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Friday, December 31, 2021


 I first tried this recipe several years ago and the family unanimously titled it "a keeper".  So, with a different mix of family at this gathering, I decided it was time for an encore. 

It comes together very quickly.  Just be sure to give yourself enough time for it to set in the fridge before serving (3 hours).


*16 Keebler Fudge Shop Grasshopper Cookies
1 ready made graham cracker pie crust
3 Tbsp. hot water
4 oz. softened cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 tub (8 oz.) non dairy whipped topping, thawed
8 drops green food coloring
Red hot cinnamon candies
Spearmint leaf candies

*I was unable to find the Keebler brand, so I substituted a bargain brand chocolate sandwich cookie with mint filling


Crush cookies in a small bowl, add the hot water to dissolve and spread into the bottom of the crust.

Beat cream cheese on medium speed of an electric mixer until fluffy,  add sugar, milk and extract.  Beat until thoroughly mixed,  Fold in whipped topping.

Divide mixture in half.  Add the green food coloring to half.  Spoon alternating dollops of white and green over the cookie layer crust.  

Refrigerate for three hours or until set.  Garnish.


P.S.  Don't just think this is a holiday pie,  Remove the "holiday garnish" and replace with chocolate drizzle, or Andes Mint chocolates and serve it anytime!

Friday, December 24, 2021


 I recently gifted myself a dutch oven.  After seeing so many awesome recipes that can be made in one, I decided it was time.  I had my husband do all the research on the various brands, their reviews, the price points, etc., etc., and then I made the purchase.  I knew exactly what my first recipe was going to be.....French Onion Soup.  I had saved the recipe from America's Test Kitchen and couldn't wait to give it a try!

Man, oh Man!  It did not disappoint.  I had some family over and everyone loved it.  I think I was making groaning noises as I was eating it.  It was that good.

There are several steps, but the majority of the work is done in the oven, so it really wasn't all that bad. 

Are you drooling yet?  This picture is straight out of the oven.  Look at all that melted gruyere cheese.


3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 large yellow onion (about 4 pounds) halved and cut pole to pole 1/4" thick pieces
table salt
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
½ cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Swanson chicken stock)
2 cups beef broth (Rachael Ray Stock-in-a-box made by Colavita)*
6 springs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen twine
1 bay leaf
ground black pepper

1 small baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
8 oz. shredded Gruyere cheese (about 2 ½ cups)


Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.  Generously spray inside of (at least 7 quart) Dutch oven with non-stick spray.  Place butter in pot and add onions and 1 tsp salt.  Cook, covered 1 hour (onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume).  Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot.  Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1.5 - 1.75 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.  
Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium high heat.  Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently, until pot bottom is coated with dark crust, 6-8 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary.  (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions).  Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6-8 minutes.  Repeat process of deglazing 2-3 more times, until onions are very dark brown.  Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in broths, 2 cups water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp. salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.  Increase heat to high and bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.  Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.

While soup simmers, arrange baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven  until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges.  

To serve:  Adjust oven rack six inches brom broiler element and heat broiler.  Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups of soup.  Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyere.  Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 3-5 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes.  

*I was unable to find the recommended beef stock, I used the Swanson brand.

-Sweet onions, such as Vidalia or Walla Walla, will make this recipe overly sweet
- Be patient when caramelizing the onions in step 2; the entire process takes 45-60 minutes
-If you don't have broiler safe crocks, sprinkle the toasted bread slices with Gruyere and return them to the broiler until the cheese melts and float them on top of the soup
-For the best flavor, make the soup a day or two in advance.  Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step one, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe

Saturday, December 4, 2021


I'm so pleased that I finally landed on an approach to veggies that is super easy, as well as yummy.  I literally roast a big batch of veggies once a week and then work on the leftovers at least one other day.  I'm going to share my approach, but I don't have any measurements on this one.  You can start with my preferences and then modify until you learn what you like best. 

The other great thing about roasting veggies, is you can mix it up.  I've yet to taste a roasted veggie that I didn't like.  The picture above has broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and yukon gold potatoes. I love fresh green beans too!

The most important thing is considering the cook times of the different veggies, so the entire dish is perfectly done.  So, referring back to to this combination, I put the potatoes down the center of the foil wrapped cookie sheet (leaving room on both sides) and put them in a 425 degree oven for about 40 minutes.  Then, I take them out and add the cauliflower and broccoli and cook for 20 more minutes. 


Your choice of veggie combinations, or veggie and potatoes. 
1 large plastic freezer bag
canola oil
kosher salt
onion salt


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees 

1.  Prepare veggies and/or potatoes cutting them up into similar sizes so they cook consistently.  I usually shoot for bite size.  If you go too small they'll definitely overcook.
2.  Add the vegetables that need longer to cook (carrots, potatoes) to a large freezer bag.  Pour oil into the bag (approximately 2 Tbsp.)  and shake to ensure they are coated well with oil, add more if necessary.
3.  Shake the spices into the bag ( I usually mix them up in a small dish and then pour them into the bag all at once).  For a baking sheet this size, I'm probably using about ½ tsp. of each.  
4.  Empty the bag onto the pan and bake.

  • Potatoes or carrots need a total of 60 minutes, so I put them in 40 minutes ahead of other veggies.
  • Most other veggies take about 20 minutes.  I'll use the same freezer bag to oil and season them.
  • Using these timeframes, there will be a bit of char on everything....which I love!  You can always learn your preferences on the spice level and cooking times after a couple of attempts.
My husband has become a sweet potatoe fan now that he's had them this way.  He used to detest them since the only way he ever had them was in the traditional sweet potatoe casserole smothered in butter, brown sugar and marshmallows. 


Saturday, November 27, 2021


 As a Christmas present for my daughter and her fiance', I created a "spa sign".  They had recently purchased a hot tub and wanted a place indoors to hang their towels.  She wanted a sign that would hang above the hooks themselves.  So,  I took the idea and ran with it.  

I did share some of my "design concept" with them to ensure I was on the right track, but after I got that approval, the color scheme and additional artwork were a surprise.  I ran several fonts by them, as well as several "names".  They chose the Martin Resort & Spa.

 There were several steps to accomplish the finished product, so I literally had to write down all the steps to make sure it turned out as I had planned.  

The picture to the right is how it all began.  The printout has the four prototypes on it.  I then started sketching the design on the printout and then listed the steps I needed to take.  

I also had some kraft paper that I cut into the finished size of the board and then started placing bits and pieces of the design, (that I printed from my Silhouette machine) to ensure the size of the wording was the right proportions.  

I failed miserably at taking pictures along the way, but here are the steps I (my husband is the expert sander and spray painter, so he just took my directions and painted as I needed) took:

1. Sand and prep the board
2.  Paint the back and sides of the board tan
3.  Print and cut all of the vinyl lettering from the Silhouette machine 
4.  Paint the board Espresso
5. Transfer the "Martin Resort & Spa" to the board
6.  Place the "soak", "relax" , and "unwind" onto the board leaving room to decoupage the palm leaves
7.  Paint the board tan
8.  Remove the "Martin Resort & Spa" lettering
9.  Tape off the top 2/3 of the board and paint the bottom 1/3 white
10.  Remove the vinyl lettering to reveal the tan (soak, relax, and unwind)
11.  Print the palm tree clip art and cut around most of the palm leaves
12.  Secure the palm tree cut outs to the board with Mod Podge (back side only) 
13.  Add additional colors of green paint to the palm leaves to enhance 
14.  Add a piece of gold washi tape over the dividing line of tan and white paint
15.  Mod Podge the entire board (matte) 

I just gifted it to them over the Thanksgiving holiday, and they loved it!  They had just purchased the hooks and will be able to get it up in the designated area and start using it now versus having to wait until Christmas.  As it turns out, the palm leaf theme is something they've already started incorporating in the hot tub area, so my final design fits in perfectly.  How's that for some telepathy?

Thursday, November 11, 2021


While I've seen a number of really cool projects using gold leaf, I've never actually used it myself.  However, since I'm lending my creative hand to some upcoming family wedding projects, gold foil was now in my line of sight!  Yay!  I love trying/learning new things.

This is a very intimate family wedding coming up early next year, with a beautiful meal to follow, so place cards were definitely on the project list.  

The first part of the project was working in my Silhouette program.  I played around with card sizes, and fonts until I landed on something I thought might work. Then I sent them to my printer.  Obviously, the beauty of the machine is it will do the cutting for me; including the perforation line.  Sweet!

Name cards (or escort cards) are generally about the size of a business card, but I chose to make mine a little bigger.....I just thought they were too pretty to be that little.  

I realize now, that I probably should have taken a few more pictures along the way, but it truly was hard to stop to do that once I got started.  I did a lot of reading on what medium to use to adhere the foil and there were lots of opinions, but bottom line since you just need something that is going to dry clear, I chose what I always have on hand and that's ModPodge.  It worked like a charm!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
I found I needed to work fairly quickly.  First I "painted" a glue line where I wanted the foil to go.  I chose to do one line at a time.  So, paint the bottom line, place the foil down, then set it aside and do the same thing on the next card, and so on.  After I had finished 3-4, I went back to my first card and brushed the excess foil away and then "painted" the top glue line and pressed the foil in place.  

The foil sheets are super thin, which makes them a little tricky to work with.  It took me a good 4-5 of the thirteen I was creating to truly start to get the hang of it.   You can see in the picture below a bit of how I was staging the cards during that process. 

I wanted them to be a little abstract, with no two being exactly alike which actually was really easy to do.  Frankly, I'm not certain I could have made them all the same if I wanted to.....the foil kind of has a mind of its own. 

I really do love how they turned out!  I put them on a black backdrop since the linens will be black with china that is white with a gold rim and gold flatware.  Lots of candles and beautiful's going to be lovely!                                

Wednesday, November 3, 2021


 I'm choosing to share my recent Mother/Daughter trip to the Outer Banks, in the event that my experiences and recommendations may be able to help someone who may be considering this for a vacation.

First, as with most of us who had to re-schedule our 2020 vacation plans, this was not the first, and actually not the second choice.....but given the ongoing issues due to the pandemic, the original Europe trip just didn't seem very feasible.    

When I looked at destinations in the U.S., North Carolina was on my list, actually both Carolinas were.  But, once I started to put together an 8 day trip, it was just too much to try to take them both in.  Then, as I continued to do further research on North Carolina, I realized it's huge and has lots to offer all across the, I decided to focus on just one area.  The OBX weather in October would still be in the 60's/70's and there was history, plenty to see and some outdoor activities too.

I chose to rent a vacation condo in Kill Devil Hills, which is pretty much in the middle.  I felt that would allow for some easy day trips to see all the other cities from the Northern tip to the Southern tip and it did just that.  It was a great location!    We literally saw all the towns from Currituck to Hatteras and everywhere in between.  It was so much fun.  

Something to be prepared for is there is no real easy way to get there.  From Denver I could fly into Raleigh/Durham and drive 3+ hours, or I could fly into Virginia and have a 2+ hour drive.  I chose Raleigh even though it was more time driving through rural North Carolina.    The flight options were more favorable in/out of that airport.               
                                                                              Some "must do's" in my opinion is a four wheel drive tour in Corolla to see the wild horses.   It was so much fun driving on the beach and we were able to see about 20 of the horses.    Another one, is a kayak trip.....there are lots, so just pick one that sounds interesting.  You've got to take in a sunset or two....they're absolutely free and spectactular.  One of our favorite spots for viewing was Jockey's Ridge.    Manteo has a ton of history.  The lost colony, among other things, so check it out!  The Wright Brothers Museum in Kitty Hawk has to be a stop.  It's very well done and loaded with a great series of displays both inside and outside.      
                                                                                                                                          I always look up regional foods when we travel, so we enjoyed lots of seafood (obviously)....but, also "apple uglies", Duck donuts, and some fun cocktails.     Be prepared for many things to be closed on Sundays and you'll never have a good hair day in the OBX, so I gave up on that about the third day.  

It really was a special trip.  There's a whole other NC trip that's now on my list.  That includes Asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway and mountain area.  But first.......I am so hoping that our Europe trip can happen in 2022!

Monday, September 6, 2021


 I've been thinking about this patio project for several years now.  I finally decided to tackle it this year.  I had finished another landscaping project earlier in the summer and it just seemed like the right timing.  After all, if I finished the patio then I could sit outside and admire the view of all that landscaping work I had done!

It's different than I had originally envisioned, but it's growing on me.  The colors were a bit of a disappointment.  Our house is two shades of green, so I was hoping for a sage green and tan.  Neither came out like the "brochure", or the paint smear they put on the top of the can after tinting it.....but, it's not horrendous.

It took many days due to the number of steps, and also the weather.  It was super hot, so every day we tackled a step starting early in the morning.  We also had a couple days when rain was possible, so we skipped over those,which obviously meant delays.   The first step was a good power wash!  The second step, filling the expansion joints.  This wasn't a requirement, but I did like the idea of it since I find myself sweeping and/or hosing leaves, bugs  and other things out of those seams regularly.  
Next up......the primer coat. This is a recommended step by Behr (which is rated as the top brand for Porch & Patio paint). We used this when we painted our basement floor, so my husband was familiar with how it goes down; watery and milky. Once that step was completed and fully dry per the can instructions, the base coat went down.  
That was the tan husband described the dried color as a chocolate milkshake, which is a pretty good description.     Now it was my turn......the stencil queen. I have done about 5-6 stencil projects that I can recall. But, I have never done stenciling on concrete.  I didn't really give it much thought.  I did read some other blogs, but everyone had varying I just decided to go for it!

Looking at the picture to the right, you can see differences between the three stencils.  In the first one, I used a firm foam roller.  I've used this tool for many projects.  You can see I have some bleed over, so I thought maybe I didn't "offload" enough paint, or was using too much pressure.  So I used the same roller, adjusting my technique, but still had issues.    In the third one, I decided to switch to a 3/8" roller for rough surfaces.  Voila!  

My other decision, however was the pattern.....I was planning to use this interlocking motif, but once I got these three placed and adjoining, I decided it was going to be way too busy for our little patio. So, I opted to turn the stencil 90 degrees, and randomly place diamond versions all over. Again, the paint color is more of a seafoam green, versus the sage color I had hoped for which in honesty is another reason I didn't want to go overboard.  

The stenciling took me probably six hours over the course of two days. The first day, I literally painted myself into a corner. The second day, I was able to "fill in" where I wanted to add some additional coverage.  It was tempting to do more to fill in the gaps, but I finally talked myself out of it.  

We're slowly getting the furniture back into place after a good cleaning and in some cases a fresh layer of spray paint.  Everything is coming together nicely.  As it turns out, that seafoam green is one of the colors in my chair cushions at the table, so the colors are actually coming together nicely.  

All in all, I'm enjoying the new look.  In case you're wondering we did not put a sealer on it.  We did lots of research.  Behr said it wasn't necessary.  My husband read some reviews from people who had used it and they weren't too pleased with the outcome.  It goes on watery and milky like the primer and if you're not careful it leaves streaks.  Based upon those two things I opted to got without.

Hopefully, we've got several weeks left this season that will allow me to sit outside and enjoy all our hard work.  The morning are definitely cooler, but the temp is still soaring by the afternoon.  Bring on the Fall!!!

Saturday, July 31, 2021


I'm so happy I stumbled across this recipe.  Not only is it Italian goodness in every mouthful, but it is super easy to put together.
Everyone knows how time consuming building a lasagna can be (well worth it), what I would say if you have a taste for lasagna and you don't want to go through all the bother, this is a nice alternative.  You actually build it similarly to a lasagna, but you use frozen ravioli.  You heard me right.  Frozen!

In my picture you see two types, meat and cheese.  Choose whatever you like.  I just liked the idea of both flavors, so I built mine three layers high and started with cheese, put a meat layer in the middle and ended with a cheese layer.  So good!!


1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 package (or two if you want to add both) of frozen ravioli
½ lb. shredded mozzarella (I used a pre-packaged mozz/provolone mix)
grated parmesan


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Add a skim layer of sauce to the bottom of the baking dish.  I chose a 6x9 inch baking dish since I was making this for just two of us.  Begin placing the frozen ravioli into the pan.  Top the ravioli with sauce, shredded cheese, and a sprinkling of some grated parmesan.  

Continue layering to build up your dish.  I stopped at three layers for mine and made sure I added some extra mozzarella to the top.   Tent with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45-55 minutes.  Check at the 40 minute mark and remove foil, so the top gets slightly brown.

Let sit for approximately 10 minutes before dishing it up.


recipe: c/o

Monday, July 19, 2021


It had been quite some time since I'd made a quiche, so I opted for my ham and swiss option, but also threw in some spinach for good measure.  It turned out super yummy, and really fluffy since I used the remaining half and half that I had in the fridge.  

I opted for a pre-made frozen pie shell and was able to have this bad boy ready to eat in about an hour.


1 frozen deep dish pie shell
4 eggs
1 cup half and half  (whole milk works well)       
*1 cup cubed cooked ham 
1 ½ cups grated swiss cheese
3/4 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
dried minced onions
dried parsley

* I purchased a small ham steak and cubed it myself.  I've tried to use the pre-cubed, but the ham is always pretty wet and I found it made the crust soggy.  


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half.  Add the seasonings and whisk until they're fully incorporated.  I didn't measure what I used, but I would say it was probably about 1 tsp. of onions and parsley and 1/2 tsp. of pepper, salt and garlic....add more or less, per your liking. 

Place the empty pie shell on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet.  Place about 1/3 of the shredded spinach into the bottom of the pie shell, layer in about 1/3 of the ham and top with 1/3 of the cheese.  Continue until all the ingredients have been added.  Pour the egg mixture over the top.  

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned.  

Removed from the oven and let sit about 15 minutes before attempting to slice.


Thursday, July 8, 2021


 I've come across a number of sheet pan recipes, and finally decided to try one.  I looked at a number that involved shrimp and chicken sausage and took bits and pieces from several recipes to create my own version. 

This one turned out so well, I'm excited to experiment with other combinations! can't beat the fact that there's absolutely no clean up.  

There's a bit of prep at the beginning cutting up the items, and because I was using a number of different items that would take longer to cook than others, realize that the cooking process to this recipe works in stages.  Total cook time is 50-60 minutes. 


5 small yukon gold potatoes
1 bag fresh cauliflower/broccoli (found in the produce section)
1 pkg. chicken with apple sausage
1 lb. large shrimp

Optional Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
couple squirts of lemon juice 


1.  Cut all items (with the exception of the shrimp) into bite size pieces
2.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
3.  Using a large plastic bag, place the potatoes in the bag, add some canola oil, kosher salt, dried rosemary and pepper.  Seal and shake to coat the potatoes.  
4.  Spray the section of the sheet pan that the potatoes will be placed on.  Cook for 20 minutes
5.  In the meantime, coat the broccoli and cauliflower with the same flavor combination (or add other ingredients that suit you).  Add to the sheet pan (I did not spray any other portion of the pan during the rest of the baking) and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
6.  Using a separate bag, add the shrimp with a little canola oil and some Old Bay Seasoning and pepper to your liking (I probably put in 2 tsp. of Old Bay and 1 tsp. of pepper).  
7.  Add both the sausage and shrimp to the pan and cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, watching the shrimp to ensure they are adequately cooked. 

I have to say, the cooking times were just to my liking.  The potatoes were crusty on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside.  The veggies had just a little char, and the sausage and shrimp were done, but still moist and tender.

I chose to make a dipping sauce as listed above, which I thought blended well with everything, including the veggies.  My husband chose to drizzle the sauce over his entire plate.  You choose....or go naked....whatever, floats your boat.  


Wednesday, June 30, 2021


I love pasta recipes, but I try not to eat them a lot, since they seem to love my butt and thighs (if you know what I mean).  But alas, it had been awhile, so I went with a Grilled Chicken Florentine Pasta. 

I'll be absolutely honest, I didn't grill the chicken.  I just didn't feel like firing up the grill for this....but I'll plan better next time and grill a bunch of chicken and freeze some for later.  It was super yummy with just lightly browned chicken on the stovetop, so I can only imagine how much tastier it would be with grilled chicken!

Get the noodles cooking while you're putting together the rest of the dish, and you'll be ready to eat in about 30 minutes!


2 (6 oz.) chicken breasts, skinned
3/4 tsp. salt, divided
3/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
8 oz. uncooked linguine (I used fettucine since that's what I had in the pantry)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. chopped fresh garlic
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
4 cups fresh spinach leaves


Prepare grill (if you're going to grill).  Season chicken with ¼ tsp. salt and pepper.  Grill chicken.  Let stand 10 minutes, slice thinly.  If you're browning the chicken, season the same way.  Using a large oiled skillet, brown over medium heat.  Slice thinly.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain well; keep warm.   

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.   Cook garlic until lightly browned.  Stir in flour.  Add milk and broth, stirring with a whisk; bring to a simmer, and cook 2 minutes or until thickened.  Add cheese, stirring until cheese melts.  Add remaining ½ tsp. salt and pepper, along with the spinach.  Stir until spinach wilts.  Add pasta and chicken; toss to combine.


recipe c/o:

Wednesday, June 23, 2021


This particular wedding dress is as unique as the couples' love story.  The story spans 15 years. and culminates in a wedding in France, which is where they met as younger versions of themselves.  Spring forward a decade and a half and they found each other after life/partners had come and gone from their lives.  They got married in a quiet ceremony in the Mayor's office, followed by an intimate al fresco dinner with family.  With that setting, you can imagine that my bride was looking for a non-traditional dress for the big day.  In fact, she had a tea length dress in mind.

She brought me a couple of inspirational pictures and I went from there.  Part nostalgia, part contemporary fashion....she was delighted with the end result!  A deep sheer embroidered lace "V" in the front and open back, combined with a circle skirt and flouncy short sleeves makes this the perfect wedding dress for their one of a kind wedding.                                               

                                                                                                                                                    Extra touches like a custom sash with appliques from the embroidered lace, along with tulle inserts along the front and back bodice, takes the design up a notch. 

And of course, with some Covid restrictions still in place in the EU in early June, I made a matching mask for her to use before and after the ceremony.                                                                                 Congratulations to Rachel and Youri....Best Wishes to the both of you as you continue to write more chapters to your sweet love story!       

Friday, June 18, 2021


 One of my all time favorite meals from our Mother/Daughter trip to Ireland was a bowl of seafood chowder and Irish brown bread, or Irish wheaten bread.  It was such a simple meal, but it was so tasty! Below is a picture of that wonderful meal.  

We had many wonderful Irish breads during our travels, this one being one of my favorites.  So, it's become my mission to try to replicate this bread.  It's been a series of trials and errors with recipes, shapes, and loaf pans.  The last recipe has a very good flavor, but I'm still not quite happy with the "loft".  

There are several challenges.  First, our ingredients are different than those in Ireland.  Second, our loaf pans are not the same dimensions (you can see the shape in the picture above.  Their pans are longer and narrower), Thirdly, I'm baking this at high altitude versus sea level. 

Let me take you through all three rounds I've gone through so far.  Hopefully, my efforts will streamline things for you.  I'll also share the recipe that I believe I'll be sticking with while I continue to work on the size/shape of my loafs.

If you do some browsing, you will find a lot of recipes out there.  This one, as I mentioned is a brown soda bread or wheaten bread.  The classic soda bread has just a few ingredients, and does not include yeast.  The leavening comes from buttermilk and baking soda.  The best thing, it doesn't invole any kneading either. 

My first attempt was classic in the ingredients, and also in the round shape.  I even put the cross on the top (look that up, it's a fun story).  You know the Winter Olympics event that takes place on the ice, called Curling?, it uses a broom and has this disc (also known as the rock or stone) that slides down the ice? Well, that's what this baby reminded me of.  It had a decent flavor, but was very dry and the outer crust was rough and fell apart when I cut into it.

For my second attempt, I chose a different recipe.  I found this cute male chef from Ireland on You Tube and used his recipe.  He also used loaf pans.  (the recipe yields two loaves) 
It has a few other ingredients which gives the bread an even better flavor, like a bit of brown sugar and golden syrup (or what we know as honey....isn't that adorable?).                                                               As you can see from the pictures, the slices aren't very tall.                 
My third attempt was to use the same recipe, but I purchased a smaller loaf pan.  I did get the same hearty flavor and a little better lift.   So, I feel like I'm on the right track.  I'm going to continue to work with the size of the loaf pans and I may try to increase the volume of the recipe by another 1/2, which should help fill the pans a bit better (there definitely is room for more batter).  In the meantime, I'm going to continue to enjoy what I've made.  I chose to slice the loaves and then freeze them so I can just grab a slice (or two) and re-heat them in the microwave as I please.   Don't forget to add some butter, and a little bit of golden syrup on top.                                                                                                         

Below is the recipe from Chef Adrian that I recommend.  I did not make any high altitude adjustments, since I believe the height of the loaf comes down to the pans.  The bread is otherwise hearty and moist as is. 


2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 ½ cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. quick oats 


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray or grease two loaf pans (8½ x 4 ½).  Sift the flours, soda and salt into a bowl.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk, brown sugar, melted butter and honey.

Using a spatula (or clean hands), mix gently and quickly until you have achieved a nice dropping consistency.  The mixture should bind together without being sloppy.  Don't overwork. 

Divide the mixture equally between the loaf tins and sprinkle with the oats.  Most homes don't have an oven that can half steam and half bake.  So bake these on the top shelf for 45-50 minutes with a tray of water in the bottom of the oven to create some steam.  (This added technique of steaming, I feel made a huge difference from the first recipe.  My loaves were done in 40 minutes)

Check halfway through that the loaves aren't browning too much.  If they are, reduce the temperature or move the loaves down a shelf.  When cooked, tip out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.  

I am willing to admit, I may never hit the mark on this bread, since the reason this meal tasted so fabulous could be based upon the magical nature of this vacation. 

After all, I was in Ireland with my daughter.  I was walking in the footsteps of my Mom's ancestors. We had just left the Cliffs of Moher where we were almost blown into the Atlantic and a cold rain had started.  We were damp and windblown and tired when we arrived at the lodge.  We went down to their dining room (it was mid-day and we hadn't had any lunch) and this meal absolutely hit the spot! 

In order to replicate this bread to a may come down to another trip to Ireland!  There is a whole section of Ireland that we didn't get to on our first adventure.  Maybe a little Scotland and Northern Ireland this time around.