Easter Bread Baked French Toast

5 04 2016

My hubs fam makes a delicious Easter bread similar to the Italian sweetened bread, Panettone. This thick, dense bread is just perfect for baked french toast! And because the bread itself it already sweetened, you don’t need extra sugar. To make this casserole more savory for dinner, I topped it with breakfast sausage browned with a little cayenne before baking. Love enjoying breakfast for dinner, especially when leftovers can be gobbled up the next morning too!

Easter Bread Baked French Toast

The following makes a 9×13 casserole (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 8-10 cups cubed Easter bread (or Panettone or other sweetened bread)
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 oz mascarpone or cream cheese
  • Butter
  • 1 lb ground breakfast sausage
  • Cayenne pepper

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 casserole dish. You could also use non-stick spray.

With a whisk, beat milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl until combined. Add the cubed bread and toss to combine. Pour bread and liquid in the greased casserole dish and add dollops of mascarpone or cream cheese all over and in between the bread. It doesn’t have to be perfect and if the bread starts to tear and get mushy don’t worry about it! Cover with foil and store in the fridge overnight, or at least 8-10 hours.

Brown the breakfast sausage with a little cayenne pepper, breaking up in small pieces as it cooks. Store in a covered container in the fridge until you’re ready to bake the casserole.

When ready to bake, top the casserole with the browned breakfast sausage and preheat the oven to 350. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes to an hour. I keep the sausage separate and only add to the top (rather than mixing it in) to keep it crispy, which adds another layer of texture to the baked french toast.

Top with your fav maple syrup before serving (my go to is organic maple agave syrup).

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Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

8 01 2015

This comfy casserole will help keep you warm on a bitter cold night. There’s no flour, butter or excess cheese, so you can feel good about diving into this healthy take on mac-n-cheese!

Creamy Squash Mac-n-Cheese With Chicken and Kale

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Food52):

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled, seeded and cubed, about 4 cups cubed
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened plain almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 small box (13 oz) whole wheat penne
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • Garlic powder
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 4 oz plain goat cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan, plus more for topping
  • Panko breadcrumbs

In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, stock and garlic cloves to a simmer. Add cubed squash and season with salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and simmer until squash is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta to al dente, according to package directions. Drain and add to a large mixing bowl.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. Season chicken with a little salt, garlic powder and red pepper flakes to taste. Add to skillet and cook until just browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and add to bowl with pasta. Bake in the skillet, add 2-3 cups of chopped kale – add a little at a time, wilting slightly as you go. Remove sautéed kale from skillet and add to the bowl with pasta.

When the squash is tender, remove from the heat and transfer (carefully) to a high-powered blender. Puree until smooth.

Add the puree, a little at a time, to the bowl with the pasta, along with the goat cheese and parmesan cheese. Mix everything until well combined and the cheese melts. I added a little puree at a time as I didn’t need to use it all, and will save some for another sauce. You want everything to look really creamy with a little extra sauce mixed in as it will thicken in the oven.

Pour mixture into a 9×13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Top with panko and more grated parmesan.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and rest for a few minutes before serving.





Cauliflower and BBQ Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

24 11 2014

The next time you make BBQ pulled pork, do yourself a favor and make extra and freeze it to use later in this deliciously healthy casserole! Seriously, this is divine…giving you all the comfort and none of the guilt! Topped with a creamy mashed cauliflower, you’ll think you’re indulging in an over-the-top potato Shepherd’s pie, when you’ll really be devouring a meal loaded with veggies.

Cauliflower and BBQ Pulled Pork Shepherd's Pie

The following serves 4-6 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Half a small-medium onion, diced
  • 4 small-medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 heaping cup shredded cabbage
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • BBQ sauce
  • 3-4 cups worth of leftover pulled pork that has been tossed in BBQ sauce (if you have some frozen, just defrost it first)
  • Low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Splash of milk, I use almond milk, but use whatever you have
  • 1 heaping cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add cauliflower florets and boil for 8-10 minutes, until softened, but not mushy. Drain cauliflower in a mesh strainer, shaking out excess water. Return drained cauliflower to the hot pot and allow to sit for a few minutes, so that any remaining water evaporates.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Once hot, add onions and carrots and cook for a few minutes until beginning to soften. Next add cabbage and stir to combine. Season with salt and for an extra kick, a pinch of red pepper flakes and even some of your favorite hot sauce if desired. Stir in BBQ sauce, either homemade or store-bought, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup (use less sauce if you have a smaller amount of pork, or more sauce if you have a larger amount – you just want the mixture to be heavily coated so it stays moist while it bakes). Add leftover pulled pork and toss until everything is combined. Add a splash or so of chicken stock to thin the sauce slightly, and cook for just a few minutes until the cabbage begins to wilt. Remove from heat.

Add cooked cauliflower florets to a food processor, along with sour cream, milk and salt to taste. Process until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of the cheese and process again. Taste and season with additional salt if needed. If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily mash by hand – it might not be as smooth, but you’ll still get the job done! 🙂

Add the pulled pork mixture to the prepared casserole dish, spreading out in an even layer. Top with the mashed cauliflower, spreading in an even layer over the pulled pork mixture. Top cauliflower with remaining cheese, you can even add more if you’d like.

Bake casserole, uncovered, until bubbling hot, 45 minutes to an hour. The cheese will be melted and starting to brown and the cauliflower with set like mashed potatoes. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes or so before plating. Serve garnished with chopped parsley or cilantro.





Turkey Pot Pie With Phyllo Crust

24 02 2014

Turkey pot pie is a deliciously warm and comfy casserole, but it can be heavy. I’ve lightened this up using whole wheat flour, skim milk and oil instead of butter. And you can still achieve a classically crispy crust by using light phyllo dough. Isn’t it gorgeous? So much so that you might not believe there’s deli meat in this (fresh, not processed and whole cut though)! It’s not my top choice, turkey or chicken breast is preferred, but in an effort to use up a big pile of freshly sliced turkey meat, I got creative. 🙂

Turkey Pot Pie With Phyllo Crust

Turkey Pot Pie With Phyllo Crust

Turkey Pot Pie With Phyllo Crust

Turkey Pot Pie With Phyllo Crust

The following makes 4 servings (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh thyme
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 2 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chopped cooked turkey, you could also use chicken
  • 2 and 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and patted dry
  • Phyllo dough, thawed at room temperature

Preheat oven to 400.

Cook mushrooms and thyme in 6 Tbsp oil in a saute pan over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup sherry; cook until nearly evaporated. Whisk in broth and milk; cook until thickened to desired consistency, 10-12 minutes. Add lemon juice; season with salt, pepper and a little more sherry to taste. Remove from heat and stir in turkey and minced vegetables.

Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Place the 9 x 13 on a baking sheet lined with foil, in case any of it bubbles over while cooking. Alternatively, you could also use four 1 and a 1/4 to 1 and 1/2- cup ovenproof baking dishes arranged on a baking sheet.

Place a phyllo sheet on a flat surface; and cover the remaining sheets with a damp towel while you work. Working fast, roll each phyllo sheet into a loose tube. Place rolled tube on top of casserole. Repeat by rolling up and placing on top of casserole until the top is completely covered. The number of phyllo sheets needed will depend how tight you roll them into tubes, I’d say 8-10 total. Brush with a little oil over the top of the casserole and sprinkle with a little thyme for color.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbly, about 30-40 minutes (note: if you use the individual baking dishes, you should only have to bake for about 20 minutes). Let casserole cool for 10 minutes before serving.





Potato, Chorizo and Cheese Casserole

5 05 2012

I found a sauteed potato and chorizo recipe from Food Network’s Marcela Valladolid, made some of This Girl’s tweaks to turn it into a casserole, and brought it as a side dish for a Cino de Mayo party. This potato casserole would be a great addition to a brunch menu or a good stuffing for tacos or quesadillas too!

Potato, Chorizo and Cheese Casserole

The following serves 6-8:

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 10 ounces Mexican pork chorizo, casings removed (I used 5 sausage-sized links, about 1.25 lbs total)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound red skinned new potatoes, cut into small (1/4-inch) dice, and boiled (I used 14 Idaho potatoes instead)
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 anaheim or banana pepper, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese or Mexican cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking up the clumps, until dry and crisp, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a paper lined plate to absorb any additional oil. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and heat the pan over medium-high heat.

Add the onions, peppers, garlic and boiled potatoes and saute until brown, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer half the potatoes to a casserole or baking dish, top with half the chorizo and 1 cup of cheese. Next add the rest of the potatoes, the rest of the chorizo and the final 1 cup of cheese. Bake covered in the oven 10-15 minutes or so, then uncover and continue baking until cheese is fully melted and crisp.

Additional This Girl tip: When making this dish again, I wouldn’t boil the potatoes first. They started to fall apart once sauteed. Next time, I would saute them raw to get the nice crunch I was looking for.





Kielbasa and Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese Bake

13 01 2012

Most everyone I know enjoys a comfy mac-n-cheese supper…and I’m no exception! I also enjoy coming up with new ways of making it with creative ingredients. It’s cold and snowy here in CLE, so tonight’s supper was all about feeling warm and comfy with the few ingredients I had on hand. I always start with my Mama’s mac-n-cheese recipe and then add goodies from there 🙂

Kielbasa and Cauliflower Mac-n-Cheese Bake

The following serves 4 with leftovers:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 2 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup buttered bread crumbs

Tonight’s additional goodies included: 1 package kielbasa chopped and sautéed with a little diced red onion and roasted cauliflower.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

First roast the cauliflower: Line a baking sheet with foil and toss about a half a head or less of fresh cauliflower florets with some olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Roast at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, tossing half way through. Remove cauliflower and set aside, leave oven set at 375 degrees.

While the cauliflower is roasting, saute the kielbasa in a medium-large frying pan until caramelized and slightly brown. Add the diced onion when the kielbasa is just about done, saute the onion until browned. Remove the kielbasa and onion onto a plate and set aside. I then used the same frying pan to make the cheese sauce, picking up all the kielbasa bits and flavor. Continue below…

In a saucepan melt butter (or in tonight’s case, use the frying pan you cooked the kielbasa in). Remove from heat, blend in flour with a whisk and then add salt and dried mustard. Turn the heat back on and add milk, stirring constantly. Stir until sauce thickens a little and is smooth. Add cheese and stir until melted, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, cook macaroni as directed (under cook al dente by a minute or two because it will finish cooking in the oven). Drain pasta and combine with sauce in a 2-quart casserole dish (also add and combine in the cooked kielbasa, onion and cauliflower at this point). Top with buttered bread crumbs.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. Curl up on the couch with your comfy meal, a blanket and enjoy a movie on a cold Friday night!





Chicken and Kale Casserole

4 12 2011

Tonight’s wonderful Sunday supper….a chicken and kale casserole, idea compliments of Everyday Food! Even if you’re only cooking for 2 people, make this whole recipe and enjoy leftovers through the week!

Chicken and Kale Casserole

The following serves 8:

  • Course salt and ground pepper
  • 3/4 lb large pasta shells (I used 1 lb of medium shells)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 2 bunches kale (1 1/2 lbs), tough stems and ribs removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped cooked chicken (about 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 container (48 oz) part-skim ricotta
  • 3 Tbsp grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package. Drain, return to pot.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is beginning to soften, 4 minutes. Add kale, cover and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. A tip I picked up from the Food Network Chefs that has stuck with me: anytime you’re cooking / sauteing greens, zest or sprinkle some nutmeg over them as they cook.

Transfer kale to pot with pasta. Stir in chicken, ricotta, lemon zest and 1/2 cup parmesan, season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, top with 1/4 cup parmesan.

Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes. I recommend serving individual portions with a little sprinkle of lemon juice, parmesan cheese and black pepper.