Barb’s Breakfast Casserole

“You need to put the breakfast casserole on the blog.  Everyone at the office loved it.”

“OK.  Where do I find it?”

“It’s a Trisha Yearwood recipe.  But I changed a few things.”

In today’s world of instant information the recipe wasn’t hard to find.  After confirming with The Boss that the recipe I found was the one she used, I started writing.  But my eyes caught the following:

If I understand this correctly the recipe here is an adaptation of an adaptation of Yearwood’s original 2008 version.

So with all of these credits it’s likely I won’t get slammed for a lack of attribution like I did when I published a slightly altered version of someone’s Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe.

Seriously.

  • Butter
  • 1/2 loaf of sliced white bread
  • 1 pound fresh bulk pork sausage
  • 5 ounces Sharp and 5 ounces Medium Cheddar, grated
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large eggs beaten
  1.  Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Grease a 9- by 13- by 2- inch casserole dish with butter.
  3. In a skillet, brown the sausage over medium heat until fully cooked. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to drain the fat.
  4. Spread sausage over the bread and top with the cheese.
  5. Mix half-and-half, dry mustard, salt and eggs. Pour into the casserole dish.
  6. Cover the casserole with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
  7. The morning of serving preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Bake covered until set and slightly golden, about 50 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool and set for 15 minutes before serving.

Tips

Pepper?  Definitely add some black pepper.  We used Potter sausage a fine MIO product which IMHO is some of the best pork sausage on the market.  Very good ratio of fat to flesh.  For the bread, use a thick slice bread in the Texas Toast style.  This size helps to create the perfect size bread cubes.  Yes, I also noticed that this recipe and the original do not specify how much butter.  (psst…this is not a low-fat low-calorie vegan dish so how much butter do you think?)  Don’t ask me why two different Cheddar cheeses because I don’t know.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict this dish will be Daughter-in-law Approved.  Anything you can toss together the night before and bake in the morning is a life saver when you have a Tiny Human on board.  Plenty of leftovers too.

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Your Grandmother’s Dressing (this is the real deal)

Here’s the real deal.  This handwritten recipe is your Grandmother’s dressing recipe.  The picture was provided by a reliable source and confirmed as authentic.  Note the date of the copy, November 2001.

Well the mystery is solved.  But when I’ve made Grandmother’s recipe it was never this one.  It was (Not) Your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Dressing.  See?  You can change traditions while remaining traditional.

And the cornbread had to have been Jiffy.

 

Aunt Charlene’s Cornbread Dressing

  • 1 pan cornbread
  • 1 large loaf white bread (no heels)
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • broth from boiling neck, gizzards, and liver of the turkey
  • canned chicken broth, as needed

My wife’s Aunt Charlene was a hell of a cook.  After Aunt Charlene passed her granddaughter compiled a booklet of family favorite recipes.  This dressing recipe was the first recipe listed.  At Thanksgiving this year I asked several family members to tell me what ingredients were in the annual dressing.  Well, this is what Sherlock uncovered:

  1. Before the age of convenience, packaged seasoned dressing mix was not used.  Just an old simple loaf of white bread and sage, salt, and pepper.
  2. Somewhere down the line packaged dressing mix replaced the plain white bread.
  3. Three eggs!!!  ugh…
  4. The gizzard broth gets used for gravy and not the dressing.

And there you go.  The annual Thanksgiving dressing recipe is now (Not) Your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Dressing because I think Charlene’s recipe was identical to your Grandmother’s dressing recipe.

An unconfirmed recollection from an unreliable source noted Grandmother probably used Jiffy cornbread mix.  If you don’t know Jiffy it was a a small box mix to which you added eggs, milk, and baked.  Boom.  Cornbread.

Fascinating to see how traditional family recipes change yet curiously remain the same.

(Not) Your Grandmother’s Thanksgiving Dressing

  • One Texas Corn Bread recipe
  • Two 14 ounce packages dry traditional seasoned stuffing mix
  • One large sweet onion, diced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, diced
  • one stick butter
  • 1-2 quarts chicken broth, low sodium
  • Sage, thyme, salt and pepper
  1. Prepare a dish of Texas Corn Bread the night before you make the dressing.  Set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Saute the onion and celery until soft, about five minutes.
  3. Cut the corn bread into large cubes.
  4. In a very large mixing bowl gently mix the corn bread, dried stuffing mix, vegetables and chicken broth.  Add herbs, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Transfer dressing to a very large baking pan.
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until heated through.

This is really not your Grandmother’s recipe but a close approximation.  I know it’s not the “real thing” because Grandmother (yours not mine) didn’t make a fresh tray of Texas Corn Bread for her dressing.  I have no idea what corn bread she used but the important take away is you want a 50/50 ratio between corn bread and dried stuffing mix.  Grandmother also added a couple of beaten eggs and some neck meat to her dressing.  I prefer to leave these ingredients out but the family won’t let me.

Cheats and Tips – Use Pepperidge Farm dried stuffing mix.  If you don’t Grandmother will hurt you.  If you are pressed for time substitute corn bread from a bakery.  If you are pressed for time AND lazy, Pep Farm has corn bread stuffing mix.  One stick of butter may not be enough and three may be too much.  You can always add more melted butter but once you add it, you can’t take it out.  With the chicken broth allow the texture to be your guide.  You want your dressing moist but not too soggy if you know what I mean and I think you do.  Go easy at first with your herbs, salt, and pepper.  Remember the dried stuffing mix is already seasoned and the broth will have sodium in it as well.

Is it dressing or is it stuffing?

Dressing because you don’t want to stuff the cavity of the bird for a number of reasons.  I’ve always baked my dressing in a separate pan.  And speaking of pans, you might need more than one baking pan.  This recipe makes a lot of dressing.

And while we’re sort of on the topic of Thanksgiving don’t forget the Squash Casserole.

Baked French Toast

“I’ll take a loaf of challah please.”

“Sorry, we just ran out 10 minutes ago.”

“You must have had quite a few people buying challah this morning.”

“No.  We only made one loaf for the morning.”

This really happened at a bakery contained within one of those fancy we sell you everything type of grocery stores.  It was a Saturday morning.  I came to the store specifically for this type of bread.  So this little story explains how a loaf brioche got into this recipe now adapted from a recipe of nearly the same name by the Steep Acres Farm B&B somewhere in Oregon.

Seriously.  Why does a bakery make one loaf of bread?

  1. One stick butter
  2. Half cup brown sugar
  3. Half cup pure maple syrup
  4. One cup chopped pecans
  5. Eight large eggs
  6. One and a half cups of half and half
  7. One and a half tsp cinnamon
  8. One tsp vanilla extract
  9. One loaf brioche sliced thick

Heat butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup in a saucepan over medium heat until melted and smooth.  Transfer to a 13 x 9 x 2 glass baking dish.  Sprinkle pecans.

Whisk the eggs, half and half, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl.  Dip bread slices into the mixture and arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.  Pour the remaining egg mixture over the bread slices, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, take the dish out of the refrigerator a minimum of thirty minutes prior to baking.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake the dish uncovered until it becomes golden brown and puffy.  This will take between 35 and 40 minutes.  It will be done when a knife stuck in the center of the puffiest part comes out clean.

Serve warm with more maple syrup.  Sit back, savor, and enjoy the compliments.

Tips

Pure maple syrup and pure vanilla extract.  Any usage of maple flavored sugar syrup or imitation vanilla will destroy this dish and you’ll never be invited over for anyone’s pot luck brunch ever again.  In a pinch, a loaf of soft French bread will work.

 

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

Butternut Squash Enchilada Casserole

1 T olive oil
1 butternut squash (1½ lb.), halved and seeded
1 medium sweet onion, diced (1 cup)
1 4.5 ounce can diced green chiles
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp. )
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
Enchilada sauce (homemade or canned)
8-12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place squash cut-side down on baking sheet. Roast 45 minutes, or until soft. Allow to cool, scoop into a bowl and mash.

2. Heat oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, and sauté until soft. Add chiles and garlic. Cook 1 minute.

3. Stir in mashed squash, cream cheese, cumin, and nutmeg. Turn the heat off and mix well.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce over bottom of 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Layer tortillas followed by the squash mixture, then cheddar cheese. Repeat, ending with cheddar cheese as your final layer on top. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the sides start bubbling and the cheese is melted and gooey.

5. Serve with your usual Tex-Mex sides and condiments. Extra cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, green onions, jalepeno peppers, salsa, chips, beans, rice. Or a side salad works too but not as satisfying.

I sometimes forget this blog is about recipes.  I get off on a tangent like mislabeled seafood or nasty who knows what’s in them chicken nuggets from China.  FOCUS!  It’s about the food, the recipes, and the memories.  A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I used to make a squash enchilada  casserole when fall rolled around and the hard squashes started appearing in the market.  I was always amazed at how tasty this dish was without any meat in it.  Like all great family recipes this one exhibits the following classic characteristics.

The kids didn’t like it when they were little and I never wrote the recipe down.  I’m sure if I wanted to waste an hour or two I could find the original recipe yellowed and faded, taped to a 3 x 5 card somewhere.  I also know that when I find the original recipe it won’t be how I make it now.  Why bother looking? I do recall the original recipe called for some cooked potato added to the squash mixture.  I also recall the original did not have green chilies in it.  So here you go. This recipe is from memory.  I hope it tastes good.

I can’t believe this is my 100th post.

TIPS

 If you like (or need) an extra kick, sub a heartier pepper for the green chilies.  Need protein?  Add a can of black beans, rinsed and drained, to the middle layer of the casserole.  Monterrey Jack would be a nice sub for the cheddar.  Or Smokey Chipotle Cheddar might work too.  (I have a chunk of this in the fridge and it’s looking for a recipe).  But most of all, have some fun with this recipe.

Update 11.17.14

I know, two days after posting and I’m making changes already.  Step 4 –  for the middle layers, tortillas, squash mixture, cheddar cheese, repeat.  No enchilada sauce.  The red sauce goes only on the bottom of the pan and on the top layer of tortillas.  The final layer is tortillas, enchilada sauce, and shredded Monterrey jack cheese.  Yellow corn tortillas are fine but I used white corn tortillas.  I only needed ten tortillas.  You’ll get eight generous servings from this casserole.  I made some quick enchilada sauce with a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes and some chicken stock.  You can leave out the chicken stock if you’re a picky vegetarian.  You can leave the cheese off too but I won’t take any responsibility for how your casserole turns out.