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Breakfast Casserole, without the bread

Breakfast Casserole

Everyone loves the taste of those breakfast casserole recipes that start with soaking multiple slices of white bread in eggs and milk overnight.  You know the ones that people serve for holiday breakfasts and brunches.  But, who really needs to eat a bunch of low-nutrition highly-processed white bread?

A friend of mine, Janet, makes something similar, but hers deliciously makes up for the missing bread with a LOT of cheese, kind of like a breakfast crustless quiche.  When I say a lot of cheese, I am serious. So, I adapted and modified her recipe with some others online and came up with this which has I think a reasonable amount of cheese. 

Oh, the sausage I used was from that half of a local pig we bought a few weeks ago. It was a very mild sausage, not spicy at all, so I added a bit of cayenne pepper. Adjust the peppers to your preference based on how spicy your sausage is. There is even a recipe on my blog here for mixing up your own breakfast sausage if you have access to good ground pork…my recipe is for a much spicier pork sausage.

It was a BIG hit with both Mike and the girls this weekend.  Feel free to change out the veggies or better yet, add more, maybe some sautéed spinach?

Breakfast Casserole with Mushrooms & Onions

  • 1 pound bulk sausage
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped
  • 4-6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 cup half & half or milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cup colby jack or mild cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish.
2. Brown sausage, remove grease if necessary. Mine didn’t make any.
3. Add onions and mushrooms to sausage until the mushrooms are cooked.
4. Mix together the eggs, salt, peppers, half and half, and cheese in a bowl.
5. Put sausage mixture in baking dish, then pour egg mixture on top and stir to combine.
6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until eggs are cooked through.

–  Stacey

Note: Sick in bed today, so written and published completely from my phone. 🙂

Orange Almond Cake – and it is even gluten-free

Sarah and I were watcOrange Almond Cake - slice with whole cake in backgroundhing Laura Calder’s “French Food at Home” show last weekend and she made this as part of her “French Africa” episode.  There are very few ingredients and it looked yummy, so Sarah wanted to make it.  She and Emma helped me in the kitchen today.

This deliciously moist cake really has just four ingredients: oranges, eggs, sugar, and almonds.  Three out of the four are wonderfully healthy. The eggs and almond meal give you some protein and allow you to make a Orange Almond Cake - admiring the cakelight flourless cake.  The oranges provide an intense taste, sweetness, and some Vitamin C.  Sugar… well, it is sugar.  I used a less refined version, but it is still sugar.  Based on 12 servings, each piece will have 1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) of sugar in it.  Just plan on it being your treat for the day.

I used packaged almond flour, but you could always just grind up some raw unsalted almonds in your food processor instead.  The reason I specify organic oranges it that you are using the zest and you don’t want there to be pesticides on the skin.

The girls described this cake as: juicy, sweet, orangey, tangy and yummy.

– Stacey

Orange Almond Cake
Yield: 12 slices
Variation on Laura Calder’s recipe
 
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, divided, (3/4 cup goes in cake & 1/2 cup in the syrup)
  • 3 ORGANIC oranges, separate zest and juice (FYI, my 3 oranges yielded 1 cup juice)
  • 1 1/2 cups ground almonds AKA almond mealOrange Almond Cake - Preparing the ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier, optional (I used peach schnapps, what I had in the cabinet)
  • Candied orange zest or rind, optional for garnish (I pulled a few bits of orange rind out of some orange marmalade)
  • Whipped cream, optional for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and line with parchment a 9-to-10-inch springform pan.
  2. Separate the eggs into two bowls.  Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cups of the sugar, and the orange zest until bright yellow.  Then, stir in the ground almonds.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.Orange Almond Cake - ready to go into the oven
  4. Stir a few spoonfuls of whipped egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the rest, gently.  Keep it light and fluffy.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until set, about 40-45 minutes.
  6. While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup.  Heat the orange juice and remaining 1/2 cup sugar together in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the optional liqueur.
  7. When the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven and spoon the syrup evenly over the cake, letting the syrup soak in as you go; it will absorb all of it.
  8. Let cool, then unmold onto a serving platter. Serve the cake with candied orange zest on top and whipped cream on the side.

Orange Almond Cake - finished cake

Eggs in a Basket? er…, Eggs in a Nest? um…, Eggs in a Hole?

Girl eating Eggs in a BasketDo your kids like toast and fried eggs?  If so, they will love this even more because it is so cute.  The dish is so simple and is apparently called by lots of different names, egg in a basket, egg in a nest, egg in a hole, hen in a nest, etc.

Also, if you are not that great at frying eggs without messing up the yolk when you flip it, this will make it even easier since the toast acts as an “egg ring”.

No matter what you call it, it is yum.  And the kids do love it.

Note: You will need biscuit or cookie cutter that is smaller than the piece of bread you are using.  While I used a traditional round cutter, if you have a fun shaped one such as a star or heart or animal, give that a try.  🙂

Eggs in a Basket
Serves 4

  • 4 slices of 100% whole wheat bread
  • 4 organic eggs
  • real butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Use biscuit or cookie cutter to cut one hole in the middle of each of your four pieces of bread.  Save both pieces.
  2. Put a little butter in a frying pan over medium heat and when melted, place all the pieces of bread in pan.Eggs in a Basket cooking
  3. Crack eggs into each of the “holes” in your four pieces of bread.  Sprinkle egg with a little salt and pepper.
  4. When toast is lightly browned on bottom, flip all the pieces of bread.  Don’t forget to flip the cut-out round, too.
  5. Cook until eggs are at your desired doneness… over easy, over hard, etc.
  6. Remove from pan and plate with the cut-out piece of bread as the “top” or “lid” for your basket.  Serve immediately.

Hot breakfast in less than 5 minutes!  My kids like these with egg whites to fully set and the yolk still nicely runny so you have something to dip your “top” in.  Since the dish already includes protein and whole grains, I just like to serve these with some fresh fruit for breakfast.

– Stacey

Eggs in a Basket

Making Biscuit Cups with my kitchen helper Sarah

Biscuit Cup Meal - Lunch or Breakfast

Biscuit Cup Meal - Lunch or Breakfast

The other day, I saw this recipe for “Quiche Biscuit Cups” at the 5 Dollar Dinners blog.  It looked like a good portable breakfast since it is essentially a biscuit attached to an omelette.  So, i decided to try it.  Sarah was home sick but was feeling surprisingly well by noon, so she got to be my helper.

Since I already have a 100% whole wheat biscuit recipe that I like and it has the same 2 cups flour as her recipe, I decided to make the biscuit base according to mine.  I also didn’t have any green onions, but had lots of shallots, so there was another substitution.

I had one criticism of the recipe and I will be adjusting my version below to reflect the change I will make next time because of it.  I thought there was way too much biscuit and not enough filling.  Instead of being like a quiche where it is a lot of filling with a thin crust, what resulted was more like a biscuit muffin with a thin layer of egg on top.

After a web search were I looked at LOTS of versions of this recipe, apparently, biscuit cups are primarily biscuit with a little filling.  But, I didn’t really care for it that way.  Also, when the biscuit base rose, it pushed some of my egg out of the muffin tin; another reason to cut the amount of biscuit dough.  So, I will be cutting the biscuit part in half and the recipe below reflects that change.  Note that the pictures below show it being made with the full 2 cups of flour.  So, here is my version:

Puffy Omelette Biscuit Cups
Makes 12

Biscuit Base:Sarah with all her ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 cup real butter (this is 2 Tbsp)
  • 3/8 cup buttermilk, or plain whole milk yogurt thinned with milk to buttermilk consistency

Filling:

  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 6 slices nitrate-free bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 7-8 eggs (depending on size)
  • 2 Tbsp milk or half & half
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat  oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease a regular size 12-muffin pan.  Scramble together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of your food processor.  Pulse for a second to mix them together.

Cut the butter into small pieces about 1/2 inch or so and add to the food processor bowl.  Pulse until it is the texture of very small peas  Do not over blend as small lumps of fat are what make the biscuits flaky.

Through the downspout of your processor when the lid is on and the processor is running, slowly add the buttermilk.  You may not need all of it.  Mix with as few pulses as possible until all the dough clumps together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, slowly adding more buttermilk until all the dry ingredients are incorporated into a dough that is no longer crumbly.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat or gently roll it flat about 1/2 inch thick.   Fold it in half and pat flat again; this technique helps to build layers that will rise and create the much sought after flakiness. Repeat this twice more, then lightly flour the surface and roll or pat it out to 1/2 inch thick.

Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball with your hands and then pat into a flat disk.  Put one of these disks in each hole in your muffin tin, conforming it to the sides and bottom.

On top of the biscuit base in each hole, put 1/12 of the shallots, bacon, egg mixture, and sprinkle with shredded cheese.

The steps for adding ingredients to your biscuit cups

The steps for adding ingredients to your biscuit cups

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Place the muffin tin in the pre-heated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 3 minutes to make it easier to get them out. Remove, plate, and enjoy.

If you want to amp up the nutrition, you can add whatever veggies you like, spinach, peppers, broccoli, etc. You can also freeze these and then microwave them for a fast breakfast.

– Stacey

Apple Dutch Baby – An Eggy Baked Pancake-like Thing

I reached the age of 40 never having heard of a “Dutch Baby”.  The first time I heard about it was watching Melissa D’Arabian make a Vanilla Dutch Baby on her “Ten Dollar Dinners” show.  I tried that recipe and liked it, but then I went looking for a healthier version with less flour, but the whole wheat kind and more eggs for protein. 

I found this recipe at Nourished Kitchen which is one she developed based on the one in the Nourishing Traditions book by Sally Fallon.

So, I hope I gave everyone credit and here is the version I make.  It does take about 45-50 minutes total to prepare, so not a quick breakfast, but I got up a bit early today and since most of the time it is just baking on its own in the oven, I used that time to pack the girls’ lunches.  But usually, this is a Saturday brunch dish for us.

Apple Dutch Baby
Yields 6 to 8 servings

  • 2 Tbsp butter, peanut oil, or coconut oil
  • 3 medium apples, cored and finely diced to about 1/4″ (if organic, leave the skins on)
  • 6 eggs (organic is good and pastured is better)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (if you use regular whole wheat it will tasted fine, just not puff very much)
  • 1/4 cup unrefined cane sugar, such as Demerara or Sucanat
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp natural lemon extract, optional (or you could use some lemon zest instead)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt butter or place oil in a cast iron skillet over a moderate heat, and toss in chopped apples. Gently fry the apples until they are tender.  Meanwhile, put eggs and milk together in your blender container and blend until smooth and fluffy.  To the egg mixture, add flour, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt and lemon. Blend again until smooth; it will be very liquidy. Remove the skillet from the heat, pour the batter over the cooked apples and bake in an oven at 425 degrees F for 35 to 40 minutes until puffed and golden. Serve the Dutch Baby cut in wedges immediately.  I somtimes top with a bit of real whipped cream.

Note: You can do this without using an oven-safe skillet such as cast iron, but then you would have to transfer the cooked apples to an oven safe pan before adding the batter.  Using the cast iron skillet saves on clean-up.

The girls all love this dish.  Emma and Leah both had an extra piece.  It is a bit of a treat and the nutrional information is here given here assuming 8 servings.  If you are thinking of serving it with anything sweet such as maple syrup or honey, then do reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe.

– Stacey

Fun Food – Green Eggs – No icky food dye needed

Quick post today.  I was going back through the pictures on my cellphone and found this one:

Green Eggs

Last year in kindergarten for some day related to Dr. Seuss, perhaps his birthday, their teacher made green eggs for all the kids using green food coloring.  The girls were quite taken by this, but we try to avoid food coloring.

Per Marion Nestle:
“Food dyes have only one purpose: to sell junk foods.  Candy, Cheetos, and sodas that are brightly colored are perceived as tasting better than the grey alternatives.  The food industry needs food dyes badly. But nobody else does.  Parents of hyperactive kids can easily do their own experiment and see if removing food colors helps calm their kids down. Food dyes have no health benefits that I can think of.  Kids don’t need to be eating those foods anyway.  Kids will not be harmed by avoiding food dyes. It would be nice to have more conclusive research.  In the meantime, read food labels! .”

Now, if you are using pastured or at least good quality organic eggs, then they will already have yolks that are naturally a bright yellow or orange color, so your scrambled eggs will already have a nice color.  But, if you want to make “green eggs” for your Dr. Seuss fans, here is a way to make them without having to use the dye.

Green Eggs
(serves 4 children or 2 fun adults)

  • 4 organic eggs
  • 1 “handful” of raw spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Crack eggs into your blender. Add raw spinach. Add salt and pepper.  Put on the lid and run blender until the spinach is totally pureed into the eggs.  Scramble eggs however you normally do it.  We used a bit of real butter in ours and do not like them gooey. Enjoy your GREEN EGGS.

You do not taste the spinach in the eggs at all.   As a plus, running the eggs through the blender makes them really fluffy.  For even more “fun”, chop up and add some nitrate-free ham to the eggs as they cook.  Then you can give the kids “Green Eggs and Ham”.

– Stacey

Getting vegetables into ALL your meals – plus Ranch Dressing and Broccoli Slaw recipes

Vegetables

VEGETABLES, Photo by "tellgraf", Image ID: 881416, http://www.sxc.hu/

Just about any health authority recommends eating more fruits and vegetables.  The CDC even has a calculator to tell you how much is recommended for you based on your age, gender, and activity level.  

Generally, I don’t have any problem getting fruit into my kids.  No, not juice, which kids drink way too much of, but actual real whole fruit.  It is sweet and delicious, and since I deal with all the mess and work of buying, cutting, and preparing it, all they have to do is love eating it.

But, sometimes veggies are a different matter.  Fruit, we generally eat close to how nature provided it.  I will cut it up or peel it, if necessary, but we usually have it raw and unseasoned.  Veggies however, can get to be a bit boring that way.  And, there are some veggies my kids don’t like raw, such as broccoli. 

So, a lot of the time I either steam the veggies and serve them with a bit of real butter, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper, or roast them in the oven in a bit of olive oil.  We do this with root veggies similar to Jamie Oliver and Ina Garten.  We also like to cook broccoli and asparagus by roasting in the oven.  So, that takes care of the dinner veggies; but what about breakfast and lunch?

Now that my girls are in school and packing a cold lunch this has presented a bit of a challenge.  During Pre-K, they would eat lunch at home and we would just heat up leftovers from the previous night’s dinner.  But now, since they have to eat their lunch cold from a lunchbox, that is not an option.

The triplets like salad, but Emma doesn’t.  So, green salads for lunch each day would not be a solution.  I have tried making a simple broccoli slaw and that goes over well with three of them, but again Emma is not that crazy about it.  The veggie and grain salads using such things as quinoa that I have tried have not been well-received.  So, this leaves putting some raw grape tomatoes (LOVED by all) and some baby-cut carrot sticks in just about all their lunches.  I usually include a little container of either homemade hummus or homemade ranch dressing with it.  But, kind of boring.  Do you have any other ideas for incorporating veggies into kid’s lunchbox lunches?

That brings us to breakfast.  A while back, we participated in the “100 days of real food” blog’s “Mini-Pledge Week 1: Fruits and Vegetables” where you were supposed to “Eat a minimum of two different fruits or vegetables (preferably organic) with every breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal.”  Dinner is no problem, lunch we can do with the tomato/carrot option, and we always have fruit at breakfast.  But, how to incorporate veggies into breakfast on a daily basis?

Spinach, Tomato, Mushroom, Shallot, & Goat Cheese Fritatta

Spinach, Tomato, Mushroom, Shallot, & Goat Cheese Fritatta - Don't let the smile fool you, she only ate half of it!

My kids like scrambled eggs and we have them at least five times a week for breakfast as they are a cheap and healthy source of protein.  So, the most obvious solution is an omelet or frittata where I  add some veggies such as spinach, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc. to the eggs.  But, when I have tried that, they only eat about half their eggs and they complain that they want their “plain eggs” instead.  I even think that serving dinner-style steamed veggies as a side to plain eggs may be received better. 

Another option it to serve raw or grilled tomatoes (British-style) as a side.  I have also tried Everyday Paleo’s baked eggs that include spinach and sweet potatoes and “Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Parmesan”, also known as “Eggs in Purgatory” from various sources.  They ate these, but again, wanted to go back to plain scrambled eggs.  For snacks we have done “green smoothies” by adding raw spinach to yogurt, fruit, and milk in the blender.  They liked it, but more as a snack, not so much for breakfast.

So, I am looking for ideas on how to incorporate vegetables (not as juices) in ALL your meals, especially into breakfast. 

– Stacey

Here are a couple of my recipes for some of the foods mentioned above:

Simple Broccoli Slaw

  • 1 bag Broccoli Slaw (12oz, about 4 cups, shredded broccoli stems with a bit of purple cabbage and shredded carrots)

    Broccoli Slaw

    Broccoli Slaw

  • 2 tsp prepared yellow mustard (adjust to your taste)
  • 3-4 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Mix it all together in a large bowl.  Makes about 6-8 servings as a side. This is not a sweet slaw, but a bit spicy.

Ranch Dressing
(based on this one from allrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise

    Ranch Dressing ingredients in bowl

    Ranch Dressing ingredients in bowl

  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp dried chives
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Ranch Dressing in bottle

Ranch Dressing in bottle

In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. 

I pour mine into an old glass bottle and just keep in the fridge.  If you have kids (or a husband that likes ranch dressing), you will use it pretty quickly.  Shake before serving.

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