RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Tag: Recipe

Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce

Dessert for Valentine’s Dinner this year was Caramel Budino with Salted Caramel Sauce.  The word ‘budino’ is Italian for pudding and I can say personally that Italian puddings are really mouth-watering, at least this budino was.   There were several different steps to this dessert but it was well worth the effort.

When I first saw the recipe at Bon Appétit I was bowled over and I knew that T would love it. The budino is made with caramel syrup you make and add to the milk and egg mixture, then the salted caramel sauce-topping is all you could want it to be and add fresh whipped cream to the mix and it was beyond expectancy.

I needed chocolate wafers and T was making the run… he wanted to know what I needed plain chocolate wafers for and I wanted to surprise him and told him to please just get them.  He came home with Nabisco Chocolate Teddy Grahams… but to my surprise they were perfect.  A deep chocolate flavor and made the perfect cookie crust.  I even decided to be whimsical and instead of garnishing with the cookie crust crumbs on top I put a Teddy Graham on top of each, it was Valentine’s Day and added to the love I feel for T and all that he does for me.  He loved the Budino and he loved the fact that I put a teddy on each.  It was his decision to buy the teddies and now he is a gourmet cook (didn’t you know!)  He made mention that he should or could be making more decisions on the finishing touches on our plated food!  I will let him!  Should have… Could have… Would have… We will see!

I will add the recipe here, there seems to be a problem with the connection (part of the time) at Bon Appétit:


Cookie Crust

  • 1 cup finely ground chocolate cookie crumbs  (such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers; about 20 cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


  • 3 cups whole milk,  divided
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown  sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted  butter
  • 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon kosher  salt

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn  syrup
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted  butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Lightly sweetened whipped  cream


Cookie Crust

  • Mix cookie crumbs, butter, and salt in a medium bowl. Place 2  tablespoons in a small bowl; cover and chill for garnish. Press 2 tablespoons  cookie mixture onto the bottom of each of eight 8-ounce mason jars or  ramekins.


  • Whisk 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.  Heat remaining 2 1/2 cups milk in a small saucepan just to a simmer; set aside.  To make caramel, stir sugar and 3/4 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium  heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; cook without stirring until an  instant-read thermometer registers 210°–220°
  • Line a sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth and set over a  large pitcher. Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually whisk in hot milk,  then cornstarch mixture. Slowly whisk in caramel. Return mixture to saucepan.  Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and a thermometer  registers 175°, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter, rum, and  salt. Pour through prepared sieve.
  • Pour 1/2 cup budino over crust in each jar. Cover; chill until  set, 4–5 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep  chilled.

Salted Caramel Sauce

  • Place cream in a small pitcher. Scrape in seeds from vanilla  bean; add bean. Set aside.
  • Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy  saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high;  boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush,  until deep amber color forms, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat; gradually add  vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously). Whisk over medium heat until  smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and salt.  Strain into a heatproof bowl. Let cool slightly.
  • Spoon 2 tablespoons caramel sauce over each budino. Top with  whipped cream. Sprinkle some of reserved cookie crumbs over  each.

The dinner was a week late with all that has gone on, but each Valentine’s Day I try to make a special dinner for T.   Between the stuffed pork chops and apple, peach salad it was a wonderful meal.   I do not like getting flowers, chocolates or gifts of any kind for Valentine’s Day.  A card that puts a smile on my face is all I need and that is not mandatory!  Just love me for me, which is all I can ask….

Pork Barley Soup and Just Words

Ninnie had a bad day, but you cannot help but love her!

Bear with me today I feel in a ‘wordy’ mood!

Winter has settled in here where I live.  No snow, but cold air, cold wet air… no matter if it is a sprinkle, or a drizzle, could be muzzling, misting, in the form of  fog or even hail, light showers or  a deluge or some call a downpour… raining/torrents of cats and dogs it is still cold precipitation (of one kind or another.)   All always accompanied with grey skies.  But that can be a plus… when the sun shines it is a moment of perceived heaven.  You always take the time to enjoy the flash of rays that cast light… the rare winter sunbeams.  The casting light, reflect… bring thoughts of summer past or summer comings… one thing you know in the great Northwest sun basically makes itself known it seems only in the summer months with little minute sneak peeks during the rest of the year… but what a surprise… an attention getter… it is when beams of the sun rays are blessing you with a fleeting moment of the sun’s light.

We lost our electric the day before yesterday; an abrupt change in the weather front with high winds… I was trying to gather Ninnie and some things to settle in for the afternoon and the wind chimes made me take sudden notice that they were being carried on the wind now hanging horizontally… making mutable sounds as they tried to chime with the same notes but it was as impossibility while wafting on the wind like a sailboat on water.   

About the time I get Ninnie to the back door hail was added to the mix… it was drumming  on and bouncing off the roof and deck so hard it muffled the wind chimes scaring Ninnie to the outer reaches of the yard.   There was no way I was going out into the weather to try to… One… try to catch a terrified… anxious cat, I won’t even go there.  Two… knowing Ninnie like I do (she feels she will melt if one drop of moisture touches her) with wet fur… it always brings out the best in her… not!… Three… one arm people do not have any business trying to save a scared to death cat… nothing good can come of it!    

There was more than one danger in even attempting to do so.  So I stayed in the door frame so she could see me (I wonder does she realize that I do not like being wet and cold either!) until things settled down enough that she would know when she could make an abrupt dash for the door, which is what eventually happened. 

For the rest of the day she was not of very good sorts (take another look at that face… I’ll wait!) I think she thought I brought it all on and I was the only one to blame.    She will soon get over another of what she thinks is a personal attack on her life! Things did settle down quicker than it took the hail to melt. 

The hail was the closest thing to snow we have had this winter (unless a heavy frost counts) here in our neck of the words, I love snow and if it is going to be cold and wet I say let the precipitation be snow, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

We again have high wind forecast for this afternoon and evening.  Everything has been made ready.  Ninnie is not allowed out for the rest of the day, and she is none too happy with me (again.)  She will have to live with it, when the winds start she gets all paranoid and it is hard for her to keep things indexed in her little brain.  Sounds being carried on the wind are hard for all animals’, one of the reasons they bed down.   As soon as Ninnie realizes what is going on she will do what she normally does… sleep through it.  She always sleeps through all the difficult situations in her life.   

So many stories, but have used up my words for today….



T made pork barley soup today.  It is very simple but so delicious!  I enjoyed it immensely!  The hot broth felt so good going down… his recipe as put to me…  brown some pork in olive oil add a chopped onion and a sliced up clove of garlic, throw in a couple of diced potatoes, sliced carrots, add a small handful of barley and couple jars of water.  Season with some salt and pepper and simmer for an hour or two.   Add some parsley at the end.  He said he just throws it in the pot and if you try too hard it won’t be as good….


Grilled Turkey Stuffed Squash & Spiced Red Rice Side


What is for dinner? We wanted something a little different, hoping we would not need to go to the market.  It has been a long morning for T salmon fishing and then he surprised me by picking the rest of the very ripe blackberries.  He said he got to thinking about the Blackberry Syrup I said I would make.

I knew he did not feel up to the run into town for a market trip and neither did I.  Living at the tip of a peninsula has this one drawback.  I made a quick look through the refrig and pantry and came up with Squash stuffed with Turkey and Smoked Apple Gruyère Cheese Stuffing and we would do them on the grill.   I also had what I needed on hand to make the Spicy Red Brown Rice dish that he loves so much!

We are very easy to please; whatever we serve it is agreed it has to be cooked with quality ‘cookmanship.’   Meaning makes it to your best ability, do not just throw it together and then serve no matter what it tastes like.  We both love good quality tasting food.  That does not mean that even with a lot of work we have never had a meal come out bad, we both have had our fair share of disasters in the kitchen.  I can say very hard-earned disasters.

It is fun for us to get together and make a meal and this was one of them, between the two of us, we had one person.  He is good at getting the ingredients together and prepping everything.  I like to then take the prepped ingredients and make the completed dishes.  We always seem to be a pair no matter who is doing what.   Once everything was in the oven and on the grill, it is time to just sit back, relax and smell the fragrance of dinner as it baked and grilled.

This was a good time for a cup of warm tea and some good conversation.  We are in the middle of planning a couple of short trips and working on our long trip for this winter going south to the desert, we have been talking about maybe while down in the southwest just heading east to Georgia and her coastline.  Spending a couple of wonderful weeks at Tybee Island, Georgia to be exact something we would both love.   We would love to do a month-long trip up and down the east coast, probably next year’s late fall early spring run.  T has been to China, Australia, Japan and many other places, everywhere but to this countries east coast.  I lived up and down the east coast for about a dozen years and would dearly love to return and revisit from Maine (would love to be there for fall colors, they are so beautiful) to Florida with a nice long leisurely trip.   It is always so much fun… an adventure in itself deciding the where’s, when, and how’s of making trip plans and too being able to dream about what hopefully could and would be.

Stuffed Squash with Turkey and Smoked Apple Gruyère Cheese


  • 1 and ¼ cup of turkey mix (recipe for turkey meatballs)
  • ¾ cup (you can add more or less) Shredded Smoked Apple Gruyère Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 yellow squash and 2 zucchini squash
  • Full ½ cup of chopping squash/zucchini leftovers
  • Two pieces of pepper bacon (cook to semi-done and chopped,) I like to use pancetta… we had none – we wanted no market trip! 

For me this was an easy decision, I already had about a ½ pound of pre-made turkey mix I use for my turkey meatballs in the freezer.  This has the seasoning, breadcrumbs and such already added so all I needed to do was mix in the cheese, egg and what was left of the squash/zucchini from prepping and the chopped bacon.   I went ahead, prepared, and put in refrigerator until needed.

T topped and sliced each zucchini in half-length wise and scooped out the center from end to end, left about ½ -3∕4inch of meat with skins, leaving the ends a little higher than scooped out center (since stuffing want a little side there too.)  With the yellow squash, he topped off the curved necks right above where the fullest of the body (bottom) of the yellow squash is.  He took a little off the bottom so it would sit nicely.  He then scooped out the inside of the squash leaving around ¼-½ inch of the squash meat on the insides of the squash.  Once through with that he took the leftovers, neck and insides of all squash and chopped them up for the stuffing.

I stuffed all the squash with turkey meat mix (topped them up and rounded smooth) and put on baking sheet with about ½ cup of water.  Then we tented the whole thing with tin foil.  Placed in the heated 400˚grill and grilled for about 15-20 minutes, turned off heat to grill and removed the tin foil and cooked an additional 5 minutes with grill lid down.

Spicy Red Brown Rice


  • One cup of Brown rice
  • 1 14.5 oz  can of Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (this would be good with grilled tomatoes you make, but was using what I had in the house, not enough tomatoes to grill for amount needed)
  • 2 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • two cups of Chicken Broth
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cloves of diced garlic, pressed with side of knife to release juices some
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, diced
  • About ¼ cup of Roasted Bell Peppers (in oil) cut into thin julienne strips
  • Oregano, Basil, Red Pepper Flakes ~ add to your taste
  • Sea Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 slices of Pepper Bacon ( I like to use pancetta)

I fry the bacon, not quite done, remove from pan and take all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat out ( used two pieced in stuffed squash and put one of these in the rice mixture.)  Put chopped onion in and fry/stir for a few minutes.  Add the dry rice.  Stir-fry it until you have a nutty fragrance.  Add garlic and about ½ cup of the chicken broth.  Add the jalapeno, Roasted Bell Peppers strips.  Now add the Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes and chopped bacon.  When this has cooked for a few minutes and has started to boil some and reduce just a little, add the rest of the chicken broth and bring to full boil, put on lid and bring down temperature to simmer.  Cook rice mix until done, about 40 minutes.

At this point, I threw in some little meatballs I made from the leftover Turkey and Smoked Apple Gruyère Cheese Stuffing (I used to stuff the squash.)  We can eat them tomorrow night with the leftover Spicy Red Brown Rice.

This dinner was a nice change.  We had a nice fresh salad with the blackberry vinegar we just made.  The squash stuffing was delicious; it was similar to a soufflé, light and airy, you can see in the pictures how much it raised above the squash top.   We both noticed this right off.   From just seeing what we had in the house, this meal was enjoyable and comforting too.  We both actually ate more than what we needed and then wished we had not.  Then agreed it was worth it.  The leftovers with the added meatballs will be a welcome for tomorrow’s evening meal.  We cannot wait; we know what we will be getting….

Spinach, Cherry Tomato, Feta Bruschetta with Blackberry Balsamic Syrup


One of the things I dearly love to start a dinner party with is Bruschetta, it always brings with it conversation.  Happy conversation with lots of explicatory expressions and too the added wonderful ooh’s and aah’s!  It makes me feel so good!   The variables are as many as you could possibly think up and then add some more.  It is one of those things that goes well with wine and most any kind of drink before dinner.  It is also good as part of a dinner, I love it with a salad or soup… it is as endless of what you can serve this with as the variables of how to make Bruschetta.  I also have been known to eat just Bruschetta when I do not have an appetite, almost always it is just what I needed.

Lemon-Garlic-Herb Dressing   


  • 1 clove garlic finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon mix of chopped basil, oregano, thyme (this can be one or a mix of all three or even other herbs… your choice I prefer to use fresh, but you can use dried, just remember it does not take as much they are more intense in flavor!)
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice (I go very light on the lemon mix because of using the blackberry balsamic vinegar later, just a hint)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Flake Sea Salt to taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste

I put all the ingredients in a pint size jar with a tight-fitted lid and shake thoroughly.  I usually have some in the refrigerator or make this the morning I need.

I learned something as a young bride.  I had no idea about herbs… fresh or died.  I was finally enlightened… if you did not know about how much seasoning  to add…  then to your mix add just a pinch and taste, you will know if you want more or not and add a pinch more and taste just remember you can never take away a herb once it is added.  I did a lot of pinching and tasting those first few years!

For the spinach, tomato, red onion topping:


  • About 2 cups of assorted cherry tomatoes – I used red and yellow that I had on hand, halved (I quarter if large)
  • ½ small red onion sliced in ½ inch length about half that width
  • Fresh Basil or Oregano, Thyme (your choice, or even something else)
  • One loaf of Ciabatta Bread (I like to cut about 3-4 inch squares and then cut diagonally
  • One garlic clove peeled and halved
  • 3 Cups of steamed (de-stemmed) spinach
  • Feta Cheese
  • Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar


Black Berry Balsamic Vinegar


  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar

Put vinegars in sauce pot and bring to boil, reduce to simmer and reduce by half.  It should have a nice thickened-syrup consistency, will lightly cover a spoon.  Let cool and pour into a cruet or small pitcher.  You could also use one of the plastic dispensing bottles (it makes it easier-less messy to drizzle the blackberry balsamic Syrup on the Bruschetta.)

Combine the halved-quartered tomatoes, red onion, and drizzle with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing, set aside and let set at room temperature. You can make this in the morning, just refrigerate.  Preheat oven to 400˚when you are ready to bake-roast the tomatoes and red onions.

Steam the spinach.  Get the Ciabatta Bread sliced and take the halved garlic and rub on the top of each slice of bread.  Place the tomato mix on jelly roll pan, I sprinkle a little of the herb mix and just a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper on the tomato mix (does not take much you have already added to the tomatoes with the herb dressing.)  Place in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the skinned are starting to get browned and blistered, take out of oven.

Dip the jelly roll pan until the tomato-juices mixed with the Lemon-Garlic Herb Dressing has went to the one end of the pan.  I set the tomato end of the pan at an angle on a folded pot holder so the juices kind of stay at the other end of pan.  I then take a pastry brush and brush each piece of the garlic-ciabatta bread with the tomato juices.  Place bread under broiler until the bread is nicely toasted.  Lay jelly roll pan with tomato mix flat so the juices blend again.

Put a layer of steamed spinach on the toasted ciabatta bread.  Top with some of the roasted tomatoes and onions.  Scatter some of the feta cheese on top, and then drizzle each with blackberry balsamic syrup.

Roasting the tomatoes concentrates their flavor and intensifies the taste with the lemon-garlic herb dressing adding to that blend the flavor of the feta cheese and the topper of all this is the blackberry balsamic vinegar, what a wonderful mix, united it is a fusion of nothing but pure ecstasy… definitely over the top!  It makes such a wonderful pairing of the whole and makes it so easy to savor every bite… it wakens up your taste buds from first bite.  This is something that I love to serve knowing full well that the instant my guests start eating I can see on their faces what they think of this Bruschetta….

LORINA BLOOD ORANGE Sparkling French Soda with Fruit

I discovered a few years ago some very special soda which happens to be produced in France, there are several flavors and my favorite is the all natural flavor of the Blood Orange.  The flavor isn’t the only thing special about this soda… a very special ‘sparkle’ is added to the mix and makes this soda over the top.    Have you discovered this soda?  If so, what is your favorite flavor?  What do you do with the empty bottle… it is a good re-useable bottle with a snap ring bottle top.  I make flavored olive oils to store in my empties.

I cannot partake in drinking alcohol of any kind because of health.  The thing I miss the most is a nice spot of Port.  Usually I will have a glass of sparkling apple cider or something similar, I add these sodas to that list.  It is nice to have something a little different in those times when you would normally have a glass of wine or my favorite port.  I too love a tall glass of iced tea, tea with lemon, sometimes tea with sugar sometimes not.  Iced water with a little bit of fruit juice straight from the juice is good too and very refreshing.   Not the same… but it is a nice change!

This afternoon the temps finally broke above the 80˚ mark.  I love, love, loved it.  It felt so good.  After having taken a short walk and taking a couple dozen pictures I was ready to sit down and just relax and have a nice refreshing cold drink.  The first thing I thought of was the French Premium Soda that I love so much and I had some of the fresh fruit salad pieces left and I could add them to the drink.  I too had put the left over white and red grapes in the freezer and they would be good added to this drink.   I knew beforehand this would definitely hit the spot.

I had some cubed watermelon and cantaloupe left from a fresh fruit salad I made and too a few freshly pitted cherry I could use along with several fresh strawberries that I could slice and add too some of the frozen grapes.  This would be a wonderful mix.

The soda was ice-cold.  In a pitcher I put ice in the compartment that sits in the middle of the pitcher.  I then put a little ice in the bottom of the pitcher and added some of the fresh fruit.  I added a few Lemon Thyme leaves and a few slices of cucumber and apple.   I added one bottle of the Sparkling Blood Soda.   I made this ahead of finishing things for the drink so it could blend and mellow together.  I then made fruit kabobs using 6 ½ inch food picks.

I put a little crushed ice in the goblets and threw in a few pieced of fresh fruit and some frozen grapes.  I placed one of the fruit kabob in each goblet and poured the iced soda ¾ of the way up.

These were delicious and so refreshing.  It made the perfect add to a beautiful day.  It was wonderful laying in the chase doing nothing more than watching the robins comings and goings while feeding their young.   They will be out of the nest any day now.  The hummers are always so much fun to watch and today they were no less dynamic, always full of life. One of these days I will have to share an excerpt from a little book I wrote called, Midnight Nectar, a wonderful semi-long story-poem about the character and the in and outs of (a) hummingbirds daily life.  Added is lots of information about the hummers from migration, plants they love and water features just to name a few.

It was a very relaxing late afternoon and the fruit drink was the perfect add….

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