No Fail Creole Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Today I was asked for the basic bread pudding recipe I make, so I figured it best if I simply shared the recipe with everyone. As I’ve said before, I make a lot of bread pudding in the cafe and I have several variations to keep the customers excited, but this recipe is for simple, straightforward New Orleans bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce. Feel free to experiment with ingredients. Sometimes I leave out the raisins and instead use dried cranberries and sliced almonds. Sometimes I use blueberries and some orange marmalade. I’ve been known to make banana pecan and at times, coffee-chocolate, but the basic recipe remains the same.

 

 

 

  • 1 loaf French bread or 12 large croissants, cubed
  • 1 quart half & half
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs with the half & half. Add the bread and fold to combine ingredients, then add the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins. Mix well. Coat a 9″x13″ glass baking dish with PAM. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish and drizzle the top with the melted butter. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the center is set but still moist. If bread starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Whiskey Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup quality bourbon (or rum)

Mix the butter and sugar in a double-boiler until very hot and sugar is well dissolved. In your left hand (or right if you’re left handed), slowly pour the egg and cream into the butter/sugar mixture while whisking very fast with your opposite hand. This is essentially a quicker way to “temper” the eggs so they don’t curdle. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Mixture will slightly thicken as it cools. Just before serving, whisk in the bourbon (or rum).

To serve, plate up the bread pudding and drizzle with the whiskey sauce.

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Glorious Morning Scratch Muffins

 

For the past few years, we have served a variety of fresh baked muffins at work and my customers have grown accustomed to a nice hot muffin. Like many foodservice establishments, we cheated. Our muffins were fresh baked, but not fresh made. We bought muffin batter that you “scooped and baked” to save time (and labor costs). Customers loved them, so it was a win-win situation.

Things changed when I switched companies recently. I had the same customers looking for their usual breakfast muffins, but our new grocery supplier offered a “less than favorable” alternative for muffin batter. My customers have not been happy, so I promised them I would make some scratch muffin batter this weekend to serve this coming week in the cafe.

Since baking is not my thing (I love to cook but I DESPISE following recipes), I had to scour magazines and internet recipes to try and find something I felt was comparable to what my customers are expecting tomorrow morning. This recipe is a tweak; I started with a basic muffin recipe and made it my own. They turned out delicious, so I thought I’d share with you this extremely easy recipe for making homemade muffins. You can use this recipe for for a variety of muffins by substituting the flavorful ingredients. In fact, I used the basic part of this recipe (as noted below) to create 5 varieties of muffins for breakfast tomorrow (Glorious Morning, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Banana Nut and Cranberry-Orange-Almond). I’m sharing the whole recipe for the Glorious Morning muffins which are by far my biggest seller, but noting where you can substitute to make other varieties.

There’s no need to buy muffin mix in a bag or box when most all these ingredients can be found in most of your pantries! Give them a shot! The good thing is, you can mix them up on Friday evening and refrigerate the batter. Then scoop into your muffin tins and bake Saturday morning!

Basic Muffin Batter:

  • 1 8oz container of sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon and mix to incorporate (I use a wire whisk to mix dry ingredients). Add the dry ingredients to the wet in the mixer and run on low just long enough to incorporate into a batter. That’s your basic muffin mix.

For Glorious Morning Muffins:

To the batter add 1 peeled and diced Granny Smith apple, 1/4 cup minced carrots (I use shredded carrots and pulse them in the food processor), 1 tbsp orange marmalade, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds, 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

If you wanted to make blueberry, to the batter add some fresh or thawed, frozen blueberries and add the orange marmalade.

For cranberry-orange-almond, use dried cranberries, sliced almonds and orange marmalade.

For banana nut, I use crushed pecans and 2 overly ripe bananas, smashed up with your hands or run through the food processor.

For chocolate chip, just add chocolate chip morsels straight from the bag.

Scoop muffin mix into a 12 muffin tin pan or 6 jumbo muffin pan. Bake at 325F for 18-25 minutes (depending on the size, less time for smaller muffins, more for larger) or until brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Mediterranean Chicken

A few years back, I was the chef at an establishment where half of my customers would be on Weight Watchers about this time of the year, so I would offer a low-fat, healthy lunch option daily in the cafe. I created this recipe and it has been one of my “most requested” by customers at every place I’ve worked. In fact, most are surprised to learn this is actually a healthy, low fat recipe!

When you first read the ingredients, you may question this one, but everyone does. Once they try it, they are hooked. I made it this past week at work (first time at newest cafe) and everyone has been asking for the recipe. As you read the recipe, several things are “optional” ingredients. They add to the dish, but they are not required, as I’ve made the recipe with those items and without, depending on what I’ve got in my pantry. Give this one a try and you’ll agree it’s really quite tasty, and for those of you “counting points”, this one is 7 points!

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or you can use boneless tenders)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup raisins (any color)
  • 1 cup green or black olives, sliced (don’t use ripe black olives.. you want tart, brine soaked olives so it’s best to stick with regular old pimiento stuffed spanish or queen olives unless you want to drop a few bucks on some kalamatas)
  • 1 can quartered artichoke hearts, drained (optional)
  • 1 4oz container Feta cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom of a glass casserole dish with olive oil and arrange chicken in one layer in the dish. Size of the dish depends on size of your chicken. A 9×9 will normally hold 4 breasts, a 13×9 might be needed if you use boneless tenders. Top the chicken with the minced garlic.

In a small bowl, combine the curry powder, cinnamon and salt, then sprinkle mixture on top of chicken. Top chicken with the raisins and olives and pour the wine over the top. If using the artichoke hearts and Feta, add it last in that order.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.

Serve with rice, couscous, fresh spinach, sauteed broccoli, etc for a light complimentary dinner.

Italian Chocolate Spice Cookies

These cookies are my favorite! I don’t have a “recently prepared” photo to show them off but I found this stock photo that’s pretty close to the finished cookie. These cookies almost remind me of gingerbread but they are better. As soon as I make a batch, I’ll post a better picture. This recipe was written in my great grandmother’s (Fortunata Vizzina Schilleci) hand.

  • 2 pounds all purpose flour (4 cups)
  • 1 pound of sugar (2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp each, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3/4 pound Shortening (1 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp)
  • 1 pint milk, heated
  • 1 cup raisins (no color specified)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • juice from 2 fresh squeezed oranges

Melt the shortening; add the warm milk, then the sugar. Sift all remaining dry ingredients together and then add the pecans and raisins. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir well. Let dough rest for 10 minutes. Pinch off in a small ball the size of large marbles, place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Combine the powdered sugar and orange juice in a bowl. Once cookies have cooled, dip each cookie into the sugar glaze so that it covers the top 1/2 of the cookie. Let cookies dry completely. Icing will set like glaze on a cooled doughnut.

Makes 60-75 cookies.