I visited a local blueberry farm this weekend. The large, flavorful berries were so irresistible, I bought far more than I needed. I gave some to my girls and froze a bunch for blueberry pie. Using one of my favorite cookbooks, I’ve adapted a blueberry recipe that I found for a delicious breakfast casserole. Be sure to assemble the casserole base the night before your breakfast. When you wake in the morning, just add the toppings and pop in the oven. Delicious!
Blueberry French Toast Casserole
1 loaf stale bread or buns, sliced 2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries 6 large eggs 4 tablespoons sugar 2 1/2 cups milk 1 teaspoon almond extract 1 teaspoon butter extract
STREUSEL TOPPING 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 1/2 cup flour 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Grease a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Line prepared baking pan with bread, filling all the cracks. Set aside. Whisk the eggs, milk, sugar, and extracts together until well combined. Pour over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove pan from the refrigerator. Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the top. Prepare the topping: Combine the brown sugar and flour together in a medium bowl. Cut in the cubed butter with a pastry blender or your fingers. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the soaked bread. Top with walnuts. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until slightly firm and golden brown on top.
Looking over the side items in the deli case this week, I spied a tasty looking broccoli salad that I’d never purchased before. Although, I had tasted a similar salad during the county fair a few years ago. I had judged the 4-H home food preservation project and a kind group of volunteers had brought lunch in for those of us judging throughout the day. I told one of the volunteers that the broccoli salad was delicious and she replied, “It’s from Walmart, the best!” This Father’s Day, I’m making my own version of this salad as all of the kids are home to celebrate and the steamy hot temperatures remind me to fill the table with cold salads, fresh fruit, grilled chicken, and icy beverages. Happy Father’s Day to my sweet hubby, J. A wonderful father to our 3 children…
Fresh Broccoli Salad
For the salad: 6 cups broccoli florets ⅔ cup raisins ½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon ½ cup sunflower seeds ⅓ cup onion, diced finely 1 cup bow tie pasta, cooked, rinsed and cooled 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded thick
For the dressing: ¾ cup mayonnaise ¼ cup sour cream 1 ½ Tablespoon vinegar 3 Tablespoons sugar ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon pepper
In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets, raisins, bacon, sunflower seeds, onion, pasta, and shredded cheese. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper until well combined. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and toss well. Keep refrigerated until serving.
There’s a wonderful Mexican restaurant that I often visit when I head down to Purdue University for a day on campus. This salad is meant to mimic the delicious chili lime salad that is offered on their daily menu. The flavors are amazing as the mixture of the sweet mango and the chili garlic sauce play with the acidity of the lime to combine for a burst of flavor. I often make this at home for a week night meal. While we enjoy this recipe, I sure wish I had the original … it’s just so good!
Chili Lime Chicken Salad
For the salad:
In a large bowl, mix together: 3-4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced 1 large mango, diced 1 avocado, diced 3 green onions, chopped 1 cup English cucumber, diced 3 Roma tomatoes, diced and lightly salted
For the dressing:
Using an 8 ounce mason jar with a tight fitting lid. Add 1/3 cup light olive or canola oil and mix in the following items:
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger 1 ½ teaspoons chili garlic sauce 2 teaspoons sugar ½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Combine all dressing ingredients in the mason jar. Shake until completely combined; taste. If needed, add more of any ingredient to suit your tastebuds. Refrigerate before pouring over salad.
To add a bit of crunch, crush 1 cup of tortilla chips to sprinkle over the dressed salad. Serve cold.
We had a very snowy 2021 Valentine’s Day. The light and fluffy flakes had been coming down for days and my yardstick inserted in the snow was clocking in at a whopping 17”. We had intended to go out for dinner but decided to settle in at home. I made a batch of these Hazelnut Dump Brownies to have with a scoop of ice cream for dessert. Everything is basically dumped into a bowl, mixed together and tossed in a greased baking pan. Then, the mini chocolate chips are sprinkled over the top… easy enough! This is a super simple recipe with extraordinary results. PS. It’s still snowing! ❄️❄️❄️
Hazelnut Dump Brownies
2 cups sugar 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 cup baking cocoa 1 teaspoon salt 5 large eggs, room temperature 1 cup canola oil 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 cup hazelnuts, chopped 1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
In a large bowl, mix in the first 8 ingredients. Pour into a greased 13×9” baking pan. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
This one our most flavorful breakfast casseroles. The mixture of apples and breakfast sausage, teamed up with a light batter and homemade maple syrup make this a winner in our household.
Sausage and Apple Breakfast Bake
1 or 2 pounds bulk pork sausage 2 cups biscuit/baking mix 1-1/3 cups skim milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 teaspoon butter extract 2 large eggs 1/4 cup canola oil 2 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced 2 tablespoons sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon Maple syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9” baking pan; set aside. In a large skillet, cook and crumble breakfast sausage until no longer pink; drain. In a medium mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, milk, extracts, eggs and oil until blended; stir in cooked sausage. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar. Transfer biscuit mixture to a greased 13×9” baking dish. Evenly top with apples; sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake until set, 30-40 minutes. Serve with syrup.
I have a fabulous cookbook that highlights favorite recipes from bed and breakfast inns across the country. This week I found a recipe for apricot chicken breasts that called for a portion of a jar of apricot preserves to top the breasts while baking. I thumbed through the cookbook shortly thereafter and found a recipe for these apricot and oatmeal bars. What a great way to use up the balance of my preserves. This turned out to be a delicious treat as my family raved over these simple bars.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats 1 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted 1 – 12 ounce apricot jam/preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients to form a crumb mixture. Pat 1/2 of crumbs into a greased 11x7x1 1/2” or a 9×9” pan. Spread the entire surface with apricot jam. Top with remaining crumbs. Bake for 40 minutes or until the surface is golden bown. Cool before cutting.
During the recent Thanksgiving holiday, the weather turned cold. I had an idea to cook up a large pot of hearty soup; a comfort food that is always a good idea during the Midwestern winter months. I had plenty of leftover vegetables that I’d purchased to make stuffing and to season other dishes. So, Friday morning I threw a few chicken breasts into a pot of simmering water and set out to make a soup for those looking for a comforting bowl of deliciousness during the weekend.
While I could have used my leftover turkey for this recipe, I chose to leave it for sandwiches as the family likes to pile turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce on a hearty wheat bread for traditional turkey leftover sandwiches. I did, however, toast some super thin Pepperidge Farm’s bread to act as a crispy accent to the smooth and creamy soup. I hope you try this delicious soup as this one warms the soul…
Note: I keep chicken stock base in my pantry for times when I don’t have chicken broth on the shelf. Follow the directions on the side of the container to substitute this base for the canned broth.
Creamy Chicken Rice Soup
1 tablespoon oil 1 cup carrots, chopped 1 cup celery, chopped 1/2 cup onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, minced 1/3 cup long grain rice, uncooked 3/4 teaspoon dried basil 1/4 teaspoon pepper 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth 3 tablespoons flour 1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk 2 cups chicken breast, cooked and cubed
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat; sauté carrot, celery and onion until tender. Add garlic; cook until vegetables are translucent. Stir in rice, seasonings and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered about 15 minutes, until the rice is tender. In a small bowl, mix flour and evaporated milk until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in chicken and heat through.
My daughter K kept asking about various bread machines and wanted to know if it was worth purchasing one to make an occasional loaf of homemade bread. I suggested she try this easy bread making method that turns out a delicious, crusty and flavorful loaf. Knowing that we had all of the ingredients on hand, we quickly stirred together the bread, yeast, salt, and water. We popped the shaggy dough into a bowl and covered it with plastic wrap. Then, we headed out the door for holiday shopping. When we returned home, it was time to pop it in the oven. This is a great recipe!
No-Knead Artisan Bread
3 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon yeast, active dry or instant 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups hot water, about 125-130° F 2 Tablespoons, extra flour for bench
Combine flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Stir in water until it’s well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 3 hours. After 3 hours, transfer dough to a well-floured surface and sprinkle with a little more flour. Using a bench scraper, fold dough over 5-10 times to shape into a rough ball. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper large enough the fit in and up the sides of your Dutch oven. Place dough in a parchment paper-lined bowl and cover with a towel. Let stand on counter top for about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, place Dutch oven with lid in a cold oven and preheat to 450° F. When oven reaches 450° carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Carefully, lift the parchment paper with the dough from the bowl and place gently into the hot pot. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove lid and parchment paper. Return dough to pot and place uncovered, back in the oven. Bake 7-10 more minutes. Let it cool at least 15 minutes before slicing.
If you are looking for an easy coffee cake recipe that you can get to the table in no time at all, this is it! The base of the batter uses a boxed baking mix to add to the ease to which this coffee cake comes together. Great for the holiday season as you might have a few early morning guests in the house. It’s a winner!
Topping: ⅔ cup baking mix ⅔ cup brown sugar 4 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a deep 9-inch pie pan. Combine baking mix, milk, sugar, egg, cinnamon, and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Spread into the bottom of the prepared pan. For topping, in a medium sized bowl, combine baking mix, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and walnuts. Using a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Spread topping mix over cake batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. (Optional: Drizzle with powdered sugar/water glaze.
While rummaging through some piles of paper last week, I found a county fair cookbook that I had purchased many years ago. One of the dog-eared pages held this delicious recipe for County Fair Orange Cake. Looking further, I realized it was a cake that I had entered into the fair that year. While It didn’t receive the top prize, it’s always held a blue ribbon in my book. It’s incredibly easy to make and my family loves the bright citrus flavor of the orange juice, pudding mix and glaze. Yep, it’s a winner!
County Fair Orange Cake
1 (15.25-ounce) package yellow cake mix 1 (3.5-ounce) package lemon instant pudding mix 3/4 cup orange juice 1/2 cup canola oil 4 large eggs 2 teaspoons lemon zest
Orange Glaze: 1/2 cup sugar 1/3 cup orange juice 1/4 cup butter 1 teaspoon orange zest plus more for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and dust with flour. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Add the orange juice, oil, eggs and orange zest; beat with a mixer at low speed to combine. Beat an additional 4 minutes with mixer on medium speed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter and poke holes all over with a skewer. Carefully, pour warm orange glaze over the cake. Garnish with more orange zest for serving.
For the Orange Glaze: Cook the sugar, orange juice, and butter in a saucepan over medium, stirring, until the butter is melted. Cook 2 more minutes and remove from the heat; stir in the orange zest.