Holiday Traditions: Sausage Breakfast Casserole

After Christmas last year, while we were driving to Nashville to catch a flight back to New York, I commented to Scott that we had been in Tennessee so long, I was starting to think of biscuits as a vegetable.

That is because when the Sewell's get together, breakfast is definitely the main meal of the day!  Each morning, we all gather around the table about 9 or 9:30.  After we eat, we stay around that table, talking and laughing until well after noon.  That conversation is only interrupted by kids going outside to play, or someone periodically heading back to the kitchen to pour another cup of coffee.

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The standard menu consists of "breakfast casserole," sliced fruits, biscuits, and coffee.  And it is perfect.

Breakfast casserole is a gooey, bubbly pan of sausage, eggs, and Velveeta - with crispy bread crumbs or croutons on top.  Basically, all of your major food groups.  With 14 people in the family, including four hungry nephews, my lovely mother-in-law seems to magically pull pan after pan of these casseroles out of the oven like clowns piling out of a clown car. 

Laurel and Holly

Because of these memorable breakfasts, I was super-excited to partner with Smithfield this holiday season to showcase their fresh breakfast sausages and spiral-sliced hams.  Enjoy them on their own, or cook them into a recipe like this cornbread stuffing with ham, or Laurel Sewell's breakfast sausage casserole!

Ingredients

Casserole:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 & 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup Velveeta cheese, grated (bonus culinary points if you, like my mother-in-law, can actually grate Velveeta.  I have to cut it into chunks).
  • 1 pound roll sausage
  • 1 dozen eggs

Topping:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 & 1/4 cups bread crumbs

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt two tablespoons butter over low heat.  Blend in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Gradually add milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and cheese, stirring until smooth.  Set cheese sauce aside.
  5. Cook sausage and drain well.  Set aside.
  6. Scramble eggs over low heat until softly set. 
  7. Combine cheese sauce, cooked eggs, and cooked sausage, and place in greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
  8. Combine melted butter and bread crumbs.  Top casserole with crumb mixture and sprinkle with paprika.
  9. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes.

Of course, leftover ham or sausage from any meal also tastes great on a biscuit.

What are your favorite holiday meal traditions?

On-the-Air: "Good Day Chicago"

They don't call Chicago the Windy City for nothing!  It's always fun to do segments outside, although heavy blocks and duct tape go a long way toward keeping table coverings and products secured on the table on a windy day.

I had a great time this morning talking back-to-school on "Good Day Chicago," doing our segment live on their Michigan Avenue plaza.  Check out this link or click on the image below to see the full segment!

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It was also great to be back at the close of the show with four of the anchors.

I did this segment on behalf of several companies.  Here is where you can find the items discussed!

Snow Day, New York City-Style

As this weekend's blizzard started piling up more than twice the predicted amount (Central Park ended up with 26.8 inches), a rare calm settled across the city.

We don't have a sidewalk to shovel or a car to dig out, so a snow day is the perfect excuse to do anything - or nothing at all.

As the snow fell/blew around on Saturday morning, we put on our snow boots and trekked a few blocks to one of our favorite diners, Midnight Express.  We go there often enough that the servers know our coffee order (regular for Scott, decaf for me), and settled in to enjoy breakfast and watch the snowfall - and periodic white-out.

Eager to tick an Oscar movie off our must-see list, we then headed to one of the cinemas within two blocks of our apartment.  (Others had the same idea, with two dozen people huddled under the awning waiting for the box office to open.)

We chose "Spotlight" - a great film with an even better ensemble cast (I am especially partial to movies that portray journalists as heroes).

Mid-afternoon, the mood struck to bake.  After finding a box of yellow cake mix in the cupboard, I whipped up a yellow butter cake with homemade cream cheese frosting made with Philly Cream Cheese - reminiscent of our wedding cake from eight and a half years ago.

We spent the rest of the day catching up on DVR'd shows, doing a bit of work in our office and getting ready for my Valentine gift TV tour that kicks off on Wednesday.

As the snow started to wind down late Saturday night, Scott - who keeps a much firmer grip on his iPhone than I do - reached out our 15th floor window to capture our view.