Category Archives for Appetizers & Side Dishes

White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns – Easter Tradition with a Twist

Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny, Hot cross buns! If you have no daughters, Give them to your sons…

I love, love, love me some hot cross buns. Waking up on Easter morning, running into the kitchen to see Hot Cross Buns in the oven was life altering. Something so simple and easy yet so irresistibly good – how could they not change lives?!


Of course we always had them on Good Friday, but us kids didn’t really understand what that was. But boy, when we got tucked in and told we were having Hot Cross Buns in the morning it was like Christmas Eve.

You remember that anticipation that kept you from closing your eyes for more than a few minutes at  a time.


I love that my son gets to embrace this tradition today, and I imagine he’ll share it with his children too. Or at least marry someone who will. Everyone has their own way of making hot cross buns, and I’ve added a little twist to mine. My mom used to use raisins  her mom used currants, I use white chocolate chips. Don’t judge me, they’re soo good!

white chocolate I make my Hot Cross Buns pretty big, but we like ’em big. Truth be told, they would probably bake better if they were smaller. We’ve never had enough leftovers to need to freeze them, but I imagine they would keep for a couple days at least. What do you think?

How do you like your Hot Cross Buns?

White Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Author: Amber
  • 5 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm (not hot) milk
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 eggs, plus 1 egg beaten
  • 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or stick with cinnamon if you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips, plus 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  1. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm milk into a small bowl. Add the yeast and allow it to bloom for 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the honey, 2 eggs, butter, pumpkin pie mix, salt and white chocolate chips. Mix in the flour, slowly. While mixing, carefully add the 1 cup of milk.
  3. Once the mixture is dough like, dump it onto a counter and knead 4 times. If it’s too sticky add a little flour to smooth it out. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double in size; about 20 minutes.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it. Pull off pieces about the size of a baseball (or your preferred size) and make them into balls. Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet. Continue until all the dough is used. Cover again with plastic wrap and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. I like to sit my buns on the oven to rise while it’s preheating. This take between 10 and 15 minutes.
  5. Uncover the buns and cut crosses into the tops. Brush the tops with the beaten egg and bake for 20 minutes or until browned.
  6. To ice the tops I melted 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips and piped the crosses on with that. Yummy!


Bacon, Egg, Apple & Cheese Frittata with Butternut Squash Hash browns

Frittata’s are so versatile. You can enjoy them for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even dinner. What I love most about them is I can make them for dinner and serve the leftover’s for breakfast. It saves me a ton of time and puts a smile on everyone’s face. This frittata is packed with flavor and is so simple. Serve it with the butternut squash hash browns and you have everything you need to make a complete meal.


 This Frittata has amazing layers of flavor. The sharp cheddar cheese, sweet gala apples and the bacon take turns dancing on your pallet. And like I said before, it’s great reheated in the morning so you stretch your food and your time!

Bacon, Egg, Apple & Cheese Frittata with Butternut Squash Hash browns
Recipe Type: Brunch
Cuisine: American
Author: Amber
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 1 gala apple, cored and diced (1/4 inch pieces)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of milk
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cook your bacon to slightly crispy. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Either clean the pan or get a new one.
  4. Heat the butter and apples in a heavy cast iron or other oven proof skillet over medium heat until the apples are al dente (about 6 minutes.) Add in the bacon and cook for 2 minutes on low heat.
  5. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, cheese, milk and seasonings. Mix until the eggs are well beaten.
  6. Pour the egg mixture over the apple mixture and bake for 30 minutes.

bacon 2

The Butternut Squash Hash Browns are the perfect replacement for the starchy counterpart. While not comparable to potatoes, the crispness of the squash delivers what is wanted from a popular morning offering. The hint of garlic powder gives these a delicious flavor that takes away the awkwardness for some that eating squash brings.

Butternut Squash Hash browns
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Amber
  • 1 cup shredded squash (about half a small butternut squash)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking
  1. Press the shredded squash between 2 sheets of paper towels to dry.
  2. In a medium to large bowl mix combine the shredded squash and seasonings
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy pan.
  4. Form the squash mixture into whatever shapes you prefer (or toss it in unformed) and cook until brown.
  5. If you formed the squash fry it until it’s browned and holding on the bottom (about 3 minutes), flip and repeat.
  6. Drain on paper towels and serve war.

Savory Mashed Cauliflower

You know how every now and then (not very often around here) you need something lighter than what you’ve been eating? Especially when it comes to carbohydrates! Carbs make up a big part of our meals and after a while we feel it. You know, that sluggish “ugh, I’m not getting out of bed this week” feeling. I’m feeling that way this week so I’m trying to lighten up our meals for at least a few nights. Tonight I did this by replacing our traditional mashed taters with some savory mashed cauliflower.

savory 0

It took me a long – and I do mean long – time to work up the courage to bring cauliflower into my home. I was tortured with them as a little girl; that happens when you have 3 brothers (at least that’s what my therapist told me!) Anyway – they used to chase me around the house with these telling me they were brains and that when I ate them I would turn into whoever “wore” the brains last. I had such horrible nightmares and went to bed hungry any time they were on the table.


Tonight I broke down and made the savory mashed cauliflower and I’m so glad I did! This whips up so fast it’s crazy and is truly a savory side dish. If you need to lighten up your meals this is a great choice and very easy to make. Using a mixer would make these more creamy but I like my taters with some texture, so that’s how I made this mashed cauliflower.

Savory Mashed Cauliflower
Author: Amber
  • 1 medium – large head of cauliflower, cleaned, cored and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons of butter (or margarine if you want to go vegan), room temperature
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced – plus 1 peeled clove
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Steam your cauliflower and 1 clove of garlic in the vegetable stock until it’s tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the cauliflower is steaming, melt the butter in a small sauce pan with the herbs (medium-low heat.)
  3. Strain the excess liquid from the cauliflower and transfer it to a large bowl. Discard the garlic clove.
  4. Pour the melted butter over the cauliflower and smash with a masher or mixer. Season with salt and pepper to suit your taste.

Oyster & Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Most families have traditional meals and their own spin on the fixings. My family is no different. Every holiday meal we have a preset menu. John’s absolute favorite thing is my grandmothers Oyster & Sausage Stuffing. Even if we’re not having poultry this stuffing is present. Oyster-Sausage-Stuffing-Recipe

He was craving Granny’s Oyster & Sausage Stuffing last night so I headed to the store to get most of the ingredients. I was bummed they didn’t have fresh rosemary and I had to resort to using dried rosemary leaves, but if you can find it fresh definitely use that. I was also feeling lazy so I went with pre-shucked oysters from the seafood market  Hey, my mom is the master shucker when it comes to oysters, I always end up with cuts all over my hand!

Oyster & Sausage Stuffing

This is a heavy and rich stuffing, a little goes a long way!

Oyster-Sausage-Stuffing Oyster-Sausage-Stuffing-Recipe1

Oyster & Sausage Stuffing Recipe
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Author: Amber
  • 2 pounds bulk sausage, browned and crumbled
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh thyme, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh sage, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, deleaved and diced
  • ½ lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large loaf of day old bread, torn into small bits, roughly 8-10 cups
  • 1 pint of shucked oysters, roughly chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. And chop up your herbs and vegetables.
  2. Oyster & Sausage Stuffing Recipe Herbs
  3. In a large skillet cook the sausage, crumbling as you cook it.
  4. While you’re waiting on the sausage to brown start chopping your herbs, celery and onion. Add them to a large bowl as you go.Add in the lemon juice and zest.
  5. Add the bits of bread and oysters. Fold in the sausage.
  6. Pour the beaten egg over top of the mixture and mix well. Add the butter, mix then add the chicken stock and mix. Mix in salt and pepper according to your preference.
  7. Put the stuffing in a large casserole dish and bake for 1½ hours or until the top is golden brown.

Growing up on the Eastern Shore it’s hard not to incorporate fresh seafood in your traditional meals. It’s readily available and gives a touch of home to anything you eat. The oysters in the stuffing give off a distinct flavor, but the sausage plays it down so it’s not overwhelming. It’s one of those things you have to taste to believe.


Irish Soda Bread Recipe – a St. Patrick’s Day Tradtion

My step dad used to always brag about being The Real McCoy. I guess technically it was true since his last name was McCoy but he took it a bit far. He was always proud of his Irish heritage and incorporated Irish tradition into any occasion possible. You can only imagine how St. Patrick’s Day went down around our house. Irish Soda Bread was always a staple on St. Patrick’s Day as was Irish Coffee on New Years. He was the only father I knew so I try to continue these traditions with my family.


I was going through one of his old recipe boxes last week trying to plan out our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and happened upon his Irish soda Bread recipe. He always took so much pride in making this traditional Irish bread so I wanted to do the same. I wanted to make something that would match his Irish Soda Bread in flavor but still be mine.


When my step dad made the Soda Bread he used a traditional recipe with only 4 ingredients. His recipe makes an amazing bread but I like a little more depth to mine. I added in a few tablespoons of sugar and some raisins to make a bread my entire family will enjoy. The sugar and raisins can be easily omitted for a more traditional Irish Soda Bread.


If you’re looking for something easy and tasty for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration this Irish Soda Bread is for you. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

 Have You Ever Made Traditional Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Irish
Author: Amber
  • 3 cups sifted flour (cake or pastry flour works best since they’re softer)
  • 2 – 4 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you want it – or omit it all together)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup raisins (leave these out for a more traditional soda bread)
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  1. Mix the dry ingredients together well. Stir in the raisins and milk.
  2. Mix together to form a sticky dough.
  3. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth (8 – 10 times – don’t over knead.)
  4. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and add the dough. Spread the dough out in the pan.
  5. Score the dough with a large “X” on the top.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes.
  7. Carefully remove the bread from the oven. Serve with your Irish meal.
This bread needs to be consumed within 1 or 2 days – it will [b]not [/b]keep.