# easter brunch: carrot coconut scones

So, yeah, back to Easter. *sigh* Seems like so long ago now, but I owe you guys some pretty killer scones. Don’t think I forgot.

Just to refresh your memory…this year’s Easter saw some decadent waffles, an easy egg casserole, iced coffee, OJ, and lots of peanut butter eggs.


It would be hard to beat that line-up, but these scones totally, unabashedly stole the entire freakin’ show.


I can’t imagine how.

Let’s talk about my scone game. It’s certainly improved since last Easter’s flat scanpakes (scone + pancake), but ever since our success with Pumpkin Scones last fall, I feel renewed and encouraged. Maybe I finally got this? And, by the looks of it, you guys do too!

Broken Record Time: It begins and ends with really, really, really cold ingredients. My butter, already cold, gets diced and then thrown in the freezer while I prep other ingredients. If I’m not using something right away, I store in the fridge or freezer…even the dry ingredients. Keep everything as cold as possible. Overkill? Maybe. But it works.


When you gently mix everything together, you want bits o’ butter throughout everything so that when the heat hits them it releases steam to make the flakiest dough. See those bits?


This recipe was interesting in that instead of using grated carrots (like a carrot cake), it calls for a carrot puree, but yet it still looks like grated carrot to me when combined. Gives me the mind boggles.

Thanks to coconut and oats, these were like the chewiest scones ever. The recipe itself, from my boyfriends at Baked, call them “morning cookies.” I’m fine with that.


Butter and coconut and carrots, oh my!


They bake up in 20 minutes — which is a little longer than my pumpkin scones, but I loved their crisp brown bottom, chewy and soft middle, and golden tops. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Then dunk them in a citrus glaze? It’s a Spring-loaded sensation. …get it? Remember: glazing scones locks in moisture. It doesn’t just add more sugar.



I’m really wishing I had these on my counter again. A Starbucks run might just be in my immediate future. Wouldn’t want any scone-withdrawal and the symptoms are already setting in.


These weren’t overly sweet, overly coconutty, or overly carroty….just overly delicious. It was such a smart balance.


In case you needed any additional proof…



See all that chewiness in there?


These made me so very happy and I know you’ll be just as smitten. They’d be perfect for a Mother’s Day breakfast-in-bed treat…or for, you know, a Tuesday afternoon before-noon craving. Trust me.

DSC_0632 - header

Carrot Coconut Scones

source: Baked Explorations

Carrot Puree:

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped into thirds
1/2 c. orange juice

Place the carrots and juice in a medium glass microwaveable bowl. Cover or wrap tightly in plastic wrap. (I just covered with a paper towel. I don’t trust heated plastic wrap.)

Microwave on high for five minutes. If the carrots are fork-tender, it is ready. If not, continue cooking in 30-second bursts until they are.

Blend mixture until smooth and lump free. Store in fridge. Use leftover to add to oatmeal or smoothies.


2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c. (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. carrot puree, chilled
1 egg white, beaten


1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1 c. confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and position rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, salt and coconut. Add the butter, and, using a pastry cutter, mix until butter is pea size and mixture is course.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, vanilla and carrot puree. Slowly pour wet ingredients over the dry and stir until the dough just comes together.

Flour a surface and gently, quickly roll out and knead the dough with your hands. It will be sticky, so sprinkle with additional flour if needed. Roll the dough up, turn it on its end and gently flatten into a disk about 1 3/4-inches high. Don’t overwork the dough.

Cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges and place on the prepared baking sheet. Whisk the egg white with 1 Tbs. water and brush over tops of scones.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway. Do not overbake.

Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, put wire rack back over the baking sheet still lined with parchment paper.

Whisk together all ingredients for the glaze in a medium bowl, adding more juice or sugar to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over or dunk scones and allow it to set before serving.


Friday Five: There’s No Place Like…

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

I skipped last Friday’s Five. Did you notice? I’m hoping not. I just couldn’t do it. You know I’ve been feeling out of it and my apologies are probably falling on deaf ears by this point, but last week in Texas completely wiped out anything I had left–physically and emotionally.

We came back Sunday to a still-sick pup and a crazed week ahead of us–the last week of my season and the last week of classes for Joe. Uffa. We have even more to do this weekend to gear up for the next six weeks that will be just as insane. Where’s my tiny violin?

Before I pour myself some wine and raise my glass to be more like Stella and get my groove back, and–not to mention–neglect my to-do list for another 12 hours….here’s where I’m clicking my ruby slippers to be tonight, where I’m missing, where I’m craving: The Farm.











After being a City Slicker for so many years, maybe I’m really a Farm Girl after all? Do farms have snakes? …don’t answer that.

# goodbye, Gramps

I read a study once that claimed people would rather see their family at a funeral than at a wedding. I found it strange at the time, not understanding how anyone would feel that way, but I can say after three funerals in a year and a half…I get it, especially after our trip to Texas last week to say goodbye to Gramps. Weddings are clearly celebratory, but funerals are intensely special, a true time of bonding, sharing tears and stories and pain and grief and laughter and thankfulness. I spent time with family–immediate and extended–that I miss and don’t get to see very often, the months or years apart fading quickly away. It’s truly a time like none other and I’m glad Joe and I were able to be there.

There were so many sweet and special moments we shared together as a family, I wanted to share a few with you:

* Visiting the funeral home with my grandmother, aunt and cousins to view the body and cry like no one was watching. It was cathartic. I needed to be with those women–the ones who stayed lovingly by his side until the end–and feel the gravity of our loss together. I’m so thankful for them.

* Making photo boards: Going through photos with my Dad and cousins to create collages to display and then running them into the funeral home with my Dad when a storm was coming. It was fun to go down memory road with them.

* Watching the stoic faces of my grandmother and Dad, who stayed strong for us and our constant flow of tears. I hope they have had their times to cry after supporting us for a week.

* Speaking at the funeral: I read bits from my last post and more about how he’d always wrap up our phone conversations with “well, I don’t know anything.” But he did. He knew that every good meal starts with a blessing and ends with a toothpick. He knew that any task could be made better whistling a good tune. He knew life lessons could be taught over a game of cards with his unforgettable “are you gonna watch, or are you gonna play?,” And he knew he couldn’t leave a more impactful legacy than through loving his Lord, family, friends and church with everything he had.

* Hearing everyone else speak at the funeral: Many, many people from his church, men he worked with at Bell Helicopter, family friends and more stood up to share their favorite stories, their blessings on our family and their own grief. I was particularly moved by his physician, a man I met last year when visiting Gramps in the hospital, who cried as he spoke about Gramps’ impact on his own life, how Gramps’ prayers for his family were comforting in a time of need, and how they call their young son EJ. If I wasn’t crying before (I was), you better believe I was balling at that moment. What an impact Gramps had on all he encountered. Knowing that a little boy called EJ is running around and will someday learn about the great man who inspired his nickname sucker-punched me in the heart.

* Singing with my family before the service: After eating lunch we gathered in a small room filled with chairs and a piano to sing together, just as Gramps would have done. We could barely get through some of the songs and it made me sad knowing that no one would love us being together, singing together, more than Gramps.

* Seeing these two, who helped fill hearts with joy and promise when we felt like staying full of sadness. Kids will do that. (Time marches on.)



This is really the first time since Linc was a baby that we’ve been together, so connecting with him was extra special, especially all of the kisses he insisted on giving his Aunt NoNo.



* Having everyone together since Bryan’s wedding


(And Lily loving on her Mikey Joe.)



* Being at the farm. It’s hard to imagine it without Gramps, but it continues to soothe my soul.


This is the view as you leave town, heading to the farm. One of the best views in the world.


It was especially hard to walk through Gramps’ workshop, seeing everything as he left it. His very own time capsule.


* Visiting the animals




Seems like just yesterday I was doing this with Gramps. I’m sure you remember this guy.


And who could forget Lucy? The last time I spoke with Gramps in the hospital he asked me, “If you’re there, and I’m here, who’s taking care of Lucy?” She seemed to sense my sadness and nuzzled my face for a while.


* Seeing my aunt’s incredibly-decorated house, including this accent wall in her dining room made from salvaged wood from their church. Absolutely amazing. She’s a DIY-goddess.


And seeing my great-grandmother’s salt and pepper shaker collection on full display.


* Going through Gramps’ papers next to his chair in the living room — his home base. We found this map detailing where to put the trash basket when it rains to catch the ceiling leak.


And, my favorite, this list of gifts he was thankful for…



1. The gift of Salvation — “free,” eternal, given to me on August 8, 1940

2. The gift of a chance at life — could do better the next time, better than millions that were aborted (no chance)

2a. The gift of a family and church family

3. The gift of having the capacity to love and be loved — spouse, family, friends (church and other), …

4. The gift of our 5 senses — some don’t work as well, but they make our time enjoyable

5. The gift of provisions — physical needs, financial security. Home is best nation in the world.

What a sweet, sensitive, wise man this world has lost. And no one feels it more than the family who came together to celebrate his life and the legacy he leaves behind. Thanks, Gramps. We’ll miss you forever.

# thanks, Gramps

Today my sweet, sweet grandfather, Gramps, went to heaven. Almost exactly one-and-a-half years to the day I said goodbye to Pops. The familiar pangs of loss and sadness are back like they never left.  Oh, how I will miss this man.

Once again, I’m feeling so thankful for our time together in February. One that was filled with laughter, farm animals, games, stories and home. I will never forget walking into their living room that night and surprising him with my visit. He told me for days after that he thought it was a dream—that he was hallucinating when he saw me—and though it wasn’t, it was a dreamy, unforgettable time.


This is from the morning that I left and is how I’ll remember him. Sitting in his chair, in his corner, reading his notes with his “eyes” on.


My heart goes out to my entire family, who have spent the last unrelenting week+ by his side at the hospital, showering him with love and compassion and gently ushering him to his next adventure without us. I know all too well what an honor it is to do that, but also how heart wrenching it is. I’ll forever be grateful to them for being there and passing on my messages to him. His death was calm and pain-free—the most we could possibly want for this wonderful man who endured so much and deserved the very best.


There is an old, on-going joke in my family that when something’s wrong or you’re complaining of an ailment, you sarcastically thank Gramps. It was in place long before “Thanks, Obama” swept the nation. It became the answer—or the cause—of everything.

My face is oily….”thanks, Gramps”….my ears are big…”thanks, Gramps”…I was outside 5 seconds and I’m already sunburned…”thanks, Gramps.”  He would interrupt our whining about anything and with a simple “thanks, Gramps”—harboring responsibility for all of our ‘misfortunes’—and everyone would laugh.

He did give us oily, sensitive skin and ears that hover on the larger side…but we are truly thankful to him for much, much more.

As I prepare for a week with family, crying and sharing stories no doubt, here is my final “thanks, Gramps.”

 “Thanks, Gramps” …for being a survivor

Gramps grew up in Oklahoma during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. I’ll let that settle in for a moment.


He was a survivor as his family broke apart, half moving to Texas and the other half to California, Grapes-of-Wrath-style, to start a new life. I can’t imagine what this time was like.


He survived countless medical problems including cancers and infections and surgeries, always putting on a brave face and a smile. “We do what we have to do” he would say. Yes, but no one has done it as courageously as you.

“Thanks, Gramps” …for always protecting us

When summers in Joshua called our name, Gramps would be standing by the back door ready to supply our armor of sunscreen and bug spray, never forgetting the tops of our ears.


When a school bully threatened to ruin a good day, he taught Bryan how to box…just in case.


When it’s freezing out and, being from Utah, you assume it will be warmer in Texas, he makes you put on four layers of his own clothes just to make sure you’re warm. “I couldn’t tell you from Gramps,” Mimi told me. I’ll take that as the highest compliment it is.


“Thanks, Gramps” …for being the family jokester

On road trips he’d recite the pledge of allegiance at every flag spotted (every. single. one.) and was totally game when we convinced him to yell “Krista, you ‘da bomb!” at her high school graduation.

For “marrying” me and Bryan so we could feel like Mary and Joseph.


For brining binoculars into restaurants to read menus and for always sitting next to me on the couch, pulling my leg onto his lap to tap my ankle—the one I broke in 1994—and asking if it still hurt. Then he’d laugh to himself and act surprised when I said “no.”

Gramps Duck Dynasty

And, of course, his impeccable rendition of Peedy the Snake.

“Thanks, Gramps” …for having patience like none other

When I was little and we were on one of our family road trips, he once sat by a hotel pool watching me swim. I’m not sure how long we were there—it felt like hours—but I somehow decided I was going to tell him everything I knew about nurse sharks…which, in reality, was nothing—but I didn’t want him to know that. I played the part of academic oceanographer, spurting off facts, figures and statistics and he just sat there eating it up like I was the smartest person he’d ever met. Just being around him made you a better person…maybe not an expert on sharks…but a better person. Having him believe in you made you feel invincible.


“Thanks, Gramps” …for fixing everything

From leaking sinks to squeaky doors, he were always there, tools in hand. But in life he taught us that there was nothing that hard work, faith or love—or a combination of all three—couldn’t fix. He was right, but it’s going to take something fierce to fix the multitude of broken hearts he leaves behind.


“Thanks, Gramps” …for loving the Lord

He was the most Godly man I’ve ever known, and wanted nothing more than to sing about Jesus and share his unwavering faith.  When Pops died, Gramps wrote me the sweetest letter comforting my grief with his and Mimi’s favorite scriptures (Deut. 29:29). I pulled that letter out today and read his words and forgot that he’d included sheet music to one of his favorite songs, “What a Day That Will Be.”

There is coming a day when no heart-aches shall come.
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye
All is peace forever more on that happy golden shore.
What a glorious day that will be.

There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear.
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there.
And forever I will be with the One who died for me.
What a glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see;
When I look upon His face;
The One who save me by His grace!
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the promised land,
What a glorious day that will be.

Gramps music

“Thanks, Gramps” …for filling our home with music

Music has always been at the core of our family time. When I was little he’d spend all Saturday watching Gaither Sing-a-Longs, eventually forming his own church sing-a-longs in the late 1990s. Hymns, Christmas carols, folk songs. Guitars, banjos, pianos, harmonicas, horns, and trombones made from PVC pipes. We were always together making music.

Gramps and Marci music

I bet right now he’s up there separating the tenors from the basses and cueing up for the best, never-ending sing-a-long of his dreams.



Some of you might remember these videos from his hospital stay last year.

“Thanks, Gramps” …for putting family first

An incredible husband for 66 years, a wonderful dad for 63 years, a devoted grandfather for 40 years, and a smitten great-grandfather for 16 years. He has always been about family and we all knew he’d do anything for us. Anything.

Gramps and Mimi couple



Gramps and Dad



I will always appreciate how much he loved Joe—the family’s only “Yankee.” Gramps never let him forget it, but he loved Joe anyway.


“Thanks, Gramps” …for setting the bar

From his marriage and his faith, to his kindness and sensitivity, Gramps set the bar for life very high. He was a wonderful role model to emulate and always was the best of examples in any situation. His shoes are impossible to fill, not to mention his britches, but we try.


“Thanks, Gramps” …for the tremendous memories

The last night I was there in February, Gramps and I stayed up for hours looking at old photos and telling stories. We were lost in past times, specifically his childhood and what he remembered most. Before we called it a night, he told me about his Aunt Arley, who married his uncle.


I believe Gramps  is the baby in his grandmother’s lap and Arley is the woman sitting to the right. (Did I get that right?)

Arley lived to be over 100 and he said every time he’d visit her, when they’d leave, she would throw her arms up in the air. Not waving, but reaching. She said it was her way of saying “I’ll see you in heaven if I don’t see you again.”

The next morning, we said our goodbyes and I knew there was a good chance this might be the last time I saw him.


We climbed into our respective cars, each of us going a different way on their big, circular drive. When their car pulled parallel to mine, I rolled down the window, leaned out, and stuck out my arms, reaching toward heaven.

He called me a few days later and asked if I did that for Arley. I said “No, Gramps. I did it for you.”

Gramps and Marci horse

“Thanks, Gramps”…for everything.

# easter brunch: decadent sunday waffles (with bananas foster topping)

When I asked Joe what he wanted for Easter brunch, I expected some hemming and hawing, but the boy flat out said “waffles” like he’d been thinking of it for ages.

I was a little surprised since our waffle maker has been in its box since we arrived in Utah and the only time we ever eat them is at my Aunt’s house. She’s the Waffle Queen and I’ve long said her waffle breakfasts are the only way to get us all together before 10:00am.


They are so, so good.


But it was my turn to try out a homemade batter and I only had one prerequisite in looking for a recipe: it couldn’t contain yeast. Yeast and I are still not on speaking terms after my puny Christmas Cinnamon Rolls.

Thankfully I didn’t have to look any further than my baking guru Joanne Chang, who owns the Flour bakeries in Boston. Her recipe promises super-rich, super-light, and super-crispy waffles. We had found our winner.


To make them extra special, I wanted to top them with bananas foster. (There’s nothing in the batter to make them bananas foster waffles, just the topping.)


We just made a big batch of the topping to pour over waffles, leftover waffles and anything else throughout the rest of the week. We used Alton Brown’s recipe, but I wasn’t thrilled with it in the end. A little too much rum and too much orange flavor. There are a ba-jillion recipes for bananas foster online. Find one that looks easy and use that one. As long as it has brown sugar, butter, hint of rum, and bananas, you’ll be fine!

Truth be told, I slather all pancakes and waffles with peanut butter. I always have. I thought having such an incredible topping would deter me from reaching for the familiar jar, but sure enough, a few bites in and I was getting up for that dang peanut butter. I just can’t do it. It’s a requirement for me. Good thing it goes so well with bananas foster.

The waffles themselves were dreamy. I like mine pretty brown, the crispier the better. Let them sit on a wire rack while you finish making the rest of the batter so the waffles don’t get soggy. You can also keep them on the same rack in a 200-degree oven.


We broke up the leftover sections to pop in the toaster for breakfast the next few mornings. They tasted even better, if that’s possible. The combination of the creme fraiche, soda water, and buttermilk in the batter really makes for some very, very delicious waffles. Try them out!

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Decadent Sunday Waffles

Source: Flour, too

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 c. nonfat buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 c. creme fraiche
1/4 c. soda water, at room temperature
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
For Serving: maple syrup, softened butter, bananas foster and/or…peanut butter

Preheat the waffle maker. The higher heat settings are better, because the outside of the waffle will crisp faster.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. If necessary, break up the brown sugar lumps with your fingers to make sure everything is evenly mixed. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, creme fraiche, soda water, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla until well combined. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into the well. Using a whisk and a folding motion, gently fold wet and dry ingredients together until combined.

Brush the preheated waffle grids with vegetable oil. Ladle the batter onto the bottom grid according to manufacturer instructions and close the lid. Be sure to bake the waffles until they are golden brown.

Bananas Foster Recipes:

Alton Brown

The Pioneer Woman

Paula Deen

Friday Five: National Sibling Day

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

Did you know today was National Sibling Day? It’s right up there with National Peanut Butter Day and National Peanut Butter & Chocolate Day for me.

Anyone that follows this blog knows how much I love my sibs. They mean the world to me. I’m also blessed with step sisters and sibs-in-law. Nothing beats a sibling in my book. They can make you crazy like none other, but they can also love you like none other.

There’s something very special about being adult siblings, no longer fighting about who sits in the front, who’s in the bathroom too long or who remembers 4-27-11 the longest.

I don’t know where I’d be without my Booh, Hotrod and Tim–honorary sibling after 20+ years. They’ve stood by my side in the best and worst of times. My goodness how we laugh when we’re together. They are some of my very, very favorite people in the world.

For this quick Friday Five, here are five of my favorite moments I’ve shared with them in the last few years. Having us all in one place doesn’t happen too much anymore, but it’s the best when it does. Love you, guys, and happy National You Day. xo


The Sibs in Paris - 2005


The Sibs and Lily - 2008


Bryan, Krista and Marci - 2010


The Sibs - 2008


The Sibs at Falvey Wedding - 2010

# easter brunch: overnight breakfast casserole

I think Easter Brunch is right up there with Christmas Cookies and Thanksgiving Appetizers for me in terms of things I love to make.

Do you remember that game Outburst? (A Game of Verbal Explostions….yeah, sounds like my kind of game.)


If the card chosen was “Things/Ingredients you Eat on Easter,” here are my answers:

coconut something
carrot cake
spring veggies
ham (ew)
lamb (ew, ew)

How’d I do? This is really a glimpse into how I menu plan my holidays. What are the staples, the traditions, and how can I use them.

Here’s a photo of our brunch spread this year, which looks strikingly similar to last year’s.


I realize I like to have three things for my Easter Brunch: a main course, a savory side, and a scone. (And candy, of course.)

Last year it was ebelskivers, vegetable orzo salad and not-so-pretty vanilla bean scones. This year was Bananas Foster waffles, overnight breakfast casserole and carrot-coconut scones. Yuh-um!

To make my life easier, I try to do as much in advance as possible, including setting the table. I did this all the night before while making the egg casserole — every dish, glass, serving spoon and hot pad in position.


I love these little guys.


Then start filling in the spots as you start to cook.


Last year we went with jelly beans, but this year was all about the chocolate-peanut butter eggs.


Look at this newbie on the block. So. good.



You had me at brownie bits.

This was my favorite table addition, though. Look at those sweet, sweet eyes!


The table ultimately had a lot of yellow/orange on it.


And everything was absolutely delicious. I’ve clearly upped my scone game from last year’s tasty, but disastrous-looking triangles.


I’ll write separate posts for each of the dishes, starting with the overnight breakfast casserole. I knew I wanted some kind of egg dish, but nothing I’d have to babysit while juggling waffles and scones that morning. This Pinterest find (that I doctored to meet our serving and vegetable needs) ended up being the perfect solution. All I had to do was saute some vegetables, thaw some hashbrowns and I was ready for the big day.


Took about an hour to cook and cool, enough time for us to get our waffle on. I love those crispy brown edges.


We halved the original recipe I based this on. I can’t imagine the crew of people she was feeding with it!


The recipe itself is very versatile…just use whatever vegetables and cheeses you have in the fridge. It was so easy to throw together, I can see us doing this for a quick weekend treat. Enjoy!


Overnight Breakfast Casserole

15-oz. frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
7-oz. broccoli florets, stems removed
red pepper, chopped finely
1/2 large onion, chopped finely
handful of mushrooms, chopped finely
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 c. shredded cheese, divided (we used mixture of sharp cheddar and colby jack)
1 Tbsp. butter
6 eggs
½ + 1/8 c. milk
½ + 1/8 c. sour cream
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. (If baking now.)

Saute the vegetables in butter until softened about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In an extra large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, 1.5 cups of the cheese.

Evenly spread half of the potato mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Top the potato layer with the cooled vegetables. Cover the vegetables with the remaining potato mixture.

In the same mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sour cream and salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese (1/2 cup total).

Bake* covered loosely for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 15­-20 minutes or until the egg is set and does not appear to be runny. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. May be served hot or at warm at about room temperature.

*If you are making this ahead of time, prepare the casserole, cover and store in the refrigerator up to 24 hours, until you are ready to bake it.

# baby animal days

Last weekend Joe and I jumped into the Utah tradition of Baby Animal Days.



Babya Nimal Days.

We had heard horror stories about how packed this yearly event could be…every family this side of Salt Lake huddling around pins together to glimpse Spring’s finest. But, we decided to brave it. A girl can only stay away from goats for so long! Luckily, our friends were also game, so we weren’t alone in fighting the hoards of people.

When we first got there the line to see the bear cubs wrapped the entire length of the back park. So we decided to take turns standing in line while the other went and explored. The line was right next to this mama goat…who is all cute and everything…


but, she also had her one-week-old kid. Oh-em-geezus.



I just about lost it and we had only been there five minutes.

There were also sheep, piglets and…more baby goats for me to smother with love.




I don’t know these people; I’m just creepy like that. And my excitement level was around the same as that little boy’s.



Give. Me. That. Goat.

On the other side of the park I found this foal chasing a peacock,


this goat making googly-eyes at me,


and this kid literally strangling a kid out of love. (Look familiar, parents?) Please note: I’m the only adult IN the petting zoo area. #yep


Then it was my turn to stand in line while Joe explored. At least the view was nice for our 1.5 hour wait. What is this, Silver Dollar City?!


We finally made it to the cub crib! They came straight from Yellowstone!




Joe wanted inside that ring so bad. I mean, after 1.5 hours we wanted to hold some freakin’ bears.







All that cuteness made us pretty hungry, which always, in these places, leads to fried oreos, fried twinkies, and a pretty amazing spread of nachos.


Ah, the reserved, newly-tenured, won’t-touch-the-animals Dr. Scheer


What do you know? Another week-old baby goat.



It’s like a mix between Bella and a gremlin, and I want one so bad.


Killer profile.


After the goats, holding these ducklings was the second best part of the afternoon.



(It was squeaking at me.)




The tiniest balls of fuzz.




Four of the Fabulous Five (Joe behind camera, where he prefers to be):


Babya Nimal Days…you’ve made me want a farm. No, you’ve made me want a house full of goats. Who am I becoming out here?

Friday Five: Celebrity Chef Sightings

Every Friday I’ll indulge my order-crazed brain in a list of randomness. Welcome to my Friday Fives.

Yesterday my sweetest little had her {belated} birthday dreams come true…by going to see Alton Brown. In person. Not seeing Sesame Street Live, like I did when I was her age. This girl is a third-generation foodie and I couldn’t be more proud. Her favorite show, Cutthroat Kitchen, is also a favorite of her Mikey Joe’s.


She and her momma had front row seats to the action. You can even see her on the far right in this pic from Alton’s facebook page! Lily, you’re famous!!!


In honor of Lily’s celebrity chef dreams coming true, here are some of the food-ish celebrities Joe and I have met.

5. Caroline Rhea

Okay, so not so much Food Network, but she did host The Biggest Loser for a bit, so that’s kinda food related, right?? We spotted her on a Sunday at the tourist center in Lucca, Italy. She was checking her AOL account with her boyfriend, having just come from the plane. Frankly, what I remember most is thinking “Caroline Rhea uses AOL?!”


4. Brian Boitano

Ugh, I hate that this guy had a show on Food Network…”What Would Brian Boitano Make?”  The. Worst. We also met him in Italy and before going over to ruin his night say hi, I asked Joe how much he’d give me if the first thing I asked was “did it hurt when you hit your head on the diving board??”  I don’t think Joe quite knew what to do with me in those early years…because now he’d probably pay high dollar for those kinds of shenanigans.

Joe and Boitano

Marci and Brian Boitano

3. Marc Forgione

My first Iron Chef!!! We met him in Miami at its Food and Wine Festival in 2011. Spec-tac-u-lar night. He was so kind and talked to us for a while, despite the growing line. I want him to make me gnocchi.


2. Geoffrey Zakarian

When we met him (at the same festival in 2011), his season of The Next Iron Chef was airing and I didn’t know at the time that he’d eventually win, but I begged him to spill the beans. Also, the girl in front of me in the greeting line was totally disoriented and when she got to the front she asked him….GEOFFREY…where Geoffrey Zakarian was. He looked side to side and said, “I’m him!” and she just said ‘ok’ and left. He was baffled. I was baffled. And when I stepped up we were both laughing so hard that he grabbed onto my shoulder for support. It was a magical moment. No one puts Geoffrey in the corner.


1. Alton Brown

When I told Lily that we had met Alton Brown in Miami at a book signing, I knew the proof was in the pudding, so I sent her these pics. Her responses included:

“Whoa……..I don’t remember NoNo having bangs!”

“I thought Alton Brown never smiled?”

“That’s cool that they got to meet him, I’ll ask him if he remembers them.”

Hahahaha! What I remember most about this night was how hard it was raining, so hardly anyone showed up for the talk. It was in the building I worked in, so Joe met me there and we sat on the front row like we owned the joint. He just sat right in front of us and we all had a nice chat about what kitchen tools he’d want on a desert island, how to correctly pronounce “Lodge” when discussing cast iron products and which food network chefs he can’t stand…and the very few he respects. It was all very snarky and authentic. We had a great time. Then when it came time to take the photo, I told him we should say “Welch’s” on three. He laughed and said, “I do, but you don’t.”



Honorable Mention: Meeting Jeni, who isn’t on Food Network or TV, but a huge food celebrity to me!

On the meet-and-greet wish list: Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Michael Simon, Ree Drummond, etc. etc.

# butter brickle cake

It has been so long since I blogged a recipe! Not since our Valentine’s Day meal?! Pitiful.

As you can imagine, we are gearing up for Easter brunch on Sunday. Cookbooks be a’flyin’ and I think we’ve finally settled on a pretty comprehensive menu, covering all Spring-like bases. All this thinking about food reminded me that I forgot to blog about a cake I made while at my Uncle Dick’s house. It was nice to revisit these photos and that wonderful night from about a month ago–our last night all together.

So, let’s do it. Let’s talk cake.

After celebrating my Aunt’s birthday that week with a classic sheath cake, we were also going to celebrate my {other side} Uncle’s birthday (a little early) that weekend. Unfortunately the ice storm had him turning around and heading back to Houston before he made it into Dallas, but we still enjoyed his favorite cake in his honor: Butter Brickle.

If you’ve never heard of Butter Brickle, you aren’t alone. I had to be schooled in all-things 1950-60s while going through old recipes with Bev and Memaw. Butter Brickle used to be a candy bar, and now is sold as “Bits of Brickle” by Hershey’s. It’s essentially toffee bits wrapped in a sea of butter.  A glorified buttered toffee flavor. What could be bad about this?

Butter Brickle

I’ve heard Phil talk about this, his favorite, flavor for years, but it wasn’t until we were going through Bev’s recipe box that we unearthed Memaw’s old Brickle-based recipes. There were a few on hand, but she thought this was the one that Phil loved most.


I like to think that what Phil liked most, as a child, was that Praline Liqueur in both cake and icing. It certainly had me on board pretty quickly.

If you look at that old recipe card, you’ll notice “liquid brown sugar” in the ingredients. When I first read it I thought surely it meant to read “light brown sugar”–a typo at the typewriter! But, if you read through the directions, it’s there again: liquid brown sugar. What? A quick google search revealed that Domino Sugar used to make a liquid brown sugar product! Crazy! The things you learn when baking from vintage recipes. Can we call this vintage yet?

The cake itself was an easy one, thanks to the cake mix base. (Which gave me another slight panic…cake mix boxes have changed their weight/amount over the years, but it turned out just fine.)

Here’s the beginnings of that homemade liquid brown sugar.



I’m kind of a cake batter fanatic. And an icing fanatic.



Gettin’ my brickle on.


Praline Liqueur is everything. Pour it on thick!


Ta-da! The finished product, minus Phil unfortunately, but the centerpiece of the sweetest goodbye.



Bring a piece of the past back with this awesome cake. Do it for Phil, do it for Uncle Dick, do it because it’s delicious. {Phil, I promise to make this for you again soon!}


Butter Brickle Cake (Praline Pecan Cake)

Source: Memaw

1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding (or butterscotch pudding mix for an even more buttery flavor)
4 large eggs at room temperature
½ c. cooking oil
¼ c. liquid brown sugar*
3/4 c. praline liqueur
½ c. bits of brickle (toffee pieces), plus more for topping
½ c. chopped pecans, plus more for topping

2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbs. softened butter
3-6 Tbs. praline liqueur

Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees.

To make liquid brown sugar: Combine ¼ c. water and ¾ c. brown sugar in a small saucepan. Mix at medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Do not let it boil. Measure out ¼ c. for cake and save the rest for oatmeal or to pour over ice cream.

In a large bowl, blend cake mix and pudding mix. Add egg, oil, liquid brown sugar and praline liqueur. Beat at low speed until thoroughly mixed, then at medium speed for 4-5 minutes. Fold in bits of brickle and nuts.

Pour into well-greased and floured tube pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely.

While cake is cooling, beat together powdered sugar and butter. Add liqueur and beat until desired consistency. Pour over cake and garnish with bits of brickle and nuts.

Serve with Butter Brickle ice cream, if you can find it. (*cough* Braum’s)