Ham & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Today’s recipe is for a breakfast casserole that includes some fun ingredients to change things up.  Yes, it includes eggs, ham, and cheese.  However, it also has chives-and-onion cream cheese, southwest style hash browns, roasted red pepper, Parmesan cheese, and panko bread crumbs.  I especially loved the panko topping.  It added a nice crunch.  It only fills an 8 or 9 inch square dish but could easily be doubled  and made in a 9 x 13.

The other great thing about this dish is it is suppose to be made at at least 4 hours in advance.  So make it the night before and then in the morning all you have to do is throw it in the oven.  I know you all love a good overnight breakfast or brunch dish.  They make life easier.  This one is also full of flavor.  YUM!

It would be perfect for Easter morning or a great way to use up leftover ham from Easter dinner.

Cheesy-Ham-Breakfast-Casserole

Cheesy Ham Breakfast Casserole

  • 5 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup chive-and-onion-cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 cups refrigerated southwest style shredded hash browns from a 20 oz bag (I used Simply Potatoes)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced
  • 2/3 cup of ham
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  1. Spray a 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese while slowly adding in the milk.  Then beat in the eggs, mustard, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the hash browns, cheddar cheese, roasted pepper, and ham.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared square baking dish.  Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover the casserole and bake for 40 minutes.  While it bakes, combine the panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and melted butter together in a small bowl.
  5. Remove casserole from the oven and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture even over the top of the casserole.  Return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes more until the bread crumbs are golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

~Enjoy!

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Grandma’s easy-peasy “no fail” Raspberry Jam <3

Grandma’s easy-peasy “no fail” Raspberry Jam 🙂

Ridiculously Easy Raspberry Jam

I’ve had terrible luck at making jams without Surejell or Certo. Until this one. Dear Hubby recently gutted, overhauled and rearranged our kitchen and one of the blessed benefits of that was that I finally had all my cookbooks & hand-written recipes passed down from family & friends all in one spot… In going through those beloved treasures I came across my grandma’s “no fail” raspberry jam that requires no Surejell or Certo. Who am I to question my deceased grandmother? I wasn’t stupid enough to question her when she was alive, I am sure not going to start nay-saying her now.

This jam is a BEAUTIFUL jewel tone with seeds evenly suspended throughout. I have tried many different recipes and they were either too sweet or cloudy or the seeds floated to the top. The trick to remember with this jam is just match the cups of berries to the cups of sugar. If you like your jam a little more “tart”, squeeze about 1/2 c. lemon juice onto the berries before boiling them. This recipe can easily be used to make raspberry, strawberry and blueberry jams that turn out beautifully! 🙂

Ingredients:

4 cups mashed raspberries

4 cups sugar

That’s IT for ingredients. No muss, no fuss; I TOLD you this was easy!  🙂

Instructions:

  1. Use a very large pot.
  2. When the jam reaches a full rolling boil it will double in volume.
  3. Heat mashed berries until they reach a full rolling boil; stir the mixture so seeds don’t burn to the bottom of your pan, that’s a complete PITA to scrub off.
  4. Boil 2 minutes.
  5. Add sugar.
  6. Stir well.
  7. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, boil for 2-6 minutes. (2 min’s for thinner jam; 4-6 minutes for thicker jam.)
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Beat with rotary beater for 4 minutes.
  10. Pour in sterilized jars and seal.

That my lovelies, is that!  10 simple steps to the most amazing, divine red raspberry jam that even my 9 year old can make. 🙂

Enjoy!

🙂

Homemade Pita Bread & Hummmmmmus… easier than ya think! :)

Sorry about my imposed bit of quiet on the blog here as we dealt with Dear Hubby’s health scare, but I’m back with not one but TWO recipes that go (dare I say it?) hand in hand with each other… Hummus and Pitas!  🙂

After trying this recipe for homemade hummus, I may never buy hummus again. And after reading this, you may join me. Because once I (and therefore you) figure(d) out how easy, cheap, and ridiculously delicious homemade hummus is, I decided to turn my back on the prefabricated stuff and am never looking back. That’s it! I’m done. You soak a bunch of dried chickpeas overnight (I bought a bag of roasted, dried chickpeas at Trader Joes, just because they looked… well, nuttier than the regular ones, but who knows if that made a difference), then simmer them in salted water until they’re soft. In the meantime, you make a paste out of salt and garlic, then whizz that in a food processor along with sesame seed paste and what seems like an inordinate amount of lemon juice. Trust the recipe, though! The mixture should look “contracted”, which meant nothing to me, but I stopped when it starts to look like the consistency of hummus and that turned out to be fine.

Then you add the drained chickpeas and process the mixture until an improbably creamy mass starts to form kinda looking like this:

MMMM… Hummmmmus…

Depending on how loose you like your hummus, you can add cooking liquid and lemon juice. It keeps in the fridge for a few days, though you’ll have to add some more water and lemon juice to loosen it up a bit (and let it come to room temperature, because the flavors totally bloom then). I sprinkled mine with paprika, some minced garlic and drizzled it with some EVOO.

A more appetizing plate of hummus I never did see. And the taste! Fresh and creamy, with a nutty flavor and grassy notes from the oil. The hummus had heft, but was also airy from all the processing. I’m telling you – after you make it, you’ll never want storebought hummus again. I’m so glad I tried this recipe. It was like a birthday present!

Hummus
Makes 4 cups

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3/4 cup sesame seed paste
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, and more to taste
Cayenne or hot Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Rinse the soaked chickpeas well and drain them before putting them in a saucepan and covering them with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a boil; skim, add one-half teaspoon salt, cover and cook over medium heat, about 1 1/2 hours, until the chickpeas are very soft (you might need to add more water).

2. Meanwhile, crush the garlic and one-half teaspoon salt in a mortar until pureed. Transfer the puree to the work bowl of a food processor, add the sesame seed paste and lemon juice and process until white and contracted. Add one-half cup water and process until completely smooth.

3. Drain the chickpeas, reserving their cooking liquid. Add the chickpeas to the sesame paste mixture and process until well-blended. For a smoother texture, press the mixture through the fine blade of a food mill. Thin to desired consistency with reserved chickpea liquid. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon juice. The hummus can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.) Serve, sprinkled with paprika and parsley and drizzled with oil.

How to Make Homemade Pita Bread

Makes 8 rounds

There is NOTHING like freash pitas for dipping in hummus…

What You Need

Ingredients

1 cup warm water (not hot or boiling)

2 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast

2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1-2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

Equipment

Mixing bowl

Rolling pin

Cast iron skillet (for stovetop baking)

Baking sheet or a baking stone (for oven baking)

Instructions

1. Form the Pita Dough: Mix the water and yeast together, and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil (if using). Stir until a shaggy dough is formed.

2. Knead the Dough: Sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It’s better to use too little flour than too much. If you get tired, stop and let the dough rest for a few minutes before finishing kneading.

3. Let the Dough Rise: Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and film it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it’s coated with oil. Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

At this point, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.

4. Divide the Pitas: Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk. Sprinkle the pieces with a little more flour and then cover them with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap wrap until you’re ready to bake them.

5. Shape the Pitas: Using a floured rolling pin, roll one of the pieces into a circle 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter inch thick. Lift and turn the dough frequently as your oll to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to your counter. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if its starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough. (Once you get into a rhythm, you can be cooking one pita while rolling the next one out.)

6. To Bake Pitas in the Oven: While shaping the pitas, heat the oven to 450°. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to heat. If you don’t have a baking stone, place a large baking sheet on the middle rack to heat.

Place the rolled-out pitas directly on the baking stone or baking sheets (as many as will fit), and bake for about 3 minutes. I’ve found it easiest to carry the pita flat on the palm of my hand and then flip it over onto the baking stone. The pita will start to puff up after a minute or two and is done when it has fully ballooned. Cover baked pitas with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

7. To Bake Pitas on the Stovetop: Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a few bead of water sizzle immediately on contact. Drizzle a little oil in the pan and wipe off the excess.

Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn’t or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel. Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

8. Storing the Pitas: Pitas are best when eaten immediately after cooking. Leftover pitas will keep in an airtight bag for several days and can be eaten as they are or warmed in a toaster oven. Baked pitas can also be frozen with wax paper between the layers for up to three months.

Additional Notes:

Storing the Dough: Once it has risen, the pita dough can be kept refrigerated until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.

Pitas That Won’t Puff: Sometimes you get pitas that won’t puff. The problem is usually that the oven or the skillet aren’t hot enough. Make sure both are thoroughly pre-heated before cooking. Even pitas that don’t puff are still delicious and can be used wraps or torn into pieces for dipping in hummus.

 

Enjoy! 🙂

Mama’s Easy Breakfast Casserole

I was blessed with a really good memory when it comes to names. For example, I can name everyone in my kindergarten class with Mrs. Baskin at McSorley Elementary along with a random fact about each person (her all time favorite flower was a buttercup & her dog’s name was Roscoe). Somehow I continued to accurately fill the slots in this computer brain of mine over the years with dates, names, and people. Now…on any given day, I can automatically start spewing the birthdays and anniversaries of random people from my past when asked a question about them, or if I see their picture.

But… then I had kids. And they sucked the brain cells out of my head.  I’m lucky now if I can remember their names. As a matter of fact, sometimes I will just randomly start spewing out ALL their names knowing if I list them all, the one who I am actually referring to will hear me and have to respond. Don’t argue that logic until you have birthed multiple children and given your brain 5-10 years to stew in its own fried juices… LOL!

When I do something like book an appointment for the wrong day or forget where I hid birthday presents, my husband will say, “Honey, your poor brain.”  After all, he knew me as the woman who could remember his cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend and the names of everyone that came to our wedding…from his side. The good news is that anything I had stored in my brain before kids, is still there. And I can still access it when I’m back in my hometown at Strike & Spare and run into half of my high school. Even if we weren’t friends, I probably know your name and your birthday. But it’s not really something I’ll let on, because from experience I found it freaks people out when you still know minute details about them from when they were little, when you hardly know them now as adults. It comes off a bit stalkerish, I guess.
The really fantastic news for you, is that I can clearly recall the Christmas Eve night I learned how to make the best breakfast casserole, and the perfect Christmas morning present to yourself & your family. It’s my Grandma’s recipe, tweaked by my mama (she liked spinach in hers *shudder*), and now tweaked by me.
Mama’s Easy Breakfast Casserole
(We recently ate this for dinner though, so don’t be limited to making this just for breakfast!)  🙂
Ingredients:
1/2 loaf of french bread cut into 1 inch cubes (enough to cover 9×12 pan bottom)
12 eggs1 cup milk

3-4 chopped potatoes

1/2 grn pepper

1/2 red pepper

1/4 c. chopped onion

(optional): 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

1 pkg chopped bacon OR 1 lb. cooked sausage (or if you’re feeling adventurous BOTH)

1 cup finely shredded cheese (we use colby-jack OR the mexican blend depending on mood)

Idea: after Thanksgiving, we chop up about 2 cups turkey meat (or ham) and add that for the meat

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9×12 pan.  Place bread cubes so they make a nice single layer on the bottom of the pan.  On the stovetop, cook your bacon in a large skillet.  Strain oil off.  Once done, chop into 1/2 inch pieces (you want them kinda big).  Use the same pan you made the bacon (or sausage) in:  cook the onions, peppers and potatoes.  Cook on medium heat for maybe 5 minutes until the potatoes start to transition from transulcent to opaque.  When this occurs, spread these in a nice even layer over the bread in the 9×12 pan.  Spread/sprinkle the bacon bits over this.   Mix the eggs and milk together & then slowly pour back and forth over the pan making sure the egg mixture gets everywhere in the pan.  The egg mixture will look like it’s about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up to the top of the pan, don’t worry, they fluff up nicely!  🙂  Sprinkle the shredded cheese evenly over the top of all of this evenly, cover with tin foil.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the center is firm.

My kids are INSANELY picky & all four of them LOVE this dish!  We’ve even made this on campouts in a dutch oven & it’s so yummy & filling.  If you are prepping this dish for the next morning, do everything except bake it (put it in the fridge overnight). Pull it out about an hour and a half before you want to eat. Let the dish sit at room temp about 20 minutes or so to lose it’s chill, preheat your oven, and then pop it in to bake for the 50-60 minutes.

ENJOY!   🙂