Wednesday, October 22

Savory Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding

This is like a cheesy, more decadent version of Thanksgiving stuffing

Leek and Mushroom Bread Pudding

Now that L.A. is finally feeling fall-like, I'm starting to get really excited for Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays of the year, but I don't want to have to wait another month to eat all my favorite Thanksgiving foods. Stuffing (or "dressing" to some people) is usually my favorite part of the meal, and this recipe (adapted from Ina Garten) for leek and mushroom bread pudding is like the best stuffing ever. Bread cubes are tossed with a simple custard made of eggs and milk, sautéed leeks and cremini mushrooms, and parmesan cheese. Then the whole thing is baked until bubbling and brown. It makes a great accompaniment to a roast chicken (or turkey, of course), but would also make a lovely vegetarian meal alongside a green salad. Is mushrooms or leeks aren't your thing, you could easily customize this by adding in other vegetables or even some bacon or sausage.

Note: This recipe is a great way to use leftover stale bread. If your bread is already stale, you can skip the step to toast it in the oven and add it straight to the custard.

Related Recipes:
- Herbed Ciabatta Stuffing
- Cinnamon Walnut French Toast Bread Pudding
- Homemade Croutons

Savory Leek & Mushroom Bread Pudding:
  • Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a baking dish and set aside.
  • Cut 1 loaf of ciabatta bread into bite-size pieces so that you have 3-4 cups of bread cubes. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Let the bread cool slightly.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 3/4 c. whole milk, 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, and a large pinch of salt and pepper
  • Add the bread to the custard and let sit for at least 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 3 diced leeks (white and light green part only) and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  • Add in 2 minced garlic cloves and cook for another 30 seconds, then add in 1/2 lb. sliced cremini mushrooms and 2 tbsp. sherry. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Let cool slightly.
  • Stir the vegetables into the bread mixture and pour into the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the top with 1/4 c. grated parmesan and place in the oven.
  • Bake for 40 minutes, or until the top is brown and crispy and the custard sets.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve.

Serves four-six (side dish)

Tuesday, October 21

Sautéed Spinach with Feta and Pine Nuts

This ten-minute vegetable side dish will become a new family favorite

Sauteed Spinach with Feta and Pine Nuts

I'm always looking for quick vegetable side dishes and this Barefoot Contessa recipe is a new favorite. Simple sautéed spinach is tossed with crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts for a flavor profile that's similar to spanokopita and pairs well with almost any meaty main course. The whole dish only takes five ingredients, one pan, and ten minutes but the finished product looks super impressive and tastes great. It's great alongside a store-bought rotisserie chicken on a busy weeknight or with a slow-cooked roast for a fancy dinner party. This dish is so versatile that it's sure to become a new addition to the weekly dinner rotation.

More Quick & Easy Veggie Sides:
- Perfect Roasted Vegetables
- Roasted Carrots with Avocado & Lemon Dressing
- Creamed Kale

Sautéed Spinach with Crumbled Feta and Toasted Pine Nuts:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add in 1/2 diced onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  • Add in 1/2 lb. baby spinach, 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook for a few minutes, or until wilted.
  • Add in 2-3 tbsp. crumbled feta cheese, 1 tsp. lemon zest, and 2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts.*
  • Stir to combine but do not over mix. 

Serves two-three (side dish)
*To toast nuts, add them to a dry skillet over medium heat and cook until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes.

Monday, October 20

Gooey Pumpkin Butter Bars

Soft pumpkin cheesecake squares with chocolate chips and coconut flakes

Williams Sonoma Gooey Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin stuff is everywhere lately - pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin baked goods, and even pumpkin butter. For those of you who haven't tried it, pumpkin butter has the consistency of apple sauce and tastes like pumpkin pie filling. I've seen it everywhere, from specialty food stores to the local Trader Joe's. This recipe is adapted from one in Williams-Somona's blog and puts the pumpkin butter to use in a cream cheese dessert bar with a graham cracker and walnut crust and a chocolate chip-coconut topping. The bars are soft and gooey with a bit of crunch from the toasted coconut and some tang from the cream cheese. They make a great dessert or snack for a Halloween party or potluck.

More Pumpkin Recipes:
- Pumpkin Soup
- Citrus Bars
- Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

Gooey Pumpkin Butter Bars:
  • Preheat the oven to 365F.
  • Spray an 8"x8" baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a food processor, combine 1 c. walnuts, 4 oz. graham crackers, and 2 tbsp. brown sugar and blend until fine crumbs.
  • Pour in 1 stick melted butter and blend again until moist.
  • Pat the graham-walnut crust into the baking dish, making sure it's tightly packed.
  • In a mixer, combine 8 oz. softened cream cheese, 3/4 c. pumpkin butter, 2 eggs, 1/2 c. sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg until smooth.
  • Pour the pumpkin filling over the crust and then sprinkle the top with 1 c. mini chocolate chips.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with 1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes and bake for another 20 minutes.
  • Let cool, then slice into bars and serve.

Serves ten-twelve

Pumpkin Butter Bars with Coconut and Chocolate Chips