Monday, January 02, 2017

happy new year!

Happy New Year, friends! I know 2016 was a pretty dismal year for the world in general. In that respect I am glad to put it behind us. Personally, though, 2016 had some good things in store for me... not the least of which happened on Christmas Eve. If you didn't spot it the first time, look closer at the photo of scrummy eggs above. Yep... Joel and I are engaged! He surprised me with the help of our favorite brunch spot, Three Flags Tavern. We are good friends with the owners, so when the waitress said the kitchen was sending something out, I didn't think it was anything out of the ordinary. I saw the ring immediately. What a perfect proposal! Eggs Jeanette was chef John's idea, to ensure that 1) the ring would be visible and I wouldn't accidentally eat it and 2) the ring wouldn't get sticky gooey yolk all over it. None of them knew I had actually made this dish before and blogged about it, way back in 2008. Check out the first line of the last paragraph in that post:

Whoa. Fate, much?! So, yeah. 2016 was a love-filled year for me. (Also, travel-filled, casserole-filled, friend-filled, hug-filled, family-filled, laughter-filled...) 

Cheers/Good riddance to 2016!
So what does 2017 have in store? While I am legitimately frightened of the political climate of the next 4 years, I am also looking forward to making the best of life. We can do things to make our lives and the world better, even if they are little things. Here are some of my food resolutions for 2017 (and beyond, hopefully):

   -no more disposable coffee cups
   -remember my reusable bags when I shop
   -make more stocks to use meat and vegetable scraps
   -use re-usable bowl covers instead of foil/plastic
   -eat (or play Chopped! and re-invent) all the leftovers
   -plan meals ahead
   -keep kitchen organized

   -I love the library...I need to take advantage of it more
   -social media has ruined my attention span. Must focus!
   -maybe even write about books on here once a month?

   -I know everyone says this
   -Less booze, less carbs, less eating out
   -more veggies, more home-cooked meals
   -move more
   -plan meals ahead

Tell me about your food resolutions. Also, what food books should I read?

Let's do this, 2017!

Monday, December 12, 2016

chicken, date, almond & olive bread pudding

Sometimes I think I would be great on Chopped. Then I realize I'd probably be that fool that just makes bread pudding out of everything. Bread pudding may not be a good cooking competition strategy, but it's a good life strategy. One of my favorite things to eat for dinner, and a great way to reduce food waste by using up bread and anything else you might have in your pantry. The pantry item that inspired me this time was dates. So sweet, yet they go so well with savory ingredients. This Moroccan-inspired bread pudding is a flavor festival... savory, sweet, a bit of tartness from goat cheese, rich spices. It's got the familiar comfort of a Midwestern casserole with the flavors of the mid-east. 

Chicken, Date, Almond & Olive Bread Pudding
-1 Tablespoon olive oil
-1 lb. ground chicken
-3 shallots, chopped
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper to taste
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 cup chopped dates
-1/2 cup almonds, chopped
-1/2 cup green pitted olives, chopped
-small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
-about 6 cups of crusty bread cubes (from a small loaf or about half a large loaf)
 -6 large eggs
-3 cups milk
-4 oz. goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. In a large skillet, cook the chicken in the olive oil until no longer pink. add the shallots and spices and cook until the shallots are just translucent and the spices are fragrant. Stir in the garlic and remove from heat. Stir in the dates, olives, almonds and cilantro. Set aside. Place the bread cubes in a greased 9" x 13" casserole dish. Spread the chicken mixture over the bread evenly, slightly tossing to combine. Beat the eggs with the milk and pour over the bread and meat. Press down lightly so all the bread is wet. Let sit 5-10 minutes so the bread can soak up the egg mixture. Crumble the goat cheese evenly over the top. Bake for 40-45 minutes until edges and top are brown and the middle is set. Serve hot with fresh cilantro for garnish.

Related recipes from the archives:
Fennel Bacon Bread Pudding
Savory Bread Pudding with Raisins and Bacon
Sausage Fennel Bread Pudding
Savory Stuffed French Toast
Baked Shrimp with Feta
Delicious Dubai
Baked Blue Cheese Fig Balls
Moroccan Lamb Meatballs with Figs
Fig Pistachio Goat Cheese Spread