Saturday, March 24, 2012

Irish Soda Bread.

Irish Soda Bread
I'm a slacker.  I meant to post this on St. Patrick's day, but....well, apparently I took a break for a week from ze blog.

So in no way do I claim this to be traditional Irish Soda Bread (Do they even really make Soda Bread in Ireland?), but many years ago, I wanted to make something slightly St. Patty's Day-themed, and so I browsed the intertubes and found a recipe on some site about fun Irish traditions to celebrate with the family.

I've never tried a different recipe, because this one hits the spot for me.  And I think it's pretty darn tasty!  It's been a while since I made it, but I managed to find the old recipe scrawled on an envelope and tucked into the cover of another cookbook.  Good thing, otherwise I would have been doing my Irish great-grandparents a big disservice by not remembering my roots on the 17th.

This is an easy bread, and is really good for breakfast.  You can leave the raisins out completely if you're not a fan, or replace with something else.  I've used dried cranberries often, and sometimes add a little orange zest in with them.  Or make an orange-zesty cream cheese spread to go with it.  Yummy.

  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 cups Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 T butter, cold
  • 1 cup Raisins (Golden, Regular, or any type of Dried Fruit)
  • 1 1/2 cups Yogurt or Buttermilk

  1. Mix your dry ingredients
  2. Cut in your butter (it should be about pea-sized)
  3. Stir in your raisins and yogurt
  4. Take off any rings you might be wearing and get ready to have really messy hands
  5. Knead for about 1 minute
  6. Shape it into a large disk - about 8-10 inches across  (And if you like that baked-on flour look, pat a thin coat of flour on the outside of the dough at this point)
  7. Cut an X in the top of the dough (about 1/2" - 1" deep)
  8. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 45-50 minutes at 350

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eggplant Kebabs.

Eggplant Kebabs

Grilled Eggplant Kebabs
  • Eggplant, sliced to about 1/2"-3/4" thick
  • Grape Tomatoes
  • (Onions) - We didn't use any tonight, but I think I would next time...mmm...grilled onions
  • Olive Oil
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Tahini Sauce
  1. Soak the Eggplant in a saltwater bath for about 10-15 minutes
  2. Skewer your Eggplant and Tomatoes (if you double skewer, it makes it easier to flip)
  3. Season with Salt, Pepper, Cumin, and a little bit of Cinnamon (I rubbed on the spices, then added the spices to olive oil and we brushed that on right before and during grilling)
  4. Grill about 4-5 minutes per side on high direct heat, or until fork tender with some nice charring
  5. We served ours with Rice and Tahini Dressing

Tahini Sauce
  • Equal Parts Tahini and Water
  • Season with Garlic, Salt, and Lemon Juice
  • (I threw it all in the food processor...easy peasy)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Frittata with Sausage, Spinach, Mushrooms, Cheese

  • Ground Sausage, about 1/2 lb
  • Fresh Spinach, a handful...or whatever looks good to you
  • Onion, chopped, about 1/4 medium-sized onion
  • Mushrooms, sliced, about 1/4 lb
  • Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses, grated (I didn't measure...just make it as cheesy as you want!)
  • Eggs, I used 6
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Preheat the Broiler and move the oven rack up closer to it - about 4-6" from broiler
  2. Brown the sausage in an oven-safe skillet
  3. Add the onion, mushrooms, continue to cook until onions translucent
  4. Add the spinach just until a little wilty
  5. Beat Eggs together in a bowl, add salt, pepper, grated cheeses
  6. Fold eggs into sausage and vegetables in skillet, cook just until bottom is set
  7. Move skillet to oven and broil until eggs are set and beginning to brown
  8. Slice and Eat.  Yum!
Frittata in Skillet

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pork Tenderloin.

Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples, Blue Cheese, Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Apples, Peeled, Cored, Diced (I used 2)
  • Pecans, Chopped (I used about 1/4 cup)
  • Butter 
  • Honey (I used about 1 Tablespoon)
  • Mustard (about 1 Tablespoon)
  • Vinegar (1-2 Tablespoons)
  • Olive Oil (2-3 Tablespoons)
  • Fresh Spinach
  • Bleu Cheese Crumbles
  1. Season the Tenderloin with Salt and Pepper
  2. Cook at 425-450 until it reaches at least 145 degrees internal temperature
  3. Let the meat rest for a few minutes before slicing
  4. Saute apples and pecan in a few tablespoons of butter over medium heat until apples are tender and beginning to brown on the edges
  5. Whisk together the honey, mustard, olive oil and vinegar for a quick dressing
  6. Add Sliced Tenderloin, Bleu Cheese, and Sauteed Apple mixture to fresh spinach greens and top with Vinaigrette

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Snack Bars.

Homemade Snack Bars

Since Mark doesn't always feel like eating breakfast at 5 something in the morning before work, he likes to stick a Fiber One bar in his pocket so that he doesn't totally fizzle out before getting to eat lunch.  So after buying a couple of boxes of them at Sam's the other day (we now have 40something bars in our cabinet), I started to wonder if it would be easy to make something like them at home.  Without all of those weird additives and such.

I figured if I found a good recipe for the stuff that makes it all stick together, then we already had some decent ingredients in our kitchen that would make for a pretty good snack bar.

I used this Homemade Granola Bar recipe for reference.

I think you could pretty much use whatever crunchy or chewy nutty/fruity/cereal-ish goodness tickles your fancy; just make the total amt. of dry ingredients add up to about 4.5 - 5 cups

Here's what I used in mine:
  • Organic Cheerio-like cereal (This particular brand I had bought tasted like cardboard, so I thought this would be a perfect way to get rid of it!)
  • Chopped Pecans
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Oatmeal
  • I added 1/2 cup of Flax Seed after toasting
Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, Oatmeal, Cereal, Flax Seed

And for the "glue that holds it all together" I followed the recipe directions except....
  • I left out the vanilla extract
  • I used 1/3 cup honey and 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • I used half the amt. of Brown sugar  (it was already very sweet!)
And then, because my original idea was to make them Peanut Butter and Chocolate Flavored, I dipped the bottoms in a thin layer of melted chocolate

Mark likes 'em!  These were so simple, and I think it will be fun to make various flavors with whatever kinds of ingredients we like!

Crispy Polenta and Mushrooms.

Crispy Polenta with Mushroom Ragout
Mark = greatness.

Yesterday, I had planned for us to have crispy polenta with sautéed mushrooms on top as part of a meatless meal (Fridays in Lent, baby).  I was going to be at work until 6pm, so I asked Mark if he'd be willing to make the Polenta so it was set and ready for the skillet when I got home.  He was a bit nervous about it, but I assured him it was as easy as making grits and to just look up a recipe online and he'd be fine.

I expected to come home to need to fry the polenta pieces and sauté the mushrooms...and in a hurry too, because we were going to the Opera at 7:30.

I came home to this:
Appetizer Plate
And this:
Salad with Dates, Grapefruit, Pine nuts, and homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette
And Mark, upon looking up a recipe to see how to make the polenta, saw that it was paired with a yummy sounding Mushroom Ragout, and realized we actually had everything for it in the kitchen, and so I actually came home to him dredging the polenta pieces, ready to fry them himself.

Polenta ready for the skillet
And the Mushroom Ragout he made....fantastic.  It rivaled the crispy polenta with shiitakes made at our favorite Italian place in Little Rock, AR: Vesuvio Bistro.

10 million points for Mark.

Crispy Polenta with Mushroom Ragout
(Mark used milk instead of cream in the sauce.  And you could use vegetable stock instead of chicken to make it totally vegetarian.  And you can also grill polenta instead of frying!)
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