Tag Archives: bread

My First Home-Baked Bread

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to bake my own bread from scratch. It seemed like a wild and hard thing to do. Spoiler alert: it’s not. This project is also part of my goal to use cookbooks to try new recipes. This one comes from A Feast of Ice and Fire yet again. You’ve seen me cook for King’s Landing, dine in the South, and bake for The Wall. We are at The Wall yet again, cooking for the Night’s Watch.  And yes, we’re making crusted white bread, just like they would eat. Two dreams coming true! All it took was a little bit of yeast. I would say the hardest part is kneading it out and keeping it non-sticky. Otherwise, it’s pretty simple: mix the ingredients, knead it out, let it rise, and bake!

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Fit’s Food Review: La Vecchia (Santa Monica, CA)

La Vecchia has always been a “treat” or “very special occasion” for my family and I. Most of you know I grew up in Santa Monica, California, and that’s where this gem is located. Whether it was birthday dinner, graduation dinner, or someone special from out of town visiting. I always have fond memories of being so excited and sitting in the restaurant devouring their delicious warm perfectly-cooked bread. It’s my mum’s favorite Italian place in town.

On this day, our last day in town during Memorial Day Weekend, my mum wanted to take us somewhere special for lunch before our flight. She would take no refusal on HER paying for lunch and she decided on La Vecchia’s. So we went RIGHT at opening–11am. It was hard to even get in because tree cutters were blocking the entrance. Finally, we got seated (first ones in so we knew everything was going to be OH SO FRESH). Chris didn’t know what he was in for but I was so excited, basically drooling for what was to come. The waiter came right up to us and gave us water and…yes, you know it, BREAD. And their amazing dipping sauce. I was in heaven.

photo 1 (39)Each slice was as warm, crisp on the outside and soft on the inside as ever. Just as good as I remembered it. And that garlic-basil-olive oil dipping sauce is out of this world. Basic ingredients, but they do it right. Now another food I always remember from La Vecchia is the fried calamari. My mum really wanted to treat us so we got the calamari and a tuna salad. The calamari was just as good as I remember and the tuna was fresh. Awesome appetizers.

Calamari

Calamari

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When I was little, I would always always always order the angelhair pasta. It was the only pasta I would eat from here. With olive oil and garlic. Mmm! However, I wasn’t in the mood for that today and actually had a really tough time deciding. Eventually I landed with the margherita pizza which I of course could not finish. My mum got fish and roasted vegetables and Chris got spaghetti and meatballs (classic Italian dish–he always has to go for this or chicken parm to try new Italian places out).

My pizza

My pizza

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Spaghetti and meatball

Spaghetti and meatball

Close-up!

Close-up!

Overall, we were very happy with each of our dishes. The veggies were roasted to perfection for my mum and the fish was seasoned beautifully yet subtly. The pizza had a nice thin, crisp crust and the cheese wasn’t overwhelming. Great balance of flavors. Chris really enjoyed the spaghetti and meatballs because it was fresh, the flavors were wonderful, the tomato sauce wasn’t too heavy, and the pasta was cooked just right. The only tragic thing about this meal was that we couldn’t eat our leftovers since we were going on the plane! I’m still regretting that. If you’re in Santa Monica, stop by La Vecchia on Main St. for a bite to remember and a great way to stay hungry and fit!

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BONUS KITTY PIC

The only way of seeing Nymeria in pictures at night is with the flash on

The only way of seeing Nymeria in pictures at night is with the flash on

Jodi Boylan’s Amazing Irish Soda Bread

So, yes, this is going to come back to Mary Kate again. You probably think I’m obsessed with her…which I kinda am, but it’s cool. Mary Kate and her family really brought me into the Irish culture which I am now in love with so I’m very thankful to her for that. But I’m here to present Mary Kate’s mother’s (Jodi) amazing soda bread recipe. Last year I baked a soda bread (not her recipe) and it came out botched, so I was so so happy with this recipe and it came out beautifully this past Sunday. I take absolutely zero credit for this one, it is all Mary Kate’s mom. Try it out–you will definitely want to save this one!

Jodi (or Joj) with Packie, one of her five children

Jodi (or Joj) with Packie, one of her five children

  • Prep Time: 12 minutes
  • Bake Time: 50-55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour [I used 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup regular–Mary Kate’s idea, came out wonderfully]
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter [softened]
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raisins, craisins, chocolate chips [any of the extras you want to throw in]

Directions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Grease up a bread pan
  • Mix the two flours, the sugar, and the butter together in a medium or large-sized bowl

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  • Beat the egg and then put it into the flour/sugar/butter mixture

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  • Pour in the buttermilk
  • Add the baking soda

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  • Now fold or throw in any of the additives that you want. For my case, I just used raisins. I didn’t exactly just to 1/4 cup, I just sprinkled them on as I folded them in so that there were plenty spread out

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  • Gently pour and spread into the bread pan, making sure it is even so it rises properly

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  • Pop it into the oven (remember 350 degrees) and wait a dreadful tantalizing 50-55 minutes for it to bake.

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And there you have it. A simple recipe, but an absolutely scrumptious one. I found myself wanting more after Chris and I finished the leftover loaf that Monday. This delicious soda bread does not require St. Patty’s Day for it to be made, make it any day for a delicious, semi-healthy treat! Give your thanks to the wonderful, beautiful Jodi!! Cheers!

Yummm

Yummm