Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bread Pudding

I remember having bread pudding quite often when I was younger, but as we got older it went the way of the neglected barbies.  Not sure why.  (Maybe my mom can answer this.)

A year (or maybe two?) ago, I randomly had the desire to have bread pudding again and found this recipe.  It is now the reason I throw all bread ends, stray buns, and almost-stale bread in my freezer.

Then when I want bread pudding (or when I have almost-empty bags of bread taking over my freezer), I just take out the bread and let it thaw/dry out overnight - if I've planned ahead.  If it's spontaneous I'll dry it out a little in the oven.

This was about twice as much as I needed.

Tear the bread up into pieces.  If you prefer cubes, go ahead and use a knife - I just enjoy the ease of tearing.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, butter, sugars, salt, and vanilla.  I add about 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

Stir in the bread (and raisins if you like).  And I prefer mine more bread and less pudding, so feel free to adjust as you like - I stir in enough bread to absorb almost all of the liquid.

Pour into a greased pan or casserole dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.  (Yesterday mine took a little over 40 minutes for the center to get done, but I don't remember if that's typical or not.)

Cook the brown sugar sauce while the pudding is cooking, then set aside.  I like to let it cool off a little - it will get slightly thicker - but you can serve it immediately.  Drizzle over your bowl of bread pudding and enjoy!

Bread Pudding with Brown Sugar Sauce

3 eggs, beaten
1/3 c. butter, melted*
1 3/4 c. milk*
1/2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon PLUS extra for sprinkling
8 c. stale, cubed bread
1/2 c. raisins, optional

Brown Sugar Sauce
1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. boiling water
1 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together eggs, butter, milk, sugars, salt, vanilla, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Stir in bread (and raisins).  Pour into greased 2 qt. casserole or 9x9 pan and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

While pudding is baking, make brown sugar sauce.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Whisk in flour until combined.  Stir in brown sugar and mix as well as you can.  Gradually stir in water, stir until smooth. (If you add the water too fast and get little chunks of the flour/butter mixture floating, it's okay - it just takes a little more whisking, but they will blend in.)  Cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and let cool slightly.

Serve bread pudding with brown sugar sauce drizzled on top.  Or poured on.  I won't tell anyone.

*I rarely have heavy cream on hand, so I substitute 1/3 c. melted butter and 3/4 c. milk.  If you prefer, you can add 1 c. heavy cream, reduce the milk to 1 c., and skip the butter.  I've had it both ways and haven't noticed a difference.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - April 25

Here is our plan for this week.  

Monday:  Cheeseburger Pasta and Green Beans

Tuesday:  Reuben Reinvented Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks and Chips

WednesdayBrunch Casserole and Fruit

ThursdayParmesan Crusted Tilapia, Roasted Potatoes, and Peas

Friday:  Chef Salad (or we'll eat out, depending on the budget and when Henry and I get home)

SaturdaySour Cream Chicken Enchiladas and Corn Pudding

Sunday:  Breakfast - Oatmeal Cinnamon Bread - on the list again since I spent Saturday afternoon tearing off shingles instead of baking bread and cleaning the house
              Dinner - Doug's parents'

And Bread Pudding (linked to the inspiration, not my actual recipe).  I'll post the recipe later this week - after I make it - since I don't even follow my own recipe and should write down what I actually do.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Strawberries - The Good and The Ugly

Since strawberries were on sale the other week, I couldn't resist them even though Doug refuses to eat strawberry-anything.  Unless it's artificially flavored.

I think it's the seeds.

I had enough strawberries for two recipes. 

Both tasted delicious. 

One turned out ugly.

When I bought the strawberries, strawberry pie was at the top of my list since I don't think I've ever made it before, and it's been forever since I had a piece.  So I found a recipe that didn't require Jell-o.

Actually a combination of the best parts of three different recipes.

And this is what I got:
 Henry tossed out his crust and ate "strawberry soup."

The cooked cornstarch and strawberry mixture had thickened in the pan while I finished cutting up the last strawberries and I had to stir it up before pouring it over top.

And in the fridge it turned completely liquid again.

I don't know what went wrong, but it still tasted like strawberry pie.

(So Mom, there's proof that my attempts in the kitchen aren't always a success!)

Now for the good: Strawberries and Cream Bread. YUM!
Of course Doug wouldn't try it even though it was really good.  So Henry wouldn't try it.

(Until it was over half gone and Grandma had some, and then he loved it.)

Strawberries & Cream Bread -from, and the only change is I added more strawberries

1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. diced strawberries

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; set aside.  Cream butter and add sugar; beat until light and fluffy, then add brown sugar.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, then sour cream and vanilla.

Add flour mixture and stir just until moistened.  Fold in strawberries.

Pour into a greased 8x4 loaf pan.  Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out (mostly) clean.  (Mine didn't come out perfectly clean but my bread wasn't doughy at all.)  Let stand 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Menu Plan Monday April 18

Here's our plan for this week:

Monday: Cheese Enchiladas

Tuesday: Burgers and Un-fried French Fries (I usually use Zesty Italian dressing)

Wednesday: Broccoli Cheese Soup and Amish Bread

Thursday: Mock Chicken Fried Steak, Roasted Potatoes, Corn

Friday: Turkey Hero and Chips

Saturday: Monthly get-together with my family

Sunday: Breakfast - Oatmeal Cinnamon Bread
              Dinner - Leftovers or Sandwiches

As a side note - I only link to online recipes if we've had it before and had success with it.  So if you ever see anything you'd like a recipe for, just let me know!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

How I Cleaned Up My Beauty Routine - Part 2

This weeks shocking confession: I wash my face with oil.  Castor and olive oil to be exact.

I have combination skin and have struggled with acne more in the past 2 years than when I was a teenager.

A little frustrating when you're closer to 30 than 13.

ProActiv did nothing for me.  SkinID sort of helped.  Clinique helped a little.  But all of those require a good chunk of money shelled out regularly.

And now I wash my face with oil.  I don't think the oil cleansing method helped rid my face of acne, but overall it seems like it evened out my skin tone.  My cheeks are soft and no longer have the frustrating issue of an oily face that's dry and flaky because of acne treatments.

My complexion is so much better that I've been comfortable enough to go without foundation for close to two months.  (Granted, it's still not perfect and I occasionally need to use a dab of cover up.)

But the acne toner is what made a huge difference, even before I started using oil to wash my face.  If you give this a try, I'll give you a heads up that it stinks.  Between witch hazel, apple cider vinegar, and tea tree oil, it's best not to breathe too deeply while applying!

Don't worry though, the smell goes away once it (quickly) dries.  I know - I had my mom sniff my cheek one morning without telling her why. :p

This is my skin routine:

'Wash' my face in the shower with an almond-oatmeal scrub mixed with witch hazel
Acne toner

Oil cleansing method
Acne mask (maybe once a week)
Acne toner

I have used lemon juice to spot treat, and I've used it in place of the toner at night if I seem to be having a breakout.  It seems to work sometimes, and other times not so well.

But it's better than the spot treatments that came with ProActiv and SkinID which never worked for me.

I can't believe how effective the natural (and cheap) method is, and I wish I had discovered this years ago!

Someday I plan to make my own deodorant too.  We'll see how that goes. :)

(Again no before/after pictures because after scouring my recent photos, the only photos that would be close enough to show my complexion are blurry shots taken from odd and unusual angles by the 3-year-old.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - April 11

Here's my plan for this week - a few less meals than usual due to some fun outings this week!

Monday: Baked Potatoes (diced ham, steamed broccoli, and cheese for toppings)

Tuesday: To the Circus!

Wednesday: Hot Chicken Salad and Green Beans

Thursday: Gerber Sandwich and Corn Casserole

Friday: Small Group outing - Pizza and Bowling

Saturday:  Grilled Chicken, Lettuce, and Sweet Macaroni Salad

Sunday:  Breakfast - Strawberries and Cream Bread
               Dinner - Doug's parents'

Thursday, April 7, 2011

How I Cleaned Up My Beauty Routine - Part 1

So this is the post where I confess that I've turned into a hippie of sorts. :)

Ok, not really.  But I am going the more natural route.  I have avoided most commercial cleaners for several years, and use baking soda and vinegar for most of my cleaning.  But my most recent purge of chemicals was from my personal hygiene supplies.

About the only thing I still use is my eyeliner and some occasional cover up.

This week I'll explain the changes I made to my hair care, and next week I'll go over my skin care.  (So far all my 'recipes' have come from Crunch Betty since her site is pretty comprehensive and saves me a lot of internet surfing.)

First, this week's shocking confession: I haven't used shampoo in six weeks

Instead I'm using baking soda and vinegar

I haven't had a miraculous change in hair texture like some people seem to have, but my hair is clean, it's chemical free, and it's cheap so I still prefer it over shampoo and conditioner.

I'm still hoping for a change in texture.  Since my hair is thick and coarse, maybe it's just taking longer than the average person for my hair to adjust - it's still quite dry and never really got oily during the transition phase.

I'd post before and after pictures, but the only change is that I've given up trying to style my natural curl/frizz (which hasn't been cooperating for months) and just pull my hair back in a barrette or a pony tail. 

Someday I may try one of the recipes for hair gel made from gelatin (plain of course!) or flax seeds.  I'll let you know if I ever get adventurous. 

Check back next week for my shocking confession on what I wash my face with! :)

(And along the natural route, I explained a while ago that I no longer buy female products.  I would never go back and wish that I knew about this years ago.  For some reason - that I don't understand - it's not common even though the option has been around since the 1930s.  So if you're open to change I recommend checking it out.)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Menu Plan Monday - April 4

This week is a continuation of last week - we're going to be eating from the freezer and pantry.  While the timing of this wasn't my choice, it really needs to happen every once in a while to clear out the stockpiles - especially the ones I didn't know I had.

Monday:  Southwest Sandwiches and Green Beans - canned, not fresh :(

Tuesday: Pancakes, Bacon and Fruit

Wednesday:  Midwesterner and Coleslaw (bumped from Doug's birthday due to the fact that I didn't want to "waste" the meal when Doug had a cold and couldn't taste it anyway)

Thursday:  Ultimate Grilled Cheese,  Peas (I don't remember if that's where I got the recipe, but it's the same as the one I used to make my less-fancy version - I use Swiss instead of Gruyere)

Friday:  Freezer Meal

Saturday:  Saucy Parmesan Chicken, Stuffing, and Corn

Sunday: Egg Salad Sandwiches, Carrot sticks

And the best part?  My grocery list consists of 1 gallon of milk, 2 Roma tomatoes, and a loaf of bread.

I should do this more often!