Sunday, December 19, 2010

Egg Casserole

Our Christmas Egg Casserole.
 It is a tradition at my parents house to have this egg casserole on Christmas morning.  My mom prepares it the night before so all she has to do is throw it in the oven when everyone wakes up.  By 7am, we've emptied out our stockings and cleared out the mountain of presents under the tree and are ready for breakfast.

However, if you take too long opening presents, get too involved with your new toy or gadget, or find yourself on a long phone conversation, you'll miss out since it goes fast at our house.   Occasionally, I've had the misfortune of walking into the kitchen to grab a slice to find it's all gone. :(

Yesterday I made a half batch for the hubby and myself, which made plenty for leftovers the next day. This casserole is traditionally made with spicy sausage, however you can use mild sausage instead like I did yesterday.   One word of caution, I wouldn't advise using the maple flavored sausage. We did that one year since the store was sold out of the mild and spicy.  It made for an interesting tasting casserole.

I hope you will enjoy this easy to prepare breakfast casserole as much as our family does. Merry Christmas!

Brown the sausage, then drain.

Pour the milky egg mixture over the bread and sausage.

Top with cheddar cheese, cover, and refrigerate until you're ready to bake it.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cooking Tip Accepted!

My absolutely favorite cooking magazine is Cuisine at Home.  Every recipe I've made from their magazine is fantastic. For those of you who know about my famous (within our circle of friends, that is) pulled pork, well, it came from this magazine.  I think my mother has gotten quite known for making this pulled pork as well.  

Anyway, one part of the magazine that I always look forward to reading is the cooking tips page.  Most of the tips are super clever.  So, one hot August day, I thought I would submit one of my tips.  It turns out they like it and it will be published in a future issue of the magazine!  Right now, I can't disclose what the tip is, so you'll have to wait until it's published in the magazine. :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Frosted Banana Cake

This is a fantastic banana cake that I had at a playdate about a month ago at Julia's house.  Being a family recipe, you know it's special.  Julia is quite the chef and everything she makes is delicious and this was cake was no different.  

I'm not exactly sure what classifies banana cake as a cake and say banana bread as a bread, but there is definitely a difference.  This cake is lighter in texture than a typical dense banana bread, so maybe that's the point of differentiation. 

The recipe says to use 2-3 bananas.  I used 3 bananas when I made mine and I think it came out wonderfully.  I suppose you can just use whatever amount you have on hand.  Also, Julia's recipe notes that you may substitute sour milk (1/4 cup reg. milk + 1 tsp vinegar) for the buttermilk in the recipe, but it's not exactly the same as using good ole buttermilk.

Spread the batter in the pan.

Baked and ready for frosting!

All frosted, dig in!

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Click to ENLARGE.
To print, left click> file> print. To save file to your computer, right click on image, then "save image as".

Monday, November 22, 2010

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Make cookies and have the kitchen cleaned up in less than 15 minutes!  So easy and so delicious :)  The best flavor combination ever....chocolate and peanut butter!  Who doesn't like that combination? If there isn't any caramel around, I gravitate towards peanut butter chocolate indulgences. Yum!

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, but I've had it in my recipe box forever.  Maybe from one of my mom's friends who gave them as a Christmas gift one year?   Anyway, these are great to make when I'm craving something sweet and delicious, but don't want to spend a ton of time cooking.   All of the ingredients are pantry staples, so I always have them on hand.

Mix butter, cocoa, sugar, and milk. Simmer for a couple minutes.

Turn heat off and add the peanut butter, oats, salt, and vanilla.

Drop cookies onto a cookie sheet or plate lined with waxed paper. Refrigerate.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

Out of necessity I had to find out how to make some homemade chocolate syrup since I was out of Hershey's Syrup.  After discovering how easy this recipe is and how good it tastes, I have to say so long to Hershey's Syrup.  This homemade stuff from An Oregon Cottage is fantastic! I made some chocolate milk with it and both the little guy and I agree.... mmm-mmm-mmm!  I don't think our house is going to miss the Hershey's stuff one bit.

A lot of the recipes I found only used a lousy 3 tablespoons of cocoa, but this recipe loads it up with a whopping 3/4 cup of chocolatey goodness!  Now, this is what I call chocolate syrup!  I've already tested it with milk, so next I'll have to see how it works out in a cup of hot milk to make hot cocoa, and then also drizzling it on ice cream.  Oh and licking it right off the spoon is perfectly acceptable too :)

I probably over cooked the syrup this first try since I noticed that the syrup left over in the pot was quite thick upon cooling. No biggie, I just added a little bit of water to the syrup and it turned out just fine.  When I make it next time, I'll use a candy thermometer and time it so I can update this post with exact measurements.  The inner scientist in me needs these specifics!

Update: I should have mentioned that I used natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed cocoa powder).  You could use either depending on the chocolate taste you're looking for.  I just used the cocoa powder I had on hand.  Natural cocoa imparts an intense chocolate flavor and is more bitter. The alkalizing process increases the pH, which makes for a less bitter and more mild chocolate flavor.   Always check your recipe for the correct cocoa powder to use since natural and Dutch-processed have different functionality. :)

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My Etsy Store: Moonberry Rain

So, a little side gig that I've been working on is setting up shop on Etsy.  For now, I'm designing and sewing aprons for the little chefs in the house.  I've always been a self proclaimed crafty person and last month I jumped on the opportunity to make an apron for my friends 18 month old daughter.  I had so much fun doing it, that I made a couple more and put them up for sale in my new shop Moonberry Rain on Etsy.

For those of you not familiar with, it is the most wonderful place to find handmade items.  They have about everything imaginable that one can make. Check it out! It's a great place to find unique gifts for the holidays too.  While you're there, visit my store Moonberry Rain. :)

The original apron made for my friends 18 month old.
So bright, colorful and fun!

I am loving ruffles!

I had to make something for the boys too, so I came up with this little bug apron (no ruffles of course).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sweet Potato Crisp

 It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it's time to start thinking about what to make.   Every year I make the absolute best sweet potato crisp that was introduced to me by my sister Patty.  Here I go again, tooting my own horn! In my defense, I've had people who don't care for sweet potato casserole love it.  It's similar to a sweet potato casserole, but it has a yummy crumble crisp topping that makes it simply delicious.  It's always my standard Thanksgiving potluck dish and every time I get people demanding for the recipe, so here it is.

Spread the sweet potato mixture in the dish.

Cut the butter into the flour, sugar and oats until it holds together in clumps.

Top sweet potatoes with apples and cranberries. Here I used dried, but I usually use diced fresh cranberries.

Top apples and cranberries with the crisp topping.

Baked to perfection!

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- Although this recipe tastes incredible with the full 8 oz of cream cheese, I only use half the amount and it still tastes great.  
- Also, if you already have fresh cranberries around for Thanksgiving just use those on top.  
- Nuts are optional. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Soft Sugar Cookies for Decorating

Decorating cookies is so much more fun when the family gets involved.  The hubby and I had some fun on Halloween making and decorating my favorite sugar cookies.  The baked cookie part isn't very sweet at all, so that's what makes the decorating part so sweet....pardon the pun. :)

These cookies have a very tender, almost cake-like texture, similar to those yummy Lofthouse cookies found at the store.  My husband and I agree these are better because a) They're made with love at home and b) They aren't so sickening sweet....unless you care to heavily apply the frosting and/or Candy Melt coating.  Indulge!

I smeared vanilla cake frosting and orange Wilton Candy Melts on the cookies and topped with festive sprinkes.

The hubby got after the artistic decorating.

Ready for transport (the cupcake carrier worked great)!
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A couple notes:
1)  In the recipe withhold 1/4 cup of flour and add it at the end of mixing if needed.  You don't want the dough to be too wet, yet you don't want it to be too dry either.  Cooling the dough helps it to solidify, so don't stress out too much.
2)  Since the sugar content is relatively low compared to some other cookies, these won't brown unless you really over cook them...and by then they'll be very dry.  When they're done they should have some spring to them when gently touched in the oven.

Update: I am addicted to these cookies!  They are the absolute best and would rival any gourmet bake-shop cookie.  Try making them with the whole family for the next holiday event or just because.  I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

P.S. The cookies topped with vanilla icing are my favorite :)

Update: Recently I made these cookies for a friend's baby shower. I glazed these cookies with this glaze recipe and added a drop or two of almond and vanilla extract.  For the piping I used a typical royal icing.  Everyone at the baby shower loved these cookies. I also packaged them up in little baggies for party favors.  What was really nice is that unlike using buttercream icing or the stuff from a tub, the glaze and piping harden so they aren't so messy during storage and transport.  Click on this link for my favorite vanilla buttercream frosting, it's so much better than the store stuff.  I've done it with and without the lemon juice. Both are great. For the cookies, I left out the lemon juice.  It also works great on cupcakes :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Here's a great way to use an acorn squash if you've never know what to do with it.  This is one of those fall meals I looked forward to having my mom make. Comfort food for me.  I whipped this up for lunch today in about 30  minutes.  It's simply delicious.

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Just a side note....In the past I have used good ole Jimmy Dean sausage, but I used Jenny-O sweet Italian turkey sausage this time and I didn't notice too much of a difference.  Change is good :) 
Cut squash in half, discard seeds, put in a microwave-safe dish with a little bit of water, cover, microwave.
Scoop out the 'meat' of the squash.
Mix the squash, browned sausage/beef, apples, raisins, salt and nutmeg.
Stuff each half of the acorn squash. Top with butter and brown sugar. Cover and microwave.
Making this today was a good excuse to test out my new camera.  I'm still figuring things out since it's a lot more complicated than my point & shoot, but I think I'll get the hang of it ;) 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Apple Pizza Tart

A couple weeks ago we went up to Apple Hill to pick some, well what better than... APPLES along with several other moms and kiddos.  It was a busy job trying to find and pick the good apples, keep the kid from eating the fallen rotten apples, and keeping him from slipping and sliding on the damp grass and mud. Next year we'll go picking sooner and select a different place to go picking since this orchard seemed a bit neglected.  Regardless, we successfully picked 10.5 pounds of yummy apples for $1/pound!

 What to do with all the apples. That is the question. Aaron has put a pretty big dent into our apple supply, but I was able to score some to make a delicious treat from my childhood.  My mom used to make, what we called "Apple Pizza".  It's nothing like a pizza other than it's shape so you can stop thinking about how gross it would be to have apples on your pizza....well, on second thought a pizza with apples, gouda cheese and some sort of cream sauce might be great.  I digress.  The origins of this so-called "Apple Pizza" recipe go back to when my mom lived in Okinawa in 1977. She got it from a French woman she met while living there.

To make the apple pizza, you first need to make a homemade pie crust. I know, I hate making pie crusts too, but they're so much better than store bought and in this case the store bought ones won't work.  I used the pie crust recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook with the changes mentioned in the recipe card below.

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 Since I don't own a metal pizza pan, I made do with a cookie sheet.
Place the apples on the raw pie crust in a circular fashion.
Add the pudding cream sauce.
All done and ready to consume, mmmmm!
I have never mentioned it before, but if you try one of my recipes and love it, hate it, or have questions about how to make it, simply leave a comment. I'll be sure to promptly respond.  :)

Thanks for visiting!