Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breakfast for Dinner

I have mentioned my arsenal of Bed and Breakfast cookbooks in previous posts, but I have to revisit! We were out of town this weekend visiting family (more on that in another post) and when we returned I had some leftover ingredients from last week that were still usable. This time I got the inspiration from Morning Menus Inn Style which happens to be published by the Wisconsin Bed and Breakfast Association. The recipe I chose was Ham, Eggs and Hashbrown Casserole, but I made many modifications and was pleased with the result. I will post my modified version below:
16 oz. frozen shredded potatoes
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped red pepper
1c. sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 1/2 c. shredded colby jack cheese
1 c. chopped fresh spinach, loosely packed
6 eggs
1c. milk
salt and pepper to taste

While oven is preheating to 400 degrees, spread hashbrowns in a greased 9x13 glass dish. Pour the melted butter over the hashbrowns and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees. Layer onions, pepper, mushrooms, and cheese on the hashbrowns. Beat the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a bowl to combine and pour over hashbrown mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. Garnish with fresh chives.

*Notes: In original recipe ham and green pepper were used.

As for the bacon you see, I simply sprinkled it with brown sugar, draped over a cooling rack, and baked alongside the hashbrown dish for about 20 minutes. This is, in my opinion, an easier way to cook bacon with less cleanup to boot.
By the way, I am doing some experimenting with my camera and a new editing program, so hopefully the pics will be improved.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Final Cake

Tonight was the final class in Course 1, so we were able to decorate our cake however we wanted. I chose Spring colors and was actually really pleased with the result. We did learn sweet peas tonight, but since they were pretty easy, I stuck with roses to get a little extra practice. I think I will enroll in the next course so I can learn more flowers and borders, but I am still deciding. I have posted a picture of the cake prior to smoothing so you can see what a difference it makes. I just used a fondant smoother and placed some parchment paper on the cake and lightly smoothed my way over the cake.
before smoothingafter smoothing
final product

When we head home this weekend I am going to make a cake with my mom so I can show her some of the techniques I learned throughout the course. She just celebrated a birthday, so we'll have to pretend it is her birthday cake!
After arriving home from class, I found Matt had already started shredding cabbage for dinner and he had a salad put together. I jumped in and finished off the cabbage and carmelized some onions for the polish sausage. All in all, it was quite a productive day and dinner was delicious!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fear Not!!

*Former Nemesis*

Although I have done lots of cooking and baking over the years, I have always had a fear of yeast. My good friend Clay Bertrand scoffs at this notion and has encouraged me to suck it up and try, so here's to you Clay!
After a little searching, I found a recipe that seemed to be fool-proof and since I was planning on making BLT's, this was as good a time as any to give it a whirl. The dough came together nicely and as promised it was a rather quick process, aside from the rising time. We were so happy with the taste that I am sure we will be making this again and again. It was slightly sweet and I believe it will make a fine piece of toast come morning. So, the morale of this story is: stop being a sucker and make some bread!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Italian Sausage Soup

During these chilly March Michigan days, we can still get away with a hot bowl of soup for dinner. After looking at the grocery ad for the week, we decided an Italian soup would fit the bill. Turkey, spinach, and beans were on sale, so it was the perfect time to throw together this hearty soup. I imagine you could use any type of sausage, but we really like the turkey. We served this with garlic bread and a fruit salad and will have plenty of leftovers for lunches.

Italian Sausage Soup
1 pkg. Jennie-O Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage 2 cans beef broth-low sodium
2 cans chicken broth
1 can stewed, diced tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans, slightly drained
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 c. onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 large zucchini, chopped
2 c. macaroni, cooked
2 c. fresh chopped spinach

In large stock pot brown sausage until no longer pink. Add garlic and onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, and carrots and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in zucchini and beans and simmer until zucchini is tender and the beans are warmed through. Season with salt and pepper and then add spinach and cook for 5 minutes, or until spinach is wilted but still has its bright green color.

*I had parmesan cheese on hand, so I grated a little in near the end. It definately added a good flavor, but it would be fine without it.

Friday, March 20, 2009


I had some leftover icing from class last night, so I thought I would do a little practicing this afternoon. I think the rose gets easier every time I do it, so hopefully the cake I will post for final class will be top notch! The buttercream was getting a little thin, so I will have to remember to add powdered sugar before I make the final roses. I have found that icing consistency is much more integral to decorating than I thought.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I have been away so long I had to look up my password to make a new post! We have spent the last week tending to family medical needs and I have just now had the chance to sit down for a minute and give an update on my class. I had to miss last week's class due to the aforementioned family stuff, but I am now back on track. We were to bring iced cupcakes tonight along with a batch of buttercream. The instructor began by showing us the shell and then went on to show us star flowers, swirl flowers, dots, figure piping (a creepy clown), and finally the rose. I was not looking forward to the rose as the instructions in the book were very involved, but it was soooo much easier than I thought it would be. Although I could have scared you all by posting a photo of said clown, I thought I would share the rose instead. You will notice how it looks incredibly smooshed...that's what you get for trying to carry 25 things into the house at once. Nonetheless, I am happy with the first attempt and will have lots more practice since our final cake next week includes a spray of roses.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


When I look for din-spiration, I usually turn to Ina or some of my favorite food blogs. As I was browsing through recipes on Katie's site, I stumbled upon a recipe for Fiesta Lasagna and I figured I could amend it to fit our needs. Since ground beef was on sale, we opted for that, although I'm sure ground turkey would do in a pinch. I have never actually written a recipe, but here is my humble attempt at a delicious dish even Caribe Flay would be proud of!

Mexicali Lasagna
9 lasagna noodles
2 lbs. ground beef
3/4 c. red bell pepper, chopped (plus more for garnish)
3/4 c. green bell pepper, chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 c. sweet onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pkg. Ortega taco seasoning
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 c. + 4 T. chipotle sauce
3/4 c. fresh salsa--we like sweet onion (plus more for garnish)
1 c. sour cream
1/3 c. french onion dip
3 T. cilantro, chopped and loosely packed
1 16 oz. can refried beans
3 c. Mexican blend shredded cheese
Green onions for garnish
Chopped tomato for garnish
Shredded lettuce for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown meat until no longer pink and add the taco seasoning, garlic, onions, and peppers. Cook for 2 minutes and then add tomatoes, salsa, and 1/4 c. of the chipotle sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes. While the mixture is simmering, stir together the sour cream, french onion dip, cilantro, and 4 T. chipotle sauce. In a 9 x 13 glass baking dish assemble as follows: Spread small amount of meat mixture to lightly coat the bottom of the dish. Next, layer lasagna noodles, refried beans, sour cream mixture, meat mixture, and cheese. Repeat until you have three layers, ending with the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serve with additional sour cream, salsa, peppers, green onions, tomato, and lettuce if desired.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chicken for Dinner

Whole roasters were on sale at our grocery store this week, so I thought it would be the perfect time to make Ina's Roast Chicken recipe. It is really such a simple, but delicious way to prepare chicken. Add in some roast vegetables and you have a meal. I have previously used potatoes, but this time I used carrots, onions, and parsnips. I first tasted this recipe when my mom fixed it a few years back. I immediately knew it would be the go-to chicken recipe in my home! Even Stella agrees, and she has such a discerning palate.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cakes and Cupcakes

What a day! This morning when I got up I went straight to work on some Big Bad Wolf cupcakes. The Kindergarten class I volunteer for is having a Three Little Pigs play tomorrow and I thought these would be my contribution to the refreshments. Well...many hours and a very sore hand later, here is the result.

I guess this was good practice for my cake decorating class which finally started this evening. We watched the instructor ice a cake and then learned lots of info about the course. No hands on work tonight, but we have to bring an iced cake to class next week and we will decorate it with a rainbow, clouds, and some writing. I will be sure to post the finished product. Oh, and if you are reading this post Old Answer Man, the buttercream turned out beautifully, so you can have your Royal Icing!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Simple Sandwiches

So I was supposed to be engaged in a cake decorating class last night, but without boring everyone with the long story, the class actually starts on Thursday. I think I am going to do a trial run of some buttercream today to see if I can find just the right recipe.
Since I was home much earlier than I thought I would be, we made some sandwiches we had been dying to try out of Ina's At Home cookbook. The Tomato, Mozzarella & Pesto Panini recipe was, as always with Ina, easy to follow and yielded delicious results. We don't have a panini press, so we hauled out the George Foreman and went to work. I added a little pepper when I seasoned the tomato slices, but what I was really dreaming for was summer ripened tomatoes. Although the sandwiches were simple and incredible, those beauties you pluck off the vine come late August would have made a marked difference. We'll have to try again this summer, because to steal a quote from Ina...how easy was that!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Chicken and Chocolate

I have neglected the blog for about a week, so here is the latest:
I have enrolled in a cake decorating course! So! Excited! It starts tonight, so I will be posting more about that later.
Last week we had a lot of leftovers from the company we had over the weekend, but when we ran out of those, we had some good ol' chicken noodle soup. When I make soups I rarely follow a recipe, and this was no exception. Just some chicken, onions, celery, carrots, and seasonings and we were in business. I read somewhere that a bit of fresh lemon juice adds a brightness to chicken noodle soup, so I also added that at the end of the simmering.

Also managed to crank out a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies and I was so happy with this recipe. I will definately use it again. I packed them up (so we wouldn't inhale every last one) and sent them to work with M. The guys approved:)