Monday, December 30, 2013

caramelized pear bread pudding

One thing I really love about the holidays is cooking (and eating) special recipes that I don't often make throughout the year. Since we were home for the Christmas week, I kind of over did it on the food thing.  And by kind of, I mean totally.  I totally over did it.  So fat right now but so worth it.

My husband loves bread pudding so I made one on Sunday.  It was four days after Christmas but I am in full "eat like it's a holiday" mode until January 6th.  I just can't stop.  

Anyways...enough of my bad eating habits....bread pudding is such a simple dessert. Anyone can make it.  I made a small-ish recipe but it can easily be double or tripled.    The amounts below should be enough for at least six people.

caramelized pear bread pudding (serves about six)
-two thirds a loaf of challah bread
-3 eggs 
-1 cup milk
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-5 small-medium pears - diced
-3 tablespoons butter plus a little extra for greasing the baking dish.
-3 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Use a little butter to grease a square baking dish (a 9"x9" size is good) and set aside.
3. In a skillet, melt the three tablespoons butter.  Slowly cook the pear pieces in the butter until nicely browned.  Stir in the honey and remove the pan from the heat.
4. Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
5. Layer a few slices of bread in the bottom of the baking dish, top with half the pears, then more bread.  Pour the milk and egg mixture over the bread and bake for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes, pour what remains of the pears, butter, and honey over the top of the bread pudding and bake for another 15 minutes.  You will know it is done when it is golden brown and has puffed up.  Serve as is or with ice cream or whipped cream.  Or...both :).

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

apple donut muffins

A few weeks ago, I stopped into Azucar, one of my favorite places in San Diego for a treat. They have the best cookies and scones and coffees and everything.  I am a little addicted to the place.  Anyways, when I was there I saw something called a "donut muffin" and I had to try one. Well, my mind was blown.  Amazing.

The next day I decided to try my own donut muffins.  I looked around online and put together a recipe that is a slightly dense muffin.  After baking you roll the mini muffin in melted butter and cinnamon-sugar.  You can make this recipe in a traditional sized muffin pan but I love the mini's.  The denser texture combined with the butter-cinnamon-sugar coating gives these little muffins the perfect donut taste.  SO good.

apple donut muffins (makes about 30 mini muffins)
2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup cider
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium apple - peeled and grated
2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1/4 cup sugar + 4 tablespoons melted butter (for after baking)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a mini muffin pan.
2. In a larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and brown sugar).  Set aside.  In a different bowl, mix the 3 tablespoons of melted butter, cider, egg, vanilla extract, and the grated apple.
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredient and spoon into the muffin pan.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Remove the muffins from the pan and dunk first in the bowl of melted butter, then in the bowl of cinnamon-sugar.
5. Set the coated muffins on a plate to cool.  I found that these muffins tasted more "donut like" when they had cooled for about 15 minutes.  When they were piping hot, the texture was more muffin-esque. Try it, you'll see what I mean :).  Also, depending on how buttery and sugary you want your muffins to be, you might need more than the amounts of cinnamon, sugar, and butter that I recommended for the topping.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

diy advent calendar

When I was a child, we had a felt Christmas tree advent calendar that my grandma had made for us. Every day in December, I would race down to the tree (had to beat my brother and sister :)) and hang a new ornament on the felt tree.  By December 25th the tree was full.  I have such fond memories of this simple advent calendar and decide to make something similar this year.

A felt tree is a great idea, but I wanted to make something that was more my style.  Plus, I will never be able to sew like my grandma, so I chose a super simple wood diy.

Supplies ~
-One 36" x 24" piece of wood.  I chose the most inexpensive option Lowe's.  It was about $8. You can easily choose something larger or smaller to fit your space.
-Paint.  Use any color you love! I used the emerald Pantone color from Lowe's for the tree and gold for the trunk.
-Small nails (to hang the ornaments) and thumb tacks or glue to secure the paper bags.
-25 small ornaments.  I chose to create ornaments in Photoshop (free printable below!) but tiny ornaments from the craft store or Target would also work.
-A few small paper bags to hold the ornaments.  I got mine at the craft store. You could easily use small envelopes or any other light weight bag that can easily be tacked or glued to the wood.
-brushes and painter's tape

Steps ~

This diy is super simple.  Almost too easy.  First, create a triangle tree and a rectangle trunk with painter's tape.  Paint the tree and the trunk and let dry.

Once the paint has dried, remove the tape and hammer 25 small nails to the tree.

If you wish to create your own ornaments, you can use these that I created.  Just right click on the photo, open it in a new tab, and print.  I printed my ornaments on card stock and used spray glue to glue the sheets down to thick cardboard.  Finally, I cut the ornaments out and punched a hole in the top of each one for hanging.

Finally, tack a few small paper bags or envelopes on the board below the tree.  Fill each bag with ornaments and hang one each day in December.  By the 25th your tree will be full :).

Happy December everyone!

Designed by Jackie Ayr