Irish Soda Bread Revisited

This is an heirloom recipe that my mom makes every year for St. Patrick’s Day. Now this recipe has been handed down to me by my mother and it is my job to make sure this tradition stays alive in my family. This recipe was given to my mother by a neighbor and friend Rosie Redmond over 30 years ago. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. I am reposting this recipe in memory of my mom who passed away 9/11/2013, she would always have a few loaves of bread on the kitchen counter to give away to family members come St. Patrick’s Day. That is an “Heirloom Memory”.

4 cups un-sifted All Purpose Flour 

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. Baking Soda

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Salt

1+1/2 cups Buttermilk

2 eggs

1 stick Butter-softened

1 cup Raisins 

1+1/2 Teaspoons Caraway seeds  (optional but I think it adds a great flavor to the bread)

2  – (8) inch round cast iron fry pans or cake pans, greased and floured


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, toss flour mixture with hands (this give bread a light and airy consistency).

Cut in softened butter to flour mixture, using hands or a pastry cutter.  Until evenly distributed.

Add raisins and caraway seeds. Toss with hands to mix thoroughly. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Add buttermilk and blend well.

Pour egg/buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Blend well with a spoon. The dough should be heavy but not too wet. (If it seems too dry, add a little more buttermilk) If too tacky to handle, add a little bit of flour, so that you can mold it to shape.

Divide batter between 2 prepared pans.

Dust hands generously with flour and mold dough into a round loaves. Dust top generously with flour. Using the wrong end of a fork cut a deep cross “X” into the dough. This is the cross of St. Patrick. This will prevent the bread from cracking, and will give it a traditional look.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until well browned (knife comes clean). Cool on a rack.

Note** By chance, I found out, that when I baked this bread in a cast iron fry pan, the bread rose higher than the one baked in the cake pans.


Creamy Custard Pie Recipe

custard pie

During a recent visit with my sister, she asked me to try a piece of custard pie that her friend had brought to her and it was amazing. However there was one problem with the pie. The aforementioned pie came from a bakery that is over 2 hours away. Thus began my quest for the perfect custard pie recipe. I began my search on Google. I typed in custard pie  and I found a myriad of recipes all claiming to be the best. Then I found  a pie recipe blog called In this blog I found a few more recipes for custard pie that weren’t too different from the other recipes I had found elsewhere (eggs, milk and sugar). Then I found a section called “Vintage custard pie recipes”. This caught my  attention because I write about “Heirloom recipes” which are my family’s recipes that I have  tried to save from being lost  forever because as some of my older relatives have passed away so have their recipes. I continued to read and the author of one recipe made a point of saying  the reader needed to pay attention to a certain part of his process to achieve successful results. That’s when I realized that recipes are more than a list of ingredients. The most important part of the recipe is the  methodology used by the person teaching you. So pay close attention to them because when they are gone so is the heart  and soul of the recipe. Now that I am finished preaching, here is how I made my “Creamy Custard Pie” and remember to teach your children well.

9″  Single Crust Pie Shell:

1 cup flour

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp salt

4 tbsp. salted butter (diced and chilled)

1 tbsp. Crisco shortening

¼ cup ice water

1 egg white reserved from filling recipe


2  cups whole milk

3/4 cup Half and Half

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

pinch of salt

3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk (reserve the egg white)

1 tbsp. flour

1/2 cup sugar


Pie Shell: (option – 1 frozen 9″pie crust then skip to filling)

 Place diced butter in freezer for 5 minutes.

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Put flour, sugar, butter and salt into food processor.

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Pulse 10 times.  Then pulse 10 additional times while slowly dripping ice water into tube of the food processor. Mixture should look wet yet still crumbly.

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Drop mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap.

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Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap. Using a rolling-pin tap down the dough then roll it out to an 11’” circle.

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Place dough while still wrapped in plastic in fridge for 20 minutes to an hour. After letting the dough rest in the fridge remove top sheet of plastic then flip the dough over and place in 9″ pie pan. Then remove final piece of plastic.  Fit dough to pan then cut excess dough leaving 1 inch overhanging pan. Fold this back into the pan under its self.  Pinch top edge to create fluting.

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Brush the interior and top edge of the un-baked pie crust with reserved egg white before filling with custard. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy.)


In a medium-sized sauce pan heat milk and Half and Half until small bubbles appear along the top edge of the pan and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla, nutmeg and salt and set aside.


In a medium-sized bowl whisk the 3 eggs and 1 yolk until creamy. Save egg white for crust.


In a small bowl combine flour and sugar. (This step prevents the flour from clumping when being added to the eggs.)


Slowly whisk the sugar/flour mixture into the beaten eggs.


Slowly add 1/3 of the scalded milk to the egg/flour/sugar mixture while whisking. Then continue to add the final 2/3 of the scalded milk. (Using this method prevents the eggs from scrambling.) Avoid adding too much air into the mixture when stirring as this will cause your custard to become grainy. Slowly pour the mixture into the un-baked pie shell. Cover edges of pie with foil to keep crust from burning.


Place the pie in the lower 1/3 of a pre-heated 375 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil then turn the pie 180 degrees. Continue baking until the center is set, about another 20 minutes. (The pie should have a slight wiggle like Jell-O and not be too brown on top)


Transfer the pie to a rack until cool. Then place finished pie in the refrigerator to chill. Have fun and share this recipe with your friends and family!

Best Italian Sausage Bread Recipe

best italian sausage bread

I call this the “Best Italian Sausage Bread” because it is my #1 go to party recipe. It can be prepared ahead of time then it can be placed in the oven when my guests arrive. As it cooks it fills the house with the sweet aroma of an Italian street fair and the smell of fresh-baked bread. When it comes out of the oven my guests are always so impressed. I wish I had a better picture  but by the time I found my camera  this is all I had left. My guests ate the rest.

Bread dough:

3 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup warm water

1 packet yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil


1 pound  Italian sweet sausage – casings removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large green peppers – cut into strips

2 medium onions – large dice

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 egg beaten

4 teaspoons sesame seeds


sausage bread

Place the bread flour and salt into bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.

sausage bread

Put water in a large measuring cup.  Add yeast and sugar to the water and stir to dissolve.  Set timer for 10 minutes to allow yeast to proof.

sausage bread

Add oil to the water mixture. Pour liquid into mixer bowl.  Set mixer on number two and knead for exactly 10 minutes.

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Remove dough ball from mixer bowl then put a drop of oil into bowl of mixer. Then roll the dough around in oil to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour. Dough should double in size.

sausage bread

While waiting for the dough to rise, use a large skillet to cook sausage until the pink is gone and it begins to brown. Breaking up all large clumps. Place sausage into a strainer or on paper towels to drain off excess fat and set sausage aside.

sausage bread

Add oil to the same skillet and sauté the onions and peppers over med heat for about 4 minutes or until onions are clarified then add the salt, pepper and oregano to the skillet. Add the sausage back to the pan and cook for an additional 4 minutes then set aside to cool.

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Roll dough to a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. With the longest side facing you.

sausage bread

Cover the dough with the sausage mixture leaving 1 inch on left and right edges and on the side that is away from you.

sausage bread

Cover sausage mixture with shredded mozzarella. The sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

sausage bread

Brush the left, right and the far edge of the dough with some of the egg wash.

sausage bread

Starting from the near edge, roll the dough away from yourself.  Like a jelly roll. Leave the seam underneath the roll.

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Tuck the ends under the roll to seal. Cover the roll with a towel and allow to rise 30 minutes.

sausage bread

Remove the towel and brush the outside of the roll with egg wash. Sprinkle the roll with sesame seeds. Place roll on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Optional – At this point you have 2 choices

1) bake the bread


2) you can place it  in the fridge for up to 1 hour and wait for guests to arrive before baking. Then  allow it to return to room temperature  before baking.

 Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Budin – Puerto Rican Bread Pudding


I had a request for a recipe from an old friend of mine (Belinda Alfonso Sandstrom). Back in about 1991 we took a trip to visit her grand father and we brought him a some of my mom’s bread pudding. He took one bite and said it reminded him of the bread pudding he had as a child in Puerto Rico. This is one of my families “Heirloom Recipes”. Try this recipe and it will become a favorite for your family.

3 loaves of “3 day old” French or Italian bread / cut into small cubes
2 cans of Carnation Evaporated milk plus 2 cans of water
1 quart of milk (regular milk, not fat-free)
2 tbsp. Vanilla
3 cups Sugar
1 Tbs.Cinnamon
1/2 cup Raisins
1/4 lb. butter (1 stick) – diced into small pieces
extra cinnamon for dusting

There should be enough bread cubes to make a mound in a 10″ x 15″ baking pan.

Pour the 2 cans of Evaporated Milk over bread, refill each can with water and add to bread. Add milk, vanilla, cinnamon, raisins, sugar and 3/4 of the diced butter.


Mix all together real good, making sure the sugar is well dissolved into the bread mixture.

Let stand for 15 minutes to allow bread to soften and soak up most of the milk. The texture should be a slightly wet mush. Use the remaining butter to dot the top of the entire mixture.

Then lightly sprinkle the top with more cinnamon. DO NOT MIX. Place pan in oven and bake at 350 degrees, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. or until knife inserted comes out clean. Top will have crispy chunks that you can’t help but to sample! The bread pudding itself will become firm once it cools off.

Hope you enjoy…it’s delicious


Date Nut Muffins

Date nut muffin

This article is the product of a long search for a Date Nut Bread recipe that tastes like the loaf made by Thomas’. They stopped making their loaf years ago and since then I have craved a slice of it smeared with cream cheese. In my quest I found a recipe that was originally printed in the food section of the Houston Chronicle. After trial and error and a few modifications to that recipe I think I am finally ready to sit down with a muffin and some cream cheese and go to heaven! Please don’t interrupt me until I’m done.

  • 8 oz. package pitted dates
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2  cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup pecan pieces

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut dates into 4 pieces. Place chopped dates into hot water for 10 minutes(do not soak for longer than 10 minutes or they will get too mushy). Drain dates and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid. Set liquid and dates aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, molasses, vanilla and the 1 1/2 cups of reserved water. Stir to combine. (It will looked like mixture is curdled – that is ok. Don’t worry keep baking!)

In a separate bowl combine flour baking soda and salt.

Add flour mixture to wet mixture in stand mixer. Stir until just combined. Fold in reserved dates and pecan pieces. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Spoon mixture into the top of lined muffin pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Recipe makes 24 muffins.

Easy Honey Wheat and Oatmeal Bread

This is a hearty wheat bread with a slightly sweet taste. It is so good you will convert even those family members who don’t like whole wheat bread into believers! The best part about this bread is that the mixer does all the kneading. That is why I call this recipe Easy Honey Wheat and Oatmeal Bread.

  • 1 packet dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 ¼  cup warm water (about 100 degrees)
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp salt


Put yeast, sugar and water into bowl of stand mixer. Allow yeast mixture to rest for 10 minutes to proof. If the yeast is good it will now have a foamy top. Add honey, molasses, olive oil and sweetened condensed milk. Whisk to combine. Add bread flour, whole wheat flour, oatmeal and salt to the bowl. Use a dough hook to combine at low-speed. Once dough balls up, increase the speed to number 2 and mix for an additional 8 minutes. This will knead the dough. Remove the bowl from stand and cover with a towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour.

Remove dough from bowl and roll out to 9” x15”.

Starting from the small side, roll up the dough. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with vegetable shortening.

Place roll into pan seam side down.

Cover with a towel and allow the loaf to rise for 1 hour.

Using a sharp knife cut a slit 1/4’” deep on top of the loaf.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

After 15 minutes remove loaf from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Soft Pretzel Hot Dog Buns

These Pretzel buns are great because they will hold up to whatever you like to put on your dog. They are worth a try even if all you like on your dog is mustard!



1 cup water (110 degrees)

1 tsp sugar

1 packet yeast

1 tbsp vegetable oil

2 ¾ cups bread flour

1 tsp salt

2 tbsp brown sugar

2 quarts water

½ cup baking soda

1 egg white

Toppings (coarse salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic or onion flakes)



Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in middle of oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place the water, sugar and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir o dissolve the yeast and sugar. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. At this point you should have foam on the top. This lets you know your yeast is good. Add the oil to yeast mixture. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and brown sugar. Add the flour mixture to the yeast mixture and mixture and combine at lowest speed using the dough hook. When the flour has been completely combined, set mixer on #2 and allow the mixer to knead he dough for 8 minutes. Turn off the mixer and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes in a warm place on your counter. After 30 minutes remove the dough from the bowl and form into a large ball. Flatten ball into a large disk.

Cut the disk into 8 pieces like a pizza.

Roll each piece into a log about 8” long.

Place logs on prepared sheet pan and cover with a damp towel and allow them to rise for 30 minutes. In a large pot bring the water to a slow boil. Add the baking soda slowly to the boiling water. Remove logs (one at a time from baking sheet) and place into the boiling water for 20 seconds. Flip them over in the water and continue to boil for an additional 20 seconds. Remove from the pot and return to the baking sheet. After doing this with each of the logs brush the top of each log with the egg whites.

Then sprinkle with salt or your choice of topping. I like using salt for that original pretzel taste. Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until they are a dark mahogany brown. Cool the buns on a rack for 30 minutes.

Makes 8 hot dog buns