ¾ cups flour
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
3 teaspoons espresso powder
2 cups butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch salt

Chocolate Glaze:
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
1 stick butter

Soften the 2 cups of butter.  Dissolve the espresso powder in the vanilla extract in a small bowl.  Add the sugar to the butter and cream and add in the espresso and vanilla mixture.  Add in the flour and mix well.  If you are using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt to the  dough.

Pat the dough into two flat disks, wrap and refrigerate.  When the dough is chilled, roll out on a silpat  using a sheet of plastic film or waxed paper on top so the dough doesn’t stick.  Roll to about ½ inch thickness.  Cut out small circles with cookie cutter or any other shape you like.  Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes on parchment lined cookies sheets.   Check for doneness – they should feel “set” to the touch and  be just beginning to brown.  Remove from oven and let cool completely.


Melt the chocolate chips and butter in a large bowl.  Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate half way and place on wire rack to set.  


The cookies are not overly sweet, so you may want to use milk chocolate chips if you want a sweeter cookie, or you can cut back a bit on the espresso powder.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Shrimp and Edamame Fried Rice by Tom

Easy and Fun To Make

Barbara promised to make me something special for Valentine's Day.  So I was tasked with making something special the night before.

Paging through a new magazine that she had just brought home, I found a picture that immediately caught my eye.  I had been thinking something with shrimp would be good, and there it was:  Shrimp and Edamame Fried Rice.  Very easy to make with good flavor and texture.

Look for the shelled edamame in your frozen food section.  It took a while to find it but it was there hiding on the bottom row.  It was worth finding.

I will make this dish again!


Shrimp and Edamame Fried Rice
(From Fine Cooking, Feb/Mar 2018)

2 large eggs
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 scallions thinly sliced, whites and greens separated
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup shelled edamame (thawed if frozen)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, more to taste
4 cups cooked white rice at room temperature or cold
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil, more to taste
 hot sauce to be added at the table if desired

In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside for later use.

Heat one tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add the scallion whites, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a few seconds.  Season the shrimp lightly with some salt and pepper, and add the shrimp and edamame.  Stir fry until the shrimp turn pink, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the soy sauce and the remaining vegetable oil.  Add the rice and cook together stirring constantly.  Do this until the edamame is tender and the rice is heated through.  Another 3-4 minutes.

Push the rice mixture to the side of the pan.  Add the eggs and cook stirring constantly until almost set. About 1-2 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and fold in the eggs to the rice mixture.  Sprinkle with the scallion greens and toss to combine.

Season to taste with additional soy sauce, sesame oil, and hot sauce.

Start to finish including prep time about 30 minutes.  Looks good.  Tastes good.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Aranygaluska from Colleen

Hungarian Coffee Cake

Aranygaluska.  I make two before Xmas and freeze one for New Year's Day.

I think you have the recipe.  Tom liked this when you were here before.

Happy New Year's to you both!


Your photo looks as delicious as I remember it tasting.  Yes, Tom posted your recipe after we visited you a few years ago.  You can see the recipe hereColleen's Hungarian Coffee Cake by Tom  


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Grandma Reed's Frosted Butter Cookies from Sarah C.B. and her mother, Mary

"The Best Frosted Cookie, Ever!"

I am thrilled that our nephew’s wife, Sarah, has a family cookie recipe to share with us!  

Sarah says "It's our secret family cookie recipe but my mom is happy to share it."

Sarah's mom, Mary, learned the recipe from her mom, Lorraine Reed.  Mary shares the story of the cherished family recipe with us below: 
"Every Christmas, for over a half-century, our family has made these soft, sweet cookies for Christmas and Easter.  The fun is in choosing shapes of the cutouts and in decorating each cookie with favorite colors.  Some of the best memories are of the kids and their friends creating their own version of the best frosted cookie, ever!" ----Mary


1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter.  (Try to use a butter with high fat content)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 extra lg. eggs
1 1/4 tsps. vanilla extract (high quality)

1/4 tsp. salt
3 tsps. baking powder
3 1/2 cups flour (King Arthur's All-Purpose)

1/3 cup whole milk

Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat, well.
Sift dry ingredients and add to butter mixture, along with milk.
Mix until just incorporated.  (Too much mixing once the flour is added will make the batter tough)

Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out 1/4 of the dough on a floured surface, turning dough over once before cutting.
Cut 1/4" thick cookies.
Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Bake lg. cookies for 6 mins, med for 5 1/2 mins and small for 4 1/2 mins.  (You'll know they are done when the top doesn't look shiny/wet.)
Remove baking sheet from oven to cool.
Don't worry if they are not golden brown on top.  They will be golden brown on the bottom and will turn out nice and soft to eat if you've gotten them right out of the oven after the shine is gone.

Makes approximately 4 dozen medium cookies.  Cookies taste better if frozen after they are baked.  Do not freeze them once they are frosted.


1/2 cup softened butter
4 tsps vanilla extract
6 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup whole milk

Mix ingredients together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy.
Frosting should be a little stiff so that cookies have a textured appearance.

Decorating tips - add food coloring, if desired; sprinkle frosted cookies quickly, before frosting dries; use tiny paint brush to dust dry frosting with white decorating powder (Michaels/Hobby Lobby); use two tiny white candy cane candies to make a halo for angel cut-outs; thin out some of the frosting with milk and put in a small plastic squeeze bottle to draw garland on Christmas tree cut-outs and use tiny round decorating candies as ornaments use with chocolate sprinkles on white frosting for trunk of tree.

Dry completely and store in air-tight container with wax paper between cookie layers.
Stays fresh for 4 or 5 days.

Enjoy!                                                                                                                                                             ---Mary C.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Northwest Salmon by Colleen

Roasted on a Cedar Plank

So we do the salmon on a cedar plank we got years ago - this is a popular northwest way to cook salmon.  If you don’t have a plank, I’m sure you could just bake it the same way and it would work fine.

But if you do have a plank, you should oil the surface of the plank and put it in the oven while it is heating to 350 degrees.  You don’t want to put the plank directly into a hot oven, as I think the wood cracks.  This year I just put the salmon onto the plank while the oven was heating and that worked fine.

For the salmon, first clean the fish and remove any bones you can feel or see with tweezers. (This piece was about 2 lbs.)  Rinse under cool water and wipe off scales.  Place the salmon on the board, skin side down.  Rub a little olive oil on the surface of the salmon and then spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard.  Salt and pepper the fish. Then layer sprigs of dill over the mustard and finish with thin slices of lemon.  Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked through.

I make a little sauce to serve with the salmon:  sour cream, two teaspoons finely chopped shallots, chopped dill, lemon juice, a few splashes of Tabasco and salt.  I make a small amount - about 1/2 cup sour cream.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta from Colleen

Sorry no photos. Great method. Shallots make the difference.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta

1-2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 small shallot
olive oil
3 ounces diced pancetta
salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim 1-2 pounds of Brussels Sprouts, removing outer leaves and cutting off end. Cut larger sprouts in half.

Slice a small shallot thinly and scatter on baking sheet.

Place sprouts on a large baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper and the shallots.

Roast in a hot oven (450 degrees) for about 15-20 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender.

While the sprouts are roasting, cook about 3 ounces of diced pancetta in a large deep pan on the stove top to render fat and until pancetta is nearly crisp.

When the sprouts are done, toss into the pan with pancetta. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

You can prep this dish by roasting the sprouts before hand and sautéing the pancetta. Just before serving, reheat the pancetta and toss in the sprouts and warm through.

   --- Colleen

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots from Colleen

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots


Slender green beans, trimmed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
3 T. lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup chopped Marcona almonds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prep slender green beans (trimming ends) and roast with sliced shallots on baking sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about 15 minutes. When done, toss with three tablespoons of lemon juice and the zest of one lemon. Garnish with about ½ cup of chopped Marcona almonds.

--- Colleen