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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #2 and Strawberry Lemon Bread Pudding

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At Reading and Recipes, we hit the ground running.

Did you notice that spring arrived this past weekend? Thank goodness! I know, some of you still have mounds of snow along the driveway and in the yard, and maybe some more on the way this weekend. But we’ve turned the corner. Bye-bye cold gross winter. Hello, sunshine and warm temps!

And at R&R we aren’t going to ease into spring, we aren’t going to back into spring, we aren’t going to slide into spring. We’re going to leap into spring and give it a bear hug with this original take on an old standby–Strawberry Lemon Bread Pudding! 

With the strawberries, we’re paying homage to the signature fruit of spring (won’t be too long till we’ll be picking our own at the farm down the road!). Then with the zest and tartness of lemon, we’re calling forth a key flavor of summer, reminding us of glasses of fresh-squeezed lemonade on the back porch or one of those drinks with the umbrellas while we sit around the pool.

Then we’re wrapping these signature flavors of spring and summer in the ultimate comfort food of all time–bread pudding! So this dessert works toward giving you hope for the warm and happy seasons to come while offering you consolation for the long cold winter that maybe isn’t quite ready to surrender.

So jump into this dessert with both feet the way R&R is jumping into spring, ready or not!

strawberry lemon bread pudding Strawberry Lemon Bread Pudding

1/2 loaf stale bread, cubed (about 3 cups)

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

zest from half of a lemon

juice from half of a lemon

1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries

1 cup powdered sugar

lemon strawberry bread pudding

In a mixing bowl, add the milk, eggs, sugar, both extracts, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Whisk until the eggs are beaten and all of the ingredients are well combined. Add the cubed bread and strawberries and mix until all of the bread is covered by liquid. Let this mixture sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 5×7 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Pour soaked bread into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bread pudding is set and no longer jiggles. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the lemon glaze by combing the 1 Tablespoon of milk or water and powdered sugar. Stir until no lumps remain. Serve the bread pudding warm, with a drizzle of glaze and sprinkle of lemon zest on top.

Serves 3-4.

strawberry lemon breadpudding

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #2 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #2, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #2, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #1 and Mint Chocolate Smoothie

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How do you combine:

1. some residual St. Patrick’s Day cheer

2. a good use for the Girl Scout cookies you picked up last month that are hanging out in your cupboard

3. a shout-out to long overdue spring a few days early

4. and a celebration of the start of a new novel on Reading and Recipes?

With a Mint Chocolate Smoothie!!!!

This dessert has happy thoughts written all over it and mixed all in it. What’s more, it’s easy, quick, refreshing and satisfying to your sweet tooth and your chocolate craving. 

Top it all off with the first serial to our new novel Two Sisters Times Two. It picks up Brooke and Leah from Two Sisters some thirty-five years later, with Brooke’s youngest daughter Penni getting married with her sister (and Brooke’s older daughter) Jodie serving as Maid of Honor. The wedding, like most weddings, brings out some of the best and the worst of the participants. So take a listen or a read and jump on board for this new serialized novel–Two Sisters Times Two, hot off the presses only at Reading and Recipes!

thin mint chocolate smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

1 banana

1/2 cup chocolate milk 

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Thin Mint Girl Scouts cookies

2 drops mint extract

handful of ice

mint chocolate smoothie

In the order listed, place all of the ingredients into a blender. Blend for 30 seconds, or until smooth. Pour into a glass and garnish with whipped cream and crushed Thin Mints.

Makes 1 smoothie.

chocolate mint smoothie

{Adapted from Peanut Butter and Peppers}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #1 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #1, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #1, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #35 and Coffee Cake in a Mug

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Time to get practical. Want something really quick, easy, tasty, and simple to clean up? R&R has you covered with this Coffee Cake in a Mug.

While you’re waiting for your coffee or tea to brew, grab another mug, mix together the ready-at-hand ingredients, pop it in the microwave, and have yourself a warm and comforting sweet to go along with your coffee or tea. And this fast coffee cake works anytime–breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

So give it a try. What do you got to lose? Two minutes time and one coffee mug in the dishwasher? Sounds foolproof to me.

And while you’re at it, take a look or listen to Two Sisters, Serial #35. This is the final serial of the novel, and its a short epilogue, which really could double as a short preface–and was in fact part of the preface in an earlier draft. So even if you haven’t been following along, take a few minutes while you’re enjoying our quickie coffee cake and listen to or read these few pages. Might pique your interest just enough to prompt you to check out some of the earlier segments!

mug coffee cakeCoffee Cake in a Mug

For the cake:

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons buttermilk or milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For the nut topping:

1 Tablespoon chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons brown sugar

pinch of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon water

coffee nut cake for one

First, make the cake by combining the flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar in a microwave safe coffee mug. Slowly mix in the buttermilk, vanilla, and melted butter until a smooth batter forms.

In a separate bowl, make the nut topping by mixing together the walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and water. Spoon this topping on top of the cake batter. Microwave the cake on high for 1 minute. Continue to microwave the cake in 10-second intervals until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. (Mine took about 1 minute 30 seconds.)

Remove the cake from the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Serve the cake warm unadorned or a la mode.

Makes 1 mug cake.

nut coffee mug cake

{Adapted from Kroger}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #35 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #35, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #35, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #34 and Mini Chocolate Pies

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Did you ever have a special treat when you were a kid? O.K., so you’re still a kid. Do you have a special treat now, one that just the thought of puts a smile on your face?

Well, for me that treat is chocolate pie. It’s not that chocolate pie is the richest or most decadent or exotic or flavorful dessert I’ve ever had. Far from it. Nor is it exactly a comfort dessert (bread pudding would fill that bill for me).

But there’s something about chocolate pie that makes me all happy inside, and that’s before I eat it!

And it seems to us here at Reading and Recipes that we all need something to put a smile on our faces as we slog through these last weeks of a too long winter. Or for y’all in the Southern Hemisphere, maybe you’re worn out by a long and too hot summer! Or maybe you’re feeling the blahs in the lull between Valentine’s Day and Saint Patty’s. Or a crunch at work. Or mid-terms at school. Or the kids are home sick (now hey, these chocolate pies will put a smile on their faces!).

Whatever your doldrums, chocolate pie is the cure. You don’t even have to eat them.

(But go ahead and eat one. You need the boost.)

mini chocolate cream pies

Mini Chocolate Pies

1 package mini graham cracker crusts (6 total)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups milk*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

whipped topping

mini chocolate cream pie

Over a small pan, sift together the granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk in the milk until no clumps remain. Heat mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to simmer. Reduce heat to low and whisk mixture for another minute, until it becomes glossy and thickened. Remove the mixture from the stove and stir in the vanilla extract and butter.

Divide the pudding between the six graham cracker crusts. Put the mini pies on a cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap, ensuring to press plastic wrap directly onto pudding to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. When ready to serve, remove the pies from the refrigerator and garnish with whipped topping.

Makes 6 mini pies.

*Be sure to use dairy milk. (I used 1% in this recipe.) Using non-dairy milk, such as almond or soy milk, will result in a filling that does not thicken properly.

chocolate cream pie

{Adapted from Dessert for Two}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #34 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #34, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #34, text © Jeffrey Anderson