Spring Trip

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In IL visiting the siblings. We have great plans for my weekend. Of course some of our plans involve a bit of wine.

Everytime I come to visit we try to hit a new winery. This time we visited Star View Vineyards. They have beautiful grounds surrounding their events/tasting building. We tasted five of their sweet wines which were all quite tasty. We left with souvenir glasses and a bottle of wine for later.

While shopping in town we got more scrapbooking supplies. Beth and I have decided that our distant descendents will likely be putting the final touches on our wedding scrapbooks long after our deaths.

We also stopped by the international grocery to grab a sushi mat. I hope you’re looking forward to see photos from the sushi rolling tonight. I expect a delicious train wreck.

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After shopping we hung out at Rustle Hill Winery with a pitcher (or two) of their white sangria. Tom opted for a Gunslinger beer. After getting sufficiently spiffled we came home so Tom could catch up.

Beth and I slowed our boozing down with chocolate chip cheesecake dip, graham crackers and port. I made the sweet dessert dip earlier yesterday. It is so completely worth the 10 minutes it takes to put together. Want the recipe? Stay tuned.

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Hope your week is going just as well. We’ll be hitting the Giant City State Park trails midmorning and picnicking in the woods.

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Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding {Recipe Revealed!!}

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This is a fantastic recipe that I am definitely adding to my regular rotation. Huge thanks to the recipe I worked from Five Heart Home. This gal has amazing ideas and a humorous way of describing her OCD process of baking.
This would be an awesome Valentine’s day treat to make for your lover or with your lover. You could also make it and not tell anyone–more for you! It may look like a lot of steps but it is really pretty easy to throw together. I might just make it again in a few weeks…heh heh.

As always I made a few changes:

Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding
6-8 cups of cubed stale bread
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
4 eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups half and half (*see tips below)
6 oz or one small box of fresh raspberries
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam (optional—do it!)

Reminder: if milk and eggs are room temperature they tend to blend better with the melted chocolate. Lay all your ingredients out.
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Step one
If you are using an old stale loaf lying around the house then first cut it into 1″ cubes and put them into your preferred baking dish. Eight cups is around right for a 9×13. I wanted to give part of my dessert as a gift so I split my bread into an oval glass baking dish (9×9?) and a glass loaf pan. Note, you may want to grease your pan, bt I noticed no issues using my glass pans.
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Step two
Melt 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips on medium low in a saucepan with 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee. Keep an eye on the chocolate and stir periodically. When it becomes smooth (no chip lumps) turn it off and allow to cool.
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Step three
In a large bowl beat 4 room temp eggs. Add vanilla, brown sugar and half and half. Combine well and then stare down your chocolate until it cools down. Mix chocolate into large bowl with the rest of the ingredients.

Step four
Pour prepared mixture over stale bread in pan. Pour evenly if possible. If you used a white bread it will be easy to tell if you haven’t soaked a corner piece.
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Step five
Reserve a few raspberries from the carton for the topping if you wish. I think the flavor is better baked in though. Place berries evenly around pan and mash into pudding with fingers or a fork.
Sprinkle reserved 1/2 cup chocolate chips evenly on top.

Step six
Bake 30-45 minutes in the oven. You can do the knife test to make sure the pudding is baked through. Mine was perfect at 30 minutes but the original recipe said to bake up to an hour.

Step seven (optional)
Warm seedless raspberry jam in a saucepan (I don’t own a microwave) until you get a nice smooth sauce. Drizzle over top of your hot bread pudding and if you wish, throw the reserved fresh raspberries on top for presentation.
Best served warm.

Now go eat it!!!
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Tips

• If you’re worried about the pudding drying out when you reheat it cover the pan with tinfoil.

• *As the original blogger noted, you can use a heavy whipping cream of lighter milks if you’re worried about the caloric overload.

• This is not a sweet overload, but there is plenty in there to make it sweet. If you would rather a less sugary dessert you could reduce the brown sugar to 1/2 cup and be just fine.

• I used strong brewed coffee because I don’t keep instant coffee granules around the house. When I know I want to bake something chocolatey soon, I brew a few extra cups in my coffee pot. Best way to use old coffee ever.

• Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, don’t spazz, do add it. Coffee enhances the chocolate. Hubbster hates coffee but couldn’t taste it in the pudding and loved the whole thing.

• If you plan on baking all the raspberries you could save a little cash and go with frozen berries. Or if the seeds bug you, put small dollops of seedless jam in the pudding prior to baking.

Enjoy!
~Kat

Supper: Pot Pie & Eggnog Cookies

stove recipe  boxSeveral years ago, my mother in law gave to me and my husband a cute box of recipes belonging to Kit’s Aunt.
I have browsed through it but never took the time to pull out a recipe and collect up the ingredients. There are some from magazines and some from memories long ago. Getting into the season of epic cooking, I took another look through the recipe box and have decided to try and pull one or two recipes out a month and give them a whirl. I would love to do one each week, but knowing me, I will fail at it if I make promises.

open recipe boxIsn’t that recipe box just darling?

So, what have I chosen for my first tester recipe? Eggnog cookies. I never knew such a thing existed, but I’m excited to try it. The chicken pot pie is a recipe that I found online. Apparently, I never wrote down the recipe that I used for last year’s pies. I have a stellar crust recipe and I know the veggies and chicken are just keep throwing it in until you run out of room. However, broths and gravies always make me a little nervous. Seasoning and consistency mostly. The recipe I chose to follow is one I found through Pinterest and the source is Instructables. I love that website and had no idea they had Instructable recipes. I can’t vouch for the recipe as a whole, but if you use recipes as a guideline then it will be perfect for you too. Here is the link to the chicken pot pie Instructable recipe.
I plan on adding broccoli, carrots, onions, garlic, mushrooms, squash and whatever other veggie I can find to the pot pie. I plan on serving the pot pie with fresh spinach salad. A nice crunch to go with all that chickeny goodness.eggnog cookies recipe card

Apparently Eggnog Cookies are just a Google search away. How have I never heard of them before? I’m kinda pumped because from the recipe it looks as like an amped up, more flavorful version of sugar cookies.
I can tell ya right now, that I will be increasing the amount of cinnamon. Much like garlic, they don’t list enough on recipes.

Hubbster and I had the great debate trying to decide if we wanted to try Eggnog cookies or Oatmeal cake. Oatmeal cake looks dead easy so it will be on the menu sometime soon. This aunt loved her cakes and pies, that is most of the contents of the recipe box. There are some savory recipes, some sides and several pickle recipes that we will have to try next summer too.

Have you ever made eggnog cookies before?
Do you have a go-to recipe for pot pie or do you mix up the veggies each time?

Pear Pie–Needs Some Adjustments

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Can you see the hidden shapes on top of the crust? I attempted to cut the vent holes with the same shape, but they stretched and lost their awesome.

I used the fantastic apple pie recipe I found online and it is almost perfect. But instead of apples I used pears from our farm. I forgot that I decreased the temperature of the oven the first time I used this recipe. So…my crust was well done and my fruit was still a little hard.

We’ll see what my coworkers think.of it today. I’m nervous and not entirely thrilled that I made such a silly irrevocable mistake.
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Update
My coworkers made it disappear easily during my eight hour work shift. Everyone agreed the crust and flavor was great.

They made some legit recommendations about a future fix. First, being if I have particularly hard fruits, I could cook them down in a sauce pan with the sugar to help soften them up.
Second, they also agreed that 375°F was high for pie and I should lower the temp.
I also hope to cut up my pear chunks into more even sizes. I think the larger pieces were the undercooked ones.

Coconut Red Velvet Tres Leches Cake {Recipe Revealed!!}

I’m sure you’re probably freaking out a little bit that this exists somewhere. I couldn’t find it on the internet anywhere so I decided to share my recipe here.

This is the least labor intensive version of a tres leches cake and the same recipe I followed for my birthday cake last year.
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This was the first time I toasted coconut. And I followed the recipe I found here. I made mine on the stove top and it was super easy.

Step one: bake your cake, follow box directions.
Step two: toast coconut and allow to cool
Step three: cool cake completely, I always seem to be running out of time and chill mine in the fridge after the pan is cool.

Step four: this is a key difference, whisk together 1 can evaporated milk, 12 ounces coconut milk (if you’re lazy, a whole can is just 14 ounces), and 1 cup half and half.

Step five: poke holes in cake and evenly pour milks into pan.

Step six: cover and chill overnight, ideally. If you don’t have time at least get two hours of soak time.

Step seven: cut a piece, top with coconut shavings and devour.
You can also whip up some heavy whipping cream and sugar if you prefer.

You’re welcome.
~Kat

Shortcut Pumpkin Cheesecake {Recipe Revealed!!}

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I found plenty of from scratch pumpkin cheesecake recipes. I knew I could figure out a way to do this in a quick and dirty fashion. I left out the dirt in the recipe below.

Enter Kat’s Shortcut Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Supplies needed
• One box of no-bake instant cheesecake
• Butter & sugar as directed by box for crust
• One can of pure pumpkin (15 oz)
• Pumpkin pie spice to taste or cinnamon/nutmeg, ground cloves, and ginger to taste
• 2 TBSP brown sugar
• Dash or two of water to aid with smooth consistancy
• Pie plate or other container you want to be filled with amazing flavors

Method

Combine sugar, butter and graham cracker crust packet. Mold to pie plate.

In a medium sized bowl combine, cheesecake mix, pure pumpkin, brown sugar and spices. Add water a little bit at a time until you have a smooth mixture, about 1/4 cup.

Dump into prepared crust/pan and chill in fridge for 30 minutes. Serve awesome.

Day 355: Add-In Muffins

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I have been enjoying having Amish friendship bbread starter in the house. The only downside is that I don’t have enough friends that want to deal with the starter.

The fun part about this basic recipe is that it just tastes like sweet bread until you add more flavors. I admit that I had to look up some ideas as to what I could add and get some sort of idea about quantity. Here is the useful link I found. Thank you, Armchair World for blogging and sharing!

To this batch I added the basics, plus 3 mashed bananas, applesauce instead of oil, and milk chocolate chips. I usually use semi-sweet chocolate chips, but I found the milk chocolate were on sale.

Even though I added sugar to the mix, I don’t add pudding mix (substitute 1 cup flour) so it stayed semi-sweet with bombs of chocolate sugary goodness. Honestly, I think 3/4 cup flour substitute would be a wiser choice. My batter ends up a little thicker than it probably should be.

I grabbed a bunch of hot muffins and gave them to my Spain-girlfriend. She came over and we had a gear spray down for bugs and water proofing. Jess snarffed a muffin before she left. Kit and I aren’t sure if any made it home to share with her folks :-) The best compliment is nothing leftover!