Happy New Year! It's the beginning of a new year and that means eating a little healthier. I love tater tots so when I found these veggie tots recently, I had to try them. I have been making so many things with them. Here is one of our favorites, my Veggie Tot Brunch Bake. The best part? These veggie tots have a full serving of vegetables in each serving, a great way to get your kids to each their veggies with breakfast (and they will think they are eating tater tots). A win win for everyone!
My specialty is showing a recipe done a few ways. If I am having company over for the weekend or during the holidays, I will make this casserole a bit richer and more decadent. But if I am making it for an everyday breakfast bite, I will do the healthier version. I think about food, like I think about travel. I'm always planning my next getaway, just like I'm always planning my next food splurge. When I am at home and on a normal routine, I try to eat clean and healthy. But when it's the holidays or I'm on vacation, I will splurge on my food choices. My next food splurges will happen in February. I will splurge for the big game, on Valentine's Day and again for the SOBEWFF (South Beach Wine and Food Fest). When are your next food splurges and what food are you looking forward to eating? I would love to hear!
Below, I have included both recipes. One for your everyday egg bake and another for a weekend brunch splurge. Enjoy!
Veggie Tot Brunch Bake
2 (16 ounce) bags Green Giant veggie tots (cauliflower or broccoli)
1 cup cooked, diced fresh ham
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 roma tomato, diced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
Fresh basil and chives
Drizzle with harissa or your favorite hot sauce - recipe below
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook veggie tots according to package and set aside. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
In a greased 9x13 casserole dish, add the cooked veggie tots and then add the diced ham.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Pour over the tots and then add the cheese.
Bake breakfast casserole at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until eggs are cooked. Top with diced tomatoes and avocados, then add fresh basil and chives to finish.
Smoked Paprika & Garlic Brioche Brunch Bake
3 cups brioche bread (or buns), cubed
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup sage sausage, cooked and drained
2 cups half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups freshly grated cheese (use your family's favorite- mine is a blend of asiago, fontina, parmesan and provolone)
Diced tomatoes and avocados, to garnish - add a dollop of sour cream for an extra splurge ;)
Fresh basil leaves or even some fried sage leaves
Drizzle with your favorite hot sauce (mine is harissa)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine bread, oil, smoked paprika, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Add to a lined baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes, or until crispy. (Note - brioche is very rich and has a higher butter content than regular french bread so it needs to bake a little longer to make crispy croutons. If using a french bread, you can reduce the heat and time.) Remove from oven, then reduce heat to 350.
In a greased 9x13 dish, add the croutons to the bottom. Next add the sausage.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs, half and half and salt together. Fold in cheese, then pour egg mixture over the croutons.
Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until eggs are cooked. Garnish with tomatoes, avocados and basil.
I like to drizzle my eggs with harissa, check out my recipe below. I showed the WZZM TV13 viewers how to make this in the Fall of 2014 for a live, on-air segment with Lauren Stanton. Harissa is a North African garlicky chile paste. Harissa adds tons of flavor to all of your favorite dishes, without the extra calories. This sauce can been used alongside of crudités as well as adding it to meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, pasta and eggs. It is also a great addition to hummus and aioli.
2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
4 ounces dried chili peppers, stemmed and seeded (I like to use ancho and guajillo for a mild to medium heat, but if you prefer it spicy you can add chile de arbol to them as well. Chipotle peppers will add extra heat along with a smoky flavor.)
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
1 ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1 ½ teaspoons salt
4 garlic cloves
¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for sealing jar at the end
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast red peppers in oven, skin side up, for 30 minutes. Let cool then remove the outer skin.
Place dried peppers in a bowl and add hot water to rehydrate for 30 minutes. Then drain the peppers and set aside.
Add coriander, caraway, cumin and celery seeds to a small skillet and toast seeds for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add toasted seeds to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and finely grind.
In a food processor, add all the peppers and remaining ingredients and blend well to form a paste scraping down the sides as necessary. Transfer to an airtight container and add the remaining oil on top and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
Note: Dried chili peppers should be handled with care to avoid burning hands or fingers. Use gloves when handling peppers. Always wash hands after handling chili peppers.