Berry French Toast Bake

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Well, hello! It’s been approximately eight million years since I posted a recipe. This possibly has to do with the insanity of having four children and the added bonus that right before I had Hannah in October, my real camera decided to stop working.

(I’m pretty sure it has sand in the lens and won’t retract … but it would probably cost more to fix than to replace it. Argh.)

My husband keeps telling me my iPhone will take pictures that are just as good. I don’t really think so, but they’re good enough for me, for now.

This is one of the recipes I’ve probably made the most over the last six or seven years. It’s my go-to when I want to take a meal to someone; I find that when there’s a meal train, people usually bring chicken casseroles or pasta. And that is fine and AWESOME, but I think breakfast for dinner mixes it up a little.

This Berry French Toast recipe comes from Cooking During Stolen Moments, which was one of my VERY favorite food blogs ever. Almost everything I ever made from there was a hit. Unfortunately, the site is not accessible any more. I am so glad I had this one written down in my recipe book so I didn’t lose the recipe! I’ve only adapted it slightly – mostly I just skimp on the berries because I like a lot of chewy, eggy bread. It’s delicious with fresh berries of any kind, but you could also use frozen ones – or peaches!

Serve with a side of bacon or sausage for a delicious meal any time of day.

Berry French Toast Bake

Yield: about 8 servings

Berry French Toast Bake

Delicious berry-enhanced French toast casserole is taken over the top with a brown sugar drizzle.


  • 1 loaf French or Italian bread
  • 2 to 3 c. berries
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 c. light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon


Start with day-old bread, or cut bread into large cubes a few hours before you want to start making this and let them sit out to get slightly stale. Slice strawberries into quarters. Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries can be left whole.

Place a layer of bread cubes in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add most of the berries, reserving about 1/2 cup. Top with the rest of the bread cubes.

Whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, and almond extract. Pour evenly over the bread. Top with remaining berries, then dot with cream cheese pieces. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375F. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and whisk together until the sugar begins to melt and the mixture is smooth, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon. Drizzle sugar topping over the casserole. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, covered, until egg is set.

Let sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving.


To make dairy-free, use almond milk instead of dairy milk and leave out the cream cheese. If you are taking to a new mom who is breastfeeding, you might ask if she is avoiding dairy. (I usually am.)

What’s your favorite breakfast for dinner?


Recipe Redux: Cheesy Black Beans and Brown Rice

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Black Beans and Brown Rice

Many, many years ago, I shared a favorite recipe from Kelly Minter’s No Other Gods Bible study, which I worked on when I was at LifeWay. It was high time to update this recipe with my own proportions and instructions!

We decided this summer to eat beans and rice once a week. My kids are so spoiled when it comes to food, given that we eat in the dining hall nine months of the year. They can pick and choose whatever they want, and definitely have never considered we or other people might not be able to afford meat or fresh ingredients. So this “beans and rice plan” has been a way to talk to them about people in other countries and how they eat. Not to mention it doesn’t hurt for us to eat meatless and save a few dollars, too. Mr. V and I love beans and rice and hope our kids can learn to love them.

(Verdict from week 1: David ate rice. Joshua ate one bite of avocado. Libbie found she could eat beans with a lot of rice and cheese, although she thought the texture was strange. I am proud of her for trying something new.)

Kelly’s original recipe calls for 4 whole cups of cheese on top of the beans. I used about 2 1/2 cups and our beans were swimming in cheese, so I think that’s plenty!

Black beans with cheese

I realize the cheese increases the price on a beans-and-rice meal, but it’s a good place to start if you have kids who are scared of beans. I like these with avocado and sour cream, too, but they’re just as good as written (or with a runny egg for breakfast).

Cheesy Black Beans and Brown Rice

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6-8 servings


  • 3 15-ounce cans black beans
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 to 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 to 4 c. cooked brown rice
  • optional for serving
  • avocado slices
  • sour cream
  • chopped cilantro


Drain two cans of black beans. Add those beans and one can, undrained, to a large saucepan. Heat beans, uncovered, over medium-high heat.

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a small skillet over medium heat, warm one Tablespoon olive oil. Sauté onion, garlic, and cilantro together until onion is soft. Add this mixture to the beans and stir well.

Spread bean mixture in a 9x13 pan lightly coated with olive oil. Top with shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve beans over rice with any optional toppings.

You can cook the brown rice however you like; I use Alton Brown’s method of oven-baked rice often, but the oven temps on this won’t match up. For this recipe, I used my brand-new Instant Pot to make the rice, and I was really happy with the texture and outcome! For brown rice, you use a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 1/4 cup water or liquid and cook for 22 minutes on high pressure. It’s like magic!

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Asparagus and goat cheese frittata

I’ve been working on an article this past week about farm-fresh foods that will run in a magazine in April. It can be hard to think about spring vegetables when it’s September, but I took an inspirational trip around Fresh Market.

Which is always problematic for me.

Fresh Market always smells like cinnamon, at least around the fall, and I am pretty sure they put some chemicals in that scent that make you want to spend all your money there. Unfortunately, it’s right by my gym, so when I am leaving the gym and starving I think, “Hmmm … I could just stop by Fresh Market and grab a $9 sandwich!”

Anyway, I get paid for these articles so I figured it was OK to spend money on good produce with which to experiment. I got a little happy, though, and came home with every spring-type thing I could find: asparagus, beets, leeks, strawberries, broccoli, and radishes. For three recipes.

This asparagus recipe is one I decided was a little too upscale in taste for a magazine aimed at parents. I really don’t know what I was thinking, other than I wanted to use asparagus and was hungry. If your kids will eat asparagus and goat cheese, more power to you! When I was chatting about this on Facebook, one of my friends said his kids thought it looked “hairy” with the dill. Ha! Oh, children. Maybe some day.

So while this recipe is delicious, I am 100% positive my children wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. Sigh. Oh well, all the more for me.

(I am certain this would also be delicious as a quiche, and that was my original intent, but then I got lazy. A quiche will need to bake longer, though, usually 45-60 minutes at 350 in my experience.)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata

Yield: 6-8 slices

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Frittata


  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 T butter or bacon grease
  • salt and pepper, plus ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 5 eggs
  • ¾ c. whole milk or half-and-half
  • ¼ tsp. dried dill or 1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • ½ c. goat cheese crumbles


Preheat oven to 400F. Snap asparagus ends off. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces.

In a 12-inch, ovenproof skillet, melt butter or bacon grease over medium heat. Add asparagus pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute 5-7 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, dill, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle goat cheese crumbles over the asparagus, then pour egg mixture over it all.

Bake 20 minutes, until eggs are set. Let cool slightly before cutting into slices.

**If you use a smaller skillet, your frittata will be fluffier, but it may need to cook a little longer.

Savory Cheesy Waffles

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Savory Cheesy Waffles

I first discovered cornmeal waffles one day last summer when we came home from vacation to bare bones in the kitchen. Determined to make something with what we had so we didn’t have to eat out again, my mind drifted to waffles. I found a recipe then for some bacon and cheese waffles with cornmeal. I didn’t have bacon, but I had enough cheese, milk, and eggs to concoct what ended up being a fantastic waffle. And waffles get even better with a runny egg on top!

Those waffles had cheddar, but last week I had some Monterey Jack on hand, and I am crazy about its flavor. You could use any cheese you really love here, but I love the bite of Monterey Jack (or even Pepperjack!). This is a super versatile recipe; you can add chopped chicken sausage or cooked bacon or sausage, maybe some minced herbs, using up odds and ends from the fridge. Savory waffles make a perfect easy dinner for nights you just don’t know what to make.

Savory waffles with monterey jack cheese

Savory Cheesy Waffles

Yield: 8 small waffles

Savory Cheesy Waffles

Adapted from Fabtastic Eats.


  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 T melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. milk or buttermilk
  • 2/3 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onion


Plug in waffle iron to preheat.

Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl or measuring cup, whisk together butter, eggs, and milk/buttermilk.

Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir to combine. Fold in cheese and onion.

Spray waffle iron with cooking spray and cook waffles according to your iron's directions. I have a smaller, Cuisinart waffle iron. It uses 1/3 cup batter and made about 8 waffles from this recipe.

Top with over-easy or medium eggs (or poached, I just don't know how to make a poached egg ...). Sprinkle with more cheese, salt, and pepper.

Do you have a waffle iron? We got one for our wedding, and I never used it. We went years without one. But when the kids starting loving frozen waffles, I was determined to make my own! I can make a batch of waffles whenever, freeze them in big ziploc bags, and then pop them in the toaster for breakfast. Delicious!

Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.

Brown Rice and Mushroom Bake

Sometimes, dinner is all about the meat. Oftentimes! But meat can get expensive and honestly, especially around the holidays when it’s all TURKEY and HAM, I crave vegetables.

You’ll notice that I don’t have any other mushroom recipes on my site (save what I have dubbed “my family’s grossest recipe,” oyster dressing). No one else in my little family enjoys mushrooms – yet! I made this for a church potluck. But I may have to invite over some fellow mushroom-lovers (like my brother-in-law) to enjoy it with me sometime soon.

While this version has chicken, it’s really just a side note. The dish is all about the creamy rice and earthy mushrooms. If you are vegetarian, leave out the chicken and sub in vegetable stock. You can also change out the spinach for another veggie of your choosing, like broccoli or peas.

Creamy Brown Rice, Mushroom, Chicken, and Spinach Bake


  • 3 1/3 c. chicken stock, divided
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked brown rice
  • 1 lb. chicken, cooked and shredded or cubed
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 lb. cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
  • 4-5 stems fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 c. fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 c. half-and-half or cream
  • 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350. Spread uncooked rice in the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Bring 2 1/3 cup of stock to a boil in the microwave or on the stovetop; pour over rice. Cover dish tightly with a double layer of foil. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook five minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms and cook a few more minutes, until they start smelling like mushrooms and are golden brown. Add salt, pepper, and thyme leaves and toss.

Add the spinach leaves to the mushroom mix and cook until they are wilted. Add remaining 1 cup stock and chicken to the skillet and simmer for a few minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together cornstarch and 1 Tablespoon half-and-half or cream. Add remaining cream to the skillet, stirring well, then add in the cornstarch slurry. Bring to a low boil and let cook a few minutes until the sauce is thickened.

Pour mushroom mixture evenly over the rice. Recover with foil and cook another 30 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and recover with foil for a few minutes until cheese is melted. Serve.

Real Food Recipe Roundup via Jo-Lynne Shane and Alison Ray

Farmer’s Market Soup: A Take on Ribollita

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure statement for more details.


I always thought ribollita had to be made with stale bread. Wikipedia tells me that is not so. It’s simply a “next-day” kind of soup, made with leftovers. That makes sense, as this recipe I was given is pretty much vegetable odds and ends. It was sent to me as “ribollita,” but I’m dubbing it Farmer’s Market Soup. Just to be different.

This is a delicious and simple soup, chock full of vegetables. Right now is the perfect time for finding zucchini and carrots at the farmer’s market; you might also be able to search out some ripe tomatoes to puree slightly to replace the crushed tomatoes from a can.

Farmer’s Market Soup


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 celery stalks, finely sliced (I always add some of the inner celery leaves for flavor)
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (this post from Orangette has a good tutorial for cutting fennel)
  • 2 large zucchini, cut into thin half-moon slices
  • 14 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 10 basil leaves, chiffonaded
  • 4 c. vegetable stock
  • 14 oz can cannellini or Great White Northern beans
  • salt and pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese and Texas toast — optional


Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, garlic, celery, and fennel. Saute slowly for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and saute an additional two minutes.

Add tomatoes, basil, stock, beans and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, simmer 25-30 min. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with Texas toast and Parmesan cheese sprinkled lightly over the top of the bowls.

The rest of the family may not have even tried it–but I enjoyed two big bowlfuls while the two sickies in our house slept.

Added to Mouthwatering Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Ingredient Spotlight: Zucchini and Yellow Squash, and What’s on Your Plate?