Monday, December 22, 2014

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

One of my sweet friends recently gifted me a beautiful book titled One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson.

I had been wanting to try more vegetarian meals and the idea of vegan sounded enticing.

I spotted a recipe in the book that made me curious...

So I made a trip to the grocery store and ...

Boy am I glad I did.

This recipe was terrific!

It only took about 30 minutes to throw together, and the taste...

Was outstanding!

Here's the recipe adapted from that lovely book.


Cuban Black Beans and Rice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 garlic cloves, pressed/finely chopped
1 small can of tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

In large saucepan over medium heat, add oil, onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic.  Cover and cook until veggies soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste and seasonings, mix well.  Add diced tomatoes and beans.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until veggies are tender, about 15-25 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve over quinoa, white rice, or brown rice.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Coal Region Boilo

There's a drink in Pennsylvania's coal region called Boilo.

It's very similar to a super delicious hot toddy.

Served warm, this drink is made out of fruit, spices, honey, and moonshine or whiskey.

My husband grew up the coal region and has been talking about Boilo since I've known him.

This holiday, I decided to attempt at making his hometown holiday classic.

After searching for recipes, I discovered numerous versions of Boilo.

Meaning, there are many ways to skin this cat. first batch had too much whiskey.

The second was too citrus-y...

and after a few tweaking...the third was just right!

Whew - Coal region nectar!

After several attempts and tastings, I was F-L-A-T on the couch.

To avoid multiple tries and making this perfect the first time, here's the recipe that worked best.

Coal Region Boilo

4 cups water
1 cup clover honey
3 oranges
1 lemons
3 cinnamon stick
2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 tsp anise seeds
12 oz moonshine or whiskey (Jim Beam)

Juice oranges and lemons (keep the rind).  In a medium pot, add water, honey, orange & lemon juice, orange & lemon rinds, all the spices.  Simmer until rind softens.  Strain pulp.  Add whiskey.  Pour into jars and add one cinnamon stick (optional).  Serve warm.  Store in the refrigerator.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Preschool Gifts

This year...

Christmas snuck up on me!

Oh....did it sneak up on me!!

I've been super busy with all of my volunteer projects that Christmas presents just fell by the wayside.

Presents for my family.

Presents for my friends...

and presents for my son's classmates!!

While I overlooked my son's classmates, I organized a group gift card from all the parents for his teachers.

That counts a little, doesn't it?

(No.... NO it doesn't!!)

Oh... his presents for his classmates!

How did I miss the boat?


I look forward to making these presents each year.

Last year, I spent weeks on these birdseed gingerbread shaped ornaments for all 20 of his classmates.

These were messy, super time consuming, but lots of fun.

This year...

Feeling like a failure of a mom, I dug around in my craft box looking for some ideas the morning of his Holiday party.

I found some acorn jingle bells I bought in the Fall, some leftover precut cards, and some holiday stamps...

oh, and a little ribbon and...

a little five-year old with a marker...


The final product....all in less than ONE HOUR!!

Thank goodness for my hoarding ways.

Next on the list, presents for the family :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Amish Breakfast Casserole

Happy December!!

It's one of my most favorite times of the year...

and also the busiest.

From holiday parties to ...

Husband's office potlucks to ...

Breakfast playdates to ...

Fellowship breakfast meetings to ...

yadda .... yadda .... yadda.

The list is endless and for all of it -

I bring food.

I know, it's too much sometimes ... but I love it.

My go-to dish this holiday season has been an Amish Breakfast Casserole.

This dish is always and I mean ALWAYS a hit!

Even the gluten-free folks go nuts over it.

I found this recipe years ago online and recently discovered it again for this year's holiday gatherings.

It's amazingly simple and delicious.

I just throw the ingredients together the night before and store in the fridge.

Then the next morning, I bake it for 35-45 mins and BAM...

My kitchen smells amazing and I have a yummy crowd pleasing dish to share.

In case, you're in the market for a scrumptious casserole to bring to a breakfast or brunch this busy holiday season... consider this yummy casserole.

Amish Breakfast Casserole
adapted from

1 lb sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups  frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Mexican four cheese (or swiss, or mild cheddar)
16 oz small curd cottage cheese

In large skillet, cook onion in olive oil until translucent.  Set aside.  In large bowl, combine eggs, hash browns, and cheeses.  Stir in bacon and onions.  Transfer to a greased 13in-9in-2in baking dish.

Either bake immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 mins until bubbly.  Let stand for 10 mins before cutting.

Happy Holidays!
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