Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We're GROWING!!!

Hi Readers!

This little kernel of an idea to create a food blog three years ago has grown to a point that I never imagined!  The numbers of views per day, the number of comments and questions I receive daily, and the number of faithful (as well as new) followers just amazes me.  I am humbled by the response, and this has truly grown into my passion!  You have been so supportive of me and my efforts that it encourages me daily into striving to make the blog a better tool for you.

To that end, I am in the process of developing a new MenuMusings Newsletter to begin distributing straight to your inbox.  The newsletter will be unique to you, the subscribers, and NOT a "regular" public post.  

However... The only way I can do that is for you to be on the MenuMusings Subscriber list.   Hundreds of you have signed up over the years as a "Follower" or a "Google + Follower," but I have started working with Constant Contact so that I can maintain and manage my lists directly, and I can reach you any time I want to! YAY!!!!   Now, when I find something I think y'all would enjoy, I can send it directly to the whole MenuMusings community myself!  (like a Big Girl!)  :) 


So PLEASE take like 2 minutes, hit the SUBSCRIBE TO MENU MUSINGS box at the right of the blog page just above the logo, and let ME know (for MY list) who you are.  I appreciate you for bearing with me during this growing process.

Thank you so much! Y'all are awesome!

Cheers,
Julie

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Individual White Chocolate and Raspberry Bread Puddings

http://menumusings.blogspot.com/
Somehow, there seems to be a mystique about making bread pudding.  In reality, however, it's basically the same batter that you make for french toast.  Nothing to it!  This recipe takes that basic bread pudding concept and kicks it up just a couple of notches with the addition of creamy white chocolate and fresh, juicy raspberries... an amazing combination, according to my husband.  :)

I made these individually.  Why?  Well this works for a variety of reasons.  Lets think of a few:  The individuals will cook faster, they are super cute to serve that way, this provides built in portion control, and it makes them very easy to transport.  This also means the extras are easy to send to work with my husband, or share with my coworkers.  
Ingredients:
  • 5 cups bread cubes, 1" pieces
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 8 oz white chocolate (divided) 
  • 1/2 pint of fresh raspberries
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp clear vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk
Raspberry Sauce:
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries  
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 cup sugar

 

Step-by-Step:

Prep.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the French bread into 1" cubes.  Let them sit out for a while.  The dried out bread will soak up the liquid better than really moist bread.  
5 cups bread cubes
Choose a muffin tin that has 6 of the "jumbo" size wells, rather than the "standard" size.  (The ones I used accommodate about 3/4 cup each.)   To each muffin well, I added some of the melted butter, divided equally.  
4 Tbsp melted butter
Chop half of the white chocolate into little pieces and add it to the bread cubes. 
4 oz white chocolate
Just mix it loosely to combine. 
 Add the bread cubes and chocolate pieces to the wells, then set aside.

Make the batter.  To a heavy saucepan, add the milk and sugar.  Heat until the sugar is melted, but don't boil the milk. 
2 cups milk
 
2/3 cup granulated sugar
If you are using a vanilla bean, add the seeds now.  To do this, split the bean lengthwise and scrape out the "caviar" with the edge of a knife.  Add to the warm milk.  If you want, just split and throw the whole thing in there.  You can strain it out later.  All those fragrant little vanilla bean specks are lovely in the batter! 
1 vanilla bean, split
Also, add the clear vanilla now.  Once the sugar is melted and the vanilla beans are dispersed, you can turn off the heat. 
1/2 tsp clear Mexican vanilla (my favorite kind!)
Stir in half of the white chocolate until melted. 
4 oz white chocolate
Strain the hot milk mixture through a fine sieve if you threw the vanilla bean pieces in there.
 
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. 
4 large eggs

To the eggs, begin to add the warm milk mixture... SLOWLY... while whisking them furiously as you add the milk.  In other words, you need to "temper" the eggs, or else you will end up with scrambled eggs!  NOT good! 
 
Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread cubes.  You may need to push the bread cubes down into the mixture just to get them all immersed in the liquid.  Allow them to sit for 10 - 15 minutes just so the bread can soak up all the batter.  The warm batter will begin to melt all those chocolate pieces.  Yum! 

Add a handful of raspberries to the top of each of the wells containing the bread pieces.  Push them down into it if you want, or just let them rest on top.  Your choice.
handful of fresh raspberries for each well

Bake.  Set the muffin tin into a larger pan, and add water up to about halfway of the wells.  We are creating a water bath. 
hot water bath
Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, about 40 - 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.  It should have stopped being "jiggly" by now, and the top should be a nice golden brown.  Don't overcook it, as you don't want it dried out. 


Make the sauce.  While the bread pudding is baking, make the raspberry sauce.  I used the rest of the pint of raspberries.   Add the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a small saucepan.  Heat until the berries have broken down and the sugar is melted. 
rest of the pint of fresh raspberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

juice of one lemon
Mash up the raspberries - I used a potato masher.  I wanted my sauce to be slightly chunky, but make it to your preference.    
Serve.  I served each bread pudding, still warm, with some of that warm raspberry sauce and fresh mint leaves.  I shaved some white chocolate into curls onto the top.  To make the curls, just run a vegetable peeler along the edge of the chocolate squares.  Easy peasy!!! 

Written Method:
Prep.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut the French bread into 1" cubes.  Let them sit out for a while.  The dried out bread will soak up the liquid better than really moist bread.   Choose a muffin tin that has 6 of the "jumbo" size wells, rather than the "standard" size.  (The ones I used accommodate about 3/4 cup each.)   To each muffin well, I added some of the melted butter, divided equally.  Chop half of the white chocolate into little pieces and add it to the bread cubes.  Just mix it loosely to combine.  Add the bread cubes and chocolate pieces to the wells, then set aside.

Make the batter.  To a heavy saucepan, add the milk and sugar.  Heat until the sugar is melted, but don't boil the milk.  If you are using a vanilla bean, add the seeds now.  To do this, split the bean lengthwise and scrape out the "caviar" with the edge of a knife.  Add to the warm milk.  If you want, just split and throw the whole thing in there.  You can strain it out later.  All those fragrant little vanilla bean specks are lovely in the batter!  Also, add the clear vanilla now.  Once the sugar is melted and the vanilla beans are dispersed, you can turn off the heat.  Stir in half of the white chocolate until melted.  Strain the hot milk mixture through a fine sieve if you threw the vanilla bean pieces in there. 

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs.  To the eggs, begin to add the warm milk mixture... SLOWLY... while whisking them furiously as you add the milk.  In other words, you need to "temper" the eggs, or else you will end up with scrambled eggs!  NOT good!  Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread cubes.  You may need to push the bread cubes down into the mixture just to get them all immersed in the liquid.  Allow them to sit for 10 - 15 minutes just so the bread can soak up all the batter.  The warm batter will begin to melt all those chocolate pieces.  Yum!  Add a handful of raspberries to the top of each of the wells containing the bread pieces.  Push them down into it if you want, or just let them rest on top.  Your choice.

Bake.  Set the muffin tin into a larger pan, and add water up to about halfway of the wells.  We are creating a water bath.  Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, about 40 - 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.  It should have stopped being "jiggly" by now, and the top should be a nice golden brown.  Don't overcook it, as you don't want it dried out.

Make the sauce.  While the bread pudding is baking, make the raspberry sauce.  I used the rest of the pint of raspberries.   Add the raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a small saucepan.  Heat until the berries have broken down and the sugar is melted.  Mash up the raspberries - I used a potato masher.  I wanted my sauce to be slightly chunky, but make it to your preference.   

Serve.  I served each bread pudding, still warm, with some of that warm raspberry sauce and fresh mint leaves.  I shaved some white chocolate into curls onto the top.  To make the curls, just run a vegetable peeler along the edge of the chocolate squares.  Easy peasy!!! 

I hope you enjoyed this!  Want more great recipes?  Please visit my Recipe Index for a ton of ideas that you can cook for (and with) your family!

 Order the Menu Musings Cookbook! 

Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Mozzarella Caprese Skewers

New Orleans Praline Brownies

Spinach and Apricot Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Garlic Aioli

Tomato Basil Chicken
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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps


http://menumusings.blogspot.com/
I KNOW you've all been there!  A beautiful day out grilling burgers with the family.  Caught up in the lovely warm Springtime weather... it's days like that that make it worthwhile.  However, you ended up making way too many burgers.  You don't want to throw them away, so you put them in the fridge wondering what to do with them.  Am a right?!

Well this is more of a "burger re-purposing" idea than a recipe.  I happened to come home for lunch one day, and saw the left-over grilled burgers in the fridge.  So I drug out the burger "fixings." As luck would have it, the buns were gone.  So..... I made myself a Grilled Cheeseburger Wrap.  Any preparation that ends up with gooey melted cheese will probably make me happy, but this was yummy!  So let's see - yummy end product, creative use of left overs, less than 10 minutes to make!

Ingredients:
Like I said, this is more of an idea than a recipe.  So for the ingredients, pull out whatever you want in the wrap.  

But here are the ingredients I used.  I'm sure there are a bazillion different combinations that you can come up with!  I didn't add lettuce into the wrap because I thought it would just wilt.  I bet you could stuff some in there after you cut it if you wanted to.
  • grilled burger
  • grilled onions
  • grated cheese
    • mozzarella
    • cheddar
  • BBQ sauce
  • tomato slices
  • flour tortillas - white or whole wheat
  • butter flavored cooking spray
  
Method:
Chop the burger into small pieces.  Add all ingredients to the tortilla,  starting and ending with cheese.  Fold in the sides, then fold into a wrap.  Spray a grill pan or griddle with the cooking spray.  Add the wrap to the hot pan, seam side down to begin.  Spray the top side with the cooking spray as well.  This helps it to brown and helps the "shell" crisp up.  Press the wrap with something heavy while its "grilling" - maybe a smaller pan or even a brick covered with aluminum foil.  Turn when golden brown to grill the other side.  Don't forget the edges!  Enjoy!

Step-by-step:
All the goodies...


Cut the burger into small pieces.

Start with cheese.  Putting the cheese next to the tortilla will allow it to melt faster.
Shredded mozzarella
 Start adding your ingredients.  Whatever you want inside.
burger pieces, a little BBQ sauce
grilled onions
sliced tomatoes
shredded cheddar cheese
Fold in the edges, the roll up into a "wrap."  Wrap-n-roll!  LOL
Add the wrap to a HOT grill pan that has been sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray.  Yes, you can use a "regular" pan.  Now spray the top.  This helps it brown and crisp up.
butter flavored cooking spray
Press the wrap as you are cooking it!  Use whatever you have on hand.




Grill both sides and the edges.... and Voila!!  Here you have it!  LUNCH!

Smoky grilled burger in a bit of sauce, gooey cheese, juicy tomatoes, a crispy shell... Now you can be out the door again in no time!
 

I hope you've enjoyed this... um... idea.  (It certainly wasn't a "recipe.")  If you'd like more ideas for lunch, re-purposed leftovers, stuff from scratch, or stuff from completely home made, please visit my Recipe Index.  There are tons of ideas on there... something is sure to strike your fancy! :)

Order the Menu Musings Cookbook! 
 
Here a few more "re-purposed" ideas:
Grown up Pizza Wraps
 

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