Irish Soda Bread

It wouldn’t be March if we couldn’t celebrate the Irish!  Try this traditional recipe for Irish soda bread, you won’t be disappointed.

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 tablespoons white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup margarine, softened

  • 1 ¼ cup buttermilk

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Set your oven to 375 and lightly grease a baking sheet.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine.  Stir in 1 cup of the buttermilk and egg.

Place the dough on a floured surface and knead briefly.  Form it into a round and place it on the baking sheet.

Combine the melted butter with the remaining ¼ of buttermilk and brush the dough with this mixture.  Cut an X into the top of the round.

Bake until a toothpick comes out of the center of the loaf clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Check after 30 minutes and keep a close eye on it.  Continue to brush the loaf with the melted butter and buttermilk mixture while it bakes.

There are numerous variations and tweaks that can be done to add a bit of kick to this traditional recipe.  We like adding just a hint of ginger and a pinch of cinnamon.  Try this bread as an appetizer with a dry white or as part of a heavier meal with a medium to full bodied red.  Enjoy!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

This quick and easy recipe makes for a perfect appetizer or snack – and you won’t believe just how delicious they are!


16 oz package of bacon (we enjoy using thick-cut Hickory-smoked, but regular works just as well)

8 oz package of pitted dates



Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the bacon strips into thirds, then wrap each piece around a date.  Secure the bacon in place with a toothpick and place in a baking dish.

Once all the dates are wrapped, place them in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crispy.

Let cool for 5-7 minutes and enjoy!


Try these with a wine which will complement the sweetness of the date.  Try to avoid bold red wines.  Instead, try this with a semi-sweet white or maybe even a sparkling!

‘Busy-Bee’ Almond Cake

We all get busy, but this cake recipe makes it easy to enjoy something fresh, fun, and delicious without having to spend too much time at it.  It’s a particular favorite of Iowa Decanted staff – and perfect for pairing with a semi-sweet white or a fruit forward light-bodied red.


2 & 2/3 Cups all-purpose flour

1 & 1/3 Cup sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 & 1/3 Cup Almond milk

1/2 Cup butter, softened

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a large rectangular cake pan and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, and baking powder in a mixing bowl.  Once mixed, add the almond milk, butter, eggs, and vanilla.  Mix until well combined, then spread into the greased pan.

Bake until the top of the cake begins to brown and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Around 30 minutes.  Let cool for ten minutes and serve warm with your choice of topping.  Goes well with fresh berries, whipped cream, or a buttercream glaze.

Soft Pretzels


1 1/2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 package active dry yeast

4.5 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

stick butter, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Salt crystals/pretzel salt



Combine the warm water, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl and whisk vigorously. Allow to sit for several minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and mix until well combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for several minutes. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Use the stick butter to coat the surface of two large baking sheets. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

While the water and baking soda is coming to a boil, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Set aside.

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, individually for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula and place them on the baking sheets.  If they are excessively soggy you may pat them dry with a paper towel.  Brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool and serve.  These taste exceptionally good with a cheese fondue to dip them in.

Sautéd Brussels Sprouts


  • 4 strips thick-cut bacon or pancetta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium Red Potato, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped1 Tablespoon of chopped Rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon juice


Cook bacon or pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and crumple into medium sized bits with your fingers.

In same pan with bacon fat, melt butter over high heat.  Add the potato wedges and cook until they are beginning to brown.  Stir in Rosemary and cook until the potato wedges can be easily penetrated with a fork.

Add onions and Brussels Sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until sprouts begin showing some golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and toss bacon or pancetta back into pan.   Cover the dish with a spritz of lemon juice.  Serve immediately.

Simple Savory Spaghetti Squash


Simple Savory Spaghetti Squash

1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
¼ Cup of grated Asiago cheese
1 tbsp chopped basil leaves
1 garlic clove, minced

Heat the oven to 450 degrees .

Take half of the olive oil and brush it over the cut sides of the squash.  Salt and pepper lightly.  Lay the squash cut side down in a baking dish and roast on the middle shelf of the oven until tender, 25-30 minutes.

When squash is tender, remove from the oven and let cool for five minutes cut side up.

Use a fork to shred the innards of the squash into a large bowl.  If the squash is still too warm to handle, use a dish towel or an oven mitt to keep your hands from burning.

Drain off any liquid from the shredded squash and stir in the grated Asiago, basil, the garlic, and the rest of the olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Pairing tip

Try pairing this with a dry white wine, perhaps something that has undergone a secondary fermentation and barrel aging, like Cedar Ridge Winery’s Candlelight.

Tomato & Cucumber Salad with Pita Crisps


Morgan Hoenig, of MoGo Organic in Mt. Pleasant, provided this recipe, featuring produce easily found in Iowan gardens.  “It’s a good recipe for this time of year because many people are overwhelmed with tomatoes and cucumbers in August,” says Morgan.

Tomato and Cucumber Salad with Pita Crisps

2 parts cucumber, chopped
2 parts tomato, chopped
1 part onion, chopped
2 splashes of red wine vinegar
1 splash of olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
Mix in bowl.  Let flavors meld together for an hour or so before serving.
Best if allowed to sit over night.

Pita Crisps

4 whole wheat pita breads
olive oil cooking spray, or extra virgin olive oil
coarse salt & ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

Cut pitas into 4 triangles each. Separate each triangle into 2 halves at the fold. Arrange, rough side up, on a baking sheet. Spritz lightly with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper Bake until crisp, 8 to 10 minutes

Pairing Tip

Experiment and try this recipe out with lighter-bodied wines.  The acidity of a dry Edelweiss will fare well with the balance of the dish, and the fruit-forwardness of the varietal should complement the bright cucumber flavors as well.