Growing up, casseroles and large, make ahead dishes were big in my family. It took me a really long time to come around to loving leftovers; but now that I have a large hand in making sure meals are made and there is food to eat throughout the week, I’ve become more flexible. Mom’s comfort casserole was among the few things that I would happily eat over and over. Sadly, I did this with a lot of vigor, and usually ate the whole thing within the evening, if not over 2 days.
We’ve adapted her recipe to replace elbow macaroni with spiralized sweet potato, and excluded the cheese. If you have a high-quality hard cheese like cheddar, or even something like mozzarella, it would be amazing shredded on top (probably about 1/2 C would do). Dairy is an occasional splurge for us; but if you tolerate it well, sprinkle it on this amazing comfort casserole and go to town. I know we did.
The story of this epic sweet potato mash goes back to July, when Heather and I ran the Spartan Super in Wintergreen, Virginia. Nearby in Nellysford, there is a cidery by the name of Bold Rock. They have some fantastic hard ciders, and we have admired their product for a long time. Made with apples grown right in Virginia, we were happy to support a local business with a great product.
Following the race, we took our bruised, muddied, and exhausted selves to the cidery for a tasting. During our visit, we found ourselves in a conversation with John “Johnny Apple Cider” Washburn, Bold Rock’s Chairman and CEO. John radiates positive energy and seems utterly in love with the venture and creating a great product locally with minimally processed ingredients.
If you’ve been near an internet-connected device in the past week, you’ve noticed a big welcome back to white potatoes from the folks at Whole9, including them in their Whole30 protocol. Heather and I have read (and gifted) their NY Times best-seller It Starts With Food as well as done Whole30 challenges on several occasions. Definitely check out their resources if you haven’t come across them yet.
That being said, when push comes to shove, we’ve been more lenient with certain starches in our lives than some other things—if one food option has dairy and the other a starch (potato or white rice), we’ll almost always go with the starch. Both of us have family back in Wisconsin, so avoiding cheese isn’t our favorite thing, but the fact of the matter is that it makes us (with the rare exception of the occasional raw cheese) feel worse rather than better. That hasn’t been the case with potatoes, so we’re excited to see them gain more attention and come back into the fold for those of us advocating a real food diet.
Several people have mentioned their rationale behind allowing potatoes in their diet (e.g. The Domestic Man, Primal Palate, Nom Nom Paleo, Mat Lalonde, Paul Jaminet, Mark Sisson, among others), so I won’t beat a dead horse here and hope you won’t call the uber-strict paleo police on us. At the end of the day, we’re advocates for eating with a health-focused perspective, and starches aren’t antithetical to health for all people. When dialing in on the right diet for you, listen to your body, performance, and overall well-being and make adjustments as necessary. Beyond eating real food, I don’t believe there’s only one diet that is healthy for everyone. Ok, on to the stuff you want to see…
This year for St. Paddy’s Day, we decided to try a more traditional dish aside from corned beef and cabbage (although we absolutely made that as well), and came across the Dublin Coddle. The little bit of research I did led me to find that the coddle is a recipe usually cooked with leftovers, so it does not have a rigid set of ingredients. We are big fans of making the best of what is available, so this recipe struck us as a great thing to try. Interestingly enough, the recipe’s name comes from the verb coddle, meaning to cook in water below boiling.
We made some minor adjustments to the traditional coddle: often cooked with water and a bouillon cube, we instead opted for chicken stock. Other stock would certainly work as well. The other substitution we made was for white potatoes. We occasionally eat potatoes, and are not opposed to them, but wanted to give this a shot with jicama. Jicama is somewhat difficult to peel, but once that task is accomplished, it’s a breeze. Ultimately, this was a delicious recipe.
Sausage breakfast casserole is one of my favorite ways to add meat to breakfast. Don’t get me wrong, we love bacon, but we wanted to diversify our egg recipes. This easy casserole takes very little time, and went over really well with family and as leftovers.
For this casserole, all you’ll need is ground breakfast sausage (or ground pork with some seasonings), eggs, onion, and spinach. You could easily add in some mushrooms or bell peppers to suit what’s on your mind or in your refrigerator. We hope you’ll add this egg recipe to your regular breakfast rotation.