Thursday, December 24, 2015

Monte Cristo Strata

This cheesy and indulgent strata is inspired by the flavors of a Monte Cristo sandwich: ham, tangy mustard and Gruyere cheese.

The photo and recipe source is Betty Crocker.


    • 1 loaf (20 oz) country white bread, crusts removed and thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
    • 14 oz sliced Black Forest ham
    • 3 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese (14 oz)
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
    • 4 eggs
    • 3 cups milk
    • 2 teaspoons ground pepper


Heat oven to 375°F. 

Generously grease bottom and sides of 13x9-inch (3-quart) baking dish.

Layer bread slices in bottom of baking dish. 

Brush with 2 tablespoons of the mustard. 

Top with half of the ham slices.

Sprinkle 1 cup of shredded cheese and 1 tablespoon of sage. 

Repeat layers, reserving last 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese.

Beat eggs in a large bowl, add milk and ground pepper; beat to combine. 

Carefully pour egg mixture over layers in baking dish, making sure bread absorbs most of the liquid. 

Sprinkle with remaining cheese and 1 tablespoon fresh sage.

Cover dish with sheet of greased foil. 

Let stand 30 minutes before baking.

Bake about 35 minutes or until dish is baked through and bubbly. 

Remove foil, and bake 10 minutes longer or until cheese on top is lightly golden.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Source: Betty Crocker

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Sausage Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole

This is one of those casseroles you can make ahead of time, chill in the refrigerator and bake when you are ready to serve it.  Great for those times you have overnight visitors or holidays like Christmas morning when you would rather spend time with your guests rather than spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

You can be versatile with the recipe . . . I love breakfast sausage, but I also love little smokies that I would love to experiment with, add onions, peppers or mushrooms . . . the choice is yours.  I would not experiment with the hash browns though.

The photo and recipe comes from Plain Chicken, one of my favorite food blogs.  The link to the website follows the recipe.  Steph's blog is like a lifestyle magazine with lots of delicious and practical recipes, all things family-related and interesting travel articles.

Sausage Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
serves 10

  • 2 lb mild or hot breakfast sausage
  • 1 (30-32oz) bag frozen shredded hash browns
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook sausage until no longer pink in a large skillet. Drain fat and set sausage aside.

Cook hash browns in skillet until lightly brown. 

Place hash browns in bottom of lightly greased 9x13-inch pan.  

Add sausage and cheese.

Whisk eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and milk . . . pour mixture in the pan.

Note:  Cover and refrigerate at this point if baking later.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Semi-homemade versatility of cake mixes

Grocery store shelves are filled with all types of products that cater to those cooks who are looking for convenience and saving time in the kitchen.  

Cake mixes are one of those products that make semi-homemade baking so fast and easy.  

Discount stores like Big Lots have a permanent place on their shelves for cake mix.  For example, many are meant for other countries, therefore the instructions are in another language.  You can buy cake mix for a fraction of the cost if the language is different.

Tiffany at Eat At has perfected it a science.  Click here to go to Tiffany's article . . . don't forget to check out the comments for even more ideas and recipes from her followers!  

Huffington Post has posted an article on cakes you can make with cake mix and soda . . . you would not believe the variety!  Click here to go to the article.

You will be amazed!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Collection of Caramel Desserts

The Captain and I recently discovered the deliciousness of homemade caramel and we are in love with just about anything that includes caramel.

Well, I felt like I had hit the jackpot when I visited one of my favorite food blogs, Something Swanky . . . a collection of 80 caramel desserts . . . every type of dessert you can imagine.

Click here to go to the article . . . 

Click here to go to a collection of caramel candy recipes.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Easy Fajita Pasta Bake

Love these economical, quick and easy semi-homemade meals!

This is one of those recipes that will stretch your leftover chicken another day.  
How about using some of that leftover turkey?

This recipe comes from Pillsbury, so you know it has got to be good!


  • 2 cups thinly sliced red and green bell peppers

  • 1 small white onion, chopped

  • 2 cups uncooked penne pasta (6 oz)

  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken breast 

  • 1 package (1 oz) Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix

  • 1 cup whipping cream

  • 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey jack cheese blend (4 oz)

  • Directions

    Heat oven to 350°F.

    Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray.

    Spray 10- to 12-inch skillet with cooking spray. Heat over medium heat.

    Add 2 cups thinly sliced red and green bell peppers and 1 chopped small white onion to skillet. cook and stir about 10 minutes or until tender.

    Cook 2 cups uncooked penne pasta as directed. Drain

    Toss together until combined . . . cooked pasta, bell peppers and onion, 1 lb shredded cooked chicken breast, 1 package Old El Paso™ taco seasoning mix and 1 cup whipping cream.

    Pour into baking dish.

    Sprinkle 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey jack cheese blend (4 oz) evenly over top.

    Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.


    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    A Collection of Fried Chicken Recipes

    My ears perk up at the mention of fried chicken.  It is one of my favorite things!  To me, a wonderful treat is a box of  Popeye's or Church's Fried Chicken.  

    Having said that, I was thrilled to find the article on Southern Living Magazine, "Our Favorite Fried Chicken Recipes."  

    Click here to go to the article.

    How about an article on "How to Fry Chicken" . . . click here.

    An excellent article from The New York Times with lots of tips, techniques and recipes for perfect fried chicken.  Click here.

    A tip from our kitchen to yours . . . a deep fryer was one of our favorite kitchen purchases.  It always makes perfect fried chicken and crispy, delicious fish and shrimp.  Make sure to get one that "flash fries" . . . don't ask me what that means, but we are very happy with ours!

    Pumpkin Pecan Streusel Pie

    There is something magical about the kitchen aroma of a pumpkin pie baking!

    This is a kicked up version of pumpkin pie which has caught my attention. Love pressing pecans in the pie crust and the streusel topping sounds delicious.

    The recipe comes from Southern Living, where the recipes are always awesome :)


      • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
      • 1/2 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated pie crust 
      • 3 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans 
      • Wax paper
      • Vegetable cooking spray
      • 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin 
      • 1 1/4 cups half-and-half
      • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
      • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
      • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
      • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

    Garnish: toasted pecan halves


    Preheat oven to 350°. 

    Pecan Pie Crust How-to

    On surface dusted with powdered sugar; u
    nroll pie crust and sprinkle with chopped pecans.

    Press pecans into crust by gently rolling pie crust and pecans with a sheet of wax paper over pie crust and pecans.  

    Fit pie crust in a lightly greased pie plate, 
    pecan side up. Fold the edges under and crimp.

    Whisk together pumpkin and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl until smooth and combined. Pour into prepared pie crust.

    Bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Shield edges with aluminum foil after 20 minutes to prevent excessive browning. 

    Carefully top pie with Pecan Streusel Topping. 

    Reduce oven temperature to 325°, and bake 25 minutes. Prevent excessive browning by covering pie with aluminum foil after 5 to 10 minutes. 

    Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours).

    Pecan Streusel Topping


      • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves and pieces 
      • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
      • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      • 1/4 cup butter, melted 
      • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


    In a medium bowl, stir pecan halves and pieces, brown sugar, flour, melted butter, melted, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.

    Recipe and Photo Source:

    Pam Lolley, Southern Living, NOVEMBER 2015

    Source link

    Photo: Helen Norman; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

    Once again, the holidays have crept up on us!  It seems as though we just experienced the ball come down on New Years Eve.  If you are like us, you are not ready for Thanksgiving!

    This year, The Captain and I will be hosting our own Thanksgiving festivities.  We are actually very excited to cook all of our favorite dishes, along with some new ones.

    Join us in researching the possibilities for new ideas and recipes for this holiday season.  The following list is a work in progress that I will continue adding links throughout the season.

    Please refresh page if you are returning, so the new links will show up!

    Happy planning!

    Saturday, October 24, 2015

    Chicken Fried Steak from The Pioneer Woman

    Comfort food at it's best!

    Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy is one of my favorite meals.  This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman!

    One of my rules in making this meal . . . don't forget the biscuits!


    Chicken Fried Steak:

      • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
      • 2 large eggs
      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
      • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
      • 3 pounds cube steak (tenderized round steak that's been extra tenderized)
      • Kosher salt
      • 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
      • 1 tablespoon butter


      • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
      • 3 to 4 cups whole milk
      • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
      • Freshly ground black pepper
      • Mashed potatoes, for serving


    For the steak

    Set up an assembly line of dishes. Mix the milk with the eggs in one; the flour mixed with the seasoned salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, paprika and cayenne in another; and the meat in a third. Then have one clean plate at the end for the breaded meat.

    Work with one piece of meat at a time. Sprinkle both sides with kosher salt and black pepper, then place it in the flour mixture. Turn to coat. Place the meat into the milk/egg mixture, coat both sides. 

    Place it back in the flour and coat both sides (dry mixture/wet mixture/dry mixture). 

    Place the breaded meat on the clean plate, then repeat with the remaining meat.

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it's sufficiently hot. When the butter sizzles immediately, you know it's ready. (It should not brown right away, if it does, the fire is too hot.) 

    Cook the meat, 3 pieces at a time, until the edges start to look golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Remove the meat to a paper towel-lined plate and keep them warm by covering lightly with another plate or a sheet of foil. Repeat until all the meat is cooked.

    After all the meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the skillet, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the grease back to the skillet and allow it to heat up.

    For the gravy: 

    When the grease is hot, sprinkle the flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Add more flour if it looks overly greasy; add a little more grease if it becomes too pasty/clumpy. 

    Keep cooking until the roux reaches a deep golden brown color.

    Pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the seasoned salt and black pepper to taste and cook, whisking, until the gravy is smooth and thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick. Be sure to taste to make sure gravy is sufficiently seasoned.

    Serve the meat next to a big side of mashed potatoes. Pour gravy over the whole shebang!

    2011 Ree Drummond, All Rights Reserved

    Source:  The Pioneer Woman 

    Tuesday, October 13, 2015

    Garlic Butter Bread Sticks

    Would you believe these delicious looking bread sticks are made with puff pastry?

    Puff pastry is an easy convenience food that we use often to make desserts and savory treats.

    • 1 sheet thawed puff pastry (leave out on the counter for 30-40 minutes)
    • 3 tbsp Italian garlic butter (or other compound butter)
    • 3-5 pinches shredded Parmesan cheese
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
    2. Lay out thawed puff pastry sheet on parchment lined baking sheet
    3. Cut into ½ inch strips using a pastry cutter or pizza wheel 
    4. Brush melted butter over all the strips
    5. Separate & twist each piece; place back on parchment
    6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese
    7. Bake 10-12 minutes
    8. Allow to cool before moving from baking sheet

    This recipe and photo comes from Gina from Kleinworth & Co

    You can connect with Gina via

    Thank you for creating these awesome bread sticks Gina, your creativity is amazing!

    Monday, October 5, 2015

    Fried Chicken

    Doesn't that fried chicken look delicious?

    This recipe and photo comes from Taste of the South Magazine, featuring authentic delicious southern recipes.  Check it out, along with their family of magazines.  Awesome recipes!


      • 1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
      • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
      • 2 teaspoons salt
      • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
      • ½ teaspoon ground red pepper
      • Vegetable oil for frying


    Rinse chicken pieces, pat dry.

    Combine flour, salt, paprika, and red pepper.  Mix well.

    Heat oil (in a depth of 2 inches) to 
    350° over medium-high heat in a deep cast-iron skillet or large heavy Dutch oven.  The Captain and I use a deep fryer.

    Work in batches! Coat chicken in flour mixture and gently shake to remove excess. 

    Fry chicken for 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of chicken registers 180°. 

    Adjust heat as needed to maintain oil temperature. 

    Drain chicken on paper towels.

    Taste of the South Digital Editions. Savor the flavors. Authentically southern, always delicious. Download Digital Issues Today!

    Saturday, October 3, 2015

    Mushroom Swiss Burger Pizza

    These type of pizzas are so much fun to make!  All you need is pizza dough and toppings you love. Experiment!  One of the best I've made has pulled pork with a little BBQ sauce as a topping.  Use your imagination!

    Another thing I like to do is roll out the dough a little thicker than usual and bake.  Brush with melted butter and some parmesean cheese.  When it is done, cut in half and slice a pocket in the middle.  Fill it with your favorite toppings and top it with cheese and bake about 5 to 10 minutes.  I used to make these for lunch when I was working.  Economical and easy lunch . . . you can make a bunch and freeze the rest.

    This recipe comes from Publix Supermarkets.  Looks like a winner! Click on the link for more delicious recipes!

    I love their pre-made pizza dough in the bakery section.  It is perfect for those times you don't have the time to make dough from scratch and just as good.  It can even be frozen.  One of my favorite convenience foods!

      • 1 lb lean ground beef, 7% fat
      • 8 slices Swiss cheese (5 oz)
      • 12 oz pre-sliced white mushrooms
      • 1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
      • 1 lb fresh pizza dough
      • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
      • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
      • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
      • 1 (.75-oz) packet mushroom gravy mix, divided
      • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
      • 1/4 cup flour


    Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand one hour (do not remove from bag until stand time completed).

    Preheat oven to 400°F. 

    Chop onion. 

    Combine mayonnaise with 1 tablespoon gravy mix and set aside. 

    Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high. 

    Place 1 tablespoon oil in pan, then add mushrooms, salt, and pepper. Saute and stir 2-3 minutes or until tender. Remove mushrooms from pan; set aside.

    Place remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan, then add onions; cook and stir 5-6 minutes or until soft and golden. Add meat to pan; brown 4-5 minutes, stirring to crumble meat, or until no pink remains.

    Stir in remaining gravy mix, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/2 cup water.  Cook until mixture thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.

    Pat dough into lightly greased or nonstick pizza pan. (Or turn dough out and roll onto a lightly floured surface to desired thinness.)

    First top the dough in the following order:  mayonnaise mixture; meat; mushrooms and cheese. 

    Bake 18-25 minutes (bake time depends on thickness of pizza) or until thoroughly heated. Keep an eye on it!

    Let stand 5 minutes; slice and serve.

    Friday, October 2, 2015

    Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil

    This recipe is very similar to a simple sauce that I make.  The difference is a tiny bit of brown sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and a handful of parsley.

    Make your own variation, adding ingredients you like.  Throw it together and let the stove do all the work!


      • 1 lb. pasta
      • 4 Tbsp. olive oil
      • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
      • 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, chopped (reserve juices)
      • Handful of basil leaves, chopped
      • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese


    1. Heat one tablespoon of oil over medium heat in a saucepan large enough to hold the tomatoes. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute or until softened.

    2. Add the rest of the oil to saucepan, then add tomatoes and the reserved liquid.

    3. When sauce starts to simmer, lower heat to maintain a slow simmer for 45 minutes.

    4. Cook pasta according to package directions.

    5. Salt and pepper sauce to taste, toss in basil leaves, stir and pour over pasta. Top with grated cheese.


    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    Apple Crisp

    Apple desserts are among my favorites.  There is something about apples cooked in brown sugar and cinnamon that is crazy good . . . and the smell from the oven while it is baking is intoxicating!

    This recipe comes from Taste of Home, one of my favorite food websites.

      • 1 cup all-purpose flour
      • 3/4 cup rolled oats
      • 1 cup packed brown sugar
      • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 cup butter, softened
      • 4 cups chopped peeled apples
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
      • 1 cup water
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • Vanilla ice cream, optional


    Preheat oven to 350°. 

    In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. 

    Cut in butter until crumbly. 

    Press half into a greased 2-1/2-qt. baking dish or a 9-in.-square baking pan. 

    Cover with apples.

    In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, water and vanilla. 

    Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thick and clear. 

    Pour over apples. 

    Sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.
    Bake 60-65 minutes or until apples are tender. 

    Serve warm, with ice cream if desired. 

    Yield: 8 servings.

    Source:  Taste of Home
    Originally published as Apple Crisp in Country February/March 1993, p47

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