Cheesy Onion & Bacon Monkey Bread




Bacon-anything is a sure hit, but this cheesy bacon monkey bread is sensational.



There are many recipes online for bacon monkey bread, and I tried a few different approaches to see which I like best.  By far my favorite is the recipe found in Christmas With Southern Living (there’s an Amazon link to the book below).   I’ll give you the step-by-step instructions and then explain the variations I tried.

5 tablespoons butter
2 sweet onions, sliced thinly
1 32-oz package frozen bread dough, thawed
1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 cups shredded Gruyère cheese

1.  Sauté onions over medium heat in 2 tablespoons of butter, stirring often, until onions are a caramel color, about 15 minutes.Chopped onions    03 Grilled Onions

2.  Roll dough into balls the size of large marbles.

3.  Sprinkle ½ cup of bacon and ½ cup of cheese in the bottom of a buttered bundt pan.  Arrange one-third of the dough balls over the cheese and brush with melted butter.  Layer half the onions, ½ cup of bacon and ½ cup of cheese.  Continue layering with the dough balls, onions, bacon and cheese.
20150301_085556    20150301_090600

4.  Cover and let rise in a warm place (80 to 85 degrees) for an hour to an hour and a half or until doubled in bulk.  (I left it too long so mine is a little “over the top.”)
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5. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until top is golden brown.  Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes; carefully invert bread onto a serving platter.  Serve warm.




The other recipe for this that I like is found on  This recipe called for using refrigerated pizza dough instead of frozen bread dough and stuffed the bacon, cheese and onions inside each dough ball.06 Stuffing

07Stuffed    08 Ball

It also uses Rosemary Butter — just sauté garlic in butter for 2-3 minutes and then stir in rosemary for 1 minute.  Yummy!04 Rosemary Butter    05 Buttered Pan

Here’s how the finished product looks with the goodies tucked inside:
11 Baked     12 Bite  

Print-friendly recipe:  Cheesy Bacon & Onion Monkey Bread

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.




Strawberry Icebox Cake

Strawberry topping of cake Icebox cakes are made from a variety of cookies and cream that, when refrigerated, meld into a cake-like texture. This cake is simply layers of graham crackers, whipped cream and strawberries.  A
drizzle of melted chocolate can increase the wow factor. 20141224_231218

The amount of ingredients depends on how tall you choose to build this dessert.  For a 9″x13″ cake pan, you’ll want to use 3 cups of whipping cream and 2 sleeves of graham crackers.  When stacking it 5Ingredients or 6 layers high, it takes about 4 cups whipping cream and 3 sleeves graham crackers.  A basket of strawberries is probably enough for the cake pan, but I used most of a double basket to build my tall cake.  The only other ingredients are a little powdered sugar and vanilla to make the cream sweet and some chocolate to melt and drizzle if you like.

The simplest way to core a strawberry while maintaining it’s shape is to insert a plastic straw from the point of the strawberry to the stem.  Then grasp the stem and pull to remove the core from the straw.

As you’re slicing the strawberries, select a couple of the prettiest ones to use as a garnish and save some bright end slices for the top layer.
Pretty strawberries

Using an electric mixer on high speed, whip 3 or 4 cups of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form (keeps it’s shape).  Then add one-third to one-half cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon or so of vanilla and whip until combined.
Whipped Cream

Spread a small layer of whipped cream on the tray or bottom of pan to keep the graham crackers from sliding.  Then alternate layers of graham crackers, whipped cream and strawberries until they are as high as you like.
First layer    Graham Cracker on top

There are many ways to melt chocolate for drizzling, but by far the simplest way I know is using Candy Melts and disposable icing bags from Wilton (Amazon link at bottom of this page).Chocolate Melts

Just put as many or few disks as you like in an icing bag, microwave it 15 seconds at a time and massage the bag with your fingers until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Then snip a tiny opening at the tip with a pair of scissors and squeeze the bag as you wave it back and forth above the cake.
Icing Bag    Icing the Cake

Refrigerate at least eight hours and prepare yourself for the oohs and ahs you’ll get from your guests.

TIP:  This cake is extremely hard to slice neatly the first day (but still yummy).  If you make it two days ahead and keep in the fridge, it will be much more cake-like and easier to slice.

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.

Printable recipe:  Strawberry Icebox Cake

Crudités Art & Roasted Red Pepper Dip


Absolutely simple yet so impressive!

You can see that I simply sliced some carrots, cucumber, radishes, celery and green onions, but instead of loading them on a platter around a bowl of dip, I arranged them into a picture.

You could use pretty much any type of veggie to create any scene you want.  One warning though: I had a terrible time getting my guests to eat any because they didn’t want to disturb the picture.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip 2For the dip, I served roasted red pepper dip.  So easy and yummy.  Finely chop 1/2 cup of almonds and one clove of garlic.  Add 1 cup of roasted red peppers from a jar, drained, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Whisk together and chill.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

There you have it … and very simple yet impressive tray of veggies and dip.

Crudites and dip

Printable recipe:  Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.

Baked Oatmeal

DoneThis is an amazing recipe for baked oatmeal.  Not only is it easy and delicious, but it is incredibly healthy (just don’t tell your family that part) with quinoa, steel cut oats, bananas, blueberries, raspberries and even protein powder.

Of course, we think of oatmeal as a breakfast food, but this recipe is so yummy you can top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a very tasty dessert.  For my brunch I served it with Slow Cooker Applesauce, Greek yogurt, nuts and pomegranate seeds.

There are twelve ingredients, but please don’t let that dissuade you.  It’s still quite simple to prepare.  And this recipe makes 18 servings (or cut in half and use a smaller baking dish).

1.  Rinse the quinoa and steel cut oats (1 cup each) until the water runs clear.  Drain well.

TIP:  Use the right tool for the job.  I grabbed my go-to colander (the green one) but the holes were too big and the first splash of water sent quinoa and oats racing down the drain.

2.  Prepare the fruit:  3 or 4 bananas, sliced; 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen); and 1 cup raspberries (frozen might be fine, but I prefer fresh ones because they are plumper and hold their shape better.)

3.  Layer half the fruit in a large baking dish prepared with cooking spray.
Layer of fruit

4. Cover with the quinoa and oats.
Layer of grain

5.  Layer the remaining fruit.
Layer of fruit 2

6.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 4 cups of your favorite milk (dairy, almond, soy, etc.), 4 eggs, 2 scoops of your favorite protein powder, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and a dash of salt.

7.   Pour the liquid over the fruit and grain.
TIP:  To prevent the fruit from floating or migrating unevenly, pour the liquid very slowly from one corner of the dish.
pouring  Pouring 3

8.  Sprinkle half a cup of coconut flakes over the top.
Coconut added
TIP:  If you like, toast the coconut first in a 375 degree oven,
but watch it very carefully.  The first minute looks like no change is happening and suddenly it turns brown very quickly.
Coconut with large minutes

9.  Bake at 375 degrees until nicely browned and dry on top, about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes.

10.  Let sit for one hour before serving — that’s the only hard part because it smells sooooo good!






IMPORTANT NOTE:  While quinoa is very healthy for us, many people have not embraced the texture.  If you and your family or guests are not quinoa fans, you may be happier preparing this recipe with just oatmeal and no quinoa.

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.

Print recipe:  Baked Oatmeal Recipe

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Applesauce final

Talk about simple AND impressive.  I love this easy brunch recipe.  It takes only five minutes of work and adds so much to oatmeal, pork chops, a Thanksgiving dinner, oh, oh! and ice cream!! OOoohoohooo!  Excuse me for a minute.

Okay, I’m back.  Yes, definitely tops ice cream well.

Most any type of apple can be used for applesauce.  I used Braeburn this time; Pink Lady last time.  Equally yummy.  Or you can try a mix of apples to find your perfect flavor combination.

And lookie, lookie!  I finally peeled an apple in one strip without it breaking!  Woo hoo!
Applesauce peel

Peel and core four apples and cut each apple into four pieces.

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker — apples, ¼ cup packed brown sugar (or 3 tablespoons granulated sugar), ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ cup water.  (You may want to add less sugar, but don’t ask me to.)
Applesauce ingredients  Applesauce combined ingredients

Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on high until tender, about an hour and a half.
Applesauce in crock pot

Use a potato masher or whisk for chunky applesauce or puree for a smoother texture.

Mmm MMM! Enjoy.

Applesauce final

For a print-friendly version:  Slow Cooker Applesauce Recipe