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Monday
Feb102014

Build-your-own breakfast casserole

We are in full-blown cooped-up winter mode. I love winter because it means tons of extra family time for us, but I sure wish we could get outside without worrying about our skin blistering and shriveling up. I heard somewhere recently that we are on the verge of breaking a record for most days below zero in a single winter (!!). Even my boys have been occasionally asking me things like, "Mom, why don't we live somewhere warmer?" We press on, as Minnesotans do, and get through the bitterness. The warm spring weather will be sweeter than ever this year.

Maybe you've noticed that I have been creating an unusual number of comfort food recipes in the past few months. If there is one thing I'm good at doing while trying not to go stir crazy in our little home, it is eating comfort food. I put together a versatile breakfast casserole the other day because who doesn't love a good, loaded breakfast casserole with tons of options? Begin with the base ingredients, and go as crazy as you want with meat, veggies, extras and toppings. Have fun! Dan and I made a venison/green onion/green bell pepper/parsley version and even with the lean meat, it was fantastic!

 

10 eggs, beaten

30-oz. bag frozen hash browns, thawed

2 cups milk

2 to 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Ground sausage, beef, turkey or venison (cook in skillet over medium-high heat until meat is no longer pink)

Bacon (bake on foil-lined baking sheet at 375 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes until crispy - drain and chop)

Diced cooked ham (pre-packaged) or chopped deli ham

Shredded chicken (bake 2 large breasts at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until juices run clear, or shred meat from a cooked Rotisserie chicken)

 

1 white, yellow or red onion, chopped (cook in skillet with oilve oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced (cook in skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

1 green or red bell pepper, chopped (cook in skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

8-oz. package mushrooms, chopped (cook in skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

1 medium zucchini, finely chopped (cook in skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

2 cups chopped asparagus or 2 cups finely chopped broccoli (lightly steamed)

8-oz. container cherry or grape tomatoes, halved 

2 cups chopped kale or spinach 

 

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chives or cilantro, finely chopped (cook in skillet with oilve oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

2 cloves garlic, minced (cook in skillet with oilve oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, finely chopped (cook in skillet with oilve oil over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes)

Salsa

Sour cream

Avocado slices

 

ENJOY!

Printable recipe: Build-your-own breakfast casserole

Thursday
Feb062014

Chicken pot pie casserole

I just took a quick inventory and we have somewhere around 245 Pillow Pets either at our house or on their way to our house! On February 16th, we will deliver them to Minneapolis Children's Hospital for the kids staying there. Some of YOU have generously donated PPs or cash, and I would like to say THANK YOU! There is still time, if you would like to help!

Today is the perfect day to snuggle inside with hundreds of soft, cozy Pillow Pets. Actually, they are in bags so they have received limited snuggles (except the really really cute ones that I can't resist squeezing), but they are collectively beginning to take over our home! We have had an unusual number of guests in our house lately due to Elijah being homebound and needing testing for special education services, so we've had to do our share of explaining. I see the double-takes back into the kitchen and wonder must be going through their minds. Most people laugh and seem relieved when I explain that we're not storing months worth of garbage in our home. 

When I'm not busy with the Pillow Pet management, I have been chipping away at my to-make list of comfort foods. I've been wanting to make something along these lines for so long. It was super easy to make this chicken pot pie casserole. It is comforting, delicious and low calorie! Dan claimed it was the best chicken pot pie he'd ever eaten. I rarely hear him say things like that, so that is a ringing endorsement!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 1/2-quart round baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. 

Add:

2 cups chopped carrots (approximately 4 medium)

2 cups frozen peas

1 yellow onion, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft and the onion is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add:

2 cups shredded chicken (I always pull the meat from a Rotisserie chicken for shredded chicken)

14.5-oz. can chicken broth

10.5-oz. can cream of chicken soup (add two cans for a thicker sauce)

1/4 cup milk

(optional: add 1/4 cup flour for a thicker sauce)

Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Pour the contents of the skillet into the prepared baking dish.

Cover with a 9-inch pie crust, letting the edges hang over the sides of the dish. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits into the dough. Please don't stone me for not having a photo of this step. 

Place the baking dish onto baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cut pizza-style and serve warm!

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

A healthy way to enjoy the delicious chicken pot pie!

Serves: 6-8

Total time: 1 hr

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole



Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped carrots (approximately 4 medium)
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 14.5-oz. can chicken broth
  • 10.5-oz. can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour (optional: use for a thicker sauce)
  • 9-inch refrigerated pie crust
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2 ½-quart round baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots, peas, onions, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are soft and the onion is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken, chicken broth, soup, milk and flour (if using). Mix well and cook over medium-low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the contents of the skillet into the prepared baking dish. Cover with the pie crust, letting the edges hang over the sides of the dish. Using a sharp knife, cut a few slits into the dough. Place baking dish on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cut pizza-style and serve warm!

 

Saturday
Feb012014

Buttery ranch mushroom bites

Hello February! I'm not sure I've ever been happier to begin a new month. The sun is shining and my head feels clear at the moment. I have hopes that this month will bring answers for our oldest boy. He has endured an endless string of challenges, and his list grew way more in the past month than we ever could have anticipated. Come on, second month of 2014, bring favor! Some warmer weather would be nice, too.

With February comes the Super Bowl! I am NOT a football fan. Not even a little bit. But I do enjoy sitting next to my gorgeous husband on the couch on Super Bowl Sunday, nibbling on a spread of food (we tend to go a little overboard) and watching fun commercials. Our menu for tomorrow includes the Club Sandwich Dip I recently made, chicken wings, a giant bowl of seasoned sour cream, fried pickles and these tasty little mushrooms. I first encountered these back in October at a potluck work party and frantically searched for the person who had made them. I didn't find him or her, but talked to someone who had. So I don't even know who to thank for this recipe. Thank you, mysterious potluck person with the delicious mushrooms!

These are a wonderful toothpick or fork appetizer, but I use them in other things, as well. This past week they became part of a salad, an omelet and they also made a great side dish. They are so ridiculously yummy. Dan thinks my intense love for mushrooms indicates a possible mental disorder, but I just know a tasty little snack when I meet one!

Add the following ingredients to a slow cooker:

Two 8-oz. packages fresh whole mushrooms, rinsed

1 stick butter

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1-oz. package dry Ranch dressing mix

Cook on Low setting for 2 hours (stir occasionally). Serve warm with toothpicks! 

Happy delicious-mushroom-eating and Super-Bowl-watching!

Printable recipe: Buttery ranch mushroom bites

Tuesday
Jan282014

Gooey cinnamon bars

I will not complain about the weather, I will not complain about the weather, I will not complain about the weather. Instead I will talk about things that make me happy, like the fact that we have over NINETY Pillow Pets in our house for the kids at Children's Hospital. NINETY! All thanks to the generosity of friends, family and people I have never met! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! (There is still time to help!) Apparently repeating everything three times is my thing today. today. today.

So much has happened in the past month, so time seems insanely skewed. It seems impossible that it was only one month ago we were in Indiana celebrating Christmas with my family. While we were staying in that cozy little Indiana rental house, we did a lot of sleeping, relaxing and EATING. One of the many things I stuffed into my hungry body was about a half of a pan of these gooey cinnamon bars. Mmm mmm mmm! You just have to add these to your winter baking list.

 

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

Mix well and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

Beat until combined. Add:

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

Am I the only one who makes faces in mixing bowls? Isn't this guy cute?

Stir until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine:

1/2 cup cinnamon-flavored chips

1/2 cup vanilla-flavored chips (if you can't find vanilla, use white chocolate chips)

14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture into the pan, over the bottom layer of dough.

Top with the remaining dough. Don't worry about covering all of the goo.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the bars cool and cut them into delicious, gooey squares that taste like they came straight from heaven.

Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

Gooey Cinnamon Bars

Don't make these bars unless you are ready to devour an entire pan alone. They are so addicting and delicious!

Serves: 12

Total time: 45 min

Gooey Cinnamon Bars



Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon-flavored chips
  • 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored white chips
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars and beat until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Press half of the dough into the prepared pan and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon chips, vanilla chips and condensed milk. Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until creamy and smooth. Pour the mixture over the bottom dough layer. Top with remaining dough crumbles. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely and cut into squares.

 

 

Friday
Jan242014

Spaghetti sauce

What is this, you're asking? Two new posts within a few days? I love this blog and I want to be here more often. Things in other areas of my life have slowed way down and the post-surgery fog is beginning to lift. So prepare yourself for new, mouth-watering material here on Pip and Ebby. I have the next five months mapped out and I cannot WAIT to make, eat and share every single recipe on my agenda! 

Last night Dan and I had a few of our skydiving friends over for dinner. It's January and we are starting to miss our summertime pals! It was so nice to spend time with them. We enjoyed a delicious batch of spaghetti while much laughter bounced off our walls. In preparation for our night with friends, I remembered the spare tomatoes I had thrown into my freezer last August. I threw them into a skillet with a bunch of other tasty morsels to create a delicious and well-rounded spaghetti sauce. This is a HUGE batch, so cut it in half if needed.

 

Cook 2 pounds of lean ground beef (or venison) in an extra-large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until it is no longer pink. Transfer the cooked meat to a bowl and drain the excess grease from the skillet. Or just leave it, if you're feeling crazy. Don't clean the skillet. 

Heat 5 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil (in the same skillet) over medium heat.

Add:

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 yellow onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

8-oz. package mushrooms, chopped

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add:

6 to 8 cups (approximately 30-40 Roma tomatoes total) frozen (thawed) or canned tomatoes (juices included), chopped (SUBSTITUTION: Two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes + one 28-oz. can diced tomatoes)

Two 6-oz. cans tomato paste

14-oz. can beef broth

1/2 cup red wine

Mix well. Please feel free to add a small can of diced tomatoes, if your sauce isn't tomatoey enough.

Add:

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour, stirring occasionally. I like to let mine cook for a couple hours at a really low setting, but 1 hour is plenty.

Pour the sauce over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with shaved or grated Parmesan cheese. I hope you love this as much as we did! 

Have a great weekend!

Spaghetti Sauce

Chunky, flavorful, swoonable spaghetti sauce that'll make your noodles sing!

Serves: 12

Total time: 1 hr 30 min

Spaghetti Sauce



Ingredients: 

  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8-oz. package mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 6-8 cups frozen tomatoes, thawed and chopped (juices included) – this equals about 30-40 Roma tomatoes (FROZEN TOMATO SUBSTITUTION: Two 28-oz. cans crushed tomatoes + one 28-oz. can diced tomatoes)
  • Two 6-oz. cans tomato paste
  • 14-oz. can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese, for topping
Instructions:
  1. Cook the ground beef in an extra-large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Transfer beef to a bowl and drain excess grease from skillet (don’t clean skillet). Heat the olive oil over medium heat in the same skillet and add garlic, onions, green peppers, mushrooms and parsley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth, red wine, brown sugar, Italian seasoning and salt to the skillet. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for a minimum of 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Pour over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with shaved Parmesan cheese.