hot cocoa

Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Warm Vanilla Sauce




1 tablespoon butter

1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup raisins

1 tablespoon rum

1 pinch ground cinnamon

8 slices cinnamon raisin bread, crusts removed, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup nonfat milk

1 cup lowfat evaporated milk

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Rum Sauce

3 tablespoons nonfat milk

5 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon rum

1/2 cup nonfat milk

1/4 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir in the apple, raisins, 1 tablespoon rum, and pinch of cinnamon. Cook until the apples are soft. Toss apples with bread cubes, and spoon into prepared pan.
  3. Combine brown sugar, white sugar, 3/4 cup milk, evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, and 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until butter is melted.
  4. Whisk the eggs and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, pour hot milk mixture into beaten eggs. Pour custard over bread cubes and apples.
  5. Cover pan with aluminum foil; bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake until pudding is puffed and lightly browned, about 10 additional minutes.
  6. While the pudding bakes, prepare the rum sauce. Whisk together 3 tablespoons milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl until smooth. Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Stir in 1 tablespoon rum, 1/2 cup milk, and 1/4 cup white sugar; bring to a boil. Slowly add cornstarch mixture, stirring until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon vanilla.
  7. Pour rum sauce over warm pudding. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. The sauce will continue to thicken and form a beautiful glaze.


Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Hot Cocoa



2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter


  1. Warm milk and cream in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat.
  2. Add chocolate, and whisk until melted and combined.
  3. Continue to warm mixture until thick, about 5 minutes.
  4. Whisk in peanut butter until smooth.


Overstuffed Twice-Baked Potatoes



5 large Idaho baking potatoes (about 1 pound each)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 3/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

4 ounces bacon, chopped

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

1 cup sour cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons snipped chives


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Rub the potatoes with the olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper. Put the potatoes on the baking sheet and bake until fork-tender, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the potatoes sit until cool enough to handle.
  3. Cook the bacon in a medium skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and the fat is rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  4. Peel 1 potato completely, discarding the skin. Place the pulp in a large bowl. Cut the top quarter from each of the remaining 4 potatoes and using a spoon, scoop the pulp from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch layer of pulp on the skin. Return the potato shells to the baking sheet.
  5. Using a handheld masher, mash the potato pulp until smooth. Add 1 cup of the cheese, the sour cream, butter, bacon, chives, and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and mash until smooth. Spoon the potato mixture back into the potato shells, top with the remaining cheese and bake until hot and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Serve hot.


Leek & Potato Soup



1 pound leeks, cleaned and dark green sections removed, approximately 4 to 5 medium
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heavy pinch kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
14 ounces, approximately 3 small, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced small
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon snipped chives

  1. In a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt and sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the potatoes and the vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk, and white pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve immediately, or chill and serve cold.

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