Peach Tapioca Pudding & A Goodbye

This will be my last blog post.  No, it’s not because I’m getting married, it’s because when I get back from the honeymoon, I will be posting at only.  I’ve been posting on both sites to give you guys a sort of transition period, but now the time has come.

Eventually this site will no longer be a blog, and will simply forward you on to the new site.  But I’m going to wait to do that until I get back.

I shall reiterate what I said in my first post about the blog move.  If you want to continue following me through my culinary crusades (and I truly hope you do) you will have to re-subscribe on the new site.  I made nifty little buttons for you to do so.

It took me a while to think about what recipe/photos/mood to leave you all with for the next week.  I tried to stay away from peaches, I really did, but I have like 8 more recipes involving them to share and it’s already creeping into September, so I need to unload these babies…ahem.

So I picked my favorite.  I love peaches.  I love tapioca pudding.  Bam, heaven in a jar.  Did I mention I drenched mine in the caramel sauce I used in this recipe?  Did I say heaven in a jar already?

You get the idea.  And now I must prepare for this wedding thing.  Wish me luck!

Peach Tapioca Pudding

Adapted from Sunita’s World

Makes about 6 individual servings

½ cup tapioca pearls
2 cups milk
2 large, ripe peaches, peeled, stoned and cut into small pieces
5 Tbsp honey, divided use

2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

In a medium saucepan, soak the tapioca pearls in the milk for one hour.

In a small saucepan, heat the peaches, cinnamon and 2 Tbsp of the honey over low heat. Stir well, cover and cook until the fruit softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the pan with the tapioca soaked in milk over medium low heat along with the cinnamon stick, remaining 3 Tbsp honey and brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 3/4 of the cooked peaches and continue to cook until the tapioca pearls are completely done and the mixture has thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Keep stirring frequently.

Once the mixture has thickened, discard the cinnamon stick and spoon into bowls, jars or ramekins.  Let the pudding come to room temperature, then cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Serve with remaining cooked peaches and caramel sauce.


Salted Caramel Pudding

Remember when I couldn’t stop gushing about Izzy being a real house bunny?  Oh, I never stopped, you say?  Even on non-hop days?  Oops.  Well, let me give you an update on her status anyway.  As you can see, she’s been on the couch.  At first, I was thrilled.  I had fantasies of reading a book with a little bunny curled up in my lap.  Yeah, like that will ever happen.  She did sit on me for a while once though!  Anyway, one time she was sitting on the couch, and all of a sudden, she just started peeing.  I was shocked and sad.  So now her couch privileges have been revoked.

She is however allowed on the second floor when we’re home as the baby gate we use to block the stairs likes to fall over of its own volition way too often.  She never stays up there too long, as I think she knows it’s far away from her food.

Ok, on to the food portion of this post.  I’m sorry guys, I don’t know about you all, but I need to take a quick break from carb on carb action.  And since it’s still kind of hot outside, let’s make some pudding.

You might not be able to tell from this blog, but I very much enjoy pudding.  While my first attempts at making the stuff from scratch yielded something closer to a milkshake, I have since improved my skills and my ability to use cornstarch, the universal thickener.

It’s getting easier for me to troubleshoot recipes, and this has led me to expand my pudding horizons into flavors like salted caramel.  Which is one of my favorite things ever.

This pudding is smooth and luscious, and that caramel flavor cannot be beat.  So when you’re in a carb coma and need to switch it up, this is the way to go.

Salted Caramel Pudding

Adapted from Portuguese Girl Cooks

Makes 6-8 individual servings

3 cups whole or 2% milk, divided
¼ cup cornstarch
¾ dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup water
5 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp kosher salt

In a small bowl, whisk ½ cup milk and cornstarch until combined. Set aside.  In a medium saucepan, heat the remaining 2 ½ cups milk until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks for about 3 minutes until smooth.
To make the caramel, stir the brown sugar and water in small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat, and cook without stirring until an instant read thermometer reads 210 – 220 degrees F. Remove from heat.  Gradually whisk in the hot milk into the eggs, then the cornstarch.  Slowly whisk in the caramel. Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat, until the mixture thickens and a thermometer registers 175 degrees F, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in the butter and salt. Pour through a sieve into ramekins or mason jars.  Cover and chill for 4 to 5 hours or until set.


Dark Chocolate Pudding

Did you know rabbits could lie down like that?  With all their little limbs splayed out in every direction?  Well apparently they can, and it’s pretty darn cute.

We have high hopes for turning Izzy into a truer house bunny than she is now once we move to the new house.  We plan on limiting her to the first floor (where there’s no carpeting) but that’s still a vast upgrade from her current living situation in her pen.  It may be awesome; it may be a disaster, only time will tell.

While I’ve been luxuriating in the cooler weather we’ve been having over the last few days, I know that it will not last.  So, I’m trying to make some desserts now that are naturally on the cooler side.

Pudding is a great example.  Sure, it takes heat to make pudding, but if you make enough of it, you can have a fridge full of cool, individually sized pudding jars in no time.

I wanted to make something simple, but rich, so chocolate seemed the right way to go.  Plus, I knew Luke would enjoy it more than vanilla.  He’s one of those people who believe in the bifurcation of those who like vanilla and those who like chocolate.  I run the middle ground, sticking my spoon into whatever flavor suits me at the time.

We kind of fought over these puddings.  I may have gotten spooned in the eyeball over the last jar in the back of the fridge.  But then I probably grabbed that spoon and flung it across the room, thus asserting my dominance and earning myself the last chocolate pudding.  Except now I need to go make more pudding.   Should have seen that one coming.

Dark Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from Scientifically Sweet

Makes 4-6 servings (depending on container size)

1 ¾ cups 2% milk

½ cup half & half

1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided

3 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch

4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, half & half, 1/3 cup of sugar and cocoa powder. Whisk vigorously until there are no lumps and then heat it until just before it begins to simmer and steam forms at the surface.

In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk together egg, 1 Tbsp sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Sift in cornstarch and whisk vigorously until smooth.

Slowly pour in hot milk mixture in a thin stream while whisking constantly. Pour mixture back into saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat. Once boiling, boil for 3 solid minutes, whisking constantly. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Pour into small ball jars or ramekins, cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface (unless you enjoy pudding skin like me!) and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours or overnight.  Top with whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and serve!

Lemon Pudding Cakes

So maybe today’s Hop Day with Izzy pic isn’t as cute as previous weeks.  Hey, I can’t make her strike cute poses, no matter how much I beg.  I always think it’s adorable when it comes time to feed her.  She gets so excited, runs in circles, and then shoves her entire head in the food bowl even before I can get it on the ground.  You’d think she wouldn’t be that hungry, since when she’s not sleeping, she’s eating hay or vegetables, but I suppose I can’t speculate on what goes inside that bunny brain of hers.

Ok, enough about bunny, because today is a very special day.  Which obviously calls for a very special dessert.

Today is my Nana’s birthday.  Who is Nana, you ask?  Nana is my paternal grandmother, and without a doubt, one of the most supportive, nurturing and loving people in my life.

Even if she does have a photo collage in her bathroom of my brother and myself at various stages of potty training…that all my boyfriends ended up seeing, much to my extreme embarrassment.  But that’s just part of her charm.

Her house is a kind of shrine, dedicated to those she loves, and believe me, this lady loves fiercely.  But the good kind of fierce. The kind that saves old poems and valentines sent before I could write them without my parent’s help.  The kind that sends you little notes every week, as well as the Sunday crossword puzzles cut out from the newspaper.

The kind that offers you anything you want the minute you walk through her front door.  The kind that makes you feel special, no matter what.  Well, I wanted to share a special dessert that I made in her honor.

Nana loves lemon, so of course I made her something citrusy and bright.

Although it looks like pudding when it goes into the oven, (in a water bath, of course) the top layer comes out as a lemon sponge cake that provides a great texture contrast to the layer of pudding hiding beneath it.

Hopefully someday soon I’ll be able to make these for my Nana in person, but in the meantime, I’ll wish her all my love on her special day.  Happy Birthday Nana!

Lemon Pudding Cakes

Adapted from Jo Cooks

Makes 6 individual servings

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

3 large eggs, separated

¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest

½ cup fresh lemon juice

1 ½ cups 2% milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small bowl, sift together sugar and flour; set aside.

Place egg whites in a medium bowl.  Using an electric hand mixer, beat on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Transfer whites to another bowl.

Add egg yolks to the same bowl.  Beat on medium-high speed until the yolks are thick and lightened in color. Reduce speed to medium and add butter, lemon zest and juice; beat for 1 more minute. Alternately beat in flour mixture and milk, making 5 additions of flour and 4 of milk.

Fold in egg whites. Pour batter evenly into 6 ramekins. Place them in a large shallow roasting pan (I used my 9×13” pan). Add hot water until it reaches half way up side of the baking dish.

Bake in the center of oven for 50 to 55 minutes.   Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes, then remove ramekins from water bath and allow to cool 10 minutes more.

Peanut Butter Banana Bread Pudding

Since I was late with my Hop Day pictures last week, I’m going to give you a double dose this week.  It’s always a fortuitous moment when I go to photograph Izzy while she’s lying in her bed and she stirs and gives a huge stretch.  I’m not sure why bunny stretches amuse me so much, especially since they’re kind of weird looking.

Here’s a shot of her being cozy in her bunny bed.  She’s been lying down in the evenings more as the weather gets warmer, and it’s freakin’ adorable.  She’ll even lie down in her litter box.

I promised myself I wouldn’t gush about our bunny for too long on this post, because there’s bread pudding to talk about!

I love me some bread pudding.  I don’t remember when I first tried it, but for some reason I’ve always been drawn to it.

I like to buy this really rich cinnamon swirl bread at Lyman Orchards that makes the most fantastic bread pudding (and french toast) but I didn’t have any on hand when I made this recipe, so I used challah, which is still a wonderful bread that I would have eaten in large chunks if this bread pudding wasn’t made.

Bananas and peanut butter are one of my favorite afternoon snacks, and I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to work it into a dessert.  The custard is laced with melted peanut butter and mashed bananas, and then I upped the ante even more by adding sliced bananas throughout.

Just be warned that if you put bananas on top like I did, they will oxidize and get darker.  They still taste good, but they aren’t the most attractive pieces of fruit to look at.  With that in mind, Happy Hop Day!

Banana Peanut Butter Bread Pudding

Adapted from Imagelicious

Makes one 9X9” pan

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup peanut butter

2 cups milk

4 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 cups cubed challah, or other sturdy bread

2 medium bananas, one mashed, one sliced

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8X8” or 9X9” square pan and set aside.
Melt peanut butter and butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat until fluid.  Remove from heat and whisk in milk, then whisk in eggs, sugar, vanilla, mashed banana and some of the banana slices.
Toss mixture with diced bread and let sit 10 minutes.  Spoon the mixture into prepared pan place remaining banana slices over bread, if desired.  Bake for about 50 minutes, until golden on top and set.  Let pudding sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Dirt Cake

This is a nice spring themed dessert that goes wayyy back for me.  When I asked Luke if he knew what dirt cake was, he replied, oh you mean worms and dirt?

Crickets.  Sure?  I guess?  Yes, it turns out dirt cake and worms & dirt are one in the same.  I happen to like my title better.  I don’t know how keen I’d be on eating a dessert with worms in the title.  Even if they are the gummy kind.

My mom used to make this dessert when I was growing up.  If she made if during the spring, she’d clean out a flower pot and put it in there for added effect.  I would have put it in one too, only all my pots are currently occupied by herbs.

But I should back up.  What is dirt cake?  It’s layers of Oreo cookie crumbs and a cream cheese/pudding/whipped cream mixture all stacked together parfait style.

Sometimes there are gummy worms dispersed throughout.  Sadly, I didn’t have any on hand, so I couldn’t include them.  When they are in the cake, I tend to eat the cake part first and hoard all the gummies for later.

The original recipe that I got from my mom calls for Cool Whip, but I couldn’t find any at my grocery store, so I subbed homemade whipped cream for it.  I think it tasted better, but that’s just because homemade whipped cream is amazing.  And only adds to the amazingness that is dirt cake.

Dirt Cake

Recipe from my mom

Makes about 12 servings

1 package Oreo cookies (the regular kind, not Double Stuffed)

½ stick unsalted butter

8oz cream cheese

¾ cup powdered sugar

two 3.4oz packages instant vanilla pudding

2 ¾ cups milk

12 oz Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream)

gummy worms (optional)

In a food processor, crumble the cookies until finely ground and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream together butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar.  In another large bowl mix the instant pudding powder with the milk to create your pudding.  Add the pudding into the cream cheese mixture and stir to combine.  Fold in Cool Whip or whipped cream.  In a serving bowl (mine was a 2.75 quart Pyrex dish but I made a half recipe) layer cookie crumbs and pudding mixture, beginning and ending with cookie crumbs.  Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before servings, then store leftovers in the fridge.  If using gummy worms, add them just before serving, as they will get very hard if refrigerated.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

I’ve talked about my strange milk habits before.  Well, I don’t think they’re very strange, it’s just that I don’t like drinking milk, so whenever I buy it, which is pretty much every week, I have to figure out how to use it up.

Because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s letting food go to waste.  Pancakes and other skillet fodder are usually my go-tos for using up milk, but one time, I made a big mistake when buying milk.

I forgot what month it was, and instead of buying milk I thought would last for two weeks, I bought some that expired in two days.  I’m sooo smart sometimes.

Thankfully I only buy quarts at a time, so I had four cups of milk to work with.  Of course, my first thought was pudding.  Browsing through my recipe cache, I decided this one was definitely worth a try.

I had never made rice pudding before, but I’m always up for trying new things.  I didn’t have Arborio rice, so I substituted short grain sushi rice.  You need to use short grain or Arborio in rice pudding so the rice maintains its shape and doesn’t turn into mush in the cooking process.

I loved the spices in the pudding too.  It tastes like sweet, custardy chai tea.  Deliciousness all over.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes

Makes 8-10 servings, depending on container size

1 cup arborio (or short grain) rice
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 whole cloves
4 cups water
1 egg
3 cups whole milk
one 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp allspice

Soak the rice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and cloves in the water in a tall, heavy saucepan for 1 hour.

After soaking, remove cloves and cinnamon sticks and bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

While rice is cooking, beat the egg in a bowl. Add the milk and stir well to mix. Add the egg mixture, condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and spices to the rice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, about 25 to 35 minutes. The grains should be coming to the surface of the pudding and you’ll feel some resistance when you stir. Several cups of liquid will have evaporated. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes–it will thicken considerably once taken off the heat.  Pour into ramekins or mason jars and allow to cool to room temperature.  Store in the refrigerator.