Bourbon Bread Pudding

A scene I always remember from the show Friends is when Rachel tries to make trifle for Thanksgiving and somehow the recipe is messed up and she combines trifle and some sort of savory dish. Joey starts to eat it and says  “What’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Goooooood.” When I think about this recipe I totally agree, what’s not to like? Bourbon? Good. Bread? Good. Pudding? Goooood.

My friend Rachel is Jewish and so like a good Jew avoided all things starchy for Passover. As a result she was jonesing to get her carb on and invited a group over for what she deemed the Bread-A-Palooza. My first thought of what I could contribute to the feast was a bread pudding. So I set off to collect all the ingredients I knew I’d need. I went to a nice grocery store, but they didn’t have brioche or challah bread. Seriously Lunds?! I figured Whole Foods had to have one of these types of breads, so off I went. To my dismay, when I arrived at the Whole Foods bakery section (which is full of temptations I tried to avoid), the challah bread bucket sat empty. Thankfully, the nice bakery man pointed me in the direction of some packaged brioche. Crisis averted.

I give you Bourbon Bread Pudding…

Adapted from Epicurious


  • 10 cups cubed brioche or Challah bread (from a 1-pound loaf) It sounds like a lot, but isn’t once cut up.
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 4 cups half-and-half
  •  3/4 cup 2% milk with 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream added
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Start by spraying a casserole dish, about 13 by 9-inch, with cooking spray. Then cut up your brioche bread into chunks and add them to your dish. Chop your pecans into small pieces and then sprinkle them over your bread.

In a large bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, milk+cream, eggs, butter, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl.

Pour the custard mixture over the bread in the baking dish, making sure your bread gets coated. Let the pudding sit for about 1 hour, to sop up all the custard goodness.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake your dish for 50 minutes. The pudding should appear set.

I served mine with some fresh whipped cream that I added a little bit of vanilla extract and sugar to.

This turned out to be delish and it totally fulfilled on the carbs! I rationalized that  I could eat some of it for breakfast the next morning too because it had milk, bread and eggs…total breakfast items.


Sweet & Savory Apple Cinnamon Coffe Cake

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

There are two things that you should know about me before we go any further, dear readers.  1) Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  And, 2) I will choose sleeping in over getting up in the morning every time.  What this means is that I love cooking and eating delicious things for breakfast, but alas that never happens on a week day.  During the week, I have a quick and easy fiber bar for breakfast every morning.  While not totally delectable, it gets the job done.  Meanwhile, all week I look forward to the weekend, when I will be able to make something much more interesting and decadent – and all at the much more reasonable hour of 10am.

This weekend, I was having some lovely lady friends over for brunch on Saturday and I knew that I wanted to make something special.  Over the last several weekends,  I have been forced to get creative with egg dishes because our chickens are way out-pacing us with their egg production.  But today, I put my foot down.  I was going eggless.

So, I headed for my grandmother’s recipe box.  For those of you who are arriving fashionably late, I am slowly working my way through all of my grandmother’s recipes over the course of a year.  I found a delightful sounding recipe for apple cinnamon coffee cake, which calls for nary an egg.  Eggcellent.  Forgive me, I just couldn’t resist!  (If you click on the image, it will enlarge the recipe so that you can read it better.)

Apple Cinnamon Coffe Cake Recipe

Apple Cinnamon Coffe Cake, Part 2

This recipe is fairly easy if you have a food processor, or do not mind cutting in butter by hand.  Me, I’d rather hand hoe an entire football field than cut in butter by hand.  But, I realize that you may feel differently.  Heck, you might even enjoy it.  If you are one of those people, we might need to talk.  But, I digress.  The first step is adding all of the dry ingredients to your food processor and mixing them together briefly.

Mix the dry ingredients together.

Next, add your butter is small pieces to the food processor and give it another really good mix.  You should end up with what looks like fine sand.

Cutting in the butter

Then, the last step of making the dough is adding milk to the food processor and mixing it to form a soft, pliable dough.

The dough should be soft and pliable.

With floured hands, scoop the dough out of the food processor and pat it into the bottom of a greased, 8-inch pan.  Don’t worry if your top looks lumpy.  You’ll be covering it!

Pat the dough into an 8-inch, greased pan.

Next, you are going to peel and slice 2 and 1/2 apples up into thin slices and place them, overlapping on the top.  I used one Granny Smith and two Fuji apples.  I thought it provided just the right about of sweet to pair with the more savory dough.

Lay the apples, overlapped, on the top.

Lastly, dot the apples with butter and mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and them pour it over the top of the apples.  I didn’t end up using all the cinnamon/sugar mixture.  I tend to like recipes less sweet than what they call for.

Ready for the oven!

Then, place the dish in a 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.  I think I ended up cooking mine for about 55 minutes.  When you take it out of the oven it should be nice and bubbly and golden brown.

I love the way this coffee cake turned out.  I don’t like super sweet things for breakfast.  It had the perfect balance of slightly salty (the dough) and sweet (the baked apples).  Give it a try for yourself and let me know if you agree!

The finished dish!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Garlicy Kale with Cherry Tomatoes

I know Jen just posted a a kale recipe, but I had one in the works too. I’d never really had kale before, I know shocking. Jen and I talked about our mutual love for kale over the Easter holiday and tried to figure out why our mom never served it to us growing up.

I recently went to a cooking class with some friends and one of the simple recipes I learned was for garlicky kale with cherry tomatoes. I’m going to say that adding a 1/4 cup of olive oil is totally ok since kale has fiber and loads of vitamin A and C. Everything in moderation people. Plus our cooking instructor called the sauce the juju and talked about just how important it was for the juju to be amazing. I couldn’t agree more.

This is a tasty side dish that can be made really quickly.

Garlicky Kale with Cherry Tomatoes

2 cups of kale, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half

1/4 cup of olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile,  in a pan on medium high heat add the 1/4 cup of olive oil. After the oil is heated add your 4 garlic cloves. You want the garlic to toast, but not burn. Then add the tomatoes and let them cook for 2-3 minutes so that they start to break down. Once your water boils, pour it over your kale in a colander to blanch the kale. Then add your kale to your pan and mix with the other ingredients and let it wilt a bit more. These amounts are not exact so feel free to add more oil, garlic, salt and pepper based on taste.

Chambray Love

Ever since I noticed that Chambray is way in this Spring (thanks Elle Apparel!), I had been looking for that perfect pattern to use to make one.

Chambray at JCrew

Chambray at Old Navy

I knew that it needed to be button down.  And, I really wanted tabs on the sleeves so that they would look cute when rolled up.  I tried to find a “cowboy inspired” shirt, but didn’t see one that didn’t also scream “I used to be on Dynasty.”  So finally after much hemming and hawing, I decided on using Simplicity 2255.  It has the cute tabs, some flattering darts, an interesting collar, and comes in several variations.  I chose to make the one that the model is wearing, minus the tabs that pull up the hemline (at least for now).

Simplicity 2255

Once I knew which pattern I was using, I got to work immediately.  Hooray for Spring Breaks!

Cutting out the pattern pieces

In terms of changes to the pattern, as I said previously, I cut my pieces to a length in between that of the longest version and the shortest version.  Hello my name is Jen and I have a long torso.  The other thing I modified, was that the pattern has you sew sleeve tabs onto the sleeve without covering the stitching.  So you’re left with a pretty unsightly, unfinished looking area on the outside of your sleeve.  Booo!

Unsightly sleeve tab

So, I sewed little tabs to place over that area and then sewed the button on to that.  I think it looks much nicer.  You?

My modified sleeve tabs

This was, by far, the most difficult thing I’ve sewed to date.  I nearly hyperventilated while sewing the buttonholes.  I was so nervous that I would screw it up.  Thankfully, my Kenmore’s buttonholer, does all the heavy lifting after I get it to the right starting point.  But, I am so happy with how it turned out!  I has become an absolute staple of my spring wardrobe.  It is so versatile and just the right weight — not too hot and not too cold.  I highly recommend adding a chambray shirt to your sewing to-do.  I haven’t had a chance to actually take a picture of me in the shirt.  I’ll post some soon!

I'm in love with my Chambray!

Chicken Tikka Masala

So a few posts back I talked about my first attempt at making Naan. Well, I had to have something to go with the Naan, so I made chicken tikka masala with my gay husband Jonathan. Actually he made more of the chicken tikka masala and I focused on the naan. It was a tag team Indian feast night. I found the recipe on the Pioneer Woman’s blog, but in true cooking fashion, we made a few tweaks.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s reicpe


  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • Ground Coriander
  • Cumin, To Taste
  • 1/2 cup Greek Plain Yogurt
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 4 cloves Garlic
  • 1 piece (approximately 2 Inches) Chunk Fresh Ginger
  • Garam Masala
  • 1 can (28 Ounce) Diced Tomatoes
  • Sugar
  • 1/2-3/4  cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Red pepper flakes

Preparation Instructions

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with some  salt. Next sprinkle them on both sides with some coriander and cumin. Then spread Greek yogurt on the top and bottom of the chicken breasts. Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. This will make clean up much easier. The chicken should be slightly blackened.

Next dice the large onion. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions and sauté until they are slightly browned. As the onions cook, mince your garlic. Next, cut off the outer skin and mince or grate a 1 by 2 inch chunk of fresh ginger using a microplane. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and about 1 tbsp of salt.

Next you are going to add about 3 tablespoons Garam Masala spice. To add some heat, I added red pepper flakes. Then add the can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze it. Add about 1 tablespoon sugar. Let this mixture simmer on medium for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile follow directions on your Basmati rice to make 2 cups.

After the Tikka Masala sauce has had a chance to simmer for a little bit, add in about 1/2-3/4 cups of heavy cream. I wanted to go a little bit lighter on the cream. Next, chop up your chicken breasts into chunks and stir them into the Tikka Masala sauce. To add some color, add some chopped cilantro to the top.  Serve the rice with the Chicken Tikka Masala over top.

Sopping up the extra sauce with a piece of homemade Naan bread is the best part! Enjoy!

Posted by Ree on September 11 2009

Posted by Ree on September 11 2009

Bling Your Sling!

My friend, and fellow Beefy Broad, recently injured her shoulder.  Much to her dismay, her physician told her that she must wear a sling for the next two weeks.  This made Deb feel like this:

Not only is it a royal pain in the a*se to not be able to use your dominant hand, but the sling was also chafing Deb’s delicate neck.  So, she politely asked (read:  begged) for me to make her a ‘sling cozy.’  Claiming that she didn’t want to be a burden, she told me to just use whatever fabric scrap I had that I would never use in a project.  No, no friend.  Injury trumps fabric hoarding.  After seeing how her eyes lit up when she saw this cute retro, red fabric with kids skateboarding on it, I knew we had a winner.

The offending sling and the fantastic fabric.

I quickly got to sewing the cozy.  A little padding and a few seams and we were done!

Then, all we had left to do was feed the strap of the sling through the cozy.  Ummm….WAY harder than it sounds.  Deb had to channel her inner Korean Chopstick Master to use two of my knitting needles to grab the strap and pull it through one end.

Ugh. Oooff. $%*#$.

Sling + sling cozy = Deb now feeling like this:

But, dear readers, you know Deb and I.  We dream big.  We just couldn’t stop there.  After all, when facing a possible rotator cuff injury, the fun needs to be worn on your sleeve (get it?!?).  We needed MORE sling bling.  That could only mean one thing — breaking out the googly eyes.  As you may have seen in the infamous Christopher Walken SNL skit, googly eyes make everything better.

Thankfully, my dear friend SHS had given me a deluxe, three-pack of googly eyes for my birthday this year.  I had been saving them up — waiting for just the right project.  It was destiny.  We had plain googly eyes, lashed googly eyes, colored googly eyes, and pupil-colored googly eyes.  Ummm,yes please.  A little of everything.  And in the process of digging through my craft stuff, I also found a box of plastic insects.  Our inner-biologists rejoiced.  So, we christened the hot glue gun with some light ladybugging, first.

A little ladybug action first

Then the floodgates were opened.  Let the googly eyeing commence!!

Deb, laying out her eyes

Hot glue guns are AMAZING.

Googly Eyes -- the ultimate sling bling!

So, the moral of this story is:  if you are feeling a little under the weather and your doctor tells you that you have to wear a sling, fear not!  With a little sling bling, you’ll be holding your head up high….Proud that you are the owner of that fine sling.  Now, I ask you….invalid or fashionista?

Sling Bling Pride!

Garlic Sesame Kale

I have been in love with the garlic kale on the Whole Foods salad bar for the last several years.  I have tried to recreate it in my kitchen on a number of occaions.  (Especially recently, as the warm winter caused the kale in my garden to grow into a small forest. )  The concoctions that I came up with, while tasty, were not the same as the Whole Foods rendition.  Then, a Whole Foods employee kindly showed me that each of their foods has a posted recipe list.  Hallelujiah!  With this little tidbit of information, I came up with my own Garlic Sesame Kale.  Here is the what you’ll need:

The ingredients

Here is the recipe:

  1. A large bunch of kale (the more the better!)
  2. 2 tablespoons of Tamari
  3. 2 1/2 tablespoons of Tahini
  4. 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  5. 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  6. 2 teaspoons of chopped or pressed garlic
  7. 3 teaspoons of sesame seeds (optional)
  8. a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
  9. water (for thinning — if needed)

Wash the kale and set it aside in a large salad bowl.  Then, in a food processor add ingredients 2-7 and blend until smooth.  (I use a mini processor so that I can just put the bowl in the fridge.)

My mini food processor gets the job done!

The finished dressing

Once smooth, pour the mixture over the kale, garnish with sesame seeds (if you want) and then you are ready to eat!  (If you are someone that does not like raw kale, you can steam it in an iron skillet with a little water for a few minutes to wilt it slightly before dressing it.)

Garlic Sesame Kale

It really is one of the VERY best recipes I have every tried with kale.  I eat it now as a snack when I get home instead of indulging in carbohydrates.  Nutritious and delicious!

A Satisfying Sorbetto

Colette patterns have intrigued me for a while now.  They are drafted for a C-cup, rather than the typical B-cup of bigger pattern making companies.  That should mean that they are made for curvier women, right?  So, I have the Colette Sewing Handbook sitting in my Amazon cart.  My dilemma is that while the finished items have potential,  they don’t look very flattering on the models the chose.  They also don’t even look pressed.  So, jury is still out on the book.  I did, however, find a Colette pattern on the internet that is free.  It is for the Sorbetto top.

The nice thing about the Sorbetto is that it is easily customizable because it is such a simple pattern!  You can add lace or piping, buttons, get rid of the pleat, etc.  I decided that before I used any expensive fabric on Colette, I’d need to know what the end result would be.  My first Sorbetto was going to be some cheap IKEA fabric that I had on hand.

The pattern comes as a .pdf.  So, I printed it, cut it, and then taped it together.  (Note:  Before you print, you really want to make sure that it is going to print at actual size.  To do this, make sure that in the print dialog box you don’t have “Scale” checked.  And after you print, you really want to measure the test box to make sure that it is 4″ x 4″.  I learned this the hard way once!)

Printing the pattern

The pattern coming together

Finished pattern pieces

Once I had everything taped together, I could begin cutting the fabric.  This top doesn’t really use that much fabric, so it’s a great stash buster.  It only has two pieces – a front and a back, which are cut on the fold.

Pieces cut, ready to sew!

Before I put away the pattern, I used some old Singer tracing paper that I found in my grandmother’s old sewing stuff to tansfer the lines for the pleat onto the fabric.

Transferring the pattern markings

The first thing the pattern tells you to sew is stay stitching around the neckline on both pieces.  This is just to prevent stretching on the neckline.  Just be careful to get it as close to the edge of your fabric as possible, as there isn’t but a 1/4″ seam allowance there because it is finished with bias.

Stay stitching the neckline

One of the best aspects of this top is that while it is extremely easy to make, it still has some shape to it through bustline darts.  The pattern does a good job of walking you through sewing the darts.  It was my first time sewing darts and I learned something!  When you finish, you don’t backstitch.  Instead, you sew as close to the edge as possible and then tie the two threads together.

Sewing the darts

After the two darts are sewn, it was time for the big, front box pleat.  I folded the front piece with the wrong sides together, matching the lines for the pleat that I transferred, and stitched down the length of the line.  Then, I took the top over to my trusty ironing board and pressed it down into the pleat evenly over the stitch line I had created.

Pressing the box pleat

At this point, I decided to try on the top and discovered that while it fits very nicely above my waist, it really isn’t long enough for me.  The length isn’t bad enough to stop me from wearing it, but it will mean that I make the next one longer.  (Mental note:  add 2″ to the next one.)  Because the top has a fairly big pattern, I felt that the pleat was getting a little lost.  So, I decided to add darker gray piping to the pleat to help it stand out more.  Because I couldn’t sew the piping in the traditional way (no open seam), I serged one side of the piping (to ensure no raveling) and then hand stitched it to the back of the pleat — only going through one layer of the pleat fabric so that you cannot see the seam from the right side.

Adding the piping....

Then, it was time to finish the neck line.  The bias trim is a really cute touch and a nice, clean finish.

Applying the bias tape

Finished neckline

After, finishing the bias binding on the neck and sleeves, the last thing I added was two decorative buttons on the pleat.  While they aren’t functional, I think they add a nice touch.

Some decorative buttons

Overall, I really love the way it turned out.  The Sorbetto pattern is extremeley well written.  The top is super cute and it does, in fact, fit very well.  I will most definitely be making another one!  I’m thinking a color block with cap sleeves for round two……Have any of you used this pattern?  Did you love it as much as me?  Do you have suggestions for other cute, free patterns?

A satisfying Sorbetto