Xmas Breakfast Casserole

“Why don’t you make that breakfast casserole you used to make?”

“What’s wrong with your Breakfast Casserole?”

“Not enough eggs.”

“Can’t you just put more eggs in it?  Besides I have no idea where that recipe is.”

“It’s on your blog.”

Well, it’s here now.  Here’s another fine example of something I made at some point in the past but the recipe went AWOL.  So here we go (again) and this recipe is as original as any you’ll find online.  Overnight breakfast casseroles are all pretty much the same.  Some use potatoes, some don’t.  I saw one recipe that used croutons instead of bread.  Mushrooms and spinach seemed pretty popular.  Use what you have on hand and let your palate be your guide.

Xmas Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Serves 12 or more depending upon portion size

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork breakfast sausage (if you’re in Oklahoma I used half Blue and Gold and half JC Potter)
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cups white bread (Pep Farm Hearty Farmhouse white, crusts on) cubed
  • 14 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
  • 12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (medium, Wisconsin sharp, and NY sharp)
  • 1/4 butter melted
  • 1/2 small red pepper, small dice
  • 3-4 green onions, tops only, diced

Instructions

The night before:

  1. Cook the sausage in a large skillet and drain the fat.
  2. Add onion and saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. Allow sausage/onion mixture to cool.
  4. Coat the bottom of a 15″ x 10″ baking dish with melted butter.
  5. Spread the bread cubes on the bottom of the dish.
  6. Add the cooled sausage/onion mixture.
  7. In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and dry mustard.
  8. Spread the shredded cheeses over the sausage mix.
  9. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sausage and cover with plastic wrap.
  10. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning:

  1. Take the casserole out of the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least an hour. It can be cool to the touch but not cold.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  3. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes until the top turns golden brown and the casserole is bubbling on the sides.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Sprinkle the red pepper and green onions on top.
  6. Yum.

Post Xmas Brunch Observations

You’ll note this recipe does not call for any salt or pepper.  You won’t need salt or pepper in the dish.  Allow your guests to season as they please.  Trust me on this.  This dish is quite rich and full of flavor even the salsa and ketchup on the counter never got used.  We made Xmas Breakfast Potatoes on the side.  This casserole freezes well for quick and hearty meals when you don’t feel like cereal or toast.  Make sure you’re feeding a crowd because otherwise you’ll have a lot of leftovers.

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Forgotten Cookies

“Why do I always make the dessert?”

“Because you make wonderful desserts and our dinner parties would not be the same without one of your desserts.”

This cookie recipe is a recipe Grandma Beverly used to make.  I don’t remember The Boss ever making this cookie.  When the offspring were young there were always homemade cookies in the house.  Still I’m pretty sure I never had this cookie.  Until yesterday.  I was forced to sample one before dinner.  All I said was

“These things are dangerous!”

  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add dash of salt to the egg whites.
  3. Beat egg whites until fluffy.
  4. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff.  Add a few drops of vanilla.
  5. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet.
  8. Turn oven off and leave the cookies in the oven for a minimum of three hours or overnight.
  9. Makes about 30 cookies.

I learned the “forgotten” part of the cookie description is when you put the cookie sheet into the oven then turn the oven off.  Set it and forget it.

 

 

Potato Crusted Spinach Quiche

It’s been two months since I posted a recipe.  Too many interesting research articles, bunnies, work…the list is endless.  Well the drought is over.  I had leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge and told myself “I am not going to waste perfectly fine leftover mashed potatoes”.  I hopped online to find  a decent potato pancake recipe.  But instead, I stumbled on a quiche recipe that used instant mashed potatoes for the crust.  One of my go to recipes is frittata that has plenty of potatoes in it.  So why not quiche?

Trigger Warning for Easily Offended Militant Vegans

Stop reading now.  This recipe has eggs and dairy.

You’ll need:

3 tablespoons EVO

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

1 small (or half a large) sweet onion, chopped

2 cups frozen organic chopped spinach, thawed & drained

2 large mushrooms (white button or baby bella) sliced thin

4 large eggs

1 cup organic half and half

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Two dashes nutmeg

salt & pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 9″ pie pan with 1 T of the olive oil.  Press the mashed potatoes into the pie pan to form a crust.
  3. Bake the potato pie crust for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes turn the oven off and leave the potato crust in the oven for another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.  Cool thoroughly.
  4. Heat up the oven again, this time to 425 degrees.
  5. In a large pan saute onion and mushroom for approximately 10 minutes in 1T olive oil and 2T of butter.  Add defrosted and drained spinach and continue to saute until the mixture is somewhat dry.  Add a dash of nutmeg. You don’t want any visible liquid.  Set aside.  Cool thoroughly.
  6. In a small mixing bowl whisk the eggs & half and half.  Add the other dash of nutmeg, and a dash apiece of salt and pepper.
  7. Spread vegetable mixture evenly on your potato pie crust.
  8. Sprinkle Parmesan and cheddar cheeses over the spinach mixture.
  9. Pour egg mixture over the spinach and cheeses.
  10. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn oven heat down to 350 degrees and continue baking for approximately 30 more minutes or until golden brown.

Slice & serve.

 

Tips

Why yes, of course you can add cooked diced bacon at step 8.5.  Swiss instead of cheddar would be an excellent substitute.  If you don’t have any leftover mashed potatoes by all means use one of those deep dish frozen pie shells.  If you add bacon and use a frozen pie crust this recipe becomes my world famous spinach quiche that I’ve been making for years.  But as I move along the spectrum to more of a WFPB diet I’ve been leaving the bacon out.

I’m not quite sure how I would make this pie palatable for my easily offended militant vegan readers.  I need to think about this a little more.

Semi-Organic Beef Vegetable Soup

  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots,peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, skin on
  • 1 medium green squash, diced
  • 1 to 1 1/4 pound top blade roast
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
  • 4 large white button mushrooms, thick dice
  • 1/2 C frozen corn
  • garlic powder, to taste
  • pinch dried parsley
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 quart organic beef broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Makes about four healthy servings.

  1. In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot.  Salt and pepper the roast.  Brown the beef on both sides over medium high heat.
  2. Add the celery and onion.  Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
  3. Add garlic powder and thyme.  Add enough broth to almost but not completely cover the roast.  Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer slowly for two hours.
  5. After two hours, remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to cool.
  6. Add the rest of the beef broth and tomatoes to the pot.
  7. Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. After 30 minutes add the squash , mushrooms and corn.  Simmer for another 30 minutes.
  9. When the roast is cooled, trim any excess fat, cube and add to the soup.
  10.  Adjust your seasonings.  Add parsley.

My meals since Friday evening have been soup, cereal, soup, soup, toast/banana, soup, and soup.   The jeans are getting a little loose.  I cannot remember a weekend of such healthy eating ever.  Yes, The Boss is still sick.  Friday I made chicken soup.  Last night I made Vegetarian Vegetable Soup.  Today I decided upon Beef Vegetable for a change in pace.

A high quality beef vegetable soup is the end result of the right cut of beef and some high quality broth.  This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not.  The beef broth was hand selected store bought prepared organic broth.  I used top blade which IMO makes a big difference  due to the cut and marbling.

Tips

I remembered the mushrooms.   Use vegetables you have on hand.  I also decided to leave out peas because peas are not one of my favorite vegetables.  The corn adds a touch of sweetness.  Note the roast is braised whole for several hours, cooled, cubed and returned to the soup.  The beef stays tender this way.  You won’t end up with tiny hockey pucks.

A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.

So would a three pound top blade roast.  But with that much beef you might as well make Pot Roast.

Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagne

  • 10-12 lasagne noodles (more if you’re making a big pan of lasagne)
  • one big butternut squash, halved, seeded and baked
  • a bunch of fresh spinach leaves, 8 ounces minimum
  • one large sweet onion, sliced, caramelized
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups bechamel sauce
  •  dash of nutmeg
  • salt and peppers (black and white)
  • grated parmesan
  • shredded mozzarella
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take the squash halves, lightly grease the cut sides with olive oil, and place cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for approximately one hour.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  3. Once cooled, scoop the squash into a mixing bowl.  Smash with a fork and season to taste with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  4. Caramelize your onion and set aside.  No salt or pepper at this step.
  5. Wilt the spinach in a pan over medium heat.  Cool, chop, season with salt, black pepper, nutmeg and set aside.
  6. Prepare your bechamel sauce (half stick of butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup parmesan, 3 cups milk, salt, white pepper).  Set aside.
  7. Cook the noodles until al dente.  Use more or less noodles, depending on how big you want your tray of lasagne to be.
  8. In a baking dish large enough for the desired dish of lasagne, cover the bottom with several spoonfuls of bechamel sauce.
  9. Arrange a layer of lasagne noodles in the baking dish. Spread prepared squash evenly over the noodles.  Sprinkle parmesan and mozzarella.
  10. Fold the spinach and onions into the ricotta.   Add another layer of noodles.  Spread some sauce, the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture, and cheeses evenly.
  11. Keep layering, alternating the vegetable layers, and ending with a plain noodle top.
  12. Cover the top with bechamel and cheeses.
  13. Bake uncovered for for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly.
  14. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

I had forgotten how much time it takes to make lasagne.  This recipe in particular takes hours due to the vegetable prep.  The next time I make this I’ll prepare the vegetables the night before and assemble/bake the next day.  There are a billion of these squash and spinach lasagne recipes on the internet.  I bet virtually none of them tell you how long this sucker takes to make.

But it was worth it!  If you like butternut squash and you like spinach you will like this veggie pasta bake.  But in the effort of full disclosure I thought I’d screwed up this lasagne because when I got to the final naked noodle layer I realized I had left out a few steps.

I forgot to put any parmesan or mozzarella on any of my layers.  I forgot to add parmesan to the spinach/onion/ricotta mixture.  Too late to deconstruct so I put the dish in the oven and hoped for the best.  To my surprise I didn’t miss the missing cheeses.  The lasagne turned out OK.  Less cheese allowed the flavors of the vegetables to shine.

I guess this recipe is a keeper.