Sausage-and-Cheese Grits Quiche

Like I mentioned yesterday, on Saturday we hosted a “Christmas” brunch at our house.  Since I’ll be eating Christmas brunch again on Christmas, I wanted to make sure, for my sake, that the menu was completely different.  In the latest issue of Southern Living, there was a spread on a “make ahead Christmas brunch.”  I decided it was fate and turned to the magazine for help this past weekend.  And while I wouldn’t say it’s “make ahead” because you still spend a few hours in the kitchen the day-of, I will say there were some show stopper recipes.

The favorite of the morning was the sausage-and-cheese grits quiche.  I have a feeling I’ll be making this quiche over and over again because it truly was delicious.  It actually combines two of my favorite breakfast casseroles that my grandmothers make on Christmas morning – cheese grits and a sausage and egg casserole.

The day before your brunch, prep the grits which are insanely decadent with whole milk, butter, cheddar cheese and Velveeta cheese.  Once the grits thicken on the stovetop, pour into a well-buttered springform pan (aka cheesecake pan) and allow to cook before placing in the fridge overnight.  I also cooked the sausage the day before our brunch, as well as sliced up the green onions.

The day of your brunch, whisk together the eggs and cream (more decadence), along with salt and pepper and Dijon mustard.  Fold in the green onions and the browned sausage before pouring on top of the grits layer.  Bake for an hour and ten minutes (it too mine a little longer).  When you take the quiche out of the oven, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and allow the casserole to stand for at least 20 minutes before removing the outer ring.  Before serving, sprinkle with chopped chives.


I would serve this at ANY brunch.  And you can keep it simple with just a side of fruit.  But of course since it’s the holidays, we didn’t keep it simple…a sweet breakfast casserole is coming your way tomorrow.


Chicken Tetrazzini

I’ve made it my “third trimester goal” to prepare something each week to place in the freezer for us to enjoy after Baby Girl arrives.  And while casseroles aren’t always the prettiest, this one in particular is delicious and was perfect for the freezer.  We enjoyed this dinner a couple of weeks ago and we’ll enjoy it again come 2018.

Tetrazzini makes me think of my childhood and week night dinners.  It’s a simple yet “all in one” meal that’s full of protein and vegetables.  By making it from scratch, you limit the excess calories and pre-packaged ingredients.  For this particular recipe, I decided to use chicken instead of turkey and used a gluten-free pasta.  The casserole itself is loaded with bites of chicken, onion, celery and mushrooms.  I just love mushrooms.  There’s also some green peas thrown in the mix that give a pop of color to the casserole as well as little tender “pops” as you eat.  Cream cheese, parmesan cheese and fontina make this the ultimate comfort food.  The entire casserole is topped with bread crumbs and more parmesan for added texture before baking.


And if you’re not into freezing meals, you can bake it all at once in a larger casserole dish to feed a larger family or this would make a great “meal baby” dinner for a new mama.


Creamy Chicken-and-Wild Rice Casserole

Let’s get something out of the way:  I am not sharing this recipe because it’s beautiful.  Because let’s be honest, most casseroles are not pretty.  I’m sharing this recipe because not only is it delicious but you can make two casseroles with this one recipe – one for tonight and one for later (or for a friend!).  I made this for dinner a couple of weeks ago and then popped one in the freezer so I could take it to my sister in law and brother.

What I love most about this casserole is the lack of cream of mushroom soup.  Instead you make your own “soup” with milk and mushrooms plus a little bit of flour to thicken up the mixture.  The creaminess comes from the milk as well as the addition of cream cheese.  Instead of onions, leeks are used for a milder flavor.  I adore wild rice and totally think I need to add it into our weekly menu more often – so nutty and hearty.

Like I said, you can make one big casserole or you can split it up – one for now and one for later.  If you’re going to freeze one, stop before you get to the baking step; allow the dish to come to room temperature and then cover tightly and freeze.


Another great thing about casseroles – leftovers are even better since the ingredients and flavors have time to really meld together.

Do you have any favorite freezer-friendly meals?

Cheesy Sausage, Broccoli, and Quinoa Casserole

Good morning!  First of all, if you haven’t voted: GO!  And that’s all I have to say about that.  I am beyond ready for the commercials to stop – I never say this but bring on the Christmas commercials.

This past weekend was incredibly busy but we saw so many people and it was absolutely wonderful.  On Friday evening we celebrated Big Guy’s grandmothers birthday.  Just to note – we’ve all thought for months she was turning 80 this year.  Turns out she’s only turning 79 today.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GRANNY!


We hit the road fairly early on Saturday so that we could make it to Charlotte in time for lunch.  We were surprised to have a special lunch guest:  Haines!  We ate at a restaurant called Kid Cashew.  I have no idea why that is the name and it doesn’t give the restaurant justice.  We all loved our Mediterranean-inpsired meal but the company was the best part.


Saturday afternoon we wrapped up some of the planning for my sister’s shower on Sunday and then we were off to visit my brother and his girlfriend.  Their huge fans of sushi, like us, so a sushi double date seemed like a no-brainer.  We visited for a little while before heading to eeZ, the parent restaurant of CowFish.  We ate so much sushi and it was all incredible.  A definite repeat sushi spot.


Sunday was definitely a full day – beginning with church and then it was all about getting my parents house ready for the shower before the guests arrived at 2pm.  We went with a “sprinkle” theme and it was so fun to see everyone.  Haines was the best hostess ever and Maggie got lots of stuff that will come in handy when baby #3 arrives in a matter of weeks.


Maggie looks fantastic and we’re all anxious to see if it’s a boy or girl come the week of Thanksgiving.  And I can’t wait to meet the little one at the beginning of December.  Speaking of babies, another baby is coming in the Bell family.  My sister-in-law is expecting a baby that is due in April.  We find out whether it’s a boy or girl in a few weeks.  So fun!

Sunday ended as all Sundays should end – with pizza!  I played dominoes with my parents and Big Guy settled in for a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel (he’s anti-games).

Whew.  What a weekend!  By the time we got home yesterday, all I wanted to do was get unpacked and settled for the rest of the week.

Dinner last night took a little prep work but it’s perfect because you get two casseroles:  one to freeze and one to eat.  Instead of freezing one, I’m actually taking it to a friend who just had a baby but I have a feeling I’ll be making a couple of Maggie and Kiersten to keep in their freezer.


Cheesy sausage, broccoli and quinoa casserole reminds me of the old-school broccoli and rice casserole.  The quinoa gives the casserole a little nuttiness and it’s much more hearty and filling than the traditional casserole.  The sausage gives lots of flavor to the dish and I loved the crunchy panko-cheese crust on top.  (cheese + carbs = everything)


And unfortunately the photo quality has declined due to the change in time on Saturday night…bring on the dark food pics.  (ugh.)

I hope you all have the best Tuesday possible and tomorrow we’ll have a new president…

Mayan Sweet Potato and Polenta Bake

I typically need a hug by the end of Monday. And last night I not only got a hug but this dinner was incredibly comforting and satisfying.

Not to mention the flavors are out of this world.  I never imagined putting together refried beans, polenta and sweet potatoes – but boy did they work together in harmony to create a delicious Mayan Sweet Potato and Polenta Bake.

And there’s cheese.  And the most luscious sauce.

Big Guy compared the flavors and textures to a thick stew.  They reminded me a lot of enchiladas.

In case you’re not familiar with using polenta (in the tube) – here’s the brand I used.  

The recipe instructs you to use a 9 x 9 baking dish but I honestly thing a 13 x 9 dish would have worked better.  I was unable to use all the polenta in fear (yes, fear) that all the other layers wouldn’t fit.

The polenta is broken up in a bowl and then pressed into the bottom of your baking dish.  Top the polenta with half of the refried beans; slices of raw sweet potato; the saute of peppers, onions and garlic; half the shredded cheese and half of the sauce.  Then you layer on the remaining beans; sweet potato slices; sauce and cheese.

The casserole bakes for about an hour and 350 degrees.

I’m going to warn you – it’s not the most photogenic casserole – casseroles are rarely beautiful – but the taste is out of this world.

mayan bake

A sprinkle of cilantro and you’re ready to dig in.

Nutritious and delicious.

And almost as good as a hug.


Tuna Noodle Casserole

Good morning and happy Monday to you!  After a glorious weekend with the flamingos, I’m back and ready to tackle the week.

I’ve been spoiled and have seen someone in my family three out of the last four weekends.  And now I don’t really have a date on the calendar to be reunited and I find myself a little homesick.

So last night I was craving comfort food.  You might not know this but tuna noodle casserole is one of my favorite classics from childhood.

It’s warm, cheesy and totally comforting – like a big hug from Mom or Dad.

This version is lightened up from the recipe I grew up eating.  Instead of cream of mushroom soup – a mushroom sauce is made combining milk, chicken stock, onions, flour and lots of mushrooms.

Cheese is added to the sauce so that each and every bite has a little bit of cheese.  Green peas add great texture with little pops of flavor here and there.

Before baking, the casserole is topped with more cheddar and a breadcrumb mixture with parmesan cheese.  A little more cheesiness and a little bit of nuttiness.

Y’all – this turned out way better than I expected and might even be more delicious than what I remember.

Warm.  Comforting.  Cheesy.  And a little crispy around the edges and on top (my favorite bites!).

I opted to go the gluten-free route and used gluten-free brown rice noodles and rice flour.  I also don’t believe in reduced-fat cheese so I used regular sharp cheddar.

If you are in need of a hug, this casserole is for you.

(And if you’re not a fan of tuna – which I know a lot of folks aren’t – you can totally substitute chicken.)

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas

As much as I love cooking new recipes, I hate throwing away food.  Big Guy typically eats leftovers for lunch or on the nights that are busy and we have to fend for ourselves.  But sometimes it’s not about leftovers.  Sometimes a recipe calls for 6 of something but they only come in packages of 18.  I’m not about to throw away 12 of something.

So I try to work my menus around what I have in the fridge that needs to be used.  Enter corn tortillas.

A couple of weeks ago I bought the tortillas for the beef chorizo tacos.  And then I used them again in our crispy avocado tacos.

And I still had leftovers.

So I used My Recipes to search for a recipe utilizing corn tortillas and chicken thighs (I also had those on hand).  One of the first recipes to pop up was Stacked Chicken Enchiladas, a recipe I had actually taken out of my binder at home and put in the “make” pile.  It was meant to be.

This isn’t a 30-minute recipe but it’s totally worth the time.

Instead of using two separate pans to cook the chicken, I used my dutch oven so that I could easily transfer the chicken from the stove-top to the oven.  I also didn’t have any cilantro on hand because what I thought was cilantro was parsley in the fridge.  But I used parsley and the end result was still incredibly delicious.  And I also didn’t want to waste money buying Mexican crema so I simply mixed a little Greek yogurt with lime juice.

Enchiladas can sometimes be a pain – messy and frustrating – because of dipping the tortillas and rolling.  This recipe isn’t as painful.  The enchiladas are made by layering what’s typically inside the enchilada and the corn tortillas.

I’m not going to lie – my favorite part of this recipe was the crispy tortilla edges on top with the melted cheese.

I’m such a carb and cheese gal.

But this recipe has all the flavor of your beloved enchiladas without the guilt.