Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Struffoli

When I was a kid my mother always made these at Christmas...I don't know if it was the multi colored sprinkles or the sticky honey goodness that made me love them but I did!  What could be better than a tall pile of these honey coated little Italian treats?










Struffoli
6 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
 2 sticks of butter room temp
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 tsp salt
  vegetable oil for frying
1 pound honey
1 tsp lemon or orange zest (optional)
1 small jar multi color candy sprinkles

Whisk eggs very well. Beat sugar into eggs. In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Rub butter into the flour with your hands.

 Add vanilla to the sugar/egg mixture. Put mixture the into a mixer and mix (using dough hook) and slowly add the flour/butter mixture. Let dough rest in a cool dry place for at least 30 minutes.

Divide dough into fourths. Roll out the dough in sections. Cut dough into 1/2-inch strips and cut 1/2-inch pieces from the strips. Place the 1/2-inch squares onto a baking pan. Make each 1/2 inch piece into balls about the size of a hazelnut.
Put vegetable oil into a large pot and bring to 350 degrees. Fry small quantities of the dough balls in the oil and when golden brown, place onto a baking pan lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. When all dough is fried, let cool to room temperature.

In a saucepan, heat the honey and zest if using (not to a boil) and add small quantities of the fried dough to the pan. Stir lightly with a large slotted spoon. Remove from saucepan and place onto a serving plate ...mound the honey covered balls into a pile in the center of the plate and sprinkle with candy sprinkles.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nana's Irish Soda Bread

This recipe is from the 'Irish' side of the Family....my Dad's mother's maiden name was Harris and they come  from County Cork which is in Southern Ireland. This is my grandmother's recipe for soda bread. It is delicious! I love the crusty parts slathered in real Irish butter...maybe a drizzle of honey.  I also like this bread dunked in a rich cheesy fondue I found in an Irish cookbook I love...I guess I will have to dig that recipe up and post it too!  Enjoy this real authentic soda bread!
                      'Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!'                           
or Happy Saint Patrick's Day!






Nana's Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour
1 tea baking soda
1 tea baking powder
1/2 tea salt
1 stick softened butter
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1 egg
2 tbl heavy cream
raisins or caraway seed are optional....we prefer it plain usually.

oven at 375
In a large bowl combine the first 5 ingredients with your hands.....then mix in the buttermilk and egg. Work the mixture into a soft dough (folding in raisins or caraway if desired)   Shape into a round loaf.  Heavily grease a cookie sheet and set the loaf on it. Cut a shallow X in the top. Let rest 10-15 minutes.  brush top with the heavy cream and bake in preheated oven  1 hour or until done (hollow sounding when the bottom is tapped and golden brown)

Rubber Band Wars and other ways to Celebrate St Patrick's day

We have four children - one girl and three boys- so my husband and I are always outnumbered.  Our neighbors also have four children -one girl and three boys- they too are outnumbered. So whether it was insanity or sheer genius that led us to join forces, we did just that...we became friends.  The results have been memorable...and very interesting.  Like the first time we decided to go camping together. My brother, who at the time had no children, looked me in the eye and said with disbelief "Two tents with twelve people, eight kids...six of whom are boys?? Have you gone mental??"  We had actually...but we had fun!

There was a time, several years back, when we decided we all need to celebrate our 'Irishness' together and have a St Patrick's Day Dinner.  We went all out.  We got completely into the "wearing of the green". This included green/white/orange hair coloring and shamrock temporary tattoos!
We made a completely authentic, traditional meal.  We ate until we were ready bust the seams out of our pants.  Shortly after dinner our wayward boys and men (soon to be followed (and not outdone) by the girls and women) broke out in a full blown-no-holds-barred rubber band war.  Rubber bands flew.  People were rolling and diving over and behind couches and chairs. Couch cushion shields were brandished and war cries were heard.  Hostages were taken and rescued, hundreds of rubber bands were sacrificed to the cause.  Teams shifted - family against family, boys against girls, parents against kids- we really had an amazing memory making good time. We also proved that growing up is over-rated and that being 'mental' is not such a bad thing at all!



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Dates

Ok...so this is a tough recipe..brace yourselves...2 WHOLE ingredients folks. Oh...and the title pretty much IS the recipe.
I am sharing because the other day I bought dates..not really sure why. I saw them and said "ohhhh dates!" so I bought them.  Then I got home and had no clue what I was going to do with them. So I googled dates and saw about a million posts on bacon wrapped dates...I thought bacon wrapped ANYTHING is good so why not.   And dang they are tasty! Sweet and salty and chewy - what is not to like?





Bacon Wrapped Dates


12 Medjool Dates - pitted
6 thick cut  center cut bacon

Just cut center-cut bacon in half. Wrap each section of bacon around a pitted date, secure with a toothpick.  Broil on a rack set on a cookie sheet for 4 minutes per side or until bacon crisps.



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Irish Delight Cupcakes

I have been married for 20+ years and in that time my husband and I never spent a night apart unless I was in the hospital having a baby!  Then a couple of years ago he got a new job.  This job is wonderful and we are both extremely happy and blessed with this new chapter in our lives.  However, the job requires him to travel a few days each month.  This has made me an insomniac a few nights each month!
I am not quite sure what the issue is, I think I just forget to go to bed...time gets away from me.  This oddity has been a huge bonus for my kids since I often spend the time baking.  2 am cookies?  1 am biscuits? Its like Santa's elves (or maybe the Keebler elves) visited during the night. They wake to a plate of goodness in the morning.  This odd behavior of mine has resulted in some creative sleep deprived recipes.  Some rousing successes and some dismal failures.  I am sure my time would be better spent wandering about cleaning rather than making more of a mess....well....thats just too bad I guess because I don't see that happening any time soon.
Here is a cupcake recipe that I swear you will love. These cupcakes are super light and fluffy. They are delicious AND they start with a box mix!! There are several steps to these but they are so worth it.  There is whiskey and Baileys involved but the whiskey is cooked so the alcohol cooks off so don't let it concern you.  The teeny tiny bit of Baileys in the ganache and icing is very minimal..if you don't want to use it however you can add your favorite extract instead.  These are a great St Patrick's Day treat!


Cupcake
1 bx triple chocolate or devils food cake mix
2 tbl unsweetened cocoa
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee - cold
1/2 cup veg oil
1 tea vanilla
3 eggs

Glaze
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/4 Irish Whiskey

Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbl Baileys Irish Cream
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Icing
1 stick butter softened
3- 4 cups powdered sugar
4 tbl Baileys Irish Cream
2 tbl milk

Use cupcake liners and preheat the oven to 325.
In a stand mixer combine all of the the cupcake ingredients and mix well..scraping bowl once or twice.
Fill cupcake liners halfway and bake 18-20 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when touched.
While the cupcakes are baking make the glaze. In a saucepan bring water and sugar to a rolling boil. Add butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat and stir in whiskey.
While cupcakes are still warm, poke tops with a toothpick then carefully dip the top of thecupcake into the glaze.. Let excess drip then set on a rack to cool. Make ganache.  Heat cream until very hot...pour over chocolate chips and stir until smooth and then add the Baileys...stir well. Cool until spreadable.  Spread a generous layer (or dip if you prefer) Let ganache set.  Make the icing.  Beat butter until fluffy...add 2 cups of powdered sugar, beat well. Add Baileys and 1 tbl milk... add more sugar and Baileys until you get the consistency you can pipe. Pipe on top of the ganache and enjoy!

Drinking Habits

Here are a few pictures from our play this weekend as promised!  We helped raise over $2000 and served well over 200 dinners. We were sold out for 2 of the 3 shows and it was close on show 3! We all worked hard and I just wanted to share.  Go over to Facebook and "like" CCNN and TAG - show support for these great groups!    Enjoy!

ummm yes..that's me as Sister Mary Catherine

and that friends is my Hubby!!

hubby and I on stage together!

The nuns....backstage



yes...the Mother Superior does have a beard!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guinness Chili

Ahhhhh chili. There must be a billion versions of chili out there...each one with its pluses and minuses. I don't know what it is but I love to add a 12ox bottle of Guinness stout to my chili (and my beef stew for that matter) I feel it really adds some depth and gives the dish some character. This recipe is one of many assorted chili recipes that I make. I oftecn just 'wing it' when I make chili...throw in what I have available and see what happens.  Not quite as versatil as soup in that regard but still chili has endless possilities.
I make chili with ground meat (beef usuall but turkey or pork or a combo happens too) but on occasion I 'dress up' my chili with some grilled steak or sausage, or go really top drawer and use a filet of beef (especially in the unlikely event I have leftovers of any of these).  You can (and I do because it is my preference) make chili with all fresh ingrediants...but lets face it there are a LOT of ingredients in a good chili and on the spur of the moment it is nice to have a 'pantry' recipe that uses dry or canned ingredients that you can have on hand for when the mood strikes! So this chili is all dry/canned..but please feel free to use fresh for any ingredient..or ALL if you prefer.




Guinness Chili

2 pound ground beef - browned and drained
12 oz bottle of guinness stout
1 28 oz can crushed tomatos
1 can diced fire roasted tomatos
4 tbl dried onion
2 tbl garlic powder
1 pkg mild chili seasoning
1-3 tbl of Chili powder (to taste)
4 tea cumin
3 tea grounf coriander
2 tbl brown sugar
1 tea of zaatar (or oregano)
dash of cinnamin
1 tea cocoa (unsweetened)
1 tea cayenne (optional spice to taste!)
1 can chili beans- rinsed and drained
1 can black beans -rinsed and drained
1 can kidney beans- rinsed and drained


okay folk here is the hard part....throw it all in a crock pot...stir very well...put on lid. Turn crock pot to low and come back in 8 hours..or high and come back in 4!! 
YUM!!!


Re-visit some of my past Celtic posts for St Patricks day Ideas!

Here is a list of some of my Celtic and Gaelic recipe posts just in time for St Patrick's Day.  More will be going up this week. 

Buttermilk Bread

Scottish Bannocks

Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Irish Coffee Trifle

Colcannon

Potato Oaten Cakes

Shortbread

Cabbage Bread Pudding

Guinness Chili

Irish Delights Cupcakes



I highly recommend them all of course...but try the cabbage bread pudding...don't be scared it is DELICIOUS!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Irish Buttermilk Bread


I am so sorry I have been missing in action...my husband and I act in a community theater group that does plays for charities. These fundraisers are a lot of fun and very rewarding...however they are exhausting and time consuming too!  I will try and post some photos of the play...we are running 3 shows this weekend and last nights was SOLD OUT! Wow so exciting. The fundraiser is for CCNN Community Cares Network of Nichols , this organization helps our local community and has given so much during our horrible flooding this past fall that we hoped to help refill their coffers a little so that they can continue to do the good works they do.
That being said I have lots of recipes in the works to post. I love to cook Celtic and Gaelic foods ( I am a Pasta&Potato girl with my Irish Dad and Italian Mom)  So I will be sharing some delicious Irish/Celtic recipes this week to honor St Patrick's day...and just because I want to.
This recipe for Irish Buttermilk Bread is a quick easy peasant type bread. It makes a very small loaf...enough for 2 to split over a comforting bowl of soup perhaps. This is a crumbly textured hearty loaf. I adapted the recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks: McGuire's Irish Pub Cookbook.  It is best served warm and slavered with good Irish Butter! 




Irish Buttermilk Bread

2 cups flour
2 tbl wheat germ
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tea salt
1 tsp honey
1 tbl butter at room temp
3/ 4 plus 1 tbl buttermilk

preheat oven to 375
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut in the butter until well combined.  Add honey and buttermilk gradually blending until you have a sticky dough.  Knead a few times to hold the dough together.  Pat into a round and place on a cookie sheet or preheated baking stone.  With a knife cut an X in the top of the loaf.  Bake until golden brown  about 30 minutes. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Roasted Beets over Beet Greens



Ummmmm, yeah so I went to Wegmans again.  I try to control myself, really I do. I was trying to stick strictly to the 5 or 6 items on my list and NOT wander down any extra aisles (especially the produce and International aisles!) It did not quite work out that way...I did good..better than usual even...but still came out with a small cart full. Sigh.  I did snag these fabulous wonderful earthy beets while I was there and decided to cook up the gorgeous greens as well. Here is the side dish we had tonight. Hope you like it!


Roasted Beets & Beet Greens

2 bunches of fresh beets with greens 
4 tbl olive oil
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 slices bacon cut into pieces
salt and pepper
2 tbl butter
1 tble balsamic vinegar



Oven 350.  Wash beets and cut off the greens and set them aside. Lay whole on a foil covered cookie sheet. Drizzle with 2 tbl olive oil..roast in the oven 1 hour or more until the beets are easily pierced with a fork. Cool and slip the skins off. Cut into bite pieces and set aside. 
Chop the beet tops roughly into bite sized (ish) pieces. In a skillet cook the bacon until crisp, then add 2 tbl olive oil and the minced garlic. Do not burn the garlic! Add the beet greens and saute until hot and wilted. Place greens in a serving bowl or platter. Throw beets in hot skillet with 2 tbl butter and heat through - salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon over greens and serve. This dish is good hot but is also good at room temp or even cold.  Drizzle with balsamic if desired.