Saturday, February 2, 2019

Tasty Timesavers: Pudding

If you find yourself wondering what to do about dessert, I have one word for you:


You may find yourself saying that pudding is boring, that it's for kids, that it's too easy to make. I say there's no such thing as "too easy." In modern life, many of us are wearing a lot of hats, and doing what you can to reduce your stress is genius!
The above image features rice pudding molded into the shape of a heart. Fun fact: that pudding probably isn't even edible. It may have been sprayed with shellac to hold it in place, or the pudding has been mixed with lard so it will hold its form or both. Food photography is fun and beautiful, but real, edible food tends not to photograph as well as doctored model food.
However, I didn't come here to talk to you about food photography.
I came here to tell you how to serve up a quick dessert that your family will love!
Pudding is kid-friendly. In fact, the kids can help you decorate it.
Making rice or tapioca pudding is a bit more involved than making instant pudding, which comes in a variety of flavors. Neither rice nor tapioca pudding is terribly difficult to make from scratch, but grocery stores often sell acceptable pre-made versions thereof. Kozy Shack is a favorite brand of pre-made rice pudding. I will sometimes grab a container of Kozy Shack at the store.
Pudding mix is shelf-stable and very versatile. The possibilities are pretty well endless. Instant pudding mixes up easily with a whisk in about a minute. I find it tastes best chilled. Make the pudding before serving dinner and put it in the refrigerator. It will have a nice, creamy consistency by the time it is served.
A few instant pudding ideas:
Make pudding "sundaes." You can call these "parfaits" for the adults. Vanilla pudding works nicely in place of vanilla ice cream with less of the melty mess. Top with any ice cream topping and a bit of Cool Whip or whipped cream, sprinkles, candy pieces, whatever you like. Pre-make the parfaits in dessert dishes, or set up a sundae bar on the counter and let everyone make their own the way they like it.
The banana split trifle is a fan favorite. Layer a trifle dish with vanilla wafers or bits of pound cake. Top with a layer of pudding and a layer of pineapple sundae topping. Add another layer of pudding. Top with strawberry sundae topping. Add another layer of pudding and top with chocolate sundae topping. Add the final layer of pudding, cover with banana slices, cover the bananas with Cool Whip or whipped cream, and decorate with bananas and chocolate curls or chocolate chips. If you have family members who aren't banana fans, you can reserve the bananas and let others add them as they wish.
That's the fancy version. The simplified version is to put a serving dish of chilled pudding on the counter, put the toppings to the side, and let others create their own. Never underestimate the popularity and simplicity of "create your own" desserts. The family will enjoy putting together their own concoctions their way, and, unless someone is a nit-picky party pooper, they won't even think about the fact that the family chef just saved him or herself a lot of prep work!
It's also super simple to spoon pudding into a pre-made pie crust and top with Cool Whip or whipped cream and a few toppings to make it look pretty. Chill for about an hour and, voila, you have an easy and tasty dessert!
I have honestly never tried to make instant pudding with non-dairy milk, even though I haven't drunk dairy milk for years. I use dairy milk to make pudding and my good buddy Lactaid (or the store brand thereof) allows me to eat it without the awful aftermath. Odd thing: I used to be able to drink milk with no problem. Then when I got to be about 40, I developed lactose intolerance. I also started needing to wear glasses, and a few other crappy things started to happen as well. I guess 40 must be "the hill" that everyone keeps telling me I'm over. 
My gray hair didn't come on at 40, however. I started going gray at 27. I honestly wouldn't even bother dyeing my hair, except that I didn't end up with a nice vivid white that would look really cool. I ended up with a darker gray that, combined with my pasty complexion, makes me look like I just crawled out of a mausoleum. I don't care about looking young. I'm not young. I'm over 50. However, looking dead is kind of depressing. As far as I know, I'm not dead yet. So I use various shades of Henna to make myself look alive.
However, I digress. I didn't come here to tell you how to look less like you just crawled out of a tomb. I came here to tell you about why pudding is a favorite dessert at my house. It's so easy and there are so many flavors to choose from. The possibilities are pretty well endless!
With its versatility and simplicity, you can have pudding for dessert every night and never have the same dessert twice--unless you want to.


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