banana pudding a la magnolia – in more ways than one

I was recently at 2 parties where my cousin Jane made the Magnolia Bakery recipe for banana pudding.  I couldn’t help but notice how everybody was going crazy for it.  So this weekend I decided to make it  as a dessert for my grandson Noah’s afterbirthday party (7 years old).  My daughter told me that it made a big hit.  I don’t see how it couldn’t – it’s rich and refreshing and just plain delicious. My cousin used the recipe on popsugar.com, so I used that as well.

ingredients:

  • 1 box Nabisco Nilla wafers (don’t substitute any other brand of cookies)
  • 1 14 oz. can Magnolia sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water
  • 1 pack Jello brand vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 large ripe (but not too ripe) bananas 
  • 3 cups heavy cream

instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a mixer, beat sweetened condensed milk and water for about a minute with paddle attachment. Add the pudding mix and beat for about two more minutes. Transfer to a smaller bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. By that time the mixture should be nice and firm.
  2. In a large bowl on medium speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form (I put my large metal mixing bowl and whisk mixer attachment in the freezer for 15 minutes. I also put the cream in the freezer for 5 minutes before beating.) Beat till stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in whipped cream to the pudding mixture in thirds until fully incorporated and no streaks of pudding are visible.
  3. I like to use a glass trifle dish.   Start out by putting a shallow layer of whipped cream in bottom of dish. (This is different than any recipe I looked at for the Magnolia banana pudding) Then put about a layer of cookies (about a third of the box of Nilla wafers) on top of cream.  Layer about one third of the sliced bananas over cookies, then about 1/3 of leftover cream.  Then put second layer of cookies, then 2nd layer of bananas, then 1/2 of leftover cream.  Then put last layer of cookies, last slices of bananas, and rest of cream over bananas.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours before serving.

Note:  I recommend you watch the video on popsugar.com at least once before you begin making this banana pudding.

creamy and light quiche lorraine

Whenever I go out for a breakfast or a brunch, I always think about ordering the quiche, but I usually don’t make that selection because I’m usually disappointed.  I’ve had a yen for the perfect slice of quiche, and my son Benji put in the request, so I obliged.

Wow.  I put together a bunch of recipes and came up with this.  The result was quiche heaven. The consistency was creamy but light like a soufflee at the same time!

ingredients:

  • 1 Oronique deep dish pie crust (very important to use a deep dish crust.  I have found this crust to be the best tasting.
  • 5- 6 oz. swiss cheese, grated by hand (you can substitute gruyere)
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 extra large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • no nutmeg (to me that ruins the recipe!) 
  • about 10 -11 oz. crispy bacon, broken into bite sized pieces, not crumbles! (I use Nature’s Promise, which I bake on a foil lined sheet pan at 425 degrees, till crispy, then I drain on paper towels) 

First, take crust out of freezer, use a fork to prick bottom and sides.  Bake for 10 min. at 350 degrees. Take out of oven while you prepare the filling and raise temperature to 375 degrees.

Cook your bacon as described above in list of ingredients. Drain and set aside.

Grate the cheese by hand.

For filling, mix eggs and cream well with a fork.  Add salt and pepper. Place pie crust on a sheet pan lined with foil.

Spread cheese on bottom of crust.  Then spread bacon evenly over cheese.

Ladle the custard over bacon and cheese.  You may not be able to use all the filling because it will overflow, but save it for a few minutes later after the quiche has started to cook.

Begin to bake on middle rack of oven.  After about 15 min., pull oven shelf out with sheet pan carefully and spoon any remaining custard into the quiche.

Bake for about 45 to 55 min. until entire pie is puffed nicely.  Let sit on counter for about 15 min. before serving.

Corn Muffins

I’ve made many different recipes for corn bread and corn muffins.  I happened to have on hand a mix from Stonewall Kitchen for cornbread which I used for corn muffins.  Although I usually am pretty negative towards mixes, I have to admit that this one was great.  The muffins had that perfect taste between savory and sweet, slightly reminiscent of the sweet Thomas Toaster Cakes I loved when I was a kid.  My daughter in law really enjoyed them, and she requested I make some for her to take back to Vietnam with her.  I didn’t have another of that mix, so I had to choose from one of the many recipes I’ve used in the past.  I settled on one I haven’t made for years from my old Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  The muffins came out great.  The second batch I made, I divided the batter in half and I added 1 cup of fresh blueberries to the one half.  I actually added an extra tablespoon of sugar the second time I made the muffins, and I liked the end result.

Adapted from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook recipe entitled, “Rich Corn Cake” :

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal  (I used Quaker yellow cornmeal)
  • 1 cup organic unbleached flour (I always use King Arthur Flour)
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (I used 5  the second time)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder (original recipe calls for cream of tartar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream (I use Daisy because it is the purest brand of sour cream)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter (I used salted) 
  • optional – blueberries-  about 1 cup for half the batter if you want to do half muffins plain and half with blueberries.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Put 12 paper muffin cups in muffin tin.

In mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Mix milk, eggs, sour cream with a whisk.  Then pour in melted butter (but slightly cooled).  Mix with whisk. Add wet ingredients to dry.  Mix quickly with rubber spatula just till combined and you can’t see any streaks of the flour.  Scoop into muffin cups.

Bake 20 minutes, just till tops are starting to brown.

Eat hot with lots of butter!

New Yummy Brownie Recipe

This recipe turns out fudgy with a crackly top.

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa 
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 light brown sugar
  • 3 extra large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • a very heavy 2/3 cup all-purpose flour (recipe called for 2/3 cup, but I’d say I added an extra 2 tablespoons of flour to that)
  • 1/2 kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

I made this recipe today in honor of my grandson Noah’s seventh birthday.  It was his special request. When they came out of the oven, my son Benji couldn’t wait to eat one warm.  He said, “You can’t buy brownies like these anywhere- in a restaurant, supermarket, anywhere.”

Over a pot of simmering water, put a glass bowl.  Put butter and oil in, melt a bit, and put chocolate chips in.  Mix over simmering water till melted.  Take bowl off heat.  Add cocoa, sugars, espresso, eggs, vanilla.  Mix till blended.  Add flour, baking powder, salt.  Mix with rubber spatula just till blended.  Grease pan.  Put parchment paper in with overhang.  Grease parchment.  Put batter in.  Bake at 350 for about 20 min. till toothpick comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Baby Naming Celebration

Today we celebrated my granddaughter’s baby naming. It was at my house, and it was a beautiful occasion.  My daughter and son said some prayers, my grandsons read a poem, and we all ate lots of delicious food. It also was the Jewish holiday of Shavuous, and so we enjoyed some outstanding dairy dishes.

My menu was:

Sister’s Noodle Kugel

Another Kugel (not as good)

2 macaroni and cheese casseroles

1 spanikopita

1 mushroom quiche

1 blueberry french toast casserole (the favorite dish of the day, along with the macaroni and cheese, and Sister’s Noodle Kugel

lox

whitefish

whitefish salad

tuna salad with celery (used some Minute Maid lemon juice and Hellman’s mayonnaise and I got many compliments)

egg salad ( I use Litehouse chive, Hellman’s mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and I make the egg salad in the food processor)

homemade macaroni salad with carrots, celery, and sweet red pepper

sliced red onion and  sliced tomato

herring

bagels, cream cheese, and butter

sliced swiss and munster

sliced Hebrew National bologna and salami

Dessert:

homemade chocolate chip cookies

Judy’s Perfect Birthday Cake

a chocolate cake with chocolate icing (recipe I used  was not as good as That Chocolate Cake recipe used in past)

Judy’s Newer Cheesecake with Oreo Crust- amazing!!!- many compliments

fresh strawberries and blueberries

watermelon

Judy’s Blueberry French Toast Casserole/ Bread Pudding

For my new granddaughter’s baby naming party, I wanted to make one more spectacular hot brunch item. I’ve made my french toast bread pudding recipe a few times to rave reviews, but there’s something I don’t like about it, and that’s the syrup that’s on the bottom.  It’s too sweet for me, mostly. I found a recipe on Kitchen Treaty called Cinnamon Blueberry Overnight French Toast that I mixed with my own recipe. So I pretty much kept the custard part of my recipe, added a sprinkling of blueberries, and sprinkled the top with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar.  Most importantly, when I took the masterpiece out of the oven, I drizzled the entire top of it with pure maple syrup.  Oh my gosh, I can’t express how delicious this was.  Everyone who ate it loved it and commented on the absolute perfection of the dish.  My daughter called me to tell me that I need to make one entire casserole for her family because she did not get enough of it and because her husband got none.  This is an outstanding recipe, and what makes it even better is that you can prepare it a few hours ahead, or the night before, as I did, and bake it off the next day.

for the custard:

  • 1 challah (I use Zommick’s 15 oz. challah, which I buy at Stop and Shop
  • 8 extra jumbo eggs
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2  to 2 cups of blueberries (optional, but I used them)

for the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 

essential ingredient for serving:

about 4-6 oz. pure maple syrup- medium grade

Directions:

1.  Cut the challah into slices about 1 inch thick.  Then cut the slices into pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches big.  Let them sit out to get a little stale.  If I don’t have the time for that, I put them on a cookie sheet and stick them in a 200 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes (I did this for baby naming party).

2.  Grease sides and bottom of large oval or rectangular 9 by 13 pan with butter.

3.  Place the pieces of challah in so they fit like a puzzle.  If you have to squeeze a few in, that’s fine, but use the entire challah.

4.  Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the challah pieces; you can push some of them down a little into some crevices.

5.  Whisk the eggs, light cream, sugar, cinnamon, salt, vanilla in a mixing bowl. Ladle the custard evenly over the bread.

6.  Refrigerate over night or for a few hours till you are ready to bake.

7.  Before you put into the oven, sprinkle the topping evenly over the top, using all of it.

8.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 min. until top is puffed (even the center) and a toothpick comes out clean.

9.  Take out of the oven, and immediately drizzle the maple syrup all over the  top of the casserole.

10.  Serve immediately!

Fluffier Chocolate Chip Cookies

I tried a recipe for chocolate chip cookies that includes a bit of cornstarch in it.  I also used unsalted margarine instead of butter since my grandson may have a dairy allergy.  The cookies came out soft and fluffy and delicious.

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks unsalted Fleishmann’s margarine, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 extra large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 scant teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached organic flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

Mix margarine in mixer till quite soft.  Add sugars and beat till fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix till fluffy.  Add dry ingredients just until blended.  Add chocolate chip cookies.

Bake at 350 degrees till just beginning to brown around the edges.

Back to Basics Macaroni and Cheese

When my children were little, I found a recipe for macaroni and cheese on the back of the Creamettes box.  This was the recipe I made for years and years.  I recently made it again instead of the recipe I’ve made for the last 10 years (Judy’s Creamy and Delicious Macaroni and Cheese), and I discovered that I may like it more because it seems a little less rich.  It’s basically the same as my current recipe except that it has much less cheese.

    • 2 cups elbows (I like Creamettes) (about 1/2 of 1 lb. box)
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • scant 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
    • 10 oz. Boars Head or Whole Foods Brand yellow American cheese
    • 2 1/2 cups whole organic milk

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add flour, salt, and pepper.  Whisk over medium heat for about 2 minutes.  Add milk gradually.  Whisk over medium heat for about 10 minutes till starts to thicken a little, but not too much.  Add in the cheese.

Cook pasta in boiling water till just cooked- not overcooked.  Drain in colander.  Butter a casserole dish.  Pour sauce into casserole.  Pour the macaroni noodles in and mix together till noodles are evenly coated with the sauce.

Cook at 375 degrees for about an hour till the cheese starts to rise to top and brown and the edges start to get brown and crusty looking.

Homemade Ranch Dressing/Dip

I made this dressing/dip today to go with some of my fried chicken fingers.  I’m always motivated to make food my daughter, her husband, and especially my grandchildren will love, and chicken fingers are a pretty sure bet.  I made some homemade fried chicken fingers and a big fresh salad.  Tonight we’ll slice up the chicken and add it to the salad and drizzle it with this yummy dressing.  And as for the kids, they’ll undoubtedly opt for no salad and dipping their chicken fingers in ketchup.

***

I’m back home and feeling wonderful about the day I spent with my daughter and my grandkids. When my youngest grandson Ezra was savoring his first chicken tender, I said, “Did you know that Safta (that’s me) made these for you?”  He answered so adorably, “No, Safta, I didn’t know that.”  His cuteness is almost too much for me.

When my daughter took her first bite of the chicken dipped in my sauce, she shook her head and said, “Oh, this is so good.”  Her response was worth any effort I expended.

  • 1 cup Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated
  • about 7 chives, minced
  • about 20 grinds black pepper
  • about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • about 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • about 1/2 teaspoon Litehouse brand freeze dried dill
  • about 5 shakes hot sauce, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup buttermilk (I used Friendship 1.5%)
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon

Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl; add more buttermilk if it’s too thick; refrigerate.