Journal Your Christmas- The Legendary Broccoli Casserole

If you ask anyone in my family, they would tell you that my “signature dish” is Broccoli Casserole. I will get a phone call from at least one person each year wanting a recipe refresher. “What kind of cheese?”…

The funny thing is, since I’ve gotten married I never make broccoli casserole anymore! My “signature dish” is alive and well- just not in my house. (I now use this recipe).

This was one of the very first recipes I ever made. No one taught me how to cook, so once I was a grown-up and deciding for myself what to have for dinner, I decided I needed to get beyond fish sticks and ramen noodles. I started picking up those little cookbooks you get at the checkout lane. I actually still have them and it’s fun to look back at the food we ate in the late 90’s… everything was a casserole!  I’m sure my broccoli casserole came out of one of these books.

I remember being quite surprised that my tiny sister would actually eat it, although considering the amount of cheese in there, it really masks any vegetable flavor. But I was very proud of myself for coming up with such a “balanced” meal.

I started bringing it to holiday dinners. Even the people who hated broccoli loved my casserole. It was assumed that I would bring The Casserole to every Thanksgiving dinner until the end of time.

Then I up and got married and moved away. It was quite a shock to all of us. But even worse than my absence was the absence of The Casserole. That’s when the phone calls started…

So I come here today to offer up the recipe for my famous Broccoli Casserole. Now my relatives will be able to find it anytime they want. (You can still call me though!)

Broccoli, Chicken, and Cheese Casserole

1 bag frozen broccoli, or 1 head divided into florets
1 can of Cream of Something soup (chicken, mushroom, etc., whatever floats your boat)
1 can chicken, well drained
1 bag shredded mozzarella
1 bag shredded cheddar
1 bag Colby (sometimes it only comes in block form)

Steam or boil broccoli until tender. (It’s done when your kitchen starts smelling like a school cafeteria). Drain very well. Combine all ingredients and heat on 350 for 25-30 minutes. Or if you’re pressed for time, microwave the whole thing for about 10 minutes.

I’d post a picture, but like I said, I haven’t actually made it in years. Now I kind of want to though. Maybe Christmas dinner….

Some of my favorite veggie sides


I’m pretty obsessed with veggies lately. Summer means a ton of fresh produce at the farmer’s market. Plus, I’m always trudging towards that “healthy lifestyle” thing. Which doesn’t always work, but I try to have at least two veggie sides at dinner most nights.

Here are some of my favorites that are in heavy rotation. I use a mix of fresh, frozen, and canned veggies, depending on what’s on sale and how much time I have.

Asparagus (always fresh, never ever ever eat canned asparagus!) My favorite way is cooking using this method with pesto. I’ll usually use jarred pesto, I haven’t had much luck making my own so far). It’s also great with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, or dipped in balsamic vinaigrette.  Asparagus is Amazing dipped in Siracha dip. (I couldn’t find my recipe, but this is similar)

Broccoli (fresh or frozen). I’m not really fussy with broccoli. I like it plain with salt and pepper. A squirt of lemon juice or a some parmesan cheese is nice. It’s also great with the Siracha dip above. Actually anything is good with that. When I’m fancy, I’ll make broccoli gratin. (That recipe is worth a read to learn how to deal with broccoli stems).

Cabbage (fresh) This is my go-to slaw recipe. I also really love this spicy version, but I omit the peanuts.

Carrots I’m not a huge carrot lover. But we tried this carrot puree recipe earlier this year and it was really tasty. I also put shredded carrots in almost every soup that I make, along with celery and onion.

Cauliflower (fresh or frozen) Anything that can be done with broccoli can be done with cauliflower pretty much. I really like this spicy roasted cauliflower. (spicy is the key work here). You can also treat cauliflower like potatoes, like mashing or roasting. And of course, tossing it with some parmesan. I think the theme of this post should be “Put some parm on it”

Corn (fresh, frozen, or canned) I don’t have a “recipe” but my favorite way to eat corn is with a few shakes of onion powder, a couple of scallions, a little butter, salt and lots of pepper.

Cucumbers (fresh) This is my favorite way to eat cucumbers. I also love this cucumber salad with tomato and feta. (I omit the olives). Another super simple fresh cucumber salad recipe. If you like it spicy, this Chinese cucumber salad is yummy.

Green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned) I have a couple of green bean recipes that I’ve made for years. For Cajun green beans, drain a can of green beans and a can of diced tomatoes (fire roasted if you like it super spicy) Add a tsp of Cajun seasoning, and hot sauce to taste. Fresh steamed green beans are great with dip too. I’ll eat them cold that way with Siracha mayo as a snack.

Mushrooms (fresh) I’ll throw mushrooms in a lot of things, from soups to tacos. Sautéed mushrooms with thyme and white wine mushrooms is one of my very favorite sides. You can also roast them.

Peas (fresh, frozen, or canned) Another non-recipe recipe, but I really love adding lemon pepper seasoning to peas.

Spinach (fresh) This garlicky spinach recipe is my new favorite way to eat spinach. I can’t find my favorite creamed spinach anywhere, but this is very similar. I also love adding spinach to soup and smoothies.

Squash and Zucchini (fresh) I’ve been eating this recipe for zucchini and feta for a long time. I make a variation of it almost every week. Sometimes I skip the feta, sometimes I add mushrooms. I could eat it every day.

Of course one of the best ways to up your veggie intake is with salads in jars.

You might have noticed a trend in my recipe recommendations. I get the vast majority of my veggie recipes from Kaylin’s Kitchen. Even if you’re not into South Beach or low carb-ing it, her site is a fantastic resource for healthy food. You can type the name of any vegetable into her search bar and come up with a dozen or more recipes. I can’t recommend it enough!

I hope this helps of you find yourself in a vegetable rut. I love trying new recipes, so if you have one you love, please share! 🙂

Best Weekend

Last weekend we got a small respite from Jason’s insane work schedule. We made the most of the downtime and had a really fun relaxing weekend. It was almost like a vacation!

He was able to leave early from work on Friday, so we went ahead and did grocery shopping to get that out of the way. We also stopped at Rorabeck’s to get our produce fix.


We ate Checkers for the 3rd time that week. (Go ahead and judge me, I’ll wait}


We took some super sexy pictures.


And Jason fell asleep on the couch before 9 o’clock. This is a running theme lately. Work is physically and mentally exhausting right now.

Saturday we lazed around the house until mid-afternoon. We decided to be grownups and leave the house for something besides groceries *gasp*. We headed out to one of our favorites, downtown Lake Worth.


Not sure why someone was dissatisfied with Coastline Realty…

We walked up and down the main street, window shopping at all the little shops and debating where to eat. We decided on Havana Hideout. It’s a cute little outdoor restaurant. They have sand, palm trees, and umbrellas, so you can pretend you’re relaxing at a little beachside restaurant, only you’re in the middle of town.


HH has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives too! We’ve eaten there before, but it’s been a few years. I was a little disappointed that they’ve taken the cayenne pepper ice cream off the menu. (I love weird ice cream).


We decided to just get appetizers and drinks. We split an order of Fish Dip, and I had my first Mexican Coke! (I couldn’t taste a difference between that and regular Coke, but I’m no connoisseur). It was such a delicious meal, and fit perfectly with our vacation weekend vibe.



Next, we went to Kilwin’s, an ice cream/ candy shop. It was cool seeing where they made fresh fudge. We got Salted Caramel (me) and Chocolate Raspberry (Jason). And some fudge to take home, of course. Soooo tasty!

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Sunday morning we had an early swim. It was great to have the pool all to ourselves! And oh boy, am I out of shape. I need to get my swim on more often for sure!


That afternoon, Jason needed to work for a few hours, and I needed to deal with all the produce we’d bought on Friday. I washed, chopped, and stored almost everything in containers.


I also made an epic taco dinner. So good that I couldn’t think about anything else. Jason was talking about work when I rudely interrupted, “I think this is one of the best meals I’ve made all year!”. He laughed and said “Okay Kanye ‘I’ma let you finish. But I have to say these tacos are the best meal of the year!'”. hahahaha!

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And that was our weekend. One of my very favorites 🙂

Good Eats- Clean Eating part 2

I promised I’d share some of my Clean Eating meals, so here are a few of my favorites. And you’ll be able to see how I changed things up so Jason wouldn’t be carb deprived in a few of the photos.

First up, before I get into the actual meals, let’s talk about batch cooking. Once a week, I’ll make a big pot of some kind of soup, like the Tomato Basil Soup pictured below. While that’s cooking on the stove, I’ll start assembling salads in jars. Yes, this is a bit time consuming. I usually do it while Jason and the Little Man are gaming over Skype on Sundays. I can see this as a nice alternative to Sunday football watching this fall. For an hour or two of work, I can get enough soup and salad for the week. This makes a Huge difference when I am pressed for time during the week.



For breakfast, I pretty much eat the same thing every day- plain oatmeal with a little salt and a few raisins or dried berries thrown in, two eggs, and if I’m still hungry, a piece of fruit.



Snacks depend a lot on my hunger level and whether or not I’ve worked out. They can be pretty much whatever I want, as long as there is protein involved. This can be a salad, an egg, a piece of fruit with a glass of milk, or a cup of soup. Whatever’s handy.

Lunch is usually leftovers from last night’s dinner. If there aren’t any, it’s salad and soup time. If needed, I’ll add a couple of slices of turkey on the side.



If I get the munchies in the afternoon, I’ll usually just have a spoon of peanut butter and a few chocolate chips. (Not perfectly Clean, but I’m keeping in real).

Here are a few of our dinners from the past few weeks. See a pattern? Protein + at least two veggies. Pretty easy.

Crab cakes, cucumber salad, broccoli. (Pasta and extra crab cake for Jason)


Pork roast, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, green beans. (Plus pasta for Jason)


Baked fish, asparagus with pesto, steamed broccoli (Can you tell I have a thing for asparagus lately?)


Crock pot chicken, peas, broccoli, green beans


I made Zatarains for Jason with turkey sausage. I cooked up plain turkey sausage for myself plus veggies. This was way too much sausage for me. Will have much less next time.


Baked fish with tomatoes and parmesan cheese, asparagus, mushrooms. Noodles for Jason.



I’m sure you’ve noticed I use a lot of the same sides over and over. This is mostly because the first couple of weeks I was pretty restrictive with the carbs. I’ve lightened up a little since then, adding in more legumes and a little rice or potatoes now and then. I’m trying to gradually add things in.

This is how the weekdays go. Weekends are a lot more splurge-y. Clearly, this huge plate of Jambalaya pasta was not Clean. For me, it’s all about trying to find the right balance between healthy and unhealthy. Some days I do really great. Some days (like this weekend) I completely fall on my ass. But it’s a process. You pick yourself up, dust off, and continue on.

Good Eats- Clean eating edition

I love Tosca Reno. She’s been an inspiration to me for years through reading Oxygen magazine and her books. (Not that you can tell from looking at me, but I do read a LOT about nutrition and exercise). In her 40’s, she decided to take control of her life, lost a bunch of weight, started pumping iron, and winning fitness competitions. She has overcome the long-term illnesses and eventual deaths of both her step-son and her husband. She shows incredible strength in so many aspects of her life, and is another great example of making step-families and blended families work. I want to be like her when I grow up.

I’ve been taking slow steps towards that ever-elusive “healthy lifestyle” since last year. I gave up soda (again) and started exercising. And I lost a grand total of about four pounds. Which of course is better than no pounds, but seriously? I’ve known from years of experience that I can workout like a maniac, but not lose much weight. I think I overeat to compensate. Nothing kills a good workout like grabbing doughnuts afterwards.

Something clicked when we got back from New York though. After a week of garbage food, or no food at all, I was so ready for a change. I was feeling sick and rundown and my body was screaming for veggies. So I planned on having a Clean Week when I got back. I have them every so often after I’ve overindulged for too long. I think of them as hitting the reset button. Not a diet or anything, just giving up crap for awhile.

Clean Week for me is pretty simple- protein and veggies, no pasta or bread, no dairy, no legumes, lots of water. Carbs come mostly in the form of oatmeal, apples, and sweet potatoes. Three meals a day plus two snacks. Protein at every meal and snack. Lots and lots and lots of veggies. Pretty straightforward.

This is not something I can, or want to sustain for very long. I’ll never be Paleo, I love dairy way too much. And beans. So I’ll usually have a Clean Week, then go back to normal. Except that it’s been  almost three weeks now, and Eating Clean is becoming kind of… normal.

Week one was as I described above. Week two, I added in beans and more fruit. That felt ok, so Week three I added dairy back in. Just a little, not every day. And I feel… mostly good. Still eating a boatload of veggies, with the help of salads in jars. Still chugging water like it’s going out of style. And amazingly… I started actually losing a little weight! Note that this was not my goal initially. I was just trying to help my poor body get some nutrients and hydration that it desperately needed.

Last week I had lost ten pounds from my all-time-highest-weight-ever in-the-history-of-the-world that I reached in January. By June 1, I’ll almost certainly have lost the fifteen pounds I gained since last summer. It’s kind of surreal.

This post has become way longer and more ramble-y than I intended, so I’ll hit some of the highlights and lowlights of the past couple weeks of Clean Eating.

Good stuff-
Losing weight.
Less heartburn. Okay this was amazingly unexpected and fabulous. I get heartburn a LOT, and have for years and years. I go through Prilosec and Tums like they’re candy. In the past three weeks, I’ve taken Prilosec twice! Usually in that amount of time, I’ve taken 8-10. And I eat tomatoes and other acid filled foods on a daily basis. I don’t get it, but I’m thrilled!
Feeling better. I’m telling you, the week after we got back from NY I felt like I’d been run over. Joint pain, stomach pain, blah blah blah. But it’s crazy how much better I feel just by eating better food.
More energy. I’m not ready to run a marathon or anything, but I see a noticeable difference in my energy level.
Putting the LoseIt app to good use. I started tracking my food regularly in February with this app. I’ve been using it on and off since 2009, and I can’t say enough good things about it. I’m not obsessive about calories or anything, but it’s another useful tool.

Not-so good stuff
Time- It takes a lot of time to eat Clean. Planning time, prepping time, time doing the damn dishes. I’m running the dishwasher twice a day almost every day. The rest doesn’t bother me a lot, I was menu planning anyway, but man all those dirty dishes!
My face has blown the hell up. I usually have pretty good skin (genetics, not anything special I’m doing) But right now my face looks… gross. I thought eating better was supposed to help your skin look better. I’m hoping this is just my body’s way of releasing toxins or something and that it’ll go back to normal soon.
It’s more expensive, but not much. This is one of those things that will vary a lot from family to family. Yes, it can get really expensive to buy enough protein for every single meal and snack. But when you consider the things you’re not buying, like sugary drinks, snacks, etc., then it becomes more do-able. I think people can run into difficulties if not everybody is on board with eating Clean. Like if your kids want all the garbage food, but you still need to buy ten pounds of chicken every week. That can get expensive.

Luckily for me, Jason has been super supportive in this whole thing. He’s not eating Clean, but he’s eating better. He eats what I eat, plus I’ll cook pasta or rice with dinner for him so he won’t be carb deprived. He’s just happy for home cooked food, so he’s not picky. I don’t think he’ll ever super love asparagus and broccoli as much as I do, but he tolerates it pretty well. The interesting thing will be when the Little Man comes this summer. I’ll probably relax things for the few weeks he’s here. We’ll see…

I’m going to come back later with pictures of what a typical day of food looks like.

Jensen Beach

This weekend we did a little exploring around the Jensen Beach area. It’s about an hour away from WPB, so it was nice to get away from town and get our feet wet for our Epic Road Trip this summer.

We’re suckers for Cajun food, so Crawdaddy’s seemed like the place to go. It did not disappoint!

We ate outside on the patio, which reminded us of our favorite Cajun restaurants in New Orleans and St. Augustine.


They had one of Jason’s favorites, Abita Purple Haze. (I might need to do a LO one day about how he came to like that so much).


We had crab cakes for appetizers. Holy balls they were delicious! Some of the best I’ve ever had. Hands down. The texture. The sauce. Just everything. Perfection.


We both got the Jambalaya pasta. So creamy and delicious. And just as advertised, you got seafood or sausage in every single bite. After a week of almost no carbs or dairy, I wanted to roll around and take a bath in this stuff. It was fantastic.


After we ate, we walked around for a bit. It was a gorgeous day and I loved the saltiness of the air. You’d think I’d be used to it after all these years, but some places in Florida have a much saltier smell than others. It puts you in that beachy frame of mind, even though we didn’t actually go onto the beach.



It was beautiful outside, but the sun was really beating down, so we headed out to our reason for coming to Jensen Beach, Hobby Lobby.

Before this week, I thought the closest HL was hours away. I couldn’t really justify driving three hours to look at craft stuff when we have JoAnne’s and Michael’s in town. But when Becky Higgins said Project Life stuff would be at Hobby Lobby this weekend, I decided to double check where the closest one was to us. And it wasn’t far at all! Well ok it’s still an hour away. But throw in a tasty lunch date and it was well worth the drive.


Unfortunately, the Project Life section was completely empty. Lame!


I blame myself for that one. I totally should’ve called the store first. But this is why I hate all the sneak peak and building up anticipation crap. It only leads to disappointment.

But Hobby Lobby wasn’t a total bust at all. Jason found a bunch of stuff for the Little Man. And I bought my first ever Mod Podge. And I love walking around craft stores with Jason. He always goes in totally unexcited, but once we hit the home decor section with all the metal signs, he perks right up. They actually had a lot of “guy” things, even Three Stooges signs, which I totally need.

Fantastic day. I love finding new little places together. And Jason is unfailingly good at finding great places to eat. I’m sure we didn’t even scratch the surface of all Jensen Beach has to offer. I’m equally sure we’ll come back again to remedy that.

Good Eats

Inspired by Megan bringing back Savory Sunday (yay!), I’m going to try a little harder to blog my noms. Not every week per se, just when the mood strikes. I’m keepin’ it easy.

Weekend before last, we had our friends Antoine and Heidi over for some grub. We always have a great time with them, and nothing beats introducing new people to the singing goats meme! They’re doing a big favor for us, so we wanted to make them a meal.

Jason and I cooked together for the first time in a really long time. Love love love cooking together. We need to do that more. Jason made his famous bread bowl. I made my homemade pizza and this cookies and cream ice cream recipe. The ice cream wasn’t a rousing success, but the super hot kitchen was more to blame than the recipe.

Speaking of super hot… 🙂


Here was part of our spread. I forgot to take pictures of the pizza.



Still loving grabbing fresh parsley from my balcony garden.



MK’s love affair with celery is alive and well.


I’ve made cheese soup quite a few times the past couple of months. I need to blog the recipe soon.


As mentioned awhile back, I made Jason an iPhone birthday cake.


I cannot take a good picture of steak to save my life! It tasted way better than it looked, I promise.


We’ve been eating crab cakes almost every week the past month or two. We could eat them every day. I can’t get enough fish. And we’re obsessed with cucumber salads.


I’ve kind of gotten out of the habit of taking pictures of what we eat. I’m still tracking my food with LoseIt! so maybe taking pictures feels like over- documenting. But I like doing it, and it’s fun to look back at our different food phases. Like when we used to eat pizza and egg rolls Every Week. And our Checkers phase. I’d call this past few months a soup + seafood phase. With a bunch of fresh produce thrown in. We’re still moving towards that ever-elusive “healthy lifestyle”. We’ll get there one day…

iPhone birthday cake

On Friday I made a cake for Jason’s birthday. It’s always a bit of a challenge to make a dessert he’ll like. But I think this year was the most successful one I’ve made. We might actually finish the whole thing, which I don’t think has ever happened. It helped that he had three days off from work in a row. We spent them relaxing, watching TV, and eating cake. 🙂

My original idea was to make emoticon cupcakes. I found a bunch of cute ones on Pinterest, but the all involved fondant. Jason doesn’t like fondant, so I was wracking my brain for something fun to do with the cake. (It was a craptastic morning, so this was partly to cheer myself up).

I decided to go with an iPhone cake after seeing these adorable app cupcakes. This video was also really helpful and cute. I was still a little on the fence with the whole idea, until I saw that you can make your own homemade fondant. It was supposed to be way better than the store bought kind, so that pretty much sold me.

So I walked to the store (in the rain) and got my ingredients. I decided to go with a plain yellow box cake mix and chocolate whipped frosting. Then I’d make the “apps” out of fondant and food coloring and stick them on top. That way if he didn’t like them, he could just peel them off.

I came home and baked the cake. (I also attempted to make mint chocolate chip ice cream, but that was a total fail. Did I mention it was a rough day?) While the cake was cooling (and the ice cream was failing) I started mixing up the fondant.

I followed the recipe exactly. The only thing I would add it to be sure and use the dough hook instead of the paddle for mixing because the fondant is extremely thick. It’s pretty much the consistency of play dough.

I drew a diagram of how I wanted the cake to look. I figured out the apps I wanted to make and what colors I would need. Then I rolled out the fondant. I used a shot glass to measure out how big I wanted my apps to be. This wasn’t exact, but I needed a starting point to figure out how much of each color I’d need.


Mixing up the food coloring was probably my favorite part of the whole process. I like to squish things in my hands 🙂 Making the actual apps was a bit tedious, but so much fun!

Here is my final result-


In case you can’t tell from the picture, I made app icons for messenger, calendar, the weather app, foursquare, notes, calculator, camera, photos, iPod, timer, phone, and mail. The phone looks a little janky, but it’s supposed to look like it has the red “missed calls” badge.

Oh yeah and one other thing… I totally put Jason’s wrong age on the calendar and weather apps. He’s really 38. Fail…. but we already know I’m a terrible wife, so I’m sure that doesn’t surprise anyone, lol.


High Five for Friday

1. Veronica Mars movie is green lit! Shooting starts in June! Yay!!! Two weeks after I nearly lost my s**t over the VM Kickstarter, it’s official! Super excited!

2. Call Me Maybe, orchestra edition. Okay I’m sure I’m probably the last person on earth to see this, but just in case I’m not…

3. This recipe for cucumber/ vinegar/ honey deliciousness. 

4. Green things. I planted iris bulbs this week and I can’t wait to go get more plant-y goodness this weekend!

5. Pop Culture Happy hour podcast. Catching up on a bunch of back episodes and really enjoying them.

Also loving….

Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on Thursday.
The Mentalist. Still. It’s our new comfort show.
Lazy weekend mornings when we can sleep until 9 and we don’t feel like Death on a Cracker.

Happy Friday!

Scrapping about food

Today on the Document Workshop, we’re talking all about food!

It’s pretty obvious how much I love talking about food. That’s kind of the point of this blog, or at least one of them. Whether it’s recipes, what we’re having for dinner, or going to food festivals, much of our life revolves around food. So of course I had to join in on this challenge. It was almost more of a challenge to narrow down what I wanted to scrap!

I decided to do a page on our recent trip to the Garlic Festival in Delray.

Lucky 13 template by Mandy KingBless This Mess by Mandy King

Credits: Lucky 13 Templates and Bless This Mess kit by Mandy King. Photos edited in Instagram. The Blue Cabin font.

Thanks for looking 🙂