Bread pudding is one of my favorite things on earth.  In fact, I’ve never met a bread pudding I didn’t like.  I had my boys over for dinner and made this especially for them.  They showed up about the time this came out of the oven and as soon as the pictures were taken it was devoured!  Normally, I would take the time to make a loaf of brioche myself, but I found this great brioche bread at Sprouts that is so good!   If you have a Sprouts store, you must try this bread.  It’s already sliced and perfect for french toast and easy to cube for a pan of bread pudding.   Adding just a hint of lemon juice to the sweetened whipped cream turned out to be a big hit.  Another reason I chose this dessert is because this is my 300th post of An Inspired Cook.  I thought this would be the perfect dessert to mark the occasion!


Recently I cleaned out my freezer and found a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I had a small amount of shrimp, lagostino tails and an odd package of chicken thighs.  So I decided to put it all together in a spicy gumbo which is one of my favorite one pot wonders.  It makes a complete meal ladled over sticky rice with a crusty slice of french bread on the side.  Traditional gumbo includes a holy trinity consisting of chopped onion, celery and green pepper, however I make mine with a duo of onion and red bell pepper.  I’m just not into celery and green bells. However if you like them, throw them in too and just cut back on the onion and red bell.  It’s hard to find the Southern tastes of New Orleans here in KC but having a bowl of gumbo takes me there!


My husband Joe is a cookie monster!  He loves all cookies, but especially ones that have a contrast between sweet and salty.  These snickerdoodles are very soft and gooey with melting caramel bits, rolled in cinnamon and sugar and lightly sprinkled with grey sea salt.  Made with brown butter gives off a nutty aroma as well as a taste that is hard to describe other than heavenly.  Beware the addiction that follows after taking your first bite.  It’s hard to resist just one more!


This tasty Chicken Madeira is a popular dish served at the Cheesecake Factory.  They have an extensive menu and I’ve tried several dishes but was unaware of this dish until my sweet friend Paula told me about it.  She knows me well and thought I would find it delicious.  She was right, I loved it at first bite!  The chicken is smothered in melted fresh mozzarella and drips into the sauce which is flavored with Madeira wine and beef stock.  The mushrooms are hearty and taste so good alongside a heaping dollop of mashed potatoes.  It’s comfort at its best and very simple to make.  There are many copykat recipes to choose from and I tried to take the basics and make it as close to the original as possible.  I think I came pretty close.  Hope you enjoy it!


A few weeks ago I spent a few days with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Paula.  We’ve been friends since 7th grade but lost contact for a few years when we got married, had our families and lived so far apart.  We have since reconnected and found that old friends never lose touch, they just start up where they left off and keep on going.  And now we have new memories to build on.  During Paula’s visit we cooked some fun meals and ate out to taste some of the local favorites.  We didn’t go hungry, that’s for sure!  When we were chatting about food she mentioned her favorite roasted corn with a mayo based sauce that is out of this world. It sounded so scrumptious that I started looking up recipes.  I found several different variations and came up with a combination that sounded tempting.  Thanks Paula for the tip, my family may never go back to butter again!


Have you ever wanted to make your own mustard and ketchup?  I know that I have, but never knew how easy it could be.  In less than 30 minutes I found I could make both and in my opinion tastes better than anything you can buy in the store.  Josh came over one day and we set out to try different versions to see what tasted best.  For the ketchup we tried a quick version which was made with a tomato paste base.  It had just the right texture, was slightly sweet and had a very good taste.  The other version was slow cooked with crushed tomatoes which we both decided tasted more like tomato soup than ketchup.  Needless to say it’s not something worth posting.  On the mustard side we tried mustard powder and mustard seeds.  The mustard powder dissolved in minutes with water and vinegar with spices and thickened with some homemade Wondra flour.  It’s spicier than your bottle of French’s you have in the pantry, so you may want to spread it lightly.  But it has a wonderful flavor that makes every sandwich, burger or brat taste so good.  The mustard seeds needed to soak overnight, then ground and strained but I could never get the same flavors to come out as I did with the powder.  Maybe I need to give it another try but for now mustard powder is the tried and true.  You can be sure that in a pinch you can have homemade mustard and ketchup in a matter of minutes with just a few simple ingredients.


I love big ole burritos stuffed with everything.  Sometimes I take the time to make a big batch of them that will last us for several days.  And sometimes I wrap them up to freeze for an easy meal later on.  I’ve been wanting to try a burrito bowl which is so popular these days.  I must admit it is much easier to just layer a bowl with my favorite meat and toppings but I missed the tortilla so I toasted one to have on the side.  This is literally a bowl of my favorite things starting with grilled steak and chicken that is spicy and flavorful.  More goodness comes with a scoop of fresh guacamole, salsa verde, roasted corn salsa, seasoned black beans, sour cream, Oaxaca cheese and cilantro lime rice.  Most everything was made from scratch but there are short cuts you can take to make the prep a little easier.  There is a visual appeal of a burrito bowl that you don’t get with a traditional burrito that is smashed together once you roll it up.  So the question is, do you prefer steak or chicken or both?


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