This year, I really wanted to go to Vermont on vacation. I wanted to visit Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and to tap a Maple tree to get syrup. I learned though that you can’t really just tap a tree to get syrup. During our trip, we visited a visited a Sugar House. We learned that getting sap from a tree requires a very extensive string of plastic tubing to be drilled to the trees. When the temperatures in the spring first reach above freezing, the sap drips from the tree as the temperature drops below freezing at night. This usually happens in late March or early April. The sap runs through the tubes to a giant collection container. Those containers are then transported to process the sap through a boiling process to produce maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap and about 45 minutes of boiling sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Wow, now you know why really Vermont Maple Syrup cost so much. We also learned that Maple Creemes (soft serve ice cream with maple syrup swirled in) is very popular…and delicious. It’s actually pretty cool to meet the families who run these Sugar Houses.
The syrup excursion was part of our Maple and Wine Tour with Greg. Following our visit to the Sugar House, we went to Boyden Valley Winery. This family farm has people producing maple, grass feed beef, and wine. In addition to ice and maple wines, Vermont’s oldest winery produces maple syrup aged in oak barrels. I learned I like oak ages syrup better than I like oak aged wine.
The state of Vermont only has a population of around 620,000 in the whole state. Despite a drought, this 14th state to the union lives up to its name which mean green mountains. The state is very proud of local business. In fact, this is the only state in the country to not currently have a Target store. One lady at the airport was telling us that she traveled via fairy boat to New York with her daughter to return an item to Target. (Now that’s dedication to Target shopping.) Vermont is also home to the Green Mountain Coffee (Keurig maker), the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, and Cabot Cheese.
For this morning breakfast, I wanted to use a little of our new real maple syrup.
Sausage Breakfast Casserole from Pinterest
1 package of Grands biscuits
1 package of frozen hash brown
1 lb. of ground sausage
¼ c. milk
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Bake biscuits on a baking sheet for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, cook hash browns until golden brown on the stove top. At the same time, brown sausage on the stove top. You’ll also need to cook the scrambled eggs and milk in that skillet. Place hash browns in the bottom of a 13 x 9 baking dish. Top with ½ c. of cheese. Sprinkle with sausage. Top with scrambled eggs and remaining cheese. Bake for 10 minutes. Plate and drizzle with maple syrup.
- I did not overly cook the hash browns. I’d suggest maybe cooking them in the 13 x 9 plan for make 10 minutes before added other ingredients or removing them from the recipe. I don’t really think the hash browns are necessary ingredient in this recipe.
- If you can get it, Cabot cheese would have been a great addition. Perhaps, even a Vermont White Cheddar.
- I think the biscuits might have also been delicious with some Maple sugar sprinkled on top. We are still waiting for ours to be delivered.
When I first met Jeremiah, I learned very quickly that he loves biscuits and gravy. He’s very particular though – no one does it like his mother. I soon learned the whole family feels this way.
When Jeremiah and I were planning the menu for our wedding day brunch, our Sales Manager suggest biscuits and gravy. I said, “No, his family will just compare it to his mother’s recipe and be disappointed.” Sorry Chef – no offense.
Every year, the whole family gathers at his parent’s house for Christmas. It is practically a requirement that my mother-in-law Lynn make biscuits and gravy when EVERYONE is there. On Christmas Eve morning though, Lynn made a Biscuits and Gravy Casserole recipe a friend had shared with her. Lynn let me in on a little secret. Occasionally, she uses the Pioneer brand packet gravy. This I can do. Although this isn’t the exact recipe my mother-in-law made that morning, my husband does like this dish. He also likes it when I use sausage from our local butcher shop – The Peculiar Meat Company.
Biscuits & Gravy Breakfast Casserole from Pinterest
2 cans (16 oz.) Grands biscuits
1 lb. ground breakfast sausage
1 package of Pioneer Country Sausage Flavor Gravy Mix
Cut one can of biscuits into quarters. Sprinkle in a sprayed 13 x 9 baking dish and cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then, cut the second package of biscuits the same way. Meanwhile, cook and drain sausage. Also prepare gravy according to packet. Mix sausage and gravy together and pour over biscuits. Top with remaining biscuits and cook for 15-20 minutes. (Optional – top biscuits with melted butter to make them shine.)
- I’d suggest maybe making it in a 9 x 9 pan and using only one can of Grands biscuits (half on bottom/half on top) if you want more gravy to biscuit ratio. You could also use regular sized biscuits and still make it in a 9 x 13 pan.
- Another option to to make a second envelope of gravy to pour on top of finished dish. That’s what Lynn did for her family.
It’s that time of year when fresh peaches are available for picking. Here is a peach recipe Jeremiah and I recently made which was delicious.
Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce by Pioneer Woman
5-6 fresh peaches
1 c. flour
½ c. sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
½ c. butter
½ whole lemon
7 T. maple syrup
1 ½ c. whipping cream
3 T. light corn syrup
In a medium bowl, mix all dry ingredients. Cut butter into small pieces and fork into dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, peel and cut peaches. Add zest from half a lemon and then squeeze in juice. Add 2 T. maple syrup and stir. Pour peaches into a 9 x 9 baking dish and cover with crumble mixture. Cover with foil and back for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes.
Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add remaining maple syrup and corn syrup. Cook over a moderate heat until thickened and reduced by one-third (approximately 15 minutes). Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick.
- This makes a lot of sauce. I’d suggest cutting the recipe in half. I used the extra though to make some delicious French Toast.
Last year, Jeremiah and I went strawberry picking for the first time. I had always wanted to do it but hadn’t been able to fit it into my schedule. We loved it so much, we decided to do it again this spring. The weather was a little hotter this year as we went from winter straight to summer. When you pick a flat of berries, you need to come up with a few recipes to use them in. I ran across the recipe and cooked it up on a day when Jeremiah was working from home. We both agreed, this recipe was a winner. Great flavor and bonus it’s a skinny recipe.
Skinny Strawberry and Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast by Savory Nothings
- 4 T. One-third less fat cream cheese
- 1 T. honey or maple syrup
- 2 eggs
- ¼ c. skim milk
- 4 T. whole grain bread crumbs
- 1 T. sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 8 strawberries sliced
- 8 slices of whole wheat bread
- 2 T. oil
Mix honey and cream cheese. In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs and milk. On a large plate, combine bread crumbs, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover four slices of bread with cream cheese mixture and top with strawberry slices. Top each slice of bread with a second slice of bread. Dip in egg mixture to coat each side, dripping off excess. Then, repeat in bread crumb mixture. Cook in a pan coated with oil and flip half-way through cooking.
On Monday, Jeremiah was working from home. Since things have been so busy with work lately, we didn’t have anything in the fridge to cook for dinner. I found this crockpot recipe for pork chops and stuffing. More importantly, I had all the ingredients without having to run to the store. I figured I could make it with frozen pork chops and it worked just fine.
Crockpot Pork Chops and Stuffing from Pinterest
4-6 Pork Chops
1 box of Stuffing
1 c. of Chicken Broth
1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
Mix chicken stock and stuffing in the crockpot. Place pork chops on top and cover with cream of mushroom soup. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.
- I seasoned the pork chops with salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, parsley, and cumin.
- You can substitute Cream of Chicken. I used low sodium Cream of Mushroom Soup.
- You can use water instead of chicken broth.
Last week, we attended our 3rd wine dinner at Carrabba’s Italian Grill. These dinners are great because you get to eat your favorite recipes, sample dishes on their hidden menu, and taste four wines for between $40-50 per dinner. During our last dinner, a couple was asking us about our wine adventures. This is something people ask us from time to time so I thought I’d share. Jeremiah estimates we’ve been to 30 wineries for tastings. Here are a few of our favorites.
- Sommerset Ridge Winery and Vineyard – Located in Miami County, KS just about a mile and half past the Louisburg Cider Mill, this is the home to absolutely one of our favorite wineries. On the weekends, they often have music in nice weather months and occasional food trucks. Here are a few of our favorites: Oktoberfest, Buffalo Red, Avalon, Ambrosia, Citron, and Tawny Port. Did I mention we love them so much that we used one of our wine corks from them on Jeremiah’s boutonniere he wore during our wedding?
- Windy Wine Co. – Located just east of St. Joseph, MO, we loved so many of their wines. My husband and sister had a chance to sample them at the Northwest Missouri Wine Fest. It started storming by the time arrived so I wasn’t able to test any. That lead us to a Sunday Drive to the winery. They even have a bottle called Peanut Butter & Jelly. Apparently, the owner is a huge fan of giant Reese Peanut Butter Cups. I’m talking one of those several pounds big. His family bought him one from the store while we were sampling. Here are some of our favorites: White Chocolate Strawberry, Caramel Apple, Raspberry, Good News Dread, Spiced Pear, and Blackberry Cobbler.
- Weston Wine Company – Located in downtown Weston, we sampled this winery on our way to my 40th birthday weekend at Arbor Lodge. It was raining and this cheery purple building was home to some delicious wines. I liked them so much, we joined their wine club. Quarterly, they host a “Book Club” where they review a wine related book and we get to sample some great wine. Trilliant Cut is my absolute favorite but I also like Navette Cut. If you are up for mixing, Princess Cut and Navette Cut are great mixed together. Although I am not a huge fan of Bubly carbonated water, the Mango and Apple to mix well with Princess Cut and Navette Cut to make a spritzer.
- Van Till Family Farm Winery – Our first visit to this winery was on an icy morning after a December getaway to The Elms in Excelsior Springs. The owners were organic farmers in California before moving to Missouri just before September 11th. On Friday and Saturday nights, they crank-up a wood-fired oven on the outdoor patio they had brought in from Italy. Although it was starting to getting icy, we stayed for some pizza. OMG – it’s sooooo good. The recipes are the owner’s creation and use ingredients from their farm. The crust is light enough you can eat three pieces and not feel too stuffed. I’m not talking your traditional pizza topping either. Plus, they pay their employees a live wage so you don’t need to tip. In fact, they ask you not to. We like their: Peach Wine, Strawberry Festival, Farm Shed Red, and Prairie Fire.
Want to sample some dish food and wines for yourself? I hope you will purchase a ticket for Harvesters’ Forks and Corks. For $125, you get to sample food and libations from over 60 vendors. All proceeds help feed over 141,000 people in our community who rely on Harvesters to help feed their families. Who knows, you might just find a new wine you like or a winery you’d like to visit.
We love breakfast foods. I’m always pinning new recipes to try. My original plan on the morning I made these was to make a biscuit and gravy casserole. When I realized I was missing one of the ingredients I needed to make that recipe, I made this recipe with some of the ingredients instead. Jeremiah has already asked me to make these delicious filling breakfast treats once again.
Sausage Egg & Cheese Stuffed Breakfast Biscuits by So Fab Food
1 package of Grands biscuits
8 sausage patties
8 slices of cheese
Make scrambled eggs and season with salt and pepper. Cook sausages according to packaging. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Flatten biscuits to about 5-6 inches wide. Break cheese slices into four pieces. Stack on top of biscuit. Top with scoop of scrambled eggs. Place sausage patty on top. Pull biscuit from opposite directions to cover entirely. Place wrapped side down on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Brush with butter and top with favorite seasonings. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning pan halfway through baking. Let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.
- I added a little milk to my eggs to make them fluffier. I’d also suggest maybe 5 eggs would be enough.
- I used turkey sausage and Cheddar cheese.
- I topped mine with fennel seed to bring out the flavor of the sausage.
I hope you haven’t thrown your Crockpot away after watching the This Is Us episode where Jack died. This soup recipe is too delicious not to make. Jeremiah and I cooked it during a recent icy storm that caused us to work from home.
Crockpot Creamy Chicken Taco Soup by Eating on a Dime
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can of black beans
1 c. frozen corn
½ onion chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chilies (8 oz.)
2 c. chicken broth
2 T. taco seasoning
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 package of cream cheese
Toss everything except cream cheese in Crockpot. Cook on low for 5-7 hours. Remove chicken and shred with forks. Add back in chicken and cream cheese. Cook for an additional 30-60 minutes. Top with shredded cheese, green onion, sour cream, pico, or crushed tortilla chips.
- I used frozen chicken breasts and cooked for the full time.
- I used reduced sodium chicken broth, reduced sodium black beans, and 1/3 less fat cream cheese.
- I also used a local brand of taco seasoning – Spanish Gardens. It has only ingredients you can read – no weird things like those packages in you find in your new pair of shoes.
- I added a salsa, a little queso and shredded cheese to my bowl. I ate mine with Xochitl tortilla chips. Jeremiah added fresh pico, fresh cilantro, and shredded cheese.
Although Spring is just around the corner, a few weeks ago we were reminded winter wasn’t over. That promoted Jeremiah and I to cook up a few new soup recipes. I call this recipe the soup version of Canyon Chicken.
Crack Chicken Noodle Soup by Plain Chicken
3 c. chopped chicken
1 can condensed cheese soup
6 c. chicken broth
1 c. milk
2 carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 package ranch salad dressing and seasoning mix
1 package Bacon Bits
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. dried fine egg noodles, uncooked
In a large stock pot, combine chicken, cheese soup, broth, milk, celery, carrots, ranch packet, and bacon. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat. Then, reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes, until vegetable is soft. Stir in noodles and shredded cheese. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until noodles are soft.
- I would suggest using leftover rotisserie chicken since this recipe doesn’t have any seasonings except ranch. I added a little parsley.
- I used low sodium condensed soup, low sodium broth and skim milk.
- I didn’t have celery so I omitted it from the recipe.
- I used real bacon. I suggest maybe just sprinkling on top before serving so ensure the flavor isn’t overwhelmed.
My nephew doesn’t like breakfast foods. This is a kid who didn’t put milk on his cereal and never ate eggs (often an evening dish in my house growing up). Probably the only thing he does like to eat that’s breakfast food is pork products and pancakes. While they were visiting, I made pancakes and bacon.
Brown Butter Pancakes by Grandbaby Cakes
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
6 T. brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 ¼ c. sour cream or Greek yogurt
½ c. milk
6 T. melted salted butter
1 T. vanilla extract
Bacon Maple Butter (optional)
6 T. butter
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
3 slices of cooked bacon
Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. In another bowl, whisk eggs with sour cream, milk, melted butter, and extract. Pour into dry ingredients and mix. The result will be slightly lumpy. Cook pancakes. Recipe makes 12 pancakes.
Melt butter and syrup together. Add bacon and pour over pancakes.