We are stepmoms. We care for our families. That means we probably cook once in a while. Recently, I had the pleasure of going to a blogger meet-up for Bruegger’s Bagels. At the meet-up, Bruegger’s Executive Chef, Philip Smith, made a recipe (on the fly) for us using plain bagels. It was amazing! I asked for the recipe so I could share it with you.  Bruegger's Bagels, Bagel Recipes, Salmon Strata

I made the recipe for the first time the other day and decided to video myself making it and turned it into a vlog so you can watch me below if you like. This strata makes an amazing breakfast on a holiday (or any day) as you can make it the day before you bake it. It would also be a great dinner and it’s a wonderful idea for “what to do with day old bagels?”  There is something to be said for eating fresh bagels (sorry Thomas)!

I vlogged the recipe so if you want to watch me make it, ramble on as I assemble the ingredients and wear my nearly 10 year old apron, you can tune in below. I’m also posting the recipe here.

BRUEGGER’S SMOKED SALMON AND DILL STRATA                                                           Serves 6-8 people

This makes a fantastic Sunday brunch item or is perfect for a holiday breakfast for a group. It can be prepared and refrigerated overnight and baked next day. Bruegger's Bagels, bagel recipes

  • 5 Plain bagels , cut into thumb sized pieces
  • 6 large eggs, cracked into a bowl
  • 1 lb Bruegger’s smoked salmon
  • 1 tub/ 6 oz Bruegger’s Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup half and half
  • 1 stick of butter/ 4 oz
  • Pinch Cracked Pepper/ Salt
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Dill- end of the branches, picked into tiny pieces
  • ¼ of a medium Red Onion- finely chopped
  • Pam spray
  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F/ 325º F convection .
  2. Melt the butter in your microwave on high for 20 seconds.
  3. In a stainless bowl beat the eggs until they yolks and whites are blended. Then add the melted butter, half and half, salt pepper and fresh dill.
  4. Soak the cut bagel pieces in the egg mixture, and using your fingers, work the eggs into the bread, so it is thoroughly soaked and all the custard has been absorbed.
  5. Spray a 13” shallow baking dish with pan spray.
  6. Layer the baking dish with ½” layer of soaked bagels.
  7. Top with a layer of smoked salmon (half lb. or half the side of salmon)
  8. Dot the smoked salmon with dollops of half the cream cheese.
  9. Repeat a soaked bagel layer and another salmon layer. Dot again with the remaining half of cream cheese.
  10. Layer the remaining soaked bagels (this layer will be thinner).
  11. Top the soaked bagels with the chopped red onion, scattered over the top
  12. Bake covered for 20 minutes then between an additional 15- 20 minutes uncovered until the egg dish soufflés up and the center is firm.Bruegger's Bagels, recipes with bagels, stepmom resources

Serve warm in 2.5” squares with a small salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette

I substituted crab for the salmon. You could even use sausage, beef or go all veggie. I also added 10 minutes to my time when baking in my convection oven and did not serve with a vinaigrette.

The verdict: my family loved it and I loved making something unique and delicious. Would love your feedback on this recipe. Your thoughts? Do you love cooking with your family? For your family?

I do have to give a plug for Bruegger’s for all the good they do for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. On Wednesdays throughout the year, you can buy a dozen bagels for half price. And this Wednesday, November 14th, they are giving out FREE COFFEE til’ 2pm. Guests to Bruegger’s can enjoy their first cup of coffee that day while donating their spare change (or more) to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at canisters located by the register. In 2011, guests on this special day contributed more than $30,000 on Free Coffee Day! So plan on Wednesday, going to Bruegger’s, buying bagels and cream cheese for this great recipe and enjoying a free cup of coffee while donating to the Children’s Miracle Network.

note: I was not compensated for this post. Sharing the recipe with you because it is super yummy and super easy.

Looking for an easy and yummy recipe for Mother’s Day? Looking for a sweat treat to share with those you appreciate on this special day? Try these Mini Cranberry-Orange Breads!

This recipe is from the great folks at Domino Sugar. Of course I had to test this recipe out before recommending it to all my gals so  I asked for some volunteers at home. I had a blast baking with three of my six kids. Not only did we have a wonderful bread to share afterwards but we created a precious memory that the four of us  will treasure forever!

Padon my tangent, but I wanted to share that one of the reasons I so love baking with my children is it reminds me of the special time I used to spend with my grandmother. She not only taught me the fine art of baking she used that time to teach me about life.  There is no better time to talk to your kids then when you are working together on an interactive “project” like baking. I miss my grammie:)

Thanks for allowing me to reminisce.

This bread has a delicious aroma while baking. Your whole house will smell great!  The recipe is also super easy to make. Older kids could definately bake this on their own with you supervising the oven.

Everyone in our family enjoyed tasting the final product. It is sweet but the cranberries give it a tartness to create a nice blend of flavors.

I decided that I’m going to request this bread on Mother’s Day.  It will go nicely with the bowl of Honey Grahams, piece of toast, banana and glass of milk my kids always bring to me in bed (One year the tray didn’t make it all the way up the stairs! That was okay, I had my feast where it landed!)

I’m also going to bake up a few extra loaves to wrap up nicely and give to some friends who are such a blessing to me and are great moms and/or stepmoms as well.

However you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day, know that while we as moms sometimes go unnoticed and unappreciated we are doing the most important job of all and we are creating a legacy that will live far beyond what our eyes can ever and will ever see.

I wish you all a happy day!

Nothing evokes memories of the Easter Celebrations of my childhood than enjoying a slice of Easter Bread from my grandmother’s recipe. It’s sweet taste coupled with a pat of butter bring me back to a time that was full of wonder and joy. I love sharing this recipe with others. I hope it becomes a part of your Easter Traditions. I love to make it in round loaves and put a braided cross on top. Enjoy!

1 t SALT





4 1/2 C FLOUR






In honor of National Chili Day, I’m posting my husband’s chili recipe.  Thanks for asking for the recipe Kristy. If you are on twitter, Kristy is a great follow. You can find her at 

Andy’s Secret Chili Recipe

1 lb lean ground beef (you can use ground turkey)

½ C chopped yellow onion

½ C chopped green pepper

1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans (drained)

1 can (14 ½ ounces) whole or diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (8 ounces) plain tomato sauce

1 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP cumin

Any additional Mexican seasonings you like

Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce to taste (shh! It’s the secret weapon).


Brown ground meat in large skillet over med heat until no longer pink; drain. Add onion and green pepper; cook until tender.

Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings; cover.  Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

We like to sprinkle some sharp cheddar in the bottom of serving bowls and then spoon the chili over the cheese.

This makes 6 bowls of chili. I usually double the recipe.

This posting is in response to TeamDuffTweets. Thanks for asking for a crockpot recipe. I love to cook and share recipes. If you are on twitter, she is a great follow. Enjoy your tweets – Team Duff. Hope you all enjoy this recipe. Let me know how it turns out.

 Chicken Cacciatore

 4 boneless chicken breasts

1  jar of your favorite pasta sauce

1 small green pepper, sliced

1 small yellow onion, sliced

¼ c chicken broth

½ tsp garlic powder or any seasoning you prefer

½ tsp black pepper

Arrange chicken in your slow cooker. Cover chicken with pasta sauce, bell pepper, onion, broth, and seasonings.

Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4to 6 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Serve over pasta or rice, if desired.

Here are two of my favorite Slow Cooker standbys in a pinch.

Place a few frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooks (gotta love those bags of chicken) and cover with ¾ of a bottle of Italian dressing. Cook on low for 4-6 hours and serve with any side.

Also, love to cook a pork roast with barbecue sauce for 8-10 hours on low for great pulled pork sandwiches.

Here is my favorite casserole dish to make. It’s from Kraft Foods. Whenever I’m making a meal for a friend, this is my go-to recipe. Adults and kids love it.

Three-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake

1-1/2 cups penne pasta, uncooked (use multi-grain for a healthier dish)

1 pkg.  (9 oz.) fresh spinach leaves (I use half a bag and cut into pieces)

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces (I often use cubed chicken you can find in the deli section for salads)

1 tsp.  dried basil leaves

1 jar (14-1/2 oz.) spaghetti sauce

1 can  (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained

2 oz. (1/4 of 8-oz. pkg.)

Neufchatel Cream Cheese, cubed

1 cup  2% Milk Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided

2 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese

HEAT oven to 375ºF.

COOK pasta as directed on package, adding spinach to the boiling water the last minute.

COOK and stir chicken and basil in large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium-high heat 3 min. Stir in spaghetti sauce and tomatoes; bring to boil. Simmer on low heat 3 min. or until chicken is done. Stir in Neufchatel.

DRAIN pasta mixture; return to pan. Stir in chicken mixture and 1/2 cup mozzarella. Spoon into 2-qt. casserole or 8-inch square baking dish.

BAKE 20 min.; top with remaining cheeses. Bake 3 min. or until mozzarella is melted

Whenever I ask the question, what would you like me to make for dessert? The answer from nearly everyone in my home is DIRT CAKE!

Five of my six children are still young enough that they can bring in a birthday snack to school. My one son always requests dirt cake to be brought in on his special day. Being that I love to cook and bake and make a big deal about birthdays, I oblige.

To me, making a big deal about birthdays isn’t about lots of gifts. Rather, it’s about making your child feel special. Counting down to their special day, making their favorite dinner on their birthday, getting up extra early and making a special breakfast, leaving a small gift by their bed to be found when the wake up, etc…  It’s the time you spend with your kids and the rituals you create and do over and over again that they remember.

Think back to when you were a kid, do you remember every gift?  Or do you remember how your birthday was celebrated?

 … Back to the recipe. Here it is. Try it. You’ll love it!!!

 1 package of Oreos (Use double stuff if you like the cream better than the cookie)

8 oz of cream cheese (sub ff – tastes the same mixed up)

2 small pkgs of vanilla instant pudding

2 8 oz cartons of Cool Whip (thawed)

1 cup powdered sugar

3 cups of milk

Crush the Oreos (I put them in my Cuisinart. You can also put them in a sturdy Ziploc and crush with your rolling pin).  Set aside.

Mix Cool Whip, cream cheese and powdered sugar in a bowl.  Mix pudding and 3 cups milk in another bowl.  Stir till pudding mix is dissolved and thickening up. Pour pudding mixture in cool whip mixture and mix together well.

Stir 2/3 of crushed Oreos into the mixture. Put remaining  1/3 on top. Best to let stand in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. You can decorate with gummy worms or artificial flowers. Makes a great dessert centerpiece when served in a real (clean) flower pot and served with a small shovel. Great at wedding and baby showers and outdoor picnics.

Also, a great blended family recipe. Just like blended families, these ingredients are all blended together but many of them retain their original flavor. It’s lumpy but tastes delicious.

Okay smoms, you all know how many things we have to balance bringing two families together. One of those is cooking styles. While I fancy myself a good cook and one who definitely loves to make a healthy and hearty meal each night for her new family, I wasn’t ready for the rejection I received early on from my stepdaughters.  While their BM didn’t cook, their dad made things completely different than I did and when I would put dinner on the table they would just stare and say “what’s that?”  Even things as simple as grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza were rejected as I didn’t use the right “cheese.”


I have learned to adapt my cooking style and not take things to personally. I’ve also begun to merge our family recipes to make what I call blended family versions of favorite dinners.


One of my favorites is our blended family brownies.  My bio kids love chocolate chip cookies and request them any time I ask for dessert requests. My stepkids think that brownies are the jam so I decided to blend the two and now all six kids ask for cookie brownies!


Here’s the recipe:


Make your own chocolate chip cookie dough or purchase one package of TollHouse Chocolate Chip Cookies (breakaway squares in refrigerator section)


Make brownies using your own recipe or prepare a box of brownie mix.


Pour brownies into the pan. Either scoop a ball of ccc dough and drop by rounded teaspoon evenly onto the brownie batter.


Bake as directed on brownie recipe (usually 325degrees for 45 minutes).


It really doesn’t get any easier and it is super yummy.



*** I believe the people at Better Crocker have a few smoms on their staff because when I went shopping the other day for brownie mix I found that they make a Cookie Brownie Bar mix which is pretty much identical to what I’ve concocted.  So for a really easy make, pick up a box of their mix and serve your family some blended family brownies tonight!


Please let me know how you liked the recipe.

I’ve made these with my kids for years and they love making them as much as they love eating them.  The best part of baking in my opinion is the memories you make. 


You’ll need:

1 bag of pretzel minis

2 bags of Hershey Kisses

1 bag of Christmas M&M’s (plain milk chocolate)


Preheat the oven to 220 degrees. Have your kids unwrap the Hershey Kisses. Place pretzels on a cookie sheet (doesn’t matter if they touch). Now, place a Kiss in the middle of each pretzel.  Put the cookie sheet in the oven for 7 minutes.  Take out of the oven and press an M&M into the middle of one Kiss. If it goes in easily – you are ready to make the rest. If the Kiss seems a little hard still, put it in the oven for another minute.


After you’ve put an M&M in the middle of each Kiss, please the cookie sheet in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling. If you don’t have room in your refrigerator, you can put them on a shelf in the garage to cool if you live in cooler temperatures. After 20 minutes of cooling, they are ready to go.


Now, put on an old Christmas classic, make some hot chocolate, put out a plate of your Reindeer Kisses and settle back with your family and enjoy the sweet memory you just made.  Yummy!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...