Dragonfly Home Recipes

Recipes, Photography, Musings

Month: February 2016

Brown Soda Bread With Molasses

This rich, hearty, earthy bread is so satisfying, so delicately flavorful, that you will find yourself enjoying every bite.  With just a few ingredients, it is very easy to make, and you can have a homemade loaf of bread on your table in a little less than an hour.  It’s delicious for breakfast with a little butter or marmalade, or with dinner alongside a bowl of stew or soup.

soda bread with hands 4Sometimes the best things happen as a result of necessity.  I often freak out when life throws me a monkey wrench or a curve ball, but really, often, something good comes of those curve balls.  Discovering this bread recipe was one of those good things.

Yesterday, the kids and I were snowed in with no bread in the house.  After a winter with a relatively small amount of snow (for Michigan anyway), we suddenly got hit with a big snowstorm, and it snowed all day and all night.  My husband went to work amidst snow drifts and howling wind, but the kids had a snow day off of school, and I stayed home with them .  My husband barely got out of our driveway, so I knew I had a lot of shoveling to do before we went anywhere or he got home.  We also lost electricity for a few hours.  My original plans for the day vanished into the winter wind.

soda bread against whiteWhile the kids and I were sitting close to our gas fireplace to stay warm,(thank goodness for that during power outages!), I found the recipe for this tasty bread in a cookbook my mom recently gave me called The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle.  As soon as our electricity came back, I made this bread, and then made another loaf this morning.  We had it with soup last night, and with breakfast this morning.  I am really excited about this bread, because everyone in my family likes it, and it is so versatile.  It tastes rustic and homemade, yet only takes around an hour to make, including baking time.  There is just the tiniest hint of sweetness from the molasses.

DSC_0945And after raging for a few minutes about losing electricity for the second time this week due to the weather, I found myself enjoying the quiet time.  My kids and I ate pretzels and pistachios for lunch, sat around the fireplace together, and listened to music on our hand-crank-powered radio.  They went outside and built a fort in the snow, and when they came in, all their wet things dried quickly by the fireplace.  Our power came back within a few hours.  I didn’t get a lot done that day, but had quality time with my kids and made this awesome bread.

I hope you all have a great weekend! soda bread with dogsnowy pines 2I am sharing this recipe with the group of amazing bloggers at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Suzanne @ apuginthekitchen and Zeba @ Food For The Soul.

Brown Soda Bread with Molasses

  • Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 and 3/4 cups of buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, oats, salt, and baking soda.  In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and molasses.  If you don’t have buttermilk, substitute with regular milk and a tablespoon of vinegar.  Make a well in the flour mixture, and pour the buttermilk mixture into the well.  Gently stir the mixture together, until well combined.  Using floured hands, form the batter into a soft ball.

Shape the dough into a circle and place it on the lined baking sheet.  Press the ball gently to about 2 inches thick.  With a sharp knife with a long blade, cut a deep cross across the top.

Bake in your 450-degree oven for 15 minutes.  Then reduce the heat to 400 degrees.  Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the bottom of the bread sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool slightly on a wire rack, and slice.  Serve warm.  Also tastes great the next day, warmed up or toasted, or just as is. Enjoy!

This recipe is adapted from The Irish Kitchen: 150 Recipes for Everyday Cooking from the Emerald Isle.

 

Hot Chicken Salad

Serve this hot chicken salad on a bed of greens with a side of seasonal fruit for a special lunch or a light dinner.  Tender chicken is baked with chopped celery, slivered almonds, and sliced mushrooms, all in a tangy sauce of mayonnaise and lemon juice, topped with browned, crunchy potato chips.  It’s easy to make, yet it tastes like something special and delicious.

hot chicken salad with pink vaseThe recipe for this simple, yet elegant salad is from my grandmother:  a charming, elegant lady who had a beautiful life, yet faced many challenges and struggles with a sense of grace that I can only hope to someday cultivate.  According to my mother, my grandma often served this hot chicken salad at the bridal showers she hosted.  My mother’s extended family is very large, and grandma liked to have parties, so she had a great many bridal showers at her house over the years. I can remember eating this lovely chicken salad at her house as a young girl, sitting at a table with my cousins and giggling.

vegetables for hot chicken saladI had some extra cooked chicken that needed to be used the other day, and suddenly remembered this salad.  I’m so glad I made it, because not only does it taste delicious, it also gives me a chance to write a bit about my grandmother, and to share it here on the blog.  This recipe is a classic that does not go out of style (at least in my opinion!)

hot chicken salad against dark 5Today is special for another reason.  Today is my father’s birthday.  I started this blog a couple months short of two years ago, soon after my father passed away. I had been wanting to start a blog for awhile, so I finally did, in part to honor the memory of him.  He and I shared a passion for good food, photography, and writing.  By focusing on these things, I felt (and still feel) a connection with him.  I know he would enjoy it, and I also want to do justice to his camera that he gave to me when he knew his physical health was in question.  I treasure that camera, and my memories of him.

The sun is shining today, finally! It is so good to see bright sunshine–it seems we do not see enough of it here in Michigan in the winter time.  I have noticed that the days are getting longer, with mornings and evenings becoming gradually brighter.  We had a beautiful sunrise this morning, with the frost on the tree branches sparkling like jewels.

I hope you all have a great weekend! This post will be shared at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living.sparkling sunrise 2hot chicken salad with vase 1

Hot Chicken Salad

  • Servings: about 6-8
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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked chicken
  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 2 cups of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of onion, finely sliced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 and 1/4 cup of crumbled potato chips

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Wash, chop, and slice the vegetables.  Shred the cooked chicken if it is not already shredded.  Mix the first eight ingredients together in a large bowl.  Transfer the mixture to a large casserole or baking dish.  Sprinkle the mixture with the shredded cheese and crumbled potato chips.  Bake in your 450-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or till chips are golden, cheese is melted, and the mixture is hot.  Place each serving on a bed of greens with seasonal fruit.  Enjoy!

Revitalizing Berry Smoothie

Treat your body to a smoothie full of vibrant flavors and important nutrients.  Frozen blueberries, tart cherries, and cranberries give this smoothie lots of flavor and antioxidants, not to mention a naturally beautiful color.  Ground flax seeds and hemp seeds add Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, protein, and lignans, among other nutrients, which is probably why these little seeds are sometimes called “super seeds.”  Just add a splash of cranberry juice and a handful of ice, blend it all up, and you have a bright, tasty beverage full of anti-inflammatory properties.

berry smoothie with purple 6There is a lot of talk these days about chronic inflammation and how it contributes to a lot of health problems, including arthritis, heart disease, auto-immune disorders, and depression.  And apparently, in our modern society, many are at risk of developing chronic inflammation with our processed foods, high sugar intake, and fast-paced lifestyle.

berry smoothie with glassI am definitely not an expert on inflammation in the body, but what I read makes a lot of sense.  According to Paul DiCorleto, PhD, in an article for the Cleveland Clinic, inflammation is the body’s natural way of fighting an illness or injury.  When the illness or injury is healed, the inflammation response is supposed to shut off.  However, sometimes the body’s inflammation response does not stop, due to chronic anxiety, diet, or other factors. “Over time, you can end up with too much of a good thing. With chronic inflammation, your body is on high alert all the time,” says Dr. DiCorleto.  This can cause lots of problems within the body.

DiCorleto and other experts recommend making lifestyle choices that will help reduce the risk of developing chronic inflammation. These include regular exercise and eating and drinking lots of plant-based foods, which contain anti-inflammatory properties.  Berries, flax seeds, and hemp seeds are all considered anti-inflammatory foods.

berry smoothie on towelSometimes when I am very stressed out and not taking good care of myself, I can feel like my body is out of balance. That is when I reach for things like this smoothie, and I feel like I am putting good things back into my body, soothing it and energizing it at the same time.  It’s all about striving for that balance.

We may not be able to hold ourselves in balance for long periods of time, but we can continually try to keep bringing ourselves back into balance.  It’s in that process that we feel alive.  According to poet and philosopher Rumi, “Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”

I hope you all have a great weekend! One of the things I am  looking forward to is Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Steffi @ Ginger & Bread and Andrea @ Cooking With a Wallflower.berry smoothie on towel 2berries and seeds berry smoothie on towel 3

Mixed Berry Revitalizing Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup of frozen tart cherries (preferably tart Montmorency cherries)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (depending on your taste) of ground flax seeds (you can buy them already ground, or you can buy them whole and grind them in a coffee grinder)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons (depending on your taste) of hemp seeds
  • 2 cups of cranberry juice
  • a handful of ice

Directions:

Place all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Pour into glasses and enjoy!

Fabulous February Potato Soup

Warm up with a steaming bowl of this deeply satisfying soup.  Potatoes are so versatile that there are endless ways to give variety to the classic potato soup.  This soup, with potatoes, corn, and barley, is lightly spiced with chili powder and cumin, and flavored with a touch of honey and Worcestershire sauce.  Easy to make, not to mention easy on the budget, this soup is a great answer to the question, “what on earth am I going to make for dinner tonight?”

DSC_0520There are evenings when I ask myself that question, and since this soup is made from things that I usually have in my pantry and freezer, it can get me out of a tight spot sometimes. Just serve it with some good bread and/or a green salad, and you have a delicious, comforting winter meal (and probably leftovers for another quick meal–soup always tastes better the second day).  And feel free to throw in some other ingredients too–leftover noodles or couscous also taste good in it!

potato soup with potatoes 2I have been away from the blogging world for a couple of weeks, since my husband recently had knee surgery to repair an injury he got while playing soccer, and I have been taking care of him.  He has been improving really well, but it is a long process.  That’s why wholesome, comforting soups are so good for our family right now.  When things are out of the ordinary, and everyone needs a little extra care, a good, warm bowl of soup can do wonders.

potato soup with spoon 2Or even when things are ordinary, very ordinary, and the February wind is blowing right through your coat, your driveway is a sheet of ice one day and slushy mud the next, a warm bowl of soup can do wonders.

With my husband being laid up for a couple weeks, I have been doing some of his usual jobs around the house.  One of them is taking the dog out one last time before bed.  Although I am bone-tired by then, I drag myself outside and look up, and if it is a clear night, I am amazed.  All the beautiful stars.  Somehow they seem even more beautiful in the winter, on a cold night.  I am thankful to have to go out and look up.  I hope you all have a great weekend.

potato soup and one potatoDSC_0523-001A bunch of wonderful bloggers are gathering at Angie’s Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Lily @ Little Sweet Baker and Julianna @ Foodie on Board , and I look forward to joining them!

Fabulous February Potato Soup

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients:

  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 5-6 medium to large potatoes, diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup of corn kernels (frozen or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 cup of cooked barley
  • 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of milk (I use 2%–use whole or half and half for a creamier soup)
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of chili powder, depending on your taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cumin, depending on your taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • parsley for garnish

Directions:

In a small pot, cook the barley according to package directions.  In a large pot, bring the 8 cups of broth to a boil.  Wash and dice the potatoes.  When the broth is boiling, add the potatoes, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.  Add the corn, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and the cooked barley, when the barley is done.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the celery and onions and mince the garlic.  In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat.  Sauté the celery, onion, and garlic until celery is tender (it’s okay if the green onion gets a little browned).  Add the chili powder, cumin, and flour.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring to combine.  Gradually add the milk, and stir until thickened.  Add this mixture to the potato mixture in the soup pot.  Simmer until the flavors have had a chance to intermingle.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with bread and/or a green salad. Enjoy!