Pride and Breakfast

Pride and Breakfast - Confidence in the kitchen is great but over-confidence? Well... I've learned that Pride does not belong in any recipe! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

I sat on the side of my bed seriously contemplating whether I should crawl back under the covers. Then, I remembered –

Oooh, my favorite coffee creamer is waiting for me!

You see, I went to the grocery store last week and my favorite flavor was no where to be found.  With great disappointment, I grabbed a caramel coffee creamer, finished my shopping and went home.

It wasn’t until I was putting away the groceries at home that I discovered my egregious mistake. Instead of caramel, I had picked up Maple.

Maple! In my coffee?!? Ugh! That sounded almost as bad as Pumpkin Spice!

But today, sitting in my fridge was a glorious 32 oz. bottle of Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer. What a wonderful incentive to get out of bed! (I know. My life is sad. 😉 )

Oh, but the good vibrations didn’t stop there. The joy of drinking a warm cup of peppermint mocha flavored coffee after a week of suffering through the second worst coffee creamer in existence inspired me.

I’m going to cook breakfast!

Nope. I didn’t stop to enjoy a full cup of my delicious coffee. I didn’t wait for the morning brain fog to lift. I set out to cook a breakfast casserole. “This’ll be a cinch!” I thought. I’d made it tons of times before (using parts of the Fully Loaded Cheesy Breakfast Casserole recipe over at “The Slow Roasted Italian” and parts of the Baked Western Omelet recipe over at “The Seasoned Mom”) and it’s basically fool-proof.

… … …

… … Hang on…

… … … Give me just a minute…

I’m trying to stop laughing so I can finish this post!

Fool-proof! Hahahahahahaha…

Okay. I’m good now.

While gathering the ingredients for my breakfast casserole, I began to think of my victories in the kitchen this past week.

First, there was my cooking flexibility I discovered while making Sweet Corn Pie.

Then, there was the moment my husband declared that I could possibly have outdone him in the kitchen with my Chicken and Dirty Rice. (I’ll have to share that story with you on another occasion.)

And lastly, there was my brilliant idea to use hamburger buns for garlic toast to accompany our spaghetti one evening and then to use the leftover hamburger buns/garlic toast as buns for our sloppy joes the next evening.  After which, I proudly proclaimed myself “Queen of the Kitchen”.

Then from the deepest depths of my soul (or maybe the bottom of my coffee cup – I’m not really sure) came an idea born of my ever-growing pride.

I think I’ll try something new.

I decided to use crescent rolls as a crust. I had seen a recipe somewhere but didn’t want to spend the time searching for it. Phhhht. I don’t need a recipe!

Apparently, I did.

Maybe it was the brain fog. Maybe it was not enough coffee. Maybe it was karma biting me in the crescent rolls but my breakfast did not turn out anything like I had hoped.

Pride and Breakfast - Confidence in the kitchen is great but over-confidence? Well... I've learned that Pride does not belong in any recipe! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

After 30 minutes of the required baking time, I opened the oven to find that the crust was on the verge of burning but the casserole was not completely cooked. And there were these scary looking pustules growing on the top that reminded me of those horrible videos all over the web of –

Wait. This is a food post. You don’t want that image in your head. It’s bad enough that I had it in my head!

Anyway, I had to cook the casserole about 15 minutes longer and by the time I took it out of the oven, well, let’s just say the crust was mighty, mighty dark and mighty, mighty crispy.

Yeah. I was bummed. Almost as bad as when I discovered my coffee creamer mistake!

Pride and Breakfast - Confidence in the kitchen is great but over-confidence? Well... I've learned that Pride does not belong in any recipe! | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Perhaps, if I hadn’t been wearing that prideful “Queen of the Kitchen” crown…

Perhaps, if I had taken the time to look up an appropriate recipe…

Perhaps, if I had remembered I’m still a novice in this whole culinary world, the casserole would have turned out a little better.

Perhaps.

But that’s pride for ya. It puffs you up then leaves you hanging in the middle of a dart board while daring someone to hit the bullseye!

Well, the casserole wasn’t too horrible. In fact, after a few bites, my husband said, “You know, I like it crispy like this.”

I smiled sheepishly…

… then slowly straitened my crown! 😉

**Full disclosure. I finally realized that my husband had no idea there was actually a crust on the casserole. He thought I had overcooked it and was trying to make me feel better about my mistake! Nice move, hubby of mine. Nice move. **

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Sweet Corn Pie: A Lesson on Flexibility

Sweet Corn Pie: A Lesson on Flexibility - Do you find yourself struggling with the ever-changing circumstances of life? You may want to take a peak at the lessons I learned from attempting to cook this Yummy recipe. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.com

Yum! Yum! There’s simply no other way to describe this Sweet Corn Pie.

Did you hear those words?

Sweet. Corn. Pie.

Uh. Yes, please!

Ever since I began broadening my cooking horizons, I’ve been scrolling through Pinterest looking for recipes that my family and I might enjoy. But rarely do I veer off the “Cooking for Dummies” beaten path. The recipes I attempt must be simple and require ingredients that I already have in my fridge or pantry. Most importantly, though, the recipes cannot contain “google” ingredients. You know the ones. Those strange ingredients you’ve never heard of so you’re forced to either call your mom or perform yet another google search that begins with, “What the heck is a…”

Let’s face it. If I have to google an ingredient, there’s a pretty good chance it’s not in my kitchen and an even greater chance I’m not going to try the recipe.

Fortunately for me, the recipe for this Sweet Corn Pie (There are those delicious words again!) was simple and straightforward. No google required. (You can find the recipe over at Natural Comfort Kitchen.)

I must say that my Sweet Corn Pie turned out perfectly. Well, almost…

You see, I didn’t have Panko crumbs so I substituted crushed Ritz crackers. And I didn’t have quite enough crackers but thought I’d get away with it because who besides me was gonna know how crumbly the pie topping was supposed to be?

I also didn’t have white pepper so I substituted black pepper. And I really should have googled the difference between the two. If I had, I would have known that my substitution of black pepper should have been in a smaller quantity because white pepper has a much milder flavor.

I didn’t have garlic cloves so I used minced.

I didn’t have kosher or sea salt so I used good ol’ table salt.

I didn’t have frozen or fresh corn so I used canned.

And lastly, I didn’t have a round pie plate so I used a rectangular casserole dish instead.

Now, you might be thinking the shape of the dish doesn’t make any difference. Au contraire, my friend. My grandmother and my great aunt prepared the same cornbread recipe all of their lives. The only difference was the shape of the pan they each used and my dad swore that my aunt’s cornbread in a round pan was much better than my grandmother’s cornbread in a square pan! Apparently, the shape of the dish is vital! Sadly, I don’t own a round pie plate. Why would I? I don’t bake pies. (Except for shepherd’s but that’s not really pie, now is it. 😉 )

So it seems my culinary masterpiece was not perfect at all. I improvised all the way through the recipe. But amazingly, the dish was wonderful. Three out of four in my household agree!

As I was eating my slice of sweet corn deliciousness and marveling at how flexible my cooking skills have become, I began to think (“A dangerous pastime – I know!”).

Wouldn’t it be nice if I was just as flexible in other areas of my life? Wouldn’t it be nice if we all were?Sweet Corn Pie: A Lesson on Flexibility - Do you find yourself struggling with the ever-changing circumstances of life? You may want to take a peak at the lessons I learned from attempting to cook this Yummy recipe. | https://acoupleofstarsandahappyface.wordpress.comInstead of whining and complaining when we don’t have everything we want or even need, what if we learned to appreciate and make the best of all we do have?

Instead of counting people out or trying to make others fit our mold, what if we learned to appreciate the uniqueness of those around us?

Instead of insisting on a round pie plate way of doing things, what if we listened to the ideas of others, tried something new and acknowledged that a square pan might be just as good as a round one?

Hmm. That’s a whole lotta “What ifs” in one slice of Sweet Corn Pie! Oops – I mean chunk of Sweet Corn Pie – er – uh – maybe it’s Sweet Corn Casserole…

… ‘Cause everyone knows it can’t be pie unless it’s baked in a round pie plate! 😉

The Power of a Breakfast Casserole

Wouldn’t you know it! As soon as I write a “How To” on maintaining happiness (Check out Happiness Is… A Keeper), the devil begins his attack. (That’s his M.O., though.) My focus has been the target and as I mentioned in my previous post, focus has a huge effect on our happiness.

Focus, KJ. Focus.

So, what do we do when our focus becomes a little blurry? I find it helpful to spend time doing something I love. It gets my mind off the negativity and boosts my spirits which always helps me tune in to the important things of life. Oddly enough, cooking has become one of my go-to refocusing tools. (Yeah. Completely surprised me, too!)

Okay, devil! I’ve got a skillet and I know how to use it!

This morning, I hit the kitchen around 9:15. I had my heart set on a breakfast casserole but first, I had to find a recipe. That always takes some time. Pinterest has way too many choices. I finally settled on Fully Loaded Cheesy Breakfast Casserole from “The Slow Roasted Italian”. Maybe it’s more accurate to say that this recipe was my inspiration. I didn’t quite follow it. (It’s amazing I ended up with something edible. I really have no idea what I’m doing! 😉 )

 Breakfast Casserole by KJ

First, I gathered all the ingredients – well, almost all. I kinda grabbed stuff as I went along. But here is a list of the ingredients I used:

1 lb. ground mild sausage
Half bag of frozen diced hash brown potatoes (it’s all I had in the freezer)
12 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 green peppers
1 medium onion
2 cups of shredded Colby & Monterey Jack cheese (almost 2 cups – again, I used what I had)
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
Salt and Pepper

How to (and how not to, in some instances) prepare:

Preheat oven to 350º. The recipe called for a temp of 375º. I have no idea where I came up with 350º but it turned out fine.

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking oil and set to the side.

Defrost ground sausage. So, I didn’t plan ahead and the sausage was in the freezer. On top of that, it turned out to be 2 pounds of sausage. I only needed one but had to defrost all of it. I guess I’ll find something to cook with the remaining sausage tomorrow.

Pour yourself a cup of coffee. This is going to take a while!

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While waiting for the sausage to defrost, chop the onion and peppers. One of my peppers was a hybrid – half green, half orange. (Genetic engineering? Hmmm…) I only chopped the orange side so really I only used one and a half peppers.

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Once sausage is defrosted, add to a skillet along with the chopped onions, peppers and minced garlic. Cook until sausage is no longer pink.

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Scoop out meat and vegetable mixture, allowing the grease to drain back into the skillet, and spread into the casserole dish. You can use a slotted spoon or one of these handy scoops: (I’m not gonna tell you what I think this scoop looks like. You may lose your appetite. But, I promise, I bought it in the kitchen department!)

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Drain some of the grease from the skillet until there is about 3 tablespoons remaining. (Just eyeball it, I guess. ??)

Return skillet to stove and add hash browns. Cook according to the package instructions: spread in single layer in pan, cover and allow to brown for 4 – 7 minutes on each side on medium-high heat.

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While hash browns are browning, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper in large bowl. I repeat, LARGE bowl. It’s hard to whisk when you’re worried about sloshing egg all over your counter like I was!

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Switch to whisking with a fork because plastic whisk ain’t cuttin’ it. (Note to self: Find metal whisk! Where is that thing?)

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Check stove for cause of burning smell. Ugh! This is why I can’t do two things at once while cooking.

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Salvage the non-burnt potatoes and spread over the sausage and vegetables in the casserole dish. (Oops, I missed a burnt one or two!)

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Spend five minutes or more scraping out skillet while it’s still hot. (I learned that at the Japanese steak house where you not only get a fun show and great meal, you get a kitchen clean up lesson, as well!) Now, where was I… Oh, yeah.

Next, pour egg mixtu- – No, wait. That’s not right. I’m forgetting something. The cheese!

Next, sprinkle cheese on the casserole.

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Now pour the egg mixture as evenly as possible into the casserole.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean. (I actually knew that before I started all this cooking nonsense. 😉 )

Use baking time to clean up your mess.

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Reheat coffee for the third, maybe fourth, time and then wait.

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Beep, beep, beep. Look at this beautiful casserole! It was yummy, too!

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It took me 2 and a half hours to make (I told you I don’t know what I’m doing!) but by the time I was done, the thing that was stealing my attention no longer mattered. In fact, my only distraction at the moment was the rumbling of my tummy.

But that was quickly remedied. 🙂

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A Year of Smiles – Day 348: The SMILES of Christmas

Adobe Spark (5)

Christmas SMILE #14 (Reason to SMILE #348) THE COOKIES AND CANDIES

Reasons why we all make the resolution to loose weight every new year:

Sugar cookies shaped like Christmas Trees, Reindeer, Candy Canes, bells and Santa

Chocolate Chip Cookies made from the Nestle Tollhouse recipe on the bag

Gingerbread men (I don’t care for gingerbread but the cookie makes me SMILE so…)

Peanut butter and Hershey’s Kisses cookies

Pecan Crescent Cookies

Shortbread cookies

Divinity

Candy Canes

Peanut butter balls (or Buckeyes)

Chocolate covered cherries

White Chocolate Peppermint Trufflesshortbread cookies

Boy, oh boy! I’m gaining weight just thinking about all these delicious Christmas treat. (Actually, I’m probably gaining weight from eating this tin of shortbread cookies while I’m writing but why would I admit that? 😉 )

There are so many treats to choose from at Christmas and everyone has their own special sweets that they look forward to making or eating during the Christmas season. For me, it’s two things: peanut butter cookies and strawberry candies. I don’t make either! But my mom does and they are my favorites of all her wonderfully delectable creations.

Now, first things first. Peanut butter cookies. Unless they have the criss-cross on the top, they are not worth eating. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? After the cookie dough is prepared, it’s rolled into a ball and placed on a cookie sheet. Then, the back of a fork is pressed down onto the ball and then again in another direction to make a criss-cross pattern on the top of the cookie. Kind of like a culinary hashtag!

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Sorry folks but if the cookies don’t have the criss-cross, they’re not real peanut butter cookies. 😉

The other of my two favorite Christmas treats is Strawberry Candies. This is a sweetly delicious soft candy made with strawberry flavored gelatin, sweetened condensed milk, pecans, coconut and a few other ingredients you can find in the recipe below. They are addictive. I don’t have a picture of my own for you because, well, I’ve never thought to snap a picture of my mom’s strawberry candies at Christmas. I’ve only thought to eat them! Here’s a picture courtesy of a blog called, “Urban Drivel”:

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Don’t they look scrumptious! They’re easy to make and if you love strawberries, this is a candy you definitely want to try.

Ingredients:

3 packages strawberry gelatin
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients.
Mix in condensed milk and vanilla.
Cover and chill for at least one hour.
Shape into berries using about a teaspoon each.
Roll in red sugar.
Dip top of berry in green sugar to create the leaf.

That’s it! I hope these strawberry candies make you SMILE as much as they do me. And if they don’t, feel free to send any unwanted candies my way. 😉