Monday, December 22, 2014

Sausage, Egg and Cheesy Hash Brown Bake

I don't know about you, but I can hardly believe Christmas is just three days away!  

There is so much anticipation and build-up, that when it actually gets close, it seems surreal.  

I am extremely excited and grateful to have the next two weeks off to be home with the kids.  

Although, I have one minor problem…I tend to be overambitious!  

Yesterday I sat on the couch with my hubby watching the Packer game making out a 
to-do list and scheduling the tasks for the next two weeks.

  I will still get up at 5 am to start laundry and get my workout in, 
I will be as efficient as possible, 
but there is no way that everything I put on my list is going to get done, 
but that won't stop me from trying!  

My goals are to use the first week to get caught up and the second week to get ahead!  

Tackle some projects that have been lingering (like wedding and honeymoon pictures!) 
but I can't forgot that I also have to finish some of the Christmas details…
like sorting presents to ensure that the kids all of the same number and wrapping them.

So, perhaps all of the bedrooms and bathrooms won't get deep-cleaned, 
but you can be sure that the presents and cooking will get done!  

Speaking of cooking, 
how do you plan your holiday meals?  

It has been the topic of multiple dinner discussions over the past week, 
giving each family member a chance to request something special.  

We received a ham from Jerry's employer, 
so that will be accompanied with some roasted baby reds, a nice salad, corn and
fruit cocktail jello made in individual crystal glasses.
(something I did once that has now become a hard and fast tradition!)

As far as Christmas morning, 
I have a easy and delicious breakfast bake for you to make
that will be done just in time for you to open any presents that may have arrived.  

Just brown up 1# of bulk Italian sausage over medium heat. 

Then, sautee a chopped onion right in the same pan,
picking up some of the sausage flavoring. 

Into the baking dish a 28 oz bag of THAWED* hash browns were layered
and sprinkled with salt.  

*Leave the hash browns in the fridge over night and that will cut your baking time in half!  

Next, layer the cooked sausage over the potatoes. 

For an even quicker option, 
diced ham can be used which doesn't require any additional time for browning. 

One dozen eggs, 1 cup of milk, the cooked onions, 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
were all whisked together. 

The egg mixture was poured over the sausage and potatoes. 

Topped with 1-2 cups of shredded cheddar 
and bake at 350 F for about 30-35 minutes. 

Until the eggs are cooked and the cheese is browned. 

Let stand to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. 

This was a perfect brunch on a busy sport morning and 
I made it again this past weekend 
for a Christmas gathering on my extended side of the family. 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 10

1# of bulk Italian sausage (diced ham could be substituted for a quicker prep)
1 onion - chopped
28 oz bag of THAWED hash browns
1 dozen eggs
1 cup of milk
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1-2 cups of shredded cheddar 

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. 
  • Layer hash browns into 9x13 pan. 
  • Brown sausage over medium heat, layer over hash browns. 
  • Sautee onion in sausage pan. 
  • Combine eggs, onion, milk, salt and pepper; whisk well. 
  • Pour over hash browns and sausage. 
  • Sprinkle with cheese. 
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes. 
  • Let stand before serving. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Double Chocolate Peppermint Pudding Cookies

One dozen of these 
Double Chocolate Peppermint Pudding Cookies
will be given away!  

Just share the All Things Libby post
on Facebook to be entered into the drawing!

Happy Monday and Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap Recipe Post Day!  

My excitement for Christmas cookies has been elevated this year with my participation in the 
Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  

Thanks to Lindsay at Love and Olive Oil and Julie at The Little Kitchen
for coordinating this awesome swap and networking event.

So excited to make a connection with the people behind these awesome blogs.  

And, I want to thank to my dear friend Holly and her blog-reading prowess, 
as she turned me on to this event and it has been such a blast.   

All I had to do was submit my name and then 
received the names of 3 bloggers from around the country while 3 other bloggers received my name, 
all for us to ship off 1 dozen cookies to each other.  

I can't wait to tell you about the cookies I received!   

The first ones that were received and devoured were the Gooey Butter Cookies 
from Linz at Itz Linz based in St. Louis, MO.  

These cookies were so good, my kids and I were fighting over them. 
They were powdery and flavorful with a soft gooey center.  

I can't wait to see the recipe because they might just need to be whipped up pronto.  

The second box to arrive was some awesome 
Coconut Mac-Nut Biscotti 
from Amber at Loves Food, Loves to Eat out of Seattle, WA. 

I loved the coconut flavor of these when dunked in my coffee.  

Note to self, take time to enjoy biscotti more often!  

Finally, amazingly soft and perfectly spiced Snickerdoodles 
arrived from Shalon & Sam
at Palmer and Brown in New York.  

It was so fun to be the recipient of such a great variety of cookies from coast to coast.  

Now, onto my cookie!

As much as I create my own recipes for meals, cookies and baked goods are less of my forte, 
but that won't stop me from joining in the fun!

Brainstorming my cookie didn't take long. 
Peppermint is my absolute favorite holiday flavor, hands down. 

I started researching ideas and came across a pudding cookie. 
That was a brand new idea to me, 
so certainly a great place to start and build from there. 

After my first feeble attempt at the cookies, 
good flavor but almost no texture, 
I resorted to Kraft Recipes for their pudding cookie recipe
as the starting point.  

I knew I wanted peppermint extract and chips, as well as cocoa powder 
to be part of this creation. 
And then figured that some extra chocolate, in the form of chips, 
wouldn't hurt either. 

Thanks for following along this far, 
let's get to the recipe! 

Two stick of softened butter and 1 cup of brown sugar were the first two ingredients
in this cookie party. 

After being sufficiently mixed, 
two eggs and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract were added 
to complete the wet ingredients. 

Then, the dry ingredients were measured and mixed….
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 package of cream cheese pudding 
1/3 cup cocoa powder. 

After being gently combined, 
they were added to the mixing bowl. 

Mixed well and the final touches were added…

1/2 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cups crushed peppermint candy
were all mixed together. 

Using a medium scoop, 
1 dozen cookie dough balls were placed on a baking pan
and popped into a 350 F oven
for just about 10 minutes. 

I hate over-cooked cookies, 
so always error on the side of chewy!  

Once baked, some additional crushed peppermint candies 
were sprinkled on top. 

I can't say enough good things about these…
amazing texture and flavors, 
but don't trust my word, 
whip up a batch for yourself!  

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 3 dozen

2 stick of softened butter
1 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 package of cream cheese pudding 
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup of chocolate chips
1/2 cups crushed peppermint candy

Preheat oven to 350 F. 
Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, pudding and cocoa powder. 
Then, add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar. 
Finally, fold in the chocolate chips and peppermint candy. 
Drop slightly larger than tablespoon balls of dough on baking sheet. 
Bake for 10 minutes. 
Sprinkle with additional peppermint candy immediately after removing from oven. 

Cool and serve. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

As the holidays are fast approaching, 
I've been wanting to share with you fabulous recipes for parties and gatherings. 

This one is so easy, indulgent and delicious!

Shrimp, wrapped in bacon and topped with pizza sauce.

These little bites of Italian, smokey, crispy shrimp
are signature of my brother Nick and have quickly become a traditional staple
at holidays and family trips.  

Seriously, you can whip these up in less than 30 minutes
with just THREE ingredients! 

Bacon, Shrimp and Pizza Sauce,
that's it!  

Start by lightly pre-frying 1# of bacon. 

If you have read any of my bacon wrapped entries in the past,
you will already know that 
I prefer to get the bacon started before wrapping to enhance the texture and appearance. 

One pound of raw, peeled large shrimp. 

Shrimp gets so rubbery if over cooked, so I always start with raw. 

Using 1/2 slice, wrap the bacon around the shrimp,
securing with a toothpick from the side,
to allow for topping with the sauce. 

Finally, top with about a tablespoon of pizza sauce and
pop into a 350 F oven for just about 10 minutes. 

You will know the shrimp are cooked because they are pink and opaque,
no longer gray and translucent.  

These could be made be prepped ahead of time and just popped into the oven as the guests are arriving for a tasty appetizer. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 10 minutes at 350 F

Makes nearly 30 individual bites. 

1# Large Shrimp - raw, de-veined and peeled
1# Bacon
Pizza Jar - small

Preheat oven to 350 F. 
Pre-fry bacon until lightly browned. 
Wrap 1/2 slice of bacon around shrimp. 
Secure with toothpick from the side. 
Top with 1 tbsp of pizza sauce. 
Bake for 10 minutes, or until shrimp are thoroughly cooked. 

**Pin NOW, if you haven't already!**

Monday, December 8, 2014

Parmesan Pesto Broiled Fish

Welcome to a brand new week!  

Hope that your weekend was fabulous and you are re-charged for a new week!

Mine was a great combination of all of the wonderful things in my life!  

Friday night was our annual mom's Christmas shopping adventure, 
which is one of the best gifts in itself, to just have time together!  

In general, we are a pretty low key group, so the fact that we didn't get home until midnight 
speaks volumes about this tradition.  

Good clean fun and lots of laughter!  

The kids formed an assembly line on Saturday to help me with Christmas cards.  
They excitedly stuffed, stamped and labeled the envelopes, 
but no one was willing to seal, so that job came back to me.  

It was so great to see them all smiling and working together,
 even as they called 'switch' to change tasks. 

Another weekend highlight included the Nutcracker collection display at Milton College, 
where we saw a friend's collection along with a couple of the kids' classmates.  

It was also super cool to check out a bit of Milton College, 
something I had only seen or heard of from afar. 

Saturday was also a beautiful winter evening for the Janesville Jolly Jingle Holiday Lights Parade.  

To the best of my knowledge, this was Janesville's first holiday parade and 
we can't wait to see this grow!  

We were excited to check out the holiday events that were planned and 
see lots of familiar faces along the way.  

The flat tire when we got back to the car, however, was not part of our evening plans! 

While the tire was being changed, Alayna and I brainstormed the silver linings, 
including that we were with some wonderful friends who came to the rescue.  

He helped Jerry put on the spare while she dropped off another friend, scoped out dinner spots and ultimately picked up pizza to just hang out at home.  

Just can't complain about those little bumps in the road, when blessings are so abundant!

Now, here we are, back at the start again with another week of meals ahead of us.  

This broiled fish recipe was a huge hit with my whole family!  

The creaminess of the sauce along with the crispness of the cheese was a perfect combination 
to go with any white fish of your choice. 

Best part…it is quick! Ready in just about 10 minutes!  

The fillets of fish are just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper on a baking pan.  

I prefer to line my baking sheets with foil for ease of clean up. 

Pop the fish under the broiler for just about 5 minutes. 

While the fish are getting started, 
so shall the sauce. 

One half cup of mayonnaise, 
one tbsp of Pesto
(this can be store-bought or click here to make your own!)
and one quarter cup of grated Parmesan

Finally, add 2 tsp of lemon pepper seasoning.

After the first 5 minutes of broiling, 
top the fish with the sauce and spread into a thin layer, 
then back under the broiler it goes. 

While broiling, 
the sizzling of the cheese could be heard…
music to my ear! 

Love the gorgeous color and texture that came out of the broiler after just 
2-3 minutes. 

Just serve it up with some rice and edamame for a quick, fabulous, healthy weeknight meal!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Bake Time: <10 minutes
Serves: 4

1# of fish fillets of your choice
Salt and Pepper - to taste
1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 
1 tbsp of Pesto
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan
2 tsp Lemon Pepper seasoning

Preheat oven to broil. 
Lightly season thawed fish fillets with salt and pepper. 
Broil for 5 minutes or longer for thicker fillets. 
While broiling, mix up mayo, pesto, parm and lemon pepper sauce for topping. 
Remove fish and spread a layer of Parmesan Pesto sauce on top. 
Return to the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is lightly browned. 

Serve up with your favorite veggie and starch for a healthy, balanced, quick and easy meal.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Turkey Meatloaf Florentine

Hey there, 
How is your week going?

Lots of good stuff getting done around here, 
which equals a good week!  

I have a question for you...

Do you love
One-Dish Wonders 
as much as I do? 

There is something so relieving for me 
about combining all of the components of a healthy meal into one dish. 

Pop it into the oven and sit back because all of the goodies are in one place. 

Plenty of protein in the turkey,
a nice balance of carbs in the oatmeal (or breadcrumbs, if you prefer)
then spinach and tomatoes 
to cover your veggies and fruit!

I made a big batch of this and the leftovers were just as fabulous! 

How does your family feel about leftovers?
Do you cook a double batch for the purpose of having leftovers?

As you have probably gathered, 
I spend a lot of time trying to ensure that my family eats relatively healthy
having leftovers in the fridge
helps to fend off the consumption of overly processed foods, 
of which there is a limited supply in our freezer too.  

Ok, enough about leftovers and on to the main dish…

Start by preheating the oven to 375 F 
and then sautee 
one medium, chopped onion in 1-2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. 

Once the onion starts to soften, 
add 3 heaping handfuls of spinach

and cover for a few minutes to help wilt the spinach.

Spinach cooks down SO much,
even if you think it looks like a ton of spinach
after wilting, 
it is only about a quarter of it's original volume. 

I was going for the double batch of meatloaf, 
so please feel free to adjust the recipe accordingly. 

Three pounds of ground turkey
3 cups of quick oats,
1 tbsp seasoning salt,
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce,
1 tsp ground black pepper
are added to the mixing bowl. 

Along with 3 eggs
and the spinach and onion mixture. 

Combine all of the ingredients well. 

I may have started with a spoon,
in sheer optimism, 
but ultimately had to dive right in with my hands to ensure that all ingredients were evenly dispersed.

Traditional loaf in a pan

Since there were two loaves
being made…
one was made traditionally 
in a loaf pan,
lined with parchment paper. 

Rustic loaf on a baking sheet

The second was made in a more
rustic fashion,
just shaped into a loaf
on a baking sheet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato

Hooray for December and all of the wonderful things that come along with it!  

The excitement of Christmas is alive in our house and 
I'm so thankful that so far
 (I know, it is still early!)
I am able to fend off being overwhelmed and just take a deep breath, 
add another item to my to do list and 
savor the joy that comes with each holiday activity.  

As we bounce from the tree to the lights, 
from the cookies to the decorations,
from the cards to the gifts…
there isn't much time left for cooking, 
so I'll try to help you out and
keep the meal ideas coming!  

This hearty, creamy chicken soup was a huge hit, 
the contrasting flavors and textures of the rice and sweet potatoes,
really hit the spot!  

It was even requested for deer camp, 
so I guess that means it is man-approved.  

First things first…
1# of chicken was cut into cubes, 
seasoned with 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning and
sautéed over medium heat in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil.

When the chicken was cooked thoroughly,
1 cup of white n wild rice blend
along with 1-2 cups of cubed sweet potatoes 
were added to the stock pot.  

Four cups of chicken broth 
were added and brought to a boil,
simmered for about 20 minutes
while the rice and potatoes softened.  

To be honest, 
you could stop right here and you would have a fabulous soup
in about 30 minutes. 

My family doesn't get creamy stuff very often, 
so when I offered to thicken this up, 
they didn't think twice. 

So, to make the roux, 
2 tbsp of butter were melted 
and 1/4 cup of flour was whisked together.
(I used soy, but you can use all-purpose, if you prefer)

One half cup of milk is also added. 

Whisk continuously over medium-low heat
until the protein in the soy flour is denatured, or cooked, 
and thickens to nearly a paste.

Add it to the stock pot,
when the rice and sweet potatoes are cooked.

Stir it all up and
there you have a nice creamy base for your soup. 


Cook Time : 45 minutes
Serves: 6

1# of chicken 
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1-2 tbsp of olive oil
1 cup of White n Wild rice blend (any kind of rice will work just fine!)
1-2 cups of cubed sweet potatoes 
4 cups of chicken broth 
2 tbsp of butter 
1/4 cup of flour (I used soy, but all-purpose would work too!)
1/2 cup of milk

  • Heat 1-2 tbsp of cooking oil over medium heat. 
  • Add cubed chicken and cook until no more pink. 
  • Add rice, sweet potatoes and chicken broth. 
  • Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked. 
  • To make the roux, melt butter and whisk in flour. 
  • Then add milk and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens to a paste. 
  • Add the roux to the soup. 
  • Stir and serve!