Archive for December, 2011

One of my favorite breakfast or brunch egg dishes is this Green Chile Egg Souffle.  I often serve this for Christmas or New Year’s Day brunch with baked french toast and fresh fruit.  Yum!

This recipe is very easy!  And, you can buy all of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s.  I have modified the recipe to include TJ’s Chicken Sicilian Sausage.  Sometimes, I only make half with sausage (and use just 1/2 pound of sausage).  I usually use TJ’s Shredded 3 Cheese Blend (Mozarella, Cheddar & Jack) instead of buying Jack & Cheddar separately.  And since my family doesn’t like olives, I always leave them out.

My other name for this dish is “Church Egg Casserole”.  I say it lovingly, as you will always see some version of this egg dish at biblestudy breakfasts, brunches or other womens’ church events.

Green Chile Egg Souffle


10 Eggs, well beaten

1 lb. Sausage, cooked and crumbled (optional)

7 oz. Green Chiles, chopped

1 cup Cottage Cheese

1 lb. Jack Cheese, grated

1/2 lb. Cheddar Cheese, grated

1 stick of Melted Butter

1/2 cup Flour

10 drops Tabasco

1 small can of Olives, chopped (optional)

Optional Garnish:   Sliced Avocado, Salsa and Sour Cream


1.  Prepare a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Cook sausage in a skillet, crumbling or chopping the sausage into small bite-sized pieces until lightly browned.  (If you use TJ’s Sicilian or Spicy Sausage, remove sausage from the casings before cooking).  Spoon the cooked sausage (using a slotted spoon to drain grease) into the prepared 9 x 13 pan, spreading sausage evenly on the bottom of the pan.

3.  Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour the egg mixture into the 9 x 13 inch pan.

4.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 to 40 more minutes.  Egg dish should be lightly browned on top.

5.  Let egg dish cool for about 5 minutes.  Slice into squares and serve with desired garnish.


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This is the other new dessert recipe I made this Christmas.  Oh, I do believe that this in now a favorite of mine!

This Butterscotch Blondie Bar (with caramel, peanuts & pretzels) is also from Bon Appetit.  The combo of salty and sweet is to die for!!!  I didn’t change a thing with the recipe.

Natalie told me that this is the dessert she wants for her birthday — it’s her new favorite.  🙂

Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel

Blondie Ingredients:

1  1/2 cups Flour

2 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Kosher Salt

3/4 cup Unsalted Butter (1  1/2 sticks)

2 cups (packed) Light Brown Sugar

2 large Eggs

1 tsp. Vanilla

Peanut-Pretzel Caramel Ingredients:

4 cups Roasted, Unsalted Peanuts

2 cups Sugar

1/4 cup Honey

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter

1/2 cup Heavy Cream

1  1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels (1 1/2″-wide twisted pretzels)


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking pan (13x9x2″ metal pan) with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch overhang on the long sides of pan.

2.  Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.  Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan (7-8 minutes).  Transfer to a medium bowl.

3.  Add brown sugar to butter.  Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand (2-3 minutes).  Add eggs and vanilla; beat until smooth (batter will be thick).  Using an offset or regular spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.

4.  Bake blondie until golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pan, and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (20-25 minutes).  Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Peanut-Pretzel Caramel:

5.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Spread peanuts over sheet in an even layer.  Bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant (5-7 minutes).  Set aside.

6.  Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is deep amber (12-15 minutes).  Add honey; return to a boil, stirring often, about 1 minute longer.  Add butter; stir until blended.  Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously).  Whisk until smooth.

7.  Stir in peanuts and pretzels to caramel mixture.  Pour over cooled blondie.  Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.

8.  Run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie.  Using parchment paper overhang, lift from pan.  Cut lengthwise into 4 strips.  Cut each strip crosswise into 10 bars.

Do Ahead:  Chill for up to 1 week in an airtight container.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

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For our Christmas party, I made two new desserts — both from Bon Appetit.  And, both were a hit — with our party guests and our family.

This chocolate almond bark with sea salt is very rich — a little goes a long way!  It’s easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week!  That’s great when you’re planning a big party or, you’re looking for an interesting dessert to give to friends & neighbors.

Chocolate Almond Bark with Sea Salt


1/2 cup Sugar

1 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter

1 1/2 cups roasted Marcona Almonds (not in oil)

1 lb. good-quality dark chocolate (62% – 70% cacao), finely chopped

Coarse Sea Salt (for sprinkling)


1.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or foil.

2.  Combine sugar with 2 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan.  Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil and cook, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is dark amber, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Immediately add butter, whisk until melted.  Add almonds; stir until well coated.  Quickly transfer almonds to baking sheet, spreading out to separate nuts.  Let cool.  Break up any large clumps of nuts.  Set aside 1/4 of nuts.

3.  Stir chocolate in a medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until melted.  Remove from heat, add nuts from baking sheet and stir quickly to combine.

4.  Spread chocolate-nut mixture on same baking sheet, keeping nuts in a single layer.  Top with reserved nuts.  Sprinkle with salt.  Chill until chocolate is set, about 3 hours.

5.  Break bark into pieces and store between layers of parchment or waxed paper.

Do Ahead:  Can be made 1 week ahead.  Keep chilled.


  • I used Trader Joe’s Salted Skin-On Marcona Almonds.  I wasn’t sure they’d work, as they have the skin on, but they were great.  You need 1 and 1/2 bags (6 oz. bags).  I also used Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71% Cacao bars (from Trader Joes).
  • In preparation for making caramel, I fill a 1-cup measuring glass half-full with water and place the pastry brush in glass – next to the stove – ready to brush down the sides of the pan.
  • While the recipe calls to cool the chocolate-nut mixture for 3 hours, I found it easier to cut into pieces after 1 1/2 to 2 hours of cooling.
  • Make sure you use very coarse sea salt.   The chocolate looks better with small, coarse chunks of salt.

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Here’s a quick tour of some of the holiday decor around our house.  I didn’t go “all out” this year … I was just too busy.  I kept it simple and also repeated some decor from last year.

The living room mantel is similar to last years’.  I added fresh greenery (pine & cedar) as well as eucalyptus branches.

I usually decorate the family room in snowmen.  This year, I added more red and a few more vintage ornaments.

I usually change out the plates and decor in the built-in cabinet for holidays throughout the year, but come December … I still had the summer plates displayed!   I just added some red garland and a few ornaments.

I had planned to use more blue this year, but ended up only decorating a bathroom with blue and silver.  There’s always next year!

Merry Christmas!

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We had our annual Christmas party on Friday night.  This year, I did a simple tablescape of greens and ornaments for our dining room table.  This is where we serve most of our food for the party.

Please ignore the crumbs on the tablecloth, as most of the pictures were taken the day after. 🙂

This year, I purchased the bundled greens (pine, cedar and holly) from Trader Joes along with red and pink roses from Costco.  I placed silver and red mercury glass ornaments in a glass pedestal and used my chandelier candlesticks (from TJMaxx – several years ago).

It’s one of my favorite (and easiest) holiday centerpieces yet!

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Looking for a fun holiday craft project you can do with the kids?

These lollipop yard stakes go together in an afternoon.  And, the kids can do so much of the project themselves (actually all of the project, if they are pre-teen or older).

Natalie and I painted the paperplates in traditional mint candy fashion (plus one with polka dots).  We actually painted them last year, but never got around to finishing them until this year.  The nice thing about this holiday craft is that they are easy to store — and take up very little space if you unassemble them before packing them away.

Here’s what you need:

  • Paperplates – the thicker kind works best (2 needed for each lollipop)
  • Paint – we used the inexpensive acrylic paint from the craft store
  • Brushes
  • Scissors & Hot glue gun
  • Cellophane Wrap
  • Ribbon
  • 1/2 – 3/4 inch wood dowls (in desired length for lollipop sticks)

Here are the steps:

1.  Paint the backs of the paper plates with your desired design.  Remember to paint two plates for each lollipop.  We painted our designs in pairs, so each lollipop would look the same on both sides.

2.  Once the paint has dried, you cut a notch in each paper plate the width of the wood dowl.  When the plates are glued together, this will create a hole for the dowl.

3.  Glue the paperplates together (facing each other, with the painted design on the outside).  Be sure to align the notches to make the hole for the dowl.  Once glue is dry/hardened, insert wood dowl in notched hole.

4.  Cut a sheet of cellophane about 24 by 24 inches.  You may need to adjust the size if your plates are larger or smaller.  Place the cellophane over the two plates that are glued together and gather it together at the bottom so that the end of the dowel sticks out.

5.  Tie the cellophane with a ribbon where it is gathered, making a bow.

Lollipops can be used in your yard, in potted plants, in planters … or like Natalie — she has one in her bedroom.

Happy Crafting!

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Mercury glass can be a nice touch in holiday decorating.  Whether it’s candlestick holders, votives, vases, bowls, ornaments or other items … there are so many different ways to use them throughout your home.

I use my large mercury candlestick holders throughout the year.  I have several from Pottery Barn and others from places like TJMaxx.  They look pretty on mantels, part of tablescapes and other holiday vignettes.  With the popularity of mercury glass, you can find knock offs inexpensively.

I’ve also added a few mercury glass trees in the past couple of years.  I’ve been collecting red and silver mercury glass ornaments for over ten years — along with votive holders.  I use them for Christmas and Valentine’s home decor.  The past couple of years, Target has even sold votive holders in multiple colors.

Happy Holiday Decorating!

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