Bread and Butter Pudding (plus healthy living hints from 1887)

A few years ago, my mom gave me a cookbook.  Okay, she has given me many cookbooks, but this one is like a history lesson.  It is a 2003 reprint of The Original White House Cook Book - 1887 edition

It has the original measurements, comments and recipes.  So cool!

This cookbook can be a challenge to use today, however.  Measurements are a little different.  Common measurements in this cookbook are a teacup, a coffee cup (and parts of each), a handful (whose hand?!), a dollop, etc.  I have loved playing with it.

There are many handy tips, too.  Tips for bread making, such as:

Home-made yeast is preferred to any other.  Yeast now sold in many grocery stores can make a fine bread, and can always be had fresh, being made every day.

Tips for knowing if your oven is the right temperature to bake a cake:

The heat should be tested before the cake is put in, which can be done by throwing on the floor of the oven a tablespoonful of new flour.  If the flour takes fire, or assumes a dark-brown color, the temperature is too high, and the oven must be allowed to cool;  if the flour remains white after the lapse of a few seconds, the temperature is too low. When the oven is of the proper temperature, the flour will slightly brown and look slightly scorched.


I don't know if I will ever use this information, but you never know.  There are instructions for carving, toast, recipes for everything, even suggestions in regard to Health, toilet recipes and the management of State Dinners.

I thought that I could tackle a recipe for bread pudding.  I will type the instructions from the book and then put what I actually did.

Bread and Butter Pudding

Butter the sides and bottom of a deep pudding dish, then butter thin slices of bread, sprinkle thickly with sugar, a little cinnamon, chopped apple, or any fruit you prefer between each slice, until your dish is full.  Beat up two eggs, add a soup spoon of wheat flour; stir with this three cupfuls of rich milk and a little salt; pour this over the bread, let it stand one hour and then bake slowly, with a cover on, three-quarters of an hour; then take the cover off and brown.  Serve with wine and lemon sauce. Pie-plant, cut up in small pieces with plenty of sugar, is fine made in this manner.

Bread and Butter Pudding
I made a huge pan of this to feed 18 people.  Feel free to scale it down.

12 large croissants, cut in half (You could use brioche, challah, or home-made bread, sliced)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 cups blueberries (or any fruit you want)
4 eggs, beaten
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 cups half and half (I didn't know what "rich milk" was)
I don't know what pie-plant is.  I guess I need to google it.

Generously butter your baking pan.  Mine was 16x11, half of the recipe should fit in a 13x9 inch pan just fine.

Butter the bread and layer half in the baking dish.  Sprinkle half of the sugar, half of the cinnamon and half of the fruit. Repeat.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the flour and salt.  Add the half and half and beat.  Pour over the bread.  Let the bread and egg mixture soak for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover your pudding with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove cover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.  Let cool.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream, lemon sauce, or wine sauce if desired.  It think it would be good with lemon curd, too.

Here are the recipes (from the book) for Old-Style Sauce, what I used - except I used plain Greek yogurt because I didn't have any sour cream, and for Sauce for Pudding (Superior) which I would have used if I had had any wine.

Sauce for Pudding (Superior)

Cream together a cupful of sugar and half a cupful of butter; when light and creamy, add the well-beaten yolks of four eggs.  Stir into this one wine-glass of wine or one of brandy, a pinch of salt and one large cupful of hot cream or rich milk.  Beat this mixture well; place it in a sauce-pan over the fire, stir it until it cooks sufficiently to thicken like cream.. Be sure and not let it boil.  Delicious.

Old-Style Sauce

One pint of sour cream, the juice and finely grated rind of a large lemon; sugar to taste.  Beat hard and long until the sauce is very light.

PS - I just have to add these other helpful hints from 1887.

Leanness - Take plenty of sleep, drink all the water the stomach will bear in the morning on rising...cultivate jolly people, and bathe daily.  :)

Under the heading "Health Suggestions" - When your body is over-heated ... be very careful about sitting down to 'cool off', as the custom of some is, by removing a part of the clothing and sitting in a cool place where there is a draught of air passing over your body.  The proper way to 'cool off' when over-heated is to put on more clothing, especially if you are in a cool place; but never remove a part of the clothing you have already on.  If possible, get near a fire where there is no wind blowing.  (I wonder what they would have thought about todays clothing and air conditioning.)


Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

I am doing pretty good on my life change, let's get healthy, I need to be a "normal" size journey.  I have been following the program I have chosen and I have dropped 24 pounds in 4 weeks.

Patting myself on the back

I feel better and I have more energy.  I still get hungry a lot, but that's okay.  I had a "moment" when I gave in to a little emotional eating - a favorite of mine-  but I am working through it.  

In the process, I am creating a bunch of new favorite recipes.  This was one of them.  It serves 6 because that is how many I cook for.  Cut down the recipe any way you see fit.  It's all good.

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup of cooked spinach OR thawed frozen spinach
3 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
3 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon seasoning, I used Emeril's Original seasoning
kitchen twine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pound the chicken breast flat.  I pounded them with my rolling pin.  It was oddly satisfying. It is easier if you do it between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.  I didn't.  I will next time, trust me.

In a medium bowl, combine the cheddar cheese, cream cheese and spinach.  Stir it up.

Divide the spinach mixture between each chicken breast.

Make rolls of each chicken breast.  Tie those puppies together with the kitchen twine.  Do your best.  It can get messy. I didn't have kitchen twine, so I used quilting thread.  It worked, but it was more difficult that it had to be.  I will be getting kitchen twine next time I go to the store.

Place the chicken in a baking pan.

Spread the olive oil onto each breast. (okay, I am snickering here. Don't judge me.)

Add the seasoning on top.

Bake the chicken for 35 - 40 minutes.

Untie those breasts before serving. (I am still snickering.  good grief. My mind is like a 12 year old.)


Mango Salsa

Last time I went to Costco, I bought a flat of mangoes.  Yummy.  Normally we would go through that flat in no time.  Alas, I forgot that 3 of the 5 of us at home are not eating carbs (that includes mangoes) for the time being.  

I hate to waste food.

I have enough jam.

I thought of chutney.  Maybe next time.

Mango salsa.  It is so good.  I like mine with a little bit of a kick.  If you are making it and don't want the picante kick, just use less jalapeƱos.  This recipe makes about 5 pints.

Mango Salsa

1/2 cup white vinegar
9 cups chopped, peeled, pitted mangoes (firm are great.  Mine were not firm and it was fine.)
2 cups chopped sweet onion, about 1 large
3-5 jalapeƱos, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground fresh ginger root
juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Prepare canner, jars and lids.
Get your boiling bath ready.

In a large sauce pan, combine the mangoes with the vinegar.  Give it a stir.

Dump in all of the other ingredients and stir it up.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Wipe rim.  Center lid on jar.  Screw on band.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Remove to counter and listen for the ping.


Scallops with Pesto and Pasta (or spaghetti squash for me)

I have been craving seafood, among anything that sounds like it has lots and lots of carbs.  I am ignoring the carb craving, but there is no reason not to indulge in the seafood craving.  Yum.  When I mentioned to a friend that I was going to cook some kind of seafood tonight, she looked shocked.  It came out that she never cooked seafood.  She loved it.  Ordered it in restaurants frequently.  But, she was afraid to cook it herself.


I had no idea.

I am poor financially challenged due to having 4 kiddos, one on a mission, one in college, one in high school (we all know that public school isn't free), and one home schooled.  What this translates to is that I don't often have the opportunity to order seafood in restaurants.  Not wanting to do without, I copy what others describe to me. ;)

You can too.  Don't be afraid.

The scallops I got at Costco.  They are pretty good there.  The pasta I used was whole wheat and I used jarred (Costco again) pesto sauce.  I made spaghetti squash for me and my oldest daughter (we are carb-free right now). I show you how to cook spaghetti squash here


Easy peasy.

Quick, too.

Scallops with Pesto and Pasta

24 large sea scallops (about 2+ pounds)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1 pound pasta (I used whole wheat linguine)
1 cup pesto 

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and add pesto.  Mix and place the pasta in a large serving bowl.

Pat scallops dry.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until it ripples in the pan.
Add the scallops, a few at a time - they should sizzle as you put them in the pan.  Don't overcrowd or add too fast.  This will cool your pan and they won't brown properly.
Saute the scallops, without crowding them, 1 minute on each side or until browned.  
Set aside and keep warm.  Repeat the procedure until you have all the scallops browned.

Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Add butter to the pan and melt the butter.  To the butter, add garlic and parsley.  Cook 30 seconds.

Return scallops to the pan and toss to coat.  Heat for about 1 minute.  Add to pasta.


Dandelion Jelly

I don't spray my lawn.  Do you?  I have chickens and dogs and kiddos that like to play/eat/romp on my lawn so lawn poisons are not my friend.  As a result, my lawn was covered in lovely yellow blossoms on Mother's day.  That's when I remembered that you can "do stuff" with dandelions.  Happy Day.

When I went outside on Monday, ready to pick dandelions by the handful, they had turned to puff balls - only a few spots of sunny yellow left.  Since I had my 3 year old and 1 1/2 year old helpers, and I had told them that we could make jelly out of the flowers, we went on a dandelion quest.  After scouring and picking in some good friends yards we had enough - more than enough - flowers to make a sunny, floral jelly.

Here is what I did.  It made 9 3/4 half-pint jars.

Dandelion Jelly

1 quart of lightly packed fresh dandelion flowers (you will need about 1 gallon of flowers with the bottom green which you will cut off)
2 quarts water
juice and rind of one lemon
1 Tablespoon dried lavender flowers (food quality) - optional
1 teaspoon vanilla
7 cups sugar
2 packages (6 Tablespoons) low-sugar pectin
coffee filters

The first part (after picking the flowers) is the most labor intensive part.  You need to clean each flower.  To do this, grab the petals and cut or pinch (I started out cutting and ended up pinching) the bottom green off of the flower.  The green parts turn bitter if you leave them on.  Trust me.  

A little bit of green is fine.  Keep going until you have about 4 cups of processed flowers. You'll make it, but your fingers will be a little discolored.  Cool.

Using a stainless steep pan, boil the dandelions and the lavender in the 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add the lemon juice and the rinds into the liquid.  Let cool completely.

When the mixture is cooled, strain the mixture through a wire sieve with a coffee filter in it. (I did this part the night before and made the jelly the next morning.)

Prepare your jars, lids and boiling water bath.

Add the flower infusion to a deep jelly kettle.  Add the vanilla and the pectin.  Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. 
 Add the sugar all at once.  Stir to mix well.

While stirring, bring the jelly to a full rolling boil, again.  Boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat.

Pour into hot, prepared jelly jars.  Wipe rims and place lids and rings.

Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from water and set on towel covered counter.  Wait for the melodic "pings" of your jars of sunshine sealing.



I am on a journey.  An "I want to be healthy" journey.  I have been in the process of steering my family away from processed foods.  It hasn't been easy, but it is totally worth it.  At the same time, I am very overweight. Yep.  It's true.  I treat food as my drug of choice.  It's good - but it is not something that you can quit cold turkey.  A girl's gotta eat!  Amiright? 
Me and my beautiful sister, Mary.

Anyway.  Right now I am choosing to not eat carbs.  I can have anything I want.  But, today, I am choose to not eat carbs and I am choose to watch my sodium and fat, too.  I have also chosen to follow the Medifast plan.  I have lost 19.8 pounds in two weeks.  Wow.  My 18 year old daughter has lost 19 in 3 weeks (she started this eating transformation) and my 13 year old daughter has lost 6 in two weeks (she's on a teen program that encourages healthy carbs).  We are all feeling better and have more energy.  It is amazing what a little change in cooking will do for the whole family.

However, I  do have a family.  This includes 3 teenagers who DO eat anything and everything and a husband that does choose to eat carbs.  My barely 17 year old 6'4" boy - also the healthiest eater of us all (he doesn't like junk food or processed food.  I, on the other hand love fat and sugar like I love my own children.  Hence the problem.) - is hungry ALL THE TIME.


One of his favorite snacks is Greek yogurt with granola.  Here is my favorite recipe for it.  You can leave out the M&M's if you want (I know that they are not healthy.)


4 cups rolled oats
1 - 1 1/2 cups mixed grains (wheat germ, oat bran, flax)
2 cups nuts (pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup (the real deal, not flavored corn syrup)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup oil
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 1 1/2 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, dried cherries, etc.)
M&M's or chocolate chips (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the oats, grains, nuts and salt in a big bowl.  Mix it up.

Combine the sugar, syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

As soon as the sugars start to boil, remove from heat and pour over the oat mixture.  Stir it up.

Spread the oat mixture on a baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.  Stir once during baking.

Let the granola cool completely.

Stir in the fruit and chocolate.

Store in an airtight container.