Friday, May 28, 2010

Sausage Quiche Squares

This is one of the best breakfast casseroles I have ever eaten. It's the combination of zippy spices bringing bland eggs to life with the rich sausage and melted cheese that makes it so irresistible. It holds together beautifully when cut into little squares, so it would be a lovely appetizer or hor dourves at a party, served with toothpicks. Or cut it into large pieces and serve for breakfast or even dinner.


1 lb bulk pork or turkey sausage
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilies
1 T. minced jalapeño pepper (optional)
10 eggs
1 t. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. pepper

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Place in a greased 13 x 9" baking dish.

Layer with cheese, onion, chilies and jalapeño if desired. In a large bowl, beat eggs and seasonings. Pour over cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 18-22 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; cut into 1-inch squares.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Creamsicle Cookies

Thanks to Christy at The Girl Who Ate Everything for this yummy treat!
I normally don't pick white chocolate treats, but these are really delicious and that orange flavor comes through in just the right amount. I bet they'd be wonderful with lemon zest also. My family couldn't get enough of them!


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons orange zest (for me that was the zest of 2 oranges)
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and chips.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Do not flatten cookies; it will make them dry. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Do not overcook! Cookies will be plump. Cool for several minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Six Months Old

Dear Ellia,

You're six months old already. I can't believe we're half-way to your first birthday!

You can sit by yourself for several seconds to a minute or two, depending on how active you're feeling. You love to grab things and have just discovered the game of throwing stuff on the floor for someone to pick up for you. You don't have any teeth yet, nor have you started on any solid food. You're not showing much interest yet, and I'm not particularly motivated to push you. I know you'll grow up fast enough.

You celebrated your 6-month birthday by catching your first cold, courtesy of sister Annika.
You had a fever for a couple of days and developed a cough and runny nose, but you're already on the upswing and feeling much better. I hated seeing you feel so miserable and knowing I couldn't really make things better.

One of your favorite things to do is swing outside on the playset with your brother and sisters. You love being outside, and you love watching them and laughing when they come up to tickle you or make funny noises.

You're very attached to mommy and would be perfectly happy if I was the only one to ever hold you, but you do love your daddy too.

I love snuggling with you when you let me, especially during our night time nursing sessions. Yes, I do wish you would sleep through the night already, but I will definitely miss those sweet times of you nestled up next to my chest, peacefully nursing without the distractions of the day and grasping my hand with your silky smooth fingers.

I love your smile, your little squeals of excitement and joy, your slobbery kisses, your giggly delight when I nibble your tiny toes, your developing personality.

I can hardly wait to see the little lady you become....but I want to hold on to these precious baby days as long as I can.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Creamy Lemon Crumb Squares

Nothing too fancy, a little crumbly when you cut them, and ridiculously simple ingredient list.

But boy, do these taste fantastic!

The Pioneer Woman has done it again.

Usually I go for the chocolate desserts first, but these little delights are something special. You really have to taste them to believe it.

The recipe as written below makes an 11 x 8" pan. I actually increased it by 1/4 (and made it in a 13 x 9" pan) because I had some extra sweetened condensed milk left over from another recipe and wanted to use it up. I was glad to have a slightly larger pan of these, let me tell you. But since most of the time, you won't just have an extra 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk lying around, I'm just writing up the original recipe.


1-⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, slightly softened
1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 cup oats
1 can (14 ounce) sweetened condensed milk
½ cup lemon juice (I squeezed fresh from 3 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon (zest a lemon before you cut it!)

Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
Mix butter and brown sugar until well combined.
Add oats and flour to butter/sugar mixture and mix to combine.
Press half of crumb mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 inch pan.
Mix together condensed milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread onto the bottom layer of the crumb mixture. Top with the other half of the crumb mixture, but don’t press.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Allow pan to sit on counter for 30 minutes after baking. Cut into squares and refrigerate for a couple of hours or until cool.
Serve cool.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chewy Granola Bars

Quaker Granola Bars - Move Over. You got nothin' on these babies.

I've been wanting to make my own granola bars for quite awhile. I've seen several recipes and tried one (too crumbly), but this one caught my eye in particular because of the coconut oil. I found it on
this blog. I modified it a little and couldn't be happier with the results! These are chewy, hold together very well, extremely tasty, and filling to boot. Everyone in the family loves them. I'm sure they're higher in calories than the Quaker ones I have normally bought, but all the ingredients are natural and healthy and I feel so much better about feeding them to my family. I'm looking forward to trying them with some other add-ins, like the chocolate chips and nuts, maybe even some peanut butter. These will become a staple at our house. No doubt.


2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Mix together first 7 ingredients, then make a well in the center and add the honey, beaten egg, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add in the raisins, cranberries, coconut, and/or any other mix-ins you desire. Pat the mixture evenly into the baking dish.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the edges are beginning to turn golden. Cool for 5 minutes and then cut into bars and remove from dish WHILE STILL WARM.

Some substitutions: Olive or peanut oil rather than coconut oil. Regular flour. Add any dried fruit, coconut shavings, sunflower seeds, nuts or even chocolate chips..

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mother's Day

My sweet husband got me the best gift for Mother's Day this year. It was exactly what I wanted!

Our very first vegetable garden!

Every spring since we've owned a home, I've wanted a garden....but it has just never worked out. In '04 we were just moving in, '05 I was pregnant and throwing up all spring, '06 we were finishing construction on our new home and moving in, '07 I was pregnant and throwing up all spring, '08 - I honestly can't remember, but there was something, '09 I was pregnant and throwing up all spring, and here we are in '10 - finally we could do it!

Although my parents and grandparents had vegetable gardens when I was a kid, I was only marginally involved in the planting, weeding, and harvesting and really have no clue about how to be a successful gardener. I've been reading some and talking to neighbors and basically just dove in.

All of our back yard is shady most of the day and there is no suitable place for a we picked a spot on the side yard. It is shady part of the day, but we figured with the heat and humidity around here, it wouldn't hurt much. I guess we'll see.

Grant built two raised beds and labored extensively getting compost/manure mix and topsoil and mixing them together. We went to a local garden center and picked out our seedlings, hoping for the best.

The beds are 8'x 3'.

He put nice pavers in the middle so I can have easy access for everything.
The bed on the left has cherry tomatoes and zucchini; the bed on the right has Better Boy tomatoes, more cherry tomatoes, Early Girl tomatoes, basil, and 3 Bell Peppers. We also planted 3 Marigolds in each bed to hopefully ward off some of the harmful insects.

Grant also got the family a fire pit! We picked a shady corner in the backyard to set it up and it feels almost like we're in the woods!

The girls were completely thrilled with their s'mores.

Corban was proud to show off his "roasting" skills, learned just a few weeks ago on his Ranger Kids camping trip.

Ellia was content to just cuddle on my lap. It was a chilly evening, perfect for a fire.
Corban declared it was his favorite night EVER. The fire pit is definitely a hit!
It WAS a lovely day. I am an incredibly blessed mother.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Cheesecake Pops

Pure delight on a stick. That's another good name for this treat.

I found this on and decided I must try it, the sooner the better. I got a perfect chance when afforded the opportunity to make the desserts for my MOPS group's end-of-the-year party. Yes, I volunteered for that job, because I love to try new desserts out and not have to eat them all myself. (read - gain 50 lbs a year). They were a raging success. I can't believe I had some to bring home, those ladies showed some serious restraint!

They're really pretty simple, although while the sticks made them super-easy to dip in chocolate (a major plus), they also make them a bit difficult to store. But that's okay. I won't complain. I will just eat and be happy.

Cause they're just little bites, right? Not like eating a whole piece of cheesecake. Never mind that I could eat like 12 of them without blinking an eye.

Never mind that at all.


1-1/2 cups dark brown sugar (packed)
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
1 T. pure vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups creamy peanut butter
7 T. vegetable shortening
16-18 oz semi-sweet chocolate (1-1/2 bags chocolate chips)
Chopped Butterfingers or peanuts (optional)
Wooden lollipop sticks (at least 75)

For the cheesecake: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with foil letting long flaps overlap on each side. Spray foil with nonstick spray.

Break up the brown sugar to remove all lumps. In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until very smooth. Add the cream and beat slowly; then add the yolks and vanilla mixing until just combined. Gently stir in peanut butter. Take care not to over beat the mixture; this incorporates too much air and causes the cheesecake to crack.

Pour and evenly spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Open the oven to release some heat, then lower the temperature to 200 degrees F. Continue to bake the cheesecake until the outside is set but the center is still loose, for about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and cool cheesecake in the oven for 45 more minutes. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

Lift cheesecake from the pan by lifting up the foil. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1 inch cubes (or slightly smaller, if desired). Stick a wooden pop stick nearly to the bottom of each bar and freeze for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, put the shortening and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.)

Dip the pops into the chocolate mixture, and stand on waxed paper to set, about 5 minutes. Serve cold (straight from the fridge), or freeze up to 2 weeks. Frozen pops make a cool summer treat, or can be allowed to temper for 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Upgrade: Coat the pops with chopped nuts or candies for a really decadent finish. I just dipped the bottoms in crushed Butterfingers. Delicious!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meatball Loaf

  1. Start out with grand expections of a delicious dinner, your husband's eyes smiling as he discovers one of his favorite meals awaiting him when he gets home from work.
  2. Add in a bit of a headache, because your darling 5-1/2 month daughter probably won't sleep through the night until after your dear friend's baby - who, by the way, isn't even due until August.
  3. Mix up your meat and other ingredients from this recipe, stopping every few minutes to get something for your whiny 2-1/2 year old, who for some reason gets up from naps in a cranky mood and is not satisfied with anything you offer her.
  4. Spend at least 10 minutes forming soft meatballs that don't hold their form too well, but sure will taste good once they're baked.
  5. Take four steps to the pre-heated oven, holding the tray of meatballs in your right hand.
  6. As you slightly lean down to open the oven door, for no apparent reason whatsoever, drop the tray of meatballs.
  7. Be sure some of the mushy meat mixture falls on your dishtowel, the oven door, your cabinet, and a good portion of it in a pile remarkably resembling vomit on your tile floor.
  8. Also be sure that there are no discernable meat "balls" left on the tray, just one big lump.
  9. Stand there in stunned silence. At least two minutes.
  10. Realize that your previously noisy children have the sense to also be in reverent silence at the tragedy they have just beheld.
  11. Notice that it is now 5:30 and your dear husband will soon be walking in the door and you have zero desire to touch any of that meat with your bare fingers again.
  12. Salvage what you can, slop it into a casserole dish, and stick it in the oven.
  13. Furiously clean up the piles on the floor before the dog rushes in to claim them.
  14. Make the barbecue sauce. Do NOT cry in it.
  15. Pour the sauce on the nearly baked meatball loaf and shove it back in the oven, not really caring what happens to it.
  16. Finish the rest of dinner preparations.
  17. Serve the meatball loaf to the family and realize that it's the tastiest meatloaf you've ever made and everyone (except previously mentioned cranky 2-1/2 year old) absolutely loves it.
  18. Swear to never, ever drop a tray of meatballs again.
  19. The end.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Amazing Quiche

The hands-down best quiche I've ever had. How could you possibly go wrong with two meats, three cheeses, two or three veggies, and lots of eggs? Secret ingredient = sour cream. Yeah, I know. I never would have thought to put sour cream in a quiche. But the flavors all blend together to create something magical in your mouth. I've actually never made this for breakfast; we've just had it for dinner with fruit or hashbrown casserole on the side. It's hearty, filling, and so wonderful you just can't stop eating it. That's why the recipe makes two. The first time I made it several years ago, I had full intentions of freezing one. It never made it to the freezer. After we tasted the first one and ate so much of it we didn't have enough leftovers for another meal, we kept the second one out for dinner the next day.

Feel free to alter the proportions of meat - the original recipe called for more ham and less bacon than this one, I just made it with what I had on hand.

Notes: Be SURE to place your quiches on a cookie sheet while baking to catch any drips. Also, if you use regular 9" pie crusts, you will have some extra egg mixture. Just bake it crustless in some muffin-tins if you want. In fact, if you want to omit the crust altogether, you'd have a pretty low-carb meal. Why you would want to do that, I have no idea....but the option is there.

Recipe: (yield - Two 9" quiches)

12 oz turkey bacon
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 onion, finely diced
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, finely diced (optional - I omitted)
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
1 cups finely diced smoked ham
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
8 eggs
1 (12 oz) can fat free evaporated milk
1 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste
2 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crusts

Preheat oven to 400°. Place bacon on two foil-lined baking sheets and bake until desired crispness, about 6-8 minutes. Cool slightly, chop or crumble, and set aside. Reduce oven to 375°.
While the bacon is cooking, heat olive oil or butter in skillet over medium heat. Saute onions until soft and translucent. Stir in mushrooms if desired, and cook for 2 minutes, or until soft. Remove from heat.
Remove spinach from packaging and squeeze as dry as possible. Place in a large bowl.
Add sour cream, bacon, ham, onion mixture, Monterey Jack, Cheddar and Parmesan. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, and mix into everything else.
Fill both pie shells evenly.
Place pies on baking sheet, and bake on middle shelf in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. The top will be puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven, and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

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