Living the Country Life

Lisa's Kitchen Blog

Thank you for visiting my blog! I’m glad you’re here. I am a part-time Living the Country Life and Successful Farming web editor, and a full-time stay-at-home mom to my three young sons, Jake, Luke, and Will. My husband, the boys, and I live on 40 acres in south-central Iowa. We have a handful of cattle, an old farmhouse, a dog, a turtle, a goldfish, and a garden. It’s a great life! I really enjoy cooking for my family and friends, and am thrilled to get to share some of my favorite recipes and meals with you. 

Come visit my blog anytime you’re looking for ideas on what to fix for your family. The coffee’s always on!

~ Lisa Foust Prater

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May 2, 2011

Blackberry scones with Devonshire cream


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The Royal Wedding has come and gone, and my mom and I sure enjoyed the day. I went to her house and we watched it on DVR, and enjoyed British-style snacks throughout the day. For breakfast, she made two kinds of scones, using the same dough. She patted fresh blackberries into one half, and pomegranate-flavored dried cranberries into the other half. We enjoyed store-bought lemon curd on them, along with homemade Devonshire cream. The scones would have been delicious by themselves, but when topped with the lemon curd and scrumptious Devonshire cream, they were … well … fit for a Queen!

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For lunch, we had cucumber sandwiches: Rye bread spread with spinach-and-artichoke-flavored cream cheese, stuffed with baby spinach, cucumber slices, and sliced radishes. They were so delicious! And, of course, we drank tea. Lots and lots of tea!

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Blackberry (or choose your own fruit) scones

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2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

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Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture and use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal). Stir in fruit.

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Whisk the sour cream and egg until well combined.

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Using a fork, stir the sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Shape the dough into a ball. Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Place dough on a cookie sheet that has been greased or lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with additional sugar. Score the dough into slices like a pizza, but don’t cut all the way through.

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Bake at 400 degrees F. for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

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Devonshire cream

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3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. sugar

Pinch salt

1 cup heavy whipping cream

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Cream the cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Add the cream and beat until stiff peaks form. Chill.

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April 21, 2011

Corn dog casserole

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those who think corn dog casserole sounds like the grossest thing they’ve ever heard of, and those who demand the recipe and plan to make it that very night. I fall into the latter category. I have three sons, so of course hot dogs and corn dogs are part of my life. .

The other day, a friend from high school, Mike Welshhons, posted this as his Facebook status: “Just got done cooking up some corn dog casserole. Yummy!” Within no time, he had more than 20 responses from people asking for the recipe. He was nice enough to share it, and also posted a photo, which generated even more comments from friends who couldn’t wait to give it a try.  Here’s Mike’s recipe:.

2 cups celery, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 lbs. hot dogs, cut into bite-sized slices
2 boxes corn muffin or cornbread mix
1/4 tsp. ground sage
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used Colby Jack; Mike recommends Cheddar)

Saute the celery and onions in the butter for about 5 minutes. Add the hot dogs and saute 5 minutes more. 

In a large bowl, combine the cornbread mix, sage, and pepper. Stir in the eggs and milk until the batter is combined. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese, then add all but 1 cup of the hot dog mixture, and stir to combine.

Pour the mixture into a greased 3-quart baking dish and top with the remaining cheese and the reserved hot dog mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and set in the center.

UPDATE: I made this again in the slow cooker and it turned out great! Grease your crock well or use a liner. Pour the mixture into the crock and top with the remaining cheese and hot dog mixture. Then cook on high for 3 to 4 hours, until cooked through. Fantastic!

Note: I don’t keep cornbread mix on hand since I like to just make it from scratch, so in place of the 2 boxes of mix, I added 1 1/3 cups flour, 1 cup cornmeal, 6 Tbsp. sugar, and 2 tsp. baking powder. I also didn’t have celery on hand, so I just left that out, and I went ahead and mixed all of the hot dog mix into the batter because I only had 1 pound (1 package) of hot dogs on hand. That’s hard to believe, I know.

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This dish got 10 enthusiastic thumbs up from the Prater family. The kids were SO excited to be eating a casserole that actually tasted like corn dogs! We topped it with a little mustard and ketchup, and it was delicious. The leftovers were great for lunch, warmed up in the microwave. Making this casserole would be a great way to use up leftover hot dogs, too.

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Mike said it best when he described his recipe: “It’s just like going to the fair, but you don’t have  to spend 50 bucks to get in.” Thanks for the recipe, Mike! It’s definitely going into the regular rotation at the Prater State Fair!

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April 19, 2011

Peanut butter hot fudge sauce

pbsauce

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My kids have been asking for ice cream a lot lately, so I picked up a carton of vanilla at the store the other day. Last night, we decided to have some for dessert. I purposely didn’t buy chocolate sauce at the store, because I know they’d go crazy with it and want chocolate milk all the time. We made our own sauce, which was fun, and it turned out to be really tasty!

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This sauce started out as just a peanut butter sauce, but at the last minute we decided to add some cocoa and make it chocolatey. You can just never go wrong with chocolate and ice cream. The result was a yummy combination of chocolate and peanut butter that reminded us of one of our favorite cup-shaped candy bars. Here’s how we did it:

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1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1 Tbsp. unsweetened baking cocoa

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Combine the sugar, milk, corn syrup and butter in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring the whole time. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter, stirring well until combined. If you just want peanut butter sauce, stop right here. If you want to turn it into a chocolate-peanut butter treat, add the cocoa and stir well. Serve warm over ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container and microwave to warm.

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Give this sauce a try … we had a good time making our own sauce, and although it’s not exactly a healthy food, it’s rich, so a little goes a long way. Enjoy!

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April 9, 2011

Hot fudge lava cake

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One of my favorite desserts to order at a restaurant is lava cake … chocolate cake with a core of molten hot fudge. So rich and delicious! This kind of concoction seems like it would be really difficult to make at home, but it isn’t! Once again, the slow cooker proves it’s worth its weight in gold.

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Here’s the recipe for a 2 1/2- to 3-quart slow cooker. I usually double it and pull out one of my big crocks, because the leftovers are so good! When this dessert is finished, the baked cake will have risen to the top of the slow cooker, and the bubbly hot fudge sauce will be underneath.

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1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. baking cocoa

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips
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3/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup baking cocoa

1 1/2 cups hot water

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Spray the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Mix flour, sugar, 2 Tbsp. cocoa, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and vanilla; mix until smooth. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter evenly in slow cooker.

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In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and 1/4 cup cocoa until combined. Stir in hot water until smooth. Pour evenly over the batter in the slow cooker.

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Cover and cook on high heat setting for 2  to 2 1/2 hours, or until tooth pick inserted into the center comes out clean.

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Turn off the slow cooker and let stand uncovered 15-30 minutes to cool slightly and let the sauce thicken. Spoon warm cake into dessert dishes and top with the sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

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Since this cake bakes in a slow cooker, it’s perfect for busy times of the year. I can throw the ingredients together before we leave for an evening of baseball practice, and we have a tasty, warm dessert waiting when we get home! Everyone in my family loves this cake, including Will, pictured here. It gets a little messy, but it’s totally worth it!

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March 30, 2011

Veggie quiche

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Is there a better breakfast than quiche? You can add whatever vegetables or breakfast meats you have on hand, and you get a delicious, cheesy egg pie. You can’t go wrong!

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This is the basic quiche recipe I like best. This time, I included spinach, asparagus, and mini heirloom tomatoes. The spinach went into the dish and the asparagus and tomatoes decorated the top. This quiche definitely has springtime written all over it!

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Single pie crust (Use refrigerated crust or try my pie crust recipe)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup milk

4 eggs, lightly beaten

8 oz. shredded cheese (I used my standard Colby Jack)

10 oz. fresh or frozen spinach (thaw completely and squeeze out the liquid), chopped

1/4 cup chopped onion

Other assorted vegetables or cooked breakfast meats of your choice, chopped)

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Whisk mayonnaise and milk together. Whisk in the eggs. Place a layer of spinach on the bottom of the pie shell. Top with a layer of shredded cheese. Add meat or other vegetables. Repeat layers. Pour egg mixture over the top. I added asparagus spears in a clock-face-type design, with mini heirloom tomatoes sliced in half and placed cut side down between the spears.

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quicheslicePlace pie pan on a cookie sheet and cover the quiche with foil. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15-20 minutes, or until the middle of the quiche is set.

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With this basic quiche recipe, you can create countless different combinations. How about bacon, onion and Cheddar with chives on top? Or ham with Swiss. Canadian bacon and pineapple with mozzarella sounds good, too … like my favorite pizza in quiche form! Use what’s fresh, what you have on hand, what’s on sale … whatever you like! Enjoy!

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March 27, 2011

Greek lemon chicken and potatoes

greekchicken

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This is a recipe I’ve made for years, and it’s so refreshing and healthy. Serve it with whatever green vegetable looks good at the market or in your garden. I am obsessed with asparagus, so it has been my side dish of choice lately, just lightly sauteed in a skillet.

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3 lemons (or 1/2 cup lemon juice)

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

2 Tbsp. olive oil

4 medium garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbsp. fresh oregano

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1 1/2 pounds uncooked new potatoes, cut in half 

1 small onion, cut into wedges (optional)

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Juice 2 1/2 lemons and place juice and juiced lemon halves into a large resealable plastic bag or glass bowl. Slice the remaining half lemon into thin slices and add to the bag or bowl. Add broth, oil, garlic, oregano, and chicken. Seal bag or cover bowl, and marinate at least 2 hours or up to overnight in refrigerator.

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Coat a large baking dish (10″ x 15″ or so) with non-stick cooking spray. A larger pan will allow the sauce to cook down better.

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Place chicken and marinade in pan, including lemon halves. Top each thigh with a slice of lemon. Add potatoes. This time, I used two pounds of mini gold potatoes I found at the market. They were about the size of marbles and didn’t need peeled or halved. Just wash and add!

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Bake at 350 degrees F. for 60 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, until chicken is done and potatoes tender.

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March 18, 2011

Irish coffee cheesecake

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You can’t beat cheesecake. It’s so rich and creamy and delicious. Some people think it’s tricky to make, but it’s not. It’s basically cream cheese, sugar, and eggs. Nothing complicated about that. I’ve made Irish creme cheesecake over the years, sometimes with a chocolate swirl, and it’s always a big hit. I also love a little Irish creme in my coffee on occasion, so in honor or St. Patrick’s Day, I decided to add a layer of coffee flavor to the cheesecake I made for my Irish sweetie. It was the perfect ending to our dinner of reubens and oven fries, and it was even better straight out of the fridge the next morning for breakfast, along with a big cup of coffee. Slainte!

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15 graham crackers

4 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine

4 8-oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened (I used the 1/3 less fat variety and you can’t tell the difference)

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

4 eggs

2 Tbsp. cocoa

1 Tbsp. strong coffee or espresso

1/3 cup Irish creme liqueur

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Crush the graham crackers into crumbs. You can use a food processor to do this quickly and easily, but I find putting the crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and beating them into crumbs with a rolling pin is a good way to release stress. It’s also a good job for the kids. Add the melted butter and combine well, then press onto the bottom and up the sides of a springform pan.

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In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer), beat together the softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time.

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Transfer half of the mixture into a separate bowl. Into one half of the mixture, add the coffee and cocoa and stir well to combine. Add the Irish creme liqueur into the other half and stir well.

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Pour half of one of the mixtures into the crust, then half of the other, and repeat, making layers in the pan. Run a knife through the batter in a tic-tac-toe pattern to create swirls.

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Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes, until the center is set. Let cool completely before removing the sides of the springform pan.

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Here’s a little hint for making cheesecake: Sometimes you’ll get cracks in the top once the cake cools. It doesn’t affect the flavor at all. The best way to remedy this is to make a chocolate ganache and pour all over the top, or if you’ve made a plain cheesecake, open a can of cherry pie filling and pour it over the cheesecake. Nobody will know the difference!

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March 16, 2011

Ginger-molasses cookies

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Here’s another tasty recipe courtesy of my mom. These cookies have the spice and bite of gingersnaps, but they’re soft and chewy, more like a peanut butter cookie. They’re delicious dunked in coffee or hot chocolate, and the dough freezes well, too. Give them a try!

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1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 eggs

4 cups flour

1 Tbsp. and 1 tsp. baking soda

2 heaping tsp. cinnamon

2 heaping tsp. ground ginger

1 heaping tsp. ground cloves

Additional sugar for rolling

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In a large bowl, beat together oil, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir in the molasses, flour, baking soda, and spices. If needed, add more flour to make a firm dough.

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Shape the dough into balls, a little larger than 1″ in diameter. Roll the balls in the reserved sugar and place 3 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 10 minutes, or just until the tops crack. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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February 26, 2011

Orange madeleines & mini donuts

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Madeleines are the perfect combination of cookie and cake, and they’re easy to make, but fancy to serve This morning I came across my mini madeleine pan and decided to put it to use. While digging in the same cupboard, I found my mini donut pans. I should clean out my cupboards more often!

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I made these with a little orange flavor, which of course tastes great with chocolate or powdered sugar. This recipe made 20 mini madeleines and 20 mini donuts. 

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1 egg, separated

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 Tbsp. orange juice (or you could use orange liqueur)

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 1/2 tsp. orange zest

1/4 tsp. salt

Powdered sugar and/or chocolate for topping

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Beat the egg white on high speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar, a little bit at a time, then beat until it becomes a stiff and glossy meringue. Set aside.

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In a separate bowl, beat all the remaining ingredients (except powdered sugar and chocolate) on high for 2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Fold in the meringue.

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Fill greased and floured madeleine and/or mini donut molds 2/3 full. Tap the pans on a counter to release bubbles. Bake 10-12 minutes at 375 degrees F., or until lightly golden.

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Drizzle melted chocolate over the tops, dip one end of the madeleines in chocolate, or sprinkle them with powdered sugar. I put some of the donuts in a plastic bag with a little powdered sugar and shook them up to coat them.

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This seemed like the kind of treat that called for tea, so I brewed a nice cup and made myself a pretty little plate of madeleines and donuts, and had a fancy little snack. The kids loved the donuts, and they’re so much better for them than the fried variety smothered with frosting. Give these little gems a try!

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February 23, 2011

Irish soda bread

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St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching, and I’ve been wanting to try Irish soda bread. This is as good a time as any! I found several recipes that sounded really tasty, calling for ingredients like currants, orange zest, and even whiskey. But then I read an article about this history of this bread.

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As it turns out, traditional Irish soda bread was a daily bread, meaning the women would make it every day, or every other day, beginning in the mid-19th century. There are different recipes out there, but all of the traditional ones contain only the following ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. That’s it! Really!

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Before I made my first loaf tonight, I wasn’t too hopeful. It just sounded so plain. I thought I’d make a traditional loaf, then make another with raisins (called “spotted dog”), and maybe add some orange zest. And, what the heck, a little whiskey. But I was pleasantly surprised with the way the traditional loaf turned out!

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This bread is crispy on the outside and soft and moist inside. It’s zesty and tangy from the buttermilk, and is honestly the best bread I’ve ever made. (I haven’t made a ton of bread in my day, but this is one recipe I’ll be making over and over again.) It was delicious right out of the oven with a smear of butter. And served alongside the vegetable-beef soup I made for dinner, it was perfect for dipping and sopping up the broth from the bottom of our bowls. The kids loved it, and asked for seconds. There wasn’t much left, but we’ll all have a slice of Irish soda toast for breakfast!

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Here’s how I made the traditional Irish soda bread:

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4 cups flour (I used all-purpose, but I have read that pastry or cake flour works very well)

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

14 oz. buttermilk

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Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and combine them well. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Stir to combine, then turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Shape into a circle, about 8 inches across, and pat smooth.

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Grease and flour a round cake pan, and put the dough inside. Using a knife, make a cross shape on the top of the loaf, dividing it into fourths. You don’t want to cut all the way through … just enough to see the design. Take a second cake pan and invert it over the dough, so it rests upside-down on the bottom pan.

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Bake in a 425-degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the top pan and bake another 15-20 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and makes a “thud” sound when you tap it. 

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This is a recipe that’s perfect to make on St. Patrick’s Day, but it’s so easy and delicious it’s going to be a staple in my house year-round. Give it a try and it’ll become a regular at your house, too! Slainte!

 

NOTE: I made this again with a couple teaspoons of cinnamon and 1/3 cup or so of raisins, and it was great! The kids were happy to have this warm loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread waiting when they got home from school, and it made delicious toast the next morning!

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