Very Veggie Breakfast Casserole (and gluten free too!)

Every Tuesday we have a small group meeting through our church.  It's called a neighborhood group because the city is so large that they break the small groups into neighborhoods so that it is more convenient to get together.  These Tuesday nights are something that I look forward to every week.  It is a chance to meet in someone's home, come together to create a meal, enjoy food and time with friends.  For only having lived here about six months, this is amazing to me.  That I can share my heart, my life and my cooking with these people that I feel so comfortable with in such a short amount of time.  Last week I had to work and I felt a huge void in my week where this Neighborhood Group should have been.  Well, and that void of email, Facebook, blogs (this week's Lenten sacrifice) and church on Sunday.  Needless to say, it was a pretty rough week so this Tuesday night was something that I was really looking forward to.

I had signed up to bring a savory breakfast casserole and I wanted to bring something that was a little different (and gluten free) than the typical bread soaked in egg with meat and cheese.  I looked at a few different kinds of breakfast casseroles and then decided to take a peak in my fridge and at the Lebanese store down the street.  I have to say, I thought that it was delicious, and completely guilt free!

So to make this was kind of an all day thing.  Not that I worked on it all day, but I did a little bit here, a little bit there.  I chopped and washed the vegetables, set them out to drain and dry. Then went to pick Munchkie up and go to the store for a couple things that I couldn't find in our local stores.  While Munchkie was napping I threw the veggies in the oven to roast while I cooked the bacon and lightly sauteed the swiss chard while whisking the eggs.  Assembled it all, hopped in the shower and then let it bake in the oven while I got ready and played with Munchkie.  Meanwhile, I had three other projects going in the kitchen as well, making a gallon of liquid soap (for hand soap and body wash), date paste (to use as a natural sweetener), and cinnamon struesel coffee creamer.  It was a very productive day!  I was also very excited to wear my new Whole Foods apron.  The lady who does stories and snacks that Munchkie and I go to every week gave this apron to me saying that she knows how much I love Whole Foods.  Munchkie very happily took my picture wearing the apron.

Very Veggie Breakfast Casserole (gluten free!)
20 oz shredded hash brown potatoes
Mixed vegetables (I had 2 small zucchinis, a huge red pepper and broccoli)
Small drizzle of olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
One bunch Swiss Chard
Small handful fresh parsley
1/2 red onion
12 oz bacon
12 eggs
1/2 cup light cream
salt and pepper
4 plum tomatoes
Goat cheese

  • Turn the oven to 425 degrees, chop the mixed vegetables, toss them in a small amount of olive oil and garlic powder and roast them in the oven for 15-20 minutes, mixing halfway through.
  •  Cut bacon and onions into small pieces.  Start to cook the bacon in a skillet and once grease starts to form in the pan, add the red onion to saute in the bacon grease.  Cook until the bacon is light brown. Pour out onto a plate with paper towel to absorb the grease.
  • Cut the Swiss chard and parsley into small pieces, put in a medium heat pan, lightly cook until slightly wilted.
  • Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray, spread potatoes in bottom of pan to form a crust of sorts.
  • Layer the mixed vegetables over the potatoes, then the Swiss chard/parsley and bacon/onion.
  • Vigorously whisk together the eggs, light cream, salt and pepper. Pour eggs over layers.
  • Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the center is solid when pan is jiggled.
  • Slice the tomatoes and lay out on a plate covered with paper towel to drain the extra liquid off.  Layer sliced tomatoes on top of the casserole and bake in 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle goat cheese over top of tomatoes and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • Slice and serve.


Good Start to a Beautiful Day

Breakfast is my favorite meal ever.  In any form.  Yes, I obviously like sweets, so any kind of sweet breakfast is a hit, but I also love savory.  Omelets, sausage,bacon, quiches, and potatoes.  I'm also a firm believer in the importance of breakfast, so I don't usually skip it.  I would much rather have a late and large breakfast and skip lunch.  This morning I was trying to decide what to have on this beautiful day off of work.  I remembered that I had found some unsweetened flaked coconut for really cheap at this random store when looking for something else with my mom.  I decided to throw that into some oatmeal.  Well, and those raisins left over from the Irish pudding that I couldn't eat on Saturday.  Naturally cinnamon always goes into oatmeal.  And it was delicious!

I couldn't eat it all, this is definitely a two person bowl of oatmeal. Maybe I should have kept Munchkie home from the babysitter's to help me eat this.  It was absolutely amazing to sit with every single window in my apartment, yes all four of them, all the way open and quiet surrounding me except for the sounds coming in from the outside.  The birds chirping, kids playing down the street, cars passing by, and people calling friendly greetings to each other.    Oh beautiful day!

Coconut Raisin Oatmeal
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk plus a little bit more for cooling down the hot oatmeal
1/2 cup oats
handful unsweetened flaked coconut
handful raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 packets stevia

  • Mix almond milk and oats together in a microwave safe bowl
  • Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn't explode
  • Add in coconut, raisins, cinnamon and stevia, stirring until fully mixed
  • Microwave for another 30-60 seconds to plump the raisins, and meld the flavors
  • Add cold almond milk until the right temperature and consistency.

Three. How Can It Be?

Munchkie's such a big girl now.  She's three.  I can't believe it.  She not even one little tiny part baby anymore.  Well, that's a lie, maybe when she's sleeping.  But she's such a little girl now.  I of course was going to just have a little family and friend get together for her birthday, and it just never turns out like that.  Our apartment is so small that our families wouldn't be able to fit, let alone comfortably fit in our living space so I have always had to find a place to have her birthday (she is going to be sorely disappointed the first year we have a house, or even a good size living room and she no longer has a party anywhere else).  Then I figure I'm renting a place, I might as well invite a few people to come.  And so, it is no longer a little get together.  Oh well.  She loves it.

Ok, and so do I.  I love the party planning. The baking and prepping and cake making.  Even though I sleep for three hours one day and 4 1/2 the next.  Tonight, I'm going to sleep like a baby, one that sleeps through the night for 13 hours straight without making a noise, not a newborn (I hope).  Because although it may have been three years, I still remember what those nights were like.

  Here are a few pics of her bday.

Of course a girl's gotta have yellow nail polish with red sparkles for a Curious George birthday!
Curious George cake, white cake mix with chocolate chips and peanut butter frosting and the hat is strawberry cake mix with lemon frosting and fondant (and I used a pyrex bowl to make three layers of cake then cut them down for the hat)

"Grown up food" and I used bananas at the last minute as food description "cards"

Coloring a Curious George picture

Yummy lunch provided by the zoo

Beyond thrilled to being sung Happy Birthday

Strawberry lemonade cake with a version of banana ice cream
Our family with the king of the jungle

Happy Birthday Munchkie!  I love you soooooo much!


Roasted Toasted

We have been getting a box of produce delivered to our back door (yes on the third floor) once a week and have been trying out all kinds of new vegetables.  I am just not that into veggies, I really want to be, but I'm just not.  However, I have found a way that actually makes me look forward to eating them.  Roasted.  I have learned, if you don't like 'em roast 'em.  And it's sooooo easy!

Turn your oven to 425, slice your veggies however you like, toss with a little bit of olive oil and whatever seasoning you like, lay out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and roast for 15-30 minutes.  If at 15 minutes they don't seem to be brown and crispy around the edges, keep putting them back in for a few more minutes until they do. That's it.. It's so flexible, you can use whatever seasoning you like.  And you can add cheese at the last few minutes.  We have been using Parmesan lately as our cheese of choice.

The options are really endless, some things that we have tried and loved are-
Broccoli a few dashes soy sauce (or liquid amino acids) and sesame seeds
Cauliflower and Parmesan cheese 
Root vegetable mix with rosemary and thyme
Broccoli with Parmesan cheese
Carrots and Parsnips with rosemary and garlic (from the NY times)
Zucchini boats with Parmesan and tomatoes

We had friends over this night of root vegetable medley, and I have to say that I think they were actually my favorite item on my plate.

Try them.  I think that you will be surprised.


How Dreams Change....

I love Pinterest, I can not even tell you how many things I've done from there.  However, a lot of people have "boards" of their dream home.  These huge beautiful kitchens, elaborate bathrooms and immaculate yards.  It seems that every time I look at Pinterest I am bombarded by huge perfect homes.  I was talking with Munchkie's Daddy and we were laughing together over how much things change in a few short years.  I used to think that these houses were exactly what I wanted.  Room after room after room, rooms for all kinds of purposes.  Now, after having lived in a variety of interesting places (the best way to describe them) our desires in a home have changed.  I guess by the time Munchkie's Daddy is finished with school we will have even more ideas of what a dream home consists of, five more years of thinking about it may add some things to the list. 

Things in our dream home (Munchkie's Daddy is contributing to this)
  • A dishwasher (this is #1)
  • Weather proof (no drafts, and by drafts I mean snow drifts in the living room or having to wear coats inside)
  • Smallish yard - we don't like to spend our time doing yardwork
  • Closets that fit all of our clothes (and realistically we don't have that much)
  • A bathroom that is not in an awkward spot, like off the kitchen or dining room or really anywhere that food is.
  • A bathroom that has room to hang the families' towels.
  • A washer and dryer in an easily accessible place, but again, not in the dining room
  • If there are stairs to the washer and dryer, they are inside the house.
  • An office for Munchkie's Daddy so he doesn't have to sit behind a room divider with headphones on to study
  • To be able to stand up straight in the shower
  • Space to fit more than four people in a living room comfortably
  • A room that guests could actually sleep in and have a door
  • A garage so that we don't have to shovel out our car every snow storm
  • A full size refrigerator that will fit a gallon of milk
  • Solar energy so that electric and gas bills aren't sky high
  • Somewhere you can choose to make changes 
  • For cell phones to work inside.  Well maybe outside too.
For now we will be happy in our small cozy apartment and be thankful that there is less to clean.