Mixed Bread Pudding with Caramelized Whiskey Raisin Sauce

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This bread pudding is so full of flavor and textures, the whiskey sauce adds the sweetness but not too sweet.  This took years of perfecting and is not mushy or runny, its very firm and has a little bit of crispy caramel on the tips of the bread pieces on top.

In this batch I used pumpernickel & rye bread, baguette bread and sesame seed bakery burger buns that have been frozen.

3 Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup Sugar

2 1/4 c Milk
1/4 c Butter

6-8 Cups Bread**
1/3 c chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

1 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c Butter
1/3 c raisins
4 TBSP Whiskey

Turn oven to 375 degrees.
Heat milk and butter on medium low, just until the butter is melted–do not scorch the milk.
Whisk eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar in a bowl.
Cut up your bread(s), some small pieces, some large (approximately 1″x2″ chunks).
Put the bread pieces, and nuts if you want to use them, into a large bowl, slowly drizzle the egg mixture to coat as much of the bread as you can. Gently mix with a spoon to get is as combined as you can without crushing and mashing all the bread.
Pour the warm milk mixture over the bread, carefully and slowly stir and fold it so all the bread gets some of the milk. You don’t want a bunch of totally dry pieces of bread.
Pour the mixture into a 9×13 cake pan and spread as evenly as you can.

On medium heat, melt the butter in a sauce pan, add the raisins and stir until the butter is melted. Add the brown sugar and stir until boiling. Drizzle as evenly as possible over the top of the bread pudding in your cake pan until its gone.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the tips of the top bread pieces are golden brown and the mixture looks like its drying out a little and bubbling on the edges. The whiskey topping will caramelize while in the oven so you want it to look bubbly and, well, like hot caramel.
Let it set for about 20 minutes so all the caramelized juice gets absorbed before serving.

**For the bread, I use a variety of types, I save different miscellaneous kinds in the freezer just to make this. Usually, we have leftover pumpernickel, sour dough, french bread, baguette bread, even bakery hamburger buns. It doesn’t matter, but the bread should be a few days old, something you wouldn’t serve for a sandwich but is still good. If you freeze fresh bread that will work perfectly for this recipe, just make sure you thaw it before using it.
Using different kinds of bread will give it great flavor and textures and thickness and you definitely want all of that happening.
If you use fresh bread or regular sandwich bread, it will turn into mush and won’t have any texture.
It is hard to measure the bread, if you have too little in your mixture you can always add more. If you have too much, it will be a little on the dry side. It depends alot on the size pieces you make and the denseness of the bread you use.

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Angel Candy

104_0435This recipe is one that was given to me by my grandmother, every year we got together before Christmas and made these candies.  It is a tradition that I have kept alive in my family, and hope that my kids will continue it with their families someday too.  They are simple to make and have only a few ingredients.

1 c Sugar

1 c Dark Karo Syrup

1 tbsp Vinegar

1 tbsp Baking Soda

Grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

Mix the sugar, karo syrup and vinegar together in a pot and heat on medium high and stir occasionally until the candy reaches 300 degrees.

Keep a tablespoon of sifted baking soda ready, when the candy reaches 300 degrees, remove from heat and dump the baking soda into the mixture.

Stir it quickly, QUICKLY…if you stir too much it will go flat, not enough and you will have chunks of baking soda in your candy.

Quickly, dump the frothing mixture onto the cookie sheet and let it sit until it is cool and hardened.

Break it into pieces and coat with chocolate flavored almond bark.

Note:  I use a steak knife to help cut/break it into the shape pieces I want, it also helps to reduce the amount of dusty breakage that will be left over.  Lots of little pieces will fall off so know that it’s just the nature of the beast.

My version of the classic Green Bean Casserole

104_0515Green Bean Casserole

2 Cans French Cut Green Beans, drained
2 Cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 tbsp Soy sauce
1 small Vidalia Onion, diced and sauteed
1 cup Portabella Mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
1 tbsp minced garlic, sauteed
2 tbsp butter
1 package of Pork & Bacon Sausage, cooked and drained
1 batch of Kickin Onion Spears

Turn oven to 400 degrees

Cook and drain pork & bacon sausage, set aside.
Fry up a batch of Kickin Onion Spears and set aside
In a casserole dish, mix soup, pork & bacon sausage, soy sauce and green beans.
In a frying pan, on medium heat, melt butter and add onions and mushrooms, cook until almost caramelized and stir in the garlic, then add to the casserole dish mixture.
Put your kickin onion spears on top, cover with aluminum foil and bake about 30 minutes or until its bubbling, then remove the cover and bake 5 more minutes to crisp up the onions.

 

When your nuts get hot, they will burn quickly…

step by step peanut brittle

step by step peanut brittle

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle

Peanut Brittle

step by step peanut brittle

step by step peanut brittle

This peanut brittle is thick, semi chewey and packed full of peanuts. In my true fashion, I have taken a loved recipe and put my own twist on it. It’s a simple twist, and was a total accident the first time I made it. The first time, I only had roasted, salted peanuts–not blanched nuts like the recipe called for…and wallaaahh…it was the best damn peanut brittle I’ve ever had and I’ve been making it for everyone I know for years. It got to the point where I quit giving it to people because I was so tired of making it. So, here ya go…

Peanut Brittle
1 cup water
1½ cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup

1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla

1 pound (or about 4 cups) roasted, salted peanuts
3 Tbsp butter

In a small bowl mix the baking powder, water and vanilla, set aside.
Turn the oven to 200 degrees, lightly spray oil onto the cookie sheet and put it in the oven until your candy reaches about 275 degrees, then set on your prep surface.

In a pan, mix water, sugar and corn syrup, use a candy thermometer and boil on high until it reaches 240 degrees. At that point mix in all of the peanuts and butter, turn the temp down to medium/medium high and continuously stir it so it doesn’t burn until it reaches 300 degrees.
When it reaches 300 degrees, shut the heat off and pour in the baking powder mixture.
Stir thoroughly and quickly, and quickly pour it onto your warm cookie sheet.
Let it sit on a wire rack (or outside) so it cools, then break it up into pieces with your hands.

**You cannot walk away from it once you put the peanuts & butter in, it seems to take forever to get to 300 degrees, but once it gets to 275 and the peanuts are getting hot, it will heat up pretty quickly so take my advice and stay next to it and keep stirring.
*Do not accidentally pour or drop any of the candy onto your skin, it will feel like you were tarred and feathered.

Jerked Wings with Sweet & Hot Sauce, Kickin Onion Spears and Smokey Ranch Dip

Jerk Wings, Kickin Onion Spears, Sweet & Hot Sauce, Smokey Ranch & Garlic Sauce

Jerk Wings, Kickin Onion Spears, Sweet & Hot Sauce, Smokey Ranch & Garlic Sauce

Follow the recipe for Jerk Seasoning.  Season thawed chicken wings to your taste (all sides) and bake at 400 degrees on a cookie sheet until done, about 40 minutes.

If you would like to add Kickin Onion Spears as a side, follow the recipe.

I like to toss my wings in the Sweet & Hot sauce, but you can also just dip the wings in it if you prefer.  The Smokey Ranch Dip is great for dipping the onion spears, veggies or chicken.

Thinly slice carrots and celery and put on the side.  I also have pickled red cabbage with apples on the side in this picture, it all goes really well together.

Both sauces are pretty easy to make:

Sweet & Hot Sauce

You can make however much you like, the ingredients are half and half–Half Catalina salad dressing, half Louisiana Hot sauce.  If you like it hotter, add more hot sauce, if you like it sweeter, add more Catalina.  You can substitute French dressing for the Catalina, or other hot sauce for the Louisiana hot sauce if you like a different brand.

Smokey Ranch Dip

1 Cup Mayo, 1/3 Cup Ranch salad dressing of your choice, 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke, 1 tsp minced garlic.  Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and it’s done.

Jerk Seasoning

Finished Jerk seasoning

Finished Jerk seasoning

Jerk seasoning before it's ground

Jerk seasoning before it’s ground

 

Jerk Seasoning
(for chicken)

2 TBSP Garlic Salt
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
2 1/2 tsp Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
1/4 tsp Cloves
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Thyme
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

You will want 2 bowls, one to put the unmixed spices in, and one to put the finished product in.

In one bowl, mix all ingredients, spoon into your mortar and grind ingredients together with the pestle until they are completely ground down, mix thoroughly once you are done grinding them all.  Keep in a covered container when done to retain its freshness.

Kickin Onion Spears

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These quick, simple deep fried onions are packed with flavor, a little bit of spice and a little bit of saltiness go a long way. They make a perfect side to any meal, also go great as a burger topping and on green bean casserole.
One onion is enough for 3 people to have a fairly large portion as a side and definitely enough to top a green bean casserole.

1 Large Vidalia Onion, cut into thin slices (about 1/8 inch), then cut the slices in half
½ cup Louisiana Hot Sauce

2 cups Unbleached Flour
1½ tbsp. Lowry’s Seasoned Salt

After you slice and cut the onions, break them apart so each ring is separate. Place prepared onions in a bowl, coat with hot sauce and stir. You will want to do this at least an hour in advance, can be marinated overnight in a covered container. Stir marinating onions occasionally to keep them all coated and to prevent them from drying out.
Stir the flour and seasoned salt in a separate bowl when you are ready to start cooking.
Heat oil to 375 degrees

Dredge marinated onions into the flour mixture a little at a time, make sure they are evenly coated and lightly shake off the excess flour, fry them until they are crispy (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from fryer, allow to drain onto paper towels for a minute and its done.

Rosettes

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Rosettes

2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup sifted flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Powdered Sugar

Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees then place the rosette irons into the hot oil. The irons have to be hot otherwise the batter will stick and will make this experience very frustrating.
In a mixing bowl, add sugar to the slightly beaten eggs, then whisk in milk and lemon juice. Sift flour with salt. Stir into egg mixture and whisk or beat until smooth. The batter should have the consistency of heavy cream.
Drain the cookies upside down, then set upright to coat with powdered sugar.
Helpful Hints:
• You will want to have paper towels set next to your deep fryer for two things; to drain the cookies on after they are done and to dab the irons on so they are not dripping with oil when you dip them in the batter.
• When you dip the irons into the batter, don’t allow the batter to go over the top of the irons anywhere or the cookies will not come off.
• Keep a fork handy in case you do get the batter over the top of the irons, when the cookies are done use the fork to scrape the excess batter and pull the cookie off.
• Keep tongs handy in case the cookies come off the iron in the oil before they are done. Assume the first couple of cookies will not turn out right.
• Make sure that your oil stays hot, wait for it to get back to temperature before trying to fry more cookies or they will taste oily.
• Sift the powdered sugar onto the cookies with a wire mesh sifter so you get an even coating.
• Use a container for your batter that your irons will fit into—if you have one iron a round container will work, if you are using a two or more forked iron, make sure the container is wide enough to fit them and it should not be a tapered dish unless the irons fit all the way to the bottom.

Fresh Veggie Wrap

vegwrap

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

4 baby carrots

2 celery stalks

1 roma tomato

2 green onions

2 kosher pickle spears

1/2 cup of shredded lettuce

1 tortilla shell (I use cheddar and jalapeno flavor)

Smokey Garlic Aioli:

1 TBSP Mayo

1 Tsp minced garlic

1/4 tsp liquid smoke

Wash and dice the veggies, grate sea salt to your taste and mix together.  In a small bowl, mix the mayo, garlic and liquid smoke.  Heat up your griddle and grill your tortilla shell until warm (about 30-60 seconds).  Spread the aioli on the shell, add the veggies and wrap it up.  This makes a very flavorful, light meal that won’t make you feel too full or bog you down, I love having this for lunch.  If you make more veggies you will be able to have this quick meal more than once.

Smoked Gouda Casserole

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*4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
½ cup diced onion
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
2 ½ c Chicken Broth
1 c Milk
1 c smoked gouda (shredded)
1 c sharp cheddar (shredded)
1 c parmesan (shredded)
2 cups sour kraut (drained)
*1 ring Smoked Sausage (sliced)

Turn oven to 375 degrees
Wash and peel the potatoes, then slice into ¼ inch slices. Slice the smoked sausage into approximately ½ inch slices. Drain sour kraut in a colander. Sautee the onions in butter on medium heat, add flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add Chicken broth and milk stirring constantly in order to form the thickened sauce. Turn heat off and add cheeses, stir until melted and set aside.
Pour half of the cheese sauce into a 9 x 14 cake pan, then add the potatoes, sour kraut and sausage and pour the rest of the cheese sauce over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake about an hour or until potatoes are tender. Let it sit about 20 minutes uncovered before serving to allow the flavors to blend before serving.
For a simpler side dish, eliminate sausage and potatoes, and double the sour kraut.