Cheesy Vegetable Casserole

XmasBrunch2011

This recipe is versatile so you can add your family’s favorite veggies – or be creative so you can learn to eat new ones.  The mixture of all these ingredients makes any vegetable taste great!

Cheesy Vegetable Casserole

2 pounds fresh variety of vegetables of your choice (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, zucchini, or asparagus all work well)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Hain Safflower)
1 cup sour cream
1  1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or Colby jack work well)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Pour into a 2-quart baking dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 45-60 minutes in a 350° oven.

Cheesy Veggie Casserole

Be sure to leave a comment on this post for a chance to win one of five $10 gift certificates to our Heavenly Homemakers Shop.

 Hey, did you get your free coconut oil yet?  Go get this awesome gift!  Also, be sure to join me in taking this free Healthy Living Challenge.  You’ll be glad you did!

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Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

chocolate mint mousse 3

This is one of the easiest treats you will ever make.  You’ll especially appreciate the final step.  Allow me to explain…

Many a recipe (including this one) will instruct us to:

    1. Mix ingredients.
    2. Pour mixture into serving dishes.
    3. Chill for at least two hours.

Is it just me, or does it seem that in order to follow the directions diligently we should mix our ingredients, pour the mixture into serving dishes, then promptly “put our feet up and do nothing for at least two hours?”  It says to “chill” right?  If we read this literally, I do believe we are being told to do absolutely nothing.  Relax.  Take a breather.  Chill out already.  For two entire hours (or more – don’t forget the “or more”).

Is anyone else thinking about Amelia Bedelia right now?  (If you haven’t read those children’s books, you’re missing out.)

Now I’m not exactly sure what to think about recipe instructions that say, “chill until firm.”  Rarely do I notice more defined muscle tone when I’m chillin’ in my chair for two hours or more.  ”Chill until it jiggles in the middle” – well now, unfortunately that makes quite a bit more sense.

I’ll be the first to admit that taking time to rest doesn’t come easy for me.  I’d love to “chill” after mixing up a recipe – but who will take care of all those dirty dishes?  Amelia Bedelia, perhaps?  If only.

While I’m sure we could have a lovely discussion about taking time to rest, washing dishes, or encouraging healthy muscle tone – I will now turn the conversation back to this new recipe I’d like to share, letting you know that in fact, once you mix it up, it needs to be poured into serving dishes and chilled.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Mousse

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

Measure 3/4 cup cream into a sauce pan.  Heat until hot, but not boiling.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate chips, stirring until melted.  Stir in peppermint extract and set mixture aside.

In the meantime, whip the remaining 3/4 cup cream in a bowl until firm peaks form.  Fold chocolate mixture gently into whipped cream.  Spoon mousse into 6-8 bowls or cups.  And finally, the instructions you’ve all been waiting for:  Chill for at least two hours before serving.

To be clear, this means that you need to put the mousse into the refrigerator for at least two hours until you are ready to serve it to your family or guests.  Before the pan and bowl get crusty, wash your dishes and wipe down the counter-tops.  Then hug your children, check the mail, return a phone call, switch out the laundry, get out meat for dinner, scrub the gunk off the floor, and re-hang the curtain that got pulled down.

After that, by all means, you should chill.

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Easy Peppermint Milkshakes

It’s easy, filling, healthy, and delicious – a perfect treat anytime, but especially during the Christmas season.  Serve a Peppermint Milkshake for a perfect side dish or snack!

Easy Peppermint Milkshakes

2 cups milk
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
¼ teaspoon peppermint extract

Blend and serve!

We always add organic, farm-fresh raw eggs to our milkshakes for added nutrition.  I believe this simple recipe would work great with coconut milk as well.  :)

Easy Peppermint Milkshake

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Easy Veggie Dip (With Homemade Seasoned Salt)

It’s been exactly 21 hours and 4 minutes since I posted the Homemade Seasoned Salt recipe, so I’m assuming all of you have some mixed up and ready by now?  Perfect.  You’ll be needing it for this recipe.  You have cucumbers and carrots on hand, right?  Perfect.

Easy Veggie Dip 1

One of the recipe cards that we made to go with your Seasoned Salt gift package shares this Easy Veggie Dip idea.  Right after mixing up my first batch of seasoned salt, I made some Perfect Potato Wedges (a recipe also found on the free recipe card printable) and some of this Easy Veggie Dip.  It was so….well, easy.  The only way I can get my family (including the mother - that’s me) to eat cucumbers is if I supply dip.  Typically, I go for ranch.  But cucumbers with this Easy Veggie Dip is delicious.  Even my hubby, who doesn’t really dig cucumbers, was enjoying the combo.  Yay - another great way to eat veggies!

Easy Veggie Dip

1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
2 cups sour cream
2 Tablespoons real mayonnaise (I use Hain safflower mayo)
Seasoned Salt to taste

In a bowl, mix together minced onion, sour cream, and mayonnaise.  Add Seasoned Salt until mixture changes color (it should become a light peach color), tasting as you go for desired flavor.  Chill for at least one hour before serving.  Serve as a dip with assorted raw vegetables.

You’ll find our Seasoned Salt recipe here, along with this recipe (and 3 others) on cute printable recipe cards.  This makes a great gift!  This dip is great for holiday parties, or simply as a way to get your family to eat vegetables (like cucumbers!) any day of the week.  <—- I’m looking at you Coppinger Clan.

Can’t wait to hear how you like this Seasoned Salt and the recipes to go with it!

Easy Veggie Dip with homemade Seasoned Salt

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Beef Summer Sausage Recipe

Summer Sausage has always been a favorite finger food of mine during the holiday season.  I’ve tinkered with recipes before, but haven’t felt like I’ve nailed them – until now.

Folks, we can now eat Summer Sausage – worry freeHigh fives all around!  No MSG, no nitrites, no preservatives.  Actually, salt is a natural preservative, so I guess I can’t say “no preservatives.”  But the least of my worries is sea salt, especially when I use Redmond. That means that “summer sausage” and “good for you” can be used in the same sentence.  Yay!!!

I think you’ll be as excited about this recipe as I am.  It’s homemade beef summer sausage!!  You will not believe how crazy easy this is to make.

Homemade Beef Summer Sausage - Easy and Healthy!

Beef Summer Sausage

2 1/2 pounds hamburger meat
2 1/2 Tablespoons liquid smoke (I prefer Wright’s Brand)
1 Tablespoon sea salt (I prefer Redmond brand)
1 teaspoon sucanat
1 Tablespoon ground pepper
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon mustard seeds

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, squishing with your hands until everything is well combined.  Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Knead meat mixture, then shape into 2 logs, about 13×2 inches each.  I found that rolling them in parchment paper helped form a nice, round shape.  Place logs in baking dishes such as Pyrex 9×13 inch pans (so fat drippings will not spill over into the oven).  Bake in a 300° oven for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

To freeze Summer Sausage:  Allow baked summer sausage to cool completely.  Wrap in parchment paper, then with plastic wrap.  Place in a freezer bag, storing in freezer for up to 2 months.

As if it wasn’t already wonderful news that we can enjoy healthy summer sausage – it’s even better news that this will be perfect for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box.  I’ll be packing this for road trips, for sure.

Share with us!  What’s your favorite holiday finger food?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The winner of our Deborah and Co. $50 gift certificate giveaway is:

Serenity Summers: lasummers@

Serenity, email me and I’ll forward your info on for your prize!

 

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Apple Nachos ~ Quick and Easy!

Apple Nachos - Easy!

There aren’t even words to describe this treat.  But not to worry.  I can always come up with plenty of words (just ask my family full of men).  Let me see if I can come up with something…

Simple, fast, deliciously sweet, a little bit tart, sticky, drippy, caramely, chocolaty, the perfect fall treat.  There.

If you’re questioning whether or not caramely is a word or not, I declare that it definitely is.  The dictionary just doesn’t know it yet.  Don’t trust everything you don’t read.  (I don’t get paid to make sense.)  I figure, if chocolaty is a word, caramely should be too.  Also, I like to say words that get my point across whether they are real or not.  So don’t get all grammary and English languagey on me.  After all, you really want to know how to make these Apple Nachos.

How to Make Apple Nachos

Slice apples and lay them on a plate.  If you like, you can sprinkle them with lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.  Drizzle warm Homemade Caramel Sauce over the apple slices.  Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the warm caramel sauce.  Serve immediately.

The result is a chocolaty, caramely plate of amazingness.

apple nachos

I think we can all agree that caramely should be a real adjective found in the dictionary, as should the word soccery.  What?  I used that word just yesterday to describe how our front closet almost made me pass out.  I innocently opened the closet door to throw in a pair of shoes and was met with a blast of stink that is typical in our home during soccer season.  Sweaty shin guards and wet soccer cleats, along with all the other gear - ah, the lovely scent of autumn.  I threw in the shoes and quickly slammed the door closed proclaiming, “Whoa-oh, gag me.  It smells completely soccery in there.”  Why take time to say real words in full sentences like, “The inside of this closet appears to be thick with the aroma of unpleasant apparel associated with this particular sport season in which we are all participating.”

No.  It just smells soccery.  It’s as simple as that.  When basketball season comes, the closet will become basketbally.  That’s just the truth of it.

I’m suddenly very aware that this is a terrible thing to talk about when writing a food post.  I apologize.  Sometimes, I get a little too real lifey when I write, forgetting that good food and sweaty footware should never be discussed in the same conversation.  How terribly nonproper-ish of me.

I now take your attention back to the wonderful Apple Nachos idea, whose caramely goodness brought us all here to this unlikely point of conversation.  Make these Apple Nachos.  They’ll make us all use the word caramely so much that the dictionary will have no choice but to include it.

You heard it here first.

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Hot Chocolate Souffle ~ A Recipe That Just So Happens To Naturally Be Grain Free and Dairy Free

hot chocolate souffle 2

Elias, our 12 year old, is my cookbook buddy.  Just like me, he enjoys looking through new recipes, getting food ideas, looking at the food pictures.  He’s my right hand man when it comes to finding new recipe ideas to play with.

During our past few trips to the library, Elias and I have picked up different cookbooks to look through and get ideas from.  This Hot Chocolate Soufflé is one he found recently.  He liked the look of the dessert and figured we could adapt it with our healthier ingredients pretty easily.  Obviously, he cares so much about using healthier ingredients, just like all normal 12 year old boys.  Ha. Haha. Ha. Ha.  Well, at least he knows his mom cares, and he sort of understands why.  Really, all he was concerned about was that this recipe looked like a yummy chocolate dessert.  What else matters, right?

Here’s what’s fun about this Hot Chocolate Soufflé recipe:

  • It’s very easy to make
  • It only has 4 ingredients
  • It can be made for those who need to avoid gluten and/or dairy

Hot Chocolate Soufflé

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/3 cup sucanat powdered sugar
5 eggs, separated
pinch of sea salt

Separate eggs – whites and yolks – into two separate bowls.  Stir sucanat powdered sugar into the egg yolks until smooth.  In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate, stirring constantly and removing from heat immediately after chocolate has melted.  Stir melted chocolate into egg yolks and sucanat mixture.  Beat egg whites and sea salt until stiff peaks form.  Fold chocolate mixture into the egg whites until barely mixed.  Pour mixture into a 8×8 inch baking pan.  Bake in a 400° oven for about 15 minutes or until done through and through.

Grain Free, Dairy Free Hot Chocolate Souffle

These would be great for your Make-Ahead Lunch Box.  Also, I looked into where you can purchase allergy free dark chocolate chips.  Here’s what I found:

Do you like looking through cookbooks and recipes?  (Hope so – this site is full of ‘em!)

This post contains affiliate links.

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Fresh Peach Milkshakes

It’s story time, children.  Please sit down, criss-cross-applesauce, and listen quietly.

Once upon a time, there was a lady who got a new blender.  It wasn’t just any blender.  It was the blender of all blenders, the Blend-Tec blender that she’d been waiting patiently to purchase.

She was super excited to make a peach milkshake with the fresh peaches she had in her kitchen, and figured that reading all the fine print in the “blender handbook” would be a waste of time.  “How hard can it be?” she thought, “It’s just a blender.”

And so, the uninformed lady proceeded to fill the blender to the top with delicious whole milk, slices of fresh peach, maple syrup, and vanilla.  With excitement, she placed the lid on the blender and pushed the on button.

Before the lady could say “one Mississippi” the force within the blender sent the lid shooting right off the top.  With a shout that sounded something like, “Aaoourrhheeeewwryeeeoo!” the lady quickly smacked the off button.  But no matter.  Peach milkshake had been sent to the ceiling, to the floor, to the stack of mail beside the blender, to the casseroles sitting on the countertop, to the side of the refrigerator, to surfaces she found three days later, and I think it goes without saying, to the clothes, arms, legs, shoes, and hair of the befuddled lady.

She stood, quite shocked and motionless, for approximately 8 Mississippi’s, before calling in her 12 year old son.  With a chuckle, said 12 year old brought in the camera, as moments such as this should be documented and preserved forever in ones memory and computer picture file.

peach milkshakes 1

This picture does not do the situation justice.
“The lady” was covered, the rug was covered, everything was covered. 

Thus lunch-time was delayed, and the kitchen got a much needed scrubbing.  The lady soon smelled sour from being drenched with dairy product, and even though she changed her clothes before going to a soccer game, was surprised to find flecks of dried peach stuck to her knees and ankles during half time.

The moral of the story: Read the directions, do not overfill your blender, and do not be surprised to find crusty milkshake residue four feet away on the front of the silverware drawer next Friday.

The end.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everybody hungry for a Peach Milkshake now?  Below you’ll find a recipe, which only makes about 2 servings.  Trying to make 6 servings at once, no matter how large your blender, is a bad, bad, bad idea.  I’m still not quite over it.

Fresh Peach Milkshakes

2 cups whole milk
2 fresh peaches, sliced
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a blender, making sure the blender is only half-full, trust me on this one.  Place lid on the blender, plug it in, and give it a whirl until ingredients are well blended.

Fresh Peach Milkshake

Make this milkshake at your own risk.

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Coconut Fudge Bars

Whether it’s because I’m getting older or getting healthier, my body no longer handles sugar well.  This is a great problem to have, obviously.  I’m really quite grateful, as I used to eat wayyyyyyyy too much sugar.  But what is a chocolate lover to do when she has a chocolate craving?  Suck on a bar of unsweetened chocolate?  Mmmm, no.

Chocolate Whipped Cream on Strawberries to the rescue.  Also, last week I played with my Chewy Granola Bars recipe.  I used to make them with chocolate chips – but that obviously adds extra sugar.  This time, I came up with a dark chocolate variety that is only lightly sweet, super coconuty, and oh so chocolaty rich.

Coconut Fudge Bars

1/2 cup peanut butter or sunbutter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil (or another oil of your choice)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In a medium sized saucepan, melt together peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, and cocoa.  Remove from heat and stir in oats and coconut flakes.  Spread mixture into a 9×9 inch pan.  Chill for 2 hours before serving.  Makes 8-16 bars, depending on how big/small you cut them.

Coconut Fudge Bars

These store best in the fridge, otherwise they are melty and will get chocolate all over your hands and face.  If this is not a problem for you, by all means, store them on the countertop.  If you want to pack these in a lunch, I recommend wrapping them individually, freezing them, and sending a spoon or fork along to make them less messy for the consumer.  If having chocolate all over your child’s hands and face at school is not a problem for you, by all means, send them without a utensil.

These are super rich and only barely sweet.  Feel free to add more honey if you prefer.

So tell me:  Are you a dark chocolate fan?

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Orange Creamsicle Recipe

Did you like the Strawberry Creamsicle recipe I shared?  How about an Orange Creamsicle recipe to add some variety?  For that matter, you can sub just about any fruit you like to make creamsicles.  Such a refreshing treat!

Orange Creamsicle Recipe

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1 Tablespoon real maple syrup (or about 10 drops liquid stevia)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds or 3-ounce cups.  If using 3-ounce cups, place a popsicle stick into the middle of each after these have been in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.  Makes about 12 small creamsicles.

Orange Creamsicles

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