Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Breakfast Sausage Casserole

I LOVE this breakfast casserole... it has been the traditional breakfast for Christmas in our house.  Yum.   I also love that its assembled the night before and I just pop it in the oven in the morning.

2 pounds of breakfast sausage (I like to use 1# of regular, and one hot for a little kick)
1 package of herb seasoned croutons
2 c shredded sharp cheddar
2 c shredded pepper jack (which I can't always find shredded so I pick what appeals to me!)
1/4 minced onion
8 eggs, beaten
2 c half & half
1.5 c milk (I use almond and its fine)
Salt & pepper to taste
Green & red pepper to garnish if you like (grab a bag of frozen to make it easy)

Cook, crumble and drain sausage.
While you're waiting, spray a 9x13 pan and spread the croutons.
Spread cheeses over croutons.  Sprinkle sausage and onion over cheese.

In a large bowl beat eggs, milk, half & half, and salt & pepper.  Pour evenly over the sausage.
Sprinkle with peppers if you like them!  Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

In the morning, pre-heat oven to 350.   Bake for 46-60 minutes and let stand for 20 minutes after baking.  I have found this needs closer to 60 minutes to be cooked in the center but it depends on the oven.

P.S. You can find gluten free croutons and sausage!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

This is a yummy version of sloppy joes I found on the Get Crocked website.  I was unsure of the outcome, since they don't seem to be slathered in a ton of sauce or canned soup like old school varieties - plus they actually have veggies included! I can assure you this was a success and my husband has been raving about it ever since.  It will definitely make a regular rotation at our house!   

-2 lbs grass fed ground beef
-1 onion, minced
-1 yellow bell pepper, diced
-1 red bell pepper, diced
-1 c. organic ketsup
-1/2 c. water
-2 T. Apple cider vinegar
-1 T. Honey
-2 T. Worcestershire sauce
-2 T. Stone ground mustard
-Salt & pepper to taste

-Brown ground beef and drain

-In the meantime, prep the onion and peppers. 

-Add all ingredients to slow cooker and stir

-Cook on low 2-3 hours.  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Watergate Salad

Green Fluff

I call this "green fluff", it's a staple at holiday dinners.   Growing up, I will always remember a jello related side dish included in holiday dinners.    Watergate salad is so yummy, and the easiest thing on the menu.    I'll get a photo next time I make it, its a fluffy pale green color.

You'll need:
1 large can crushed pineapple
1 box of pistachio pudding
1 cup of small marshmallows 
1/2 cup crushed pecans
1 container Cool Whip

Mix crushed pineapple and pistachio until thoroughly combined.  Then add the remaining ingredients, one at a time.   Chill until ready to serve!

Baked Oatmeal Muffins - Perfect Breakfast

I love breakfast on the go.  I'm not a morning person, so if I don't have breakfast on the go, I wouldn't eat.   This recipe was passed on to me from a work friend.   It was intended to be made in a 9x13 pan.  When I did that, I cut squares, and individually wrapped and froze them.   It can be eaten cold but I prefer about 15-20 seconds in the microwave.

I decided using muffin pans was easier, it gave me pre-made portions.   Doing this, you'll have plenty of oatmeal 'muffins' to freeze.   They can stay in the fridge up to a week, in my opinion, again just pop them in the microwave!  I have a healthier version of this somewhere - I'll find it and post when I do!

You'll need: 
1 c. oil
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown Sugar
4 eggs, beaten
6 c. oatmeal ( I use gluten free rolled oats)
3/4 c. gluten free flour
2 tsp. baking powder (make sure to use gluten free if that's your fancy)
1 tsp. salt
2 c. milk  (I use almond milk)
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. raisins
Cinnamon - to taste
*optional - walnuts
*optional - fresh fruit like apple slices

Heat your oven to 350.   Grease your muffin tins or use paper liners.  
Combine oil, sugars and eggs.
Add oatmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, milk and vanilla
Fold in raisins, and or fruit if you'd like.

Fill muffin cups.  Sprinkle with walnuts if you choose.  Sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon.  At this point, I felt some of them looked a little dry.   I put a dash of milk on top, until I was satisfied.  Bake approximately 25-30 minutes - keep an eye on them.    As long as they are firm in the center, they should be ready!    

The original recipe called for serving them with brown sugar and cinnamon.   That's SO sweet, but try it if you'd like.   Maple syrup might be nice too, but I like them as they are.   15-20 seconds in the microwave, and I'm out the door.    They hold form enough to eat them in the car without a big mess.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Peppermint Ice Cream, Yes Please!

When I realized how simple making homemade ice cream can be, I had to give it a try.  I'm not sure what made me crave peppermint flavor for the first time ever, but I'm glad I did, and now have delicious ice cream that is free from additives and preservatives!   Enjoy this simple recipe if you have an ice cream maker at home.  If you're interested in buying an ice cream maker, this one is perfect. 


  • 1 1/2  cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2  cups half and half
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/4  cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2  tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/4  tsp salt
  • 1 cup crushed peppermint candy
Mix together milks.  Add in sugar, salt, vanilla and peppermint.  Stir, stir, stir until sugar is dissolved.  Pour into the ice cream maker and add crushed candies.    I would estimate about 30 minutes to process this recipe once in the machine.   It froze well and scooped nicely throughout the rest of the week!

(Unfortunately I haven't found a dairy free ice cream recipe with the correct consistency/taste yet.  For this recipe, I had to be cow's milk for the first time in two years, which made me a little sad... not to mention, my body doesn't appreciate.  If you have a dairy free recipe that's yummy, please share! )

Thanks to yourhomebasedmom.com for this recipe. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes and Cinnamon Goo?

If the terms 'cinnamon goo' are being used in a recipe, I am pretty sure you can't go wrong.  
This has become a new favorite for the "Flapjack Sunday" routine I talked about in my previous post.   
I LOVE these pancakes.. and the cinnamon goo is delicious, but we don't use that every time.

Gluten Free Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes:

2 cups pancake mix
1 banana, smashed
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temp, lightly beaten
1.5 cups non-dairy milk (we use almond milk)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 generous handful of dairy-free mini chocolate chips

Stir together all above ingredients, less the chips... I use a hand mixer to get the batter nice and smooth. Then stir in your chocolate chips.    Heat your skillet to medium, and grease your pan with either a little vegetable oil or I use a butter-like non-dairy spread.    Pour batter, there are no rules here on size, just make sure you can flip them :).   Cook until golden brown on each side.   Usually when I see bubbles form I know its time to flip.     Serve with real maple syrup or the warm cinnamon goo that I am posting below!

Cinnamon Goo:
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup of water

You'll need to make the goo while cooking the pancakes.  In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.   Reduce until thickened and keep warm.  It is very gooey!  Not at all good for you, but delicious.  

Flapjack Sundays! Gluten Free Pancake Mix

My husband and I have been married just over five years. We have few traditions, and one of them is flapjack Sunday.  The name comes from him, because I am a believer in the term 'pancake'.  For the record, if you google it, there is a difference (note this, dear husband!).

For some reason it took me a looong time to learn how to make a decent pancake.   I think all along I was simply making the batter too thick.  I'm sure you'll be relieved to know I finally have this down.  Of course we're going gluten free with our pancakes, errr flapjacks.    Gluten free pancake mix is expensive, I never find it for less than $4+ per box, and that really does not go far.  

Silvana Nardone's book again is my reference for this GF pancake mix.    I made a batch of this and put it in a nice air-tight container, which prepares us for many, many Flapjack Sundays.

Pancake Mix:
9 cups All Purpose Flour Mix  (you can find a recipe here. when I first made this, I had several misc boxes of store-bought all purpose flour mix.. I combined them all & it worked just fine!)
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp baking powder
2 1/4 tsp salt

Super easy here - just mix it all together and store in an airtight container!   Makes about 2.5 pounds.

Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix

If you have gone gluten free, you probably know how expensive all purpose flour mix can be.   The small boxes won't go far if you're a baker.  Although I have quite a collection of cookbooks, I tend to use Cooking for Isaiah quite a bit. Recipes are kept simple, and everything I've tried has worked out well.  Below I'll share Silvana Nardone's all purpose flour mixture.   There are many variations out there though, and its worth it to put this together and keep it on hand in an airtight container.  

All Purpose Flour Blend:
6 cups white rice flour
3 cups tapioca flour
1.5 cups potato starch
1 tbsp of salt
2 tbsp xanthum gum

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients.  Store in a cool dark place in an airtight container.   I've often read that its beneficial to keep this in the fridge.  Makes about 4 pounds,

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chicken Tortilla Soup~

I'm just now realizing how easy soup can be, especially when made using a slow cooker.  I love chicken tortilla soup and this is a healthy version I found when searching online.  It calls for tortilla strips you can buy but I just used crushed tortilla chips since I had them on hand.    Next time I make this I will take a better photo!

You can add a lot more cheese- a layer across the top, I was just being healthy
You'll need:
1lb chicken breast
14oz can sweet whole corn kernels, drained
14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
5c chicken stock (I use gluten free)
3/4c onion, chopped
3/4c green pepper, chopped
1 Serrano pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp ground pepper, divided
Shredded cheese (try Monterrey Jack or Cheddar)
Tortilla strips for garnish
I love slow cooking when it involves just tossing a bunch of stuff in a pot without a lot of effort, that's my kind of cooking!  Do all your veggie chopping up front so its finished. Then put the first 9 ingredients into the the slow cooker  (everything through the chili powder!)
Cook on high for 4 hours, low for 8.  Take chicken breasts out and shred them.   This is very easy using 2 forks, it just falls apart.   I just recently learned that I could use a stand mixer with paddle attachment and it shreds it very nicely..  but I don't want the extra dishes.   Season your chicken with salt & pepper and put it back into the slow cooker, then mix everything. I turned off the slow cooker and let it sit another half hour to let the chicken really soak up the flavors of the soup.      
When ready to serve- cover with a nice bunch of cheese and tortilla strips/chips, and let it melt. 
I was able to reheat this over a period of several days... I packaged it into portions that I was able to take to work for lunch!  Healthy, gluten free, economical, easy.    

I adjusted the recipe I found on this site just slightly.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dining Room!

Since we moved to our tiny bungalow, it's been the day of reckoning every day for months with our overload of 'stuff'.     It's starting to be fun now that it's time to put the house together and start decorating.    We've been trying to do low-cost and minor projects because ultimately, we know we will be doing extensive renovations.    The projects we're doing either help the space look more inviting, or function more appropriately for the short term.

When we purchased this house, the addition was used as a sitting room, aka 'Trophy Room' holding all of the previous owners certifications as a retired fireman.   The walls are all paneling, and the trim unfortunately has been recessed into the paneling.   In fact, there is only quarter round along the base of the walls, not standard trim.  This is the only room that has old windows, and its not possible to mount blinds/shades/anything on the inside of the window.     We opted to turn this in to our dining room since we don't have an eat-in kitchen, and the only other space for a dining table would have been in the front of the house (and really small).     I love this space as the dining room, it gives us a great view to the back yard, and I sit here often. 

In this room we:
*painted all paneling a pale shade of green.
*changed the ceiling fan into a dining room light.
*replaced terrible smoked-up cafe curtains with roman shades
*hung curtains on the sliding glass door.

I'd also love to give a shout out to Rustic Elements Furniture!  When we sold our last home we were able to sell the dining room table with the house.   This thrilled me because although I fell for the Crate & Barrel name on that purchase- the quality was stinky.  You could look at that table wrong and scratch the surface.    I found Rustic Elements through a craigslist post several years ago and watched their site build and eventually their Facebook page, and waited for my opportunity to start over.    They're located in Joliet so we were able to go to their shop, take a look at work in progress, and choose what type of wood, distressing and stain we wanted for our table.  We ordered that day.   The table is outstanding - exactly what I hoped for.  Solid wood, and a classic style that should work forever....If we somehow dent this table, it will look like it was meant to be that way.  A bonus, the price was right!  They did a fantastic job!

Enjoy the before and after of our dining room.     





And one more view from the opposite side of room... 
we have a small sitting area with a nice view of the backyard. 

Roman Shade Project!

Some of you have been wondering about the Pintrest inspired roman shade project, so here's an update!   Overall, they turned out well.  The base of the shades are cheap-o plastic blinds which I found at Target for around $5.00. The rest of the cost is fabric so it will depend on your taste!  I think my end cost was about $35 per window, a far cry from the cost of custom roman shades at any retailer!   I do think they would have looked nicer mounted inside the window frame but these older windows didn't allow for a space to mount them, so I had to mount them outside the trim.   Instructions were found here.    I would say the level of difficulty was easy.

The biggest challenges were:
-keeping my dogs from laying in the middle of the fabric because anything on the floor in this house is owned by them.
-keeping the fabric glue off the service I was working on... which was impossible but working quickly, I was able to wipe it off with a damp cloth.

Finished product:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Natural Flu Remedy~

Hello Flu Season!
I've never had a flu shot, I have a mind set that people tend to over-vaccinate.     I've been lucky and/or relatively healthy and managed to avoid the flu for 10 years~!    I'm a slight germa-phobe which probably helps, but I'm still proud of my record.   Unfortunately my record was broken as I came down with the flu this holiday season.    Three-four days of fevers, terrible aches, you know the story.  Follow that with a terrible cold and then sinus and respiratory infection, and damn!  I am only now returning to 'normal'.  Shortly after feeling better I ran across this natural remedy.   I'm posting here for future reference - hoping I don't need it, but....