Cream Cheese Banana Bread

Yeah, I went to a bad place.

As Hubs so eloquently put it, “You take something that’s not too bad for you, add something, and make it a thousand times worse.”

He’s right, of course.

But it’s worse in the best way ever.

The Recipe:

Cream Cheese Banana Bread, slightly adapted from What Megan’s Making

3/4 c butter, softened

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2 c sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 c mashed bananas (about 4 medium)

1/2 t vanilla extract

3 c all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1 t salt

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.  Add in the bananas and vanilla, mixing until combined.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating at low-speed just until combined.  Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8×4-inch loafpans.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs and the sides pull away from the pan.  If necessary, cover with aluminum foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent over-browning.  Cool bread in pans on wire racks 10 minutes.  Remove from pans, and cool completely before slicing.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

What’s so great about this bread is that the cream cheese is just a subtle note in this fantastically flavored bread.  It’s barely there (and if you didn’t know about it, you’d never guess).  What that cream cheese does, though, is to make this banana bread super, super moist – and brings out the full sweet banana flavor.

I’d have to say, hands-down, this is the best banana bread I’ve ever had.  (And Kristy, if you guys were still doing your best banana bread search, I SO would’ve submitted this one!)

So go out and start your week right (and a little wrong) – and make this scrumptious bread.

Have a fabulous Monday.

(I know I am – the sun is finally out!)

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

On a non-cooking note, I’m just going to start out by saying I jinxed myself.

For those of you that are following our semi kitchen remodel, I posted on Monday that our new countertops would be coming on Friday.  Literally 20 minutes later, Hubs received a phone call that the materials wouldn’t be ready on Friday…so we’re now planning on Tuesday next week (and yes, I know I’m probably jinxing myself again by sharing this).

So we’re still cooking/baking in a bit of a mess, but I’m getting pretty used to it by now.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

This week is my oldest’s week to bring snack for preschool.  After last time’s cupcake fun, he insisted on making something else for his friends.  We decided on muffins – and I let him choose the flavor.  Who knew he’d go for lemon?

The Recipe:

Lemon Blueberry Muffins, adapted from

(This makes 12 muffins.  I doubled it to make 24.)

1 3/4 c flour

3/4 c sugar

1 T grated lemon peel

1 t baking powder

3/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 egg

1 c plain yogurt

6 T butter or margarine, melted

1 T lemon juice

1 c fresh blueberries

In a large bowl, combine the first six dry ingredients.  In another bowl, beat the egg, yogurt, butter and lemon juice.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

In third bowl, roll washed and dried blueberries in flour (this prevents them from settling at the bottom of the muffins).  Add to the rest of the batter.

Fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes in muffin pan then carefully remove by sliding a butter knife around sides and popping them out.  Finish cooling on wire rack.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

My oldest was so excited to be back in the kitchen again – and, since the little one was napping, he had free reign over the kitchen and all ingredients/gadgets.

I just love how proud he is to be helping (and I’m sure everyone at school got to hear how he made the muffins himself).  After mixing up everything and ladling the batter into the pan, we dropped a couple extra blueberries on top of each muffin to make them extra-blueberry-y.  When they came out of the oven, the extra ooze was obvious.

You know it’s good when it oozes blueberries.

These muffins definitely passed the test with the preschooler crowd – if the almost empty container was any indication.  My oldest adored them and has had several in addition to the one at school.

I thought they were really good – but I have to tell you, I dialed back the lemon flavor just in case it would be too much for some of the kiddos.  If I were making these just for my family, I probably would’ve doubled the lemon zest/juice – and may have even used lemon yogurt.  There is a definite light lemon flavor, but it can get lost in bites with extra blueberry.  I really enjoyed the lemon/blueberry combination, though, and look forward to exploring it again in the near future.

What really made these great, in my opinion, was the texture.  The yogurt made them extra moist without making them heavy at all.  And the bursts of blueberry goodness was simply a treat for the senses.

This is definitely a recipe I will be making again.

(Hopefully on my new countertops!  🙂  )

Strawberries and Cream Muffins

It’s secret shame time, again, here at Misadventures in Cooking…

This post has been brought to you by my unhealthy penchant for boxed Jiffy Muffins.

(There’s just something about them – add egg and oil, mix, bake, and voila: preservative-filled but moist and delicious muffins.  Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.)

Anyways, this weekend, I decided that I needed to help myself…and making some delicious strawberry muffins from scratch would do the trick – I hoped – and break my bad-boxed-muffin-habit.

The Recipe:

Strawberries and Cream Muffins, adapted slightly from Jane’s Sweets and Baking Journal

4 oz full-fat cream cheese, very soft

1 1/2 T of liquid from one whole egg, beaten lightly

1/3 c sugar

1/4 t vanilla extract


1 c whole milk (or, you can use something like 2/3 c 2% milk, and 1/3 c half-and-half mixed together)

1/2 c butter

1 1/2 t vanilla extract

2 large eggs


2 c flour

3/4 c sugar

2 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

1 c fresh ripe strawberries chopped into very small pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put paper liners in the cups of your muffin pan, or use nonstick baking spray liberally.

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/3 c sugar, 1 1/2 T beaten egg liquid, and 1/4 t vanilla extract.  Mix until almost all the lumps are gone. Set this aside, but don’t chill it.

Melt the butter slowly in a sauce pan on low heat.  Once melted, add the vanilla extract and milk into it, stirring to combine.  Cool until the mixture is just warm (if the milk didn’t cool it), then whisk in the eggs.

Thoroughly combine with a whisk, in a large mixing bowl, the rest of the dry ingredients (except berries).  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.  Pour all of the butter and milk mixture into the dry ingredients, blending just until combined.  Don’t overmix.  It’s okay if a few little flour streaks are still evident.

Using a scoop, fill each muffin cup barely half full.  Scatter a few pieces of strawberry on top of each one.  Using a small spoon, dab a generous teaspoonful or so of the cream cheese mixture on top of the berries.   On top of that, add on another tablespoon or two of the muffin batter.  On top of that, add a few more pieces of strawberry.  Push them in just slightly.  Sprinkle the tops of the unbaked muffins very generously with coarse sugar, which lends a nice sparkle, and adds a little crunch.

Bake the muffins for about 15 to 18 minutes, until they’re light golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.  The middle of the cupcake should be kind of firm when lightly pressed with a finger.  Check on the muffins early, and if they’re browning too fast, lightly cover the pan with a sheet of foil.

Let the muffins cool in the pan, on a rack, for a couple of minutes, then carefully remove them from the pan to cool on the rack.

Makes about 12 to 14 muffins.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Now, don’t be intimidated that there are a lot of steps (I almost let that stop me from attempting these).  I’m pretty sure they’re all there for a reason – some super cool baking science reason that I don’t know.  But just know, it all works out in the end.

The star of each muffin is, of course, the strawberries.  I found some gorgeous ripe ones at our local TJ’s that I just couldn’t resist.   (I may have eaten one or two or seven while baking.)

It was actually quite fun layering up the muffin liners – though I think I may have gone a little overboard on a couple.

As they baked, the scent of strawberry wafted throughout the house making us all smile.  It also built up the anticipation.

I ended up having to bake them almost 10 minutes more than suggested, but I just think my oven’s finicky like that.  They came out looking all gorgeous and golden.

And the flavor was absolutely delicious.  The muffins are a balanced mix of sweet strawberries, tangy cream cheese, and moist bread-y muffin – though the strawberry flavor is the definite winner.

So, my conclusion… I can definitely make muffins that blow the Jiffy ones away…they might just take a little longer.

But they are so worth it!

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins {Healthier}

So, you may have noticed that I was a little AWOL last week.

I have lots of reasons that might explain it…

Like, I was working on a decor project for my house:

family picture wall, still in progress...and desperately in need of a level

 Or, I was under the influence of heavy drugs while I passed a kidney stone:

Or maybe even, that I was walking in our Seattle Walk for MS:

But really, I think I was just being lazy.

So, I’m finally back – and with a week full of showers and it being Spring Break for the boys, I’m pretty sure some baking projects will be happening.

We started the week off with a healthy-ish breakfast snack.

The Recipe:

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Muffins, adapted from Dashing Dish

1 3/4 c old-fashioned oats

3 egg whites

3/4 c cocoa powder

1 banana, mashed

6 oz Greek yogurt (I used strawberry flavored b/c that’s what I had)

1/2 t baking powder

1 1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t s alt

1 c hot water

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 24 cup mini muffin pans with mini muffin liners or spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.  Set aside.

(If your peanut butter it thick, place it in a mug or microwave safe bowl, and microwave for 30-45 seconds, or until melted.)

In a blender, (or food processor), mix all of the ingredients together.  Blend until oats are ground and mixture is well-mixed.

Place mixture in a large liquid measuring cup, and divide batter between muffin tins.  Place muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool muffins before removing from pan.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I altered a couple of things from the original recipe that probably altered how healthy these are.  The big thing I altered was that I used actual sugar instead of a sugar substitute.

(To be honest, sugar substitutes have always scared me a little, and we don’t use them hardly at all.  I bet there are good ones out there, but I haven’t tried them.  I just feel better if it’s natural sugar.  If you are comfortable with a sugar substitute, click on the original recipe, above, and Katie has very clear directions on what to use in what amount.)

Anyways, I did halve the amount, so it wasn’t too bad – but…I think the flavor suffered a bit.

My first batch turned out a little blah.  Now, maybe that’s because I’m used to and enjoy intense flavors (especially when it’s a chocolate/peanut butter combo), but I was a little underwhelmed.  Honestly, they weren’t bad at all, just not what I was expecting.  Though I have to admit, after a couple, I couldn’t stop popping them in.  My oldest loved them right from the start – and worked his way through several before I caught him.

As I munched on a few, I realized I had enough batter left to make an additional dozen muffins, so I decided to crank them up a notch.  I added a bit more sugar, a little more salt, and topped them with some peanut butter chips I had.  And that did the trick!

(I do realize that this probably negated some of the healthiness of the muffins, but they certainly had more of a flavor punch.)

So, I guess you can decide for yourself what you’re looking for when you make these.  You really can’t go wrong with either.

And I promise I’m going to be better about cooking/blogging this week.  🙂

Chocolate Chip Scones {Low Fat}

Yep… you read that correctly.

I made something that was (gasp) low-fat.

Low fat with chocolate, you might ask… and the answer is yes.  (Or maybe ‘yes!’ – with an exclamation point.)

Anyhow, my friend Geni at Sweet and Crumby made these during what she touted as a ‘Chocolate Emergency.’  And if you like chocolate as much as we do, you completely understand about a ‘Chocolate Emergency.’  We had one the other day, and I immediately thought back to this recipe.  Especially because I’d never made scones before – and I love learning how to make a new baked good.

The best part was we had everything on hand (well, except the buttermilk, but we just made that ourselves).

The Recipe:

Low Fat Fluffy Scones, very slightly adapted from Sweet and Crumby

2 c all-purpose flour

1/4 c sugar

2 t baking powder

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 t. salt

3 T butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1 – 6 oz. carton vanilla low-fat yogurt

2 oz buttermilk

1/2 c mini chocolate chips

1/2 t sugar

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to equally disperse ingredients.  Cut in butter with a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add yogurt, and buttermilk just until dry ingredients are moistened (dough will be sticky).  Add chocolate chips.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; with floured hands, knead several times.  Pat dough into an 8-inch circle on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cut dough into 12 wedges, cutting to but not through the dough; make a small slit in the center of each wedge.  Sprinkle top with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and slightly firm when touched. Use the toothpick test as well to make sure it is cooked through the center.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

It was good.  Very, very good.  Light and fluffy, as promised from the original recipe.

And simple and quick to make, too.  (In fact, I’m making another batch today to enjoy this weekend, but I’m adding some cut up banana for a little extra fun.  I’m also considering using banana yogurt instead of vanilla – Geni used peach and said it turned out great, so a little added banana flavor would be a bonus, I think.)

What I also loved about it, was that is was a perfect recipe to get the kids involved – with everything.  One was my whisker, one my ingredient adder, kneader, and so on.

(A great way to keep them busy on a rainy day.)

They could hardly wait until it was ready, and I couldn’t blame them.  Just look at the gorgeousness that was made:

And the inside looked just as delectable.

 Let’s just say I’m on a roll for dishes that the whole family likes.

Kid tested and Mother approved.

And, bonus,  I have a brand new item to add to my baking repertoire.

(And it’s not so bad for you, too.  Yay!)

Enjoy your Friday, all.


Edited to Add:  I did make these again today, this time adding 1 mashed ripe banana when I poured in the buttermilk and yogurt.  And I added 1/2 banana, cut into small pieces, when I mixed in the chocolate chips.  Again, this turned out fantastic!  Not quite as fluffy, but the banana flavor seeped throughout to make a lovely flavor complement to the chocolate chips.

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuffins

The mojo is slowly working its way back into my life.

And this recipe certainly helped.

It’s the best of two very good worlds: the world of doughnuts and the world of muffins.  In this recipe, I have married these two treats into a union of tasty goodness.

And it took less than 15 minutes to do.

The Recipe:

Cinnamon Sugar Doughnut Muffins, adapted from In Good Taste 

1 c flour

1/2 c sugar

1 T baking powder

2 t cinnamon

1 egg

1/2 c milk

1 t vanilla

4 T vegetable oil

3 T melted butter

2 T sugar and 1 t cinnamon combined in a bowl

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Stir dry ingredients together.  Add egg, vanilla, and milk and whisk together for one minute.  Add oil and continue to whisk until well combined.

Grease muffin tin.  Fill each 2/3 way with batter.  Bake for 7-9 minutes.  Allow doughnuffins to cool for a minute or two.  Then brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle sugar mixture on top.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

A little creativity goes a long way to getting back your mojo, let me tell you.

I had seen a more traditional doughnut-flavored muffin on Pinterest that peaked my interest.  And then I remembered that I had found an easy baked doughnut recipe last Spring (that I’d actually remembered to put on my Wish List).  So I thought, why not try putting the ideas together.

And I did.

And it worked really, really well!

One of my favorite parts was that my house smelled like a warm doughnut shop while these were baking.  It made me super excited for them to be ready.

The doughnuffins puff up really tall in the pan, so don’t let that scare you.  And you probably want to leave them in the oven a touch more than you think – a couple of mine were still a little doughy on top, even though the edges were golden brown.  Perhaps a toothpick test might help.

The taste of these was SO good!  Very, very light like a doughnut, but also like a muffin.  Sweet and cinnamon-y (which I admit I cannot even say), with the melted butter and sugar topping on top.  Yummy!  (I even had to invite my friend over to try one while they were still warm, since I didn’t think the boys would truly appreciate them.)

So, for just 15 minutes of your precious time, you can enjoy this delightful breakfast indulgence.

It’s a win-win, I tell you.

And it may just get your creative cooking juices flowing.

Homemade Pop Tarts

I have never really been a big fan of pop tarts.

But my boys – all of them – love pop tarts.  I’ve never really understood it, but I’ve kept our cupboards stocked with a flavor or two just for them.  It’s an easy, quick snack and often the younger boys will eat them cool.

But all that changed when I looked at the list of ingredients.

Let me just tell you, the list is long, and I can’t pronounce half of it.  And there is a lot of sugar.  (I know, duh.)  So, they’ve pretty much been MIA for many months now.  And the boys were missing them.  (You can just imagine the arguments conversations I’ve had with my five-year old in the pop tart aisle, can’t you?  They’re not pretty.)

Anyways, the wonderful world of Pinterest placed a great blog post about homemade pop tarts in my sight…what else could I do but try it out.  🙂

The Recipe:

Homemade Pop Tarts, inspired by Chez Pim 

Pastry Recipe: Pate Brisee, from Hubs (aka pie crust)

2 c all-purpose flour

1/2 t salt

1 t sugar

1 stick sweet butter

4 T vegetable shortening

1 t lemon juice

about 1/4 c ice water

Place flour, salt, and sugar in bowl of food processor.  Pulse to combine.  Break/cut butter and shortening into 1 T cubes and add to flour.  Pulse until the consistency of coarse sand.  Add liquid a little at a time, pulsing in between, until dough begins to come together.  Pour onto clean surface and form into a rectangular bar.  Chill 1 hour or overnight.  Remove 1 hour prior to rolling.


Strawberry Freezer Jam

Cinnamon Applesauce


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper.

Cut off a chunk of dough (you can choose the size of tart you’d like) and roll carefully into a long rectangle.  Use a well-floured surface and rolling-pin.

Spoon some filling onto one half of the rectangle (leaving an empty space around the edges) and then fold the other half over the top.  Seal edges by gently pressing with the tines of a fork.  Use a pastry cutter to cut off excess edges and form straight lines.

Cut two v-shaped slits for ventilation and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Place on cookie sheet and continue with the rest of the dough.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are just barely turning golden brown.

Serve warm – or toast later.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I’ve changed my mind.

love pop tarts – these ones at least.  (Oh, and the boys thought they were pretty great, too.)

Now, I’m not sure if they’re exactly healthier for us, but I know what’s in them – and they taste a thousand times better than the boxed kind.

What was kind of fun about this recipe is I read the blog post a couple of days ago, but yesterday, when I went to make them, the website wouldn’t load.  So, basically, I had to do what I remembered from memory and make up the rest.

Here are some tips and tricks I learned:

1.  Use a spatula to loosen the bottom part of the dough from the rolling surface before adding filling.  Otherwise, there’s a good chance it’ll stick and ruin your tart.

2.  Flouring your fork tines may be necessary.

3.  Even if you are mathematically challenged (i.e. in shape formation), the pastry cutter can fix anything into a rectangle.

4.  Use that spatula again, to move your tart to the cookie sheet.

5.  Make sure you use a sturdy pop tart if you decide to toast it the next morning.  Those that are flimsier (in my case, the applesauce ones) do not do so well in the toaster.

To sum up, you will not regret the extra time you spend to make these.  They are light, flavorful, slightly crispy, and melt-in-your-mouth.

And really, you can use any pie crust recipe you might have and any jam or filling you desire.

I really don’t think you can go wrong.

(Unless you don’t make them, that is.)

Lemon Basil Muffins

Have you ever had one of those mornings?

One where everything seems to be going wrong, the house is crazy, and you have absolutely no control over it?

I made these muffins during one of those type of mornings.  And I’m glad I did.

Let’s just say that the day started super early, after someone figured out how to climb out of the tall part of their crib, someone else threw out their back and was up in bed with happy pills, and the third was just especially needy (I’ll let you try to decide who was who – or whom).  I was just trying to contain the chaos while taking care of each’s individual needs.

I decided through all of this, that we all needed a little pick-me-up.  And this recipe (one of my New Year’s Resolution recipes) was exactly what we needed.

The Recipe:

Lemon Basil Muffins, adapted from Bakeaholic Mama

2/3 c granulated sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

2 c all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

1/4 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

3/4 c plain non-fat yogurt

2 large eggs

1 t vanilla extract

1 stick butter, softened

2 T fresh basil leaves, diced

1 T sugar to sprinkle on the top before baking

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with cups.

In a large bowl, whisk the  sugar with the lemon zest until the sugar is lightly colored.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, yogurt, vanilla, butter and lemon juice.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and fold together.  When it is almost mixed, add the basil.

Divide batter between muffin cups.  Sprinkle each with the extra T of sugar.  Bake for 15 to 22 minutes or until the tops are golden and a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.  Let them cool completely before glazing.


Lemon Yogurt Glaze

4 T plain yogurt

zest of 1 lemon

2-3 T of powdered sugar

Whisk yogurt, sugar and zest together.  Drizzle over muffins right before serving.


{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

I’ve been really excited to make this recipe – ever since I saw it on Carrie’s website. I loved the idea of the lemon/basil combination and just knew it would be refreshing.  I just figured I’d get to make it in a slightly calmer environment.

Well, as I alluded to before, things were a bit hectic around here.  I think that will account for the few, um, minor mistakes I made while making these (and the fact that I have no photos of the process and just one of the finished product).

I started out mixing my dry ingredients and then moving on the wet ones.  This is when I realized that I had completely forgot to make the brown butter.  Now, I’d been really excited to try this as I’ve seen brown butter all over the place lately, but had never made it before.  Unfortunately, with the craziness, I just ended up substituting regular softened butter.  I gave in, I know – but I will brown the butter next time; because, yes, I will be making these again.

Everything else went smoothly – until the very end.  I made a blunder that I knew better than to do.  Instead of removing the muffins from the tin to cool off on a rack, I got distracted, and left them in it.

(If you haven’t done this before, you may be surprised to know that the bottoms of the muffins continued to cook – and to firmly attach themselves to the paper liners.  Fabulous.)

Once they were completely cooled and glazed, I removed the liners – and a portion of the bottom of the muffin – to find a spectacularly delicious treat. The texture was surprisingly light and very, very flavorful.  The bright lemon flavor was exactly the morning boost I needed.  And combined with the basil and soft yogurt undertones, I was in muffin heaven.

And the whole family agreed completely.  (Not an easy feat in our house.)

I’m very excited to try these again.

Who wouldn’t be?

Gluten Free Breakfast Casserole

I escaped this weekend.

Away from putting everyone’s needs ahead of my own.

Away from early mornings and constant chaos.

Away from checking off my list of a hundred things to do.

Away to just be me – with a bunch of positive, intelligent, crazy-fun, supportive gals.

This weekend was my book club’s first ever overnight getaway.  We met up at a gorgeous cabin in the mountains, surrounded by snow, and right next to a gorgeous serene lake.  We played games, discussed life, drank a tad, and ate a whole bunch.

(It was heaven.)

That’s where this recipe comes in.  I was partially in charge of our breakfast Sunday morning, and I was really excited to find this casserole that fit the bill for the food sensitivities in the group.  Plus I was relieved to see how easy it was – since I still get very nervous cooking in front of and for other people besides my family (and I wanted to be sure I could still make it if I was, um, perhaps a tad ‘under the weather’ in the morning).

It was exactly what I was looking for.

The Recipe:

Impossibly Easy Breakfast Bake (Gluten Free*), adapted from

2 packages (10 oz each) pre-cooked all natural sausage (gluten-free)

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3 c frozen hash brown potatoes (gluten-free)

10 oz shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 c Bisquick® Gluten Free mix

2 c milk

6 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

*You can only guarantee a full gluten-free meal if all ingredients are gluten-free.*

Heat oven to 400°F.   Spray 13×9 inch (3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.

In skillet, cook bell pepper and onion over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  When onions begin to turn translucent, add sausage.  Cook for another 3 minutes.

Mix sausage mixture, potatoes and 1 1/2 c of the cheese in baking dish.

In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, eggs, salt and pepper until blended. Pour over sausage mixture in baking dish.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake another 3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

{Printable Recipe}

The Results:

Half the fun of making this meal was the conversations had while actually cooking.  One of my friends was my sous-chef, and she chopped up the veggies while I worked on some of the other (minimal) prep work.  We just chatted away while doing our parts of the recipe.  This only confirmed my belief that cooking can really bring people together when they’re in the kitchen, helping each other out.

I did have a minor mess up (from skimming, of course!), and I added the frozen hashbrowns to the egg mixture, but alas, all turned out well.

I was so busy chatting, cooking, and serving that I really didn’t take any good pictures.  So here is the one from the Betty Crocker website.  (Mine looked exactly like it.  😉  Well, pretty close at least.)

I wish I could take pictures this good.

I finally remembered to take a picture at the very end of the meal.

If this picture tells any story, it would be that the casserole was pretty darn tasty.   It was a typical egg/sausage bake – but I loved the sweet red bell peppers throughout.  I got several compliments which made me feel good – and I was glad that it was truly gluten-free this time (unlike my attempt at gluten-free cookies in December).

Besides the good food, friends, and fun, the best part was how refreshed I felt returning home.  I was so happy to see my family and ready to tackle whatever comes my way.

Now I just gotta figure out how to plan a weekend away more often.

Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal

Don’t we all have a few shameful food secrets?

Things we hide from our culinary friends for fear they’d judge our embarrassing penchant for a somewhat disgusting food item…  Most of mine have carried over from childhood, and I’m slowly attempting to rid them from my pantry (and my brain).

I shared one of mine here, when I talked about my unhealthy obsession with frozen pizza rolls.  (By the way, I haven’t had any more of the frozen kind since my post.)

Now I’m tackling one I’ve loved as long as I can remember: Apple and Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal packets.  I use these as a perfect quick anytime meal – and I’m sure they are probably not very good for me.

So, when I saw this “make the night before” and bake in the morning version, I had to give it a try.

The Recipe:

Overnight Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, adapted from SimpleBites

2 large eggs

1/4 c maple syrup

1 t baking powder

1 t vanilla

1 t cinnamon

1/4 c salted butter, melted

1/2 c applesauce

1 small apple, grated

1 1/4 c milk

3 c old-fashioned oats

Butter a 2 quart baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients, except the oats.  Fold in oats and combine well.  Transfer mixture into the buttered baking dish and spread evenly around.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic directly on top of the oat mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 375°F.  Unwrap oatmeal and place in oven.  Bake for about 30 minutes until oatmeal is set and browned on top.

Serve hot with more milk or cream.

The Results:

Well, to me, it really wasn’t the best.

Maybe because I’m used to the super sweet and flavorful packets, this just seemed kind of blah.

Now, that being said, I’m sure there would be many ways to spice this up a bit.  More apple/applesauce for sure – and more cinnamon.  I think it also was desperately seeking salt.

I have to admit, too, that my toddler (who is in that annoying ‘I never eat unless it’s on my terms’ food stage) loved it and ate a ton.  So, it wasn’t a total disaster.

Plus there’s something about a pre-prepped breakfast that you can pop in the oven that’s worth a little more time and experiment.  (And there’s that whole replacing the processed, boxed food thing, too.)

Until we meet again, Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal.