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Mon, Oct. 21

Bread pudding is a classic comfort food

There are many things that come to mind when we think of "comfort food." For some it is macaroni and cheese; for others, it's chicken pot pie or meatloaf. One old favorite that has stood the test of time is bread pudding. From its humble beginnings when a penny was worth something and nothing was wasted, not even stale bread, it's now served in fine restaurants. I included one recipe that is heart-healthy, since most comfort food is heavy on the fat and calories, wherein lies the comfort. Most of the recipes feature things you may have in your pantry.

Remember bread should be firm and not fresh. Notice different breads are used as well as some other things to add. You may also use Challah bread, available locally, or other sweet breads.

CHOCOLATE DECADENCE BREAD PUDDING

3 cup. whole milk, divided

4 (1 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate squares

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup. butter or margarine

8 oz. old fashioned or other firm white bread, cubed (5 cups)

2 tsp. Pure vanilla extract

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 eggs, lightly beaten

For custard portion, combine 2 cups milk, chocolate, sugar and butter in large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes, or until chocolate is melted. Stir bread cubes, vanilla, cinnamon and remaining milk into hot mixture. Stir in eggs. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir and pour into buttered 1 1/2 qt. baking dish or soufflé dish. Bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes or until table knife inserted into center comes clean. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream and chocolate curls. 6 servings.

BASIC BREAD PUDDING

2-day-old French

baguettes, cut into cubes

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1 diced banana

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (opt)

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, toss the bread cubes, raisins, apple, banana and nuts. In medium bowl, combine eggs, sugar, spices, vanilla, milk and cream with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over bread cube mixture and let sit 15 minutes. Pour into 9x13 greased baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. To serve, spoon pudding into dishes and serve with vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers. Serves 6-8.

LUBY'S BREAD PUDDING WITH LEMON SAUCE

If you have done any traveling you have probably seen or visited Luby's Cafeterias. This is their recipe.

Cinnamon sugar:

6 tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Pudding:

3 cups milk

7 extra large eggs (or 8 if not extra large)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

8 slices homestyle

white bread (2 or more days old), torn into 1/2 inch pieces

1/4 cup raisins

Lemon Sauce:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 1/2 tbsp. water

Cinnamon sugar: In small mixing bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon and set aside. NOTE: Make extra using these measurements and store in glass jar and keep for other uses such as topping ice cream, toast, pancakes or fruit.

Pudding: In large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add bread and stir until all bread is coated with milk-egg mixture. Set aside 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Add cinnamon mixture and stir to incorporate. Stir in raisins. Preheat oven to 350. Pour pudding mixture into a 2-quart baking dish, cover with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and return to oven and continue baking 10 minutes to brown top.

Lemon sauce: In small pan, combine sugar and lemon juice. Mix well. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Place cornstarch in small bowl, add water and mix to dissolve cornstarch. (May add four drops of yellow food color at this point if desired). Add cornstarch mixture to saucepan, stirring constantly, as mixture thickens. Cut bread pudding into squares and top with lemon sauce. Serves 8.

CARAMEL BANANA CORNBREAD PUDDING

From Relish magazine in the Courier August 2006. Tastes like Bananas Foster.

1 (8 oz.) package corn muffin mix

3 bananas, sliced

3/4 cup dark brown

sugar, divided

3 cups (2 %) low-fat

milk

4 eggs

1/2 tsp. each ground ginger and cinnamon

1/4 cup caramel sauce or topping

Prepare corn muffins according to package directions. Cool. Crumble 4 muffins into large chunks. Preheat oven to 325. Lightly butter a 2 quart or 8 inch square dish or use 6 small (8 oz.) ramekins. Arrange banana slices in dish. Top with 1/4 cup brown sugar and corn muffin chunks.

Combine milk, eggs, remaining brown sugar, ginger and cinnamon; whisk well. Pour over muffins. Bake about 50 minutes. Drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve warm. Serves 6.

NOTE: If using ramekins check sooner than 50 minutes.

HEART-SMART BREAD PUDDING

6 slices wheat bread, cut into small cubes

2 cups skim milk

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup each brown sugar and raisins

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Slightly grease baking dish. Put bread cubes in bottom of dish. Mix eggs, brown sugar, milk, vanilla, raisins and cinnamon and pour over bread cubes.

Bake uncovered at 325 about 40-50 minutes or until slightly brown. Serve warm with fresh berries if desired. Serves 6 and easily doubled then use 9 x 13 pan.

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