Category: dough

Authentic Irish soda bread with not-so-authentic whiskey butter.

Dutch oven irish soda bread.

I LOVE Irish soda bread. Love it. Actually, let me rephrase that: I love homemade Irish soda bread. The kind my mother and I make. I hate to break it to you: the raisins and caraway seeds in “Irish soda bread” are an American addition. I don’t find them too offensive; corned beef and cabbage is an American-Irish tradition as well, and my family has eaten it every St. Patricks Day since we’ve been in this country. However, that said, when I make my own bread I do not include them. I have occasionally, for fun, but on the regular I skip them. Probably because I don’t like raisins.

Most people make their soda bread on a baking sheet or sometimes in a cake pan. Traditionally, Irish soda bread was baked in a bastible, which is essentially a cast iron Dutch oven. It was made over hot coals or a fire, hanging in this bastible. So today, the recipe I’m sharing with you is made in just that: a Dutch oven. My Dutch oven is quite large- 7.25 qt. If you have a smaller one it will do just fine. I probably wouldn’t recommend going under 3.5/4 quarts, however.

Dutch oven irish soda bread.

Dutch oven irish soda bread.

And yes- if you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use a cake pan, a pie plate or a baking dish and skip alla dis.

Irish soda bread is the EASIEST bread to make. It usually has super minimal ingredients, can be “kneaded” without much more than just a wooden spoon, it has no “rise” and it really is supposed to be rustic and rough looking. So it makes a perfect bread for beginners. If you’ve never made bread, this might be a really easy intro for you.

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Red velvet whoopee pies!

Well. I definitely got a bit of inspiration. It struck out of nowhere, but when it came I was more than happy to go with it. Even if it isn’t groundbreaking.. it’s fun.

Red velvet whoopee pies! With cream cheese frosting filling.

It has been a LONG time since I have made whoopee pies. I think… 5 years? I really don’t know why. They’re so cute. And fairly easy, really. They’re also a nice change from your typical cookies or cupcakes. And when they’re red velvet, they’re even cuter, I think.

Don’t you agree?

And by the way, is it “whoopee” pie or “whoopie” pie? Someone plz get back to me, thx. Anyway, yeah. Red velvet whoopee pies. Or whoopee.

red velvet whoopee pies.

And there is no special equipment needed to make them. Just cookie sheets, your hands, a mixer and a recipe. Oh- and the frosting of your choice to fill them with, of course. Although you could opt to just leave them as soft cookies, with a sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar on top, too.

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Classic Christmas chocolate chip cookies!

Wow, look at that alliteration in the title. Enough to bring a tear to an English teacher’s eyes. Okay, anyway… cookies! It’s that time of year! Everyone is baking away this month. Between Hanukkah and Christmas and all the parties and events that are going on, there are a LOT of cookies being passed around. Sometimes they’re traditional “Christmas” cookies- gingerbread men, gingerbread trees. Or maybe sugar cookies in the shape of a Star of David with blue icing. I remember making cookies and confections with my mom by the dozen- magic bars, sugar cookies, stroufala, gingerbread, Russian tea cookies, etc. It was the most fun thing ever.

But what about the classic chocolate chip cookie? How come that doesn’t have a bigger place in our Christmas baking?

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas cookie classic.

Who DOESN’T love a good chocolate chip cookie?! These particular cookies happen to have oats in them, which makes them a little heartier and not just your average chocolate chip cookie. The oats make them a bit chewier, which is nice. Plus they transport well, and are easy to store- not delicate at all!

Perfect for kids, teachers, whoever you want to bake up a gift for.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

CHOCOLATE CHIP OATMEAL COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • one 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking sheets with vegetable oil.
  2. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars, and vanilla in large bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture and rolled oats. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes for a soft chewy cookie or 12-14 for a more “Chips Ahoy” texture.
  5. Cool cookies on sheets for 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A Christmas classic cookie.

I like using wide mouth Ball or Kerr jars to gift them in. Just stack ’em up in the jars once they’re cooled, close the jars with lids & bands and then tie pretty ribbons and gift tags on them. I also like using cardboard pastry boxes from places like Pick Your Plum or Wilton. It just dresses them up a little.

Can I tell you that these are the best chocolate chip cookies ever? They are. My co-workers are STILL TALKING ABOUT THEM and I brought them in the week of Thanksgiving. I am not joking. I’ve had requests for them every day since.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!

If you want to make them look a little more festive, you can replace the chocolate chips with either red & green M&M’s or Nestle’s red & green colored semi-sweet morsels. You can also add nuts if you like. They’re great the way they are, but a little cookie experimentation never killed anyone.

Chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.

  Suggestions for use: eat ’em!
Soundtrack: “Merry Christmas” – The Waitresses
Sources & credits: 16 ounce (pint) Kerr wide mouth jar; freshpreserving.com

B-b-b-butterscotch pie.

Uhm. I’m not really great at pie. Seriously.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue!

Or at least thats what I always say. I might not be able to get away with that anymore, though. Between the apple bourbon brown butter whatever it was pie and the apple cranberry pie and now this… people are starting to think I’m just full of shit. They’re starting to think I pretend I’m not good at pie so that I can avoid making it.

But in the past I’ve had on and off love/hate relationship with pie. I’m notoriously bad at the crust because I lack patience. And I also never wait for them to cool before cutting so, yeah, they can look messy. Some come out perfect. Others don’t. This one. Meh.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue.

This butterscotch pie came out visually okay. Not great. I was a little tired and it was getting late and I rushed it a bit in my anticipation of eating it. But the taste? OH MAN.

The taste alone made everyone crazy.

But did I mention I’m tired? Yeah. This time of year is kicking my ass. Between working & baking & decorating & blogging & family & this annoying cold I’ve been fighting off… let’s stick with pie.

Butterscotch pie with toasted meringue.

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Apple-cranberry pie.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Apples for apple-cranberry pie.

Peeling apples for apple-cranberry pie.

As a food blogger and someone who just loves to eat in general, there are a few things I hear from people a lot. One is usually something like “How do you stay so skinny?” Now in my mind I am far from skinny, but also do people assume I eat every single thing I make in it’s entirety? And two, which really bothers me: “I don’t have time to do all that!”

Yes, yes you do.

Apple-cranberry pie; like apple pie with cranberry sauce!

I’m busy too. Trust me. I have a lot going on in my life. But it’s a matter of priority. Some people will always choose to drive through a fast food restaurant, others will make homemade hamburgers. That’s just the way it is. Some people won’t ever try to do it, so they won’t realize how it really doesn’t take 6 hours and it isn’t all that difficult. However, if I want something, I want to make sure its the best it can be. Sometimes, yes, I use shortcuts like frozen pie crust, and that’s okay. That is TOTALLY OKAY. But Jay can sniff out a frozen crust from a mile away- and he prefers homemade. So if I know I’m making a pie ahead of time (and not at 3 a.m. when I can’t sleep), I try to put aside extra time to make a homemade pie crust. Especially if it’s for a holiday dinner.

This pie was new for me, and I wanted to share it with you because it’s a great Thanksgiving pie. And Christmas pie, too, really. It’s like cranberry sauce and apple pie rolled into one. It’s dessert and a side dish. It’s totally unexpected. And it’s also adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, which I happen to trust immensely when it comes to recipes.

Apple-cranberry pie.

I hope you’ll try it this year for the holidays. Maybe you’ll come to love it so much, you’ll never buy a frozen crust or store-bought pie ever again. And yes… I continue my tradition of being horrible at folding pie crust.

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Simple scones with caramel ginger pear jam & vanilla butter.

Simple scones, vanilla butter and caramel ginger pear jam. Click through for all three recipes!

It’s cold! On weekends this time of year, I wake up hungry. Hungry and chilly, I wander bleary eyed into the kitchen. Indy sits next to me some mornings, on “his” kitchen rug patiently waiting for the back door to open so he can take care of his… *ahem* daily constitutional. I put the Keurig on and stand there waiting for coffee in my pajamas, fuzzy socks or slippers, rubbing my eyes thinking, “God I wish I had something to shove in my pie hole.” Usually… I also wake up lazy; too lazy to make something. But if I’m lucky I already have made something! For example, scones with caramel ginger pear jam & vanilla butter.

Jay is a huge fan of scones. So am I really, and for some reason I never make them. I should really make them more often. They’re ridiculously easy and delicious- requiring no mixing other than by hand, no special equipment. And also? They go with everything. Like the recipes I’m giving you today: caramel pear jam and vanilla butter.

Yes, I said vanilla butter. I’ll get to that in a sec.

And… caramel ginger pear jam. It is pear season, you know. Go getchu some gorgeous pears and do something. Ginger is so warming, and it gives an exotic kind of scent to the jam. But you can feel free to omit it and keep it just caramel pear, if you want. YES- YOU GUYS GET THREE RECIPES IN ONE POST TODAY. OMG AREN’T YOU LUCKY.

Caramel ginger pear jam.

By the way- these scones are NOT just a vehicle to get vanilla butter and jam into your face hole. They’re buttery, flaky, and delicious. Totally great on their own. But also great with: marmalade, plain butter, clotted cream, crème fraîche, and just about any kind of jam or jelly you can imagine. They also can be totally changed up to suit you.

They really are easy too. I swear.

Simple scones.

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Ossi di Morto and Day of the Dead.

Feliz Día de Los Muertos, everybody! And if you’re a person of faith, Happy All Souls Day. Today is a date on the calendar that holds a lot of tradition and meaning, in many cultures.

Ossi di Morto cookies, aka bones of the dead.

Traditionally, these cookies are Italian cookies used to celebrate All Souls Day, which is today. The name is Ossi di Morto or Ossa de Mordere, and that means “bones of the dead.” Because of the tie-ins between Día De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and All Saints Day/All Souls Day, my idea was that they’d be a fantastic way to celebrate both days and both celebrations together, as one. They are so similar it seems only right… and we’ll get to that in a sec.

OSSI DI MORTO, aka bones of the dead cookies.

Growing up, my nana told me all about All Souls Day. My nana was 100% Irish, born to a mother who was a first-generation American, and her mother in turn was right off the boat so to speak. The tales and superstitions were a plenty. I grew up hearing all about them, and all about the reverence and respect for the dead this time of year is about. Traditionally, today is a Christian day to remember the souls of the departed, which to Catholics is known as the Commemoration of The Faithful Departed. Its a day to pray for those who’ve passed on, to remember them. You may be thinking, “Uhm, thats the same thing that the Day of the Dead is.” And you’re right. But you might not know that originally, the Day of the Dead was celebrated in summertime.  During the 16th century Spanish colonization, Mexicans moved their celebrations of Día de Los Muertos to October 31, November 1 and 2 to coincide with the triduum of All Saint’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. November 1st is All Saints Day, however in Mexico it’s known as Día de Los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) or Día de Los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels) and is primarily honoring deceased infants and children. The prayers were traditionally posed to the goddess known as Lady of the Dead, now known as La Calaveras Catrina– the popular skeleton woman we see in drawings and depictions.

Of course, the Mexican way of “celebrating” these days are actual celebrations; food- yes, those sugar skulls too, parties, parades, decorating ancestors graves and of course prayer too. The Catholic version of All Souls Day is more somber, however in Italy they do light candles in the streets and have a bigger, louder celebration of today than perhaps most other Europeans. Brazilians also have a similar way of celebrating today, they call it Dia de Finados and it’s a public holiday.

I did grow up loosely Catholic- so I’m well aware of the ins and outs of these days and I prefer the Mexican version myself, even though I am not of Mexican heritage.

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