Panettone Bread Pudding

Let me start this post with a disclaimer: my husband did not approve of this dessert. Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why would you include this recipe on the blog?" Valid question. It is because he is CRAZY! Of all the dinner guests over at the house, Micah was the only one not ooooing and ahhhhhing over this thing. The real problem is, that he wants me to recreate the bread pudding at Canyon Restaurant, the BEST restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. The only way that impossible task will ever happen, is if the head chef invites me over himself for a personal baking lesson. Seriously, if you live in the Fort Lauderdale region and have never eaten at Canyon's you are missing the best Prickly Pear Margarita, amazing food and hands down the best white chocolate bread pudding with Chambord berry compote.

I found this recipe while browsing through Food and Wine's website. I had always had the idea of using panettone bread, rather than traditional bread, but was convinced I would create the recipe my usual way, fusing a few recipes together. Panettone is a sweet Italian bread. Though you can find it year round, it is traditionally a bread served in Italy for Christmas and New Years. It usually contains candied fruits, such as oranges and raisins and you can find some with chocolate chips (which Micah would have probably enjoyed.) I think this would be a decadent dessert to serve at your News Years Eve party! All it needs is a scoop of good quality Vanilla Bean ice-cream and let the count down begin.

Here is a song for your enjoyment as you are reading through the recipe. I wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year! Until next time, cheers and happy eating!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Toast 2 pounds sliced panettone bread, about 1 1/2 inches thick on the oven racks for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden. Cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes and transfer to the prepared baking dish.

In a saucepan, cook 1 stick unsalted butter over moderately low heat until nutty and the milk solids are brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Toss the butter with the panettone.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat 3 large eggs and 1 cup of sugar at medium speed until pale and thick, 2 minutes. Beat in 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt, then beat in 2 cups of heavy cream and one 12-ounce can of evaporate milk.

Pour the custard over the panettone; let stand for 1 hour, gently tossing now and then, until the custard is absorbed. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bread pudding for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden and the custard is set.

Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting into squares. Serve warm, with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream.


Quick Lunch for Guests (or You!)

I whipped this up the other day, took one bite, and could not believe my taste buds. I instantly thought that this sandwich would be an impressive, and simple, lunch to make for any holiday guests lingering around the house.

The key is the bread! I used Bimini bread, a staple here in Fort Lauderdale. Though it looks like any ordinary white loaf, upon taking one bite, anyone can tell that is far from white bread. It is a yeast bread with a subtle sweet flavor and soft texture that reminds me of Challah bread. It originated in the western Bahamas and its' recipe was once kept secret; thankfully not for long. Let me tell you, Fort Lauderdale tapped into the Bimini bread market, most notably, Bimini Boartyard, a local restaurant.
Here is a little Christmas tune for your enjoyment! Till next time, cheers and happy eating!

Grilled Cheese with Bacon and Apple


two slices of thick bread
1-2 Tablespoons of butter
Miso Dijonnaise (or Dijon Mustard, Old Style preferred)
shredded cheddar cheese
Gruyere cheese
5 slices of Granny Smith Apple

3 slices of
cooked soy bacon (real bacon for all you carnivores

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread butter on both slices of bread. On the inside of one slice, spread Miso Dijonnaise, layer with a healthy dose of each cheese, followed by the apples and bacon. Cook sandwich on each side slowly. They key to getting this sandwich right is to take your time cooking it! It should take about 5-6 minutes on each side. You also want to press it down slightly occasionally.


Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

Growing up in a Jewish household, I use to gaze upon Christmas activities in envy. Yes, I had Hanukkah, but the magic of Christmas always seemed to outshine the festivities of Hanukkah. The funny thing is, that the Jewish guilt I was raised by made me feel guilty for feeling this way. I really believed that it was sinful, as though the gates of hell were to crack open between my feet and gobble me up....seriously.

Now of course, I was the kid that always knew that there was no such thing as Santa Claus, but I still begged my mom every year to take me to see Santa, and so she did, the Jew and Santa. I would sit on his lap, pretend I was blissfully ignorant, and wish for my gift. I remember one night, my mom and I sneaked on over to Midnight Mass and I was overwhelmed with emotion. I walked into that church and was sure I was going straight to hell, but as soon as the choir started to sing, I was moved to tears.

Fast forward 20 years, and I hit gold! Sure, I married my soul-mate, the love of my life, but he also happens to celebrate Christmas. The Jewish guilt has subsided and I now approach the holiday season with ardent fervor. As our family grew, we created our own family traditions; celebrating both holidays and oftentimes, infusing one into the other. The meaning of Christmas, or Hanukkah for that matter, have no religious connotations, to me, but evoke a time of strong familial bonding. I love that come Christmas morning, the whole world seems to shut down. There are no e-mail alerts buzzing from my phone, no phone calls being made, no store to rush to, just straight-up family time. Joy to the world indeed!

Much of these traditions are driven by food! I mean, it is the holidays after all! As I mentioned in the webisode, one bite of these cookies, no matter what time of year it is, instantly transports me to jingle bells and tinsel. I am very excited to share them with you and I hope that you enjoy them every bit as I do. Just a few pointers before we get to the recipe:

- This recipe has been doubled, so it does produce a large quantity. However,
since these cookies are a bit arduous, it is worth making a big batch.
- Don't expect your typical chocolate chip cookie dough. This dough will
be thick.
- It helps to dampen your hands when you are forming the balls. This keeps the
dough from sticking.
- When making the chocolate sauce, make sure to stir constantly!

And now, to the recipe. Here is wishing you and your family a very merry Christmas, whatever your family traditions might be, may your time spent together be meaningful and joyful. Until next time, cheers and happy eating!

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies
Makes 28 cookies

1 Cup butter, room temperature
2 Cups sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
3 Cups of flour
1 Cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 10oz. jar maraschino cherries, drained, juice reserved
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1-1 1/2 teaspoon reserved cherry juice

Combine the first four ingredients. Mix until smooth. Add the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and baking soda and mix. Dough will be stiff.

Drain the cherries, reserve juice, and pat dry.

Make one-inch round balls with the dough and place on a greased cookie sheet. Pat a cherry into each ball.

On low heat, pour condensed milk and stir in the chocolate chips. Stir often until chocolate chips melt. Add cherry juice as necessary.

Cover each cherry completely with the frosting.

Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 8-10 minutes, being extra cautious to not over bake.


Simple Pleasure

I am always astounded when a few simple ingredients come together so well that they make a dish taste profound. This is certainly the case for this simple snack. I actually first made this dish the day I gave birth to my daughter. I was home from the birthing center no more than a few hours when my mom brought me an eclectic variety of ingredients from the grocery store. I wanted something creamy and savory, but did not have the energy to stand in the kitchen and cook. While Micah had some daddy time, I quickly made this using the items my mom bought and have made it ever since.

And of course, some tunes for your enjoyment! Harlem Shakes: Winter Waters. Cheers and happy eating!


-slice of whole grain bread

-half an avocado, sliced
-Gruyere or Asiago cheese, sliced or grated
-juice of half a lime

Layer slice of bread with layer of cheese, slightly toast in a toaster oven. Once it is half-toasted, layer with avocado slices and toast some more. Once toasted, squeeze lime juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper.


Vegetarian Chili (with carnivorous option!)

No video today folks. It has been a while, I know, but life catches up to us all. I am approaching a nice two week long holiday and plan on backlogging some webisodes, so fret not my faithful readers! For now, I would like to share with you the all-time best chili I have ever eaten! I am not sure if you can really call this a chili. It's actually more of a hybrid between a chili and a hearty stew. It's the perfect winter meal to warm the body and satiate the night-time appetite.

This dish blends together the perfect amount of vegetables, beans and spices into a blissful stew that will feed you for days. My husband and I banged it out in the kitchen together sipping a Cabernet and listening to cheesy Christmas music (its that time of year.) Micah decided to boil some chicken breasts in chicken stock to add to his bowl. I reminded him how he basically became a vegan when we first started dating, but it is now clear that it was all part of his courting strategy. It worked. Regardless, he said the chicken was the perfect accompaniment.

Things to know about this dish:
- The vegetables release a lot of liquid which makes up for the recipe
only calling for one cup of water.
- Though a departure from red beans,
the black beans are a nice touch in
this chili.
- Be prepared, this is Mexican inspired.

I couldn't leave you without a song for the week! I hope that everyone is enjoying the cold weather.

Vegetarian Chili
Inspired from Emeril Lagasse
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 chopped yellow onions
  • 2 chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 to 3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced, depending upon taste
  • 1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespooon ground cumin
  • 1 tabelspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne(more if you like it spicy)
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, or water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Cooked brown rice, accompaniment, if desired
  • sour garnish
  • Diced avocado, garnish
  • Chopped green onions, garnish


In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

To serve, place 1/4 cup of brown rice in the bottom of each bowl. Ladle the chili into the bowls over the rice. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream and spoonful of avocado and green onions.