Savory Focaccia Bread Pudding

As promised a second bread pudding recipe this week. This time a savory bread pudding made with focaccia bread. Once again, I had this focaccia left over after ordering Italian food. It was too much and I didn’t want it to go to waste and bread pudding is always a great way to use up left-over bread, but a typical bread pudding that is normally sweet wouldn’t work for this focaccia so I thought I could possibly make a savory version and I was right.

Here’s a look at the leftover focaccia. I let it sit for a day, so it became quite hard but that was perfect. It meant I wouldn’t have to toast it before using it.

I cut it up into cubes and added it to a large bowl.

In a large skillet I cooked mushrooms, onions, green pepper and celery that I seasoned with minced garlic, chopped thyme, salt and pepper until the vegetables were soft and most of the juices in the pan had evaporated.

While the vegetables were cooking, I made the custard by whisking together heavy whipping cream and eggs that I seasoned with salt and pepper.

Once the vegetable where ready I added them to the bowl with the focaccia cubes along with fresh parsley and gave everything a few good stirs.

I let the vegetables cool for about 10 minutes before adding in the custard mixture to the focaccia cube mixture. I then transferred it to a 9×13-inch baking dish that I sprayed with cooking spray and then topped it with shredded parmesan cheese. I let it sit for about 15 minutes so the focaccia cubes could soak in the custard.

I then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about an hour. After letting it sit for a few minutes it was time to slice. This was delicious. Definitely something I will make again. An added bonus, it tasted even better the next day as the flavors really had time to marry. And if you are trying to adopt a Meatless Monday diet this is ideal with a side salad and you will have leftovers for a few days. If you don’t have focaccia or want to use another type of bread, like an Italian or French loaf, I would suggest toasting the cubes before using them or letting the bread sit for a day or two so it can become stale and withstand the custard without becoming too soggy.

Savory Focaccia Bread Pudding

Ingredients:

10 cups cubed focaccia*

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 8oz. packages sliced baby portabella mushrooms

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 celery stalks, thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

8 large eggs

1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Salt

Pepper

 

*Can use a different type of bread. Just make sure it’s stale or if using fresh bread, cube and then toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 F.

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13–inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Place cubed focaccia in a large bowl.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat-high heat. Add the mushrooms, chopped onions, chopped green pepper and sliced celery along with the chopped thyme and minced garlic to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are soft and most of the juices have evaporated, about 15 minutes.

Add the cooked vegetables and chopped parsley to the cubed focaccia. Give it a few good stirs and then let the vegetables cool for about 10 minutes.

While the vegetables cool make the custard. In a large bowl whisk together the heavy cream and the eggs. Season with salt and pepper.

Once the vegetables have cooled, add the custard to the bowl with the cubed focaccia and vegetables. Give it a few good stirs and then transfer to the prepared baking dish. Top with the shredded parmesan cheese.

Let the bread pudding sit for 15 minutes and then bake in the preheated oven uncovered for 50-60 minutes, until set and the top is golden. Let sit for 20 minutes before slicing.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Modified from Epicurious

Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach

Quick and easy dinners… Something we can all appreciate and are always in search of. This pasta dish is ready in about 30 minutes and you can switch up some of the ingredients to change the flavors. Instead of using regular canned diced tomatoes you can try one that is seasoned with different spices and instead of orecchiette pasta you can easily substitute small shells. And maybe instead of spinach try arugula. As you can see the possibilities are endless.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach

Ingredients:

16 ounces sweet Italian sausage

1 bunch scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

16 ounces orecchiette

5 ounce bag of baby spinach, roughly chopped

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

 

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage meat and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned. Add the scallion white and rosemary and cook until the scallions have wilted. Add the tomatoes with their juices and 1/2 cup of the boiling water. Let simmer while the pasta cooks.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the box for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water then drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce along with the spinach and half of the scallion green. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce and continue cooking until the spinach has wilted. Gradually add the reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the cheese and remaining scallions over the pasta when serving.

Recipe slightly modified from Food Network

Sheet Pan Cuban Rice and Beans

I just might be on a sheet pan cooking kick. I recently shared a recipe for a Teriyaki Barbecue Pineapple Chicken dish and today I am sharing with you a rice and beans dish. I would have never thought I would make rice and beans in the oven on a sheet pan, but, after coming across the recipe and figuring it was worth trying I may try making some other rice dishes this way. I usually make rice the “normal” way, in a pot with water. And while it’s always edible there are times that I miss the moment when I should lower the heat and cover the pot and my rice comes out a little crispy on the bottom, or vice versa, I cover and lower it too soon and I end up with rice that has one too many clumps. I wouldn’t say it’s mushy by any means though. But, my first time using this method turn out rice that was pretty perfect.

I began by combining two sliced bell peppers (red and green), a sliced yellow onion, and 3 sliced garlic cloves with olive oil and salt in medium bowl. After tossing everything together I transferred the vegetables to a sheet pan I sprayed with cooking spray. I roasted the vegetables in a 400 F preheated oven for about 12-13 minutes.

While the vegetables were in the oven I combined rice, 2 cans of rinsed black beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt and 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium bowl. Don’t worry, it’s not a lot of water and if you use a large enough sheet pan it will not spill over.

After removing the pan from the oven, I stirred the vegetables and then carefully poured the rice mixture to the pan. I gave everything a few good stirs using a spoon and tongs. I covered the pan with aluminum foil and returned it to the oven for 30 minutes.

I let the pan stand for five minutes after removing it from the oven and then removed the aluminum foil and fluffed the rice with a fork. This was definitely one of the easiest and foolproof ways that I have made rice and beans. The end result was flavorful and the rice was the perfect texture and consistency.

Sheet Pan Cuban Rice and Beans

Ingredients:

2 bell peppers, any colors cut into thin strips

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine the peppers, onion and garlic in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spread the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 13 – 15 minutes, until softened. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the vegetables.

In another medium bowl combine the rice, beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, remaining salt and 2 1/2 cups of water. Pour the mixture onto the pan with the vegetables and stir to combine. Cover with foil and return the pan to the oven for 28-30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before removing the aluminum foil.

Remove the foil and fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Recipe slightly modified from Epicurious

Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas

I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but, I’m always on the search for quick and easy meals that flavorful, don’t require a slew of ingredients and gives me enough leftovers for a few days. This pasta dish checks all of those boxes.

I started by cooking the pasta. Then, I sautéed garlic, browned the sausage, added frozen peas and finally heavy cream and butter. After bringing it to a boil I added in the pasta and that was it. You can’t top something as simple as that.

Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas

Ingredients:

1 pound rigatoni

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat or sausages with casings removed

12 ounces frozen green peas

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter

Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cooking for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente and then drain.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and sauté garlic. Add the sausage and brown. Then add the green peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Slowly add the heave cream and butter and bring to a slight boil. Cook for 5 minutes and then toss with cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

Recipe from allrecipes

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Usually my idea of making soup is opening up a can of my favorite one, heating it up on the stove and then enjoying it, but since I have been cooking more I decided to give making soup from scratch a go. It’s always nice knowing exactly what you are eating as opposed to guessing what the vegetable is after it’s been masked by some thick, albeit yummy, chowder or liquid. I decided to start simple and go with a Lentil and Sausage Soup that I found on Allrecipes.

To start, I browned three links of sweet sausage over medium-high heat. I actually began by cooking the links slightly and then slicing them to finish browning them. It’s much easier to slice half cooked sausage as opposed to raw sausage.

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Next I added in one large onion, a celery stalk and a tablespoon of garlic, all chopped.

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After letting that sauté until the vegetables were tender I added in my lentils, 3 shredded carrots, water, chicken broth and diced tomatoes. I actually used diced tomatoes that were seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano which definitely added in some extra flavor.

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And finally I added in all of my spices: garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, salt & black pepper.

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After bringing the soup to a boil I then reduced the heat and let it simmer until the lentils were tender. While the directions said that it would take about 2.5 to 3 hours my soup was done in about an hour.

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It was absolutely delicious and tasted even better the following day for lunch. I doubt I will be giving up those canned soups anytime soon, but, it’s definitely nice to know that making soup from scratch isn’t all that difficult.

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Lentil and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 large onion, chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

1 tbsp. chopped garlic

1 16 oz. package dry lentils, rinsed

1 cup shredded carrot

8 cups water

2 14.5 oz. cans chicken broth

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes*

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley**

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. dried basil

1 tbsp. salt, or to taste

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1/2 lb. ditalini pasta (optional – I chose not to add it in)

*I used 2 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic, basil & oregano

**I used 1 tsp. dried parsley

Directions

1. Place sausage in a large pot. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Add onion, celery and chopped garlic, and sauté until tender and translucent. Stir in lentils, carrot, water, chicken broth and tomatoes. Season with garlic powder, parsley, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover, and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until lentils are tender.

2. Stir in pasta, and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until pasta is tender.

Chicken Cacciatore

I am the first to admit that I much rather bake than cook – I like the exact science of baking as opposed to the freedom of cooking, well freedom to some extent. I always get paranoid while I am cooking that I added too much salt or not enough salt or for that matter too much or too little of any spice. But lately I have been cooking pretty much every day – It’s not like I wasn’t eating before, just someone else was doing the cooking – and I must admit I am not as intimated by it as I was before. I mean I’m really good at reading directions and following a recipe so cooking shouldn’t have been that daunting to me, but for some reason it was. Since I have this newfound semi-confidence and it sort of fits into the theme of my blog I have decided to post about some of my culinary creations – albeit not completely original. Up first, a Chicken Cacciatore that was super simple to make in part because I used McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations to make it. If you haven’t tried these or seen them in the supermarket they are definitely worth the search and try. All of the spices for your recipe are pre-measured and the remaining ingredients you will need are clearly marked and the directions are super simple to follow. It’s sort of like cheating but not really.

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First step was to get all of my vegetables prepped. I chopped one onion and sliced a green bell pepper into strips. The recipe also called for thinly sliced mushrooms which are easily found at any supermarket.

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Next I prepped my chicken breast by first cutting it into cubes (they are not exactly cubes), then coating it with a flour, salt & pepper mixture and finally browning it.

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After removing the chicken from the skillet I put in all of the vegetables cooking them on medium heat until they were tender.

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Once the vegetables were tender I added in all of the spices (minced garlic, marjoram leaves, oregano leaves, crushed rosemary leaves and thyme), a can of diced tomatoes and a can of tomato sauce.

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After bringing it to a boil I returned my chicken to the skillet.

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I cooked it until it was heated through and until I was sure the chicken was fully cooked.

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It went perfectly with rice and while I am sure I will make this again I think I will use less thyme than suggested. Its one spice that when dried has a stronger flavor than when fresh.

Chicken Cacciatore

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Servings: 6

Ingredients

1/2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 tsp. marjoram leaves

1/2 tsp. oregano leaves

1/2 tsp. crushed rosemary leaves

1/2 tsp. thyme leaves

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp. salt

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes

3 tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 pkg. (8oz.) mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (1 cup)

1 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips (1 cup)

1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

Directions

1. Mix flour, salt and pepper in shall dish. Coat chicken evenly with flour mixture.

2. Heat 2 tbsp. of the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook and stir 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from skillet. Heat remaining 1 tbsp. oil in skillet. Add mushrooms, onions and bell peppers; cook and stir 5 minutes on medium heat or until tender.

3. Stir in remaining ingredients and spices. Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is heated through. Serve over cooked or rise, if desired.