Easy Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Want an easy dessert that tastes like you spent hours on it?


Try our pumpkin bread pudding (it’s also non-dairy).


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice, soy or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • About 3 cups or 3 slices hearty white bread, torn into pieces (see note)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

  1. Thoroughly grease a 1 quart casserole dish (I used Earth Balance, but use whatever you prefer).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first three (wet) ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Add the sugar and spices.
  4. Tear the bread into cubes roughly 1 by 1 inch. Quickly fold into the liquid ingredients, but don’t over mix.
  5. Transfer to the greased casserole and bake for 1 hour, until lightly browned and firm.

Serving suggestion:  Try adding a scoop of vanilla non-dairy ice cream to warm bread pudding.

Note on bread:  Bread pudding traditionally calls for slightly stale bread. You can use any hearty white bread fresh, however. Also, if you use whole wheat bread, consider substituting brown sugar for the sweetener, giving a heartier flavor.

non-dairy Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Appropriately, we are linking up with recipe of the week today for cinnamon desserts.


Link up your recipe of the week

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass: Pumpkin Smoothie

Today we are linking up with Carole’s Chatter meme Food on Friday and the theme is drinks.

Do you have some pumpkin puree left over? Looking for a fun fall-themed smoothie?



Try a pumpkin smoothie!

Add to a blender:

  • 1/2 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups milk, soy milk, almond milk or rice milk
  • 1/4 cup sweetener, such as maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

Blend until well mixed. Serve cold.

If you use fresh-roasted pureed pumpkin, then you might be able to reduce the sweetener. Commercial canned pumpkin tends to have a stronger, slightly bitter overtone.



Can Cream Puffs Go Non-Dairy?

My new copy of In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis has arrived!

In case you were wondering, this book is not simply recipes (although there are 85 recipes throughout the book), but more thoughts and experiences showcasing how the typical French home cook prepares meals.

Loomis reveals a great deal, but also allows the readers to make some of their own conclusions.

A few points from the book:

1. French cooks tend to have learned how to cook from close family members, especially the grandmother (Mamie).
2. Shopping is done daily, and ingredients are local, either from the garden or the farmer’s market.
3. Very few ingredients are purchased prepared, but instead are made from scratch.

Reading from a scientist’s perspective, I have to admit I wondered whether the Hawthorne effect might be an issue. The Hawthorne effect (also called observer effect) is when the subjects modify their behavior as a result of being observed. If you knew a fairly famous author was hanging around your kitchen or coming over for a meal, wouldn’t you tend to put your best foot forward, or at the very least conform to perceived standards? What do you think?

In any case, the book is fascinating to read and trying some of the recipes is a must. I decided the profiteroles (or cream puffs) on page 133 sounded good. Of course, we had to make them dairy-free. Would it work?


Non-dairy Cream Puff

Choux Pastry (cream puff shell)

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or butter, if allowed)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Grease a large cookie sheet.

2. Measure the flour and set aside to have ready.

3. Add the Earth Balance and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling over a high heat. When the Earth Balance is melted and the water reaches a full boil, add the flour quickly and all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is mixed in and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball. Remove from the heat and stir for about one more minute.

4. Add eggs one at a time. They will resist mixing, but beat them in until the batter is smooth.

5. Drop the batter by the Tablespoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325° and bake another 25 minutes. The shells should be puffy and golden brown.


Split the cream puff shell and fill with either your favorite non-dairy ice cream or non-dairy pudding.

Non-dairy Pudding


  • 2 cups soy, almond or coconut milk
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch (substitute another thickener, such as flour, if corn not allowed)
  • 1/3 cup sugar or to your taste (sweetened milk flavors will require less sugar)

Measure the ingredients into a saucepan and whisk them together. Place over high heat and stir constantly until mixture boils and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool briefly before use. Refrigerate if not used immediately.

Optional Chocolate Sauce

The easiest way to make a quick chocolate sauce is to melt a few pieces of dark chocolate (dairy-free) in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.

The second easiest way is to make a chocolate sauce using powdered baking cocoa.

  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Heat the water either in a saucepan or in the microwave until it produces wisps of steam (it doesn’t need to boil). Stir in the cocoa and sugar until combined well and reaches a smooth texture.

Frankly, we didn’t miss the dairy.

What is your favorite way to make cream puffs?



Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

A New Take on Non-dairy Cheese: Kite Hill Is Brilliant!

Recently I discovered magic, in the form of a non-dairy cheese.



Vegan products that are intended to mimic their non-vegan counterparts so often disappoint. Non-dairy cheese has been an prominent example of unfortunate food-copying for years. The problems of rice, soy and almond cheeses have been many:  their textures were off, their flavors were less than pleasant or odd, they wouldn’t melt, plus they sometimes contained caseinates or other dairy ingredients. They were best to be avoided.

That is, until the wonderful company called Kite Hill decided to go back to basics. Rather than trying to fake cheese using stabilizers and gums, they opted to use traditional cheese-making techniques with a selection of cultures and enzymes that work specifically with almond milk. You can learn more about the process at their website.

The results are outstanding. I tried their soft-ripened product first (see photograph above). This is an aged almond milk cheese with a rind. Wow! The soft center was positively delicious. It reminded me of a lovely brie, although the company does not make that comparison.



Kite Hill also offers cream cheese and almond milk ricotta products, as well as some other specialty foods.

Where can you try some? Currently Kite Hill cheeses are available at select Whole Foods stores. If your local Whole Foods store doesn’t carry them, try asking the manager if he or she can order some for you.

Note:  In case you are interested, I am not an affiliate of Kite Hill or Whole Foods, although if they were willing to send me some more Kite Hill cheese products, I would be happy to become one. 🙂

Have you tried Kite Hill cheeses? What do you think?


Two Versions of Banana Cake

The theme for Food on Friday at Carole’s Chatter is desserts.

To join in, we have two versions of banana cake, one dairy free and one both dairy and egg free.



Easy Banana Cake

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance, butter or margarine (cake will be dairy-free if you use Earth Balance), softened
  • 1 mashed ripe banana
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. Grease a 9x9x2-inch square pan.

3. In a mixing bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add the softened butter, sugar and eggs. Mix vigorously.

4. Add flour and soda and stir the dry ingredients into the wet ones.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.



No-Egg Banana Cake

This recipe is particularly fun for children to make.


  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (apple cider works well)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1 cup cold water


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Measure the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt right into a 8” x 8” x 2” square baking pan.

3. Make 3 holes or depressions into the dry mix. Measure the oil into one hole, vinegar into the second, and vanilla into the third.

4. Mix the mashed banana and water in a small bowl. Pour over all of the dry mixture and stir well (banana will be lumpy).

5. Bake 30 minutes.


Two Great Banana Cakes

Flexible Minestrone Soup

The theme for Food on Friday at Carole’s Chatter is pasta.

Minestrone soup is wonderful because it can be made your way. It is also a fast weekday meal.


If you prefer vegan, simply substitute water or vegetable broth for chicken broth and omit the chicken. This soup has enough complexity to be served either way.

Flexible Minestrone Soup


  • 1 Tablespoon of your favorite oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups trimmed and chopped green beans, fresh or frozen
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes (or peeled fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 1 cup elbow pasta, uncooked
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, diced (optional)
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, dairy or non-dairy (optional)


1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the garlic and carrots and cook until the carrots begin to soften, but not brown.

2. In the mean time, prepare the tomatoes. Add the diced tomatoes to a blender and puree until smooth. Note:  this is a texture issue. If you prefer chunky tomatoes, by all means leave half or all the tomatoes diced. You may need to add a bit more water or broth to the soup if you don’t puree the tomatoes.

3. Once the carrots have begun to soften, add the green beans, oregano, basil, tomato puree, and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer 4 minutes.

4. Stir in the cannellini beans and elbow pasta. Simmer as long as recommended on the pasta package, or about 10 minutes.

5. Quickly add the the diced chicken and heat to serving temperature. Top with chopped fresh basil.

Serving suggestion:  Most minestrone soup recipes call for grated Parmesan cheese. If you can tolerate dairy products or if you have a nice non-dairy Parmesan, then by all means add some. If not, you will not miss it.

Final note:  the elbow pasta swells and becomes soft when the soup is stored in the fridge. This soup really is best when freshly made.

 What do you add to your minestrone soup?

Fast and Delicious Dessert: Raspberry Buckle

The theme for Food on Friday at Carole’s Chatter is berries and currants.

What a great time to share our family’s favorite dessert.


Perky Raspberry Buckle

(A non-dairy version of Martha Stewart’s buckle)


  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or butter or margarine if can tolerate dairy)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 12 oz. fresh raspberries, washed and drained, or 2 cups frozen raspberries, partially thawed


1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.

3. When using Earth Balance, soften briefly in the microwave. Cream together with sugar in a mixing bowl. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.

4. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon to batter and mix. Finished product should have the texture of cake batter.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle raspberries evenly on top.

6. Bake 45 minutes or until cake is done (toothpick should come out clean). Allow a few extra minutes if using frozen berries.

Note:  this recipe doubles easily for a 9″ x 13″ quarter sheet cake.

Creamy Green Spinach Soup

Recently Beth (of Beth Fish Reads) recommended In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis. Unfortunately, it isn’t out until June 16, 2015.

While waiting, I picked up A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse by Mimi Thorisson, with photographs by her husband Oddur Thorisson. Check out her blog.

After getting over the fact that Mimi Thorisson is a beautiful woman who lives in a beautiful house in the countryside of France with her beautiful children and dogs, and still has time to prepare supremely beautiful and complex meals and that even her dirty dishes are beautiful (page 207), I noticed the “Chilled Garden Pea Velouté” (page 95), which of course looked delightful. Although not a velouté, which is typically a soup thickened with cream, I make an easy spinach soup that is equally green and creamy. My version lacks dairy products and substitutes lower carbohydrate cauliflower for potatoes.



Creamy Green Spinach Soup


  • 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance melted (or butter or your favorite oil)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower (about 2 cups), broken into small florets
  • 1 quart chicken broth or 4 cups water (if you use water for a vegan version, add salt to taste)
  • 2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 bunch of spinach, washed


1. At medium heat, melt Earth Balance, butter or heat oil in soup pot. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.

2. Add the cauliflower florets to the onions and garlic and cover with chicken broth or water. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. The cauliflower should be soft.

3. Chop the spinach roughly if the leaves are large. Add the spinach and dill to the cauliflower mixture and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat once more and simmer 5 minutes.

4. Let cool five minutes. If you like your soup with texture, puree with an immersion blender to the desired consistency. If you prefer the soup to be very smooth, transfer the entire contents of the pot to a bowl or other container, and then add a few cups to a blender. Puree to desired consistency and then return the puree to the soup pot. Finish blending in batches. Reheat the soup when finished and serve with a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill and black pepper.


Creamy Watercress Soup

If you have watercress available, substitute 3/4 cup washed watercress leaves for the spinach and prepare as above. Because watercress has a slightly sharper flavor than spinach, I omitted the garlic for the watercress version and reduced the dill to 1 teaspoon.

Do you have a favorite creamy green soup? What green vegetable is your favorite?


Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.


Date Shake or Smoothie

Because food and photography are two of my passions, World Food Alphabet a children’s book newly re-released by photographer, food writer, and restauranteur Chris Caldicott definitely caught my eye.

In World Food Alphabet, Caldicott gives us a window to the people and food of world through his wonderful photographs, ranging from “Aa is for Apricots” to “Zz is for Zucchini”  (See our full review and suggestions for activities at our sister blog, Wrapped in Foil).

The book begs to be accompanied by snacks, beverages, or even meals prepared using the featured food ingredients.

Let’s start with “Dd is for Dates.”


Dates are so sweet and full of fiber. Even better, you can quickly make a thick, cool, satisfying shake or smoothie with them.

Some date shake recipes call for ice cream, but you really don’t need it.

Two child-friendly recipes for a date shakes or smoothies:

1. Basic Date Shake


  • 0.25 L (about 1 cup) cold soy, rice or regular milk
  • 8 pitted dates  – I used medjool dates and chopped them slightly (You may need to adjust the number depending on the variety of date and your tastes).
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 – 3 ice cubes (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in the blender and blend to the desired consistency. Pour into glasses and serve.


Foamy goodness!

Note:  This recipe is definitely best freshly made. It can become gooey if left in the fridge for even a few hours.


2. Fruity Date Smoothie


  • 1 ripe banana, peeled and sliced (“Bb is for Bananas”)
  • 4 dates, pitted (“Dd is for Dates”)
  • 3/4 cup fresh pineapple, peeled and diced (“Pp is for Pineapples”)
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (“Ll is for Lemons & Limes”)
  • 300 mL or 1 1/3 cups rice, soy or regular milk, cold

Add fruit and lemon juice to blender and blend until desired consistency. Add milk and blend until well mixed. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.


Date-shake 0023

Do you have any suggestions for child-friendly recipes that take dates?

What do you add to your date shakes?


Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

Easy Four-Bean Salad

The topic for Food on Friday at Carole’s Chatter this week is picnic foods.

What is the most embarrassingly easy recipe in the world? One that requires no refrigeration prior to assembly, can be thrown together in seconds, and is actually quite satisfying?  One that can travel for miles and/or days in a car or caravan prior to being prepared?


Answer:  Four-Bean Salad


  • 1 approx. 16 oz can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 approx. 16 oz can cut green beans
  • 1 approx. 16 oz can cut yellow wax beans
  • 1 approx. 16 oz can garbanzo beans or chickpeas
  • 1 16 oz bottle Newman’s Own or similar olive oil and vinegar dressing

Will also need:

  • Medium-sized mixing bowl (large enough to accommodate ingredients)
  • Can opener
  • Spoon


When you reach your destination and are ready to eat, simply open the cans, drain each one, and add the contents to the bowl. Splash on a generous amount of dressing (1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending on your taste). Stir and serve.

What else is this easy and portable?

Optional:  If you have a kitchen nearby, a few Tablespoons of finely minced red onions can add a bit more color and freshen the flavor.


(affiliate link)

Why Newman’s Own salad dressing? Of course, you may bring your own ingredients and make your own, but we are trying to make this extremely easy. The reason I use it is on the label:


This brand does not require refrigeration, even after opening. That means you can carry it back with you in the car and not have to worry about it!

What do you add to your three- or four-bean salads?