Ham and Cheese Hash Brown Casserole

Jeremiah and I had some extra ham and a half bag of hash browns. I found this breakfast dish but I think you could very easily use it as a meal you make with Christmas leftovers. Not as cheesy as your traditional cheesy hash browns but still good.

Ham and Cheese Hash Brown Casserole by Plain Chicken

IMG_02161 bag of frozen hash browns
1 lb. diced ham
2 cans condensed cream of potato soup
1 – 16 oz. container of sour cream
2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
1 ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese

Spray a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray. In a large mixing bowl, mix everything but Parmesan cheese. Pour into dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Cook for one hour at 375 degrees.


  • I halved the recipe and baked in a smaller baking dish for the same time.
  • I added a little salt and pepper.
  • I think you could easily add some onion or garlic salt to this recipe.
  • You could use Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream. I think you could also skip the Parmesan cheese and still enjoy this recipe with less fat.

Quadruple Chocolate Cookies

I was looking for some new recipes when I ran across cookie recipe. I love Chocolate Crinkles (my signature dish) so these seemed like something I’d enjoy. Although they are tasty, I think my Chocolate Crinkles are better. But they did give me another excuse to use my Kitchen Aid mixer.

Quadruple Chocolate Soft Fudgy Pudding Cookies from Pinterest
¾ c. butter, softened
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 packet of chocolate pudding
¼ c. cocoa powder
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

5 oz. dark chocolate chopped

Mix together butter, sugars, and eggs. Add in pudding, cocoa, flour, baking soda, and salt slowly. Stir in chocolate. Refrigerate for two hours. Roll into balls and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Turkey Club Casserole

Another great leftover turkey recipe. It’s like a turkey blt with pasta. I really liked the diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano seasoning.

Turkey BLT CasseroleTurkey Club Casserole from Pinterest
1 box whole wheat pasta ( I used penne)
1 (7 oz.) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano seasoning
1 c. diced turkey (or chicken if you don’t have turkey)
1/2 c. diced bacon
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
2 cans cheddar cheese
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper

Cook pasta and drain. Add all other ingredients and stir. Place in a 13 x 9 baking dish and cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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.

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.

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.)