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Family and Festive Feasting


[Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Warm Caramel Sauce]

As I mentioned in a previous post, the CFO came to visit over the holidays, and we had a truly lovely time together, chillaxing (I can’t understand why that word has evaporated from the lexicon.  I mean, it just seems to capture so perfectly the concept its meant to convey), laughing, watching movies*, laughing, shopping, playing with The Girls, laughing, and eating far, far too much.  I’m happy to say that my sister also bonded with both of our furry babies, who have been wandering aimlessly around the house since she left this morning. 

(“Mum, what do you mean, ‘she left’? Doesn’t she live with us now?  Where did she go? And, um, who will rub my belly tonight?”)

It does seem like ages since I’ve written on this blog, when in fact, it’s been just a few days. I’m just fascinated by the science fiction-like relative quality of time at the holidays: the space-time continuum stretches infinitely as you wait for the Big Day (or Days, depending on your belief system); then, like the Big Bang, it’s over in a flash.

Not to belabor the physics theme or anything, but I think my stomach has taken over the role of a black hole this holiday season.  Truly, I didn’t know it was possible that so much food could be sucked into that abyss in so short a span. Ah, if only time could stretch as infinitely as my appetite (and if only the waistband on my pants could do the same. . . ). 

Ah, what the heck, it’s the holidays. While the CFO was here , in effect, we enjoyed two major feast meals:  the first on Christmas Day, a semi-traditional repast that blended the Judeo-Christian cuisines; then, the following night, an Indian-themed feast, because we felt like it. 

Although neither my sister nor the HH is vegan (or even vegetarian), the bulk of the menu accommodated my dietary restrictions, so that we could all enjoy freely. And despite much good-natured ribbing in both directions (the CFO pooh-poohed almost every recipe I suggested on the grounds it was “too Veeee-gan”, while I countered by calling her a “rabid anti-Veegite“), it was the dish about which she was most skeptical, the wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free pumpkin bread pudding, that turned out to be the star of the show. 

For the holiday meal, I relied on several tried-and-true recipes such as herb-roasted root vegetables, balsamic-dijon brussels sprouts and roast on the 25th, plus (in keeping with the Hannukah theme I started with those latkes the other day) an apple-noodle pudding (or kugel).  Even though this was a sweet kugel and more of what I’d consider a dessert, it did work well with the other dishes, offering a bit of luscious creaminess punctuated by tart cherries, along with the similar sweet-tart contrast in the brussels sprouts.  In fact, this noodle pudding would be perfect for breakfast, I’d venture.


[Apple-Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries]

The bread pudding my sister so loved began with a pumpkin bread (recipe from Simple Treats), soaked in a pumpkin “custard” based on the mixture I used in my French Toast Soufflé.  I baked the puddings in individual ramekins, but you could easily do a single pudding in a loaf or square pan and scoop it from there. I topped the puddings with a homemade caramel sauce–a concoction based on a sweetened condensed milk experiment that went awry–that I’d kept warm. 


[A bite of pumpkiny-caramelly bliss.]

The result was spectacular–warm, slightly crisp on the outside but moist and spongy on the inside, über-pumpkiny, slightly spiced, and with the smooth, glossy thickness of warm caramel blanketing the whole affair. This is a chic, stylish dessert, yet one that was really simple in its preparation.

We certainly didn’t need any additional desserts after that finale, but since I had loads of tester recipes in the house that I’d recently done up for the cookbook, I put out a tray with Glazed Almond Bars, Dalmatian Cheesecake Brownies and Hazelnut Mocha Cookies; as well as leftover Marzipan-Topped Shortbread, Tutti Fruiti Christmas Cookies, and Chocolate Macaroons.  All were CFO-approved, I’m happy to say.

The next night, though still full from the Christmas dinner, we managed an incredible follow-up with an Indian feast that, we decided, will go down in the annals of Most Memorable Meals in the DDD household. 

The menu included a lentil dal recipe I first saw about a week ago on Lisa’s blog; peas in a creamy sauce (adapted from a recipe I once borrowed from Gemini I); an aloo saag (well, not really–I just don’t know the word for “kale”) that combined potatoes and shredded kale in a spicy tomato sauce; coconut brown basmati rice; and homemade chickpea pancakes from Meena Pathak’s Indian Cooking for Family and Friends.  I can tell you, there was a symphony of lip-smacking, lentil scooping, potato spooning, and sauce sopping going on, as well as a mellifluous refrain of friendly chatter and wine-glass clinking that evening.  Very chillaxing.

I promise to share the goodies from our Indian feast in a future post, but rather than inundate you with so many recipes at once, I thought I’d start off with the lovely Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries.  This alone would make a great light mid-week  supper–and I, for one, could certainly use some lighter meals these days.

Also:  I’m a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but wanted to mention a charity drive put on by Katie over at Chocolate Covered Vegan.  In honor of the season, Katie is offering to donate 20 cents to the Enough Project (an organization that works to counter crimes against humanity) for every comment she receives on this post.  How sweet is that? It’s incredibly easy to help out this way–just hop on over and leave a comment!

 *Christmas Day:  that classic chestnut, White ChristmasThe CFO and I, while sisters ourselves, bear no resemblance to either Rosemary Clooney or Vera-Ellen (well, perhaps my wrist bears a resemblance to Vera-Ellen’s waist).

Boxing Day:  taking advantage of the nearly-empty theaters, Seven Pounds. What I learned from watching this movie:  1) Will Smith is (still) preternaturally gorgeous;  2) Will Smith is an extraordinarily talented actor; 3) that is one whacked reason to keep a jellfish as a pet.

Yesterday: The Dark Knight. I agree that Heath Ledger deserved an Oscar for his performance.  Not only that, but also a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for being able to unravel the convoluted structure of the multi-pronged plot in this movie.  (Okay, perhaps a not-entirely fair assessment on my part, as I couldn’t bring myself to watch the violent scenes.  Which means I missed about 94% of the movie.)

Apple Noodle Pudding with Tart Dried Cherries


Unfortunately, I can’t recall the original source of this recipe, which I copied from a magazine several years ago in the BB (Before Blog) era of my life.  Nevertheless, I’ve added several elements and changed others over the years, so I consider this my own variation on the original.

4 ounces (about 120 grams) long noodles (fettucine, linguine, spaghetti, etc.–I use kamut linguine; for a GF option, use gluten-free noodles)

1 large or 2 small tart apples (such as Granny Smith) washed, cored and grated fine (you can leave the skin on)

1/3 cup (80 ml.) dried tart cherries, cranberries, or raisins

1/3 cup (80 ml.) natural raw almonds

1/4 cup (60 ml.) natural raw cashews

1 pkg. (about 12 ounces or 375 g.) aseptically-packaged, firm silken tofu (I use Mori-Nu)

1/4 cup (60 ml.) agave nectar, light or dark

2 tsp. (10 ml.) cinnamon

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) ground ginger

pinch cardamom

1/8 tsp. (.5 ml.) fine sea salt

1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) pure almond extract

1 tsp. (5 ml.) pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Line a 9 inch (22.5 cm.) square pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.

In a large pot, boil the noodles according to package directions and drain.  Place the drained noodles in a large bowl and toss with the grated apple, cherries, and pecans.

In the bowl of a food processor, blend the almonds and cashews until they resemble a fine meal (take care not to over-blend, however, or you’ll end up with nut butter).  Add the tofu, agave, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, salt, almond extract and vanilla and process gain until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the tofu mixture over the noodle mixture in the bowl and stir well to blend and distribute the tofu mixture throughout. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly, smoothing the top.

Bake in preheated oven about 50 minutes, rotating once about halfway through, until golden brown on top.  Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes four brunch servings or 9 dessert servings. May be frozen. 

Last Year at this TimeBrussels Sprouts Even My Honey Will Eat

© 2008 Diet, Dessert and Dogs




26 comments to Family and Festive Feasting

  • s

    It was so great, being so laid back! For me there was no anticipation on the way leading up to Christmas Day, but then after that it was just a slow lazy summer sprawl back down to Monday.


  • Mmmm it all sounds so incredible! I’m loving that pumpkin bread pudding photo mmmm pumpkin and warm caramel = a match made in heaven!

    I’ve never thought to use noodles in a sweet dish, the thought fascinates me. It looks great too.


  • gail

    Oh my, I had to wipe the drool off my computer screen after seeing that pumpkin bread pudding photo … so many of my favorite things on one plate. Incredible.


  • sounds like you had a fine festive feast – twice – and lots of fun! I’ve not had much experience of kugels but have found them rather odd because I can never work out if they should be main course or dessert – so your comments on it are helpful. I would certainly have a piece or two of that pumpkin bread pudding! And the Indian feast sounds wonderful.

    I haven’t come across chillaxing before but I will try and use it as it seems too good a word to let die!


  • Sounds like you had a (mostly) pleasant and enjoyable holiday. And you can’t argue with lots of baked goods… everything looks delicious, especially the pumpkin bread pudding (I’m kind of a sucker for anything with pumpkin as a recipe). Yum!


  • Ricki, I should never read your blog when I’m hungry. I always end up with the problem of wanting to eat everything off the screen! Now I have a huge craving for that noodle pudding (or ANY bread/noodle pudding for that matter).

    And thank you so much for mentioning my comment drive :o). It means so much to me to have a sweet friend like you!


  • Glad that the holiday was enjoyable overall – and hell yes for tantalizing noodle pudding and other treats!!


  • Oh my gosh. That pumpkin bread pudding is the most beautiful desserts I’ve ever seen! I must have it =P
    Are you going to post the recipe?


  • “Rabid anti-Veegite” LOL!!

    Wow, that’s a lot of eating in style and chillaxing! Ha! I just used that word yesterday when I asked our kitty visitor if she was enjoying her chillaxing time! She really was.

    The apple noodle pudding is genius, I never would have thought of making a noodle pudding! I must stop trying to lick that bite of pumpkiny-caramelly bliss off my monitor though, it tastes very dusty! 🙂

    I am very intrigued by the third thing you learned from watching Seven Pounds. The Dark Knight didn’t impress me much (sorry, channeling Shania Twain). Heath Ledger’s performance was superb, but I thought the rest of the movie pretty much sucked.


  • Gaaah, that pumpkin bread has *me* melting. WANT. Coincidentally, I also watched Dark Knight two nights ago. I also found the plotline hard to follow and improbable. But good action scenes!


  • sounds like a fabulous holiday!! and complete with such fabulous eats, I wouldn’t expect anything but 🙂

    haven’t seen seven pounds, but dark night was good–it just didn’t need 3 endings.


  • The CFO

    Well, I must say that the visit was fabulous. While I admit to being, at least this weekend, quite an anti-veegite, I also must admit that your culinary skills almost equal your ability to make me laugh. The food, and your never-ending toiling in the kitchen to feed our (already quite extended) bellies quite exceeded any expectations. The food was dee-lish. I can’t remember the last time we laughed so much. It was such an enjoyable visit with you, HH, and the girls. My nieces are adorable and despite certain devilish-y attributes when barking, I adore them fiercely. My only complaint is your comparing us to the film sisters and saying that we bear no resemblance to them. While your wrist may be as large as her waist, I am quite sure that, in fact, my NECK just might be as large as Rosemary Clooney’s waist, so we do in fact resemble them!!!Thanks so much for the great visit–love you lots!!!!


  • both the pumpkin bread pudding and the apple noodle pudding look super stellar, Ricki! the both sound wonderful & droolworthy, too! glad you got some chillaxing time in – and very cool on your sister giving lots of love to your kids! yay! julie always looooves guests and all the extra attention she gets!

    wasn’t The Dark Knight great + confusing!?! i am still confused to tell you the truth. think i’ve gotta watch it again…


  • i love the noodle pudding!!! i’ve never heard of something like that before- all the more reason to try it.

    that bread pudding looks to die for. looks like you had some excellent eats for the holidays!


  • The way you write reminds me of David Foster Wallace! You’ve read DFW, yes?


  • Courtney

    Your holiday sounds like it was so much fun! I visited my sister, and we had fun chillaxing too :o) We even watched White Christmas and, like you, decided that Vera-Ellen is super thin and about to break…her legs are the size of my arms! I watch this movie every year at Christmas while stuffing myself with baked goods and then whine that it is so unfair that she is so skinny…hmmm…

    All of your recipes sound great–can’t wait to see them in future posts!



  • giz

    I always liked the word chillaxing. The dogs do get spoiled when company comes don’t they. My mother is always notorious for believing they deserve to have some of everything and feeds them constantly. Then it takes weeks to break the habit…sigh.

    Happy New Year!!
    BTW – I’m not seeing your pictures. Maybe it’s just me.


  • OH>MY>GOODNESS! That pumpkin bread pudding looks so YUMMY! I don’t care what’s in it or not in it! I’d love to have a taste or two okay lets be real I want a whole one for myself! I’m seriously drooling over that first photo!

    Happy 2009!


  • s,
    We did have a chillaxing time, but I think I would still have preferred your summer day!!

    I’ll try to reproduce the bread pudding recipe, as it really was good. The noodle pudding is unusual, yes, but very substantial–I like it best for breakfast.

    Thanks so much for your comment! And I have to agree–caramel and pumpkin is a great match! 🙂

    I’ve had the same feeling about kugels, but I’ve come to think of them as a sweet side dish, like glazed carrots or sweet potatoes. And great for brekkie. And Yay for “chillaxing”–let’s see how quickly we can spread it worldwide! Chillaxers take over the World! 😉

    Veggie Guy,
    Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you like the pudding. . . will try to post the recipe!

    It’s the carbs that do it. . . get me every time. 😉 And it’s my pleasure to promote such a worthy cause (and blogger!) 🙂

    Yes, a great holiday so far. And that stuff was truly Holy Yum! 😉

    Thanks so much! The recipe started out as a “failure,” so I just winged it and ended up with something fabulous. I’ll try to re-create it in the next post. 🙂

    Yay for using “chillaxing”!! I’m sure we can spread this around if we all use it. . . as Johanna said, too good a word to let it die! And I agree totally about The Dark Knight. The noodle pudding was much better 😉

    Well, I’m afraid I missed a lot of the action scenes. . . but they SOUNDED good ;). Glad you like the look of the pudding!

    I think you’ve nailed it–three endings! THAT’S why I kept feeling as if the movie should be over. . . already. . . .PLEASE. . . !!

    I can’t believe you’ve finally de-lurked!! Yes, a great visit (we should do this more often). 🙂 Oh, and wear jeans more often, too 😉 . PS The Girls send kisses. xo

    Thanks! And if you watch the movie again, would you let me know what it’s all about–??! 😉

    Thanks so much! It really was good (though the bread pudding was certainly more of a “real” dessert). The Indian feast was my true favorite, though–coming soon. 🙂

    Wow, thanks so much! I’ve only heard of him, never read anything. Of course, now I’m extremely curious!

    That’s such a coincidence about your visit with your sister, too! And our hunch was actually correct–I just had to look up Vera-Ellen’s bio, and apparently, it’s suspected that she suffered from anorexia. Earlier photos of her show a much plumper person (though I didn’t think she looked UNhealthy. . . just really, really skinny). In that case, I’d rather be chubby, I think.

    The Girls are going through Auntie withdrawal, most definitely. I’m not sure about the photos–they are coming through for me. Maybe just the connection? Hope your NY is also wonderful! (PS we must confer in the new year about our “project”!) 🙂

    Thanks so much for your comment, and for reading! Happy to provide the recipe (as much as I can remember) next post! 🙂


  • The noodle pudding looks so incredible, but I can’t wait for that pumpkin bread pudding post…caramel!


  • It sounds like you had a wonderful holiday, Ricki! You know, I saw Will Smith up close and in person once a few years ago and he is just as gorgeous in person as on screen.

    My Nana’s noodle kugel is something I’ve been meaning to veganize. I’m hoping to get to that someday soon.


  • mysweetestday

    warm caramel sauce? yummmm


  • The caramel sauce on that pumpkin bread pudding is just full of ooey gooey goodness! total perfection!


  • Sisters, sisters
    There were never such devoted sisters…
    Yeah, I’ve already watched it twice since December 1st. Even with my black fingernails and pierced nose chain, I loved that movie (mostly because I used to watch it with my grandparents when I was little and it brings back so many wonderful memories).
    Next year, I’m coming to your place for the holiday dinner!!


  • Wow – a sweet kugel I’d love to try! I’ve always found them too weird before but I really like the sound of this one. Thanks for posting – it sounds as though you had a great festive break!


  • veganhomemade

    Noodle…pudding? It sure looks tasty enough.


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