Posted in breakfast, Brunch, Food, slow cooking

Hearty Crock Pot Oatmeal

photo (61)

I have three swimmers in the household so I am constantly replenishing the food supply. Swimmers are a dedicated breed. They are out of the house every weekday morning at 5:00 am and they stroll in the door around 6:00 pm every evening. This means I need to provide them with plenty of food during the school day so that they have enough energy to make it through until dinner. I send breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snack with my children every day. Packing three meals for three kids everyday can be a trying task.
This recipe is nutritious, hearty, and packed with lots of whole grains and plenty of protein. Throw all of the ingredients in the crock pot before heading to bed. Wake up to the irresistible smell of cinnamon, apples, vanilla, and raisins. Pack warm oatmeal in individual plastic freezer jars and pop them into the fridge or freezer. During the week, pull a jar out of the fridge and pop it into the microwave for a delicious, hearty, breakfast that packs a powerful punch and is sure to get you through the morning.

Hearty Crock Pot Oatmeal

1 cup STEEL CUT oats
2 cups milk
1½ cups water
1 apple, peeled and chopped
½ cup raisins
2 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. gound cinnamon
3 Tbls. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly. Pour into crock pot sprayed well with cooking spray. Cover pot, set to LOW and let cook for 6 hours or until smooth and creamy. YUM!

Posted in Food, Main Dish

Pizza Margherita

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I found a new product in the produce section that I absolutely love…Gourmet Garden’s basil paste. It’s scrumptious! Now that I have found it, I have been mixing it in everything. Tonight, my daughter had a friend over so I made them a quick pizza margherita. Let me tell you, when you pop this baby in the oven, the house immediately takes on the enticing aroma of a great Italian restaurant. During the summer months, use fresh tomatoes and basil picked straight from the garden…during the cold winter months, use Roma or plum tomatoes with basil paste for a great tasting pizza margherita!

Pizza Margherita

1 premade pizza crust
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced, separated
4 medium ripe Roma tomatoes
3 Tbls. fresh basil or basil paste
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brush pre-made pizza crust with olive oil. Sprinkle one tablespoon of minced garlic over the crust. In a medium bowl, add remaining garlic, tomatoes, basil/paste, and salt; mix well. Sprinkle evenly over the pizza crust. Spread shredded mozzarella over tomato mixture. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or until crust is crispy and golden brown and toppings are bubbly. For a crispy crust, bake directly on oven rack. For a softer crust, bake on a cookie sheet.

Posted in Food, lunch box, No-Bake

Colorful Crispy Treats


These treats are a snap to whip up! I make them for swim meets where my children are always looking for a quick burst of sugary energy when swimming a quick race. I’ve also made them for children’s parties and get togethers….they are always the first treat to disappear! If these little gems last more than a day, wrap them individually in cellophane and store them in an airtight container for further enjoyment.

Colorful Crispy Treats

3Tbls. margarine
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
4 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups any colorful fruit flavored cereal

In large saucepan melt margarine over low heat. Add marshmallows, vanilla, and salt; stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
Add cereal. Stir until well coated.
Using buttered spatula or oiled hands evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2” pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Posted in Food, side dishes

Noodle and Rice Casserole


This week, our high school swim team celebrated “Senior Night” where all of the Senior students were recognized for their years of hard work and dedication to the team. Parents were asked to contribute a side dish for the occasion. I made a noodle and rice casserole. This dish is actually my mother – in – law’s recipe. When I was first dating my husband, his mother made us this weeknight dish. She placed a layer of chicken breasts under the casserole fixings to make a full meal in a 13X9” pan. It was quite delicious and I have been making it for my family ever since.

Noodle and Rice Casserole

2 sticks of margarine
2 cans of French onion soup
8 oz. pkg. fine noodles, uncooked
2 cups instant rice, brown or white
2 cans chicken broth
2 tsp. soy sauce

Brown noodles and rice in margarine in a large skillet until golden brown. Add remaining ingredients to the skillet; mix well. Pour into a 13X9” baking pan. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Food


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Recently, I noticed a new item on my local grocer’s produce shelf. Gourmet Garden is now making basil paste in a 4 oz. tube. I was so excited to see this because my family loves basil and I usually only make recipes with fresh basil during the summer months when fresh basil is cheap and plentiful. I always make sure to plant plenty of varieties so that I have lots of different flavors to add to appetizers, salads, canned tomatoes, and Italian dishes. Now my family can enjoy many of these recipes year round. Bruschetta is a popular favorite in my house and I was able to surprise my family with this tasty appetizer last night. I’m so excited to have found this convenient tube of delicious basil paste. It brings a touch of summer to the cold winter days in Indiana.


3 medium tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
1 tsp salt
2 Tbls. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 baguette or thin Italian loaf, thinly sliced
2 Tbls. olive oil
½ tsp. garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill before serving.

Line a cookie sheet with bread slices. Brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Bake at 325 degrees for 7-10 minutes.

Pile tomato mixture on toasted bread slices and enjoy!

Posted in Baked goods, Food, lunch box

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Every year, around the holidays, I bake this loaf for friends and co-workers. I take out my ceramic bowls, baking supplies and loaf pans and turn out about 15 loaves in a matter of hours. After I let the loaves cool, I wrap them in foil and Christmas wrapping paper, tie them up with Christmas ribbons and send them off to various friends and co-workers. This yummy loaf is quick and easy to make yet looks like it takes hours. This recipe yields three gift jars that can be used to make one loaf each.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

1 pkg. white cake mix
2 pkg. rapid-rise yeast
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
3 16 oz. jars


1 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine the first four ingredients and evenly distribute them into the three jars. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and distribute into three plastic baggies. To each jar, attach a baggie and a copy of the following directions.

To make Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Set aside sugar-cinnamon baggie.
In a large bowl, combine bread mix with 1 cup of warm water.
Stir until well combined.
Stir in one more cup of flour and kneed dough until smooth.
Return dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 45 minutes.
Punch down dough and roll into an 8” X 12” rectangle.
Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon –sugar mixture.
Roll up the dough and place seam side down in greased loaf pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 15-20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Posted in Beef, Food

Marinated Skirt Steak

skirt steak

This is actually a rather new recipe for me. Whenever I see skirt or flank steak on sale, I throw it into the cart and mix up a batch of this marinade for a quick main dish. Leftover steak can be sliced up and stacked on to bakery rolls for delicious steak sandwiches.

Marinated Skirt Steak

2 Tbls soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbls olive oil
2 lbs beef skirt steak

In a mixing bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients and whisk together thoroughly. Add the skirt steak, cover and let sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
Season the marinated steak with freshly ground pepper and kosher salt. Grill about 4 minutes per side on high heat. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. For best results, slice thinly against the grain.

Posted in appetizers/snacks, Food

Patrick’s Most Requested Nachos Grande


On our first trip to Indianapolis, we stayed in a hotel across the street from the Hard Rock Café. We had never been there with the children before so we headed across the street for a meal. We ordered the nachos as an appetizer. I was surprised to see how quickly my kids gobbled them up. I had made nachos at home before. I’d spent lots of time cooking the ground beef and adding my own blend of spices to season the meat…my kids seemed to think they were pretty tasty. But they really seemed to LOVE the nachos at Hard Rock Cafe. When the waitress came by to check on us, I asked her what kind of meat and seasonings were put in their taco recipe. She said, “ I think it’s just a can of chili.” Boy, was I surprised! For years, I had been making the seasoned meat mix from scratch and here my kids were gaga over the canned chili! I have been making my nachos with canned chili ever since.

Patrick’s Most Requested Nachos Grande

6 cups tortilla chips
1 16 oz can chili, with or without beans, which ever you prefer
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 plum tomatoes
½ cup diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
4 Tbls chopped cilantro
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese for topping

Place half of the chips in a greased 13×9 baking dish. Sprinkle half of the canned chili and cheese over the chips. Repeat with a second layer of chips, chili, and cheese. Place the baking dish in the microwave and cook for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. In a small bowl, mix together the tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Sprinkle over the nachos with remaining shredded cheese. Serve with prepared salsa or guacamole on the side for extra flavor.

Posted in breakfast, Brunch, Food

Savory Sausage Crescent Braid

savory sausage crescent braid

Several years ago, I invited both sides of the family out for a New Year’s Day brunch. Preparing for the celebration, I scoured my cookbooks for some new and interesting recipes. This recipe caught my eye because the savory pastry looked so delicious. I quickly added it to the menu and was thrilled to find the recipe quite easy to prepare. To make the recipe my own, I made a few changes to spice things up a bit.
During the brunch, I noticed that the crowd was drawn to this luscious looking pastry braid…it didn’t take long before it was gone! It’s been a favorite recipe in my family ever since.

Savory Sausage Crescent Braid

Savory Sausage Braid

1 lb. Jimmy Dean’s original ground pork sausage
1 lb. Jimmy Dean’s hot ground pork sausage
1 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 8 oz tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a skillet, brown sausage and drain
Add cream cheese and mix until cream cheese is melted; divide mixture in half
Cool completely
Open crescent rolls and arrange into two rectangles
Form a narrow log with sausage mixture; place down the center of each rectangle.
Cut several strips along the long sides of the rectangle
Alternate strips to make a braid design across the sausage log covering completely
Place on lightly greased cookie sheet
Brush with egg white and sprinkle with poppy seeds
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly
Cool before slicing