Apple Bread Pudding

Another day in October, another apple post for fall? I know this is not a Halloween post, but I cannot say that I have ever made a Halloween recipe before. I am not very crafty or creative with decorating, but I also am waiting for a reason to do it. My husband is not going to be as impressed with ghost cookies or the like. But, as I said in my last post, we have a bunch of apples in the house. This means I need to find different ways of using them to take advantage. If you liked the sound of the apple crumb, then you will probably enjoy this breakfast version. To be honest, I was making this recipe because I had stale croissants and a pain au chocolat that needed to be used in some way. Bread pudding seemed like a great way because I remembered reading somewhere that old croissants were a nice decadent addition to bread pudding. Well, I could not find a recipe with it so I decided to make my own. This one is not as pudding-like as some recipes, but it worked for me. You could use other fruit, and you do not need croissants but they were really nice in this. I was pleasantly surprised how nicely the bits of chocolate from the pain au chocolat paired with the apple.

If your bread is not stale, no worries. My croissants were not enough, so I used some Italian bread that was bought fresh the day before. I was already preheating the oven, so while the oven preheated, I placed a pan with the bread cubes in the oven. By the time the oven was preheated and I had prepared the apples, they were ready. You could toast them longer if you prefer a crunchier bread pudding. I liked having a combination of half stale and half toasted.

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Apple and Pecan Crumble

I live in apple country, but last year we had trouble finding places to pick our own apples. We were actually told that you couldn’t pick apples because people kept suing the farms. So, we gave up our search and satisfied our apple craving with apple cider. This year, while at a farmer’s market, we saw that there was a u-pick orchard about 1-2 hours away. We were going to Hawaii that week, so we delayed the visit until after we got back. After picking so many apples, I had to find recipes to use them. Of course, apple cider was first and allowed me to update my post on it with more pictures. For the next apple treat, I decided to try a treat from a Jacques Pepin cookbook I have, called “Fast Food My Way“. The recipe is supposed to have dried apricots in it, but we don’t like them so I added a different dried fruit I had: cherries! You could also use raisins or some other dried fruit you enjoy with apples. The fruit gets nice and plump like juicy raisins.

It paired well with apple pie ice cream.

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Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

Is there enough in that title to keep you interested? My dad seems to be a big fan of desserts with “coffee cake” in the title, since he requested the other coffee cake I made, and also this one. When we came up for his list of dessert requests for this year, he added this to the list because my mom used to make it. It was one of the recipes we found in one of her many folders. We are not sure if this is the same one that she made, or what changes she might have done, but it seemed rather close to what we remember. Regardless, he was pleased with how it turned out. He even described it as “pretty”! There is room for changes if you prefer your cake to have fewer mix-ins, or if you like different nuts. Overall, it was a pretty simple cake to make and not hard to whip up. The end result is satisfying and it certainly makes for a heavy package (thank goodness for flat rate boxes at the post office!).

I did not get to have any of the cake because, well, that would have been rude to ship a partially eaten cake. My dad said it has a nice texture, so maybe I will make it for K and me sometime. My mom used to make lots of coffee cakes, and they were always different. Some had swirls inside (loved those), and some were more like the store-bought kind. This one almost belongs in its own category because it is so different looking. What kind of coffee cake do you like?

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Pasta with a Creamy Sauce and Spinach

When my magazines come in the mail, I always stockpile them until the next airplane trip (sometimes a monthly occurrence). I will see recipes or ideas I like and then tear out the pages. When I return from my trips, I find random magazine pages all inside my luggage. This recipe was inspired by a pasta recipe. It called for rainbow chard, which makes me sick, so I was going to substitute spinach. It also called for a fancy pasta which I did not feel like buying. Then, when it came to the flavors I realized that it was lacking some basic seasoning. That’s when I knew that I was not going to follow the recipe at all, other than having some sort of pasta, cheese, and a veggie. Sooo…an original!

This has creamy in the title, but I did not use any cream or even whole milk. Just basic 2% worked fine. You could use less cheese to make it a bit healthier, as well as not including the egg (but K loves eggs, so why not include another one when I can?). You can also feel free to play around like I did.

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Sausage with Pasta and Vegetables

Does the title seem generic? It feels kind of boring, but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate name for this dish. I like that you can customize it with vegetables you have on hand, as well as the meat. If you want, you could use turkey or chicken sausage, and I promise that it will still taste great. This is another one of those “end of summer” dishes with the tomatoes, but you could substitute canned tomatoes or leave them out and use a different addition during the winter months. The amounts can be altered as well, depending on what you like. I went a little light on the sausage because I wanted to use up what I had, but then I apparently had a bunch of vegetables and pasta to use.

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Croissants and Pain au Chocolat

Happy 100th post to me! I had to make it a special one for this benchmark occasion. There is a bit of a back-story before I get into the recipe, so feel free to skip or read. There will be a recipe as well as “lessons learned” for making croissants and pain au chocolat(e)…ah, French and the fun spelling that upsets Auto-Correct.

Woo! Pile o’ Pastries!

This time last year, I was settling into a routine. I was learning what it was like to live in Washington state and learning a new way of “fall”. Back home, the mornings were crisp and leaves would change pretty quickly. Here, fall is more gradual.

Yes, it does feel like one day you wake up and it’s a bit chillier than usual, but the trees turn colors in waves. I was surprised it was so pretty because I figured with us not having quite as many deciduous trees that fall would feel even shorter. Last year, it also meant the first time I did not have to leave here at the end of summer and return to Maryland to teach. It was weird!! But, it also meant meeting more of K’s friends and hanging out with them. We went to a video game midnight release party at our local Microsoft store. Earlier that day, I had started dough for croissants but did not have time to form them and let them proof. So, when I saw that K wanted to stay up late and play his game that night, I realized that I could finish making the croissants. Who cared that it was super late at night? I would already be up, so why not make something yummy? He didn’t even notice at first but then began to smell them baking. And let me tell you…

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Tomato, Egg, and Cheese Quiche

I think you could call this a tart instead…I don’t know the specific differences in the names, but I do know that I follow almost the same recipe for my quiche recipe, but there were some important changes for this. After reading about how awesome heirloom tomatoes are, I wanted to pick some up from the Farmers’ Market and enjoy them as a good summer dish. Seattle was late to summer, but it has been going steady for a couple months. All of a sudden, bam! It was fall. Cooler mornings, bringing out extra blankets, wearing socks and jackets, and wanting to turn on the heat but holding out because I know I can throw on another layer. Soon it will be back into the rainy season(s?) and I will be craving sunshine. At least I can look back at these pictures and remember how yummy the tomatoes were.

What meals get you excited about the fall and autumn seasons? I am trying to think ahead to produce knowing that I cannot rely on my local produce as much.  Colder weather makes me think of pot pies, roasted chicken, and soup!

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