Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits Breakfast Bake

My daughter started driver's training this week. And, while I am completely overjoyed for her and in total celebration of this exciting milestone in her life, I will freely admit to feelings of sadness since I know that a teenager getting their license means less of a need for mom and dad. It's a big deal. Yes, it's the beginning of a new stage in her life, but it's, also, the ending of one. Another one of our children is entering the transition in adulthood. One child closer to an empty nest.

And, let us not overlook the obvious - it's a reminder that I am getting old(er). Ughh! On the flipside, it's a reminder to cherish every moment and every stage of life. My, oh my, how the time truly does go by oh, so fast.

Since we have a few weeks of non-stop evening driver's ed classes filling up our schedule on top of quiz bowl and play practices, I know sitting down to home-cooked meals as a family right now is going to be a challenge. Our schedule will mean eating very early dinners (like, four o'clock early). Yesterday's dinner was actually a breakfast recipe that we've come to love - this breakfast bake to be exact.

There's not much to say - it's simple, scrumptious and super satisfying. It's great for a weekend breakfast or as a breakfast-for-dinner option. All of our favorite breakfast components are combined into one casserole - biscuits, sausage gravy and cheesy eggs.

NOTE: I chose this time to leave the biscuits whole, but they can be cut into fourths if you'd like. Doing so allows more of the gravy, eggs and cheese to coat more biscuit surface.

Serves 4 - 6.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Veggie Confetti Wraps

Oh, my lawdy ... I am so craving warm weather. While I cherish steamy comfort food dishes during these chilly winter months, I've been making a few of my more-summery recipes (hello, Veggie Overload Pasta Salad ) this past week in an effort to fool my brain into thinking sunshine and greenery have arrived. We've had one heck of a winter here in Michigan. And, may I just say that I am so, so over it! I am incredibly ready for salads, cookouts, flip flops and lounging by the pool.

Of course, hit me up say, mid-August and I'm sure I'll be complaining about the humidity and mosquitos.

These Veggie Confetti Wraps were something I developed recently in homage to that traditional crescent roll-style vegetable pizza that so many of us know and love during the summer months. This, however, is made with one of my favorite ingredients - Joseph's Flax, Oat Bran & Whole Wheat Lavash. You could use any type of soft tortillas or wraps if you cannot find Lavash. I find it easily at Wal-Mart and other major supermarkets - usually in the deli/bakery section or sometimes in the bread section for around two dollars for a four-pack.

Cut into pinwheels, these would be so fun for a party. These would be great to take to the beach in the summer or to enjoy pool-side. Or, you can cut the wraps simply in half if you're just utilizing them for lunch.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Slow Cooker Carrot Cake Oatmeal

I am a steel cut oatmeal fanatic. Perhaps you remember my Overnight Steel Cut Oats post from last year or my Coconut Milk Overnight Oats post from last month? Cooking oatmeal overnight in the slow cooker allows us to wake up to breakfast completely ready. Since my hubby gets up and leaves for work usually before the rest of us are up, he can grab some to take with him on the road. Then, the rest of us can enjoy a hot, hearty breakfast as we trickle out of bed to get ready for the day shortly thereafter.

This recipe is a clever take on traditional overnight oatmeal.  It has all of the goodness of oatmeal, but with the fabulous flavors reminiscent of a carrot cake. (P.S. It's a great way to sneak some veggies into your kids' breakfast without them probably even minding. Bonus!) This doesn't come out of the slow cooker super sweet, so add in some additional brown sugar or even honey at time of service if you desire a sweeter oatmeal.

And, if you have leftovers, this keeps well in the fridge throughout the week to reheat.

Yields 4 - 6 servings (about 6 cups of cooked oatmeal).

Monday, February 17, 2014

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Sun-dried tomatoes are one of my favorite ingredients.  When I cook with them, I inevitably eat several of them as-is just like they were candy. I just love the sweetness and chewiness of them. I enjoy using them in a variety of dishes and we just love incorporating them into pasta recipes.

This pasta dish is a fabulous go-to dinner option for us.  We enjoy it with a simple salad and some garlic bread. It's a great vegetarian dish to make and is super economical.

Yields 4 servings.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Old-Fashioned Tapioca Pudding

My children adore those store-bought pudding cups - especially the tapioca ones.  However, I'm not so in love with the list of ingredients.  Seriously - why the need for artificial flavors and colors in simple tapioca pudding? (And, I won't even begin to discuss the ingredients listed that I cannot even pronounce.) Furthermore, the last time we did purchase some, I swore to never buy them again due to the fact that there was maybe like, ten tapioca pearls in each cup. (So, basically, it was a rather crappy version of vanilla pudding.)

So, what's a mom to do?  Toss a bag of pearl tapioca in the grocery cart and whip up a from-scratch version at home.   Is it a little more time-consuming compared to grabbing a four-pack of ready-to-eat pudding at the store? Sure. But, I can honestly say that it is darn well worth it. My kiddos definitely loved it and I've already planned double the batch the next time.

The ingredient list for this recipe is a simple one - tapioca, milk, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.  I used Bob's Red Mill pearl tapioca. It cost just under $4 for a 24-ounce bag, which will yields many batches.  You can purchase a smaller box for a little less at most supermarkets in the pudding and gelatin section if you cannot find BRM brand.

Yields 3 1/2 cups (about 4 servings).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Loaded Apple Nachos

Okay. Let's be honest. I took a perfectly good-for-you food item and made it kinda unhealthy. Yep. I sure did. But, sometimes it's okay to be naughty in the name of fun.

It was Valentine's Day Eve and my kiddos had already finished dinner. We were finishing up homework and getting everyone's V-Day classroom cards around. I knew I had a big basket of apples on the counter and had remembered seeing apple nachos online somewhere not too long ago.

In about five minutes, I had these nachos on the table for them to snack on. Had I been thinking straight, I would have thought about all of those goodies and treats they'd be getting at school the following day at their Valentine's Day parties. And, I might have just served them up some plain, boring apples slices since their sugar intake was already gonna be soaring through the roof come the following afternoon.

But, I wasn't thinking. {I do that from time to time.} Loaded Apple Nachos they got. They devoured them. And, if I'm being perfectly honest, I kind of used my finger and scooped up the leftover caramel and peanut butter goodness that was left behind on the plate once all of the apples were gone. {Shhh!}

This really isn't much of a recipe. You can top the apples with so many different items per your preference. Add on some nuts. Drizzle on some hot fudge. Once we started digging into these, we went back and added some course salt on top ... it took these over the top. {Highly recommended.}

Below you'll find what I used to whip up this treat that made my kids fall in love with me {or, was it the apple nachos?} the night before Valentine's Day.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ham and Cheddar Scones

Let me just say that I could barely pull myself away from these fresh-out-of-the-oven and oh, so scrumptious scones to even write up this post.  Seriously.  These babies are so amazing.  As I write, I have a big pot of cheesy potato chowder on the stove to buddy up with these scones for our dinner soon.

If you've never made scones, they are pretty much similar to a biscuit.  They are flaky and tender just a like a good biscuit should be.  They get a little toasty on the exterior, but the interior just melts in your mouth.  Most of the scones I've ever made have been sweet like, my Blueberry Scones with Lemon Drizzle Glaze.  I swear every time I make any type of scones that I will double the batch next time, but I never do.  I just know I would really overindulge then.

These Ham and Cheddar Scones make a great accompaniment to soup, but are, also, fabulous as-is with a little butter for breakfast. You can jazz these up any way you like - a little garlic powder or fresh herbs added in would be super yummy.

Yields 8 scones.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Plan Your Weekly Dinner Menu in Under 30 Minutes

Tired of struggling each night to figure out what to make for dinner?  Stuck in a mealtime rut?  Making extra trips to the grocery store throughout the week because you're missing key ingredients needed to complete a meal?

The solution for you just may be weekly menu planning.  Within my contributor post this month on Teal & Lime, I break down the essentials of meal planning with easy step-by-step tips to follow that will help you get a handle on dinnertime in your house.  You'll, also, find a free printable there that I've created to simplify menu planning (and grocery shopping). 

I would love for you to head on over to Teal & Lime and read through my post. I recently began guest posting as a monthly contributor for Teal & Lime's Kitchen Made Simple series.  Throughout the upcoming year, I'll be sharing homemade food gift ideas, printables, kitchen organizational tips, a few recipe ideas and much more in my monthly series!

Already a menu planner?  I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for making menu planning and/or dinner prep less stressful in your home.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I am addicted to all things buffalo chicken.  And, who doesn't love potato skins? I decided to combine two of my favorites into one fabulous recipe.  These are not overly spicy, but are zippy enough to please all of the buffalo chicken lovers in your house!
Colby-jack cheese, cream cheese and some bleu cheese crumbles come together to totally elevate these potato skins.  (You could omit the bleu cheese if you're serving anyone who doesn't care for it.)
Yields 4 servings (8 potato skin halves).