Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Serves: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes (15 minutes of soaking)
Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups milk (or half and half)
2 large eggs
1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 slices stale bread
4 King’s Hawaiian Rolls

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients except bread and whisk until combined. Add bread and allow to soak for 15 minutes.

2. Pour mixture into baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com.

I had stale bread left over from the Avocado Toasts I made the other day and one of my favorite ways to do that is bread pudding. I didn’t have enough left over bread for a whole recipe so I added some Hawaiian rolls that I had for dinner. I found this recipe and also had left over pumpkin so it was perfect! The spice mix was good and the custard was the right consistency. Some bread puddings can be dry, but this was nice and custardy. Yes, I just invented that word. This is delicious and I will enjoy eating it for breakfast tomorrow.

Taco!

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Cook If I Want To

That’s right. It’s my birthday and so I have to cook up a storm and have people over. Then, of course, go to the midnight showing of The Hunger Games. I decided to make an appetizer spread and have my guests bring the drinks. Here’s the menu:

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli
Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Herbs and Goat Cheese
Homemade Pico de Gallo with chips

There are several recipes involved here so I’ll give them to you individually as well as let you know what I did in advance, etc. Here we go. It’s party time!

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip with Garlic Butter Crostini

Hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (10 0z) package frozen spinach (make sure it’s not in sauce), thawed
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped in food processor
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup parmesan, grated

Preparation:

1. Grease a casserole dish (recommend a 2 oz dish). Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Pour ingredients in casserole dish and top with extra cheese.

2. Bake on 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

3. Serve with crostinis. To make crostinis, combine 1 stick butter and 4 garlic cloves in a food processor. Cut a french loaf into slices on an angle. Spread garlic butter on crostinis and bake at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool. Crostini’s can be made in advance.

Recipe from Paula Deen at FoodNetwork.com.

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Meatballs with BBQ Sauce and Garlic Basil Aioli

Serves: Makes 40 meatballs
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Meatballs

1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 cups chicken stock
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil

BBQ Sauce

1 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tbs light brown sugar
2 1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 tbs pepper
1/4 tbs garlic powder
1/4 tbs ground mustard
1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce

Basil Garlic Aioli

2/3 cup mayonaise
4 garlic cloves, chopped
5-6 basil leaves, chopped
3 tbs olive oil
Salt

Preparation:

1. Make BBQ Sauce and aioli in advance. To make BBQ Sauce, combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour or until thickened. To make aioli, combine ingredients except olive oil in a food processor and pulse. While machine is running, slowly add olive oil.

2. To make meatballs, brown onions and add garlic. Remove from heat once browned and allow to cool.

3. Combine ingredient except chicken stock in a bowl. Mix together with your hands. Heat olive oil and make a tester patty. When tester patty is tasty, make balls (or patties) and cook in batches.

3. Brown meatballs on all sides. Then add a splash (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) chicken stock and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4. Drain on paper towels and serve.

Meatball recipe adapted from Anne Burrell’s Cook Like a Rock Star, BBQ Sauce from the Neely’s at FoodNetwork.com and Garlic Basil Aioli from Bobby Flay at FoodNetwork.com.

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Serves: 10-12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0!

Ingredients:

3 large beefsteak tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste

Preparation:

1. Combine all ingredients and mix. Refrigerate for about an hour or more before serving. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.

Recipe is an original.

The important part of this recipe is to remember to make the salsa and onion in big chunks. At least, that’s the way I like it. Nothing beats fresh pico de gallo.

Bacon Wrapped Dates Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Herbs

See my previous post for the recipe on these. They are divine!

It was a fantastic party and the food turned out well. It was definitely a lot to make and it took all day but it was worth it. The Bacon Wrapped Dates get better every time I make them and I find they do not take long at all and they need a good stuffing of goat cheese to make sure it all doesn’t melt out. The Spinach Artichoke Dip is a dish I’ve been making for years and it is always a crowd pleaser, plus it is so incredibly easy. The meatballs turned out pretty well. I found it was much easier to cook them as patties and I ended up doing that because I was running out of time. They were very moist and it seems essential to use fresh rosemary. That made all the difference. And of course there’s the Pico de Gallo. That’s another dish I’ve been making forever and it is always delicious and simple. It was a great party and a great birthday!

Grits Pie

Grits Pie

Serves 6-8

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup quick cooking grits

salt

8 tbl butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 tbl flour

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 buttermilk (I used half and half)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pie Crust

Whipped cream for garnish

Preparation:

1. Cook grits according to package instructions. Add butter and stir until melted. Cool slightly.

2. Stir sugar, flour, eggs, buttermilk and vanilla. Stir in grits and pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake on 325 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Can be served warm or cold. Garnish with whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

As you may know, I got a Paula Deen cook book for Christmas. I found this recipe for grits pie and was immediately intrigued. Thanks to a new found love of grits from the Grillades and Grits recipe I knew I had to try this odd-sounding dessert. I made it and holy cow is it delicious. It is the perfect amount of sweetness with a wonderful texture from the grits. Plus it was incredibly easy. Paula Deen has a crust recipe, but I’m lazy and don’t like the mess so I used a pre-made crust. I also had to use two pie crusts because it was WAY too much filling for one pie. I would definitely recommend experimenting with this one and finding out just how awesome grits can be in any form.

Taco!

Lemaire at The Jefferson: A Review

Where: Lemaire at The Jefferson, 101 W. Franklin St.

What: Dinner, Dessert and Wine

Number of people: 2

Total Cost: $110

Overall Rating: 5 of 5 stars

For our anniversary/Valentine’s Day Adam decided to splurge with some extra spending money and go to one of the best fine dining restaurants in Richmond, Lemaire, located in the famous Jefferson Hotel. I had been to The Jefferson for a cotillion-like event in college and Adam had never been but you don’t have to live in Richmond long to know that if it’s at The Jefferson it’s going to be good. The meal was delicious and certainly high quality with excellent presentation, although with small portions (part of the early bird special we used). The staff, especially our waitress, were very hospitable and the atmosphere was sophisticated and Southern, yet with a modern flair. The alligator is the “mascot” of Lemaire and it was entertaining to see the giant statues everywhere. The restaurant specializes and certainly prides itself on using local foods that are prepared fresh.

Adam learned from the Web site that Lemaire had an early bird special (5 pm – 6 pm) with a fixed menu of appetizer, entree and dessert for $30 per person, as well as three glasses of wine for an extra $15. There were two appetizer selections, a soup and a salad; three entree options of steak, salmon or vegetarian; and two dessert options. Adam and I both chose the Cream of Sunchoke Bisque as an appetizer and the Buckhead Petite Filet as an entree. Adam got the Butterscotch Creme Brulee and I got the Southern Pecan Tart for dessert.

Neither Adam nor I knew what a sunchoke was but decided we wanted bisque as opposed to the salad option. It was served elegantly with the locally grown oyster mushrooms and herbed roasted tomatoes in the center of the bowl and the bisque poured around when it was brought to the table. Apparently a sunchoke is known as a Jerusalem Artichoke and is a type of sunflower. The taste was wonderful. The bisque was hearty yet with a muted flavor. When you bit into the tomatoes they had an intense acidic flavor that complimented the sunchoke well and the mushrooms were incredibly buttery and added a great texture. When our waitress came to take the bowls she sarcastically commented on how much we didn’t like the bisque.

Since we were getting a deal and wanted to take advantage of it, we both went for the filet. As I said before the portions were small (although the bisque was a “normal” size) so the filet was only about two ounces. It came with a bourbon mustard demi-glaze, Sage Mashed Potatoes and Brown Butter Cabbage. The filet was excellent. The glaze was not as flavorful as I expected and it was difficult to taste the mustard, but the filet did not really need it. The glaze did give a mustard hint, but not as much as I would have liked. The mashed potatoes were perfectly flavored and a good consistency. The cabbage was also a great addition.

And of course the desserts were amazing. The creme brulee was very sweet and had a nice crunchy top. The tart was very Southern with a nice twist with added chocolate and Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream, as well as a strawberry and blackberry that were great with the Honey Cinnamon Caramel. I wanted to give an Italian kiss when we were done.

With the meal we ordered the wine deal (three 3 oz pours) to share. The waitress chose the wines because as she said, they are all professional wine drinkers there. For the appetizer she brought us a chardonnay. I don’t have the specific names since we were celebrating and not “working”. It was light and paired well with the bisque. For the filet she brought us a California cabernet that was incredibly smooth while being bold enough to stand up to the red meat. I am not a fan of intense or dry wines but this cabernet was delicious. Dessert was paired with an Italian dessert wine that was almost like a syrup. It was perfect and could only be taken in small sips.

The meal was amazing and we felt like we had spent our money, well Adam’s money, well. It was a wonderful, romantic evening at one of the premier attractions in Richmond. I will have the return the favor some day soon and treat Adam to a night at Lemaire. Well, maybe lunch.