Before we start cooking, I’ve learned a time saver I want to share. Dig out your salad shooter or go over to your daughter’s house and tell her you want it back. Use it to grate cold, cold (not frozen) butter when you need to cut butter into pie crusts or into any mixture such as the strawberry bars.

If she reads this first and loves to cook, you may just have to buy yourself one.

Most of today’s recipes lend themselves to you making changes to suit your personal tastes. I encourage you to do just that.

You can use your favorite pasta, asparagus instead of broccoli and rotisserie chicken is a good time saver. You can omit the chicken altogether and have a great vegetarian dish.

I suspect fresh blueberries and blueberry yogurt would be a delicious alternative to strawberries in the pancakes. Melted jelly makes a wonderful pancake syrup.

I used peach preserves in my second pan of bars. It was delicious but the strawberry is better. I’ve got orange marmalade and apricot preserves planned for the next two pans. Just don’t use jelly.

If you warm and stir the preserves slightly, they will be far easier to spread.

Add a four ounce can of diced green chilies, sauteed sliced mushrooms, finely chopped onions, or cooked and crumbled sausage to the breakfast casserole. Swap the cheddar for Mexican blend or pepper jack or a mixture.

Strawberry Pancakes

2 (5.3 ounces) strawberry Greek yogurt, divided

3/4 cup milk

2 eggs

2 cups Bisquik

1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries

1 (10-12 ounce) jar seedless strawberry jam, slightly melted

Beat one container of yogurt with the eggs until well blended. Add milk and beat until smooth.

Whisk in Bisquik until mostly blended. Do not over mix.

Heat a griddle pan or a large flat skillet over medium heat. Spray with Pam or brush with butter.

Ladle about one-fourth cup batter for each pancake. Cook until golden around the edges and bubbles form on top. Turn and cook the other side until golden. Keep warm on a rack in a warm oven until all the batter is cooked. Serve with a dollop of the remaining yogurt, sliced strawberries and topped with melted jam.

Strawberry Bars

1 3/4 sticks butter

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups oats (I used old fashion)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (10-12 ounce) jar strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with Pam.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into dry ingredients as for pie crust.

Add oats and mix well. Press half the mixture into the prepared pan. Spread preserves over the oat mixture. Top with the remaining oat mixture. Bake 30-40 minutes. Cool completely then cut into squares.

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

6 eggs

1 3/4 cups of milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Bread slices or croissants, cubed

10-12 slices crisp bacon, crumbled

2 small, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with Pam. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cover bottom of the prepared pan with the bread cubes. Spread bacon pieces over bread. Spread tomatoes over bacon. Whisk together eggs and milk. Add salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over all. Top with cheese. Bake 30-40 minutes or until set in the middle and cheese is golden.

Penne Pasta with broccoli and chicken

1 pound mini penne pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions

1 pound broccoli florets

4 grilled or baked chicken breast halves, sliced

1 stick butter

3 cloves garlic, very finely minced

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

In a large, heavy skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and cook about one minute. Stir constantly.

Don’t let the garlic brown. Add broccoli; cook until only crisp tender. Add pasta and chicken, toss to mix well and heat through. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

MIss Olivia Sipe is the owner of Miss Olivia’s Table in Maryville.

Melanie joined The Daily Times in the early 90s and has served as the Life section editor since 1993. A William Blount and UT alum, Melanie is generally the early arriver who turns on the lights in the newsroom.

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