I made it!

Today is my last day in the office……man, i have been in this building 33 years + and I am not sure if my car will be able to go in another direction!   It won’t for a while as I plan on enjoying the spoils of being home.   Hubby needs me and Ollie needs me.  i will enjoy waking up and not dressing to come to work.  I will enjoy having my morning java with the boys.  And I will enjoy not leaving in the middle of a Hallmark movie!  Priorities, you know.

And I can enjoy the holidays, while on my last days of vacation before my “official” first day of actual retirement (January 1, 1015) and know I won’t be coming back to the office except to do a quick report for my replacement.  So…….. I actually cooked my way to retirement!!!  And I can’t thank you all enough for following me all the way to the end of a life long career!

I had planned on ending my blog at the end of the two years, but I have had so much fun with this that I must keep on keeping on!   So, with goal met, let’s ring in the new year together!

And this little appetizer will be one that will be found on our Christmas table.  I know one granddaughter who loves bacon that will devour these!  Since we all will be enjoying the Reason for the Season, I am sure you will see that the posting will be slim through the Christmas season.  I pray each of you will have a safe and happy Christmas!  Merry Christmas, y’all!

Bacon Cheese Straws

1 pound bacon

1 – 8 oz. – pkg cream cheese, softened

1 1/4 cups mozzarrella cheese, shredded

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 egg

1 tsp milk

1 pkg frozen puff pastry, thawed according to the directions

flour for rolling

Cook bacon until crisp.  Cool and crumble.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine crumbled bacon, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan chese, garlic powder and black pepper.  Using a fork, mix well.

Lightly sprinkle flour on the counter top and lay the puff pastry sheets out and roll to about 1/16 inch thick (I dare you to measure – ha).  Spread cheese mixture over half of the puff pastry.  Fold the other side over the cheese mixture.  using a rolling pin to roll the two sides together, so the cheese mixture is incorporated with the puff pastry.  Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter cut into 1/2 inch strips.  Twist, pressing the ends together and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

In a bowl mix together egg and milk.  Brush over each twist.  Freeze for 1 hour before baking (and don’t skip as it helps them stay twisted while baking).  Bake for 13 to 16 minutes until light golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Again, thank you all for following, and have a Very Safe and Happy Merry Christmas!

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Pizza – without the traditional crust

Wha????? No crust???

We had pizza this weekend.  We had pizza without the bread crust this weekend.  We had pizza with a different type of crust this weekend.   We had the best Cauliflower Crust Pizza!   Watching our carb intake this was such a wonderful alternative and you know what?  it was so good!   Hubby really liked it.  We will be having this again, real soon!

And since I am such a dunce and did not take pictures, you will just have to make it to see what it looks like!  Sorry…..

Here are the ingredients we used, but you can top it just like any other pizza – use your imagination and top it off with whatever you like.

1 head (small head) cauliflower

1/4 cup parmesan cheese (I used the kind in the can you use on spaghetti)

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese (I used the low fat shredded kind)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp garlic powder

red pepper flakes – to taste – or optional to leave out but we didn’t and so glad we didn’t

1 whole egg

Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil (I just brushed mine with olive oil).

Wash and thoroughly dry a small head of cauliflower.   Make sure you get a smaller head of cauliflower or you will wind up with more than you need.  You need about 2 cups of “cauliflower snow”.  cut off the florets only – you don’t want much of the stem.  Pulse in your food processor until you have a powdery snow like cauliflower.  You will end up with about 2-3 cups of the pulsed cauliflower snow.  Place it in a microwave bowl and microwave for 4 minutes.  Then dump it in a tea towel, let it cool a bit,  and squeeze out any excess water.  It will then be sort of clumped once you squeeze the water out of it. This ensures you get a crust like pizza crust instead of it being crumbly.

Then dump it into a bowl, add the parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese, kosher salt, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, and the dash of red pepper flakes if using these.  Add the egg and mix using hands – they mix it better.  Form into a crust and press down on to the parchment paper forming it tight into a circle, rectangle, or whatever shape you want.  Don’t make it too thick or thin.  You will be able to tell.

Slide the formed crust on the parchment paper onto the heated baking sheet or stone.  Bake for 8-11 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown.  Remove from oven.  Add however much sauce (we used a low carb (or a healthy heart) sauce to ours – and then whatever toppings you want – His side had some chopped ham, sliced onions, cheese – my side had some turkey sausage, onions, cheese.  Next time, I will put some bell peppers, mushrooms on mine.  We were more about tasting that crust this go-around!  top it with more cheese and put back in the oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly and golden.   let it cool for just a couple of minutes before cutting.

I assure you, this is a great alternative for those who need to count carbs (diabetics, gluten tolerance) as it was yummy!

Have a great week everyone!

Shopping on the horizon for some!

Baby its cold outside!   So for those of you who are winners, go get something warm!  Or get some Christmas shopping done!

Since there are four winners, we will forego with the pictures… if you need them, let me know and I will email them to you!

Anyhoo……….the winners for the gift cards in order of random.org selection are……

Winner #1 for a $100 Visa Gift Card –   is #5 – Latrell Fussell

Winner # 2 for a $100 Visa Gift Card – is # 11 – ChristiL

winner # 3 for a $50 Visa Gift Card – is #30 – Stephanie Hickman

Winner # 4 for a $50 Visa Gift Card – is #25 – Jonathan

Congratulations to all the winners and I will get these off to each of you today!

Thanks and happy spending!

Shop Till You Drop

Christmas is just around the corner and I only have two more items to pick up.  Well, technically, one more item – cause hubby is picking one of the two left to get up for me today.   He has been a trooper this year running my errands for me.  Thank you, honey!

So that you can finish your shopping, too, I am giving away something to help you along…….and since I don’t have a clue where you need to shop at, let’s give something away that will let you shop where you wish… in the stores or on line!

VISA GIFT CARDS!     Yep, you have the chance to win one of four (4) VISA Gift cards.  I am giving away two (2) VISA gift cards in the amount of $100 each and two (2) VISA Gift cards in the amount of $50.00 each so you can go and get those last minute items you have not gotten yet.  Or that Christmas meal you haven’t planned yet (I have mine all planned out).

Want a chance to win one?   Just leave me a comment below and tell me “have you finished your Christmas shopping?  Or are you just getting started?  About half through? Haven’t even gotten in a store yet?”

Good luck and winners will be announced next Wednesday, December 10th!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce and smoothies….huh???

I wanted to do something different this Thanksgiving that did not include serving “canned jellied cranberry sauce.”  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been eating this stuff since probably birth and like it but wanted to make “homemade, from scratch” as we all know I have plenty of “scratch’ at my house!

I was also hesitant because my peeps have always ate the above mentioned canned stuff and I was not sure how they would react to homemade chunky flavorful stuff.  Well, let me be the first to tell you, there will never be any turning back to the canned stuff now.   Not only was it good, it was great!    Makes all the difference in the world,  And you know what else,  Leftover homemade cranberry sauce makes the best smoothies, I have been informed by the best sources.

Next time you find yourself in need of cranberry sauce, make it from scratch.  You won’t regret it. And then use the leftovers for smoothies, or better yet, make that leftover turkey sandwich.  Yummy!  There are a lot of different recipes out there, but here is the one I used.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

12 oz bag fresh cranberries, washed and picked over (get out any bruised or damaged cranberries)

1 cup sugar

zest of one orange

juice of one orange

2 Tbsp water

(conserve 1/2 cup cranberries if you want a more chunky sauce – I didn’t and mine was plenty chunky)

Cook the 12 oz bag of berries, the one cup sugar, and the orange zest over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes or until sugar dissolves on low heat, stirring.

Increase heat to medium heat, and cook until cranberries burst, about 12 minutes.  Then add the juice of the orange, the 2 Tbsp. water and more sugar to taste at this point along with a pinch of salt and pepper (salt and pepper a must for flavor – you won’t regret it).  and reduce to low and simmer for a bit more. Can be refrigerated until use.

I made mine the day before.   If you make this using splenda sugar (yes, I did make a small bowl for hubby this way) remember that the splenda sugar does not make the liquid that regular sugar does so you will have to add more liquid as it cooks – I added the juice of another orange to that small amount and then also added a bit more water (I just eyeballed the amounts for this small amount) and it turned out great for hubby.  He loved it also.

Hope you are all having a great week!

Cheesy Sausage Pull Apart Bread

I made this for Sunday School.   I think they liked it – they said they did and they ate it – but our group will eat just about anything! HA!

I do know that next time I make this there are a few things I will do differently.   Since we have some that are out sick/surgery/colds/ and various other reasons, I knew the regular number would not be the same so I only made half the recipe.   The recipe says make in a large skillet because you use the large size biscuits.  I actually did use the large size biscuits but had 2 left over that I did not use or could not fit in a cake pan that I used for ours.  And I did not make a double layer of these cuties.   So if you make these (and I truly hope you do) try making a double layer or better yet, make them in a bundt pan – truly a pull apart breakfast bite!

I also used 1/2 of a mild sausage and 1/2 of a hot sausage, blended them together before browning to give some zowie! to the dish and add another layer of flavor to the dish.   It made it not to hot but with just a little zip in it.

So….here’s the handy dandy dish..but no end picture because I am a total airhead..sorry!   I did remember to take pictures of the makings!

Cheesy Sausage Pull Apart Breakfast Bread

1 pound breakfast sausage, cooked and drained

2 – 16oz cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits (the large ones)

3 Tbsp butter

2 garlic cloves

2 cups Sargento 4-Cheese Mexican Shredded Blend

1 Tbsp thyme (optional – I didn’t use this but it would work well)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a large skillet or baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut biscuits into quarters like this.

photo one

Flatten each piece slightly (and next time I will flatten more than I did this time) filling with a small amount of cooked sausage.  (I might even add a bit of cheese to my cooled sausage to go in the little scutters!)

photo two

Pinch edges to seal and roll into a ball. See how cute?

photo three

Place in the skillet, or whatever you are using, and make sure they are touching.   Repeat with remaining dough and sausage.   Melt butter and sliced garlic cloves to a small skillet and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes or just until butter starts to brown.  Remove and brush the butter over the rolled biscuits.

Sprinkle the cheese over sausage balls.  Bake for 28-30 minutes or until edges are golden brown and cheese is melted.  Garnish with fresh thyme if desired and serve immediately.

photo four

I also think next time I may dot butter on the first half of the layer and put half the cheese on first layer and then brush the tip layer with butter and  the other half of the cheese on the top layer.

That’s how we learn…experiment with our recipes, change them up until they are how we want them!   Have fun with this one!