Strawberry Stuffed French Toast

IMG_0876Last 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

  • img_0866.jpg4 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.

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Wine Adventures

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 us_alter.jpga 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 IMG_0496on 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 IMG_0419after 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.

Ham and Swiss Quiche

It’s New Year’s weekend and I have three consecutive days off. It’s also the coldest its been in years with wind chills temps of -15 so staying in seems like a great plan. That means I’m also cooking up a storm. This morning, I created a breakfast quiche that would use up more of that leftover holiday ham. Very tasty.

Ham and Swiss Quiche from Pinterest
IMG_05431 Pillsbury pie crust
½ c. onion
1 T. butter
½ lb. ham
6 oz. Swiss cheese
4 eggs
2 c. light cream
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
chives

Remove pie crust from fridge. Let it sit 15 minutes before unrolling. Place crust in sprayed pie pan. Pinch up corners of crust and over with parchment paper and metal beads. Cook at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Sauté onions in butter until translucent. Let cool slightly. Dice ham into small pieces. Cover crust with onions, ham, and cheese.

In a bowl, mix eggs, milk, and seasoning. Pour over mixture in crust. Sprinkle with chives.

Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn down to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before cutting quiche and serving.

Notes:

  • I don’t have those beads for baking pies so I improvised by placing a spoon on top of the parchment paper. It worked.
  • I used one shallot instead of a regular onion. I sautéed it in Wildtree Basil Pesto Grapeseed Oil.
  • I used probably 1 ½ cups of ham. As a result, I only ended up using half the egg/milk mixture.
  • I had some leftover Gouda and Fontine cheeses from Christmas. I shredded probably 2 oz. of these cheeses and combined with 4 oz. of Swiss cheese. The result was a very cheesy quiche. You could also do a Cheddar cheese if you prefer. 
  • I messed up and bought buttermilk instead of half and half. I ended up using Skim Milk. It worked just fine. However, I was only able to get about half half the egg mixture into the quiche. I decided to cook the leftover mixture on the stove top. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able those to get that egg mixture to cook on the stove top – too runny.
  • I didn’t have any chives so I sprinkled with parsley instead.

Breakfast Bubble Pizza

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I love Bubble Pizzas. The beauty is you mix everything in a bowl and dump into a pan. Who doesn’t love less dishes? I’ve made traditional Bubble Pizza (first made for me by my Uncle Tom and Aunt Annette) and Mexican Bubble Pizza.

This morning, I was trying to use up some of our leftover Christmas ham. Jeremiah and I bought a Smithfield ham (my favorite brand – local and support my favorite charity with donations of product to feed hungry people) at Sam’s Club. The ham was the most delicious ham I’ve eaten in a long time but we had way too much left – even with my nephew whose favorite meat is all pork products didn’t finish it off. You’ll love this super easy, five ingredient breakfast casserole. Plus, it looks beautiful. It turned my day around that started with a smoke detector we couldn’t get to stop beeping and a tv that was frozen on an infomercial.

Incredible Breakfast Bake by Key Ingredient Recipes
img_0537.jpg½ c. milk
5 eggs
1 c. ham
1 package (8 oz./2 c.) cheddar cheese
1 package of Grands biscuits
Salt & pepper

Beat eggs in a large bowl and top with salt and pepper. Add milk, ham, and cheese to bowl. Cut biscuits in fourths and fold into egg mixture. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish and pour mixture into dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Italian Quesadilla

One of the things Jeremiah and I really enjoy doing is wine tasting. We like to go on little day trips as well as while we are on vacation. A few of our favorite places are Somerset Ridge (just past the Louisburg Cider Mill on the Miami County Wine Trail), Van Till Winery and Family Farm (great wood-fired pizzas on the weekends just outside of Excelsior Springs), and Windy Wine Company (east of St. Joseph off Hwy 36). Another little winery in downtown Weston actually got us to join their wine club.

IMG_0247The first winery Jeremiah and I visited together was Pirtle Winery – located in a historic church just off Main Street. Downtown Weston has lots of great shops. I love the community food pantry and charming kitty cat outside the photography shop. This little town really isn’t any bigger than where I grew up but really developed tourism around wine tasting, local food, unique shops, and B&B stays. Once a quarter, the Weston Wine Company host their monthly book club…aka an excuse to drink wine and pick-up your free bottle. In August, the book featured was “What to Eat with What You Drink.” You don’t need to buy or even read the book, they give you the Cliff IMG_0295Notes version during the event. Since the book was about pairings, they had matched each of their wines with a recipe. One of our favorites was the Italian Quesadilla served with a semi-sweet red (Radiant Cut Wine). At the winery, they sell a pepperoni cheese. I told Jeremiah that I thought we should buy a block and use it with fresh basil. Jeremiah says that kicked it up a bit. This is our take on this non-traditional quesadilla.

Italian Quesadilla by Weston Wine Company (modified by Amber Bourek Slater)
IMG_03191 lb. ground Italian sausage (we used Scimeca’s turkey sausage)
1 apple (red preferred)
Fresh basil
Grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded mozzarella cheese (or pepperoni cheese if you can find it)
Flour tortilla shells (we like high fiber Mission shells)

Dice the apple. Cook the ground sausage and apple. Cover half a tortilla shell with sausage mixture, basil, and cheeses. Fold over. Cook on medium for 3 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 1 ½ minutes (or until golden brown).

Cookies with a Twist

One of my first friends in Kansas City was Megan. Like me, she was an old soul in a young body. We met while working on our Masters degrees at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. We also had a lot of fun exploring the city – dinners, plays, and concerts. Megan is so talented and has taught me so many things. I also owe the start of my nonprofit career to this lady. She helped me make a resume that visually popped. Her networking skills also helped me find my first nonprofit job as a grant writer. That job was one of the best teams I’ve ever worked on and a few of those fantastic women are still dear friends.

Megan is Martha Stewart. Not only is she an amazing cook but she and her husband are also master gardeners. They have turned their passion for gardening into a full-scale Kansas agri-business. If you are close, visit their Next to Nature booth on a Saturday morning at the Bonner Springs Farmers Market. They have everything from fresh seasonal produce to products made from honey. I love watching their business adventures on Facebook.

Megan_weddingI was lucky enough to be a bridesmaid for Megan and Chad’s wedding. Like all weddings, they had a hiccup right before their big day. Less than a week before their big day, the building where they were going to have their wedding reception was hit by a car. The good news is that structural engineers determined it was still safe to remain open. Their wedding end up going off without a hitch. And nine years later, they are still happily married.

For our wedding, Megan shared this recipe. I wasn’t sure what to think at first. Orange and chocolate chips? Sure, I’ve seen chocolate covered orange slices but I’ve never eaten them. But I trusted Megan. She’s Martha Stewart, right. I have to tell you, these cookies were so good I wish I had made a larger batch. I hope you love these super soft cookies as much as I did.

Orange Chocolate Chippers by Megan Gilliland
IMG_01601 c. shortening
1 – 3 oz. package of cream cheese
2 T. grated orange peel
2 c. flour
1 (6 oz.) package of chocolate chips
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt

Cream together shortening, sugar, and cream cheese. Add eggs, orange peel, and vanilla. Shift together salt and flour. Then, add to mixture. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool and remove. Makes 4 dozen.

S’more Brownies

Who doesn’t love the flavor of s’mores. How do you like your marshmallows – lightly toasted or charred? On our honeymoon, our resort had complimentary s’mores one night. I told Jeremiah we had to go. He probably could have cared less but indulged my request. We got their shortly after it began and the line was pretty long. We stood in line for probably like 20 minutes to get our s’mores. You would not believe the amount of mosquito bites I got just to eat a s’more.

For our 1st anniversary, I made this recipe to take to my in-laws for July 4th. We ended up not going because of crazy rain. They are pretty tasty but not very healthy so I shared this recipe with my coworkers. Delicious when eaten warm.

Fudgy S’mores Brownies by Mandy’s Recipe Box Blog (via Pinterest)
Smores1 1/3 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 c. sugar
4 large eggs
1 T. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 c. baking cocoa
½ tsp. salt
1 c. Golden Grahams
1 ¾ c. mini marshmallows
4 oz. chocolate chips

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add flour, cocoa, and salt. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. When finished, preheat broiler. Sprinkle with marshmallows and cereal. Broil for 1-3 minutes. Remove and top with chips. Cover with foil and let it stand for 5-10 minutes until chocolate begins to melt.

Carmelitas

Over the years, I have worked with a lot of amazing young people. This has included paid and unpaid interns as well as barely paid AmeriCorps members. These bright young minds bring energy to our work force and help us get stuff done that we want to do but just can’t do by ourselves because there aren’t enough hours in the day to do it alone.

Last summer, Maria was one of our interns. She worked in Community Engagement helping my co-workers prepare for a week-long youth leadership academy. This recipe is one of Maria’s favorite recipes her mother makes. I hope you enjoy this tasty but very rich dessert.

Carmelitas by Maria Sanchez
IMG_01041 ½ sticks of butter
¾ c. brown sugar
a pinch of salt
1 T. vanilla
1 c. old fashioned oats
1 c. flour
1 c. chocolate chips
1 jar of caramel topping
3 T. flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, butter, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, and oats together. Add half to the bottom of a greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Mix caramel and flour together. Pour over chocolate chips. Crumble remaining oatmeal over caramel and return to oven for 15-18 minutes.

Coffee Cake

My aunt Linda made this tasty dish for my wedding shower as well as for the hospitality suite the weekend of my wedding. It kind of reminds me of a recipe my mom made when I was a kid. I’m not a nut person this recipe can be made with or without them.

I’m making it for my Volunteer Appreciation Celebration this week. I hope they enjoy it as much as I do.

Coffee Cake by Linda Vogel

Cinnamon-Crumb-Coffee-Cake

Photo from Pinterest

Topping
1 ½ c. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. chopped walnuts

Cake
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter
2 eggs
3 c. flour
1 c. milk
½ tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

Sift dry ingredients. Add milk, ½ c. melted butter, vanilla, and eggs. Mix well. Pour half into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle with half of topping. Pour the rest of the batter on top. Sprinkle with remaining topping. Top with ½ c. melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Punch Bowl

When I was a kid, I remember my Aunt Joyce making this slush for a family holiday. All the kids wanted it but we couldn’t have any because it had alcohol. The next time my aunt made it, she didn’t put any liquor all her nieces could enjoy it as well. Probably ever since then, that’s how my aunts make it.

For those of you who attended my wedding shower, this was served as a punch in the bee hive container. Here’s hoping you have a baby shower, brunch, wedding shower, or summer party you can serve this tasty drink.

beehive

Photo courtsey of Pinterest

Fruit Punch/Slush by Joyce Miller
1 can frozen orange juice
1 can frozen lemonade
46 oz. can pineapple juice
46 oz. can apricot nector
1 – 2 liter bottle Sprite

Mix and serve. Add vodka if desired. Freeze for slush.

Notes:

  • I have a hard time finding a bottle of apricot nector in Kansas City grocery stores. I can usually find it sold in a six pack of cans near the tomato juice.