Monday, March 23, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

I didn't get too festive with St. Patrick's Day this year. I didn't wear green, dye my food green, or make an Irish meal. The one thing I did do to commemorate this holiday was make some yummy Irish Soda Bread. This is the first time I've ever made it and it turned out really good. I like that is has a bit of sweetness to it, but it's not too sweet. It was also fast and easy to make.

What you need:

* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 eggs
* 1 pint sour cream
* 1 cup raisins (I left these out of mine because I'm not a fan of raisins)


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease two 8x4 inch loaf pans.
2. Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, sour cream and raisins and mix until just combined. Distribute batter evenly between the two pans.
3. Bake loaves at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 1 hour.

Recipe courtesy of Arlene Costello/Agnes Walters via

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Twice-Baked Potatoes

These are delicious!


4 medium baking potatoes (or more if you want to make more, which I always do. You just might want to double the whole thing so you have enough of the other stuff for the inside)
1/2 sour cream or plain yogurt
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 slices of cheddar cheese
Milk (optional)
2 tsp minced chives (optional)
smoked deli ham or turkey (optional)
2 cloves garlic minced (optional)
chopped mushrooms (optional)
(I like adding the optional stuff. I think it makes these extra good.)


1.Scrub potatoes thoroughly with a brush; pat dry. Prick potatoes with a fork. Bake potatoes in a 425 degree oven for 40 to 60 minutes (or in a 350 oven for 70-80 minutes) or until tender.
2.Cut a lengthwise slice from the top of each baked potato; discard skin from slice and place pulp in a bowl. Scoop pulp out of each potato. Add the pulp to the bowl.
3.Mash the potato pulp with a potato masher or an electric mixer on low speed. Add sour cream or yogurt, garlic salt, pepper and garlic (if you are using real garlic). Beat until smooth. (If necessary, stir in 1 to 2 tbsp milk to get your desired consistency.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chives and ham (or turkey). Spoon the potato mixture into the potato shells. Place in a 2-quart rectangular or square baking dish.
4.Bake, uncovered, in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. If desired, place cheese slices atop potatoes and then bake for 2-3 minutes more or until the cheese melts.

[Recipe compliments of Better Homes and Gardens with a few of my own alterations.]

Mediterranean Grain Salad

If you have had Tabbouleh, this is a very similar salad. I like the salad because not only is it delicious, it is also filling and healthy. Bulgar wheat is a great source of fiber and it is also high in iron and protein. [Note: You can often find Bulgar wheat alongside rice in many supermarkets, but if not, check out a health food store. This is where I found mine.]


1/3 C medium-grin bulgur
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 C grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 C fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 small shallot, minced (if you don't have one, some red or green onion will do)
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 ounce fresh goat cheese, crumbled (I had to go to Trader Joe's for this but maybe your grocery store carries goat cheese)

[Note: Cucumbers and a little lemon juice is also delicious in this salad.]

1. In a heatproof bowl, mix bulgur with 1/4 tsp salt and 1 C boiling water. Cover and let stand until tender but slightly chewy, about 30 minutes.

Drain bulgur in a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to remove liquid; return to bowl. Add tomatoes, parsley, shallot, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Top with cheese.

[Recipe compliments of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine]

Baked Ziti with Spinach and Tomatoes

This is a recipe that both my husband and I absolutely love. Here's what you need:

3/4 lb. of hot Italian sausages, casings removed (I use half of a Turkey Kielbasa instead)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 28 oz. can of diced, peeled tomatoes
1/4 C of purchased pesto sauce
10 ounces ziti or penne pasta (about 3 cups), freshly cooked (I usually use the whole box)
8 C ready-to-use spinach leaves (about 2/3 of a 10 ounce package)
6 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 C grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 oz.)
Salt and pepper

Heat a heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion and garlic and saute' until sausage is cooked through, breaking up the meat with a the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). Add tomatoes with juices to the pan. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in pesto. Season with salt and pepper. (This part can be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to a simmer before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil a 13x9 inch glass baking dish. Combine cooked pasta, spinach, mozzarella and 1/3 C of Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Stir in hot tomato sauce. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake until sauce bubbles and cheeses melt (about 30 minutes).

[Recipe compliments of Carmela M. Meely, via Epicurious]