Try something new with raspberries

Published the week of July 11,2016raspberries

While raspberries are available all year long, the really fresh ones are those in season locally. While eating them straight out of a berry basket is a treat all on its own, they also work as an ingredient in something new and tasty.

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Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix raspberries and sugar together in a bowl; set aside until mixture is juicy, about 10 minutes. Mash berries using a fork until liquefied. Pour berry mixture into a jar with a lid; add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt. Cover jar with lid and shake until dressing is mixed well. Store in refrigerator. Makes 16 servings.

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Raspberry Salsa

2 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno chile peppers
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a medium bowl, mix together raspberries, sweet onion, jalapeno chile peppers, garlic, cilantro, granulated sugar, and lime juice. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 20 servings.

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Raspberry Almond Coffeecake

1 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Combine raspberries and brown sugar in a bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine sour cream, butter or margarine, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and egg; add to flour mixture. Stir just until moist. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spread raspberry mixture evenly over the batter. Spoon remaining batter over raspberry mixture. Top with almonds. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Combine confectioners’ sugar, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. Stir well. Drizzle glaze over cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Pantry Pointers

Raspberries do not continue to ripen once picked, so when selecting berries, choose ones that already ripe.

Enjoy the taste of French onion

Published the week of July 4, 2016

Few things are as decadent as slow-cooked French onion soup served with large croutons and melted cheese. While the soup itself can take a long time to prepare, the flavor of it is much easier to get—and it works in a variety of dishes.

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French Onion Bake

1 loaf French bread or baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 3/4-ounce envelope onion soup mix, prepared according to package directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange bread slices on baking sheets and bake until dry and golden, about 5 minutes per side. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange half the bread slices in a single layer over bottom of baking dish. Sprinkle with 1 cup cheese and top with remaining bread slices. Pour prepared onion soup over bread and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Bake until bread has absorbed most of the soup and cheese is golden, about 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

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French Onion Brussels Sprouts

1 pound fresh Brussels sprout
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 tablespoons French onion soup mix ( 1 packet)
2 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the root end off the sprouts; peel off the first layer of leaves and cut each one on half. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan until the butter just starts to brown. Add the sprouts while being careful not to get splattered with hot oil. Stir or toss frequently until the sprouts are nicely browned. Add the water and soup mix and simmer uncovered for about 7 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

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French Onion Burgers

1 2-7/8 ounce cans French-fried onions
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground beef
1 4ounce cans mushrooms, drained and diced
4 hamburger buns

In a bowl, combine the onions, Worcestershire sauce, salt and mushrooms if using. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into 4 patties. Grill, uncovered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat for 6 to 9 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Serve on buns with any condiments and toppings of your choice. Makes 4 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Sometimes the easiest way to enjoy the taste of French onion is in dip. Try serving with veggies, crackers, corn chips, or pretzels.

Bring red, white, and blue to dessert

Published the week of June 27, 2016

Fourth of July celebrations rarely occur without food. While grilling and picnics might not have much room for festive colors, dessert definitely does. Just combine some naturally red, white, and blue foods in to something sweet and special.

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Red, White, and Blue Cookies

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups butter-flavored shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips
1 12-ounce package dried blueberries
2 6-ounce packages dried cranberries

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, beat the shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in one egg until completely incorporated. Beat in the other egg. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate chips, blueberries, and cranberries, mixing just enough to evenly combine. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Flatten each ball to about 1/2-inch thick. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 72 cookies.

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Red, White, and Blue Trifle

3 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 quart heavy cream
1 3.3-ounce package instant white chocolate pudding mix, unprepared
1 6-ounce container lemon yogurt
2 16-ounce prepared pound cakes, cubed
2 pints fresh blueberries, or as needed

Chill a large metal mixing bowl and beaters from an electric mixer. In a bowl, sprinkle the strawberries with sugar; stir to distribute the sugar, and set aside. Pour the cream into the chilled mixing bowl and add the white chocolate pudding mix, and lemon yogurt; beat until fluffy with an electric mixer set on medium speed.

Spread a layer of pound cake cubes into the bottom of a glass 10×15-inch baking dish. Cover the pound cake with a layer of strawberries; sprinkle blueberries over the strawberries. Spread a thick layer of whipped cream over the berries. Repeat the layers several times, ending with a layer of strawberries sprinkled with blueberries and reserving about 1 cup of whipped cream; top the trifle with dollops of whipped cream to serve. Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 15 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Plan ahead and make red and blue ice cubes using food coloring and your drinks will be festive too.

Welcome summer slowly

Published the week of June 20, 2016

When it comes to cooking in the summer, the heat is on! Ovens and skillets add heat in the kitchen to days that are already warm. And while grills are great for keeping the heat at bay, sometimes a change is necessary from grilled foods. When it’s hot, use your slow cooker. It won’t heat up the kitchen, and since you assemble it in the morning, you’ll end up with more free time in the evening.

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This beef works well served on toasted rolls. If you want to add cheese, opt for provolone.

Slow Cooker Italian Beef for Sandwiches

3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf
1 0.7-ounce package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1 5-pound chuck roast

Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork. Makes 10 servings.

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If you really want the browned skin of an oven-baked chicken, you can brown the chicken in a skillet with oil before putting it in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Baked Chicken

1 2- to 3-pound whole chicken
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika

Wad three pieces of aluminum foil into 3 to 4 inch balls, and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker. Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with the salt, pepper and paprika, and place in the slow cooker on top of the crumpled aluminum foil. Set the slow cooker on High for 1 hour, then turn down to Low for about 8 to 10 hours, or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear. Makes 6 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

While it’s tempting to keep opening the lid of the slow cooker to check on your meal, you shouldn’t do it. Opening the slow cooker lets heat out and delays the cooking process. Only open it near the end of cooking to check if the meal is done.

Start with strips of beef

Published the week of March 28, 2016

The convenience of pre-sliced beef might entice you at the grocery store, but with a sharp knife it is easy — and cheaper — to buy whole pieces of meat and slice them at home. Just remember to slice against the grain so that your meat is as tender as possible.

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If there is any fat and gristle on the roast, remove it before slicing.

Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds beef chuck roast, sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 green onions, sliced, white parts only
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 10.5-ounce can condensed beef broth
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1 6-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup white wine
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Season beef slices with 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and brown the beef strips quickly, then push the beef strips off to one side. Add the onions and cook slowly for 3 to 5 minutes, then push to the side with the beef strips. Stir the flour into the juices on the empty side of the pan. Slowly pour in beef broth and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and stir in mustard. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the meat is tender. Five minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms, sour cream, and white wine. Heat briefly then salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 servings.

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If you want extra sauce to coat your rice, double the sauce ingredients.

Slow-Cooker Pepper Steak

2 pounds beef sirloin, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 large green peppers, cut into strips
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
Hot cooked rice, optional

Place sliced beef in the slow cooker. Add the garlic, onion, soy sauce, pepper and sugar. Cover; cook on low until meat is fork tender, about 6 to 8 hours. One hour before the end of the cooking time, add green peppers and 1/4 cup water.

To serve, remove meat and vegetables to serving bowl. Transfer liquid to a saucepan; bring to a boil. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and cold water. Add to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour over meat and vegetables. Serve with hot cooked rice if desired. Makes 6 servings.

Wing it at the Super Bowl

Published the week of January 29, 2015

Americans will eat over one billion chicken wings during the Super Bowl, and for good reasons. Wings are tasty, versatile, and easy to nibble on while watching the big game. And when you choose a baked recipe over fried, they are easier to prepare as well.

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Teriyaki Chicken Wings

1 cup water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 pounds chicken wings

In a large glass or ceramic bowl, whisk together the water, soy sauce, sugar, pineapple juice, vegetable oil, garlic, and ginger until the sugar has dissolved. Add the chicken wings, coat with the marinade, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and shake off excess and place the chicken wings into the prepared baking sheet. Discard the remaining marinade. Bake wings until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 1 hour. Makes 12 servings.

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Buffalo Chicken Wings

12 chicken wings
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon white vinegar
3 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 9×13-inch baking dish in preheated oven. Coat chicken with flour, shake off excess, and place in dish. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn pieces and bake, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

In a small bowl combine the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, vinegar, pepper sauce, and salt; mix until well blended. Add chicken and toss until evenly coated with mixture. Makes 6 servings.

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Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

1 large white onion, chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons mustard powder
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
5 pounds chicken wings
In a saucepan over medium heat, stir onion, honey, brown sugar, soy sauce, butter, mustard powder, and garlic; cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Spread chicken wings in an even layer into a shallow baking dish; pour sauce over the wings. Marinate wings in refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken wings, turning occasionally, until no longer pink and juices run clear, about 90 minutes. Makes 18 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Ranch dressing and barbecue sauce are the most popular dips for chicken wings, followed by bleu cheese dressing.

Meatless Mondays help meet many resolutions

Published the week of December 28, 2015

Every year, the temptation to make New Year’s resolutions is hard to resist. Saving money and eating healthier are two popular ones. Accomplishing either can be helped by joining the Meatless Monday bandwagon, where you eat vegetarian one day a week. Eating vegetarian meals can be cheaper and usually healthier, with potential benefits to your heart, your cancer risk, and your overall weight. And as an added bonus, skipping the meat might make meal preparation quicker.

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Broccoli Quiche

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups chopped fresh broccoli
1 9-inch unbaked pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 eggs, well beaten
1-1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onions, garlic, and broccoli. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft. Spoon vegetables into crust and sprinkle with cheese. In a large bowl, combine eggs and milk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Pour egg mixture over vegetables and cheese. Bake until center has set, about 30 to 50 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

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Cucumber Sandwich

2 thick slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
6 slices cucumber
2 tablespoons alfalfa sprouts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tomato, sliced
1 leaf lettuce
1 ounce pepperoncini, sliced
1/2 avocado, mashed
Spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon cream cheese. On one slice of bread, arrange cucumber slices in a single layer. Cover with sprouts, then sprinkle with oil and vinegar. Layer tomato slices, lettuce, and pepperoncini. Spread other slice of bread with mashed avocado. Close sandwich and serve immediately. Makes 1 serving.

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Tomato and Spinach Spirals

1 8-ounce package spiral pasta, uncooked
1 10-ounce package frozen creamed spinach
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, prepare spinach according to package directions. Drain pasta; return to pot. Mix in spinach, tomatoes, and 4 tablespoons of cheese; heat through. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Makes 4 servings

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Pantry Pointers

If you are going meatless for the entire day, be sure to have vegetarian snacks handy. Easy choices include tortilla chips and salsa, veggies dipping in salad dressing or hummus, crackers and peanut butter, nuts, and maybe even a little bit of chocolate.

Make snappy apps with dill pickles

Published the week of December 21, 2015

Pickles appeal to nearly everyone in nearly every age group. When served in a simple bowl, pickles have a place on any holiday tables. But the tantalizing taste can offer much more when dill pickles become ingredients in some tasty — and different — appetizer recipes. So whether you are celebrating Christmas or ringing in the New Year, try adding pickles to your appetizer menu.

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This recipe also works well with salami.

Pickle Rolls

1 32-ounce jar dill pickles
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 pound sliced deli ham
10 6-inch flour tortillas

Spread cream cheese on one side of a tortilla. Place a slice or two of ham over this. Spread another layer of cream cheese over the ham. Roll a pickle up in the tortilla and slice the roll into finger food-sized pieces. Refrigerate the rolls if you aren’t serving them immediately. Makes 20 servings.

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In addition to serving with tortilla chips, this salsa is also good on hot dogs and hamburgers including appetizer-sized sliders.

Dill Pickle Salsa

1 large tomato
1/2 cup diced dill pickles
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup onion, chopped fine
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dice the tomato and discard part of the seeds. Place in a medium bowl; add pickles, cilantro, onion, pickle juice, and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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Although you need to chill this dip before serving to allow the flavors to blend, you may find that chips scoop it up easier if you allow the dip to come to room temperature before serving.

Dill Pickle Dip

8 ounces cream cheese, regular or reduced fat, softened
2 dill pickles, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pickle juice, or more to taste
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon dried dill weed

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, pickles, onions, pickle juice, salt, and dill weed. Add additional pickle juice if desired. Chill for one hour to allow all flavors to blend. Serve with potato chips. Makes 8 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

Pickles are a great part of any antipasto platter. Just slice dill pickles and arrange them on the platter with marinated mushrooms, marinated artichoke hearts, black or Kalamata olives, and thin slices of salami, ham, and provolone cheese. Drizzle with your favorite Italian salad dressing, and serve with breadsticks or slices of Italian bread.

Don’t discard overripe bananas

Published the week of April 23, 2015

When it comes to bananas, most people have a preference on what stage of ripening is best for eating. Most, however, will agree that overripe is too late. While it may be too late for eating them, cooking with bananas at the overripe stage imparts the best banana flavor.

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You may find the pancakes to be a little darker than regular pancakes when cooked.

Banana Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 ripe bananas, mashed
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, vegetable oil, and bananas. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture; batter will be slightly lumpy. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook until pancakes are golden brown on both sides; serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

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This recipe also is good with chocolate chips instead of walnuts.

Moist Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
2 medium bananas, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Fold in the sour cream, walnuts and bananas. Spread evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool loaf in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 15 servings.

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Pantry Pointers

To easily mash overripe bananas, peel them and place them in a plastic zipper-top bag. Squeeze the bag several times to mash the bananas. Cut off a corner of the bag and then use that hole to pour the bananas into the bowl.

If you have overripe bananas but don’t have the time to cook with them, place them in the freezer with the peel on. The day you plan to use them, take them out of the freezer and allow them to partially thaw. When it is time to add them to the other ingredients, cut off the top of the banana and squeeze the fruit directly into the bowl.

Try new traditions in the new year

  • Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole
  • Country Breakfast Casserole
  • Weekends are a nice time to gather the family for a special breakfast or brunch. Breakfast casseroles are an opportunity to get preparations out of the way, and then enjoy some time together while the casserole bakes. Finish the meal off by pairing the breakfast casserole with fresh fruit and toast.

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    Sausage and Mushroom Breakfast Casserole

    1 16-ounce package ground pork breakfast sausage
    12 eggs
    1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
    1-1/4 cups milk
    1 4.5-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
    1 32-ounce package frozen potato rounds
    1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

    Place sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain, and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish; set aside.

    In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, condensed cream of mushroom soup, and milk. Stir in the sausage and mushrooms, and pour into the prepared baking dish. Mix in the frozen potato rounds.

    Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake until cheese is melted, about 10 additional minutes. Makes 12 servings.

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    If you want a topping but don’t want to use bread, fry some hash browns and spread them over the casserole about halfway through the cooking time.

    Country Breakfast Casserole

    1 16-ounce package breakfast sausage
    1 chopped green onion
    2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
    6 eggs, lightly beaten
    1 cup water
    1/2 cup milk
    1 2.64-ounce package country gravy mix
    6 slices bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
    2 tablespoons melted butter, optional
    Paprika to taste, optional

    Place sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, and cook until evenly brown. Drain, and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11×8-inch baking dish; set aside.

    Combine sausage with green onion and spread evenly across the bottom of the baking dish. Top with shredded cheese. Whisk together eggs, water, milk, and gravy mix; add mixture to baking dish. Arrange bread squares evenly on top. If desired, drizzle melted butter over bread and sprinkle with paprika.

    Bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

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    Pantry Pointers

    Breakfast casseroles made with eggs generally are better prepared in a glass baking dish. Metal dishes can sometimes react with the eggs.

    The easiest way to lightly grease a baking dish is with nonstick spray. The next easiest way is to use a pastry brush to spread melted butter on the dish.