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.

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).

Hash Brown Lasagna

My mother-in-law is the queen of biscuits and gravy. Nobody can even compete with her recipe. It sounds like she has been perfecting it over the last 30 years. I saw this recipe and wasn’t sure how my husband would feel about it. I made this delicious Biscuits and Gravy Casserole dish from an old coworker. He told me the jar country gravy was “too salty”. For this recipe, I made the McCormick Country Gravy. I think he was ok with this gravy in a dish that is very different than his mother’s original. We did like this dish but I think I like a few other breakfast recipes better like Breakfast Sliders, Weight Watchers Breakfast Quiche, Mini Maple Bacon Rolls, Creamy Biscuits, or Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Ring.

Hash Brown Lasagna from Pinterest
img_00341/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
shredded hash brown potatoes
salt and pepper
sausage crumbles
cheddar cheese
mozzarella cheese
McCormick Country Gravy packet prepared
1 Tsp. butter, melted

Bake bacon in the over at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cook sausage according to package.

In the meantime, pour gravy packet into a medium pan. Slowly pour two cups of milk over mix while whisking. Cook over a medium heat to a boil, stirring frequently. Then, reduce your to low and simmer for 1 minute.

Spray 8 x 8 pan. In a bowl, mix hash browns, Parmesan cheese, salt & pepper, and eggs. Pour half of mixture into pan and even out. Top with a layer of cheese, gravy, and meats. Repeat with other cheese, gravy, and meats. Top with remaining remaining hash browns. Pour melted butter on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting.


  • I used a 13 x 9 pan because it appeared to be too much for the pan.
  • I used skim milk to prepare my gravy mix. It cut the fat and salt in country gravy.
  • I thawed the hash browns slightly in the microwave. This helped them break-up easier. Looking back, I wish I had baked the bottom layer for 10 minutes before topping to give me a slightly cruncher crust. 
  • I used turkey sausage.
  • I only used four slices of bacon. I really couldn’t taste it so you either need to use more bacon or opt it out. Sausage can be an overwhelming meat flavor.
  • The recipe suggested both mozzarella and cheddar. They suggested a prosciutto wrapped mozzarella and Velveeta cheese slices. I used shredded cheese. I’d suggest just mozzarella because I think it matches the flavors of the country gravy better. 
  • Make sure you have a lot of time to cook this recipe. I think I took me a good 40 minutes to prepare before backing. 
  • If I made it again, I think I might create a crust with something different like crescent rolls.
  • Jar gravy and precooked meats can save you time. 



Baked Pork Chops

On Friday, Jeremiah sent me a text saying his mom missed him (aww) and they wanted to come up on Saturday. Jeremiah suggested we have dinner and watch the Royals in game four of the World Series. I said, of course. This is the first time we would be able to host company for dinner. The big question was, “What would we make for dinner?” I knew I had to work until about 4:30PM on Saturday. That meant Jeremiah would have to do the grocery shopping and the bulk of the cooking. We decided to do pork chops – which we already had in the freezer. I suggested that we make fresh green beans and purple potato au gratin to go with it. Jeremiah’s dad is diabetic and Jeremiah is watching his carbs so they seemed like good side dishes.

I suggested we look for a pork chop recipe we could cook in the Crockpot or oven to save us some time. We flipped through my Pinterest and found this new recipe to cook. Dinner turned out great. I hope you enjoy it.

Ultra Crunchy Baked Pork Chops by Sugar & Spice by Celeste Blog
pork chop4 boneless pork chops
Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
2 tsp. Parmesan cheese
¼ c. plus 6 T. flour
3 large egg whites
3 T. Dijon mustard
lemon wedges

Line a 13 x 9 pan with foil and place a backing rack on top of it. In a shallow dish, pour ¼ c. flour. In another shallow dish, whisk egg whites and mustard. Then, whisk in 6 T. flour. Then, pour bread crumbs and parmesan cheese into a third shallow dish. Salt and pepper pork chops. Then, use tongs to coat both side of pork chops in flour. Next, coat pork chops in egg mixture. Finally, coat both side of pork chops in bread crumbs. Place pork chop on rack and repeat for three remaining chops. Bake at 425 degrees for 17-25 minutes – until meat temp reaches 150 degrees. Let it rest for five minutes before serving. Squeeze the lemon.


  • The original recipe has a recipe has a recipe to make your bread crumbs. I posted what we did because it saved time.
  • We baked it for 25 minutes with the potatoes and it make out just perfect.
  • With the price of eggs, we used egg white substitute instead of wasting part of an egg.
  • We also used honey Dijon mustard.

Purple Potatoes

The first time I ever saw purple potatoes was in Harvesters warehouse. They were a project for the volunteers to sort and repackage. I think we sent them out on a mobile food pantry. I wondered, “How do you cook them?” and “What do they taste like?” I’m sure the Nutrition Department didn’t have a recipe for them.

My boyfriend Jeremiah is trying to watch his carb intake. Jeremiah discovered that purple potatoes are a good option for someone trying to watch their carbs. They have half the carbs of regular potatoes (37 carbs vs. 17 carbs). He says, purple potatoes have less starch, potassium, and are high in antioxidants. You can’t cook them like regular potatoes though. He found this recipe online and we made it for dinner last night. To my surprise, they were really good. In fact, I think I like them better than regular au gratin potatoes.

Purple potatoesStacey’s Famous Purple Potato Gratin from AllRecipes.com
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 leek, sliced
8 purple potatoes, thinly sliced
3 T. flour
½ c. milk
6 oz. crumbles goat cheese
¾ c. grated parmesan cheese

Cook the bacon in a pan. Spray a 2 ½ qt. baking dish with non-stick spray. Coat the potatoes in flour. Layer the baking dish with potatoes, leek, bacon, and goat cheese. Pour milk over ingredients. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before serving. Makes four servings.


  • We substituted shallots for leeks in this recipe.
  • We used skim milk and it was just fine. Please note though that you must spray the pan as this dish does not have a lot of fat.
  • Before adding the milk, Jeremiah also added 2 T. of butter cubed onto of the potatoes.
  • The original recipe calls for the leeks to be sautéed with the bacon. It also suggests mixing the cheese and milk together. Then, melting it together before pouring over the potatoes.


Turkey Leftovers

Sure, who doesn’t love a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving? In my family, that means both turkey and ham. My nephew prefers ham and my grandfather won’t eat bird meat. With six people eating this feast, it leaves a lot of leftovers. My question after eatting leftover for a day or two is: what else can I make with? Below is a recipe from the December2013/January 2014 issue of Taste of Home’s Simple and Delicious that my family will be trying.

Turkey cordon bleu

Photo from Taste of Home website

Turkey Cordon Bleu Casserole by Kristine Blauert
2 c. uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cans cream of chicken soup
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. sage
2 c. cubed cooked turkey
2 c. cubed fully cooked ham
2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. crushed butter flavored crackers (I’m using Ritz – they are Brock’s fav)

Cook macaroni (or pasta of your choice) according to the package directions. Meanwhile, mix soup, milk, Parmesan cheese, mustard, and seasonsing together. Add meats and mozerella cheese. Drain pasta and add soup mixture. Pour into a 13 x 9 pan and top with crackers. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.


  • You can cover and freeze this casserole. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake as directed.

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti

Spaghetti has been one of my favorite food since I was a kid. As you know, I’m a bit of a snob who really only loves my Great Grandma Reith’s recipe. During my Social Supper days, I did make a baked spaghetti recipe that I really enjoyed. Although this isn’t exactly the same recipe, I thought it turned out pretty good. I hope you enjoy this spin on a classic recipe.

cream cheeseBaked Cream Cheese Spaghetti from Pinterest
12 oz. spaghetti, cooked
1 lb. ground beef
1 (28 oz.) jar marinara sauce
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic
8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese

Brown ground beef. Add marinara sauce.  In a separate pan, cook spaghetti. Pour into bowl. Add cream cheese, seasoning, and garlic. Stir until cream cheese is melted. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan. Pour a little of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of the pan. Top with spaghetti mixture. Pour remaining sauce onto of spaghetti. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


  • I halved the recipe and baked in my bubble and brown dish.
  • I used chopped garlic from a jar.
  • I used spreadable light cream cheese to make it melt easier.
  • You could omit the beef for my vegetarian friends. For my non-vegetarian friends, you could use ground sausage to make it more like a Cavatina recipe.
  • Fresh basil would be a great addition.

Mouth Watering Good

When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, it looked so good. I decided to cook it on a day I was off from work. Stupidly, it hadn’t occurred to me just how many hours it takes to thaw a loaf of frozen bread. Luckily for me, I saw a quick thaw method on the back of the package that worked wonders. Did you know if you preheat your oven to 200 degrees, shut it off, than put a pan of boil water on the rack below your dough it thaws in about an hour?

Another cool trick I learned was to place the dough on parchment paper and cover with saran wrap before rolling the dough with a rolling pin. It really prevents half your dough sticking to the rolling pin.

This recipe is so good – it’s like combining your spaghetti and garlic bread together with gooey, melted cheese. Your favorite will leave the table stuffed after just one slice.

Spaghetti BreadSpaghetti Bread
1 loaf of bread, thawed to room temperature
6 oz. spaghetti, cooked
1 c. marinara sauce
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 in. cubes
1 egg white
Parmesan cheese
Parsley flakes

Roll out dough to 12 x 16 inches and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Mix together spaghetti and sauce. Spread down center of dough. Top with cheese. Cut outside of dough 1 1/2 inches apart with 1/2 inch of filling. Braid bread crossing left to right til everything is covered. Brush with egg white. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.


  • I added fresh basil and 1/2 lb. of ground beef to my recipe. You could easily change your recipe by using wheat bread dough, choosing a different flavor of spaghetti sauce, or added additional ingredients (mushrooms, garlic, oregano, sausage, etc.)
  • I thought it was a little full but it baked out OK. The next time I make it, I might do 4-5 oz. of spaghetti though since I added other ingredients.

Creamy Spaghetti Sauce

I think recipe came from an issue of Kraft Foods. It incorporates cream cheese into the sauce. It’s a nice quick dinner recipe.

Spaghetti a la PhillySpaghetti a la Philly
1/2 lb. spaghetti, uncooked

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
1 jar (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce
4 oz. cream cheese
2 tsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Cook spaghetti according to package. Meanwhile, brown hamburger. Add sauce and cream cheese. Cook on low for 3-5 minutes until sauce is heated. Add drained spaghetti to sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese and serve. Makes four servings.


  • I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese. Fat free would probably work OK as well in this recipe.
  • I made my sauce using a can of tomatoes and Wildtree seasoning. I still added the meat and cream cheese. It was a little healthier but took longer to taste the favors. I might add some fresh basil, spinich, or zucchini the next time I make it.

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.