Category Archives: Baking

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

For whatever reason, I got on something of a blueberry kick earlier this summer, and became determined to find a perfect, foolproof blueberry snacking cake to stow away in my arsenal of simple baking tricks. I’m usually decent at picking good recipes just by reading them, but my skills were lacking this time, alas.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

This was the third blueberry cake I made and the only one I feel even remotely comfortable sharing here. The first, I had such high anticipation as it had a crumble topping with peanuts, something I’d never seen before. The peanuts, and peanut butter glaze especially, overpowered everything and that was all you tasted.

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

Next I tried a simple whole wheat blueberry cake with a glaze made from pureed blueberries, and the whole thing was very meh. It didn’t go uneaten or anything, but I wouldn’t bother making it again, which says a lot.

By the time I got around to baking this cake here, my expectations were pretty low; one bite in, however, and I knew the only mistake about this cake was the fact that I hadn’t photographed it. So, I had to make it again. Oh darn!

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

This is everything you want in a simple snacking cake perfect for summer. There is no leavening agent and that is NOT a typo. I don’t get it either, but it worked beautifully and earned rave reviews. Get on it while blueberries are still in season!

Blueberry Poppy Seed Snacking Cake

Source: Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbs poppy seeds
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs sour cream
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 cup fresh blueberries
Raw sugar, like turbinado, for sprinkling

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 300 F and position a rack in the center of the oven. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, poppy seeds, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar with either a hand mixer or the paddle attachment of your stand mixer. Decrease your mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated into the batter before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture, then the sour cream, lemon juice and zest, then the last half of the flour. Do not overmix. Fold in the blueberries by hand. Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with raw sugar.
Bake the cake 80 to 90 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until a cake tester or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool the cake completely, then cut out squares and eat!

Chocolate Muffins #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Chocolate Muffins

So, my regulars here know that my parents were quite insistent about healthy eating for my sister and me growing up, and nowhere was this more present than with breakfast. Skipping it was never an option, there was very little sugar present, and never anything that resembled a dessert. No sugary cereals, no Pop-Tarts, no doughnuts or coffee cakes or sweet muffins, and even when we occasionally got pancakes or French toast, it was of the whole grain variety.

Chocolate Muffins

Suffice it to say, I was well into my teens before finding out that chocolate muffins were a thing. Eating chocolate for breakfast just didn’t happen in our house. Once I reached adulthood, I began sampling them at coffee shops and bakeries, and concluded that I hadn’t really missed out on anything. Most chocolate muffins leave a lot to be desired.

They seem to come in two forms: either they are overly sweet and taste like an unfrosted cupcake – and really, what is sadder than an unfrosted cupcake?; or they are so determined not to be a cupcake and actually sort of be healthy, that they become dense and flavorless. I’ve long since given up on store-bought chocolate muffins, but I’ve been trying different recipes at home to see if a perfect one existed.

Chocolate Muffins

It took quite awhile, but turns out, yes, everything we want in a chocolate muffin does exist. Obviously, it’s what I’m sharing today (duh). These are definitely sweet enough, but not as much as a cupcake would be. They have a firmer muffin texture, but remain incredibly moist and tender. The chocolate tastes more like breakfast than dessert, if that even makes sense, but it really does! In short, I’m done looking. This is my go-to chocolate muffin forevermore. It should be yours too. Enjoy!

Chocolate Muffins

Source: The Homesick Texan’s Family Table by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 large eggs
½ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
6 oz. semisweet or dark chocolate chips (your preference)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin, or them with paper liners.
Stir together the sugar, oil, eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and salt until well blended. Add the liquids and stir until a smooth batter forms. Stir in the chocolate chips. Fill the muffin cups about three-quarters full. I use a regular ice cream scoop for this.
Bake 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and a cake tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature (they’re tasty both ways).

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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

We are waffle people in my house, and these particular waffles are beyond delicious. At least, they are this time. The first time I made them? Not so much. So, the original recipe calls for using a store-bought waffle mix and just adding water. And I thought, “Water?! Water has no flavor! I’ll use buttermilk instead.” It made the batter so ridiculously thick I could barely work with it, and the waffles were so dense and dry we could hardly choke them down (our water intake was noooo problem that morning!). I knew the flavors were spot on, but that texture. Blech!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

I determined to try again, but this time from scratch. I turned to King Arthur Flour, because why wouldn’t I in this situation, right? And I’m incredibly happy to report that this is the way these waffles should be made. Now they are perfect. You can adjust the amount of pancetta here – four ounces is a good amount to know it’s there, but if you want it chock full, I’d go with six to eight ounces.

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Like I said earlier, the flavor is fantastic. Salty pancetta spikes a slightly sweet batter warmed with a background note of cinnamon, garnished with walnuts for crunch and of course finished off with maple syrup. I hope you enjoy them!

Cinnamon Pancetta Waffles

Sources: adapted from Giada at Home by Giada de Laurentiis and The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
4-8 oz. pancetta chunks, depending on how much pancetta you want in your waffles
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups buttermilk
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
2 tbs baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped, toasted walnuts
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:
Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crisped and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Do not discard the rendered fat!!
Preheat your waffle maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Don’t spray it with cooking spray (we have a plan!)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk just until combined. A few lumps are okay. Use a spatula to fold in the reserved, cooked pancetta.
Pour the now cooled (or at least cooler) rendered pancetta fat into a small bowl. Use a silicone pastry brush to grease your waffle iron with the pancetta fat. Pour the batter into your waffle iron and cook as per manufacturer’s instructions. When waffles are done, remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter, if necessary, remembering to grease the waffle iron with more pancetta fat between each batch of waffles.
To serve, place a waffle on a dinner plate and garnish with walnuts and drizzle to your heart’s content with maple syrup.

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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

IMG_3846

One of our great sponsors for the week is Red Star Yeast – they generously sent us all a huge packet of their instant yeast for some baking experimentation. I made three recipes with it in the spirit of oh-I-have-to-test-a-bunch-of-yummy-yeasted-goods-nudge-nudge-wink-wink. I successfully made yeasted doughnuts, coffee flavored cinnamon rolls, and of course, these bagels that won out for a space at Brunch Week.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

A couple months ago, I decided to be one of those nutso home cooks that uses real lye. In my defense, my husband is a professional scientist who has worked with tons of hazardous chemicals in his career, so I felt okay with him supervising. And I suppose it worked, as no one was harmed in the making of these bagels! They may look a bit rustic, but they are incredible and taste just as advertised – like the love-child of a bagel and a soft pretzel.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Now we all know that a good bagel needs a good cream cheese spread, and I wanted something savory, and unique. This is Brunch Week, after all. Roasted jalapenos and cilantro mixed with softened cream cheese did the trick beautifully! The spicy-creamy concoction meshed very well with the saltiness of the pretzel bagels – and yet the cream cheese spread is delicious in and of itself too; I think it would be wonderful with plain bagels.

Pretzel Bagels with Roasted Jalapeno Cream Cheese

Give these a try, and yes, you can use baking soda if you’d rather. 🙂 Enjoy!

Sources: Bagels adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion; Cream Cheese Spread from Brunch @ Bobby’s by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

BAGELS:
1 tbs Red Star instant yeast
4 cups bread flour
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tbs granulated sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 quarts water
2 tsp kitchen-grade lye or baking soda
Coarse pretzel salt
CREAM CHEESE:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbs milk
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 jalapeno chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
For the BAGELS: combine the yeast, bread flour, kosher salt, sugar, and 1 ½ cups lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then knead by hand for 10-15 minutes. Place the bowl in a lightly greased bowl and set it aside to rise until noticeably puffy though not necessarily doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 ½ hours.
Transfer the dough to a work surface the divide into 8 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll it into a smooth, round ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap and let them rest for 30 minutes. They’ll puff up some.
While the dough is resting, prepare the water bath. Pour 2 quarts water into a large stainless steel stockpot. Bring to a boil, THEN add the lye while wearing disposable latex gloves (if you’re using baking soda it doesn’t matter as much when you add it, nor is it important to use stainless steel. Or gloves). The lye will bubble up and look rather menacing for a minute, but it is okay.
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Working one at a time, use your index finger to poke a nice hole through the center of each ball of dough, then twirl the dough on your finger to stretch the hole to about 2 inches in diameter. Transfer the bagels to the boiling water bath. You’ll likely have to do this in batches – I fit two at a time in there. Cook the bagels 2 minutes, flip, and cook 1 minute more. Using a stainless steel skimmer or strainer, carefully lift the bagels out and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bagels. Liberally sprinkle the tops of each bagel with the coarse salt.
Now bake the bagels in the oven 20 to 25 minutes. You can flip them after 15 minutes of baking to help keep their shape better, but since I used the lye, I was a little afraid to do so.
Remove the bagels from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile, make the CREAM CHEESE SPREAD: combine the cream cheese, milk, salt, and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth and fluffy. Scrape into a bowl and fold in the jalapenos and cilantro. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour for best results, then let sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving (though I can attest that serving it right away still tastes awesome).
Split the bagels, toast if desired, then spread with the cream cheese and eat!

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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

These are some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted, and I hang my head in shame that I’ve been blogging over three years and haven’t ever shared them with you. Brunch Week is the perfect opportunity! (Maybe I should’ve played it off like, oh I didn’t misstep, I was waiting for Brunch Week or something… eh, too late now!).

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

So these scones. They are probably the flakiest I’ve ever tasted, and this is the rare baked good that calls for yellow bananas, not overripe black ones, so when you grocery shop and buy bananas, there’s no waiting for them to blacken so you can bake with them. You can make these scones the same day you buy the friggin’ bananas! That right there is just very exciting.

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

The texture is amazing, and the flavor is so perfect. You’ve got sweet banana complemented by spicy ginger, then a tart-sweet lemon glaze is poured over the tops before you dive in. I have to highlight one of our main sponsors, Dixie Crystals here. They sent us all a huge box each of granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar, both of which were used for these beautiful scones. Thank you to Dixie Crystals! Enjoy!

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest
Generous pinch of kosher salt
6 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 small barely rip, yellow banana, diced
1 tbs minced candied ginger
¾ cup plus 2 tbs heavy cream, plus more for brushing
¾ cup Dixie Crystals confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tbs fresh lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt

Directions:
To make the scones, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to work the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-size lumps remain. Stir in the banana and ginger. Add the cream and gradually stir until the mixture just comes together. Knead for no more than 1 minute with your hands if you have a few scraggly bits.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and pat gently into a circle about 1 inch high. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer them to the baking sheet, only spacing them about 1 inch apart (this helps them rise tall and not spread out). Brush the tops with heavy cream, and sprinkle some sugar, preferably raw, on the tops if desired. It’s good but not necessary.
Bake until the tops are golden, 19 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool the scones slightly, about 3-4 minutes before applying the glaze.
To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and salt together until smooth. Drizzle the warm scones liberally with the glaze. Serve.

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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

Well, my friends, I have had one goat rodeo of a week. Between a sick kitty, computer hackers, a car that won’t cooperate with the inspection people, and red tape tying up our lease renewal, suffice it to say I didn’t submit my recipe for this week’s Sunday Supper in time for the deadline. Which is really sad, as I’d been so looking forward to this week’s theme! Mom’s Favorite Recipes, in a nod to upcoming Mother’s Day, of course.

Coconut Custard Pie

So, I pestered my mom several times for her favorite home cooked meals, she patiently gave me several good options, and I decided upon this coconut custard pie! I actually remember her making one from time to time when I was growing up, and seeing how I hated coconut then, I rarely partook.

Coconut Custard Pie

Coconut Custard Pie

Now I’m grown up, and it was TOUGH keeping my paws off this pie. I have long since recovered from my aversion to coconut, and thus found this pie to be insanely delicious. It was so creamy, studded with lots of chewy coconut and a flaky crust…

Coconut Custard Pie

Seeing as we live a couple thousand miles apart, I wasn’t able to share it with my mom (BOO!), but I’m quite confident she would have loved it. I hope you will too. Enjoy!

Coconut Custard Pie

Source: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
1 (9-inch) single crust unbaked pie crust, fitted into a regular 9-inch pie plate and chilled until ready to use
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp coconut extract
1 (7 oz.) package sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 F. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with the tines of a fork. Line the pie with parchment paper and weight it down with pie weights or dried beans. Blind-bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper, brush with the beaten egg yolk, and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.
While the crust is baking, make the custard. Scald the milk and cream with the salt. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Slowly pour about a quarter of the hot milk mixture over the eggs, whisking constantly. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pot with the hot milk mixture, stirring constantly until completely combined. Add the extracts and stir to combine.
Scatter the shredded coconut over the baked pie crust. Pour the custard over the coconut until it’s very full but not overflowing. You may not need every last bit of the custard. That’s okay.
With your oven still at 425 F, bake the pie for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven, but do not open the door, and bake the pie another 5 minutes. At this point, check for doneness. What you want to see is the pie filling be jiggly but not liquidy when you gently shake the pie plate. If it’s not done (mine wasn’t!) close the oven door and let it go another 5 to 10 minutes (mine needed the full 10 minutes). Check for doneness again, it should be there. If not, let it go another 5 minutes, or until it is done.
Cool the pie several hours before serving. I think it tastes best chilled, but you can also serve it at room temperature just fine.

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Where did the phrase “as American as apple pie” come from? When you think about it, it makes zero sense, because Americans can hardly lay claim to a dessert of softened apples encased in a buttery pastry. The Germans have apfelstrudel, the French have tarte tatin, and that’s just the beginning. Apple pie is, quite frankly, not American!

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

German chocolate cake, on the other hand – surprisingly, that is 100% American. No lie, this wonderful dessert was created in central Texas long ago, and the German in its title refers to the type of chocolate originally used, not the country of origin. But, I guess the phrase “as American as German chocolate cake” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it…

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Anyways, I adore German chocolate cake, but it’s usually a real production to pull off. Every time I’ve had it, and all the recipes I saw for it were very tall layer cakes that would’ve taken hours and made a huge mess to complete. I have really been craving this cake lately, but wanted a more simplified version of it, yet refused to dumb it down or compromise any of its winning characteristics.

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

The idea of a sheet cake occurred to me, admittedly with some amount of skepticism. It seemed kind of wrong, and I wondered if the flavor would really translate. But, you never know till you try, so try I did, and I’m thrilled to report that this was extremely successful! It tasted exactly as it should, but was incredibly easy to pull off. Matt took the leftovers to work, as usual, and people there immediately recognized it as German chocolate cake and effusively proclaimed its deliciousness. I have to say, they are correct. I absolutely LOVED this cake and would happily eat my beloved German chocolate cake as sheet cake from now on. Enjoy!

German Chocolate Sheet Cake

Source: The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:

CAKE:
12 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups whole milk

FROSTING:
1 cup heavy cream
20 oz. caramel candies, unwrapped; or 2 cups store-bought caramel sauce
2 ½ cups chopped toasted pecans
7 oz. sweetened shredded coconut
Pinch of salt

Directions:
First, bake the CAKE: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×13” baking dish and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy and light, at least 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly blend one-third of the flour mixture into the creamed mixture, then half the milk, followed by a third of the flour, the remaining half of the milk, then the last of the flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary during this process.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely before frosting it.
Make the FROSTING:
Heat the cream in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat until it simmers; add the caramel(s) and stir until melted. Bring the mixture to a boil then remove it from the heat. Stir in the pecans and coconut, plus a small pinch of salt. The cake should be completely cooled before frosting, and the frosting should be cooled to about room temperature. It should be thick but spreadable.
To assemble, carefully pour the cooled frosting onto the top of the cooled cake and use an offset spatula to evenly spread it across the cake. Let it set for at least a few minutes before cutting. Cut into squares and serve.

Dilled Irish Cheddar Soda Bread

Dilled Irish Cheddar Soda Bread

So apparently today is St. Patrick’s Day. Where I grew up, St. Patrick’s Day was barely even mentioned – you were supposed to wear green to school to avoid being pinched but that was it. Then I moved to New York City, aka a city with a St. Patty’s Day parade, and St. Patrick’s Day has become One of the Worst Days of the Year – at least it is if you’re trying to get anywhere in midtown Manhattan.

Dilled Irish Cheddar Soda Bread

That damn parade can mess up a commute like nobody’s business. Last year I had to walk an extra four blocks (yes I counted) and take an extra twenty minutes I didn’t have to spare to get around the roadblocks and fight through the crowds. I got so annoyed that I found myself inwardly fuming about why we are celebrating a country that has been so historically backwards about marriage equality and birth control. I got myself so worked up I had to go play with kittens to calm down (true story, I used to volunteer at an animal shelter).

Dilled Irish Cheddar Soda Bread

In my purely personal opinion, the one redeeming quality of St. Patrick’s Day for those of us living in A City with a Parade who don’t identify with the Irish spirit is soda bread. I never had this as a kid, probably because no one in Dallas suburbs seemed to give a rat’s backside about the holiday, but I’m extremely happy to have discovered it in adulthood.

Soda bread seems to be the cause of many arguments – do you put raisins in there or not, that kind of thing – but it seems that most can and will happily forgive a little “experimentation” if the spirit of soda bread is left alone. I found this recipe for adding cheddar and dill – I made sure I used a good Irish cheddar – and everyone seemed to love it. It may not be completely authentic, but it’s delicious!

Dilled Irish Cheddar Soda Bread

Happy St. Patrick’s Day if you celebrate it, and for the rest of us, may we not get pinched, trampled, or too inconvenienced by parades. Enjoy!

Source: The New Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Ellen Brown

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 ½ cups buttermilk
1 large egg
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 ¼ cups shredded sharp Irish cheddar, divided

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 F and generously grease a 12” cast iron skillet with cooking spray or softened butter.
Combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Combine the butter, buttermilk, and egg in another bowl and whisk well.
Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the dill and 1 cup cheese. Transfer the dough to the prepared skillet, smoothing the top but mounding it slightly in the center with lightly floured hands. Cut a large X about 1 inch deep in the center of the dough, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of all four quarters.
Bake the bread in the center of the oven for 70 to 75 minutes, or until the crust is browned and a toothpick or cake tester in inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the bread in the skillet for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Icebox Pie

Chocolate Icebox Pie

Call me utterly predictable and completely unoriginal, but it’s Pi Day, an arbitrary holiday/designation that is supposed to celebrate math but has been hijacked by food media, so I’m sharing a pie with you. I know.

But, whether it’s Pi Day or any random day, this particular pie absolutely deserves a space on my blog, and in your belly. Such a simple, unpretentious, beloved classic comfort food pie this is; I’m pretty sure every American has a favorite and familiar version in their arsenal.

Chocolate Icebox Pie

This one is particularly awesome because the crust is made from store-bought Oreos, but the filling is made from scratch. I love that unholy juxtaposition.

Chocolate Icebox Pie

I won’t blather on about how delicious this pie is, because everyone already knows the chocolate-y, creamy goodness that is this lovely concoction of chocolate pudding topped with whipped cream. I’ll just advocate for this particular version, it is simply wonderful. Enjoy!

Chocolate Icebox Pie

Source: The Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Cookbook by John Stage

Ingredients:

CRUST:
20 Oreo sandwich cookies
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted

FILLING:
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs cornstarch
1/3 cup flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tbs vanilla extract
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish

Directions:
Make the CRUST: preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease a regular 9” pie plate. Process the cookies down to crumbs in your food processor. Add the melted butter and process again to combine. Press the cookies evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake 8 minutes. Let cool completely.
Make the FILLING: whisk the sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl and set aside.
Combine the chocolate chips and milk in a saucepan and set it over medium heat, stirring constantly. As soon as the chips are melted, shut off the heat and pour half of the chocolate mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix well.
Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla together. Slowly pour the yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture in the saucepan, whisking constantly to make sure the yolks don’t scramble. Now add the chocolate and dry ingredient mixture. Stir to combine, then set the saucepan back over medium heat and whisk constantly. Once the mixture starts to thicken, keep whisking and cook for 2 more minutes. Pour the chocolate filling into a clean bowl and cool for 10 minutes. You can place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the pudding to prevent a skin forming.
Pour the filling into the pie shell and level the top. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Spread the whipped cream all over the top and cut into wedges. Keep in the refrigerator.

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon

I’ve long since been of the firm opinion that the internet doesn’t need yet another chocolate chip cookie recipe. We all love chocolate chip cookies, everyone has a go-to recipe in their arsenal (I’m quite convinced that this includes everyone, even people who claim they can’t cook and/or bake), so really, what good is it to post such a ubiquitous recipe?

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon

Until today, when I break my own rule. Maybe I’m sheltered, but I’ve never before seen chocolate chip cookies that incorporated fresh tarragon in the dough. And bourbon too! Bourbon never hurts my feelings.

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon

These particular chocolate chip cookies won my heart, and I actually did find them unique and special – enough so to share here with my head held high anyways. They have all the elements we require of perfect, chewy-style chocolate chip cookies, but there’s a hint of booze in the background, and a pop of … something … from the tarragon. It certainly doesn’t taste as though you’re chewing on tarragon, but it definitely adds an earthy dimension to such a familiar favorite.

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon

I highly recommend that everyone take a short break from their go-to chocolate chip cookies recipe and give these a go. They are superlative, and while I’m sure they’ll sway no one from their long-time fave, your usual recipe will certainly forgive you for stepping out on it this one time. It’s very worth it. Enjoy!

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tarragon

Source: Ovenly by Agatha Kaluga and Erin Patinkin

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup (packed) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup bourbon (nothing fancy necessary)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 tbs finely chopped fresh tarragon

Directions:
First, brown the butter. In a small, preferably stainless steel, saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to heat until it crackles and foams. Once the butter is nutty in color and smell, and you can see little browned bits on the bottom of the pan, shut off the heat and stir to scrape the browned bits off the pan. Set aside and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cooled melted butter and both sugars on medium speed until fully incorporated, about 1 minute.
Add the whole egg and then the egg yolk, one at a time, and beat on low until fully incorporated. Raise the mixer speed to medium-high, and beat 1 minute until smooth.
Turn the mixer to low, add the bourbon and vanilla and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and beat until barely combined, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate chips and tarragon, and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds more.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silpats. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use a cookie scoop to form the dough into 1-inch balls and arrange them on the baking sheets.
Bake 10 minutes, or until light golden brown. It’s good if the cookies look slightly underbaked in the center when you take them out – they will set as they cool. Cool fully before serving.
The recipe says this will get you 24 cookies, but I got 30 cookies, plus a leftover handful of dough, which yes, I ate.