Monthly Archives: January 2013

Salsa Verde Sausage Casserole




On Sundays I love to make my husband a hot breakfast. This one was adapted from a Taste of Home sausage casserole recipe. My husband loves mexican dishes so I decided to add some salsa to this dish for a change. If you don’t have salsa verde use your favorite standard salsa.

Prep: 20 min. Bake: 30 min.



  • 2 slices whole wheat bread ( I use the heels of the bread, often place them in the freezer as we go through the bread & toast  them right before cutting them up for this dish)**** if you are trying to make this dish light you can use light bread (35 kcals a slice)
  • 4 links or patties breakfast pork sausage (Or morning star vegetarian sausage)
  • 1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese ( I love aldi’s fit and active)
  • 1/4 cup of Salsa Verde (we like Guy’s)


  • 3 eggs  (or 3/4 cup of egg substitute)
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Badia Fajita Seasoning


  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper


Toast bread lightly cut bread into 1-in. cubes.




Place in a cooking sprayed 8-in. square baking dish.



In a small skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.


Cube the sausage and sprinkle the sausage and cheese over bread cubes.



In a small bowl, whisk the eggs or egg substitute, milk, salsa, fajita seasoning, salt and pepper.Pour over the sausage and cheese.



Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until puffed and golden. Yield: 4 servings.





To finish this off add a dollop of plain greek yogurt, light sour cream or crema mexicana.
Happy Baking !

Peanut Butter Cup Blondies


These mouth watering blondies were created by means of trying to use up leftover Easter candy I didn’t know what to do with. This recipe was adapted by a penzey’s original recipe for blondies. Every time I make these tasty little treats there are no leftovers!! So enjoy them while you can.


  • 1 & 1/2 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 Cup smooth peanut butter (we like Jif)
  • 3 eggs farm fresh or Eggland’s Best
  • 1/2 Cup (1 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. Mexican Vanilla extract
  • 1 Cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup of mini Reese cups or Trader Joe’s ‘mini peanut butter cups (or if you have large peanut butter cups chop them up with a frogger)




Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


In a electric mixer bowl, cream together the sugar, peanut butter, eggs, butter and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and kosher salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.


Fold in the mini peanut butter cups. Spread into an lightly baking sprayed 9×13 pan.


Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack best served with some ice cream :)


Makes 16 Blondies





Perfect Pizza Crust Every time


(Picture above is BBQ Chicken Pizza)

This is the best dough you will ever make for your homemade pizza….Plus, it is so cheap to make to you will never buy store bought dough again!!

This is great for having dinner parties and entertaining !

Here is what you need.

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups bread flour, plus 1/3-2/3 Cup extra for kneading (don’t use AP aka all purpose flour)
  • 1 TB. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar or honey
  • 1 pkg. yeast (or 2 and 1/4 teaspoon of yeast) ( I buy mine by the jar)
  • 1/2-1 tsp. PENZEYS FRESHLY GROUND PEPPER, to taste


  • 2 TB. PASTA SPRINKLE (this is my go to seasoning!!! I love this product!)
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2 Cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (penzey’s is the best)
  • One pizza stone (like from pampered chef or you can get one for a decent at a kitchen store or TJ max)
  • Pizza piel

Direction for the dough:

In an electric mixer bowl, combine 4 cups flour, kosher salt, sugar or honey, yeast, pepper and seasonings.IMG_3344 

Mix to combine with wisk. Make a well in the center. Pour the olive oil in the well and mix with just enough warm water to form a soft dough.


Funny story about the olive oil. My family every year goes to the beach for vacation and every year we go to this adorable farmers market in NC. This greek gentleman told us at his fruit stand that we had to buy this imported greek olive oil from him since it comes form greece. When I looked at the label I recognized this product since I already buy it from Trader Joes (lol) he thought he was pulling the wool over our eyes and offering it to us for a deal for 20$ when low and behold you can purchase it at Trader Joe’s for 8.99$. That said it is a good deal at TJ’s for 8.99$, but use whatever you like or you can always swap olive oil for canola oil if you don’t have olive oil on hand.



Use the dough hook from mixer and let the dough hook knead the dough on low-medium speed for about 10 minutes, adding extra flour as required as long as the dough is sticky, kneading until smooth and elastic.Place the dough in a lightly-greased bowl (use Pam or other cooking spray), cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.


After dough has doubled you can divide the dough into four sections or let the dough rise in the refrigerator overnight and divide in the morning.



Make sure to cover well with plastic wrap if you do decide to let it rise overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to bake the dough place the oven on 500 degrees with pizza stone in the oven. Let oven preheat for an hour. The trick to a crusty dough is allowing the stone to heat very well for an hour!!! Do not miss this step.




Roll the dough out into 4 pizzas, about 10-inches in diameter.After the oven has preheated for an hour and you are ready to bake your pizzas decrease the temperature to 425 degrees.



Dust pizza piel with flour or cornmeal and place the dough on the stone let bake for 2 minutes. Watch out for the dough to puff up in the oven.


Once the dough is out of the oven use a spatula to press down any bubbles.


Place your desired toppings on pizza and bake until cheese is melted approximately 10 minutes.  Don’t add too much weight in the way of toppings or too many wet ingredients.


Some of our go to favorites are egg pizza (which is above with the hot banana peppers).



This dough is great with or without cheese just add sauce and veggies to make a briar hill pizza (above) but we added cheese ……oops

Traditional Pepperoni with fresh mozzarella is also a must try.






BBQ chicken above..The toppings are endless !!!!



Happy Baking :)

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Donuts with Caramel Drizzle



Good Morning!!!DSC_0883

Donuts are always a favorite in our house. So this Sunday morning I decided to spice up the usual cinnamon and sugar donuts and try these chocolate covered pretzel donuts. I was running short on time so I have to admit I did take the easy route and use Pillsbury canned biscuits but if you rather make homemade donuts check out my other recipe ” Cinnamon Spiced Donuts”.


  • Small buttermilk biscuit pack (usually comes 4 in plastic wrap) 10 biscuits in each container.
  • ¾ cup of dark chocolate or semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 3-4 large chocolate covered pretzels (chopped coarsely)
  • caramel to drizzle
  • canola oil for frying




In deep fat fryer, heavy saucepan or 12-inch cast-iron skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat to 375°F.



Separate dough into 10 biscuits; flatten slightly. Using small cookie cutter or piping end tip, cut hole out of center of each biscuit.


Fry 2 or 3 biscuits in hot oil until golden brown, then turn over and cook other side. Remove to paper towel covered dish. Repeat with remaining biscuits and doughnut holes. (I always like to try the holes first to test the temperature).



To make glaze, place chocolate chips in a microwavable save glass bowl microwave in 15 to 30 intervals and stir after each interval until completely melted.


Dip top of each doughnut into chocolate glaze.



Immediately sprinkle with chopped chocolate covered pretzel pieces and drizzle with caramel sauce.


Happy Baking :))



Orange Zest Dark Chocolate Cake



This past weekend we celebrated my grandpa’s 76th birthday. My grandpa is diabetic but has a strong sweet tooth (Now I know where I get it from). He always comments that he cannot have sweets or the dessert after dinner because his blood sugars will increase. Since it was his birthday I thought it only be right for him to have his cake and eat it too. I did search on some no added sugar added recipes and this cake is what I came up with. I used half whole wheat pastry flour to increase the fiber and omitted the majority of the fat.


Orange Zest Dark Chocolate Cake



2 teaspoons plus 1/3 cup dutch cocoa (penzey’s is the best),

1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

2/3 cup Greek Plain Fat Free Yogurt

1/3 cup splenda (sugar blend)

1 egg

2 egg whites

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

½ cup of natural (no added sugar) applesauce

1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup of whole wheat pastry flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup miniature dark chocolate chips

2 teaspoons grated orange zest ( about an whole orange worth)


4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese ( room temperature)

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

2 teaspoons fresh orange juice



Coat an 9-in. square baking dish with cooking spray and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cocoa; set aside.


Place oats in a small food processor; cover and process until ground. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the greek yogurt, splenda, eggs, orange juice, applesauce and vanilla until well blended.





Combine the flour, ground oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and remaining cocoa; gradually beat into greek yogurt mixture until blended.



Stir in chocolate chips and orange zest.


Transfer to reserved dish.



Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.



Cool completely on a wire rack.


For frosting, in a small bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, orange peel and juice; beat until smooth. Frost top of cake.

Refrigerate leftovers. 


Yield: 12 servings.


Happy Baking :)

Panettone French Toast




This year my husband and I received a Panettone for Christmas from our good friends.  I was very excited!! I couldn’t wait to figure out what to make with the sweet bread. I did some research and found out that this bread is best for either bread pudding or french toast since it is traditionally made with raisins and  candied citrus fruit peels.  We decided since it was brunch to go with french toast but I save the crust to try for bread pudding.



Panettone French Toast



6 servings



  • 3 large eggs (egglands best or farm fresh)
  • ½  cups fat free half-and-half
  • ½ cup heavy cream (or skim milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
  • Finely grated zest of 1 small orange (the orange zest really brings out the citrus in this sweet bread)
  • One 17 1/2 ounce loaf panettone
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • Fresh blueberries or your favorite fruit for garnish




In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs,



half-and-half, heavy cream, Mexican vanilla, and orange zest.




Cut the crust off the top and bottom of the loaf with a serrated knife.



Slice the loaf into 6 1-inch-thick rounds.



Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.



Dip 2 bread slices in the egg mixture (don’t let them soak; they will fall apart) and immediately lay them in the skillet.



Cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.




Enjoy !




Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies



Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies



  • • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature <out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes (DO NOT MICROWAVE)
  • • 3/4 cup (packed)brown sugar
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  1/4 cup powdered sugar
  •  2 large egg yolks (eggland’s best or farm-fresh)
  •  1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
  •  8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (my favorite is Ghirardelli 60% Cacao)
  • flaky sea salt
  •  Caramel for drizzling (recipe below)



Preheat oven to 375°.


Whisk flour, baking powder, kosher salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.


Using an electric stand mixer (I tried this recipe with a hand mixer and it is possible but I made a hug mess in the kitchen, so I recommend using the stand mixer if you have one) on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.



Add egg yolks, egg, and vanilla. Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend.


Using a spatula, fold in chocolate chips.


Use cookie scooper (I used a number 60 which is equal to 3 & 1/5 teaspoon).



Scoop cookie dough onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart. Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.


Bake cookies, until just golden brown around the edges, 10-12 minutes (the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks; let cool completely.



After the cookies have cooled (If you can wait) drizzle with caramel.


Salted Caramel Drizzle:



1 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt or sea salt

Additional sea salt for decoration (optional)


1. Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a heavy 2 quart saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt.  Just keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Keep cooking until temperature reaches 350 degree. Once temperature reached add butter, once the butter is melted gently pour in the heavy cream and whisk until combined.


Let caramel mixture set for 10 minutes and use a siphon to pour caramel into squeeze bottle and dispense over cookies.