Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding Cups, and the versatility of bread pudding

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding Cups, and the versatility of bread pudding

Ooey gooey warm chocolate, buttery croissants, creme and a few other ingredients is all it takes to make a simple heavenly dessert. It’s such a rich treat the individual size cups are prefect. A lot of people love this warm, straight from the oven. But in my picky tastes they are wrong.

ccbp_0

 

I think it’s best if it’s cold, or out of the oven cooled to almost room temperature. When it’s cold, it has crisp chocolate pieces, and it’s a little dense like eating a cake. I believe when it reaches almost room temperature, this recipe is at it’s absolute prime.  The “pudding” has almost set, but the chocolate is still very melty and gooey. The flavors are legen—wait for it… and I hope you’re not lactose intolerant because the second half of that word is—dairy! Of course, try it how you want. I hate to say I told you so. So I won’t say it.

DSC02240

 

There are a number of great things about this recipe besides the taste. If you take out the chocolate, you have a bread pudding base you can add any of your favorite flavors to. Caramel, fruit (fresh or dried), nuts, and spices, your imagination is the limit. You can also use any type of bread you want, I’ve even used scones, but croissants, challah, and brioche are the most popular.

 

DSC02211

This is how I measure exactly how many croissants I need. Over fill the cups with the cut up croissants, and when it soaks up the liquid it will fit perfectly!

Omit all the sweet elements, add a few more eggs and a little less cream it can become a savory dish. Add in some cheese, bacon, sausage, ham, small dice  your favorite veggies, or green chilies and splash of hot sauce, salt and pepper and your ready to go. Any bread you want to use, but sour dough, and french baguette are the most popular for savory bread puddings.

Left over bread about to go bad? Don’t throw it away!  Make a bread pudding!

 

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding Cups
 
Ingredients
  • About 5 large croissants, 10 small croissants or just over 1 pound of croissants
  • 1½ cups AND 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup chopped semisweet chocolate, or your favorite chocolate bar
  • 8-six ounce ramekins
Instructions
  1. Cut croissants into half inch squares, and place into a bowl
  2. Whisk together in another bowl the cream, eggs and sugar
  3. Add the chocolate into the cream mixture
  4. Next add the croissants, and toss them to evenly coat all the pieces
  5. Let them set for at least 15 minutes, mixing them about every 5 minutes
  6. While letting the mixture set, preheat the oven to 350ºF
  7. Place your 8 ramekins on a sheet pan and spray with pam
  8. When the 15 minutes is up, evenly distribute the mix among the cups
  9. Place in the oven and bake until they are bubbly around all sides and slightly puffed, about 20-25 minutes
  10. Serve with whipped cream, ice cream, heavy cream, or just with a fork

 

Movie Theater Popcorn

Movie Theater Popcorn

I want to let you in on a secret indulgence I’ve been partaking in for the last few months.

1

Movie theater popcorn!

We’ve always been a huge fan of popcorn in this house, but normally just we air pop and then drown it in melted butter – which is delicious, don’t mistake. But sometimes you just crave that movie theater taste and smell. Sometimes I’ll just go to the movies, but that can get really expensive. So why not make it at home?

IMG_6069

I started to shop around for the products that would give me that desired taste, but then one day as if by magic, my sister brought me exactly what I was looking for!

She came over for a Qwerty dinner and started to pull some items out of her bag, saying that she and her husband had been gifted them but thought that we would probably use them more. I actually involuntarily shrieked out of excitement.

She had given us Flavacol seasoning salt, coconut oil for popping and also some mushroom popcorn kernels.

Flavacol was exactly what I was looking for! The holy grail of popcorn flavoring!

The only thing left to do was to grab myself a stove-top popper and some “butter” topping!

IMG_6084

This popcorn is perfect for movie nights, parties, or late night snack cravings.

IMG_6083

Movie Theater Popcorn
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • .8 ounce Coconut Oil (for popcorn)
  • ½ cup popcorn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon Flavacol
  • Butter flavor topping to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the coconut oil and the popcorn kernels in your stove-top popper and pop according to package directions.
  2. Transfer into a large bowl and sprinkle with the Flavacol. Stir to distribute.
  3. Pour on your butter topping and enjoy!
Notes
I suggest adding your butter topping in batches and stirring in between to better distribute the flavor. I like to stir with a butter knife.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slow Carb Bagels

Slow Carb Bagels

As much as I love the Slow Carb Diet for getting things done, e.g. dropping some pounds, sometimes you just need something that looks like bread and quacks like bread. That is why I love this bagel recipe so much.

It is maybe a bit far from tasting like normal bread, but you’re getting everything else without those pesky carbs, so it is still worth the sacrifice. But they do make the perfect addition to eggs/meat/beans for breakfast, you can turn most of that into a breakfast sandwich and almost feel like you aren’t on a weird diet.

You will want a donut/bagel pan for cooking these in. I can recommend the Wilton Nonstick Donut Pan.

Slow Carb Bagels
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup flaxseed flour
  • 2 tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • sesame seeds (optional)
  • garlic powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse all the dry ingredients together until mixed.
  3. Add the eggs and vinegar and mix until everything is combined.
  4. Spray the donut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Pour the batter into a ziplock bag or a piping bag. Cut a very small hole in the corner. I found the batter was very liquid so the smaller the hole the easier it was to control the flow.
  6. Pipe the batter into the bagel pan. Filling almost all the way to the top of the pan.
  7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or garlic powder if desired. I'm curious to try poppy seeds next time.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let bagels cool. You may have more batter than could fill the pan, so you can remove the bagels to a cooling rack and bake another batch.
  10. Those that you don't eat immediately you should let cool till at room temperature then refrigerate in an air tight container or ziplock bag. They should last about a week. (I haven't tested that far because I eat them all within a few days.)

 

DSC02052

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Writing for Qwerty Cafe can often help push me to be more creative, feeding my friends on Friday nights can also help.

IMG_5932

A couple of weeks ago I had fun making these tasty suckers.

IMG_5929

They didn’t include very many ingredients and were pretty simple to assemble.

IMG_5933

I think it these “egg rolls” would be a showstopper at any party or gathering; the perfectly impressive contribution for a pot luck!

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Asian-American Fusion
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 package large square egg roll wonton wrappers
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded (or 16 oz shredded chicken)
  • 1 cup generic buffalo sauce, or Franks Red Hot sauce
  • 8 ounces crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 cup packaged (dry) broccoli slaw
  • Oil for frying, vegetable or corn
Instructions
  1. Mix the shredded chicken in a bowl with the buffalo sauce and allow to so sit in the fridge for at least half an hour.
  2. Follow the egg roll rolling technique on the packaging using reasonable chunk of chicken, a couple of teaspoons of blue cheese, and pinch of the slaw in each roll.
  3. Once all the egg rolls are assembled, heat about 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees and fry each roll until they reach a golden brown that makes you happy.
Notes
If you wanted to put in a little bit of effort for a more authentic "wing experience", you could julienne carrots and celery instead of broccoli slaw.

IMG_5934

Dip these in some blue cheese or ranch dressing, and you’re golden!

Fried Macaroni & Cheese Balls

Fried Macaroni & Cheese Balls

There are almost always exceptions to rules. For example, I don’t like overly arduous food prep. But…

macandcheeseballs4

These were so good, you guys! (Adapted from Food Network). Make a big batch to serve at a party, or freeze for a relatively quick-to-fry-up snack (I unearthed a long ago frozen batch of these on Monday – still tasty!).

macandcheeseballs3

Fried macaroni and cheese balls are decadent, crispy, creamy – and a hell of a comfort food. They pair well with ranch dressing. Or marinara sauce. Alfredo. Probably other sauces. I find that they go great with a nice beer (a stout is good)!

macandcheeseballs2

You need to start them a day ahead of when you plan to serve them. It sucks, I know – but the results are just so darn tasty. I actually used to be afraid of frying foods (much hot! so burn!), but these were worth donning long sleeves and oven mitts for (an improvement from the days where I’d also wear a scarf and sunglasses). And, admittedly, Brie was kind enough to make the first batch (and most of the second, I really only did the frying). 🙂

Here she is hard at work (her arm, at least):

brieatwork

I hope I haven’t scared you off of making them – they’re great, I promise. Go ahead. Try them.

Fried Macaroni & Cheese Balls
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Crispy, creamy, gooey, delicious!
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound macaroni (I used pasta shells and they worked great!)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (warmed in the microwave for about 2½ minutes), plus two Tablespoons refrigerated milk
  • 1 pound cheddar (grated)
  • 1 pound smoked Gouda (grated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • Vegetable oil (several cups for frying)
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parchment paper
Instructions
  1. Follow the instructions for the pasta, cook, drain, rinse in cold water, drain again, and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add in flour and whisk briskly for two minutes.
  4. Whisk in warm milk, carefully getting rid of any lumps. Cook for about 2 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Take off of heat, add in cheeses, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste, and stir until smooth.
  6. Fold the cheese mixture into the pasta, then transfer to a shallow pan and refrigerate for at least two hours.
  7. Shape the cold mac and cheese into meatball sized balls (about 1½" - 2" in diameter).
  8. Place on a parchment paper lined tray and freeze overnight.
  9. Beat together eggs and two Tablespoons of milk. Place bread crumbs in a second bowl.
  10. Dip the frozen macaroni and cheese balls into the egg wash and then coat generously with seasoned breadcrumbs. Return balls to the freezer until you are ready to fry them.
  11. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry the mac and cheese balls (make sure they don't touch too much) for about 6 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Serve with Alfredo, ranch dressing, or marinara sauce (or all three!) and enjoy!

Easy Homemade Donuts

Easy Homemade Donuts

In the wee hours of the morning, the phrase uttered most often is “Why don’t we have donuts?”

IMG_5925

We have a hard time working up the energy to find a 24-hour donut place, but if we already had these babies in our kitchen, life would be perfect.

IMG_5922

So, I decided to do something about it.

IMG_5918

It was a lot of fun to make and eat these, and because of the rising time, it didn’t take a lot of active effort.

Easy Homemade Donuts
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12+
Ingredients
  • ⅛ cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast (or 2¼ teaspoons)
  • ¾ cup warm milk
  • ¼ granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • ¼ vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups flour
  • Vegetable oil for frying - enough to be 2" deep in your chosen pot/pan
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Let sit for about five minutes, or until foamy.
  2. Add to that the milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening, and a half cup of flower. Mix on low for a few minutes.
  3. Add the remaining flower a half cup at a time, allowing it to to mix between each addition.
  4. Mix on medium low for five minutes or until the dough gets smooth and pulls away from the sides. (Add additional flour in sprinkles if dough is too moist and not pulling properly)
  5. Turn onto a floured surface and knead the dough for give more minutes.
  6. Put dough in a oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and place in a warm location. Let sit for about two hours.
  7. Once dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  8. Cut the dough in half with a knife or pasty cutter, and roll each half into a long thin rope about an inch in diameter. Cut the rope into ½ inch segments.
  9. Take each segment and poke a hole in the center with your finger, and then manipulate to form a donut-like shape.
  10. Once all the donuts are formed on a tray about an inch apart, cover them with a towel and allow to rise for about an hour.
  11. Heat the oil, in a deep pan or a large pot, to 350 degrees.
  12. Using tongs, or a large metal spatula, place the donuts in the oil. Turn them over once the bottoms are a nice golden brown and remove once the entire donut reaches that color.
  13. Place donuts right out of the oil onto a wire rack to cool.
  14. While still warm, donuts can be tossed in powdered sugar or granulated sugar, or they can be dipped into a chocolate ganache or a confectioners sugar glaze.
Notes
Recipe can easily be doubled for a large batch.

 

Scones! Gluten-Free Scones!

Scones! Gluten-Free Scones!

This is a guest post written by Doren Damico, she is sister to Adam, Brandie, and Brie, and cousin to Cat. She is a talented teacher and talented singer-songwriter. We can now add baking to the list of her many skills.

1

About a year ago, I spied a recipe for scones at the Qwerty Cafe.  They looked so good my mouth started salivating. Scones! Gluten-filled Scones! Deadly, allergy inducing gluten! The dissidence was unbearable, my love of all breads and baked goods was either followed by extreme bouts of illness (due to a gluten allergy), or painfully unrequited.  Those scones on the Qwerty Cafe website changed everything. I was inspired, enraged, and hungry for scones. This was just the right combination to fuel my search for the perfect gluten-free scone recipe, one that would fool even a wheat-based pallet. It took me a year and four attempts, with a dedicated gluten eating tasting crew, to finally arrive at my gluten-free scone heaven:  coffee, scones and a good book.  For all my gluten-free friends, here is a recipe to offer even your most discerning guests.  Enjoy!

(Using a pre-mix is one of the best ways to find gluten-free success without the need to purchase several flours and leavening products. However, they are not all the same, and some are downright terrible. My gluten-free baking cookbook has a recipe for scones that requires 16 ingredients. The following recipe requires only 8 ingredients and was the only pre-mix I tried that had a great texture; dry, not too dry. There are suggestions for a dairy-free version, but I used butter and milk in the successful batch. I recommend that you hunt for this mix at an excellent health food store.  Or merely order it online at www.pamelasproducts.com. This way, you’ll avoid disappointment and have more time for enjoying your scones.)

Scones! Gluten-Free Scones!
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 Bag Pamela's Biscuit & Scone Mix
  • ½ cup sugar (I used raw sugar)
  • 8 tablespoons butter cut in ½” pieces/well chilled
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup dried fruit: cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • Parchment Paper (recommended) or plastic wrap
Instructions
  1. Gather your ingredients
  2. Place rack in top third of oven and pre-heat oven to 375°
  3. Combine dry mix and sugar
  4. Cut butter into dry mix until pea-sized crumbs are formed. You can use a stand mixer with paddle attachment or a pastry blender. You can also use 2 knives and a bit of calorie burn in your arms as you slice/slide the knives along each other in opposite directions through the mix and butter. It only takes a few minutes. (That's how I did this batch. A week later, one of my tasters bought me a stand mixer. He verbalized he didn't want me to work so hard. But I could read his subliminal message: MORE!)
  5. Add milk, and dried fruit. Mix until just incorporated. (They say you can add nuts, but when I tried that, the scones broke up before the hand could get to the mouth. I also added too much liquid on one batch. If that happens, keep some rice flour on hand to sprinkle on the dough. But don't stir too much, or it will come out really dense.)
  6. Scoop onto piece of greased parchment paper and gently form into a round or log, 1” to 1½” high.
  7. Cut with greased knife into wedges and place on greased or parchment covered cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 20 to 24 minutes until just starting to brown.
  9. Put 2 TBSP of milk into a bowl. Stirring, add powdered sugar. Grate a fragrant lemon skin and add a sprinkle to the sugar mixture. Brush or spoon a small amount onto each of the scones.
  10. Serve as the highlight of a continental breakfast. But be careful! I made a batch on Christmas eve and mistakenly left them wrapped in plastic on the dining room table. Honestly, they were all gone before morning!

11

12