Friday, June 7, 2013

Irish Soda Bread

While cleaning up a box from mom and dad's house (yes, I still have boxes from that long ago to sift through...) I came across a handwritten recipe for Irish Soda Bread in my grandmother's handwriting.  I read the recipe and thought, "Today is a perfect day to make some bread."  So off to the store I went to pick up the few ingredients that I required.  This is an easy bread to make.  It is not a 'sweet' bread, but it is a very good bread for breakfast with a touch of marmalade.  It is also good in the evening with a little butter and a cup of hot tea. 

3 ¾ cups of whole wheat flour (plus 1 Tbsp. for currants)
1 tsp. baking soda
4 Tbsp. sugar  (I used Splenda)
½ stick unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 cup of currants
2 cups of fat free cultured buttermilk
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. orange zest
1 tsp. Kosher salt

What to do-
Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a baking sheet (lightly grease or as I did use silicon baking mat)

Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and (sweetener) in a bowl.  Add in the cubed butter and blend well with a pastry cutter.  (Or do as I did and use the Kitchen Aid with the paddle!)

Beat the egg, and then mix with the buttermilk and orange zest.  Slowly add this to the flour mixture and mix well.

In a small bowl mix the Tbsp. of flour with the currants, and then add to the dough, stirring well.

Drop the mixture onto a floured surface and knead slightly into a ball, adding a little flour here and there as you deem necessary.  It is a sticky mess, but well worth it. 

Place the ball onto the baking sheet and then using a sharp knife cut and ‘X’ over the top of the ball.

Bake for 50 minutes, then place on rack to cool. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Summer Squash Bake

 YAY!  Summer is here!!  I love this time of the year because of all the fresh local produce like summer squash!  This squash came from one of our local county farms.  Now with that said, I don’t know much about the farming practices of this farm.  I don’t know if it’s GMO laden, or what herbicides, if any, are used or anything else.  I just know that I did support my fellow community member and his family. 
Whether you know the farming practices or not, you still have to wash the food.  I did so in my sink and scrubbed and rinsed after soaking it in a vegetable bath.  Then I went to work preparing what would end up as a side dish on our plates for the next two nightly meals.

4-6 various summer squash/zucchini varieties
1 large red onion, sliced
2 slices 100% whole wheat bread, toasted
½ cup Trader Joe’s Fat Free Feta
Olive oil
Granulated garlic, salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Spray

What to do-

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray an oven safe baking dish with non-stick spray.  In your food processor, bullet, Ninja or even bean grinder, process the toast into bread crumbs.
Slice squash and place in a large mixing bowl adding small amounts of olive oil as you fill it with the sliced squash.  Slice the onion and place the slices in the bottom of the sprayed dish.  Drizzle or brush a little olive oil onto the slices of onions covering the bottom of the dish.  Add salt, pepper and garlic granules to the squash and stir.  I use my hands mostly here in order to not beat-up the slices to badly with the spoon.

Layer the squash slices in the dish on top of the onions.

Once the mixing bowl is empty of squash and the baking dish is full, there should be a bit of olive oil and seasonings in the bottom of the bowl. Add the bread crumbs, Feta and stir it well.

Spread this bread crumb mixture over the top of the squash and bake for about 40 minutes. 
Note – I added shredded parmesan cheese to the dish when I took it out.  Next time I will probably use a ½ cup of shredded mozzarella instead and place back in the oven for about five minutes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spinach and Broccoli Frittatta

Ahhh… Summertime for a teacher means time for a great relaxing breakfast.  This meal is a quick, tasty and healthy meal that serves two (or one person for two days!!).

3 eggs
2 egg whites
2 leaves fresh basil
1 green onion, sliced and divided
¼ cup of onion, chopped
½ cup fresh broccoli crowns, rough chopped
½ cup baby spinach, chopped
Two mushrooms, sliced or chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

What to do –
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a bowl crack and whip eggs and egg whites

Heat an 8 inch iron skillet over medium high heat and add oil.  Once hot, add onions, mushrooms, red pepper flakes, basil and half the green onion, cook for a couple minutes to soften. 

Reduce heat to medium low and add spinach and broccoli stirring for a minute or two before adding egg mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Allow to sit on stove top for a couple of minute, or until the edges of the skillet start to solidify.

Remove from eye and place in preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on it as ovens can vary.
Once the frittata is set (firm, check by giving it a little shake) remove from oven and serve.  (Sometimes when using cheese, I like to flip the broiler on for about a minute to add a little brown to the top of it.

Cut into quarters, serve topped with a tablespoon of your favorite salsa.



Monday, June 3, 2013

Quinoa Veggie Bites

It’s the first REAL day of summer vacation for school teachers in my part of the world.  That means I have had the whole day off to be domesticated.  It was a really peaceful day at home even though I was busy.  Natalie was at Camp PEE DEE PRIDE which is put on by the local Sheriff’s Department. 
It will be a busy few weeks for her as she follows this camp up with two others in June.  That leaves me with a little time to organize, and clean in the house while also planning some great healthy meals.

Tonight’s Meatless Monday utilized the summer squash from local farmers.  Unfortunately I have no idea if it is organic or not, but I washed it well and feel better for having supported a fellow community member. 

1 ¼ cup Quinoa
2 ½ cups Chicken Broth (Reduced Sodium)
Fresh Thyme (couple of sprigs)
Fresh Basil (about 4 leaves, torn into pieces)
½ cup chopped red onion
1 cup chopped summer squash
4 baby carrots chopped
1 green onion sliced thin
Salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste
1 fresh broccoli crown, chopped
1 egg, beaten

What to do-

Prepare quinoa with the chicken broth, basil and thyme, cooking for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the other veggies, beat an egg, and spray a mini-muffin pan with cooking spray.

Next, sauté the remaining veggies in a frying pan with just a little olive oil to soften them.
Dump the quinoa into a mixing bowl and fluff by stirring.  Add the softened veggies and allow mix to cool for a short bit.  (Long enough to work with bare hands)

Add the beaten egg mixture to the bowl and work the mix completely blending all the ingredients.  Add salt, pepper and garlic to taste.
Using your hands roll quinoa mixture into little balls and place in the mini-muffin tins. Yield is about 24 bite size morsels.
Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Serve with a bit of your favorite marinara sauce for dipping.