Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Thinking ahead to the change of seasons...

Cinnamon, apples and raisins always remind me of cooler temperatures... the aroma of fall came through a dish I made for dessert tonight. We are looking forward to living where there will be an actual noticeable change in the seasons again.

As the Cinnamon Apple Raisin Bread Pudding slowly baked in the oven tonight, the smell had us anxiously eating away at dinner so we could grab a piece for dessert. In some bread pudding recipes, the bread needs to soak overnight, but here it only requires a quick 15 minute soak. The mixture it rests in is a combination of lightly sweet vanilla soymilk, sugar, fresh lemon zest, butter, fragrant spices and eggs. Cinnamon spiced dried apples (the soft, not crunchy kind) and golden raisins are also added, but they are first plumped up with apple flavored brandy.

It took about an hour to be set in the center, but it may be less/more depending on your oven and what you use to bake it in. We agreed that the flavor was spot on, but the texture was a bit too soft (or as Jeff would say, mushy) for him. I'm not sure if it needs a longer soak time or a little less liquid - maybe if we toasted the cubed bread a bit before we soaked it next time?

Golden raisins make another appearance tonight in the side dish, Spinach with Pine Nuts and Golden Raisins. If you like wilted spinach, this is a snap to throw together and was quickly eaten by both of us. Jeff looked at the giant bowl of spinach and said "Who else is coming to dinner to eat all that?!" 3 minutes later I showed him the results and he was pretty surprised it cooked down so much. After garlic quickly cooks in the same pan with a touch of olive oil, the spinach, golden raisins and seasonings are heated through. The juicy raisins were a nice compliment to the sprinkling of rich toasted pine nuts that are added at the end.

While the side dish was good, Chicken with Cashews and Vegetables was the highlight of dinner tonight. Sliced chicken breast starts this dish off by a quick cook in some olive oil and garlic. Cashews, red bell peppers and crunchy snow peas are added, followed by some chicken broth. This mixture simmers until the chicken cooks through and the veggies are tender. I would use more red or maybe some orange peppers for color, but I only had half a small red in the refrigerator. Sadly, the store here is too far away to run and get one or two ingredients if I need them. A scrumptious sauce is made with the leftover pan juices, sour cream, grainy Dijon and shot of honey to impart a little sweetness. If I realized that the sauce here would be so generous, I would have served this over some brown rice to soak up the tangy mixture. I'll be sure to make some tomorrow when I have the leftovers for lunch! Include the crunchy cashews if you can, the flavor they lend really add to this dish!



  1. Change-o-seasons sounds good with the drop in humidity lately! Looking foward to your interpretations this year on Autmumn, old-skool style.
    Don't forget to check out the festivities at the Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville! Lots of jousting, turkey legs, mead, and comedy abounding.

  2. Wow! That bread pudding looks so good! It made my mouth! Loving the new recipes you are trying!

  3. yummy.......i just had breakfast and can't wait for lunch now.......yummy

  4. I was thinking about making the cooksillustrated "applecake" but decided to wait another month or so until it was more 'fally'

  5. This entire menu is just to die for. Although as beastly hot as it's been in Nashvegas this week, all I want to eat is raw lettuce and tomatoes. Fortunately, we have lots of both.

    You're in prime apple country now, BTW -- can't wait to see what you do with all those!


  6. Love the greens, raisins and pine nuts!

    Thanks for visiting our site - TVP is very easy to prepare. Just soak it in water and throw into the dish. The directions are usually on the package. The Shepherds Pie is the first time I've tried it, but I hope to try it in chili and sloppy joes soon.


  7. Being a native New Yorker, now innkeeper /owner of the Fish Creek House B&B in Montana, apples definitely signified change of season. We used to go upstate NY for prime apple picking.. ah what memories... Will have to try the apple streusel on our guests. Thanks!

  8. As usual everything looks great. That bread pudding looks like it would be a wonderful fall dessert. I love spinach (so does my toddler) and this looks like a great way to serve it. I am always looking for ways to sneak greens into our diet.

  9. S'kat - We're excited about Renfest - I missed the one we went to in Mpls. The one near Phoenix was not all that great.

    Brenda - Thanks!

    Lexi - Lunch is too far away from breakfast!

    Wheresmymind - yeah, I can't wait till it feels more like fall.

    Kristin - I can't wait to see what we end up doing too!

    C&Y - Thanks for the info!

    Anon - Let me know how it works!