Friday, December 21, 2012


A few weeks ago we went to see one of the girls in our church dance in the Nutcracker. I used to go about every other year when I was younger but haven't been in quite a while. It was so good and George sat through almost the whole thing. I really hope we can make this a family tradition. I'm very thankful for matinee's now that I have a baby.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dumpling Update: 4 Months

 George was 4 months yesterday. We are in Georgia right now visiting family. George did pretty well on the plane. He only screamed for about 5 minutes in the beginning, took 2 short naps, threw up and had a blowout. I'll take throw up and a blowout over screaming for 2 hours any day. 

What George has been learning lately:

Grabbing things
Wants to eat real food 
Loves to stand up
Still doesn't nap well
Trying to roll over
Is very chatty
Has found that he can grab his legs
Went on his first pane ride
Visit Georgia!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pumpking Bread Pudding...

...with Maple Whipped Cream, Cranberry Caramel Sauce, and Maple Spiced Nuts

This recipe has a lot of different components so I started a few days early. Nathan actually made the spice mix for the nuts about a month before Thanksgiving because we used it on popcorn. The nuts I made on Tuesday and I prepared the bread for the pudding on Wednesday. This dessert was rich, flavorful and one of the best desserts I've had in a while. It comes from the wonderful Garden and Gun magazine.

1/2 vanilla bean
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 egg yolks
3 eggs
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
1 1/2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch each of cloves, allspice, and nutmeg
1 large loaf of brioche, challah, or soft-crusted white bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a large baking dish (9x9x3 or 13x9x2), or 12 4-ounce ramekins.
Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into a mixing bowl. Whisk seeds, sugar, yolks, and eggs to combine.
In a small sucepan, heat cream and milk until small bubble form at the edges of the pan, about 3-4 minute. Slowly whisk the milk mixture into the egg mixture.
In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree with the vanilla, salt, and spices, then add in the egg and milk mixture.
Press the bread intot he serving dish(es). Pour the pumpkin egg mixture over the bread slowly, pressing bread down gently to soak up the custard. Sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar. 
Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown and puffed up. Serve with maple whipped crea, cranberry caramel sauce, and maple spiced nuts.

Maple Whipped Cream:
2 cups cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
Using an electric mixer, whip cream on low until it begins to thicken. add maple syrup, and whip on medium until soft peaks form. 

Cranberry Caramel Sauce:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup cranberry juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to a boil. Cook without stirring, watching closely, until it turns a dark amber color, about 10 minutes
Remove the caramel from heat, and slowly add cranberries and juice. (The caramel will spit and spatter, so be careful.) Stir well, return pan to heat, and bring caramel back to a boil for 5 minutes, until the cranberries have all popped. Remove from heat, and stir insalt and vanilla.
Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes, the blitz in the blender until thoroughly combined. This sauce may be served warm or at room temperature. 

Maple Spiced Nuts:
3 cups pecan halves
3Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. sugar
Pinch kosher salt
1/2 tsp. Jodi's Spice Mix (Spice Mix: 2 Tbsp. kosher salt, 2 Tbsp. cumin, 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. ginger, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and coat with nonstick spray.
Mix everything together and spread it out on the baking sheet.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Cool thoroughly, then store in a covered container for up to week.