Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding

So this delectable dish is what I decided to make for the church dinner tomorrow. Because December just calls for a ridiculous amount of sweet potatoes. I tweaked this recipe for Pumpkin Bread Pudding and was so pleased with how it turned out! It calls for pumpkin bread, but I had some leftover Cream Cheese Pound Cake that was turning rather dry, so I decided to use that. I also didn't have any pumpkin, so I used sweet potatoes instead. I also added some pumpkin pie spice, since I wasn't using pumpkin bread. Yuuuuuummy! The pound cake got nice and soft, but not soggy, and the custard formed a wonderful sauce underneath the crust, that just begs to be poured all over the top.

It was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, creamy and crusty, with a delicate underlying flavor of sweet potato. You could add whipped cream, but with that custard sauce, I just didn't think it needed it.

Here's my tweaked recipe.

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbs vanilla
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Cream Cheese Pound Cake, cubed and dried, recipe here

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Combine the cream, milk, and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Whisk together the yolks, sugar, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and sweet potato puree in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined.

Scatter the pound cake cubes in a buttered 9 by 13-inch baking glass baking dish. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to totally submerge it in the custard. Let sit for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up some of the custard.

Place the pan in a larger roasting pan and pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the glass dish. Bake until the sides are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and water bath and cool on a baking rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm, spooning custard over top.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's another soup day!

It's starting to get chilly around here! This past week has been a beautiful 70s week, but next week is forecasting low 30s and snow. Eh. But of course, there's always the benefit of more soupful days. : )
A few days ago I tried my hand at a Butternut Squash soup suggested to me by my sister.
Butternut Squash is one of my favorite foods in the whole world. I really don't think I could get sick of it. And it's a positive powerhouse when it comes to nutrients! One cup has 107% of your daily beta-carotene intake, which may help prevent acne, cancer, and macular degeneration. It also has tons of fiber, lutein (which again helps with macular degeneration and possibly colon cancer), potassium, and thaimin (a brain booster, that may help with memory and mood!)
It also has a significant amount of magnesium, which may be beneficial for allergies, asthma, cardiovascular health, high bp, and kidney stones. Wow! It also has lots of vitamin B6 and C. Talk about a healthy veggie.
I've had rather unsuccessful experiences with squash soup in the past, but have always thought it sounds just amazing. So I decided to give it one more shot. And this one had bacon and cream cheese in it, so I figured my chances were a lot better. : ) It was actually quite good! Very creamy and smooth, with a deep, yummy squash flavor. I thought it was a bit thin, so I ended up making a roux with the leftover bacon fat and flour, then mixing in a ladle of the soup, before whisking it into the soup. That seemed to thicken it up, and I think we enjoyed it more that way, but if you like thinner soups, it was really just fine. It was even better the next day reheated, after the flavors had intensified a little bit. However, although we enjoyed it, I doubt I'll go to the trouble of making it again. It was just weird enough that it wasn't something we'd eat often. But it was a fun experiment!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

6 tablespoons chopped onion
4-6 slices of bacon
6 cups mashed, roasted butternut squash (I usually half mine, drizzle with olive oil, and roast them in the oven at 450 for a couple hours, or until fork tender...add some butter and salt and this also makes amazing mashed squash.)
3-4 cups chicken stock
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (you could definitely cut this back, maybe even in half)

Saute onions and bacon together in a skillet until bacon is cooked and onions are translucent. In a saucepan, bring chicken stock to boil. Puree squash and cream cheese in a blender or food processor in batches until smooth. Add to chicken stock in saucepan, and heat through. Add bacon and onions. Do not allow to boil.

*If you want a thicker soup:
Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of flour over bacon grease in skillet. Stir together and cook until the flour absorbs the grease and turns brown. Allow to bubble and cook for a few minutes. Turn off burner and add a ladle full of soup to the skillet, stirring to combine. Add about 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the roux to the saucepan, whisking well to dissolve. Continue to cook soup until it reaches desired thickness.

I have one more soup (for now) in my archives to's been my husband's favorite so far, so you know it's good!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Mmm. Fall and soups just go together so perfectly.

Every night I want soup. Of course, it could be because we're being stubborn and haven't turned the heater on yet, and soups are just so warm. But either way, they're good.

Last night we had Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. Yummy! I kind of made it up from a variety of different soup recipes, and then added my own twist, so I'll try my best to recreate the recipe here. Here goes!

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

First things first, cook your wild rice in chicken broth...I'm not very good at cooking wild rice. I always boil out of broth at least twice, and the rice starts sticking to the pan. And it always takes way longer than the instructions say it should. So I usually end up with undercooked rice. But if you can do it right, it's amazing. Or you could just be smart and buy the Uncle Ben's version. I'm just not that bright.

Vegetables- You could use whatever you want here. This was not a premeditated soup, so I just used whatever I could find, which was:

1 cup dry wild rice, cooked to package instructions
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
About a cup of frozen corn
About a cup of frozen peas
A few cloves of garlic
A couple of chicken breasts, chopped
I used a packet of Creamy Chicken flavor from a package of ramen I had laying around, just for some extra flavor.
1/4 cup of flour (approx.)
5 cups of milk (approx.)

While your wild rice is cooking, saute the veggies and chicken breast in some butter and olive oil until everything is nice and cooked. Once it's all cooked, mix in your packet of seasoning (or various seasonings of choice.) Allow it to simmer for a few minutes, then sprinkle everything with flour. Just sprinkle in enough to cover everything, but probably not more than 1/4 cup. Stir that all together and allow to simmer for another couple of minutes. Now pour in as much milk as you want...this is variable, because it depends on how brothy you want your soup to be. I like brothy soups, so I used probably 4-5 cups. If you're not like me, and you actually have chicken broth left after cooking your rice, you can use that and just cut back on the milk. Stir until the flour's all mixed in, then add the rice (and broth if you have it.) Now just let it simmer on low until it's thickened a little and is nice and bubbly. Taste and adjust with salt if needed.

Tomorrow I'm making Butternut Squash Soup!

Monday, October 25, 2010


So I think I've stumbled on something amazing. My new favorite roll recipe. And it's so easy. It's actually a soft pretzel recipe. But when I tried them the first time, the pretzels were so soft that they didn't really hold their shape very well, and weren't really the right consistency for pretzels. But the flavor!

Lovely. They actually have that sweet pretzel flavor. So this time, instead of making them pretzel shaped, I just made them into pull apart rolls.

And they were marvelous. I ate like five of them with supper. I'm pretty sure they could have been my supper. And they're so easy! They're supposed to raise for an hour, but I think I only let them sit for about 30-40 minutes, and they turned out just fine. I'm not the best at planning ahead, so it works out great for me. : )

Here's the recipe I used. I just made three little balls for each roll and put them in a greased muffin tin.

I didn't do the baking soda wash on them, but just brushed them with butter and sprinkled with sea salt. Then, after they came out of the oven, I just brushed them with butter again. Yum yum yum!!

We had it with Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, but that will be a recipe for another day...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Party in your mouth!

So, the wonderful thing about potatoes and eggs is they are cheap! We currently have lots of potatoes and eggs, and so I've been trying to find creative ways to use them. I've found my favorite. Potato-Crusted Quiche. Mmmmm. I believe my husband's exact words word "It's like a party in your mouth!" I used this recipe from Tasty Kitchen, but made some alterations, so I'll just post my version on here. I used ham instead of pancetta, didn't have any spinach so I left it out, and added swiss cheese and some garlic. I also thought the egg mixture was a little thin, so I added an extra egg. It was truly amazing. The sweetness of the swiss cheese and the saltiness of the ham blended perfectly with the sundried tomatoes. And the layer of the potatoes on the bottom...I can't describe it, but they just added a whole other layer of buttery, tender deliciousness. I can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch on Monday!

Potato-Crusted Ham and Swiss Quiche with Sundried Tomatoes

  • 1 pound Red-skinned Potatoes, Cut Into 1/8-inch Slices
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter, Melted
  • ¼ cups (packed) Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper

  • 3 ounces ham Cut Into 1/2-inch Dice
  • two cloves of minced garlic
  • 4 whole Eggs
  • 1 cup Whole Milk
  • ⅓ cups (packed) Parmesan Cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Sundried tomatoes
  • Three slices of swiss cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, melted butter, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and arrange the potatoes in concentric circles on the bottom and sides of the dish. Make sure to cover the spaces between each potato slice with another, as the slices will shrink during cooking and you want to avoid having gaps between the potatoes. Bake until the potatoes are light golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Tear up one of the slices of swiss and layer on the potato crust.

Fry the ham with the minced garlic over medium heat, until browned. Spoon on top of the potato crust. Layer on sundried tomatoes. Sprinkle with some of the parmesan.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, pepper, remaining parmesan, and last two torn up slices of swiss.

Pour on top of the ham and tomatoes. Bake the quiche until the eggs are set and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. To test, insert a small sharp knife into the center of the eggs. If it comes out clean, the eggs are set.

Let the quiche cool for 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My hutch.

So when we moved to our new home here in Colorado, we didn't have a dining room table. Well, we had one, but it was hideous. The chairs were fabric covered roller chairs. Roller chairs. For the dining room. Ew. Oh, and they were missing a bunch of buttons. So there were nails sticking out the backs of them, so we had to put pillows on them so we didn't stab holes in our backs. I didn't like that table. So I decided it was most definitely not worth moving. Anyway. So when we got here, we just didn't have a table and chairs for awhile. And then we found a beautiful used set on craigslist! Score one for a decent craigslist in a big city. : ) The best part was, there was a matching hutch!

I've always wanted a china cabinet/hutch of some sort. And it was even better timing because the place we are renting has a little more limited cabinet space, so the hutch gave us the extra room we needed.

I love the distressed look, and the chicken wire on the doors. I use the wine rack to store all my vinegars...sneaky, huh!
Isn't it pretty? : ) And it makes my plates look so lovely.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chocolate Adventure Contest!

So guess what! I found a contest that I really want to enter. It's called the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest. The theme is cupcakes. You have to create a cupcake recipe using Scharffen Berger chocolate and one of fourteen "adventure ingredients." This year's ingredients are:

  • Stout beer
    (including oatmeal, chocolate, imperial or any other stout)
  • Ricotta
  • Buttermilk
  • Coconut milk, cream or butter
  • Saffron
  • Molasses
  • Adzuki Bean
  • Fresh beet
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Chili pepper (fresh or
    whole dried)
  • Bee pollen
  • Meyer lemon
  • Almond flour
  • Sumatra coffee beans
Each person is allowed ten entries, and we have until January 2nd. I'm so excited! I think it will be really fun to try to come up with something different. I think for my first entry I'll keep it simple and do a Deep Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcake with Chocolate Mousse Filling and Sour Cream Frosting. I have a cake that I've already made like that, so I think I'll just tweak it a bit and add Buttermilk for the adventure ingredient. Does that sound good? I also think Ricotta sounds like a good ingredient. And sweetened condensed milk. The others are a bit daunting...but who knows, maybe I'll find something fun to try!
I don't know how soon I'll get started on this, but I'll definitely post each entry! And if I don't say anything more about it, be sure to bug me!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Don't worry, be happy! Seems kind of secular, but actually, both parts of that phrase are directly commanded by God to His people!
Don't worry- “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on." Matthew 6:25.
Be happy- "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philipians 4:4
Amazing, isn't it, how easy it is to forget those two commands? My husband and I are in uncertain times again. Through various situations, he is again without a job, which puts us in a very precarious position. It is so tempting to think of things in an entirely logical manner, to worry about how we're going to pay our bills, about where we are going to get money, how we are going to eat. It's easy to think that there is no way we are going to make ends meet, to sink into despair and depression. It's been a struggle for us this past week, learning to deal with uncertainty again.
But, yesterday evening at church, one of our dear mentors and church elders said something that really struck me. He said, "Don't worry about it. God knows your needs, and He knows them before you even ask for them. It's easy for Christians to think that worrying is the acceptable sin, that it's ok, but it's not! It's a sin to worry."
His words were wonderfully encouraging and convicting at the same time. What right have we to worry? God knows His children, He loves them, and He cares for them! Why should we ever worry, when He has promised to care for us?

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
Matthew 6:25-34

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Cheesecake is gone...why is the cheesecake gone??

I have a confession to make. It's something I should really be feeling quite guilty over...

My husband and I ate this entire cheesecake.

The WHOLE thing.

By OURSELVES. In FOUR days. It's horrible. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

But it was sooooo worth it. ; )

This recipe is the one I used for our wedding cake.

It is by far the best classic New York Cheesecake recipe I've ever found. In my opinion, the sign of a good recipe is that it has sour cream in it, and this one has a very unique and wonderfully delicious "sour cream cap" added at the end of the baking time.

Mmmm. It adds a whole new, delicate layer of flavor. You should definitely try it. Just try not to eat the whole thing in four will just leave you craving it for the next week. : )

Classic New York Sour Cream Cheesecake

• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs,
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• Pinch fine salt
• 2 pounds cream cheese , at room temperature
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 3/4 cups sour cream (possibly a little extra...see note)
• 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.

For the crust: Melt the butter, covered in the microwave, in a medium microwave safe bowl, or a saucepan. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with some of the butter. Stir the remaining butter together with the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom of the pan, taking care to get the crust evenly into the edges. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool. Wrap the bottom and up the sides of the pan with foil (I suggest using the extra-large, heavy duty foil so that you don't have seams) and put in a roasting pan.

For the filling: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Add 1 1/4 cups sugar and beat just until light and fluffy, scraping the sides of the bowl and beaters as needed. Slowly beat in 3/4 cup sour cream, then eggs, and vanilla; take care not to over whip. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bring a medium saucepan or kettle of water to a boil. Gently place the roasting pan in the oven (don't pull the rack out of the oven). Pour in enough hot water to come about halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the outside of the cake is set but the center is still slightly loose. (Any browning on top is a pretty good indication as well.)
Meanwhile, stir together the remaining 1 cup of sour cream and ¼ cup of sugar. Spread over the top of the cooked cheesecake and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Turn the oven off, cook the cheesecake in the residual heat in the oven for 1 hour. This gentle finish minimizes the risk of the dreaded crack in your cheese cake. (NOTE: I didn't find that only 1 cup of sour cream covered the cake as much as I like, so I did more like 1 1/2 cups, or 1 3/4 and just added enough extra sugar to adjust for that. I loved how it came out with a really great thick, even topping.)

Remove cheesecake from the roasting pan to a rack. Run a knife around the edges and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Remove the springform ring. Dip a knife in warm water, wipe dry before slicing each piece.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fun fun fun!

It's been a tradition of my family's for years to get together after church on Sunday evenings and have pancakes. Not that it always has to be pancakes. Sometimes we had waffles, or of course, our family recipe, scouse (see the recipe here.) We always had sausage or bacon and eggs. Sometimes we would make yummy homemade fruit sauces, or throw chocolate chips into the pancakes. We even had a Mexican night a time or two. No matter what we eat, there's always lots of chatter and laughter and kids running around. Half of us are always in the kitchen making the food, the other half hanging out in the dining room, talking about mundane things. While my husband took up the mantle of Master Pancake Flipper, and my dad usually makes the eggs, my mom and I were usually making the bacon and concocting some kind of homemade syrups. I think it's the thing I have missed most about moving away from home.

When my dad was here visiting a few weeks ago, we invited our dear (and new, since our move!) friends over for a Sunday night dinner.

We had scouse and bacon and sausage and eggs.

It was their first introduction to scouse, and of course they loved it! Everybody does. ; )
It was lovely, and homey, and fun. It was a night full of stories and laughter, a mix of family, and new friends.

And it felt wonderful. A little taste of home. : )

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


One year, three months, and nine days later...and I still love to look at my wedding ring. : )

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sweet Peaches!

Sweet Cream Scones. Fresh Colorado Peaches. Creme Anglaise Sauce. Need I really say more??
Ok, fine. I will.

These scones are the tastiest scones I have ever tasted. I could eat them plain. I could eat them with jam. I could eat them with straight cream. Pretty much anyway you eat them, they will be good. They are sweet, creamy, vanilla-y, light and airy. Mmmmmm.

Fresh Colorado Peaches...I blogged about these last year, when I bought some at the local Kansas farmer's market. Now that we've moved to Colorado, I have even better access to them. And they are divine. They are firm yet juicy, sweet and flavorful, perfect in every way. Mmmmmm.

Creme Anglaise sauce. It's a rich egg and cream based custard sauce. It too is sweet, creamy, vanilla-y and delicious.

Pair them all together...oh my.

This may be the best dessert I've ever had. Hm, ok, so Creme Brulee still wins that category, but this is a close second. And, the best part is, it doubles as breakfast! Yeaaaa...

Sweet Cream Scones (adapted from this Peach Scone Recipe)
  • 1 whole Large Eggs
  • ½ cups Heavy Cream
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2 cups Flour
  • ½ cups Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 6 Tablespoons Cold Salted Butter, Diced

Preheat the oven to 375° F. In a medium bowl, combine 1 egg, cream, and vanilla; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder. Add the cold butter to the flour mixture and mix on medium speed until well blended. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Dust the counter with a bit of flour. Dump the batter on the floured counter. Knead about 7 or 8 times into a ball. Add a bit of flour if it’s too sticky. Flatten into a 7-inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on the baking sheet 2-inches apart. Brush tops with cream, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake about 15 minutes or until an inserted tooth pick comes out clean or with a few crumbs attached.

Makes 8 scones.

*Hint* I used the leftover cream/egg mixture from the bowl and added a bit more cream to brush the tops of the scones.

Creme Anglaise Sauce (from Emeril's recipe)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

1 tbs Vanilla

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

Heat the heavy cream, milk and vanilla bean in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Place the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl and beat until pale yellow in color and all of the sugar has dissolved. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the egg mixture to the hot cream mixture in the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Be sure to stir in the corners of the pot and lower the heat slightly. Stir the mixture until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Place the bowl in another bowl half-filled with ice and water and stir occasionally until chilled.