Sunday, November 30, 2014

Biscuits & Gravy Breakfast Casserole

We decided to give this one a try for a Thanksgiving morning breakfast, to hold us over until it was time for a mid-afternoon turkey lunch / dinner. The overall review in our house was this one was "ok". My husband and son are huge biscuits and gravy fans, and they both said they would rather have just had biscuits and gravy instead of this casserole, though it was still good and worth trying.

The original recipe suggests using canned biscuits - I made a batch of Bisquick biscuit dough and rolled that out and cut into 1" squares. I also made my own gravy instead of using packaged. I used a slotted spoon to remove almost all of the sausage from the pan after cooking, then blended in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour. When that was completely blended into the grease in the pan, I whisked in 1 3/4 cup of milk (I used almond milk, use whatever kind you want). I whisked regularly and brought the mixture to a boil and simmered for a couple minutes until it started to thicken and otherwise followed the recipe as written. I baked the casserole for about 40 minutes and the dough was cooked through and eggs were set. The gravy left a gooey cheesy mixture in parts along the top which I thought was the best part.

Biscuits and Gravy Breakfast Casserole By Crafty Lady 13 on

12 ounces of buttermilk biscuit dough
6 eggs
1 (2 3/4 ounce) package peppered gravy mix (makes 2 cups)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper


  1. Cut biscuit pieces into 1" sections and distribute along bottom of greased 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over top.
  2. Cook sausage, drain grease and scatter meat over biscuit and cheese.
  3. Blend eggs and 1/2 cup milk together (seasoned with salt and pepper) and pour over the top.
  4. Prepare gravy mix according to package directions and pour over top. 
  5. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 30 - 45 minutes or until casserole is set and hot and bubbly.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Hearty Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

This was a very tasty dinner we had the other night. I had some stew beef to use up but pretty much all of the normal beef stew recipes I make are crock pot so I searched for something quicker and found this one. It was delicious, hearty, comforting, and cozy. Perfect for the cooler weather! I really liked the addition of the dumplings - I've never done the in beef stew before and it worked really well with the rest of the ingredients. My husband and son both liked this one as well - I told my husband I think I like this one the best of all the beef stews I've made and he nodded his agreement... at least I think that's what it was - his mouth was full. :)

Hearty Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings adapted from ambikins on AllRecipes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 1/2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
4 cups water (more as needed)
2 (.85 ounce) packages dry brown gravy mix (you can sub just about any gravy mix here - I used mushroom and chicken)
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced into bite sized chunks
4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced into bite sized chunks
2 4-oz cans mushrooms, drained

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp parsley
3 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk

  1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick soup pot  over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add diced onion and stew beef, season with garlic salt, salt, pepper and paprika. Stir occasionally until meat is browned (about 10 minutes).
  2. Add 4 cups of water (or use beef broth if preferred for additional flavor). Cover with a lid and when the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an hour, stirring occasionally so the meat and onion do not stick. If your water reduces too much, add more as needed.
  3. Combine the gravy packets with 1/2 cup cold water (or more if your stew mixture needs it) and whisk together. Add the gravy mixture along with the potatoes, carrots, and mushrooms. Cover, return to a low simmer, and cook for 20 - 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender and meat is getting tender (simmer longer if the meat needs more time to get to the tenderness you prefer). Stir occasionally to prevent burning, and add additional liquid if needed to keep meat and vegetables covered in liquid. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed at this point.
  4. To make dumplings: mix the flour, baking powder, garlic salt, basil and parsley in a medium bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter until the mixture looks crumbly. Pour in the milk, and lightly stir the mixture just until it combines to form a wet dough. 
  5. Drop the dumplings by heaping tablespoons onto the stew in the pot, cover with a lid, and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Do not peek until the time is up. Dumplings should appear moist, be tender, and cooked through in the middle.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Homemade Chili Powder Recipe

If you're ever in the middle of a recipe and realize you're out of chili powder (as I found myself not so long ago), here is a quick and easy substitute recipe! It's always nice to remember that, for the most part, there are always substitutes and alternatives when you run out of something in the middle of cooking or find that you don't have what you thought you did when you're in the middle of a recipe. And it is reassuring to me that I can quickly and easily turn to the world wide web and find a suggestion in no time flat every time it happens too!

We used this chili powder recipe in a Fajita Recipe recently and the flavor was great! It worked very well in a pinch. :)

Homemade Chili Powder from About Food

1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder

  1. In a small resealable container (small Tupperware works well), combine seasonings. Stir gently, or place lid on Tupperware and shake until evenly combined. Use in place of chili powder in any recipe.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reynolds Sausage Mushroom Pizza

This is a delicious pizza recipe from Reynolds Wrap! We used the pizza dough from this recipe, added some diced peppers and onions to the sausage while cooking and canned mushrooms in place of fresh since that's what we had.

I really liked the way this one turned out - aside from being yummy (I mean, come on, it's pizza!) the texture of the crust was great! The heavy duty foil worked really well to provide even heating, and an easy to clean surface.

For the month of November's All Recipes AllStar Program, I was selected to work with Reynolds. We are working with their fantastic heavy duty and non-stick foil products. Find Reynolds on their Facebook page, twitter, or their website - and make sure to check their current coupons here!

Delicious pizza in progress! Reynolds Wrap makes a great base for a perfectly browned and lightly crisped crust.

Sausage Mushroom Pizza from Reynolds Kitchen on AllRecipes

2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 pounds frozen pizza dough, thawed or Whole Wheat Sesame Dough (below)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 ounces bulk Italian sausage, cooked and drained
1 cup thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
8 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Snipped fresh basil (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Cover two large baking sheets with Reynolds Wrap® Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Sprinkle with cornmeal.
  2. Divide Whole Wheat Sesame Seed Dough or thawed pizza dough into 8 equal portions. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Roll each portion of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 6-inch circle. Transfer to prepared baking sheets. Prick the crusts with a fork. Do not let rise.
  4. Bake about 7 minutes or until light brown. In a small bowl, combine pizza sauce and crushed red pepper. Top each crust with pizza sauce, then with sausage and mushrooms. Sprinkle with Italian blend cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese melts. If desired, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and/or fresh basil.
  5. Grilling: Line grill rack with heavy duty aluminum foil. Preheat grill; reduce heat to medium-hot. Brush tops of dough circles with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place dough circles, oiled sides down, on foil-lined grill rack. Cover and grill about 1 minute or until bottom is browned and firm. Transfer dough circles to a clean surface, grilled side up. Top pizzas as directed above. Return assembled pizzas to the foil-lined grill rack. Cover and grill 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is browned and cheese has melted, rearranging pizzas as necessary to assure even browning.

Whole Wheat Sesame Seed Dough:
  1. Stir 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast into 1 cup warm water (105 degrees F to 115 degrees F) and let stand for 5 minutes or until puffy. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; add yeast mixture and 2 tablespoons olive oil. 
  3. Use a wooden spoon to stir dough together. 
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough additional whole wheat flour (1/4 to 1/2 cup) to make a moderately stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (3 to 4 minutes total).

Everyone loves pizza night - and heavy-duty aluminum foil makes it even better! Foil makes for easy cleanup, easy leftovers, and easy reheating in the oven. There's no need for dishes either because you can use a sheet of foil as your plate too! And when you're done, just wrap your leftovers in foil and store them in the fridge. See? Using foil is as easy as 1, 2, 3!

I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not compensated for my work with

Products received from sponsors are only used for experienced-based reviews on Making Miracles. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of Rebekah.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Menu - What's on Yours?

We love traditional Thanksgiving Dinners. This year it will just be our little family of 4 enjoying a meal in our new home. We have a lot of work to do at both of our houses still, so aren't making the drive to the mountains for the get together this year. Our game plan is to actually take Thanksgiving Day OFF and just be home, cook (and probably get some more boxes unpacked) and then Friday through Sunday it's back to work at the Hiram house, finishing up paint, rehanging curtains and fixtures, more steam cleaning of carpets, and some exterior repairs to the deck and porch, trimming bushes, and maybe power washing the house. It's still a long list, but we're making progress.

For Thanksgiving, I think this is my menu:
Snacks / Appetizers:
Lots of yummy food - probably in small serving sizes so we don't pack our refrigerator TOO full of leftovers! I can't wait to have a whole day just for cooking and baking in the kitchen. We're going to have way too many desserts - but we all like something different, and like more than one flavor. I'd make an apple pie too, but I'm really the only one in our family who likes apple. Kenneth prefers pumpkin and pecan, Kent likes all of them (but really likes the fluffy Chocolate Dream Pie), and I like chocolate and pumpkin but am not a fan of pecan... so there you have it - 3 pies for 4 people. Good math, right?!

Sadly only two of those recipes above are even on my recipe index on the blog so far - definitely need to get that remedied this year. :)

This was Thanksgiving 2013 at Kenneth's parent's house in the mountains. Lindsey was so little!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Oreo Chocolate Cake for my 16 Year Old's Birthday

This is one seriously decadent and rich Oreo Chocolate Cake - and it was a huge hit for Kent's 16th birthday party! This is the first time I've done a completely scratch cake for his birthday - I've done mostly scratch cupcakes and cakes before, but they usually have a box mix involved, and / or a can of frosting. I was pretty happy with how this came out, and think this might just become a tradition - we shall see! The chocolate cake itself was SO yummy, wonderfully moist and flavorful and I KNOW I will use it again. The filling... yumm. It would make a delicious holiday dip with graham cracker dippers!! The fudge filling... that's where the knock you out rich and chocolatey part comes in! SO GOOD but man SO rich!! The texture was awesome, and it was very easy to work with. It's my first homemade chocolate frosting and I didn't have any issues with it, so I am happy to recommend it!

 Pictures above: Adding cream cheese filling layer, then working the powdered sugar into the frosting (goes from lumpy to deliciously silky smooth!) After the fudge frosting cooled, getting ready to frost the whole cake.
Lindsey got her very own Oreo cookie while I was baking the cake layers! I think she approved.

Oreo Chocolate Cake adapted from Ina Garten on Food Network

Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (I used French Vanilla - use something light roast)
appx. 16 Double Stuffed Oreos, roughly crushed

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and whisk to combine. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet. Keeping the mixer on low, add in the coffee and allow to blend just until combined (batter may still look lumpy).
  4. Stir in the crushed Oreo cookies gently, scraping the bottom of the bowl to make sure mixture is evenly combined.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, and bake in the preheated oven for 35 - 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Put the pans on a cooling rack and allow to cool for about 30 minutes, then gently remove the cakes from their pans and place directly on the cooling rack and continue cooling. Proceed with frosting when cakes are completely cool.

Oreo Cream Cheese Filling from Be Confectionate

3/4 stick unsalted butter (softened)
2/3 package cream cheese (softened)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
8 Double Stuffed Oreos, finely crushed

  1. Cream the butter and cheese together in the bowl of a stand mixer, and then scrape down the sides.  Add powdered sugar and mix, just until incorporated.  Stir in vanilla, and then fold in the cookie crumbs. 
  2. Place one of your cakes on a serving plate or stand, spread a thick layer of the cream cheese frosting onto the middle of the cake, reserving some (about 1/4 - 1/3 cup) for decorating the top.  Leave about a 1/2 - 1" space around the edges of the cake. 
  3. Use your chocolate frosting (recipe below) and fill in that space around the edges, making it one flat and smooth layer of frosting all the way across. 
  4. Place your second layer of cake atop the filling and frost the entire cake with the chocolate fudge frosting.
  5. When you are finished frosting, pipe the cream cheese filling around the outside edges, and sprinkle with chopped and / or crushed Oreos to decorate. You can press sprinkles and / or more finely crushed Oreos around the outside edges as well, if desired.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting from Be Confectionate

8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
1 stick of butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup cocoa
3/4 cup whole milk

3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Add the chocolate chips, butter, cocoa and milk to a heatproof bowl, and place over a pot of simmering water.  Stir regularly until melted and smooth, then remove the bowl from atop the pan of water and set aside.  
  2. Sift the powder sugar into the chocolate mixture and stir to combine.  Let this sit on the counter for 15 minutes, and then stir in the vanilla (never stir vanilla into a hot mixture).  
  3. Place to bowl of frosting in the refrigerator until it cools and firms, or in the freezer for 10 - 15 minutes if you are in a hurry.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Nutella Coffee Cake

For November's Secret Recipe Club I was assigned to Lauren from Sew You Think You Can Cook, which is awesome because Lauren had my blog for October! I was also allowed the chance to get to know Lauren a little better throughout #10DaysofTailgate (a blogging tailgating party) recently, where Lauren shared dishes such as Boston Lager Cupcakes, Chile Con Queso, and Maize and Blue Chicken Salad. Lauren lives in Ohio and is an aerospace engineer (want to know more about what that means? I did!) - check out Lauren's About Me page to see adorable pictures of her and her family (spoiler alert: super cute baby arrived just a few months ago!) and a description of what Sew You Think You Can Cook is all about. Lauren describes her blog as "predominately a food blog but will occasionally take on the guise of a crafting blog, a party blog, and a travel blog." Find Lauren on Facebook here. I have to say that I also am completely in love with the super sweet posts Lauren shares as tributes to family members on their special days, like her FIL's birthday, or MIL's birthday - photo collages and yummy food! So sweet!

As I started browsing through Lauren's blog, I earmarked way too many recipes (as usual) including: Nutella Coffee Cake, Garlic Bread Grilled Cheese, Black Bean Soup, Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad, Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas, Brown Sugar Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon, Turkey Sloppy Joes, Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Cookies and Creme Milkshake, Lemon Meringue Pie, S'Mores Brownies... Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert... DONE! :) Seriously too hard to pick this month!

I hope you will take a moment to visit the  Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it is a wonderful group of bloggers who are given a "secret" assignment of another member's blog each month and our goal is to pick ANYTHING from their blog to make and post about on our designated reveal day (and if you are Sally from Bewitching Kitchen or Dorothy from Shockingly Delicious your goal is to have your assignment selected, made, photographed, and blogged about within 15 minutes of receiving your e-mail with your assigned blog - have I mentioned that my SRC group is the best group ever?)! I have been a part of SRC for quite awhile now (see my first post from 2/25/2013 here) and LOVE the opportunity to get to know another blogger a little better each month by spending time perusing their blog, reading through their recipes and posts, and finding something perfect for my family from what they've shared.

I ended up making a bunch of recipes from Lauren's blog this past month, including the Black Bean Soup with Garlic Grilled Cheese dippers, the salmon and sweet potato casserole recipes, the Cookies and Creme Milkshake (more than once!), and the Oriental Chicken Salad (which I almost chose to share with you today)! However, what I finally decided on to feature today is the Nutella Coffee Cake - and the main reason I picked this one of them all is because it is one of the only recipes I got a few decent pictures of! I made a couple of the recipes shortly after we'd moved into our new house (which was on October 24th) and my camera battery died a few days after relocating and we couldn't find my charger anywhere amidst the sea of boxes - so I took crappy cell phone pictures. I still want to share all of those recipes here, but will save them for another day, and maybe when I can make them again and do the recipes justice with semi-decent pictures instead of dark and blurry cell phone pictures... maybe. :)

Also - if you want a chance to enter the giveaway I'm currently hosting, check it out:
Old Factory Candle Trio:

Nutella Coffee Cake slightly adapted from Sew You Think You Can Cook

Ingredients for topping:
3/4 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
5 TBS butter, at room temperature
2 TBS cocoa powder
1/2 cup rolled oats

Ingredients for cake:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup yogurt
6-8 TBS Nutella

  1. Make the topping: whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, cocoa, oats and and salt. Use a pastry cutter and blend the butter in until butter pieces are pea sized.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x8 baking pan.
  3. In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients for the cake: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. In a the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar and blend until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time and then add the vanilla and yogurt.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, mixing only until combined.
  6. Place half of the cake batter into the prepared 8x8 pan. Dot with the Nutella spread (try to spread it out as much as possible, so it is evenly distributed). Pour half of the topping mixture from step one over the Nutella. Pour on the rest of the cake batter and spread until it covers the filling, then top with the remaining topping mixture.
  7. Bake for 1 hour, or until a knife comes out cleanly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happiest of Birthdays to my 16 Year Old Boy!

November 2013 - Kent celebrated his 15th birthday, had his soccer end of season party, and was in a JROTC Veteran's Day ceremony.
December 2013 - we baked cookies and celebrated Christmas with family. Kent even posed for pictures with his dog Diamond!
January 2014 - we had some snow and Kent let Lindsey discover his shiny eye wear.

February 2014 - more snow! Kent had a great time playing in it, and took some fantastic pictures when we had an ice storm.

March 2014 - Kent and his girlfriend April let me take some picture of them at the park and Kent made a batch of homemade potato chips.

April 2014 - Six Flags fun, Easter, and a JROTC event.

May 2014 - snuggles with his baby sister, playing games, and helping a friend after their motorcycle accident (hauling the bike onto a trailer).

June / July 2014 - a visit to Washington State to visit my family, Kent had such a GREAT time!

July 2014 - more pics from our Seattle visit.

August 2014 - playing at a park, playing with his friend Andrew, puppy snuggles, and making his sister giggle.

September 2014 - Official "10th Grade" pictures with Kent and April at their High School.

September 2014 - pictures from visiting Emory when we took Lindsey's 1st birthday pictures, Kent making pancakes, and snuggling his new pug, Roxy!

October 2014 - packing up to move to Lilburn (after living in Hiram for 10 years), an overnight with his friend Andrew, spending time with April, and of course being the very best big brother.

November 2014 - getting settled in at our new house, and letting Lindsey climb all over him, like she loves to do. Love this crazy, goofy kid!
 My young man has grown so much over the past year - it astounds me that yet another year has passed, and here he is now turning 16 years old today! My first born - he tries my patience, makes me laugh, disappoints me, makes me so proud, makes me so mad, makes me so happy, surprises me, makes me think, still gives hugs and says I love you, and is truly one of the best things in my life. I am so grateful for this kid, for all the ups and downs and in betweens. Kent is strong, so smart, independent, affectionate, generous, silly, kind, lazy, and crazy too. Love my kiddo!

Things have changed a lot between high school responsibilities, packing up and moving after 10 years at the same house, adjusting to a new home and new school, and having dogs and a baby underfoot most of the time. Kent, of course, has his days where he's had enough of everyone and wants to be left alone to do his own thing, but for the most part he is SO helpful at home, and has adjusted so well to the new house, neighborhood, and school and I am so proud of him. I can't imagine going through the move without all of his help - packing and hauling, unpacking and more hauling. Such a great helper!

Kent, I can't wait to see what this year brings your way as you continue to grow and develop into the young man you're becoming, and prepare for the day you head out on your own into the great big world. It is such a privilege and honor to watch you grow. I love you Kent!

And just for fun - here are a bunch of "little Kent" pictures... cutie pie!