I've had a lot of breakfast casseroles. I'm not sure how it is in other parts of the country, but in the south I feel like just about everyone I know has their own version of a breakfast casserole. In my family we've always used my grandmother's. Her breakfast casserole has been on the table for Christmas brunch since before I was born. It's a good, no gimmicks breakfast casserole. My family doesn't like it when people throw onions or peppers in, that ruins a perfectly good casserole (though I wouldn't object to mushrooms). My grandmother does it just right. I tell you this because I want you to realize that saying a recipe is better than my grandmother's is going against my entire upbringing. I blame Paula Dean.

This casserole has potatoes in it, something not in my grandmother's, and I think those really add to the overall makeup of it. It's incredibly cheesy and rich, and absolutely amazing. Will I try to get my grandmother to start serving this? Oh goodness no. Her recipe will be in my recipe book for the rest of my life..but it will be right beside this one, and this is the one that I will be using.

As a side note, Paula Dean's cookbook The Southern Cooking Bible is fantastic. I've linked to it on Amazon, so if you're feeling in the mood to buy a new cookbook today this is a great choice!

Sunday Morning Breakfast Casserole
Recipe from Paula Dean's The Southern Cooking Bible


6 slices day-old white bread (french bread works best)*
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced cooked, unpeeled red potatoes
1 1/2 cups mixed shredded Cheddar & Monterey Jack cheese
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper


1. Grease a 2.5-3 quart baking dish (attractive enough to bring to the table) with butter, oil, or cooking spray. Cube the bread and place in the dish in a single even layer.
2. In a large skillet, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon, until it's almost cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain off the fat. Layer the sausage over the bread, and top with potatoes. Sprinkle the cheese on top.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard powder, salt, and black pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and potatoes in the casserole. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
4. When ready to cook the casserole, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the casserole until set and golden about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

*Recipe as written calls for two slices of bread. I adjusted this based on reader comments. If you are using big slices of thick bread you can go down from six. I would recommend using a sturdy, day-old white bread for best results. Regular sandwich bread won't give the same crunch of the crust, and it is more likely to get mushy.

I'm coming to terms with the fact that kneading is just not my thing. I think I get the hang out if it, and the next thing you know my hands (and entire kitchen for that matter) are covered in sticky dough and flour. So, as you can imagine, it frustrates me that most of the best foods in life require this skill. I have yet to figure out the extent to which a dough hook can work for kneading. Anyone know?

But oh...this bread. It looked so incredible I had to give it a try. After making this four times I finally got the hang of kneading. The dough failed before I even got to roll it out the first time, the next two I finished but weren't quite perfect, and the last one was great. This recipe only has one minute of kneading, so I realize a 25 percent success rate is somewhat pathetic. Oh well. None of mine rose as much as the bread on 'Top with Cinnamon' where I got the recipe from, but it's so darn amazing I don't even mind. First of all, pull apart bread is fun. Everyone loves fun food. Secondly, every piece is like the inside of a cinnamon roll. Sometimes I feel like the outside of cinnamon rolls are wasted bites. I just want the inside, and I'm trying to quickly get the other part over with. Other examples of this: pecan pinwheels, grilled cheese sandwiches, pop tarts. It's amazing the extent to which I analyze food.

It seems like there are many steps to this recipe, and don't get me wrong, there are. However, if you aren't a terrible kneader like myself, this recipe is relatively simple and made from things you probably already have on hand. By the third loaf I felt like a pro! Enjoy!

Cinnamon Roll Pull Apart Bread
Recipe from Top With Cinnamon
and Inspired by Joy the Baker's Cinnamon-Sugar Pull apart bread

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp dried active yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup butter, melted

For the Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
hot water

**I found the pictures of the process extremely helpful, but unfortunately I made this at night all three times, so phone pictures will have to do for now!

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, place the cornstarch, sugar, yeast, salt and 2 cups of flour.

Heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan until the butter is melted. Remove from the heat and add the water. Let this cool for about a minute, then add the vanilla, and pour all the liquid into the bowl with the flour. Stir this all together until all the dry ingredients are moistened.

Start the mixer on a low speed as you add the eggs one at a time until they're just incorporated. Stop the mixer and add 1/2 cup more flour to the bowl. Mix again at low speed for about half a minute. Add 2 more tbsp of flour and mix in on medium speed until you get a smooth, slightly sticky dough (about 45 seconds).

On a work surface sprinkled with 2 tbsp of flour, knead the dough until it's not sticky (about 1 minute). Place the dough in a large, oiled bowl and cover it with cling film. Leave the dough to rise in a warm place until it's doubled in size which should take about an hour.

While the dough rises, make the filling by combining the dark brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Once the dough is ready, lightly flour your work surface and gently tip the dough onto it, sprinkling a little more flour on top of the dough. Roll the dough out into roughly a 40 x 40 cm square, then brush about 2/3 of the butter over the entire surface of the dough.

Sprinkle 3/4 of the filling mixture evenly on top of the butter on the dough, then roll the dough tightly into a log.

Place the log horizontally on your work surface. Take a piece of thread and place it vertically on your work surface. With the thread still vertical, place one end of the log on top of the middle of the thread. Move the thread to the left or right, so it is still under the dough, and is 1 cm in from the end of the log. Take the ends of the thread and hold them above the log. Cross them over each other once and pull them away from each other until the thread has cut through the dough completely.
**This description confused me. You are basically tying a knot over the dough and pulling it tight until it cuts through. Then you tie another knot...and another. Repeat until you've cut all the dough into 1 cm thick slices.


On a piece of baking paper, use a rolling pin to flatten each slice to 3-4 mm thick *** I used the lazy method which I like to call steam rolling. Flattened them all at once! Brush the top of each flattened slice with a little of the remaining melted butter, ans sprinkle on about 3/4 tsp of filling mixture. Place them on top of each other so you have 4-5 stacks each containing about 5 slices.

Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan and preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place your stacks of dough into the greased loaf pan, cover loosely with clingfilm, and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes (I preheat the oven for a few minutes, turn it off, and then put the bowl in there with the door cracked..pictures show my before and after).

Bake the bread for 25-35 minutes when it should be golden brown on top. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Meanwhile make the glaze by stirring the vanilla then the hot water, a little at a time into the powdered sugar in a small bowl until you get a slightly runny icing.

Run a butter knife around the edge of the pan and gently tip the loaf out onto the wire rack. Put the bread the right way round again and then brush with the glaze.

3-Ingredient Crockpot Chicken Tacos

I'll keep this short and sweet: this is one of my all time favorite recipes. If there is one crockpot recipe you need in your repertoire, this is it. But truthfully, after making it once you won't even need the recipe because it's just so darn easy.

Three ingredients and almost zero work. The result is a juicy, flavorful shredded chicken that makes some killer tacos. I like to load up my tacos, so they look a bit messy in the pictures. They were like that in real life, too. Messy and delicious. I've been told before I have a knack for ordering the messiest foods on any menu. Why? Because the messiest foods are the best foods. It's a fact.

You can easily put together a great tortilla soup with the leftovers from the chicken. I've included the recipe at the bottom of this post. If you read through the comments you'll also see a number of great reader suggestions for ways to adapt the recipe. My favorite twist is to add a block of cream cheese about 15 minutes before the chicken is served. I didn't think this recipe could get any better until I made them and tried this out. Amazing. I've also seen that adding a can of cream of mushroom soup when you throw in the ingredients is delicious. I'll be trying that next time!

**As a side note, I am SO grateful to everyone who has made this recipe and/or commented on the post. I may not be able to respond to all of the comments, but I read every one, and I absolutely love them! I can't tell you how happy it makes me that people are enjoying the recipe so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Crockpot Chicken Tacos
Recipe from Tasty Kitchen

Serves: ~12 people

1 1oz Envelope Taco Seasoning*
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, thawed
1 16oz jar Salsa*

Dump all ingredients into a crockpot and give it a little stir to blend the seasoning with the salsa. You do not need to add any water to the taco seasoning. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. When done, the chicken should shred easily when stirred with a fork.

For tacos, serve the chicken with soft flour tortillas, guacamole, lettuce, shredded cheese and/or sour cream. This is very versatile and can be used for enchiladas, nachos, tostadas, quesadillas, etc. Any leftover chicken can then be used for tortilla soup (make it the next day or freeze the chicken to use at a later time).

When I don't want quite as much food I cut the recipe in half. You don't have to get too exact about the measurements. I use three or four chicken breasts--whatever comes in the smaller package at the grocery store--and use between half and 3/4 of the amount of salsa and taco seasoning called for in the full recipe. The only result of using too much salsa for the amount of chicken you use is that it will have more liquid when it's done. The flavor will be the same. Pour out a little of the liquid when the chicken is cooked and you're good to go!

*I use Old El Paso Reduced Sodium for the seasoning. For the salsa I switch between brands, but Newman's Own and Pace are my favorites. Trader Joe's Mango Salsa and other kinds with mango and peach flavors are delicious in this recipe as well.  If you want to avoid using processed ingredients you can make this recipe using homemade salsa and homemade taco seasoning and achieve the same results with the added bonus of skipping out on the preservatives and such in pre-packaged ingredients.

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

Here is the tortilla soup recipe from one of the readers. Thanks, Cissy!

2 cups of the shredded chicken
One 32oz box of chicken broth
One can corn(drain)
2 handfuls chopped cilantro
One squeezed lime
One can diced tomatoes (reg size)
One can diced tomatoes w/ chiles (if you can't find the can get another can of diced tomatoes and a can of diced chiles)
1/2 large yellow onion
One can black beans
2-3 table spoons of tomato paste
2 teaspoons of cumin
2 teaspoons of chile powder
2 teaspoons of garlic powder

Dump everything in a pot and simmer for ~30 minutes. Garnish with cheese and crispy tortilla strips!

I'd usually say I don't like shortbread. In fact, under most circumstances I really, truly do not like it. I like warm, gooey cookies. Shortbread is crumbly and dry. I feel the same way about biscotti. Why on earth would you want something that looked like a delicious breadstick, but in reality is hard as a rock? Maybe my taste just isn't refined enough to drink coffee and eat biscotti. Who knows. However, this is the most gawked recipe of all time on FoodGawker, and surely the 200,000+ people who have looked at the post weren't completely out of their minds. 

Though these are unmistakably shortbread, each bite seems to melt in your mouth (versus crumbling down your shirt when you take a bite). I guess maybe the shortbread I've ruled out for so long was not based off of recipes like this. I also love that these are cut into squares. I chose not to measure out the squares or cut them all that carefully, but next time I make these I think I will spend the extra 2 minutes doing that so that I can make them more uniform. A slight confession, I actually accidentally made these last night with only one stick of butter and I still liked the taste. I had one with my breakfast this morning. If cookies can still be good with an entire stick of butter missing, that says something. Enjoy!

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread
from Use Real Butter

1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 tbsp boiling water
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped OR 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)

Dissolve espresso powder in boiling water. Set aside to cool to tepid. Beat butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in vanilla and espresso, then reduce mixer speed to low and add flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate or chips with a sturdy rubber spatula. Using the spatula, transfer dough to a gallon-size zip-loc bag. Put bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet (okay, I didn’t poke the cookies and they’re fine). Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point (I didn’t do that either – I bake one sheet at a time). The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving. Makes about 3 dozen.

I had no doubt this recipe would be delicious. Just look at the ingredients: crescents, cream cheese, sugar and cinnamon. Crescent rolls are one of those mysteriously amazing and versatile foods. Pillsbury seems to have mastered canned dough that works for everything from breakfast food to dessert. No complaints here. The other wonderful thing about this recipe is that it is ridiculously easy. You might think you're a terrible baker, but I promise you can pull these off like a pro.

These remind me of a cream cheese pastry that you might find at a bakery (sorry for ruining your New Year's resolutions). I always try to get to the cream cheese pastries in a breakfast buffet before they're all gone and you're only left with the questionable fruit ones. With these you have a whole pan of delicious cream cheese pastry! Problem solving 101. We ate them for breakfast, snack and dessert. I don't really think they taste all that much like a dessert, but my mom seems to think otherwise (we had them with ice cream, and I didn't object). When I lived in France for a summer I remember going and getting pastries at 4am after the clubs closed. Who doesn't love a good croissant at 4am? Who doesn't love sopapilla cheesecake with ice cream for dessert? Sometimes you have to just go with things like that.


Sopapilla Cheesecake
Recipe from My Yellow Umbrella

-2 cans pillsbury butter crescent rolls (buy the seamless version if you can find them!)
-2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
-1 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/4 cup butter (melted)
-Cinnamon and sugar (I used about 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tbs cinnamon)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If you are using a glass pan, adjust the temperature to 325 degrees. Unroll and spread one can of crescent rolls on bottom of ungreased 9x13 inch pan.  If you aren't using the seamless crescents, be sure to smooth out the seams before adding the filling. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Spread mixture over crescent rolls. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture, being sure to press together any seams. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

**see comments for suggestions on other delicious variations of the recipe!

It's time to get serious here. This coconut cake is the BEST coconut cake that there is.

You may say, "Well it's not a real coconut cake recipe because it uses boxed cake mix." To that I respond: any cake that takes 48+ hours to make from beginning to end is homemade to me!

You also may think, "No thanks, coconut isn't for me." That means you fall into the category of the rest of my family. I made a coconut cake that I posted on here one other time and declared it amazing or something of the sort. Now I feel I just might as well delete that post. This is the one and only coconut cake recipe you will ever need. I have made it twice and served it to over 30 different people without having one person who didn't end up gushing over it.

I wouldn't have found the recipe if it weren't for my granddad. He likes to find recipes he thinks would be good and mark them for me. I must admit that I usually don't get around to them, especially when they are various sorts of fruitcakes. Sorry, granddad. But this one I thought I would give a try. It took me about two months to get around to it, but I made it a month or so ago to give my grandparents a little pick-me-up during a rough week for them. He ate two slices in the hour I visited. I think it made his month. Just one of the countless reasons baking is wonderful.

One more anecdote before I leave you to this amazing cake. My great aunt is 80+ years old. I made this cake for Christmas dessert as well, and after cleaning her plate she told me how her mom used to make coconut cake every Christmas for their family. Then she went on to say that, as good as that cake always was, she can't remember ever having a coconut cake that was this good.


Coconut Cake
Recipe from Our State magazine

2 (8-ounce) cartons sour cream
2 cups sugar
1 (6-ounce) package frozen coconut, thawed

Mix above ingredients. Cover, and store in refrigerator for 24 hours

Prepare 2 layers using Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mix. When cool, divide the layers, making 4 layers. Stack, spreading filling on top of each later, including the top layer.

1 pint heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 (6-ounce) package frozen coconut, thawed

In a small bowl (preferably a glass bowl that has been slightly chilled), beat the cream until it begins to thicken. Add confectioner's sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

Frost sides and top with sweetened whipped cream. You may have extra, but there are a worse things than having extra whipped cream around the house. Sprinkle cake with coconut. Cover finished cake with foil, and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving. The filling will be liquidy, but that's ok. Once the cake has set in the fridge the filling will seep into the cake creating an incredibly moist yellow cake.