Saturday, December 31, 2011

a nod to Eggnog and no New Year's resolutions...

On this last day of 2011, this is about that time when everyone's going to start making a long list of resolutions that they'll be all gung-ho about for about three weeks, until their coffee addiction starts calling their name at 2:15 in the afternoon, they seem to pass a Marshall's on every corner which is full of new clothes for the season, or they just have to drop in - just to look - at all the cupcakes in the bakery they pass every day.

I've decided to not to make a list - at least not a long-term list.  If I fail to meet my goals, then I'll only feel disappointed in and frustrated with myself.  And a frustrated me is not that fun to be around.  Just ask Jamie how delightful I am after four failed batches of caramel in a row.

This past Tuesday, I made a list of things I wanted to get done this week, while I had the time off work.  Some were small and easy to do, like returning something to a department store and taking a box of photo albums to the storage unit to make more room on my bookshelf.  I wrote and mailed thank-you notes.

I put all my laundry away (one of my most despised chores) and then made myself go through my closet and fill three bags with clothes to donate.  This is hard for me, because I so love clothes and love having a variety of things to wear.  Even those things that I have yet to wear, because I bought them a size or two too small to motivate myself to work out more so I could fit into them.

One of the more time-consuming tasks I gave myself was to go through all my stacks of magazines and cut out all the articles and recipes I wanted to keep.  Freeing up the shelves for...  more magazines.  It's a never-ending cycle, that one.

But it does make me feel good that of the 9 things on my list for the week, I've crossed off 6 already.  And since I don't have to go back to work until Tuesday, there's a good chance I'll get the others done, too.

So this is my resolution for 2012:  to frequently make short-term goals that I know I can achieve.  And to not pay attention to all that silliness about the world ending.

With the holidays almost over, I have to admit that I'm a little sick of sweets.  At least the heavy, buttery, chocolatey caramelly ones.  Which brings me to eggnog, which I love.  I made my own once years ago - I don't remember if it was cooked or not - but it was pretty bad.  I was expecting that creamy from-the-carton taste, and that didn't have it.  Although I'm about done with sweets, I'm not quite sick of eggnog yet, which I consider a sweet, and still have some left in the fridge from Christmas.  I've been enjoying a White Russian (or two) in the evenings this week, made with a little Pumpkin Spice Eggnog.

There will be no more layer cakes for quite a while now; instead, it's back to small, individual desserts once a week, with no tempting leftovers.  This eggnog pudding is right up that alley.  It's smooth and silky, slightly sweet, and oh-so-easy with just 4 ingredients and 10 minutes of your time.  I would have liked a little cookie with the pudding for a crunchy/chewy texture to balance the silkiness of the pudding, but with no cookies in the house, we ate a little square of the caramel bars that my mom brought us from someone she works with.  They were so good I don't dare make them.

And with the extra pudding, I made a creamy eggnog french toast bread pudding for breakfast, with some crushed almonds and pecans.  Jamie ate all of his, it was that good.

I wish you all a happy new year!

Eggnog Pudding
printable recipe

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 cups cold eggnog
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua, Bourbon, or dark Rum (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of grated nutmeg

Place the cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Pour 1 cup of the eggnog into the pan and whisk until it's pretty much smooth with no visible lumps.  Add the remaining eggnog, liquor (if using), and vanilla.

Turn the heat to medium and cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 8-10 minutes.

Immediately pour into 4 serving dishes.  Cover dishes with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.  Garnish with a sprinkling of nutmeg.

Yields 4 servings.

Eggnog French Toast Bread Pudding
printable recipe

  • 1 cup chilled eggnog pudding, divided (recipe above)
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 cups cubed French bread
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped salted pecans and/or almonds

Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray two medium-sized ramekins with non-stick spray.

In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the eggnog pudding, eggs, milk, vanilla and nutmeg until smooth.  Add the bread and toss so that that the bread absorbs the liquid.  Divide bread mixture between the ramekins.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until bread is golden brown on top.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 cup eggnog pudding and the honey in a small saucepan.  Warm over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, just until warm.  Set aside.

When the bread puddings are done, place the ramekins on serving dishes.  Drizzle each with a spoonful of the eggnog honey sauce, then pour the remaining sauce into small dipping bowls to serve on the side.

Sprinkle puddings with the chopped nuts and additional nutmeg.

Yields 2 servings.