Easy Sausage Brunch Casserole

One of my two sisters (both excellent cooks) brought this delicious casserole to a baby shower our family hosted years ago.  It  has since become a go-to dish for holiday breakfasts and relaxed company brunches.  I love it because it can be made ahead and baked just before serving, but also because you can create your own variations with different flavored sausages, cheese varieties, and even breads.  My current favorite uses Rumiano Organic Pepper Jack Cheese.  There’s something very satisfying about choosing Rumiano’s Certified Organic, Non-GMO Verified, Kosher, ARumiano Pepper Jackmerican Humane Certified cheeses.  There is even more satisfaction in eating this super creamy Monterey Jack cheese spiked with red and green jalapeño peppers.  It makes a mean turkey and pepper jack panini, elevates a cheese and cracker snack to an art form, and is wonderful in recipes.

Sausage Brunch Casserole

  • Six slices of bread, cubed
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, sautéed in butter
  • 8 ounces Rumiano Organic Pepper Jack Cheese, grated
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish or prepare with nonstick spray.  Brown sausage in a large skillet and drain well.  Spread cubed bread in the bottom of the casserole dish, spread sausage over the bread, and top with mushrooms.  Grate the cheese and spread over the other ingredients.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk eggs together and add the remaining ingredients.  Mix well, then pour over the sausage mixture.  Bake for 30 minutes and serve.

Preparation tips:

Almost any kind of bread works well in the casserole.  I have used white, wheat, sourdough, and gluten-free breads with great success.

Use canned or freshly sautéed mushrooms.  I like to keep sautéed mushrooms in 1/2 cup portions frozen and ready to pop into recipes.  If you choose canned mushroom, drain off the liquid.

After assembling the casserole, you can cover and refrigerate it overnight.  You may need to add about 5 minutes to the baking time.


We became fans of Rumiano cheeses when we tried their Garlic Jack Cheese several years ago.  We love their family history, their socially conscious business model, and most of all, their great-tasting cheeses!

Where to buy Rumiano Organic Pepper Jack Cheese:

  • Buy from the artisan
  • Find a store  (Note: “Find a store” links to a list of retailers on the Company’s website, but stores may not carry all of the Company’s products. Please check with your local store to be sure they have this specific product in stock. If not, ask them to carry it!)

Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Cheese

Happy National Cream Puff Day!

Cream puff with Chocolate caramel sea salt sauceThere’s no need to feel let down after all the holiday celebrations when today is National Cream Puff Day!  Cream puffs have been around in various forms almost forever and their exact origin is unclear.  Most people credit French chefs for the flaky, filled pastries, although Italy and Germany also had their own versions centuries ago.  The hollow puffs are usually filled with pastry cream, custard or ice cream, but they are equally delicious with savory fillings.  Small puffs filled with chicken or shrimp salad are beautiful and tasty for an appetizer buffet.

I shared an easy cream puff recipe last year, which I usually fill with my mom’s vanilla custard.  Robert Rothschild Farms Chocolate Caramel & Sea Salt Sauce takes them to Cloud 9 level.

If your New Year’s resolutions included taking off a few pounds, resolve to start on January 3, and enjoy a cream puff today!

Leave a comment

Filed under Desserts

Chēbē Original Cheese Bread Mix

I’m not sure how I missed sharing this great find.  Maybe I was too busy enjoying these tasty little bread bites straight from the oven!  My introduction to Chēbē Original Cheese Bread Mix resulted from my on-going search for gluten-free products for my mom, and several things convinced me it was worth a try.  First, and most obviously, it is cheese bread.  Are you with me so far?  Second, the mix calls for fresh cheese; no processed cheese-flavored mystery ingredients.  Excellent.  Finally, the preparation looked quick and easy.

The instructions suggest using a hard cheese, so I chose asiago.  I had the bread mixed, on a baking sheet, and in the oven in  short order.  Butter was at the ready as the bread came out of the oven.  The crust was crisp, but not tough.  The inside was moist with just the right chewiness factor.  The flavor?  Awesome!  This bread would be great on a buffet table, or with a warm bowl of soup.  Using different cheeses would make it easy to pair the bread with many different foods.

Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix

Chēbē owners, Dick and Ju Reed, based their bread on on pão de queijo, a native recipe from Ju’s home in Brazil, and they began producing it for U.S. distribution in 1999.  It is made with tapioca flour, so is naturally gluten-free.  The Reeds didn’t make a big deal about Chēbē being gluten-free, but gluten-intolerant consumers certainly did.  Today, all Chēbē mixes and frozen breads are certified gluten-free and bear the Celiac Sprue Association symbol.  Our blog isn’t focused on gluten-free foods; we tell you about foods we truly love.  We think you will love this bread, too!

Where to buy Chēbē Original Cheese Bread Mix

  • Buy from the artisan
  • Buy from Amazon
  • Find a store  (Note: “Find a store” links to a list of retailers on the Company’s website, but stores may not carry all of the Company’s products. Please check with your local store to be sure they have this specific product in stock. If not, ask them to carry it!)



Leave a comment

Filed under Breads

Happy National Brownie Day!

Here’s how to make your Monday better–celebrate National Brownie Day! Here are three suggestions from our archives.

First, everyone deserves a good brownie – even those who are gluten-intolerant orDSC01583 gluten-free by choice.  Our vote goes to1-2-3 Gluten-Free Brownies.  Kimberlee Ullner developed this and other delicious mixes after she and her family members were diagnosed with celiac disease.  The mix is affordable compared to many other gluten-free brands and the brownies are quick, easy, and delicious.

Ghirardelli broGhirardelli Triple Fudge Brownie Mix is an always reliable pantry staple.  If this isn’t my favorite brownie, it is certainly in the Top 5.  Top your brownies with some chocolate orange buttercream frosting and perfection ensues.

Finally, if you aren’t sharing brownies with the kids, try these adult treats we baked up IMG_1173with another great Ghirardelli brownie mix, Kahlúa, and espresso powder.  Even though the alcohol evaporates during baking, sugar and espresso are just not a good combo for the kiddos.  Just saying.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies

Double Mocha Brownies

As I may have confessed before, I do not make brownies from scratch because Ghirardelli’s mixes are just so good.  I can have brownie mix from box to oven in less than five minutes with stellar results, but I never stop looking for interesting variations on plain brownies.  Enter Kahlúa with a sponsored post on allrecipes.com for Kahlúa brownies, which immediately went on my must-have list.  Just because I could, I amped up the mocha flavor ever so slightly by adding a little espresso powder.  If you are a mocha fan, you will totally love these fast and fantastic brownies.

Double Mocha Brownies

  • 1 – Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix (You could also use Ghirardelli’s Triple Fudge Brownie Mix.  I usually buy whichever flavor Costco has on hand.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Kahlúa
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350° and lightly coat a 9″ x 9″ pan with non-stick spray.  Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl and spread evenly in the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.  (Do not over bake!)  As soon as brownies are out of the oven, cover lightly with foil to keep the edges from hardening.  Cool completely before cutting in 16 brownies.  Store in an airtight container.

Note:  This recipe calls for different measures of oil and water than the back-of-the-box instructions.  It works very well as written above!



Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies

Celebrate National Biscuit Month!

September always seems to be a month of transition.  Kids head back to school.  Football teams gear up as fans hope for a winning season (particularly weary Dallas Cowboy fans).  The weather begins signaling a change in season, and everyone in Texas breathes a sigh of relief that most of the high temperatures should be in our rear-view mirror.  I’m not sure who was given the authority to deem September as National Biscuit Month, but it seems like a fitting time for a celebration as we move into fall.    For your celebratory pleasure, we are recapping our favorite biscuits and the artisans who make them.

Callie’s Charleston Biscuits

Callie White was a renowned Charleston caterer perhaps best known for her buttery country ham biscuits.  Her daughter, DSC00496Carrie Morey, took over the helm of the family business when Callie was ready to retire and redirected it to a nationally-recognized artisan biscuit bakery.  Their cocktail-sized varieties include buttermilk, black pepper bacon, cheese and chive, country ham, cocktail ham, shortcake and cinnamon.  The cheese and chive biscuits we tried were nothing short of awesome.  You may find a retailer near you, or you can order directly from the company’s website.  Anyone want to join the Biscuit of the Month Club and celebrate buttery biscuit perfection all year?

In 2014, Carrie launched a new downtown Charleston bakery, Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.  In addition to their regular biscuit flavors, the bakery offers a “biscuit of the day”, often featuring foods from local restaurants and artisans.  It would be a required stop for us in Charleston!

Robinhood Meetinghouse Layered Cream Cheese Biscuits 

DSC01109Chef Michael Gagné created “the love child born of a biscuit and a croissant” by laminating layers of cream cheese biscuit dough in same method used for making croissants.  When the biscuits became a patron favorite at his Maine restaurant, Robinhood Meetinghouse, his young daughters began selling the biscuits out of the back porch of the restaurant.  As the Gagné girls grew, so did Chef Michael’s biscuit business.  Today, they offer the original cream cheese biscuits, along with sweet potato, triple ginger, blueberry, herb parmesan, and cheddar chive biscuits.  The biscuits are widely available at retailers or through the company’s website.

The original layered cream cheese biscuits just made our breakfast, and they would be equally delicious as the foundation for strawberry shortcake.  One of Chef Michael’s daughters, who blogs as “The Biscuit Girl”, was married earlier this year and had a biscuit bar at her reception.  The featured selections would be fantastic at any gathering:

  • Sweet Potato Biscuits with Ham and Peach Chutney
  • Cream Cheese Biscuits with Carmelized Onions and Goat Cheese
  • Herb Parmesan Biscuits with Filet of Beef and Horseradish Sauce
  • Blueberry Biscuits, Triple Ginger Biscuits, and Cheddar Chive Biscuits served with local honeys and jams

YUM to all the above!

Create Your Own Celebration

Want a fool-proof recipe for your own kitchen?  Try these easy Duke Dining Hall Biscuits made with King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour.  It is as good a basic biscuit recipe as I have ever tried.


 Duke Dining Hall Biscuits

Servings – About 5

  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking power
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450°.

Mix dry ingredients, and cut in shortening.  (A food processor works great, but you can use a pastry blender, or 2 table knives.)  Add the milk all at once, and stir only slightly.  Place dough on slightly floured surface and knead very gently for only a few seconds.  Roll into 1/2″ thickness.  Cut with a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter or small glass, dipping the cutter into flour before each cut.  (Note:  press the cutter straight down; do not twist it back and forth.)  Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Makes 8 – 12 biscuits, depending on size of the cutter.









Filed under Breads

Pizza Night!

Making my own pizza dough has been on the to-do list for too long.  It became a higher priority after our recent visit with Karen and Jim, and we enjoyed awesome homemade pizza baked in their neighbors’ outdoor pizza oven.  Nice!  A family dinner on the calendar provided the perfect opportunity for our own pizza party.  I had bookmarked a recipe for pizza dough from Annie’s Eats months ago and noted several of Annie’s hints for success.  First, don’t be tempted to substitute all-purpose flour for bread flour.  Bread flour’s high-gluten content gives pizza crust its structure and satisfying chewy crunch.  Second, weigh the flour for best results.  You also might want to take a moment to read Annie’s tutorial about making pizza dough.  It really helped me work through the process with confidence.

King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour was a must-have for the experiment.  If you have read our site for very long, you know our affinity for King Arthur products and their employee-owned corporate culture.  It’s been very exciting to hear that some of you have switched to King Arthur flours in your own kitchens!

IMG_1281Basic Pizza Dough


  • ½ cup warm water (about 110°)
  • 1 envelope (2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast
  • 1 ¼ cups water, at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups (22 oz.) King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl


Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup.  Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes.  Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms.  Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours.  Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces.  Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth.  Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.  Brush the edges of the crust with olive oil.  Top as desired.  Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.  Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes.  Repeat with remaining ball of dough or freeze for later use.

Because I was making multiple pizzas for dinner, I doubled the recipe, then par-baked three crusts about 5 minutes before adding the toppings.  I froze one portion of dough for another time.  We had a marinara-pepperoni-sausage-cheese pizza for the traditionalists, an alfredo-mozzarella-romano pizza for the cheese lovers, but the star of the buffet was the recreation of an unusual pie we had enjoyed at an upscale pizza restaurant in the Dallas area.  It was super-easy and mega-delicious.

Fig & Prosciutto Pizza

  • Spread a par-baked pizza crust with fig preserves (Bonus:  I had some of Mom’s homemade preserves!  Alternatively, try Dalmatia Fig Spread.)
  • Top with prosciutto
  • Sprinkle with goat cheese crumbles

Bake for 5-6 minutes at 500°.  After removing from the oven, top with fresh arugula and drizzle with balsamic glaze.  I used glaze I had purchased, although you could certainly make your own.

The result?  The crust was perfectly crisp and chewy.  The sweet fig preserves were balanced with the tangy goat cheese, while the salty prosciutto paired fantastically with the sweet balsamic glaze.  It was a smashing success, to be repeated often!

Image 2

Leave a comment

Filed under Entrées

National S’mores Day

It’s almost the eleventh hour of National S’mores Day, but not too late to reminisce about the awesome s’mores we made with Mother Rucker’s Cinnamon Cookie Brittle!


Check out Mother Rucker’s delicious treats!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Robert Rothschild Farms Chocolate Caramel & Sea Salt Sauce

IMG_0878This post is overdue because Robert Rothschild Farms Chocolate Caramel & Sea Salt Sauce is way too good not to share.  My brother told me how much his family enjoyed it over ice cream, and while we completely agreed, I kept waiting for a great recipe inspiration that would really do it justice.  It finally came to me — cream puffs topped with Chocolate Caramel & Sea Salt Sauce.  That should work!

I started with a cream puff recipe from my vintage Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  “New” is relative in this case, as this was my first cookbook and has been my go-to resource for cooking basics for many years.  The recipe is easy, but you need to be patient and beat the batter long enough to insure it will puff when baked.

Cream Puffs

  • 1/2 cup butter (the recipe says “or margarine”, but no)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (always King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour in our house)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs

Melt butter in 1 cup boiling water.  Add flour and salt all at once; stir vigorously.  Cook and store until mixture forms a ball that doesn’t separate.  Remove from heat; cool slightly.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each until smooth.  Drop by heaping tablespoons 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 400° until golden brown and puffy, about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven; split.  Cool on rack.  Makes 10.

I always use my mom’s vanilla custard recipe for the cream filling.


To assemble the cream puffs, heat the Chocolate Caramel & Sea Salt sauce in the microwave.  Place the bottom of a cream puff on a plate and fill with about 2 tablespoons of custard.  Place the top of the cream puff on the custard, and drizzle with the chocolate sauce.

I wasn’t surprised at the delighted response to the cream puffs.  The chocolate sauce took them from good to great, with its dark chocolate, creamy caramel and salty bite.  If you have followed our blog for any amount of time, you know my affinity for sweet and salty foods, so this is really easy to love.

Cream puff with Chocolate caramel sea salt sauce

We already knew the Rothschild Family does savory sauces well, because their horseradish sauce has earned a reserved space in our refrigerator door.  The Chocolate Caramel & Sea Salt Sauce also posted a win in the dessert category at our house!

Where to buy Robert Rothschild Farms Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt Sauce

    • Buy from the artisan
    • Buy from Amazon
    • Find a store  (Note: “Find a store” links to a list of retailers on the Company’s website, but stores may not carry all of the Company’s products. Please check with your local store to be sure they have this specific product in stock. If not, ask them to carry it!)



Leave a comment

Filed under Condiments & Sauces

Pretzel Pete Gourmet Pretzel Nuggets

Was your first thought, “ho-hum, the grocery aisles are full of pretzels”?  That was kind of my reaction when I saw  Pretzel Pete Gourmet Pretzel Nuggets on the shelf, but I did a double-take when I saw the “spicy-hot!” logo and realized they were sour cream & habanero flavored.  Wow!  I picked up a box, and also bought a box of honey mustard flavor since Allen is not always a fan of super spicy foods. Pretzel Pete I poured myself a cold drink (a fire extinguisher, if needed) and prepared for taste-testing.  I was pretty excited to see the pretzels were made from sourdough, which is my favorite bread.  Ever.   The first bite was awesome!   The pretzel is softer than most, but has a very hearty crunch.  The sourdough flavor is yummy, yet the seasoning is definitely the star.  Fiery habanero flavor is balanced nicely with cool sour cream.  Allen wandered in while I was enjoying my snack,  and before I could warn him about the spice factor, he had popped a pretzel nugget in his mouth.  Surprisingly, he loved it, so the heat is not overwhelming for those who can’t tolerate as much.  We immediately broke out the honey mustard flavor to try and found them to be really different from the national brands.  Flavor permeates each bite, and isn’t overwhelmed by salt. Karl Brown, President of the family company that makes Pretzel Pete Gourmet Pretzel Nuggets, was kind enough to share the unique process that makes the pretzels so great.  They are made in single “slow” batches, and soaked in  seasonings.  Karl said other companies’ pretzel products are simply sprayed with seasoning as they move along a conveyer belt, a method he described as a “20-second shower”.  By contrast, Pretzel Pete nuggets get a “4-minute bath” in seasonings.  So no wonder the pretzels are so flavorful!  The pretzels all have complementary seasonings:  honey and mustard, sour cream and habanero, garlic and parmesan cheese (gotta find these!), and cheddar and ale.  The pretzels are baked to a softer finish than most, giving them a very distinctive texture. Pretzel Pete sounds like a character straight out of the old west, but the company is located in Pennsylvania.  The customer testimonial page on the company’s website shows the world-wide reach of this snack.  People from Germany, Australia, all over the United States, and some of our military heroes in Afghanistan wrote to say how much they love Pretzel Pete Gourmet Pretzel Nuggets.   We heartily agree! Like many artisan foods, finding Pretzel Pete products might be a challenge, but so worth the effort!  They are most often found in gourmet food and specialty stores, but the most reliable source is the company’s website. Where to buy Pretzel Pete Gourmet Pretzel Nuggets


Leave a comment

Filed under Crackers, Chips & Snacks