Blueberry French Toast Casserole

Leftover bread, dinner rolls, etc. can all be put to good use in making stuffing, croutons and one of my favorites, french toast casserole.  Easy to make ahead and bake in the morning, this recipe was amped up this weekend with the addition of fresh blueberries.  Served warm with a drizzle of maple syrup and crisp salty bacon, you’ll definitely want to try this around the upcoming holidays.

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BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

Ingredients

  • 6 Dinner Rolls or 1/2 Load Bread
  • 5 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1 Tbs. Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Cup Fresh Blueberries
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbs. Butter

Instructions

  • Tear bread into roughly 2-inch pieces and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.  Whisk together until until all ingredients are incorporated.
  • Place bread into egg mixture and toss lightly to coat evenly.  Do not over-mix or your bread will turn to mush.
  • Fold in blueberries until evenly distributed.
  • Pour mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Take casserole out 30 minutes prior to baking.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Bake covered for 40 minutes.
  • Remove lid or foil and sprinkle dish with brown sugar.  Cut butter into small pieces and dot along top of brown sugar.
  • Return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

It doesn’t get much easier than a make-ahead breakfast like this one.  This recipe serves four, but can easily be doubled and baked in a 13×9 dish.  Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this on Christmas morning?  Or any morning for that matter?  Dig in!

Baked Cinnamon Oatmeal

The cold winter weather has me craving a hot breakfast lately.  I love oatmeal on a cold morning and this recipe is a great way to start a blustery day.  We used to have baked oatmeal at our friend Connie’s house every Memorial Day.  There’s something about hearty oatmeal and warm milk that’s comforting.  You’re going to love this one for a breakfast crowd or to use throughout your busy week.

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BAKED CINNAMON OATMEAL

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Oatmeal (quick-cooking)
  • 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tsp. Cinnamon
  • 2 Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp. Salt
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 1/2 Cups Milk
  • 1 Stick Butter, Melted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl add oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt.  Stir to combine.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Skim milk works fine here.
  • Add liquid to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  • Stir in melted butter.
  • Pour mixture into a 13×9 pan coated with non-stick spray.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cut into squares and serve immediately in bowls with warm milk.

Our tradition is to eat this with warm scalloped apples and warm whole milk.  You can definitely vary the toppings based on your preference.  You can also add dried fruit and/or nuts to the oatmeal before baking for added flavor and texture.  I’d recommend that as an option if you plan on taking these tasty squares as a grab-and-go breakfast with your cup of coffee.  You and your family will surely love this recipe as much as we do.  Dig in!

Creamed Chipped Beef

Fall is definitely here today and few things feel more like fall than comfort food and breakfast for dinner.  As a kid, I couldn’t get on board with the fresh-from-the-freezer version of chipped beef my mom used to microwave.  Sorry mom!  Once I married into a country-cooking family and continued to hone my skills, I learned how to make the real version!  When you see how easy this is, you’ll wonder why you ever had anything other than homemade.

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CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs. Butter
  • 4 Tbs. Flour
  • 2 Cups Whole Milk (Skim will work, but why not??)
  • 4.5 Ounce Jar Dried Beef
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cut dried beef into 1/2-inch squares and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
  • Add flour and stir until a smooth paste.  Continue to cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Removed from heat and slowly whisk in milk.
  • Return to low heat and stir constantly until desired thickness, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stir in dried beef.  Add black pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately over well-buttered white toast.

Whether this reminds you of grandma’s cooking or your time in the service, I hope you love making and eating it!  Schools of thought on the toast:  definitely white, regular is good, but Texas toast is even better, don’t forget the butter.  And this is also a great to serve on a buffet or for a brunch.  Elevate it with the addition of crustless toast points and/or a sprinkle of fresh parsley and chives.  Dig in!

Breakfast Quesadillas

Feel like heading a little south of the border for breakfast?  In honor of Cinco de Mayo last weekend, I made these simple quesadillas.  Gooey cheese, salty bacon and creamy scrambled eggs are the perfect filling for a crispy tortilla.  The filling possibilities are endless – try these next weekend and change up your morning routine.

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BREAKFAST QUESADILLAS

Ingredients

  • 4 8-inch Flour Tortillas
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 8 Strips Crispy Bacon, Crumbled
  • 2 Cups Shredded Cheddar-Jack Cheese
  • 3 Green Onions, Chopped
  • Salsa, Hot Sauce and/or Sour Cream For Garnish

Instructions

  • Place eggs and milk in a bowl and whisk until combined.
  • Scramble in a non-stick skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  • Cook eggs until almost dry, remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
  • Wipe skillet clean and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place a single tortilla in the skillet over medium-low heat.  Sprinkle entire tortilla with 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  • On 1/2 of the tortilla, spread out 1/4 of the scrambled eggs, 1/4 of the bacon and green onion to taste.
  • When cheese begins to melt, use a spatula to fold half of the tortilla over onto the side covered in the eggs/bacon.
  • When the bottom is golden brown, flip over entire tortilla to brown the other side.
  • Remove from heat, cut into thirds and serve with your favorite toppings/sides.

One of these is enough for one person so this recipe makes enough for four.  Like a little spice?  Try using chorizo, roasted poblanos and pepper jack cheese.  You can also use sausage and green peppers.  There’s really no limit, but keep the proportions right or it won’t close properly.  Do you have a brunch coming up?  Double this recipe and place wedges in a warming tray for a perfect buffet finger food.  Let me know what combinations you come up with – I’d love to hear your ideas!  Dig in!

SuperChef’s – Gahanna, OH

Sunday morning screams for amazing breakfast or brunch!  And when we’re not at home, it’s always fun to check out somewhere new and inventive.  On our recent trip to the Columbus, OH area for some Christmas shopping, we decided to check out SuperChef’s Breakfast & More in Gahanna.  Located just east of the I-270 loop, this strip mall eatery did not disappoint.  I’ll admit the exterior with bright graphics and large pictures of food reminded me of an oversized Chinese menu in a mall food court, but it’s all part of the schtick for this comics-themed brunch spot.

A lively place with plenty of seating packed into a tight spot, there is an overabundance of energy in the morning with the perfect backdrop of conversation and the aromas of coffee and syrup.  A large wall in the rear of the restaurant is covered with comic book covers and characters which were complimented by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirts the staff were wearing.  After a short wait we perused the menu choices with amazing “bam-kapow” comic book takes on traditional breakfast fare.  Think of green waffles with bacon, egg and cheese – that’s “The Hulk”.

We sipped strong coffee and then dug into our choices, all of which were really good.  Breakfast pizza was a thin chewy crust with eggs, cheese, bacon, house-made sausage, tomato and parsley.  I had a tasty croissant sandwich made with sausage (a spicy chorizo-like breakfast patty), eggs, cheese and mustard vinaigrette dressed greens.  What a perfect addition to cut through the fatty richness of the rest of the sandwich!  The omelets were hefty and full of fresh ingredients.  Most dishes are served with chunky hash browns browned with topped with a dollop of spicy butter – I know, genius idea!

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With another location in downtown Columbus, I would recommend trying this place out for a great brunch any day of the week.  The waffle and pancake combinations looked ridiculous – wings & waffles or blueberry pancakes with lemon buttercream are just a few of the choices!  Add those choices to a great cup of strong coffee and really good service and you’ll see why there was a wait to get in.  You can read their story and check out the breakfast and lunch menus at mysuperchefs.com.  Dig in!!

Sticky Cinnamon Rolls

Holidays were made for indulgences.  Let’s face it, I ate a significant portion of the 65 lbs of ham and turkey I made for Thanksgiving a few days ago.  So why not go the extra mile for my family in town this morning by making some homemade cinnamon rolls?!  Calorie counting will commence promptly on Monday, but I will continue to enjoy the rest of this weekend.  You’ll love the recipe below because it’s easy and also offers a twist with the addition of apricot honey butter (from my home town) and chopped pecans.  Go ahead, make some for yourself and make any weekend morning special.

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STICKY CINNAMON ROLLS

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Warm jar of honey butter in microwave for 30 seconds.  Remove and pour contents into bottom of a 9″ round non-stick pan.  For this recipe I used apricot pecan honey butter from a candle and honey company in Medina, OH called A.I. Root.  However, you an also find the same flavor combination here or at your local retailer.
  • Roll out pizza or bread dough to a 12-inch x 12-inch square.
  • In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, pecans and cinnamon.  Spread in a thin even layer over the pizza dough going completely to the edges.
  • Roll dough from one side tightly until you have a long tube.
  • Cut rolled dough into six pieces and then place sideways into pan of honey butter.  Arrange five on the outside and one in the middle.  Press down slightly so that all edges are touching.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 12-14 minutes until top is golden brown and middles are no longer gooey.
  • Remove from oven and top with a heat-safe platter.  Turn baking pan upside down to turn out finished rolls.  Scrape any excess honey butter and pecans onto the top of the cinnamon rolls.
  • Allow to cool for 5 minutes and then serve immediately.

This super-sweet decadent treat is perfect for weekend company or for a brunch event.  It would be easy to triple this recipe and make them in a 13×9 pan as well.  You can also substitute any kind of honey butter here, but I’ll tell you that the apricot gives a wonderful fruity hint to any otherwise really sweet dish.  Either way, I think you’ll make these again and again when you feel the need to indulge.  Dig in and enjoy!

Breakfast Stromboli

I love breakfast for any meal any day of the week.  Who doesn’t like pancakes for dinner??  Things can get a little boring sometimes so I like to mix it up with this great recipe for my breakfast stromboli.  Gooey cheese, creamy eggs and salty ham all wrapped up in a pizza dough crust is perfect for breakfast on the go or a hearty dinner.

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BREAKFAST STROMBOLI

Ingredients

  • 1 Tube Prepared Pizza Dough
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Diced Cooked Ham
  • 1/4 Cup Red Onion, Diced
  • 3/4 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Tbs. Butter
  • 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tsp. Poppy Seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a frying pan, melt butter over medium heat and add onions.  Cook 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  • Add diced ham and cook an additional 3-4 minutes until onions and ham are browned.
  • Beat eggs in a bowl and then pour over ham and onions.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly.  When your scramble is cooked and dry, remove from pan to a dish and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • Remove pizza dough and spread out to cover a standard cookie sheet.
  • Place scrambled eggs, ham and onions lengthwise down the middle of the dough.  Leave 2 inches at each end to fold over.
  • Sprinkle cheese over mixture and then fold dough together.  Pinch to seal seam.
  • Fold ends of dough over to seal and then turn the entire stromboli over on cookie sheet so the seam side is down.
  • Cut 3-4 slits in the top to vent while cooking.  Brush or spray lightly with oil and then sprinkle with salt and poppy seeds.
  • Bake for 13-17 minutes until golden brown and dough is cooked through.  You need to bake a little longer than you think because the wet mixture inside will keep the dough from cooking quickly.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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This recipe can be made as a whole stromboli or could be made into smaller individual servings for eating on the go.  Once you get the process down, you can change up the flavors to your liking.  Try using spicy sausage and cream cheese instead of ham and cheddar.  Shredded chicken and diced tomatoes, spinach and swiss cheese are a great combination as well.  I’m sure you’ll love it and so will your family.  Dig in!!

Blueberry Buttermilk Mega Muffins

You’ll feel like you’re having a “vacation brunch” when you bake my favorite blueberry muffins!  Chock-full of sweet blueberries these dense tangy muffins are best when made in huge muffin tins.  This recipe yields just 6 muffins, but it’s tough to eat a whole one yourself.  Make them for your next weekend guests or for a lazy weekend morning on the patio with your iced coffee!

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BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK MEGA MUFFINS

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Stick Melted Butter
  • 2 Eggs, Beaten
  • 1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 Cups Fresh Blueberries
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Large Crystal Sugar

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Stem and rinse blueberries and dry thoroughly on paper towels.  Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, sift together the first 4 dry ingredients.
  • Add beaten eggs and buttermilk to dry ingredients and mix just enough to combine.
  • Stir in melted butter until mixture is smooth.  It will be a thick batter vs. loose like cake batter.
  • Reserve 20-25 blueberries.  Gently fold remaining blue berries into batter until just evenly combined.
  • Spoon batter into large muffin tins (6 to a tray) that have been sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Use remaining blueberries to top muffins and then sprinkle evenly with crystal sugar.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Allow finished muffins to cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

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My mom made these muffins for me years ago and they are some of my favorites!  I’ve tweaked the recipe since to get just the right density and amount of fruit to hold them together.  I love them with blueberries, but they are excellent with mixed berries as well.  Try some variations and let me know what you think!

Buttermilk Biscuits

There’s something about a warm homemade biscuit that’s really comforting.  Maybe it’s the Southerner in me or it’s the soft flaky pillow that can be the vehicle for so many delicious things.  I’v heard a lot of people say they have a hard time making good biscuits.  While these weren’t my best effort, they were pretty good.  The recipe is solid, but the handling of the dough and cutting make all the difference in the world.  Give them a try and let me know your experience – I’d love to hear what went well and didn’t.

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BUTTERMILK BISCUITS

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tbs Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 6 Tbs Cold Butter
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk

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Directions

**I find this easier in a food processor, but you can definitely make these by hand

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a food processor, combine the first four ingredients.  Pulse a few times to mix thoroughly.
  • Making sure your butter is very cold, cut into 12 small pieces and place in food processor.  Pulse until mixture is crumbly and looks like lumpy sand.  You should have small chunks of butter evenly throughout the mixture.
  • Add one cup of buttermilk and pulse just until mixture comes together.  It should be fairly wet and you may need to add a bit more buttermilk.
  • On a floured surface, turn out biscuit dough and form into a flat 1-inch piece.  Fold onto itself 5-6 times and flatten again.  DO NOT overwork dough as this can develop the gluten and make for tough biscuits.  DO NOT use a roller, but pat with your hands only.
  • Using a biscuit cutter or other round implement of choice, cut out biscuits and place on a cookie sheet.  If you want your biscuits to rise more while baking, make sure they are touching on the cookie sheet.  Some people like to bake them in a 9-inch round pan as well.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 8-12 minutes until golden brown.  You can brush the tops with melted butter when they come out of the oven.

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This is a very basic recipe, but it can be changed in numerous ways.  Think about adding rosemary and cracked black pepper and topping with sea salt.  What about cheddar cheese and jalapeño?  The possibilities are endless, but I’d love to hear what you try!  Eat these with a thick pat of butter and honey or do something inventive.  This time I made breakfast sandwiches with country ham, sharp cheddar and over-easy eggs.  I also used it as the base for a country-style strawberry shortcake.  Any way to like them, it’s easy to make them homemade and your family and friends will love you for it.