chocolate ribbon whisky bread pudding

The chocolate bread pudding I usually make is an old favorite, clipped from the local paper years back. I’ve since adapted it a time or two. This latest variation is inspired by something ultra-delicious I enjoyed at Matunuck Oyster Bar this summer. Just out of the oven, it’s crisp on top and delightfully light and custardy beneath, with a bit of bourbon in the mix to make it extra nice-nice.

This may be my new favorite spin on bread pudding. Will it be yours?


half pound of croissants cut into 1-inch pieces (conveniently, Stop & Shop sells mini croissants in a half-pound package–how did they know?)
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup (½ stick) of butter
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 tablespoons Maker’s Mark bourbon
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 oz. dark chocolate, chopped (I use Valrhona Guanaja 70% dark chocolate feves)
cinnamon to sprinkle over the top–along with 1-2 teaspoons of granulated sugar (I used ground Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8 x 8″ baking dish and fill with half the cubed croissants. Sprinkle chopped chocolate evenly over this layer. Then top with remaining croissants.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugars, bourbon and vanilla.

Separately, warm the cream, milk and butter till the butter melts. I use the microwave on the defrost setting, but you can use a pan on the stove, if you prefer.

While whisking the egg/sugar/bourbon mixture, slowly add the warmed cream/milk/butter. Pour this combination over the croissants. Sprinkle with cinnamon and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. Granulated is fine, I just happen to buzz Sugar in the Raw in the food processor for making chocolate chip cookies, so I have a whole box on hand.

Place your 8 x 8″ pan into a larger (9 x 13″) pan filled with an inch or so of hot water. The water should come no higher than two thirds of the way up the side of the pudding pan. Bake 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the edge of the pan comes out clean.

chocolate ribbon whisky bread pudding serving

I serve this dish warm (it reheats beautifully in the microwave), but you can serve it cold as well. It’s perfect for dessert and even breakfast! NOM!



For the longest time, my friend and neighbor, Sharen, told me about the yogurt she buys from a farm the next town over. Finally, she said, “C’mon! We’re going for a ride. I’ll show you where it is!” And off we went to Deerfield Farm–just down the way from us, off Route 68 in Durham, Connecticut.

Deerfield Farm barn

Their self-service farm store is stocked with creamy, European-style yogurt (plain or vanilla) that’s perfect to top with homemade granola and fresh fruit. And, though I’ve not yet tried it, they also offer raw Jersey milk (chocolate, too!), eggs, and two items high on my gotta-try list: ricotta and a soft, creamy, fresh cheese called Brianna.

Deerfield Farm prices

Sometimes you’ll find people along with the cows and cats in the barn, but the payment system is simple and old-fashioned. So be sure to bring cash and exact change.

Deerfield Farm honor system
Now that you know what prompted me to make granola, let me show you how–so easy, so delicious. You’re gonna love it!


Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients
3 cups rolled oats (I used Bob’s Red Mill–they’re great!)
1 cup shredded coconut (Baker’s is my fave)
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons golden flaxseed
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In a small bowl, combine
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (30 seconds in the microwave did the trick for me)
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Ready for how easy this is? Combine dry ingredients well. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then spread out evenly over a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, then bake 15 minutes more. Let cool, then store. Or enjoy right away over your favorite yogurt. Or gelato. Or however you like to enjoy–just by the spoonful works, too!




They say if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. So, after a failed attempt at making salted caramel pudding a few weeks ago–and after eating all the not-quite-thickened portions myself, MOO–I gave it another go this afternoon. These little babies are heading over the river in their own little individual containers for a cookout with my family, so I’m not going to trick them out even further with caramel sauce and whipped cream as directed in the original recipe, but you sure can!

Let’s do this in steps to keep everything straight. I find it easier to follow this way.

inspired by Marcie Turney’s recipe from Barbuzzo (Philadelphia, PA) via Bon Appetit

8 Nabisco’s Famous Chocolate Wafers, crush and set in jars (2 per serving)

1. In a small bowl, whisk and set aside:
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch

2. In another small bowl, whisk and set aside:
3 egg yolks

3. In a small saucepan, combine and heat just to a simmer; then set aside:
½ cup whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, scraped

4. Get ready to add at the end:
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon Maker’s Mark

5. In a separate saucepan, stir to combine over medium heat till sugar dissolves:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup water
Increase heat; cook without stirring for approximately four minutes, then remove from heat. Now, here’s where we start moving quickly and combining the previous steps.

Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into eggs.
Whisk milk/eggs into milk/cornstarch.
Slowly whisk all the above into saucepan with caramel in it and cook over medium-high heat until it thickens, about 3 minutes.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon Maker’s Mark.
Pour through a fine-mesh sieve.
Pour 1/2 cup of budino over each chocolate-cookie lined jar.

Chill. When the east is in the house, ohmygod! Danger! Enjoy! Happy Labor Day, amici!


Your hometown may have its merits, but does it have a watermelon man? Mine does. How cool is it to pull over on a side street on a hot summer day and buy a watermelon from a friendly gentleman and former Navy SEAL?

Meet Cowboy, watermelon man

Meet Cowboy, watermelon man

Of course, after meeting Cowboy, my next mission was to go home and blitz up some fine watermelon margaritas. I made a couple of batches before I landed on the perfect formula to share with you. Ready? Here we go.

4 heaping cups of watermelon, cubed
3 limes, squeezed (plus 1 extra for garnish, if you like)
1 cup tequila
2.5 oz. Grand Marnier
2.5 oz. Cointreau

Into a pitcher, pour watermelon cubes, lime juice, tequila, Grand Marnier and Cointreau. Here’s where it can’t get any easier: grab a stick (immersion) blender and blend away! If you don’t have one, you can use a traditional blender, it will just give you one more thing to clean up. :)

Now that you’ve got that down, it’s time to make these drinks sparkle. Combine sanding sugar (the coarse kind you use to decorate cookies) and some Kosher salt on a small plate. Then dip the rim of each glass into some tequila you’ve poured onto another small plate, then into the sugar/Kosher salt mixture.

Is there a bit of tequila left? You can pour it into the pitcher, or bartender’s treat, just drink it yourself. ;) Garnish with a lime wheel if you wish. And remember, if you drink, don’t drive, do the watermelon crawl! CLINQUE!


Let’s go back to the 70s and 80s with a light and fruity summer treat–perfect to eat when you wanna beat the heat. Too many of us forgot about this delightful fruit mousse-like thinG, so let’s revive it right now. It’s so easy to make and reminds me of times when life was more carefree.

Keep it sweet and simple with just yogurt and Cool Whip, or add fresh fruit. And, if you do add berries, save some for the top to give your pie a grin, because who can resist a smiling dessert? :)

The most challenging part of this pie is finding French or custard-style yogurt–not fruit on the bottom, not Greek. Stonyfield’s Smooth & Creamy Organic is an excellent choice. Here in central Connecticut, I was thrilled to find it at West Side Marketplace in Rocky Hill. Stonyfield Organic makes all great things dairy, including my favorite milk and cream. If you can’t find Stonyfield, Yoplait Thick & Creamy is another good option.


1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip, thawed
2 6-oz. containers French or custard-style yogurt (try Stonyfield Smooth & Creamy or Yoplait Thick & Creamy): how about strawberry or strawberry banana?
6 oz. fresh raspberries (optional)
1 graham cracker crust (I like Honey Maid)

If you’re using them, set aside the most perfect berries for your smile–or whatever design you’d like to make.


Fold yogurt into thawed Cool Whip till combined. Now, if you’ll excuse my technical term, smoosh the remaining raspberries into the side of your bowl with a spoon and stir them in, too.

Smooth evenly into graham cracker crust. Decorate top of pie as you like.

Put the pie in the freezer for about two hours so it sets and holds its shape when you slice it. Store remaining pie in the fridge.

slice of pie

Sending you a cool Strawberry Letter of summer enjoyment straight from my childhood. ♫ Feel sunshine sparkle pink and blue, playgrounds will laugh if you try to ask: Is it cool? Is it cool? ♫ Oh, yes, it is!

Summertime and squash is everywhere! Let’s make the best of what’s bountiful with this simple side. It’s super-easy and a little cheesy with a nice, buttery crunch on top.


To cook the squash
4 heaping cups squash (I used 3 yellow squash and 2 zucchini), sliced
1 medium sweet onion, halved, then sliced thin
1.5 tablespoons butter

To add once the vegetables are cooked
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the topping
1 tablespoon melted butter
scant 2/3 cup panko
some extra shredded cheddar to sprinkle over the top

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square pan.

Melt butter in a saute pan. Add onions and squash.

squash saute
Cook till tender and the onions start to get a bit of color.

Remove from heat, then add cheese, mayo, egg, salt and pepper. Pour into buttered baking dish.

Combine one tablespoon of melted butter with panko. Sprinkle evenly over top, then sprinkle a bit of additional shredded cheddar over that.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

And in the wise words of Farmer Brown, ♫ For variety and vitamins and feeling rooty-toot, eat a veg-a-bread-a-milk-a-cheese-a-bean-a-meat-a-fruit–eat a variety every day! ♫ Live life in balance and be happy! :D My man!


Staying cool, amici? The forecast calls for a fresh pitcher of Arnold Palmer, that winning combo of brewed black tea and fresh-squeezed lemonade. So refreshing, especially when you need to beat the heat and take it slow. Like today. Like most of this past week and the week to come!

Feel like spiking it? Well, then it’s a John Daly. American flag pants not required. Let’s do this thinG.

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)


1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1.5 tablespoons dried lavender (optional, but nice)
4 teaspoons of your favorite black tea leaves*
4 cups hot water to brew the tea
2 lemons
2 cups cold water

*Mine comes from Sundial Gardens (Higganum, CT) in Higganum, Connecticut. Don’t live near here? You can order online if you’d like to give it a try, or use what you already like best.

First, make a simple syrup. I infused mine with lavender. Combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water and lavender (if you’re using it). Bring to a boil, then remove from the burner, let steep for 30-45 minutes.

Meantime, brew 4 cups of black tea. Once that’s all set, strain the simple syrup over the brewed tea into a pitcher. Slice a slice from both ends of each lemon and let them float on top before you squeeze the rest. Then add two cups of cold water and give it all a stir.


When it’s time to serve, load up a glass–or drinking jar–with ice. Add a sprig of something–mint, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, lemon basil–to make it fresh and pretty.

Coolio has the right idea, “If you can’t stand the heat, get ya @$$ out the kitchen!” That’s how I’m livin’ today, too. Stay cool and enjoy this “Fantastic Voyage.” :)


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