Saturday, December 25, 2010

Pumpkin Bread Pudding - Caity


I made this recipe for the first time for my friend Dustin's birthday. He is a connoisseur of all things sweet and when he approved of it, I knew we had something good. 

The bread pudding recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and as she points out on her blog, "it combines two great pleasures in life: pumpkin pie and baked French toast". Better yet, it's not slimy like pumpkin pie! Even my dad, who is very weird about textures and refuses pumpkin pie, liked this.

In case you find that the bread pudding isn't quite sweet enough, you can add a sweet cream sauce. I like to drizzle condensed milk over the top but I bet caramel sauce would be delicious too.  

Friday, December 24, 2010

Killian's Irish Brown Bread - Erin




This bread is a little bit of Irish heaven. Substantial, crusty, grainy and surprisingly addictive, this is a delicious whole grain bread that uses baking soda rather than yeast for its rise. Slice and eat freshly baked or toasted with lots of butter; preferably Kerrygold Irish butter and Beef and Guinness  Irish Stew while dreaming of beautiful, green Ireland. 

Adapted from the Irish cookbook, “The Eden Cookbook” –a wonderful restaurant where we ate in County Meath. 

what you'll need:

1-3/4 cup coarse-ground whole wheat flour (graham flour*)
1-3/4 cup bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
generous 1/8 cup steel-cut oatmeal plus extra for topping(aka pinhead oatmeal or Irish steel cut oats)
1 Tbsp. oil (Eden uses safflower)
2 to 2-1/2 cups buttermilk**

*Hodgson’s Mill brand graham flour that is made in Illinois seems to be the only type with the proper texture. It's available sometimes in local stores or by mail order.

**If you don't have buttermilk, substitute sour milk. In a large measuring cup pour 2 ½ Tbsp. vinegar, then fill to 2½ cup mark with milk. Allow to sit for a few minutes before using.

Lemony Crab and Spinach Pasta Salad - Erin


This is the famous crab salad that has something of a cult following among my friends in particular. It is a recipe reconstructed from a salad that Lynn Kestle, Julie Mackie and our mom had at a Christmas Open House hosted by Liz Owens. It was made with huge lobster chunks, and our mom was saving a particularly large morsel to savor when Lynn reached over and plucked it from her plate and popped it in her mouth. 

Violence nearly ensued. Suffice it to say that I don’t think she’ll chance that again. 

I got to thinking about the salad and decided that the basic flavors were very much like Tutu’s (aka Grandma) crab and macaroni salad. After a little experimenting I think we’ve got it! I don’t unfortunately have the exact portions worked out, so you just have to use your best judgement and play with it a little.


  • 1 package medium or large pasta shells—they look like sea shells
  • Shelled crab or lobster—a generous amount—maybe 1-2 pounds or more (use King crab legs for larger pieces, easier shelling and a pretty color)
  • Baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
  • ¾ cup (or so) Best Foods brand light mayonnaise (this amt. is a wild guess)
  • 1 tsp. finely grated onion (just for a little flavor—no chunks)
  • Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Salt and white pepper to taste (black is okay, but I like white’s more subtle, flowery flavor here)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread - Erin

Molly kindly offered to model for the picture...

We got this recipe, along with the starter from my friend Trisha's mom, Jeanne Potucek.  You do need a starter from someone, but then you can keep it going forever if you want, and share it with many friends.  This is a moist, rich coffeecake kind of bread which keeps well and is delicious.  You just have to plan well ahead for when you want to serve it, though I have cheated it out of a few days sometimes and it does fine.  We usually bake two breads at a time and either give one away or freeze it.


Day 1                    This is the date it was prepared: Do nothing
Days 2,3,4,5         Mush the bag
Day 6                    Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk.  
                              Mix in the bag.
Days 7,8,9            Mush the bag.  Let air out of bag if needed.
Day 10                  Mixing day! Combine thoroughly in a large   
                              bowl:


Pea and Mascarpone Soup - Erin


This is a wonderful, and wonderfully simple and fast soup recipe that I adapted from a British cookbook.  It has a gorgeous color and a delicious flavor.  Mascarpone cheese is a thick, luscious Italian cheese with similarities to heavy cream, cream cheese and sour cream.  It is readily available in most grocery stores these days—it comes in a tub near the specialty cheeses. Serve with a loaf of nice crusty bread. 

Serves 2

what you'll need:

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1-2/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1-1/4 cup frozen peas 
4 Tbsp mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp fresh basil or mint, chopped (I prefer basil and use much more than 2 Tbsp)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan, sauté onion for about 5 minutes til softened but not colored.  Add stock, and as soon as it’s boiling, add the peas.  Return to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Stir in the mascarpone and basil/mint and season with salt and pepper.  Blitz the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Serve with some chunky bread.

Candied Orange Peels - Erin


Our mom has been making this since we were little.  This recipe is quite different than most in that the peel is done without removing the white pith, which is supposed to result (according to all other recipes I’ve seen) in bitterness.  I’ve tried the other way several times (which is a lot more trouble, too) and have found that I like the tenderness that this method delivers-- and it is not at all bitter.  

The recipe is from one of our mom's favorite cookbook authors and artists, Susan Branch, from her wonderfully illustrated, “Christmas from the Heart of the Home”.  It is wonderful as is, dipped halfway in chocolate, or my favorite way, chopped up and put into cooked cranberry sauce for the holidays.

Susan’s notes:
“This works with all citrus and you can double the recipe so you’ll have extra aroud to add to all sorts of Christmas recipes.  It’s delicious in stuffings, cookies, muffins, vegetables—anywhere you want the delicious surprise of bittersweet orange.”

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monkey Bread - Caity


This cinnamon sugar glazed bread is cut into perfect little sections that allow you to grab one piece as you walk by...all day. And all day the next day (if there's any left that is!).

I made it for my dance team one day. I set it down, went to change, and came back and there was one piece left. Luckily I ate about 5 pieces while I made it, then I went home and made some more.

Also, please ignore the halo effect on the pictures. My camera had a run in with a cup of beer on Halloween and lost. 
__________________________
Monkey Bread
Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman


  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup butter 
  • 2-3 teaspoons cinnamon (if you like cinnamon do 3, if not as much do 2)
  • 3 cans buttermilk biscuits (non-flaky kind!)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3-4 green apples (peeled and cut into 3/4 to 1 inch pieces) 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sugared Cranberries - Caity


Every year my family hosts a bunch of other families  to have a Gingerbread House Party in December. All the kids decorate a gingerbread house (we have made 28+ houses some years!) and all the adults slurp down a variety of soups--always 6-7 different kinds, all of which are delicious (soup recipes to come one day!). 

My mom's friend, Julie, usually brings a bunch of these sugared cranberries to the party every year and now my sister, Erin, is addicted. Of all things to be addicted to, cranberries are a good one. Especially these cranberries. Yum! 

I suggest making more than one batch. They tend to disappear within hours.