Monday, December 31, 2012

Chocolate Brownie Pudding Cake

This is a recipe I have had for a long time.  Years and years since I got it from my aunt.  I do remember making it, but I think it was a long time must have been long ago since Eleanor did not remember ever having this.  A few weeks ago Eleanor said that she was in the mood for something for dessert, I thought of this.  Luisa and I made it as a surprise for her and it was done just about the time she was completing her homework.

This was from a couple weeks ago, since we are a well-stocked chocolate house after St. Nick's arrival last week.  He brought us chocolate....and Luisa's family sent us an Advent calendar for two of Lindt chocolate and each girl received a Ritter Advent calendar.

And, let's just talk about St.'s a German tradition, for sure, that has been embraced by Milwaukeeans as well as Green Bay-ites.  Growing up St. Nick did not stop at my house; however, many of my friends had him stop with just a bit of a Christmas preview.  Outside of Germany, Wisconsin just may be his only stop that night.  I think Luisa was a bit surprised that he makes a stop in Wisconsin that night as well...but she placed her boot outside as well and it had chocolate in the morning!

This dessert is not something that photographs well....but it fulfilled the chocolate craving and was easy to make and only dirtied one pan.  That made for an all around fun weeknight dessert.

Place dry ingredients in a 9" baking dish:
3/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/3 c cocoa

In the baking dish put all the above ingredients.  This really goes into the baking dish:)

Combine ingredients listed below in a bowl:
1/2 c milk
3 T melted butter
1 t vanilla
Pour this into the baking pan and stir until just combined.

Combine 1/2 c brown sugar and 1/4 c cocoa and mix in 1 3/4 c water.  Pour over the top of the mixture in the baking pan but DO NOT STIR.
Bake 350 degrees for 35-38 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes or so and serve.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


OK....just to start right from the beginning of this post, this is not something that can be whipped up with ingredients on hand.  Nor can it be made for a really quick and effortless dinner.  But, with a bit of preparation ahead of time it would come together quickly.  And, it was delicious so it was worth the work (even with my shortcut).  So, I would make this again.  I made it on a Friday night after work....starting around 6:15 and we were eating by 7:30; however, that was with a bit of assistance.

This was in the January issue of Bon Appetit; however, I wasn't able to find it online to link to this post; possibly that will be out in the future.  Then you can see some really nice pictures.  I just didn't have time to take pictures along the way since we were all hungry (some of us had done a double swim practice).

Here's my shortcut.  I had the meat, bulgogi, in my freezer from Trader Joe's.  It was a great use for it....if there's a TJs near you I would recommend doing that as well.  There was an unusual ingredient found in a number of the vegetables (although I will explain what I did a bit later), guchujang.  Bon Appetit recommends a "recipe" to make a substitute for that using miso and rooster sauce, so that was my plan until Paul told me he had gotten some guchujang sauce at an Asian market in the Twin Cities last year.  Really!  That worked out well.  Like I said, this isn't likely something to just make with ingredients you have on hand.  It falls into the category of adventurous cooking.  Follow the link above for a recipe for bulgogi, if you're even more adventurous than I am.  I can't speak to anything about the recipe linked other than it looks like mine did.

Having never had bilimbap in my life, I had no idea what it was and the headline in the magazine to "make it at home" was lost on me.  But, now I have done it!  Some of the portions of items in the original recipe were a bit too large so I used 1/2 for most of them.  My approximate portions are listed below. I also kept the chili sauce out of the vegetables, being the crowd pleaser that I am:)

  • So, saute the meat.
  • In my rice cooker I made the rice.  I got this going right away since it needs to be crisped in the skillet before eating.  It took about 15 minutes for the already cooked rice to crisp in the skillet.
  • I didn't make the eggs until the end.  I used the method in Bon Appetit of baking them in a 350 degree oven for 4-5 minutes.  
  • Sesame Carrots:  Shred carrots(about 4 carrots) in a food processor and saute in sesame oil (1 tsp) for a couple minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Sesame Bean Sprouts: Cooked 1 c bean sprouts in boiling water and drained.  Tossed with 1/2 tsp sesame oil and sesame seeds. 
  • Garlicky Spinach: Cook 10 oz fresh spinach in boiling water for a couple minutes.  Drain and transfer to a bowl of ice water.  Drain.  Heat 1 tsp sesame oil in skillet.  Add 1 clove minced garlic.  Add spinach, 1 T soy sauce, 1/2 t rice vinegar, dash each of salt and pepper. 
  • Soy glazed mushrooms:  Bring 1 oz shitake mushrooms, 1/4 soy sauce, 1/2 T brown sugar, and 1/2 c water to a boil.  Cover pan and simmer for 15 minutes.  Let mushrooms cool slightly and thinly slice.  Transfer to a small bowl and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Sauteed zucchini: Cut 1 medium zucchini into matchsticks.  Saute in 1 tsp-2tsp sesame oil until tender. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  • Scallion slaw: Cut 2 bunches scallions into 3" lengths and slice lengthwise.  Put in ice water to crisp.  Drain and add 1 T rice vinegar, 1 T sesame oil.
  • Gochujang Date Sauce:  Place 5 pitted dates in a bowl and cover with water until softened (10 minutes or so).  Drain and put in food processor with 3/4 c guchujang sauce and 2 T sesame oil.
  • Wakame:  I did not make this recommended condiment.  But, I did make all the others.
So, if you don't happen to have gochujang sauce in your pantry, the article recommends 3/4 c yellow miso with 1/4 c Sriracha sauce.  Even if you don't have those items in your larder, at least they may be easier to get than the Korean hot pepper paste I happened to have!

So, I went all out and made this since it was our 21st wedding anniversary and it was fun to have something a bit special; however, I think that next time I will use the TJs beef, make the rice, fried eggs, whatever vegetables I have on hand, and the date sauce.  Oh, and maybe the mushrooms.  This would be a great way to use up vegetable odds and ends. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Steak and Bleu Cheese Roll-ups

Bleu Cheese Steak Roll Ups 

I'm not a huge red meat kind of gal; however, I do think there is value in having this bit of protein on occasion, so this recipe sounded good.  It just sounded like something a bit outside of what I usually make....and it's made in the crockpot, so it seemed like a good plan for it to be on the menu at our house!

Let me just say, this was about the most un-photogenic thing I have ever made; however, it tasted great.  I used about 3/4 pound flat steak and pounded it flat.  It was in the crockpot for an entire long time day....I'm talking probably 12 hours, so it just fell apart.  It tasted good though!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sweet Corn Pancakes

Sometimes the picture just doesn't do justice to the food.'s an example of that since these were absolutely delicious.  I'm a huge fan of blueberry cornmeal pancakes, getting those nearly every time I have had breakfast at Beans and Barley on Milwaukee's east side.  This reminds me of those, although maybe even a tiny bit better.  I have made these twice adjusting the sugar a bit on the 2nd time.  I was a bit hesitant to decrease the sugar too much on my first round since Nicole of mentioned she had decreased the sugar in her version.  We found that the blueberry compote was too sweet for our tastes, so day two it was even better.  
Sweet Corn Pancakes:
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 egg
1  cup non fat yogurt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white wheat flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp cornstarch

1/2 c skim milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
Blueberry Balsamic Sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat the blueberries, water and sugar until boiling. Boil gently over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Mix the balsamic and cornstarch until the cornstarch dissolves and add it to the pan.   Simmer until thick, with a syrupy consistency, about 4-5 additional minutes.
In a large nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the corn kernels and saute until just starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Toss in a pinch of salt, stir and remove to a bowl to cool, reserving pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg until lightly beaten. Whisk in the buttermilk,milk,  vanilla, sugar, and corn. In a separate, smaller bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry into the wet ingredients just until combined.
Heat the skillet that was used to cook the corn over medium heat. Ladle 1/4 cup batter at a time onto the pan, leaving about 2 inches in-between each pancake. Cook on one side until small bubbles start to form on the top of the pancakes and the sides are just set and then flip and cook for another minute. Repeat with remaining batter.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Crockpot Yogurt

I have experienced success with making yogurt on the stovetop; however, I have been intrigued with the idea of making it in the crockpot.  It just seems like a good idea to make it based on time instead of stirring it and checking the temperature.  That's not really much work; but I like the idea of streamlining the work time a bit more.  

This method worked great for me, and I don't have a fancy crockpot.  In fact, the crock has a chip of ceramic missing from the rim and it is basic.  We're talking low and high heat and that's it.  I placed 1/2 gallon of skim milk in the crockpot and turned it on low for 2 1/2 hours.  I did this on a Sunday morning while I headed to the Y and by the time I came back it was ready for the next stage.  Scoop out 2 cups of milk and mix with a container of plain yogurt; then pour that back into the crock and stir well.  Many instructions recommend swaddling the crockpot in towels and letting it sit; however, I just put the covered crock in the oven overnight.  It's runny and requires draining at this point but nothing that a dishtowel in a strainer can't take care of:)

This really worked!  I like having both methods; however, I think I'm going to go with this crockpot method again and again.  No thermometer needed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Hot Vegetable Sandwiches

This idea comes from the Ovens of Brittany Cookbook, one I have raved about in the past on the blog.  It was a restaurant in Madison during my Badger days and was THE place to have your parents take you to eat on a visit to campus.  Sad that it isn't there any more since it was ahead of its time with the pure ingredients and local food bend.  I have the well worn cookbook that my mom had given me years and years ago.

Dill Mustard Sauce:
Mix to taste a bit of mayonnaise, dijon mustard, dill and lemon juice and slather it on the bread.

Saute broccoli and mushrooms and onions.

Place a slice of cheese on top of the vegetable mixture on the bread.

Sandwich night is still going strong at this house, so it's nice to have another one to add to the sandwich recipe catalogue:)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Spinach Prosciutto and Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
This was an idea I found and thought it would make a good Sunday evening dinner, with a few modifications, of course.  The idea of stuffed pork tenderloin just sounded so good after a weekend of eating things on the run during a swim meet.  This came together quickly, so I didn't have to spend hours making dinner after being on my feet all day.  I used a recipe from for inspiration; however, I think I may deviate a bit more the next time and use this idea to be a bit more creative about stuffing a pork tenderloin.  This recipe called for prosciutto, which was a lost flavor in this so I wouldn't use that for stuffing next time.  Also, I did not use sun dried tomatoes due to Eleanor's tomato issue.  I guess I could have used tomatoes in part of it, but that seemed like too much work at the time I was making this.  I like how festive the original is with the red and the green...but festive wasn't my goal this time. 

I wasn't sure just one would be enough now that there are four of us, but it was....even ended up with a couple pieces for lunch the next day.

I flattened the pork tenderolin by pounding and pounding it flat.  Awesome way to get my anger issues taken care of in a creative way:)

I spread mustard on the inside, then placed some mozzarella and spinach and rolled it together and tied it with twine.  I baked it at 425 degrees for 35 minutes or so using a meat probe and checking that it was done. 

Busy busy week now...but aren't they all?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Spice Cookies

Hmmm...that photo app needs a bit of work as far as rotating the picture.  I guess I will need to work on that a bit.  I had hoped to make these for a swim meet the other weekend; however, I coordinated volunteers for part of the meet, made a salad, and made puppy chow.  That seemed to be where my capabilities ended....and I knew that there were enough cookies in the contest already.  I did have the dough just lurking in the refrigerator though, so I rolled these out and baked them.  I was feeling especially proud of my artistic photo and the fact that I uploaded it from my phone.  Now I just have to learn to use the rotation app.
Biscoff Cookie Recipe is linked from here; however, I didn't really think these tasted like Biscoff, but I thought they were good spice cookies.  I did not make the frosting....that seemed like overload to me.

I'm not much of a Christmas cookie baker since I end up eating them.  I usually make a thing or two....and end it right there.  I should probably spend my time figuring out how to rotate pictures....just may be time better spent.

I also learned how to snapchat today, so I'm feeling a bit fiesty and techy.  Not bad for a rainy weekend day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Crockpot Tacos

How 'bout that picture off my cell phone?  Just trying a few things off my phone and trying to be a bit wiser about the apps.  I'm liking the picture....almost as much as I liked these tacos.  I found the recipe while exploring the skinnytaste blog and these caught my eye.  Ah.....a recipe with tomatoes sounded like the perfect thing to make while Eleanor was swimming at the meet in Oklahoma City.  

After raving about these, Paul admitted that he was s bit skeptical when I mentioned these earlier in the day; however, the three of us in Wisconsin liked these.  They couldn't be easier.  Really. 

Put the following in the slow cooker and stir a bit:
15 oz can black beans, drained
1 chicken breast
10 oz can Rotel
1 1/2 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t oregano

I put this in the crockpot on low for about 4-5 hours; shredded the chicken and put it back in the crockpot for another hour or so.  That's how it fit into my day.  It was a bit runny but we just drained it from the spoon a bit before stuffing the taco shells. 

2 c shredded red cabbage (I used pre-packaged Dole brand)
1/4 c cilantro
2 t rice vinegar
Stir and let sit about 15 minutes.

Served on crunchy taco shells. with the filling from the crockpot, a bit of cheddar cheese (if desired), some of the cabbage and some salsa.

Yum!  I would make these again, for sure.  Really easy and really good. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Buffalo Turkey Lasagna

If it's Buffalo chicken-like, it must be from  I think that's how it goes.  As you know, I enjoy the flavors but not the mess, so this recipe caught my eye.  It's tomato-y, so I don't know that Eleanor would be a fan; that's why I decided to make this while she was traveling for a swim meet.  I still have a bit of leftover turkey in the freezer from Thanksgiving; and, while I love smoked turkey, it's a bit limiting in how it can be used in recipes after the main meal.  For example, a turkey carcass from a smoked turkey is NOT a good soup choice.  And I speak from experience.

I had some leftover marinara sauce from the high school spaghetti dinner just lurking in my freezer as well.  I decided I needed to thaw both of these items and put them together into a tasty new dish.  There has been quite a bit of chaos and mess in my house recently...just too many weekends jam packed with events.  Trying to pick up the house on a weeknight isn't realistic for me.  Just making dinner, doing a small amount of job work on the computer, perhaps throwing in a load of laundry...that's about all I can manage.  Anyway, I was feeling the need to tidy things up a bit, so I thought cleaning out the freezer would be a manageable task that would accomplish getting dinner on the table as well.

This coming weekend for me promises to leave a few moments of de-trashing the house time.  As I look around I realize it's all about entropy....heading to maximum disorder.  I do know that it only takes a few minutes (like 30-60) to get it to a place that I can feel comfortable.  I just need to have that time to get it under control.  As my former co-worker would say, "an option to cleaning the house is to lower your standard".  This has worked for me for quite awhile, but eventually I don't feel my standard can get much lower.  I did clean bathrooms last weekend, since just having those clean often helps me to feel better....and it did.  But now, the de-clutter must happen.  So, starting with the freezer, her I go:

I suspected the smoked turkey would stand up to the strong flavors, and it did.  This was perfectly fine....not a favorite in this house yet solidly good:)

Here's the recipe:
Buffalo Chicken Lasagna
Check out that blog for a picture as well.....I forgot to take one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sandwiches for Dinner....

Sandwiches for dinner....just what my friend Kelly figured out a couple years ago.  Guess I'm a bit slow since it's taken me until now to realize what a brilliant idea this is.  We have been having them on Thursday nights....panini sandwiches.  It works well since it's healthy, tasty, and quick.  Thursday nights are a late practice night and a yoga night at this house, so when we arrive home from school and work and the Y around 7:45 pm we need something quick.  Thanks for the idea, Kelly:)

I didn't get a picture of the creation from last night (sandwich night moved to Tuesday this week due to a change in schedule due to Eleanor's travel to Oklahoma City this week).

Here's the idea:
prosciutto (I only used it because I had it from another did not add much, so I wouldn't use it next time I make these)
fig jam

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Spinach

Butternut Squash Spicy Sausage and Spinach Pasta recipe

I thought this sounded like just the yummy thing for a bit of pre-swimming carbs for the girls.  I bought the spinach but ended up using the entire pound in green smoothies....and that's not a bad thing.  Eleanor was fighting a bit of a cold, so I loaded her up on the orange juice, banana, strawberry, and spinach smoothies.  Along with what we call "Paul's concoction" (a not so secret blend of hot water, lemon, and honey), a bit of rest and some Airborne, I think she may be fighting off this bug.  Anyway, all this did mean that I needed to re-load on the baby spinach so I could make this recipe.

As you know, I am struggling with the mid week grocery runs; however, I was "lucky" enough to have a medical appointment mid week above Whole Foods.  Ah, lucky.  It was time for a female exam, something I rate somewhere between poking my eyes out and sitting at the DMV.  I guess that's the reason I have skipped a time or two (no, I didn't make the appointment and not show up....I just didn't schedule it).  I was dreading going to this appointment since I thought I may be reprimanded for:
1.  Not going for a couple years
2.  Drinking coffee
3.  Drinking wine
4. Having jiggly thighs and hairy legs

Ah....none of the above; although I did what I could by shaving my legs the morning of my appointment.   I really really like my GYN.  OK, I have to admit I like her best when I run into her in the hall or the grocery store rather than in stirrups.  But, all is seemingly well.  And, as a bonus, I got to run into Whole Foods to get the spinach! She has a good gift of making you feel OK about things, so I have to revise my ranking scale. like going to see her much better than I had made up for a few months.  She's way way way better than going to the DMV...more efficient and much more pleasant.  I'm not sure how she would feel about that ranking, so I'll have to think on one that's a bit more accurate.  Sometimes I need to meet with her in a work sort of way, and I suspect she puts me in the DMV category at that time too.  Ah, the things we must do!

But, let me get back to the spinach and the tortillas.  I ran to Whole Foods after my appointment before walking back to work and grabbed spinach and tortillas.  Really, I should have gotten a treat for myself too, but I didn't...preferring to get back to work to minimize the time away from my desk so I wouldn't need to stay so late.

The tortillas....Paul's been stepping it up a bit on meals though his tend to focus primarily on the red meat group.  However, we had leftover steak...and some sliced bell peppers in the freezer, and two avocados (I don't remember why), so...with some tortillas we were able to have a fajita night. came together quickly for a dinner wedged between a violin concert and a swim practice.

This dinner, the pasta with butternut squash and spinach was made by Paul for all of us.  Eleanor and I were at a swim meet and Luisa was at a basketball game.  We all enjoyed this meal though.  Good combination of spicy sausage and the pasta.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fluffernutters...or Fat Elvis....Outside the Comfort Zone

Perhaps you're wondering how I ended up with marshmallow fluff in the larder?  I tend toward the healthy and less processed side of foods, yet I found a recipe for pumpkin pie fudge a number of months ago.  I got the ingredients to make it and charged the girls with spending a fall Sunday afternoon making it.  Needless to say, the softball stage wasn't measured quite right, and we ended up with a gooey sweet mess.  A few spoonfuls of that ended up being enough sugar to sustain us for quite awhile.  And, to be completely honest, I sent Paul and our exchange student to do the dirty work of purchasing the marshmallow fluff.  I have an image to maintain, you know.  Wink.  Wink.

As the pumpkin pie fudge was attempting to be made, I remembered the fat Elvis sandwich that Eleanor loved.  A restaurant that has since closed made it...marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, banana slices.  Theirs was toasted and served with chocolate dipping sauce.  I was also remembering a co-worker in a past life telling me that whenever she was away for the evening her husband and her daughter made fluffernutters.  That term was new to me at the time....and I couldn't imagine I would ever make one.  But, I had a few dollops of marshmallow cream (although I think it is spelled "creme"), so I thought it would be a fun change for the girls to have in their lunches.  I didn't have chocolate dipping sauce (aka Hershey's syrup), so I sprinkled a few chocolate ships in the sandwich.  This sandwich got rave reviews!  I even had enough fluff to make it one more day in the same week.

Now, I'm out of fluff.  I'm debating how I can get some in the future.  A disguise when grocery shopping?  A trip to a far away suburb?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Pizza

Sweet Potato Black Bean and Goat Cheese Pizza

I like the combo of flavors on this pizza...and that's why it caught my eye. beans and sweet potatoes (one of my favorite burrito combinations)....add some goat cheese and pizza crust...and I am in!  I thought I would go entirely the way of the foodiebride and try the dough recipe she recommends as well.

The week started with unseasonably warm temperatures for Wisconsin.  I mean, 60 degrees feels good and all, but I have to say that it is a bit concerning since it is December.  Global warming?  There sure is something odd about this.  I think if it were a sunny day I would like it a bit better than having a fog hanging over us.  Anyway, it really wasn't a great night for pea soup, even though the fog was as thick as pea soup.  It was one of those recipes that seemed like a good idea when I was meal planning; however, it ended up being a bit of a dud the night we were having it.  It was all OK....because the crockpot pea soup was followed by this pizza.

The crockpot pea soup rocks...throw everything in and it's ready upon arrival home.  It is a bit of a struggle to get past the look of it.  I was the only one who would take it to work...and a co-worker ate a bit of it too.  No one else is brave enough to have those leftovers in their lunch.  The taste is worth it to me.

And it does make me wonder about the expression, "the fog is as thick as pea soup".  Really?  What an odd thing.  A quick online search revealed it is possibly related to yellow pea soup and yellowish industrial fog as referred to in 19th century British literature.  Well, our fog hasn't been yellow but it was thick near the lake.

Anyway, I'm a fan of the flavors black bean and sweet potato...especially together.  Throw in goat cheese.....and I'm sold!  I used the James Lahey dough recipe, which freezes nicely.  I didn't freeze the remainder yet, since I'm sure that I will need a quick meal at some point on this cRAzY busy weekend ahead.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Roast Beef with Havarti and more...

Oooooahhhhh....thumbing through Williams-Sonoma catalogue is a fun way to spend a few minutes.  And I came out of it with this recipe.
I was not able to find the recipe from the catalogue online, but that's OK because I changed it up a bit anyway.  I used sliced deli roast beef, horseradish havarti, roasted red peppers, carmelized onions (I used balsamic vinegar when carmelizing), and a mixture of spinach and arugula.

We're now thinking that a once a week sandwich night (perhaps Thursdays when we get home about 7:30) would be a good plan!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Skinnytaste Egg Nog

Egg of the things that rings in the Christmas season.  I like it; however, often the store version is a bit too sweet for me.  Typically I add a bit of milk to it and end up with just the right amount of sweetness.  It's not something I drink every day during the Christmas season...but as an occasional dessert.....I'm there.  Since my intake is so limited, I really wasn't in the market for a lighter version of it; however, I thought it would be fun to try making the version from Gina, of skinnytaste. is where the recipe can be found.  Or use this hyperlink to get directly to the recipe skinnytaste eggnog.  Paul and I enjoyed this for round one after it was made; however, I wasn't a fan of the texture after it sat for a bit.  So, a good experiment...a fun little project...likely I will make it next year.  I will still likely order my fully sweet and whole-milk version from lwdairy, as I usually purchase one per year.  It's as rich as the chocolate milk we order from our local milkman on each of our birthdays and really speaks to limiting the amounts of decadent beverages....I guess I would rather have a tiny bit of the really good stuff than more of the not so good stuff.  But, that's me:)

Skinny Eggnog

  • 3 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
  • rum
Heat 3 cups milk in a medium saucepan with vanilla.  Simmer over medium heat.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch until it turns light yellow.

Temper the eggs by gradually pouring the hot milk mixture, about 1 cup at a time, into the egg mixture, whisking constantly (this is important, otherwise you'll make scrambled eggs). Pour the mixture back into the pan. Place over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the eggnog begins to thicken, about 6-7 minutes. 
Spike the eggnog with liquor, if desired , and garnish with nutmeg.