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Loving GF Leftovers

Posted on January 10, 2015

My intentions were good … take it easy on the Christmas cookies, say no to too many cheesy rolls, and up the veggies. But over the past 6 weeks, I have strayed. And it was oh so good! Now, I am trying to be on my best behavior, but the primal urges of winter are very strong. Our minds encourage us to insulate, and the weather outside agrees.

Plus, I am a practical soul. If I have something yummy leftover, I will absolutely make sure that I find a way to use it. Even better if I can make something new out of an old favorite.

Enter Sweet Ali’s focaccia rolls! They are slightly seasoned, toothy like a bagel, and deliciously savory. And I had a stash of them in my freezer … what’s a cold and hungry Gluten Free girl to do?

Make a cheesy, herby, eggy breakfast casserole, of course! I copied this recipe knowing that one day in January, it would satisfy those primal urges to slow down and savor as well as my practical need to reinvent. I whipped this up on one of Chicago’s polar vortex days, and everyone I served it to was very, very happy.

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Sweet Ali’s Focaccia & Cream Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Sweet Ali’s Focaccia and Cream Cheese Breakfast Casserole

(Recipe modified from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays, New Year’s Day Brunch Bagel and Cream Cheese Baked French Toast.)

6 Sweet Ali’s focaccia rolls (If frozen, defrost in the microwave for about 20 seconds per roll)

butter, for greasing the casserole dish

1 8-ounce package cream cheese

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

8 eggs

2 cups whole milk

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus more for serving

½ teaspoon red pepper

½ teaspoon salt

Cut or tear the focaccia into bite-sized chunks and place them in a large buttered casserole dish. Cut the cream cheese into chunks and drop over the top of the focaccia. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese.

Combine the eggs, milk, cream, chives, red pepper and salt in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is well combined. Pour it all over the top of the casserole. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (Note: I was impatient and didn’t wait. I baked it right away.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the casserole covered for 45 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Cool 15 minutes. Sprinkle chives over casserole before serving.

Yum … I do love leftovers! The casserole is very much like a savory bread pudding … the focaccia soaks up the egg mixture beautifully, and the two cheeses make it flavorful and satisfying. I see this recipe as being very versatile … add sausage, use less focaccia or add more egg. And really, isn’t a breakfast casserole all about blending flavors and feeding people’s hearts and souls?

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