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Sundays with Joy/Banana Bourbon Bread Pudding

Banana Bourbon Bread Pudding

Okay, this time I’ve held out on you for two months. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. I remembered a Sundays with Joy that I had made and photographed but hadn’t posted about yet. I have two actually, but I HAD to come back with this one.

In the past, I’ve been one to avoid foods because I think I don’t like them. For the most part, I just haven’t tried them yet and I think that is the case for most of us. But I get super frustrated when I fall in love with something new that someone else even refuses to try, so lately, whenever a chance arises to make or try something new, I go for it. I don’t want to be that frustratingly stubborn person anymore, missing out on so much potential goodness. So it was with this new attitude that I attacked this recipe.

It all begins with this lovely stale crispy bread.

It all begins with this lovely stale crispy bread.

Let me put it this way…WHAT THE HECK WAS I DOING THE 36 YEARS I COULD’VE BEEN EATING BREAD PUDDING BUT WASNT? Seriously.

It was pure heavenly warmth, every dang bite. I vowed to my 10 year old, a quick and also surprised new bread pudding lover, that I would make up for lost time in regards to variations on bread pudding. I’ve even pondered savory ones. This is a whole new world opened up for me and I have Joy, of course, to thank for it. If you’d like this recipe, please get Joy’s Book.

Banana Bourbon Bread Pudding

Not a particular GeekyLink today since so many things are happening.  First off, Gallifrey One is coming in less than three weeks and I am a happy girl since Arthur Darvill was announced!  I don’t know if he is into married chubby Mexican chicks that will be bringing their daughter with them but, fingers crossed!  Frakker Lacquer finally released their Doctor Who inspired collection and my favorites are Type 40 (matte), Stone Cold, and Shining World.  Plus she’s got a Sherlock inspired collection coming soon and so many plans for this year that you need to check her out.  Oh, and speaking of Doctor Who, I LOVED the 50th anniversary and I LOVED the Christmas special (OK, a bit less but I haven’t been a fan of those since Donna) and I cannot wait for the future of this series no matter how different it will be.

Banana Bourbon Bread Pudding

Hunger Games Party

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I saw an invitation online and I just made my own version of it using some clip art and a Hunger Games font.

It begins with an invitation…
I made my own version of an invitation I saw online using some clip art and a Hunger Games font.

There are birthday parties and there are birthday parties.  I tend to go over board with each but if I have a theme and I want to incorporate food into that theme well, watch out, momma is going to be out of commission for awhile because she is going to be crafting and baking up a storm for a few weeks.  And so it was with my oldest and her Hunger Games themed 10th birthday (and promotion, since her birthday fell so close to the end of her school year and now she’ll be off to middle school).  Also, this party was going to be big because we would be including friends as well as family.

As per usual, it all begins with a Pinterest board.  This allows me to have a place to compile overall party ideas, decoration ideas, game ideas, food ideas.  Then I have to decide between what I want to pull off as opposed to what I can pull off.  Lists help me accomplish all of this, crossing off and adding and crossing off and adding some more till I get a halfway concise idea of what is going to happen for the party.

The most effective yet simplest craft EVER!

The most effective yet simplest craft EVER!

So it began that I decided to make the food for the party so as to have it more in the spirit of the book.  I figured that I would find some crock pot friendly recipes suited to my needs.  I also knew that I would be making TONS of bread so I needed recipes that I could freeze well either before or after baking.  I found two great ones!  One I adapted a few different ways to make “different” loaves (white whole wheat, white, mixed flours and one with wheat bran sprinkled on top).  I’ll post it soon.  I make it often but I wanted to get it down and messing with all these variations helped me with that.  The other I follow just as directed because it is spectacular and may be a new candidate for Justin’s Sandwich Rolls!  I also made these because it came with three variations on the same dough and the dough kept for four days in the refrigerator.  I wanted lots of different ones because bread (including various breads from all the districts) features prominently in the book.  The make ahead dough and breads really made the whole thing I was going for possible.  I served the sliced french bread with goat cheese mixed with basil, goat cheese with sliced apples, and butter for my appetizers.  I also put out the different refrigerator rolls.

HungerGamesPartyFor dinner, we had shredded beef with rolls and Beef Stew over brown rice or homemade mashed potatoes.  We had “Berry Mush” (vanilla berries, recipe soon!) and a green salad as well.  Most of the ideas for the food I got from Fictional Food.  Some I wanted to make like the goat cheese and apple tarts but I didn’t have time and others I wanted to put out like the hot chocolate and bread for dipping (seriously some Mexican hot chocolate and pan dulce is PERFECT for that, right?) but it was a very hot day.  I did make some Mellark’s Bakery Cookies but added some spice to them because in my mind the overall ingredients in District 12 would be subpar but a little bit of spice would hide it.  I would have included the recipe in this post but of course I forgot to take pictures of them.  I changed the whole wheat flour to 2 cups and the all purpose to 1 1/2 cups.  Then I added 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice (mostly just because I couldn’t find my nutmeg, otherwise I’d have blended a mix of my own).  I really liked them.  They came out like a lightly spiced version of a spice cookie.

Now, the cake.  My daughter was VERY specific about the cake she wanted.  I never really knew she was a fan of my whipped cream frosted cakes but recently we had one with banana in the filling as opposed to strawberries.  I guess she liked it because, even knowing her theme and realizing that her poor momma would have to try and “tie it in” to everything she picked a whipped cream cake with strawberries and bananas in the filling.  So what I came up with was to try and use banana and strawberry garnish to evoke fire or flames in some sort of way to tie it all together.  I even added a few buttercream “flames” that I used on the cupcakes I made.  Those were inspired by Erica’s Sweet Tooth Hunger Games cupcakes.

HungerGamesCakeOnto the games, well we didn’t exactly have a reaping.  It was more of a raffle with their name entered once for being there and once for every game played.  I hung a small hula hoop that they tried to throw foam “spears” into and later slingshot some water smoosh balls into.  We also did a water balloon toss since it was so hot.  The games I sort of winged it on because I was mainly focused on the food.  I just bought a bunch of stuff I thought I’d be able to use and it worked out pretty well.  The winner of the “reaping” won two prizes that were left over and one of two bow and arrow sets.  The next winner was my daughter who won the other set.  I had also bought six silly string cans and gave three to the runners up of the other games and then picked three more names for the other silly string cans.  The kids liked those parts the best I think, when we let them loose with the silly string and the rest of the water balloons.

HungerGamesPinata

My uncle picks up our pinatas for parties and I might have mentioned that if he found a mockingjay pinata that he’d be “the best uncle ever” so he and my aunt customized this one for us.
Pic courtesy of my dad.

One site suggested a Capitol Makeup table.  I went one step further and set up Capitol Fashions.  I used every useable (and takeable) piece of dressup paraphenalia that we had and also bought a few more masks, funky glassses, some mustaches, hats and new dollar store makeup and let the kids go to town.  Another site had a Sponsor Gift table idea that I liked as a favor table and I just put out simple cheap stuff that might be usable in the games like band-aids, tissue, braid-holders, trail mix, compass rings, and some homemade bookmarks along with the Mellark bakery cookies.  Both tables were near each other and that was helpful since I wanted our guests to take home gifts from both.

HungerGamesTables

Our Sponsor Gift table and Capitol Fashions table. Pics courtesy of my dad.

As for GeekyLinks, I am all linked out.  I’ve spent two weeks in a Hunger Games birthday party haze and I need a rest.  However, if you have any questions about anything I made for the party that I didn’t directly link to, please ask.  Most of it should be on the Pinterest board though.

 

 

Sundays with Joy/Whole Wheat Honey and Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

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WholeWheatGoatCheeseBiscuits--NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

These biscuits were a nice coming back to earth treat after a long and busy Spring Break.  I say busy but really we didn’t do much except get ready for Easter during the week before Easter and then get ready for Justin and Sarah’s birthday party the week after.  I am going to fill you in on some more of those two weeks in a later post (ahem, WonderCon anyone?) but for now (especially since I’m already late)…onto the biscuits.

WholeWheatGoatCheeseDropBiscuits-NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

First off, I love the way the cheese, butter, and whole wheat flour play into this biscuit.  Those are definitely the flavors in this biscuit.  There is honey in the biscuit but the honey that Joy suggests you brush across the tops of these babies?!  Well, that just makes for a whole new ball game and sets these biscuits over the top.  I never understood why people put honey on their biscuits.  I saw my dad do it for years.  I mean KFC gives it to you FOR your biscuits and I still never “got” it, never tried it.  Joy asks me once, I oblige, and of course I am completely smitten.

The dough was super easy to make.  I dropped it from an ice cream scoop onto the warmed, buttered cast iron skillet and baked. It was super easy.  I left my honey out on top of my stove to warm it up a bit and I brushed it on before the biscuits had completely cooled.  Once cool, I grabbed one, and biscuit eating for me was forever changed.  Thanks, Joy!  Please buy her cookbook.  When I think of all the things I would never have eaten if not for this book, I am SO grateful.  Don’t forget to check out variations on Bakeaholic Mama.

WholeWheatGoatCheeseDropBiscuits1

My GeekyLink for this week is for anyone who knows how to code.  I have been trying to get my oldest interested in learning how to code and I think I just may have found a way.  There is now a NASA Contest to Help Robot Astronaut See.  While this is a great idea and all, the robot kind of creeps me out.  Let’s just say I wouldn’t want him on the same space station I was on.

WholeWheatHoneyGoatCheeseDropBiscuits-NerdyBaker.wordpress.com

Sundays with Joy/Mommom’s Chocolate Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread

Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread--NerdyBaker

See, only a couple of days late. Okay, a week and a couple of days.

This bread was quite lovely. I had a few members of my family obsessed with it. Once I knew I wouldn’t get around to photographing it till things around here calmed down, I had to put it away for fear I wouldn’t have any left to take pictures of. The bourbon is spectacular in this, bringing out the flavor of not only the chocolate chips but the banana as well. As always please buy Joy’s mouth watering cookbook for the recipe!

The recipe called for walnuts but I used pecans because that was all I had.

The recipe called for walnuts but I used pecans because that was all I had.

I want to talk about the year to come. In so far as posts go, with the holidays being over as well as my son’s birthday party I should be getting back to a regular schedule starting with this coming Sundays with Joy. I may even sneak a post in before then. Speaking of Sundays with Joy, we decided to stay on our current schedule of posting every other week that we began during the holidays. I have vowed to stop being afraid of some of my own ideas and instead of just letting them pile up to just try and go for it. So I don’t see any problem with me being able to keep a two post a week schedule (unless I become the queen of baking fails). I know others post LOTS more but I just gotta do what I can do. Also, coming up soon this year will be another post on Gallifrey One! My daughter, niece, and I are going for two days this year as opposed to only the six hours I got to spend there last year. I am so excited! I am going to take lots of pictures and meet tons more people that also love the Doctor.

Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread--NerdyBaker

Speaking of the Doctor, let’s move on to some GeekyLinks. Here are Top 10 Theories About the New Doctor Who Companion and although I don’t agree wholly with any of them I thought two or three were on the right track. What I found more interesting, though, were some ideas thrown around in Episode 105 of the Traveling the Vortex podcast where one of the guys had a theory that through no fault of her own that Oswin may have dubious origins and I couldn’t agree more. We shall see…but unfortunately not until April. Oh, and yes, I do recommend that podcast. I was listening to another Doctor Who podcast but it just wasn’t for me. This one is WAY more up my ally. There is more structure, I am a sucker for fan feedback, and I always appreciate when the hosts let a bit of their lives spill over. I really enjoy it. I need to catch up on episodes I missed!

Bourbon Spiked Banana Bread--NerdyBaker

Thanksgiving and the Least Baking Fails Ever

The only picture of the apple pie.  Also, I can’t crimp so I don’t crimp.

This year I went a little overboard.  All in all I made eight things for Thanksgiving.  Yup, you read that right.  EIGHT.  And I would give myself a good 6 out of 8.  Not bad if I do say so myself.

Every year I make pre meal appetizers.  They are mostly sweet with a savory one slipped in for good measure.  Usually I don’t get to make the main desserts.  It is mostly because my family always has millions of people over and it is easier for the ones that don’t know what to bring to pick up a pie.  Last year I was responsible for rolls and they turned out quite wonderful.  I have made them again since but still never gotten around to blogging about them.

The bane of my existence on “baking day”.

Anyways, this year for some wonderful reason, I got to do the desserts!  I made apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake (for my Aunt’s birthday) for the big “end of the meal” desserts.  This was the first time using Joy the Baker’s recipe for apple pie and I liked it immensely.  If you make the crust the day before, it is really not that much work.  Also, macerating the apples allows you to put it aside and do other things.  It is a very friendly recipe for Thanksgiving day baking.  I usually make a Dutch apple with a pressed in crust.  I also used Joy’s crust for the pumpkin pie.  The recipe I use for the pumpkin pie I have used for a good 3 or 4 years now.  I fall in love with it more and more every year.  The same goes for the cheesecake.  This year was probably my best cheesecake in awhile.  I need to branch out more, though, with cheesecake flavors but my Aunt likes a big plain cheesecake.  She will go for the berry topping that goes with it, though.

The recipe I use makes about one and 2/3 of a pumpkin pie so I always have one for me! Also, the only semblance of a picture of the cheesecake is the pan on the upper left that at that point only has the crust in it.

With all that fruit and cheese, something was missing.  I could see my sister in the corner whining about not liking anything.  Chocolate was in order.  Now, while I would love to find the best chocolate cream pie recipe out there, time was of the essence as was ability.  I have tried it before and failed (multiple times) so I thought I would go simpler.  Nutella brownies and cheesecake brownie bites to the rescue!  The Nutella brownies were OK but I think I over baked them.  I made them mini sized and there was advice in the comments on the time to bake if making minis but I still think it was a bit too long.  They looked beautiful though, especially with the chopped hazelnuts on top.  The cheesecake brownie bites, however, came out better than anticipated and I made minis and about half a dozen cupcake sized brownies (which I put on the main dessert table) and all came out beautifully.

Just before going in the oven. Sadly no pictures of the finished ones and no pictures of the chocolate cheesecake brownies.

Onto the bread!  First off, two days before Thanksgiving I made my crusts and another batch of Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Bread.  That turned out to be a great decision because I now have a whole extra loaf in my freezer!  My aunt couldn’t believe it was vegan.  I also made a variation of my Ham and Cheese Pull Apart Party Bread.  I basically cut them like you would a cinnamon roll and baked it in two 8 inch cake pans.  Simple, easy, and yummy.  My biggest baking fail came from my sourdough.  First off, I just gotta say, this year’s starter is a VERY happy starter.  Happy starters make me happy, SERIOUSLY.  When I start mixing ingredients into the sponge and it is still bubbling at me saying hi with every turn of the spatula, I am one happy baker.  Anyways, it was late.  The sourdough was the last thing I made and it wasn’t going to be served on Thanksgiving but rather given to family that wanted some.  I may have shut off the alarm on my phone instead of snoozing it.  Also, the last thing my husband said to me was to make sure the oven was off (and it WAS, when he left and then I turned it back on).  So the sourdough was baked a good 30 minutes or so longer than it should have been.  There were no alarms or smoke, nothing happened (luckily) except I over baked it.  I still gave them away but I don’t know if anybody ate them.  I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t.  It still would’ve made great toast.

Pull Apart Party Bread

Today I don’t really have a GeekyLink just a little story.  Today I went to our local comic book store to look for something specific for a Christmas gift*.  I wrote down all the information I needed so I could get what I wanted or get it ordered if they didn’t have it.  My husband wanted to come with me.  He took our son so I could talk to the sales guy.  I asked the guy questions.  I answered some questions.  I didn’t get what I wanted because it turns out it is exclusive to Midtown Comics and I’d have to order it from them.  When we left, my husband asked me ” So you know all the lingo?”  but what I heard was, “How much of a nerd ARE you?”

*I can’t say what it is before Christmas, duh!

Pesto Bread with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Some Halloween Goodies

Happy Halloween folks!  I figured today is as good as any for my first midweek post in two weeks.  I’m bringing you my Pesto Bread that I made awhile back plus a few goodies I made for a party that my oldest had at her school the other day.  They were fall/Halloween goodies but the party was more of a celebration than a Halloween party.  It was for her class from last year. That class did the best in the school on their state test including three girls that got perfect math scores (one may have been related to me).

The best thing about the Candy Corn Cookies are the scraps, ugly but still tasty! Chocolate Chip cookies and Eyeball Oreo Truffles.

Apparently the entire class remembered the eyeball Oreo truffles I made last year and they were requested.  I figured that the Candy Corn Cookies were easy and kept the theme so I made a batch of those.  Lastly, I made a chocolate chip cookie that I added fall M&Ms to at my husband’s suggestion.  When he came home he was floored that I actually listened to him and had some left over just for him.

Making recipes…

I don’t really like making the Oreo truffles (I am the WORST at dipping things in chocolate) but the kids requested it so I did it.  I didn’t get to chill the chocolate chip cookie dough as long as I’d have liked but it’s kinda hard to screw up a chocolate chip cookie.  The Candy Corn Cookies were just as easy as I remembered except next time I am lining my baking pan with parchment (for when the dough chills) because the plastic wrap just wasn’t cutting it.  The dough ended up being really difficult to get out of the pan.

Soft dough, warm dough, little ball of flour…

Onto the bread, I just did the opposite of my Tomato Basil bread (seeing the pesto paste on the shelf at the store gave me the idea).  It was an experiment that worked and I LOVE it when that happens on the first try.  This also was another bread like that one that screamed, “Make me a grilled cheese out of me!”  So I did!  If you like bread that is bursting with flavor than this is the one for you.

My GeekyLink for this week is going to have to be for next year, like last year when I posted the Candy Corn Cookies after Halloween.  Just click the link and save it or pin it so you don’t forget.  A Plethora of Pumpkin Patterns from GeekMom.  My favorite link that they had there and where I got all my pumpkin patterns for this year came from ThinkGeek.  And for any family members (whenever we pick names) this is where you need to shop for me, k?  Once I get a better picture of all our pumpkins I will post them on my Facebook page.  Everyone have a safe and fun Halloween!

So pretty on the inside too!

Recipe Follows

Sundays with Joy/Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Bread

Life is the master of throwing curve balls.  Remember when I told you about my lovely cat, Sally, that we spent lots of money we didn’t have fixing her broken leg over the summer?  Well, now after just beginning to let her out again (for about 3 weeks) we cannot find her.  Believe me, none of us were at all thrilled that she was going out again (she just gets into trouble) but she INSISTED.  She would meow and meow till you couldn’t take it anymore no matter how loud the computer or television volume.  We’ve looked at the shelter, online, around the neighborhood (we put up signs and posted online ads everywhere) with no luck.  We did get a call a few days ago that my husband followed up but it wasn’t her.

Adding all the pecan bits I had left in the house…

It is still too soon to call it over.  It hasn’t quite been a week.  The younger ones and I are doing fine but my husband and our oldest aren’t taking it well AT ALL.  My oldest cried in the shower the other day after soccer practice.  We could hear her sobbing from the living room.  We tried to comfort her but then she denied she’d been crying.  Apparently the crying didn’t stop once she went to bed either.  It is kind of funny, the two that are so devastated by the loss are the ones trying to convince me to get a new cat.  I think we should save the money on cat food and shots (that Sally was due for) and NOT get another cat, at least for awhile.  They look at me like I’m heartless and I do want to give in sometimes but we have to be practical, especially with Christmas coming up.  Who knows?  Santa may seem fit to bring us a new pet.  Especially since my younger daughter said that she was fine with Sally being gone but she’d better be back by Christmas because it wouldn’t be Christmas without her.  O geez…

Ready for the oven!

Onto the bread…I really loved it.  It reminded me of why I gravitated towards Joy’s blog to begin with-her AWESOME quick bread recipes.  A few slices pair perfectly with coffee in the morning.  This bread is my second favorite vegan recipe.  My first being Joy’s Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I was really bummed I didn’t have all the pecans that the recipe called for.  I only had between 1/2-3/4 cup of ground pecans, which I think I will use again in addition to coarsely chopped ones.  I could have used other nuts but I didn’t want to change the flavor profile at all.  I really liked where she was going with this bread.  So did my 3 year old.  I had cut into the one I wasn’t taking pictures of, just two slices.  I decided I would wrap up the rest of it and give it to my dad.  My son decided, when I wasn’t looking, it would be the perfect thing to take off the wrapping and dig right into the rest with his hands.  So I had to slice off what he messed up (and yeah I gave it to him) and again wrapped the rest of the bread to give to my dad.  A sad, sad half of a loaf as opposed to a nice 3/4 loaf.  Well, at least we know it was good.  Also, for being vegan, this bread puffed up so nice and pretty you would NEVER know.

As always, please buy my favorite cookbook for the recipe and check out other links for variations (some made muffins!) at Bakeaholic Mama.

My GeekyLink for this week isn’t exactly a link.  Just a tweet from my boyfriend Chris Hardwick that just increases my excitement over Wreck-It Ralph.  I am hoping that my whole family can go together this weekend.  I guess we will figure it out tomorrow night.  Sometimes we all go together, all the little cousins and the grown ups.  If we don’t, I am going to be first in line with my kids on Friday afternoon.  I can’t wait!

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