Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Avocado & Tomato Breakfast Casserole






My family loves avocados.  We always have a few of them on the counter waiting to ripen. I still haven't learned what to look for to know when they are ready to be eaten.  Half the time I get it right and they are perfect (not too hard and not too brown).  The other half of the time they are either hard as a rock and too green or brown and mushy. This was a very easy casserole to make and only took about 10 minutes to put together.  We all enjoyed it on Easter morning.

Ingredients:
2 pkgs Pillsbury crescent roll dough sheets
1 20 oz. pkg Simply Potatoes O'Brien Hash Browns
10 slices thick smoked bacon, precooked and cut into pieces
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in thirds
1 ripe avocado
6 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with PAM.  Roll out the two containers of Pillsbury crescent roll dough sheets and position in the pan with dough along the sides of the dish. Sprinkle the cut up precooked bacon all over the dough.  Cover with the package of hash browns.  Add cut up tomatoes and slices of avocado.


Mix eggs and milk together and pour over tomatoes and avocados.  Sprinkle shredded cheese over everything.


Bake for 30-35 minutes until egg is cooked through.  Let sit a minute then cut into servings.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Birds Nests

These chocolate coconut birds nests are a quick and easy Easter treat to make with your kids or put out after Easter dinner. If you like a traditional macaroon cookie you can leave them plain as well, either way I am a huge fan of Easter candy so I love any opportunity to use Cadbury mini eggs!! 

 I couldn't resist sharing Owen & Madelyn's 1st Easter Bunny picture with all of you!! 
Since Easter is on Sunday and Passover has been these last few days we wanted to take a moment and wish all of our followers a Happy Spring Holiday season. I know we are excited for Easter here in this house! We attempted to dye eggs with Owen for the first time today and we will be taking him to his first Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday. I love now that he's a little older we can really start some family traditions that he'll hopefully enjoy in the years to come.

Ingredients:
4 Egg Whites
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/2 Tsp Vanilla
1/4 Tsp Salt
14oz Package of Shredded Sweetened Coconut
1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
Small Bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs

Adapted from: allrecpies.com

Start by preheating your oven to 325 F. In the stand mixer bowl whisk the egg whites with the vanilla, sugar and salt for a few minutes on a medium-high speed until the mixture if foamy and glossy.
Gently fold in the shredded coconut flakes. I made half the batch regular and half chocolate so I didn't add the cocoa powder till I made a few plain nests first. If I was making the whole batch chocolate I would've thrown the cocoa powder in with the egg white mixture in the beginning.
Drop the mounds of coconut on the baking tray about 2 inches a part. You can use a large spoon or a small ice cream scoop for this, make sure they are tightly pushed together and then make a small indent to place the eggs into. Bake 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through until they look to be slightly browned and crispy on the outside. Allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the tray then transfer them to a baking rack. Store in the fridge for 5 days or on the counter for 3.
Enjoy!!


Linked at: http://www.thecountrycook.net/

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baklava


It's that time of the month again....Secret Recipe Club.  This time we have been assigned Sids Sea Palm Cooking. I love that she takes pictures as shes going along like we do. She has such a wide variety of foods to pick from but I love Greek food so it was a very easy choice when I saw that she had made Baklava. Baklava has always been on my list of foods to make and I thought it was much harder to make than it actually was. There is no question that phyllo dough can be a little tricky to work with.  I ended up throwing one roll away as it was half frozen and broke everywhere was I was unrolling it.  It's good I had extras in the freezer. Even if the layer ended up not being in one piece brushing the butter the layers made everything come together. The hardest part was waiting 24 hours to eat it.  We only waited about 18 but that was enough for all the syrup to soak into the layers of dough.

Ingredients:
1 lb. walnuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 package phyllo dough (16 oz.) thawed
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
10 oz. honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Melt the 3 sticks of butter in the microwave.  Set aside until a little cool.  Finely chop the walnuts in a food processor.  Add sugar and cinnamon and pulse.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.


Brush the bottom of the pan with some melted butter to start with.  Put phyllo dough to cover the bottom of the pan.  Brush all over with melted butter.  Put another layer down. Do the same with the butter.  Do eight layers total of dough brushing with butter each time.


Put 1/3 of the nut mixture on top of the 8 layers of dough.


Now do another 8 layers of dough again brushing with melted butter in between each layer.  Add another 3rd of the nut mixture and now another 8 layers of the dough with the melted butter. Then add the last of the nut mixture. Top with 8 more layers of dough with the butter.  Now before it bakes you need to cut it into your squares or triangles because it won't work if you cut it after it bakes.  This can be a little messy but make your cuts with a sharp knife carefully.  After its cut into pieces put in the preheated oven and cook for 40 minutes until the top is brown.


While the baklava is cooking in the oven its time to make the syrup.  In a saucepan add 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1 tbsp of fresh lemon.  Bring to a boil and then cook for another 10 minutes stirring once in a while to make the mixture into syrup.


Take off the heat and add the honey and vanilla extract to the syrup mixture.


When the baklava comes out of the oven pour over the top making sure to pour the syrup everywhere.


It will look like too much syrup but it will soak in.  Now let it sit overnight on the counter covered with foil so that the syrup gets into all the layers.


Enjoy!!



Linked at: http://www.thecountrycook.net/



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Giant M & M Easter Cookie


I got the call everyone wants to get from their accountant today.  We are getting money back!  Hooray!!  Now the big question is do we save it or spend it?  I am sure my husband and I will have very different ideas. I made this dessert to celebrate our good news and to get me in the mood for Easter which will be here very soon. My husband is a big Peep fan so he was happy to see this sitting on the kitchen counter when he came home from work.  

Ingredients:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
12 oz. bag of m and m's
10 peeps in color of your choice
5 tsp fluff marshmallow spread

Directions:
Spray circular baking pan with PAM.  A pizza pan is perfect.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to a bowl and set aside.  To a mixing bowl add the butter, and sugar and brown sugar and blend until combined.  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.  Add the flour mixture and mix again until everything is combined.


Add in the chocolate chips and M and M's.  Mix together with a spoon or spatula.


Spoon into prepared pan and spread out dough so whole pan is covered and smooth and evenly distributed.


Bake for 20-25 minutes until cookie starts to brown.  Let cookie cool.  Apply Peeps to cookie all around the edge by putting a little bit of fluff marshmallow spread on the bottom of each Peep so it will stick to the cookie.


Enjoy!!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sesame Street Birthday Party Ideas

I want to take a break from food and recipes to share with all of you what I worked on for the last few weeks leading up to our son Owen's 1st birthday last month. I chose to go with Sesame Street for his parties and I thought it was a great theme using all primary color decorations and paper products.
We decided to split up our guests and host two parties at our house on back to back weekends which I totally suggest if you have a large crowd and are forced to have the party inside. This made set up and decorating easy since we just kept everything up in between parties. All you need are some balloons, crepe paper and tape to make fun, cheap and easy decorations.

I got a lot of great tips and ideas off of Pinterest like this balloon wall and highchair tray decoration from other bloggers so I wanted to pay it forward. I also had lots of help from some great women on ETSY, without them his party wouldn't have been as fun or creative. Everything I purchased from them was amazing and worth every penny. If you are interested in any of their products please check out the links to their stores below.

Our adult sized Sesame Street character t-shirts are from 80's Tees.


Balloon Wreath for our Front Door:
Two different Sesame Street Onesies for the Birthday Boy:
Milestone Chalkboard
Nicole at Personalized Chalk https://www.etsy.com/shop/PersonalizedChalk

Photo Taken By: Tracy Kondrk Photography

Cake Smash Outfit
Elaine at Sew Many Possibilities https://www.etsy.com/shop/SMPstore





Invites, Signs, Banners, Thank You Cards, Water Bottle Labels, Cupcake Toppers, Favor Tag etc... were all digital images sent to me by Kelli and then I printed and cut almost everything out myself. The invitations and thank you cards I had printed at Staples since we needed a ton of them but her personalized Sesame Street package was perfect, her designs saved me lots of time and money.

These Cookie Monster & Elmo cups from Party City were favors for the kiddies.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mini Samoa Bundt Cakes


I made these for Kelly's birthday last week.  The chocolate cake is my favorite chocolate cake recipe from www.hersheys.com.  When you are reading this I will be in Florida at my mom's house enjoying a little sun and warm weather.  I will be back soon though since I can't go too long without giving my two adorable grandchildren hugs and kisses.

Ingredients:
Cake:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Hershey's cocoa
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Frosting:
1 stick softened butter
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup caramel sauce (I used Smuckers sundae topping)
3-4 tbsp heavy cream

Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup toasted coconut for sprinkling over top cake

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a mini bundt pan with PAM cooking spray.
Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Stir in boiling water. The batter will be thin.


Pour 1/4 cup into each mini bundt cake.


Bake 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into it comes out clean.  Cool cakes in pan for 3 minutes and then turn pan over so they all fall out onto cooling rack.

Keep the oven on and turn up to 425 degrees to toast the coconut.  Watch it so it doesn't burn.  Mix it around as its cooking so it browns evenly.  It should take about 4-5 minutes but be careful with it.


While cakes and coconut are cooling make frosting by mixing all the ingredients until the frosting is the consistency that you would like.



When cakes are cool, put frosting into a piping bag and fill each hole in the mini bundt cakes with the caramel frosting.


Make the ganache by microwaving the heavy cream for a minute and immediately adding the chocolate chips and stirring until it all comes together and the chocolate is shiny.  Drizzle over the cakes and immediately sprinkle with coconut.  This made 20 mini cakes.


Enjoy!



Linked at: http://www.thecountrycook.net/
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