Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding

Of course I had to go and bastardize a perfect Italian dish.

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

But how else would I celebrate the fact that at the very moment you’re reading this I’ll be arriving in Florence and heading up to the beautiful villa that we’ll be calling our home for the next five days? To me, there’s no better way to kick off our Italian vacation.


And let me tell you, this Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding is so delicious that you won’t even mind that it strays quite a bit from the traditional dish. In fact, there really aren’t any similar techniques between the two, I simply took all of the ingredients you’d use for Eggplant Parmesan and, instead of drenching the eggplant in breadcrumbs, I decided to nestle it in huge chunks of crusty bread along with the other typical ingredients you use like tomatoes, basil and, of course, mozzarella cheese!

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

But can we talk a minute about where I am right now and where I’ll be going over the next week and a half? Because I’m desperately looking for the best places to eat, shop and sightsee during our trip.

We’re spending our first five days in Tuscany, hopping around quite a bit to places like Florence, Montepulciano and Greve in Chianti. After that, we’ll take the train out to Venice and spend another few days there before flying home. I’ve been to all of these places before and have found a few hidden gems, but I’m always looking for more, so please, please, please send any suggestions my way if you have them. It’s my in-laws’ and hubby’s first time to Italy so naturally I want to show them THE most amazing time.

Oh yea, that’s right. This trip isn’t just the hubs and I. We’re dragging along BOTH of our parents and my aunt. My aunt and I took a similar trip (staying at the same villa in Tuscany) a few years ago, and I’ve wanted to take the parents back ever since. Fun fact: Chris and I even talked about eloping and getting married at this very villa! In the end, we couldn’t bring ourselves to exclude some of our nearest and dearest (which we would inevitably have to do with an international wedding) so you can imagine how excited I am to bring everyone that’s so special to me to this very special place.

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Anywho, let’s get back to this Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding because I clearly have more exciting things to be doing (ahem, packing) then slaving over the computer all day.

I love this recipe because there are only about 20 minutes of hands-on prep, and then you just throw it in the oven and 30-ish minutes later you have a well-rounded meal (we’re talking veggies, cheese and bread) ready to just plop down on the table and serve with a huge side salad. I’m definitely speaking from experience and let me tell you, the salad is a must. It’s the perfect complement to such a filling yet tasty dish and, hey, balance!

So the only prep you have to do is toast the breadcrumbs (which BTW you can also do up to a day in advance), give the eggplant and garlic a little saute and mix all of the “pudding” ingredients together in a big bowl before dumping it into your baking dish. That’s seriously it. Let me tell ya, it can’t get much easier!

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Towards the end of our Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding’s baking time, we’ll want to pop on the broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to get that cheese on top a little golden brown (is anyone else as obsessed with slightly burnt cheese as I am?)

Straight out of the oven -> Onto the table -> Into the mouth. That’s my ideal dinner if I’ve ever heard of one.

Now excuse me while I undoubtedly go gorge myself on all of the delicious Italian food and drink I can find for dinner. You know you want to make this Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding tonight and eat along with me in spirit!

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

The classic Italian dish revamped in bread pudding form. Sauteed eggplant, fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella tucked into loads of crusty bread.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 5 cups cubed crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed eggplant (about 1/2 of a medium eggplant)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 4 ounces cubed mozzarella
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup basil, plus additional for garnish
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once butter is melted, add the bread and toss to evenly coat. Let bread toast in the butter until golden brown, tossing occasionally to make sure it browns evenly, about 8 or so minutes. Place finished toasted bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

  3. In the same saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium. Once oil is heated, add the eggplant and then the garlic, tossing to combine and evenly coat. Saute until eggplant has softened slightly, again about another 8 minutes or so. 

  4. Add eggplant mixture and remaining ingredients (except for additional basil to garnish) to the large bowl containing the bread cubes and toss to combine. 

  5. Pour mixture into a medium sized casserole dish and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, keep an eye on the bread pudding to make sure the top is not getting too brown. Somewhere between 25 and 30 minutes, depending on how hot your oven is, turn the broiler on high. Bake for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese on the top of the dish is golden and bubbly. Remove and let cool just slightly before serving. Best served with a large green salad.

Eggplant Parmesan Bread Pudding | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch!

**Author’s Note: You may notice that this girl-powered post is coming to you a day later than my usual weekly posting schedule. We had originally planned to post our Spring Fling Brunch on Wednesday, March 8, but then discovered that many of the ladies in our lives (coworkers, friends, family, etc.) were participating in A Day Without a Woman. After some deliberation, we decided to postpone our posts until Thursday to show our support for all females and gender-oppressed individuals. As always, I so appreciate your support for me and so many of my fellow bloggers and lady entrepreneurs. I hope you enjoy reading about our brunch just as much as we enjoyed throwing it!

I told you this was going to be a fun week!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com


I am so excited for today’s post because it has been a long time coming. I’ve mentioned it before, but I truly feel so fortunate to have met so many amazing lady entrepreneurs IRL in my small little community of Santa Barbara. I’ve met fellow bloggers, freelancers, small-business owners, you name it. I’ve enjoyed interacting with every single person I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with, and have learned so much by having this diverse sounding board to bounce ideas off of, ask for advice, etc.

Way back in November, my fellow blogging babes, Hana-Lee from Wander and Wine and Becky from Baking the Goods, and I started throwing around the idea of a collaboration brunch. We all have such unique niches when it comes to our blogs (Hana-Lee focuses on wine and travel, while Becky’s the baker and I’m the cook with a side of mixology) that we thought it would be a great opportunity to play off of each other’s strengths and introduce our readers to all of the fantastic things everyone is doing in their own little corner of the Interwebs.

Well, after much rescheduling and the craziness of the holidays, we were finally able to pull it off. The result was a super fun and festive Spring Fling Brunch we held on a beautifully sunny day last week. I whipped up this hearty Breakfast Panzanella, while Becky brought a stunning Ricotta, Potato & Spring Pea Galette and, of course, Hana-Lee brought the wine. We were also able to get some of our other local lady entrepreneurs involved – Vanessa from Garibaldi Goods provided her over-the-top delicious homemade bread (and some jam, of course!), Amy from Bright Inc. provided the beautiful flower arrangements, and Alison from Sugar Cat Studio whipped up some brunch-themed cupcakes. Be sure to check out all of their blogs/websites/businesses because they are all amazing and work their little tushes off to turn out some amazing products. So fun!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

Let me just tell you, starting the photo shoot for this brunch at 12pm was pure torture. We did so in order to capture the best lighting, but by the end of our almost two-hour shoot, all of our stomachs were audibly growling because all of the food looked (and smelled) so good! Don’t worry, we were sure to taste everything afterwards because, you know, quality control.

When we decided to give our brunch a spring theme, my mind immediately turned to creating a dish that was full of incredibly fresh ingredients (hello, warmer weather) yet hearty enough to not shock our systems too much after a season of all of those comforting winter foods. I knew a Breakfast Panzanella would go perfectly with the Spring Fling theme and set about making a version loaded with two of my favorite breakfast items – bacon and eggs, of course!

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

I’m sure you’ve had (or at least heard of) the classic version of panzanella before, which generally consists of cubes of crusty bread, fresh basil and tomatoes, and some sort of dressing involving olive oil, vinegar, shallots and capers. For my Breakfast Panzanella, I omitted the capers in the dressing (I’m not the hugest fan) and of course added bacon and eggs, plus some fresh mozzarella, because CHEESE.

What resulted was a perfectly balanced salad – the basil and tomatoes are a reminder that warmer weather is just around the corner, while the crusty bread gives the dish that hominess we still crave during this transition between the seasons. This Breakfast Panzanella is also loaded with protein from the eggs, bacon and mozzarella, so it will fill you up and give you a nice solid base for all of that wine you’ll be drinking.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

This salad also comes together in almost no time at all. You can toast the bread cubes and cook the bacon the night before, which means you’ll be able to sleep in approximately 15 minutes more before you have to roll out of bed to scramble up some eggs and whisk together the dressing. What’s left after that is simply tossing everything together in one big bowl and garnishing with some fresh basil! If this Breakfast Panzanella isn’t the perfect brunch dish, I don’t know what is.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

My recommendation to you? Call up some of your girlfriends STAT and set a date for a Spring Fling Brunch of your own. Then head on over to my gal pals’ blog posts for all of the other deets you’ll need to make it a smashing success.

For the recipe for Becky’s Ricotta, Potato & Spring Pea Galette, head on over to Baking the Goods.

For all of Hana-Lee’s wine recommendations and pairing notes, head on over to Wander and Wine.

And be sure to check out all of the other ladies’ sites as well for further inspiration!

Bright Inc. for all of your floral inspiration,

Sugar Cat Studio to grab some tasty cupcake mixes,

and Garibaldi Goods for small-batch artisan foods from local California producers.

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com

Breakfast Panzanella + a Spring Fling Brunch! | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Breakfast Panzanella
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

The classic Italian bread salad gets a morning makeover with the addition of bacon and eggs. The perfect dish for a spring-themed brunch!

Course: Breakfast
Servings: 4 people
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the salad:
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 6-8 basil leaves, plus 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 5 cups cubed crusty sourdough (about 1/2 of a large loaf)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 8 ounces ciliegine (baby mozzarella balls)
  • 3 eggs, scrambled
For the vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once bacon is cooked, remove to a plate lined with a paper towel. Do not dispose of the bacon grease in the pan!

  2. Add 6-8 basil leaves to the saute pan with the bacon grease in it (still on medium heat) and then add the bread cubes. Toast, tossing to coat, until all of the cubes are golden brown. If the cubes seem dry, drizzle on a little olive oil as they continue to toast. You may notice that the basil gets crispy and crumbly as it cooks along with the bread, this is okay! The little bits of basil will add some additional flavor to the salad once it’s done. Once the bread cubes are nice and toasted, spread out on some parchment paper to dry out and cool completely.

  3. Next, mix up the vinaigrette. Combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients by shaking in a Mason jar or whisking vigorously in a small bowl. Set aside.

  4. Place the cooled bread cubes in a large bowl. Chop up the now cooled bacon and add it to the bowl as well, along with the ½ cup of chopped fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, ciliegine and scrambled eggs. 

  5. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat evenly. Garnish with additional chopped basil, if desired. 

 

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey

Sometimes bite-size foods are the best foods.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are no exception! They’re salty, sweet and tangy, and fit in the palm of your hand. They’re portable and the perfect addition to a cocktail party or get-together (did someone say Oscars?)


I’ve always been a snacker. When given the choice between a gigantic meal that will likely leave me bloated and sluggish or light snacks throughout the day, I’ll 100% of the time go for the latter. Plus, that way I get to try allll of the different things. Don’t pin me down, I want to taste all the food!

Speaking of snacking, the hubby and I are especially good at it on the weekends, and this past weekend (wait, are we still in “the weekend” since today is President’s Day?) was no exception. We were up in NorCal for a baby shower on Saturday, then took advantage of the long weekend and being so close to Napa and headed up to Wine Country on Sunday. We’re headed back to SB but will be back up in NorCal next weekend. It’s turning into quite the frequent commute for us, but we don’t mind the drive. We always joke that we’d rather make the 4-6 hour drive up to the Bay Area than the 2-3 hour drive down to LA because we never hit any traffic.

Anyhow, we really enjoyed seeing so many of our NorCal friends this past weekend. It seems like with the craziness of the holidays and the subsequent need to just hibernate and do nothing in the beginning of the new year, it’s been ages since we’ve seen everyone. Now we’re celebrating babies and multiple engagements and I can’t believe all of that has happened since we’ve last seen everyone!

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

These Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey are just the type of thing I like to make for casual get-togethers with our friends, no matter where we are. They’re pretty darn easy and require almost no actual cooking, so you can really whip them up anywhere. Might I also add that they’re the perfect things to munch on when you’re sipping on some delicious Napa wine? Let me tell you, these crostini and a crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc are a match made in heaven.

The hardest part about this recipe is literally toasting up the sliced baguette to make crostini. If you can toast bread under a broiler without burning it, you’re in good shape. If not, just add the toppings to untoasted bread and these puppies will still taste absolutely divine.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

After you have your baguette slices toasted, simply spread each one with a hefty dollop of chevre (that’s creamy goat cheese for all you non-cheese snobs out there), top with the apricot and pistachio mixture, and drizzle on some honey. That’s it!

I’d also like to point out the absolutely necessity of a couple of things:

  1. Toast your nuts. I know, this technically requires more cooking, but it’s a must for ANY recipe that involves nuts. Just trust me.
  2. Chop your dried apricots. Nobody wants a crostini where they have to gnaw through a huge chunk of something so they can be sure to get a taste of it in every bit. Also, I’m a huge fan of the fatter, juicier dried apricots as opposed to the flatter, more dehydrated ones. They are definitely a must IMHO.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

Okay, now that you have the down-low on all that goes into these drool-inducing Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey, I’ll let you get to it! It’s a holiday after all, so you deserve a little something to go along with that bottle of wine you’re sure to pop the cork on today 😉

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

These bite-size hors d'oevures are perfectly balanced with sweet, salt and tangy flavors. Pistachios, goat cheese and apricots are a match made in heaven!

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 1 baguette, thinly sliced on the bias
  • 6 ounces chevre (creamy goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachio nutmeats, toasted
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 4 ounces honey (approximately)
Instructions
  1. Turn the broiler on high. Arrange the baguette slices on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for about 5 minutes, or until they become golden-brown. Keep a close eye on them, as they can get too dark in a matter of seconds. 

  2. Remove crostini from the oven and let cool slightly. Once cool enough to touch, spread about a tablespoon or so of the goat cheese on each piece. 

  3. Combine the pistachios and dried apricots in a small bowl, then sprinkle on top of each crostini. 

  4. Drizzle each piece with honey and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese, Apricot and Pistachio Crostini with Honey | CaliGirlCooking.com

A Valentine’s Day Wine and Food Pairing for Two

I’m so excited to be partnering with Hana-Lee from Wander & Wine to bring you today’s post!

A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

We got together recently to create the perfect Valentine’s Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two, and let’s just say it’s so ridiculously tasty that you won’t even think twice about trying to make a reservation out somewhere to celebrate this year.


We’re talking Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade and Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction over Creamy Polenta, both paired with the most delicious wines. If that doesn’t sound like the perfect Valentine’s Day meal, I don’t know what does.

A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

One of the greatest things about this blogging life is the huge network of other bloggers and entrepreneurs I’ve gotten to connect and eventually become good friends with. I feel especially lucky to have found a great group of gals living here in Santa Barbara that are in the same (or very similar) lines of work.

Hana-Lee and I first became “Insta-friends,” and it only took us oh, about six months, to actually meet IRL. Ever since, we’ve become blogging partners in crime, taking “research” trips to Napa and working up some fun collabs just like this one! Stay tuned for another simple fun collab coming in March, but until then, let’s chat about this delicious Valentine’s Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two.

A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

The menu is perfect for next week’s big event for multiple reasons:

  • It looks elegant and decadent, but comes together seamlessly.
  • It has lots of red, purple and pink hues going on.
  • It is INCREDIBLY tasty and is guaranteed to wow your significant other.
  • Finally, and most importantly, it is paired with TWO delicious wines.

Does it get any better than that? I think not.

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

We start with an appetizer course of Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade. From the creamy cheese filling laced with sautéed shallots and thyme to the fruity, citrusy marmalade gracing the top, once you taste these tartlets you MIGHT not be able to go back to just any old sweet or savory tartlet. Even better, the tartlet shells, filling and marmalade can all be made up to three days in advance, which means all you need to do before serving is compose and pop in the oven for five minutes or less. See, I told you this wouldn’t be too difficult.

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

These Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade are mouth-watering on their own, but they only get better when paired with Domaine Chandon’s fruity, refreshing sparkling Rose. Click here for Hana-Lee’s in-depth wine pairing notes!

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

For the main dish, we created these Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction and Creamy Polenta that, although not difficult to prepare, are far from your average weeknight dinner. You’ll want to start by making the polenta because, although it’s incredibly easy to make from scratch, it does take about 45 minutes to come together (most of that just sitting simmering away on the stove.) If you’re really in a pinch, you could use pre-made polenta, but seriously, once you try making it yourself once, you’ll realize it’s not any more difficult. We also graced our homemade polenta with a hearty handful of aged gouda cheese, which lends the perfect salty, savory kick to the entire dish.

Next, you’ll want to get the Blackberry Reduction simmering away on the stove. Sweet, tart and savory all at once, I’m very confident that once you master the basics of a reduction like this, you’ll feel liberated with all of the different ingredient combinations you can use to make the perfect topping for any meal.

The lamb lollipops are going to be the last step, as they’re both the quickest and the easiest to put together. We simply take a garlic and rosemary concoction and rub it all over the chops, then sear them off in a cast iron skillet (although you could use any nonstick skillet or even the grill if you’re so inclined.)

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

Once you have all of these components made, these Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction and Creamy Polenta come together quickly and painlessly. Scoop a heaping pile of the creamy polenta onto whatever serving dish you choose (the individual gratin dishes we used worked perfectly, you can find similar ones here,) top with a lamp lollipop, and then drizzle on the thick, glossy blackberry reduction.

We paired this entrée dish with Tablas Creek Vineyard’s 2014 Patelin de Tablas, a Rhone-style blend made up of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Counoise. Click here for Hana-Lee’s notes on this delicious pairing.

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

With two delicious courses and two just-as-delicious wine pairings, we’re guessing you won’t have too much room for dessert. But, just in case you have a little sweet tooth that needs tending to, here are some options for a third and final course:

A Valentine's Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two | CaliGirlCooking.com

And there you have it! The perfect Valentine’s Day Wine and Food Pairing for Two. So cancel your reservations, put on some slow tunes and light some candles for a romantic night in. Your significant other deserves it, and you do too. XO

Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Savory Triple Cream Tartlets with Blood Orange Marmalade
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins
 

These savory tartlets are creamy and decadent and topped with a brilliant red marmalade. The perfect appetizer to pair with a sparkling rose!

Course: Appetizer
Servings: 4 tartlets
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons shortening
  • 4-5 tablespoons ice water, as needed
  • Special Equipment: Four 4-inch nonstick tartlet pans
For the filling:
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 5 ounces triple cream soft cheese (We used Delice de Bourgogne)
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • Pinch of pepper
For the marmalade:
  • 6 blood oranges
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Cointreau
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup water
Instructions
To make the crust:
  1. Combine all crust ingredients (except ice water) in a food processor. Pulse until crumbly. Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until a dough forms. Remove from food processer and shape into a disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to ¼-inch thickness (you may need to let the dough warm up slightly before trying to roll it.) Cut dough into fourths and shape into tartlet pans, crimping the edges as needed.

  3. Place tartlet pans on a small rimmed baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and let cool completely. If you’re not composing the tartlets that day, wrap the pans in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to use.

To make the filling:
  1. In a small saute pan, melt the butter. Once butter is melted, add the minced shallots and thyme and saute until fragrant and translucent. Transfer mixture to a small mixing bowl. 

  2. Add your triple cream cheese, crème fraiche and pepper to the mixing bowl and use a spatula to combine all of the ingredients. If you’re not composing the tartlets right away, transfer filling to a resealable container and keep refrigerated until ready to use. 

To make the marmalade (you will have extra marmalade left over, but that means all the more to put on your toast in the morning!):
  1. Using a microplane, gather 1 cup grated blood orange zest (being careful not to scrape the bitter white pith.) 

  2. Once you have the zest, peel the blood oranges and gather 2 cups of pulp, squeezing it out of the translucent white membrane that’s segments the orange into slices. 

  3. Place a saucepan over medium heat. Add the zest, pulp, Cointreau, lemon juice and water. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium-low and let simmer until mixture is thick and reduced, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. If not composing the tartlets right away, transfer to a resealable container and keep refrigerated for up to three days. 

To compose the tartlets:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Use a spatula to put the filling into a piping bag. Cut off the tip of the bag (no piping tip needed) and pipe it into each of the tart shells. Use a small spatula to spread it and make it even. 

  3. Place tartlets on a small rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for just 5 minutes (you might not even need this much time, you just want the cheese to get melty so keep an eye on it!)

  4. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Top with a scoop of the blood orange marmalade and serve immediately.

 

Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta
Prep Time
55 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
1 hrs 5 mins
 

Rosemary and garlic crusted lamb lollipops are placed over a bed of creamy, cheesy homemade polenta and topped with a perfectly balanced blackberry reduction.

Course: Main Course
Servings: 2 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the polenta:
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup shredded aged Gouda cheese
  • Salt and pepper
For the reduction:
  • 2 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup red wine (it would be best to use the Tablas Creek here)
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
For the lamb lollipops:
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 bone-in lamb chops
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
Instructions
To make the polenta:
  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Once boiling, slowly pour in the cornmeal, whisking as you pour to avoid clumps. 

  2. Turn down heat to a low simmer and let cook for about 40 minutes, whisking every 10 minutes. If polenta gets too thick at the end of this, simply add a bit more water. 

  3. Whisk in butter in two parts, then stir in Gouda cheese. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Keep polenta over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.

To make the reduction:
  1. Combine all ingredients (except butter) in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a heavy simmer. Turn down heat slightly and let simmer until mixture is reduced by at least half. 

  2. Remove thyme sprigs from sauce and remove sauce from heat. Whisk in butter continuously until it is completely melted, or your sauce will break. Return to very low heat until ready to serve.

To make the lamb lollipops:
  1. In a small bowl, form the herb rub by combining the garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. Place the lamb lollipops on a plate and rub the herb mixture all over both sides. Let lamb sit with the herb rub on it for 20 minutes if possible. 

  2. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once skillet is hot, add the lamb lollipops (you should hear a big sizzle when you put them on.) Cook the lamb lollipops for about 5 minutes each side, or until they get a nice dark golden crust. Remove from heat and let rest for about 10 minutes before plating.

To plate the dish:
  1. Scoop a large spoonful of polenta into two individual gratin dishes. Place a lamb lollipop on top of each dish, then spoon the blackberry reduction over top. Serve immediately.

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

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Herb-Crusted Lamb Lollipops with Blackberry Reduction Over Creamy Polenta | A Valentine's Day Wine and Food Pairing Dinner for Two on CaliGirlCooking.com

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese

I promised to balance out all that healthy stuff I brought you on Monday, didn’t I?

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

Well, let me tell you, this Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese truly delivers. We are, after all, in the season of comfort food (and Super Bowl Sunday!) so there’s no time like the present to indulge just a little bit. Plus, we’ve got to bake allllll of the things before the weather once again gets too warm for us to even think about turning on the oven.


As I was dreaming up this recipe, I originally thought I’d just make my loaded cornbread in a classic glass baking dish and serve it up in thick, hearty squares. But then, as I was putting away dishes and reorganizing all of my pots and pans, my eyes fell upon my extremely neglected cast iron skillet and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to give it some lovin’.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

The last time I used my trusty Lodge cast iron skillet for a recipe on this site was way back in April of last year, when I brought you this incredibly delicious (and still a reader favorite) Greek Skillet. It turned out so well, and has continued to serve me well in times of easy, healthy dinner needs, that I’m not sure what has taken me so long to break the skillet out again and put it to good use. Now that I’ve done it, I’m eager to start trying even more cast iron skillet recipes in the very near future…Do you have any suggestions of recipes I should try??

Not only is this Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese incredibly decadent and drool-worthy, it’s also soooo easy to make. Yes, the batter is made from scratch, but I kid you not when I say it comes together in less than 15 minutes flat. With only 20 minutes of baking time, the cornbread would be a welcome addition to an easy weeknight dinner. I’m thinking it would be the perfect accompaniment to a bowl of Warming Minestrone Soup or a big Winter Kale Salad.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

Oh, and did I mention we grease the pan with bacon fat? I know, I know, it sounds indulgent, but I’m really just jumping on the “no waste” cooking trend that’s predicted to be a huge trend in the world of food in 2017. I don’t know about you, but the hubs and I have a huge Mason jar full of bacon grease leftover from our weekend breakfasts, and prefer to put it to tasty use as opposed to having to discard of it in an old tomato sauce can. That being said, if it sounds just a bit TOO indulgent for you, you could always use butter (just know that you’ll be missing out on some delicious bacon-y flavor in this already indulgent dish!)

The only prep that you’ll need to do in preparation for this deliciousness is to cook up some Italian sausage, grate some cheddar cheese and slice some green onions. Once that’s all done, the batter will come together in no time flat, while your cast iron skillet is busy warming up (and getting seasoned with bacon grease) in the preheating oven.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

If you’re looking for an easy dish that will “wow” your guests for Super Bowl Sunday, this Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese is your answer. It might as well be deemed a “meal” with all of that protein from the sausage and cheese, and there’s even some “green stuff” hanging out in there. I might also add that it’s incredibly tasty with a little drizzle of honey over top, or if you REALLY want to be indulgent, slather on some creamy, high-quality butter.

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com

So now you have a healthy dish and this indulgent dish for your football-noshing pleasure this weekend. How about on Friday I bring you a cocktail??

Happy humpday friends!

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com
Print
Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
40 mins
 

Cornbread gets a delicious makeover when it's loaded with sausage, green onions and shredded cheddar cheese and cooked in a seasoned cast iron skillet.

Course: Side Dish
Servings: 8 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons bacon fat
  • 6-7 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (about 2 links)
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 large green onion, minced
  • 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place bacon grease in a 12-inch cast iron skillet and place in oven as it is preheating. 

  2. In a small nonstick skillet, brown the sausage, then set aside. 

  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. 

  4. Add the buttermilk, eggs and butter to the same mixing bowl and whisk until combined. 

  5. Stir in the cooked sausage, green onions and cheddar cheese. 

  6. Using potholder, remove the cast iron skillet from the oven. Pour in the batter and then return to the oven for 20 minutes. Remove when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe Notes

This recipe should also work fine if you only have a 9-inch cast iron skillet. The bread will turn out a little thicker, so you will probably need to increase the baking time 5-10 minutes.

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

Loaded Skillet Cornbread with Sausage and Cheddar Cheese | CaliGirlCooking.com