Overnight Bread Pudding with Pecan Topping

With so much gloomy wet weather here lately, I have been motivated to make lots of comfort food. When I first made bread pudding, I was looking for inspiration but many recipes required overnight preparation. Since I had not planned ahead for it, I decided to wing it and liked my results. In fact, K actually prefers that one slightly to this one. This recipe is a bit more filling, and he thought it felt “less healthy” even though it is only the topping that really puts this one over the edge. I basically followed America’s Test Kitchen recipe, but they call it “Make-Ahead French Toast Casserole with Caramel-Pecan Topping”. To me, it tastes like bread pudding with pecans, so that is what I am calling it for my records. I made a few changes because we are a cinnamon-loving household here. We also never have a whole loaf of Italian/French bread just hanging around. I mean, who does? If you buy bread, don’t you start eating hunks of it that day, then put it to the side with grand plans you forget about? This happens often here. We can get through a  solid half loaf, but it is really hard to finish a whole loaf before it starts to go stale. So, I decided to let this half go stale and make an overnight bread pudding. To my surprise, they expected me to use a whole loaf. Well, this is the halved version made slightly healthier than their version.

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Roasted Vegetable Soup

All of a sudden it got cold here. I think I’m being a bit of a baby, though, because I feel frozen but check the temperature and it’s not nearly as cold as I think it is. So, apparently living in Seattle has changed my ideas of “cold” and “warm”. That didn’t take long! I can’t wait until I visit Maryland and see snow. You will find me curled up under many blankets wanting hot soup and hot chocolate.

So, that was the inspiration for this soup. I saw a few variations on the internet. My main inspiration was from An Edible Mosaic. I used the same idea and mostly the same flavors. One sort of big change was using an immersion blender and leaving some chunks in the soup. Creamy soups can be nice, but I get bored if I don’t have any other textures. So, I liked being able to leave noticeable pieces of the roasted vegetables. The immersion blender also makes the soup much easier to make. I try not to be a major tool snob, but it really does work better than a regular blender. If you don’t have one, feel free to use a blender, but that’s one more container you have to wash, and then you have to bring the soup back up to simmering. My method allows you to keep it all in one pot.

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Steamed Chicken and Mushrooms

For those of you who have been eagerly awaiting another Chinese recipe, here you go! I love how K did not say anything until after we were eating it but apparently this is a dish he grew up with. I never had it before, so it was a new taste experience for me. It is a mild chicken dish, so if you want more spices, you could probably toss in garlic, some fresh herbs, or even add a splash of soy sauce. As is, it is a fairly healthy dish that worked well for a weeknight meal. The longest part is waiting for the dried mushrooms to become hydrated again.

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Sausage and Potatoes in a Packet

This is another recipe that comes from a Jacques Pepin cookbook (what can I say, he’s apparently Mr. Awesome in this house right now). It is so easy and homey that you would never have believed it could come from such a proper-sounding man on PBS. I was planning lots of lighter foods for dinner, so I wanted to throw in a hearty dish. K was definitely wary of this dish. He kept asking what was in it and how it worked. He wanted to look at it in the oven, but since it’s in a packet it’s not possible…totally confusing for him. Then, I opened the packet. It still didn’t look like much. It’s kind of hard to make sausage and potatoes look pretty, but boy did it taste good! I ended up using 3 different kinds of sausage (spicy chicken, spicy Italian, and sweet Italian). You can use your favorites, but I recommend using some spicy variants to add a kick (and this comes from a girl who is not known for spicy tastebuds).

The onions get really soft in this, but using naturally sweet ones will definitely enhance the taste even more. Having the garlic unpeeled did not feel like it did much. I would have rather sprinkled some minced garlic in the packet instead, and would probably do that next time. I was expecting more garlic flavor. The potatoes end up getting steamed and are soft all the way through.

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Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

I’ve had this picture up on top of my blog since I started, but hadn’t shared the recipe, and I realized that was wrong! This is one of the fir st ice cream flavors I made because K loves Oreos so much. You can use real Oreos or use homemade ones. The beauty of this recipe is you could get the urge for the ice cream and make the base (it’s vanilla) and go buy any mix-ins (Oreo cookies) if you don’t already have them. With such an ardent Oreo lover in the house I usually have a box on hand, even if he forgets about them.

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Mock Baked Cannelloni

Don’t you love finding recipes where you don’t need to buy any ingredients? I found a recipe in my Jacques Pepin cookbook “Fast Food My Way” where you can use wonton wrappers instead of pasta. It sounded interesting, but once I realized I had almost enough ricotta already and had all of the other items, I could not bring myself to buy them. I decided to make my own version from items I already had in my kitchen. So, you could use wonton wrappers (no pre-cooking needed), jumbo shells, cannelloni tubes, or lasagna noodles like I did. For the pasta, you will need to boil them first so that you can roll them and/or fill them.

I would consider this a dish you could make on a weeknight, especially if you use wontons like he suggested. It is not super speedy, but it comes together pretty quickly and during the 15 minutes of baking you could easily get the rest of the meal ready (vegetables, garlic bread, etc.).

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