Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Croissant Bread Pudding

Be a Marty.  In the days following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Vogue published an article “May Every Woman Find Her Marty Ginsburg.”  It focuses on respect, sacrifice, self-confidence, support, equality, and love.  Every woman who dares to make a difference deserves a Marty.  Every man who has a goal deserves a Marty.  Every child with a dream deserves a Marty.  Yes, we should all aspire to be RBG – to have passions and beliefs and a never-ending drive to impact change and correct injustices.  And yes, we should all be a Marty and give that unselfish support and pride to the RBG’s in our life.

Say it.  Do it.   Be a Marty.

Inspired by Ina and similar to a family favorite (also by Ina), raspberry French toast casserole, croissants + bread pudding = delicious for dessert or breakfast. 


  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 croissants, preferably stale
  • 1 cup chocolate chips or raspberries or raisins or your preferred combo

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl or blender, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside. Slice the croissants in half horizontally. In a 2 quart baking dish, distribute the bottoms of the sliced croissants, then add the chocolate chips / raspberries / raisins on top of the croissant bottoms, then top with the croissant tops (brown side up). Pour the custard over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Chicken Alfredo Baked Ziti

One of my favorite albums to listen (and sing) to while on walks is Hamilton.  In One Last Time, George Washington references Micah 4:4 and says “Everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree. And no one shall make them afraid.”  It just strikes me as poignant, meaningful, hopeful and needed these days.  In the very next song, the transition of leadership of President of the US is addressed by  King George, "they will tear each other into pieces."  Certainly humanity and decency will prevail. 

Speaking of Hamilton, Aaron Burr (aka, Leslie Odom, Jr.) is the guest speaker at Austin Street Center’s virtual luncheon this Friday, September 25.  Join me online and support a great cause! 

Since we will be luncheoning together like ladies of leisure, plan on serving this dish for dinner.  It is fast and easy; simple and comforting.  My friend, Debbie K., recommended Gimme Some Oven and I found this gem.


For the Alfredo Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For the Chicken Baked Ziti:

  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (or any pasta shape)
  • 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 2 small chicken breasts)
  • 1 batch alfredo sauce (see above)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings and mix-ins, optional: freshly-grated Parmesan cheese; sauteed mushrooms; blanched asparagus.

For the Alfredo Sauce:

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for one minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. Saute for an additional minute to cook the flour, stirring occasionally.

Slowly add chicken broth, whisking to combine until smooth. Whisk in milk and bring the mixture to a simmer. Let cook for an additional minute until thickened, then stir in Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the Chicken Baked Ziti:

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of well-salted boiling according to package instructions. Drain. Return pasta to the stockpot and add chicken and alfredo sauce. Gently toss to combine until the pasta is evenly coated.

Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of mozzarella. Layer the remaining half of the pasta evenly on top. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and just barely starts to turn golden. Remove and serve immediately, sprinkled with additional toppings if desired.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Toffee Crunch Cookies


I went on a walk the other morning.  A couple walking their dog passed me.  They stopped to talk with a friend who was also walking her dog and thus I passed by them.  A few minutes later, the couple passed me again.  Embarrassed, I removed my ear piece and said, “wow – you guys have lapped me twice now.  You have a great stride.”  And the woman replied to me, “I like your singing.”  Now that’s embarrassing.  Usually, I am walking towards people and can stop singing when I am within earshot.  I rarely am passed from behind.  I’m a power walker, you know, and obviously a Broadway or The Voice wannabe (without any qualifications).

My cousin’s “evil” husband, Chris, introduced me to Tate’s Butter Crunch cookies.  They have helped me through the pandemic (thus the need for power walking).  So crispy and buttery and sweet with a hint of salt.  A little cross-pollination of a Toll House cookie with some Heath toffee bits and voila, I will sing these cookies praises from the mountain top.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 bag (8 oz) Heath toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in toffee chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Chipotle-style Black Beans in the Instant Pot


Elizabeth says that Facebook is so “middle-aged mom.”  Well thank you.  It’s my best news source because I keep up with my friends and what is going on in their lives (however sometimes TMI though, people).  My friend, Joan, posted this Oscar Wilde quote today with her own addition at the end.  “When it rains, look for rainbows; When it’s dark, look for stars”; When it’s sunny, always smile bright.  Can TikTok deliver that kind of optimism?  Can an Insta make you think? 

There might be a theme in our house with the recreation of Chipotle products.  Partner the beans and rice with some grilled chicken and tortilla and you have got yourself a tasty meal.  The boys will even skip the tortilla (why would you ever do that!?) and make themselves a bowl.  Snap that, E!


  • 1 lb dried black beans
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 6 cups water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

Pour beans into a colander, rinse and sort beans. Transfer to a 6-qt. electric pressure cooker. Add one teaspoon salt and 3 1/2 cups water. Lock lid; make sure pressure-release valve is closed. Adjust to high pressure-cook on high for 2 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 20 minutes; quick release any remaining pressure. Press cancel.

Drain the beans and discard liquid. Return beans to pressure-cooker. Add 2 ½ cups water and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Add in the chopped onion and minced garlic. Add in all of the spices: bay leaf, salt, chili powder, cumin, pepper, oregano, lemon juice and lime juice.  Stir to mix. 

Lock lid; close pressure-release valve.  Adjust to high pressure and cook on high for 25 minutes.  Allow pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes and then quick-release any remaining pressure.  Press cancel.  Remove lid; do not drain; remove bay leaf and enjoy!!