Kitchen Prayer & Quick Irish Soda Bread


It’s been 2521 days since I lost my son. It’s been nearly that long since I have been able to pray. Unanswered prayers asking to keep my kids safe just set me off onto a negative path. Crazy mad at God doesn’t accurately describe the feeling of losing my son in a senseless accident, but when a wise and faithful friend named Angie wrote on her FB page “faith does not protect us from our sorrow, but prayer will hold you up” it hit me. I’ve been angry too long and it is of no use. In fact the anger is a complete waste of energy that could be better spent in meditation. Putting spirituality back into my life has been a fine turning point. I thank my friends, Kare, Rebecka, Mark, Hilary and my cousin Carol who have gently nudged me forward to believe that life is better with a higher power in it. How about you?


You know what else makes life better? Recipe videos. That’s right. If you are a visual learner as I am cookbook photos and on-line videos make cooking and baking so much easier. Today I feature a re-do of this Irish Soda Bread blog from 2016. Click on that link to get the written recipe, turn up the volume and sit back and enjoy the show.


Are you serving a corned beef and cabbage dinner or Beef Stew? This Irish soda bread will go great beside either. If you like Guinness check out my beef stew and boxty recipe here.  Happy St. Patrick’s, happy week, happy delicious day in the kitchen with your family.


Victory Is In The Kitchen


My daughter bought me this poster at the Churchhill Museum in London. I love how she instantly thought of me when she first eyed it. Of course, as a competitive home cook, my version of victory in the kitchen and the intent of the poster are quite different. Imagine the war struggle and women on the home front struggling to make ends meet and keep a household running. A message like this was meant to motivate a commitment to the war effort. With increasing shortages of food women tended vegetable gardens and used their creativity to put substantial meals on the table with what little they had. They were portrayed as of equal importance in the winning of the war as that of the fighting soldiers.


Maybe when it comes to creativity and a few ingredients I am not so much different from the women in the early 1900’s since winning in my kitchen has been a common occurrence lately. These mushroom lettuce wraps just took the grand prize in the Mad About Mushrooms recipe contest. Inspired by the olympics (Yay Team USA) and ingredients found in a local Korean market these meaty mushrooms soak up the sweet and spicy bulgogi marinade and are a light vegetarian option. Do you like lettuce wraps? What’s your favorite filling?

Korean Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

1 firm ripe Asian or bosc pear, peeled, cored, julienned

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms, washed, sliced (stemmed shitake, cremini, oyster)

1/3 cup Korean bulgogi style marinade (bottled or homemade)*

1 teaspoon Korean sweet & spicy sauce (gochujang) *

2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

pinch kosher salt

2 heads butter lettuce, leaves separated into cups

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

In bowl, gently toss pear and rice vinegar; set aside. Heat a large, non-stick, skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and garlic; cook 30 seconds or until garlic just begins to turn color. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring for 8 to 10 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to brown. Add Korean marinade and gochujang; cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until mushrooms are glazed. Turn off heat. Stir in green onions. Season mushrooms with salt. Spoon mushrooms into lettuce cups. Top with pickled pears. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Makes 12 appetizers or can serve 4 to 6 as an entree.

*located in the ethnic section of grocery store or any Asian market

Here is my first video demonstrating how to build another version of a lettuce wrap. Pretty excited that I have taught myself another new trick. Victory is in the kitchen in more ways than one.


Super Bowl’s Best Appetizers


Super Bowl parties are on the horizon. Planning one is never easier. Finger foods and dip recipes are in order. I bet you have the hot wings covered, so lets move into the end zone with some more winning ideas.


Seriously, it’s not a party unless there is dip. Right? Here is my spicy new spin on the Middle Eastern chickpea puree known as hummus. It takes all of 5 minutes to make in the food processor and really tastes even better if made a day in advance. It can be served with the classic pita chips or if you want to get extra healthy and fancy serve it as a finger food stuffed into those cute little mini peppers. Using the harissa avocado mayo from one of my favorite brands, Chosen Foods, eliminates the need for several other ingredients like oil and spices.

Harissa Hummus

1 clove garlic

1 (15 oz.) can chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained, liquid reserved (aka: aquafaba)

¼ cup Chosen Foods Harissa avocado oil mayo

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons sesame tahini

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

With food processor fitted with metal blade and running, drop garlic through the feed tube. When garlic is finely chopped turn off machine. Add chick peas; process about 30 seconds or until coarsely chopped. Add remaining ingredients including 1 tablespoon of reserved aquafaba. Process mixture until smooth scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add additional aquafaba to thin mixture to desired dip consistency. Stored covered in refrigerator. 


Since we all need balance on the field and on the table let’s go from super delicious healthy to super delicious decadence. Let’s face it. Decadence makes us happy. You need this in case your favorite team failed to make the play-offs, so dig in and enjoy yourself.


Can you say Touchdown! These crispy chili beef spring rolls will have your friends coming over whether they like to watch football or not. Make a batch of your favorite chili. Enjoy some for dinner and set a cup or two aside to cool overnight in the fridge in preparation of these hand-held delights. I love this chili recipe from certified angus beef.


Spring roll shells (NOT egg roll wrappers) are a must for a light crispy texture. Do you fear deep-frying? If so, the rolls can be shallow fried just by turning them to insure an even golden brown on all sides. Remember to roll them tightly and seal them well to keep all the beef chili goodness inside.


Crispy Beef Chili Spring Rolls

Make at least 2 per person. For each spring roll you will need:

  • 1 spring roll shell
  • 1 tablespoon shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cold beef chili
  • vegetable or peanut oil for frying

Lay spring roll shell down on flat surface with a point towards you. Follow photo below for spooning cheese and chili on top. Fold point over filling and roll tightly sealing ends and sides with a bit of water. Heat oil to 350F. Fry until golden on all sides, about 2 minutes. Serve with your favorite salsa, sour cream, and guacamole for dipping. 


See how super thin they are compared to egg roll wrappers?