Tater tot breakfast casserole

Broccoli-Cheddar Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

Tater tot breakfast casserole

Yummy broccoli-cheddar tater tot breakfast casserole!

Tater tots for breakfast? Oh yes indeed. I remember the first bite I ever had of a tater tot breakfast casserole, at an Easter brunch a decade ago. It was rich and delicious, and the tater tots had broken down to become hash browns mixed with eggs, cheese, and sausage. Yum. I’m not a huge egg person, so the presence of tots and other fillings makes this type of breakfast casserole perfect for me. Plus: it’s easy, feeds a crowd, and you can put it together the night before (it’s actually best that way).

Here’s the original version. However, since I usually have a few vegetarians over when I host a brunch, I usually replace the sausage with sauteed peppers and onions. But last weekend, I had some broccoli and green onions on hand and created yet another version that was 1) delicious and 2) perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Broccoli-Cheddar Tater Tot Breakfast Casserole

You need:

1 package frozen tater tots
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium head broccoli, chopped
1/4 c. green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
8 eggs
2 cup half and half
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt

Place a layer of tater tots in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ casserole pan.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Add broccoli, green onions, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about five minutes. Sprinkle over tater tots.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Whisk the eggs, half and half, mustard, and salt in a large bowl, and pour over tater tots. Sprinkle with pepper!

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Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Refrigerate overnight (you can bake it immediately in a pinch, but it is better if you let it rest).

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Bake in the morning at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Breakfast tater tot casserole

Let rest for 20-30 minutes, then eat! Makes 15 servings.

So what do you think? Are you planning on making something special for St. Patrick’s Day? Post your comments below!

Quiche

Yes You Can: Make a Big-Ass Quiche

Quiche

This is not my quiche. My quiches are eaten too quickly for pictures. This is Martha Stewart’s quiche!

Fact: quiche is the best food you can make. It’s all the best things about an omelet, but with lots of cream and pie crust. You can eat it for breakfast. You can eat it for lunch. Dinner? Serve it with a salad. It’s delicious cold, warm, or at room temperature. Plus, it can contain almost any kind of leftover meat, vegetable, or cheese in your fridge. You must make quiche now!

Note: My son Sid just asked me, “What about mac and cheese?” So I must amend my earlier statement: quiche is the second best food you can make. But you should still make it.

When I need a large brunch dish or appetizers for a crowd, I like to take a page from Martha Stewart (O Captain! My Captain!) and make a big-ass quiche in a cookie sheet. It’s easy, tasty, and versatile. You can cut it into three-inch pieces for a luncheon, or one-inch pieces for a cocktail party.

Since I prefer to make up my own quiches (or use up veggies, meat, and cheeses in my fridge), I’ve developed my own rule of thumb for fillings: about 2 cups of sauteed vegetables/meat/seafood, plus 1-2 cups grated cheese. You can further adjust this to your taste: for example, you don’t need cheese (but why not?). So let’s get it started!

Large Quantity Pate Brisee–From The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

You need:

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 to 1/4 cup ice water.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Flatten dough into a large rectangle and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour.

Roll pastry on a floured board until it’s about 2 inches wider and longer than your cookie sheet. Press into the pan, folding down the edges and fluting them. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, dried beans, or uncooked rice; bake for 15 minutes. Remove weights and foil, prick crust all over with a fork. Return to the oven and bake 15-20 minutes, until light golden brown.

Now get ready for filling!

Big-Ass Quiche Filling–Adapted From Martha Stewart’s Entertaining Cookbook

You need:

3 cups heavy cream
9 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 large pinch nutmeg
Pepper to taste
About 2 cups of sauteed veggies, meat, seafood–whatever you like
1-2 cups shredded/crumbled cheese
Fresh herbs of your choice

Whisk the cream, eggs, salt, nutmeg, and pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle your veggies/meat/seafood into your cooked crust. Cover with cheese. Carefully pour the cream and egg mixture over your filling in a slow stream (so you don’t disturb your filling ingredients). Bake at 350 degrees until puffed and golden, about 35-40 minutes.

Filling Ideas

Red, White, and Blue Quiche

One pint cherry tomatoes, halved
One large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
About 6 oz gruyere cheese, grated
Crumbled blue cheese, to taste
Fresh chopped basil, to taste

Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, and garlic. Saute until tender, adding salt and pepper to taste. Proceed with recipe above.

Quiche Lorraine

1 1/2 cups cooked bacon, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 cups gruyere cheese, grated

Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil (or bacon grease, if you’ve cooked the bacon that day). Proceed with recipe above.

Sausage and Apples Got the Blues Quiche

1 lb bulk breakfast sausage
2 large apples, cored and chopped
1/2 to 1 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 to 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Fresh thyme, to taste

Saute the sausage in a frying pan, adding the apples when halfway cooked. Sprinkle with thyme when apples are tender but not falling apart. Proceed with recipe above.

Lox of Love Quiche

1 1/2 cups Nova lox, chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 lb cream cheese, at room temperature
Fresh chives, snipped with scissors

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned.

Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and stir in the capers, chives to taste, lemon zest, 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle the lox over your cooked crust, and top with the onions and cherry tomatoes. Dot with cream cheese. 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half. Proceed with recipe above.

So there you have it! I encourage you to go rogue and use my general guidelines to make your wildest quiche fantasies come true (come on, everyone has at least one, right?), or to utilize all the leftover goodies in your fridge and pantry.

So what’s your quiche fantasy? Mine involves eating in the bathtub.

Fight Like a Girl Cross Stitch Sampler

Happy Monday! Links to Make Your Day Brighter

Fight Like a Girl Cross Stitch SamplerHappy Monday! How was your Fourth of July? We had a big blowout, with 50+ people over for brunch, followed by a small block party that was interrupted by a tired baby. No fireworks for us, boo!

Cooking

Since I’ve been trying to avoid as much waste as practical for our family, I found a DIY Bisquick recipe that I used to make shortcakes for the brunch (I love Bisquick and much prefer it to “real” biscuits–don’t argue). It was easy and great! Now I just have to find shortening in bulk. Or maybe experiment with butter?

Since it’s been hot (in the upper 90s and climbing), I made sure all of the food for the brunch could either be make ahead of time, or on the grill. One of my favorite make-ahead dishes for almost any occasion is quiche–in a cookie sheet. Now, there isn’t a link here yet, but I promise to type up the recipe and link it up this week. Not only is this an easy, delicious recipe for a crowd, but you can use it to clear out your fridge. This weekend I made quiche with cherry tomatoes, white onions, and blue cheese. Patriotic!

Comics

This week is the big show: San Diego Comic Con! I’m missing it for the second year in a row, which is, I admit, bumming me out, but my friend Merrick put together this awesome Con Survival Guide! NOTE: Time for some real talk for the ladies. Ladies, bring tampons and pads. Even if you don’t usually wear pads. Even if you’re not expecting your period. SDCC is stressful, and the lines can be several hours long. Leaks are not your friends.

One organization I was always proud to work with is the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which supports free speech and offers legal assistance to comic book creators, retailers, fans, and more! One of the highlights of SDCC is the CBLDF’s welcome party and art auction. This year’s auction features original art by such luminaries as Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead), Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants), Fábio Moon (Casanova), Gabriel Bá (Umbrella Academy), and Tyler Crook (Harrow County)!

Interested in the upcoming Supergirl TV show but confused by decades and decades of character history? The Mary Sue has put together an incredible Supergirl, Superwoman & Power Girl Historical Timeline.

Speaking of female superheroes, I spotted this Fight Like a Girl cross stitch sampler at Wee Little Stitches, and I couldn’t resist. Definitely making it for Sarah!

What’s up in your world? Post a comment below!

Brunch: Eggs and Eggs in Crisp Potato Skins

Here’s one of the recipes I referenced in my epic brunch post: crisp potato skins with scrambled eggs! A friend on Facebook asked for the recipe, so I thought I might as well type it up for the blog.

This is from Cooking for the Weekend, an excellent cookbook by Michael McLaughlin. I’ve had it for years and it’s out of print, but lots of fun–the entire book is made up of “Saturday Lunches,” “Company on Saturday Night,” and “Sunday Breakfasts and Brunches,” categorized by Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. Incidentally, I did a little research online to see if McLaughlin had a website so I could attribute this to him, and discovered he died in 2002 at the age of 53. He helped put together the classic Silver Palate Cookbook, another favorite of mine: RIP to a talented writer and gifted cook.

This dish is one of my most popular brunch recipes! I let people build their own potato skins and set out the scrambled eggs, cheese, chives, crumbled bacon, and whatever other toppings come to mind. Unfortunately, I’ve never been rich enough to offer the caviar included in the original recipe (the second “eggs” of the title), but maybe I’ll do that just for myself.

Potatoes

Eggs and Eggs in Crisp Potato Skins
Serves 8 (I multiply the recipe according to my guest list; allowing 1 1/2 skins per guest is usually spot on)

You need:

8 russet baking potatoes (about 6 ounces each), well scrubbed
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Rich Scrambled Eggs (recipe follows)
6 ounces creme fraiche, homemade or purchased, or sour cream, well chilled
1 ounce black caviar, such as osetra
1/2 ounce salmon roe caviar
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

The night before: Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. Pierce each potato several times with a fork. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 50 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

Halve the potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the insides of the potatoes (keep them for mashed potatoes, or make some gnocchi), leaving a shell about 1/4 inch thick. If making ahead of time, wrap well and refrigerate.

The morning of your brunch: Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly brush the potato shells inside and out with melted butter. Arrange them cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake 12 minutes. Turn the shells upright and bake until the edges are crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes more.

For brunch, I stack the potato skins in two sections of my three-compartment warming tray, with the eggs in the third section and my toppings in small dishes nearby. Guests can build their own–and eat them with their hands!

Rich Scrambled Eggs
Serves 8

You need:

16 eggs
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper. Melt the butter in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over low heat. Stir in the eggs and cook, stirring often, until softly set, about 7 minutes. NOTE: Even when I’m doing multiple batches for a brunch, I only cook one batch at a time–a huge, deep pan of eggs tends to cook unevenly and brown on the bottom, which I can’t stand!

I’ll end with a quote from McLaughlin at the end of the recipe: “Leftover caviar is an oxymoron: Not only is it expensive, it’s perishable. Eat up.” I couldn’t agree more!

Make Brunch for 50 for About $110

Since I moved back to Portland, Oregon in 2005, I’ve thrown about 40 brunches. I started this for two reasons: one, when I first moved back, I lived in a tiny apartment and wanted to see as many old friends as possible. Brunch = eating standing up, if done correctly. And two, I had spent a stint working as a cook at the Point Way Inn, a bed and breakfast on Martha’s Vineyard, under the tutelage of Jaclyn Bettencourt.

The reason I kept doing brunches all these years? I discovered it was damn cheap. For example, I had about 52 people at my most recent brunch. The cost? About $110. Think about it: if you cook from scratch, brunch is made out of some very reasonably priced ingredients. Flour. Eggs. Cheese. Bacon.

Here’s the menu for this week’s Valentine’s Day brunch:

  • Heart-Shaped Donuts (both yeast-raised and chocolate cake varieties)
  • Tuscan Frittata Affrogata (baked in two heart-shaped cake pans, one without cheese)
  • This Breakfast Casserole (added to the menu at the last minute, made from leftover bread from the Heart-Shaped Toasts and a can of Ro-Tel, drained, in place of the tomatoes and mushrooms)
  • Heart-Shaped Toasts (rye and white bread, cut with cookie cutters) with cream cheese
  • Bacon (made in the oven, much easier to make alot on a large scale)
  • Strawberries
  • Coffee
  • Mimosas
Donuts

Donuts from my most recent brunch–not for the faint of heart. Ha ha.

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