Monday, April 28, 2014

Overnight French Toast Casserole

French toast casserole is one of my staples when I host a brunch at my house for Easter or another holiday!  This casserole is so basic, and there are a ton of things you can add to "dress it up."  The best thing about this casserole is that there are only 5 ingredients!!!  Oh and you make it the night before so that in the morning the only thing left to do is pop it in the oven!

Your Shopping List:

  • 12 slices of your favorite cinnamon bread (I use Pepperidge Farm)
  • 8 eggs 
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • extra maple syrup, fruit of choice, any additional toppings you want for serving
Now Let's Make the Overnight French Toast Casserole:
  1. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter or cooking spray
  2. Cut the cinnamon bread into one inch cubes (I leave the crust on) and layer in bottom of prepared baking dish
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the 8 eggs with the milk
  4. Whisk in the pure maple syrup and the vanilla extract
  5. Pour egg mixture over the top of the bread, cover, and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 40 minutes until the casserole has puffed up and the center is set
During the last 5-10 minutes of baking, I added sliced bananas and drizzled more of the real maple syrup over the top.  Then, I returned it to the oven and baked until the syrup was warm and the bananas were beginning to turn brown!  You can do this with any fruit that you like! 

Serve with additional syrup, powdered sugar, whipped cream, extra fruit, etc.

I always serve the french toast casserole along side a savory dish, like my Sausage Egg & Cheese Casserole

Friday, April 25, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Neiman Marcus Bars

One of the other desserts I served at Easter Brunch were these amazing Chocolate Coconut Neiman Marcus Bars!  I have blogged about my love of these bars before!  Traditional Neiman Marcus Bars have a yellow cake base with a plain cream cheese topping.  But I like to mix the flavors up by experimenting with different combinations.  And when I was trying to decide what to make for Easter, I knew I wanted coconut!  Then, I decided to use a chocolate base so that would be reminiscent of Coconut Cream Chocolate Easter Eggs...except BETTER! 

Oh and these bars are CAKE MIX RECIPE #35

Your Shopping List:

  • 1 box chocolate cake mix 
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, divided 
  • 1 8oz block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature 
  • 4 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract 
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Now Let's Make the Chocolate Coconut Neiman Marcus Bars:
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, melted butter, and one beaten egg until a dough forms
  3. Press the chocolate dough into the prepared pan and set aside
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the softened cream cheese, two remaining eggs, and coconut extract until fully incorporated 
  5. Beating on the lowest speed, slowly add the powdered sugar until it is completely mixed with the wet ingredients 
  6. Fold in the shredded coconut
  7. Pour cream cheese mixture on top on the chocolate dough
  8. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes until the top has formed a crust, the edges are set and brown - the middle will appear to not be quite set, that's okay!
  9. Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before transferring pan to the fridge to cool and set completely - at least an additional 2 hours (I left it in the fridge overnight and cut the bars in the morning)
  10. Cut bars and serve or store in the fridge until you are ready to serve! 

If you are looking for more Neiman Marcus Bar Ideas:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

#hiloskyeveryday2014 Week 17

Happy Thursday!  If you have been following my blog for some time now, you know that means it's time for a new #hiloskyeveryday2014!  It's week 17 and today is day 114!

Day 108 - we finally moved the 58 inch TV from the man cave in the basement (which no longer gets used) to our bedroom!  I may never leave this bed!  Except I have to since I have two little ones to chase after.  We definitely should have put this baby on the wall when we were newlyweds...aka the time of our life when we had all day and night to lay around and watch TV! 

Day 109 - getting ready to go visit some very special cousins...this was the best we got that afternoon! Of course Mirabelle and Lili needed to be posed for the picture too! 

Day 110 - Happy Easter!  Sweet B participating in the Egg Hunt (she slept through last years).  She carried as many eggs as her little arms possibly could! 

Day 111 - This is Lili, Lacie's favorite stuffed animal (or "friend" as Lacie says).   You can tell that she is a very loved doll!  Well at nap time, Lacie had some fun creating a hole and picking the stuffing out of Lili.  Thank goodness Nana was able to fix her! 

Day 112 - Our bedtime routine is probably my most favorite part of the day!  I love snuggling up with my just-bathed, sweet-smelling girls for a good cuddle and story! 

Day 113 - These two crack me up!  All Day Long! 

Day 114 - Little Miss Nature Girl! She could spend all day picking flowers and grass! 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Recap

Easter was only two days ago, but Lacie is already busy saying "Easter's All Done" and asking what comes next!!!  It's funny how children measure time based around special family holidays!  We had a great and super simple Easter Brunch at our house!  I was busy running around and cooking, so I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked, which is usually the case.  But I did manage to capture some egg hunt fun and Easter Basket opening!

As I was looking at my pictures from the day, I realized that this is Lacie's third and Blakely's second Easter.  I decided to look back at Easter's past...and I was amazed at how much they have grown in such a short amount of time!

Lacie's first, second, and third Easters!  I can remember her first Easter like it was yesterday! She was only seven months old!  John and I already knew that I was pregnant with sweet Blakely Hope...but nobody else knew that little secret for a few more weeks!  What I remember most about Lacie's second Easter is how much she loved the egg hunt!  That was also true this year! 

Blakely's first and second Easter!  I actually cannot believe how much bigger Blakely is only a year later!  During Blakely's first Easter, she slept through the egg hunt!  Now, she is trying as hard as she can to keep up with her big every aspect from talking to climbing on the jungle gym at the playground!  On Easter Sunday, Blakely tried to carry as many eggs as her little arms could! 

*The days are long but the years are short*  
I have heard this saying so many times, and you never realize how true it is until you have children! 

And just for fun...our pictures with the Easter Bunny!  Lacie loved the Easter Bunny as a baby!  But she wasn't quite as thrilled the following year.  Where is 2014's bunny picture you might ask....well neither child would go anywhere near him!  I think it's safe to say that we are over the bunny pictures until we are a bit older! 

For Easter brunch I served my Sausage Egg & Cheese Casserole, which is always a hit!  You can find the recipe here! 

There were a few other treats at Easter Brunch, and those recipes will be posted later this week!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I hope that everyone had a fantastic Easter weekend!  John was off all last week, so we had 9 beautiful days of family time!  It was just perfect!

For the past three years, I have hosted an Easter brunch for my family and my in-laws!  This year, I made these Orange Creamsicle Cookies, and they were fantastic!  If you like eating traditional Orange Creamsicle IcePops during the warmer months, then these cookies are perfect for you!  And they could not be easier!  In fact, they are CAKE MIX RECIPE #34!!!

Your Shopping List:
  • 1 box orangesicle cake mix
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips 
  • additional white chocolate for dipping the cookies 

Now Let's Make the Orange Creamsicle Cookies:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, eggs, and vanilla
  3. Slowly add cake mix until a soft dough forms
  4. Fold in the cup of white chocolate chips
  5. Drop by the rounded tablespoon (I use a cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets
  6. Bake in your preheated oven for 9-11 minutes
  7. Cool for 2 minutes on sheets then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely 
  8. Once cookies are cool, melt your additional white chocolate (I used 2 cups of white chips - but you could use bars of white chocolate for this part) in the microwave for 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted and smooth
  9. Dip half the cookie in the melted white chocolate and place onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper to dry 
  10. Repeat with all the remaining cookies 

  11. Allow white chocolate to harden before storing 
These cookies are so good for spring, and they are perfect for summer too!  If you don't want to dip them in white chocolate, you could leave them plain and they would still taste delicious!  They would look like this:

And if you wanted to go a little crazy and cover the whole cookie in white chocolate, that would also taste great!  But I liked the look of the half orange and half white cookie best!  

Happy Baking!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

#hiloskyeveryday2014 Week 16

Day 101 - perfect picnic weather!  Both of these girls LOVE to eat which is why they could not be bothered to look up and say "cheese."  

Day 102 - Taking time to stop and smell the flowers at Grandmom and Grandpop's house!  

Day 103 - First ice cream outing of the season!  

Day 104 - First beach trip of 2014...a little too windy for these cuties! 

Day 105 - Daddy took the whole week off!!!  Something he hasn't done since I had Blakely!  We have been enjoying a lot of special breakfasts!  Click here to find my Belgian Waffle Recipe!  

Day 106 - who needs a cart when you have sweet little helpers!  In case you didn't already know, the hubby and I like are a lot! 

Day 107 - a much needed day date with John!  I was ridiculously excited that I was able to get a pink cake pop at Starbucks...and it even came in a pink bag!  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lime in The Coconut Cookies

So yesterday I hopped in my car to head off to Wegmans for my typical crazy food shopping excursion that I do every other week and I heard a song that inspired today's cookie:

Coconut by Harry Nilsson 

You know that song!  The one about putting the LIME in the COCONUT that will end up stuck in your head all day long!  I LOVE this song...for me it screams summer!  And so does this recipe!  Yes, I know it's only spring...but my mind is already on summertime! 

Oh yeah, and it's cake mix recipe #33!!!

The Shopping List:

  • 1 box key lime cake mix
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes 
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 2 tsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut*

The Lime in the Coconut Cookie Instructions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, eggs, and vanilla
  3. Add the cake mix and beat until a soft dough forms
  4. Stir in the 1 cup coconut and 1 cup chocolate chips on low speed until evenly distributed 
  5. Drop by 1 inch balls onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely 
  7. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar with the lime juice and enough water (about an extra 2 tsp) to make a thick glaze
  8. Stir in the lime zest 
  9. Take cooled cookie and turn upside-down and dip top of cookie into the glaze
  10. Turn cookie back over (allowing glaze to drip down the sides) and put back onto cooling rack, top with toasted coconut*
  11. Allow glaze to harden before storing cookies in an airtight container
The inside of these cookies are just beautiful!  

*I made my toasted coconut by spreading 1/2 cup of the same sweetened coconut flakes that I used in the cookies into a single layer on a baking sheet and popping it into a 325 degree oven for about 7 minutes.  Watch it closely because it will go from brown and toasty to burnt in a matter of seconds.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

#hiloskyeveryday2014 Week 15

 Day 94 - Happy Friday!  Some early morning face time with Daddy!!!

Day 95 - Lacie enjoying one of Mommy's Lemon Neiman Marcus Bars while wearing Daddy's fancy Neiman Marcus Bib!  That bib is 31 years old! 

Day 96 - Every Sunday we get a special morning visit from Grandmom and Grandpop!  Grandpop got the lucky task of reading to the girls before nap time! I think he was about 10 books in here! 

Day 97 - Sisters just cooking together in their kitchen! 

Day 98 - Pop-Pop multitasking...trying to read Sesame Street for Blakely and the Princess Book for Lacie all at once!  

Day 99 - Lacie decided that today would be the perfect day for a Princess Sophia shirt and a Little Mermaid Crown! 

Day 100 - Today is National Sibling Day!  I pray that my two girls will always be best friends! 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Baked Spaghetti

Spaghetti and meat sauce seems to be a staple in so many houses.  Growing up, this was a meal that was often on the table with a side of salad and bread.  Of course, I was the picky eater of the family so I just ate my spaghetti (or any pasta for that matter) plain with butter!  Now that my taste buds have expanded - and I am determined to expose my kids to food prepared lots of different ways - I decided to take the old dinner stand-by and turn it into a casserole!   

Here's What You Need to Make the Baked Spaghetti:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 oz) San Marzano Tomatoes 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of dried oregano 
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound (16 oz) whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup cooking water from the pasta
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese 
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 

Now Let's Make the Baked Spaghetti:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook - stirring occasionally - until it is brown and crumbly 
  2. Add garlic and stir until just fragrant (about 1 minute)
  3. Add the can of San Marzano Tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes.  Bring sauce to a simmer and allow to cook for at least 10-20 minutes (longer if you can).  Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon or a potato masher - I like my sauce to have texture like in the picture*
  4. While your sauce simmers, cook the whole wheat spaghetti in a large pot of boiling water for about 5-7 minutes (do not cook all the way).  Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid before draining pasta.
  5. Add 1/2 cup cooking liquid to sauce mixture.  Taste sauce and add extra seasonings.
  6. Toss spaghetti with sauce and then transfer to an oiled 9x13 baking dish.  
  7. Top with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses 
  8. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the casserole edges are nice and browned

*If you do not like chunks of tomato you can put the entire contents of the can of San Marzano Tomatoes into a blender to puree until smooth before cooking it.  You can also substitute a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce in place.  


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