Irish Bread

Exhibit A

I have made this quick bread for many years. This recipe card is written in my teenage handwriting. It is well documented that this is Irish Bread. See Exhibit A. Not Irish Soda Bread. Can we agree that it’s a quick bread and that it’s delicious? Good.

This recipe defies all baking’s measuring and mixing logic. On the back of the card there is no “cream butter and sugar, adding eggs one at a time…” So every time I make this, I try to remember how I made it decades ago. The answer is the same every time. It doesn’t matter. I just dump everything into a bowl and mix it. I’m glad we got that out of the way.

The measuring is a bit suspicious. Put the eggs in a measuring cup and and add milk to the one cup line. How is that possible? Aren’t eggs different sizes? Do you scramble the eggs first? What sense does this make? It just works. I do not scramble the eggs. I just break them into a pyrex measuring cup and add milk. Ta. Da.

I have added to my repretoire the use of parchment paper to line the pan. I’ve had too many breads stick to the pan bottom and tear apart. I cut the parchment to the right width and use metal clips on the long sides of the pan to prevent overhang paper folding into the bread. I’ve had that happen way too many times.

Along the way I discovered sparkling sugar. It does not melt. It is great to sprinkle on top of muffins, cookies, cakes. It zhuzhes up baked goods. There are other sugars you can use but I prefer white sparkling sugar. It adds some crunch and shine!

Before we start baking, let’s do some prep work. I like to plump up my raisins by soaking them in warm tap water for a few minutes. I use a mesh strainer to drain the water from the raisins. The recipe calls for melted butter. I like to melt it on the stove and let it cool. You don’t want to add hot butter into the batter. Once you have those tasks completed you can start with the rest of the measuring.

Shall we bake some quick bread?

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

2 large eggs


3/4 cup sugar

1 cup raisins

1 tbsp caraway seeds (optional)

Sparkling sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare loaf pan with nonstick spray and parchment paper. Soak raisins in warm water to soften. Then drain water before using.

Crack two eggs into a measuring cup. Do not scramble them. Pour milk on top of the eggs up to the one cup mark.

In a mixing bowl, place all of the dry ingredients, except the raisins and caraway seeds. Pour into the bowl the cooled butter and milk/egg mixture. Using a mixer, mix until all ingredients are well blended. It will be a thick batter. With a spatula add in raisins and caraway seeds. Pour into prepared loaf/bread pan. Sprinkle the top with sparkling sugar

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 350 degrees. I start checking on the bread at 45 minutes. I turn the bread in the oven so it bakes evenly. It’s done when a toothpick comes out clean and the top is golden. Place pan on cooling rack.

Let the bread cool for about 10 minutes before you remove from pan. This bread is best the day it is made but is still great the next day. I strongly suggest a smidge of butter on the warm bread. It’s amazing. Store at room temperature.

Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl

I have had my fair share of failures from TikTok influencer recipes. This one is actually fantastic. It appears to be a re-done Weight Watchers recipe from years ago. The chef/influencer I follow had it down to 173 calories. I, of course, tweaked it and made it less healthy by just a smidge.

I used low fat vanilla Greek yogurt that has 180 calories for 3/4 of a cup. The suggested Fat Free Greek yogurt had 170 calories. I figured if the recipe was a bust, I’d have yogurt I’d never eat, taking up real estate in the fridge. So I bought vanilla low fat Greek yogurt. Marginal calorie increase.

The original recipe also allowed for strawberry jam. I don’t think this necessary. I went jam free and did not regret that decision. I used the suggested sugar free cheesecake instant pudding. It was good. I probably won’t use the sugar free again. The recipe only calls for 1 tablespoon of the pudding powder. I think if you skip the jam and suggested 1/2 broken up graham cracker, you will be just fine.

It does not taste EXACTLY like cheesecake, but it was very tasty. I think you could use any instant pudding flavor. I used the cheesecake pudding and made three variations. One bowl was the yogurt, instant pudding mix and freeze dried strawberries. This was fantastic. The next one was similar, but I replaced the strawberries with 2 tablespoons of peanut butter/chocolate powder for an added 50 calories. Next time I will top it with some fresh banana. It was really good. My original was the yogurt, pudding mix, graham cracker crumbs and fresh blueberries. I didn’t have graham crackers, just the crumbs from a past cheesecake. I don’t think it brought anything exciting to the bowl. I would skip the graham cracker.

I made this, each time, for lunch. It was very filling. I had it with my mid-day coffee. Perfect pairing!

Here’ is the original recipe. I suggest you make it your own, and experiment.

170 g (3/4 cup) Fat Free Greek Yogurt

7 g (1 tbsp) sugar free cheesecake instant jello pudding.

12 g strawberry jam

1/2 graham cracker.

I measured out the yogurt and added the instant pudding into that measuring cup and stirred until it was completely mixed. I placed it in the fridge for about 5 minutes. Then I transferred it into a bowl, so I could gussy it up.

Give it a try! You can make this healthier by adding protein powder as well.

Penne with Spinach-Ricotta Sauce

Snowy winter days bring carb cravings. This recipe will satiate those cravings. I can’t even pretend it’s healthy but it’s delicious. You can add a salad on the side. I prefer to serve it with sausages. Since it’s a simple recipe with few ingredients, buy the best ingredients. Splurge on the pasta, buy a creamy ricotta, toss in fresh baby spinach and grate your own parmigiano-reggiano. Honestly, I often double the sauce recipe. Also, this recipe takes about 30 minutes in total.

I’m a believer of prepping before you cook. Fill the pasta pot with water and put it on the stove. Put an inch of water in a second pot for the spinach, I use a 10 inch fry pan, and place it on the stove. Dice your onion and place it in a bowl. Pull out the your butter and measure the ricotta and cream. My whole nutmeg tends to get pushed into the back of my baking shelf, so I take it out and find the grater. Once I get cooking I don’t want to be slowed down by having to search for ingredients. Being organized makes the cooking experience more pleasant.


6 ounces fresh baby spinach

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound penne

3/4 whole-milk ricotta

1/3 cup of heavy cream

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring your pasta water to a boil.

Bring the spinach water to a boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt. Once it’s boiling, toss in the spinach and stir it. It will greatly reduce, so if your pan is small, you add it a little at a time. The spinach should take about 5 minutes to cook. Once it’s completely wilted, drain in a colander. Let it cool for a couple of minutes. You can use the back of large spoon to squeeze out the water or you can use your hands. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and finely chop it.

Melt the butter in a large skillet and add onions. I like to cook my onions at a low temperature to soften and caramelize them

When the water for the pasta is boiling, add two tablespoons of salt and the penne. Cook per directions on package. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water in case you need to thin out you ricotta sauce.

When the onion is ready, add the cooked and chopped spinach to the skillet and saute, stirring often for a few minutes. Add the ricotta, cream, and nutmeg, and cook, stirring, until the ricotta is heated through and the cream has reduced considerably. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

When the penne is done, drain it well, and toss it with the spinach and ricotta sauce and the parmigiana-reggiano. I pour the pasta into the pan with the sauce. You can mix it in another bowl. If the sauce still seems thick, add a little pasta water and stir. This is handy way of making a sauce creamier.

Serve at once. Simple and delicious.

Here is the original recipe.