Friday, September 30, 2011

Serving Up {Dessert}: Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is probably not on very many people's list of favorite desserts.  Probably not even the top ten.  But I have loved bread pudding ever since I was a kid.  How weird is that?  This is my mom's recipe, which back in the 80's she proudly revamped it to make it "healthier" by using skim milk.  I have just as proudly added all the dreaded fat back into it now that we are past the mistakes of the 80's (low fat and big hair - two things we should have known would come back to haunt us).

The recipe also includes a delicious cream sauce to drizzle on top, but more often than not I choose to save myself the trouble and skip the sauce.  I find that I am just as satisfied warming the bread pudding and topping it with some vanilla bean ice cream which slowly begins to soften and melt down the sides and is every bit as tasty as the cream sauce.  I also generally add raisins to only half of the pan of bread pudding since we have some non-raisin eaters at our house.  Either way, sauce or not, raisin or not, the end product is delicious!

(recipe from Linda W.)
printable version

16 slices bread, cut into 1"cubes
6 eggs
3 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbs. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 1/2 cups raisins (optional)

Place cubed bread on a baking sheet and toast in a 450 degree oven for approximately 6-8 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
Prepare a 13x9 pan by lightly coating with Pam.  Place toasted bread cubes in the 13x9 pan.  Sprinkle raisins over the bread.
Combine eggs, cream, milk, vanilla, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg and blend to combine them well.  Pour the liquid mixture over the bread.  Place the pan in the refrigerator and allow to sit at least one hour or up to overnight, allowing the bread to absorb the moisture.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes (or until center is set).
Serve warm topped with cream sauce or ice cream.
Cream Sauce:
4 egg yolks
1 Tbs. flour
2 tsp. vanilla
pinch salt
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup sugar
1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Whisk together the egg yolks, flour, vanilla and salt.
Combine the cream and sugar and heat over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge. Remove the hot cream from the heat and whisk one cup of cream into the egg mixture. Return all the egg mixture to the remaining cream. Return the pan to the heat on low and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened (about 2-3 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Serving Up {Entree }: Whole Bowl

Portland is such a cool city for food!  Case in point - we are the city of food carts.  Seriously!  The last number I read was that Portland has over 200 food carts, and more are popping up everywhere!  Most of the food carts are organized into "pods" which are gatherings of food carts, usually in empty lots.  Upon my moving here last summer I took the train downtown to meet my sister-in-law at the public library and we went to a pod for lunch.  I looked to my SIL for direction since it is almost overwhelming to choose from so many options.  She directed me to the Whole Bowl and she changed my life :)

I knew she was onto something when the line for this food cart was two or three times longer than any other line in the pod.  It is truly nothing more than a rice bowl but the key ingredient is the sauce.  It's called Tali sauce, but it has nicknames including Yumm sauce and Crack (as in addicting) sauce.  I searched online to find a knockoff for the sauce and have been making our own "whole bowls" at home ever since.  I set it up buffet style and everyone creates their own bowl.  We have added meat before, just in case you can't imagine a meal not consisting of meat.  Let me just reiterate - it really doesn't matter what is in the bowl as long as it is all topped with a generous helping of the Tali sauce.  Yum!

(recipe from here)
printable version

Brown rice
Red & black beans
Tali sauce
Black olives
Sour Cream

Layer the desired ingredients in a bowl. Enjoy!

Tali Sauce:
1/4 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Almonds (soaked)
2 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
1/4 cup Garbanzo Beans (soaked and cooked - I use canned)
1/4 cup Water
1/4 cup Lemon juice, fresh
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1 tsp. Curry powder
1 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Onion powder
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Combine all the ingredients together in a blender until smooth and creamy.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Serving Up {Snack}: Coconut Chex Mix

I am a pretty big fan of coconut.  When I found this recipe (unfortunately I can't remember where I found this recipe) it reminded me of my favorite granola recipe so I just had to try it.  It did not disappoint and I was grateful that it was a hit with the kiddos so that I wasn't left eating it all completely on my own.  Nonetheless, I did eat more than my share because it is just one of those flavors that addicts you after only one bite.  Consider yourself warned.

Actually, the recipe as written called for almonds.  I made half of it with almonds and half of it with cashews (like my granola) and the cashews won in my book.  But even pecans or macadamia nuts would be tasty.  Chex mix is one of those things that you can play with and get creative with.  I added candy corn to it last fall to take to a youth Halloween party and the bowl was returned empty, so I will take that as a good sign.

6 cups rice chex
6 cups golden grahams
1 cup chopped nuts (cashews, pecans, macadamia)
1 cup coconut
1 1/2 cups butter (3 cubes)
1 cup sugar
1 cup Karo syrup
1 tsp. vanilla (I substituted 1 tsp. of coconut extract and really liked it)

In a large bowl, combine the cereal, nuts and coconut.
In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, karo syrup and vanilla and bring to a boil.  Boil for two minutes.  Pour sauce over the cereal and toss to coat.
Store in airtight container.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Serving Up {Love}: Guest Post

In the blogging world there are a lot of "guest post" out there.  I am excited today that my very own father is guest posting for me.  In truth, he only provided the photo but it gave me a welcomed smile this morning and I am passing it along.

I knew that September would be hectic and that I would have to find a new routine to keep up my posts.  It turns out that knowing something isn't the same as doing it.  September has not only been busy, it's been full of surprises and I don't like surprises.  They keep me from my safe routine.  In this case, they have kept me from posting anything in a while.  I hope to play catch up this weekend and maybe even post a few weeks ahead.  Regardless, I promise there will be new recipes up next week - I have the photos, I just need to sit down and sort them.

In the meantime, enjoy this delectable meal - breakfast all the way from the beautiful Wind Rivers!

Basically, it's simple.  When it comes to food and my dad the recipe reads like this...

Thanks dad!  Love you!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Serving Up {Soup}: Creamy White Chili

I am really excited that soup season is upon us.  I could eat soup every single day for the rest of my life and probably not tire of it.  Now my kids, however, that is a different story.  So I don't eat soup every single day.  But we do make soup frequently during the rainy season here in the Northwest (which is the next nine months) and this recipe is one of our stand-out favorites.  Paired with a loaf of hot, homemade bread - this is nearly perfection!

(recipe from Taste of Home magazine)
printable version

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into ½”cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chicken broth
2 cans chopped green chilies
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 C. sour cream
½ C. whipping cream

In a large saucepan, sauté chicken, onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and whipping cream. Serve immediately.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Serving Up {Breakfast}: Coconut Syrup

I could drink this syrup!

My kids probably already have!

I don't buy syrup from the store.  We generally opt for jams or fruit or nutella (or nothing) to top our breakfast goodies.  But when I stumbled across this recipe a couple of years ago, there was no going back!  We have been converted to syrup when it's this syrup.  To prove my point, I always have at least one back up bottle of coconut extract in the cupboard.  My kids just wouldn't have it any other way.

(recipe from The Sisters Cafe)
printable version

7-8 Tbs. butter
¾ cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp. coconut extract

Place butter, buttermilk and sugar in a saucepan. Turn heat to medium and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from the heat and add soda and extract. It will bubble up; just continue to stir and give it a few minutes for the “foam” to reduce before serving.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Serving Up {Dessert}: Candy bar Pudding Dessert

When I was a teenager I was the "in demand" babysitter in the neighborhood.  Seriously!  I babysat generally five (if not six) days a week, and largely for the same family.  I only wish that I could find someone to watch my kids that would vacuum  before I got home (oh yes I did - why do you think I was in high demand?)  Why do I mention that.  I'm not really sure why I mentioned the vacuuming, but I mention the babysitting because I have to make a confession.  One night I was babysitting and in the fridge was a variation of this dessert and the mom told me to "help myself".  Oh My Word!  I totally ate probably a quarter of the entire pan!  I couldn't help it. I just kept going back for another small slice and before I knew it....  I probably had chocolate on my chin when the parents got home.  Ugh!  I totally embarrassed myself!
(and just for the record, I think of that EVERY time I tell a babysitter to help themself to something in my fridge at my house)

Just as I have never forgotten that evening, I have never forgotten this recipe.  And while this is not the exact recipe from that family (I was too embarrassed to ask for the recipe), it is a recipe from my aunt and it tastes pretty darn close to what I remember that dessert tasting like on that fateful, embarrassing night.

(recipe from aunt Diane)
printable version

2 cups OREO crumbs
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup butter, melted
8-ounce cream cheese, softened
16-ounce cool whip
1 1/2 cup chopped candy (twix is my favorite)
3 cups cold milk
2 small packages instant chocolate pudding

Mix the cookie crumbs, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the melted butter.  Press into a 13x9 glass baking dish.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until set.
Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until smooth.  Fold in 1/2 of the cool whip.  Spread this mixture over the crust and then sprinkle 1 cup of the crushed candy over that.
Pour the milk into a bowl and add both packages of chocolate pudding.  Beat with a whisk for 1-2 minutes.  Pour the pudding over the candy bar layer.  Return to the refrigerator for 10 minutes while the pudding sets.
Spread the remaining cool whip over the top of the pudding layer and garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of crushed candy.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Serving Up {Pasta}: Chicken with Basil Cream Sauce

My recipe card for this recipe is well used!  You know the type - the writing is smeared where milk has been splattered on the card and there are notes written all over on it.

In the corner is written "quick".  I have made this recipe countless times and I am always pleasantly surprised how quickly this meal comes together.  In the time it takes your noodles to boil, viola!  That is why I wrote "quick" on the card so you would think I would get over it, but it's like a bonus each time I make it.

The card also says "oregano" next to the basil that is listed.  I will second that substituting oregano is a really tasty alternative (and still just as quick), but if I have fresh basil then that wins out every time!

I also wrote "can use other pasta" next to the penne but that seems like a no-brainer.  Not sure why I wrote that all those years ago, but in case you were wondering, the shape of the pasta will not alter the flavor of the end result.  That is, of course, as long as you don't do something weird like whole-wheat pasta or ramen noodles or something.  Okay then.  Enough said.

This is really one of my favorite meals to make for a Sunday dinner so that I don't spend the entire "day of rest" in the kitchen.  It is also a favorite to take to someone needing a meal because I can easily increase the portions so that it feeds two families.  Oh, and it's quick!


16-ounce Penne Pasta
1 Tbs. butter
1 lb. chicken tenders
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 cups whole milk
8-ounce cream cheese
1-2 Tbs. fresh basil, chopped (1 tsp. dried - but use fresh!)
1 cup shredded Parmesan

In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter and add the chicken, sprinkling the garlic salt evenly over chicken tenders.  Cook the chicken until it is no longer pink.
Add the milk and continue to heat until the milk begins to boil.  Cut the cream cheese into small chunks and add to the pan.  Add chopped basil.  Reduce heat and stir until the cream cheese is melted and the chicken has finished cooking all the way through.
Remove from heat and toss with the shredded Parmesan.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Serving Up {Drink}: Strawberry Lemonade Quencher

This recipe ought to have been posted a month ago!  Yummy, refreshing, and delicious - it kind of encapsulates summer.  After our nice, cool weather here in the Northwest last week, our temperatures have spiked back up for another week of summer.  If you are experiencing something similar, this is the perfect drink to serve over ice to cool things off!

(recipe from The Pampered Chef)
printable version

10 cups cold water
1 can (10 ouncees) frozen non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiri mix, thawed
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (4 to 5 lemons)
3/4 cup sugar
Whole strawberries (optional)

Place all the ingredients, except whole strawberries, into a large drink pitcher.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and ingredients are well combined.
Serve chilled and garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Serving Up {Vegetable}: Ranch Vegetable Dip

There are so many yummy vegetables coming on right now.  I LOVE it!  There is a sense of accomplishment when you can create a vegetable platter with the harvest of your very own garden.  Currently I have colorful peppers, cute yellow pear tomatoes and cucumbers all coming in each day with carrots not too far behind.

My favorite vegetable dip to serve with a platter of veggies is this recipe.  It's super easy because you use a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix.  By adding the cottage cheese with the sour cream, I feel like it's a bit of a healthier option as well.  I hope you like it as much as our family does.

printable version

1 cup sour cream
1 cup cottage cheese
1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dressing seasoning

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until mixed well.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours prior to serving.
Serve with fresh cut vegetables.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Serving Up {Bread}: Zucchini Bread

Today is the first day of September and we woke up to a crisp coolness in the air.  All of my kids came to breakfast wrapped in blankets.  It felt like autumn had arrived overnight!  School begins in four short days and then autumn will officially be in full force for us here in the Northwest.

I look forward to the autumn harvest, especially now that I live in Oregon where I can readily access fresh produce.  Earlier this week I was busy bottling homemade tomato sauce and last week I was elbow deep in peach pits and apricot pits.  I hadn't intended to neglect the zucchini sitting on my counter, but I noticed yesterday that it was beginning to show evidence of neglect.   My solution was to bake zucchini bread, much to my kids delight!

This is my favorite recipe, and despite zucchini breads bad reputation, this recipe is so moist!  The secret is grating a single tart apple into the grated zucchini.  It adds a burst of flavor as well as increasing the moisture content.  The recipe was not written with the apple, but years ago I was at a local orchard market and was purchasing a zucchini (who buys zucchini?).  An older lady shopping near me commented that if I was going to make bread with that zucchini, I needed to grate an apple into the batter.  I took her recommendation and have never made the recipe again without the apple addition.  So even if you already have a favorite zucchini recipe, and you don't try this recipe, try the apple tip and see if it doesn't make a delightful difference.

printable version

1 cup oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 cups grated zucchini (1 small tart apple, like granny smith) ***
3 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg
3 cups flour
1 cup nuts (optional)

*** Grate the tart apple into a measuring bowl. Grate zucchini into the same bowl to come up with the 2 cups of grated “zucchini”. The addition of the apple will create a delicious, moist loaf of bread and is my secret ingredient :)

Prepare two loaf pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place oil and sugar in a mixing bowl and combine. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the zucchini and the vanilla.
Sift together the try ingredients and add to the wet ingredients, without over mixing.
Stir in nuts.
Divide batter between the two greased loaf pans. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick tests done.

The topping is optional.  It's actually the topping for my apple bread but it is delicious on zucchini bread too!
You can place it on top of the batter before placing in the oven, or sprinkle it on 15-20 minutes into the cooking time.

½ cup quick cook oats
½ cup coconut
½ cup packed brown sugar
4 Tbs. melted butter

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle the topping over the batter prior to baking.
(The topping, as listed, would top two loafs of zucchini bread)