Tag Archives: bread pudding

Sweet inspiration

11 Jul

Can I be totally honest with you guys? My desire to undertake new and/or daunting recipes in the kitchen has been small lately. I don’t know if it’s lack of time, or lack of energy when I do have the time, or something else, but I’ve only been willing to stick to recipes I know or things that I know won’t take more than 45 minutes to make.

My motivation has been coming in random spurts, however. It usually happens when my sister and I (we live together), end up having a surplus of some random ingredient, or something is sitting in the fridge or cupboard that threatens to expire soon. You know me and how I hate to waste anything. I’ll either eat it someway or another.

But what about 1 random ingredient, that isn’t very appetizing to eat alone but is perfectly useful not to throw away? When our mom was visiting, she stocked up on croissants at the Dupont Farmer’s Market on Sundays, but left us way too many of them when she went back to Orlando. We ended up with 1 plain croissant after all the almond and chocolate ones were finished. I’m not much of a plain croissant kind of gal, though, and by the time I realized it had been sitting in a tupperware on our counter for awhile, it was going stale.

But when I think of stale bread, I think of bread pudding. And while one croissant certainly isn’t enough for regular-sized pudding, it is plenty for at least a single serving. I found a great recipe as a starting off point and then tweaked some of the cooking process, knowing how a regular bread pudding is made. I exchanged and added some choice ingredients as well. After I had popped them in the oven, I actually waited nervously for about 30 minutes, checking the puddings after 20 minutes, every 5 minutes or so, for doneness. I dreaded having to throw away cups of inedible goo that could very possibly result. But I pulled the little puddings out, let them cool for a bit, and then took a bite out of one.

Success! The bread pudding was creamy, but had a nice, crisp crust on top, and the melted chocolate and peanut butter tasted wonderful with the buttery croissant. I felt completely satisfied but not too full after having just one, it was the perfect size.

I know I need to find my motivation more than just randomly, but at least I know that finding it brings good results!

Single- Serving Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding (makes 2)

  • 1 croissant (slightly stale works best)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (could use soy or regular milk if desired)
  • 1/8 cup white sugar (basically 1/2 of the 1/4 cup)
  • dark chocolate chips
  • about 1-2 tablespoons peanut butter

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. (My oven seems to be hotter than most, plus I converted the Celsius temperature to Fahrenheit from the original recipe). Slice the croissant in half and spread peanut butter on the insides of both halves. Rip or cut the halves into smaller (about 1-inch) pieces. Place 1 layer of the pieces on the bottom of 2 ramekins or oven-safe jars. Add a few chocolate chips, then place another layer of croissant pieces. Add more chocolate chips to your liking, tucking them in whatever space available.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg, milk and sugar. Carefully pour the mixture into both ramekins, filling close to the top. At this point, you can put these in the fridge and allow the the mixture to soak the bread for 30 minutes to an hour. But I’m impatient so I went ahead to the next step.

Place the ramekins in a small baking dish (I used a glass pie dish). Pull the middle wire shelf from the oven out and place the dish on it, and then fill the dish with hot water, until it reaches about half way up the ramekins. Push the shelf in and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, although it may take a little more time (for me, it took closer to 30 minutes). To check for doneness, pull the shelf out and shake the dish to see if the pudding jiggles a little, or you can pierce one with a knife or toothpick. If it comes out clean (unless you poke a chocolate chip), it’s ready.

Let cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

 

What do you do when you’re running low in motivation or inspiration?

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Aesop’s fable lied to me.

20 Jun

Lately my weekends for the most part lately have been pretty laid-back. I suppose this is what happens when you get older and you start paying more attention to your bank account and your expenses, and realizing that one is bigger than the other when it shouldn’t be. I also felt burnt out by the middle of May when my spring semester of class was over. So it’s nice to be able to just sleep in, watch crappy movies on basic cable, experiment in the kitchen, or read. I’m not sure how long this feeling will last, however, because ultimately the part of me who thrives on being productive will kick in and I won’t be able to stay in my apartment for longer than an hour at a time during the weekend.

Case in point: I did manage to do a few fun things other than watch Star Wars for the 37th time in my life just because it was playing on Spike TV…

Go to Washington Nationals game on Friday. This was part of a secret santa gift I had given my friend Carolyn, who’s goal is to go to a game for every team that the DC area has. Nats: check. Now she’s got DC United, the Capitals, the Wizards, and the Redskins. Considering how cheap I got these seats for, I don’t think this’ll be a very difficult or expensive goal to accomplish.

I also…

Made mini peanut butter and chocolate bread puddings on Saturday night. My younger sister, Anna, and I had a stale croissant that I kept saying I’d make into a bread pudding. My initial thought was that I’d buy more croissants at the grocery store and make a big pudding, but the thought of having that around and the subsequent poundage I’d gain freaked me out. So I researched single-serving bread puddings, came across a very easy and tweak-able recipe, and attempted. And then I succeeded. These turned out very delicious AND the perfect portion size, without any leftovers to be tempted with. And yes, I will post the recipe for this soon.

Then on Sunday…

I finished Kara Goucher’s Runing for Women: From First Steps to Marathons, and while it was an easy read, I still learned quite a bit about training properly for any distance race, keeping motivated and staying fit as a runner. Plus, it provided a lot of inspiration: through the quotes she has inserted throughout the book from other world-class runners, as well as from her personal feelings about the sport. It made me even more excited to go out for my 6am runs and it reminded me to take training slow and steady.

This is photo is misleading but I swear I didn't finish last! In a related note, please ignore the massive sweat stains.

But then I did the Georgetown Running Company’s Father’s Day 8k. This didn’t go as well for me as I had hoped. But at least I did it, right? 🙂 I thought about my dad while running – he got me started on running in the first place – and I knew he’d be proud of me even if I finished first or last. Granted, I finished in about the same time as I did with my first 8k, which I guess is ok. At least I wasn’t slower than last time. I tried really hard to pace myself but also have negative splits after the first half of the race, which wasn’t totally successful. The few times I’d glance at my Garmin to check my pace, I seemed to be going the same rate throughout. Oh well. I’ll continue to deal with the fact that I am still insanely slow (not yet at 10-minute mile average pace). My slowness kind of annoys me, but I’m also really determined to get to that 10-minute mile pace by the time the fall season comes around. So I’m really looking forward to more tempo runs and speedwork in my training for the next couple of weeks. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, but I will continue to cross more finish lines as fast as I possibly can!

Any fun things you did over the weekend? Any good eats or recipes you found?

All’s well that ends well…

17 Nov

More often than not, I remind myself why I decided on the moniker “The Novice Nosher”. I’ve learnt so much about cooking just within the past year, but I am always learning, and many times those lessons are ones I had actually forgotten. Case in point: the night I made this savory bread pudding. That was another one of those nights where cooking ended up being more of an endeavor than I expected.

I wanted to try two recipes: Deviled Chicken Thighs and Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding. I did end up making both, but in hindsight, I really was taking on too much, wanting to do two recipes in one night that both require the oven.

So lesson #1: Unless it’s the weekend or you don’t have a 10:30ish bedtime like me, don’t cook two oven-centric dishes in one night! I thought I could broil the chicken and prep the bread pudding and then bake that once the chicken was done. But the Deviled Chicken recipe does not allow you to pop it in and forget it; you have to monitor your broiler and take the chicken out every 5 minutes to coat and turn. So I ended up finishing the chicken first and eating it while prepping the bread pudding (I was seriously starving by that time and didn’t care to take any photos of it).

Then there’s lesson #2: Before you start any prep, make sure you have all the ingredients, tools and bakeware necessary to execute your dish. Big fail on my part. I had already finished chopping the vegetables when I discovered that 1) my baking dish was missing (I had forgotten it was at The Bf’s), 2) I didn’t have pre-shredded Parmesan, I only had a block, and 3) my basil had turned brown in the fridge. And I discovered these things in a slow succession through prep. I had decided to shred the cheese myself, which did result in a larger right bicep for the rest of the night. But I had discovered my baking dish was AWOL after that, so I then hauled butt to Safeway to buy a new dish and some basil (and I could’ve bought shredded Parm, but not after all the work I already went through). AND THEN, after cooking the vegetables and adding them to the bread, I discovered that I had only 4 eggs instead of the necessary 6. But by that time it was 9:30 and I was already exhausted. So I ignored the custard recipe and just went with 4 eggs. I probably should have also cut the amount of milk I used to balance with the lower amount of eggs, but I also didn’t think of that until after I had mixed everything.

Somehow, though, the bread pudding turned out well. Not as thick and fluffy as Giada’s, and it looked more like a giant frittata, but whatever. It tasted great! It’s thick and filling. The shallots and tomatoes were a lovely, sweet combination but the basil gave it a peppery bite. The egg in the custard balanced out the large amount of carbs with a bit of protein. The whole thing tasted like pasta, but in a deconstructed way. And for added bonus, which continues this month’s theme: it’s healthy (especially if you use skim instead of whole milk).

It works great to feed a few people, but I enjoyed eating the leftovers over the weekend. And if you like savory foods for breakfast, this works really well for your morning meal or brunch. So despite a less than stellar experience in making this bread pudding, I will definitely cook it again.

Giada de Laurentiis’ Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding

Filling:

  • Butter, for greasing the baking dish
  • 1/2 (8 ounces) multi-grain loaf, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Parmesan

Custard:

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature (If only have 4 like I did, or 5, that’ll work, but having 6 or making a trip to the supermarket is better.)
  • 1 cup whole milk (I went with skim, but you could use whatever milk of your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the filling, place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9x13x2inch glass baking dish, or spray it with Pam. Add the bread cubes and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until slightly soft, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Pour the tomato mixture and Parmesan cheese over the bread cubes and combine well.

For the custard, in a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Pour the custard over the bread mixture and gently toss to coat. Bake until slightly puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pudding from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy!

* I decided not to include the deviled chicken thighs recipe here for space and time sake, so if you’re curious, check it out here: Mark Bittman’s Deviled Chicken Thighs