Breakfast in Bed: Bread Pudding

Post by Alison Hein.

Due to a last minute change in dinner plans (don’t ask), I found myself the following morning with a beautiful, untouched loaf of Calandra’s Italian semolina bread. Lovely…golden…stale. ☹ Too perfect for homemade breadcrumbs, I decided to make bread pudding.

Sometimes called Poor Man’s Pudding, bread pudding is really a custard. And, since it is still summer (and they were buy one – get one free), I had a pint of blueberries on hand. Eggs + bread + fruit = breakfast, right?

I like to leave little icebergs of bread above the custard to bake to a crispy brown, making a tantalizing contrast with the warm, gooey bread pudding center. Top this with some fresh fruit syrup for a sweet and tangy, perfectly balanced dish. If you don’t want to fuss with the blueberry syrup, simple maple syrup is always a winner. Or, if you want to fuss a little more, try crème anglaise for a rich and decadent cream on cream delight.

It takes a little time for the bread pudding to bake and set, but actual prep time is only about 10 minutes. My suggestion? Do the prep work and get the bread pudding in the oven. Then go relax, and get someone else to dish up and serve you a tantalizing, poor man’s breakfast in bed.

Bread Pudding

Ingredients
1 loaf stale French or Italian bread
5 eggs
½ cup sugar
4 cups milk
¼ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt

Preparation
Cut or tear bread into bite-sized cubes (should be around 6 to 8 cups). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish, spread bread cubes evenly in dish and set aside.

In large bowl, add eggs and whisk until slightly thickened. Whisk in sugar and milk. Add butter, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and mix well. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes to allow bread to absorb liquid. Preheat oven to 350°.


Bake bread pudding for 40 to 45 minutes, until it is puffed up and the top is golden brown. Serve hot with blueberry sauce, maple syrup, or crème anglaise. Add a dollop of whipped cream, if you like

Makes 8 servings.

Blueberry Sauce
2 cups (1 dry pint) blueberries
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add blueberries, water, sugar and vanilla to small, heavy pot. Place on stove over high heat and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, until blueberries are soft and popped open, and syrup is thickened. Set aside and allow to cool. Syrup will continue to thicken while cooling, so adjust cooking time to your preference.

Makes about 1 ½ cups of syrup.

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Bedroom Design: The Olympic Bedroom

Post by Laura Cheng.

I find it fascinating how sports can harmoniously unite disparate countries. That’s what my senior year thesis should have been about. Not the death of a beautiful American icon, Marilyn Monroe, but the Olympics – the optimistic antidote to the current politics in the world; the supernatural athletes delivering the cure.


Source: http://photos.denverpost.com/2012/07/25/photos-london-2012-summer-games-olympic-village/#name here

Considering the amazing feats the athletes accomplish, it’s hard to remember that they are still a human form. They are kinda like me – they spend a good deal of their time sleeping. During the Olympics, this all happens in the Olympic Village. The concept of an Olympic Village was created during the 1924 summer Olympics to allow the athletes to easily access the Games’ venues. A week before the Games, athletes, trainers and officials move into their homes. US water polo captain, Tony Azevedo, compared the event to be similar to the “first day of college”. With a little bit of nonchalant wall décor, their bedrooms no doubt resemble a college dormitory. English diver Tom Daley shared a pic of his Olympic Village bedroom on Facebook. “My room in the Olympic village all decorated :)”.


Source: http://tinyurl.com/c3sdgy8

If you can’t tell from Tom Daley’s bedroom, the beds in this year’s London Olympic Village are just 68 inches (5 feet 8 inches). That’s smaller than an American twin mattress! It’s just about the size of bed my 6 year old nephew sleeps on, complete with a Kmart-esque comforter. I was not surprised to learn that many of the larger sized competitors stay in hotels outside the Village.


Source: http://arnelpineda.ning.com/forum/topics/games-of-the-xxx-olympiad-london-england-united-kingdom?id=4880034%3ATopic%3A116275&page=12

As reported by Dan Devine on Yahoo!’s latest sports coverage:

“American hurdler Lolo Jones was hanging out with some members of the U.S. men’s national basketball team on Thursday, before the upcoming Opening Ceremony officially kicks matters off at the ‘12 Summer Games. The largest man on the team — starting center Tyson Chandler — momentarily took a load off and stretched out on one of those same Olympic Village beds. The image seemed so comical that Jones just felt she had to share it with the world, alongside the caption: ‘Ok, so run this by me again @tysonchandler, why won’t the men’s basketball team sleep in the olympic village?’”


Source: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/olympics-fourth-place-medal/tyson-chandler-lolo-jones-bed-olympics-team-usa-190812285—oly.html

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Bedtime Stories: Squid and Octopus

Post by Mark T. Locker.

Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu.

There are lots of children’s books about dynamic friend duos, from Arnold Lobel’s classic Frog and Toad books to the more recent Elephant & Piggy series by Mo Willems. This new picture book by Tao Nyeu contains four vignettes about the friendship of Squid and Octopus. Like most children’s friendships, there is fun, conflict, and joyful resolution.

Squid and Octopus live under the sea (naturally) but enjoy many of the terrestrial comforts, such as cameras, pencils, books, and even a goldfish bowl! In one story they disagree over whether they should wear mittens or socks when it’s cold; another story reveals worry over what good or bad is waiting in a fortune cookie. The illustrations are, remarkably, silkscreens so I can only imagine how much work went into each of the lively and funny illustrations.

We just got this the other day as a birthday present and it is a big hit in our house. I would be surprised and disappointed if we didn’t see more books featuring this hilarious pair in the future.

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Things we like: Underwater Decor

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a post about Things We Like: Sleeping With The Fishes. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s definitely worth your time. I must warn you though: reading the article will give you vacation envy. The upside is that it may be the motivation you need to get your vacation saving back on track. I know we opened up a vacation savings fund shortly after, and I can’t wait to fill it up and spend it! Until then, I may have to settle for some underwater inspired bedroom décor.

First of all, an underwater bedroom meets all of my bedroom requirements: it’s dark, cold, and relatively quiet. I’m sold. It also keeps electronics out of the bedroom, and offers an amazing view. What could be better? Unfortunately, building an underwater bedroom is about as out of reach for most of us as staying a week in an underwater hotel is. So the challenge becomes: How can you recreate an underwater experience at home?

For underwater inspiration, I’ve compiled a couple tips below:

-       For a more formal underwater effect, paint the walls a dark blue. Accent with white furniture to bring some light back into the room and look for silver and sea life inspired accent pieces.

-       For a shallow, tropical feel paint the walls with a faux cloud finish to give the effect of sunlight reflecting off the water.

-       For a fun underwater effect, hire an artist to paint an underwater mural on your walls. You can include sea life and other elements into the mural to give your room an authentic underwater feel.

-       Don’t neglect the importance of good lighting. Look for fixtures that project the light upwards to give the effect of shallower water overhead.

-       Incorporate underwater inspired art and decorations throughout your bedroom. Sculptures and paintings of crabs, starfish, and other sea creatures will help complete the look.

-       Play an audio track of underwater sounds before going to sleep.  Dolphin and whale sounds can be as relaxing as waves crashing onto the shore; choose what you like the best.

Remember, the underwater bedroom doesn’t have to be for you; share the dream. If you prefer a more formal bedroom for yourself, an underwater themed bedroom may be perfect for your guestroom or children’s room. You may find yourself sneaking away for an underwater nap more often than you think.

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Breakfast in Bed: Chestnut Pancakes

Post by Alison Hein.

Every autumn, I scour the streets of New York, searching for a cart rigged with an open fire, with the deep, earthy aroma of roasting chestnuts wafting toward me. Finding one, I pay, and receive a tiny brown paper bag stuffed with six steamy caramel-colored nuts. First the peeling, then the payoff – that very first bite of warm, buttery chestnut, sweetened by the chill in the November air.

It recently dawned on me that I don’t need to limit myself to this once-a-year cold weather ritual. Chestnuts have been popular in parts of Europe for centuries. In Italy, you can enjoy chestnut pasta, polenta and gnocchi, or even luscious chestnut fritters, served hot with ricotta cheese.

Chestnut flour (or nut meal) is becoming easier to find on U.S. grocery shelves, and provides a wonderful gluten-free option for those with wheat allergies. Pre-roasted nuts in jars are also useful in cooking, as is chestnut puree. If you cannot find these products locally, look online. U.S. growers are also on the rise and many sell their chestnut products direct to consumers.

These pancakes resonate with authentic, roasty chestnut flavor, and are sweetened with a thin, simple syrup made with honey and chopped, roasted chestnuts. Chestnut meal has a different consistency from wheat flour, so use a gentle hand until you become accustomed to the grainier texture.

No need to wait for fall for a sweet, earthy, chestnutty breakfast in bed.

Chestnut Pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup chestnut flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg, separated
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled
¼ cup sour cream
Additional butter for cooking

Preparation

Combine chestnut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. In separate bowl, stir together milk, egg yolk and vanilla. Pour melted butter into liquid mixture and stir well. Using a wooden spoon or hand mixer, gradually add liquid mixture to dry ingredients until batter is smooth. Stir in sour cream. Beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into batter.

Place pan or griddle on burner over medium to medium low heat. Melt a small amount of butter in the pan for the first pancake. Ladle batter by ¼ cupfuls into pan and cook until small bubbles appear throughout pancakes. Flip once with spatula and continue cooking until rich brown, one to two minutes, adding more butter and adjusting heat as necessary. Keep warm while making the remainder of pancakes. Serve hot with real maple syrup or sweet chestnut sauce.

Makes 8 to 9 4-inch diameter pancakes.

Sweet Chestnut Sauce
½ cup honey
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
⅓ cup finely chopped roasted chestnuts (fresh or jarred)

Pour honey, water and vanilla and chopped chestnuts into a small heavy saucepan. Mix well. Place over medium-high to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened, but still on the thin side. Set aside and allow to cool.

Makes about 1 cup of syrup.

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