Sunday, December 12, 2010

Eggnog Bread Pudding

I've been playing with versions of this for a few years, but I think this one works the best, thanks to a little inspiration from another cook. This is full of Christmasey flavors and holiday goodness. The bourbon certainly isn't necessary, but I had some and don't know how to use it other than in cooking. Feel free to leave it out, but it does add a nice little festive zing. This pudding would make a perfect Christmas morning breakfast!

Start to finish: 1 hour
Yield: 8 servings

Eggnog Bread Pudding with Bourbon Craisins
1/2 loaf good white bread, cut or torn into 1/2 inch cubes (challah, brioche, etc. - I used mild sourdough)
2 cups eggnog
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup craisins
1/3 cup bourbon
sugar to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a full size loaf pan with butter.
2. Put craisins in a small bowl, and add bourbon to cover. You may not need all of it, or you could add a bit more if you like. Microwave for about 30 seconds to help the craisins absorb the bourbon, then set aside to cool.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggnog, eggs, nutmeg, vanilla, and sugar to taste. I used about 2 tablespoons, but you can use more or less depending on how sweet your eggnog is and your preferences.
4. Gently fold in bread cubes, then craisins and any bourbon that hasn't been absorbed.
5. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes as the bread absorbs the liquid, then pour everything into the loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with additional sugar for a sweet crust, if desired.
6. Cook for 50-55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown. It's best to let the pudding sit for a few minutes before slicing and serving, but you can serve it warmer and softer if you want to.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ravioli Ubriaco

If I were the boasting type, I would say, "Holy cow, I've done it again!" This is a variation on a dish I created about a year ago, and I think I like this version even better. It's called "Drunken Ravioli," but it's really just tipsy, at most.

Start to finish: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 servings

Ravioli Ubriaco
9 ounce package fresh cheese ravioli
2 T butter or margarine
3 T brandy
2 apples, cored and sliced into thin slices (I've only ever used Honeycrisp, because they're
1/4 C craisins (a handful)
3 T chopped walnuts
1 C baby spinach (2 hands full)
dash nutmeg

1. Cook ravioli according to package directions.
2. Melt butter or margarine in skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add sliced apples and saute until just beginning to get translucent.
4. Add brandy, craisins, and walnuts. Cook for about 3 minutes, until apples are slightly softened.
5. Add spinach and stir until just wilted.
6. Drain ravioli and add to the pan with apple mixture. Stir gently to mix ingredients, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with nutmeg to garnish.

Notes: In the original version I used white wine instead of brandy, omitted craisins, walnuts, and nutmeg, and sprinkled the whole shebang with grated parmesan. Both versions are very tasty, but the flavors are quite different.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Grilled Italian Omelet Sandwich

I can't say enough about the yumminess of this sandwich. Like most of my creations, this one was born of the ingredients in my refrigerator. I had some eggs from a friend's chickens (happy, free range chickens), some spinach that didn't make it into last night's salad, a leftover leek, garlic from another friend's get the idea. This is one of those meals that's good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Start to finish: 15 minutes?
Yield: 1 serving

Grilled Italian Omelet Sandwich
1 leek, thinly sliced (about 1/2 inch of white/light green part)
1/4 t finely chopped garlic
generous handful baby spinach
2 eggs
1/4 t Italian seasoning
2 T marinara sauce
2 T shredded Italian cheese (I used a mozzarella/Parmesan blend)
2 thin slices sourdough bread
salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute leek and garlic in a little olive oil in a non-stick pan.
2. Add spinach, stir until wilted. Reduce heat to medium low.
3. Beat eggs, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture over vegetables.
4. Cook without stirring until egg is set, then gently flip. (If you make a mess of it at this point, don't fret. Just try to keep the egg mixture relatively flat -- it's easier to make into a sandwich.)
5. While the omelet is cooking, spread 1 T marinara sauce on each slice of bread.
6. Pile half of omelet onto bread. Sprinkle with 1 T cheese. Repeat with the rest of the omelet and cheese.
7. Top with second slice of bread.
8. Melt butter in frying pan (or spray with cooking spray). Grill sandwich on both sides, just like making a grilled cheese.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Siesta Fiesta Chicken Casserole

This is not super healthy. It is, however, super fast and super easy, and frankly you could do worse. As the days have gotten shorter and the nights colder, dishes like this yummy casserole have really hit the spot. Oh, and just as soon as I can find the cord for my camera, I'll start putting pictures in here again.

Start to Finish: 45 minutes
Yield: 8 servings

Siesta Fiesta Chicken Casserole
1 rotisserie chicken
2 bags frozen "fiesta style" vegetables
1 small can sliced olives, drained
1 small can diced green chiles
2 cans cream of chicken condensed soup
2 cups sliced pepper jack cheese, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut the breast meat from the chicken into bite sized chunks. Save the rest for something else.
Mix the chicken, vegetables, olives, chiles, condensed soup, and 1 cup of the pepper jack cheese together, and put everything in a casserole dish. (Maybe 9x13? I'm not sure how big the one I used was, but it was the biggest one I have.)
Sprinkle the other cup of pepper jack cheese over the top of the casserole.
5. Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until cheese is browning and bubbly.
6. For best results, serve with cornbread. (We're talking Jiffy mix muffins, here.)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Coconut Rice Pudding

Today's anecdotal recipe is for coconut rice pudding - I think I'm on something of a tropical kick lately. Last night we had macadamia crusted mahi-mahi with tropical fruit salsa, accompanied by jasmine rice and steamed broccoli. So good. I made extra jasmine rice because I think you can never have too much of it, and I held back some macadamia nuts because I figured inspiration might strike, and who wants to be nutless when it does? Today I wanted a quick dinner (maybe more of a snack/dessert), so I stirred together the leftover jasmine rice, about half a can of lite coconut milk, a little water, some raisins, some chopped macadamia nuts, and flaked coconut. I put the whole thing over medium-low heat, stirred it for a few minutes, and wound up with a rich, creamy, delicious rice pudding/porridge. It was nicely filling, light on the tastebuds, and there's enough left for breakfast tomorrow morning!

P.S. The picture is not of my coconut rice pudding, because I didn't think to take a picture. It looks just like mine, though. The image is by Randy Mayor and Jan Gautro and is borrowed affectionately but without permission from the Cooking Light website.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring creations

It is my sincere hope that I'll get recipes, pictures, etc., posted soon for these two new creations. It has been a while, after all. But...I'm not making any promises. In the meantime, how about some narrative descriptions?

Hawaiian Crepes
I freely admit it: I still love Jacques Pepin, and I eat crepes as often as I can manage it. Last weekend I created toasted macadamia nut crepes, topped with honey-grilled pineapple and coconut syrup. For the crepes, I ground up macadamia nuts to a coarse flour, toasted the flour lightly, and then substituted the macadamia nut "flour" for half the real flour in my crepe recipe (which you can find in the previous post). With the trusty George Foreman grill, I grilled pineapple slices brushed with a 3:1 honey and pineapple juice glaze and got charming grill marks on the fruit. I topped all of that with a coconut syrup made by sweetening a can of coconut milk with a simple syrup (1/3 cup sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water), thickened slightly with a little cornstarch. For garnish, a little toasted coconut. It was...well, it was spectacular, if I do say so myself. It's a fairly sweet concoction, though, so to make it passable for dinner I served it with a green papaya salad (shredded green papaya, carrots, and green beans, tossed with a soy-lime-chili-garlic dressing, substituting soy sauce for the traditional fish sauce because I don't like fish sauce). Seriously, it was awesome; leftovers were nonexistent.

Spring Mac and Cheese
Tonight I was seduced by the asparagus at the store. It's so fresh and tender in the early spring. When I got home I tossed together a macaroni and cheese using whole wheat macaroni, blanched asparagus, and a garlic-parmesan cheese sauce. I made it with soy milk because that's what I had, but any kind of milk would work (with the possible exception of rice milk, which may not have enough fat). The sauce is just a basic white sauce, with garlic and parmesan stirred in at the end, then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Pour it over the drained pasta and asparagus, sprinkle with some breadcrumbs if desired and a little more parmesan, broil for a couple of minutes until the top is a nice golden brown, and voila! Again...mmmmm.