Thursday, December 19, 2013

Easy Eggnog Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Around this time each year my family decides that they have had enough eggnog.  After all, I did start buying it around Thanksgiving time with a steady purchase of 1/2 a gallon every week.  I usually don't figure this out until I find myself pouring it down the drain because we have surpassed the expiration date and I need to make room in the refrigerator.

This year I decided to do things differently. I rounded up some ideas of how I could use the left over eggnog that I knew I would find it on the top shelf hiding behind the orange juice and milk.   My thoughts went from fudge, to bread pudding, then to an eggnog applesauce cake or, the best one, eggnog ice cream.  These recipes would pretty much cover any amount that I would find nestled in the very back shelf.   The ice cream is going to require a lot of eggnog, I can only hope I find a full half gallon.

Last night I could not sleep.  I call it Holiday/Christmas/Company anxiety.  My parents are coming into town on Saturday and any company causes me to "wig out" a bit.  The older I get the worse it becomes.  When my guests arrive on my doorstep, the anxiety melts away. It is the anticipation of people coming to stay in my home that riles me up.  

These are some of the random thoughts that swirl around in my head:

"What if I forget to clean something"? Like the microwave, which I have done before.

"What if I make something they don't like?" Again, it has happened.

"What if the activities I have planned don't work out?" This usually doesn't happen, but it could.

"What if I decide to run away and come home when it is all over?" This is one question I ask myself a lot but I have actually never done because, like I mentioned above, I always have a great time and things go according to plan.

I believe I am my own worst enemy and I am sure it stems from my childhood and the need to please everyone, be the peace maker and strive for perfection.
So what does this have to do with bread pudding, early mornings and eggnog?


The anxiety was my reason for not sleeping, which caused me to clean out the fridge, which then led me to find the eggnog hiding behind the beef broth, that triggered my crazy 4am brain to make bread pudding. Remember that was on my list of things I could make.

I am going to assume that if you are like me, have Celiac or are gluten intolerant , then bread pudding is something that you do not make often (or, if you are like me, never). I don't usually make it because my family says they don't like it and I have never found the right type of gluten free bread to hold the egg/milk mixture (again, that was the case, until today).

A while back I was contacted by Udi's to try some of their products. If you remember I was a bit busy being pregnant and trying to stay afloat with the pregnancy. I turned down a lot of opportunities because I just could not handle one more thing.

After Finnley was born, I reached out to all of the companies that I wanted to work with.  Udi's made the cut.  They graciously sent me a box of goodies to sample and try.  

Let me tell you about this box: it was huge, filled to the rim and contained things that I did not even know they made. Gluten Free Flour tortilla's, pizza crust and bagels were three things I jumped for joy over.  I have to get my exercise in where I can.  {grin}

My family was equally excited at the sight of a box of food being delivered to our doorstep.  I just want to say thank you to Udi's for asking me to create a recipe using their products.

The one thing I find necessary when eating bread pudding is a sauce.  My daughter has been asking for butterscotch everything this year and so it sounded like the perfect addition to this Easy Eggnog Bread Pudding.  I am going to be the first to say, that it was excellent and I will be making it again.

Bread pudding has a tendency to get a little crispy or dry on top with the middle being warm and soggy.  Serving the bread pudding with a sauce will make the top layer soften a bit and add even more gooey-ness to the dish.

Two things I would recommend.  The first is to buy the best eggnog you can find and afford.  The second, don't try to change the bread combination.  You really need the gluten free bagel's texture to hold it all together.

My final comment is that this bread pudding does not have any added sugar.  I am trying to be mindful of the amount of sugar my family consumes.  If I can go without it, I do.  With that being said, this recipe is in no way a low sugar bread pudding because the eggnog has a lot and if you use the butterscotch sauce, is super sweet.

I strongly recommend making the butterscotch sauce.


Let me know what you think. I do love hearing from readers.  Enjoy!

*Disclosure:  The opinions expressed in the above written content are those of the writer, Sherron Watson.  She has not been paid to write a review or create a recipe.  Sherron was given a box of products and asked to participate in a recipe round-up which will appear on Udi's pinterest board.  

Easy Eggnog Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

2 Udi's bagels, cubed
8 slices of Udi's white gluten free bread, cubed
1 1/2 cups eggnog
1/2 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon butter, softened
Butterscotch Sauce (recipe below)

The night before:

1. Combine the bread, eggnog, milk and eggs.  Using a spatula, mix well. The bread will need to be stirred a few times to ensure that each piece is coated with the wet ingredients.

2. Place bread mixture into a well buttered baking dish.  I use a dish that is an odd size, 8X11 rectangular dish.  My mixture ends up being about 2 inches thick.  I would not go any shallower than this.

3. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.  I would recommend a minimum of 4 hours if you decide to do this on the same day.

Day of:

4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove bread pudding from refrigerator. Pull back the foil and give it a good stir to re-coat the top layer. Cover again.

5.  Bake eggnog bread pudding for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and continue baking for 15-20 more minutes.  You want the tips of the bread cubes to be a golden brown and the egg mixture to be firm.

6.  The last 15 minutes make the butterscotch sauce (recipe below).

7.  Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes and serve with sauce.

8.  Refrigerate all left overs and reheat in the microwave.

Butterscotch Sauce

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons soft butter

1.  In a small saucepan, combine all of the above sauce ingredients.

2.  Set your heat to medium and bring to a boil (5 minutes or so), stirring every once in a while.

3.  Once the sauce boils, turn heat down to a medium low and simmer to thicken the sauce.   Continue cooking for 5 minutes.  Stirring occasionally.  Sauce will start to darken when it is close to finishing.

4.  Remove from heat and serve warm.  Sauce will thicken more the longer it sits.

Written by Sherron Watson

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chorizo and Rice Casserole

Sometimes my kitchen is similar to the show "Chopped".  The only difference is that I don't keep my food in a basket.  Well, unless it is a bag of cereal and then I have a vintage picnic basket that all of the "last remaining cup of cereal that nobody wants in the bag before they move on and open a new box"is folded up and tossed in to.  When this is full I remove the bags, crush them all together and make some type of magic seven layer cookie bar.  You know the one with sweetened condense milk poured over the top. Thats a good day at my house.

Oh, and I don't wear a chef outfit, nor do I have a row of 3 judges watching my every move. Instead I wear my favorite apron and have four kids, one husband and three really loud cats that give me plenty of feedback.  Have you ever watched the judges eat the food..a tiny bite here, a lick there and then their eyes never leave the chef.  Some days this is what it feels like in my kitchen too.

I used to plan a week long menu and try to stick to it and get upset if someone ate a much needed item out of the fridge.

Yeah, those were the days. Now, I buy what I want and I will often throw things together based on what I have left in the refrigerator. Our nights are hectic with busy schedules and it is not uncommon for me to have "20 minutes on the clock" and to hear myself say "your time starts now".

I run from drawer to cupboard to sink to refrigerator to stove and then repeat.

I am sweating, my hair is frazzled and I am in the zone. A bead of sweat trying to escape my forehead before the back of my hand finds it with a towel.

Are you wondering what I had in my "basket" aka: refrigerator? 

chorizo Sausage, cream cheese, rice and red pepper.

I can work with these ingredients and my mind starts to race.  We have to leave in one hour to get Isabella to gymnastics. 

I start preheating the oven, turn the saute pan on and throw some butter into it.  Dice the onions and bell pepper.  Start another pan and cook the sausage, warm the rice in the microwave to soften it a bit and find my two favorite casserole dishes.  I still don't own a 9X13 pan so I use two small dishes.

My hands are moving from pan to pan, stirring and flipping; all the while working the microwave to soften the cream cheese, open the broth box and add seasonings to a medium size bowl.

I am on fire! <----Cue Alicia Keys song here.

I throw it all together, toss it in the dishes and bake for 20 minutes.  

CRAP--Did I add salt goes through my mind? I don't want my dish to be under-seasoned.

Oh well, my kids and hubby can add their own.  Its not like I am cooking for $10,000 dollars tonight.

I wonder if I will make the cut to the next round?  wink wink

Of course I will.  My family would starve if I did not cook for them each night or they would live strictly on ham sandwiches.  They have done this before while I was away for a girls getaway.

My five judges were unanimous in saying this casserole was very good.  The chorizo is a bit spicy so beware if you have those that don't enjoy spicy AND it needed a bit of salt.

Over all they loved it and want me to make it again.  I can certainly do that because it was quick, simple and hit the spot on these cold, wintery nights.


Chorizo and Rice Casserole

4 chorizo sausages ( I buy mine from Whole Foods)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon oil for sautéing
3/4 cup chicken broth
3-4 cups prepared rice (white or brown)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 brick of cream cheese, soft
1/2 cup grated fine parmesan cheese

1 cup of Jack Cheese, for the top

Preheat oven to 350.

1.  Heat oil over medium high heat.  I remove sausage from casings and break apart.

2.  Saute sausage, onion, garlic and bell pepper until sausage is browned and onion is clear.

3.  In a large bowl add remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine.  Add the ingredients from step 2.

4.  Add bowl to 9X13 baking dish, top with jack cheese and bake for 20 minutes.

5.  Serve immediately.

Written by Sherron Watson

Monday, December 9, 2013

Peppermint Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies

I love a cookie that melts in  your mouth.   These little morsels of tenderness have a wonderful texture that is soft.   The  buttery flavor reminds me of my grandmothers sugar cookies.  The frosting on top adds a little cloud of fluffiness and to top it off, the peppermint candy bits,  add the right amount of color and flair.

The reason I used these Thin Mint Peppermint Bits is because I made Cookies and Cream Popcorn with mini chocolate filled cookies and decided to throw these in the bowl for flavor and color.  It turned out pretty good.  So, don't fret about using the whole bag because you can easily make both items.

I am excited for the Christmas season in our home. We have a new baby and my parents are coming for a visit.  We have not spent a Christmas with them in 9 years.  My big kids were so little and now they are almost out of the house.

We will fill our home with lots of goodies and these cookies will be at the top of the list.


Peppermint Melt-in-your-Mouth Cookies
{adapted from Taste of Home Quick Cooking, 2009}

Makes 30 small cookies

1 cup of butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 & 1/4 cup flour, sifted (to make gluten free-use an all purpose gluten free flour blend)
1/2 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

*Eggs are not used in this recipe


1 oz. cream cheese
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
Crushed Candy Canes or Peppermint Thin Mints

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1.  Cream Butter and powdered sugar together in a medium size bowl; add extract and beat well. 

2.  Combine flour and corn starch in a separate bowl. Gradually add to butter/sugar mixture. Mix well. 

3.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Using a small cookie scoop, space cookie scoops two inches apart.

4.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Do not over bake. 

For Frosting:   

1.  Beat cream cheese until its fluffy.

2.  Add powdered sugar, milk, and peppermint extract until smooth.

3.  Spread over cooled cookies and sprinkle with crushed candies.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Romanesco with Browned Butter

Look at this beauty!

Romanesco is something I have never used before and when I walked in to Graul's (our local market) and saw this my daughter and I both reached for it at the same time.  She knows me so well.

I honestly had no idea what it was, what it tasted like or if we would even like it.  My luck it could have easily been the pretty version of durian.  Thank goodness it was not.    They had it listed in the grocery store as "neon broccoli" so we had a small clue as to what it was.

My friend told me it was a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. My family loves both of them and I knew I could use it at home.

But how?

How would I use it: soup, side dish, raw or cooked. It took me a few days to decide on this recipe.  It is nothing fancy but it preserved the look of this beautiful vegetable and allowed us to experience the flavor profile with few distractions.

I served it with my homemade parmesan ranch dressing, some bacon pieces and of course, the browned butter.

We served it similar to how you would serve a wedge salad.  I steamed the whole head and then quartered it.  We ate it for lunch or I should say we devoured our quarter.   At first I thought maybe the wedge was too big for one person to eat.  Lets just say if anyone tried to take a bite from my plate, I would bite them.  The browned butter was heavenly and I just don't share browned butter (mine, mine, mine).  I am joking--sort of?

I used the left over wedge to make some broccoli and cheddar soup.  I found in the soup, it does have a stronger broccoli flavor than regular broccoli (just keep this in mind if you use it in soup).

Please enjoy this simple side dish or Romanesco salad recipe.

Romanesco with Browned Butter

1 large head of romanesco
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
ranch dressing, for dipping
bacon pieces, garnish


1.  Trim romanesco of all green leaves and wash well.

2.  In a pot large enough to steam the romanesco, add 1 inch of water and place a steaming basket  inside.

3.  Turn your oven to medium high and bring to a boil. Add romanesco and steam for 12 minutes.  I like mine soft enough to put a fork into the dark "tree like" parts.  The stem may need a bit more time or this can be removed before serving to your guest or family.

4.  To make the butter, I melted butter in a non stick egg pan (it was the perfect size).  Turned heat to medium and browned the butter.  It took about 5 minutes.   The butter smells nutty and there is brown residue on the bottom of your pan.  Remove from heat.  Be careful to not burn the butter--it will ruin the flavor.

5.  Remove romanesco from steaming pot and quarter.  On a plate, add a pool of brown butter or drizzle the brown butter over the romanesco.  I did a little of both. I served it with a cup of dressing and sprinkled the bacon pieces over the top.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pecan Crescent Cookies

Around election time our friends throw a "bologna party". This was the first year that we were invited. We all brought a few of our favorite things and enjoyed each others company.  The bologna sandwiches were amazing.  Iris also made Chicken Matzo Soup!  That was a real treat.

I brought two salads:  Broccoli  Salad and a family favorite,  Pea Salad.   I also wanted to test this recipe with the gluten free flour conversion. I brought a whole plate of these delicious Pecan Crescent Cookies or also known as Rugelach.

When ever I bring something to a party and I am testing a recipe I am always very honest with my friends.  In return, I need them to be very honest with me in their evaluation of the dish.  I don't get offended.  I expect all types of reviews.   After all, we are all different and like different things.

Everyone had rave things to say, but one friend in particular, ate half the pan.  I am not joking.  He could not get enough of this delicate pastry like cookie-gluten free or not.  I am going to take that as a fantastic review of the product--LOL

The only thing I notice to be a bit different in the dough are the layers.  The batch made with all purpose flour definitely had a more flaky texture, but the gluten free version was not far off in texture.

I also noticed that the gluten free dough was a bit different.  You want the dough pliable-not too dry and not too wet.  Do what you need to do to make sure this is the case by adding a drop or two more water if the dough is too crumbly or adding a bit more white rice flour if the dough is too wet.

Like with most pastry like doughs, handle it gently and not too much.

The recipe below is not gluten free.  To make it gluten free I substituted the 2 cups of flour for this conversion:

1 cup of very fine white rice flour (I purchase this from our local asian store)
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

**Use the white rice flour to dust your surface and rolling pin.  Use a generous amount--I did.

The last thing I would suggest is to roll the cookies as tight as possible.  Any of the dough (for both versions) that was not rolled tight had a tendency to unroll during baking.  Take your time and you will have a successful batch of delicious cookies.

I can tell you that even if they don't turn out perfect, they still taste really, really good.  I had three piles on my plate--the first batch (not pretty), the second batch (getting better) and the the third (beautiful).  It took me a few rounds to make the perfect rolled up crescent cookie.

I hope that my few tips will help you make the first batch flawless.


Pecan Crescent Cookies

Makes 36 cookies

*Dough needs to be refrigerated for 2 hours before being used

Easy Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour (for gluten free conversion, see above)
1 cup butter
1 cup cottage cheese


1/2 cup  butter, softened  
1 1/2cups packed brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped small

1.  In medium bowl add flour and butter. Use a pastry blender to blend until crumbly. Stir in cottage cheese. The dough will still be a bit crumbly but it will come together after resting in the refrigerator. Divide dough into thirds; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

3.  Remove dough from plastic wrap and knead 4-5 times until dough is well combined. On well-floured surface, roll one part of the dough into 10-12 inch round.

4.  Combine brown sugar and pecans in a small bowl, set aside.

5.  Using a butter knife, spread one third of the butter used for the filling onto rolled out dough. Sprinkle with one-third each of the brown sugar and pecans; lightly press into dough with hands.

6.  Cut each round into quarters. Cut each quarter into 3 wedges. Roll up starting with long end; place, point side down on lined cookie sheets. 

7.  Bake 30 minutes or until lightly browned. 

8.  Remove immediately from cookie sheets to cooling racks.  The brown sugar will melt onto the cookie sheet but there is still enough filling to make the cookie quite tasty.

Cool completely.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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