Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Copy Cat - Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole (with BACON!)

Copy Cat - Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole (with BACON!)

I needed something to go with my Ham and Polish Sausage and Sauerkraut I made for Easter dinner this past weekend.  I wanted to do something different.
I made this recipe a LONG time ago, based on my friend, Candi's recommendation.
Candi knows food, she hosts her own food blog called The Devilish Dish.
The last time I made it, I forgot to take a picture.

I ran across the recipe again while looking through potato recipe ideas.
It was good from what I remembered, not that I could compare it to anything?
I have never even been in the door of a Cracker Barrel.

I can't stand preparing for a big meal when my pantry isn't organized.  So the week before Easter, I gave it a good cleaning/organizing.

Why do children leave empty boxes in the pantry?
One of life's great mysteries I guess.

While I was gathering the ingredients to throw the casserole together Easter morning, I was in my well-organized pantry, and saw the bacon on the shelf.  I decided bacon could only make a good thing better.

Copy Cat - Cracker Barrel Hash Brown Casserole 
(with BACON!)
adapted from:

2 pounds frozen shredded hash browns
1 stick butter, melted
1 - 10.25 ounce can cream of chicken soup
3 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons dried chopped onion (or 1/2 cup fresh)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 - 3 ounce jar real bacon pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a deep 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 45-50 minutes.
Will be slightly brown on top.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

I just couldn't decide what to make for Easter dessert this year.

You know me, typically, I lean more toward the pies... but it's sort of hard to make some things, because typically I need to make at least part of it a day and a half ahead of time, since we spend the Saturday before Easter at my husband's parents.

When the strawberries start getting crazy good in the spring, like they are right now, I always want to make something with them.  Of course, it's no secret that I love anything lemon, so when I happened upon this, I knew it would be the best of all good worlds uniting for one pretty little Easter dessert. 

I was browsing through Pinterest, in search of something new, and was pinning away when I came across the picture for this cake on a blog called Jam Hands.

I followed her recipe exactly, then at the last minute, I ended up making more of the cream cheesy frosting, I'm not sure if I just used "too much" (too much...HA!) in between the layers, or what, but I didn't think I had quite enough on the outside of my cake. So, I will post her recipe for you to see,
 but I will type it how I made it., with the "EXTRA" frosting.  

This frosting is AMAZING and perfectly complements the cake.

Strawberry Lemonade Cake
adapted from Jam Hands

1 box Strawberry Cake mix, plus ingredients to make as instructed on package (oil, eggs and water)
12 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 package (.23 oz size) of Kool-Aid Lemonade OR about 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
yellow food coloring gel, a couple of drops, to get to your desired yellow color
1- 13 ounce and 1- 3 ounce jar Marshmallow Fluff
12 ounces Cool Whip Whipped topping
fresh strawberries for garnish

Bake cake in two 9" layer pans according to package instructions.
Cool on wire racks.

In your mixer, cream with a paddle attachment, cream cheese, kool-aid (or lemon juice) and food coloring.
Stir in Marshmallow Fluff until creamy, making sure to scrape the sides of the mixer bowl.
Fold in Cool Whip, place in the refrigerator until ready to frost.

Slice cake layers in half once.  You will now have four layers.

Spread frosting in between each layer of the cake,  stacking the layers.  
Do a "crumb coat" over the top and sides of the cake.  Place cake and remaining frosting the the refrigerator for about an hour.
Frost with remaining frosting and garnish with sliced strawberries.

**Notes: I had made this with the Kool Aid for the first go-around.  I threw away the remaining Kool Aid, and only had one package.  When I made the send (half) batch, I used lemon juice, and it tasted perfectly fine.  Next time I will probably just go that way to begin with.  Then there is no waste.
Add more lemon juice if you want to amp up the lemon flavor.  Just go easy, it gets really tart really quickly.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It's hard to believe that I started babysitting when I was 9 1/2.
I babysat for all of the kiddos on my block.  I have twins that are 11 1/2 and we just began to let them stay home alone for small periods of time.
Crazy how times change?

There was one family I babysat for at the top of the street, and she was a good cook.
A lot of times when there is a babysitter, kids are given mac 'n cheese, or PB&J, but 
this mom liked to cook, and she would prepare food for me to warm up for the kids.

One time, she had goulash.
This goulash.

It wasn't anything that my Mom ever made, and so when I tried it and I liked it, I asked for the recipe.

I still have the VERY recipe on a note card that was put in my hope chest.
Did you have a hope chest?
In my opinion it's something all of us should have.

I don't know why, but I hadn't made this recipe for years.
(B.C. even... "Before Children")
My Mom still makes it for her and her husband quite often.

I came across the recipe in my cookbook, and thought I'd give it a whirl.

When I was making it, my youngest daughter asked me how I got it "printed like that on that note card?"
Well, I used my electric typewriter.
"YOU had a TYPEWRITER?" she exclaimed.
Yes, yes, dear, we did.
How cool was I?

Back in the dark ages, a.k.a. The 80's, when we took typing class not "keyboarding."

typing class, picture taken from my freshman year yearbook

Like everything else, I switched up the original recipe.
We love our veggies, so I added more.
Plus, there are more of us to cook for, so I made more.

I hope that you won't wait 20 years to feed it to your kids, mine loved it.

Easy weeknight meal.


2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium sized sweet onion, chopped
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
1 - 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 - 8 ounce cans tomato sauce
12 ounces macaroni noodles, or what you have on hand

Brown ground beef with onion and celery,  sprinkled with salt and pepper.
Drain any excess grease.
Return to pan, add carrots, tomatoes and tomato sauce.
Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While sauce is simmering, boil, drain and rinse noodles.
Add to sauce, combine and serve.

May be topped with Parmesan cheese.

**Note: Feel free to add more veggies if you like, my Mom always puts corn in hers.  Use your imagination.  Can be cut in half easily.  I have a big family, so I cook big!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Apple Crostata

This month for our Secret Recipe Club reveal, I was assigned a blog named

I spent an evening with my iPad in my lap browsing and pinning, trying to decide on what I wanted to make.

My family LOVES apple pie, so when I happened upon Heather's Apple Crostata, I knew I had to try it.

I have seen others post recipes like this, and have always thought they were so pretty.

If you have been with me for a while, you will have heard me say once or thirty times, that I am kind of a pie girl.  I mean, I love to make cakes and cupcakes, but to me, pie is where it's at.

I love the crust... just like pizza, its my favorite part.
I will warn you, if you and I ever find ourselves enjoying our favorite pies of choice over coffee and conversation, and you leave your crust on your plate, I am going to eat it.

Don't say you weren't warned! ;)

Look at those spiced apples ... I bet you can almost smell it, can't you?

Well, what are you waiting for?

Go make one!
They look so pretty and they're so darn easy!
I only changed Heather's recipe a touch, by amping up the spices a little bit, and using a tarter apple.

Apple Crostata
adapted from: Join Us, Pull Up a Chair

1 1/2 pounds of apples, I used Granny Smith, about 3 large 
1/4 cup flour
1/4 sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspooon nutmeg
4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, sliced into small pieces
1 refrigerated pie crust, or your own homemade

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, roll your crust on a lightly floured surface, then transfer to you baking sheet.  I used my pizza stone.

Mix flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. 

Peel,  core and slice your apples and lay them in the center of the crust leaving a border about 1 1/2 inch big.

With a pastry blender, or two knives, "cut" the butter pieces into the flour mixture, mix until crumbly.
Sprinkle evenly over apples.

Fold edges up and pleat to hold filling in.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.

Cool slightly. You can serve warm or cold, but may I suggest warm with a scoop of ice cream?
Trust me, I'm a Pie Girl.

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To See Other Great Recipes from the Secret Recipe Club Check Out the Links Below!

Why Be Blue....When you can Be RED

I love giving gifts to people I care about.
Nothing make me more excited than when I find the perfect gift, or come up with something well suited for a friend or loved one.

My friend, Lori,  turned 50 this past January, and we hosted a dinner party for her, here at our house.

Lori with her Coconut Cream Poke Cake that I made for her birthday cake.

While I was Christmas shipping I had found the wine glass that I included, it's an "XL" Size, and holds a whole bottle of wine.
I bought it to give to her sometime as a little "funny."  Lori is a bit of a wine connoisseur.
She is especially found of reds.

Well, I had it, and one day while trying to decide what to do for her birthday gift, the whole thing just came together.

Turning 50 is hard for many.  Lori, of course, took it in stride.

She ran the half marathon with her daughter, Maisie, pictured here, as well as her husband and a couple of her friends.

They decided what better way to celebrate not only her 50th birthday, but her being cancer free for 12 years!

Lori always has a fantastic outlook on life.
That, among a million other things, makes being around her so enjoyable.
Let's just say, she's easy to love.

So, I made a play on words, using her love of red wine, and her positive outlook on life, and this gift basket was born.

I found a cool woven red basket, stuffed it full of red paper, and included the giant wine glass, a bottle of Apothic RED wine, a RED pomegranate candle, some nail polish, RED of course, and a little RED package of Lindor chocolate truffles (chocolate and red wine...Mmmmm.) and a little sign you see pictured here.

"I rescued some wine, it was trapped in a bottle"

I made the tag to go on it, on my computer and mounted it on scrapbook paper.
You will find the printable at the bottom of this post.

So, the next time you go celebrate a milestone birthday, give them something they will use, and give them a positive outlook on life.

Because, really, 
Why be BLUE on your 50th Birthday when you can be RED?

Printable for you

Friday, April 11, 2014

Muffin Cup Omelettes

We love experimenting on Sundays with breakfast.

Typically, I am not a huge breakfast person, but on Sundays it's a family tradition.
My husband usually makes it, and I have to say my two favorites are his french toast or his omelettes!

I ALWAYS request omelettes on Mother's Day and my birthday, then he can't say "no...that's too messy" or "no....those take so long."

These little babies just made me get my omelettes more often!
Typically, we chop up a bunch of stuff and everyone gets to choose what they want in theirs.
This time, I was making them, and I they got what I like! 
I am fortunate though, because my kids eat everything.

Nope, not a picky one in the bunch!

So, feel free to add whatever you like, and make them the way you prefer your omelette.
Go crazy on Sunday... then take a nap.
It's the weekend ya know.

Because they're Easy Like a Sunday Morning.

Muffin Cup Omelettes

12 pieces of bacon, cooked until slightly done.
10 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup spinach, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced, or 1 - 4 ounce can
1 cup  shredded cheese of choice, we used colby jack
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a muffin tin (1 dozen size) with non-stick cooking spray.
Slightly cook your bacon so it just starts to get done.
Chop up ingredients.

Combine eggs and milk with a whisk, add in veggies, and salt and pepper.

Place a piece of bacon around the outside rim of the muffin cup.
Divide egg mixture between the muffin cups. I used a ladle to evenly distribute veggies.
Don't over fill, they will grow! I had a couple that overflowed. 
So maybe a little less than what's pictured here.

Place in the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Remove by sliding a butter knife around the edge.

** Notes: I failed to spray my pan REALLY good when I made these the first time.  It was stinker to get clean.  Make sure you spray it well, or line with foil cupcake liners.
The bacon around the edge got buried when I baked them, so if you would rather, just chop the bacon and incorporate it into the egg mixture.
These are a great make a ahead breakfast food, heat the during the week and skip the drive-thru!
Muffin Cup Omelettes are way better for the muffin top, too! ;)

Monday, April 7, 2014

SPRING candy coated POPCORN

Could it be??

From the depths of the cold frozen ground.
Months of gloom and cold, and the promise of spring appears.

It completely changes peoples' disposition, don't you think?

I could never live where sunshine hides for weeks on end.  
I need vitamin D like the cookie monster needs cookies.

Winter is so depressing and dull.
Once you get past the fun of the Fall and the holidays, it's just plain yuck.

I made up a batch of this popcorn to have around for company this past weekend,  it's a new twist on my "Crack Corn" - Candy Coated Popcorn.
We really liked the addition of the marshmallows and those spring white chocolate M&M's.

I think you will, too!

SPRING candy coated POPCORN

2 bags microwave popcorn, popped and unpopped kernels removed
2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
3 squares almond bark
1/2 cup pink candy melts
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup white chocolate M&M's
Pastel colored sugar crystals and sprinkles

Pop your popcorn and remove any unpopped kernels. Place popcorn in a paper grocery bag.
In your microwave, melt almond bark and oil in 30 second intervals, stirring until melted and smooth.
Pour over popcorn, and shake in the bag to coat.
Sprinkle with sugar and sprinkles and continue to shake until coated.
Lay on a piece of waxed paper on the counter, sprinkle marshmallows over the top.
Melt pink candy melts in the microwave and drizzle over the top of all.
Leave on the counter for an hour or so, until it's set and dry.
Add M&M's and enjoy! 

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