Italian Garden Breakfast Casserole

Italian Garden Casserole (1)

It was a cold Sunday morning in January.  We didn’t have any games. We went to mass the night before, and we were in the mood for a big breakfast, a big Italian Garden Breakfast Casserole. I checked the refrigerator.  I had a ton of eggs and some bulk Italian sausage. Next I found some green and red peppers. I always have cheese in the house…always!  A bag of hash browns were in the freezer so it was then, the making of the Italian Garden Breakfast Casserole came to fruition.

Growing up, I never cared much for breakfast unless it was pancakes, french toast, or cereal.  Of course, I loved the sweeter side of breakfast as a kid.  I didn’t eat eggs…any kind of eggs. My Dad loved eggs…any kind.  He liked them prepared any way.  In fact, everyone in my house liked eggs, but me. Finally in my twenties, I slowly started to try some egg casseroles and omelets. I figured the cheese, veges, and meat must help with the taste. Well, I was right. I liked it. I married my husband, who, by the way, loves eggs…any kind, so I started to cook them.  I still do not eat eggs over easy, scrambled, or poached.  But, I have definitely grown quite fond of omelets and casseroles. On this particular weekend, I decided to make a casserole without the bread and use the hash browns as a base.  It really worked out well.  The Italian Garden Breakfast Casserole was a huge hit.  Plus it can be a Make Ahead Italian Garden Breakfast Casserole. Check it out!

Italian Garden Breakfast Casserole

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of bulk Italian Sausage
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped Onion
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 3-4 cups of Frozen Shredded Hash Browns (country style)
  • 3 cups of Shredded Cheese (I use the Kirkland Costco Mexican blend)
  • 1 cup of diced Green Pepper
  • 1 cup of diced Red Pepper
  • 1/2 cup of diced Green Onions (from about 6-8)
  • 12 Eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup of Nonfat Milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of Dried Parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • Add Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper
  • Bacon Bits (Kirkland Costco brand – best bacon bits around)

Directions:

  1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage, onion, and garlic.  Stir the mixture to break up the sausage into smaller pieces.  Cook until sausage is no longer pink about 10-12 minutes. Drain any liquid.
  2. Coat a 9×13 glass pan with cooking spray. Layer potatoes (unthawed), sausage mixture, 1 1/2 cups of cheese, green/red peppers, and green onions.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture evenly over casserole.  Season with pepper and crushed red pepper if you like. Sprinkle the top with some of Costco’s bacon bits. If you are planning to make this in the morning, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.
  4. Ready to bake casserole immediately or in the morning, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Bake casserole for 70-80 minutes or until egg mixture is set in the middle and the edges are lightly golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

Asparagus wrapped Prosciutto

My newest addiction is grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.  It’s the perfect side dish, snack, and appetizer.  I usually make the asparagus wrapped in prosciutto on the grill stove top, but of course you can do these asparagus wrapped in prosciutto right on the grill outside.  I add a little brown sugar for that sweet and salty taste.  They can be wrapped individually or in pairs as I did this time.  Sometimes it all depends on the size. The thicker asparagus work better wrapped as individuals while the smaller ones are better wrapped in bundles of two, three, or four.

Going to a party, bring these grilled asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and you will be the hit at the party! They are so darn good and so easy to make! Check it out!

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 16-20 Asparagus Spears (1/2 to 3/4 thick) with ends trimmed – I like Costco’s asparagus
  • 16-20 Slices of thin Prosciutto – I like Costco’s
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Trim off the ends of the asparagus spears, wash thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Wrap asparagus with thin prosciutto either as doubles or singles depending on the size of your asparagus. Place on a cookie sheet.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, add the olive oil, brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste.  Mix together.
  4. Brush the olive oil/brown sugar mixture over both sides of the asparagus spears.  Add more salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Over medium/high heat add the asparagus bundles to the stove top grill.  Flip the asparagus at least once and cook until prosciutto is crisp and asparagus is tender.  Be careful not to over cook the asparagus.

Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Italiano

Spaghetti Squash ItalianoSpaghetti squash isn’t that common dish made in most households.  In fact, I never had it growing up.  I came from that meat and potatoes kind of family with all the common vegetable sides.

Plus, let’s admit it, big squash is a bit intimidating.  It’s heavy, and hard to cut.  Can I please have a saw to cut this baby? Not to mention, you don’t ever want to drop it on your foot.  But in all honesty, spaghetti squash is really pretty easy to make.

In my late 20’s, my husband came home with a recipe for spaghetti squash from a coworker.  That’s when we first tried spaghetti squash and loved it.  Since then we’ve been making it, but we’ve tweaked it a bit to our liking and we call it Spaghetti Squash Italiano or Dad’s “famous” Spaghetti Squash Italiano…as he likes to call everything!

It’s light so it can be an awesome side dish, or it can be eaten as a meal. For those non carb folks out there, this is a great dish for you.  Vegetarians will love this too.  We added all the awesome Italian spices and cheeses hence the name Spaghetti Squash Italiano. There are so many other awesome recipes out there for spaghetti squash, but Spaghetti Squash Italiano is a must try. Check it out!

Spaghetti Squash Italiano

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 4 Roma Tomatoes chopped in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 4-5 cloves of fresh Garlic; minced
  • 1/4 cup of Parsley
  • 1/4 cup of Basil
  • 1/2 Tablespoon of Rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup of Fresh Parmesan/Asiago cheese mix

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise.  Scoop out seeds.  Place the cavity side down in baking pan filled with a little water. Bake 20-30 minutes checking that the water hasn’t evaporated.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and gather the other ingredients.  Combine the chopped tomatoes, garlic, and other seasonings.  Let stand at room temperature to marry the flavor.
  3. When squash is done, flip over in pan.  Fill each cavity with tomato mixture.  Top with cheese mix. Place back in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.  Remove and scoop mixture into a large serving dish.  Use a fork to fluff squash into spaghetti strands.  A small amount of olive oil can be added but it is optional.

**Check squash to be sure it is al dente.  Don’t over cook.

Enjoy!

Italian Sausage Spinach Soup

 

 

Italian Sausage Spinach Soup

Soup is the perfect comfort food, especially on cold winter days.  It’s also the perfect meal for a busy family that doesn’t have time to sit down for a meal.  Soup is always our “go to” meal when we have a night packed full of practices or meetings which happens a lot.  It was one of those kind of nights.  Time to make some Italian Sausage Spinach Soup, leave it on the stove, and eat at your convenience.

Italian sausage is used in this house at least once a week. I love Italian sausage!  It probably has something to do with my Italian heritage, but it also adds so much flavor.  You can taste the extra bold flavors and spice of the sausage in this awesome Italian Sausage Spinach Soup.  This soup is also very versatile. If you are looking for a low carb option, then leave the pasta on the side.  My husband eats the Italian Sausage Spinach soup with out the pasta. The kids enjoy it with the pasta so everyone is happy. Of course, we double the recipe because we like left overs. Italian Sausage Spinach Soup is a favorite in this house.  Check it out!

Ingredients:

  • 16 Ounces of Bulk Italian Sausage
  • 4 Cups of Chicken broth
  • 2 14 1/2 Ounce cans of Diced Tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
  • 2 Cups thinly sliced celery hearts with leaves
  • 1 Cup uncooked Small Shell Pasta
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons of Italian Seasonings
  • 4 Cups of bagged Spinach Leaves
  • 4 Tablespoons freshly Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1.  Heat a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the sausage to the pan and cook.  Stir the sausage, breaking it up to crumble for approximately 10 minutes, or until browned. Drain, and return to the pot.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, celery, pasta, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until pasta is done.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in spinach until wilted. Sprinkle each serving with fresh grated parmesan cheese.  Serve with hot Italian bread!

Optional Low Carb – If you want to add the pasta separately, prepare pasta according to package directions.  Do not add pasta as indicated in step 2.  Leave the pasta on the side.  It can be added individually to each serving.  Another note, we used a larger shell pasta because that is what we had at home.  Remember, you can get a little creative and adjust accordingly to what you might have in your kitchen.

Enjoy!

Giovanni’s on the Hill

 

Giovanni's

A high-end Italian dining experience is not easy to find anymore, not just in St. Louis but everywhere.  I still like to get dressed up and enjoy impeccable food and service for that special occasion.  My husband and I did just that for our sweet sixteen celebration of our wedding anniversary on April 17th, 2014.  We picked Giovanni’s on the Hill in St. Louis, MO.  It wasn’t our first visit to this restaurant, but it had been a while.  Once again, it did not disappoint. We enjoyed everything from the amazing food…to the old Italian charm and decor, and the professionally dressed wait staff.

My husband ordered the Veal Chop in a black truffle sauce and loved every bite.  I like to order veal out (since I don’t cook it at home) so I pondered between the Veal Saltimbocca Alla Giovanni’s and the Veal of the day which was Italian style. Our waiter suggested he would prepare two Veal Saltimbocca style and the other one Italian so I could enjoy both of them.  Now, that’s what I call service!  I must admit that my favorite still remains to be the Veal Saltimbocca Alla Giovanni’s, but the Veal of the day was very good too.

It’s such a treat, in this day and age, to visit a higher end restaurant where you can get dressed up (not in your jeans) and be treated like kings and queens for a few hours.  We enjoyed before dinner drinks, a four course meal (nice size portions), a lovely cabernet, (Stag’s Leap, suggested by the maitre d’) and a surprise desert of Tiramisu.

Giovanni’s recently celebrated 40 years in business.  It’s obvious they are doing something right because they’ve welcomed many celebrities from all over the world and have consistently been rated as one of the finest Italian restaurants since 1975. For all you locals out there, you must pay them a visit if you haven’t already.  For those visiting St. Louis looking for a fine dining experience, look no further than Giovanni’s on the Hill. It’s a gem of a restaurant right here in the Midwest.

Giovanni’s on the Hill