Best Breakfast Casserole

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With her permission, I’m so glad to be sharing the recipe for one of my best friend's family’s breakfast casserole. Madeline first introduced our group of friends to this casserole at our other great friend’s bachelorette trip in Austin back in May. It feeds a bunch (especially if you double it!!) and it is simply a crowd pleaser. I quickly asked for the recipe and have made it 4 times since.

We then made it for our big friend Memorial Day Lake trip, I made it again for a family trip to the lake, and then again for an early morning breakfast tailgate. And yet again this past weekend, for another early morning breakfast tailgate. It’s clearly great for all occasions. I must add that on the image of the recipe Madeline sent me, written above the recipe, the word Christmas is added to the title. “Christmas Breakfast Casserole.” Without a doubt this would make for the best holiday breakfast. Before the big meal on Thanksgiving or before the presents are opened on Christmas!

I’ve made just a few adaptations since making it multiple times now. I increased the egg count from 6 to 8 eggs. I feel like this fills the pan better. And I’ve taken the mushrooms down from 4 oz to 2 oz. I love mushrooms, but not everyone does, so just a few here and there are perfect. Do not omit the mustard powder, I swear it’s the secret ingredient. And add a pinch of pepper, because I never make eggs without pepper!

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Breakfast Casserole adapted from The O’Connors
serves 8

Ingredients:
1 lb. mild sausage
8 eggs*
2 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
pinch of pepper
6 sliced bread, cut into cubes (white or wheat sandwich bread)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (Colby Jack, Mexican Blend or Cheddar will work, Pepper Jack would be great too!)
2 oz mushrooms, stalks removed and thinly sliced.

Directions:
In a pan over medium, cook the sausage until brown. Drain and set aside. Beat eggs and milk together. Add salt and mustard powder and beat again. Add bread into the wet ingredients and stir until bread is coated. Stir int cheese, mushrooms and sausage.

Pour into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate over night. Bake at 350 for 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Perfect with a cup of coffee and as the original recipe states, “good with hot biscuits and fresh fruit!”

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Annie

Cauliflower Soup (Whole 30)

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Hello soup season! This time of year, if it’s served in a bowl, I’m game. Some of my favorite soups include this one, this one and this one. This cauliflower soup is simple, but real good. It resembles potato soup, but a little healthier for you. Not to mention whole 30 compliant and vegan depending what type of broth you use!

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Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
32 oz cups of chicken, veggie or brone broth (TJ’s is now selling this and I love it)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
*½ cup coconut cream from coconut milk (the thick stuff from the top of the coconut milk can - do not shake!)
chopped green onions, cayenne and olive oil for garnish

Directions:
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Sauté until the onions are cooked down and translucent. 

Add the cauliflower florets to the pot and pour in the broth. Turn the heat to medium and cover the pot. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. It’s done when the cauliflower is fork tender. Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup until very smooth. An immersion blender is ideal, but if you are using a food processor, puree in 2 to 3 batches to avoid an extreme mess. (I know this because I do not have an immersion blender, and while the processor worked, it was messy).

After pureed, pour back into your soup pot unless you used an immersion blender. Whisk in the coconut cream. Add a pinch more of salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick you can add a bit more broth. 

Serve with a garnish of chopped green onions, a pinch of cayenne and a fancy drizzle of olive oil. A little cheddar cheese or crispy bacon bits would be great too to resemble potato soup! Great by itself but would also be great with a piece of crusty bread or a kale salad on the side. 

*Grocery stores sell "coconut cream," DON'T buy that. Buy regular coconut milk in a can. Do not shake the can of coconut milk. Open with a can opener and scoop out the thick cream from the top. Discard the rest. 

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Annie

Kale Quinoa Salad

While in Aspen, CO last week for our family trip, I found myself ordering kale salad after kale salad. Our dinners where indulgent, as they should be, so I tried to counteract them with a salad here and there for lunch. And I’d be lying if I said every time I ordered, said kale salad, it wasn’t also followed by a handful of french fries. The amount of kale salads and fries eaten on that trip…

Anyway, the kale salad hoopla was a must recreate situation the second I got home. 1. because I love some good travel inspiration for my meals and 2. because how better to slide back into healthy eating post vacay than with a kale salad? It has me being healthy and reminiscent!

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Kale Quinoa Salad
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

1 large bunch of lacinito kale
1 medium sweet potato
1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup dried cranberries
olive oil
cinnamon

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Chop your sweet potato into 1/2 inch cubes. Place on a roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and cinnamon. I love love love roasting sweet potatoes with cinnamon, but you can omit. Toss together and roast for 25 minutes. Check halfway through and toss around if needed. *When 5 minutes are left on the sweet potatoes, place the pecans on a roasting sheet and roast for 5 minutes making sure to watch that they don’t burn. Take out at the same time as the sweet potatoes. Roughly chop the pecans and set aside.

Now to de-rib your kale. Rinse and pat dry your kale. To de-rib, run a knife alongside the stem to detach the leaves. You can get a visual here. Layer all the kale leaves on top of each other and chop the kale into small pieces. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

In a mason jar or small bowl, add all dressing ingredients. Shake or whisk to combine.

To the bowl of kale add the cooked quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries, and pecans. Drizzle with a good portion of the dressing. Using a pair of tongs, give everything a really good toss until everything is coated in dressing. Kale is not a lettuce you can just pour dressing over the top. Your have to mix and toss and coat it with dressing.

Plate and serve with a bit of salt and pepper on top.

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Another favorite fall kale salad is my Fall Panzanella with Cornbread Croutons!

Annie

Campfire Cookies

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I'm heading to the lake with my family later today and I was tasked with bringing the "treats." Do I go with the classic Perfect CCC's? I could. Do I take the easy way out and just buy s'more ingredients? No, because it's 100+ in Oklahoma right now and the last thing I want to do is stand around a fire. 

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So instead, I will combine the two. As if my Perfect CCC's and a s'more had a baby, I give you Campfire Cookies. The ultimate summer lake trip treat.

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They are everything you love in a Perfect CCC (hello flaky Maldon Salt) mixed with graham crackers, marshmallows, and a Hershey's chocolate bar. I can think of nothing better right now. I will also take this moment to profess my love affair with Graham Crackers. The most underrated cookie/cracker. They are the perfect after dinner snack. Shmear on a little Cookie Butter or almond butter and you are golden. Graham Crackers I love you. Campfire Cookies, I love you too!

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Campfire Cookies
yields 32-36 cookies

Ingredients:
1  cup unsalted butter, melted
3 cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed*
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped
1 Hershey’s Chocolate Bar, chopped
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 sleeve Graham Crackers (9 crackers total)
Maldon Salt

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. 

Divide your graham crackers into stacks of 4 and 5. Take the 5 graham crackers and place in a large ziplock bag. Using a rolling pin crush the crackers into fine crumbs. This mixture will be added to the dry ingredients, so you want them to be very fine. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Then, take the 4 graham crackers and break them up into small pieces. Small enough to be mixed into the dough, but still in chunks. *see photo above for reference.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, fine graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl mix both sugars. *You can use light or dark brown sugar. I like a dark cookie so I prefer dark brown sugar, but I switch off depending on what I have on hand. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the sugars and whisk until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking to combine. Stir in the vanilla.

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture. I found a wooden spoon to be the easiest for this job. Once the dough has almost come together, add the chocolate chips, marshmallows, graham cracker chunks and 3/4 of the chopped Hershey's bar.
Reserve a few marshmallows, graham cracker chunks and 1/4 of the chopped Hershey bar for topping the balls of cookie dough.

Form 2-3 tablespoon size balls. I used a standard size cookie scoop, but overload the scoop getting a larger ball of dough. Place them on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Do not overcrowd the pans. I got 10 balls of dough on a pan. Take your reserved chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows and top each ball of dough with a little of each. Then sprinkle the top of each cookie with flaky Maldon salt. 

Bake for 9-11 minutes, rotating the pan around halfway through. Bake until just slightly golden. 

Don't fear, the marshmallows will ooze out and go all over the pan.  For a prettier cookie, take the cookies while they are still warm and using either you fingers or a knife, pull off and trim away the oozy marshmallow.You are simply just cleaning up your cookies. 

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Annie

Lite Bite: Mayo-Less Tuna Salad

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Tuna salad. Do you love it or does it make you gag? I'm on a HUGE kick right now and I'm real obsessed with my recipe so I had to share. It's free of mayo (EW) and gets tons of flavor from subbing in mustard. Makes for a perfect lunch that is satsifying and healthy!

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Mayo-Less Tuna Salad
yields 1 serving

Ingredients:
1, 5 oz can tuna packed in water, drained
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
1-2 tbsp. dijon mustard
1.5 tbsp. chopped pickles or relish
1.5 tbsp. diced red onion
salt and pepper
GG crackers, rice cake or bibb lettuce for serving

Directions:
Drain your can of tuna. In a small bowl combine all ingredients. Adding more mustard if you want it creamier. Serve with crackers, rice cakes or in little cups of bibb lettuce making it whole 30 compliant (as long as your mustard is sugar free! I like this brand, for obvious reasons)!
 

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Annie