Brunch, anyone?

Wikipedia says: “Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, and regularly has some form of alcoholic drink served with it. It is usually served anytime before 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The word is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch.”

I’ll just say that a weekend brunch is one of my favorite things to do. It’s fun to mix it up a bit and get family and friends together to enjoy a meal during the day, rather than a later dinner.

This recipe is my version of a pretty basic breakfast casserole that my Mom used to make. It’s eggy, bready, cheesy and the best part is, you can pretty much throw as many add-ins as you want and it still turns out delicious!

Breakfast Casserole | Serves 6

Start to finish: about an hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf white bread, chopped
  • 9 large eggs
  • 6 Tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 3 Cups milk (I used 1%)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 package frozen Brown & Serve breakfast sausages
  • Additional add-ins (if desired): frozen chopped spinach (defrosted and squeezed dry), cooked sliced mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, or cooked chopped bacon or ham.
  • Serve with maple syrup or ketchup.

How to:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray.
  2. Mix up eggs, milk, salt, pepper and melted butter in a bowl.
  3. Place a layer of chopped bread into your baking dish. Top with meat and cheese, repeat until your ingredients are used up and your casserole is piled high.
  4. Gently pour egg mixture over bread/cheese/meat. Let sit 15 mins to soak in.
  5. Bake for 45-55 mins or until casserole is golden brown and puffed.
  6. Top with maple syrup or ketchup and serve.

Air Fryer Pork Loin

A quick and easy no-recipe recipe!
I used a little over a 1-pound pork loin that was pre-seasoned with black pepper and garlic. One thing I learned quickly was that pork loins shrink! So if you’re planning on feeding a larger family, I’d suggest putting two in the fryer (and add 2-3 minutes to the cooking time).

Another thing I learned is that this is the first pork loin I’ve made that didn’t dry out! I tend to overcook pork on purpose, and that tends to make it a lot less enjoyable, but this one was cooked through, moist and flavorful!

Before and After – the incredible shrinking pork loin!

Air Fryer Pork Loin
Serves 3-4
Start to finish: 25mins

• 1-1.5lb pork tenderloin (seasoned, or add your own seasonings)
• Cooking spray

1. Pre-heat air fryer to 400 degrees F for 5 minutes.
2. Open fryer and spray with cooking spray. Place pork loin into the fryer.
3. Air fry at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and take temperature (should be between 150-160) let rest for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Oven (or grill!) Potato Pouches 🥔

This is one of those throw-it-in-and-forget-about-it kind of sides! The end result is a creamy/crispy/flavorful side dish that goes with just about anything (we had ours with steaks). Feel free to experiment with the spices and pouch contents! Some ideas using the same process:

  • Sweet Potatoes with cinnamon & brown sugar
  • Yukon gold potatoes with parsley
  • Russets with bacon in the pouch!

Potato Pouches – serves 4

  • 4-5 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and dried
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves freshly crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each dried herbs – rosemary, thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • Aluminum foil
  • How to:
    1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
    2. Slice potatoes about 1/4″ thick.
    3. Line a sheet pan with a full sheet of foil, spray with cooking spray.
    4. Place potatoes and garlic in the center of the foil and sprinkle with herbs, salt and pepper.
    5. Cut up butter and place on top of potatoes.
    6. Tear a second piece of foil and place on top of potatoes. Bring up sides and cinch together to make a sealed pouch.
    7. Bake for 35 minutes (or 20-30 mins, flipping every 15 mins, on a hot grill).

    Mom’s Meatloaf

    Fun fact: when I was growing up, I really didn’t care for meatloaf. The texture was weird to me, like a spongy burger? I think I remember bites of crunchy onions and some “green stuff” in there (parsley, ugh), but as a kid, I forced it down (because that’s what we were supposed to do!) and didn’t really think much more about it.

    It seems though, as you get older and start cooking for yourself and others, old family recipes creep up on you and you put your own twist on them – maybe to make them more ‘likeable’ or how I would have wanted them to be at the time, so I guess we’ll just call this ‘My Version’ of my Mom’s Meatloaf!

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    What you’ll Need (Meatloaf serves 4-6):
    • 2lbs ground beef
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 carrot, finely grated – adds moisture to the meatloaf!
    • 3/4 Cup seasoned bread crumbs
    • 1 Tablespoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon parsley
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • 1 package Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

    Meatloaf Glaze:
    • 1/2 Cup ketchup
    • 1/4 Cup dijon or yellow mustard
    • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

    How To:
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

    1. In a large bowl, combine beef, spices, eggs, breadcrumbs and carrot. Get dirty and mix with your hands! I find it always comes out best this way. If mixture feels a bit dry, add milk a little at a time. Mixture should be dense but soft and shape-able.
    2. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray and form meat mixture into a loaf shape and place into baking dish.
    3. Mix meatloaf glaze in a small bowl with a whisk until combined, brush over top of meatloaf.
    4. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and lay crescent roll dough over top, overlapping slightly to cover the top of the loaf.
    5. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until crescents are browned. If you’re using a meat thermometer, beef should come to at least 160 degrees F. Slice and serve.

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    Burrito Casserole

    If you’re tired of taco Tuesdays and want to mix it up a bit, this Burrito Casserole gives you the same flavor – and it’s great for feeding a crowd (think that big Football Party…). What I love most is that you can sneak lots of veggies in for some extra nutrition and they’re disguised by that great taco flavor (the kids won’t suspect a thing!).

    Basically this recipe contains all the same elements of a burrito, without the mess of wrapping and rolling. I served mine with tortilla chips, sour cream and avocado and everyone loved it!


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    Burrito Casserole
    Serves 4-6
    Start to finish: about 30 mins

    What you’ll need:

    • 1lb ground turkey (or beef, or chicken)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 packet taco seasoning
    • 3/4 Cup water
    • 1 Can Rotel (8oz, or 1 Cup of your favorite pre-made salsa)
    • 1 Cup frozen corn
    • 1 Can (8oz) Black Beans
    • 4 Cups of cooked white or brown rice
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Sour Cream, Avocado, and Tortilla Chips for serving (optional, but YUMMY!)

    How To:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with nonstick spray.
    2. Prepare rice as directed on package. While rice is cooking, brown your ground meat with the chopped onion.
    3. Once meat is browned, add in: taco seasoning, water, Rotel, black beans, and corn.
    4. Stir all together until combined.
    5. Layer in baking dish: rice, then meat mixture, top with shredded cheese.
    6. Bake in oven for about 15 mins or until cheese is melted.
    7. Serve with sour cream, avocado, chips, etc.

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    Air Fried (Fresh) Chicken Breast Strips

    While I do love the occasional air fried batch of processed/frozen, super-breaded chicken strips and nuggets, the whole purpose of this air fryer craze is to try and cook at least a little bit healthier, right?

    I made some chicken strips for dinner last night that turned out really good! Super simple – just 3 ingredients – a quick prep, and they came out fully cooked and moist inside and really crispy outside. My breadcrumb of choice is always Panko (here’s a great article about what Panko is from Chowhound) when I want my coating to be crunchy. The little flakes crisp up so much more nicely than standard breadcrumbs, and it’s available everywhere now. I buy the seasoned store brand for 99 cents!

    Follow along and try these for yourself, they’re pretty hard to mess up! 🙂

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    Pro tip #1: I never flour my chicken when breading – just pull out of the package and dry with a paper towel – it helps the egg stick better! 
    Pro tip #2: Use tongs to do your dipping and breading process – keeps your fingers clean!

     

    Easy Air Fried Fresh Chicken Breast Strips
    Serves: 3-4 with sides
    (we had peas and rice!)
    Start to Finish: about 30 minutes

    Here’s what you’ll need, and note the cooking time can be altered depending on your preferred crispness and how many you’re making at once:

    • 1 – 1.5 lb of fresh chicken breast strips
    • 4 eggs
    • 2-1/2 cups Seasoned Panko breadcrumbs (I did not test with regular breadcrumbs, so if you do, let me know how they come out!)
    • Salt and pepper to taste; cooking spray

    How To:

    1. Preheat air fryer to 360 degrees F for 5 minutes.
    2. Remove chicken strips from package and pat dry; set up two bowls and one plate.
    3. In one bowl add 4 eggs and whisk to combine. In second bowl, add bread crumbs, salt and pepper.
    4. One by one, dip chicken strips into beaten egg and then drop into bread crumbs, pressing in as needed and shaking off any excess. Transfer to plate and pile up.
    5. Open air fryer and spray bottom of basket with nonstick cooking spray (I use Olive Oil Pam). Place chicken strips in but do not over crowd or layer on top of each other. I fit almost the whole 1.5lb pack in mine.
    6. Spray tops of chicken lightly with nonstick spray (this helps the browning!) and close air fryer.
    7. Cook at 360 degrees for 17 minutes. No need to shake or turn over chicken – just set it, make your sides, and enjoy! Increase time if you like it crispier.

    IMG_4748    IMG_4751
    I use the Cosori 5.8qt Air Fryer, and love it!

    Air Fried Frozen Chicken Strips

    One of our new air fryer favorites! While it’s just as easy to bake these, it’s really nice not heating up a whole oven, especially when we’ve had some really warm weather. What made this even easier as an air-frying newbie was that Perdue printed air fryer instructions right on the bag (THANK YOU)!

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    I use the Cosori 5.8qt Air Fryer, and I was able to fit the whole bag in the basket – perfect for a family meal! I only increased the time by 2-3 minutes to accommodate more chicken and they did not disappoint. The outside was super crispy and the inside was perfectly cooked. I would imagine you can use this guide for any brand of chicken strips, so if you test any out, let me know in the comments!

    Follow the how-to below:

    Air Fried Chicken Breast Strips

    • Preheat air fryer to 350 degrees F
    • Once preheated, place frozen chicken strips into basket in one layer (or overlap gently for a larger amount). No cooking spray needed!
    • Cook at 350 degrees F for 10-13 minutes.

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