Controlled Chaos.

A confession: I am a compulsive recipe-clipper. Have been for years. I quickly graduated from my early days of overstuffed manila folders (so messy and spill-prone) to one of those accordion-style envelopes intended for monthly filing purposes (receipts, checks, etc.). Instead of January-December, my tabs had labels such as “Soups/Stews” or “Lamb”. When I wanted to browse a category, I’d have to pull out the entire section and sort through clippings and printouts of various sizes; when I was in organizational mode, I’d cull through and toss a few duplicates into the recycling bin, then shove the rest back into the envelope. Finally frustrated with such inconvenience, I transferred everything to a giant red binder, also overstuffed and divided by protein or course, and dip into that when I’m not obsessed with more recent offerings. (Favorites are in a separate binder for easy access—probably the only fully functional element of my so-called “system.”)

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I’m over-sharing here to illustrate just how deep my to-try pile is these days—embarrassingly, some recipes go back ten years or more. Once in awhile, though, I manage to fish one out that is fairly recent and somewhat timely: In this case, a mushroom-and-cheese bread pudding from the March issue of Cooking Light. Last year’s March issue, but let’s not nitpick…it’s the proper month nonetheless.

I saved myself an extra trip to the grocery store by making a few deviations from the recipe: I substituted cheddar cheese for fontina, onions for shallots, and whole wheat bread for half a loaf of ciabatta, all of which I had in the fridge. I set it up in the afternoon before heading to the park, popped it in the oven when I got home, and dinner was ready by the time I got out of the shower.

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It was a bit soggy—I wouldn’t recommend making it as far in advance as I did—but the rustic flavor combination of mushrooms and thyme with sharp cheddar and golden-crisp chunks of bread was spot-on. A quick wilted-spinach salad with grape tomatoes and a warm bacon-and-balsamic vinaigrette provided a sharp foil to the rich, eggy dish.

All in all, it was a highly satisfying Sunday-night meal; weeding another recipe out of the to-try stack was an added bonus. Now, if anyone has suggestions on how to deal with a cookbook addiction, I’d love to hear them.

Cheddar and Parmesan Mushroom Bread Pudding
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves 6

6 cups  (1-inch) cubed sturdy bread (about 12 ounces; 100% whole wheat, if possible)
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
1½ (10-ounce) packages cremini and/or white button mushrooms
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1½ cups 1% low-fat milk
½ cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3  large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Place bread cubes on a jelly-roll pan; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until lightly toasted, turning twice. Remove from oven; cool.

3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and mushrooms; sauté 12 minutes or until lightly browned and moisture evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.

4. Place half of bread cubes in bottom of an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange mushroom mixture evenly over bread cubes; sprinkle with ½ cup cheddar and 1 tablespoon Parmesan. Top with remaining bread cubes. Combine milk, broth, and eggs, stirring with a whisk; pour over bread mixture. Gently press with back of a spoon; let stand 30 minutes. Top with remaining ½ cup cheddar and remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan.

5. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until set. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 6 squares.

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One thought on “Controlled Chaos.

  1. Marsha says:

    Looks yummy!

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