Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Cooking...Day 4

I'm playing catch up! I know, I know. I've missed 4 days. That means there will be 4 posts in a row. I apologize for the mass blogging (especially to those I know with RSS feeds that will get flooded).

I do have a pretty good reason for not blogging the past few days. I catered a nice little Christmas party for my church. While I only had to feed about 25 people, it's still a lot of work. I made fried chicken, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, mac and cheese, broccoli, haricot vert, honey-glazed carrots, corn bread muffins, white chocolate bread pudding with white chocolate sauce, mixed berry crisp with whipped cream, cheese and crackers, grapes, apples, and cranberry punch. It was a lot of cooking, but we got it all done and it all turned out wonderfully! I also had to do the decorating, which took a little creativity and planning. I couldn't have pulled it off without the help of my sous chef, my Daddy, and my Momma. They were awesome help in the cooking and set-up processes as well as breaking everything down and cleaning up. Everyone really enjoyed the food and it was nice to spend time together without the distraction of kids, work, or school. If anyone from SCoC is reading this, thanks for coming! I hope you enjoyed it :)

My inspiration for the belated 4th day of Christmas Cooking actually comes from this party. My good friend Liz asked if I would put the recipe for my white chocolate bread pudding up on my blog. So this one's for you, Liz!
On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A white chocolate bread pudding recipe!

Elle's White Chocolate Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Sauce

1 loaf (about 5 cups) of french bread, torn or cut into 3-inch pieces
4 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp. high-fat cocoa powder (regular unsweetened cocoa powder will work just fine)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. real vanilla extract
1, 12 oz. package white chocolate chip morsels

Tear or cut the french bread into large pieces (about 3 inches). Place them in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. In a bowl whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla. When that mixture is blended well and beginning to look frothy, whisk in the milk. Pour the egg and milk mixture over the bread. Using your hands (even you, Liz!) press the bread down into the baking dish to help it absorb all the liquid. If everything still looks a bit dry, you can add a few splashes of milk. Cover and refrigerated for at least 2 hours. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and continue baking for 20 minutes at 350 degrees or until set. While the bread pudding is baking, you can make the sauce.

White Chocolate Sauce

1 pkg white chocolate morsels
1 pt. heavy cream

In a sauce pan, slowly heat the cream on medium heat. When cream is barely simmering, add the whole package of white chocolate morsels. The sauce is ready when the white chocolate has melted completely into the cream.

The bread pudding is best served warm with the warm sauce drizzled over it. Both the pudding and the sauce reheat very well.



PS If you don't care for white chocolate, you can replace the white chocolate morsels with milk or dark chocolate morsels in both the pudding and the sauce.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Cooking...Day 3

I'm sorry Day 3 is late. Yesterday was not a nice day and I had a lot of errands to get done. But I'll make up for it, I promise!

It's getting colder where I live. We've actually had some frozen precipitation and school closings in my area, which is pretty unusual in December. Normally, our coldest month is January. So in attempts to keep myself cozy and warm, I've been drinking lots of hot beverages like tea, hot chocolate and coffee. With that in mind, I bring you day number 3 in the 12 Days of Christmas Cooking (and drinking).
On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

3 Lovely Hot Beverages!

Coffee: Red Sea Blend by Allegro Coffee

Howie, my co-host on The Geeky Gourmet and coffee guru extraodinaire, suggests the Red Sea Blend by Allegro Coffee, sold at Whole Foods Markets around the US. It's one of his favorites because it's not over-roasted, like Starbucks coffees tend to be. He says, "It's a good, solid blend that is consistent. It's as good as you're going to get on a normal basis." The company that roasts this blend describes it as a fragrant, exotic flavor with notes of cherry, strawberry, tobacco, and nutmeg. Howie also encourages you to do a little research for local places that roast their own beans and offer sample packs. That way you can try a few different varieties to decided what you like best.

Tea: Imperial Republic Snow Rose Full-Leaf Herbal Tea
This is one of my favorite teas. It comes from The Republic of Tea- an awesome company for tea enthusiasts. It's made from a native Chinese herb called Snow Rose, as well rose petals and other fragrant herbs. It's light and soothing. I've only had it a few times because it's a bit pricey at $31.00 per 3.5 ounce tin (that makes about 50 cups), but a nice treat. But in all honesty The Republic of Tea offers something for everyone. They have a wide variety of black, green, red, oolong, and herbal teas. There's even a tea of the month club and a tea blog that is full of information to help you better understand traditions and new trends in tea.

Hot Chocolate: I love them all!
Okay, I don't know that I love them all. However, I do like so many that no particular type sticks out in mind. I just enjoyed a cup of white hot chocolate from Dunkin Donuts the other day. Starbucks has a really tasty salted caramel hot chocolate. I love the Mexican hot chocolate from my local coffee shop. And I make a mean homemade version, myself. So I think that's what I'll share.

Elle's Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate

3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 chocolate chips (milk chocolate,'s up to you)
3 C. whole milk or half and half
Marshmallow fluff or whipped cream for topping

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and water into a smooth paste. When this mixture is well combined and starting to heat through, add the chocolate chips and gently melt them into the cocoa powder mixture. When everything is completely melted, slowly whisk in the milk. Bring the milk and chocolate mixture up to a simmer, whisking often. Simmer for about 5 minutes to help thicken. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallow fluff or whipped cream. Oh! If you add a bit of cinnamon and a teeny pinch of cayenne, the flavor of this drink changes in wonderful ways!

Stay warm and enjoy!


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Cooking...Day 2

I was looking up the lyrics for the "12 Days of Christmas" to be sure I remembered them correctly and I found a good wiki article that sums up the actual celebration of the 12 Days of Christmas quite nicely. For the record, yes. I realize I'm doing it wrong. The 12 Days of Christmas truly starts on Christmas Day. But sharing these ideas and recipes with you now might give you a chance to make them part of your holiday celebrations.

If you're interested, read the article here. If you're anything like me, you'll sit there reading the article going, "Oh *that's* where that came from!"
On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Robot Salt and Pepper Shakers!
Do you or someone you know like robots? Do you have a need to season your food (the answer is yes)? Here's a great, last-minute stocking stuffer for that geeky foodie in your family! These guys seem like fairly frivolous items, but they are very adorable and would be entertaining at any family meal. They are good for everyday use or special occasions. Not only are they actually functional salt and pepper shakers...they're wind-up toys, too! Wind the key and set them off down the table when some one asks you to pass the salt or pepper.

I'm so glad I got to share my love of robots and the importance of seasoning your food all at once. Check back with me tomorrow and see what else I come up with!


Monday, December 13, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Cooking!

My Exams are finished and we are back in business! This semester has made me all sorts of crazy and I'm so glad it's over. I have a month to recover and let my brain go back to mush. Then, January 10th, it starts all over again. But until that day arrives, "let the good times roll"!

I have a lot of shopping and wrapping and decorating left to do. I also have a party to cater this coming weekend. That should be tons of fun. I'm organized a lot better than in years past and I feel a bit more comfortable since I've had a good bit of experience now. It'll be a nice, southern menu with my added twists here and there.

Oh, right! So you might notice the title. Yes, that's right. Something else holiday themed. Just what you need, right? Well I hope so! In order to encourage myself to write more often and to spread a little holiday cheer, I've decided to bring you the 12 Days of Christmas Cooking! For the next 12 days (starting today) I'm going to put up a post with a yummy recipe, a review of a gadget, or maybe a little history about food in holiday traditions. I don't have all 12 days planned out, so I'll be just as surprised as you! Be sure to check back every day to see what I've come up with.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

A Spicy Pumpkin-Pear Bread Recipe! I made this quick bread for Thanksgiving. I had a few pears that were over-ripe, but I hated to just throw them away. So I grated them and added them to this recipe in place of mashed, canned pears. The pear flavor isn't very strong without the addition of a liquer. But the addition of the pear flesh makes this bread incredibly moist and naturally sweet.

Elle's Pumpkin-Pear Bread

2 C. pumpkin puree
3/4 C. grated pear (or canned pears, drained and mashed)
1 C. granulated sugar
1/4 C. canola/vegetable oil
3 eggs
3 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cardamom
2 Tbsp. pear brandy (optional)

Mix all wet ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. In another bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. In about 3 separate batches, add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet. Mix until just combined. Try not to over mix the batter. Pour evenly into 2 greased, medium loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 55 minutes.
Obviously, you can adjust the spices to your taste. I really enjoy strong spices, but some may not. By cutting the amount of each spice in half, you'll still have a flavorful bread, but the flavors will be more subtle.

See you tomorrow!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Geeky Gourmet Update

If you happen to listen to the show, I'm sure you've noticed we haven't posted a new show in quite some time. We haven't given up on the project and I really hope no one has given up on us. We've taken a bit of a hiatus. There are a few reasons we haven't recorded another show recently and I just wanted to let you all know what was going on.

  • Howie has been utterly exhausted with life lately. To be honest with you, I'm not sure what exactly has been going on. I just know that he is usually very good at juggling a lot of things in his life at once and right now, he's just really tired. No shame or blame there.

  • Our schedules haven't matched up well. Between Howie's work schedule, my school schedule, and our other various commitments, we've not been able to find a time to record that really works well for both of us.

  • My life hasn't necessarily been boring. Charlie and I have had company from out of town, then we went out of town to visit his family. We got engaged! Finals are coming up soon. My family has had various surgeries and travels. There seems to be a lot going on.

We are also going to change our format a little. Instead of pushing to do a show once a week, we are going to try 2 a month until we can get into a better routine. I'd rather give our listeners really good quality shows a little less often than mediocre shows more often. Other than that, we'll still be talking about great things and being silly! It's what we're good at :)

We're at 199 followers on Facebook, which is amazing. I'm excited to know that almost 200 people have heard of us in one way or another. We'd still like people to follow us on twitter if they are so inclined: And if you have any holiday recipes, show ideas, questions, comments...anything (except spam), I would really love it if you e-mailed us at

The next show I hope to record sometime very soon. During the last show, we said we would be talking about tomatoes in our next episode. I had a change of heart and the next show will be about apples. Then to follow that we will hopefully be talking about cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. Please keep an eye out for the next show and keep listening!

Thank you all so much. We'll be back as soon as we can.

<3 Elle (and Howie, too)