December 25, 2010

Sausage Apple (Overnight) Breakfast Casserole

Sausage Apple (Overnight) Breakfast Casserole

I found this a week or so over at Real Mom Kitchen and knew I wanted to try it this (Christmas) morning!  I’ve never really been a big fan of morning casseroles because they have a strange texture and they’re just…well?  Icky.  So after I completely insulted my mom (I love you mom!!) and told her I never really liked the Christmas casserole she makes I made this and cooked it up this morning.  It baked while we opened presents and beeped just as we were opening the last of the gifts.  It smelled like Christmas morning should smell with the cinnamon apples and the verdict?  YUM!  The flavors melded together well and when I warmed up a plate of it for lunch a few hours later it was even better.  I couldn’t have asked for an easier morning/afternoon meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. Jimmy Dean® Maple Flavor Pork Sausage Roll
  • 6 cups bread cubed into ¾-inch pieces
  • 10 eggs
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • maple syrup, if desired

Directions

  1. Brown sausage in a skillet until cooked; drain.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended.
  3. In another bowl, mix apples, sugar and cinnamon together until well coated.
  4. In a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish,  place half of the bread cubes followed by half the sausage, half the apples, and and 1 cup of the cheese.  Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.
  5. Pour egg mixture over the layers making sure to evenly coat it all with the egg mixture.
  6. Place in fridge and refrigerate overnight.
  7. In the morning, remove the casserole from the fridge and preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Bake uncovered for 55-60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cut and serve topped with a drizzle of maple syrup if desired.  Mimosas and coffee optional!!

December 24, 2010

Eggnog Cupcakes

Eggnog Cupcakes

It’s been a week since the kids were released from the confines of school for the holiday break, and since then I think I’ve eaten only one healthy meal.  I’ve had more than my fair share of cordial cherries, ginger snap cookies, death-by-chocolate birthday cake, cookies from neighbors, more cookies from friends, candy from the kids’ stash, candy from our twelve days of Christmas extravaganza, and now?  If I never eat another cookie it may be too soon.  That is, until tonight when my sugar level dips dangerously low and I feel the need to gorge again.  I told the kids that Santa would probably leave “extra” gifts if we were more original with our offering tonight and left something other than cookies.  These eggnog jollies were first on the list after I Googled for a recipe and since I’m already a fan of Annie’s Eats, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed!  These are a perfect blend of flavors, tease the senses with the scent of rum and are (surprisingly) not terribly sweet!  The tops cooked up almost chewy, leaving the centers with a cakey softness.  My stocking will definitely not be empty in the morning!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • ¼ cup dark rum or bourbon
  • 1 cup low-fat eggnog
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt

Frosting

  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp. low fat eggnog
  • 1 tbsp. rum
  • generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 (or more) cups powdered sugar
  • ground cinnamon
  • cinnamon sticks

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°

1. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, mix together the rum, eggnog, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together the nutmeg, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

3.  Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

4.  Divide evenly between prepared muffin wells.

5.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream together the butter, eggnog, rum, nutmeg and powdered sugar. Add in more confectioners’ sugar if needed to make the frosting stiff, but spreadable. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

December 13, 2010

Baked Pears

Baked PearsI wanted to start the 12 days of Christmas off with something fun for the kids, especially since “the gig” is up for my twelve year old daughter.  She’s had a hard time getting into the spirit this year and I knew this would set her in the mood for the holiday.

I wrapped each pear with gold ribbon and a Christmas tag, then set them inside a ramekin and put them at the kids’ places to be found this morning.  The tag read, “On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.  Since we don’t have a partridge OR a pear tree, how about baked pears for breakfast instead?”.  Then “baked” the pears up quickly in the microwave.
You could easily place several in a baking dish and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, more if you want the pears even softer.  I used a melon baller to get the core out without massacring the pear.Baked Pears
Ingredients

  • 1 pear, halved & cored
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon orange marmalade
  • handful of blueberries
  • handful of granola

Directions
1.  Place pears in ramekins and squeeze a little lime juice on each half.
2.  Put half the teaspoon of butter in each half of pear, then top with brown sugar, cinnamon, marmalade and blueberries.
3.  Cook on high between 2-4 minutes depending on how soft you want your pears.  Check after each minute, and drizzle the juices from the bottom of the dish over the pears to keep them from drying out.
4.  Remove from microwave (careful they’re HOT!) and drizzle juices again, the sprinkle granola over top and enjoy.

Jerk Turkey Chili

Jerk Turkey Chili

When I found this recipe for jerked chicken at Smells Like Home I knew I wanted to try it out with the turkey breasts I had leftover from Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t even sure what jerked meat was, but it sounded too good not to try and I couldn’t pass up having access to another chili recipe.  Not only did it cook up quick, but the ingredients were inexpensive and easy to find.  Except one.  Pickled jalapenos.  Seriously?  I’ve never heard of them and I didn’t see them in the grocery store so I improvised and bought a single, lonely, jalapeno which worked out great in the recipe.  I only used half which, turned out to have enough flavor of the spiciness, but no actual heat on the tongue.  Add the entire thing if you like it hot, like me, minus the kids! 

As a side note, the original recipe called for a rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded (about six cups worth).  As fabulous as that must be, saying Jerk Turkey is just kind of fun.

Ok, as much as I dislike rambling on and on before I get to the actual recipe I felt very strongly that I had to tell you a secret that I kept from the kids.  I put the onion, bell pepper and diced tomatoes in the food processor before cooking.  Why?  Because they like to think they don’t like these things when they’ve been cooked and I get tired of the “what’s this?” face.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large turkey breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes (I bought the no salt added)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) black beans, un-drained (reduced sodium please)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) great northern white beans, un-drained
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoon cornmeal or 3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water (optional for thickening)

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add chili powder, thyme, cinnamon, and allspice. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

4. Add chicken and stir to coat with spices. Add broth, tomatoes, beans, and jalapenos, bring to a boil, cover partially, reduce heat, and simmer to blend flavors, about 20 minutes.

5. Stir in garlic, cilantro, chocolate, and either cornmeal or cornstarch/water slurry if desired.  If you add the cornstarch slurry, bring the heat up to medium-high and allow the chili to thicken.  Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

December 2, 2010

Apple Cider French Toast

Gingerbread French Toast

The Man is out of town, fixin’ to bring home a little extra bacon and since breakfast isn’t his favorite at dinner time, I took the opportunity to make French toast for the kids and myself.  I grabbed the orange juice from the fridge, planning to make orange toast but the apple cider was begging me, instead, to use it!  So, with a little of this and a little of that, these came out de-li-cious, if I do say so myself – and it was with 100% success rate which, if you’re keeping track, is 34% better than my last recipe!  I threw in a hard boiled egg for protein so dinner would qualify as healthy.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices Texas toast
  • 3/4 cup apple cider (not apple juice, if you please)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • pat or two of butter

Directions

1.  Combine cider, milk, eggs, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large shallow dish and whisk together until combined.

2.  Melt the butter on a hot skillet, at about medium heat.

3. Dip both sides of each slice of bread, one at a time, into the cider mixture then place on the skillet and cook till it’s browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.  You want to make sure the outside doesn’t cook too quickly before the inside gets cooked through too or you’ll end up with mushy toast!

4.  Flip the bread and repeat, till crispy on the bottom.

5.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over top and serve!