Sunday, October 28, 2012

Breakfast Casserole

Weekend breakfasts are one of my favorite meals! Breakfast casseroles are the best. You make them the night before and bake them the next morning. They're also perfect if you're having house guests. Today's recipe is a different take on a breakfast casserole I've been making for years. Instead of bread, it uses waffles and has the addition of maple syrup. You could easily omit the syrup if you don't want the casserole to have a slight sweet taste.

Maple Sausage and Waffle Casserole
Recipe Courtesy of Plain Chicken
8 frozen Eggo homestyle waffles, cubed
16 ounces maple breakfast sausage, crumbled
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 large eggs
1-1/4 cups whole or low-fat milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
 Cook the sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon, until well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain fat. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Add half of the cubed waffles in a single layer. Top with half of the sausage and 1/2 cup of the cheese. Layer the remaining waffles and sausage and 1/2 cup more cheese. Whisk together the eggs, milk, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until combined. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole. Wrap the baking dish with plastic wrap and place refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day. Bake at 325 degrees 45 to 50 minutes.

I am linking to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Chinese Cumcumber Salad

As summer draws to a close and we're focused on those fall foods, I wanted to share one more recipe of summer. Many weeks our CSA bag included a cucumber or two. Looking for a new way to serve cucumbers, I found this recipe. If you like foods with an asian flair, you'll enjoy these. They're crisp and delicious. Be sure to soak them before marinating them in the dressing, it adds to their crispiness. These are best served the day you make them but will be okay the next day, after that they tend to get a little soggy.

Chinese Cucumber Salad
Recipe Courtesy of Kalyn's Kitchen

4 medium sized cucumbers
2 T sea salt (for soaking water)
black sesame seeds for garnishing salad (optional but fun)
Dressing Ingredients: 4 T red wine vinegar
4 T soy sauce
3 T sugar
4 tsp. sesame oil
 1-2 tsp. Sriracha Sauce (or other hot sauce of your choice)
 Instructions: Peel cucumbers, leaving some of the peel on in stripes if they are fresh garden cucumbers. Cut each cucumber in half lengthwise, then use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Cut cucumbers in 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick slices. Soak 30 minutes in salted ice water. (I used 2 T sea salt in the water.) While the cucumbers are soaking in the ice water, mix the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, sweetener of your choice, sesame oil, and Sriracha or other hot sauce to make the dressing. After 30 minutes, drain the cucumbers well, put them in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and pour dressing over cucumbers. Let marinate 30 minutes in the fridge, turning the container over a few times. After 30 minutes more, drain the cucumbers, reserving a few tablespoons of the dressing. Put cucumbers on serving dish, drizzle over the reserved dressing, and sprinkle with black sesame seeds if desired.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Ultimate Sugar Cookie - Secret Recipe Club

It's hard to decide what I like most about Secret Recipe Club...reveal day or choosing which recipe to make from my assigned blogger.  If I had to pick, I think it would be looking through the recipes of the blogger I am assigned for the month and deciding on a recipe.  This month, I was assigned Heavenly Treats and Treasures.  Check out her blog, she has beautiful photography and a wonderful selection of recipes.

Do you have a favorite cookie?  Mine is probably chocolate chip but a close second is a good sugar cookie.  When I came across the recipe for ULTIMATE Sugar Cookie, I stopped searching and bookmarked the recipe.

Why is this recipe the Ultimate Sugar Cookie?  The secret ingredients are cream cheese and melted butter.  The cream cheese, I totally get but melted butter just seems counter intuitive to cookies.  The results a slightly crispy, yet creamy sugar cookie!

 The Ultimate Sugar Cookie:
Yields about 18 large size cookies


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus about 1/3 cup for rolling
2 ounces of cream cheese (cut into eight pieces so it's easier to incorporate)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup canola oil (or vegetable oil)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  •  Adjust oven rack to middle position.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups sugar and cream cheese to a large bowl.  Pour warm butter over sugar mixture and whisk until combined.  Add vegetable oil and whisk again until incorporated.
  • Add egg, cream, vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  • Add half of flour mixture and gently mix in with a spatula or wooden spoon until almost incorporated, then do the same with the remaining flour.
  • Measure 1/3 cup sugar into a bowl.  Using about a 2" size scoop (approximately 2 1/2 tablespoon size), scoop cookie dough, drop into hands and roll gently into a ball.  Working in batches, roll balls of dough in the sugar to coat evenly and then space a few inches apart on cookie sheets.  There will be enough room for 6 large cookies per sheet. 
  • Using bottom of a drinking glass or a measuring cup, flatten each cookie so it is about 3" in diameter.
  • Sprinkle top of each cookie with additional sugar
  • Top with colored sprinkles if desired.
  • Bake one sheet at a time, just until edges are barely beginning to turn golden - about 12-13 minutes.  Rotate cookie sheets halfway through baking time.
  • Remove pan from oven, and allow cookies to cool 2 minutes on the sheets on a baking rack.  Then, slide cookies on parchment paper off sheet to the rack and allow to cool.

Honey Corn Muffins - Club Baked

I grew up making those little Jiffy mixes.   Sometimes it was the cake mixes and other times it was the corn muffins.  I think it was the next step up from the Easy Bake Oven.  The authors of Baked Explorations describe our recipe for this month's Club Baked as their favorite, similar to the Jiffy mix, not overly sweet and light in texture.

I made these last week with our first bowl of fall chili.  They're delicious with just a little butter or the addition of drizzle of honey.  They have a nice tender crumb and the edges turn a beautiful golden brown.  Next  time I am going to try these as corn bread in my cast iron pan.

Want to make these yummy muffins?  You'll find the recipe over at Karen's blog, Karen's Cakes & More.  Karen's hosting this month's recipe and also is our leader in Club Baked.  You can find the links to the other Club Baked bakers muffins here!

Next up for Club Baked, Carrot Coconut Scones on 11/1.  November?  Crazy that it's almost November!  That means the holidays are just around the corner and Club Baked will be taking a break until January!!

I am linking these to On the Menu Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Here in Nebraska we quickly went from summer into fall, or almost winter, this week.  The low was in the upper 20's the past two nights.  The trees are a beautiful golden hue and the leaves are falling quickly.

 I love the flavors of fall; pumpkin, squash, apples and pears.  Butternut squash has been in our CSA bag the past couple of weeks.  Butternut squash is so versatile.  It can be sweet or savory and easily makes for a hearty meal.  I had a log of honey goat cheese that needed to be used up.  This recipe gave me the opportunity to do just that.  To offset some of the sweetness of the cheese, I added about 1/2 pound of Italian Sausage to this dish.  I didn't have any walnuts, so omitted those.  This dish just defines comfort food!

What's your favorite fall food?


  Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese

Recipe Courtesy of Giada De Laurentis
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut or kombucha squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1 packed cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
Put an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Spray a baking sheet, liberally, with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.
Mix the squash and onion together and arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for to 40 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While the squash mixture is cooling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Put the pasta, goat cheese and 1 cup of pasta water in a large serving bowl. Toss until the cheese has melted and forms a creamy sauce. Add the squash and onion mixture, the walnuts and the basil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with Parmesan and serve.

I am linking this to On The Menu Monday, Make It Pretty Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and Foodie Friday.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

From The Good Life

It's hard to believe a year ago we were frantically packing in preparation to move.  When Tim and I began looking at our house, we knew one of the first things we wanted to do after we moved in was to add some landscaping.  This house had virtually no landscaping.  There was one small tree and two, almost dead, petunias in the front of the house.  

Each week, during the summer, our homeowners association awards "Yard of the Week"
A little over a week ago, Tim and I were surprised with this sign in our yard.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Tribute to Daniel Saraga - Smores Bars

Today's post is a special one.  It's a tribute to fellow Secret Recipe Club member, Daniel Saraga. Daniel died suddenly on September 14th.   I first "met" Daniel in June 2011 when I had his blog the Haggis and the Herring as my assigned blog for SRC. I made Daniel's very tasty Crunchy Roasted Potatoes and Carrots.  Daniel was a wonderful fellow SRC member, always taking time to comment on everyone's posts.

Daniel's wife Meredith, posted this eulogy shortly after his funeral.  What a beautiful tribute to the man she loved so dearly.  I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to compose.

Today, the Secret Recipe Club members are posting Daniel's recipes.  I hope you'll take the time to check out some of these recipes and participate in a random act of kindess today in memory of Daniel.

I've seen lots of versions of Smores bars on the blogsphere. Until now, I have resisted trying them because I just knew they would be amazing and one of those desserts where you can't eat just one piece. I was right, these Smores Bars are so delicious and for sure you won't be able to eat just one.

S'mores Squares
Recipe Courtesy of the Haggis and the Herring

1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 100g flat slab bars of milk chocolate (do not break)
1 jar (213g) marshmallow fluff (not melted marshmallows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cream butter sugar and brown sugar using an electric mixer on medium-high.
  3. Add egg and vanilla, and continue to mix for five minutes, until the mixture is fluffy.
  4. Add flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt, and mix on low until fully combined (2-3 minutes).
  5. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan and press half of the dough evenly into the bottom (about 1/2-inch thick).
  6. On top of the cookie mix, place the two chocolate slabs side-by-side, and top the pan with the marshmallow fluff, spreading evenly across.
  7. Flatten the remaining dough into small/flat circles, one tablespoon at a time. Place the dough on top of the marshmallow layer.
  8. Bake on the center rack 30-35 minutes, until lightly browned and let cool completely before cutting into bars.
Mostly from the Christine Loueiro, the Toronto Star.