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Irish Soda Bread

4 to 4 1/2 cups flour

1 Tbsp sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

4 Tbsp butter

1 cup raisins

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk together 4 cups of flour, the sugar, salt, and baking soda into a large mixing bowl.

Using your (clean) fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, then add in the raisins.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add beaten egg and buttermilk to well and mix in with a wooden spoon until dough is too stiff to stir.

Dust hands with a little flour, then gently knead dough in the bowl just long enough to form a rough ball. If the dough is too sticky to work with, add in a little more flour. Do not over-knead!

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into a round loaf. Note that the dough will be a little sticky, and quite shaggy (a little like a shortcake biscuit dough).

You want to work it just enough so that the flour is just moistened and the dough just barely comes together. Shaggy is good. If you over-knead, the bread will end up tough.

Score with an X:

Transfer dough to a large, lightly greased cast-iron skillet or a baking sheet (it will flatten out a bit in the pan or on the baking sheet).

Using a serrated knife, score top of dough about an inch and a half deep in an “X” shape. The purpose of the scoring is to help heat get into the center of the dough while it cooks.

Bake:

Transfer to oven and bake at 425°F until bread is golden and bottom sounds hollow when tapped, about 35-45

(If you use a cast iron pan, it may take a little longer as it takes longer for the pan to heat up than a baking sheet.)

Check for doneness also by inserting a long, thin skewer into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done.

Hint 1: If the top is getting too dark while baking, tent the bread with some aluminum foil.

Hint 2: If you use a cast iron skillet to cook the bread in the oven, be very careful when you take the pan out. It’s easy to forget that the handle is extremely hot. Be sure to put a pot holder over it.

Let cool a few minutes:

Remove pan or sheet from oven, let bread sit in the pan or on the sheet for 5-10 minutes, then remove to a rack to cool briefly.

Serve bread warm, at room temperature, or sliced and toasted. Best when eaten warm and just baked.

Mini Christmas Tree Pizzas

Prepared pizza dough (or make your own)

Pizza sauce or Pesto

Mini peperoni

Mozzarella cheese

Green, red and yellow pepper

Any other topping you want!  Banana peppers, black olives etc

 

Prepare pizza crust according to package directions.

On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into large rectangle, about 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick.

Using large Christmas tree cookie cutter, cut out 12 Christmas trees, re-rolling dough as needed. Transfer tree pizzas to 2 large parchment paper–lined baking sheets, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

Spread sauce over each pizza; sprinkle with cheese. Garnish with pepperoni, colored peppers and any other topping…be creative 🙂

Bake according to package directions, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Buffalo Chicken Chili

2 tablespoons veg oil

4 large garlic cloves, chopped (I use the minced in the jar)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2  teaspoon celery salt

1/2 teaspoon tarragon

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces

salt & pepper to taste

3 15-ounce cans of Bush’s White Chili Beans (or cannellini beans), do NOT drain

1 cup canned chicken broth

1/3 cup buffalo hot wing sauce

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 package ranch dressing mix

1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, diced

1 (8 ounce) can corn

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, add garlic, cumin, celery salt and tarragon. Sauté for about 3 minutes. While that is sautéing, season cut chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Sauté for an additional 5 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Add beans, chicken broth, buffalo hot wing sauce and cream to pot, stir to combine. Add ranch dressing mix, tomatoes and corn and stir. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then cook on low for at least 30 mins.

Serve in bowl and top with blue cheese and green onions if you’d like

 

Asparagus Tart

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (a 9 1/2- by 9-inch sheet from a 17.3-ounce package)

1 cup mascarpone

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 large egg, beaten

1 lemon, zest finely grated (about 1 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

1 pound pencil asparagus, woody bottoms trimmed off

1 tablespoon olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

Lightly dressed greens, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the puff pastry to a 9- by 12-inch even rectangle. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Combine the mascarpone, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the salt, the flour, egg and lemon zest, and then fold in the chives and tarragon. Spread over the puff pastry, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Make small cuts around the border about 1 inch apart with the tip of a paring knife.

Toss the asparagus with the olive oil in a bowl. Lay half of the asparagus in a neat row across the surface of the tart so the tips meet the edge. Do the same in the opposite direction with the remaining asparagus. Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper. Bake until the border of the tart is deep golden and puffed and the top is lightly spotted golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

Serve with lightly dressed greens.

Cobb Salad Dip

1 packet Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Dips Mix

16 ounces sour cream

¾ cup shredded cooked chicken

½ cup crumbled bacon

½ cup crumbled hard-boiled eggs

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

¾ cup diced avocado

½ cup diced tomato

Mix contents of dips packet with sour cream.

Add chicken, bacon, eggs, blue cheese, avocado, and tomato.

Stir well to combine.

Refrigerate 1 hour to thicken.

 

Serve with crackers.

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