Some may argue that this is not baking or is so simple that it should not count. The purpose of this Bake Along, however, is to accommodate people of all skill levels because everyone started at the beginning once upon a time. For those of you who think you cannot bake, you’re safe giving this one a try.
In a small saucepan, pour water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir it with a silicone spatula occasionally so the sugar doesn’t caramelize. Be careful not to let it burn you with splashing. It is unlikely if you’re watching it closely (as you should be), but be watchful all the same. Once it has reached a rolling boil, remove pan from heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Gently pour in your peppermint extract and stir.
It’s that simple! Now just use a funnel to carefully pour it into your container of choice. This produces a strong syrup, so you’ll only need a splash in your cocoa or hot chocolate. Enjoy!
First, I owe a shout out to all of my faithful friends and family who constantly stick with me and have shown support to me all these years. This new chapter is dedicated to you. I love you.
I’m just barely getting this blog back up and running after a 3-4 year hiatus. It was rough getting through cancer treatment/recovery and resuming a normal life, but I think I am there (“normal,” hah!) and stronger than I have been in years. I would like to believe that my thyroid and I once had a happy, non-toxic relationship when I was much younger. I do miss it and life without the constant medical appointments or meds, but who cares when it is such a blessing just to be alive? I’m counting my blessings, and they are plentiful. That being said, I have plenty to be grateful for, and what better way than showcasing some of my favorite things to do in my favorite season of the year?
I give you The 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along
Many years ago, a friend of mine brought something similar to these to my sister’s cookie exchange. I loved them so much that I sought out a similar recipe, tweaked it just a smidge, and a family favorite was born. My husband gives these as gifts at work, and I now bring them to my own cookie exchanges whenever I have the opportunity. I hope you get a chance to enjoy them as much as I do. They’re so easy to make, I’ll give you the recipe. 😉
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for Day 2 of my 12 Days of Christmas Bake Along. Post pics of your own Sublime Shortbread Snowballs on the Modern Domestic Goddess community page.
Day 1: Sublime Shortbread Snowballs (Skill level: Easy)
1 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (plus more for rolling later)
2 cups all purpose flour
1.5 teaspoons almond extract
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 cup blanched, slivered almonds
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Cream together butter, 1 cup powdered sugar, and almond extract with an electric mixer. Gradually add flour, and mix until the dough comes together like chunky sand. Using a wooden spoon, fold in mini chocolate chips and slivered almonds. Scoop cookie dough into 1 tablespoon sized portions. Squeeze/roll together in hand to make round balls. Space two inches apart on tray. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until bottoms are just slightly browned. Prepare a large bowl or platter with a generous layer of powdered sugar.
Remove cookies from heat and place directly in powdered sugar. Roll until evenly coated. Allow to cool and roll once more in powdered sugar.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
For all you last-minuters like myself, I just have one piece of advice:
DOWN WITH CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE!
Okay, not really. It’s yummy, and I appreciate corned beef at least once a year, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret: (whispers: It’s not reeeeally Irish.) It’s totally Americanized Irish food faire. Granted, my ancestors left blessed Ireland a couple hundred years ago, but we still love our heritage. (I’m more English and Scottish, but my husband has loads more Irish than I do, so we’re covered.)
Back to the point then. If you want to celebrate tomorrow with something delicious and slightly more authentic, I’ve got some recipes for you to try. Our dinner menu tomorrow will include Beef Stew, Soda Bread, and Apple Cake. These are all adaptations from recipes I have collected from friends and internet over the years. I’ll make them into .pdf and printable versions later when I am up to photographing the yumminess. For now, enjoy!!
Irish Beef Stew
2lbs beef stew chunks
salt and pepper
1 bag of pearl onions
3 cloves minced garlic
a healthy dollop of tomato paste (About 2-4 oz…what, you don’t know what a dollop is?)
1 large chopped potato
2 medium peeled and chopped parsnips
2 medium peeled and chopped carrots
1 small to medium turnip, peeled and chopped
1 small to medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped
4 cups low sodium beef broth
12 oz Guinness (I do a non-alcoholic substitution with usually apple or juice and a shot of malt vinegar because we don’t consume alcohol in our home- or you could add more broth and some sautéed mushrooms)
A few shots of Worcestershire sauce to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish
Use an enamel stew pot or dutch oven and coat the bottom with oil. Brown the stew meat on all sides in small batches on medium-high heat. Each time a small batch of the meat has been browned, just remove it and leave on a plate on the side. In the same pan, sweat onions and garlic, salt and pepper, and tomato paste. Be sure to scrape up all those yummy browned bits from the bottom of the pan and also let some of that tomato paste brown a little from the heat of the pan. Add beef chunks and any remaining juices back to the pan now and deglaze the pan with the stock, your beer or beer alternative, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 1-2 hours.
In a separate pan, sauté with olive oil all the chopped veggies to give them a nice brown exterior. Don’t fully cook and especially do not burn them! This is just to give them extra flavor. After your stew meat has simmered for 1-2 hours, add in the veggies. Simmer for 30 or so more minutes. (Adjust the salt and pepper as needed before finishing.) Garnish with fresh parsley and enjoy!
It’s excellent with Irish cheddar scones. However, I like to skip the cheese scones and go for the sweet Irish soda bread. Truthfully, it’s because I only have so many calories I can spare in one day, so tomorrow I’m going for the soda bread. Leave a comment on this blog post if you want me to share my scone recipe later.
Irish Apple Cake
4 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and diced, about 2 cups (extra is fine)
1 c granulated sugar
4 T butter, softened (room temperature)
1 egg, beaten (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 c all-purpose flour
¼ c chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F
Chop apples and macerate in sugar, salt, and spices while preparing other ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix butter, egg, and vanilla. Add apple mixture and gently mix. Add baking powder, baking soda, flour, and nuts. Mix well.
The dear woman who shared this recipe with me used to make it in a large bread pan, so that’s what I do. Although, you could just as easily pour it into a charming little cake pan or dish and serve it that way after baking. (Prepare the pan with your favorite method: butter, baking spray, etc.)
Bake for 45min until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake is lightly browned. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, or dusted with powdered sugar. (I’m in heaven with just the cake and a glass of milk.)
Here’s a fun tip- I also make this recipe in a muffin tin for quick breakfasts. Skip the muffin liners and just spray the tin directly with baking spray.
Sweet Irish Soda Bread
5 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ c (1 stick) butter
2 1/2 c raisins, soaked in water for 15-20 minutes and drained
3 T caraway seeds (I don’t always have these and it tastes fine without)
2 1/2 cups buttermilk (I don’t often have buttermilk on hand, so I do that milk and lemon juice trick. If I don’t feel like doing that, I just use normal milk. Whatever you have on hand will work fine.)
1 large egg
Milk for brushing tops of bread
Raw sugar for sprinkling tops of bread before baking
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter 2 (9 by 5-inch) bread pans.
Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Cut in the butter and mix very thoroughly with your hands until it gets grainy. Stir in the plump raisins and caraway seeds.
Add the buttermilk (or milk) and egg (beaten) to the flour mixture. Stir until well moistened. The “dough” should resemble thick cake batter like a standard quick bread. Equally fill 2 loaf pans. Lightly brush just a little bit of extra milk on the tops of the bread, then sprinkle the top of each with raw sugar to make it shimmery! Bake for 60-70 minutes. A toothpick in the center will come out clean when it is done. Cool in the pans for 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Another fun tip- Slice it and leave it out overnight to dry a bit and then make French toast with it in the morning. It’s YUM-AZING! (Haha… Sorry, couldn’t help myself– don’t worry, I don’t actually say that in real life.) It’s the best!
And if these holiday meal ideas still don’t appeal to you, despite how Irish they may or may not be, then here’s one more interesting tidbit. Saint Patrick wasn’t Irish either, so just make what sounds good and celebrate however you wish. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and Éirinn go Brach!
My mother has determined that a grain free lifestyle is easiest for her to maintain in order to feel comfortable and healthy in her life. Having birthdays and special occasions doesn’t always make that the easiest, but it is doable. For her birthday I took a traditional chocolate cake recipe and made a few changes. (I can also add that with only a couple other adjustments you could turn this into a dairy free or sugar free cake, too.) I’m happy to say that this was one of the most decadent and pleasing cakes I’ve tasted in a very long time. It’s a definite keeper in my book. Here’s the recipe:
Grain Free Chocolate Macaroon Cake
1 ½ c. coconut flour
¾ c. coconut sugar
¾ c. raw sugar
1 c. finely shredded coconut
1 c. cocoa powder
1 c. butter, softened
1 T. vanilla
3 t. baking soda
1 c. coconut milk
1 c. water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray two 8” round cake pans and line with parchment.
Cream together butter and sugars, add eggs, vanilla, gradually coconut milk, and water.
Carefully add baking soda, cocoa powder, coconut flour, and shredded coconut. Mix well.
Divide between the two cake pans and bake for 30 minutes. Edges of the cake will pull away from the pan slightly and when tapping the center of the cake it will be firm but not hard.
Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
(For the frosting I wanted something cool, creamy, and sweet to compliment the dense richness of the cake. I whipped this like a buttercream frosting to give it a great consistency and hold up against the weight of the cake.)
4 oz. butter, cubed
8 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 T. vanilla
1/8 to ¼ cup of cocoa powder (depends on how decadent you want it)
Whip air into the cool butter, add cream cheese, add a splash of vanilla, then gradually add powdered sugar until thick enough to spread as frosting.
Do you want to know what I do when I need to de-stress? I get crafty or bakey. Last night it was bakey. Chocolate is like my own special, tasty form of valium, so I heeded the call and I was gall-darned determined to soothe the craving. I had chocolate chips, but they’re insufficient. I could have made cocoa or baked cookies, but it wouldn’t have been good enough. Oh no! I had to go all the way and make the fudgiest brownie I possibly could with what was in my pantry. Alas, my best cookbooks are still lost in boxes as I try to unpack from having moved 3 months ago. (I know, I need to pick up the pace on that.) So I had to get a random recipe from the internet before dinner and make do with it.
All of you foodies out there know as well as I do that taking an unknown recipe from the internet usually goes one of two ways: you either hate it or you love it. This was neither. It was a chain of events that could have proven catastrophic for lesser mortals, but nay! Not for this domestic goddess! I started out intending to try this “Ultimate Brownies” recipe as it was written, willing to give it a chance in its original form before making any tweaks until the next time. (Yes, almost every recipe I get my hands on faces the same fate: try it as it is written first, I make my assessments on how it will need to be improved- because you know as well as I do that there’s almost always room for improvement, and then I work my culinary magic on round two- and in rare cases a round 3, then they go into my personal cookbook. But I digress…)
Here’s a word of advice for everyone that I’m sure you’ve all heard more than once in your baking lives: Always make sure you have all of the ingredients on hand before you begin the project. Desperation compelled me to force myself off of that culinary cliff with full knowledge that I would be forced either to fly or fall. Well… The jury determined that this momma has herself some wings. Because I am radtastic, I will share the recipe. You’ll have to tell me what you think.
Ingredients and Directions:
1/2 stick butter
1 c semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 c sour cream
1 c pumpkin purée
1-1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 T vanilla extract
1 c cocoa
1 t salt
1 c flour
Melt the butter and chocolate chips, add the sour cream, mix until smooth. Add the pumpkin purée, mix well, then gradually add the eggs until everything is incorporated. Add the sugars and vanilla (I don’t drink or bake with alcohol- shocking but true- but if you do, then this would be a good place to put half vanilla extract and half bourbon or kahlúa on your own particularly stressful day) and mix until smooth. Then just gradually add the cocoa powder, salt, and then flour until everything is incorporated. Pour into two 8”x10” pans which you have generously coated with baking spray. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes or until they smell absolutely awesome from the oven and they are firm to touch when tapping the center of them. Allow them to cool slightly and then cut them however large or small you like! They taste like treacley chocolatey pumpkin heaven! Also before serving, if you dig it, dust them with a bit of powdered sugar. It’s pretty. 😉