Monday, December 31, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Casserole

I hope everyone had as great a Christmas as we did.  We spent some much needed family time talking, laughing, and playing games.  I love the holidays! 
Christmas morning doesn't have the same excitment as it used to when the boys were younger.  Teenagers just aren't eager to get out of bed at the crack of dawn, even for the promise of gifts.  We finally roused them out of their Christmas sleep at about 9 a.m.  They look excited don't they?

They did perk up after the gift opening began.  After we opened gifts at home, we headed to my mother-in-law's for a late breakfast with my husband's family.  I made the Breakfast Omelette Muffins that I blogged about last June.  This time I made them with ham instead of sausage.  I have to say that I like them much better with sausage and fresh mushrooms.  The ham settles on the bottom and it just isn't as flavorful.  Lesson learned.  I also made a new dish that I found on Pinterest.  Cinnamon Roll Casserole.  Anything with cinnamon rolls can't be too bad, right?  It was delicious!  I got the original recipe from The Dishy Decorator.  I followed the recipe exactly.  It's definitely not low cal, but it was very easy and a delicious spin on traditional cinnamon rolls.
Cinnamon Roll Casserole
2 tablespoons of melted butter or baking spray
2 cans (12.4 oz each) Pillsbury® refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
4 eggs
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
2  teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped Pecans (optional)
1/4 cup maple syrup
Heat oven to 375°F. Pour melted butter into ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish.
Separate both cans of dough into 16 rolls; set icing aside. Cut each roll into 8 pieces; place pieces over butter in dish. 
In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Beat in cream, cinnamon and vanilla until well blended; gently pour over roll pieces. Sprinkle with pecans; drizzle with 1/4 cup syrup. 
Bake 20 to 28 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove covers from icing; microwave on Medium (50%) 10 to 15 seconds or until thin enough to drizzle. 
Drizzle icing over top.  If desired, spoon syrup over individual servings.
I left the pecans out because I hate nuts in baked goods!  I don't mind them in candy or eaten alone, but not in baked goods.  This recipe makes a 9x13 pan, but you could easily cut it in half for a smaller 8x8 I'm sure. 
Cut up rolls into 8 pieces and spread in bottom of dish.
Pour egg and cream mixture over rolls.

After baking, heat icing so it's thin enough to pour over rolls.  Mmmmmmmm!  What's not to love?


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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tis the season to be busy!  I've been absent from blogland for so long, you've probably forgotten all about me.  :(  I thought I better check in and show you what I've been busy doing these last few weeks. 
Since the week after Thanksgiving, I've been busy with Christmas preparations.  Shopping, baking cookies, shopping, wrapping presents, shopping, and spending quality time with my family.  Did I mention shopping?  I must admit though that as much as I love shopping, I'm not dealing as well with the crowds as I used to.  Either I'm getting crankier, or people are ruder (more rude?) than they used to be.  Probably the former. LOL!  I always have the majority of my Christmas shopping done by the first week in December and this year was no exception. It just seems that I've had an endless amount of little things I need to pick up here and there and that seemed to drag out my shopping a little longer. 
So, here's a glimpse at what's kept me busy the last few weeks:

I had dinner with my girls at one of our favorite restaurants, The Landmark.    Seriously, if you are ever in the Galesburg, Illinois area, you have to eat here.  Go to the website and check out their menu. Everything is delicious!  Crepes, quiche, spinach bisque.  OMG!  I'm getting hungry now! 
Anyway, it ended up being a good bye dinner for one of us. :(  Anita was moving about an hour and a half away.  We will miss seeing her every month, but now we have a great excuse for a road trip!!!!!

Next on my list was to get the house and tree decorated for Christmas.  This picture makes it look like I don't have many ornaments on my tree.  Many of them are white or silver though and don't show up well in the picture. I don't over stuff the tree with ornaments though either.

This ornament was one of my Grandma's.  We used to have a large family gathering every Christmas Eve at her and Grandpa's.  Every time I look at this ornament I think about all the great memories we made there!  Oh how I miss those days!

This ornament always makes it onto the tree.  It's a reminder of our much missed Molly.  She's been gone several years now, but we still miss her very much.  

 The next two ornaments are older than I am.  They are ornaments that we put on our tree when I was a little girl.  They're actually bells and have a ringer inside of them.  There's a whole set with different shapes and styles, but these are two of my favorites.

Of course we have a bird nest in the tree.  No it's not real.  It's a clip on.  However, having a bird nest in the tree is good luck and I certainly don't need any bad luck so it's tucked away inside the tree each year.  

After I got the halls decked, I baked some cookies.  I had a little help from Kenny and Demi one night, and my mom and I got together, as we do each year, and decorated sugar cookies.

Aren't they cute?

I think we decorated about 5 or 6 dozen cookies!

I am never dipping pretzels in almond bark again!  I saw this idea on Pinterest.  It is so much easier and not as messy as dipping the pretzels.  This is where I got the original directions.  It calls for plain chocolate kisses.  I thought these striped peppermint flavored kisses would be more festive.  I bought one bag each of Hershey's kisses, red and green M&Ms, and round pretzels.  I was able to make about 4 trays full like this one (and have some M&Ms left over!).  All you do is put a kiss in each pretzel, pop them in a 225 degree oven for just a few minutes, and top each one with an M&M, pushing the chocolate down to fill out the pretzel.  Easy peasy!

I have something I made that I just can't wait to post about, but I have to wait until after the holidays now.  I made a great gift for my book club girls but we had to cancel our December party. :(  Due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to reschedule it from our first date.  Then, on the rescheduled date, the midwest was hit with a blizzard.  If you live in the midwest, you know the one I mean.  I have never seen white outs as bad as I experienced on Thursday, December 20th!  I will always remember that date because it just so happened that it was also my birthday.  I was supposed to attend my faculty Christmas party and book club that night but both had to be cancelled.  Instead, I spent my birthday snowed in at home with my 3 handsome men playing board games and watching Christmas movies.  It turned out to be a wonderful birthday after all!

I always get very interesting, and huge, drifts on my patio.  This one is probably 6-7 feet tall.

Kenny had to get up and help me dig out so I could go to work the next morning.  The 4x4 truck couldn't even get out the drifts were so bad.  Yes, we have 2 snow plows.  Don't ask why we weren't able to plow out the driveway!  No time and poor planning are to blame.  

Last, but certainly not least, we have begun our family Christmas gatherings.  We spent yesterday at my brother's house for our first celebration.  We had a great food, exchanged gifts, and laughed until we cried!  That is what family time is all about!

It was so fun watching my niece open her gifts this year!

My two handsome sons and their cousin.  

And this is the type of game my family plays at Christmas! LOL!  It's actually pretty fun!  And guess who was the Smart Ass winner?  :)

Well, that's it.  It's been a pretty full season, but I've loved every minute of it!  I can't wait until Christmas and to spend more time with family.  I'm also looking forward to my 2 week vacation from work.  I have a list  a mile long of all the things I want to get done.  Cleaning, reading, scrapbooking, crafting, blogging, after Christmas shopping....  Merry Christmas to you all!


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Monday, December 3, 2012

Baked Red Potatoes

It's December in the midwest.  That should make you think of chilly weather and Christmas preparations.  Not this past weekend!  We had a bit of a warm snap and it prompted us to get out the grill!  Each winter, we buy a side of beef and a side of pork to stock the freezer.  We picked up the meat on Saturday and couldn't wait to throw some steaks on the grill!  One of my favorite side dishes for grilled meat is Baked Red Potatoes (for lack of a better name).  I've been making these for years and they're a family favorite.  They are so easy to make and delicious!  I don't really have an  exact recipe.  This is one of those that you just toss some ingredients into a pan and go.  Here's the basics:

Spray a 9 x 13 pan (I used foil ones for easier clean up!) with Pam.  Clean and quarter a 3lb. bag of small, red potatoes and add to greased pan. 
Toss in a 1/2 cup or so each of chopped onion and chopped green pepper.  I do use frozen onion and pepper which makes for quick preparation.  However, fresh onion and pepper are delicious if you have it and have time. 
Add 4 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix (more if you want to really taste the ranch).  Mix well.
Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Stir occasionally during baking. Sometimes I add some shredded cheese to the top at the end of baking for a little extra flavor.  I just forgot this time. 

Ready for the oven:
Ready for eatin':

I ate it this on December 1st.  Nothing like a delicious summer meal at the end of  fall.  The corn was some of the fresh summer corn on the cob that I had frozen and the steak was grilled to perfection.  I love these potatoes!  They're so easy to prepare!  Don't like green peppers?  Leave them out.  Try adding other vegetables.  You could even cook corn or green beans right in the pan with the potatoes.  You can really adjust this recipe anyway you like.  

I think today was our last warm day.  I actually opened my windows for a little bit this afternoon!  Enjoying the fresh air while I can because I'm sure it will be cold soon enough. :)


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