November 25, 2013

Breakfast Casserole

Whenever someone in my section at work has a birthday we all bring a dish and have breakfast together to celebrate. And we all wear tiaras. I still don't know why, but that's how we do it at my office :)  I was really busy last week so I wanted something "semi-homemade" and savory. There is always too much sugar at these things. One of the best breakfast foods in the history of the world is biscuits and gravy (that's not my opinion, it's a fact) so I started looking for a casserole dish using biscuits and gravy. I found a recipe over at The Tasty Fork and it looked delicious so I modified it a little and brought it to work. It was a HUGE hit. And super easy. We ate it for dinner the next few nights at my house! Over at The Tasty Fork she used green chilies and Rotel in her casserole (see below) so check out her recipe if you want a little more spice!

This is the casserole from The Tasty Fork's website

Biscuits, Sausage & Gravy Casserole, serves 4-8
  • 1 lb breakfast sausage, casing removed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 30 oz bag frozen potatoes (diced/cubed/etc. - whatever you like!)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 package of dry gravy mix (I used Pioneer "country" gravy)
  • 1 can of jumbo biscuits, 8 biscuits (I used Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Original)
  • 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut the biscuits into quarters and set aside. You can leave them whole if you like, but I wanted people to be able to eat this while standing up :)
  3. In a hot skillet, add sausage and cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Spoon sausage onto a plate, saving as much of the grease as you can.
  4. To the skillet add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and potatoes. Cook about 8 – 10 minutes. The potatoes don’t need to be browned, just done enough to hold their shape. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Prepare the gravy — follow the directions on the packet.
  6. Grease a casserole dish (I used a 13" x 9" pan) and add 1/2 of the potato mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over the potatoes. Place biscuits on top and add the rest of the potatoes, sausage and gravy. Top with the rest of the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Let the casserole sit a few minutes before digging in.
I would recommend more than 1 packet of gravy…. I would've been happier with more gravy :)

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November 22, 2013

New York Cheesecake

My Oma (what we call my grandmother on my mom's side) has won contests with her cheesecake recipe. It's so good. It's one of the things I associate with Oma. The other things include chocolate ices (milk, ice and chocolate syrup in a blender), Kashi cereal (that's what she always ate) and diet orange soda. Spending so much time with her when I was young I learned a lot about baking from her. Since cheesecake is an "Oma staple", I have always loved making it... and eating it. I tweaked her recipe to better suit my American taste buds. She has said it's better than hers..... That's kind of a big deal :)
Her recipe had a lot more lemon in the filling and fresh strawberries with a strawberry glaze on top. I'm a simple girl. No fruit on my cheesecake please. Just give it to me straight. This is how I make it....
This picture is not mine. It belongs to

Prep: 15 min 
Total: 5 hr 25 min
Servings: 16 servings

1 cup Nilla Wafer crumbs (about 1/3-1/2 a box), finely crushed
3 Tbsp. butter, melted
5 pkg.  (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup  sugar
3 Tbsp.  flour
1 Tbsp.  vanilla
1 cup  Sour Cream
4  eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon

Heat oven to 325ºF if using 9-inch springform pan (or to 300ºF if using a dark nonstick 9-inch springform pan).
Mix Nilla wafer crumbs and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while preparing the filling.
Beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low after each just until blended; stir in the lemon juice and zest; pour over crust.
Bake 60-70 minutes or until center is almost set. Turn the oven off and barely crack the door and let the cheesecake remain in the oven to completely cool. Refrigerate 4 hours (preferably overnight). Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim.
**If you don't have the time or it is inconvenient, you can take the cheesecake out of the oven and let it cool on the counter or on a rack. Leaving it in the oven with the door cracked just allows it to set a little more evenly. It'll be good either way :)
**You can make this in a 13"x9" pan. Just line the pan with foil, press the crumbs into the pan and make the rest the same way. 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.
**You can make this with a graham cracker crust. Just use 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs, 3T. sugar and 3T. butter for the crust. You could also use Oreos, shortbread, any type of cookie really.
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June 5, 2013

Strawberry Summer Cake

My friend asked me to dinner while I was in Oklahoma City visiting this past week and I offered to bring dessert. Obviously. But, I was at my mom’s house and she is definitely not a baker. I have to check her pantry sometimes to see if she has baking soda or even flour. More than once she hasn’t had those things…. So I wanted a very simple recipe with just a few ingredients so I didn’t have to grab too many things at the store. I went to my favorite bloggers' website ( and typed “summer” into the search box and this recipe came up. I was pretty sure it would be a hit because I have never made anything from Smitten Kitchen’s blog that wasn’t amazing! I was right. I ended up making 2 since they were so simple and one went to my friend’s and one stayed at the house. Both were gone by the end of the night!!
I served this with freshly whipped cream, but I'm confident it would be delicious on it's own. Or with ice cream. Whatever floats your boat :) I am going to try this with other fruits soon because I have a sneaking suspicion it would be delicious with other types of berries as well! Maybe strawberries and blueberries for July 4th!!

Strawberry Summer Cake
Recipe from 
 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan
 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/2 teaspoon table salt
 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
 1 large egg
 1/2 cup whole milk
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan or a 9-inch round cake pan (what I used).
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.
Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

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April 15, 2013

Symphony Brownies

This is not my picture. I couldn't get mine to rotate after uploading it!! This recipe used an almond toffee candy bar instead of milk chocolate.... so ignore the nuts ;)
Sometimes you just can't beat a Paula Deen recipe. Years ago my little sister made some brownies she saw Paula Deen make on the Food Network and I just remembered when she made them I thought they were the most insaley chocolate-y things I'd ever eaten. I don't crave chocolate that often, so when I do I go all out. I do blame my friend Sarah for this one because she MADE me eat a chocolate parfait from Whole Foods while I was visiting her in Austin this weekend!! She didn't really make me, but it makes me feel better about myself if I blame my chocolate binge on someone else ;-)  Anyway, I searched the web yesterday for the recipe, found it, made it, LOVED it! It's super easy and super delicious. Enjoy!!

Paula's recipe used the Symphony bar with almonds and toffee, but
since I'm allergic to almonds I used milk chocolate :)

This was the largest size mix I could find that wasn't dark chocolate.
The recipe calls for a 20 oz. mix.

Symphony Brownies
Yield: 24 small brownies (or 12 large)
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 40 min


1 (appx. 20-ounce) package (family-sized) boxed brownie mix
2 King-sized Symphony brand candy bars


1. Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions.

2. Generously grease a 8x8-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon in half of the brownie batter and smooth with a spatula. Place the 2 candy bars on the batter so they cover the surface of the brownie batter. Cover with remaining batter.

3. Bake according to package directions (mine took 42 minutes). Let cool completely, then devour!!

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March 31, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

For the last two weeks I have been 75% successful at eating "clean" and healthy.  I had a few bad days in there, but I'm starting again tomorrow. My mom made these when I was at her house in Oklahoma 2 weeks ago and they. are. great. These cookies have only THREE ingredients: ripe bananas, quick oats and chocolate chips. These are a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth and chocolate craving!

I bought barely yellow bananas and let them sit wrapped in a paper bag for 4 days to get them the color below. The riper the banana, the sweeter the cookie. Since these cookies have no sugar, the banana sweetens them. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, but you could certainly use dark chocolate if you prefer. You must use quick oats. I tried this recipe the first time with regular oats and it was a complete failure.

These are the nutrition facts for 1 cookie, if you make 20 out of the recipe (which is what I got). 

Calories: 56
Fat: 2g
Carbs: 9.5g
Protein: 0.6g


Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yields: 20 cookies


2 large bananas, ripe, dark and speckled
1 cup quick oats
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mash the bananas into a thick paste.

Stir in the quick oats and chocolate chips.

Drop dough (2 T. per cookie) onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 20 minutes then enjoy.

NOTE: I like them best cold, so pop them in the fridge for 15-20!! They taste like chocolate chip banana bread when they come out of the fridge.

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March 4, 2013

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

Have you ever seen Sally's Baking Addiction website? It's AH-MAZING!! She is a genius. Everything I've made from her blog is delicious! Try these monster cookies! I saw a cupcake recipe on Sally's blog and since I'm barely into the 5 pound can of peanut butter I got from Sam's Club I decided to keep using it up... and this is what happened:

Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or an electric handheld mixer), add the peanut butter, confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy and smooth. Slowly add the cream and beat on very high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy. Spread on cooled cupakes and top with sprinkles (optional). Pin It

March 3, 2013

Boozy banana bread

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon (I used dark rum)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl mix butter into the mashed bananas. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Gently stir in the flour until just combined. Pour mixture into a well-buttered 9×5 inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve. Pin It

February 9, 2013

Loaded Peanut Butter Cookies

I love peanut butter. Not just a little though. A L-O-T! I've been on a peanut butter based dessert kick for the last month or so and I came across a recipe on Pinterest that looked awesome so I decided to give it a try. This is a really easy dough to make. Good for beginners... or experienced bakers who are still sore from a killer yoga class ;)  I made a few changes to the original recipe because... well, because I can. I added some more oats and more peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. Less is not always more :)


Peanut Butter Monster Cookies
Yield: 16-18 large cookies

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 and 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter chips
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • Reese’s Pieces mini candies, 2 bags**


In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) cream together butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat to combine.
Slowly add dry ingredients, and beat just until combined. Don’t over beat at this stage. Stir in oats, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes to make it a little easier to handle.
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Pour Reese’s Pieces candies onto a plate or into a flat bowl.
Using a large cookie scoop (3 Tablespoons or 2 1/2 ounces) roll each ball of dough into a ball, then slightly flatten into a disc. Drop cookie dough into the bowl of candies. Gently use your hand to press the dough down into the candies and flatten the dough into a disc, then transfer to cookie sheet and freeze the cookies for 20-30 minutes.
Bake, six at a time, for 12-15 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to darken.
Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5-10 minutes. These cookies are very soft, so you really need to let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes or they will break when you try to take them off the sheet.
Allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
**I only bought one bag of the candy pieces and I didn't have enough for the last 5 cookies, so I would buy 2 and you can just have some leftover.**
**You do not have to freeze the dough, but if you don't these cookies will spread a LOT. If you look at the last picture above that is how much it spread after I froze it.**
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January 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

If you follow food blogs I hope you've discovered Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice. This blog is my new obsession. I saw a post on Pinterest and when I went to the site (the author's name is Reeni) I went through almost every recipe posted! I decided to start with the recipe I saw on Pinterest and so here it is.....

This pie is seriously rich. I say not for the faint of heart, and I mean it. I cut a piece to try (about 1/12 of the pie) and honestly I could only eat half of it. It's really, really good. Super intense peanut butter flavor! If you are craving peanut butter and chocolate... make this pie. But beware, start with a small piece, you wouldn't want to waste any of this gem!!

Picture from



2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs*
6 tablespoons salted butter, melted

12 ounces cream cheese (light or neufchatel is ok), at room temperature
1 + 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips or bar, chopped
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 Reese's peanut butter cups, rough chopped


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the cookie crumbs and butter to a food processor and process until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.

Press evenly into a 9" pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes then allow to cool completely before filling.

Beat the cream cheese and peanut butter together on medium speed until light and fluffy about 5 minutes.

Add sugar and vanilla; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy about 5 more minutes.

In a separate bowl beat heavy cream until stiff; when the beater is lifted it shouldn't drip off.

Add the cream to the peanut butter mixture and fold in until well blended. Spoon into the crust. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

To make the topping combine sugar and cream in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil; remove from heat and immediately add the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Whisk until smooth and all the chocolate is melted. Cool the mixture until it is lukewarm but still liquidy.

Carefully pour over the pie (you can leave a few spoonfuls for drizzling over the PB cups) and evenly spread from edge to edge. Sprinkle peanut butter cups evenly over top and gently press them into the chocolate. Drizzle lightly all over with remaining chocolate.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Cut with a sharp knife dipped in hot water then dried; wipe clean and dip again after each cut.
- Make sure to refrigerate this pie properly. I didn't because I was/am impatient and I think it would've held up much better if I'd followed the instructions.
- 14 Reese's cups was way too much for me. FYI. It's a lot.
- I recommend a deep dish pie plate or springform pan. I used a normal/old-fashioned pie pan and I had way too much left over.  
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January 7, 2013

Vanilla Sugar Cutout Cookies and Royal Icing

My friend Jessica makes the most BEAUTIFUL cookies! She makes the most beautiful everything in the kitchen, but her cookies are unbelievable. I, not so secretly, stalk her Facebook pictures and wish I could make cookies as beautiful as hers.

Finally I asked her for the recipe and this is where she sent me here: here for the cookies and here for the royal icing. This blog is amazing and her cookies are amazing. This recipe is amazing! I HIGHLY recommend reading through her posts before starting because she answers every possible question you could ever have!

Mine will definitely get better with practice, but I'm not too disappointed in my first shot!
These are a copy cat of a design I saw on Pinterest.

Shout out to Texas!


Vanilla Sugar Cutout Cookies
This made 10 cookies (appx 5" each)

3 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. granulated sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold and cut into chunks
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and cold butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shapes on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the very bottom of the cookies are just starting to brown. You don't want the tops of the cookies to brown (but they'll still be delicious if they do). Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing
(This covered 10 cookies the size of my hand and I still had plenty left over.)

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp light corn syrup
3/4 tsp clear vanilla extract (optional)
you can use any clear extract you want!

Combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)

Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired. ( I think the corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)

Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.

(You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.

Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

This "stiff" icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming. To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup. This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called "flooding."
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January 1, 2013

Tomato and Red Lentil Soup

How often to I post savory recipes? Rarely. Except when I really, really, really love them and think other people should know how good these dishes are! This one is also super simple! My mom gave me this recipe years ago and my resolution this year is to be the healthiest me by the big 3-0 birthday. A little less than 9 months to go!
This soup is so good and simple and healthy!!!! You can add or subtract anything you like. The recipe my mom gave me had celery and tomato paste in it, but I didn't have those so I changed it a little. I used vegetable broth because I couldn't find stock in the store. I also used a lot of garlic (4 cloves, maybe 5, I lost count)!  I hope you love this as much as I do!!! This soup freezes really well too!  

Tomato and Red Lentil Soup


1 large onion, chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 large carrots, chopped
2-3 gloves garlic, minced (I grated mine using my Microplane)
2 14-oz diced tomatoes, with juice
4 cups vegetable stock/broth
1/2 pound red lentils
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon


In a large saucepan heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Gently cook the onion until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils and enough stock to cover the lentils by about an inch. You can use water if you run out of vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve warm.
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