I am trying to find interesting and tasty ways to eat healthy and use up my leftovers. As the mother of 6 and the Grammy of “almost” 13, I have a lifelong habit of cooking things in large batches. This has become problematic for me as I struggle to cook as well for 2 as I once did for 8.

A frittata is a great way to incorporate some of those meatless meals into my diet, while at the same time using up leftovers in a flavorful and interesting way. It’s always a challenge to make leftovers taste like you’ve just cooked them!

INGREDIENTS:

8 eggs
1/3 cup milk or cream
3/4 cup shredded cheese of your choice (mozzarella or cheddar are great options), plus about another cup for topping
kosher salt
black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups filling of your choice (choose pre-cooked veggies, meats such as ham or bacon, etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, cream and 3/4 cheese. Season with salt, pepper and other seasonings of your choice. (Note: Be cautious about how much salt you add. You may need to adjust the salt used if you choose a variety of cheese, such as parmesan or feta, that are naturally salty cheeses.)

In a large cast iron skillet over medium heat, add and heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until it begins to look translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Add any raw mushrooms that need to be cooked according to how much time they will need to become tender (for instance, broccoli will need longer than spinach, for example.) The point is to ensure that most of the water has had a chance to cook out of the veggies and that they’re fork tender before adding the egg mixture.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet with the prepared filling ingredients. Add the remaining cheese to the top. Transfer skillet to the oven.

Bake until eggs are just set 12-15 minutes.



It’s important that you have your ingredients prepped so that you can move quickly while putting the frittata together. You can have ingredients pre-chopped or pre-cooked in your refrigerator and have a ready to finish meal for a busy weeknight.

Grammy

I wanted to do something exciting this weekend to mark the beginning of fall weather. I found some inspiration by combining pumpkin and chocolate – what’s not to love about that, right? And this combination was made even more special because I was able to use gluten free chocolate cookie crumbs, making this seriously decadent dessert something that was legal for folks in my family who have gluten allergies.

INGREDIENTS:

For the crust:

8 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs ( used this brand of GF crumbs for mine)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 stick butter, melted

For the filling:

3, 8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pumpkin
2 teaspoons pie spice
3 eggs, at room temperature

Combine the crust ingredients. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of a springform pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla together, mixing until smooth. Add the pumpkin, pie spice and eggs, blending until all ingredients have been incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Pour into springform pan over the cookie crust, smoothing the top so it is even.

Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove from the springform pan and place cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill completely.

Serve topped with whipped cream.

You can add another layer of flavor by topping this with cinnamon whipped cream: 2 cups heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Whip until soft peaks form.

Grammy

I love all the flavors of Tex-Mex food and am always on the lookout for something new and different to serve alongside some of our favorite entrees. I found this recipe in my email this morning from one of my favorite bloggers at CallMePC.Com. Although I had to make an adjustment or two to fit the ingredients I had on hand, the result was successful and, as my husband said, definitely a “do again.” I served this alongside another favorite recipe from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. The Green Chile Cheese Rice Casserole was a perfect pairing with her Tequila Lime Chicken.

This recipe is a great way to use leftover cooked rice and can be reduced for a smaller batch. It’s also gluten free if you’re looking for something that suits special dietary needs.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups cooked rice (I used Basmati)
1 cup sour cream
6 ounces green chiles, diced (I used the canned green chiles)
3 cups Monterey Jack cheese, or any other appropriate shredded cheese (cheddar, colby-jack, pepper-jack)
10.8 ounce package frozen corn (if you don’t have frozen, you can use canned corn, drained)
1 tablespoon fresh, chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh, minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper like cayenne, optional

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl, reserving 1 cup of shredded cheese for topping.

Pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbling. Serve immediately.

This is a great dish to make ahead and pop into the oven while you’re prepping the rest of your meal.

Grammy

One of the nice things about fall is pumpkin spice and mums. I got both of these as gifts in one week. I’ll focus on the pumpkin spice related gift here. My little sister is a wonderful baker and she often finds fun and unique recipes to make. She is also very kind to “share the calories” with her big sister. She sent a bag of this awesome Pumpkin Spice Chex Mix over to me and I fell in love with it. It’s easy, it tastes amazing and, oh my, it SMELLS SO GOOD! The recipe came from The Novice Chef Blog.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 (12 oz.) box Cinnamon Chex cereal
1 (12 oz.) box Honey Nut Chex cereal
4 cups pretzels
1 (21 oz.) autumn/harvest candy mix or plain candy corn

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla.

In an extra large bowl, toss together both boxes of Chex cereal and the pretzels. Pour the butter mixture over the cereal and toss to distribute.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide mixture on the two baking sheets and spread out to even layers. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on wax paper to cool.

Add candy and toss to combine. Store in an airtight container.


The best thing about this type of recipe is the ability you have to make it your own. I think it would be terrific with the addition of roasted peanuts, or Reese’s Pieces. Maybe add some pecans or some dried apple. So many options and they’re all SOOOOOOOOO good!

Grammy

My husband is an avid follower of competition BBQer, Malcolm Reed. In his most recent blog post, he shared a Cast Iron Steak Recipe and said it was the best steak he’d ever eaten, and this was from a guy who has won steak events in competition. Challenge accepted. PaPa went to his Big Green Egg this evening to test this claim and, I have to admit, Mr. Reed did not lie. BEST STEAK I’VE EVER EATEN.

The original recipe and demonstration used Wagyu chuck eye steaks. We used our standard thick cut ribeye steaks, well marbled. We also lacked the fresh thyme and used an appropriate amount of dried thyme in the butter. Otherwise, we followed his instructions to the letter. The result was a steak that had a beautiful sear, a perfect medium rare and was truly unctuous and deeply flavorful.

INGREDIENTS:

2 – thick cut ribeye steaks (or use the favorite cut of your choice)
6 Tablespoons Butter divided into pats
2 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil (do not substitute another oil – this is necessary for the high heat tolerance of grapeseed oil)
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper
8–10 Cloves Fresh Garlic
6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs (or substitute about 1/2 teaspoon dried ground thyme)

Prepare your Big Green Egg or other grill for direct cooking at 500°F.

Season each steak on all sides with Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. Let rest for about 30 minutes while the grill comes up to temperature.

Place a cast iron skillet on the cooking grate and add 1 Tablespoon of grape seed oil.  Allow the pan to heat until the oil starts to slightly smoke.

Place one steak in the skillet and press down for good surface contact.  This helps get that wonderful crust you want to see. Set a timer for 3 minutes.

Flip the steak and add the butter and half the garlic and thyme.  Continue to cook for another 3 minutes basting the steak with the butter mixture several times.  

After 6 minutes the steak should be medium rare, remove it from the skillet and rest on a platter.  Pour the juices from the skillet over the steak.  (if you want it more well done – continue cooking until it reaches your desired doneness)

Wipe out the cast iron skillet with paper towel and repeat the process for the next steak.

A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT COOKING NOTES:

  • You’re going to be cooking at an extremely high temperature and safety is important. Make sure you have heavy silicone grilling gloves to use when handling the cast iron skillet during this process.
  • Grape Seed Oil isn’t an ingredient most cooks commonly have on hand. But, for this type of cooking process at this heat level it is critical you use it as it has a very high smoke point and won’t burn like other oils will.
  • Use a long handled spoon to work with the butter. It keeps your hands further away from the flames and intense heat.
  • Gather all of your ingredients and have all materials and ingredients prepped and ready BEFORE you start to cook. This process produces a perfect steak, but it is unforgiving. You can’t leave the grill for any reason once you start cooking.

There’s nothing more wonderful than being married to a man with a grill and knows how to use it!

Grammy

This is my favorite basic waffle recipe and the one I used to make when “some” of my kids were younger. The elder children probably don’t remember me making homemade waffles. I don’t even think I owned a waffle iron when they were little. But my youngest son did and loved them. One of my favorite memories was sitting next to one of his friends’ moms at a baseball game and having her tell me she was “mad” at me for blowing it and teaching her son that there were waffles other than Eggos. She also said I was making the other moms look bad because I also played video games with the kids, but, that’s another story.

These waffles are wonderful right off the waffle iron, but you can also make them, cool them and freeze them to use during the week. After all, this is what we call a “homemade Eggo” waffle! 😉

INGREDIENTS:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 eggs (separate into 2 separate dishes the yolks and the whites)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for brushing on the waffle iron

INSTRUCTIONS:

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the milk and melted butter. Beat the yolks and incorporate into the batter. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Heat your waffle iron per the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a pastry brush, grease the iron with some of the melted butter. Add the batter to the waffle iron using about 3/4 – 1 cup at a time. NOTE: The amount you use will vary depending on the size and design of your particular waffle iron. If you overfill, the batter will overflow from the edges while baking.

Bake waffles until golden brown. They should release easily from the waffle iron. Keep waffles warm by placing on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven until all waffles are finished. Serve with toppings of your choice.

Makes 4-6, 6 inch round waffles.

I love the beaten egg whites in this recipe. It’s a little more trouble, but they make the waffles light and tender.

Grammy

I adore bread pudding. When desserts are offered in restaurants and one of the offerings is bread pudding, I nearly always try it. Bread pudding varies so much by cook, by region, by season and by ingredient that it’s sort of like the “meatloaf” of the dessert world.

The whole point of bread pudding began with using the stale breads that were left at the end of a week. In our family, leftover biscuits or buns went into a bag in the freezer and just waited for the day they could be reborn into eggy and cinnamony goodness. (Yes, I know cinnamony isn’t a real word in YOUR dictionary, but it is in mine.) Today, recipes often call for a specific kind of bread, typically something like Challah or French bread. In my kitchen, we still use the leftovers and are proud of it. You’ll never know that this wonderful and tasty dessert was made with leftover buns and biscuits, unless I tell you. Which I just did.

This version was inspired by a recipe I found on Soulfully Made. I made some variations, but the basic recipe is the same.

INGREDIENTS:

About 4 cups of stale bread (biscuits, buns or rolls work best) or use a good loaf of Challah or brioche
4 cups half and half
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3-4 tablespoons bourbon (I used Jim Beam Apple Bourbon because I had it on hand and, well APPLE bourbon)
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped (I used a Gala)
1 cup chopped pecans
About 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar for topping

Bourbon Sauce:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread pieces with the half and half and vanilla. Let stand while you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients.

In a cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown and white sugars, stirring until well combined. Remove from heat. Temper the beaten eggs with a bit of the the butter/sugar mixture and then incorporate the eggs into the mixture in the skillet. Add the 4 tablespoons bourbon. Mix in the apples, cinnamon and 1/2 cup of the pecans.

Add in the bread mixture and fold in until well combined. At this point you can leave in the cast iron skillet to bake or pour mixture into a greased baking dish. Top with the remaining pecans and the turbinado sugar.

Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the bourbon sauce:

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, melted butter and 2 Tablespoons bourbon until smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream, continuing to mix until smooth. Drizzle sauce on top of warm bread pudding, reserving some to pour on individual servings. Serve while warm.

“Bread pudding recipes are like the meatloaf recipes of the dessert category. Everyone has their own versions, methods and preferences.”

Grammy

This is one of my most requested meals. Beef stew is one of the ultimate fall and winter comfort foods, a great make-ahead one-dish meal for working moms and dads, and it freezes well. My beef stew recipe is a combination of my Mom’s, my Mother-in-Law’s and my own additions. My memories of this dish include my Mom making it ahead on her Tuesday days off so it was ready to finish up and serve later in the week. Other memories include my mother-in-law serving it upon our arrival at their home in Colorado after we’d spent a long day driving to get there. The smell of her house with the stew cooking always felt like “coming home.”

I generally make my beef stew in large batches because that’s the way I’ve always needed to prepare it. I’ve cut that amount in half for this recipe as most of you will want to start with a smaller amount to begin with. NOTE: This recipe takes quite a bit of time to prepare, usually around 4-5 hours.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 – 2 pounds beef stew meat cut into bit sized pieces
1 cup flour
kosher salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low sodium beef broth
4 medium carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
1 can green beans, drained
1 packet brown gravy mix
1 cup water

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat vegetable oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Dredge the stew meat, covering each piece in flour.

Add the stew meat to the hot oil, covering the bottom of the pan. Work in batches to brown all sides of the stew meat, making sure you don’t overcrowd the pan. Return all meat to the pan along with any remaining flour, sprinkling it over the top. Add the beef broth to the pan, making sure meat is completely covered.

Cover the pan and either cook slowly over a medium-low heat on your stove top, or braise in a 350 degree oven for about 2-3 hours. Check occasionally to stir the beef and to make sure you have sufficient liquid remaining in the beef. This will cook down into a thick gravy.

Meanwhile, prep your veggies. The carrots and the onions will take longer than the potatoes and the green beans to cook. When beef mixture has cooked down and is tender, add the carrots and onions to the pan, mixing well. Add enough water to just cover the vegetables. Return to the oven or continue cooking on your stove top. After the carrots and onions have cooked for about 30-45 minutes, add the potatoes and the green beans. Again, check the liquid to make sure there is sufficient cover the vegetables.

When the vegetables are tender (this will probably take about an hour and a half), combine the gravy mix in a bowl with 1 cup water. Mix well and add to the stew. Combine well. Let cook for about 10 minutes and taste. Add more kosher salt and pepper at this point according to your tastes.

It’s fall. Soup weather. Stew Weather. Apple pie weather. Mmmmmm, all of those posts coming up this week. As it happens, my husband pointed out that we had over-purchased milk this week, meaning I needed to find ways to use extra. His suggestion was, “How about a nice batch of potato soup?”

I could have made the old standard, but went out looking for something that might give me soup a little extra oomph. I found a good recipe on Taste of Home that provided the base. The best part of the soup were the homemade sourdough croutons I made to add to the top. I see these taking on a recipe life of their own in the future.

INGREDIENTS:

6 strips bacon, diced
3 cups cubed and peeled potatoes
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 can (14.5 oz.) chicken broth
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups 2% milk
8 ounces Monterey Jack/Cheddar cheese (you can also use Velveeta, Colby, etc.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

In a large pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, stirring occasionally; drain off the drippings. Add vegetables, seasonings and chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Mix flour and milk with a whisk until smooth; stir into soup. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted.

Serve topped with Sourdough Croutons.

Far from being just a way of using up the last of a stale loaf of sourdough bread, these croutons add a bit of crunch and seasoning to your soups and salads. Experiment with the basic salt and pepper version and add your own spice selections to vary things. How about some garlic or parmesan cheese?

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2-3 cups sourdough bread cut into cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
(Other seasonings as desired, to taste)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet until hot (don’t let the butter start to brown). Add the bread cubes. Toast the bread, tossing to get even color, until it is crispy and brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.