Sweet Breakfast Treat

I’m at my mother’s house in Nebraska celebrating Christmas. It started snowing the big fluffy flakes a couple of days ago. If you aren’t from a part of the country where it snows, this is the perfect snow. It’s easy to scoop, will melt fast, and looks pretty. However, we got 6 inches which makes travel around town a little difficult.

I cooked up this quick recipe before going out to help clean the snow off my sister’s car. I loved this new recipe from Pillsbury.com and I hope you will too.

Maple RollsCinnamon Roll-Wrapped Sausage with Maple Dipping Sauce
1 can Pillsbury Grands cinnamon rolls
10 fully cooked pork or turkey sausage links
10 toothpicks
1/3 c. maple syrup

Open and remove cinnamon rolls from package. Slice in half. Wrap half way around sausage and secure with a toothpick. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. While cooling slightly, mix syrup and icing in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 20 seconds on medium (50%). Serve as dipping sauce for cinnamon rolls.

Nutritional Information: 470 calories, 18 g. of fat, 5 g. saturated fat, 2.5 g. trans fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 850mg sodium, 68 g. Carbs, 1 g. fiber, 33 g. sugars, 7 g. protein.


  • My mother misunderstood me and bought regular cinnamon rolls. It worked – so consider buying the reduced fat kind.
  • She also bought sausage that needed to be cooked first. Just cook them in a pan before wrapping with cinnamon roll.
  • I used about 1/4 c. light Mrs. Butterworths syrup. Another great way to reduce fat and sugar intake on this recipe.
  • I would also suggest looking at veggie sausages like Morning Star. They taste pretty good and you reduce calories/fat here as well.

Top 10

I was thinking about a recipe the other day that was one of my best. I thought I would share with all of you – the best of the best. Below are my top 10 in no particular order.

spaghetti1. Grandma Reith’s Spaghetti Sauce – I lied, this is probably my favorite recipe.
2. Mom’s Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes – This is the best cheesy potato recipe and I’ve sampled quiet a few.
3. Concord Lutheran Church Cookbook Meatballs – These go great with the potato recipe.
4. Chicken Penne Pasta with Salsa Con Queso – This recipe has a nice little kick.
5. Chocolate Crinkles – My mother made these when I was a kid but I love my recipe even more. These are probably my signature item.
6. Grilled Shrimp & Basil Orzo Pasta – Fresh basil and feta cheese nicely accent this dish.
7. Canyon Chicken – Chicken, ranch, cheese, and bacon. You can’t go wrong this recipe.
8. Lasagna Twist Around – Reminds me of my Grandma Reith Spaghetti Sauce.
9. Aunt Linda’s Slushies – I’ve made and drank a number of drinks over the years. This is my absolute favorite.
10. Cheesy Potato Soup – It’s as close as you can get to the O’Charley’s soup. I miss that restaurant so much.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

My mother makes the best peanut butter star cookies. Super easy, few ingredients, and nice peanut butter taste.

Picture from Betty Crocker

Picture from Betty Crocker

Peanut Butter Blossoms by Kathy Bourek
1 egg
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
Brach’s Stars candies

Mix egg, sugar, and peanut butter together. Spoon into round balls and place on cookie sheet. Top each cookie with a star candy and press down. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.

 Note: You have to use the Brach’s Stars. If you bake the cookie with Hershey’s Kisses, it will burn the top of the cookie.

Cranberry Meatballs

I’ve eaten a lot of meatballs over the years but this is one of my best recipes. It came from Simple & Delicious magazine.

Photo from Taste of Home

Photo from Taste of Home

Creamy Cranberry Meatballs by Amy Warren
2 envelopes brown gravy mix
1 package of frozen meatballs
2/3 c. jellied cranberry sauce
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

Prepare gravy according to package. Combine meatballs, cranberry sauce, mustard, and gravy in a Crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Add cream last 30 minutes of baking.

Note: I used turkey meatballs and it tasted just fine.

English Toffee

While making a cookbook for my Grandma and Grandpa for Christmas (don’t tell them if you know them because they aren’t getting it til Christmas day), I asked my mother for my Uncle Ed’s Peanut Cluster recipe. My mother told me I also needed to include Grandma’s English Toffee recipe. I said, “I’ve never had Grandma’s English Toffee.” My mom said, “Oh yeah, she used to make it all the time.”

The other day I thought I would make this simple recipe. My sister said, “Good luck, English Toffee is hard to make.” I thought, that’s odd – I wonder when my sister made English Toffee. I started cooking it as realized Grandma instructions aren’t super clear. The sugar mixture was brown and boiling but didn’t really seem very thick. I figured it was hot enough to melt the chocolate though. I poured it out on the foil lined cookie sheet smoothed it out. I topped with chocolate bar squares and smoothed again with a cake knife. I refrigerated overnight and broke into pieces the next more. It’s really thin but that’s OK because this recipe is very rich. It will also make your hands a little greasy.

English ToffeeEnglish Toffee by Shirley Fletcher
1 c. sugar
½ pound butter (2 sticks of butter)
3 T. water
1 tsp. vanilla

Cook until hard crack, brown, and thick. Spread on cookie sheet and put 3 or 4 Hershey’s bars (I used 12 snack sized bars). Smooth it out. Sprinkle with pecans or nuts (optional). Cool. Once cool, break into pieces.


  • My mother said you might only want to use half or three fourths of the cookie sheet. This will make your pieces a little thicker.
  • I used Country Crock so you might have different results with real butter.
  • I used my Paula Deen iron casserole dish. This works great for making things like fudge and English Toffee.

Artichoke Crab Spread

When my sister and I went to Denver a few years ago, it was snowing pretty hard when we came back from the Independent Film Festival. We decided to grab dinner downstairs in the hotel instead of trekking back out. We had this great warm artichoke and crab dip. I was so excited when I saw a recipe for something similar in a Pillsbury email a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as the one they made at the Denver City Center Marriott m.i. greatroom. That said, I think this recipe is great for an holiday get together you are hosting.

Artichoke Crab SpreadArtichoke-Crab Spread
1 can (14 oz.) artichoke heart quarters (drained and chopped)
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese
4 medium green onions, diced
1 c. shredded imitation crabmeat (4 oz.)
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 tsp. lemon juice
French baguette bread

Spray a mini-cockpot with non-stick spray. Put in all ingredients except bread. Cook for an hour on low, stirring occasionally. Serve warm on bread.

Matchbook Treats

The first weekend of November, I was off work from the hotel to celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday with her. On our way to her favorite store, I saw a sign for a PEO fundraising craft fair. We decided to check it out. One of the cutest things we saw was decorative matchbooks. Inside was a tiny baggie with mini-M&Ms and the others has Ghirardelli Squares. I decided this was something I could recreate for holiday stocking stuffers. Here is how I did it.

Candy MatchbooksMatchbook Treats by Amber Bourek
Ghirardelli chocolates
Assorted cardstock
Stickers or other decorative items (glue stick or dots may be needed)
A stapler

Cut paper so it is large enough to wrap around chocolate. Staple chocolate in like a book of matches. Tuck flap under like a match book. Decorate.


  • I wanted holiday paper and Hobby Lobby only had that on paper not cardstock. I had to glue it to the cardstock.
  • I used double-sided sticky dots to make my Matchbooks three dimensional. In some cases, I cut out pictures on the pages.
  • Be careful if you buy paper like The Grinch and only give it to a true Dr. Seuss fan. Otherwise, people will think you think they are a Grinch.

Steph’s Cheese Ball

My sister isn’t much of a cook. I laugh when we cook together because she takes her time to mix and dice everything just perfectly. But when my sister comes across a recipe she really likes, she gets the recipe and makes it. I hope you enjoy this tasty cheese ball at your upcoming holiday events.

Photo courtsey of Foodphotosite.com

Photo courtsey of Foodphotosite.com

Cheese Ball by Stephanie Bourek
2 bricks of cream cheese (8 oz.)
dried beef, torn into pieces
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic salt
shredded cheddar cheese

Soften cream cheese. Combine ingredients. Cover with shredded cheese. Chill to harden before serving. Serve with assorted crackers.


  • I’ve used the Carl Budding Beef to make this recipe. It is way cheaper than dried beef and taste the same.
  • To reduce fat, used fat free or reduced fat cream cheese and fat free cheddar cheese. You aren’t cooking it so you don’t have to worry that.

Chocolate Crinkles

Everybody has a signature dish they make. For me, these cookies are my signature dish. My mother used to make them when I was a kid and I loved them. When I was in college, my mother bought me this Family Circle Holiday Cookie Cookbook. The recipe in the book had chocolate chips – something my mother hadn’t put in hers. I have to say – I think my recipe is better then. Best when served warm from the oven – they melt in your mouth.

I used to bake Chocolate Crinkles for volunteer trainings when I worked at Hope House. I would always put the extras in the mailroom for the staff to enjoy. It took a while but my friend Trish finally figured out I was the one making these cookies. For the baby shower for her twins a few years ago, she asked me to make these cookies. I hope you love them as much as she does.

Chocolate CrinklesChocolate Crinkles by Amber Bourek
3/4 c. Butter, melted
1/2 c. Unsweeted Cocoa Powder
1 c. Sugar
2 c. Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 bag Chocolate Chips
Confectioner’s Sugar

In a large bowl, mix butter, cocoa, and sugar. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Use an electric mixer to add eggs and vanilla into chocolate mixture. Slowly add dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips. Refrigerate overnight. Roll into balls and roll in confectioner’s sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

M&M Pretzels

Perhaps my salted chocolate caramel obsession started with these treats. If you ask me my favorite candy bar, I’ll probably tell you it is 100 Grand bar. But truth be told, I always have a dish of M&Ms in my house. Usually they are plain but on occasion, I have Pretzel M&Ms.

I’m sure you have seen this recipe made with almond bark and Hershey’s Kisses. But this one is the easiest and best tasting.

M&M PretzelsM&M Pretzels by Stephanie Bourek
Rolos candies
Round pretzels (you can only buy them Christmas time)
Plain M&Ms

Unwrap Rolo candies. Layout pretzels on a silicone mat (or foil lined) cookie sheet. Insert Rolos upside down into pretzels. Bake at 250 degrees for 3-4 minutes. Remove from oven and inset M&M candy. Put cookie sheet in fridge for 10 minutes to harden. Make as many as you desire.


  • Buy Rolos in the checkout line. This will help you avoid having to unwrap each individual candy.
  • My sister has substituted a pecan for the M&M. It makes more of a turtle candy.
  • I just saw in the Hy-Vee ad that they broke another pretzel to turn it into antlers for a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer looking treat. But they are easier to eat the old fashioned way (looking like wreaths.)