Quick Egg Casserole for New Year’s Brunch

You know how I like quick and easy, right?  :)  Well, this isn’t a crockpot recipe, BUT, you’ll see that it’s so easy and so quick (besides the 1 hour cooking time), that you’ll enjoy throwing this Quick Egg Casserole together.  We actually had this for our Christmas brunch.  We don’t go all out on cooking on Christmas day.  We’d rather just be lazy than spend much time in the kitchen.  It’s always the most relaxing day, I think for the whole year!  All of my kids liked it, too….so that makes me want to serve it again on New Year’s Day!

This casserole will be the perfect way to bring in the New Year, without slaving away in the kitchen all day!  To make it even easier, it could be prepared the night before, stored in the fridge and then cooked first thing when you get up.


Quick Egg Casserole 3


Quick Egg Casserole for New Year’s Day Brunch


24oz hash browns (we used 32 oz)
16oz cubed ham (2 cups)
8oz shredded cheddar cheese
12 large eggs
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Combine potatoes, ham and cheese.

Quiick Egg Casserole

Mix eggs, milk, salt and pepper together separately.

Spray a 11×13″ pan with cooking spray.

Pour the potato/ham/cheese mixture into the pan.  Pour egg mixture over the potato mixture and pat down.

Quick Egg Casserole for a New Year's Day Brunch

Bake on 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the edges start browning and the center is set.


You can use shredded hash browns, but we ended up using the thicker, cut ones, because they were out of the shredded ones.  Either way, your dish will be delish.  :)

Chocolate Peppermint Bars Recipe – Christmas Baking

This post was sponsored by McCormick.  Any opinions are 100% my own.  

I love me some Christmas baking!  Don’t you?  You get to make all sorts of treats that you wouldn’t have on any normal day of the week.  You get to share them with your friends and family, all while trying not to eat too many of them.  ;)  That’s the hard part!

I was blessed with the opportunity to try one of McCormick’s very own recipes and wow, what a hit this will be in our family.  I think this will be in our recipe box for years to come!    It is absolutely DELICIOUS!  There is the perfect amount of McCormick Peppermint Flavoring as well as the amazing amounts of chocolate.  If you like Peppermint Patties, you’ll want to try this!


Chocolate Peppermint Bars


In fact, it’s even better than a Peppermint Patty!  The bottom of it is a fudgy brownie.   Then, you top it with a white peppermint patty  mixture.  After that, you top it with melted chocolate chips mixed with butter.  Sprinkle on some crushed peppermint candies, to make it look amazingly tempting.  It is very rich, so you won’t want to go overboard on eating lots of pieces of this amazing treat at once!  But wow, seriously?!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars Recipe

1 family sized box of brownie mix
2.5 cups of Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup (one stick) plus 7 Tbsp of butter, divided
1.5 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 tsp. McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract
12 oz semi sweet baking chocolate, broken into pieces
Crushed Peppermint Candies (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package. Spread in greased foil-lined 15x10x1-inch baking pan.
  2. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean. Cool in pan on wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, beat confectioners’ sugar, 7 tablespoons of the butter, melted, cream and peppermint extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Spread evenly over cooled brownie. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Microwave chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in large microwave bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Spread over top of chilled brownie. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies, if desired. Cut into bars.

Here’s what my steps looked like:

Here’s what we started with!!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah

We began by preparing the brownie mix.  While it was baking, we got my 2 year old started with breaking up the peppermints.  This boy loves to throw things and hammer things, so this was right up his alley!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


The brownies are out of the oven, so we let them cool for a while on a wire rack.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


While it was cooling,we got the peppermint mixture ready, complete with the McCormick Pure Peppermint Extract.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Once the brownies were cool enough, we spread the mixture over the top of the brownies.  Then stuck them in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


While that was in the fridge for 30 minutes, we got the chocolate topping for the top ready.  We put butter and chocolate chips in the microwave.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah

After they came out and we stirred them up, it looked like this:


Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Then, we spread it over the top.  It looked like this….

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Finally, we sprinkled the top with broken pieces of peppermint.

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Mmmm, Mmmm, doesn’t that look scrumptious!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


The next morning, we cut them into bars. Don’t they look pretty?

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


Even if they looked ugly, you can’t beat the taste!  Wowee, you’ll love these things!

Chocolate Peppermint Bars | Sidetracked Sarah


For more McCormick Christmas recipes, click here.

3 Substitutes for Canned Cream Soup

cream soup canned (1)

One of the biggest questions I get from all of the Crockpot Freezer Meals that I have posted, is this…..

“My family is staying away from canned cream soups because they’re so unhealthy.  Do you  have any substitution for this?”  

Well, I finally DO have an answer to this question.  It does require a little extra work, but depending on how much time you have, I think you’ll find it’s worth it!

The truth is, since I’ve been pregnant, I’m not at all happy with the taste or the smell of cream soups.  They make me want to gag.  blech.  So…yesterday, when I made Beef Stroganoff, I decided to try something new.  It was delicious!  My husband was raving and as you know, that makes me happy.  :)

Here’s what I did:


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (or beef or veggie, depending on what is in your recipe)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

So.  You’ve made gravy before, right?  Well, amazingly, this cream soup substitute is just like making gravy.

You start out by melting the butter.

Cream Soup Substitute

Then you stir in your flour until it makes a paste.

Cream Soup Substitute

Finally, you slowly stir in the milk and broth until it looks something like this (keep in mind this is a double batch equal to two cans):




So…. you’re thinking, OK, yes that was pretty easy, but I don’t always have time for this.  What now?  Shall I just skip making anything with cream soups?  Absolutely not!  In doing my research, I found a couple of other options.


Recipe #2

This one is extremely simple.  Keep in mind that I’ve never tried them, but from what I’ve read about them, it’s safe to say they’ll work.  If you do try one, please comment here and let me know how it turned out!


Mix together 1/2 (equal parts) cream and 1/2 chicken stock.


Recipe #3

The next one is by making up a mix.

2 cups dry milk
1.25 cups cornstarch or 2.5 cups flour
1/4 cup chicken bouillon powder
2 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp thyme (optional)
1 tsp basil (optional)

Mix all ingredients and store in air tight container.  If the mix is made with cornstarch, add 1/3 cup to 1.25 cups of water.  If it was made with flour, add 1/2 cup to 1.25 cups of water.  This makes the concentrated consistency.  If you’re actually wanting soup, double the water.