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.


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.

sausage bread

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.

sausage bread

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.

sausage bread

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.

Crab Rangoons with Sweet and Sour Sauce


Did you ever wonder what was in the neon red colored sauce that comes with your order of Crab Rangoons? Today I decided to find out, so I headed out to an Asian market and picked up a bottle of Sweet and Sour Sauce and I started to read. After reading the label and removing all of the ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce I realized how easy it would be to make at home with no artificial colors and no preservatives. Once I was done making the sauce I had a new dilemma, dipping sauce and no Crab Rangoons! So after a little bit of trial and error and a few wasted wonton wrappers I was filling and folding my own. If you love Crab Rangoons, I know you will enjoy this recipe.

Crab Rangoon
8 ounces cream cheese
1 can – 4.5 ounces crab meat
2 sliced scallions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar
One egg yolk +1 teaspoon water (beaten)
One package wonton wrappers
Vegetable oil for frying

Combine cream cheese, crab, scallions, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and sugar then set aside.


Remove one wonton skin from package and place on counter so it looks like a diamond.


Brush edges of wonton skin with egg yolk.


Place 1 teaspoon of cream cheese mixture on center of wonton skin.


Bring bottom point to top while sealing edges.


Alternate folding method:

Pinch left and right points.

imagePinch top and bottom points.

imagePush all points towards the center and seal the top.

imageHeat the oil to 365 degrees. Fry the  Rangoons for  about 2-3 minutes until golden brown.


Sweet and Sour Sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons catsup
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and continue to cook until the sauce thickens. Chill before serving. Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Eggplant Caponata




I get many requests from my friends for Vegetarian dishes. This is a Sicilian recipe for a sweet and sour eggplant relish that can be served on crackers or crostini. I also use it as a sandwich spread when I make an Italian Hoagie sandwich. Take one bite and you will feel like  you are in Italy…Ciao Baby!



1 large eggplant (peeled and diced into half-inch cubes) (4 cups)

1 medium onion finely diced

1 stick celery finely diced

4 cloves garlic finely diced

1 – 16 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup of coarsely diced Manzanilla olives

1/4 cup coarsely diced black olives

1/4 cup pine-nuts

1/4 cup raisins

3 tablespoons capers

crushed red pepper to taste

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

Fresh basil for garnish


Heat up a large skillet with olive oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot add eggplant in one layer  to pan. Cook for 4 minutes (do not stir). After 4 minutes turn over the eggplant in the pan to brown the other side for an additional 4 minutes. Remove eggplant to a separate bowl and set aside. Add onions and celery to the skillet with additional oil if needed. When the onions have become translucent add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the remaining ingredients to the pan.  Cook at a low simmer for 8 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Serve at room temperature.

Flan – Puerto Rican Egg Custard Recipe

Finished Flan

This is a family “Heirloom Recipe” that my mother has been making for as long as I can remember. Flan is a Spanish caramel cream custard that is popular in Puerto Rico and many other Latin American countries. This is a simple yet elegant dessert you must try!


Special equipment;

Bundt pan

  • Bundt pan
  • Deep roasting pan
  • Round platter slightly larger than the Bundt pan with raised edges


  • 5 extra-large eggs
  • 1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1- 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 12 oz. whole milk
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • enough hot water to fill roasting pan 2 inches high

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees


Assemble all of the ingredients.

eggs in blender

Place eggs in the blender and whip for 15 seconds.

milk in blender

Add sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk to the blender. Then use empty can of evaporated milk to measure whole milk. Add the whole milk to the blender and whip for 30 seconds. Set aside.

sugar in the pot

Place sugar in  a dry sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat.

sugar partially melted

After 5 minutes sugar will begin to clump up. Break up clumps with a wooden spoon.


Continue to cook sugar until it liquefies and turns a light caramel color. Don’t go too dark or it will get a burnt flavor.

pouring caramel

Pour caramel into Bundt pan.

spreading caramel

Using a wooden spoon, spread caramel half way upsides of pan including tube.


Place coated Bundt pan into roasting pan.

cooked flan

Pour custard mixture into Bundt pan.

pouring water

Place roasting pan with Bundt pan into pre-heated oven. then pour hot water into roasting pan. About 2 inches high. Bake for 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.

un sticking flan

After removing from the oven allow to cool for 15 minutes then using a thin knife separate top edge of flan from the pan.

tilt pan

After flan has cooled tilt pan back and forth until you can see the caramel oozing up the sides of the pan. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours or over night.

cover pan with platter

Place the inverted platter on top of the Bundt pan. Now comes the fun part. Holding the platter tight against the Bundt pan flip the pan over being careful not to lose the liquid caramel.

flipped flan

Note: After removing Flan from the pan there will be some hard caramel in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry you can boil some water and pour it in the Bundt pan and it will melt away.

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.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.