SMS: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum-Raisin Sauce

This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe was for Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Rum-Raisin Sauce and was chosen by Carmen of Baking is my Zen.  Check out her blog for a fantastic tutorial on how to make this great dessert!  She had a great idea of test running this recipe as a possible dessert for Thanksgiving. 

I have never eaten bread pudding of any kind before, and to be honest, it never really sounded appealing to me.  One of the reasons I started this blog and joined this group was to expand my horizons, and am I ever glad I did!  This was great!  I didn’t have a chance to make the caramel rum-raisin sauce, and I can only imagine how much better this would have been with the sauce.  The only other change I made was to use challah bread instead of brioche…it was a miracle I found the challah bread in this town, and no one had even heard of brioche before.  If you’re looking for a recipe to impress the in-laws for Thanksgiving this year, this would be a good one!

To see how the other SMS bakers did this week, check out their blogs here.

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Chicken Fingers with Honey-Horseradish Dip

This is another recipe from my Southern Living Cookbook, and wow, it did not disappoint!  This is without a doubt the best baked chicken finger I’ve ever had…so crispy with great flavor!  The honey-horseradish dip was amazing, but if you don’t like horseradish, you won’t like it (the husband and toddler do not like horseradish and both actually spit out the dip).  This will definitely be a go-to weeknight recipe for us.

Chicken Fingers with Honey-Horseradish Dip

16 saltine crackers, finely crushed
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
4 (6-ounce) skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 egg white
Vegetable cooking spray
Honey-Horseradish Dip (recipe follows)

Stir together first five ingredients.

Cut each breast half into four strips.  Whisk egg white until frothy; dip chicken strips into egg white, and dredge in saltine mixture.

Place a rack coated with cooking spray in a broiler pan.  Coat chicken strips on each side with cooking spray; arrange on rack.

Bake at 425 for 18 to 20 minutes or until browned (mine were cooked perfectly at 15 minutes).  Serve with Honey-Horseradish Dip. 

Honey-Horseradish Dip

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/4 cup coarse-grained mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish.

Stir together all ingredients.

Source:  The All-New Southern Living Cookbook, p. 269

Creamy Taco Mac

I read quite a few food blogs, and this recipe for Creamy Taco Mac has been making the rounds.  I decided that we had to try this out!  I used to eat Hamburger Helper regularly, and the husband, well, let’s just say he’ll eat it if he absolutely has to.  This recipe is very similar to Hamburger Helper, only tastes MUCH MUCH better and is way better for you.  Next time I might add some black beans or corn (or both).  The husband had his leftovers today with jalepenos, and gave it a big thumbs up.

Creamy Taco Mac

1.25 lbs ground turkey (we used ground beef)
8 oz dry pasta + 1 cup reserved pasta water
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes
4 Tbsp mild taco seasoning
3 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
salt & pepper
cheddar cheese (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook pasta per directions. Reserve one cup of pasta water.

Over medium heat, brown ground turkey until no longer pink. Add taco seasoning and diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, reserved water, cream cheese and sour cream. Give it a good stir until cheeses are melty and incorporated.  Simmer over low heat for 2-3 minutes. Season with salt & pepper, as desired. Top off with cheddar cheese for extra cheesy goodness.

Source:  Delish

SMS: Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble

First, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there!  I hope everyone had as fabulous a day as I did. The husband and toddler spoiled me rotten.  It was wonderful 🙂

This is my first week participating in the Sweet Melissa Sundays baking group.  The idea of the group is to bake every recipe in The Sweet Melissa Baking Book and share our thoughts and mouth-watering pictures.  I only wish I had joined at the beginning…I missed some great recipes, although I do plan to go back and try quite a few.  I’m hoping this challenge will inspire me to bake more often, and bake things outside of my comfort zone of basic cookies and boxed cake mixes. 

On to the recipe…this week’s recipe was for Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble and was chosen by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory.  All I can say is wow.  The muffins themselves are delicious with plenty of blueberries and a nice orange flavor as well.  They are taken to a whole new level of delicious with the addition of the pecan crumble.  Serioulsy yummy.  I almost cut back on the orange zest as the husband seemed skeptical about the flavor combination, but decided to follow the recipe as written.  Good thing I did, because the first thing he said after taking a bite was, “Damn, these are good!”  Muisc to my ears.  To get the recipe, check out Chaya’s fantastic blog, or better yet, buy the book!  To see how the other SMS bakers did this week, check out their blogs here

Spicy Oven Fries

This is definitely one of our favorite side dishes, especially with grilled food.  These taste way better than frozen french fries, and are much better for you.  I’ve used many different spices in place of the Creole seasoning…use what you like!

Spicy Oven Fries
Servings: Points+: 5 per serving (4 wedges)

3 large baking potatoes (about 2 pounds)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp Creole seasoning
Vegetable cooking spray

Cut each baking potato lengthwise into 8 wedges.

Combine olive oil and Creole seasoning in a zip-top bag; add potato wedges.  Seal bag, and shake to coat.  Arrange potato wedges, skin side down, in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.

Bake potato wedges at 450 for 20 minutes or until browned.

Source: The All-New Southern Living Cookbook, p. 275

CEiMB: Lemon-Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

This is my very first Craving Ellie in My Belly post!  I’m excited to cook along with everyone.  The husband and I are both painfully picky when it comes to food, and I’m hoping that this experience will encourage us to try some different, and healthy foods. 

This week’s recipe was chosen by Debbie from Dining with Debbie.   The original recipe was for lamb chops rather than pork chops, but I had two issues with the lamb chops.  One, they were crazy expensive at the grocery store ($11.59/pound!!!) and, two, I’ve never had lamb before and quite frankly, it doesn’t sound too appealing to me.  This marinade is amazing!  These were seriously the best pork chops we’ve ever had, and the toddler even ate almost an entire pork chop!  I would love to try this marinade on chicken as well.  It’s a great weeknight main dish that came together in a flash, and will definitely be in our rotation.  Enjoy!!

Lemon-Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, center cut pork chops

Preheat the broiler, grill, or grill pan over medium heat. 

In a small bowl, stir together the oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper.  Put the pork chops in a sealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over them.  Move the chops around in the bag so the marinade coats them well.  Seal the bag and marinate for 20 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature. 

Remove the chops from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Grill or broil the chops until cooked through.

Source:  Adapted from “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life” by Ellie Krieger, p. 190

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

I’m finally getting around to making my very first food related post!  I promise I’ll be better at updating this thing…life has been hectic this past week.  Please bare with me as I work on my food photography skills…I’m sure they’ll get better with time. 

I made this dip for the husband’s surprise 30th birthday party last Sunday.  This was a huge hit!  I had multiple people ask me for the recipe and we didn’t bring much of this home.  This would be great at a children’s birthday party, and will likely make an appearance at the toddler’s 2nd birthday party.  Give this a try!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 (8-oz) pkg cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar over medium heat. Stir continuously, until the brown sugar dissolves. (You can also do this in the microwave but watch it closely. The butter/sugar mixture will boil over fast. Stir every 30 seconds or so.)

2. Remove from heat, whisk in vanilla extract and set aside to cool.

3. Beat the cream cheese and confectioner’s sugar for 1 minute.

4. Slowly beat in the cooled butter mixture and beat again for another minute.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips.

6. Pour into a serving bowl and refrigerate.

7. Garnish with additional chips, if you choose.

I served this with mini vanilla wafers and chocolate teddy grahams.

Source: Brown Eyed Baker