Kick start your day with a good breakfast

Happy St. Patrick’s Day


Not hard to guess what’s on the menu this morning: Irish Soda Bread from the Brooklyn Bread Lab in honor of the grit and talent of the Irish and Irish-Americans who made New York City such an energetic, productive city.


And the end result: Light and sweet! The dough is very shaggy, so keep your hands well floured as you incorporate the raisins and shape the loaf.  I cut an X into the top to ensure it cooks through.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. fresh orange zest

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3 tbsp. butter (chilled, cubed)

1 cup buttermilk

1 cup raisings

Sugar in the raw to garnish

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, and baking soda. Add butter and pinch into flour until pea-size pieces are formed. Add buttermilk and stir with a spoon until dough begins to form. Add raisins and word dough with hands until mixture is fully combined. Grease a lined sheet tray. Form round dough ball in tray center. Flatten dough ball until it’s 1 1/2 inches thick. Sprinkle loaf with raw sugar. Bake for 40 minutes. Cool before cutting.

So I’m off to the parade and a pint at my local. I’ve had many a raucous time at St. Paddy’s Day celebrations in my past, so this one can be quiet for a change. I saw a notice for a Sober St. Pat’s party and I thought, “Hey, maybe…” and then I said, “Nah.”

I’ll be thinking about Donegal, my favorite part of the Auld Country. You can see why.




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Kicking off the Leftover Season

Thanksgiving deserves its own moment and attention, and Chuck and I did it up big this year: 23-pound turkey with all the trimmings. Now… onto the leftovers!


The breakfast of champions.

Martina McBride’s bacon-cheddar biscuits with Chuck’s homemade cranberry sauce! I need to be more generous with the cheddar next time; there’s plenty of bacon!


Oxmoore House $30 hardcover October 2018

Martina’s new cookbook is as pretty and warm as her gorgeous voice.

Martha Stewart’s cheddar-sage biscuit has been my go-to biscuit for a long time—long enough to need a rest, but so delicious nobody wants me to stray too far. Martina’s Cheddar Biscuits With Bacon do the trick. ‘The original recipe didn’t call for bacon,’ she says. ‘(That was my idea. You’re welcome!)’ Thank you, Martina, for your magical music and your culinary magic!

Cheddar Biscuits With Bacon

Serves 6         Hands On 30 Minutes          Total 45 Minutes

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cubed

1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

6 pieces smoked bacon, cooked and chopped

1 cup buttermilk

1 large egg, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 450˚
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly coat with vegetable oil.
  3. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or use two knives, until butter is the size of peas; stir in the cheese and bacon.
  4. Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl. Add to the flour mixture just until incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly flour surface, and pat or roll dough into ¾-inch thickness; cut with a 3-inch round cutter, and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

If you’re in a rush, these work great as drop biscuits. Using an ice cream scoop or ¼-cup measuring cup, drop the batter on the prepared pan.—(c) 2018 Martina McBride

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Been too long…

rise and shine

National Hot Breakfast Month is a perfect reason to jump back in here and refresh this blog (though today’s breakfast was only nominally hot…whole wheat toast with natural peanut butter, a lifelong friend with big benefits).

This month, I’ll share ideas for breakfast for one (I don’t count the nibbles I share with my corgi who lives by the rule “when you eat, I eat!”).



Pizza for one, anyone? Watch this space tomorrow for an Italian-flavored feast.



TGIF–Pie for Breakfast!

This year, the acronym above stands for “Thank God it’s finished!” This Thanksgiving will go down in the near-disaster column, with a large helping of “I told you so” (this involves a Pyrex roasting pan on a hot coil–you can imagine what happened next).

Really, overall, the meal was delicious and Gracie was perfectly behaved (better than some two-legged guests, and that’s all I’m going to say about that).

Here’s to pie for breakfast: this is an apple crostada from Claudia Fleming, the first pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern: buttery pastry, zesty lemon-and-cinnamon flavored apples, and a crunchy brown sugar crumble. When people ask what a “crostada” is, I tell them it’s like a fruit-flavored volcano.

DSC01884She improves this even more with a bacon toffee sauce! It’s heavenly with or without.

Now, let the holiday frenzy begin!

it's a wonderful life

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Sweetest Day Breakfast

Here’s a holiday I knew absolutely nothing about until my assistant at work, a native of Cleveland, asked, “You mean, you didn’t get anything on Sweetest Day?” Started by a coven of candy manufacturers in 1921, guess what you’re supposed to give? Well, even though dark chocolate is now recognized as a health food, I’ll leave my Lindt truffles in the fridge, my Aunt Ellen’s fudge in the freezer, and go with honey, a natural sweetener.

Here’s my own granola recipe that gave this blog its name: Butterscotch Blastoff

An easy, healthy gift from the kitchen

An easy, healthy gift from the kitchen

Combine 1 cup of old-fashioned oats with ½ a cup of chopped nuts; add a good shake of salt and cinnamon. Mix well. Boil a ¼ cup of honey and ⅛ of a cup of canola oil for 1 minute and pour over the dry mixture. Mix well until every oat and nut is covered. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake at 325ºF  for 8 minutes; toss the oats and bake for another 8 minutes. Cool completely; the mixture will crisp up. Break into pieces. Add a handful each of butterscotch morsels and raisins. It will keep in an air-tight container for one week.

Well, it should, but I’ve never known it to last that long!

What would you give someone you love for Sweetest Day?

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Hispanic Heritage Breakfast

Buenos Dias! It’s high time I recognized Hispanic Heritage Month.

Here are those sour cream corn muffins again--corn is so universal.

Here are those sour cream corn muffins again–corn is so universal.

I’m re-reading Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street because she and I were born in Chicago just two years apart and we share a heritage, though our stories were lived out on either ends of Paulina Avenue.

Aunt Ber never wanted to leave her parents' apartment, something like this.

Aunt Ber never wanted to leave her parents’ apartment, something like this.

My father’s grandparents, the Hartkes, lived on the north side; this is not theirs in the 4800 block on Paulina, but maybe something like their apartment house. Their apartment was huge and very grand to five-year-old me. There was a vitrine filled with delicate china figurines and their dining room table seemed like it was a mile long.

When Sandra Cisneros wrote The House on Mango Street, she lived at 1814 N. Paulina Street.

She was there in "1980, in the down-at-the-heels Bucktown neighborhood before it's discovered by folks with money."

She lived there, she says, in “1980, in the down-at-the-heels Bucktown neighborhood before it’s discovered by folks with money.”

This is the real house on Mango Street, the address of which is actually the very workaday, not musical nor Hispanic, Campbell Street.

the real house on mango street

But what went on there between the generations, as Cisneros writes so beautifully, is what went on in my grandparents’ and great aunt’s house and in my house as I grew up: the elders wanted better for their children and rued the chances they missed.

“A Smart Cookie

I could’ve been somebody, you know? my mother says and sighs. She has lived in this city her whole life. She can speak two languages. She can sing an opera. She know how to fix a T.V. But she doesn’t know which subway train to take to get downtown. I hold her hand very tight while we wait for the right train to arrive.

She used to draw when she had time. Now she draws with a needle and thread, little knotted rosebuds, tulips made of silk thread. Someday she would like to go to the ballet. Someday she would like to see a play. She borrows opera records from the public library and sings with velvety lungs powerful as morning glories.

Today while cooking oatmeal she is Madame Butterfly until she sighs and points the wooden spoon at me. I could’ve been somebody, you know? Esperanza, you go to school. Study hard. That Madame Butterfly was a fool. She stirs the oatmeal. Look at my comadres. She means Izaura whose husband left and Yolanda whose husband is dead. Got to take care all your own, she says shaking her head.

Then out of nowhere:

Shame is a bad thing, you know. It keeps you down. You want to know why I quit school? Because I didn’t have nice clothes. No clothes, but I had brains.

Yup, she says disgusted, stirring again. I was a smart cookie then.”

Copyright 1984 by Sandra Cisneros

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Kitchen Experiments–What Shall I Do With Bacon?

Yesterday was International Bacon Day–and boy, do I love bacon! Looking around my larder this morning, I decided to try a twist on angels on horseback, oysters wrapped in bacon and broiled. I cut a quarter of a ripe plum, wrapped it in half a slice of raw bacon and broiled it until I was afraid the kitchen would catch on fire.

Scoop these up with a spoon!

Scoop these up with a spoon!

Even so, the bacon was not crispy enough for me. The plums got so soft, they oozed out of the bacon. Not bad, but my plan to introduce “Sweet Temptations” to the world needs more work.

I opted for a green salad with crispy, crumbled bacon, plum slices, and yellow pepper strips in a balsamic vinaigrette. On a humid late-summer morning, it was cold and crunchy, had that sweet-savory punch, and the fresh fruit and veg  assuaged my guilt for having eaten four slices of bacon before 9:30. Give it a try!

I need a pair of madras Bermuda shorts in this color combination!

I need a pair of madras Bermuda shorts in this color combination!

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Banana Split for Breakfast


When I was twelve, there was nothing I loved more than to ride my blue Schwinn bicycle from 309 Corte Madera Road in Mill Valley, CA to the Baskin-Robbins in town for a banana split. Well, here it is (choke, cough) years later and I’m still lovin’ it, without the bike, without the B-R. I make it right here at home a little bit healthier.

Scoop three different flavors of your favorite frozen yogurt or sorbet into a banana boat. Place two halves of a banana, sliced lengthwise, on either side. Spoon blueberry and pineapple preserves on the right and left scoops. Garnish them all with chopped pecans. Drop a dollop of Greek yogurt on the middle scoop and finish with a section of clementine on top.

Happy National Banana Split Day!

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