Easy, Customizable BREAD PUDDING!

Last year for Neighbor Gifts,  I made a darling little "Bread Pudding Ornament" that we assembled
with our girls on Christmas Eve Day morning, and then we delivered them that afternoon.
They were unbaked so that our neighbors could choose whether to bake them up fresh
that evening before bed, or have a yummy hot treat in the morning for breakfast or brunch.
They were a big hit. I'm pretty well known around here for my Bread Pudding.
I rarely make it the same way twice, and I never use a recipe.

But, because I recognize that not everyone is able to just throw one together, 
I'm going to share my technique and tips for making any number of flavors of Bread Pudding!

This photo below was from another time that I did assembly line Bread Pudding.
These tins did not come with a lid, so I had to wrap each one with foil. For my neighbor gifts,
I get the great set of tins from the dollar store that comes with a lid, so I really prefer those.
 

It looks like this is a Blueberry, Coconut, White Chocolate Flavor.
It also appears that I used a couple different types of bread and rolls.
That's the beauty of my technique...you can add whatever flavors your heart desires,
or just simply whatever you have leftover from other recipes!
This is a very basic recipe which is easy to adapt and everyone can make this. It's foolproof!

I often give my Bread Puddings un-baked and include the instructions for baking.

See the notes at the end of the recipe for all my flavor tips!

 

Bread Pudding Basic Recipe

Makes one 9x13, two 8" pans, 8 mini bundts, OR 3-4 small gift tin size

 

                       ~ 1 dozen rolls or croissants, or 1 large loaf of French Bread....or any combination
                           of breads, as long as it equals 6-8 cups of cubed or torn bread (full 8 cups if using
                           straight croissants). DAY OLD is best!
                       ~ 6 Large Eggs
                       ~ 1 cup Brown Sugar or white if preferred, or a blend (see NOTES)
                       ~ 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt (regular if you don't have it, but don't leave out the salt)
                       ~ 3 cups Liquid (see NOTES)
                       ~ 1-2 tsp Vanilla or other Extract/Flavorings (see NOTES)
                       ~ Add-ins of choice (see NOTES)
                       ~ Cooking Spray for pan

            Tear or cut bread into large cubes into a large bowl (wide, if you have it). 
            In a separate bowl, beat eggs until smooth. Blend in Sugar until dissolved. Add Salt.
            Whisk in Liquids and Flavorings. 
            Pour half of the liquid mixture over the bread cubes and gently toss. Add remaining liquid.
            Gently stir in any add-ins.
            Allow to rest for 20 minutes before pouring into pan/s. Don't forget to use cooking spray!
            
            Bake at 380°on the center rack for 30-45 minutes, or until roughly doubled in size 
                 and slightly hollow-sounding when tapped.   

NOTES:
            ~ I prefer to use a combo of Croissants and other breads. The texture is just perfect when I do so, in my opinion.
            ~ I typically use Brown Sugar because I like the flavor more and it works best for Caramel base flavors. If you're not using a Flavored Creamer in your liquid base, you'll need to add more sugar.
            ~ I always use Flavored Coffee Creamers in my bread puddings.  I mix them with equal parts whole milk, and half & half, or Cream. There are lots of flavors to choose from! You can use just milk, cream etc but your flavoring/extracts will need to be increased.
            ~ Even though there is flavor in the creamers, I still add some depending on my flavor profile. If nothing else, at least add Vanilla. Or Almond. Or both.
            ~ The sky is the limit on the add-ins you can incorporate! Think of what is in your favorite cookie and add that. Fresh or Frozen Fruits can also easily be added. Literally...if you can dream it, you can make it in a Bread Pudding! Get innovative!
             ~ Always keep refrigerated until baking if not baking immediately after preparing.
             ~ Always refrigerate uneaten portions.

   

If you'd like to try another version, this is my fancy-pancy Holiday Recipe.....

                       Orange-Caramel Creme Bread Pudding and sauce

 

If you'd like to see the finished product for my Ornament Gift Tins, please visit this post about Easy Neighbor Gifts on my Creative Blog, www.AdventuresofaBusybee.com 






Fun "Faux-Nuts" for Summer Parties and Holidays!

What's more fun than Donuts?

Faux-Nuts!




And WHY are they more fun than regular donuts?

 

1) No Oily, Greasy mess to make them!

2) Lower in Fat and Healthier!

3) Kids can help make them! No Baking required!

4) They can be customized for Parties and Holidays!

5) They are DELICIOUS!!

 

 

 So how do you make them? 

 

Well, you start with a base that is just like a Rice Krispie Treat, only better. 

 

How is it better? It's SOFT. And CHEWY. And YUM.

 

(And you're about to get addicted. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

 

What makes these different? First of all, the Rice. It's puffed, not crisped, so the texture is completely different in the finished product.

 

Secondly, I use Coconut Oil and Almond Extract...but if you want to go more traditional you can switch them out.  But, the flavor with my recipe...ooh la la!!

 

 

Basic "Chewy Treat" Base:

1/2 cup Coconut Oil (or Butter if you choose)

2/3 package of Marshmallows (or a full 10oz bag)

1 tsp Almond Extract (or vanilla if you'd rather)

6-7 cups Puffed Rice (Regular or Brown)

Food coloring, optional*

 

      Melt coconut oil and marshmallows in microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir to combine, and add extract. Pour over puffed rice (in a large bowl) and stir until combined. Shape as desired.

 

  *Note: If adding food coloring, it’s best to add it when you add the extract if you want an even coloration. Mixing it in after the cereal is added makes for a very mottled appearance, which may be helpful for certain applications. You can also use spray colors or luster dust to add color and definition.


**When shaping, use liberal amounts of cooking spray or coconut oil on your hands, and the spoon when stirring, to assist in the process.

 

 I have a "Baked Donut" pan that makes shaping these a breeze. No baking required, just press in the mixture, press down to form the thickness you want, and remove! 


I found my pan at the thrift store, but I've seen them on Amazon for less than $10.00. If you don't have one, just shape them by hand, or use a combination of glasses to cut the size you want. Frost or glaze with your favorite recipe, and then decorate!


 
I'm making some for Memorial Day in a week or so...I have some Red, White and Blue sprinkles left over from the 4th last year, and I'll be glazing them with an aqua colored glaze. They are going to look amazing and festive and I know that everyone will love them because they really are tasty!
 

Want more ideas for using Puffed Rice to make shaped treats? Check out THIS post!

 

  

 



 

Summer Cooking Classes for the SLC, UT area


If you live in the SLC area, you can attend one of my Cooking Classes this summer! I'm not doing the Sushi class, but the rest are mine, plus another one that is not listed here. That class will be "Cutting the Apron Strings" for 16-21 year olds who are leaving mom's kitchen behind!


Lemon Thyme Shortbread (plus how to grow Lemon Thyme)

 

I absolutely LOVE Fresh Herbs....

 

....and my very favorite is Lemon Thyme. I have it planted in numerous places around my yard. It comes back faithfully every spring, and it usually even gives me fresh growth during the winter. I have to dig underneath to find it nestled under the top dried layer, but I can always find a few blessed and delightful sprigs when I need it's fresh and bright taste in the middle of the cold months.

 

But when Spring arrives, and it flourishes with new and boisterous growth, I love to showcase it in a beautiful and delicious dessert.

 Lemon-Thyme Shortbread

 

I have these shown topped with a Lemon Buttercream swirl, but most of the time I make these with a simple lemon glaze. I've included both versions for your pleasure. Enjoy!!

 

 

This recipe I created calls for Lemon Thyme, but you can substitute with regular thyme...the lemon flavor will just be less intense. You can also substitute with a variety of other herbs including Basil or Lavender. Have you ever tasted either of them in a shortbread or cookie? Just like the Lemon Thyme, they add an understated earthiness and balance to the sweet that is exquisite. 

 

Lemon Thyme Shortbread

325° for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned


8 oz Butter (I recommend a European Butter for all, or at least half, of it)
1 cup Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed, if possible)
1 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste (or extract)
2 cups Flour
1/4 cup fresh Lemon Thyme leaves (stripped from the stem…no need to chop the leaves)
1 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1 tsp Lemon Zest


Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, lemon juice and paste, and blend until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, leaves, salt and zest until well coated with the flour. Add to the butter mixture and blend until all the dry is incorporated.

With slightly damp fingers, press into your desired pan. A ¼ sheet pan yields thin pieces, but it will fit and is a good size for buffet bites. A smaller pan will give you thicker pieces, which are good for gift giving.



Lemon Glaze

This makes enough to glaze the shortbread base. Other juice or milk can be substituted for a different flavor. If using milk or cream, make sure to add an extract as well.

¼ cup Lemon Juice
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar


Combine well and spread over the moderately cooled crust (about 20 minutes out of the oven). Allow to rest for an hour after glazing before cutting into squares.



Lemon Buttercream

This makes enough to give a generous dollop on each piece of shortbread, or top frost the tops only of cupcakes or a sheet cake. You’ll want to double it for other purposes.


1/2 cup Butter
1/3 cup Lemon Pie Filling, or Lemon Curd
1/2 tsp Vanilla Bean Paste
2 cups Powdered Sugar


Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the lemon filling and paste, and mix until well blended, scraping the sides as needed. Slowly add the powdered sugar and blend until fully incorporated. Store excess in refrigeration.



I featured these bars, along with some other beautiful Springtime cookies, in a TV segment for Studio 5 on KSL/Channel 5 last year. You can see them HERE! You'll find additional recipes and photos to inspire a gorgeous Dessert Buffet for your next gathering, party or shower! 

 

Would you like to know how easy it is to grow Lemon Thyme for yourself? Please visit THIS POST on my creative blog to learn more!

 

Infused Fruit Flavored Water using Herbal Teas

 

If you were to look into my pantry, you would see several baskets and a jar full of Herbal Teas. They have sort of taken over one shelf in there. I counted the other day and I have 29 varieties in total. I sort of went crazy about a month ago when I was working on a "Natural Dyes for Egg"project (click here to see), which just increased my collection. Now I have to reconfigure my storage space for them!


 

The majority are Fruit or Fruit Blend Teas. I do have a few other favorites, and I tend towards the vanilla/caramel/cinnamon blends for the non-fruit flavors. The ones pictured are my personal FAVORITE flavors of all the Fruit Varieties I have tried.

 

Did you know that Herbal Teas are Calorie-Free??

(I don't drink any caffeine that is why I stick with Herbal Teas, but occasionally a de-caf version will find it's way into my collection.)

 

Today I'm focusing on my favorite thing to make with the Fruit versions.....

 

Infused Fruit Flavored Water

Maple Balsamic Roasted Beet and Butternut Soup (with Coconut Milk)

I have a new love. It's heart bleeds red.

 

Well, technically, it's all red. Though some are Gold!




Seriously. I NEVER thought that I would say I LIKE Beets, let alone LOVE them.

But after making this soup, I have to confess that I now love beets.

 

At least in this soup, I do. You can keep the pickled ones. I am never going to like THOSE. I mean it. That's a whole other flavor profile and I'm just not interested. 

 

I just want the silky smooth sweet creaminess that Roasted beets have to offer. Especially in THIS phenomenal sweet and savory Soup.

 

Even my husband couldn't get enough of it. I was so sad when I'd reheated the last of it. I'm making more this weekend. I must have it in my belly.

 

 

  Normally I would not have gone out of my way to buy beets at the store, but I got some in my Bountiful Basket, and I promised myself I would roast the heck out of every veggie I would normally turn my nose up at.  I have found, happily, that I have more greatly enjoyed every vegetable I have roasted. Even Radishes, which is crazy, but they totally change and become as sweet as candy! So I figured beets would have a good chance of becoming palatable for me.

 

So this soup started out as these roasted Veggies:

 

 

While I liked the flavor, I felt like it should have cooked longer. I had done my standard high heat method of roasting, but wished I had slow roasted them for several hours instead. They were a little firm for my liking. When you make them, you can choose between the two methods depending on how firm/crisp you like your veggies.

 

I completely neglected to take a photo of the veggies BEFORE they roasted, and when I tossed them together before serving, everything took on the hue of the red beets (as seen above), even though the other 3 vegetables in the medley are orange/gold. That's beets for ya! They color everything they touch!


So here are two recipes for you to enjoy! The first is for the Roasted Medley, and the second is for the soup to make with the Medley. I will only be having the soup from here on out. It's so completely amazing that I must proceed immediately to recipe 2 from now on. But don't think you can skip the roasting and just make this with fresh produce! It will NOT be the same flavor or texture at all!

 

 

Maple Balsamic Roasted Beets and Butternut Squash Medley 

 

I always use my Baking Stones for roasting. For this medley, I also added a piece of parchment paper for easy clean-up. You can do it on a regular baking sheet, but I would make sure to use parchment or a silpat mat to help with sticking to the pan.

 

3 large Red Beets, washed and scrubbed well, stem removed (If desired, you can peel them)
3 large Gold Beets, prepared the same as the red
1/2 Large Butternut Squash, peeled (or 1 small)
1 cup Baby Carrots (optional, but I liked them in it)
1/4 cup Real Maple Syrup
2 TBL Balsamic Vinegar
1 TBL Kosher Salt

Cut the beets and squash into similar bite-sized chunks. Add carrots to mix. Whisk together the remaining ingredients, and pour over the mixture, stirring to blend. Bake at 425° for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through (For a more firm texture). OR bake at 300° for 90 minutes, then stir before placing under the broiler for 5 minutes (for a softer texture).

Scatter fresh herbs over the top before serving, if desired.



Roasted Beet and Butternut Soup with Coconut Milk


This recipe can easily be halved. Save the remainder of the coconut milk for another purpose.

1 batch of Roasted Beet Medley
2 cans Chicken Broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp Balsamic Glaze (optional)
1 tsp ground Sumac (optional)
1 can Coconut Milk (can be light if desired)

Bring the beet medley to boil in the chicken broth. Reduce to low and let simmer for 30 minutes. Puree with a blender or immersion blender (I used my Blendtec and it really got it smooth!). Add additonal seasonings and the coconut milk. Bring to desired temperature. Serve hot or at room temperature, or even chilled. Garnish with Coconut Cream (skimmed from top of can), Whipped Cream or Cream Fraiche. Fresh herbs, croutons or cheese toast is also a nice touch.  



 
I've decided that this soup will be PERFECT for shooter cups at my next party. I think this soup will be on my appetizer table menu forever. And Ever. Amen.

Also, I added a new spice that I've been experimenting with: Sumac. It is very lemony. If you don't have it, you can substitute some lemon juice or zest for the acidic element.

 

 

Dinner in Less than 30 Cooking Class


If you're a local in the Salt Lake area (Northern Wasatch Front), you can attend a cooking class with me! Email for info! Registration is due this April!