Author Archives: katelacey67

About katelacey67

Home cook culinary scientist, fighting the good fight to stay sane and satiated! Always learning and creating in one way or another, but this blog is about my journey to invent new dishes or try variations of recipes - and why not share it with you? Things are heatin' up in Kate's kitchen!

Navidad Southwest Chorizo Breakfast Casserole


The egg, sausage and hash brown casserole has been  a staple for many people’s Christmas day breakfast brunch.  I’m no holiday historian, but I’d guess the origins came from those hectic holiday mornings, cramming all the essential breakfast foods into a casserole so as the sounds of wrapping paper ripping whips through the house, breakfast is cooking itself.  And when the kids are clamoring to leave the dining table to get back to presents and playing, if they eat just a few bites, they are almost getting their full breakfast.  Plus it is a perfect comfort food on a cold winter days.

I decided to put a Southwest spin on this classic, so it has a bit more spice, heat and flavor than your grandmother’s hash brown casserole. It is very easy to prep and put together so you can spend your time focusing on how to get batteries into a screaming kid’s new toy.
• 3 medium potatoes – cleaned, unpeeled
o OR premade hash browns – thawed if frozen (do not thaw in microwave!)
• 1 pound ground chorizo
o (if you have chorizo sausage links, open the links and pull out the sausage.                              Discard the link casings.) My grocery keeps this in the meat area near the                        pork sausage.

• 1 small white onion chopped
• 3 jalapeno peppers – deseeded & chopped finely
o too hot for you? Replace with green or red bell peppers
• 1.5 cups Mexican cheese mix (or your choice) – reserve ¼ cup for topping
• ½ cup sour cream
•  4 medium eggs
• 1/2 cup cream, milk or half & half
• Tablespoon garlic powder
• Tablespoon onion powder
• ¼ cup finely chopped chives
• 2 teaspoons smoky paprika
• ½ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
• 1 teaspoon cumin (optional)
• Black pepper
• Coarse salt
• Pam nonstick spray
• ½ cup thick salsa – I use Ortega Thick & Chunky Medium
• Thin salsa or picante sauce will be too watery – be sure to use a thick, chunky salsa
• Santa Fe Tortilla Strips – crunchy salad topping (found in the salad toppings aisle) or crumbled nacho cheese chips will work too.
• Two strips of crispy cooked bacon – crumbled and reserved for topping
• Cilantro finely chopped to garnish
• Garnish with salsa and sour cream
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees
2. Shred full potatoes with peels creating hash browns in food processor using shred accessory wheel.
• If using frozen hash browns, be sure they are thawed naturally (not in microwave.) You can buy unfrozen hash browns in the egg department of your grocery store, typically.
3. Put the raw hash browns in paper towels and squeeze a bit to take out some of the moisture.
4. Put aside potatoes.
5. In a medium skillet (no oil) brown chorizo, white onions, chopped jalapeno until sausage is cooked through. DO NOT DRAIN oil. (Should not be much oil as chorizo is a pretty lean sausage.) Do not over cook the sausage.
6. In a mixing bowl, add sausage mix, shredded potatoes, 1 & 1/4 cup of the cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper to taste. Fold together, set aside.
7. In separate bowl, scramble 4 eggs, add pepper, salt, cayenne, cumin, chives, milk/cream, salt and pepper – whisk together.
8. Spray a casserole pan with Pam
9. Pour hash brown, sausage, cheese mix into the pan – spread evenly across bottom of pan
10. Cover base layer with spoonfuls of thick salsa to create a thin layer – not too thick
11. Pour egg mixture over salsa layer
12. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese on top of egg layer
13. Cover the top with tortilla strips
14. Bake for 45 minutes – egg layer should not be runny
15. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with crispy bacon bits
16. Sprinkle baked casserole with fresh cilantro
17. Serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.

Feliz Navidad! Enjoy your Southwest Chorizo Breakfast Casserole any time of the year!





Chorizo Mexican Tortilla Mini-Pizzas w/Arugula Lime Salad Topping

2016-08-05 19.29.38_resized tortilla pizza

Chorizo Mexican Tortilla Mini-Pizza w/ Arugula Lime Salad

Ready for an easy fiesta in your kitchen? Tired of the same old Tuesday Tacos…so I took pretty much the same ingredients and went in my other favorite gastronomical direction – pizza!

Tortillas make a perfect blank canvas to create a Mexican Pizza.  The chorizo is slightly spicy and rich with the refried beans. But what really adds the flavor and freshness is the arugula lime salad on top.  Arugula is slightly peppery as are the radishes and both add a great cool crunch on top of the warm meat, beans and cheese.  The avocado and sour cream add a cooling creamy finish.

This takes about 20 minutes start to finish.  For a short cut, my grocery sells pre-made fresh pico that is pretty dry (you don’t want the watery jarred kind) so that made it even more quick and easy.

This would be a fun one to make with the kids!


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces fresh chorizo, crumbled (remove casings)
  • 4 – 8 -inch flour tortillas
  • 1 – 16 -ounce can refried beans
  • 1 cup shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup white onions
  • 2 oz diced green chilis (can)
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 red jalapeno pepper, sliced (remove seeds for less heat)
  • Pico made from finely  chopped white onion, tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro (not too liquid)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1/3 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the chorizo, ½ cup white onions, 2 oz green chilis, dash of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes.
  4. Remove the chorizo to a plate with a slotted spoon.
  5. Transfer all but 1 tablespoon of the chorizo drippings to a small bowl;
  6. Stir the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil into the bowl (reserve the skillet w/ drippings for now).
  7. Divide the tortillas between 2 baking sheets and brush the tops with the drippings/oil mixture.
  8. Bake until the tortillas are crisp and lightly golden, about 5 minutes.
    • Might bubble up but that is okay. You can just press the bubbles out
  9. While baking the tortillas – combine the lettuce, pico, cilantro, radishes, red jalapeno and lime juice in a large bowl; season with salt to taste and toss.
  10. Heat the skillet with the reserved 1 tablespoon drippings over medium-high heat.
  11. Add the refried beans and cook, stirring, until warm and spreadable, about 2 minutes.
  12. Spread the beans over the tortillas and sprinkle with the chorizo and cheese.
  13. Bake until the cheese melts, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  14. Top each tortilla with the arugula salad, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, add diced avocado and sour cream
  15. Use a pizza cutter to cut each tortilla into 4 pieces

Inspired by Food


pumpkin french toast and pepper bacon

Ah, it is Fall and it’s Pumpkin Spice Season — everything from hot drinks to cat litter.  (Mmmm…spicy fresh cat litter.)  We’re having our first chilly weekend in October, so I thought I’d make a twist on an old classic – French Toast. Big thanks to our French friends for this wonderful brunch classic – it’s right up there with the French fry and that giant statue in New York, as far as French contributions go.

I’ve been making French toast since I was a girl, so this is not a new experiment for me….however, I’m always looking to change it up.   I was at the grocery and found Peppridge Farms thick sliced Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl bread.  *Bing!* Light bulb!

So, this is an easy, Fall recipe along with my fool-proof bacon in the oven recipe…I won’t make bacon any other way, ever again.  It is a very easy clean up – let the grease solidify on the foil and just pitch the foil. No more dealing with bacon grease in a skillet…and the bacon cooks much more evenly and burning is less likely in an oven. Give it a try! (I was skeptical myself, at first.)


  • Pepperidge Farms Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl bread – three slices


  • Three eggs
  • Bacon (your favorite – I used thick cut pepper bacon)
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon
  • Vanilla extract
  • Dark Maple Syrup (I suggest real Maple syrup. So decadent!)
  • Butter
  • Milk or Half/Half


  • Baking/Cookie Sheet
  • Foil
  • Rectangular casserole dish
  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Shot glass (to heat syrup)
  • Spatula
  • Skillet – wide enough for three pieces of bread to not overlap


  1. In a bowl crack in three eggs
  2. Hand whisk in 1 Tablespoon of Milk or Half/Half, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla until slightly frothy.
  3. Pour egg mixture into a flat rectangular casserole dish
  4. Put three pieces of bread into the egg mixture, move around a bit like a sponge to suck up egg mixture.
  5. After 5 minutes, flip bread to soak other side
  6. After 15 minutes, flip bread again and soak the original side for 10 minutes
    • (About 30 minutes soaking the bread. The longer you soak, the better! If you are proactive, make this part the night before and let the bread soak overnight.)

french toast soak


  1. Line a cookie sheet with foil
  2. Lay out strips of bacon across the cookie sheet – do not overlap
  3. Put in an oven at 425 degrees – do not pre-heat. Just put it in there.
    • I love not having to wait for a preheat!!
    • Note: You do not have to flip the bacon as it cooks, unless you want to.
  4. In about 17 to 20 minutes bacon should be golden and crisping
    • take out of oven just before it is fully crisped and put on a paper towel to drain. It will finish crisping once you remove from the oven. If you find it is not crisp enough return to the baking sheet w/ bacon grease and cook a few minutes more. Keep an eye on it!
  5. I will often put finished bacon into a 150 degree oven (I use my toaster oven) on a piece of foil to keep warm while I finish the rest of breakfast. (Do not use the same foil with grease that you originally cooked the bacon on.)


  1. Place a small pat of butter in skillet to melt and coat the pan
  2. Once hot and butter is melted, add egg bread to the skillet
  3. Cook until golden brown and then flip to the other side and cook until golden (about 7 minutes on each side – the type of skillet you use will vary the time on each side.)I suggest you just keep an eye on the browning. You are okay to flip the bread more than one time until you get the level of golden you want. Under cook and you may have runny egg under the surface which is not too appetizing.

.french toast sear

15. I put the maple syrup in a shot glass and heat it for about 10 seconds in the microwave and put on the side

16. Plate French toast with a pat of butter on each piece

17. Add bacon

18. After serving, pour hot syrup over the French Toast

Optional serving suggestion: Instead of butter, add brown sugar cream cheese

Don’t like pumpkin? You can make this with Cinnamon Raisin bread instead!

Serve with coffee on a cool Fall day.   Enjoy!

Hot & Easy Slow Cooker Chipotle Pork Tacos

pork tacos 3

Some days, I want a chef…. walk into the house and soup’s on, hot and ready…dream on, Kate.  What I do have, however, is my tireless crock pot that stands in to do the cooking while I am out bringing home the bacon.  It’s no secret to anyone who checks out my blog that I like it hot and spicy….and throw in easy?! Well, you had me at crock pot! Bring on Taco Tuesday!

So I threw together this recipe to simmer while I was working and when I came home, I was standing on my porch – hadn’t even opened the door yet – and could smell the smoky chipotle aroma teasing me over the threshold. Hello Personal Chef!

This is so super easy that it is embarrassing to put into blog form, but I’m gonna do it! Obviously, you can change things up to kill the heat and make it a bit more palate-friendly.

Throw together some Guacamole (see my previous blogs), heat up some tortillas and you are ready to pork out!

This recipe is created to cook for two or three, so it uses two pork shoulder steaks versus full pork shoulder but you could substitute the full shoulder if you have a big enough slow cooker and just ramp up the other quantities accordingly.  It will definitely cook through in 6 to 8 hours on Low, either way!

Want to make it REAL easy? Just throw in the Pork and Salsa and let her cook. Shred it after 6 hours on low and make your tacos.


1 small can 7.76 oz. chipotle sauce (I used ½ can)

2 jalapeno peppers chopped fine (or small can of diced green chiles)

1 white onion julienned

Small jar salsa (your favorite brand) – try to find something chunky for less moisture.

Tablespoon Garlic powder

Tablespoon Coarse black pepper

Teaspoon Salt

Tablespoon Onion powder

Teaspoon Dried cilantro

Teaspoon Cumin spice

Teaspoon Mexican red pepper spice (or if you want cayenne)

Fresh Cilantro (reserve some for garnish)

2 pork shoulder steaks

Guacamole with diced tomatoes

Sour cream

Cole Slaw Cabbage mix (sans dressing)

Lime Juice

pork taco 2


  1. Combine dry spices in a bowl
  2. Rub dry spices into both sides of the pork steaks
  3. Put pork in the bottom of the crock pot
  4. Pour in salsa
  5. Pour in chipotle sauce (for less spicy – do not add this)
  6. Throw in jalapenos (or green chilis) – do not add if you do not like heat – you can sub julienned green peppers that have no heat or red bell peppers
  7. Throw in onions
  8. Pour in Salsa (use mild salsa for less heat)
  9. Throw in chopped fresh cilantro
  10. Close lid and cook on slow for 6 hours (my crock pot automatically moves to WARM mode after set time so it stays warm until I get home a few hours later….it is a good way to not overcook your pork.)
  11. The pork should be falling apart – but you can shred it with a fork to separate it out for the taco
  12. Warm Tortillas
  13. Build Tacos with your favorite taco ingredients like tomatoes, lettuce, cole slaw mix, and/or cheese
  14. Garnish with lime juice, cilantro & sour cream

It might be a bit wet depending on the kind of salsa you used (some are more watery than others) if so, just use a slotted spoon to drain off the extra moisture as the pork should have absorbed all that flavor. You surely won’t need to add any taco sauce!

I served it on whole wheat taco tortillas with guacamole with diced tomatoes, sour cream, lime juice, chopped cilantro  and shredded cole slaw mix (but with no mayo or cole slaw dressing added). The cole slaw adds a cool crunch!

Easy Taco Tuesday. It’s like having your own personal chef waiting on you to walk in the door.

Double Layer Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Pineapple Buttercream Frosting

cake 1It is Spring and Mother’s Day and nothing says “thanks Mom for being so sweet” than a rich cake.  I poked around the Google machine and found a recipe on Food that I altered just a bit (the frosting recipe is my own and I replaced vanilla with almond extract in the cake.)

This is a dense, sweet pound cake style, pineapple upside down cake – not a sponge cake. It is easier to manipulate and stack, but if you prefer a sponge cake, it would use a less dense flour, fewer eggs and perhaps regular milk vs buttermilk.  I suppose you could find a sponge cake recipe online to replace the cake recipe below and it would still work.


Nonstick cooking spray

3 cups cake flour, plus more for pan

1 cup butter, softened, plus 1/2 cup, melted (1 & ½ cups total butter)

2 1/4 cups sugar

5 large eggs

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole buttermilk

1 1/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

2 (20-ounce) cans pineapple slices in juice, drained well

1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained well

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows

Chopped pecans, for garnish, optional

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened

6 tablespoons of crushed pineapple

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon pineapple juice

1 teaspoon almond extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and coat with flour.

Place pineapple rings and cherries (stems off) on paper towel to remove juice. (reserve some of the pineapple juice for icing recipe.)

In a large bowl, beat 1 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy.

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stir in the almond extract and set aside.

In a small bowl, add the 3 cups of flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the brown sugar evenly into the bottom of each sprayed pan.

Pour the melted butter equally over the brown sugar.

Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries over the brown sugar.


Reserve remaining pineapple slices to crush for icing

Pour equal amounts of batter over the fruit into each pan


Bake at 350 degrees with a cookie sheet or foil beneath the cake pans to capture any boil over, if any

Bake about 45 minutes until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and top is golden brown

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes.

Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool –  place cookie sheet beneath the wire rack to capture sugary syrup that may drain off

After cooling for 20 minutes assemble the cake, carefully arrange 1 cake layer, pineapple side up, on a cake plate. Carefully stack the remaining cake layer, pineapple side up, over the first layer.

Put the cake into the refrigerator about 20 to ensure it is completely cool prior to frosting.

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting

Cream butter

Slowly add powered sugar

Add Almond extract

Add 6 tablespoons of crushed pineapple, strained from juice

If icing seems too stiff add 1 tablespoon (or more as needed) of pineapple juice to the icing

If icing seems too loose to adhere to the cake sides, add more powered sugar

Frost the sides of the cake (not the top) with Pineapple Buttercream Frosting – be sure the cake is completely cooled!

Press chopped pecans into sides of cake. It helps to slightly tilt the cake (careful!!!) to scatter the pecans on and then press in.


Recipe based on Paula Deen & Food Network recipe

Szchuan Pork Stir Fry

stir fry final

Szchuan Pork Stir Fry

Wok’s cookin’ with Kate? Oooh, the food is better than the jokes! I received a large wok for Christmas and decided to break it out and try my hand at stir frying.  In all, it’s only about 15 minutes of cooking – rice is a bit longer if you do it the traditional way.  I have a nice small rice cooker that makes the rice while I prepped and stir fried. Super easy.

I took a short cut and bought the pre-cut stir fry veggies sold in the produce department at my local grocery.  I used szchuan pepper oil purchased in the chinese food section but you can use other oils. Also used canned water chestnuts and baby corn as my grocery doesn’t get that exotic.

I suggest a peanut oil if not a pepper oil.  Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am all about the heat – so of course, you can leave off the sriracha to keep it less spicy.  Go easy on the fresh ginger as well if you don’t like the bite. Next time I’d like to add cashews and top with fresh crispy sprouts (my grocery didn’t have any.)


½ pound pork shoulder steak – cubed

Powdered corn starch

Szchuan pepper oil

Sriracha pepper sauce

Can baby ears of corn

Can water chestnuts

Green onions

Sliced carrots


Teaspoon grated ginger

Chopped broccoli

Soy Sauce

½ cup cooked white rice

pork stirfry 1          stirfry 3

  1. Cut the pork steak into small cubes of equal size
  2. Toss pork in corn starch in a small bowl
  3. Heat Wok to high heat
  4. Add tablespoon of szchuan pepper oil
  5. Add pork – cook and stir for about 3 or 4 minutes tossing so cooks on all sides
  6. Add about six drops of sriracha sauce onto the meat as you cook
  7. Remove pork from wok into a small bowl
  8. Add a bit more oil and throw in carrots, peapods, carrots, water chestnuts
  9. Stir in soy sauce – 1/8 cup or 4 tablespoons (if not using soy sauce, use chicken broth
  10. stir for 2 or 3 minutes – vegetables will soften slightly – broccoli will get very green
  11. Add pork back into the wok with vegetables – stirring together with the grated ginger
  12. Add green onions sliced lengthwise into the wok
  13. Squirt a few more drops of Sriracha if you want more heat and a dash more of soy sauce into the mix, cooking for a few more minutes allowing all the flavors to blend
  14. Remove from heat – serve over warm white rice
  15. Garnish with green onion green slices

Rustic Spicy Bean & Ham Soup – Slow Cooker


Cool air is just around the corner and that means soup in the crock pot. I decided to make a bean soup with ham.  I had some leftover jalapenos in the fridge, so I thought I’d heat things up a bit.  In my book, “rustic” just means the vegetable chop is large and “spicy” just means there is as much jalapeno or cayenne pepper as you like.  Throw all the ingredients in the slow cooker and come back in 10 hours and you’ll have some warm comfort in a bowl.

Rustic Spicy Bean & Ham Soup — Slow Cooker Recipe


  • 1 bag Barlotti Cranberry Beans (or Pinto beans)
  • 1 bag of Northern White Beans
  • 1 pound baby yellow potatoes
  • 8 – 10 ounces cubed ham (I use prepackaged cubed ham)
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1 – 32 ounce vegetable stock
  • 2 – 32 ounce chicken stock
  • 4 Carrots chopped in large pieces
  • 4 Celery stalks chopped in large pieces
  • 2 White onions chopped in large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon of Minced Garlic
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (reserve a bit for garnish)
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (de-seed for less heat)
  • 1 teaspoon dried cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon of Cayenne Pepper or to taste
  • Coarse Black Pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Crumbled crisp bacon pieces (optional)


  1.  Soak beans in water for 1 to 2 days prior to cooking
  2. In 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients – except the bacon (which is for garnish at serving)
  3. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours
  4. Scoop out 2 cups of cooked beans  – drained – add into a glass bowl
  5. Use a hand blender to make bean mash
  6. Stir mash back into to the soup to thicken
  7. Increase heat setting to High; cover and cook about 15 minutes longer
  8. Remove Bay Leaves from Soup
  9. Serve and top with bacon pieces and fresh parsley