Easy, Cheesy Breakfast Casserole

Serving breakfast to a crowd this holiday season? Looking for something quick, easy and delicious?  Well, look no further!  This simple-to-make breakfast casserole will have your guests coming back for more!

The best part about it is that it includes the two most important food groups; meat and cheese. Here is what you need:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 lb of pork sausage (ham or bacon also works)
  • 1 bag of thawed tator tots
  • 2 cups of cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Gather your ingredients and let’s have a little chat about cheese. Cheese is probably the greatest dairy product there is and I include cheese in just about every meal I cook! I can’t get enough of the stuff.

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Maybe this is because I am a dairy farmer from Wisconsin?

I dunno.

Cheese is a great, healthy snack when consumed in moderation. A one-ounce slice of cheese provides the same amount of protein as an 8-ounce glass of milk.

The problem is, I haven’t figured out this whole “moderation” thing yet.  In fact, the motto in our kitchen is “When in doubt, add more cheese”.

Which is probably why my pants are a bit tight.  But, hey, life is short.

Did you know that Wisconsin leads the nation in number of cheese plants and that there are over 600 varieties of cheese made in Wisconsin? For real, over 600 varieties of cheese…mind blown.

Ninety percent of Wisconsin’s milk is made into cheese. In fact, the milk from our farm is made into cheese.

We milk our herd of 550 cows three times per day and fill one of these tankers with milk every day. That comes out to about 95 lbs of milk per cow per day.  The milk is harvested from the cow, cooled and directly loaded into the tanker.

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Each morning, the milk hauler brings an empty tanker to our farm and picks up the full one( Every day; even on Christmas!). The tanker full of milk is brought to the creamery where it is weighed and tested.  A variety of tests –including antibiotic testing– are done to our load of milk to ensure safety and quality.

After passing the safety and quality tests, it is pasteurized and then made into cheese!

It takes 10 lbs of milk to make 1lb of cheese. By providing our cows with comfort, care and quality nutrition they are easily able to exceed the pounds of milk needed to make you a pound of cheese!

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Alright, enough cheese talk; let’s get crackin’. Get it, because one of the first steps is to crack the eggs?

I’m hilarious.

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cook the sausage thoroughly and set it aside.
  • In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 1 cup of cheese. Add salt and pepper.
  • Arrange tots on the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Next, add the sausage. Finally pour the egg mixture on top.
  • Sprinkle on the remaining cup of cheese. Feel free to add more cheese. Remember our motto, “When in doubt, add more cheese”.
  • Cover and bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

This is a simple dish that can be made ahead of time. If you really want to cheat and save time, replace the sausage with precooked and cubed ham! #timesaver

Enjoy!

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10 Ways to Celebrate Dairy Month

“It is the most wonderful time of the year!”. June is Dairy month, do you know what that means? Time to celebrate cows, farmers, cheese and ALL things dairy related!  There are so many great ways to celebrate this month; here are a few! Most of these activities are kid-friendly; if you are looking for an adult version, just add booze.

  1. Host a game night featuring Dairy TriviaHere and here are some trivia questions.
  2. Visit a local dairy farm. If you live in a rural area or know a dairy farmer, pay them a visit!  I am sure they would love to show you around their farm and introduce you to a few cows. Be careful, they might put you to work! 😉

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3. Make fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. Here is a list of fun recipes.
4. Throw a Wine & Cheese PartyFollow the link for some great tips.
5. Attend a Dairy Breakfast on the Farm. Depending on where you are, you might have the opportunity to attend a dairy breakfast!  They are so much fun and great way to meet dairy farmers and their cows. Here is a list of Wisconsin dairy events going on this summer and here is a list of dairy events happening in the Midwest!

Photo by Cadillac News

Photo by Cadillac News

  1. Go out for ice cream or have an ice cream sundae bar at home.
  2. Try this yogurt smoothie recipe for breakfast or a snack.

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8. Go for a run or walk and then refuel with some chocolate milk.
9. Build your own pizza for dinner; Don’t forget the cheese!
10.Have a milk mustache contest and take silly pictures.

milkmoustacheThis oughta keep you busy, but if you are looking for even more activities, visit these pages:
National Agriculture in the Classroom
Dairy Doing More
Fuel Up to Play60

HAPPY JUNE DAIRY MONTH!

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

Man, do I love me some Chinese food!  When I was in college, I lived right next to the best Chinese buffet-style restaurant.  Oh, the wonderful smells I would smell as I walked to and from campus.  As you can imagine, it was extremely difficult for my room-mate and I not to eat Chinese take-out at least once per week and it probably contributed to my weight gain.  But whatever, at least we were walking to class (That’s what we told ourselves, anyway).

Now that I live out in the boonies and I am miles away from a Chinese restaurant of any kind, I have to make my own Chinese cuisine.  Which is probably for the better because I can monitor my salt and fat intake and tend to eat less.  I like to throw around the phrase “tend to eat less” pretty loosely and still eat more than I should….

Anywho, here is a super easy and delicious recipe for Beef and Broccoli that will be perfect for dinner this week!  After all, May is Beef Month; support your local beef farmers! 🙂

Ingredients:

1-2lbs beef roast, cut into little chunks with fat trimmed

2 cups beef broth

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp. sesame oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp. flour

2 cups of frozen broccoli florets (or as many as desired)

1 cup sliced carrots (optional)

1 package of fresh mushrooms (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In the insert of your crockpot, whisk together broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic.
  2. Add the beef slices and carrots.
  3. Turn crockpot on low and cook for 5 hours or until meat is tender.

CAUTION: Don’t over-cook the beef or it will fall apart. Crockpot temperatures may vary, so you may want to keep an eye on the beef if it is your first time with the recipe. 

  1. Add flour and stir to create a thicker sauce.
  2. When you reach the desired sauce thickness, toss in the broccoli and mushrooms. Cook for another 30 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice and enjoy!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Ahhhhh, what a perfect Saturday.  The sun peaked out and the temperature finally got up to 22 degrees.  It doesn’t sound like much, but after days of below zero weather, twenty-two felt like a heat wave.  It made morning chores much more enjoyable and the day oh so much better.  The pup and I went on a NEATure walk in the woods behind our house and then went home and made chicken and wild rice soup.  It was DE-lightful. 🙂  I thought I would share the recipe with you; it is fairly simple.  I took a bajillion pictures of my dog playing in the snow, but I did not take on single picture of the soup!  My apologies.

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Ingredients:

2 quarts of chicken broth

1 cup of whipping cream

1 cup of water

4 cups of shredded chicken

(I tore apart a rotisserie chicken.  It worked great, however I did find a few bones in my soup.  Ooops.)

1 cup of wild rice (uncooked)

1 package of fresh mushrooms

3 stalks of celery

2 carrots

2 tbsp of butter

2 tbsp of flour

Season as you go with garlic, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper.  Or whatever else floats your boat.

Steps:

  1. Start by dicing up the carrots, celery and mushrooms.
  2. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the veggies and sauté until almost tender.
  3. Add chicken broth and simmer for about 20 minutes. Don’t forget to season!
  4. Next, add the cup of water and bring to a boil. Throw in the rice and chicken and reduce heat to simmer on high for another 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  5. Lastly, add the cream. Thicken the soup with flour.

BOOM.  You made chicken and wild rice soup!  I am a figure-it-out-as-you-go kind of cook, but this is good general recipe. I sure am glad we have some leftovers; the weatherman is saying 30 below zero with the wind-chill for tonight!  Yikes.

Watermelon Salsa

This stuff is as good as it looks and is the perfect summer snack.  I found a similar recipe from the Pioneer Woman, but changed it to my liking.  My husband can’t quite take the heat like the Pioneer Woman’s family, so I tamed the recipe.  Eat it with chips, serve as a side dish or top your chicken with it!  I served it with tortilla chips and paired it with BBQ Chicken & Pineapple Quesadillas and Blackberry Margaritas; DELISH! This recipe makes a lot, so if you don’t have a lot of friends, cut it in half.  But, I am sure you can find plenty of people to share it with.  🙂 Heck!  This watermelon salsa will probably make you some new friends!

Here is what you need:

  • Half of a small, seedless watermelon
  •  1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • Half of a red onion
  • A handful of cilantro
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

All you have to do is dice it all up, dump it in a serving dish,  squeeze in the juice, mix and ENJOY!

Mini Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecakes

I have a bit of a cheesecake making obsession.  I think it is because they are quite simple to make, yet seem so fancy. But, here is the weird part…. I don’t like to eat them.  I know it, I am a freak.  I just don’t care for sweets.  My husband, mom and youngest sister are the opposite and think I am crazy when I grab veggies and dip instead of dessert.  I can easily turn away from the sweets, but I have no control when it comes to french fries.  Mmmmmm, grease and salt.

Any who, back to the cheesecake.  My family loves this decadent dessert and I feel like Miss Fancy Pants when I make it.  I made these mini cheesecakes a few weeks ago in honor of Mother’s Day and my mom’s love for peanut butter, chocolate and dairy products.  The recipe is an adaptation of various recipes that caught my eye and the best part is that it doesn’t require a springform pan!

Here is what you need:

Crust:

  • 16-18 Oreos (crushed)
  • 1 Tbs. of butter

Filling:

  • Two 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese (softened)
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/3 cup of peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of hot fudge topping

Topping:

  • Drizzle with hot fudge topping
  • Garnish with Reese’s peanut butter chips or pieces

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Mix melted butter and crushed Oreos.  Tip: Use a blender to crush Oreos quickly and with ease.

Press 1 tablespoon crushed Oreos into the bottom of 12 lined muffin cups.

Warm up peanut butter in the microwave for about 20 seconds and drizzle into each muffin cup.

Place in the refrigerator until ready to fill.

Beat together softened cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

Slowly, mix in vanilla and eggs.  I love when I get to use my Kitchen Aid mixer. 🙂

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Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the  filling into each muffin cup.

Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes until puffed and set.

Allow cheesecakes to cool before drizzling with hot fudge. The muffin liners can be removed prior to adding chocolate, if desired.

Garnish with peanut butter chips.

Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or until ready to serve.

My ma loved the cheesecakes SO much that she told me I am her favorite daughter!  Enjoy!

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