Tried and true: sausage-egg-cheese casserole after church

At our small Episcopal church we take turns bringing food for after the service.  Usually two people sign up. On Sunday I will make three trays of Sausage-egg-cheese casserole, bundt cakes (sliced) and a tossed field greens salad.

sausage-egg-casserole

Here’s the recipe for the casserole:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 6 slices white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. In a skillet, brown and crumble sausage; drain and set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs; add milk, salt and mustard. Stir in bread cubes, cheese and sausage.
  2. Pour into a greased 11×7-in. baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Yield: 10 servings.

My BBQ ribs secret– boil before baking

Do you love BBQ ribs with potato salad, corn bread, and a field greens salad? This delicious dinner can be prepared lighter by boiling the ribs first.

bbq-ribs

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce

Directions:

  1. Place ribs in a large pot with enough water to cover. Season with garlic powder, black pepper and salt. Bring water to a boil, and cook ribs until tender.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  3. Remove ribs from pot, and place them in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Pour barbeque sauce over ribs. Cover dish with aluminum foil, and bake in the preheated oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until internal temperature of pork has reached 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

What is it about bundt cakes that bring up home-baked nostalgia?

Irish Cream Bundt Cake– this is a perfect addition to the egg casserole I’ll make. irish-cream-bundt-cake

Bundts (or, at least, the confections that inspired them) may be generations-old Eastern European cakes, but the signature aluminum pan they’re baked in is a modern innovation. A Bundt cake /bʌnt/ is a cake that is baked in a Bundt pan, shaping it into a distinctive ring shape. The shape is inspired by a traditional European cake known as Gugelhupf, but Bundt cakes are not generally associated with any single recipe. Publicity from Pillsbury saw the cakes gain widespread popularity, and now we are seeing the franchise bakeries, Nothing Bundt Cakes, popping up all over.

Ingredients for Irish Cream Bundt Cake

  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped nuts evenly over bottom of pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix and pudding mix. Mix in eggs, 1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup oil and 3/4 cup Irish cream liqueur. Beat for 5 minutes at high speed. Pour batter over nuts in pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto the serving dish. Prick top and sides of cake. Spoon glaze over top and brush onto sides of cake. Allow to absorb glaze repeat until all glaze is used up.
  4. To make the glaze: In a saucepan, combine butter, 1/4 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Irish cream.

Baked Potato Soup–low calorie

Our daughter, Marla, gave me this recipe for Baked Potato Soup, and it is courtesy of Lizzie Fuhr of Popsugar Fitness. The reason it’s low calorie is that cauliflower replaces the usual amount of potatoes. 

baked-potato-soup

Ingredients

1.    1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets

2.    2 russet potatoes, diced

3.    1 cup low-fat milk (one percent)

4.    2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

5.    1 teaspoon salt

6.    1/2 teaspoon pepper

7.    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

8.    1 white onion, diced

9.    3 cloves garlic, minced

10. 4 slices turkey bacon, diced

11. 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

12. Scallions, chopped, to garnish

13. Greek yogurt or sour cream, to garnish

Directions

1.    Bring a large pot of water to boil. Boil the cauliflower florets until tender when tested with a fork (about 10 minutes).

2.    Remove the cooked cauliflower from the pot, and boil the diced potatoes in the same pot until tender. Remove from the water, and set aside.

3.    Combine the cauliflower, milk, 1 cup of chicken broth, salt, and pepper in a large blender, and blend until smooth.

4.    In a large soup pot or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook for an additional minute.

5.    Pour the cauliflower mixture and the additional cup of chicken broth into your soup pot with the garlic and onions. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, feel free to add equals parts of milk and broth to thin things out. Turn down to simmer, add the turkey bacon and chives, and cook for at least 15 minutes.

6.    Serve in bowls, and top with the classic toppings of your choice.

Stay at your happy weight.

You like what the scale says and have plenty of company if you don’t need to slim down. Forty-one percent of women are content with their present weight according to a recent Gallup poll.  Nutritionalist Keri Gans, R.D.N. suggests these strategies to maintain weight:

  1. Put your go-to foods on repeat. Lauren Slayton, R.D.N. writes you will be more likely to practice portion control with foods you eat often. Eat smartly and rotate the foods that are good for you.
  2. Understand the math. Even if you’re loading your grocery cart with apples, carrots, and kale, it doesn’t mean you are consuming less calories if you consume chips and dip.
  3. Think like a chef. People who cook rather than eat out consume fewer calories. At a restaurant a rich tomato bisque is loaded with cream and butter. Order chicken noodle instead.
  4. Consistent workouts help you stay slim, but switch things up every so often to keep your calorie burn high.

How is this for a snack— chocolate kiwi pops. 1 cup Chopped dark chocolate and 1/2 cup Coconut oil – melted over a double boiler, then cooled to room temp.  Transfer (on the foil) to refrigerator until chocolate hardens.

kiwipops0002

Looking up at the constellation Orion

Tonight – or any January evening – look for the constellation Orion the Hunter. It’s probably the easiest to pick out of all the constellations in the winter sky. It’s identifiable by Orion’s Belt, three medium-bright stars in a short, straight row at the mid-section of the Hunter. See these stars? They are easy to spot on the sky’s dome. As seen from mid-northern latitudes, you’ll find Orion in the southeast at early evening and shining high in the south by late evening (around 10 to 11 p.m. local time). If you live at temperate latitudes to the south of the equator, you’ll see Orion high in your northern sky at this hour. Pick out Orion’s Belt and the nearby bright stars in that part of the sky, and you’ve probably found Orion.

orion-sky

Stars in distinct constellations like Orion look connected, perhaps even gravitationally bound, but usually they aren’t. Certainly Orion’s stars aren’t bound to each other by anything but their general location near one another along a single line of sight from Earth. The stars of Orion just happen to make an easy visual pattern on our sky’s dome.

Meanwhile, the stars in Orion and most other constellations are located at vastly different distances from each other. For example, notice the two brightest stars in Orion—Betelgeuse and Rigel.  Betelgeuse is estimated to be located 522 light-years away, while Rigel’s distance is 773 light-years.

Did you attend a New Year’s Eve Celebration?

In spite of our soggy, rainy weather Southern Californians came out last night to celebrate.  There were thousands of  parties to attend, bands to listen to, fireworks to see, champagne to drink, and lots of hugs and kisses.

fireworks.jpg

Here were some ways SoCal brought in the New Year:

1. LONG BEACH: Queen Mary New Year’s Eve: Three and a half acres of the ship’s deck  themed areas.
LONG BEACH: New Year’s Eve Party on Pine with bands and party time.
2. BUENA PARK: New Year’s Eve at Knott’s Berry Farm with Fireworks Show, bands and dancing.
3. COSTA MESA: OC WinterFest New Year’s Eve party with fireworks.
4. ANAHEIM: Disneyland’s New Year’s Eve Fantasy In The Sky Fireworks Spectacular.
6. FULLERTON: First Night. Free Downtown Fullerton street party with bands. Kids bounce houses, small train, face painting and balloon art, food and Fireworks Show at midnight.
7. MARINA DEL REY: New Year’s Eve Celebration with Fireworks. Free event.
8. AVALON: Annual gala with Big Band, formal attire and spectacular bay views from Historic Casino Ballroom.
9. BIG BEAR LAKE: Torchlight Parade held annually on the ski slopes to celebrate the New Year.
10. TEMECULA: Old Town Temecula New Year’s Eve Party with Grape Drop, kids activities and family fun.

Did the Star of Bethlehem exist?

The Star of Bethlehem – nowadays often just called the Christmas Star – is a major seasonal symbol throughout the world. Some astronomers believe the bright star is Regulus near the Leo I Dwarf Galaxy. Photo credit is from Chris Cook.

regulus-star

Imagine, if you will, the silhouettes of three regally attired men on camels. They are gazing across gently rolling hills or dunes of white, to a tiny solitary building in the distance. The night is dark, and one exceedingly bright star appears to hover over the small building, sending a bright shaft of light earthward to illuminate its outline. Another light glows gently inside.  Astronomers argue that stars to not move this way, and fundamentalists feel the star was not a natural phenomenon.  The image is derived more from imagination and greeting cards than from the one place the Star is mentioned in the Bible, Matt 2:2, 7:10.  “When they (wise men) had heard the king, they departed, and lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”

The card below adds an asteroid with the star.

Christmas asteroid.jpg

 

 

 

Spaghetti with Sausage alla Carbonara– something new with pasta!

Today I asked my husband for a dinner suggestion, and he suggested this–

SPAGHETTI WITH SAUSAGE ALLA CARBONARA

spaghetti-and-sausage-carbonara

INGREDIENTS

·         1 pound sweet Italian sausage

·         1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

·         1 tablespoon unsalted butter

·         1 medium onion, sliced thin

·         1 ½ teaspoons pepper

·         2 bay leaves

·         ½ cup dry white wine

·          Salt

·         1 pound spaghetti

·         3 large eggs

·         ¼ cup pecorino Romano

PREPARATION

FOR THE SPAGHETTI WITH SAUSAGE ALLA CARBONARA

1.   Remove casings from sausage. Using a knife, a fork or your hands on a cutting board, break meat into small pieces. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook on medium-low just until translucent.

2.   Add sausage, mashing and breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it is uniformly crumbly and has lost its pinkness. Stir in the pepper and bay leaves. Add wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and discard bay leaves. Season meat to taste with salt.

3.   Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti until al dente, 6 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large serving bowl with hot water or warm it in a low oven. Lightly beat the eggs in a small dish. Just before pasta is done, return pan with sausage to low heat. When pasta is done, slowly beat about a tablespoon of pasta water into eggs. Then drain the pasta.

4.   Transfer sausage to warm serving bowl. Pour spaghetti on top and toss it with the sausage, slowly adding the beaten eggs. Add salt to taste and fold in the pecorino.

What is it about reindeer that spread holiday smiles?

Have you noticed all the reindeer inspired candlesticks, pillows, mugs, hats, slippers, and sweaters? It’s all fun and reindeer games this season with these whimsical finds inspired by Santa’s furry friends.

Beyond their sled-pulling capabilities and discrimination towards those with red noses, what do you really know about reindeer?

REINDEER AND CARIBOU ARE THE SAME THING.

Historically, the European/Asian reindeer and American Caribou were considered to be different species, but they are actually one and the same. There are two major groups of reindeer, the tundra and the woodland, which are divided according to the type of region the animal lives in, not their global location. The animals are further divided into subspecies, ranging from nine to thirteen depending on who is doing the classification. At least one subspecies, the Arctic Reindeer, is already extinct.

reindeer.jpeg