Valentine’s Day Inspired Recipes using Strawberries

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I wanted to reshare some recipes from the past that you might want to consider for a Valentine’s Day with Strawberries. Well, you could use any of these for a Valentine’s Night date, or any date night, at home. I usually go into intense strawberry mode later in the spring/early summer when the intense Hood strawberries appear, but this time of year supermarkets seem to really want to push strawberries too and after walking by them so many times I ultimately cannot resist one of the sale priced big red berries.

Some of the offerings at the Hollywood Farmers market on Saturdays - Sea Scape Strawberries

F doesn’t like going out for Valentine’s Day – the hype is too much, and what says true love more then coming home and being in your comfy pjs snuggling and not worrying about PDA as we share a bottle of bubbly with candles and a home cooked meal? I don’t make all of these as it’s too much strawberry for us and perhaps half our meal is the bubbly – though I guess I’m prepared for a Strawberry themed Iron Chef if called to it.

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Cucumber Roll ups

I’m a sucker for all those cheesy and fried appetizers I’ve been seeing especially with Superbowl Sunday coming up this weekend. I wanted to share an option like these Cucumber Roll Ups that are easy to do that offers a healthy option and can also feed those who are gluten free, vegetarian, even vegan.
Slice cucumbers the long way to make cucumber roll ups for a healthy, vegetarian, gluten free bunch of bites for a party Slice cucumbers the long way to make cucumber roll ups for a healthy, vegetarian, gluten free bunch of bites for a party

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Biscuit Eggs Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Every year I spend New Year’s Day watching the Rose Parade on TV if I’m in the US. Last year I was in Japan, but I was back to my tradition this January 2, 2017 (they moved it because they don’t ever hold it on Sundays traditionally). There was even a memorable year I was in Los Angeles and my sister (attending USC Law School at the time, now this year celebrating her first New Year’s as a mother to a 3 month daughter) even helped arrange my mom and other sister to get seats and watch it in person. It was incredible being able to see all the breathtaking details of the flowers, though I did miss a bit of the announcer highlights they narrate on TV.
Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day Watching the 119th Rose Parade in Pasadena on New Year's Day

This year to accompany the bottle of sparkling that I cheered the parade on with as I watch, I also prepared this incredible Biscuit Eggs Sausage and Cheddar Breakfast Casserole. You can prepare everything for this Biscuits Breakfast Casserole the day before and then just pop it in the oven, which is perfect for a non morning person or after a long night up. I like how this casserole basically puts all of breakfast – like a breakfast that would have Biscuits and Sausage Gravy as one item, and Cheesy Egg on the side, all together in every bite.
Recipe for Biscuit Eggs Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

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Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe

My sister mentioned a show called My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to me, and I ended up binging on the entire first season in one weekend when I found it on Netflix (it’s also available on Hulu). If you haven’t heard of this show, it’s about a girl who runs into her childhood first love and moves to California to follow him. The episodes tend to center around her schemes how to get together with him, believing he is her destiny. You can see where the “crazy” part of this comes in, but the show did a good job in the first season of balancing the realistic fact a woman can be smart yet a bit unsound about love at the same time, fed by unrealistic messages about how true love can rationalize lots of wackiness. There are also lots of humorous musical numbers in each episode with fun lyrics. In a recent episode in the current season, the main character Rebecca makes kugel, and suddenly I wanted it.
Crazy Ex Girlfriend playing Fridays on CW and also available to stream on the CW App, Netflix, and Hulu

Kugel is a Jewish egg noodle casserole dish with a custard of eggs, milk, and cheese. It may be sweet by adding sugar and cinnamon and perhaps vanilla and fruit, but there are also versions that are savory which is what I think the character Rebecca made. They are baked in rectangular pans that are then served in squares.
This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions

This dish is my twist on this version by Farm to Table LA who followed her grandmother’s worn, faded, and well loved recipe card. It used a lot more butter, eggs, and cheese than others, but trust a recipe card that looks like that straight from any grandma. The butter helps create the crispy edges that are 40% part of the highlights of this dish, and the egg and cheese once cooled makes this hold together well.
This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions

I did add additional vegetables with sauteed onions and I had some leftover peas, but you could add any vegetable: if I had it I would have loved sauteed spinach and mushrooms too.

This recipe makes 9 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces of wide egg noodles, cooked al dente
  • 1 stick butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 32 ounces small curd cottage cheese
  • 5 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 1 cup diced sautéed onions (optional)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, or you can use sauteed spinach, mushrooms, etc.  (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper and more to taste
  • Grated Parmesan (optional) to serve
  • Chopped parsley to garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cook the egg noodles until al dente, drain the water and set aside. If you want, you can put in a teaspoon of butter and mix it so the noodles don’t stick to each other while you complete the other steps if not doing them simultaneously.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Put a stick of butter in a 13 x 9 pan and let it melt in the oven as it preheats.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine the 5 eggs, 1 cup milk,  32 ounces of cottage cheese, and 5 tablespoons of sour cream. Season generously with the 1/2 teaspoons each of salt and pepper. Optionally also combine in the 1 cup of sautéed diced onions or peas. Instead of peas you could also add other savory ingredients like mushrooms and or sautéed spinach.
  4. Add the cooked egg noodles into the egg and cheese mixture and stir.
  5. Pour the noodles with eggs and cheese mixture directly over the melted butter: no need to further stir.
    This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions
  6. Cover and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes
  7. Uncover and bake for approx another 15-30 more minutes –  keep checking until you see the sides and top of the dish are golden brown and there are lots of browned edges and top, but not so dark brown it is burning.
    This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions
  8. Garnish with the chopped parsley (optional). You can serve the dish warm, but I think it’s best after an hour when the Kugel has set and is firmer. Otherwise when you cut it into the squarish pieces it will not hold together.
    This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions

Serve with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan to top per each individual’s taste. The best pieces are the corner pieces of course since they offer more crunchy parts. It tastes fine without the grated Parmesan, but I love making it snow cheese.
This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions This Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onionsThis Savory Cheese Kugel Recipe is my take on the Jewish casserole with egg noodles, butter, eggs, and cheese, with other optional add ins like here, peas and sauteed onions

Have you ever heard of or had kugel before, or any other Jewish dish? Do you watch My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend?

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Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers

I think these appetizers of Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely. These are vegetarian but can be made vegan if instead of feta and cream cheese you use Tofutti or some other vegan cream cheese.
Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely

It does take a little time to stuff these, but I just did it sitting on the couch while watching Gilmore Girls. You can go faster if you pipe these into the peppers, but pushing them in with a little butter knife like I did will also do the trick.

These are perfect for a holiday gathering or potluck as you can just get a 1-2 pound bag of these and with approximately a pepper person get your lil cheese stuffed mini peppers soldiers in line or in wreath or tree formation or whatever you’d like! A 1 pound bag yields about 15 or so mini peppers, at least it did for me.
Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 ounce bag of mini sweet peppers
  • 5 ounces of fresh, soft feta cheese or alternatively goat cheese
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 4 tablespoon chives, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves worth of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • salt, to taste
  • ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Cut off top about 1/2 inch from the stem to make the hat, and also cut at the bottom about about 1/2 an inch so the pepper can stand upright. Remove the seeds from the top and inside the pepper if any (most of the seeds will be at the stem), and rinse and dry the peppers.
  2. As the peppers are finishing drying, in a mixing bowl combine the 5 ounces of fresh soft feta cheese, the 8 ounces of softened room temperature cream cheese, the finely chopped 4 tablespoons of chives, the 3 cloves worth of minced garlic, teaspoon of red pepper flakes, tablespoon of olive oil, teaspoon of lemon juice. Mix well until everything is a smooth creamy texture

    Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy as you combine the feta, cream cheese, chives, garlic, olive oil, red pepper and bit of lemon juice and mix until smooth

  3. Now, it’s just a matter of filling the peppers and topping them with its matching hat! After you are done, you can serve now or refrigerate until ready to serve (say the next day!)

Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely Recipe for Cheese Stuffed Mini Peppers, easy peasy and are adorable because of the way you can get multiple colors with the orange, yellow and red which are so cheerful, and then presentation wise the way they stand up in little rows or formations so bravely

An alternative way to serve these cheese stuffed mini peppers is that instead of whole like you see above, to cut the peppers in half length-wise instead. Then you don’t need to deal with the stuffing… but I couldn’t resist this because I just found it so stinkin’ cute!

What’s your favorite holiday appetizer to bring to a party?

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