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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Rockfish Tacos with Carrot-Bean Slaw and Avocado Cream

24 03 2016

So here I am, This Girl is back…from a LONG break after having a baby! Bare with me as I get back to real cooking and blogging (enough with the frozen pizza, to-go orders and week-old leftovers, although I can stretch a leftover now like you wouldn’t believe)!

These tacos were inspired by last night’s baby food, homemade of course, and admittedly my son has been eating better than me lately. I made him pureed avocado and corn. I love the silky smooth texture, which is different then my usual chunky guac. Here I pureed avocado with sour cream making a “sauce” for these tacos, although his combo with the corn would be delicious as well. Too bad he ate it all! Next time I’m doubling, half for him and half for us!

Rockfish Tacos with Carrot-Bean Slaw and Avocado-Sour Cream

The following makes 4-5 large tacos (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 1 lb skinless rockfish, cubed
  • ½ Tbsp ancho chile powder (you could use regular chile powder, I just wanted to match the smokey flavor in the poblano)
  • ½ tsp each ground cumin and garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp each salt and onion powder
  • Olive oil
  • 1 heaping cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 can (15.5 oz) blank beams, rinsed well
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tortillas (I used multi-grain soft taco tortillas)
  • Shredded Mexican cheese blend

Char the poblano pepper over an open flame on your stove. Continue to turn and char until all sides are done. Place in a medium bowl and immediately cover tightly with plastic wrap. This will trap the steam to make peeling easier.

Combine chile powder, cumin, garlic, salt and onion powder in a small bowl. Season fish liberally all over using spice blend. Add olive oil (few turns of the pan) to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add seasoned fish and saute until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, uncover the pepper once cool enough to handle and peel the skin. Don’t take too much time removing, leaving some of the char on will add flavor. Cut in half, remove seeds and rough chop/large dice. Add back to the bowl along with the carrots, beans and green onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper, any spice blend you have leftover from seasoning the fish, juice of half the lime and the rice vinegar. Mix well and set aside.

Add the avocado and sour cream to a small food processor along with salt and pepper to taste and juice from the rest of the lime. Pulse until smooth and set aside.

Warm tortillas in the microwave, or if you have time you can char them over an open flame on your stove or on the grill.

Finally, build your tacos. Spread some of the avocado-sour cream on the bottom of a tortilla, top with some cheese, the carrot-bean slaw and fish. Enjoy any leftover slaw as a side dish along with the tacos.





Chorizo and Ramp Pizza

27 04 2015

I recently enjoyed a tasty chorizo and ramp pizza at Michael Symon’s Lolita restaurant. When I received ramps in our CSA grab bag this past week I knew instantly I’d be recreating that Lolita pizza! Thanks for the idea, Michael!

Chorizo and Ramp Pizza

The following makes one pizza (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Ground chorizo
  • Whole wheat pizza dough
  • Cornmeal
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Ricotta
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • Ramps
  • Sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Eggs
  • Hot sauce for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 450.

Brown the chorizo in a skillet until just cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

With some cornmeal on your counter, roll out the pizza dough to your desired thickness.

Put a little cornmeal on a pizza stone, then carefully transfer the rolled out dough onto the pizza stone and brush with olive oil. Bake the crust for 5-7 minutes. Remove from the oven to add your toppings.

Mix a little ricotta with olive oil and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Eyeball it, you just need enough ricotta to spread on the pizza to create a sauce.

Spread the ricotta evenly on the pizza dough. Top with cooked chorizo and the sliced shallots. Use as much of each ingredient as you like.

Return to the oven and bake for 5 minutes or so. Remove and add the ramps and shredded cheese, again as much as you like of each. Return to the oven to finish baking, another 5 minutes or so. Just keep an eye on the oven to make sure everything is cooked through, hot and the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven.

Fry up some eggs to your desired likeness, I recommend one egg per slice of pizza and making sure to leave it runny to help create a sauce.

Slice pizza and serve each slice with a fried egg on top and hot sauce if desired.





Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

24 03 2015

Traditional lasagna can be time-consuming, but in this version you can save time by using store-bought or pre-made pesto, and no-boil lasagna sheets. Just because you’re saving on time though, doesn’t mean you’re skimping on the flavor. Trust me, this lasagna is totally decadent! You can make this two days in advance if you want, just store covered in the fridge and bring to room temperature before baking.

I made this for a family Sunday supper and was feeding a crowd, so I doubled the recipe. If you end up having some leftover ricotta filling like me, you can toss it with some whole wheat pasta and a little of the pasta water for another great meal or side!

Creamy Pesto-Chicken Lasagna

The following makes 10-12 servings (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb cooked ground chicken
  • 1 package (15 oz) whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 box flat, no-boil lasagna sheets
  • 4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

For the bechamel, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and nutmeg, bring to a simmer, and cook 2 more minutes. Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cooked chicken (simply season with salt, pepper and granulated garlic and saute in a little olive oil until cooked through) and set aside.

For the lasagna, stir together the ricotta, parmesan, and 1/2 cup pesto; season with salt and pepper.

To build, spread 2/3 cup bechamel in the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Using a rubber spatula, spread some of the ricotta mixture on 3 lasagna sheets making sure they’re fully covered, then lay them side by side in the baking dish. Top lasagna with more bechamel, making sure to cover the noodles. Next top with 3/4 cup mozzarella. Repeat laying three times or until your ingredients run out, making sure that the ingredients are evenly dispersed. Top the final layer with 1 and 1/2 cups mozzarella.

Cover lasagna with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake lasagna 15 more minutes, then broil on high until golden, 2-3 minutes. Let lasagna rest 15 minutes before serving.





Italian Chicken and Veggie Cobbler

17 03 2015

This is a savory and fun take on a fruit cobbler, made with chicken and veggies. The original version topped this with cornmeal dumplings, but I substituted with polenta. You could switch out different veggies for what you have on hand, or could also use Italian sausage in place of the chicken, making this a versatile dish.

Italian Chicken and Veggie Cobbler

The following serves 4-6 (adapted from Cuisine at Home):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Granulated garlic
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can cannellini beans (15.5 oz) drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 8 oz of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond milk or skim milk)
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add chicken, season with a little Italian seasoning, salt and granulated garlic. Saute until just beginning to brown, then transfer to a plate.

Add onions, broccoli and bell peppers to the skillet; cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste and cook 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with wine, scrapping up any brown bits, and reduce until nearly evaporated. Stir in beans, 1 tsp Italian seasoning and the cooked chicken. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.

Whisk together 1 cup of broth with the cornstarch and add to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened, 5 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted and cooked down. Season lightly with salt to taste. Remove from the heat and make the polenta.

In a small-medium saucepan, heat the water, milk and remaining cup of broth over medium-high. Bring to a slow boil, then whisk in the cornmeal. Whisk well and bring to a boil. Lower heat and stir with a wooden spoon, constantly until thick, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese, mixing well, then remove from heat.

Pour the polenta evenly all over the chicken and veggie mixture, smoothing out if needed. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove cobbler from the oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley before serving.





Minestrone

21 02 2015

This is a healthy and comforting Italian soup, sure to wrap you in warmth even on the coldest of winter days! It’s loaded with veggies and is a great option for meatless Mondays, or to enjoy during Lent. Mangia!

Minestrone

The following serves 6 (adapted from Food Network Magazine):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large or 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 6 cups low-sodium, reduced-fat chicken broth
  • 1 (14 oz) can crushed tomatoes – if you don’t have crushed on hand, puree a can of diced tomatoes in a high-speed blender until smooth
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, or fresh diced tomatoes
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of green beans cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup dry ditalini pasta
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Chopped parsley

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add tomato paste, dry herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring around, for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with wine and cook until nearly evaporated.

Next add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in green beans and cannellini beans and cook for 5 minutes. Finally, add the pasta and cook 10 minutes more. Season with salt to taste.

Serve with lots of cheese and parsley for garnish.





Baked Crab Mac-n-Cheese With Peas

18 02 2015

I love the decadence of crab mac-n-cheese! This recipe offers that rich, comforting flavor, but with a few healthier ingredients. In a meal like this, you can easily swap things like coconut oil in place of butter and whole wheat flour for all-purpose flour, as well as sneak in a veggie like peas. And if you’re an observer of Lent, this is a great dinner to dig into on Fridays!

Baked Crab Mac-n-Cheese With Peas

The following serves 3-4 (adapted from Will Cook For Smiles):

  • 2 cups dry whole wheat penne
  • 1 cup (8 oz) crab meat
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3/4 – 1 cup white sharp cheddar cheese, grated from the block
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • Chopped parsley

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

Cook pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions. Cook to al dente, then drain well and add back to pot. Add the crab meat and frozen peas to the pasta and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt coconut oil over medium heat and add shallot. Saute a minute or two until beginning to soften. Whisk in the flour and cook for 30 seconds to a minute. Slowly pour in the milk and constantly whisk until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the grated cheddar and salt and pepper to taste. Keep whisking, slowly, until the cheese is melted. Off heat, stir in half of the parmesan.

Pour the cheese mixture over the pasta, crab and peas and stir well to combine. Transfer to prepared casserole dish and sprinkle with the panko and the rest of the parmesan.

Bake covered for 20 minutes. Remove cover and finish baking another 5-10 minutes to help brown the top (you may want to up the heat or turn on the broiler). Allow to rest a few minutes before serving, then garnish with chopped parsley.