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This little piggy went to the market. These little piggies jumped into my breakfast pie. Just like with ham and cheese stuff’n puff, your houseguests will return. Add a side of toast or fresh fruit and it’s the quintessential brunch filled with eggs, bacon, sausage links, ham, and melty cheese. And look at how many farming industries you are supporting with this one recipe: pig, dairy, and chicken farmers!

3 piggies in a breakfast pie

All the breakfast meats in this dish seem like a lot of work for one groggy morning in the kitchen but here’s how to make it easy on yourself. When you fry too many sausage links (and maybe bacon) on a Sunday morning before you leave for a week-long vacation, freeze all those extras. When you are ready to make this breakfast, buy a package of precooked, diced ham.

If you don’t have cooked bacon in your freezer, just fry five strips and chop them into the egg mixture. Easy as [pork] pie.

3 piggies in a breakfast pie

5 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 cup milk

1/4 cup fresh celery or broccoli, chopped (optional)

1 package (6 ounce) STOVE TOP stuffing mix

3/4 cup diced cooked ham

7 sausage links (or patties), cooked and diced

5 strips cooked bacon, cooked and chopped

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided into two (1/2 cup) measurements

Bake it:

Get your oven to a piping hot 375˚.

In a really big bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sour cream and whisk until combined. Add milk and whisk until everything is blended. Stir in celery (or broccoli), stuffing mix, ham, bacon, sausage, and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

Pour into a greased 9-inch pie plate, 9×9 square pan, 9-inch tart pan, or a 2-quart casserole dish. Cover loosely with foil. I like the non-stick kind so the egg mixture doesn’t stick to it.

Bake 60-68 minutes, or until completely heated through the middle. Remove from oven, remove foil, and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese over the top. Bake uncovered another 5 minutes, or just until cheese is melted and slightly browning.

Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Sweet swine wishes,

Staci

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Skip those individual, itty-bitty bags of Doritos and buy the bag with enough packaging air to inflate a bike tire. Here’s another ex-in-law recipe—it’s like hockey rink concession stand season in a casserole, minus the hockey stink drifting down the hallway!

The only changes I’ve made to this dish over the years is adding onion to the ground beef, a layer of taco sauce or salsa to juice it up a bit, and a smidge more sour cream and cottage cheese.

taco in a bag casserole

Here’s two more family favorite, ex-in-law recipes that lasted longer than my marriage: broccoli ranch salad and homemade Snickers bars.

Walking taco casserole (AKA Mexican hot dish from my ex-in-law Sue)

(Serves 8. You can easily cut this recipe in half.)

Medium or family size bag of nacho cheese flavored chips

2 pounds ground beef or sirloin

1/4 cup diced onion

2 packages taco seasoning

1 (16 ounce) sour cream

1 (24 ounce) cottage cheese

1 cup salsa or taco sauce

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

Toppings of choice like shredded lettuce, black olives, sour cream, shredded cheese, taco sauce, tomatoes, etc.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Butter a 13×9 pan or similar size casserole dish.
  3. Brown hamburger with diced onion until cooked thoroughly. Add taco seasoning and cook according to package directions.
  4. In a bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese.
  5. Crush a few handfuls of nacho cheese chips into the bottom of the casserole dish. Layer crushed chips, 1/2 the meat mixture, 1/2 the salsa or taco sauce, 1/2 the sour cream mixture, and 1/2 the grated cheese into the buttered dish. Repeat layers and top with more crushed chips.
  6. Bake uncovered at 350° for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Garnish each serving with toppings of choice.
  8. Refrigerate leftovers.

This reminds me of a joke my kids (DO NOT) love when I tell: “What do you call cheese that’s not yours? Nach-o cheese!”

Cheesy wishes,

Staci

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How many times have you done this? You make a dish without a recipe and it turns out to be something you can’t wait to make again. The problem is, the next time you want to make it you can’t remember how you made it or where you wrote it down. Hoping I’ve learned my lesson, publishing this recipe means we can always make piping hot cheesy scalloped potatoes with hamburger.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes and hamburger

I hadn’t lost the recipe for this fresh potato dish. But I lost my recipe for scalloped potatoes and ham and haven’t been able to find it for almost two years. Not only did I want to find it again but my (someday) mother-in-law asked me for it. Lo and behold I accidentally found it on Sunday, on my blog, in a draft page. So I adapted it to make a smaller meal with hamburger since I didn’t have any ham. It’s basically the cheesy potatoes and ham recipe halved but without the onion and garlic, although they would be fantastic in here too. (Marie, I can finally give you the recipe!)

That wasn’t the only recipe I’ve written down and wound up in a desperate hunt for—somewhere hiding in my house is a jotted-down recipe for s’mores cookies that I want to find before we take a trip to the lake next week. Who knows what other random Post-It note recipes I’ll find in my search. Wish me luck because from what I remember, you’ll want the recipe too.

Cheesy scalloped potatoes and hamburger

4 large or 5 medium Russet or Gold potatoes, thinly sliced

1 pound ground sirloin or ground beef

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup butter

4 cups milk

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, or your cheese of choice

  1. Fry the hamburger in a large pan with onion salt and garlic powder until cooked thoroughly. (Fry with onion and garlic if desired.) Drain if needed and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. In the same pan over medium-high heat, add the butter, milk, flour, nutmeg, and salt and pepper. Whisk until thickened, about 10 minutes. It will be more like a bean soup consistency.
  3. Grease a 9×13 pan with spray or butter.
  4. Spread half of the potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the hamburger. Pour half of the milk mixture over the hamburger and top with half of the cheese. Repeat the layers.
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 375° for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender, the entire pan is bubbling, and the cheese begins to brown. Refrigerate any leftovers and warm in a frying pan the next day.

Cheesy wishes,

Staci

 

 

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The weather outside is never frightful when it comes to youth hockey season in the Midwest, especially when one of our teams has a two-week lull in their game schedule. And luckily for these guys (and their little sisters), their parents are as passionate about hockey and having fun as they are. So the First Annual Lake Campbell Winter Classic was established this January. And don’t be surprised if, after these kids are off to college, you’ll find us parents keeping the icy tradition alive. (Yes Ann, I just invited us to your house every January for the rest of our lives.)

Lake Campbell Lake Hockey 2015

First Annual Lake Campbell Winter Classic 2015 Photo courtesy of Ann Park

What does hockey have to do with chili? (Because I know you aren’t asking yourself what this has to do with beer.) Ann, our hostess, shared a scrumptious pot of chili at the party and even though I had to eat and run my daughter to hockey in Watertown, I kept thinking about how good it was to have a steamy bowl of chili topped with cheese, sour cream, and crunchy chips. So when I made a batch of Once a Month Beer Chili Spaghetti the next week, I eyed that meat mixture with beans and corn chips on my mind.

beer chili

 

Sure, I could have made my old staple, Make-it-your-way Rainy Day Chili but there’s just something about this addicting meat sauce.

Beer Chili

Recipe for beer chili spaghetti and/or beer chili meat mixture (makes approximately 4 cups):

2 pounds ground sirloin or lean ground beef

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1½ teaspoons salt

1¾ teaspoons paprika

1¼ teaspoons cayenne pepper

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground oregano

1 tablespoon onion powder

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

¼ cup chili powder

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 12-ounce beer

If you are making a meal of beer chili spaghetti and a few meals of beer chili, make 12 ounces of spaghetti noodles and add some of the hot pasta water to the meat mixture and then use some of the leftover meat sauce to make chili. If you are making this meat sauce to make all chili, you’ll need to at least double the beans and tomato juice below. You only need to add pasta water to the portion you are using for spaghetti. 

To make the chili (very imprecise directions):

Take a cup or two of the beer chili meat mixture and add:

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans red beans (drained)

1 or 2 (15-ounce) cans chili beans in chili sauce

Chili powder to taste

Cumin to taste

Tomato juice – I used part of a 46-ounce bottle. It depends on how much meat sauce you are using and how thick or juicy you like your chili.

Chili Toppings:

Sour cream

Corn chips

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Heat together the meat mixture, beans, and tomato juice. Add the additional chili powder and cumin if desired. When hot, serve with sour cream, corn chips, and shredded cheese. Store leftover chili in airtight container in the refrigerator.

If you are more in the mood for BBQs, make  BeerBQ Joes and put corn chips on top.

Icy & spicy wishes,

Staci

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Leftover baked potatoes can come back the next day as baked potatoes. But when there’s a fried solution to getting them back on your plate, let’s take the road to crispy town.

loaded fried baked potatoes

The recipe isn’t precise and other than the butter, olive oil, and the potatoes you can modify these smashed vegetables to taste.

Melt the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic powder and onion salt OR the chopped onion and garlic. Place the potatoes in pan. Using a potato masher or thick wooden spoon press down on the potato, flattening to approximately ½ an inch. Dust with salt and pepper.

smashed baked potatoes

Fry, covered, on medium heat until crispy and then flip potatoes to crisp the other side and add a pinch more salt and pepper.

fried baked potatoes

Remove from pan and cover with grated cheese, bacon, and a dollop of sour cream.

Smashed and fried baked potatoes

Olive oil

Butter

OR butter with olive oil

Garlic powder

Onion salt

OR chopped onion and garlic

Baked potatoes

Salt

Pepper

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

Crumbled bacon

  1. Melt the olive oil and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic powder and onion salt OR the chopped onion and garlic.
  2. Place the potatoes in pan. Using a potato masher or thick wooden spoon press down on the potato, flattening to approximately ½ an inch. Dust with salt and pepper.
  3. Fry, covered, on medium heat until crispy and then flip potatoes to crisp the other side and add a pinch more salt and pepper.
  4. Remove from pan and cover with grated cheese, bacon, and a dollop of sour cream.

Add eggs, toast, and a slice of ham or last night’s leftover steak and you have a hearty man-breakfast.

Crispy, starchy wishes

Staci

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Pepperoni takes all the pizza glory in our family (pepperoni and green olives on thin crust for me), but the salty circles sit on the bench for this recipe. Even my daughter, who only eats cheese pizza, loved this.

My favorite Easy Salami Pasta Salad inspired me to make Summer Sausage [or] Salami Cilantro Pizza. Although the salad doesn’t contain cilantro, I was thinking it did so when I bought groceries I picked some up. I also added basil. It turns out they are mighty delicious on this pizza.

summer sausage and salami cilantro pizza

You don’t have to use the same ingredients I did – use herbs and cheeses that you like, or omit any that you don’t like. I used summer sausage for this one. (What’s the difference between summer sausage and salami?)

Start with a ready-to-bake pizza crust. Stir together olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Brush the mixture onto the unbaked crust.

crust with oil and herbs

Chop the parsley, basil, cilantro, green onion, and salami or summer sausage.

pizza toppings

Sprinkle the basil, cilantro, and parsley on the crust, saving a little cilantro to sprinkle on last.

herbs on crust

Place thin slices of summer sausage or salami over the herbs.

add summer sausage

Lightly (or to taste) scatter bits of green onion onto the meat.

add green onion

Add a layer of shredded parmesan cheese.

add parmesan

Blanket with a layer of shredded mozzarella.

add mozzarella

Place more meat on top and toss on the remaining cilantro and sprinkle a few dashes of oregano.

ready to bake

Bake according to pizza crust directions.

finished slice

Slice and serve.

Summer Sausage [or]  Salami Cilantro Pizza

1 large pizza crust (ready to bake)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

couple grinds of pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons minced fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil

2 teaspoons fresh minced cilantro

6-8 ounces hard salami OR summer sausage, thinly sliced

1 green onion, diced

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella

Make this pizza:

  1. Start with a ready-to-bake pizza crust. Stir together olive oil, vinegar, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. Brush the mixture onto the unbaked crust.
  2. Chop the parsley, basil, cilantro, green onion, and salami or summer sausage.
  3. Sprinkle the basil, cilantro, and parsley on the crust, saving a little cilantro to sprinkle on last.
  4. Place thin slices of summer sausage or salami over the herbs.
  5. Lightly (or to taste) scatter bits of green onion onto the meat.
  6. Add a layer of shredded parmesan cheese.
  7. Blanket with a layer of shredded mozzarella.
  8. Place more meat on top and toss on the remaining cilantro.
  9. Bake according to pizza crust directions.
  10. Slice and serve.

 

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Blocks of cheese are a staple in our refrigerator but I’ve always stored them in plastic packaging. Even once we opened cheese, we would store it in a plastic bag. But recently I learned that the way you store cheese has an effect on the taste, texture, and appearance.

20140304-195736.jpg

I happened upon Formaticum cheese bags at the General Store of Minnetonka (one of the coolest stores in Minnesota!) on our annual sister’s trip last year. I bought them on a whim, suspecting it was a waste of money but it turns out, there are good reasons to store cheese properly.

20140304-200301.jpg

Now we can all cut into fresh cheese!

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