Easy Breakfast Casserole

This recipe is super easy and fool proof! I made it recently for a Mother’s Day Brunch at my daughter’s house. It takes minutes to prepare and everyone loved it.

You can make this basic recipe or add any of your personal favorites. It’s economical and a great make ahead for Christmas morning or even breakfast for dinner.

Easy Breakfast Casserole

  • 9 hash brown patties. You could also use any hash browns or even use taters tots! You can precook the hash browns or put them in the casserole frozen! A huge time saver!!
  • 2 cups of shredded cheese, I used colby jack
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked diced bacon, sausage, or ham
  • 9 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk

Spray a 13×9 pan with cooking spray. Arrange the hash brown patties in a single layer.

Sprinkle with cheese and meat. You can also add diced onion, green or red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, whatever you like!

Whisk eggs with milk and pour over entire casserole. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or bake right away.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes then uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes. Check for doneness with a knife blade stuck in the middle of the casserole. If the knife comes out clean the casserole is ready!

Afternoon Coffee & …

Coffee is my favorite drink and I have several cups a day. I don’t think I’m making it right because it certainly doesn’t perk me up but it does taste good.

Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon I become extremely tired. Ready for a nap tired. Naturally I navigate to the coffee maker for a mug of my favorite beverage.

I also get a little hungry around that time of day and like a little something to snack on. I really enjoy baked goods. A LOT. Chocolate croissants, cupcakes, muffins, scones, apple pastries or strudel. Recently I learned of a new-to-me treat just made for coffee, called a stroopwafel. Evidently they have been around forever and so I am one of the last people on planet Earth to learn of these, but they were worth the wait!

Crispy cookies filled with caramel and coated in chocolate. You set it on top of your hot cup of coffee and it warms the cookie, making it a bit soft and gooey. A great addition to your coffee routine!


My Mother’s Recipe Box

My mother’s recipe box is one of my keepsakes that is constant and comforting. It is metal, green, old, a bit worn, but full of delicious and comforting food ideas, holiday goodies, and most importantly, my mother’s handwriting. Every time I see one of her hand written recipes, or really anything with her handwriting, I feel close to her even though she has been gone many years.

My mother loved homemaking, and really enjoyed cooking and collecting recipes. While most of the recipes are written by hand there are some pages torn from a newspaper or magazine, some of them attached to index cards with yellowed tape. Some of the recipes were never tried, but looked good to her, so earned an honored spot in her collection.

She used to get ‘women’s magazines’ back then, and would save several issues then decide to downsize. This meant going through the magazine and tearing out the pages she wanted to keep. From there she would copy, cut, or tape the new recipes that still fill the green recipe box to this day. I wouldn’t dare throw any of them away. They are part of mom.

Several of the recipes have multiple cards written for them. I love this because it means each of my children will someday get an actual hand written version of a special recipe. Why she wrote so many of them, I have no idea. But I’m glad she did.

Going through the cards also brings to mind family and friends long gone. Laura’s Potatoes & Green Beans, Jessie’s barbecue. Gone but not forgotten by the food they made so well and mom enjoyed. What a compliment to be asked if someone could have a copy of your recipe!

A few of the cards even have my name on them. I think of the ones she enjoyed and the things I have discovered and added to my own recipe box since she passed. My mother loved cucumbers but I don’t recall her ever making cucumber salad, which is a standard summer salad for our family. She would have loved it and so many of the other foods we now eat and enjoy that just weren’t popular back then or that we just didn’t eat. Oh how she would have loved the popular sheet pan dinner!

I am also reminded of how differently I cook than mom did. Several things are fried in lard. A lot of the recipes have creamed soups, which I generally avoid except for the beloved green bean casserole. And speaking of green bean casserole, I don’t remember mom ever making that even one time and no recipe card is in her box for it. Crazy!

Many of the recipes remain untried, and the family favorites are now copied in my own handwriting in my new recipe card box. Dad’s pizza crust and sauce recipes – amazing especially since he had never tried pizza until he met my mother- mom’s potato salad, Pennsylvania Dutch dressing for Thanksgiving, lasagna, and more. All part of our family history and being added to by me and my children.

Mom’s recipe box is much more than just a box of ideas, it is a box of memories and love.


it’s gotta go!

Everyone does spring cleaning and we tend to do a bit of fall cleaning as well as far as purging. Our house is on the small side, our family is large, and our place is ‘home base’ where things are kept for safe keeping or just kept in general.

We were, to be blunt, bursting at the seams. Things had to go! To be fair, we have very little closet space, so that makes it hard to begin with. No linen closet, small bathrooms with small cabinets, small bedroom closets, etc. We live in a split foyer – small entry with stairs up and stairs down.

Luckily there is a good amount of area under the lower stairs for some storage but it was full. Middle daughters abandoned bedroom became pandemic headquarters along with housing the items she left behind when she moved in with her fiance. The bathroom downstairs is unfinished and so that was being used to store some items as well. There was just too much stuff.

With updating our 30 year old house with new roof this past December, new windows and siding next week, and room by room changes in the past few years, we decided to not do the same spring cleaning we have done in the past where it seems we simply visited with kept items then neatly returned them to their hiding places. This time we decided something had to give and a lot had to go.

First was our daughters old room. She and her fiance came and took all of her remaining belongings! That leaves the pandemic supplies like a lot of bathroom tissue, hand sanitizer, coffee, and the like which we had started keeping in there because the room wasn’t being used for anything else. We actually gathered quite a bit of supplies and have been relocated, dispersed, and will be used up. Hubby already has plans for this room, of course!

Next was the under the stairs area. Boxes of photos, boxes and space bags of baby clothes, boxes of antique glassware, boxes of holiday decor. Photos were fairly recently sorted so they remained in their boxes. Baby clothes sorted, dispersed to their owners who are now grown and soon having babies of their own, glassware condensed to fewer boxes (from 4 to 2) and holiday decor (not including Christmas) purged to half the amount. Not bad!

I love decorating for holidays but I find as I get older my tastes are definitely changing and less is more at this point. The next time I open these holiday boxes I will once again purge more. I just don’t need all of these things and for the most part, I decorate my coffee bar and buffet and that is enough for me.

The last room was the soon to be bathroom. Camping items, small pieces of furniture, some seldom used toys, wrapping paper, etc. A catchall that needed to be empty and no longer used as a huge closet. Items were easily dispersed to new homes and the local thrift store. Thank goodness for the local thrift store we use, it is open 7 days a week which makes it super easy to drop items off when it’s convenient for us to do so.

It makes me happy to be able to share things I have loved but no longer need and to know someone else will be so pleased when they come across these items in a little thrift shop. Getting a good price on some gems and money going to a good cause at the same time.

We literally removed 50% of what we had stored and have two empty rooms to turn into a bathroom and an office for my husband. It makes me feel like the house gave a huge sigh of relief and so did we. More air, more empty space, fewer material items and I love having a simpler and less encumbered home.

Rae Dunn Haul

I started buying Rae Dunn in January when I purchased a set of Beauty & Beast mugs at Marshall’s. They were cute and up until then I hadn’t really cared much for it. But those mugs ‘spoke’ to me. 
After that the Valentine Rae Dunn items started hitting shelves and guess what? They spoke to me, too! I looked online and discovered the canisters and other items. They were perfect for my coffee station, so of course I bought some, both through hunting in stores and online.
Next was St. Patrick’s Day and I needed more Rae Dunn, but this time with green and shamrocks!
By the time the Easter items showed up in stores I was a goner. So here are pictures of the weekend (and last weeks) haul. I am in LOVE with the bunnies. LOVE. 


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Easter Décor

I just couldn’t wait!


While I adore all of my St. Patrick’s Day pretties, my Easter decorations were calling to me. Most of these are new this year, from Marshall’s, Hobby Lobby, and TJMaxx. I got to Hobby Lobby pretty late in the Easter display season so my particular store is somewhat picked over already and almost everything I wanted online is sold out, but I managed. Next year I’ll go much earlier!

I’m not done decorating but it’s a pretty good start and most importantly it makes me very happy!


Easy Easter Dinner

I just love it when Easter comes later in the year. The idea of sunshine, warmer temperatures, and spring flowers blooming feel so much more like Easter than cold weather with rain.
Warm weather equals warm weather foods and that means salads. 


We are a ham family for Easter and I love to serve my favorite cold salads for the first time each year for Easter dinner. Our side dishes consist of potato salad, Amish macaroni salad, broccoli cauliflower salad, cucumber salad, super beans (not cold but delicious and easy), and Watergate salad or ambrosia, potato rolls or Hawaiian rolls, cookies, cupcakes and brownies. 


It’s a more relaxed meal, we can eat outside while the kids play, and it really feels like the official start of the warm weather season.


I always buy a honey glazed ham and  you can’t do anything easier than that. I slice and plate it the night before and serve it at room temperature or on the cool side.

The potato salad recipe was my mother’s and I always feel close to her as I chop and dice and then mix the dressing. 

Mary’s Potato Salad

  • 5 pounds of potatoes, boiled, peeled, and diced
  • 6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced small
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 1 pound of bacon, cooked, drained, and diced

Mix together in a large bowl and coat with dressing, sprinkle with paprika.


Mary’s Dressing

  • 1 1/2 cups Miracle Whip salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Whisk together all ingredients and adjust as your taste suits you.


 Broccoli Cauliflower Salad

  • Large head of broccoli, washed, dried and cut into bite sized pieces
  • Large head of cauliflower, washed, dried and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1 pound of bacon, cooked, drain and diced (optional)

Mix all together in a large bowl and add Mary’s Dressing #2


Mary’s Dressing #2

  • 1 1/2 cups Mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Super Beans

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Stir together on crock pot on high for 30 minutes then add
  • 1 large can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can butter beans, drained
  • 1 can lima beans, drained
  • 2 cans pork & beans, undrained
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked, drained, and diced (optional)

Cook on low 4-6 hours


Cucumber Salad

  • 6 large cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 1 small white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried dill, or to taste

Toss together the cucumbers and onion in a large bowl. Combine the vinegar, water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and pour over the cucumber and onions.

Stir in dill, cover, and refrigerate until cold. 


Amish Macaroni Salad

  • 2 cups  uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped 
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 cups Miracle Whip 
  • 3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
In a large bowl mix the Miracle Whip, mustard, sugar, salt, and vinegar. 

Gently stir in the macaroni, diced eggs, onion, celery, red pepper and relish until well blended. Refrigerate covered until cold. 

Planning Ahead/ Saving a Bit of Sanity

We know very well when Christmas is and yet every year so many of us are running behind on baking, decorating, shopping, gathering stocking stuffers, writing out Christmas cards, etc. 
We know it may snow in our area each winter but because it seldom doesn’t amount to much we put off buying the kids coveralls or mittens or sleds and then we get a surprise storm with enough snow to play in and a lot of people aren’t ready. 
So often we are caught unprepared for things we know are coming yet we just don’t plan ahead.


I have always tried to make a point of being ready ahead of time for most things but still I am caught short.


In an effort to do better and  to help my family be more prepared for seasonal or monthly events I am putting notes in my planner to alert myself and remind everyone that it’s time to get on the ball and get ready for the upcoming event.


I know, we’re all adults and yes, we should be able to handle it all on our own. But the fact is, life is busy and we just get distracted. Easter candy has been out for weeks but it’s still about a month away. So when you first see it you think ‘too soon!’ then the second time you see it you buy the peanut butter eggs and don’t worry about the rest because you have plenty of time before the actual holiday.


The next thing you know it is upon you and you are scrambling for jelly beans and chocolate bunny and assorted egg fillers for whoever you do baskets for. 


So here is my plan. For holidays  you jot a note 30 days ahead of time in your calendar that you need to get your holiday ducks in a row. This year Easter is April 4th. So March 4th is (would have been) your goal for gathering and shopping for things other than Easter dinner. If you want cute stuff from Hobby Lobby you’d better start even earlier!


For July 4th plan on shopping around June 4th. Halloween shopping commences September 30. and so on. 


Now for the really important things. If you want to make sure you have winter gear you’d better start looking the first week of October. This should come printed in every calendar sold, the way they print the holidays. You need to be ready, just in case.  If you aren’t, snowmageddon is coming and your kids will be wearing socks for mittens.


Likewise bathing suits should be purchased well before June or good luck finding anything you like and flip flops are long gone by then.


With a little extra planning we can at least keep some of the holidays and events a little stress free. 


And while you’re out there picking up this and that, toss an extra random lip balm, pair of mittens, nail file, scented candle, or whatever catches your eye in the cart and put it in a special box or tote bag for a spur of the moment birthday gift bag or stocking stuffers. We have all been caught short in the past, admit it. If you don’t need any of these random extra items throughout the year they’ll be perfect in stockings come Christmastime. 

Anxiety

This is a tough topic to talk about but here goes-
I had a hysterectomy in early February and was told I’d have no issues because it was laparoscopic surgery and because I am post menopausal. 
While my pain level post surgery was never awful, it was uncomfortable in other ways. Gas, bathroom issues, just nagging little things. Just when I started to feel like I was 90% better, anxiety started.
It’s a lump in my throat and a feeling that something bad is going to happen. Just so on edge, it is actually distracting. I also had the blues, which I generally haven’t experienced in years. Decades. I am a pretty upbeat person.  So that is not a lot of fun. Sometimes certain things will trigger it. Other times it just happens. 
I also feel a huge lack of interest in things. Not that I am Miss Enthusiasm, but there are things I really enjoy and just don’t feel like doing. 
It would be brief moments of this but then it happened more and more and my stomach started getting involved with feeling like I have big knots in my stomach. 
In two weeks time it went from moments a day to about 80% of my day. Not a lot of fun to feel  like that. I finally decided over this past weekend to talk to my surgeon’s office who answered some questions and then referred me to my primary doctor for some help.
I scheduled a telehealth visit with my doctor and he came to the conclusion that while I am post menopausal, my ovaries still had enough hormones to contribute and that having them removed has caused a ruckus within in. So I am now on some medicine to help me through this period of transition and hopefully I will be feeling better soon. 
I have ‘officially’ stepped back from some things I do (the commitment made me feel guilty and anxious) and am going to focus on feeling better. 
It’s always a good thing to ask for help.

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays and also happens to be my ‘half birthday’ so I feel like I was meant to love it!


Every year we decorate and I make Irish food for a family dinner to honor our Irish heritage and enjoy some really delicious food!
I decorate early so I get the most out of my small Belleek china collection and other little pretties. This year I have added some festive Rae Dunn to my decor.

Some items I bought in Ireland, some at Hobby Lobby, others online. Years of collecting makes me have to pick and choose which things I’ll display each year but I love it!

Now for the menu! My favorites are the standards. Corned beef, colcannon, shepherd’s pie (using ground beef instead of lamb which I don’t like), salmon, mussels, soda bread, and more!

I hope you enjoy the decor and recipes and wish you a happy and blessed St. Patrick’ Day!