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

Lite Bite: Crock-Pot Pork Chops & Sweet Potatoes

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Back with a quicky "lite bite" post!

This was a go to meal for my mom growing up and still is for she and my dad. I've now translated it over to my everyday recipe book. Super simple pork chops and sweet potatoes pair perfectly together for a simple but comforting fall or winter dinner. #TBT to when I used to eat this meal and fix my sweet potato up with equal parts 5 Tbsp. butter to 5 Tbsp. brown sugar...

Crock-Pot Pork Chops & Sweet Potatoes
yields 4 servings

Ingredients: 
1-1 1/2 lbs. pork chops (account for one pork chop per serving)
4 good size size sweet potatoes
1 cup chicken, veggie, beef stock (whatever you have) 
1 Tbsp. Oregano or Italian Seasoning  
olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions: 
Heat a little bit of oil in a non stick skillet over medium high heat. Season pork chops with salt, pepper and oregano on both sides. Place your pork chops in the pan, and sear on both sides. About 1 minute per side. You are not cooking the pork chops yet you just want to get them browned. Once seared, take out of pan and place in crockpot. Pour a little pit of chicken stock in the hot pan to deglaze it and get all the browned bits off the bottom. Pour over the pork chops in the crock-pot. Add a little more stock (1 cup or so) to moisten. 

Wrap your sweet potatoes in foil and place right on top of the pork chops. Put your lid on and cook on low all day (6-8 hours). Pork chops and sweet potatoes should be very tender when done.

I keep it simple and serve a pork chop with a plain sweet potato. I love mustard, so sometimes dip my pork chop in whatever fancy mustard I have in the fridge. Loving this right now. You could also do a nut butter or brown sugar on your sweet potato. 

Annie

Bites of My Life

The post-holiday slump starts now:( I hate how fast holidays come and go. Thankful that Christmas is around the corner, but to think I have to wait a whole year until dressing, pumpkin pie and creamed corn again, it's just plain sad. 

The Tucker Thanksgiving was top notch this year. The whole fam plus some, hours in the kitchen, multiple food babies, leftovers up to our ears; shopping, walking, drinking, eating, board games, football games, golf games, etc. I wish it didn't have to end! 

-Rice cake, almond butter, pumpkin puree and cinnamon for a quickie seasonal breakfast.
-Cranberry moscow mules to start the festivities!
-I am a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving dishes, but I risked it for the biscuit and updated our pies with homemade crust and the addition of cranberries to our apple pie!
-Cause the apps before the feast are just as important.
-Not to toot our own horn, but nobody does Thanksgiving better than my family of foodies. 
-The classic pie sampler plate to really send the Thanksgiving food baby into it's 3rd trimester. Cran Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan with homemade whipped cream!
-Sister squad. 
-A very happy #manksgiving! Congrats to Courtney and Hunter!
-Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, took a day out of my life. Kathleen and I spent a solid 6+ hours on the couch marathoning all the episodes. I can't help but love it because it's Gilmore and all, but I was also a little ehh about it. It seemed a little silly and like they were trying to hard at parts. Give me your thoughts!

Annie

Sausage Tortellini Soup with Parmesan Crisps

I mentioned in yesterday's post how this time of year makes me nostalgic for family recipes. With the holidays coming up, I start longing for Kathleen and dad's Thanksgiving dressing, my Aunt Gina, Claire and I's apple pie, my mom's creamed corn...I could go on forever. Aside from holiday recipes there are a handful of family recipes I crave. Exhibit A, this Sausage Tortellini Soup. 

I remember growing up and this soup always showing up on that first really cold day. With the couple chilly days we've had, my taste buds immediately wanted this soup. Although, I actually made this soup on Monday when it was a near 90 degrees. Not quite soup weather... maybe my cooking will help Oklahoma get its fall weather act together!

Growing up we always had sausage tortellini soup with a big wedge of skillet cornbread. Not that I don't loooooooove my fam's cornbread, but I wanted to try something new. Raise your hand if you've had those parmesan crisps they sell at Whole Foods (hand raised high). Last week I was there and they had them out as a sample. I embarrassingly went by three times for another bite. They are just baked cheese but kind of get away as being a cracker. 

I did my best to recreate those coveted parmesan crisps so I didn't have to hand over nine bucks for a box of something I could make at home. I bought a cheap wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano at Trader Joe's then grated it on a box grater. I love the way they turned out and they pair perfect with this soup!

Sausage Tortellini Soup with Parmesan Crisps
yields 10 cups

Ingredients:
1 lb. Italian sausauge
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
3 (14½ oz) cans beef broth
2 (14½ oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsps. dried Italian seasoning
2 small zucchini, sliced
1 (9 oz) pkg. refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
*Parmesan Crisps

Directions:
Discard sausage casings. Cook sausage, onion and garlic in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring until sausage crumbles and is no longer pink; drain and return to pan.

Sir in broth and next 6 ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 30 minutes. Skim off fat. Stir in zucchini and tortellini, simmer 10 minutes. Serve each bowl with a parmesan crisp!

*Parmesan Crisps:
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Black pepper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

Using a box grated, great your parmesan cheese. I used a combination of two sizes of grates. Drop heaping tablespoons of parmesan onto the lined baking sheet. Pat out into 2 1/2 inch circles. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake for 10 minutes, but keep an eye on them, they may need less time. Let them sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes. Gently lift off, be careful they are delicate. 

Family recipes really are the best. I've been on a kick of remaking some of my favorites from growing up. What are some of your favorite family recipes?

Annie

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin bread, there's nothing better. Pumpkin bread is the quintessential pumpkin food. It's been around waaaaay longer than PSLs, pumpkin spice puppy chow, pumpkin protein bars, pumpkin spice cookie butter and all the other commercialized pumpkin foods. 

This time of year makes me nostalgic for old family recipes. With the holidays coming up, I've been digging through my mom's recipe binder to resurface some of my favorites like her ginger cookies, sausage tortellini soup (more on that later this week) and this pumpkin bread. It's the best darn pumpkin bread around and deserves to be shared. 

I baked up eight, count 'em, eight loaves this weekend. Six of them were sent off to be used as gifts, but two are taking home in my freezer to be pulled out when the pumpkin bread hunger strikes! It took a few loads into my KitchenAid to complete all the bowls of batter, but well worth it, that is my kind of therapy. Follow below to snatch this family tested, Annie trusted and fall approved recipe!

Pumpkin Bread
yields 2, 9 inch loaves or 3, 8 inch loves

Ingredients:
2/3 cup shortening
2 2/3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1, 15oz can pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsps. baking soda
1 1/2 tsps. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
2/3 cup pecans, chopped

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Generously grease and flour 2, 9 inch or 3, 8 inch loaf pans and set aside.

Cream shortening, gradually add sugar beating well. Add eggs, mix well. Stir in pumpkin and water.

Combine flour, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves; add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Fold in nuts, reserving a few. Spoon into loaf pans. Top with extra pecans. If using 8 inch pans bake for 55 minutes, 9 inch pans will bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the toothpick trick comes out clean.

What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? Mine 100% is this bread!

Annie