I have recently made a new friend, who has a love and passion for cooking … and we’ve become cooking buddies. Last week, Jessica and I made Risi e Bisi (Risotto with Peas and Pancetta – a personal favorite). We also had ciabatta bread and salad (with delightful goat cheese!). For dessert, we went the easy and delicious route of frozen yogurt (from Trader Joe’s – amazingly and surprisingly so good) with blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. Felt like summer! We planned the meal for our next cooking adventure (well, we thought it would be our next one): a French meal straight from Julia Child. French you might say? Yes, I am going to branch out and cook French food. Italians, please don’t take offense. Italian food will always be my first love, I promise! ; )

Well, all day yesterday … literally all day … I was looking forward to Pumpkin Bread Pudding. Jess and I made plans to go to cycle/spin class last night. We then decided that afterwards, we should make pumpkin bread pudding (had to make up for some bad bread pudding she had over the weekend). I was telling everyone at work about my excitement over making this dessert, and someone said I should add cooking to my blog. I told him I tried once, but my pics just didn’t turn out well. He said it didn’t matter and I should start adding cooking to my blog. Therefore … J, this post is dedicated to you!

I wasn’t prepared with a camera last night, so this pic was just a random shot with my phone … but I like it. 🙂 If for some reason you don’t have ginger, you can skip it. And if for some reason you think it’s an 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves instead of a pinch … totally fine! 🙂 Other notes: I do the lazy route, I go with all whole milk, and I have tried it with and without bourbon – I highly recommend with (what’s bread pudding without whiskey?). Without further adieu, here is one of my all time favorite recipes from Smitten Kitchen:

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, October 2007

I made a few of my own adaptations to this, using only milk and no cream (to me, it makes no difference to me in dishes like this, so I figure I’ll give my arteries a break), and doubling almost all of the spices. Oh, and I added bourbon, but you probably anticipated that.

1 1/2 cups whole milk (Or 1 cup heavy cream plus 1/2 cup whole milk)
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted* (can skip this step if using the second set of instructions)

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

Gourmet’s Instructions: Whisk together pumpkin, cream, milk, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, spices and bourbon, if using, in a bowl.

Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.

Alternate, Come On, Be Lazy With Me, instructions: While preheating oven to 350°F with rack in middle, melt butter in bottom of a 8-inch square baking dish. Once it is melted, take it out of the oven and toss bread cubes with butter, coating thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the remaining ingredients. Pour them over buttered bread cubes in baking dish, stirring to make sure all pieces are evenly coated. Bake until custard is set, 25 to 30 minutes.