Baked Ham and Eggs Breakfast Cups

Baked Ham and Eggs Breakfast Cups

Baked Ham and Eggs Breakfast Cups

Today feels like a good day.

It feels like one of those days that has been a long time in coming.   But thanks to the passing of days, hours and minutes it’s finally here.  I’m staring down the finish line, listening to loud music blasting from my I-Pad, practicing dance steps while I cook–because that’s what I do..

The whole point of my happy dancing around the kitchen is because today is the last day at home before we go on va-ca-tion!!  To celebrate I am making a fantastic breakfast.


You know how it is when you’re going away, you clean out the refrigerator, right?   So I have a little of this and a little of that, and Bingo!! it becomes these cute little ham and egg cups.  I hope you like them as much as we did.  They were fun to make and even more fun to eat.

As described in the recipe, I baked the cups in the oven, but you could also make them in the microwave, for a quicker meal.  They only take a few seconds to put together and about 13 – 15 minutes to bake in the oven,  giving you just about enough time to make coffee and some toast to go with them.

Try them and do the happy dance around your kitchen, too.



Yield:   Directions are for 1 serving.  Increase amounts accordingly.IMG_7892


  • 1  or 2 slices thin deli ham
  • 1 or 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup frozen hash browns
  • shredded cheddar cheese


1.  Line the bottom of an 8-oz. ramekin or custard cup with ham slices, folding ham in half if necessary.

2.  Pour hash browns in top of ham.

Pour some hash browns over the ham.

Pour some hash browns over the ham.

Lightly whisk eggs and season with salt and pepper.  Pour over hash browns.


Pour eggs over hash browns.

Pour eggs over hash browns.


3.  Sprinkle top with shredded cheddar.

Sprinkle cheese on top,

Sprinkle cheese on top,

4.  Place ramekins on a baking sheet for stability in and out of the oven.

5.  Bake at 400 *F.  for 13 – 15 minutes, till tops are puffed and eggs no longer “jiggle”.  As noted above, these can also be cooked in the microwave until eggs are set.




SOURCE:    Carolyn’s Originals




Open-Faced Salmon & Avocado BLT’s

Open-faced salmon and avocado BLT's.

Open-faced salmon and avocado BLT’s.

Our weekly menus this summer have been plentiful in these two things:  hearty sandwiches and salads.  Somehow they seem like the right thing to have on a warm day when cooking is out of the question, so I’m always on the lookout for new combinations, especially for sandwiches.  I want them to be dinner-worthy which means they need to include the major components of a meal, be filling and nutritious.  This combination of tender salmon fillet with fresh tomatoes and lettuce plus crispy bacon on a focaccia roll is perfect.


I made this one evening a few weeks ago, on a night when I was starving, so I don’t know if I was having an exceptionally good cooking night or if I was just incredibly  hungry, but it was just soooo good.




Yield:    Serves 4


  • 4 slices diagonally cut ciabatta bread or 2 large ciabatta rolls, cut in half

    Get all the vegetables ready.

    Get all the vegetables ready.

  • 4 center-cut bacon slices
  • 4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets, skinned, about 3/4-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon minced chives, or green onions, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) tomato slices, halved
  • 1/2 peeled ripe avocado, cut into 8 wedges
  • 4 lemon wedges for serving


1.  Preheat broiler to high.

2.  Arrange bread or rolls on a baking sheet; broil 1 minute or until lightly toasted.

3.  Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from pan.  Add salmon fillets to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Cook bacon till crisp, then cook salmon in the drippings.

Cook bacon till crisp, then cook salmon in the drippings.

4.  Combine canola mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon water, 2 teaspoons minced chives, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.

5.  Spread mayonnaise mixture evenly over bread slices; top each with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 bacon slice,  2 halved tomato slices, 2 avocado slices and 1 fish fillet.

Building the sandwich layer by layer.

Building the sandwich layer by layer.

Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon chives.  Serve with lemon wedges.



SOURCE:    Eating Well


Summer Couscous Salad with Grilled Squash and Feta

Couscous Salad with Grilled Squash and Feta.

Couscous Salad with Grilled Squash and Feta.

Sometimes I spend so much time doing something (like manicuring my own nails), that by the time it’s complete, I’m entirely disenchanted with the finished product.

The same goes for some recipes.  The longer I spend peeling, slicing, dicing, stirring, cooking and cooling, the less I want to eat it in the end.  Sad story, right?

Laundry is another example.  Gathering, washing, drying, folding, ironing (really?, who irons?)  and putting away….AAHHHH.  Laundry is boring, not fun, not delicious!

Oh, but this salad though….in and out.  No  exorbitant amount of time spent slicing and dicing.  Just enough to get some veggies ready for the grill.  Just enough time to boil water for couscous.  Just enough time to put it all together with some tangy feta cheese and create a pretty salad.  Let’s carry the bowl over to the table, pull out a chair, sit down and enjoy our efforts.  This salad  is the perfect balance of  veggies, health and kitchen time.


I hope the start of your week is feeling great!

Let’s put some healthy salad in the mix!



Yield:  6 – 8 servingsIMG_7908


  • 2 medium zucchini squash
  • 2 medium yellow summer squash
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (optional)
  • 2 cups pearl couscous, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves, garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tbsp. dried
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese  (or substitute goat cheese, crumbled )


1.  Preheat grill.

2  Slice both kinds of squash lengthwise.  Baste with olive oil and garlic.

3.  Grill until tender, about 6 – 8 minutes per side.

4.  Remove squash from grill and cut into bite-sized pieces.

5.  In a large bowl, mix cooked couscous with squash and remaining ingredients.  Garnish with feta.  Serve warm or at room temperature.



SOURCE:   Eating Well

Dance As if No-one is Looking!


With the number of times I mentioned my upcoming ballroom dance competition throughout the summer, now that it’s over I thought some of you might be interested in the outcome.

In our dance studio, we are frequently told to “dance as if no one is looking”.  I tried to keep that in mind each time I walked onto the dance floor and it must have worked because this was one of my best performances to date.  I entered 32 heats (number of times danced), and finished in first place 28 times and the other 4 entries I came in 2nd place.   The results were beyond my wildest expectations.  Needless to say I am over-the-moon happy with how I did.


I was away for four days, and when I got home I was so tired I could have slept for another four days, but that was not to be, so gradually I’m regaining my much needed sleep and energy that I poured into the dancing.  There are so many emotions that go through you at a time like that, it is hard to describe exactly what it was like, but I was certainly exhausted when it was over.

Just a little background information for you:   in American-style ballroom there are two categories of dance,   Smooth and Rhythm.  Smooth dances consist of waltz, foxtrot, tango, and Viennese waltz.   When dancing smooth,  long “ball gowns” are the required attire for women with closed toe shoes.  One whole day is devoted to smooth dances.  The rhythm category includes swing, rumba, cha-cha, mambo, Paso Doblé, samba, bolero, and hustle.   These dances require the woman to wear a short costume that has a lot of movement along with open-toe shoes.  The judges really want to see all that hip action, don’t you know!!  Another whole day and evening is devoted to rhythm dances.


In addition to the costumes, extreme hair styling takes place as well.  At our dance studio we are fortunate to have someone who is very talented at hair styling for competition and is available to “do” our hair for us.   I wouldn’t want you to think I go around with my hair looking like this all the time.  All though there are times when I have a “bad hair day”, it’s never quite  like this.  On both days that I danced I needed to be in the ballroom by 7:30am with gown and makeup on ready to have my hair done.  My first dances were around 8:30am.

The photos that I have included here show me dancing with my instructor in the smooth dances.  I hope you enjoy seeing them.  I am still waiting for my photos from the rhythm section of the competition.  When they arrive I will post a few to give you another view of what I wore and what that was like.





Lemony Ricotta Galette with Summer Squash

Lemony Ricotta Galette with Summer Squash

Lemony Ricotta Galette with Summer Squash

I know that being swamped with zucchini is a continuing problem for some of you with gardens, so I’m here to help with that.  Even if you don’t have a garden (like me), you may be looking for some different ways to use zucchini or yellow summer squash.

Summer squashes are about as versatile a vegetable as they come.  Delicious in so many ways–grilled, sautéed, baked or paired with other vegetables, you name it, they’re great.  They can become the main entree in a meatless meal, a savory side dish, or baked into a dessert.  Today I am making a galette that can be the centerpiece of your meal, or served as a side dish, or appetizer.

A side salad is all that's needed for this meal.

A side salad is all that’s needed for this meal.

Galettes are known for their flaky flat crust and irresistible fillings, and this zucchini/summer squash-stuffed pastry is no exception.  The tender veggies are paired with three kinds of cheeses, lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil, then baked until brown and crisp.

Here’s a tip that will make the squash less moist and save your crust from becoming soggy:  Salt the squash well and allow to drain in a colander for about 15 minutes.  Pat dry with a paper towel before putting them into the pastry.


Yield:   Makes 6 servings


  • 2 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash, thinly sliced (2  1/2 cups)
  • salt
  • 1/2  (15-oz.) package rolled refrigerated piecrust (A time saver,  but make your own if you must.)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1.4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 egg yolk  ( or small amount egg beater/egg substitute)
  • Italian seasoning blend or dill weed for garnish


1.  Sprinkle sliced zucchini lightly with salt.  Transfer to a colander; drain for 15 minutes.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Preheat oven to 400*F.

Pat squash dry before using.

Pat squash dry before using.

2.  Meanwhile, on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper, roll pie dough to a 12-inch circle.  Transfer parchment and dough to a large baking sheet and set aside.


3.  Make ricotta filling:  In a medium bowl whisk together ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, garlic, 1 tsp. olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Using a spatula, spread over dough, leaving a 1  1/2-inch border at edge.

Spread ricotta filling on dough leaving a border.

Spread ricotta filling on dough leaving a border.

Top with squash slices.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil.  Sprinkle seasoning blend over squash.

Top with squash slices and seasonings.

Top with squash slices and seasonings.

Gently fold up pastry edges over filling, pleating as necessary.

Fold up edges, and brush with egg mixture.

Fold up edges, and brush with egg mixture.

4.  In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and 1 tsp. water.  (Or use egg substitute)  Lightly brush pastry edges with egg mixture.  Transfer galette to oven.  Bake 35 – 40 minutes or until edges are golden brown.  If using dill weed as a seasoning, some dill fronds make a colorful garnish.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


So delicious!

So delicious!




SOURCE:   Better Homes and Gardens



Grilled Shrimp Panzanella Salad


Grilled Shrimp Panzanella Salad

Grilled Shrimp Panzanella Salad

Our weekly menus this summer have included some type of dinner salad at least once a week.  I like to try different ingredients so that they stay fresh and interesting.  The last thing I want is a boring salad.


Panzanella is a Tuscan salad of bread and tomatoes popular in the summer.  It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes onions and basil dressed with olive oil and vinegar. Over time other ingredients have found their way into this refreshing summertime salad.

In this version the salad is livened up by the addition of tender grilled shrimp, bread cubes and feta cheese.



Yield:  6 – 8 servings


  • 1  1/2 cups Italian salad dressing, divided
  • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 small loaf ciabatta bread, halved lengthwise
  • 8 cups torn, mixed greens
  • 3 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped ripe olives
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


1.  Pour 1 cup salad dressing in a large resealable plastic bag.  Add the shrimp; seal the bag and turn to coat.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile brush bread with 1/4 cup salad dressing.  Grill, uncovered, over medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes on each side or until lightly toasted.  Cut bread into cubes; set aside.

3.  Drain and discard marinade.  Thread shrimp on four metal or soaked wooden skewers.  Grill, covered, over medium heat for 5 – 8 minutes or until shrimp turn pink, turning once.

4.  In a large bowl, combine salad greens, remaining dressing; toss to coat.  Add the tomatoes, cheese, onion, olives, garlic, shrimp and bread cubes;  toss to combine.


SOURCE:   Taste of Home


Blueberry Lemon Muffins

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

When I was a teenager I went blueberry picking with my mother.  When we came home with our buckets full of  gigantic blueberries, the first thing we made was blueberry pancakes for dinner that evening.  The second thing we made were these blueberry muffins.  I think they were the first item I learned to bake.   I have never deviated from this recipe even though I have looked at many others over the years.  They are just sooo good, and they taste like home.


These muffins are so easy to make; no beater is involved.  They are made completely by hand.  Just measure everything out, whisk together the dry ingredients,  whisk the liquids, add the sugared berries, and fill your muffin tins.  Bake and be sure to have at least one while they are still warm.  I like to have some butter melted and ready when they come out of the oven, and a little cup of sugar.  Then I dip or brush butter all over the top of each one, and sprinkle on the sugar.   Mmmmm, Mmmmm.

You know you want one!

You know you want one!

Most likely everyone already has their favorite recipe for blueberry muffins, but I’m sharing mine with you in case you don’t.  What makes these muffins a little different from others is the lemon-sugar that coats the berries before they are folded into the batter.  Lemon with blueberries is such a wonderful taste combination, and it really works to great advantage in these muffins.  Give them a try and compare to others you’ve made.



Yield:   Makes 12 muffins


Blueberries and lemon---made for each other.

Blueberries and lemon—made for each other.

  • 1  3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2  1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup salad oil
  • 1 cup blueberries, washed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp. butter, melted;  a little extra sugar for topping


1.  Preheat oven to 400*F.   Line a muffin pan with paper liners, or grease well.

2.  Whisk together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt  in a mixing bowl.

3.  In another smaller bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, and oil.

4.  Make a well in the flour mixture and add the egg mixture all at once.  Stir quickly just to moisten.  There may still be some slumps.


5.  Mix together the lemon peel with the 2 Tbsp. sugar,  add the damp berries and toss to coat.   Stir gently into the muffin batter.

6.  Fill the muffins cups–they will be quite full.    Bake at 400*F for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven when they are golden and test done.

7.  While still warm, brush tops with melted butter and then sprinkle with extra sugar.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.




SOURCE:    An old recipe from my recipe box.


Keeping it Simple

You’re going without makeup, walking around barefoot and even actually reading hardcover books.  Midsummer is here.   That means life is easy, and you’re  enjoying the simple things.    I hope that extends to your meal planning.

Here’s where a good pasta recipe comes in.  And those tomatoes that are really starting to ripen up?   Make them the star of the dish.  Roast or sauté 3 -4 of them along with some garlic and pour over thin spaghetti cooked al dente..  Then, before serving, top with chopped fresh basil and grate some cheese on top.   Oh my!  All that goodness in one place—-I think I might swoon!

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce

The kind of tomatoes you use for this dish can be any kind you have available.  I’m partial to roma/plum tomatoes because they are so meaty without a ton of seeds,  Sometimes I mix different kinds for some variation.  In the version I made here, I added some small meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer just to cook through, making it a little more hearty–the way Mr. D. likes it.  Lots of fresh basil cut up on top is a must, and let everyone grate on some Parmesan cheese.



Yield:  Makes 4 main-dish servingsIMG_7846


  • 1  (8-oz.) package spaghetti
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, use a good quality with a nice fruity aroma
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 – 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tsp. fresh basil, torn
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • more bail for garnish
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving (vegans, omit the cheese)


1.  In a 6-quart saucepan, cook spaghetti as label directs.

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add mixed garlic and cook until tender, 1 – 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, 2 tsp. torn basil and salt;   heat through.    If adding meatballs, cover, and simmer on low to heat through, stirring occasionally.

3.  Drain spaghetti, and save 1/4 cup cooking liquid.    Pour into serving bowl,  pour tomato sauce over, and stir to coat.  Add cooking liquid a little at a time, if needed, to further loosen the sauce.  Sprinkle more chopped basil over the top and serve.  Pass the grated cheese.



This is my idea of great summer eating;  pick those tomatoes while they’re still warm with sunshine, cut them up, cook briefly, and eat ASAP.  Sigh!

SOURCE:  Carolyn’s Originals





A Salad….

Cherry-Quinoa Salad with Cucumber Ribbons

Cherry-Quinoa Salad with Cucumber Ribbons

I am in need of a salad.  The kind that’s heavy with greens and good nutrients, yet unique and full of surprises, and well,  sexy!

The kind of salad that makes you want to wear those sleek, super expensive yoga pants, if you wear yoga pants, that is.  Me?  I wear tight, super short dance skirts, or long skirts with a slit up to THERE!   You see where I’m going with this don’t you?   In short….when your shape is gonna show, make sure it’s a shape you wanna show!


Yeah,  that’s exactly the kind of salad I’m craving.

Today we are making Cherry Quinoa Salad on cucumber ribbons.  Come on,  let’s do salad!

I love combining sweet summer fruit with salad ingredients.  It’s pretty amazing that sweet cherries, grated carrots and green onions get married in this salad starring our favorite grain, quinoa.  Now spoon that over some ribbons of pickled cucumbers.   Whaaat?   I know, unbelievable, right?  That’s what I said, until I tasted it. Now I want it for lunch and dinner every day.  Go figure.



Yield:  Makes 6 servings;  serving size: 1 cup


  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegarIMG_7810
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1  3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups pitted and chopped sweet cherries
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots ( 1 medium)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions ( 2)
  • 3 tbsp. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp. snipped fresh mint
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped


1.  Make vinaigrette:   in a screw-top jar combine vinegar, oil, honey, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper.  Cover and shake well; chill until needed.

2.  In a large saucepan combine water, wine, and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in quinoa.  Return to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered for 12 to 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Cool, tossing occasionally, by stirring with a fork.

3.  Stir cherries, carrot, green onions parsley, and mint into quinoa.  Drizzle with 6 tablespoons of the vinaigrette; toss gently to coat.





Reserve the remaining vinaigrette for a later use.   Cover and chill quinoa mixture for at least 2 hours.  To serve, sprinkle with pistachios.

4.  To serve salad on Cucumber “Ribbons”:    Using a vegetable peeler, cut 1 small seedless cucumber lengthwise into thin “ribbons”.  Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette; toss to coat.   Line a serving platter with cucumber “ribbons.”  Spoon the quinoa salad on top of cucumber and sprinkle with pistachios.


Nutritional Profile:  (Cherry-Quinoa Salad),  322 calories, 11 g fat, 365 mg sodium, 46 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 9 g protein.

(with cucumber “ribbons”), 353 calories, 10 g protein, 49 g carbs, 13 g total fat, 6 g fiber, 431 mg sodium,

SOURCE:   Better Homes and Gardens Newsletter

Apricot Amaretti Crisp

Apricot-Amaretti Crisp

Apricot-Amaretti Crisp

Fresh apricots are available here where I live.  Their season is so short that I try to get some at least once and do something with them besides eating them out-ot-hand.  They are so sweet and flavorful, that it’s hard for me to not just eat them all up.  The ones that I get are almost as big as a peach and  have the typical apricot color with rosy patches splashed on them. They are firm when ripe, yet juicy when you bite into them.   Soooo Good!

Big, beautiful apricots are the basis for this dessert.

Big, beautiful apricots are the basis for this dessert.

I came across this recipe for a “crisp” using apricots with the topping made from amaretti cookies.  I began to salivate just reading about that combination and knew immediately that I had to make it.  The almond flavor of the cookies is perfect with apricots.  This is a wonderful dessert; not too sweet, with a crunchy topping over the tender juicy apricots.  Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a little ice cream.   YUM!  After sampling it I realized it would be equally good using peaches, because almond and peaches are also a great combination.  So if apricots are not available in your area, try this with peaches instead.


Yield:  Makes 6 servings

Crush cookies by putting in zip-bag, and crushing with a meat tenderizer  or rolling pin

Crush cookies by putting in zip-bag, and crushing with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin


  • 1 1/2 pounds apricots, pitted and cut into eighths
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup crushed amaretti cookies
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • heavy cream for whipping if desired


Slice and dress the apricots.  Make crumb mixture.

Slice and dress the apricots. Make crumb mixture.



1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.

2. Combine apricots, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a bowl; toss well to coat.  Spoon evenly into 6 ( 8-ounce) ramekins coated with cooking spray.  Or use an 8-inch square baking dish.


3.  Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, cookies, and next 4 ingredients ( through butter); sprinkle cookie mixture over apricot mixture.

Cookie mixture sprinkled on top.

Cookie mixture sprinkled on top.

Arrange ramekins on a baking sheet.  Bake at 375* for 25 minutes or until filling is bubbly.

Topping gets browned and crunchy after baking.

Topping gets browned and crunchy after baking.


4.  Place 1/3 cup cream in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form.  Dollop cream over crisps.   These are best served warm, and  can be gently reheated in the microwave if necessary.

Served with vanilla ice cream.

Served with vanilla ice cream.   Deeee-lish!



SOURCE:   Cooking Light Magazine