Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Morning Breakfast Casserole

With Christmas Days away, I was asked by a dear friend to share a great recipe for a breakfast casserole. Actually it was a facebook request to her universe, and I am her Food Fairy Godmother... so poof, here it is! This was a recipe shared with me from a wonderful co-worker from careers gone by. Thanks Norma, for sharing this delicious recipe with me.

Dawn's Delicious Frittorta
1 Cup Long Grain Rice
1 Cup Chicken Soup Stock or canned chicken broth
1 Cup Water
1 stick butter, melted
1 pint cottage cheese, small curd
1 Cup salami, diced in 1/8th inch pieces
1 Envelope Knorr leek or swiss leek soup mix
1 teaspoon each - garlic salt, onion salt & freshly ground black pepper
12 eggs
1- 10 oz. package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed & well drained (broccoli can be substituted)
2 Tablespoons butter for coating baking dish
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese

Cook rice in broth and water about 20-25 minutes or until tender. When the rice is cooked, place in a large bowl and add the melted butter. Mix well and add the cottage cheese, salami, soup mix, salts & pepper. Beat 9 eggs and stir into mixture. Add drained spinach and mix well.

Grease 11x16x1 inch baking dish with butter. Sprinkle 1/2 of the grated cheese on the bottom of the dish. Add the rice mixture and smooth out the top. Beat the remaining 3 eggs and pour over the top of the dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese and bake, uncovered at 325 degrees for 35-40 minutes. After cooling a bit, cut into small serving pieces.

**Note: Other great additons are green/red peppers, mushrooms, bacon instead of salami, onion... and I live in WI, so more cheese! :)

I hope your Christmas Feasts are wonderful!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Amazing Wedding Reception Menu

Sometimes it's not the food that leaves a lasting memory... it's the ambiance, the table settings and the reason for the gathering. This was such an occasion over the weekend when I was blessed to attend the wedding of one of Chris' lifelong friends since grade school.

The groom searched and searched high & low to find the PERFECT bride... seriously, she had to be perfect! And at last, via an online dating website (Click Here to see the classy, very reputable site they used), he typed in his lengthy list of criteria and low and behold, there really was someone that fit EVERYTHING. I can now see the value for those still looking for their soul-mate to online dating.

So Saturday, December 5th was the big day. Much anticipated by friends and family joyous to share in the Bride & Grooms celebration of commitment to each other. Everything went perfectly for them, the ceremony, the pictures, the cocktail party and the reception.

Personally, I was blown away by their reception. They held their reception at the Delafield Hotel which was exquisite. The bride is a true romantic, with victorian era blood surging through her veins. So the theme of their reception was taken out the the famous story Pride and Prejudice by, Jane Austen . At this point, you can only imagine how elegant and first class this wedding was!

I've uploaded some amazing photos from their reception so you can see what exactly I'm talking about. It was truly beautiful. The food was superb, but the occasion in total left an even bigger impression in my memory.

If you are planning a wedding, I encourage you to take a look at different resources - for ideas and simple planners you can do on your own. They did not use a professional wedding planner and you would never have known! It was that incredible. This is one guide the truly "Takes the Cake!" (pun intended!)

P.S. The wedding cake was even made by the brides mother. It was a delectable Cherry Almond Cake with a butter cream frosting... seriously, to die for! :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Chilly Morning Warm-up Breakfast

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas... well yes it is. We got our first snow of the season last night. And while what was left this morning was just a dusting, the cold air temperatures and the gusty winds continued.

So before sending my sweetheart out to brave the elements on his way to work, I wanted to surprise him with a good hot breakfast! It's guaranteed to stick to the ribs and start his morning out wonderfully. So what do you make when you want a quick and easy... yet hearty breakfast? Well, I make oatmeal... no not the instant in the package deal. Real, cooked on the stove oatmeal.

But what fun would plain oatmeal be? BORING. (yawn) So I always find creative additions for my oatmeal to make it Dawn Special Surprise Breakfast. Here's the recipe from this morning!

Cherry Vanilla Oatmeal
1 C. Oats
1 3/4 C. Water
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Dash of Cinnamon
1/4 C. dried Door County Triple Berry Mix
(dried cherries, cranberries and blueberries)

Boil the water with vanilla, cinnamon and dried berries for about 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium and add oatmeal. Stir in and cook for another 4 minutes. Pour into bowls and let set for 2-3 minutes... or you'll burn your tongue!

If you have a sweet tooth like me, the extra special treat is a dusting of sugar on top. It adds a delicious sweet crunch and looks like crystals!

Hope your morning started out on the right foot! :)

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Favorite Holiday Recipes for Family

The staff cooks up our favorite holiday recipes -- Walworth County Today

Friday, November 27, 2009

Leftover Turkey Recipe

After my mom had one of her heart surgeries, a good family friend brought this delightful casserole over for our family. We have gotten so many wonderful family recipes over the years that have since become our family favorites.

Since we're all stuffed to the gills today after our wonderful Thanksgiving feast yesterday, I thought this would be an appropriate time to share the recipe with you. This is one of the to-die-for casseroles that is a staple for the leftover bird! A special thank you to Sue, Paul & Karen K.for being so helpful when we needed a hand. You'll always be dear to our family!

Turkey Wild Rice Casserole
1 - 6 oz. tube Jimmy Deans Spicy Breakfast Sausage
1 minced shallot
2 cups cooked turkey
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 box Uncle Ben's long grain wild rice mix
1/3 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 cups water

Preheat oven to 375. In large skillet brown sausage over medium heat - 10 minutes or until it crumbles. Add shallot and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in all else including water. Reduce heat and cook about 20 minutes - until rice is tender. Season with Salt & Pepper and spoon into a 9x13" casserole dish. Bake about 30 minutes.

The sweet mixed with the savory really make a delicious taste! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Delicious Rhubarb Coconut Cookie Recipe

With Spring in Wisconsin, we have a plethora of beautiful things, tulips, daffodils, RHUBARB! With limited fresh produce coming out of winter the first batch of rhubarb is a special treat.

I love trying new recipes... rhubarb bars, rhubarb crunch, rhubarb sauce for pork chops or chicken... but this year I found a new recipe that is now deemed my FAVORITE rhubarb recipe. This recipe came from the Taste of Home, a wonderful cooking magazine published right here in Wisconsin.

So here's the recipe, I'm happy to share. And if you have a HUGE crop of rhubarb, it's great to freeze and re-create this special spring treat later in the summer! These cookies are a great, not to sweet, perfect refreshing treat!

Frosted Rhubarb Cookies
1 C. Shortening
1 - 1/2 C. Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
3 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1 - 1/2 C. Rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
3/4 Shredded Coconut

1 pkg (3 oz.) Cream Cheese
1 TBSP. Butter Softened
1 - 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
3 Tsp. Vanilla Extract

In a large bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until light & fluffy. Beat in eggs. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to cream mixture and mix well. Fold in coconut and rhubarb. (I mixed the rhubarb in by hand and it worked great!)

Preheat oven to 350. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet about 2" apart. Bake for 10-14 minutes until golden brown. Cool a few minutes before removing from cookie sheet to wire rack. Let cool completely before frosting.

For frosting, beat butter & cream cheese until fluffy. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread over cookies & enjoy. **

**This is absolutely my favorite frosting recipe. I could spread this on toast in the morning it's so good!**

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Superfood You NEED to Try!

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Friday, March 20, 2009

How to Stop Hiccups

As I'm sitting here going about my work, my TV is on in the background. I'm not watching anything in particular, it's on more for background noise. But I happened to hear a tip that intrigued me that I wanted to share with you.

Tip of the Day: To get rid of hiccups (which are sooooo annoying), bite into a lemon. While there's worse things to eat, the tartness & abruptness of this action will stop your hiccups instantly!

I don't have hiccups right now, but I'll give this a try when I do.

Have a terrific first day of spring! :)

For more GREAT ideas around the house... check out this great resource!

Monday, February 23, 2009

You know you're from Wisconsin when...

That's right, you know you're from Wisconsin when...

You have a real hankering for brats in February!

Lucky for us, Johnsonville keeps our stores stocked year round! So a short jaunt down the block and SCORE... we have a cookout in February!

Cook out complete with baked beans, pasta salad, brats... of course and coleslaw (homemade I might add!)

Hope all your Bar-b-Ques are scrumptious!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dining In... or Dining Out?

For Valentine's day, we were going to Dinner & then to see Celtic Woman. Dinner & a show is a common occurrence for lots of couples on "Love Day." The reason I think this is blog worthy is because of a conversation Chris & I had in deciding where to go to dinner.

Because the economy is weighing on so many minds (not to mention how it's affecting people's budgets) many people scaled back for Valentine's dinner this year. No $180 steak & lobster dinners, but rather just a nice quiet evening out at a more reasonable establishment.

We were bouncing around options between our home and the Theater we were going to... Chili's, Applebee's, Texas Roadhouse and our local family owned restaurant. The timing was critical as our show started at 8:00 and we wanted to be able to park and get our seats without breaking the sound barrier. ☺

The more we got to talking, the more our conversation sparked commercialism vs. community loyalty. In this difficult time, the big chain restaurants have advertising dollars from deep down in corporate pockets. They have the branding because of their huge advertising budgets to draw a crowd any day of the week. While the server's tips are important to that individual person, much of your dining experience is impersonal and cold.

The small mom & pop diner on the other hand, they really feel the pinch in tough times. They don't have the funding to do huge television advertising campaigns - and in some cases, even the newspaper advertising is ridiculously expensive and cost-prohibitive. Regardless of cost however, they always provide service with a smile and often they recognize their customers by face. We are all part of the same community, so much of the time, they have supported the local school programs and athletic teams. Yet these are the shops, stores & restaurants that people tend to overlook because of America's commercialism and advertising.

Let the purpose of this post remind you to be loyal to local business owners. In many cases, it's Mom, Dad and all the kids that have built the business from the ground up. They've put in their blood, sweat & tears to create business and jobs in the community. In some cases it's been handed down from previous generations. But in any case, when people tighten their purse strings, their businesses tend to be forgotten.

We had a wonderful dinner at our local restaurant and they were really grateful we came. We had no problem getting a seat (but when we drove past Chili's on the way, the parking lot was overflowing and the wait was at least 30 minutes). We had way more than we could eat and we know our two meals really made a difference to the family that owns that restaurant!

I wish you many happy meals and prosperous times ahead!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meatloaf So Delicious We Forgot the Picture

Yes, dinner last night was absolutely scrumptios... after baking in the oven for 45 minutes, the kitchen smelled heavenly... and we were starving. So I'll share with you the recipe and you'll have to make it for yourself to see how good it looks & tastes!

"This is the best meatloaf I've ever eaten... even better than the Cheesecake Factory's meatloaf, and theirs was very good." - Chris D.

Lil' Cheddar Meat Loaves
(adopted from
1 Egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup chopped onion (but I used 1 Tbsp. of dried onion flakes - much less acidic = no heartburn later!) :)
1/2 tsp. salt
1.5 lbs ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1.5 tsp. prepared mustard

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk egg & milk... (yes, manually whisking, not using the mixer burns more calories and is better for you!) Stir in cheese, oats, onion (or onion flakes) and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. I knead beef in by hand. It's the best mixer you've got AND it's great for relieving stress!

Now the recipe calls for you to make 8 mini loaves (individual serving sized) but I prefer 1 full sized loaf. So I greased a regular size bread loaf pan. And formed the beef mixture in the pan.

In a small bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar & mustard. Spoon over top of the meatloaf.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until no pink remains and a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Best served with brown & serve rolls and mashed potatoes! Trust me, by the time the meatloaf is ready, your sense of smell is going to drive you crazy... and you too won't have the patience to snap a picture!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

What's New?

Happy Sunday Morning to all! I haven't blogged in a while, but not to worry, I have been eating!

When the temps drop to -10 with wind chills around -35 here in WI, we get to pretend we're Eskimos! We make all sorts of heart, rib sticking, delicious meals that warm you up from the inside. We've had a big crock pot of Chili... which is always better the 2nd day. We've had baked spaghetti - good every time! Lots of hearty soups & sandwiches.

So the foods been good, the opportunities are abundant and that means we've been busy! But busy is good and we're enjoying our days working very hard and moving forward!

Hope you're days are delectable and prosperous!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Eat Your Veggies!!!

Isn't that what your mom told you growing up... you have to eat your veggies?! And no matter how much you kicked and screamed or didn't like broccoli, if it was on your plate you had to eat it!

Well living in the frigid Wisconsin climate in the winter makes getting good veggies very difficult... well, impossible actually. Everything is imported so it's picked while it's still green - translate - it isn't ripe, and doesn't have the full spectrum of nutrients.

Not to mention, by the time it hits the produce department at your local market, it's been truck hopping for a few weeks! So where's the "good stuff" there?

When we went out with friends last weekend, we had a pre-party gathering at one of the couple's homes. The app that stole the show was this incredible Winter Salsa! It was so fresh and delicious, we couldn't get enough. Honestly, it's one of the best salsa's I've ever had. And at this time of the year, to have such a fresh tasting dish was rejuvinating! I had to have the recipe!

So here it is... Winter Salsa~
2 small cans (15 oz. each) Petite Diced Tomatoes Mexican Style
1 large can (28 oz) Petite Diced Tomatoes (regular, no seasoning)
2-3 jalepenos
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1-2 limes juiced (really just to taste, so do 1 at a time)
Salt (to your taste preference)
1 tsp. Ground Cumin (may add more if you prefer)
2 medium onions (or 1 lg. onion) chopped
1 small bunch of cilantro chopped (use more or less depending on your taste)

Mix all together and serve with your favorite tortilla chips! It tastes so fresh, you'll think it came straight from your garden... no kidding!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Warming yourself from the inside out!

As we're bracing ourselves for the frigid, arctic air we're needing to find ways to stay warm. Temps are dropping to -10 air temp (wind chill is even colder) so we need to use all our energies to stay warm. Take a look at what we already have for snow and know that this is just the beginning... there's another 5"+ on the way!

Again, I find my new veggie peeler and turn to a comforting bowl of oatmeal. My favorite is apple cinnamon. And it's one of the more healthy comfort foods ... A whole apple, cinnamon, and oats (great fiber), it's hearty and delicious!

I hope you have delicious, warm days ahead. Whatever warms you up from the inside... make it and enjoy! Home cooked, comforting and delicious!

Recommended Kitchen Must Have!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Comfort Food... that's A-peeling...

Yes, pun intended. As we brace ourselves here in SE Wisconsin for yet another snow storm, I seem to find myself reaching toward comfort food. I had heard on the Today show about a month ago that in tough times, two of the the foods people find most comforting are Spaghetti & Ice Cream.

Gee... I'm not surprised, I'm really just a statistic! I have ice cream every single week (often multiple times) and I LOVE spaghetti... it's quick & easy to make... and yes, comforting.

But lately I have a new comfort.

For Christmas, my brother Greg gave me the most incredible vegetable peeler. Now most people won't get excited over a veggie peeler, but this is the creme-de-la-creme of peelers. It's a strong peeler with a great, sharp blade. (Apparently he didn't care for my cheap rendition of a veggie peeler meets 10 lbs. of potatoes last time I hosted a family dinner) :)

Now though, this peeler is smooth like butter. It leaves me trying to come up with any excuse to peel something... mashed potato recipes, apple crisp, apple cinnamon oatmeal, shepherds pie (I get to peel potatoes & carrots there!!!).

So as silly as it sounds, new kitchen gadgets to get us all excited! Here's to you finding the right comfort food!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's Resolutions... What are they?

Okay, I know it's that time of the year where people set their New Year's resolutions and make their goals for 2009. And while I believe setting goals is hugely important... the typical New Year's resolution never makes it out of January. Many people say "That's it, I'm going to lose weight in 2009." I think that's a great concept, but I've found in goal setting that it's more believable to the brain to be specific. *And sometimes we need to 'trick' our own brain until we develop healthy habits.

So how about ... "I'm going to lose 10 pounds in January"... that's 2.5 lbs per week which is totally do-able for most people. But think about the impact over12 months... and everybody is in a uniquely different situation. 10 lbs/mo x 12 months... now that's a dramatic result. For 99% of people that's much more weight than would be healthy to lose. But even between now and June - 6 months = 60 lbs... then maintaining is much easier, because you've developed healthy routines.

Part of my healthy routine... because I LOVEEEEEEEE dessert - is having chocolate for breakfast. I know, I know... you're laughing right now. But my mom knows already ... so you can't tattle on me. LOL

In all seriousness, I do know how important breakfast is in brain function, mood regulation and overall appetite throughout the day. However bacon and eggs isn't in my morning routine according to my clock. So what I do have for breakfast is a terrific, CHOCOLATE breakfast shake. It's got great antioxidants, proteins, all your amino acids and it satisfies the insatiable sweet tooth in my. So while I love food... my belief is that anything is okay in moderation and why not have chocolate for breakfast?

Okay... so here's the fine print and my disclaimer ... I'm not a life coach and I'm not some spiritual guidance counselor, but in the spirit of this blog, I didn't want you to think that I'm all eats & treats without any mindfulness of everybody trying to lose weight right now.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Who wouldn't want Dessert First???

As a true foodie, I have one motto... "Dessert First."

Some people just laugh, not realizing how serious I am. And it's not just about the sweet tooth in me. See, most people get so full on cocktails, appetizers and the main course, that they rarely leave room for dessert.

But, what I've found is if you eat dessert first and get full, then you box up your main entree and it makes a terrific lunch the next day!

So, live on the edge... have a little fun... explore your inner foodie... Enjoy Dessert First!

So here's a picture of our New Year's Day Dinner... it was supposed to be New Year's Eve... but I didn't get the roast out to thaw early enough.

What I want to dedicate this post to is the delectable Triple Layer Brownie Dessert you see on our plates. It was so easy to make, and even as I eat the left overs 4 days later, it's still as good as day 1.

Triple Layer Brownie Dessert
Layer 1. Make box of brownie mix according to the package and let cool completely.
Layer 2. 2 pkg. cream cheese (an 8 oz. and a 3 oz.), 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 cups Cool Whip.
Soften cream cheese. Slowly blend all ingredients until smooth.
Spread over brownie mix.
Layer 3. One 3.0 oz Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix, 2 cups cold milk
(don't use rice milk, pudding won't set)
Mix Pudding mix and milk until pudding just starts to set.
Pour over top of cream cheese layer and refridgerate for at least 1 hour.

**Can be served with a dollop of Whip Cream or a few crushed walnuts on top.