jalapeno cheesy bacon swirl rolls

so… i try hard not to overshare on these interwebs. i say that because i’m staring at the screen trying to type something fluffy and hysterical but nothing is coming to me…. which works because it lets me talk more about these rolls!

these rolls are the next edition to my participation in the pass the cookbook club. i had a lot going on last month so i didn’t participate because the date snuck up on me. but this month i was determined not to let that happen again! {which it totally still did but not as last minute as before…}

when i first saw the choices from this month’s selection {the smitten kitchen cookbook by deb perelman}, i was immediately drawn to the sweet option… shocker right? but then i decided i needed to be brave and make these rolls.

see i have this tremendous fear of baking with yeast… what if i kill the yeast? what if it doesn’t rise? what if it turns out like a rock? what if? what if? what it?

well the recipe for these rolls hit on my love of carbs and my love of cheese so i figured it was high time i tried again! and guess what?!? i totally rocked this yeast recipe!! yay for my little yeast victory!!

and when i decided to make these, i knew i couldn’t leave well enough alone. see deb’s recipe was great and all but i felt it needed a little heat… in the form of some fresh jalapenos. oh and since we were remixing this little swirl, why not change the cheese from regular ol’ cheddar to something with some pizzazz… say maybe some smoked gouda. plus what makes any spread / filling better… roasted garlic so let’s just add that in there. and while we’re at it, let’s add the ultimate condiment…BACON!

{side note: bacon truly is the ultimate condiment. it goes with everything. for true.}

jalapeno cheddar bacon swirl rolls

jalapeno cheddar bacon swirl rolls


  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs + 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 {1/4 oz} package) instant yeast
  • 1 c warm milk (110-115F)
  • 4 tbs melted butter


  • 1/2 c grated onion
  • 1-1/2 c grated smoked gouda
  • 1 small head garlic, roasted*
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped (saving 1 tbs of the bacon grease)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

to make the dough:

  1. combine the flour, salt, pepper and 1 tbs sugar in the bottom of a large bowl. in a separate bowl, combine the warm milk, 1/4 tsp sugar and yeast; stir until the yeast dissolves and let bloom until the bubbles double in size (or until the yeast “blooms”). pour the yeast-milk mixture into the flour; add in the melted butter.  mix them together with the paddle of an stand mixer or a wooden spoon until a shaggy ball forms.
  2. if you’re using a stand mixer, switch to your dough hook and knead on low for 6 min or until a smooth, slightly sticky ball is formed. if you’re making this by hand, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until smooth, about 8 min.
  3. place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. let the dough rest until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. {you can also chill the dough for up to 3 days before bringing it back to room temp and moving on.}
  4. scoop the risen dough out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. roll the dough into a 12×16 in rectangle. mix the filling ingredients and spread over the dough; leave about 1/2 in border on the shorter ends. roll short end to short end making a log. carefully cut into 1 in rounds using a sharp knife.
  5. line the bottom of either {2} 9 in / 8 in round / square pans or 1 9×13 in baking pan with parchment paper; arrange the rolls in the pan(s) with an even amount of space in between. brush the tops of the rolls with bacon grease; cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled again, about another 2 hours. when almost doubled, preheat your oven to 350F. once buns are fully doubled, bake for 20-25 min, until tops are golden and cheese is bubbling. serve immediately.

*my method for roasting garlic: preheat your oven / toaster oven to 350F. cut the top off your head of garlic and place it in some aluminum foil. pour a little olive oil (about 1 tbs or so) over top and sprinkle with salt and pepper. tightly wrap the head up in the aluminum foil and let bake for 75 min.

seriously. these rolls. make them. now.


check out some of the other great things others made from the pass the cookbook club:

recipe adapted from: the smitten kitchen cookbook

this post is linked up to these fun link parties: what’s cookin wednesday and what’s in your kitchen wednesday


greek couscous salad

can we chat a bit on current events?

i’m sure you’ll be shocked to know that i’m a pretty opinionated person but i rarely talk about any type of controversial events {such as paula deen, trayvon martin, etc} because goodness knows the fire that’s out there… and i’m not going to talk about those events but there are some i just have to talk about….

first…. this kid who lost on jeopardy because he misspelled the word emancipation {he added an extra “t” – emaciptation}. dude…. for real his parents should be teaching him to be a gracious second place contestant. you were on JEOPARDY for goodness sake. it’s not like you were on some random game show that it doesn’t matter about correct spelling. this is jeopardy…. PLUS he even if he hadn’t misspelled it, he still would have been in second place!!! bow out gracefully and enjoy the experience. but in a society where everyone gets a medal for participating, this kid makes national news because he feels he was “cheated” out of the correct answer because he can’t spell and is a sore loswer. seriously kid, life’s not fair. plus there’s always spell check.

secondly… a-rod. or as i saw on a sign, a-roid. here’s my beef with it….. he flat out cheated and now he’s pissed because he got caught. seriously. when asked, he’s not saying “i’m appealing because the mlb is wrong, i didn’t use peds and i’m not in any way associated with biogenesis”. no he’s appealing because he feels like he got the short end of the stick when it comes to being suspended for 211 games. i’m sorry but with the way kids look up to professional athletes, shouldn’t we punish those caught cheating? shouldn’t he be man enough to admit he screwed up {for at least a second time}? shouldn’t we as fans be able to expect that the game is “clean”? i mean i’m just saying

anyways…. rant over.

so here’s a savory recipe for you!! i figure with labor day and football season coming up, you might need a good recipe to bring along to some cookouts / tailgates. and friends is this good! i saw it over on maria’s site and decided it had to be added to our 4th of july menu and i’ve totally been holding out on y’all…


back to the couscous salad…. this is such a great alternative to traditional pasta salad; although couscous is a pasta, it’s just not a shape {bowtie, penne, elbow} you would traditionally think of when it comes to pasta salads. but this is fantastic. i kept it pretty close to maria’s original recipe but i did make a couple little changes… first off, i don’t like olives so they had to go. i replaced them {and their saltiness} with some crumbled feta cheese because everything needs some cheese in there. also, i used dried herbs instead of fresh for a couple reasons… i have a black thumb and can’t seem to keep anything alive. also, dried herbs are more accessible to me and i figure to you too. finally i used a smaller package of couscous because it’s what the store had. since there is no mayo in the dish, it’s perfect for a cook out or tailgate!!

greek couscous salad

greek couscous salad

  • 1 (4 oz) package pearl couscous {also called israeli couscous}
  • 1 c grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (13.75 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1-1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • juice of 2 large lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. prepare couscous according the package directions; transfer cooked couscous to a large bowl. fluff with a fork and add tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta cheese.
  2. prepare the dressing: in a small bowl or jar, add the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. whisk / shake together; pour over the couscous mixture and stir until everything is well combined. add more salt & pepper if desired. serve.

easy peasy lemon squeezy!


recipe adapted from: two peas and their pod

this post is linked up to these fun link parties: what’s cookin wednesday and what’s in your kitchen wednesday

brie bites

so i’m about to gift you the world’s easiest appetizer.

i like to throw get togethers and i came up with these little gems a couple months ago for a girls night. i love baked brie and figured there had to be a better way to get all that goodness into a simple bite. after scouring magazines and the internet these little beauties were born!

so let’s not be wordy (for once in my life)…..

brie bites

brie bites

  • 30 phyllo cups
  • 3/4 lb brie cheese (i remove the rind but it’s perfectly edible so if you don’t feel like going through that, no worries)
  • 1/4 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c chopped pecans
  1. preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. in a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and pecan; set aside. equally divide the brie among the phyllo cups. place 1/2 tsp of the sugar mixture on top of each of the brie filled phyllo cups. bake at 350F for 10 min.



this post is linked up to these fun link parties!! what’s cookin’ wednesday, what’s in your kitchen wednesday and taste and tell thursdays

overnight breakfast casserole

true story…

i’m not a morning person.

and i’m actually not really a night owl either.

i’m a “let me get up when i feel like it and go to bed when i feel like it” kind of girl. i like my sleep what can i say?

i’m also not necessarily a breakfast person. i mean i can go for a good muffin or some french toast but traditional breakfast foods? not my thing. i think it has to do with the fact that i don’t eat eggs. i mean i’ll totally use eggs in baked goods and mac & cheese but straight up eggs. not.a.chance. gag.

(and by the way… my mom would like you to know i used to eat eggs. i loved them. but now i don’t. trust me when i say that’s all that matters in this story.)


i see you looking at the title of this post and saying to yourself… “if she’s not a egg eating breakfast kind of person, WHY is she posting a breakfast casserole that contains eggs?” simple answer. it is one of my most requested recipes at work. remember how i told you all about me making birthday treats for my co-workers? well one of my co-workers ventured off the sweet path and requested breakfast. so i did a lot of looking and found this one. it was a hit. so much of a hit that some other co-workers bought me an insulated pyrex dish (THANKS GUYS!) so the casseroles could continue on after my dad took his with him when he moved. i’ve made this dish several times since that first morning and even brought some home with me around christmas, where i was asked for the recipe. and now i’m sharing it.

this casserole is super simple to put together, even if it requires a little forethought. in fact, you put it together and then just let it hang out in the fridge overnight before you bake it off. it would be a perfect lazy saturday / sunday breakfast… ya know if you’re into mornings and breakfast. 🙂

overnight breakfast casserole

breakfast casserole

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • 1 package (12 oz) bacon, sliced in small pieces
  • 4 c frozen southern style hashbrowns, thawed
  • 1-1/2 c pepperjack cheese
  • 1-1/2 c cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
  1. place the sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. brown the sausage until cooked through; remove from the skillet and set aside. in the same skillet, cook the bacon until brown and crispy. remove to a plate with a slotted spoon leaving the bacon grease to cook off the green onions. cook the green onions until tender.
  2. while the sausage and bacon are cooking, spread the hashbrowns evenly in an 11×7 dish (or you could you a standard 9in pie plate). mix the cheeses together and spread evenly over the potato mixture.
  3. after the green onions have cooked, spread them over the potatoes and cheeses. next add the sausage and bacon. whisk together the milk, eggs and seasonings; pour evenly over the casserole. cover and place in the fridge overnight, 7 – 8 hours.
  4. when you’re ready to bake it off, preheat oven to 350F. bake uncovered 40-45 min or until the cheese is bubbly but not browned (don’t be like me and let the green onions get dark!). allow to stand 15 min before cutting into it.

if you’re making this for people, be prepared for them to harass you to make it for them all the time.


recipe adapted from: our best bites

lasagna bolognese

happy new year!!

yes i am aware that we’re now 8 days into the year so i guess it’s not really “new” anymore… buuuuuuuuuut i just went back to work yesterday so it’s like my year just started. and let me tell you. that 6a alarm clock going off.


but now it’s back to work and back to recipes.

it doesn’t seem quite right to me to be posting a recipe for lasagna right now… see it’s supposed to be in the EIGHTIES this week. BOO! i mean i can eat pretty much anything any time of year but stuff like lasagna seems to be natural fit to the cold weather. ya know when you’re supposed to be eating these “heavier” meals that are going to keep you all warm and stuff. i don’t need to be kept warm when the temps are in the EIGHTIES!


anyways back to this lasagna…

this is a riff on the very first lasagna i ever made.  when i made my first lasagna, spend a night looking all over for all these recipes and i came up with a lasagna with boiled noodles and a ricotta mixture. i still love that but there’s something special about a bechamel sauce which is what this lasagna recipe uses.

i also used jarred sauce for my meat sauce. again… still works perfect. this just happens to use a homemade red sauce. world.of.difference. for.reals.

plus one more bonus…. no boil lasagna noodles!

look let’s get real here. lasagna is not a 30 minute meal. hell. it’s really more like a 2 day meal. i mean you make the red sauce, let that sit overnight. make your bechamel and do the layering of all the layers. (sorry about all the layering of the layers…) then you bake the lasagna for an hour. so the extra little step of not having to boil your noodles ahead of time.


lasagna bolognese

lasagna bolognese

  • 1 recipe meat sauce (below)
  • 1 recipe bechamel sauce (below)
  • 1 & 1/2 boxes (9 oz box) no boil lasagna noodles
  • 3 c mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c parm cheese
  1. preheat oven to 350F.
  2. spoon about ¼ c – ½ c of meat sauce into the bottom of a 9×13 pan, just enough to give the bottom a very light coating. add a layer of lasagna noodles. top with a layer of meat sauce. add the next layer of noodles; top with a layer the bechamel and cover with 1 c mozzarella cheese. continue with another layer of noodles followed by meat sauce; another layer of noodles then the bechamel and mozzarella cheese. add a final layer of noodles, top with remaining meat sauce and final 1 c of mozzarella and the 1 c parm. cover with foil. bake covered for 45 min; remove foil and cook an additional 15 min to get the cheese on top all brown and bubbly. remove from oven and let cool 20 min before slicing.

meat sauce:

  • 4 oz pancetta, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 – 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, blended until smooth
  • 4 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 tbs italian seasoning
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • bay leaf
  • 1/2 lb ground veal
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 3/4 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 lb Italian sausage
  1. heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  add diced pancetta and cook until lightly browned. add the garlic and onion, cook until soft. add tomato paste, cook 1 min. add the whole tomatoes, sugar, italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and bay leaf. let simmer on low while you brown the meats together.
  2. when the meats are browned, add to the red sauce and let simmer on low 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally. you can also combine the red sauce and meats in a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours.


  • 3 & 1/2 c milk, warm
  • 1 & 3/4 c parm cheese
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1/4 c flour
  1. in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. whisk in the milk in a steady stream and simmer for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. remove from the heat, stir in parmesan and season with salt and pepper. let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming.

like i said… this isn’t your weeknight lasagna. but it’s totally worth having on the weekend. i would serve it with a salad tossed with some oil and vinegar. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..


chicken parm meatballs

dear mother nature,

i think we need to have a chat about what the weather is supposed to feel like at the end of october. hint… it’s not supposed to be anywhere close to 90F. if you could make highs of like 70-75F and lows of like 50F happen, it would be greatly appreciated.


for real though. it’s like hot down here in the south and i really don’t like it. seriously… it’s been pretty well documented. but i just thought maybe by putting out a plea to mother nature, it would cool down around here. and when it does, i can eat more meals like this.

i pinned this recipe last week and it usually takes me a little while to get to trying something. ummm not these meatballs. see what happened was i was walking around the farmer’s market and trying to come up with meals for the week. and then i remembered the idea of these meatballs and knew i just had to try them. and i did. last night. see i initially planned to bring you that etouffee i’ve know mentioned at least twice but then these happened. and as i have mentioned before, i get weary about sharing entrees since i haven’t mastered food styling and photography but i just have to share these with you.

these look like they could be super complicated, what with the cheese all in the inside, but trust me when i say they aren’t. i had everything cooked and ready to be eaten within 45 min of coming home.

chicken parm meatballs

  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1 c whole wheat bread crumbs, divided – regular plain breadcrumbs would be fine
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 2 c vegetable oil (or enough to come about 2 in up the sides of your pan)
  • 3 oz mozzarella, cut into 12 pieces
  • 3 c marinara sauce – i used store bought to save time on a weeknight
  • 3/4 lb spaghetti (or whatever pasta you want to use)
  1. preheat your oven to 350F. line a baking sheet with papertowels. start heating your oil to 350F (use a candy/fry thermometer or an electric skillet).
  2. mix together the milk, 1/2 c breadcrumbs, salt and pepper together in a bowl. add the ground chicken and gently mix until it’s evenly distributed.
  3. add the remaining breadcrumbs to a shallow plate. separate your chicken/breadcrumb mixture into 4 even portions. flatten each portion into a disk; add 3 pieces of the mozzarella cheese and shape the disk into a ball around the cheese. (make sure to seal the balls really well so no cheese leaks during cooking!) roll each meatball in the waiting breadcrumbs.
  4. place the meatballs in the hot oil and fry until golden on all sides.(you’re not frying to cook through just to get them crunchy and golden.) transfer to the paper towel lined baking sheet to allow the excess oil to drain.
  5. start cooking your pasta according to the package directions.
  6. after the excess oil has drained, removed the paper towels from the baking sheet and place the meatballs on a rack on the baking sheet. bake 15 min until they are cooked through.
  7. toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce and divide among 4 plates/bowls. top each plate/bowl with one meatball.
  8. dig in!


make these now.


recipe from: tracey’s culinary adventures

my favorite shrimp and grits recipe

so here’s the deal… there are certain locations that bring to mind certain culinary styles or dishes. for example when i think of new england, i think of clam chowder. not that i’ve a) eaten clam chowder and b) been to new england but they’re known for it. and the southwest? well tex/mex of course. i expect to have spicy foods with a flair toward mexican cooking. california? i’m gonna go with spa like cuisine. i’m not from those areas but that’s the type of stuff i imagine that is their culinary bread and butter. so needless to say, i’m sure there are many people out there with assumptions of the food they’re going to eat on their trip down to south louisiana. and i have to say that as long as they stay away from the extremely touristy places and chains, they’re right. but i also have to add that when someone posts a recipe with the words “new orleans style” or “cajun” in the title, they sure better bring it. just saying.

all that goes to these points… a) i am aware that shrimp and grits is traditionally a south carolina low country dish but b) in this area of the country we do a barbeque shrimp version and it just happens to be one of my favorite dishes ever.

i would also like to point out that i’m not certifying these as authentic in anyway whatsoever. just saying this is my favorite version to make at home.

oh and please excuse the picture…. i mean to throw some green onions up on there to make it pretty but i was ravenous and they were gone before i could remember the pretty greenery.

shrimp and grits

  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • 1 c (2 sticks) butter, melted
  • 1 c ketchup
  • 1/2 c worcestershire sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tbs old bay
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 lbs peeled, deveined shrimp – you could use shrimp that still has the shell on (4 lbs) but seriously make life easier.
  • french bread
  • smoked gouda grits, recipe below
  1. preheat oven to 400F.
  2. stir together first 9 ingredients (everything except the shrimp)
  3. place the shrimp in a 9×13 pan and pour the sauce mixture over the shrimp. bake for 15-25 min or until the shrimp just turn pink, stirring occasionally.
  4. serve on top a pile of smoked gouda grits, with lemon wedges and french bread.

smoked gouda grits

  • 3 c low sodium chicken stock or water
  • 1 c milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 c quick cooking grits (also called 5 min grits)
  • 1 c shredded smoked gouda
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  1. bring the stock, milk, salt and pepper to a boil. whisk in the grits. cover and reduce the heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 min or until thickened.
  2. remove from the heat and add the cheese and butter. stir until melted.

here’s a tip… if you want to make ahead, you can put the sauce together a couple days in advance and refrigerate.

here’s another tip… if this makes too much for you to eat all of it in one sitting, don’t store the shrimp in the sauce. put the sauce and the shrimp in different containers and reintroduce them to each other when you heat them up. trust me.


recipe adapted from: southern living magazine