Friday, September 12, 2014

Ham and Cheese Bread Pudding

A few weeks ago I had a killer bread pudding at a local restaurant and I have been wanting to duplicate it ever since. Here is the result. What I love about this dish is that is can be for any meal, breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, whenever! I used homemade french bread for the cubes, but you could also use a nice multigrain bread as well for more texture. Just don't use wonderbread and it will be great. My husband LOVED this. And as always, the best part was how easy it was!


  • 8 ounces bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided 
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces ham, minced
  • large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 teaspoons sour cream, optional
  • Preparation
  • 1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  • 2. Place bread cubes on a jelly-roll pan; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted, turning once. Remove from oven; set aside.
  • 3. Combine 1/2 cup cheese, 3 tablespoons onions, and next 5 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl. Mix in bread cubes.
  • 4. Spoon about 1 cup bread mixture into each of 4 (7-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray. Divide the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon onions evenly among ramekins. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

5 minute Raspberry Syrup

We love fruit syrup around my house but I have only been able to find the really cheap, high fructose corn syrup garbage ever since we moved to Mississippi. The obvious solution: make my own! This recipe is so easy and you can use fresh or frozen raspberries, although the frozen are typically cheaper. The amount of sweetener is totally up to your taste, so start slow and add more to your preference. If you like really tart syrup, only put in 2 Tbsp of sweetener. This is terrific on pancakes, waffles, mixed into plain yogurt, or on a bagel with cream cheese.

1 package frozen raspberries (12 oz)
1/4 cup honey or 100% real maple syrup, more or less to taste
1/4 cup cold water
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Put raspberries and sweetener in a sauce pan (break up berries with a spoon). Heat on medium until bubbly. Mix water and cornstarch. Add to berry mixture. Stir and cook 2 minutes past when sauce thickens. Strain seeds if desired. Makes 1 3/4 cup sauce. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. (I use a salad dressing shaker).

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Summer spaghetti with quick lemon ricotta

The recipe comes together in a snap and can easily use produce from the garden if available. This was my first attempt to make my own ricotta and I was astonished how easy and delicious it was! The
lemon in the ricotta was a little too grown up for my 5 year olds, but my husband and I loved it and let the kids just sprinkle parmesan on instead. Feel free to leave out the lemon rind if that suits your family better.


  • 2 cups
     2% reduced-fat milk
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 8 ounces uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • small yellow squash, chopped
  • small zucchini, chopped
  • pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup small fresh mint leaves
  1. 1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a microwave-safe 1-quart liquid measuring cup; microwave at HIGH for 4 minutes. Stir to form small curds. Strain through a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth; let stand for 5 minutes. Discard liquid. Scrape cheese mixture into a small bowl; stir in rind and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  2. 2. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat, and drain. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add squash and zucchini to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, tomatoes, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Add broth and pasta to pan, and cook for 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine. Place 2 cups pasta mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls; sprinkle each serving evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese mixture and 1 tablespoon mint. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

100% whole wheat bakery style sandwich bread

I have been questing for a really good and super easy 100% whole wheat bread for about a
year now. I have finally found it! I have experimented with lots of stuff including recipes that include soaking, lots of time, and a variety of flours, but in the end the best recipe is often the simplest. This has the least ingredients of any recipe I have tried and requires little time commitment. It is vegan with no added oil too, but I think that is what makes it work. The best part is that it reminds of the whole wheat sandwich bread I would buy at a bakery, dense with an excellent crumb. It won't fall apart when you put your turkey and veggies on it. This recipe works best in a large loaf pan (1.5 lb). Enjoy!

1 1/2 Tbl. instant yeast
2 c. warm water
1/3 c. honey
3 - 5 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. any add-ins (oats, sunflower seeds, 
       ground flax seeds, etc.) I use instant oats

Combine yeast, water and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer; let sit for 5 minutes or until frothy and bubbly.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, any add-ins and salt and mix until combined.  Add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until you get a soft dough.  The dough should barely pull away from the sides of the bowl and it will still be a little sticky.  Using the dough hook, knead for 4 minutes on low, cover and let rise until doubled, 60-90 min.  Punch down dough (spray hands with cooking spray) and put in a greased loaf pan.  Let rise again until doubled, about 30 min.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove loaf and cool completely.   

*If you use freshly ground wheat flour, you might need to add more like 5- 5 1/2 cups of flour.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Restaurant style Greek flatbread or pita

I have been on a quest to find a really great flatbread/pita recipe ever since I moved to the south and found that there are none to be had in the stores. If I want really great pitas I have to pay through the nose for them at the local Greek restaurant and that just ain't gonna happen. I have finally found a recipe to suit my tastes: a little soft, a little chewy, and a little crispy. (I'm not demanding of a pita at all right?!) This is a 2 step process of baking the pitas first and then toasting them when you are ready to eat. These are not pita pockets and will not puff up like a pita pocket. If you are interested in a pita pocket recipe click here. Next batch will be much bigger because these were gobbled up by my family very quickly! These are terrific plain, with hummus, or wrapped around a chicken souvlaki.


  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 4 cups of bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil


Dissolve in the yeast and honey in 1/2 cup of warm water and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Dissolve salt in the remaining 1 cup of warm water.
In a large mixing bowl, add flour and make a well in the center. Add yeast mixure and salt water. Knead with hands for 10 minutes in the bowl. Add olive oil and continue to knead until all oil is absorbed. OR, in your electric mixer combine flour, yeast mixture and salt water, Mix for 5 minutes or low to medium speed. 
Shape into a ball in the bowl, cover, and place in a warm area to rise until doubled in volume, approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and knead for 5 minutes more.
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly oil baking sheets.
Take pieces of dough slightly larger than an egg and roll out on a floured surface to a thickness of 3/8 to 1/4 inch. (For larger or smaller pita bread pieces, take more or less dough). Prick the bread with a fork in several places.
Place on baking sheets and bake at 350°F (175°C) on the lowest oven rack for 2-3 minutes, then turn the pitas over and bake for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a tray covered with a clean dishtowel, with another clean towel on top. When thoroughly cooled, pitas can be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or frozen.
Before using, brown in a lightly oiled frying pan for a few minutes until browned on both sides.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meat Loaf Bolognese

I hate catsup and therefore don't like recipes that use it. I think it is too sweet. The problem is that my husband really likes meatloaf which is drenched in the stuff. The compromise is this Italian version of one of his favorites. Serve with salad and a crusty bread.

1 tsp olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1/3 cup finely chopped celery
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground extra-lean turkey or beef
2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs*
1 egg white
2 1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, divided
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups prepared spaghetti sauce

1. Heat oven to 350º. Lightly spray 9x5" loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat until hot. Cook onion, carrot and celery 5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic; cook and stir 30 seconds.

3. Gently combine onion mixture, turkey or beef, pork, bread crumbs, egg white, 2 tsp Italian seasoning, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mound meat loaf mixture in loaf pan, smoothing top. Spoon spaghetti sauce over top; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning.

4. Bake 45 - 50 minutes or until internal temp reaches 165º. Serve meat loaf with sauce.

* To make fresh bread crumbs, tear day-old whole grain bread into pieces; place in food processor or blender. Mix until coarse crumbs for. 1 slice yields ~3/4 cup crumbs.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Big Soft Pretzels

The other day I had a ridiculous craving for a soft pretzel so I scoured the internet looking for a recipe. I finally found one that didn't require too much work, no rise time, and I could tweak to my preferences. It was also fun to make pretzel dogs for lunch. Just use 1/2  dough ball for each full size hot dog, roll into a rope as usual and twist around the hot dog. Cook in water and bake the same as the pretzels. These will make a great Super Bowl treat!

Yield: pretzels 
1 cup water (at 70 to 80 degrees)
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt2 quarts water
1/2 cup baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
butter *optional*

Preheat oven to 425º.
Place water, flour, honey, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
Mix and knead dough for 5 to 10 minutes.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide into 8 balls.
Roll each ball out into 20-inch ropes and form into pretzel shape.
In a large sauce pan, bring water and baking soda to a boil.
Drop pretzels into water 2 at a time, boil for about 15 seconds.
Remove with slotted spoons and drain on paper towels.
Place pretzles on a greased baking sheet and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Spritz or lightly brush with water or butter.
Sprinkle with salt and Enjoy!