Friday, March 25, 2011

Overnight Egg Casserole

TGIF and welcome back to the Barbershop. :) Hope everyone had a great week! This week I shared with you a main dish recipe for healthy butternut squash mac n' cheese and a dessert recipe for black bottom banana cream pie...and now I think I'd like to share a breakfast recipe with you! Gotta cover all the bases. ;-)

As you know from my last post, my family was in town last weekend and I did some cooking for everyone, including brunch on Sunday morning. I had planned to have several items on the brunch menu, and I wanted one of the items to include eggs. So I searched around for an easy recipe that wouldn't take too much of my time (I wanted most of my time to be spent with the fam!), was fairly healthy, and of course, delicious! I settled upon this overnight egg casserole from Taste of Home. Luckily, it was a success!

Now, as I typically do, I adapted the recipe a bit and did not follow it exactly. As you can see by reading the recipe here, the recipe calls for ham. Well, I was already going to cook sausage with brunch, so I decided to make this dish meatless and therefore omitted the ham. Also, I did not add the chiles that are in the original recipe. I added a few new ingredients as well, as you'll see as you continue to read...

The original recipe says it makes nine servings, and although that would have been enough for us (there were six of us), I decided to increase the proportions just a bit for a few ingredients. This casserole is made in layers. I kept the bottom layer as is, by layering hash browns on the bottom of the pan. I used a 13 x 9 glass baking pan.

I sprinkled some pepper and herbs de provence on the potatoes for a little extra flavor! I added about 4 or 4.5 cups of potatoes here.

Next up comes the shredded cheese. I decided to use a combination of a mexican blend and Vermont sharp cheddar. About 1 cup total of shredded cheese (maybe slightly more than 1 cup) was sprinkled on top of the potatoes.

The next step is to combine the eggs and evaporated milk. Although the recipe calls for 6 eggs, I used 8. I still used the 12 oz. can of evaporated milk called for in the recipe though; I did not increase the amount of milk.

Now, a few ingredients I chose to add that weren't in the recipe were red pepper, green pepper, and onion! I wanted to add some healthy veggies AND some bright color. :) Mike chopped the veggies for me; thanks, Mike!! In total, we added about 1 cup of finely chopped red and green pepper and 1/2 of a yellow onion, finely chopped. These veggies got mixed in with the egg and milk mixture, as did some black pepper and more herbs de provence.

The only thing left to do was pour the egg mixture overtop the potatoes and let the whole thing sit overnight in the fridge! That's all, folks. Super simple.

The next morning I took the casserole out early so that it could sit for at least 30 minutes before baking. After baking it, uncovered, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, it was done! The recipe says to bake it for one hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean; my oven tends to cook faster, so for me, it was done after just 45 minutes.

How colorful! I love it.

I decided to add a little salsa to my helping - yummm! It gave the egg casserole just the right kick. ;-) 

Overall, this dish was great and I would definitely make it again. My only concern was that the bottom hash brown layer was a tad dry, but not everyone who ate it thought so. So maybe that was just my own preferences talking! Maybe next time, if I made it again with 8 eggs rather than 6, I'd also increase the amount of evaporated milk. 

A couple additional items on our brunch menu were other tasty Barbershop recipes, including healthy carrot muffins and Irish soda bread scones. I'm getting hungry for brunch again as I type this. Uh oh!


Enjoy the weekend, friends!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Back so soon?! YES! I am posting just one day after my last post...and that typically means a couple things. 1) I actually have some free time for blogging this week and 2) I am super excited about the recipe I'm about to share with you!!

Last year for Father's Day, I gave my dad a gift certificate for a homemade banana cream pie, which is his faaaaavorite. Well, it's obviously now several months after last year's Father's Day, but I finally got around to making that pie! And I'm so glad I did because it was a huge hit! My parents and aunt were in town visiting my brother and me this past weekend, so I served this for dessert on Saturday evening after we enjoyed a delicious home cooked crock pot corned beef and cabbage meal. :)

Pie time!

I followed a recipe in one of my favorite Cooking Light cookbooks. The original recipe calls for a traditional pastry crust; however, I did not have the time to put into making a pastry crust, so I decided on making a graham cracker crust! Super easy. Here are the ingredients for that:

-1 and 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (approx. 24 cracker squares)
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/3 melted butter

Combine the crumbs and sugar in a mixing bowl, and add the melted butter until everything is well-blended. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Cool completely before filling.

Pie crust done!

Now, onto the actual pie. Although I used a cookbook, lucky for me (to save me some typing ;-)), the recipe I used is also online. You can find it here! As you can see, it receives a 5-star, "outstanding" rating. I would completely agree!!

To start, you make the "black bottom," which is a chocolate pudding.

Black bottom done!

Next, onto the custard filling. This is no instant pudding mix, folks! This is the real thing. I have never made a custard from scratch before, and I have to say, it really wasn't that bad! I read through the instructions carefully (and several times!) before beginning. If you've never made homemade pudding before either, I'd recommend you do the same. It's really not difficult, but the steps do need to be followed carefully!

Somewhere around the time when the custard was thickening, I panicked. It had a lot of lumps in it, and I was afraid it wasn't going to smooth out. If this happens to you, have no fear! The lumps magically go away, I promise. I didn't have to do anything special other than continue to follow the directions as they were.

Mmmm, vanilla extract.

A small amount of cream cheese is added to a portion of the pudding...

And then the two are fully combined to make the actual vanilla pudding layer.

Before adding the vanilla pudding layer, first come the bananas! Yay for potassium! ;-)

Although the recipe didn't call for a second layer of bananas, I added a second layer. I couldn't resist.

Finally, atop the pudding and second banana layer, I added some light cool whip.

Chocolate shavings!

The graham cracker crust stayed together for the most part, but as you can see, there were a few crumbs that didn't make it. Not to worry...those didn't go to waste. It's possible they disappeared into my tummy...

YUM. Seriously. What a dessert. You're going to love it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Healthy Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Alright, friends, I've got a delicious dinner recipe for you! Since starting the blog, I have to say that I've developed a greater interest in cooking than I previously had. Don't get me wrong...I've always enjoyed cooking. Most days though I'd still prefer baking over cooking; however, the blog has been a great venue for me to expand my interests in the kitchen! As a result, I take more time to choose different dinner recipes to try...and every now and then I get to share one of those yummy dinner recipes with all you readers out there. And this butternut squash mac and cheese recipe is definitely one of those yummy dinner recipes!!

I had bookmarked this recipe quite some time ago, but only got around to making it last month in February (yes, I am waaay behind in my blog posts! some get put on the back burner for a, no pun intended there with the back burner reference ;-)). This mac and cheese recipe comes from a great blog/website called Simple Bites. As Simple Bites describes itself, it is a "family-oriented community dedicated to all things food and drink." I like it! If you have a few minutes, you should check it out.

This recipe was really straightforward. Nothing too difficult! And it's pretty healthy too as far as mac and cheese recipes go! Some of the "cheese" comes from the butternut squash, so it uses less cheese than other recipes. I LOVE butternut squash myself, and although the squash flavor is not overwhelming in this dish, it is noticeable. I would bet money on the fact that non-squash lovers would easily eat a whole helping of this mac and cheese. ;-)

You can read the recipe I followed here. For the most part, I followed the recipe as is. A few changes... I did not use organic whole milk, but regular skim milk (which worked great!). I also did not use the dijon mustard, simply because dijon isn't my favorite flavor. For the cheese, I used a combination of Vermont extra sharp and a Mexican 4 cheese blend, pictured below.

For my pasta, I chose to use Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest whole grain fusilli pasta. I used the entire 13.25 oz. box that you see here.

Now, for the butternut squash, I kept it simple and used a 12 oz. package of frozen butternut squash that I thawed in the microwave. The recipe calls for 1 and 1/3 cups butternut squash puree that you make by actually cooking and pureeing squash. However, I had previously used frozen butternut squash that tasted great in this AMAZING butternut squash dip, so I figured I could use it for this recipe too! And it worked perfectly.

Finally, for the topping that calls for bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and coconut, I omitted the coconut and only used the bread crumbs and parm cheese. 

Onion! I added some thyme to the onion also.


This is the onion, flour, and milk mixture with the butternut squash, before I mixed it in.

Now it's all mixed!

Time for CHEESE. Oh, I also added a small handful of parmesan here.

Stir it all up! The recipe calls for adding salt and pepper here, but I only added pepper. I also snuck in some more dried thyme here.

Ready for the oven! As you can see, I used two baking dishes (each is roughly 8 or 9 inches square). This makes a lot of mac n' cheese!!

Mmmm, nicely golden brown on top... :)


I served this with a side of roasted broccoli, Al Fresco all-natural chicken sausage (a delicious brand if you've never tried it!), and some homemade spent grain bread. A complete, healthful, and super tasty meal!!

This is a very hearty mac n' cheese that probably could stand as a nice meatless main dish on its own. It is a great family meal, sure to please kids and adults alike!! What's not to like? It's a healthy version of a comfort food. Heck, I should be saying, "what's not to love?" with this one. ;-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Irish Soda Bread Scones (and other St. Patrick's Day Recipe Ideas!)

Guess what? My last post, Quinoa with White Beans and Veggies, was my 100th post here at the Barbershop! Silly me, I did not realize that as I was creating that post for you all to read; otherwise I would have said something then! I can't believe I've written that many posts for you here at the Barbershop. Wow!

Anyway, onto my 101st post. ;-) This recipe is simply a minor twist on a recipe I shared with you last year. About a year ago, I made Traditional Irish Soda Bread for St. Patrick's Day. I wanted to make soda bread again this year because I love it, but I didn't want to do the same ol' thing. So what did I do? Something simple! I just made Irish soda bread scones instead of a loaf of bread. :)

The actual recipe I followed was the same recipe from the Barefoot Contessa that I used last year. To make scones instead of bread, I kneaded a handful of dough at a time instead of the entire loaf and then shaped each piece of dough into a circle and placed it on parchment paper. Just as when I made the regular loaf, I used a knife to score a criss-cross shape on the top of each scone before baking. Out of one batch, I made seven decent-sized scones (each was probably worth two servings!). 

I believe these took about 20 - 25 minutes to bake. To be completely honest, I did not time the baking! Oops. I just checked on them every now and then until they were slightly golden brown, as you can see below. Perfection!

I really enjoyed making Irish soda bread this way; I think I'll be doing it again, for sure! In fact, I've already made two batches of these scones so far this St. Patty's Day season. ;-)

These cute little scones are so easy to give away to others, especially when giving to just one or two people at a time who can't eat a whole loaf themselves. I tend to give away most of my baked goods, so making them into serving sizes that are easy to give away is great!

I typically enjoy soda bread plain, either "as is" or toasted (would recommend toasting it if you can!). Every now and again I'll have it with butter or jam too. For the sake of the blog and showing the bread with butter, I made the sacrifice of enjoying some butter on a couple small slices. Yummm.

No flash...


Are you wondering what else to make for St. Patty's? Well, there's always shamrock-shaped sugar cookies,

or perhaps a healthy GREEN monster smoothie.

I'd also like to refer you to a blog that I LOVE, Brown Eyed Baker. She has some amazing ideas for St. Patty's recipes including Guinness milk chocolate ice cream, Irish car bomb cupcakes, Irish brown bread (she also has different recipes than I used for soda bread and scones), beer waffles, and many more! The Brown Eyed Baker is a genius. Go visit her site! Oh, and don't forget your boiled dinner of corned beef and cabbage!

For a nightcap, how about making your own homemade Bailey's irish cream liqueur? I stumbled upon this recipe this week, and it looks very do-able to make at home!

May the luck o' the Irish be with you this week, and I'll talk to y'all soon!