Saturday, June 16, 2012

Take A Bite Of: Butterscotch Pudding with Sea Salt Caramel

Because you truly can't eat just popsicles and ice cream during the long, hot summer ahead, you will need something light and delicious that is easy to make and OH SO incredible.

I had dinner with friends last week in NYC and we went to a fabulous little restaurant called JoJo. It is part of Jean Georges Vongerichten's culinary suite. We had this dessert that was pure bliss: handcrafted butterscotch pudding with a layer of caramel and topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

So yes, I had to come home and recreate it.

Super easy and since I have loved butterscotch pudding since I was a kid, why not introduce MiniMac to it too. And once you learn how easy homemade pudding is, you will say bye-bye to boxed brands forever.  I modified my version a bit by using Almond Milk.  From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.


Butterscotch Pudding with Sea Salt Caramel

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk ( I used Almond but you could use whole or 2%)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
1. In a medium sized pan, melt the butter. Add the dark brown sugar and salt, then stir until the sugar is well-moistened. Remove from heat.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup  of the milk until smooth. Make sure there are no clumps, even small, of the cornstarch.  Whisk in eggs, one at a time.
3. Gradually pour the remaining milk into the melted brown sugar, whisking constantly, then add the cornstarch mixture.
4. Return pan to the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently. Once it begins to bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and continue to cook for one minute, whisking constantly until the pudding thickens.
5. Remove from heat and add vanilla. If the pudding separates a bit or looks curdles, continue whisking until smooth.
6. Pour into 4-6 serving glasses or custard cups and chill thoroughly for several hours before serving. Or, dig that spoon in and taste warm, flavorful butterscotch pudding (I have to be honest, I could not wait.)

Make the Sea Salt Caramel: I use the sea salt caramel from my Sea Salt Caramel Brownie recipe. Cool completely and add a layer over the pudding. Top with sweetened whipped cream. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The last day of your life...

I  spoke with a good friend today. Five of his family members have been in Europe on vacation. On Monday, they were traveling together by car. His cousin and her husband of two months were part of the group. I am sure the morning started with love, great coffee, laughter and excitement about the day ahead. While on the road, their car unexpectedly swerved. And one wheel hit wet grass. The car swerved again, with more intent and out of control. It hit trees before careening down a ravine. And now three of those family members have died and the other two are in the hospital.  And not one of them knew at 9 am that morning, today is the last day of your life.

When my friend said he has had a tragic week so far, my heart went out to him. And it made me think.

We already know that life can change. It can change in a moment; the fraction of the time it takes you to answer a question, make a grocery list, pour your coffee, check your blackberry. We fully understand it and because of that understanding we also know we should openly love, follow through, and be present.  But more importantly, we should live each day as if it is our last.

And we don't.

Because if we did, we would think about how that last day of our life we are busy building was going to turn out. Perhaps we would rethink certain things we would do and say or certainly rethink things we might NOT do and say. For me, I don't live every day like it was my last. If I did, every day would incorporate me dancing. With some 80s remixes. And hot pants. And a fan.

And I would love fully, try always, judge little and complain never. We would all temper anger, release grievances, get over our own pettiness and overcome our fears. We would also laugh more, be kinder, increase our patience, buy a boat, eat doughnuts, have sex on the kitchen table and decide, yes I can complete a triathalon (or a French cooking class, or Italian lessons.)  And you would call your sister you haven't spoken to in months because of your fight over vacation plans. Or you might tell someone else in your family to literally go ----- themselves because you have simply had enough of their suffocating personality.

And you would live fully. And you would love freely.

Because we know that anyday could be our last, the most important thing is what is the story you want to tell about the last day of your life.

Months ago, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook about the morning she spent with her kids:

TODAY WE:

*Gave Appreciation Notes to Cashiers, Stock People, Drive-thru attendants and other hardworking individuals
*Gave an unsuspecting Teller flowers at the bank (this made EVERYONE there smile)
*Brought doughnuts and thank you cards to the local Police and Fire Departments
*Wished strangers Happy Easter
*Helped an Elderly Lady put her groceries in her car and pushed her cart in
*Taped exact money to several vending machines
*Gave fruit to co-workers
*Let another driver merge
*Gave Candy to Car detailers
*Left uplifting notes in ladies restrooms
*Complimented Strangers
*Left money under lunch bowl
*Gave a very kind partially deaf cashier a love note and $ ( she was sooo surprised )
*Left goodies bags with crayons, note cards, and small toys in them for children in the ER waiting area at our local hospital
*Left a thank you note and apple for the mailman
*Paid for a random ladies coffee at Starbucks
*Left several Gift cards with kind notes in between books at Barnes and Noble.
*Held doors for strangers
*Delivered food to the local SPCA and visited with the animals
*Left thank you notes with the SPCA volunteers
*Gave trail mix and cheer to Homeless people in Town's Square
*Gave scratch off lottery tickets to strangers


And because she is lovely inside and out, I wasn't a bit suprised. It is a reminder that we all have time to do great things. It is all about choices. And it is reminder to me that I want to incorporate more love and giving into every day of my life. And if it were my last day, loving and giving is exactly the type of story I would want to tell.

So if today were my last day, my story would start like this:

Woke up to the smiling face of my son and the quasi-smiling but quite sleepy yet dashing handsome face of  my husband.
Enjoyed tea my husband made for me and fresh mango.
Kissed my son 100 times and sang Jane Says by Jane's Addiction with him. Loudly. Perhaps too loudly for aforementioned sleepy husband.
Did a favor for a friend.
Sent a sympathy card to another friend dealing with loss this week.
Sent cards to Mom, Dad and Aunt and Uncle in the mail.
Prepared for big presentation and appreciated support from two colleagues I respect.
Had adults only time with husband.
Made plans with a good friend.
Had short but meaningful conversations with two other good friends.
Made plans for Father's Day with my Father in Law.
Gave a Starbucks card to the driver of my airport parking shuttle.
Helped an older couple at aiport.
Gave a Vosges chocolate bar (the BEST) to a woman at my hotel who was vey helpful last week.

And the day isn't even half over. Imagine the possiblities.
It's your story. Go write it.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Take A Bite Of: Blood Orange and Ginger Frozen Yogurt


One thing you should definitely invest in this summer is a ice cream maker. They are easy to use and with just a few ingredients, you will be the hit of the summer time pool parties.

I bought one two summers ago and have experimented with everything from sorbet to mascarpone and blueberry ice cream (that one won't make you thin, trust me). For this weekend, I wanted something healthy but with a little kick so I made this delightful concoction using Greek yogurt which is packed full of protein and already has a naturally tangy flavor. From my kitchen to yours, enjoy every bite.

Blood Orange and Ginger Frozen Yogurt


Ingredients
  • 1 cup blood orange juice (If juicing by hand, its approximately 10 blood oranges)
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
  • Zest of 2 blood oranges
  • 1 vanilla bean scraped or 1 tsp of vanilla bean paste
  • 1-2 tsp Fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Pour the blood orange juice and sugar into a small saucepan, warm blood orange juice and sugar over medium-high heat.  Stir to dissolve sugar. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until reduce by 1/2. Stand there and watch it because guess what? It likes to boil over quickly. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, honey, vanilla bean (or paste) lemon juice and ginger until smooth. Add the reduced blood orange/sugar combo and the zest. Taste it. If it is too tart for you, add more honey or sugar. If its too sweet for you, Goldilocks, add more lemon juice in small increments.You can also add a bit more ginger to taste.
  3. Pour contents into the bowl of your ice cream maker and follow instructions. I let mine whip for about 25 minutes. Place in freezer if you want it a bit firmer.