Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Serving Up {Breadfast}: Morning Egg Casserole

This is such a yummy egg casserole with endless possibilities for variations.  Ten years ago when I visited my cute friend on Gig Harbor in Washington, she served this casserole for breakfast.  She served it made with diced ham, yet my family really enjoys it when it is made with sausage.  The veggies could also be mixed up based on your favorite flavor combinations.  So my suggestion would be to make this recipe as it was served to me -  but then get creative and let me know what flavor combinations you create that takes something great and makes it even better :)

(recipe from Kim F.)
printable version

1 ½ cup ham, diced -or- breakfast sausage, crumbled
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
3 cups swiss cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 ½ cup Bisquick
5 eggs
2 ½ cups milk
3 ounce cream cheese, softened

Saute mushrooms and onion in 3-4 Tbs. butter.
Combine all vegetables, meat and cheese in a greased 13x9 baking dish.
In a blender, combine Bisquick, eggs, milk and cream cheese and blend until smooth.
Pour egg mixture over the vegetable, meat and cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and the center is set.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Serving Up {Dessert}: S'more S'morgasbord

Summer is getting away from me and I'm not sure that I'm okay with that!  So, much like my last post which was more of an idea (hopefully inspiration) than a true recipe, today's post is a fun twist on an American classic...the S'more.  Love them!

I saw the idea for a S'more bar here (love everything on her site) and finally created it for my own family this past weekend when we were at the Oregon Coast.  I don't care if you are a beach s'morer, a campfire s'morer or a backyard s'morer - having the s'more bar was so much fun!  If nothing else, it justifies eating like four s'mores because, hey, you have to try all the variety of options right?

For our "S'morgasbord" (I'm so copyrighting that!) we had...
Cookie Options: Honey Grahams, Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies, Crunchy Granola Bars
Marshmallow Options: Regular or Caramel
Chocolate Options: Hershey's Milk Chocolate, Hershey's Cookie & Cream, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, York Peppermint

My favorite combo was definitely the regular marshmallow sandwiched between the honey grahams with the Peanut Butter Cup melting it's goodness out the edges.  Yum!

So with what is left of summer, make sure to plan an outing with your favorite people and enjoy a delightful twist on an old classic!  You may never go back to plain chocolate and graham crackers again!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Serving Up {Drink}: Green Smoothie

About two years ago I was introduced to green smoothies (here) and I became very passionate about them.  It seemed like such a simple way to get fruits and veggies into my kids diet without the battle over "one piece of broccoli" - because, really, how much benefit does one piece of broccoli really afford?

(not to mention, how else will you get your kid to wear such a cool green mustache?)

While living in Vegas we would have a shake each morning with breakfast and another shake as an after school snack.  I am not kidding when I say that I would actually crave them!  But with our move last summer we kind of fell out of the smoothie routine.  We have them here and there but not with any regularity and I have missed it!

So with the summer harvest of produce, and the heat that makes a cold shake sound REALLY good, we have slowly been getting back into the Green Smoothie routine.  Just yesterday my three year old asked me to make a shake and he even opened up the fridge and pulled out two carrots and declared he wanted an orange shake (coconut milk, carrots, apricots, tart apple, tomato, banana)

You can put out a google search and come up with more drink combinations than you will ever use.  My advice is to start heavy on the fruit and then as you (and your kids) get used to them, slowly decrease the fruit and increase the veggie content.  You will be surprised at how the veggie battle will be a distant memory as your kids begin "drinking" veggies that they never would have eaten served on a plate.

I am sharing a "heavy fruit" recipe that is packed with spinach, which is a terrific leafy green veggie yet very mild in flavor.  As you begin to add more veggies, other mild flavored veggies include tomatoes, carrots, avocado and cucumbers - your kids won't even know they are in there.  I have discovered that if I throw in 1/2 lemon (peel and all) any other flavor is hidden by the citrus and I can get away with even stronger flavors such as bell peppers.  No matter what combination we use, we always throw in some frozen fruit of some type to make it nice and cold - frozen bananas work really well for that but so do frozen berries.  We also sometime steer clear of green altogether and go for another color - beets, red cabbage and strawberries are a delicious combination and because it's red, the kids think mom forgot to make it healthy :)


2 cups liquid (coconut milk, water, rice milk, kefir)
Spinach to fill blender container twice
Orange juice concentrate
Frozen peaches
Frozen banana

Place liquid in your blender container and fill the container with spinach; blend down to liquid.  Fill the container again with spinach and blend down to liquid again.  Add 1 Tbs. OJ concentrate, 1/2 - 1 frozen banana and 1-2 cups frozen peaches.  Blend until smooth. 

**if you have any smoothie remaining (which we seldom do) put the mix into a popsicle mold and freeze it.  Delicious (my kids had apricot smoothie popsicles just this afternoon)**

Monday, August 22, 2011

Serving Up {Side Dish}: Baked Beans

I've mentioned before that when I was growing up we frequently gathered with extended family for BBQ's during the summer months, and that these BBQ's tended to have a menu with each family member bringing a particular dish that they were "known" for.  My mom generally brought the baked beans.

This is my mom's recipe for baked beans.  These beans are pretty easy because they begin with canned beans so there are no overnight soaking or rinsing involved.  A major plus in my kitchen!  I also frequently skip the bacon, only because I don't always have it on hand, and the end product still turns out terrific.  But if you've got bacon it is definitely a worthwhile addition.

(recipe from Linda W.)
printable version

3 small cans Pork & Beans
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tsp. prepared mustard (I eyeball it which means I always add more than written :)
4 bacon slices, cooked and broken into pieces

Combine all ingredients in a deep dutch oven and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Serving Up {Salad}: Pesto Pea Salad

I love to try variations on salads.  The possibilities are endless and I really don't tire of anything green (doused in dressing that is).

I have a sister-in-law who I consider to be a gourmet cook.  She really is!  She also cooks very practically - utilizing veggies in season that she buys at the local farmer's market (that she walks to).  If there were anyone that I wish would begin blogging all of their recipes, it would be her.  Luckily, I do know that she frequents Martha Stewart and Ina Garten as sources for many of her recipes so that helps me in my quest to recreate her gourmet!  This salad is one that she brought to a family picnic and I promptly made myself to take to church BBQ.  It's super simply and a nice variation from your everyday green salad.

(recipe from Ina Garten)

2 cups frozen peas (I prefer petite peas)
2 Tbs. pine nuts, toasted
2 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
4 Tbs. pesto (I used jarred but you could make your own)
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Bacon, cooked and crumbled

Fill a pot with generously salted water and bring to a boil.  Add peas and cook for 1 minute.  Remove peas from heat and immediately immerse the peas in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking.  Drain well once completely cooled.

Place spinach leaves in a medium sized bowl.  Sprinkle the peas and toasted pine nuts over the spinach.  Add the pesto and toss until well coated.

My own variation:
Garnish with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with cooked, crumbled bacon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Serving Up {Snack}: Caramel Clusters

If you were looking to make something that is completely and totally addictive, then today's recipe is it!

Most of the recipes that I have posted are recipes that we have been making for a number of years - those that have stood the test of time.  This recipe is the exception (but what a worthwhile exception!).  Three weeks ago at church a young man in our ward brought a bucket of this delightfulness to share with all the young women that I work with to say thanks for their help with his Eagle Scout project.  I admit that I almost didn't try it - but based on the response of the girls I took a bite...and then another...and another...holy cow!

It was obviously a caramel topping but we could not determine amongst us what type of "puff" had been doused in caramel coating.  Twenty four hours later I could not take it and I emailed the young man's mom and she graciously passed along the secret "puff" ingredient as well as the entire recipe.  The "puff" is Chester's Puffcorn - in butter flavor.  I was previously not aware of Chester's Puffcorn, but have since been successful at finding it at Target (with a grocery section) and at WINCO.

That was three weeks ago and I have made this recipe three times.  Oh, and I have two bags of Chesters in my pantry just in case I need to make it again on short notice.  Addictive I tell you!

(recipe from Angie S.)
printable version

In a 2 quart microwavable glass bowl, combine:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light karo syrup
1/4 tsp. salt

Stir the ingredients together and microwave for 2 minutes.
Remove from the microwave, stir and microwave again for 2 minutes.
Remove again from the microwave, stir and microwave once again for 2 minutes.

Remove from the microwave and add:
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir well (it will foam up).
Add entire bag of butter flavored Chester's Puffcorn and mix well.

Return the bowl to the microwave and cook for 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove from the microwave, stir again and return to microwave for another 1 1/2 minutes.
Remove from the microwave, stir again and pour out onto a cookie tray.
Once it has cooled slightly, break the pieces into small chunks and allow to cool completely.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Serving Up {Pasta}: Garlic Chicken Farfalle

As I am sorting through all of my recipes (the purpose of this blog, lest I forget) I am a bit shocked at how many of our frequently made recipes are pasta dishes.  I guess we really like us some pasta!  I hope what they say about pasta being bad for our diets isn't really true or else I am in big trouble.  Maybe I have some Italian in me deep down and that accounts for my affinity for all things al dente.

This recipe is delicious!  Pasta, chicken, bacon, cream - how can you possible go wrong?  I frequently will double the chicken as I cook it in the crock pot so that I end up with twice as much chicken as I need and I will then freeze half of it for later use.  Because the chicken cooks all day in the crock pot (easy!), putting dinner together only requires the boiling of the pasta and about 10 minutes to make the cream sauce.  Toss it all together and viola!

(recipe from Becky Higgins)

3-4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 (12 oz) Lawry’s mesquite marinade with lime juice
16 oz. Farfalle pasta 
1 c. heavy whipping cream 
2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed 
1 Tbsp. pepper
1/2 c. butter 
1 lb. bacon, cooked & crumpled 
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese 

Place chicken in a crock pot and pour bottle of marinade over it.  Cook on low for 6 hours. When cooked, remove from crock pot and shred it.  Set this aside. 
Prepare the pasta by boiling it until al dente.  Drain.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter; add the garlic, whipping cream, pepper, parmesan cheese, and crumpled bacon. Whisk together on low heat for 3-4 minutes. 
Place pasta in a large bowl.  Pour butter/whipped cream mixture over the pasta and add the shredded chicken; gently toss.  Prior to serving sprinkle a bit more shredded parmesan cheese on top.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Serving Up {Salad}: Savory Wild Rice Chicken Salad

You have got to just trust me on this one.  Seriously so good!  I take comfort in the fact that this is a relatively healthy dish because I eat the biggest portions of this meal when I serve it!  Really, it's almost embarrassing.

The first time I was served this salad was when I got together with two close high school friends to catch up after we had all lived in separate states for a number of years.  I was immediately hooked and was bold enough to dish up a meaningful second serving!  Shortly thereafter I served it at a Mother's Day luncheon that I hosted in my home and I had to follow up the luncheon with an email to all of the guests with the recipe because every single person requested it.  It's just one of those dishes.  The ingredients are basic enough, but something happens when they are all combined - let's just call it magic and leave it at that.

(recipe from Kim F.)
2 Long Grain & Wild Rice Boxes (Uncle Ben’s) *cook as directed with seasonings-cool
2 large chicken breasts *cooked, chopped and cooled
Juice from 1 lemon
4 green onions, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans (in large pieces)

Make rice and cool completely. Add all other ingredients for the salad except the pecans and avocado.

2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. pepper
1/3 cup Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar-regular flavor

Mix the dressing in a blender and pour over the rice mixture.
(Be careful not to over mix the rice mixture because it can make it mushy.)
Refrigerate 4-8 hours.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Serving Up {Cake}: Scor Cake

Happy Anniversary to me today!  My hubby and I are celebrating twelve years together as husband and wife, which is truly amazing since neither of us look a day over 25!  Ha!  (the grey hairs look distinguished)

And less I make my mother blush, I did NOT intentionally post this cake on this day as some type of subliminal suggestion.  It's simply one of my husbands very favorite desserts.  You know this dessert - most people call it "Better than ___ Cake" but my mom, being the sweet, innocent woman that she (still) is always called it "Scor Cake" because of the scor candy bar topping.  My brothers and I thought her name for the cake kind of related to the original name of the cake and that always used to give us the giggles :)

I have seen many variations of this cake over the years but I stick to it's true roots of a chocolate cake base, sweetened condensed milk, butterscotch caramel topping, cool whip and crushed toffee bits.
Variations I have seen include:

  • replacing the butterscotch caramel topping with hot fudge topping
  • the addition of hot fudge topping while still using the butterscotch caramel topping
  • using crushed butterfinger candy instead of crushed toffee bits
I assume everyone has made this cake, but in case you have been living under a log somewhere and somehow not ever made it, you owe it to yourself to make it today (especially if today is your anniversary).  It doesn't get much easier than this and yet the end product would suggest much more effort than was really required.  Yum!

SCOR CAKE     Pin It

1 box Chocolate Cake mix, devils food or triple chocolate
water, egg, oil to prepare cake mix
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 jar Mrs. Richardson's butterscotch caramel ice-cream topping
1 8-ounce container cool whip topping
1 bag Heath toffee bits or Scor bar crushed up

Prepare chocolate cake mix according to package directions.
Remove from oven and poke holes all over the cake using a straw or handle of a wooden spoon.
Pour entire can of sweetened condensed milk over the entire cake while the cake is still hot.  Allow cake to cool.
Once the cake is cooled, pour 1/2 jar of Mrs. Richardson's butterscotch caramel topping over the entire cake.
Frost cake with cool whip topping and sprinkle with toffee bits.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.  Store cake covered in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Serving Up {Salad}: Spinach, Pear, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

What a difference the sun makes!  For months I have been stuck taking photos of the dishes I've made using a flash but summertime has FINALLY arrived in the Northwest and my photos look much more appealing in natural light!  No guarantee how long this blessing will last.  The comment I heard from a friend regarding our weather was, "it's so nice that summer fell on a weekend this year".  Sad but true!

I love gourmet salads and never tire of trying new salad combinations with homemade dressings.  When I discovered this salad I immediately knew I would love it and I was right.  When we lived in Vegas there was a restaurant called Sammy's Wood fired Pizza (it's a chain with locations also in Southern California).  The menu offered many unique pizza combinations and I don't believe I ever had one that I didn't adore, but I did have a favorite...Sammy's Organic Arugula and Pear.  It was a pizza topped with proscuitto, pear and gorgonzola and after it came out of the oven it was topped with an arugula salad dressed in a balsamic dressing.  If ever you visit Sammy's please order this pizza!

This salad is a delightful (crustless) version of that pizza.  And it makes me very happy.  I hope it makes you happy too.


16 ounces baby spinach
2 pears
4 ounces Gorgonzola
4 slices prosciutto, baked crispy and broken into large pieces
1/2 cup candied walnuts or pecans

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl or prepare individual salads on salad plates.  Dress with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. dijon mustard
1/2 Tbs. shallots, minced
1/2 Tbs. garlic, minced
salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup canola oil

Combine all ingredients except oils in blender base.  Blend until all ingredients are well combined.  Slowly add oils, mixing until all the ingredients are thoroughly blended and lightly emulsified.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Serving Up {Pasta}: Ravioli with Balsamic Browned Butter

Sometimes a title says it all - I believe that anything that includes "browned butter" is something worth making.  When Giada (notice the first name basis) made this ravioli with BALSAMIC browned butter I nearly fainted as I gasped "must" "make" "this"!

I admit that I frequently make pasta meals - it's the stage of life I'm in with four young kids.  This, thankfully, is not your kids pasta.  The kids are happy because it's ravioli, but you will be happy because you can top it with freshly shaved Parmesan and toasted walnuts (or my preferred pecans) and serve it with a side salad and feel that you have just treated yourself to a little slice of gourmet.

(recipe from Giada de Laurentiss)
18 to 20 ounces store-bought ravioli (cheese, mushroom, or squash)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (or pecans)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Drain ravioli onto a large serving platter.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan cook the butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the foam subsides, and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes, turn off the heat. Let cool for about 1 minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Transfer the ravioli to the pan saucepan with the balsamic brown butter. Sprinkle walnuts and Parmesan over the top. Serve immediately.