Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Irish Soda Bread is a must-have celebratory breakfast in our house. This version was delicious slathered with butter.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Pegeen. I incorporated whole wheat flour and golden raisins. I baked the bread in a 10-inch ceramic baking dish. It was very tender- perfect with a cup of coffee. 🙂

Yield: One 10 or 11-inch round loaf

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold (you may need a little less or more)
  • large eggs, cold
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • teaspoon coarse salt
  • tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, COLD, cut into smaller chunks, plus more for greasing the baking dish
  • cup dark seedless raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Greek One-Pan Pasta

I have one more Greek dish to share- for now. 🙂 I incorporated rotisserie chicken meat to make this a super-fast weeknight dish. The dill and lemon zest make it reminiscent of avgolemono. Cooking the pasta in chicken stock gives it wonderful flavor and adds creaminess to the finished dish.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I modified the proportions. Easy and great! We ate it warm but it would also be delicious served cold or at room temperature as a pasta salad.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound fusilli
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • finely grated lemon zest, from one lemon (reserve some for garnish)
  • 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds shredded rotisserie chicken meat
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
  1. Combine stock, pasta, oil, lemon zest, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 3/4 cups water in a large straight-sided skillet. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, 9 minutes.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Continue to cook, stirring, until pasta is al dente and chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes more.
  4. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice and dill. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.
  5. Serve immediately, topped with more lemon zest and dill, and a generous drizzle of oil.

Avgolemono Rice

After sharing my friend’s Greek Meat Stuffing recipe, I realized that I have other Greek-inspired dishes to share. As avgolemono soup is one of my all-time favorites, I must say that the star of this dish is the creamy but cream-less egg-lemon sauce. It seems to bring brightness that should be served in springtime. 🙂

This dish was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Gabrielle Hamilton. I used chicken stock instead of lamb stock. The author states that it is easier to perfect the rice by cooking it pasta style, in seasoned, boiling water. She also suggests using the delicious sauce with asparagus, roasted salmon, or poached chicken. Nice.

  • coarse salt, for cooking rice and for seasoning the sauce
  • 1 ¼ cups jasmine or Basmati rice
  • 1 cup frozen small peas
  • 2 cups homemade brown lamb stock, turkey stock, or chicken stock
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 scallions, sliced in 1/3-inch rings, on a slight bias
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil. Season lightly with salt.
  2. Rinse the rice, and pour into boiling water, stirring well to keep grains from clumping. When the water returns to a boil, lower heat a little to a gentle boil, and cook the rice “pasta-style” until just done. (I cooked the rice 8-9 minutes.)
  3. Drain the rice through a fine-mesh colander, giving it a couple of hearty shakes to remove the last of the water.
  4. Immediately spread cooked rice out on a sheet pan lined with parchment to cool quickly. Do not pat down or pack the rice — you want it fluffy and to be able to cool and dry quickly.
  5. Rinse the peas under cool water briefly to remove any frosty crystals.
  6. Bring the stock to a simmer.
  7. In a stainless bowl, whisk egg yolks and lemon juice together until fully incorporated.
  8. In a slow steady stream, while constantly whisking, add half the hot stock into the yolks. Then whisk the egg-lemon mixture back into the remaining stock.
  9. Return the pot to the stove, and simmer (still whisking constantly so as not to cook the egg too fast and too hard), until the avgolemono sauce is full-bodied, approximately the consistency of buttermilk — a minute or 90 seconds more.
  10. Stir in the scallions, then the peas, and when they both turn bright green, turn off the heat, and stir in the rice.
  11. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The rice should be as soupy as risi e bisi (Italian rice and peas) and as creamy as risotto.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

I made this dessert for my Valentine this year. ❤ He added a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

In part, I chose rice pudding because I wanted to make a dessert in ramekins that I had just found at an estate sale. 🙂 Thankfully, my husband is a fan. This recipe was slightly adapted from Food 52 Genius Desserts, contributed by Molly Wizenberg.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 (I filled 6 ramekins)

  • 1 1/2 cups (355 g) water
  • 3/4 cup (135 g) white Basmati rice
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3 cups (735 g) whole milk
  • 1 cup (235 g) heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • cinnamon, for serving, optional
  1. Bring the water, rice, and salt to a simmer in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour in the milk, cream, and sugar.
  3. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with the tip of a paring knife and then add the seeds and vanilla pod to the pot. Stir to combine.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a rubber spatula, until the rice is tender and the mixture thickens to a soft, loose pudding texture, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and set aside the vanilla bean.
  6. Spoon the pudding into 6 to 8 small bowls or ramekins.
  7. The pudding can be served warm or chilled. To chill, press plastic wrap onto the surface of each pudding to keep a skin from forming and refrigerate thoroughly until cold. (I prepared the pudding in the morning to serve that evening.)
  8. To serve, sprinkle with cinnamon, as desired.

One-Pan Bucatini with Peas, Baby Greens & Pancetta

The first time I made a one-pan pasta dish, I was skeptical about the results. Now I know that this technique is absolute genius. Cooking the pasta in the pan results in fabulously creamy sauce. The bonus is the ease of producing a great dish with minimal cleanup.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s book, Cook It in Your Dutch Oven, via Cups and Spoonfuls.com. I literally started making the dish within an hour of reading the post. 🙂 It’s a perfect quick dinner made with pantry items- all in a single pot. Great!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, about ¾ cup, divided
  • extra virgin olive oil, for toasting the bread crumbs
  • freshly grated zest from one lemon, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon or 2 ounces of pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 ½ cups water, more as needed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12 oz (3/4 pound) bucatini
  • 5 ounces of mixed baby greens (baby chard, kale, & spinach), about 5 cups
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Toast breadcrumbs in a small skillet with a bit of olive oil until golden brown.
  2. Next, mix together toasted breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of Parmesan, 1/2 of the lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of coarse salt, and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Cook bacon or pancetta in your Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Set aside until ready to serve pasta.
  4. Add garlic and remaining lemon zest to Dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
  5. Add wine, scraping any browned bits and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add water and stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Stir in pasta and return to a strong simmer.  Cook pasta, stirring often until the pasta is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Add greens and peas.  Stir and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
  9. Add remaining Parmesan and stir until pasta is creamy and completely coated about 30 seconds.
  10. Add extra hot water if pasta seems too dry.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve and sprinkle each serving with crispy pancetta and lemon panko breadcrumbs.

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

This recipe is absolute GENIUS. It was a genius idea for me to make it on Super Bowl Sunday too. I am usually cooking while my family is watching the game- and commercials- in another room. This year, the meal was cooked and ready to go; it was kept warm in the pressure cooker with the lid in place while I was sitting on the sofa with everyone. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the garlic and used ground turkey and whole wheat spaghetti. I also made it in my stove top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot.  We enjoyed it with garlic bread and Caesar salad. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 basil sprigs, plus more thinly sliced for serving
  • 8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti (not thin spaghetti), broken in half
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey (or substitute veal, pork or beef)
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a stove top pressure cooker or Instant Pot on sauté. Stir in garlic, red pepper and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, salt and basil sprigs; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix together ground meat, bread crumbs, Parmesan, chopped basil, egg, salt and garlic. Roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. (I used a large cookie scoop and placed them on a large plate, shaping them into balls when I placed them into the pot.)
  4. Pour 1 cup water into sauce in pot, scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pot.
  5. Scatter uncooked spaghetti over the sauce.
  6. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon oil over spaghetti, stirring gently (try to keep the spaghetti on top of the sauce), then top with meatballs.
  7. Cover and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Manually release the pressure, then remove the cover and stir to separate the spaghetti.
  8. Stir in 2 tablespoons Parmesan.
  9. At this point, the pasta will be almost but not quite cooked through. Place the top back on the pressure cooker (loosely) and let it sit for 3 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and spaghetti is al dente but not mushy.
  10. Serve dolloped with ricotta, if using, and sprinkled with thinly sliced basil and more Parmesan if you like.

Tomato-Braised Rotisserie Chicken with Kale

I love using a rotisserie chicken short cut to make a delicious weeknight meal. This sauce in this wonderful dish reminds me of another one of my favorite weeknight dishes using gnocchi.

It was recommended to eat this meal with crusty bread to sop up the sauce (yum!) so I made Portuguese rolls– a great choice. 🙂 I also served it with roasted potatoes which was completely unnecessary, but pleased my husband.

This recipe was from From COOK90: The 30-Day Plan For Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals By David Tamarkin, via Bon Appétit. Fabulous!

  • 4 oz bacon (about 4 slices), sliced crosswise ¼” thick
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock, plus more, as desired to adjust sauce consistency
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, cut into 8 pieces (breast meat halved)
  • 1 bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (I used a 10 oz bag of kale)
  • crusty bread, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet with a lid over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.) Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened and bacon is brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Add wine, garlic, and rosemary to pot. Cook, stirring, until wine is reduced by half, about 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatoes along with their juices, broth, salt, and red pepper flakes and bring liquid to a boil.
  4. Nestle in chicken, skin side up. Top with kale, cover pot, and cook until kale is wilted, 5–7 minutes. (I added the kale in 2 batches, adding the second layer after 5 minutes.)
  5. Stir kale into sauce and continue to cook, uncovered, until chicken is warmed through, about 5 minutes more.

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