Breakfast Casserole, Spring Version

Memorial Day is over.  The Northern and Southern guns at the Boalsburg Cemetery are silent, the homemade pies are eaten and the carnival rides are gone.  But summer is coming with all it’s fun and wonderful garden bounties.

As spring fades into summer, make this easy breakfast casserole filled with healthy veggies from the local farmers markets before all the fresh spring vegetables are gone.  Try this for your next large group gathering, family reunion or anytime there are lots of people (or a few teenagers) to feed!
Spring Veggie Breakfast Casserole
Serves 18
1/4 cup butter
18 eggs (yes 18, that’s right–it’s not a typo!!)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 small onion, chopped
2 handfuls baby spinach
1/2 pound asparagus, cleaned, ends trimmed, cut into pieces
2 cups Cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan.  In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, sour cream, milk and salt.  Add the remaining ingredients.  Pour in the pan containing the butter.  Bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until top edges are golden brown and  the middle is firm and a tip of knife inserted into the center of the casserole comes out clean.


Asparagus, Parmesan and Garlic Pizza

I love spring!!  The colors, the warm weather, the asparagus!!  I have found many ways to use asparagus this spring.  Most surprising was this asparagus pizza.


I wanted to make the pizza recipe from the cookbook Date Night In the other day, but I did not have the ingredients for the topping.  I looked in the fridge and realized I had the makings of another great pizza.  The crust on this pizza is thin and crispy, and very easy to work with.  My husband said it tasted like the pizza we ate when we lived in Italy.  The topping are fresh and light, just right for spring.

Asparagus, Garlic, Parmesan Cheese Pizza

Attention:  Plan ahead as this dough needs to be prepared 1 -2  days ahead of the time you want to serve the pizza.

Olive Oil Pizza Dough 

(from the cookbook Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez)

–Makes two dough balls

1 teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup lukewarm water

2 and 1/4 cup flour

1 and 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Start this dough the day before or up to 2 days before you plan to use it.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, sugar, olive oil and water.  Dump in the flour and salt.  Start by mixing the dough on low until everything is well combined.  Increase the speed of the mixer to medium-low and knead for 7 to 10 minutes.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be smooth and elastic.

Then knead a bit by hand, on a lightly floured surface.

Transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate 24 -48 hours.  Make sure the container allows room for the dough to double in size (mine did not double in size, but that was OK).  Take it out of the container and divide into two dough balls.  (After this first slow rise, dough balls can be frozen until ready to use.  Defrost in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.)

When it is time to make the pizza:

Turn on the oven to 450 degrees.  Place a pizza stone into the oven for about 20 minutes–it is best if it is well heated when the pizza slides on to it.

Flour the counter and roll out the dough ball as thin as you would like it. Transfer the dough onto a pizza peel (or a rimless cookie sheet) that is covered with a bit of cornmeal (to let the dough easily slide off the peel into the oven).


1 bunch (10 -15 stalks) asparagus, washed and stems snapped off

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved

Olive Oil

Freshly grated black pepper (optional)

“Shave” the asparagus and the Parmigiano-Reggiano by using a vegetable peeler to make thin pieces.  Just pretend you are peeling a potato!


Cover the top of the pizza dough evenly with the shaved asparagus.  Sprinkle the garlic on top, then the Parmigiano (and grind a couple of times the optional black pepper) and drizzle with olive oil, about 2 Tablespoons.  Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and bake for about 10 minutes, or until it is as crisp as you would like it to be.





Cookbook Book Club “Date Night In”


A couple of weeks ago, the “Cookbook Book Club” joined together again and created a wonderful meal using the cookbook “Date Night In.”

“Date Night In” is a new cookbook/memoir about the home “dates” a young couple in Seattle have, now that 3 children keep them home more often than they go “out” for a date.  What a cleaver concept!

Menus are created around memories from their single dating years, current busyness of family and events like birthdays–divided into chapters based on spring, summer, fall and winter cuisine.

I loved this book and tried it out on my husband of almost 30 years.  He was a happy eater!

The recipes are not difficult — and the menus are fun in a way that is not typical:  In the fall, a dinner is made up of bar-type food.

From the menu called “Renewal,” I made the following:


Butter and Shallot Poached Potatoes

(adapted from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 medium-size shallot, sliced

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces small new potatoes

1/2 cup water

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallot, garlic and salt and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant.

Add the potatoes and then stir them to coat in the butter.  Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cover.  Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork (the time for mine was about 1/2 hour).

Remove the lid, increase the heat to medium, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the liquid reduces and the potatoes are a bit more tender.  Give the potatoes a couple of gentle turns to coat them again with the butter.  I added the fresh parsley at the end of preparation, just because I had some in my refrigerator.

Serve warm or at room temperature.



Salade Verte with Hazelnut Vinaigrette

6 Tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted

1 and 1/2 Tablespoons chopped shallot

1 and 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 and 1/2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 Tablespoons water

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 head butter lettuce, cleaned and well dried

In a food processor or blender, combine 3 Tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, shallot, mustard, sherry vinegar, honey, salt and water until well pureed, about 1 minute.  Add the oil and blend for another 15 seconds.

Place the butter lettuce leaves in a large bowl and add enough dressing to coat the leaves.  Taste and add more dressing, if desired.  Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter (or in a bowl) and finish by sprinkling the remain 3 Tablespoons hazelnuts (chop them first).

The dressing can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.



Chocolat Chaud

“Chaud” means cozy and warm in French.  This dessert is that–like thick hot chocolate.

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 cups whole milk

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60%), roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Whisk in the chocolate and the cocoa powder mixture.  Whisk vigorously to combine.  Bring to a boil and gently boil for 30 seconds while continuing to whisk.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.

Pour this through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any small lumps (I did not do this. We were too excited to eat/drink it!)

Serve warm with cold whipped cream, unsweetened.


Some of the other recipes that were made from the book for our party include:

Classic Carbonara:

Chopped Apple Cake:

Butterscotch  Pudding with Roasted Banana Whipped Cream:

Lemon Cake with Fresh Raspberries:

And because you can no longer buy this cake in cake mix form; the made-from-scratch recipe:  Rainbow Chip Cake:






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