Winifred Horan's soda bread

Winifred Horan soda bread

In the Kitchen with Winifred Horan

Imagine if you will the sounds of the fiddle and the beat of the bodhran, the laughing faces illuminated by the glow of firelight, and the smell of warm bread swirling in the air with a hint of pine – while outside the wind whines and Christmas Day knocks at the door.

If there’s anyone I’ve ever met who personifies the whole experience of a Christmas home party, it’s Winifred Horan. She is the close friend greeting you with unbridled excitement after years apart, even if you are meeting her for the first time. She is the fire in the hearth and she is undoubtedly the music. Until recently however, I didn’t realize that she is also the sweet bread cooking next door.

It was for that very reason I met up with Winifred at a friend’s home in Maine. She joined me to share her mother’s sweet Irish soda bread recipe. We threw together the cake, as easy to make as it was delicious, and while it baked, she filled me in on life around the Horan household growing up, including holidays, food, and family.

For those who might not know, Winifred is a virtuoso fiddler, teacher, and award winning Irish step dancer, as well as an original member of the traditional Irish band, Solas. Her most recent endeavor is a radio show on Bluegrass Country described as a “new cutting edge Celtic music program [that] will bring the beautiful, soulful and technical components of Celtic music from around the world to your ears. Win’s passion for and knowledge of Celtic music is a major asset as she will dig deep into the culture and present classic cuts from the Irish tradition and also introduce listeners to newly composed, fresh and astounding new music from talented young musicians and bands from across the Celtic world.” She is also currently a guest lecturer for the Irish studies program at the National University in Galway.

The day we met to discuss cooking together, our conversation flowed freely, and I was swept away into the world of Rockaway Beach, New York and rural Ireland. As a first generation daughter of Irish immigrants, Winifred has a notable perspective on the marriage of Irish traditions with other food.

“... Because we grew up in an immigrant community of Irish and many Italian families, [my mother] learned how to make Italian dishes like meatballs, chicken and eggplant Parmesan. Something she would only ever have learned from her neighbors in the melting pot that is New York City and its surrounding boroughs”.

In a way, the kitchen was a place where Winifred learned about the larger world she would later explore as one of its most popular Irish musicians. And her mother’s love for cooking became the roots that still feed Winifred’s longing for home.

Her Christmas memories sound like a children’s book. Her father, a master carpenter and boat builder, made the children wooden toys, while the smells of her favorite meal filled every corner of the home. Her mother’s turkey, ham, homemade applesauce, mashed turnips, parsnips, and sweet potatoes always bring Win back to the pleasure of a lingering family meal. The day, filled with toys and plentiful food, was often capped with a drive around the neighborhood to see all the Christmas lights.

Of course, Ireland has had a strong pull on her during her life, since both of her parents are Irish immigrants. Along with devoting her professional life to Irish music, she lived in the Emerald Isle as an adult for a couple of years and travels there often. And when she speaks of her mother’s life in Ireland, her expressive dark eyes light up even more.

“My mom grew up in a little town called Johnstown, outside of Arklow, Co. Wicklow in Ireland. She learned all of her cooking and recipes from my grandmother, who basically operated a small organic farm”.

Her mother’s childhood speaks of another time, but is recreated for Win in the kitchen and through her family stories. She paints a delightful picture of a childhood in rural Ireland.

“They had a cow, a goat, chickens and a fresh vegetable garden. Everything they cooked was from their garden or animals. They would ride a horse and cart into town once a week to buy flour, oats and visit their local butcher for the freshest cuts of meat. My grandmother made her own butter, bread, honey, jams and taught it all to my mom, who in turn passed the recipes on to me and my siblings”, she says.

For centuries, women have played an important role in handing down cooking and music traditions on the home front. In the Horan household, women certainly led the charge for music and recipes. As Win says so eloquently, “Most folk tradition is passed on orally and by real experience. Whether it be recipes, story telling, music and songs, mothers teach their children by example. This is how I was raised. My grandmother baked, sang, played the melodeon, and danced. My mother baked, played, sang, and danced. I bake, play, sing, and dance. This is how tradition stays alive. Constantly changing, constantly evolving... a thread to keep us all connected”.

Winifred Horan baking

Mom’s Sweet Irish Soda Bread

One of Win’s fondest food memories was dessert in the form of sweet Irish soda bread loaded with butter, jam, or honey. Her grandmother, in rural Ireland, made this cake in a cast iron pot over the open-hearth fire in the living room. She covered the pot and then lay coals on top, making, as Win calls it, a sort of convection oven. The cake is still served at all major family and community events from funerals to weddings to holiday meals.

After cooking, we slathered on fresh creamy Irish butter and as Winifred says, drank “an endless pot of tea”. The cake is a perfect representation of the Irish food aesthetic: simple, rich, warming, and delicious, with a slightly sweet taste and moist texture.

3 cups of flour
2 eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1 ½ cups of buttermilk
1 stick of melted butter
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of raisins or currants

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a nine-inch spring form pan. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand. Pour into the spring form pan. To make the cake more rustic, mix until just combined — do not over mix.

Cooking time is 50-55 minutes, depending on your oven. Check to make sure it is golden brown on top and fully cooked in the middle before removing. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve slices with butter, honey, or jam.

Her radio show, The Celtic Cut with Winifred Horan, streams every Saturday at 7pm EST.

Bluegrass Country Radio website: Live streaming link:

Libby Page is the founder of, a website devoted to Irish food in all its forms, featuring spotlights on food artisans, a glossary of Irish culinary terms, and new recipes. If you have recipes, eatery suggestions, stories to share, or need ideas for food places to visit in Ireland, please contact her:

"Coole" Cream


We first tasted Coole Swan Irish Liqueur last year when we attended Fare Plate in New York City. It is a beautiful creamy white with a slightly lighter taste than Bailey’s. While I still love Bailey’s, try out a bottle of Coole Swan for a change up.

Our new ice cream maker has been an inspiration: I have made peppermint chip, “healthy” avocado dark chocolate, and now my own Coole Swan Ice Cream. This ice cream goes fast in our house, so be warned: it is highly addictive stuff!

Note: recipe is formulated for a 1 ½ quart ice cream maker. We bought the inexpensive Cuisinart ICE-21, which we are pleased with so far.

• 1 cup of whole milk
• 2/3 cup of granulated sugar
• A scant 2 cups of heavy cream
• ½ cup chilled Irish cream liqueur (preferably Coole Swan)

Whisk the milk and sugar together in a medium sized bowl until the sugar dissolves. Add in the heavy cream and whisk gently (you do not want to thicken the cream at all). Cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours or more.

After at least 2 hours, set up and turn on the ice cream maker (look at your ice cream maker instructions/ ours must be running before pouring in the mixture).

Gently pour in the milk, sugar, heavy cream mixture. Run the maker for 15-20 minutes. Add in the chilled Coole Swan during the last two minutes. Alcohol impedes the freezing process, so you need to add it towards the end. My ice cream was fairly soft and some of the liqueur did not mix in, so I poured it into a chilled glass container, stirred it and popped it quickly into the freezer for a few more hours. It was perfect!

Easy to eat on its own or try in one of the recipes below!


Swan Sundae

• 2 scoops of Coole Swan Ice cream
• A dollop of hot fudge sauce
• A dollop of whipped cream (Using a handheld mixer, I whipped up the leftover heavy cream from the recipe and it worked great.)
• Sprinkle of chopped pistachio nuts

Arrange all of the ingredients in a bowl and serve immediately.


Coole Swan Affogato

• Strong ice coffee (I made espresso, added cold filtered water and then chilled it. Cold brew would also work well)
• A scoop of Coole Swan Ice cream
• A dollop of whipped cream
• Generous sprinkle of cinnamon (delicious with the Coole Swan- amazing together!)

Scoop the ice cream into a glass and pour the coffee over it (works with hot espresso too). Put the whip cream on and sprinkle the cinnamon over it.


Cinnamon Cream Martini

Cinnamon Cream Martini

Nothing beats Irish Cream Liqueur and milk. However, we were looking for something that cut down on the milk (since it does not always agree with Libby), and we also wanted a bit of a twist on this classic combination. So we came up with the idea of using almond milk and some cinnamon. Turned out absolutely delicious we are happy to report.


  • 2 ounces of Irish Creme Liqueur (Baileys works, of course. I love Kerrygold Irish Creme and Coole Swan, but they are not as easy to come by).
  • 2 ounces of Vanilla Almond Cinnamon Milk (see instructions below)
  • 2 tsps of sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs of cinnamon
  • Splash of Irish Whiskey


1. You need to make the cinnamon milk about an hour ahead. Pour 2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk into a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir in the cinnamon and sugar. As you heat, stir often and make sure not to boil. When the cinnamon has mostly dissolved and it is steaming, strain into a container using a fine sieve. Put in the fridge for 30-45 minutes to cool. Store the unused milk in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

2. In a shaker with ice, combine the Irish creme, 2 ounces of the cinnamon milk mixture, and the splash of whiskey. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Another way of enjoying is to keep the cinnamon milk warm and add in the other ingredients for a hot drink. The cinnamon milk is also great as a non-alcoholic beverage.

Coconut and blackcurrant chocolates

Coconut blackcurrant chocolates

Recently we were browsing through an international market named Kazimierz in Kittery, Maine and stumbled upon an old favorite — blackcurrant hard candies. We took a container home and fumbled around with some recipes until we hit upon a simple mix that combined chocolate, coconut and the crunchy, unique flavor of blackcurrant candies. They didn’t last long.

There are just a few ingredients in this recipe and it couldn’t be much easier to whip up a batch. We used chocolate molds, which are available at most craft stores, but you could use small ice cube trays or mini muffin cups in a pinch. The candies melt into the chocolate a bit, but there’s still enough crunch to keep things interesting. Just make sure not to turn the candy into dust.

Ingredients (makes 20-22 chocolates)

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup cacao (or cocoa)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-4 hard blackcurrant candies (you can substitute mints or whatever hard candies you prefer)
  • (Optional) powdered sugar

Place candies in a sandwich bag and smash into bits (bigger than pulverized — enough to offer some crunch) with a kitchen hammer. Sprinkle a little in each of the chocolate molds.

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. When it is just liquified, add the honey and whisk to combine, removing from heat. Add the vanilla and cacao and whisk until smooth. Spoon into molds and refrigerate until solid, 30-45 minutes. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar. And that’s it.

Pretty basic ingredients

Coconut oil and honey just melted
Coconut oil and honey heated until just melted

Ready to pour
Chocolate ready to pour

Molds with crushed blackcurrant candies
Molds with crushed blackcurrant pieces

Ready to cool
Chocolates ready to refrigerate

Ready to eat

Healthy and Easy Banana Oat Bars

Healthy banana oat bars

Easy, healthy, gluten free, vegan and tasty — there truly is no downside to these chewy banana oat bars.

The demand for bananas in Ireland and the UK began in the late 19th century, with the famous “banana boats” bringing in vast amounts of the fruit (actually it’s an herb), along with passengers, but as recently as a few decades ago the banana was still considered quite exotic in Ireland. Nowadays Tesco (grocery chain) reports bananas are the most popular item among all the fruits and vegetables that it sells with apologies to cauliflower and kale at the bottom of the heap.

Bananas provide our bar’s overall sweetness and hold everything together, while dried cranberries give them a sweet punch. Feel free to swap chocolate chips or any other dried fruit if you want to go that route. These are slightly sweet, so don’t expect cupcake levels of sugar. For a tropical flavor (believe it or not, Ireland is a tropical island), I’ve added coconut as well.

Ingredients (makes 9 squares)

  • Spray oil (alternatively coconut oil would complement the dish quite well)
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries (unsweetened - who needs the added sugar?)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds/pumpkin seed mixture (use one or the other, both, or even substitute your favorite chopped nuts)
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (I use unsweetened)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • Cinnamon for dusting (optional)

Heat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Oil 8”x8” pan with spray oil or coconut oil.

Mash the bananas well in a medium bowl so that they are basically liquid. This should result in a cup or a little more or bananas. Add the salt, vanilla extract, dried cranberries, nut/seed mixture, shredded coconut and rolled oats. Mix to combine.

Spoon the mixture into the pan and flatten evenly. Dust with cinnamon if desired. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Place the pan on a cooling rack until it is cool to the touch, then slice into 9 bars. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a cold glass of milk. The bars should keep sealed at room temperature for 4-5 days. Alternatively, you can make several batches and freeze some for an easy snack or breakfast when you’re rushed.

Mashed bananas
Mashed banana

Ready to add the oats
Everything except the oats

Oat bars ready to bake
Ready to bake

Banana oat bars for breakfast
A quick breakfast

Lobster Roll: Cork Style

Lobster roll with pickles

End of Summer Al Fresco Lunch:
Lobster Rolls and “Healthy” Blackberry Crumble

The end of summer has arrived and will soon be a fleeting memory. In an effort to hang on to the warmth and bright sun, I came up with an outdoor late summer lunch to chase thoughts of cold weather away. Of course, I live in New England where a Maine lobster roll is mandatory for every tourist and the best way to celebrate the season. If you are headed to the New England seacoast, the best local stop is the Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine, but at twenty bucks a pop, not something possible to indulge in very often.

I have never associated lobster rolls with Ireland. However, my fellow American turned Irish dairy farmer, Imen McDonnell, features one in her cookbook, The Farmette Cookbook, using the traditional Irish Blaa as the roll. After reading her book, the idea of combining Irish traditions with our seacoast food began to percolate. And recently, I saw a video on Sean O’Manachain’s instagram, where he was buying a lobster roll from Lobsterman Mike Barrett’s stall at Midleton Farmers’ Market. He used pickles in it, which Sean mentioned was very Cork (he also made his own version on his website).

After pondering some different combinations, I decided to create my own version, and the New England Lobster Roll: Cork Style was born! Towards the end of the summer lobster prices drop, so I picked up a couple of lobsters at our local supermarket for $10. They were soft shell, which are easier to crack. I confess: the supermarket steamed them for me since it was my first time. However, after talking with Marcus at the seafood counter about the best way to cook lobster, it sounded quite easy; next time I will do the steaming. He said to grab a big pot and fill it with a few inches of water. Then bring to a boil. Put in the lobsters (as many as will fit in your pot with a cover), and bring it back to a boil. After it reaches a boil again, steam them for about 8 more minutes.

New England Lobster Roll: Cork Style

Serves 2 (or 1 lobster crazed cook)
Makes one JUMBO roll or two smaller rolls. For more servings simply double the ingredients!


  • 1 1/2 half cups of lobster (two one pound lobsters)
  • Small handful of fresh tarragon, finely diced
  • 1 Tbs of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tbs of butter
  • One large six inch crusty white bread sub roll or two hot dog size rolls
  • 4 chunky pickles slices (sweet and sour/ make your own or purchase)

Lobster salad

1. Steam the lobsters (see above).
2. Cool off enough to avoid burns when you break them open. If you like chilled lobster, then cool off at room temperature for about 30 minutes and put in the fridge for an hour.
3. When the lobster has been removed from the shell and the tomalley put aside (green stuff inside the lobster – I throw it away, but for the more adventurous, it can be used for other recipes).
4. Chop up the lobster and mix it with the mayo and diced tarragon (this herb is amazingly flavorful. If you do not care for pickles, then just the tarragon is delicious. Add a bit more if you decide on this route).
5. Heat up a pan to medium high heat with the melted butter. Cut open the roll halfway, then place it open faced in the hot butter until gets light golden brown. Flip it and brown the outside for a minute of so.
6. Take the hot buttery roll out and fill it with the lobster salad mixture. Then place in your pickle slices. Squeeze together and eat!

I paired mine with roasted sweet potato wedges, but a simple green salad or crisps (potato chips) would be lovely too! For a beverage, I made myself an Elderflower spritzer (seltzer water with a splash or two of Elderflower cordial).

Knock your Socks Off Sweet and Sour Pickle Recipe

Note: use a strong jar with a metal ringed, snap top lid (Fido makes great ones. The jar will crack if it is not a sturdy one)


  • 10 pickling cucumbers, thickly sliced (helps retain crispness)
  • 3 -4 Tbs dill weed
  • 6 cups of white vinegar (if you do not like super sour, then you can cut the vinegar in half and add three cups of water)
  • 5 cups of sugar

You want enough liquid to fully cover the pickles with a bit extra. It is easy to vary the amount of liquids and sugar based on the amount of pickles in the jar.

1. Slice the pickles and put in the jar with the dill weed.
2. Slowly bring sugar and vinegar to a boil, stirring often. Boil for a minute or so. Sugar can burn if you boil it too fast. Stirring will ensure that the sugar dissolves fully before it starts to boil.
3. Slowly pour your liquid over the pickles (make sure the jar does not crack. Metal helps to conduct the heat so that is why you need a strong jar with a metal ring!).
4. Allow to cool with lid open for about 30 minutes.
5. Seal it up after it has cooled a fair amount and then put it in the fridge.
6. In about two or three days you can enjoy your first pickle.

“Healthy” Blackberry Crumble

Blackberry crumble

Serves 4-6


  • 4 cups of fresh blackberries
  • 6 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • 2 1/4 cups of oats
  • 3/4 cups of almond meal
  • 1 tsp of vanilla powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a small amount of coconut oil, lightly grease an 8x8 pan. Spread the blackberries evenly in the pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the maple syrup. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the rest of the maple syrup, oats, almond meal, vanilla powder, cinnamon, and melted coconut oil. Stir together.
3. Pull out the heated fruit and spread the crumble in a layer over the fruit. Put back the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Remove when the crumble layer is golden brown.
4. Cool for about 10-15 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream. If you need it to be vegan, then simply use dairy free ice cream. A dessert that appeals to all of your guests!


New England lobster roll: Cork style

Maple cinnamon scones and whipped cream

Maple Cinnamon Scone-served

One of the greatest pleasures in life is tea and scones — the lightly sweet buttery crumbliness of these traditional cakes is proof that there’s a reason classics endure. But how do you improve on a time-tested winner?

A recent meal at McCambridge’s in Dublin provided the answer for me. My breakfast was served with fresh maple syrup and I realized maple and cinnamon would blend perfectly into a scone, so I created my own version. Along the way, the concept of maple cinnamon whipped cream seemed to fit the bill for an accompaniment and I set about putting it all together.

Ingredients (makes one cake)

For the scones

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon + more for sprinkling
  • ⅓ cup currants
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • Scant ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup minus 1 teaspoon real maple syrup + more syrup for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon table sugar

For the whipped cream
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

For the scones
Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in currants.

Cut in butter with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and maple syrup and stir until the mixture forms a soft, sticky dough that clings together. With wet hands to prevent sticking, form the mixture into a ball and pat into an 8-inch round on prepared baking sheet. Cut into 8 wedges and sprinkle with teaspoon of table sugar.

Bake 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. About 7-8 minutes into baking, carefully line the edges of the cake with tin foil to prevent burning. Maple syrup browns more quickly than sugar, so keep a close watch.

For the whipped cream
Chill a high edged bowl in the freezer. After a few minutes, place whipping cream into bowl and beat at high speed using an electric hand mixer until the cream starts to thicken. Add the syrup, vanilla extract and cinnamon and continue whipping to desired consistency.

The scones may need to be recut after baking. Drizzle maple syrup on a plate, place a scone on top, dollop a spoonful of whipped cream next to it and sprinkle the plate with cinnamon. Scones served warm are delightful, but room temperature is nothing to scowl at.

Storing note
The scones will keep for up to a week in the fridge if they last that long. If you have leftover whipped cream, dollop individual servings onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Then place into a freezer bag for longer term storage. (Try it on top of hot chocolate.)

Scone dry ingredients
The mixture with butter cut in.

Maple Cinnamon Scone-raw
Ready to bake.

Maple cinnamon scone-baked
Out of the oven.

Chocolate Blackcurrant Smoothie

Chocolate blackcurrant smoothie

Most people aren’t aware that the Irish are among the biggest consumers of chocolate per capita in the world. Forbes ranked them number three behind Germany (#2) and Switzerland (#1). It’s easy to understand when you realize that Irish chocolate is also among the best in the world.

We’ve combined the Irish love of chocolate with one of the country’s favorite berries, the blackcurrant, and created a delicious frozen treat. The blackcurrant is a tart berry and fares well with the added sugar in jams. It is the backbone of one of the country’s most popular beverages, Ribena, which we’ve used as flavoring in this smoothie. It’s also used as an herbal medicine in Europe and is catching on in the States for good reasons. High in Omega-6 fatty acids, it helps to reduce inflammation in the body, is sky high in antioxidants, has 3-4 times the vitamin C of oranges based on serving weight and can help lower blood pressure. Combine those superfood qualities with the anti-oxidant power of pure cacao powder and the nutrient dense, fiber and protein rich, antioxidant knockout punch of chia seeds and you’ll have reasons to smile at this sweet concoction.

Keep in mind, Ribena contains a fair amount of sugar, so we couldn’t list this as a healthy drink.

Ingredients (makes two 14 once servings)

  • 1 frozen banana (break banana into 4-5 segments before freezing)
  • 2 tablespoons cacao powder
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • 1½ cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk, chilled
  • ½ cup Ribena Blackcurrant Concentrate (sold in some international aisles), chilled
  • 7-8 ice cubes

Combine ingredients in blender, placing the harder items on top. Blend until smooth.

Berries and cream

Blueberries and cream

No one is going to hold it against you. You don’t have time to prepare all the food you’d like to. No one does (especially as I prepare for my trip to Ireland!). But if you have even five minutes you can create a delectable sweet and creamy treat and take in a load of antioxidants at the same time. Okay, so the cream might outweigh the benefits of the berries, but who’s counting? You can hold your head up high knowing your indulgence is also packed with an all-natural superfood.

Organic whipping cream is a healthier alternative to the regular brands found in the supermarket, but it’s also sometimes pretty hard to find. If you can buy organic, use it. If not… well, it is dessert after all. And while fresh blueberries aren’t found on the Dirty Dozen list (compiled by the Environmental Working Group) this year (2016), they are often listed on it, having had more than 50 pesticides detected as residue on them by the US Department of Agriculture. Frozen blueberries seem to be a little safer, but frozen just won’t cut the mustard when it comes to berries and cream. You can, of course change up the type of berries you use or even create a mix, but keep in mind that non-organic strawberries are one of the greatest pesticide-laden culprits according to the Environmental Working Group.

We’ve omitted one of the main ingredients usually found in whipped cream: sugar. For us, the berries add enough sweetness and added sugar is now considered one of the worst things you can ingest. Try just berries and cream; you may not go back.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 cup organic heavy whipping cream (makes two cups)
  • Fresh organic blueberries (or berries of your choice)

Store everything in the refrigerator including the bowl until you are ready to make the cream. The colder you keep things, the easier and better the cream will whip up.

Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on high, making sure to move the beater around the bowl and change directions occasionally. You can use a hand whisk, but be prepared for a forearm workout. Beat until the cream thickens, usually a few minutes. Feel free to whip until it forms stiffer peaks, but be careful not to overdo it as it will quickly turn into butter. If the cream turns thicker than you like, you can mix in a little more cold, unwhipped cream to loosen it.

Spoon the desired amount of cream into a bowl and top with washed berries.

Irish Mint Martini and Shamrock Smoothie


Balance is an important aspect to eating, and here, it is embodied in two distinct drinks – although they do share my latest obsession with peppermint oil. Cannot get enough of the stuff.

The martini is for the St. Patrick’s Day party; the smoothie is a cure for the hangover after the party!

Irish Mint Martini

Put ice in your martini shaker.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 ounce of Amaretto
  • 1 ounce of Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur (or another Irish Cream)
  • 2-3 ounces of organic milk (amount depends on your flavor preference, I like 3 ounces)
  • ¼ teaspoon of organic peppermint oil
  • 5 drops of green food coloring (optional)

Shake it up, pour into a chilled martini glass, drink immediately, and repeat.

Shamrock Smoothie Hangover Cure


Alcohol robs the body of B vitamins, so start March 18th out right with this Shamrock Smoothie. It contains spinach, which is great for cleansing and boosting some B vitamins. Banana contains a load of B-6 and vitamin C for immunity. Peppermint is also great for digestion. Maca powder (optional) boosts immunity and contains B vitamins – and gives you an energy kick. Note: please check with your physician if you are taking any medications before using maca, and avoid peppermint if you have heartburn due to GERD.

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 ½ cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Large handful of organic spinach
  • ½ -1 tsp of organic peppermint oil (depends on how much you love peppermint)
  • 1 banana
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 tsp of vanilla paste or vanilla extract
  • 2 pitted medjool dates
  • 1 tsp of maca powder (optional)

Blend in a high-powered blender until smooth and drink.

Shamrock Smoothie ingredients

"Healthy" Guinness Brownie Cake


This cake is versatile, tasty, and dare I say it: sort of healthy. It uses no eggs, no white sugar, and spelt flour, making it easier to digest than regular flour. A somewhat guilt-free indulgence.

I left mine plain since I find the chocolate chips plenty. I treated it like a brownie. However, a creamy soft vanilla frosting will be lovely. I also tried it one time with some peppermint extract, which also worked nicely. Leave the vanilla extract in, but add on a tablespoon of high quality peppermint oil with the other liquid ingredients. The batter can be used to make cupcakes as well.

Cupcake version with peppermint oil too!


  • 2 cups of spelt baking flour (I use Bob's RedMill)
  • 1 cup of raw cacao powder (packs a super chocolate punch, available at most grocery stores now)
  • 1tbs of baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • ½ cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of maple syrup (pure maple syrup, Grade A Dark Amber is best)
  • ½ cup of light agave syrup
  • ½ cup of Guinness Stout
  • ½ cup of soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup or so of chocolate chips (use at least 60% cocoa and/or vegan if you need to ensure no dairy)

Preheat the oven to 350° fahrenheit. Thoroughly grease your 9x11 pan or muffin pan with vegetable oil.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cacao, baking powder, and salt) into a large bowl and mix. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (oil, maple syrup, agave, Guinness, soy milk, vanilla extract). Blend the dry and wet ingredients, making sure not to over mix the batter as the cake will be drier. I did it by hand – no mixer required.

Pour half the batter into your pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over it. Then pour on the rest of the mix. Sprinkle more chocolate chips on the top.

Cook times will vary depending on your oven and taste preferences. I recommend about 20-25 minutes. However, this cake has no egg, so undercooking it is a great option! Simply check it with a toothpick after 15 or 20 minutes and decide. The toothpick should have a small amount of batter left on it after you pull it out.

Cupcakes will most likely be 15-20 minutes. Make sure not to overcook them. They might be dry.


Pancake Tuesday (a.k.a. Crêpe Tuesday)


The week before Ash Wednesday, again back in 1989, I first heard about the event in Ireland known as Pancake Tuesday. Even in the States, Fat Tuesday was foreign to me, so I was double clueless. As the big day approached, I finally figured out that it was a day of eating indulgence before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent). However, a big stack of old fashioned American pancakes was in my head – then I arrived home on my first Pancake Tuesday. The yummy smell of pancakes filled the air; however, they were crêpes! And we filled these crêpes with any sweet we could find – from marshmallows to chocolate chips to strawberries. The entire ritual was a self-indulgent delight.

Below is my recipe (but adapted a bit from Clodagh McKenna): simple, quick and delicious. And of course add in whatever sweets you are craving.



  • ½ heaping cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 organic, cage free eggs
  • 1 cup of organic milk
  • 1 teaspoon of organic orange extract
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil for the pan
  • a spoonful of butter (melted)
  • sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • Cookie butter (or Speculoos, available at Trader Joe’s)

Put the flour in a bowl and make a well for the 2 eggs. Crack the eggs into the well. Using a whisk, blend the eggs and flour a bit. Slowly add in the milk, whisking as you go. After the mixture is smooth, with no lumps, cover and place in the fridge for a few hours.

When the mixture is ready, heat a non-stick pan with a small amount of oil. Be careful to keep the pan from getting too hot (about medium high heat. Number 6 on the dial is what I used).

Take out the mixture and whisk it a bit. Add in a small amount of melted butter (about a spoonful) to the mixture. Next, whisk in 1 teaspoon of orange extract.

Using a pitcher (for easy pouring), pour a thin coating into the heated pan. Be careful – it needs to be fairly thin. Swirl it around a little so you coat the pan if need be. Cook for about 1 or 2 minutes.

Here is the tricky part – since not all non-stick pans are created equal – after it cooks fully on one side, and it slides easily in the pan, flip it all in one go (commit and it works). I admit my non-stick pan was not great, so I used a very thin metal spatula and flipped it carefully over in one piece for the first few. I added a bit more oil to the pan after cooking a couple to help as well. And after some practice and loosening it with a spatula, I was able to generate a perfect flip. It was great fun!


Version 1
After you’ve completed cooking each one, fold it into quarters, plate, and squeeze lemon juice over them, then sprinkle a nice amount of sugar on as well. The orange essence of the pancake mixes well with the lemon/sugar combo. The taste is light and fresh.

Version 2
Place the cooked pancake onto a plate and spread cookie butter on one side. Make sure that you give the cookie butter a few seconds to melt before spreading (folding over the pancake for a minute speeds up the process). After spreading on one side, fold into quarters for a sweet, gingerbread-like treat.

Voilà! Pancake Tuesday debauchery complete. I hope you enjoy!