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Cherry Vanilla Bread Pudding

March 2 150 Edited Cherry Vanilla Bread Pudding

Years ago, I was introduced to a metaphor that likened life to cross stitch. All we can see are the messes – the junk on the back piece of the cross stitch with its zigggy-zaggy lines and knots and tangles and loose ends is our life.

But Whomever or Whatever is in charge has the sense to look at the right side of the cross stitch, where it turns out all of that junk has come together as a beautifully crafted work of art.

This is the image I hold on to when things are not going so well. I tell myself that even though things look really messy from where I sit, my god has the perspective to see something perfect coming together.

I connect with this idea so much better than the “everything happens for a reason” that is oftentimes thrown my way when in need of a pick-me-up. I know it is meant with nothing but the best of intentions, but when  in states of debilitating disappointment and seemingly unending heartcahe, it does not provide the intended hope. It does make me want to spout of a reply that is something along the lines of telling my well wishers to go do something not very nice to themselves.

How can anyone possibly say a plane going down or a child being orphaned by war or an incurable illness has any real reason to it? When I hear, “everything happens for a reason” given as an explanation for why a child is killed in a drunk driving accident or why someone walks into a public place with a semi-automatic and opens fire, I want to jump up and down and scream like a maniac, “No it doesn’t! Sometimes things just happen!”

March 2 139 Edited Cherry Vanilla Bread Pudding

Yet at the same time, I understand why we say it. What is the point of suffering if there is no meaning behind that suffering? Experiencing an unthinkable tragedy without any reason behind it is certainly to much for my tender psyche to bear. If something bad happens to someone that means something bad could happen to me and that really scares me so I explain it all a way with a mysterious “reason.” Has anyone ever found the reason at the end of their painbow? (That’s not a typo.)

When I was a little girl and would get sick with a bad cold or the flu, my dad would tell me how that when I felt bad, he felt even worse. As a kid, I didn’t always understand what he meant by that. As an adult, I certainly do.

I go on about my life when people around me get bad news, but I don’t go on about it with the zest that perhaps I should. And when I myself am on the receiving end of a fantastic load of crap, I do what any reasonable person would do. I break things and tear stuff apart.

Fortunately, those things I break and tear are eggs and bread. I bash some eggs and whisk them into milky, creamy, sugary oblivion. I pour it all over a destroyed loaf of bread and let it get soggy. (Soggy bread? Gross). I give a shot of alcohol for good measure. It’s nothing but a giant mess.

I walk away. Let it sit for a while. It soaks it all in. Then it takes a little heat. And comes out golden. A perfect desert from seemingly nothing but a mess. Enjoy.

March 2 162 Edited Cherry Vanilla Bread Pudding

Cherry Vanilla Bread Pudding
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ⅓ cup brandy
  • 1 loaf (1 pound) bread such as challah, brioche, French, or Italian
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Optional: whipped cream or ice cream for serving
Instructions
  1. Place the cherries and brandy in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Cut the bread into bite-size cubes and place them in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
  4. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat lightly. Add the ¾ cup of sugar and the (warm but not hot) melted butter to the eggs and whisk well to combine.
  5. Next whisk in the milk, cream, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.
  6. Finally, add the cherries and brandy to the mixing bowl, continuing to whisk until fully incorporated.
  7. Pour this liquid mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish, pressing down with a spatula to get as much liquid as possible to soak into the bread.
  8. Allow the bread to soak for 15 to 20 minutes (stale bread will benefit from additional time to soak).
  9. After 15 to 20 minutes, use the spatula to flip the bread over as best as you can so the drier cubes on top get a chance to soak up some of the liquid too. Allow the bread to soak for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
  10. Before placing the mixture in the oven, sprinkle the top with one tablespoon of sugar.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes until puffed and set. If needed, broil for an additional two to four minutes to lightly brown the top.
  12. Allow to cool for 10 minutes or so before serving warm.
  13. If desired, serve topped with whipped cream or ice cream.

 

Chicken & Orzo Coconut Curry Soup {Secret Recipe Club}

March 2014 073 Edited Chicken & Orzo Coconut Curry Soup {Secret Recipe Club}

It’s Secret Recipe Club time again. This go-round I spent a serious amount of time debating what to make from Food Ramblings. Do I go with the chicken, spinach and almond pasta bake? Or the guacamole mac & cheese (guacamole mac & cheese!). Ultimately, I decided on a recipe that used my favorite flavor combination: coconut curry.

This coconut curry soup with chicken and orzo is basically a tricked-out version of chicken noodle soup. When it comes to soup, that classic combined with coconut curry seemed like the best of both worlds. And it was. I loved the flavor and appreciated the use of vegetables. I do not eat nearly enough vegetables, so I am always trying to find ways to incorporate them into the soup, pasta, pizza, and omelettes I tend to cook up.

March 2014 064 Edited Chicken & Orzo Coconut Curry Soup {Secret Recipe Club}

I also like that this recipe took me out of my ingredient comfort zone, requiring me to buy both curry paste and fish sauce. I do not know why I have waited so long to incorporate curry paste into my cooking. I love the heat and flavor it adds to the foods I like. The fish sauce I could take or leave, but the curry paste I will definitely keep around.

You will find plenty more unique recipes to enjoy at Food Ramblings. I always like knowing  what prompted someone to start their blog; Elizabeth started hers as a way to stay accountable to some health and cooking goals. Fortunately for us, she kept blogging so we could enjoy the recipes she shares. I have enjoyed checking in on her blog for some time now, so it was fun to finally have an opportunity to share one of her recipes via SRC. Enjoy!

March 2014 083 Edited Chicken & Orzo Coconut Curry Soup {Secret Recipe Club}

5.0 from 1 reviews

Chicken Coconut Curry Soup
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • ½ cup orzo
  • 2 cans light coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons green Thai curry paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 frozen package frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 lime, juiced
Instructions
  1. Cook orzo according to instructions on package, and then set aside.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, whisk together the coconut milk and the curry paste until smooth.
  3. Stir in the chicken broth, fish sauce, frozen vegetables and shredded chicken.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer on low until frozen vegetables are cooked through.
  5. Stir in the cooked orzo and the lime juice. Serve warm.
Notes
This recipe is a great way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken. Thai curry paste: I used green, but yellow or red would work. The 4 tablespoons of curry paste to 2 cans of coconut milk was in line with the directions on the Thai curry paste package. I thought the quantity provided a mild heat, but you may want to adjust more or less depending on your heat tolerance. Frozen vegetables: I used a stir fry variety with broccoli, peppers, carrots, mushrooms, and water chestnuts.

 

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Cajun Meat Loaf-Stuffed Peppers

March 2 013 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

Continuing on with the “everything is broken except my bones” theme that my life has become, the internet connection at my home has (for lack of anything more eloquent to say), crapped out. Three people have tried to fix it in as many days, and no dice. So much for that Mercury retrograde theory…

Alas, tonight I’m posting live from my local coffee shop and bringing you Cajun-style meatloaf stuffed peppers two days after the revelry of Mardi Gras.

Given the state of affairs in this beautiful but so damn imperfect world we live in, a lack of internet service in my home is not a big deal. It’s inconvenient and particularly trying given one of my two major character flaws is impatience. I do not particularly like being this way. I’ve tried to overcome it, but I swear it is hard wired into my cells.

The other character flaw, in case you were curious, is taking out my frustration on the ones I love the most. If I ever yell at you about nonsense, no worries, it’s just my way of telling you I love you. Upon digesting that explanation, you may be thinking that I actually have three major character flaws, one of which is self-delusion. Let’s move on.

March 2 073 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

Practically everything I do relies on the internet. This makes me wonder, what the heck was I doing 15 years ago? I mean really, how did the world work? I vaguely remember getting letters (letters!) from my grandparents delivered in the mail. But goodness, how did I shop? Or entertain myself? (The answers to both of those are “I didn’t” and “I drank more beer”. )

After the trials and tribulations of the past month, my mindset is slowly shifting to the point that I am willing to expect things not to work. In the past, I have tried on the mindset where I did not expect too much so I would not feel disappointed when things did not work out. In hindsight, all that did was lower my expectations and sell myself short. But the world tends towards chaos, does it not?

I would love to say a lack of working internet connection in my home gives me a greater appreciation for things, but if it does, it is so incremental that I do not notice it. The fact of the matter is I am accustomed to connecting with whatever I want whenever I want. I expect hot, clean water coming out of my tap and appliances that wash, dry, cool, heat and the like. I am so damn spoiled, and I don’t even appreciate it.

March 2 028 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

So let us appreciate the food. The food we all need to nourish us. The food that, for most of us, is not just nourishment but a true source of enjoyment. How lucky we are.

All my life I have enjoyed stuffed peppers with meat and rice. Encountering a stuffed pepper recipe that was basically a meatball in a pepper shell rocked my world. Other than the Tabasco, I am not so sure what is Cajun about them, but pay that no mind. They are delicious.

A word on the cooking. The peppers had a lot of juice to them, i.e.) the bottom of the baking dish seemed really greasy. I cooked with lean meat, but still, there was quite a bit of juice going on by the time all was said and baked. Some of it was from the peppers, no doubt, but it was a nuance I find worth mentioning.

Serve the peppers alone or with a side of rice. If you want to go Cajun-crazy, this Cajun rice recipe would be a good choice. If vegetables are not your thing, enjoy the meatloaf recipe or form the mixture into meatballs. It really does not matter how you enjoy your food, so as long as you appreciate it as you do. Happy eating!

March 2 031 Edited Cajun Meat Loaf Stuffed Peppers

Cajun Meat Loaf-Stuffed Peppers
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 (or 9) bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 small to medium yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
  • 1½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ cup ketchup, plus additional for topping the peppers once stuffed
  • 1 pound ground meat of your choice: beef, turkey, or chicken
  • ½ pound spicy ground sausage
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Instructions
  1. Core the eight peppers and cut them in half to serve as shells for the meatloaf. Place the pepper shells in a lightly oiled baking dish (I used two 8 x 8 dishes; my 13 x 9 pan was too small). If you have an extra bell pepper or half bell pepper on hand, go ahead and dice it to add to the meatloaf mixture. You will want ½ cup of diced pepper. Set peppers aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion, and if using, the diced bell pepper. Saute until tender, stirring occasionally, about five minutes.
  4. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, cumin, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Once the sauces and spices are well incorporated, turn heat to low and stir in the ketchup. Allow to simmer for about five minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and add the meat, sausage and lightly beaten eggs to the skillet.
  7. Spoon the meat mixture into the prepared pepper shells and top with a dollop of ketchup spread across the top.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. The meat loaves will be golden brown on top, and the peppers will be soft.