Spiced Eggnog Punch

Spiced Eggnog Punch

Spiced Eggnog Punch

The inspiration for this spicy seasonal punch came from a wonderful cookbook called The Irish Kitchen, that I received for Christmas. This book includes a festive recipe for Scaltin or Irish Milk Punch. The original recipe is made with Irish whiskey, milk and spices.I revised it to have a more seasonal flair.

Spiced Eggnog Punch
A festive drink with a burst of cinnamon and smooth eggnog flavor.

Start out with 1 cup Milk and 1 cup Eggnog in a small saucepan. Blending the milk and the eggnog together gives this punch a delicious holiday finesse that provides a perfect end of the ‘eggnog season’, yet it’s not as thick as eggnog and makes a smoother drink that is not as heavy on your stomach. This could be made with milk alone, and would still be delicious (in this case use 2 cups Milk). Mix in ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg and ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon. Heat the mixture slowly on the stove-top and whisk together to blend the spices. Don’t use a very high heat, or the milk will scald. Whisking the ingredients, as the mixture heats, will create the milk foam on top that makes this drink classy, without the use of any fancy equipment! When the mixture is heated (but not boiling) remove from heat and pour in ¼ cup of Fireball Whiskey.
Fireball’s intense cinnamon flavor gives this drink an extra kick, but is balanced out by the eggnog so it’s not overpowering. For a different type of kick you, could substitute a few shots of espresso or dark roasted coffee instead of the fireball and doubling the cinnamon for flavor. Don’t forget to sprinkle a little extra nutmeg on top! This simple-to-make recipe is an elegant delight and perfect for a festive get together with family and friends this winter.

 

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread

My dear friend Virginia and I have started cooking together recently. Whether the meal is simple or complex, I treasure the experience, the knowledge, and the stories that are shared. Cooking is never as simple as it seems. Taking raw ingredients and transforming them into a meal is a powerful thing. Preparing food for someone is one of the first and most primal acts of caring for others. It is a deeply meaningful and nurturing act that is as powerful today as it was eons ago. Cooking with someone creates a meaningful experience that is more than just the food involved. It is a transfer of knowledge and skills passed down through the ages and refined through a lifetime.

At its heart, cooking is about taking a few simple ingredients and creating a meal. This is true magic, taking seemingly nothing and transforming it into that which sustains life. This week my friend Virginia and I made bread. While I have tried a few bread variations before, the technique and feel of this experience was more valuable than a thousand cookbooks. Virginia talked about the look and feel of the ingredients. While I will try and give measurements here, this is an experience that must be done with your hands, as what you are creating is so much more than just numbers and ingredients.

More than just Bread

Talking with Virginia, it’s easy to see how a recipe is more than just the food it creates. This technique for bread making came from her mother-in-law and was passed on to her as she joined this new family. In turn, it is something that she always made for her own family as she raised her children and grandchildren. Homemade bread was a staple at holiday dinners and the recipe made so much that everyone got to take home a loaf. Something as simple as a loaf of bread can hold such deep meaning and emotion when it is tied to family and time spent together. When you bake this bread, it is more than just bread you create. It is lasting memories and connections, carried down from generations ago to the generations yet to come.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
Food is more than just ingredients.

Simple Yet Powerful

Start with about half of a stick of butter (¼ cup). Let the butter sit for awhile until it is room temperature. You want it to smoothly and evenly mix in with the other ingredients. Before you begin mixing ingredients you’ll want to activate or ‘proof’ the yeast.

Virginia tells me, “The most important thing to remember when baking bread is that yeast is alive. You have to nurture it in order for it to grow. Too hot or too cold can kill the yeast.”

To activate the yeast, Virginia pours one packet (or 2 ¼ teaspoons) of dry active yeast into a coffee mug. Sprinkle just a pinch of sugar over the yeast to feed it. Then, fill the coffee mug halfway with very warm water from the faucet and give it a quick stir. The water must be warm enough to activate the yeast, but not too hot, or the yeast may die. The feel of the water will tell you.

Virginia: “You must be able to touch the water, it can’t be scalding.”

Try and keep the mug warm as well. If the mug is too cold simply hold it in your hands a minute, creating a warm and nurturing environment for your yeast to grow. The yeast is ready when it ‘bubbles’ to the top of the mug.

Don’t Rush

Virginia reminds me, “Don’t rush it. Give it time to grow.”

When making this bread, don’t be overly concerned with timing or measurements. Feel it out and enjoy the process. While your yeast is activating, heat a medium pot of water on the stove. Don’t let it boil. Like before, this water shouldn’t be too hot to touch. Just pleasantly warm for the yeast to thrive. Once your yeast is activated and the water warmed, it’s time to start mixing your ingredients. Your butter should be room temperature by now. In a large stock pot, pour over the butter, most of a 5 lb. bag of Ceresota Flour. This flour is natural and unbleached, so it makes a delicious and nutrient filled homemade bread. I would estimate about 4 ½ lbs. at first, saving the remaining ½ lb. for dusting the table to knead.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
You have never kneaded dough until you’ve tackled this monster!

Kneading the Dough

This is such a big recipe that it must be mixed in a stockpot, as I have yet to find a mixing bowl large enough! Sprinkle some sugar over the top to feed the yeast. About a tablespoon should do it. Also, add just a pinch of salt. When Virginia and I made this, I measured by cupping my hand and filling just the very center of my palm. This ends up being about a teaspoon. Then, pour in your yeast and add just enough of the warm water to form a dough. When the dough is combined, dump it out onto a floured table or counter top to knead. Let me tell you, you have never kneaded bread until you’ve tackled this 5 lb. monster.

Virginia was much better at kneading than me. Even after flouring my hands, I still ended up with dough sticking to me all over. The trick to kneading it is to lift a corner of dough up and over, onto itself, then press down and out, mixing the dough firmly into the center. Turn the dough one quarter turn each time so that your are always working with a new corner. As the dough is kneaded it will become stronger and more firm. This helps the dough to hold it’s shape as it rises. When the dough feels firm enough (after about 5 minutes of kneading) add a little oil to your stock pot and rub it along the bottom and sides to grease. Place your dough back into the stockpot and set it in a warm place to rise. Cover the dough with a clean towel and wrap it with another. This provides a warm, nurturing environment for your dough. Once the dough is all tucked in to rise, your can prepare your baking pans. This recipe makes about 5 loaves of bread, but you can use a pie pan for circular loves as well.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
All tucked in!

Shaping the Loaves

Virginia: “I usually make bread for the holidays, then everyone can take home one of the extra loaves.”

Oil your pans well to prevent sticking, making sure to rub oil into the corners. Your dough is done rising once it has doubled in size (about an hour).

When ready, dump your risen dough onto a lightly floured table or counter top. Knead just a few times to push all of the air bubbles out. Then cut the dough into 5 even sections. For loaf pans, pull the two short ends over the top, just a little. Then pull up the long end closest to you. Use that end to roll the loaf up into a log. Place the shaped dough into a loaf pan and cut slits across the top. This allows the dough to stretch as it rises and vent as it bakes, as well as looking nice. Let the dough rise another half hour to forty five minutes. Don’t rush this part, or your bread will be rather dense, instead of light and fluffy. Once the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to bake. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Your bread should be golden brown on top and make a hollow sound when tapped.

Cooking with Virginia -Homemade Bread
Nothing is better than fresh homemade bread!

Look, Feel, and Sound

Virginia explains, “If the bread doesn’t sound hollow, there is too much moisture in there and it needs to bake longer”

Once your loaves are golden brown and sound hollow, turn them out onto a wire rack for cooking. Be sure to cover the loaves with a clean towel while they cool, to keep moisture in. Homemade bread is best eaten fresh, but to save a loaf for later, wait until it has cooled completely, then wrap it tightly in plastic and cover with aluminum foil to freeze. Loaves that have become a bit dry after a few days, taste excellent when sliced and lightly toasted!

Virginia:  “You know that you’ve done a good job if the bubbles within a slice of bread are evenly spaced. That means it was kneaded well!”

Making bread with Virginia has been a great experience and I can’t wait to practice this simple yet delicious bread recipe at home.

Marinated Veggie by TheLookingGlassCraft.com

Marinated Veggies

I’m absolutely in love with this new recipe that was shared with me for marinated veggies! These veggies are perfect for any occasion. Feel free to alter the veggies used, adding in your favorites. The flavors will blend well together for a variety of veggie combinations. Marinated veggies can be served warm or cold, as a side dish or overtop lettuce to turn your salad into a meal. This recipe is perfect for summer parties!

Your Favorite Veggies

What a great way to get in your daily dose of veggies! Mix up a big batch of marinated veggies and you’ll have no problem eating your greens this week. I love to throw in a variety of bell peppers for an extra splash of color, making this dish fun and bright. Slice and chop all of your veggies into bite sized pieces. For more color add in extra bell peppers, or substitute a yellow squash for a zucchini. Pour all of the chopped veggies into a large ziplock bag.

Delicious Dressing

In a small blender or food processor, pour in ½ cup Vegetable Oil and ½ cup Olive Oil. Add in ½ cup White Wine Vinegar and ½ cup Sugar. This is the base for your marinade and will make a sweet vinaigrette type dressing. Then mince 3 cloves of fresh Garlic to season your marinade. I love garlic and tend to add in a little extra if I’m making this for the family. Finally, finish the seasonings with 1 tablespoon Salt, 1 tablespoon Mustard, and 2 tablespoons Tarragon. I like to use stone ground mustard whenever possible, it adds the perfect balance of flavor, but you can use any kind you prefer. Blend these ingredients until well combined.

Perfect for Summer Parties

Pour the marinade over the veggies. Seal the bag tightly and refrigerate overnight. Since this marinade is essentially a salad dressing, you can eat the veggies right away. The flavors, however, will combine and develop after marinating overnight. I’ll occasionally make an extra batch of the dressing to use on salads throughout the week, since it’s delicious on it’s own as well. These veggies are wonderful for summer parties. You can make them up the night before and let them marinate until you’re ready to leave. Perfect for cookouts and potlucks! Have fun mixing up your favorite veggies this summer and enjoy!

Marinated Veggies

2 Bell Peppers

1 lb. Carrots

1 lb. Mushrooms

1 bunch Broccoli

1 bunch Cauliflower

2 Zucchini

5 Stalks Celery

½ cup Vegetable Oil

½ cup Olive Oil

½ cup White Wine Vinegar

½ cup Sugar

3 cloves garlic

1 T. Salt

1 T. Mustard

2 T. Tarragon

 

Slice and chop all veggies to bite sized pieces and combine in a large ziplock bag. In a small blender or food processor combine both Oils, Vinegar, and Sugar. Add in Garlic, Salt, Mustard, and Tarragon for seasoning. Blend until fully combined. Pour the marinade over the veggies and let sit overnight, sealed, in the refrigerator. Enjoy your veggies!

Marinated Veggies by TheLookingGlassCraft.com
This delicious dressing will have you coming back for more!
Smoothie Pops by TheLookingGlassCraft.com

Smoothie Pops

Warm sunshine on the beach, a cool breeze on the green grass, and sweet frozen smoothie pops are the best things about summer. These sweet and colorful smoothie pops are so simple to make. I love making a big batch to freeze after going berry picking at our local farms! Nothing compares to the taste of fresh berries.

Fresh, Ripe Berries

These smoothie pops are an all natural, healthy treat for your daily dose of sweet! They can be made with all varieties of fruit for your favorite flavor combination. Frozen berries can be substituted, but for the best results use fresh, unblemished berries.

Pick out ½ cup of your favorite Berries or cut fruit. This can be a single flavor, or a combination. Experiment and have fun! Pour berries into a blender and add 1 cup Yogurt.  I use plain, unsweetened yogurt for my smoothies, but you can substitute with whatever kind you like. However, if using a sweetened yogurt, omit Brown Sugar and only use ½ of the Honey called for.

Organic, Local Honey

Add in 2 tablespoons Honey to your smoothie mix to sweeten and flavor it. I like to use organic, locally grown honey whenever possible. Using locally grown honey has the added benefit of boosting your immune system and resistance to potential allergens in your area. Bee’s use the local plant life to gather nectar and make their honey, in the process their immune system neutralizes potential allergens from these plants. Just 2 teaspoons of local honey a day helps your own immune system to neutralize local allergens as well, reducing allergy symptoms.

Sweeten to Taste

Finally, for unsweetened Yogurt, add in 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to sweeten. You can substitute this with a more natural sweetener, like agave nectar, if you prefer. However, if you use an alternative sweetener, adjust to taste as these can tend to be stronger than normal sugar. A drop of vanilla extract or another suitable extract can be added for flavor if you like, but start small with these as a little bit goes a long way. Pour smoothie mix into a popsicle mold and freeze.

Create and Have Fun!

One of the neatest things about these smoothie pops, is the way that berries and fruit will naturally color your smoothie, making these a fun and healthy treat for the kids as well. I recently made these smoothie pops for a 4th of July cookout and the effect was spectacular! Instead of choosing just one, I made three different flavors of smoothies. One smoothie was made from raspberries, another from blueberries, and the last one was made with a banana, cut into slices. Using a popsicle stick and plastic wrap to cover, I layered the colors one at a time into my popsicle mold. By letting each layer freeze slightly before adding the next, beautiful red, white, and blue striped popsicles were created. What a fun addition to our holiday cookout! Have fun creating your own unique combination of smoothie pops and share with us in the comments below.

Smoothie Pops

1/2 cup Berries (or cut fruit)

1 cup unsweetened Yogurt

2 T. Honey

2 T. Brown Sugar

Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze. Experiment with new flavors and enjoy!

Smoothie Pops by TheLookingGlassCraft.com
Perfect for summer parties or a sweet treat for the family.
Mushroom Chicken Overview

Mushroom Chicken

This simple mushroom chicken is a great dinner recipe to make on a busy night. The entire dish can be quickly put together in minutes, then simply let it cook. The gravy becomes a rich sauce, creating a moist and creamy dish that is completely effortless. Mushrooms and a wonderful touch of rich, hearty flavor and bring this dish to the next level.

Hearty Gravy and Fresh Mushrooms

Mushroom Chicken Step 1
Layer fresh sliced mushrooms over chicken.

Lay the Chicken Breasts out across the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle 1 cup fresh, sliced Mushrooms on top. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine 2 cups Beef Gravy and 1/4 cup Beef Stock to make the gravy thin. I use a Homemade Gravy, but in a pinch you can substitute pre-made gravy. Add in ¼ cup Sherry and stir the sauce all together. Pour the sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. As it bakes, the chicken will absorb the rich, hearty flavors from the mushrooms and gravy. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes. Let the sauce stand to thicken for about 5 minutes before serving.

Mushroom Chicken Step 2
Pour gravy over-top the casserole.

You can always, prepare the sauce ahead of time and mix with the chicken breasts in a plastic freezer bag. Freeze the mixture until ready and dump in the crockpot in the morning before work. Add in fresh, sliced mushrooms and an extra ¼ cup of water. Cook on low heat for 6 – 8 hours. The sauce should be thick and creamy. Preparing it this way, the sauce will act like a marinade, infusing the chicken with even more flavor.

Mushroom Chicken Close Up
Enjoy your delicious meal!

Mushroom Chicken

4 Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless

1 cup Fresh Mushrooms, sliced

2 cups Thick Beef Gravy

1/4 cup Beef Stock

¼ cup Sherry

Spread Chicken breasts in a deep casserole dish. Sprinkle fresh mushrooms over top of the chicken. In a medium bowl, combine Gravy, Stock, and Sherry to make a sauce. Pour the sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 35 – 45 minutes.

 

Broth Gravy

Broth Gravy

From homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes to warm veggies from a delicious roast, everything is better with gravy. This delicious hearty sauce adds a warm touch of homemade comfort to your food. As a relatively simple addition, gravy packs so much flavor and heartiness. A small spread of gravy can tie a meal together, blending the flavors perfectly. With so many pre-made options available, it’s easy to forget how quick and simple it is to whip up a batch of gravy at home. Homemade broth gravy is packed with so much more flavor and nutrients than store bought. In order to make the product last longer store packaged and pre-made gravies are loaded with sodium. However, after making your own rich, hearty broth gravy you will find the store bought options almost tasteless in comparison.

Your Own Custom Flavor

Using this technique you can make delicious, homemade gravy out of any type of broth or stock. Use only as much of the thickener as you need to achieve the right consistency for you, less is more as the gravy will thicken more upon standing. You can reserve any leftover thickener for later use.

In a small pot on the stove, melt 1/3 cup Butter over low heat. When the butter is completely melted, slowly mix in ½ cup Flour. The mixture should be not quite liquid, but not dough, about the consistency of applesauce. Cook this mixture over low heat, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes. This cooks the mixture slightly, getting rid of the overly ‘floury’ taste you would get if you mixed the flour right into stock. It also allows the flour to thoroughly mix with the butter, before adding to the liquid. This prevents lumps, making your gravy incredibly smooth. Set aside and let cool.

Whisk Together

In another pot, heat 3 cups of Stock to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Using a wire whisk, combine the flour mixture into the stock, adding only a little at a time. Stop when about half of the flour mixture has been incorporated. This may be thick enough for you and you can save the rest for use later. I like to make very thick gravy, so I end up using all of the mixture to thicken it. When your gravy is at the proper consistency, remove it from the heat and let cool.

For additional flavor you can mix several delicious add-ins to your gravy. Just a little touch of one of these can really make the recipe your own. I usually add 1 or 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce for a little extra flavor. Mushrooms or onions are a great add in for flavor. In a skillet, sauté 2 cups of sliced, fresh mushrooms or onions. When veggies are done mix them in with the gravy.                                                                                                      

Broth Gravy

3 cups Stock

1/3 cup Butter

1/2 cup Flour

Melt Butter in a small stove pot and mix in Flour, a little at a time. Cook this mixture, stirring continuously, for about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool. Heat Stock in a separate pot, to boiling and reduce to a simmer. Using a wire whisk, combine the thickening flour mixture to the stock, a little at a time. Add only enough to thicken to desired consistency. Reserve the leftover thickener for later use. Add in any additional mix ins or flavorings desired. Ladle gravy over a warm plate of food and enjoy!

Spicy Cajun Pasta

Spicy Cajun Pasta

Opposites attract, in the best of ways, with this creamy, spicy dish. This rich and smooth Fettuccini Alfredo kicks it up a notch with colorful peppers and spicy seasonings! Our Spicy Cajun Pasta is a step away from the ordinary with a unique, colorful dinner that’s quick and easy to prepare. This spicy variation of an Alfredo sauce came together one night when my husband brought home a Siracha seasoning mix for me to experiment with. That night a new family favorite meal was born. The calm Alfredo sauce balances out the intense spices in this dish and the colorful peppers make it as pretty as it is delicious.

Classic Dinner with a Spicy Twist

Using fresh ingredients and a homemade Alfredo Sauce makes this a meal bursting with flavor! Peppers can be sliced and stored ahead of time, making this dinner a breeze to throw together.

Prepare your Homemade Alfredo Sauce in a small stove pot , or heat a pre-made Alfredo over low heat. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. This can be adjusted for taste. Next mix in ¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder and ¼ teaspoon Onion Powder. This will give the sauce a rich, hearty taste, without a lot of extra effort. It lays a great foundation for the additional spices. Now comes the hot stuff. Add 1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning. I love this seasoning as it adds just the right amount of spicy flavor, without being too hot or overpowering. Stir in ½ teaspoon Siracha Powder to really kick up the spices a notch. Siracha powder is an intense spice, so don’t overdo this one! ¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes adds some extra bits of color as well as enhancing the flavor and adding an extra bite of spice. Finally, stir in 1 teaspoon of your favorite Hot Sauce. I usually use Franks or Louisiana hot sauce. Combine all of these seasonings together with the Alfredo sauce to create the perfect balance between smooth and spicy. Continue letting the Alfredo thicken or heat until it is the right temperature and consistency for you.

While the sauce is heating, slice 1 Bell Pepper of each color (red, green, yellow, and orange). Sauté the peppers in a large skillet with 1 or 2 tablespoons Butter. When the peppers are soft throughout and no longer crisp on the inside, remove from the heat. Pour the finished sauce and peppers over cooked noodles and toss to combine. Serve immediately for the best taste. Enjoy!

Spicy Cajun Pasta

Alfredo Sauce

½ teaspoon Salt

½ teaspoon Pepper

¼ teaspoon Garlic Powder

¼ teaspoon Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Cajun Seasoning

½ teaspoon Siracha Powder

¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

1 teaspoon Hot Sauce

1 Green Pepper

1 Red Pepper

1 Yellow Pepper

1 Orange Pepper

Cooked Noodles

Heat or prepare Alfredo Sauce in a small stove pot. Mix in all seasonings for a spicy kick. Slice 4 different colored peppers (Green, Red, Yellow, and Orange) and sauté in a large skillet. Pour the Spicy Alfredo Sauce and Sautéed Peppers over cooked noodles. Toss to combine and enjoy!

Chicken Soup Casserole

Chicken Soup Casserole

Nothing compares to Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. But it takes so long to make, I usually end up making a really huge batch. This chicken soup casserole is a great way to re-purpose any leftover Chicken Soup. You can make the filling ahead of time and freeze it for a quick dinner on busy nights. My husband asks for this dinner so often now, I find myself making a pot of Stock just to whip up a quick version of this recipe. This recipe will also work well with a Cream of Chicken Soup to substitute the Homemade Chicken Noodle.

Healthy and Delicious

Start with 2 ½ cups Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup or Cream of Chicken Soup. If you are using a chicken noodle soup with a store bought broth instead of a Homemade Stock add in 1/3 cup Flour to thicken it. Now we will bulk up the filling by adding in our extra meat and veggies. Chop 1 cup Cooked Chicken to mix in. Add in ½ cup sliced Carrots and ½ cup sliced Celery. I always recommend using fresh produce, but this recipe works just as well with frozen if you are in a pinch. Next mix 1 cup Peas and 1 cup Corn into your soup. It should be very thick now and full of delicious veggies. Pour ½ cup Milk into the mixture and stir everything together.

Pour this filling into a casserole dish and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes while you prepare the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup Flour, ½ teaspoon Baking Powder, and ¼ teaspoon Salt. Crumble in 1/8 cup Butter. Then add the seasonings, ½ teaspoon Rosemary, 1 teaspoon Oregano, 1 teaspoon Basil, ½ teaspoon Thyme. Mix all of this together, so the seasonings are spread evenly through your topping. Then add 1 beaten Egg and ½ cup Milk. Mix these in to make a thick batter.

Take the casserole dish out of the oven and pour the batter gently over the filling. Don’t get too much in one spot. The batter will expand as it bakes, so it’s ok if the topping doesn’t touch all across the casserole. As long as there’s not too much in one spot it should come together. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

Chicken Soup Casserole

2 ½ cups Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

1 cup Cooked Chicken

½ cup Carrots

½ cup Celery

1 cup Peas

1 cup Corn

½ cup Milk

1 cup Flour

½ teaspoon Baking Powder

¼ teaspoon Salt

1/8 cup Butter

½ teaspoon Rosemary

1 teaspoon Oregano

1 teaspoon Basil

½ teaspoon Thyme

1 Egg

½ cup Milk

In a large bowl, combine Chicken Noodle Soup, chopped Cooked Chicken, sliced Carrots and Celery, as well as Peas and Corn. Add in ½ cup Milk and mix well. Pour filling into a large casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, combine 1 cup Flour with Baking Powder, Salt, and crumbled Butter. Mix in the seasonings, Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, and Thyme. Add in 1 beaten Egg and ½ cup Milk to create a thick batter. Take the casserole out of the oven and gently pour the batter over top of the filling, spreading evenly throughout the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Egg McMuffins

Egg McMuffins

I’ve been trying to move away from greasy, processed, fast food and cook meals at home with fresh ingredients instead. But every so often my husband decides he just has to have McDonalds and their over-priced Egg McMuffins are one of his favorites. So in an effort to eat more healthy, without cutting out all of our favorite foods, I realized I could start making most of these at home! The first time I made Homemade Egg McMuffins I had intended for them to be a freezer meal; something we could grab on the go. However, once my husband sneaked his first of these sandwiches as they were being assembled, it was all over. That batch of 8 Egg McMuffins never made it to the freezer. This has become a favorite at our house and I have finally given up trying to make enough to freeze them. My husband claims they are even better than McDonalds.

Better Than McDonalds

If you are using regular bacon or ham make sure it is cooked. Then grease a muffin tin and crack an egg into each of the circles. My husband goes through these about as fast as I can make them, so I usually fill up my muffin tin, but you can cook only one or two if you like. Poke the yolk of each egg several times with a toothpick to make sure it cooks all the way through. Bake the eggs in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Poke the centers with a toothpick to make sure they are done, it should come out clean. If you are only making one or two of these at a time you can fry the egg on a skillet, using a circular, metal cookie cutter to shape the egg into a circle. Add a lid to the skillet for a few minutes so the steam cooks the top of the egg as well. Poke the centers with a toothpick to be sure they are done. Be careful when removing the cookie cutter as it will be hot!

While the Eggs are cooking, toast the English Muffins and spread with a little butter. Lay a slice of Cheddar Cheese inside one half of the muffin while it is still warm. Add one baked egg circle on the muffin. Place either one slice of Canadian Bacon or one slice of regular bacon, broken in half, over the Egg and top with the other half of the muffin. If these delicious sandwiches don’t get devoured right away, you can wrap them in plastic and freeze for individual breakfast sandwiches on the go. To reheat simply unwrap the plastic and wrap the frozen sandwich with a paper towel. Microwave for about 1 minute and enjoy a delicious homemade sandwich on the go!

Egg McMuffins

For Each Sandwich:

1 English Muffin

A little Butter

1 slice Cheddar Cheese

1 Egg

1 slice Canadian or Regular Bacon

Bake the Eggs in a muffin tin on 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Fry Bacon if needed. Toast the English Muffins, spreading each with a little Butter. Layer the Sandwich with 1 slice Cheddar Cheese, 1 cooked Egg circle, and 1 slice of Canadian or Regular Bacon. Enjoy!

Cookie Crumb Dip

Cookie Crumb Dip

I hate letting food go to waste. We rarely have leftovers in my house, but when we do I’m always looking for interesting ways to reuse them. After going through my own personal cookie baking marathon these last two weeks, most of my cookies are gone but I have about half a cookie jar filled with crumbs! Of course, I can’t just throw these away. But what can I possibly do to re-purpose a bunch of crumbs? Enter the Cookie Crumb Dip.

I am so excited about this. This delicious dip can be made from any type of cookie. You can serve it at parties with gram crackers for a dessert dip. It can also be spread on bagels and toast for those like me who think dessert and breakfast were made for each other. This dip becomes firm in the fridge, so I was able to roll a few balls of mock ‘cookie dough’ out of it to mix in with ice cream!

So Good, I Think I’ll Bake More Cookies

I ended up making three batches of this after the first one turned out so well. One was made with a mixture of cookie crumbs and the others were made with Oatmeal Raisin and Snickerdoodle cookies. The Oatmeal Raisin Dip is perfect for bagels in the morning and the cinnamon-sugar flavor of Snickerdoodle Dip is delicious on toast. The mixed cookie crumb dip worked great for bagels and toast as well, but this one was my favorite to use with gram crackers as a sweet snack.

Gather up your leftover cookies or cookie crumbs. Chop them in a food processor a few times to break down bigger pieces and make the crumbs more uniform. Take 2 cups of the Cookie Crumbs and pour ½ cup melted Butter on top to make them soft and gooey. Next, mix in 1/3 cup Cream Cheese. Let the cream cheese soften a bit first to make mixing easier, you want a nice smooth dip. Mix all the of these ingredients together and if you have a few bigger chunks of cookie left you can sprinkle those on for an extra bite of cookie. Serve as a dip or a spread and enjoy!

Cookie Crumb Dip

2 cups Cookie Crumbs

½ cup Butter, melted

½ cup Cream Cheese.

Break down Cookies into crumbs if needed. Stir in melted Butter and Cream Cheese until mixture is smooth. Enjoy this delicious, simple dip.