We don’t really do the corned beef and cabbage thing. It’s not our cup of tea. But you better believe we do the Irish Soda Bread thing though. With green decorations. Made out of ribbon, yarn, coat hangers, and craft glue. Yep, that’s how we celebrate.

Want to celebrate like us? Here’s how—
1. Make Irish Soda Bread.
2. While it’s baking, make decorations for the soda bread, duh!
3. Get out some yarn, ribbon, craft glue, scissors, and a coat hanger.
4. Cut the coat hanger into 2 pieces. Wash thoroughly. Dry.
5. Cut 8 2″ (or so) pieces of green ribbon. Add glue to half of the 2″ piece of ribbon and fold over, making sure the yarn is in the center of the fold. Repeat 7 times. Allow glue to dry for about 30 minutes.
6. Cut triangles into each ribbon. Attached the yarn to coat hangers.
7. Once bread is done cooking, decorate.
8. Take pictures and eat!

Irish-American Soda Bread
Serves: one 8" loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 6 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 c. currants
  • 1 tbsp. milk, for glaze
  • 1 tbsp. coarse sugar, for topping
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, and beat on high speed until the mixture is thick and light-colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then 1 cup of the wheat flour. Gently beat in half the buttermilk, then another cup of the wheat flour. Add the remainder of the buttermilk, and the final cup of all-purpose flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the currants.
  2. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8" round pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Drizzle the milk atop the batter, and sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Bake the bread in a preheated 325° oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Tent a sheet of aluminum foil over the top for the final 15 minutes, if it appears to be browning too quickly. Remove the bread from the oven, wait about 5 minutes, then carefully turn it out onto a rack to cool. Allow the bread to cool for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Whole Grain Baking.

I’m not sure quite what to call this dish. It was born in our tiny little kitchen a couple years ago. We were looking for a healthy dish. Full of flavor. And veggies. With a couple whole grains and some protein. So I looked in the pantry, pulled out a handful of ingredients, and Thai Stir Fry was born. My husband likes to call him Chinese Chili.

This dish is quick, healthy, colorful, and super flavorful. You’ll have dinner on the table in 45 minutes made completely from scratch. That’s right. I timed it. I even spilled a glass of water, cleaned it up, and washed some dishes during the 45 minutes. Call in some help, and you can cut the time down to 30 minutes. This meal will make you look like a super hero.

You’ll need 3 pots for this—one for the rice, one for the veggies, and one for the chicken. You may keel over at the amount of ingredients in this recipe, but most, if not all, will be in your pantry. If you’re not into all the veggies, leave the ones you don’t like out.

Thai Stir Fry
serves 5–6

Rice
2 packets of Kashi 7 Whole Grain Pilaf (Buy at Whole Foods)
Veggies
1 bunch of broccoli, chopped
2 red or yellow peppers, chopped
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 c. frozen edamame, shelled
1/3 c. water
salt
olive oil
Chicken + sauce
2 chicken breasts, de-thawed
sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz. light coconut milk
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. natural peanut butter
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. ginger
squirt of Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
1/4 c. water
2 tsp. cornstarch
Garnish
Cilantro
chopped peanuts

1. Rice: Begin cooking rice according to instructions. This will take about 30 minutes.
2. Veggies: Chop veggies and place in large saute pan. Drizzle with olive oil and salt to taste. Add water. Cover and steam on medium heat for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Chicken: Using kitchen shears, cut chicken into cubes and place directly into pan. (I use a non-stick pan with depth so that it can house the sauce.) Drizzle with sesame oil and cook on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large liquid measuring cup or a bowl, whisk together minced garlic, coconut milk, soy sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, honey, brown sugar, sesame seeds, ginger, and Sriracha sauce. Add into chicken. Allow to cook for another 10 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water. Add to sauce in order to thicken. Stir continuously for 1-2 minutes.
4. Garnish: In a bowl, combine rice, veggies, and chicken. Pour sauce over dish and garnish with cilantro and chopped peanuts. (If you’re like me, add a swirl of Sriracha sauce for added heat.)

TIPS:
• If you’re looking to save even more time, buy frozen stir fry veggies instead. This will eliminate some prep work. However, the veggies may not be as crisp.
• While we love all the different whole grains we get with the Kashi pilaf, feel free to substitute a different rice. I would recommend using a slow cooking rice. Put it on as soon as you start cooking, and it will be done by the time you have prepared everything else. It’s all about timing.
• If you don’t have everything in the pantry, here are some ingredients you can omit without seeing a huge difference: edamame, sesame oil, lime juice, sesame seeds, ginger, and cilantro.

How could you say no to this rice?


One Banana Banana Bread | The Fauxmartha

I’m eating a sliver right now. It’s only appropriate, ya know? Let me tell you, the crumb topping is a nice little surprise on the taste buds. Read more

I’ve been a big lazy bum this weekend. Reason being—Broomball.

We played Broomball Friday night, and it did me in for the whole weekend. After all the years of playing competitive soccer, I don’t think my body has ever hurt this bad. Maybe I’m getting old. In hindsight, I should have come armed with knee pads, elbow pads, and a helmet. Speaking of helmets, I took a nasty spill about 10 minutes into playing, hitting my head on the ice. A goose egg bump ensued. Being the competitive kamikaze athlete that I am, if you can even still call me an athlete, I kept playing. But, oh, I payed for it the rest of the weekend.

You’re probably thinking—”Does she want some cheese, with that whine?” I’ll pass on the cheese, but I’ll take a cookie instead. And that’s exactly what I did yesterday. I soothed my soul with a healthy chocolate chip cookie. I wasn’t about to try making a new recipe to blog about with my head being a little more foggy than normal. There’s no telling how it would have turned out. So I stuck with what I knew—an oldie but a favorite.

This little gem of a cookie will delight your palette. It’s tiny. Cute. With hints of maple. Filled with dark chocolate. And hidden with healthy morsels of whole wheat flour, oats, walnuts, and honey. Even college students, known for their fast food pizza eating habits, love these cookies.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Serves: 3 dozen cookies
 
Ingredients
  • 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. walnuts
  • 1 c. pure cane sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. turbinado (coarse sugar)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, Whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in bowl.
  4. In food processor or high-powered blender, finely grind oats, and add to flour mixture. Then finely grind walnuts. add to flour mixture.
  5. Into cooled butter mixture, whisk in sugar, honey, egg, and vanilla extract until sugar is dissolved and all ingredients are well combined.
  6. Pour butter mixture into flour mixture, and mix until just combined. (Dough will be somewhat dry.)
  7. Mix in chocolate chips.
  8. Scoop cookies with a spring release scoop or roll in ball by hand. Chocolate chips will have a nasty tendency to drop out of the cookies. Give them a little nudge to stay inside. Roll cookies in turbinado and cinnamon mixture and place on silpat or parchment paper lined pan. Do not flatten.
  9. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes.
Notes
You can also freeze these cookies before baking. Do everything up to step 9. Instead of placing the cookies in the cookies in the oven, place them in the freezer on the cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. This process is called flash freezing. Once they are frozen or hard, you can put them in a freezer proof bag and store up to 2 months in freezer. When you are ready for a cookie or two, set the cookie(s) out on your pan while preheating the oven. Bake for the same amount of time. You may have to add 2 minutes or so. With this method, you can have a freshly baked cookie instead of eating a week old cookie.

Go ahead and treat yourself to a cookie. A healthy(ish) one at that!

You know what day tomorrow is. The day where you’re supposed to do something extra special for your honey. But it’s hard to be creative every year. If you don’t know how to out-do yourself from last year, look no further.

I’ve got two words for you—homemade pasta. And another three words—tomato cream sauce. Don’t get hung up on the first 2 words. If you don’t have a pasta maker, you can usually buy freshly made pasta from Whole Foods or from a specialty grocery store. If you do have a pasta maker, click here for a whole wheat pasta recipe. (Half the recipe, though, because you’ll only need dinner for two). And let me tell you, the tomato cream sauce is decadent. It’ll make you look good. Best part of all, it’s quick and easy to make.


Whole Wheat Pasta
Half the recipe for 2 servings
Click here for the recipe. I made bucatini noodles (they are hollow on the inside), but any type will do.

Tomato Cream Sauce
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Butter
1/2 Medium Sweet Onion, Finely Diced
2 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 can (15 oz.) Crushed Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Dash of Sugar
1/2 c. Heavy Cream (or 1/4 c. half and half and 1/4 c. heavy cream to cut down a little fat)
Handful of Grated Parmesan
Fresh Basil, Chopped

1. Cook pasta.
2. Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute for a minute or so. Pour in tomatoes, and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste.
3. Cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove from heat and stir in cream. Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings.
5. Stir in pasta and chopped basil. Serve immediately.
6. Watch your significant other look to you in awe.

Now you’re probably looking for something to accompany this delicious meal. Get some asparagus, break the tough ends off, sprinkle with salt and olive oil. Bake at 450º for 10 minutes and serve. Don’t forget a glass of wine. Frank Sinatra. Candles. You know the drill. And to top the evening off, make some velvety dark chocolate pudding. We used Lucinda Scala Quinn’s recipe from Mad Hungry (link includes video). It did not disappoint. It’s quick and easy to make as well.

Hope your dinner for two is decadent. Happy Valentine’s Day.

I need your help one last time!

1. Go to blog.madhungry.com.

2. Vote for Melissa’s chili.

3. Tell your friends to vote too.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

UPDATE: I have tweaked the recipe to add more sugar. Click here for updated recipe. 

Big, fat chocolate chip cookies. Now that’s what I’m talking about!

When I first began this blog, I was on a hunt to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. I like them big and fat. Carol, from Carol’s Cookies, is my idol. She makes them just the way I like it. Problem is, no recipe out there can compete with hers. And you better believe she is tight lipped about her secrets.

Carol left me no choice but to figure this out the hard way. Trial and error, and lots of ’em.

Enter Vanilla Sugar. I came across her blog the other day from Tastespotting. As I was scrolling through, I found cookies that look like the closest thing I’ve seen to Carol’s Cookies. Big, fat chocolate chip cookies. Funny thing is—she’s trying to reproduce her favorite cookie as well, only it’s from a different bakery, Levain Bakery in NYC. I made the recipe Friday night. They were close, but they weren’t Carol’s. (Now keep in mind, we are trying to reproduce two different cookies.) Carol’s Cookies are sweeter and not as doughy tasting. So I slept on it. I woke up. Read a thread about how to reproduce Carol’s Cookies. (Looks like I’m not alone in this endeavor.) Then, I made a POA (plan of action)!

POA—try Vanilla Sugar’s recipe again with some slight tweaks. More sugar. Regular butter instead of European butter*, although I love European butter. But, same technique. Speaking of technique, these are not your mom’s chocolate chip cookies. Throw everything you know about making chocolate chip cookies out the door. Let your butter come to room temp, forget about it. Cream your butter and sugar together until pale in color, think again. Preheat oven to 350° or 375°, not this time.

 

Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from Vanilla Sugar

8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter*, chilled
1 1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 c. AP flour
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
12 ounces (2 c.) good quality semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. crushed walnuts (optional)

1. Using a grater, grate chilled butter into a large bowl. Make sure to scrape out butter left on grater. If butter is too warm, stick it in the freezer for 5 minutes.
2. Add sugars to the butter. Using a mixer, mix until just combined. Do not over beat.
3. Add vanilla and eggs, and mix until just combined. Again, do not over beat.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
5. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Dough will look crumbly. You are right on track.
6. Stir in chocolate and crushed walnuts (optional).
7. Take off your rings—you’re gonna need your hands for this. Gather dough into a large ball, as you would if you were making a snow ball. Place on pan lined with a Silpat or parchment paper.
8. Preheat oven to 365°. Meanwhile, place cookies in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
9. Bake cookies for 18 minutes or until slightly browned around edges. Cookies will still be doughy in the middle.
10. Allow to cool completely before eating. The doughy center will stiffen up a bit.

*Note: In the pictures, I used European butter. However, I used regular butter the first time I made the recipe and the cookies held their shape much butter better. Therefore, I made the executive decision to go with regular butter in the recipe. A little tid-bit for you: according to Sunset Magazine, too low-fat butter (aka margarine) or too high-fat butter (aka European butter) can cause spreading. Go regular or go home.

Here’s the visual recipe.


Have I arrived? I don’t know. But I feel a lot closer than I did last week.

I need your help!

A week ago I entered my Chili recipe into the Mad Hungry Game Grub contest. Today, I found out that I was one of the semi-finalists! Talk about exciting. I’ve been jumping up and down ever since. They even made my recipe and wrote up a description that sounds much better than I could have written.

Like I said, I need your help! Please go the the page and vote for me. (It’s on the right-hand side of the page.)