Leah’s Shower-Bacon and Spinach Mini Quiche

I met Leah when I was a senior at Auburn.  I was just getting more involved at ACF, and Leah had been there for a while.  One day, Leah and another mutual friend, Laura, asked me to get frozen yogurt at TCBY. Which is literally the best, especially at Auburn.

Over fro yo, Leah asked me to be her best friend.  If I had to compare that to a feeling, it’d probably be what it feels like to take Cam Newton to formal. I said yes, and we’ve been friends ever since.

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That’s truly how we became friends.

Looking back what Leah was really saying was, “Hey, I’ve noticed that you and I have lots of similar interests.  We’re both growing in our relationship with the Lord, and we want to invest in this thing called ACF.  Because we have such similar values, let’s walk through life together as friends, encouragers, and supporters.”

But saying something like that is too wordy, especially in TCBY.

Leah and I became fast friends, and when I saw her at Dan’s apartment I knew this guy had to be okay.  Leah started dating Dan’s roommate, Eric, about the same time that Dan and I started dating.  Leah got engaged to Dan’s roommate just a few months before we got engaged. And, Leah also married that roommate just a few months before we got married.

Leah and I also lived together in Tuscaloosa while I was in graduate school and she was completing her pharmacy rotation.  If you’re going to live in Tuscaloosa, you should take an Auburn fan with you.  While we were in Tuscaloosa, the boys came to visit often and we went on lots of double dates.

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Two years into our marriages, we also took the boys on a weekend getaway where we talked them into doing a tree top ropes course. Because we just wanted them to have a great time.

This is me and Leah quickly turning our harnesses back in.  Turns out we’re not tree top ropes course kind of girls.

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The conversation prior to this picture went a little like this:

Me (who is terrified of heights) yelling to the instructor below the zip line: I’m going to need you to talk me through this.

Him (yelling back to me): you’re just going to sit back like you’re in a chair, and push yourself off the platform.

Me (after about 10 minutes of consideration and prayer): I’m going to  need another option.

Turns out there’s not a lot of options when you’re literally in the tree tops.  Thankfully, they’ve seen people like me before so they set up a few check points along the way so you could get down. As soon as we saw another girl (probably a lovely, supportive girlfriend who just wanted her boyfriend to have fun) get down at one of those checkpoints, we knew we’d found the ticket out! We moved through those next few obstacles faster than we thought possible just so we could get our feet on the ground.

Leah is a great friend, and I’m so thankful she’s in my life!  When she and her husband called us to let us know they were expecting a babe, we were thrilled!  And, when I was asked to help with her shower I didn’t hesitate to jump in!

Leah’s sister in law, Corey Kate, is truly amazing, and she organized the shower! She has great taste and a great sense of humor. I value those two things over many other things.

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Corey Kate proposed that we do a book themed shower since we don’t know the gender, and each guest brought a book (lots brought booksssss) for Baby. By the end of the shower, you couldn’t even see the table!

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We used Oh the Places You’ll Go as the guest book. You just really can’t have enough books.

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All of the food was inspired by children’s books too. There were cookies with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, chicken salad sandwiches for Chicken Little, a cheese plate for The Stinky Cheese Man, you get the idea.

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I signed up for bacon and spinach quiche to go along with Green Eggs and Ham. A Classic.

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There was plenty of food, and lots of love for this little babe. We had such a fantastic time at the shower! It is such a blessing to see the people you love be showered with love and be made to feel so special. This little Babe has a pretty special mom and dad!

We also had some pretty cute decorations at the shower that I’ll share more about later this week! You can expect to see more children’s books.

I used  this recipe as a guide for the quiche.

You can make your own mini spinach and bacon quiche this way:

pie crust

1 (10 oz.) box frozen spinach

1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

2 oz. feta cheese

¼ cup grated parmesan

½ cup shredded mozzarella

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

to taste salt & pepper

a mini muffin tin

baking spray

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Thaw and drain your spinach removing as much liquid as possible. If needed, press the spinach between two paper towels to remove any excess liquid.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until smooth. Add the milk, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Set aside.

Using a small round biscuit cutter, cut rounds of pie crust. Spray the mini muffin pan and place one round of pie crust in each muffin tin. Press the pie crust round into the tin to shape the crust for the mini quiche.

Sprinkle a small amount of spinach in each muffin tin. Top that with a small sprinkling of feta and then the bacon crumbles.

Pour the egg mixture over each of the mini quiches. You will use a scant tablespoon of egg mixture for each quiche. Sprinkle mozzarella over the egg mixture.

Bake the quiche in the preheated oven until the top is golden and the center is set. This took approximately 15 minutes, but will vary depending on the oven.

The egg mixture will make 24 mini quiche. You will have a small amount of egg mixture left along with all of the fillers (spinach, feta, mozzarella). I made a second batch of egg mixture and made a total of 48 mini quiche.

46 of them made it to the party. I take quality control seriously. Enjoy!

What Fun!

This last week has been a whirlwind!  Such a fun whirlwind!

It all started when I took a trip to Birmingham for work.  While I was there, I got to reconnect with family, and of course we did that over Mexican food!

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It’s not uncommon for me to work in Birmingham, and I take each of those opportunities to see family!  Mim’s legacy of hospitality has definitely been passed on to them.  They always welcome me, and make me feel so at home.

Once I got back into Huntsville, all of my attentions turned to Dan’s birthday.  Dan is one of the most selfless and thoughtful guys I know.  He is an excellent leader of our family, and I love taking his birthday to celebrate him.

Each year, we go to dinner with friends.  To Outback, specifically.  Dan likes what he likes.

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Then, it’s back to our house for dessert and games.  Always cheesecake and always Catch Phrase. I told you. Dan really likes what he likes.

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The last few years, I’ve tried a raspberry cheesecake.  It’s one of Dan’s favorites.  I’ve tried plain cheesecake with raspberry sauce, raspberry swirled cheesecake, and finally found my favorite!!  It’s a Martha Stewart recipe, and it is so creamy and good.

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This year I also added an Oreo cheesecake to the mix for good measure.

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We had a wonderful time celebrating, and I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for Dan this year!

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After Dan’s birthday, I got to spend time with another special fella.  Sweet David and his precious mama, Katie, were in town to visit his grandparents.  I got to go to dinner and dessert with Katie and spend lots of time talking. At the end of the night, I got some sweet snuggles with this guy.

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A week filled with family and birthdays would have been great, but then…

It Snowed!

As the predictions for snow started rolling in, I was pretty skeptical.  Growing up in Alabama, we eagerly waited for snow and prepared for snow.  Lots of milk and bread was purchased.  But, we rarely got snow.

This year, we were told to expect 3-6 inches, and  it was every bit of that!  It filled our patio furniture and covered our yard.

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Dan thought it would be fun for Tuck to go on a walk. I passionately protested!  It was too cold.  His paws would freeze!  He couldn’t tell us when he was cold, and what if we couldn’t make it back before he froze??

We decided against the walk, but took Tuck outside to play in the yard.  He had a fantastic time! He loved catching snow balls, sticking his face in the snow, and rolling around.  Turns out he probably could have managed that walk.

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The next day Dan invited some friends over. He found our snow shovel tucked away in the garage and started working before they came over.

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I went inside to put out some butter so we could make cookies. And that perfectly sums up our priorities!

They had a great time building forts and having snowball fights.  I had a great time setting out coffee and hot cocoa.

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As I stood in our kitchen watching the snow fall down, I had to think about Mim. I’m not sure why, but she always recorded the weather in her cookbooks. I love seeing her writing, even when it is about snow.

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Will Run for Chocolate.

Valentine’s Day.  Just the name conjures up some pretty strong emotions for people.  In my experience, it’s a divisive holiday. You either love it or you hate it.  Dan and I fall somewhere in the middle.  We are pretty lukewarm about Valentine’s Day.

We don’t hate it.  We’re definitely not those people that say it’s silly and loudly make it known that they choose not to celebrate.  But, we’re also not the people that love Valentine’s Day.

We don’t do a lot of decorating.  We rarely make big plans, and we never buy big gifts for each other.  We acknowledge the holiday, but that’s about as far as it goes.  By acknowledging the holiday, I mean that we’ll cook dinner at home together.  And, if we’re really feeling festive we’ll make pizza in the shape of a heart.  Maybe it’s because most of our relationship was long distance so we weren’t guaranteed to be together at Valentine’s Day.  Or maybe it’s because his birthday is so close to Valentine’s Day, and we really celebrate that.  Whatever the reason, the holiday has just been overlooked by us.

This year though, to at least acknowledge Valentine’s Day, we stepped it up just a little and planned a trip to Nashville.  Not for dinner or a weekend getaway, but to run the Hot Chocolate 5K!  Because if you’re going to force yourself to run, you should at least be rewarded with chocolate.

We had a fantastic time, and I loved having Dan there to run with me.  The race wove through downtown Nashville, and ended with hot chocolate, fondue, and lots of treats.  It was a pretty great way to end a race, and by far my favorite Valentine’s Day!

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They even had marshmallows in the shape of hearts!  Just precious.

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If you can’t make it to a Hot Chocolate 5K, you can always make fondue at home!  We always have chocolate fondue as the dessert for our Christmas Eve Eve dinner, and it is such a hit!  Who doesn’t love hot, melty, oozey, chocolate?

To make the fondue, we use a Cuisinart Electric Fondue Pot.  It is so easy, and makes the fondue so quickly.

Here’s the recipe we use:

1 1/4 C. heavy cream

6 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips

6 oz. milk chocolate chips

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

Heat heavy cream over medium heat until it just simmers.  Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips until melted. Add vanilla and butter and stir to combine.  Serve the fondue in a fondue pot or heavy ceramic bowl. Serve with dippers like strawberries, pineapple, banana, chocolate chip cookies, marshmallows, and pretzels. There are endless options for dippers!

If you are using an electric fondue pot, you will follow these directions, but keep in mind your settings may vary:

Heat heavy cream in the fondue pot using setting 4 1/2 until the cream simmers. Lower the setting to 3/12 and stir in the chocolate chips until melted. Add vanilla and butter, and stir to combine.

Now, go make some fondue!  Or go for a run first.  But, please take this as an opportunity to treat yourself after a run!

What’s your favorite post run treat?

Molten.Lava.Cake. Make it now!

We had such a great time a few weeks ago when our family came over for dinner.  It was sibling dinner night and I made these really cute napkins out of dishtowels.

It had been so cold the week of our dinner, and I wanted something warm and cozy!  We made spicy tacos and quesadillas for dinner. Yum.

When it came to dessert, we needed something equally warm and cozy.  Molten lava cake was an obvious choice.  You can find the original recipe for Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cakes at Better Homes and Gardens.

The title is right. It’s so, so, soooooo deliciously gooey and chocolatey.  I call it Molten Lava Cake though because it so, so, soooooo hot and bubbly and oozey when you take the first bite.  Just like hot lava.

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I prepare the batter before dinner.  Then, I measure out the cocoa and water into the bowl I used for the batter.  I fill a pot with water and put it to the side during dinner.  When everyone is finishing their dinner, I boil the water, and follow the last steps of the recipe.  This gets the cake ready just as people are done with dinner and ready for dessert.  And, it keeps the cake warm.  Which is exactly what you want!

The original recipe typically uses ramekins.  If you want to do individual desserts, the individual ramekins are perfect.  I baked them this way for a girls night, and they were a huge hit!

Tonight though I wanted something very informal yet decadent.  And, I didn’t want to restrict anyone’s chocolate intake.  So I baked the cake in a 2.5 quart pan. That way you can just scoop as much as you want! No judgment here.

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My dad has a rule that the dessert and ice cream should “run out” at the same time.  He is so wise.  So, if you finish your cake and still have some ice cream in your bowl, you must go back and get another scoop of cake.  There’s really no other way.

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For six people, I made two recipes of the cake.  One cake is too small for that size crowd, but two is a little large.  I’d always rather have food leftover than have people leave hungry.  We had about two large servings left over, and I thoroughly enjoyed some of that the next day when I watched Downton Abbey.

I hope you make this soon.  It is so, so, soooooo good!

Experiments in Canning

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This year, when my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I immediately said “canning supplies”.  My mom didn’t bat an eye.  She’s no stranger to her daughter wanting kitchen equipment.  We’ve had this conversation before.  A few Christmases ago, just before I got married, she asked if I wanted a piece of jewelry to wear in our wedding or a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Kitchen Aid mixer.  Hands down, I wanted the Kitchen Aid mixer.

Just before Thanksgiving, I had my first entry into canning. I wanted to make apple butter for my neighbors, and my sweet friend graciously taught me everything she knows about canning.  Which is a lot!

I came home with the cutest and tastiest jars of apple butter and was hooked.  There’s something empowering about making and preserving food.

This year, my parents gifted me with the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  Complete is an understatement.  This is part science text book, part cookbook, and I’m really enjoying reading through it!

Ball Book

They also gave me all the tools I’ll need! This is the Presto 7 piece canning set.  I didn’t need all of the pieces, but I love having the magnetized lid lifter and the wide mouth jar lifter.

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And finally, this gem of a book!  It has great detail about the canning process, but what I love about it is the recipes!  They all look beautiful and unique! I love that they’re divided by the season so you can quickly find something to make right now.

Canning for a new generation

This weekend, we had nothing but rain and cold weather.  It was gloomy and cold and pretty unpleasant.  I quickly grabbed Canning for a New Generation and flipped to the Winter portion of the book.  And there it was.  Right in front of me.  A sunny jar of orange marmalade.

I gathered all of the citrus needed to make the marmalade, and immediately felt better!  It was so sunny on such a dreary day.

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I scrubbed the jars, and read and re-read the recipe!

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It was so fun to try something new, and the process was much less complicated than I had made it in my mind.  I’ll be honest though, I burned the orange marmalade.  The tricky thing for me was getting the marmalade ready at the same time as the jars.  I turned my back for just a second, and the marmalade became more of a candy than a spread.  It smelled delicious though, and I am convinced it will be delicious in orange rolls (when I don’t burn it)!

I canned just a few jars to see how the process would go.  I was pretty skeptical, and did not feel confident in my canning at all.  But, then I heard it.  The pop.  The sweet sound signifying that the jars were sealed and properly preserved. I felt a small victory!

And, again I’m hooked! I’ll follow a friend’s advice- I’ll clean out my jars and try again.

Christams Eve Eve and Comfort Food

Oh, Christmas.  It’s such a sweet season, and to know this season is over does make me a little sad.  I love to soak up every minute I can with my family.  One way I get in a little extra time with them is to have a Christmas Eve Eve dinner at our home.  This is perfect because it lets us have more time together, and helps our family to keep the tradition of having a party on Christams Eve Eve.

We’ve been hosting our Christmas Eve Eve party for the last four years, and it gets better each year!  This year was truly special.  We served Bacon Swiss dip, beef tenderloin with horseradish dijon sauce, Julia Child’s stuffed mushrooms, Cheddar Garlic Stuffed Potatoes, green bean bundles, and dinner rolls covered in garlic and rosemary.

Each year I try something new. For the past few years, I’ve been on the search for a good horseradish sauce.  I’ve tried lots, and this year’s horseradish Dijon sauce was by far my favorite!  It has the right amount of horseradish (okay, I may have added an extra tablespoon), and I loved adding chopped green onions. While I love trying new things, I’m just not ready to change some parts of our dinner- beef tenderloin, cheddar garlic stuffed potatoes, and the Bacon Swiss Dip just haven’t been changed in the last four years.

This Bacon Swiss dip is so good- warm and bubbly and filled with bacon and cheese.  What could be better? My cousin introduced us to this dip at our several years ago at Thanksgiving, and I’ve been making it ever since.  It’s such a crowd pleaser that I always double the recipe. I’ll also admit that I add a lot more bacon.  No judgment, right?

Here’s how I make it (This recipe is already doubled the original recipe):

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese at room temperature

1 c. mayonnaise

2 c. grated Swiss cheese

6 T. chopped green onions

1 package bacon, cooked and crumbled (Reserve 6 slices of bacon for topping)

1 c. crushed Ritz crackers

Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl to soften. Add mayonnaise, Swiss cheese and green onions; mix well. Stir in bacon, reserving approximately 6 slices for the topping.  Transfer cheese and bacon mixture to a baking dish. 8 x dish works best. Crumble remaining bacon and top the dip with bacon and Ritz crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Cover with foil, if needed while baking. Serves 10.

While I love a good, special dinner  like Christmas Eve Eve, every now and then you need something familiar.  Something warm and comforting.  Today is one of those days.  The leftovers from Christmas Eve Eve are gone, it’s cold and rainy, and we’re glued to the t.v. watching football.

I also needed to cook something that reminded me of home. Earlier today, my cousin sent me a picture of these camellias from my parents’ garden.  It was a bitter sweet moment- being so excited that our family is home and enjoying their time in Dayton, but a little sad knowing that I won’t see them today.

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All of these things pointed to this- we NEEDED comfort food!

In honor of the New Year, I made collard greens. I don’t really think collard greens will bring us any financial fortune next year, but I do love thinking about Mim and my family when I make them.  This year, I used Paula Deen’s recipe.  It’s definitely one of my favorites because it’s a little spicy and the collards don’t get cooked to death.  If you don’t like spicy foods, you could easily cut down the amount of Tabasco sauce or leave it out all together.  You get lots of flavor from the ham hock, seasoned salt, and house seasoning so you won’t miss the Tabasco sauce.

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Earlier today, my husband opened the fridge and asked why we had a ham hock.  Bless his heart, he just doesn’t understand.  Since that moment, I’ve resolved to make more soul food this year. Of course, I’ve got the usual resolutions too, but to know that my own husband didn’t have any idea what to do with a ham hock just won’t do.

I also made a giant pot of The Pioneer Woman’s Sunday Night Stew.  I know, I know, it’s not Sunday night, but it kinda feels like it so surely that counts.

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It is meaty and rich, and best when served over smashed potatoes!

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We have loved being home tonight, and it was even better with this comfort food.  2015 is off to a great start, and I’m excited to see what this year has in store!

I hope your New Year is off to a wonderful start! What are some comfort foods your family will be making this year?

Tinsel and Tacos

I am so excited about hosting my parents for Christmas, and our Christmas Eve Eve dinner is one of my favorite traditions! There will be lots more to share about Christmas Eve Eve dinner soon!

Our Christmas season has been pretty busy, as I’m sure yours has been too. Tonight we stayed in to work on a few final decorations. Our family’s decorations have to be a combination of whimsical and rustic elements.This year, I focused on color using candy reds and bright greens.

I started with this simple berry wreath from Target.

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Added some candle sticks from Target and Home Goods

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Then filled in the space with greenery and these huge poinsettias I found at Hobby Lobby. I added some green floral picks I also found at Hobby Lobby to add a little length and more green.

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Together, the whole mantle looks like this

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Our stockings are now hung by the chimney with care. And floral wire. And electrical tape. And nails.  But mainly with care.

When things get busy around our house, we get tacos. This little tradition started when Dan and I were planning our wedding. We quickly realized there were lots of things to do and errands to run. When things got too crazy we would take a taco break at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. This tradition has continued, and any time things get a little overwhelming we get a taco.

In the busyness of Christmas it’s no surprise that we’re taking taco breaks this season. I love to go out, but sometimes you just need to recreate that taco break at home.

Taco night is one of my favorite nights at home!  It is super easy, fast, and bonus- it doesn’t get too many dishes dirty.

This recipe can easily be modified to fit your taste.  The “secret” ingredient is the can of Rotel.  It’s a game changer.

To make the taco meat, brown 1.5 lbs ground beef with:

1/2 chopped onion

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbs. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. chili powder

When the meat is cooked through, drain and return to the skillet.

Add to the skillet:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp. cumin

1/2 tbsp. garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can mild Rotel

Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Don’t be surprised if you hear more about tacos! We’ll be having our small group over on Monday to say Feliz Navidad, and I’m already dreaming about a Cinco de Mayo fiesta!

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  If things are getting too busy, you should probably take a taco break.

I am so looking forward to sharing more about our family’s holiday traditions! I hope you’ll stop by Mim and Olive later this week to hear more!

Aunt Sonja’s Breakfast Casserole

I am still thinking about our last weekend at the camp house, and I want to talk about breakfast a little more, okay?  Okay!

Last Sunday, the only thing on our Christmas on the River agenda was breakfast.  Sunday morning, we made the walk from the camp house to my parent’s cabin where a giant pan of breakfast casserole was waiting for us.  This is my faaaaaaavorite breakfast casserole.  Aunt Sonja handed down this recipe many years ago, and we’ve been making this breakfast casserole for Sunday breakfasts for as long as I can remember.

My parents still attend the church that I grew up attending. Really small towns have really small churches.  Like six people small.  It’s an understatement to say we knew everyone at church.  It wasn’t uncommon for my parents to host everyone for breakfast at our house after church on Sunday which worked out great because of the wasps.

The wasps you say?

Yes, the wasps.

The church building is absolutely beautiful, but it’s a bit of an adventure to have church there during the winter.  Growing up, my dad was responsible for turning on the heaters in the church.  When the heaters turn on, the heat livens up the wasps that have come inside to get warm.  When the wasp get warm, they start to get a little frisky.  Frisky for a wasp means that they fly and buzz so we spend the rest of the service dodging and swatting wasps away when they land on your neighbor’s shoulder.  That’s what good friends do.

We have learned that when it’s too cold and we’re not feeling brave enough to face the wasps, it’s best to plan to take church to one of the homes. If you’re at our house any way, you might as well have breakfast! Naturally, we’d make Aunt Sonja’s breakfast casserole.

This breakfast casserole is great for Sundays, Christmas on the River, or just a regular weekend!

Here’s the recipe:

1 1/2 lb. sausage (mild)

3 cups milk

1 tsp. salt

2 c. grated cheddar cheese (Sharp is preferred, but you can certainly use mild.)

9 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard

3 pieces white bread (diced-you can rip this into small pieces)

Brown and crumble the sausage.  Drain off any excess fat. In a large bowl, mix eggs with mustard and salt.  Stir in bread, sausage, cheese, and milk. Pour the mixture into greased 13 x 9 x 2 pan. Refrigerate the casserole, covered overnight.  Bake uncovered at 350 for 1 hour until the eggs are set and the top has browned.

This is best served with fruit, biscuits or muffins, and grits.  This serves 8-10.

Here’s a tip: When we have guests at our home, we often make a casserole or bread that can be refrigerated overnight and baked in the morning.  This includes coffee cake and sausage pinwheels.  I cover our breakfast food with aluminum foil and write the baking instructions on the foil.  For the breakfast casserole I would write “350 degrees for 1 hour”.  I let our guests know what we’re having for breakfast the night before, and ask them to help in the morning.  Who ever gets up first is responsible for turning on the coffee pot and popping the breakfast in the oven.  It keeps anyone from feeling like they have to be up at a certain time, and I have found that people feel much more at home when you give them one small thing they can do to help.

I hope you enjoy this breakfast casserole!  It is a favorite in our family.

I hope I’ll see you again soon.  Friday we’ll be wrapping up our Christmas on the River decorations and making an ornament wreath!

 

Weekend Recipes

It is here!  Christmas on the River Weekend!  I woke up like a kid on Christmas day today, and have not been able to contain my excitement.  I’m excited for the events this weekend, but I’m also excited about the friends we’ll see and the time we’ll spend at the camp house.

Tonight, we’ll be traveling down to Dayton to decorate the Christmas Tree and watch a Christmas movie.  There will be lots of burlap and hot cocoa, and I’m hoping everyone votes to watch White Christmas this year.  I’ll be posting pictures of the tree and camp house along the way.

Tomorrow morning, we’ll have breakfast at the camp house then start the Christmas on the River festivities!

Here’s a few recipes I’ll be using tomorrow morning:

Coffee Cake– This recipe is written by Lil Spight and is featured in “Cookin’ in the Canebrake”.  This is a local cookbook from Demopolis, that I use constantly.  Lil says this coffee cake has become a breakfast tradition in her family for birthdays and holidays.  That’s perfect for our Christmas on the River tradition! I have made this coffee cake so many times, and it is delicious!

Topping:

4 T. sugar

1 T. flour

1 tsp. cinnamon

2-4 T melted butter

Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of the cake.  Drizzle with melted butter.

Cake:

1/2 c. sugar

6 T. butter

1 egg

2 c. sifted flour

2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 c. milk

Cream sugar and butter together; add egg. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine the 2 mixtures. Beat in the milk. Batter will be thick.  Pour into a long greased cake pan.  Add toping. Bake at 375-425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  This serves 6-8 people.

I make a few modifications to this coffee cake:

I add a cup of blueberries to the batter, especially during the summer.

I bake my coffee cake in a round cake pan, rather than a long pan.

I double the topping, and use a layer of topping in the middle of the cake.  Pour half of the batter into the cake pan.  Sprinkle with half of the topping, and drizzle with half of the butter.  Pour in remaining cake batter, cover with remaining topping, and drizzle with butter.

Sausage Pinwheels– My friend Leah makes these for us anytime we visit her and her husband, Eric.  My husband loves them, and they are so simple.  Leah and her husband, Eric, will be joining us for Christmas on the River, and she shared this recipe with me.

1 lb. hot sausage

1 8 oz. cream cheese

2 cans crescent rolls

Brown sausage, drain.  Stir in cream cheese.  Roll out crescent rolls into rectangles ( you should have two) and pinch together perforations.  Spread half of the sausage and cream cheese mixture onto each of the rectangles.  Roll the crescent rolls.  Wrap the rolls in saran wrap and refrigerate over night. Cut the rolls into one inch pieces.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. You can freeze these before using.

The great thing about both of these recipes is that you can make them the night before and store them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.  I hope you’ll enjoy them and make them a part of your family’s weekend routine!

You can follow Mim and Olive on Instagram this weekend to get an inside look at Christmas on the River. 

Monday I’ll give you a Weekend Recap to share more photos of our time in Dayton and other breakfast recipes!

Turtle Back Cookies

 

Today, I am in Dayton.  It is quiet and peaceful, and I have been surrounded by family.  As we’ve been here for Thanksgiving many of our conversations have returned to Mim and Olive, or Gran and Tootsie, as we know them.  We have been reminded of their great love for their friends and family, and their effortless ability to make you feel at home with them.  We have talked about our relationships with them, and shared the things we see of them in ourselves.  I see little things about them in myself, like my love for shopping, dresses, and discerning taste in caramel cakes.  More importantly though, I’ve learned the importance of relationships from both of these women.

As you know, my husband and I are trying to build relationships with our neighbors.  A few days ago, we made some goody bags to deliver to our neighbors.  We filled them with our favorite fall treats, and wrote notes for each of the bags.  We delivered them door to door, and had a wonderful time.  We got to meet a few new neighbors, and reconnect with some that we’ve talked with several times. It made my relational heart happy, and I hope our neighbors saw our genuine desire to get to know them more.

Our goody bags were full of our favorite fall treats: Turtle Back Cookies, and apple butter, and pumpkin bread, oh my!

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As promised, I’m going to share my Turtle Back recipe with you, but first a little history lesson.  The Turtle Back Cookie was created in Demopolis, AL at Treager’s Bakery.  As far as I can remember, Treager’s was THE bakery in Demopolis, and these cookies were their trade mark.  The bakery burned when I was much younger and never reopened leaving the poor people of Demopolis grieving the loss of this signature cookie.  Thankfully, the people of Demopolis are resilient, and quickly took on the task of creating their versions of the Turtle Back Cookie.  Many families have their own version of the cookie, and my family is no different.

Carolyn Nelson is a local cook book author, and I often use her cookbook “Memaw’s Southern Cookin'”.  I have found that you can almost always trust someone called “Memaw”.  Mrs. Nelson claims to be the creator of the Turtle Back Cookie using a spice cake mix, and for that we are forever thankful for her!

The cookie itself is a spice cookie.  It is moist and chewy, and completely delicious. When the cookie bakes, the tops crack making it take on the appearance of a turtle’s shell.  You can see flecks of cinnamon and pecans, and it makes your house smell like fall as they bake.  My father in law desperately wants me to add raisins to the batter, but I just can’t bring myself to do it.  I’m a purist, I guess.

The topping is like the more understated and confident cousin of the praline.  She’s made almost entirely of brown sugar and margarine.  This topping knows she’s delicious, and doesn’t try to impress you. But, oh does she!

Together, this cookie is truly decadent.  The topping is creamy and melts in your mouth, and the cookie has the perfect texture and just the right amount of spice!

When they’re ready to eat, they look like this. For now, gobble them up with your eyes!

Turtle Back Cookies

Be warned-one day you’ll wake up, and these cookies will be in your kitchen.

They will be staring at you, begging you to eat them.

And when that happens, you’ll totally justify eating a cookie cookies (let’s be honest) for breakfast because a spice cake is pretty similar to carrot cake, which has carrots in it, which makes it a vegetable, which makes these cookies a completely healthy choice for breakfast.

When that happen, I want you to remember this: You are not alone. You are not judged.

So go ahead, my friend.  Make these cookies. Share them with your neighbors! Use them as a way to get to know the people around you.

Here’s the recipe I used, and the one you’ve been drooling about:

This recipe was handed down to me by my Maw Maw. Hers is very similar to Mrs. Nelson, but there are some very slight differences.  I always use Maw Maw’s and it is delicious.

Cookie:

1 box Duncan Hines Spice Cake Mix

2 Tbsp. water

2 eggs

1/2 cup pecan pieces

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cake mix with liquid ingredients and stir to combine.  Stir in pecan pieces.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Drop the cookie by rounded teaspoons onto a parchment lined baking pan leaving two inches between each cookie.  Bake for 12 minutes or until set.  When the cookies are done, let them cool completely on the cookie sheet.  These cookies are super moist and really need the support of the pan to set and not crumble.

For the Topping:

1 stick margarine

1/2 cup brown sugar

3-4 tbsp. milk

3 cups powdered sugar

As the cookies are cooling, melt the margarine over medium heat.  When the margarine is melted, add the brown sugar to the pot, and bring the mixture to a simmer.  When the butter and brown sugar mixture starts to simmer, simmer for two minutes stirring frequently.  If the mixture begins to rapidly boil, lower your heat to reach a simmer.  Off the heat, beat in the powdered sugar and milk, alternating milk and powdered sugar ending on milk.  This way you can add more or less milk, to get it to a creamy texture.  Beat until smooth.

When cookies are slightly cooled, spread the frosting over the cookie.

A few notes: I don’t always use cake mix, but when I do, I make Turtle Back Cookies.  There are some recipes that make the cookies completely from scratch sifting flour and baking ingredients with spices.  I have to be honest though, I love these cake mix cookies! So don’t beat yourself up about using a cake mix.  These cookies are totally delicious, and this is one of the few times that a shortcut is better than made from scratch.

I also rarely use margarine, and usually prefer butter.  However, the margarine keeps the frosting soft and doesn’t get sticky or chewy as it cools.  In this case, margarine is preferred.

These cookies spread a good bit when baking.  So, you can make a smaller dough ball than  you normally would and still get a good sized cookie. These cookies are pretty rich so you don’t want a huge cookie, but I’d still eat it if you made it for me.

I use a spoon to spread the frosting.  I fill the spoon with frosting, pour over the cookie, then use the back of the spoon to spread it around. There should be a full disc of frosting on top of the cookie when you’re done.

I hope you enjoy making and eating these cookies!  And I hope your neighbors enjoy the cookies you share with them!