Sunday, August 19, 2012

Brioche Nutella Bread Pudding

You know when you wake up and have a hankering for something sweet?  Well this was one of those mornings.  So I raided my pantry and ended up with a sweet, chocolatey and nutty bread pudding in less than an hour!
Brioche.  Nutella.  Pecans. Custard. Powered sugar.  Delight!  Enjoy for breakfast, dessert or just because.

Brioche Nutella Bread Pudding
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

3 brioche buns (you can also use croissants, challah or a hearty bread)
3/4 cup nutella
1/4 cup pecans (half or chopped)
1 cup half and half
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup powered sugar
pinch of salt

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Slather Nutella onto brioche rolls to make Nutella sandwiches.  Cut sandwiches into 2-inch pieces and place into a medium-sized baking dish.  Scatter pecans on top.
  • In a medium bowl, combine half and half, eggs, vanilla extract, powdered sugar and salt.  Once combined pour over brioche pieces.
  • Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and back for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden and all of the liquid is absorbed.  
  • Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately or at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Farm Fresh Tomatoes with Basil Oil

We are in the thick of CSA season here at the Wendy See Wendy Do house!  Every Monday evening a beautiful bounty of fresh and delicious organic tomatoes, onions, greens and herbs arrives at our door courtesy of a local Wisconsin farm. 

This is the second season we are enjoying the harvests of Tomato Mountain Farm through their CSA program.  CSA stands for "community supported agriculture" and is a network of people who pledge to support a local farm and in return get a portion of the harvest.  Which means weekly, fresh deliveries of kale, chard, onions and loads of tomatoes.  
This week - our delivery included ripe and red slicer, Juliet and sun gold tomatoes.  Once you see them you want to devour them right away.  One of my favorite ways to serve tomatoes comes right from my own "urban" garden - homemade basil oil.

Now I am not going to pretend to be some pro urban gardener.  I live in Chicago which means I have a limited season to say the least.  However I am pretty proud of my back deck garden which features sweet and purple basil, heirloom mint (cut from my grandmother's garden in Pennsylvania) and lots of hot peppers.
So basil oil.... so simple and so delicious.  Don't go out and buy the stale stuff at the store.  It would be like eating dried basil over fresh basil.  You cannot compare!!  Fresh basil oil has the lovely, luscious quality of olive oil with the fresh and sweet flavor of basil.    

Basil Oil 
Makes 3/4 cup

  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and create an ice bath on large bowl.
  2. Once water comes to boil, add basil leaves and blanch for 30 seconds then transfer basil to ice bath.
  3. Dry basil leaves (I use my salad spinner) then add to food processor with olive oil and blend. 
  4. Strain basil/oil mixture through a fine sieve into a container.  Oil can be stored at room temperature for up to three days.  Serve over freshly sliced tomatoes with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Beet Stacks

Are you a fan of beets?  I have to admit... they had to grow on me.  Growing up my mom LOVED them, my dad not so much, and me and my brothers - well - we were on the fence.  That is until a few years ago when I was introduced to roasted beets.  I fell in love with their intensely earthy, sweet flavor.  Plus their gorgeous red and sometimes vibrant yellow and orange coloring makes them pop on any plate.

Beets are a root vegetable known as beetroot or garden beets and they have been cultivated for centuries.  The tasty roots date as far back as 8th century BC Babylonia.  Aristotle even wrote about the ruby lovelies.  
Traditionally the dark-red roots are boiled, served cold over salads, or pickled (which I hate!).  In Eastern Europe they are one of the main ingredients in the popular cold soup: borsch. 

For me - roasting is the best way to prepare beets and so simple do.  This recipe makes a wonderful side to any summer meal!!  

Makes 4 beet stacks
  • 4 beets, small to medium sized
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Scrub, rinse and pat beets dry then rub with a small amount of olive oil and wrap tightly in foil (two beets per foil packet).  Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until beets are tender and easily pierced with a knife.  Allow to slightly cool then carefully remove skin.  (The beets will stain your hands and clothing! So I use rubber gloves.)  Set aside.
  3. In a small, dry frying pan toast walnuts until slightly browned.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and walnut oil then season with salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
  5. Once skin is removed slice beets width-wise into three or four sections (depending on the size of the beet.)  
  6. In layers, alternate beet slices and crumbled goat cheese.  Drizzle stacks with balsamic walnut oil vinaigrette, fresh thyme leaves and the toasted walnuts.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cedar Plank Salmon

I find the best recipes are usually the simplest.  I used to think whipping up an impressive meal meant hours of prep work, lots of crazy ingredients and dozens of pots and pans.  This recipe is the exact opposite!

Four ingredients.  Juicy Lemons.  Fresh Dill.  Tender Salmon.  Cedar Planks.  Add a little salt and pepper and you have an elegant, delightful meal perfect for a summer dinner party or a romantic meal for two.
According to Great Lakes Grilling, the pairing of salmon and cedar planks started with Native Americans who occupied and fished in the Pacific Northwest.  In those days, the salmon was tacked on big wooden slabs and roasted over an open fire.

Unfortunately our condo association wouldn't take to kindly to us having an open fire on our wooden back deck.  Thankfully nowadays you can buy grilling planks almost anywhere.  The planks impart a wonderful smokiness to the fish without drying it out. 
I cannot take credit for this delicious and simple dish!  Sometimes you just come across recipes that are too good to be changed and this is one of them!

So for further details I will refer you to creator of this recipe - Allison Eats.  You need to add this food blog to your favorites!  I would also highly recommend the mustard dill sauce she pairs with the fish, too.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hum Sun Tea

Oh, Wendy See Wendy Do readers.... I do apologize!

I have neglected you!

To explain... I recently got a job.  A full-time job that seems to be taking my... well... my full-time. 

No excuses!  I am back and ready to blog.
It is nearly 90 degrees this weekend in Chicago which means one thing at my house - SUN TEA!!!  I love sun tea for so many reasons but mostly because it is fool proof.  All you need is a pitcher, a couple of tea bags, whatever add-ins for additional flavor and sun.  

Today I added lemon and local strawberries for a nice hint of tart and sweet.  My other favorite flavor combinations are: peach/mint, basil/raspberry and orange/fresh ginger (which is so spicy sweet!!)
Today I wanted to kick my tea up a notch - it is Saturday after all - so I added a healthy splash of my favorite Chicago-based "botancial spirit" Hum

This ruby-colored, rum-based liquor is infused with hibiscus, ginger root, green cardamom and kaffir lime to create an herby, spicy, intoxicating concoction that you can add to just about anything!  I love to add a splash of it to prosecco.  I have used in place of grenadine to make a spicy Manhattan.  Most times, I just enjoy a few ounces of Hum on the rocks with a squeeze of lime and some soda water.  Did I mention I LOVE this stuff?

So... Hum Sun Tea was created!  


  • Large pitcher
  • 2 large tea bags (I use Lipton)
  • One half of a lemon, sliced
  • One cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • Hum liqueur  (Click here to find a store that sells Hum closest to you)
  1. Place lemon slices, strawberries and tea bags in pitcher and fill almost to the top with water.
  2. Place outside or near a window in direct sunlight.
  3. Allow tea to steep for at least one hour.
  4. Fill a glass with ice and add one to two ounces of Hum liqueur. 
  5. Top off glass with tea and garnish with a lemon.  Enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Florida Keys, Lobster Tails & More...

As I type this post I am sitting in paradise.  The warm sun is glimmering off of the Gulf of Mexico while a gentle breeze of briny ocean air whips through the palm trees.  I am in the Florida Keys.  It is one of my favorite places on the planet!  My grandmother has wintered on Summerland and Sugarloaf Keys for nearly 20 years.  I have had the incredible fortune to come and visit many of those years.  It is the ultimate retreat from Chicago's early and usually wet spring. 

It probably goes without saying - the food here is divine!  Whether you are visiting a local fish shop for the day's catch or dining at one of the many extraordinary restaurants, the Keys offers a southernmost American cuisine rich with sweet Florida lobster tails, briny conch, moist grouper and tart key limes.

After landing at the Key West International Airport, my parents and grandmother whisked me off to one of my favorite Key West restaurants - Louie's Backyard.  The moment you walk into the old Victorian home turned Caribbean-American restaurant you know you are in Key West.  ((The King of Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffet, even lived next door in the 1970's.))  I always order the same thing:  conch fritters, fish tacos and a few freshly made mojitos.  
Once back on Sugarloaf Key (about 15 miles away from Key West), we begin planning family meals which, of course, have to include copious amounts of Florida lobster tails.  These cuties can be steamed, broiled, baked or grilled.  I prefer them grilled and buttered basted. 
Can you believe that in my excitement to eat said lobsters I FORGOT to take a picture of the final product?  GASP!!!  My apologies!  I will, however, share with you with a picture of a wonderful lobster dish that we enjoyed at yet another incredible Key West eatery.
Curry butter roasted lobster tail with coconut, fennel, pistachio pistiou, Israeli couscous and cauliflower @ fin
This beautiful plate is the creation of fin Executive Chef Michael Schultz.  Located on Key West's famous Duval Street, this Caribbean small plate concept restaurant is captivating local and visiting palates with dishes like: Foie gras waffles with orange, chestnuts, and cinnamon basil smothered in a spiced rum sauce OR Madagascar jumbo prawns roasted in key lime brown butter with chorizo piperade.  My grandmother and I both had the foie gras waffle and nearly fell out of our seats it was so good! 

A fun fact for any of my Philly readers: before coming to the Keys chef Schultz worked for world-renowned chef George Perrier at the 5-star rated le bec fin in Philadelphia.  Not sure if the name of his current restaurant fin is an homage to his former work place.

Next week I will be sharing with you my G'ma Betsy's Key Lime pie recipe.  Come back and check it out!!  Here is a preview:
Key West in a bite!!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hot Giardiniera Hummus

Nothing screams Chicago more than hot giardiniera.  It is the ultimate Windy City condiment as I wrote about a few months ago.  I love this stuff.  Hot peppers, celery, olives, carrots and garlic... how can you go wrong?  So you can imagine how much I squealed when I saw a tub of Hot Giardiniera Hummus for sale at my local Whole Food.  Good golly... I knew I had to try and recreate this at home.
While hummus is pretty much available at every grocery store and comes in a variety of flavors... I really encourage you to make your own at home.  It is so easy!  You have few ingredients.  You don't have to worry about additives.  PLUS you can make it exactly to your tastes.  For me and Joe that means SPICY!
I do have one hummus making tip you should try!!  REMOVE THE SHELLS!  Okay, so I know this is tedious but it is so worth it if you want super creamy hummus!  It takes a few extra minutes but the shells pop right off. 
Break out your food processor and get blending.... let me know what you think!!

Adapted from Chef Earl's

  • 1 16-ounce can garbanzo/chick peas
  • 1/2 cup hot giardiniera, packed in oil
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons (or more) water
  • Salt & pepper
  1. Drain and rinse the chick peas then remove the peas from their shells.  This is a bit tedious but worth it!  Simply press the individual peas in between your fingers and the outer shell will pop off.  Discard the shells and place the peas in a food processor.
  2. Add in giardiniera, tahini and garlic cloves along with one tablespoon of water and puree.  Add in additional water until you reach your desired creaminess (for me it was 4 tablespoons.)  Salt & pepper to taste.  Top hummus with additional giardiniera and drizzle with oil from giardiniera jar.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

BLT Cups

We are getting our bacon fix today at Wendy See Wendy Do!!  Some days you just need some salty, briny, crispy bacon!  This recipe calls for one of my favorite types of bacon:  PANCETTA!
Pancetta, also know as Italian bacon, is unsmoked pork belly cured in salt and spices (like nutmeg, fennel and pepper) and then aged for months.  It usually comes rolled up which makes it perfect for bacon cups.  
These BLT Cups are the perfect party bite in a pinch.  Seriously... they take 15 minutes to make! 


Adapted from Not Martha
Makes 10

  • 10 slices pancetta
  • 1 cup of baby spinach, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon mayo
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 5 cherry tomatoes, quartered 
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  2. Place a mini muffin pan upside down on a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray ten of the upside down muffin molds with non-stick spray, alternating between molds.  (This will ensure the cups don't stick to each other.)  Gently fold each pancetta slice around the sprayed muffin mold.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the pancetta is crisp.  Allow to cool for five minutes until removing to a plate lined with a paper towel.  Set aside.
  3. To make the dressing, combine mayo and lemon juice in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  In another bowl, toss the julienned spinach with the mayo dressing.  
  4. To assemble, divide the spinach salad into the pancetta cups.  Top each cup with two of the cherry tomato quarters.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walnut Plum Puffs

Confucious say: EAT LOTS OF PLUMS!

No really.  Would you believe this tasty stone fruit was listed as one of the most popular Chinese foods back dating back to 479 B.C.?  According the, the plum has been written about and drooled over for centuries with even Confucious himself comparing them to a love interest: 
"The branches of the aspen plum
To and fro they sway
How can I not think of her?
But home is far away."
-Confucious 551-479 B.C.
Food writer Peggy Trowbridge Fillipone says plums are the second most cultivated fruit on the planet, second only to apples.  That is A LOT of plums!
This tart harnesses the power of the plum:  brown sugar balancing the natural tartness, walnuts complimenting the earthiness, and puff pastry creating the perfect buttery package to wrap it all up.  I think Confucious would approve!!

Adapted from Grace Parisi
Makes 6 

  • 3 ripe plums, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 sheet of store-bought puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup or more granulated sugar for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine plums, brown sugar, and corn starch to make filling.  Set aside.
  3. On a lightly floured surface unfold puff pastry.  With a sharp knife cut dough into six sections.  Working with one section at a time, roll out the puff pastry to about a 4X4 inch square.  Spoon 1/6th of the filling onto the center of the dough square and top with about one tablespoon of walnuts.  Bring together the four corners of the dough and, using your fingers, pinch together the sides making sure to leave the top open to vent steam. Carefully place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (OR foil that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.) Repeat with remaining dough sections.
  4. Brush all the puffs with the beaten egg and the sprinkle with lots of granulated sugar.  
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.  Allow to cool in the pan for about five minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

In Memory of Marge

Last week the world lost an amazing woman: my future mother-in-law, Marge.  Her death was sudden. She had only been diagnosed with cancer three weeks before her passing.  At the young age of 67, she left behind a 45-year marriage to the love of her life, three successful children, three gorgeous grandchildren, and a beautiful garden.   As we all grieved and said our heartbreaking goodbyes something extraordinary was happening around us.  In the middle of March, in Michigan, Marge's flowers began to bloom.  The unseasonably warm weather spreading across the northeast had coaxed the blooms from their buds leaving splashes of yellow and purple and green.  Marge's garden was springing into life.
I will miss Marge's smile.  I will miss her passion for cooking.  I will miss hearing her quietly singing and humming around the house.  I will miss Marge's creativity.  I will miss her stories about Joe growing up.  I will miss Marge's hugs and kisses.  I will miss all of those mother-in-law/daughter-in-law moments.  I will miss many things about the woman who gave birth to the love of my life.  I am forever thankful I had the chance to meet her, love her and be loved by her.  Anytime I see a beautiful flower I will think of Marge and her garden.
Wendy See Wendy Do will be back next week with more recipes and fun stories but this weekend I ask you all to hug those you love.  If you can't, call them on the phone and tell them how much they mean to you!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cinnamon Sugar Pull Apart Muffins

Ahhhh, cinnamon sugar!!  The perfect combination of spicy sweet.  Doesn't it just scream childhood memories?  I am pretty sure everyone was treated with a cinnamon sugar something when they were a kid.  For me, it was cinnamon sugar toast.  My mom used to slather lightly toasted bread with lots of salty butter and then top it with a heaping amount of cinnamon sugar.  The spice mixture just perked me up and made me smile!  It still does today!!
Don't be intimated by this recipe.  It is quick, easy and super delicious.  What is my secret weapon, you ask?  Store-bought bread dough!  Have you ever used this stuff?  I love it!!  Use it to make a loaf of tasty french bread, roll it out to make a thick pizza crust OR pull apart muffins!!  YEAH BABY!!

Makes 6 muffins

  • Pillsbury Simply Rustic French Bread dough
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a small skillet, brown butter over medium-low heat, about 5 minutes.  You know the butter is browned when it turns a light caramel color and smells slightly nutty.  ((Be careful not to burn the butter!))  Once browned, set the butter aside to cool.
  3. Remove bread dough from tube and place on a cutting board.  Starting in the middle, divide the dough with a small slit.  The divide again and again until you have 31 slits.  Using a very sharp knife, slice the dough.  You should end up with 32 slices.  Flatten each slice with you hands or a rolling pin and place on a sheet of parchment or wax paper. 
  4. In a bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  5. To assemble the muffins, brush each dough slice with the brown butter.  Then sprinkle with the entire sugar mixture.  (Yes, ALL of the cinnamon sugar!)  Stack the dough slice on top of each other. (some stacks will have five slices and some will have six.)  Using a sharp knife, slice the stacks down the middle.
  6. Place two of the sliced stacks, side by side, cut side down into a greased muffin tin.  Repeat with the rest of the stacks.
  7. **This step is very important!!**  Before you put the muffin tin in the oven place it on a larger, rimmed baking sheet.  This will catch any butter/sugar overflow and avoid a very smokey oven.
  8. Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Gently remove.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Buffalo-Style Deviled Eggs

Here is the scenario:  you were invited to a picnic or party months ago and the day of you remember you were supposed to bring an appetizer.  Crap!  You have two choices: take a shower or go to the store to pick up something.  Shower wins (I am sure the party guests will appreciate it!) and you raid your fridge.  
I don't know about you but there are a few items that always gather in my fridge and pantry.  Mayo and eggs because they are essential.  Hot sauce because my fiance is a hot sauce hoarder.  Crumbled blue cheese because you never use the whole tub.  AND lastly, celery seed because I bought it for a dish that only called for 1/8th teaspoon leaving me almost an entire bottle.  Combine all those and you have Buffalo-style Deviled Eggs!!  Is that not the perfect party or picnic appetizer?  
Now while this scenario has never happened to me personally... yet... I now have my go-to deviled egg dish just in case!!


  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Frank's)
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • About a teaspoon and half of celery seed
  • Salt & pepper

Cut eggs in half, place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and set egg whites aside.  Using a fork, mash the yolks.  Stir in mayonnaise and hot sauce.  Fold in blue cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Spoon yolk mixture back into egg whites or pipe yolk mixture in using a pastry bag.  Top with a sprinkling of celery seed.  Enjoy!!