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Hash Brown Casserole

Hash Brown Casserole PlatedOur weather has been incredibly and ridiculously cold the past week or so (although it seems like months!).

The bone-chilling temperatures just make me crave comfort-type food. Something warm and filling.

The other day, in a panic to come up with something edible for dinner before Captain Cavedweller arrived home, tired and hungry, I whipped up a hash brown casserole. Super easy, it proved to be quite tasty.

Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

Start by giving your baking dish a good coating of non-stick spray.

Start by giving your baking dish a good coating of non-stick spray.

Melt the butter and crush, crumble or pulverize the crackers into the bowl.

Melt the butter and crush, crumble or pulverize the crackers into the bowl.

Stir together until cracker crumbs are well coated.

Stir together until cracker crumbs (in my case, chunks… did I mention I was in a hurry?) are well coated.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients.

Mix together the rest of the ingredients.

Then scoop into your baking pan. If you love cheese, go ahead and sprinkle some on top.

Then scoop into your baking pan. If you love cheese, go ahead and sprinkle some on top.

Finish it off with your cracker crumbs and bake in a 350 oven for an hour.

Finish it off with your cracker crumbs and bake in a 350 oven for an hour.

When it's done, you'll have a crispy ,crunchy golden cracker crust on top of a gooey layer of cheese.

When it’s done, you’ll have a crispy ,crunchy golden cracker crust on top of a gooey layer of cheese.

Hash Brown Casserole

2 lbs frozen shredded hash browns

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup of sour cream

2 cups shredded cheddar (or colby-jack cheese) grated

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning (like Mrs. Dash)

1 tsp. parsley

1 sleeve of Saltine crackers, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray an 11 x 14 baking dish with cooking spray.

Melt butter then crumbled crackers into it, stirring until well coated. Set aside.

Mix the remaining  ingredients together, place in prepared pan, and top with 1/2 cup additional cheese, if desired. Top with the cracker crumbs and bake for an hour.

Remove and indulge in the deliciousness!

She Who Should Not Make This Again, but It Was So Yummy

I thought I’d share a little about The Christmas Calamity this morning since the book is now officially released in both Kindle and Paperback formats! Make sure you click on the “Meet” pages for some fun info and visuals!

The Christmas Calamity

Hardman Holidays Book 3

The Christmas Calamity Cover

 Arlan Guthry hasn’t got a chance once Alex the Amazing rolls into town…

Dependable and solid, Arlan Guthry relishes his orderly life as a banker’s assistant in the small town of Hardman, Oregon. He has good friends, a great job, and the possibility of marriage to the town’s schoolteacher.

His uncluttered world tilts off kilter when the beautiful and enigmatic prestidigitator Alexandra Janowski arrives in town, spinning magic and trouble in her wake as the holiday season approaches.

Kindle

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Meet Arlan and Alex

Excerpt:

Entranced by the way her mouth moved as she spoke, Arlan didn’t realize he leaned closer and closer until Alex stopped talking and released a sigh.

“Arlan, don’t you think…”

“Yes, I do.” He set down his coffee cup and rose to his feet, pulling Alex up next to him. Gently tracing his thumb across her bottom lip, he watched her eyes flutter closed and listened to her draw in a ragged breath.

“Alex, please, may I kiss you?” Arlan thought he’d die if she said no. Every nerve, every muscle, every ounce of blood pumping rapidly through his veins wanted to taste her lips, savor their velvety softness moving against his own.

“Arlan…” Alex raised her gaze to his. The wanting in her eyes was undeniable, but she stepped back from him. “As much as I want to say yes, I have to say no. I refuse to come between you and Miss Bevins. It wouldn’t be right or fair.”

“There is no me and Miss Bevins. In fact, I wrote her a letter today making that point abundantly clear.” Arlan moved until he stood with the toes of his boots disappearing beneath the hem of Alex’s skirt.

“But I’ve heard you whispering her name over and over, like a chant or something. I know you love her, Arlan, and I won’t do this.” Alex backed up until she bumped into the wall.

Arlan wasted no time in closing the space between them. He raised his hand to her face again, trailing his index finger across her smooth cheek and along her jaw. “If you heard me whispering her name, it was in a futile effort to remind myself of her. You see, I tend to forget she even exists whenever I think of you.”

Kolacky

Kolacky plated

In my soon-to-be-released holiday romance, The Christmas Calamity, the heroine of the story is of Polish descent.

The Christmas Calamity Cover

Alex the Amazing is a prestidigitator who knows her way around the kitchen, when she needs to cook.

She bakes a batch of cookies from a recipe her grandmother shared with her. The hero of the tale, Arlan, falls for her cookies almost as much as he does her.

Since the cookies were important in the story, I decided I better bake a batch of Kolacky.

Originating as a semisweet wedding dessert from Central Europe, Kolacky are especially popular for Christmas.

Oh, my gracious! These are so, so good. I had to practically beat Captain Cavedweller off with a stick so I could have a few.

Give them a whirl. They weren’t hard to make and are incredibly yummy! Here’s a modern version of a delicious recipe.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Start by creaming butter and cream cheese together.

Start by creaming butter and cream cheese together.

Beat together remaining ingredients (except jam!)

Beat together remaining ingredients (except jam!)

 

Until you have a nice bowl of somewhat sticky dough.

Until you have a nice bowl of somewhat sticky dough.

Roll out on a floured surface.

Roll out on a floured surface.

Traditionally, the dough should be cut into squares, but you can use a round cutter or a glass.

Traditionally, the dough should be cut into squares, but you can use a round cutter or a glass.

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Add dollops of jam to the dough then fold edges together.

Add dollops of jam to the dough then fold edges together.

If you have trouble getting the edges to stick, use a touch of milk or water to hold it in place.

If you have trouble getting the edges to stick, use a touch of milk or water to hold it in place.

Remove from the oven before they start to brown. You want the dough to be just set.

Remove from the oven before they start to brown. You want the dough to be just set.

Top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Then force the other inhabitants of your home to share.

Then force the other inhabitants of your home to share.

Kolacky

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (3oz) pkg. cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup strawberry jam (any flavor works)

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl. Beat until fluffy.  Add flour then mix well. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Traditionally, the pastry is cut into squares, but you can use a round biscuit cutter or glass if that’s what you have on hand.

Place pastries two-inches apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Spoon 1/4 tsp. jam onto each cookie. Fold opposite sides together. If you have trouble getting the sides to stick, dampen the edge with a drop of milk or water.

Bake for 12 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks and sprinkle liberally with confectioner’s sugar. It is nearly impossible to eat just one!

Yield about 2 dozen.

Pumpkin Pie Bites

I’ve shared this recipe before, but it bears repeating. Sooooo yummy!

Happy Halloween!

These are easy to make, quick to bake and just as yummy as traditional pumpkin pie. Especially piled high with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon!

 

Pumpkin Pie Bites

Crust:

1./2 cup butter

3-4 ounce of cream cheese (3 oz. if you have a small pack or cut a large pack in half)

1 cup flour

Soften butter and cream cheese, blend together with flour until a soft dough forms. It will be sticky. Cover and chill for one hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a greased mini-muffin tin, roll dough into walnut-sized balls and drop one in the tin. Use a tart tamper (or the back of spoon – or a shot glass if you have one) to smoosh the dough into the bottum and up the sides of the muffin cup.

Fill with pumpkin filling and bake for about 15-20 minutes until pumpkin is set and dough is starting to brown. Remove from oven, let cool, devour.

Pumpkin Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 egg

3/4 cup pumpkin

1/2 cup evaporated milk

Beat egg, blend in pumpkin and milk then stir in dry ingredients. Mix well. Pour into crust-lined muffin cups and bake.

Garnish with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Pumpkin Cookies

Pumpkin cookies 013

I don’t know how I missed this… but I recently came across a recipe for the most moist, delicious, pumpkin cookies. The best part?

Two ingredients.

That’s right – just two ingredients!

If you can open a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin, you can make these!

I added a drizzle of cream cheese frosting and some toffee bits sprinkles and that was a delectable decision.

Tantalize your taste buds and make these easy cookies today!

Ingredients

Ingredients

 

Mix a can of pumpkin with a spice cake mix.

Mix a can of pumpkin with a spice cake mix.

Blend until thoroughly mixed.

Blend until thoroughly mixed.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment (or foil when you run out of parchment.)

Drop by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment (or foil when you run out of parchment.)

Bake at 350 for about ten minutes, until cookies are just set. You don't want to overcook them.

Bake at 350 for about ten minutes, until cookies are just set. You don’t want to overcook them.

Some of the cookies, I topped with a pumpkin marshmallow just before they were done. Yum!

Some of the cookies, I topped with a pumpkin marshmallow just before they were done. Yum!

Remove from oven and let cool, then drizzle with cream cheese frosting (nuke frosting in microwave for 10-12 seconds to reach a pourable stage.)

Remove from oven and let cool, then drizzle with cream cheese frosting (nuke frosting in microwave for 10-12 seconds to reach a pourable stage.)

Top with toffee bits, sprinkles, cinnamon, candied nuts or whatever tickles your fancy.

Top with toffee bits, sprinkles, cinnamon, candied nuts or whatever tickles your fancy.

Pumpkin Cookies

1 box of spice cake mix

1 small can of pumpkin pie filling

1 cup cream cheese frosting

toppings (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cake mix and pumpkin until thoroughly blended.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment and drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheet.

Bake about ten minutes, until the cookies are just set but not yet starting to brown.

Remove from oven and let cool.

Warm cream cheese frosting in the microwave for about 12 seconds, until thin enough to pour.

Drizzle over cookies.

Top with toffee bits, cinnamon, sprinkles or candied nuts.

Enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

She Who Loves Pumpkin Treats

Lamb Gyro platedConfession is good for the soul, right?
I must confess that I’m a huge fan of Lamb Gyros. I should further admit my love for these developed from a food booth at the rodeo. I’d never eaten one until a few years ago.
My life shall never, ever be the same.
There’s something about the tender meat, zingy Tzatziki sauce, fresh tomatoes, and tangy Feta cheese encased in soft Pita bread that makes my knees wobble while my mouth waters.
Devastated when the food vendor wasn’t at this year’s rodeo (yes, I only get these amazing treats once a year), I decided to make my own.
The hardest part was locating some lamb. Three grocery stores later, I happened upon a manager’s half-price special or I probably wouldn’t have purchased the meat because it ran a little (okay, astronomically) on the high side.
Regardless of how or where I purchased the lamb, the gyros turned out so, so good. I almost had to beat Captain Cavedweller off so I could have half of the leftovers.

Here’s how we made them:

Gyro ingredients

Gyro ingredients

Cucumber sauce - make and set aside in the fridge while they meat cooks. You can also make it the previous night. Just cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cucumber sauce – make and set aside in the fridge while they meat cooks. You can also make it the previous night. Just cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

There are any number of traditional methods for cooking the meat. I stir-fried mine in a wok.

There are any number of traditional methods for cooking the meat. I stir-fried mine in a wok.

It didn't take long for the meat to brown or the delicious scent to cause us to anxiously begin assembling the gyros.

It didn’t take long for the meat to brown or the delicious scent to cause us to anxiously begin assembling the gyros.

Toast your Pita bread - just until it's warm.

Toast your Pita bread – just until it’s warm.

Then layer on all the delicious toppings and be thrilled you know how to make this at home instead of waiting to find the next vendor booth at a public event.

Then layer on all the delicious toppings and be thrilled you know how to make this at home instead of waiting to find the next vendor booth at a public event.

Lamb Gyro with Tzatziki Sauce

1 lb. of lamb, cooked and sliced into small pieces

1 tomato, sliced  into bite-sized chunks

1/2 cup Feta cheese

1/4 cup Kalamata olives, sliced

Pita Bread

Tzatziki Sauce:

1 cucumber, peeled and coarsely shredded

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup plain yogurt

2 tbsp. white vinegar

1/2 tsp. dill weed

In a medium bowl, sprinkle salt over cucumber and mix well. Let stand five minutes. Drain. Stir in remaining dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

(Please ignore the fact I show sour cream in the ingredient photo because I forgot to get plain yogurt and had to make a little substitution. Ditto on the balsamic vinegar instead of white vinegar. Follow the recipe and you’ll be fine!)

You can use whatever type of lamb you like (or can find). I ended up with a package of lamb chops and cut all the meat off the bones into thin slices. I then put the lamb in a resealable bag with about 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. seasoning. I let the meat marinate overnight. I dumped the contents of the bag into a heated wok and stirred the meat around on medium-heat until it was nicely browned (and filled the house with a mouth-watering aroma).

While the meat cooks, chop your tomatoes and slice the olives then set aside.

Warm the pita bread in the oven for just a minute or two until it’s warm and soft and wonderful.

Layer on the meat, followed by the sauce, tomatoes, olives and cheese.

She Who Could Eat This Once a Week

Makes five Gyros.

A Gift For You

rosesToday is one of my favorite days.

It just happens to be the birthday of Captain Cavedweller’s father-in-law’s daughter.

;)

Today is a day I freely eat all the chocolate I want, enjoy the beautiful roses CC has given me, and take a day to relax and just enjoy the incredibly blessed life I’ve been given.

Since I know I’ll have some presents to open later, I want to give a present to you all, too!

Love at the 20-Yard Line

You can download a FREE copy of Love at the 20-Yard Line on Smashwords in your preferred format.

I’m including a coupon code below that is only good today – so make sure you download it right away.

And please let your friends and family know they can download it to!

Thank you all for being so wonderful, supportive, and encouraging. Big hugs to you and many, many thanks!

To get a free copy of the book here’s the directions:

Just go to the Love at the 20-Yard Line page on Smashwords.

Add to your shopping cart.

Enter this code at checkout: TV33T

Download it in your preferred format and enjoy!

Happy Reading!

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