Baked Turkey Sandwiches

We love Oregano's and LOVE their Turkey Stuffed Sandwich (do yourself a favor and get it on focaccia bread not the crunch crap, trust me)  Unfortunately we can't always afford to eat there (because I can't go without enjoying at least one Bellini, usually two) so I had to learn to make something similar at home.  Guess what?  It is super easy (surprise, I like easy recipes.) 

You Will Need:
  • Yummy Focaccia Bread (I get a Tomato Parmesan from Sprouts)
  • Sliced Turkey or Chicken (I also buy from Sprouts, its Nitrate free)
  • Sliced Provolone Cheese (or whatever kind you like)
  • Your favorite Sandwich Toppings

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Slice your bread and top with turkey.  Throw your open faced turkey sandwiches in the oven for 10 - 12 minutes

After the turkey is warmed, throw on a slice of cheese and cook for another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Take your yummy Turkey and Cheese sandwiches out of the oven and add your favorite goodies

We top ours with Avocado, Tomato and Green Leaf Lettuce

 And I can't help but make a side of french fries which I top with some Lawry's Seasoning

The Parmesan Tomato bread kills it, such a great Sandwich



Cheesy Potato and Egg Casserole

This is such an easy breakfast dish.  I make it on big group trips because it is a crowd pleaser and so simple to put together.  Pretty basic but who doesn't love cheese, potatoes, and eggs all mixed together?!?!?  I made this Christmas morning in one of my new casserole dishes my wonderful husband bought for me.

You Will Need:
  • 1 dz eggs
  • 1 package Frozen Hash browns (28 - 30oz)
  • 1 C. Sour Cream
  • 1 C Milk
  • 2 C Shredded Cheese (I used Colby Jack but Cheddar works well too)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chopped Green Onions (Optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 x 13 baking dish

Beat together your Eggs, Milk and Sour Cream.  I added a little bit of salt and pepper here, maybe a tsp of salt and a dash or two of pepper.  I also took out a few egg yolks just to lighten the dish up a little.

Pour your frozen hash browns into your greased pan

Cover with Shredded Cheese

Pour egg mixture over top of potatoes and cheese

Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes or until the eggs are no longer runny.  Mine took almost an hour this time, I think it might have been the new casserole dish.  I also topped with green onions because I just love them and they add some great flavor!



Whoopie Pies

Yes, that is actually the name of them for those of you who have never experienced this magical treat!  I grew up with whoopie pies, we made them every holiday season.  All the Girls (My grandma, mom, aunts, cousin Jody, my sister and I) would head to my grandmas house and spend the day baking.  We would line her dining table with paper towels and fill it with cookies stacked upon cookies.  We made chocolate chip, sugar, peanut butter with a Hershey kiss, lace cookies, whoopie pies, you name it!  All other cookies aside, whoopie pies must make an appearance this time of year.  I make a huge batch because to me they are like candy corn at Halloween or candy hearts during Valentines day, you savor them once a year and then wait eagerly for 12 months until you can enjoy them again.  There are so many variations but this is the traditional, "oh my gosh I actually baked, and it worked", Chocolate Whoopie Pies.

You will need:

Whoopie Pies
1 C. Shortening
2 C. Sugar
2 Eggs
4 C. Flour
3/4 C. Unsweetened Cocoa (I use Hershey's)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 C. Milk
2 tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 c. Shortening
4 C. Powdered Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Vanilla
2 Tbs.-ish  Milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl mix together Flour, Cocoa, Baking Powder, Salt, and Baking Soda and set aside.  I use a fork to make sure it is mixed evenly.

In a large bowl beat Shortening, Sugar, and eggs until well blended

You will now add the dry ingredients and milk to your Sugar/Shortening/Egg mixture.  Alternate between the milk and dry mixture, adding a little bit at a time.  Once well blended add your vanilla and give one final mix.

Scoop your cookies onto a greased baking sheet and cook for 10 - 15 minutes depending on the size of your cookies.  My "pies" took 12 minutes to cook and they were pretty large.

Let your "pies" cool.  When you are done baking, start pairing your "pies" together. 

Now, you can begin making the filling.  Beat together Shortening, Powdered Sugar, Salt, Vanilla and milk until smooth.   Slowly add your milk a little at a time, you may use more or less that I recommended. (I don't measure, I just eyeball it each time) 

 This frosting should be on the thicker side otherwise the cookies will just slide off each other.

Slather on a nice helping of frosting

And smash another "pie" on top.  Kind of like an Oreo but WAY better!

To keep them moist I usually freeze half the batch (plus they also taste great as frozen little treats) and put the rest in an airtight container in the fridge. 


Adios Christmas 2010

So Christmas is over and my house is back to normal.  I love decorating and I can't wait to pull down all of our Christmas goodies from the attic the day after Thanksgiving.  I get so excited to put up lights, hang our wreath, and buy our tree so the house to can start smelling like Christmas.  I love lighting fires in our beautiful new fireplace, baking cookies and goodies for friends and family, and I love braving the crowds to find amazing deals on gifts (and this year I found some ridiculous deals.)  But about the week of Christmas, as the tree turns from decoration to a fire hazard, I am over it.  I want my house back.  I am sick of vacuuming up needles, the glitter from my beautiful ornaments and sparkly trees is all over the house, and I hate how grumpy people get the last few shopping days before the holiday.

I love to open presents and to give my gifts to friends and family.  I love fighting over a $10 gift card during our annual white elephant gift exchange.  But secretly, I am most excited for the morning after Christmas when I get to take back gifts that didn't fit, buy new Christmas goodies at 75% off, and to take down the decorations!  This may be sick, you may call me a Scrooge but I am so happy that the tree is in a dumpster somewhere, the lights are down, the poinsettias tossed, and the ornaments are once again tucked neatly in the attic waiting for next year.  Christmas is over! 

Where did this all stem from?  Well, my brothers birthday is today (Happy Birthday Mike).  My mom always made sure that his birthday felt like a birthday, not an extension of Christmas, so every December 26th Christmas made a speedy exit.  I love that, Christmas IS over.  I also refuse to be the house that still has Christmas lights up and ON in the middle of January, really?!?!?  Christmas, although wonderful, is done. 

On top of the normal crazy I posses about the Christmas timeline, this Christmas was an emotional roller coaster.  Being the first holiday season since my mom passed away it was also filled with missing her, trying to create new traditions while bringing along a few old ones, and putting on a happy face during the gift exchanges that I could have cared less about.  There were many moments of numbness, followed by streams of tears.  It was wonderful spending time with all of my family but that makes it even more obvious to me that my mom is missing.  So, although there were some great new memories and things that happened this Christmas I will loudly and triumphantly say "Adios Christmas 2010."  

I get that this is not for everyone but I feel so refreshed knowing that my house is once again clean and clutter free.  I also understand that most sane people leave their decorations up until New Years (which in my opinion is a new holiday and deserves its own decorations, not Christmas leftovers) but to each their own.    When do you take down Holiday decorations?  Am I the only obsessive person that treats Christmas decorations like an unwelcome guest December 26th? 

I do hope you all had a wonderful holiday celebrating with loved ones and enjoyed your decorations thoroughly!  A belated Merry Christmas to you.


Easy Fudge

I had such high hopes for this weekend, so many things planned and projects to start but it just didn't work how I was hoping.  I spent all day Friday finishing Christmas shopping, found some great deals but also found crowds everywhere I went.  (Terrible drivers and packed malls... not my favorite part of Christmas)  So Saturday I was DETERMINED to do some sort of crafting  - Goodwill was having a 50% off sale and I truly thought I would find something there.  Well, I found silk ties but those are for an exciting project around Easter.  My DIY flashers were not going off, there just wasn't anything I couldn't live without... disappointing.

Sunday I was planning on making a Turkey so we would have food for the week (and something to post about).  I forgot to defrost the sucker... plan aborted.  So, lets make dessert instead!  Off to the store I go.  I had to go to three different grocery stores to find marshmallow fluff, what was happening?!  So by the time I got home I no longer wanted to make whoopie pies (which are awesome but time consuming.)  Defeated and tired I settled on making fudge because darn it, was making SOMETHING this weekend.

Here is what you will need:
  • 7 oz. Marshmallow Fluff (if you can find it)
  • 1 bag Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bag Dark Chocolate Chip (you can use milk chocolate if you want it to be a little sweeter)
  • 1/4 C. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2/3 C. Evaporated Milk
  • 1/4 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C. Sugar 
*** No, I do not have a candy thermometer (jaws drop...) I just eyeball it.  This recipe is hard to mess up but if you have one, bust that sucker out!

    This recipe is really easy but you have to work pretty quickly at the end so I suggest prepping well.
    Line an 8x8 pan with tin foil
     Measure out your chocolate first before you begin warming the other ingredients
    Mix your Marshmallow fluff, Sugar, Evaporated Milk, Butter and Salt in a sauce pan and cook over Medium heat  (If you microwave your Marshmallow Fluff for 10-15 seconds, it will come out of the jar easily for you)
    Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly
    Once the mixture has started to boil, start your timer.  Cook for 6 minutes keeping the heat the same and stirring continuously
    It will start to turn a darker color as the sugar caramelizes
    Take the mixture off of the heat and quickly mix in your chocolate
    Add your vanilla and stir until everything is mixed together
    Pour into your pan
    Spread it around
    Chill until the fudge hardens, around 2 hours or so
    I then pull the fudge block out of the pan, carefully peel off the foil and cut into pieces.  This makes a great gift or easy dish to bring to holiday parties. 


Sweet and Sour Meatballs

I got this recipe from someone I work with, it is the easiest recipe and tastes wonderful!  Apparently many people have different variations of this, I was just in the dark for so many years.  These were perfect for the Ugly Sweater Party we just threw at our house, very little work, and they were GONE by the end of the night.  Brace yourself, here come the ingredients...

You will need:
  • 1 16oz jar Grape Jelly
  • 2 jars Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 Can Pineapple Chunks
  • 1 bag pre-cooked meatballs (I get mine from Costco) 

You can find the Chili Sauce by the ketchup and it was stressed to me not to skimp here.  Buy whatever jelly or meatballs you want, but buy Heinz Chili Sauce. 

Fill a crock pot with cooked meat balls.  Mix in Jelly, Chili Sauce, and drained Pineapple Chunks.  Let that cook until the meatballs are warm throughout, stirring occasionally to mix the sauce.  (I left mine on low for about 7 hours and they were so tender and wonderful!)

That's it!  You are done and will get compliments all night.
(Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product with all of the party chaos going on around me)



Christmas Tree Cupcakes

I saw this cute cake on the cover of a magazine while standing in line at Sprouts (they don't have People or Cosmo so I was forced to look at food instead of the trashy gossip that I love.)  It was a beautiful Chocolate Ganache cake with White Chocolate Christmas Trees on top.  I really wanted to try that for the Bad Sweater Party but realized cupcakes might be a little easier for that night.  This was my first attempt with white chocolate so I was not sure what to expect.  I really liked the result and can't wait to try it again, bigger and better, on a cake!

You will need:
  • Frosted Cupcakes
  • A pastry bag (or Ziploc baggie)
  • Parchment Paper
  • White chocolate chips

First, I melted the White Chocolate Chips in the microwave (great news, instructions are on the back of the bag) for about 30 seconds.  When they were almost completely melted I added in a little green food coloring.

I then transferred the melted Chocolate into a disposable pastry bag.  You can also just use a Ziploc baggie with the corner cut out.  (I would not squeeze too hard on that though, I have had a few "baggie blow-outs")

Then, start making trees on your parchment paper.  I tried a few different ways not knowing which would hold up the best.  You can also draw out your design on a piece of paper and place that under your parchment. 

I made a lot more than I needed on purpose.  I wanted to allot for the "breakage" factor.

So, while those are drying you can work on your cupcakes.  I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes but you can buy pre-made, pre-frosted cupcakes if you would like, the choice is yours!  I then frosted with white icing and didn't really smooth it out, I was going for a "snow" look.

I topped the frosting with white sprinkles for more "snow."

When the trees are dry, carefully peel them off and stick them into your cupcake.  I apparently made my trees pretty thin and the first few broke when I tried this step. 

No worries, take a small knife and make a little slit in the top for your tree to fit in to.

Terrible picture but this was my favorite.
Overall I was really excited that this worked and I can't wait to try it again. 



Basil Cheese Ball

I learned how to do this a few years ago on Oprah and her "favorite things" episode.  Rachel Ray was on showing how to make this wonderful treat that looks pretty and takes about 5 minutes to do.  This is great for parties and can be made ahead of time.  I make it pretty much any chance I can.

You will need:
  • 5 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Some Sun dried tomatoes (or these Oven Roasted Tomatoes from OurBestBites)
  • 2 8oz. Containers of Spreading Cheese (I always use Rondele Garlic and Herb)

I started that morning by making the Oven Roasted Tomatoes, I love them and they make the house smell amazing when you are cooking them.  Such an easy recipe and always turns out great!

I cut my Roma Tomatoes in half, tossed in Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.  Then topped with fresh chopped Garlic.  You throw them in the oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours at 325 degrees.

 They bake into this beautiful treat on a pan

Once they cooled I chopped them up and set them aside.

Alright... onto the Cheese Ball!  Grab a small bowl and line with Saran Wrap.  I leave extra on the sides to cover the top when I make this in advance.

 Put 5 fresh basil leaves face down in the center of your bowl.

 Scoop one tub of cheese into your bowl.

Spread it around as best you can.  Try not to play with it too much so you don't mess up the leaves

 Next, add a small layer of Sun dried or Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Add your second tub of cheese

 You can either cover and refrigerate or turn over onto your serving tray right then

You end up with this beautiful Basil Cheese Ball!  Just add some crackers or bread around to go with the cheese.
(People got to it before I could grab my camera)

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