Slow Your Roll Recipe: Breakfast Casserole

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

Sometimes breakfast for dinner can be fun. Other times, you just want breakfast for breakfast, am I right? Well this recipe works either way. You can toss it in the slow cooker in the morning for dinner or at night and it will be ready when you wake up. And who doesn’t love waking up to a nice, hot breakfast? It’s great for long weekends or holidays. The recipe geniuses at Better Homes & Gardens really know how to get me! Try it–I promise you won’t regret it! I added a layer of frozen shredded hash browns and it was awesome–but it’s delicious without those too!

Breakfast Casserole

  • 8 uncooked eggs
  • 1/2 pound GF breakfast sausage
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 
1 green pepper, chopped
  • 
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • frozen GF hash browns

 IN THE BAG: Store eggs (scrambled with whisk and seasoned with salt and pepper), veggies, cheese, and meat in separate quart bags.

TO COOK: Grease or spray the crockpot with the butter. Layer meat, veggies and cheese, repeating until you’ve used all the ingredients—your last layer should be cheese. Beat the eggs and pour over the mixture. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over hash browns.

 

Restaurant Review: The Cottage Cafe

I was lucky enough to grab lunch recently with my friends LSS of Frugal Nashville and CBR in their Bellevue neighborhood. I say lucky because I NEVER have enough time to take an actual lunch break–can I get an Amen for eating like a grown-up with conversation and courses instead of shoving a GF sandwich in my face while typing with the other hand?!

photo by the wonderful and talented Kate Murphy: http://www.katemurphyphotography.com

We chose the Cottage Cafe, which I’d been wanting to try for a long time. It’s run by Crumb de la Crumb, the same company that made my amazing gluten-free key lime infused wedding cake. YUM. The cafe is in an adorable antique shop and has a definite “Southern Ladies Who Lunch” vibe to it with floral table clothes, fruit tea, and homemade lemonade. We were so busy catching up that I didn’t take any pictures–bad blogger, I know!–but the food was pretty darn tasty. There were tons of gluten-free options and I actually struggled with what to order because there were so many choices! Imagine me squealing in delight about that!

The appetizer was crackers with cheddar jelly–basically GF crackers with a dip of sweet jelly, bacon, green onions, and fresh cheddar cheese. It was the perfect salty/sweet combo and we cleaned both plates. Then we each opted for the Grilled Cheese. In true Southern style, it was made with Pimento Cheese, Benton’s Bacon, and fried to golden brown perfection in butter. LSS had her’s with salad and CBR opted for GF tomato basil soup. I added avocado to my grilled cheese and had some chips, but I was really saving room for dessert. And I’m so glad I did…

I got a slice of their GF pumpkin cheesecake, which was light, fluffy, and heavenly. And then I got a GF chocolate Nutella cupcake and a GF lemon meringue cupcake to go to share with the rest of the GF Gluttons back at the office. The chocolate was good, but the lemon was the clear winner. The texture was perfect and it was light, fluffy, and tart and sweet at the same time.

Here’s their menu if you want to check it out for yourself. I will definitely be going back!

Easy Overnight Breakfast Casserole: Perfect for Company!

I found this recipe for crock pot breakfast casserole several months ago on Pinterest. I’ve been meaning to try for ages but didn’t get around to it until this weekend. We tend to have a lot of house guests, and last weekend we were able to enjoy the company of one of my best friend’s in-laws who were in town for a birthday. Saturday night I managed to pull myself out of my allergy fog long enough to throw together this quick and easy recipe.

You can see the original recipe here, but I made a number of modifications. One thing I love about is that you could adapt it and try lots of things with it. Because there were only four of us, I cut the recipe mostly in half. Only three of us ate the next morning, and it was plenty for that and for leftovers for me and Josh.

You’ll need:

7 eggs (If you’re not buying cage-free, I highly recommend; you can taste the difference)
2/3 a cup of milk (I used coconut almond milk)
A pinch of dill
2/3 of an 8 oz block of cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
1/2 bag of hash brown potatoes
1/2 a package of your breakfast meat of choice (I used gluten-free, all natural Hormel honey ham)
veggies of your choice (I used green onion from my garden and fresh mushrooms)

I sauteed my veggies in a little coconut oil for just a few minutes and set aside. I rubbed the inside of my crock pot with coconut oil, more on that later, and then began to layer the casserole. Start with a layer of potatoes and then add your meat, cheese, and vegetables. Repeat. In my medium-sized crock, I got about two full layers. End with cheese on top. Beat together eggs, milk, and your pinch of dill. The recipe called for dried, but I snagged some fresh from my garden. Pour the mixture over the layers, and you’re done! Set your crock to cook on low, and you’ll have a yummy breakfast waiting when you and your guests get up in the morning.

One thing I will change is the timing and the crock I use. Her recipe says 8 to 10 hours on low, and we erred on the side of caution to make sure it was done because we had to eat early before church. We all thought it was delicious, but in my opinion it was a little too done. (Per my note on coating my crock with coconut oil; it wasn’t quite enough. Because it was a little too done, it was also a little too stuck to the sides. Coat generously.) Next time, whether I make the large version or the small, I’ll put it in my bigger, automatic crock and set it for 8 hours so it goes to warm if we’re not up yet.

Enjoy!

Smoothies . . . Do Something Good for You Today

The thought of changing your entire diet—and in effect, your life—might seem just a tad overwhelming. It’s possible you’re busy. Extra time and extra money may not be overflowing your days at the moment. Though I tend to be a draw-a-line-in-the-sand kind of girl, I know that doesn’t work for everyone. When I changed my diet, I picked a day and went for it. And I try to stick to it about 85 to 90 percent of the time, which makes it doable for me.

That may not be the case for you. And if it’s not, that is okay. Instead of changing everything, try changing something. I posted earlier about taking my parents loads of gluten-free foods. They appreciate it, and they’re eating it, but now doesn’t happen to be the best time for them to try to be totally gluten free. Daddy is in the middle of chemo, and we’re grateful that he’s been able to eat on a regular schedule. So what that his chicken and noodles aren’t gluten free? (I haven’t updated on that in awhile, but we are really thankful that the rest of his results were good news. Though chemotherapy is very difficult, and we still need a lot of prayer, I’m happy to report that the chemo is working. Praise God.)

If you are not in a place to change everything, I’d encourage you to change something. Add some healthy snacks to your diet. Start exercising a day or two a week. Baby steps are okay. One of my favorite good-things-I-do-for-myself has been my morning smoothie. Molly and Jen got me into this habit, and it’s fairly fast, very filling, and really delicious.

Last week I went to a smoothie class with my friend Tina. It was great, and I learned a lot from Krista.

She shared a lot of super-healthy recipes that I’m going to share with you, but first, I thought tell you about one of my personal favorites:

My Pretty Pink Smoothie
• Frozen pineapple (Trader Joe’s: $1.79 a bag)
• Frozen organic raspberries (Trader Joe’s: $2.79 a bag)
• Fresh strawberries (It’s Florida’s strawberry season right now; do take advantage of the glorious berries in harvest. The ones at Costco are the size of small apples!)
• Blue Diamond Almond Coconut Milk

I will try to be better about amounts as I have a tendency to throw things in whatever I’m making. This is hard to mess up, and it also depends on how many servings you want. I tend to make myself one giant serving for breakfast.

You’ll need a blender or food processor. I use equal parts of raspberries and pineapple and then add four to five large strawberries. I throw the frozen fruit in my processor before my morning walk or shower, and then when I’m done it’s thawed enough to blend pretty quickly. Add the strawberries and start with a couple splashes of almond-coconut milk. Blend, and depending on how thick or smooth you like your smoothie, continue to add milk until you reach your desired consistency. Pour or scoop and voila! You’ll have a great breakfast in the most perfectly bright shade of pink.


To boost the health content, also consider adding one of the following:

Ground flax
Protein powder (Krista recommends Garden of Life Vegan Protein)
Spirulina powder (Krista recommends Pure Hawaiin)

Here are a couple of Krista’s super-food smoothies:

Krista’s Yummy Goodness
• 1 cup liquid (almond, coconut, or rice milk or water)
• 2 scoops protein powder (vegan or whey): Kenzi’s disclaimer: this was a little too chalky for my taste; I would prefer one scoop.
• 1 Tbsp flax seed or chia seed
• 1 cup frozen or fresh spinach
• 1 banana
• Handful of frozen fruits of your choice

Spirulina Green Smoothie
• ½ cup frozen mixed berries (Costco has large bags of organic froze berries that work perfectly for this.)
• ¼ cup of orange juice (Did you know you really need to buy orange juice from the U.S.? Check labels as imported juice can actually contain some levels of arsenic)
• 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
• 1 Tbsp Spirulina powder.
• 1 banana (optional)

I hope you enjoy! I’d love to hear some of the good things you do for you.

Comfort Food: Molly’s Egg Cups

So my mom found a recipe for these egg cups/muffins soon after my diagnosis, but they included a layer of crescent roll around the outside. I tried to sub gf homemade biscuit batter, but the results were not good. Think a gloopy, sticky mess that refused to cook all the way through. Gross. Luckily, that disaster encouraged me to try the recipe sans biscuit and these were the result! Lately, I’ve seen variations of these egg cups (or egg muffins) all over Pinterest and my sister tried one from http://www.thebiggestloser.com, but here’s how I make mine:

Ingredients 

  • six eggs or, for healthier egg cups, a dozen egg whites
  • twelve medium slices of deli meat (I luuurve ham, especially Boar’s Head Pesto Parmesan Ham, so that is usually my choice, but these are pretty good made with turkey too! In a pinch I’ve even made them with roast beef.)
  • finely chopped veggies–I like onion, peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms
  • 1/2 C. goat cheese (optional, and you can sub in another cheese if you’d prefer)
  • dab of coconut oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • use coconut oil to lightly grease muffin tin
  • place a slice of deli meat in each cup of the muffin tin so that it acts as a liner
  • place a small scoop of chopped veggies and goat cheese inside each deli meat cup
  • in a small bowl, stir eggs together with a fork and add salt and pepper to taste
  • pour egg mixture into each muffin cup until 3/4 full
  • Bake egg cups for 15 minutes
  • Allow muffin pan to cool and then pull finished egg cups out. Store in a tupperware container in the fridge.

My husband especially loves these in the mornings. I’ll make a whole batch on Sundays and he’ll eat them throughout the week. I add a little salsa and Sriracha in with the mixed veggies for him, since he likes his spicy!

Chewy Granola Bars

love Smitten Kitchen. I have been reading her for years and have made many of her recipes, all of which have been amazing. I’m especially charmed and inspired because she creates all of these lovely dishes in a postage stamp–sized NYC kitchen (and her previous kitchen didn’t even have a dishwasher *shudder*).

I had to stop reading for a while though. Because of the BREAD. Like the most recent post, for instance. I may be committed to a mostly gluten-free lifestyle right now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t lose my marbles at the thought of a crusty ciabatta roll or whipping up a loaf of no-knead bread, which used to be a staple in my kitchen. For now, that’s not happening.

Thank goodness not all of Smitten Kitchen’s recipes involve bread. Last week, a friend on Facebook linked to this recipe and mentioned that the smell of the baking bars was intoxicating. That’s enough of an endorsement for me. I’ve been looking for a portable breakfast/snack option other than ordering boxes of Kind bars from Amazon (the cheapest avenue I’ve found). I like most of the Kind bars (although they’re a little on the sweet side for me), and I need a grab-and-go option to have in my purse at all times and for busy most nearly all weekday mornings, when I can’t manage to make myself a real breakfast on my way out the door. When my stomach wakes up sometime after 9:00 a.m., I’m always reaching for a Kind bar in my desk drawer.

I decided to whip up a batch of these granola bars on Friday night, with some tweaks. They are insanely good. I think it’s time to cancel that recurring order on Amazon. Seriously. They are chewy, dense (in a good way), and have a nice crunch if you leave nuts in larger pieces or whole. I plan to keep fussing with the recipe and to have these on hand at all times. If I prepare a batch every couple weeks and freeze individually wrapped bars, I should be covered. The options for add-ins are endless too. (Don’t worry, coworkers. I’ll be bringing a few to the office tomorrow for your feedback.) The biggest change I made is subbing the refined sugars. If you want to use regular sugar and corn syrup, you can get the amounts over at Smitten Kitchen’s website by clicking the link below.

Chewy GF Granola Bars

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 2/3 c quick-cooking rolled oats (if gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free oats*)
  • 1/2 c Sucanat
  • 1/3 c oat flour (if gluten-free, be sure to use GF oat flour) (OR 1/3 cup oats, processed in a food processor or blender until finely ground)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 2–3 c dried fruits and nuts**
  • 1/3 c almond butter (or another nut butter)
  • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 6–8 T melted butter (or melted coconut oil, which I plan to try next time)
  • 1/4 c agave
  • 1/8–1/4 c honey
  • 1 T water
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8″ x 8″ x 2″ pan {I used a small rectangular jelly roll pan} with parchment paper, allowing it to go up the opposing sides. Lightly grease the parchment paper and the exposed pan {I rubbed the parchment with coconut oil}.
  2. Stir together all the dry ingredients, including the fruit and nuts. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, melted butter or oil, liquid sweeteners, almond butter, and water. Toss the wet ingredients with the dry until the mixture is evenly crumbly. Spread in the prepared pan, pressing firmly to ensure the bars are molded to the shape of the pan.
  3. Bake the bars for 30 to 40 minutes, until they’re brown around the edges {I baked for the full 40 minutes}. Don’t be afraid to get a little color on the top as well. The bars will seem soft and almost underbaked when you press into the center of the pan; they’ll set once completely cool.
  4. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a cooling rack. This part is no joke. I got a little ahead of myself and tried to slide the parchment out onto the cooling rack after about 30 minutes. Too soon! Some of the center bars ended up a little cracked and crumbly. I ended up letting them cool on the counter overnight, in the pan, lightly draped with a tea towel.
  5. Once cool, slide the parchment with bars out onto a cutting board, and use a large knife to cut the bars into squares. To store, wrap the bars individually in plastic or waxed paper, or stack them in an airtight container. In humid weather, it’s best to store bars in the refrigerator. I’m hoping they also freeze well.

*Note that any links I’ve provided are for bulk amounts on Amazon. You likely aren’t looking to purchase twelve bags of Sucanat; I just want you to see what product I’m using. (Be aware that you will find many of these products to be much more cost effective if you purchase through Amazon or other online retailers. If you have the luxury of buying in bulk or splitting a bulk purchase with friends, I highly recommend it. And if you have Amazon Prime, the deal gets even sweeter.) Most of these are available at Whole Foods or any grocery store with a decent health food section.

**Suggestions for nut/seed/fruit mixture: dried cranberries, apricots, dates, pecans, chia seeds, flax meal, sunflower seeds, coconut, walnuts, almonds, sesame seeds, pepitas, dried apples, or even chocolate chips. I didn’t measure carefully for this batch, and I don’t think it really matters. I just started pouring items into a liquid measuring cup until it hit 3 cups. My mix for this batch (amounts approximate): 1/2 c sunflower seeds, 3/4 c dried cranberries, 1/2 c pumpkin seeds, 3/4 c whole raw almonds, 2 T chia seeds, sprinkle of finely shredded unsweetened coconut on one half (I was afraid I wouldn’t like the coconut…but I did! Weird).

Confessions Part II . . . and Breakfast

My second confession is that I eat a lot, both in quantity and frequency.

When I was younger I used to be a little self-conscious about it, but somewhere between college and early adulthood I got over it. And now I seem to have quite the reputation. A couple years ago during a colleague’s going away party, he mentioned with a grin that he had to transfer departments because, “MacKenzie always ate all the food at the parties.” Early in our marriage, my husband would raise an eyebrow at dinner and say, “Are you seriously going to eat all of that?” Almost seven years later, he mostly just scrapes his leftovers onto my plate when he’s finished.

So anyway, for everyone else out there who has a large appetite and who is trying to make nutritious and gluten-free decisions, I thought I’d share a list of some breakfast ideas.

Some people actually suggest it’s better for your metabolism to eat many small meals throughout the day. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily eat small meals, but I do eat pretty often. I used to just eat a yogurt for breakfast at my desk in the mornings, but since I’ve tried to cut out most of my gluten and dairy intake, I sometimes eat at home and when I get to work.

Here are a few things I like:

• Scrambled eggs with goat cheese
• Fresh, homemade smoothies—these are not as time-consuming as you would think, and they are really filling
• Van’s Gluten-free Waffles—these are great with butter and agave or honey chevre
• An apple with almond butter
• A banana

Of this list, I usually need to pick at least two. We’ll be sure to share some of our smoothie recipes.

What are your favorite breakfast foods?