This week's column is dedicated to David and Barbara, may 2014 bring you much happiness.


Are you tired of holiday pies? Why not try an Old Fashioned:

Bread Pudding

3 cups warmed milk

4 cups 1- or 2-day-old bread (I used white bread)

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup scalded, seedless raisins

3 whole eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

Cut bread in 1 inch cubes (leave crust on). Place in a bowl. Add eggs to milk. Blend. Add sugar, raisins, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Pour over bread. Allow to soak 4 to 5 minutes. Place in buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Set baking dish in a pan of hot water. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until custard is set.


Potato-Crusted Chicken Fingers

6 ounces potato chips

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup 2 percent reduced fat milk

1 large egg, lightly beaten

4 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into strips

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Grind chips in food processor, and place in a shallow dish. Sprinkle chicken with salt, Dredge in flour. Dip chicken in milk mixture, dredge in ground chips. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add half of chicken, cook 2 minutes each side or until done. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken.


Lick-the-bowl-clean Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter

8 ounces cream cheese

1 1/2 pounds confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 1/2 cups shredded coconut

Cream the butter and cream cheese together. Scrape sides of the bowl often. Slowly add confectioners sugar. Add the vanilla and heavy cream. Whip the frosting for 4 minutes. If the mixture is too dense add another tablespoon of cream. If the mixture is to runny, add more confectioners sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. When you have the consistency you want, stir in the coconut. Use immediately or chill until needed.


Red Velvet Beet Cake Studded with Dark Chocolate

2 1/1 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon backing soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup cooked pureed beets

3 eggs

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 tablespoon white vinegar

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk until completely combined. Divide evenly between the two pans. Bake 40 to 50 minutes until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool. Remove from pans. Assemble the layers and cover with frosting of your choice. Garnish with dark chocolate bits or shaved chocolate.


Our thought for the week: " Age doesn't matter unless you're a cheese." — Billie Burke