Easy Make Ahead Hashbrown Casserole

This is from the collection of excellent back to school make ahead breakfasts I mentioned before. This is great for making and freezing, like the French Toast Casserole and can be a school day breakfast or a brunch dish that can travel frozen to an out-of-town thing or be ready when the holidays and all their visitors are invading your home. I have a picture of the one I made the first week of school, somewhere… If I can find it I will add it to this recipe. This casserole is best when served with a side of citrus fruit, you know, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, something like that.

What you will need:

1 bag (medium-sized) frozen hashbrowns

1 medium-sized casserole dish (think 8 x 10 or so)

Leftover sausage

1/3 cup Heart Healthy Bisquick

7 medium eggs

6 oz Cheddar or Colby Shredded ( you can use more, but this ratio is a nice balance)

1 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt

2 Tablespoons Onion Powder

Black Pepper (to taste)

Cooking Spray (I recommend Butter for this one)

To make:

In a bowl combine eggs, salt, onion, pepper, bisquick, sausage, and cheese.

Spray casserole dish.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place 1/2 of hashbrowns in bottom of dish.

Pour all of egg mixture on top.

Place remaining hashbrowns firmly over everything.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes.

*If you are going to freeze this: Once it is cooled wrap with a layer of Saran Wrap and then another of tin foil, label and place in your freezer. When ready to cook unwrap and follow below directions straight out of the freezer. Keep in mind frozen solid to done will take about twice as long as 1/2 cooked to done, so some planning ahead will be required.*

Remove foil. Return to oven until hashbrowns are crisp looking on top and there is no runny egg mixture. (this will take about 20 minutes)

Serve in squares with fruit and glasses of milk for a hearty breakfast.

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Easy Make Ahead Sausage Baskets

Here we are, back to school in one week. Sigh. One of the things I do to make the school year a little easier on myself is make breakfast the night before. I have several make ahead breakfast recipes, you remember the French Toast Casserole, I thought I’d share some of these with all of you. Make ahead breakfasts are perfect for those of us who want our kids to eat real food in the morning for school, but whose brains don’t function well enough to cook. (Not to mention I like my 5 to 6 hours of sleep every night, so no, I’m not getting up earlier) I also discovered that it was the best way to actually feed everyone when GC started middle school. Around here the high school starts, then about 30 minutes later the middle schools start, then 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours later (depending on which one your kid goes to) the elementary schools start. Now, despite the fact that eggs are going to kill us (for this week) I want to feed my kids food that includes proteins and carbs and fruit (not sugar cereal or pop tarts *shudder*) for breakfast. But anyone who has ever tried to eat hour old eggs can tell you, you can’t keep them warm or reheat them; so making breakfast that can span from 5:30 am till 8am, be quick, be appealing, be inexpensive, be different at least some days, and be fairly healthy? That’s my challenge. Also, most of these are great for taking to brunches, or when you have relatives around wanting breakfast at all hours like you have nothing better to do and have opened a damn bed and breakfast during the holidays (which, as we all know, once we get nice and used to school, Bam! Holidays!). Sorry I have watched my mother struggle with this and have even participated in the insanity. Anyway, back to school mornings. This first one is yummy and super easy, and can be carried in the car during snooze button related emergencies. (An added bonus)

What you will need:

1 lb sausage (Turkey works great here, but you can use whatever sausage you like. Make sure to use the ground sausage, not links or already pattied sausage. The good news, that’s the cheapest sausage out there)

Shredded cheddar

2 cans (10 to a can) biscuits (these are the tiny biscuits that are usually sold in four packs)

Muffin tins

Cooking Spray (I recommend a butter-flavored one)

Heat oven to 400° F

Brown Sausage. Place on 2 layers of paper towels to help drain fat.

Spray muffin tins.

Use 1 can of biscuits to make baskets in the bottom of each tin. Carefully (remember the less you handle dough the better) using your thumb in the center, stretch the dough into a shallow bowl like in the picture.

Place a pinch of shredded cheese (just enough to fill the divits you made earlier) into each basket.

Use a small spoon to place sausage on top of cheese. (you want to try to stay in the middle of the biscuit as best you can)

Gently stretch the second can’s biscuits large enough to top the baskets. Using fingers lightly push the edges just lower than the center.

Bake until golden brown. (about 15 mins)

 * You will have lots of sausage left over. Once it is completely cooled place in freezer safe container and put it in your freezer. You can use this portion in another recipe, or to make more of these baskets.*

After you have let these cool slightly (they will still feel warm, but wouldn’t burn your fingers) drape a clean dish towel over them. This will keep them fluffy and fresh tasting for in the morning. You can reheat these or not to serve, it’s totally up to you. After breakfast you will want to place leftover baskets in a Tupperware and place them in the fridge.

 Serving:

You will notice how tiny these are. That’s on purpose, you can serve these with whatever cut up fresh fruit you gave on hand (or applesauce- a breakfast fav around here) and a glass of milk to make a nice well-rounded breakfast that isn’t so filling you might need a nap afterwards. I recommend serving 1 basket, 1/3 to 1/2 piece of fruit (depending on the fruit, obviously) and milk to kids about 8 and under, if they are hungry afterwards, well, you have 10 baskets, let them have a another. For the bottomless pits bigger kids, I go ahead and start them with 2 baskets, 1/2 to 1 piece of fruit and the milk. An alternative for the kid who doesn’t want to drink milk this week: 1 glass of OJ (not SunnyD or other such crap, actual 100% OJ, with pulp, aka fiber) and 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt instead of fruit and milk works also.

See how easy that is? Just so you don’t think I put on my judgey pants today, yes we do keep cereal (like Cheerios and Raisin Bran) around the house, but I try to have those be for weekends (when I sleep in) and on mornings when we just have no time at all. Like all things, moderation is key, don’t eat sausage or processed cereal everyday, mix it up.

As always if you try this out, or have a make ahead breakfast idea of your own, let me know!

 

Mom of Teen Daughter Seeks Advice

This week I am preparing to go to 3 Open Houses next week. 1 at the elementary school where BC II is entering the 3rd grade, or as any of you who are in the know would say, Big Kid Elementary School (Caps denote the somberness that must be applied to this statement-just ask him). No more recess 3 days a week, it’ll be 2 days but I promise that makes a difference, and honestly I wish they had recess 5 days a week all through elementary school, but no one asked me for a vote. We will go to Open House all bright eyed with the thrill of being a “big kid” firmly implanted in our brains. 1 Open House will be at the middle school as BC I is starting the 6th grade. (Have I mentioned how terrified I am of this?) I have the packets of information regarding what SPD is, reference book lists (with the mention that I own several of them and would loan them to any teacher would wanted to borrow them), his IEP, his medication list with side effects to watch for, and contact info for therapists, psychiatrists, and last year’s school councilor ready to print out. This year I am making 8 copies, since he will have 6 instead of 2 or 3 teachers. We will go to that one with me still faking enthusiasm and confidence, still building up how cool it will be to have lots of teachers, make lots of friends, and have your very own locker (he is most excited about having a place to put his stuff that no one else can even look at, much less touch), and BC I with sparkles in his eyes over finally not being in elementary school where everyone is “so immature”. See why I’m scared? On the same night I go to the Open House for the elementary school I will somehow also go to the one at the high school. (You see, the public school system, having absolute faith in my abilities as a superhero who can time travel, has double booked me that night) I hate it when this happens, and it happens all the time. Just another thing about this time of year, right? I mean, if I were planning an open house at any school in a public school system, I would make sure that the night I picked wasn’t already picked by any feeder schools nor any school that my school was a feeder school to. I mean, there are 3 high schools, for our part of the district, 4 middle schools, and about 7 elementary schools. Wouldn’t it make since to have say Monday and Tuesday nights are all elementary school open houses, Wednesday night be middle school open houses and Thursday night for the high schools? In my area, at least, you can’t have 2 kids at 2 different elem/middle/high schools in the same family, so wouldn’t this solve the issue? But I digress, that wasn’t even what I wanted to write about (sorry I did warn everyone I hate this time of year, I promise to return to sunny optimism and the like soon).

My question is, when I go to the high school Open House (time machine or no) my daughter, who is 14 will cling to my side, insisting that I stay within her sights (while she talks with her friends) and continue to call me Mommy. Right in front of anyone who happens to be around. Now, it’s not that I can’t be called Mommy ( I’m pretty well acquainted with the title at this point), my concern is that when I was going into high school as a freshman I would have actually died before I called my mom Mommy. Anywhere, in private or in public. Now, I’m from the south, we call our dads Daddy for way longer than is normal anywhere else in the country it seems (guys too, it’s not a girl thing). But Mommy? No most of us have been calling her Mom, Mama, or Mother since about the 2nd grade. In fact GC is the only one of my kids still calling me Mommy. This probably sounds like the most insane thing to be worried about, but well, I’m a Mom, I’m supposed to be worried about insane things right? And I am concerned about a pattern I am seeing.

In addition to calling me Mommy, my child (whose first phrase at the age of 1 1/2 was “get offa me” when I tried to hug her goodbye at daycare drop off, I was interfering with her getting to her friends to play with them) constantly wants to sit right next to me (you know in that share your skin way that they usually do at about age 2 to say 5ish?) something she wasn’t interested in prior to this year. She constantly wants to “hang out” with me, if I have a friend around she wants to hang out with us, getting upset when I nudge her off to do her own thing. This all seems so strange to me. When I was 14 I would have counted the ridges in the popcorn ceiling in my bedroom before I voluntarily “hung out” with my mother. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind that we spend time together, I encourage it. But it’s as though she has decided we should be friends. I am not sure where she got this idea. We do have fun together, but I have never (at least intentionally) given the impression that I was her friend. Mom, nurse, chaperone, chauffeur, costume/wardrobe designer, chef, groundskeeper, disciplinarian, teacher, yes to all of those; but friend? No. I actually went so far as to tell her a few weeks ago, that while I look forward to being friends with her when she is in her twenties, I am not desirous to be friends with any 14-year-old, no matter how much I love said 14-year-old. She acted as though I had kicked her puppy (or maybe her). I know that it’s a thing now, parents who befriend their children, but I don’t think it’s right. She should have friends her age, I should be her mom, that’s how I have always believed. I have been raising this once independent girl for 14 years, I don’t consider myself done, and suddenly she has changed (in addition to the crazy hormonal changes that I had at least steeled myself for), she still seems very sure of herself and confident, but at the same time constantly wants Mommy around, like physically right there. I wonder is this a normal part of adolescence, that I myself skipped?

 I do want her to talk to me, to continue to tell be about her friends, her day, boys she likes, things she is considering doing with those boys. Maybe I would feel more normal if she didn’t volunteer all of those things, if I had to ask in that pulling teeth way I have to get information from BC I. I just don’t want to be her friend; I want to listen, help her learn to make good choices, guide her when she needs it(you know, be the Mom of the teenager). What should I do to encourage the continued sharing without encouraging this my mom is my friend thing? I would welcome any advice any of you have. Thanks & I hope you are all enjoying the last few weeks of summer.

Dreading Back to School

Even the ads taunt & intimidate me…

This weekend we went Back to School Shopping. I hate back to school shopping. I love summer and to me it’s always the herald that rings in the end of our carefree days. A taunting voice echoing in my head “Back to School. Back to never having enough time. Back to feeling like you are missing out on their childhoods. Back to dreading phone calls. Back to always feeling just shy of good enough.” So obviously, I probably need therapy (or a stiff drink), but I am very careful to not push my hatred of the beginning of the school year, I pump it up in my excited I’m-trying-to-talk-you-into-being-thrilled about this voice. (You may have noticed I use this voice a lot) I’m all “Cool, new teachers! Awesome, new friends! Ooo, want to pick out folders? Yea, let’s get some cool new stuff for school! I wonder what cool things you’ll get to do/see/learn this year?” Blah, blah, blah. Inside I’m scared, every year I approach teachers all bight eyed, full of hope, maybe this year will be different, but by  November I am wishing I could quit my job and home school all three of them. Apparently I am not the only one who gets miffed with the school. All of this trauma starts for me every year with the supplies lists. It seems like that shouldn’t be such a horrible thing but, if you’ve never seen one of these, let me lay a little crazy on you for a minute…

These lists always contain the basics, stuff I have no problem, by the way, purchasing for my children. Items like loose leaf notebook paper, they specify a preference for Wide ruled vs College, but no worries, or book bags (always with this written beside it: NO WHEELS! Apparently wheels will be the death of us all) also no big, I buy them book bags every 2 years -saves money and helps teach that we have to take care of our things. Then they get sneaky. (they being whoever writes these lists) Pseudo basics. What you ask? The list will say: 1 box 12 washable Crayola Markers. That seems like a basic, right? I made this assumption with GirlChild in Kindergarten, I was so naive. I sent her with a box of RoseArt (you know the ones on sale right this minute for $0.50 a box as opposed to the $1.17 Crayolas at Wal-Mart?) 12 Washable Markers. I wrote her name on the box with Sharpie, stuck them in her book bag along with her other supplies and sent her skipping off to school. They sent them back. Along with a note. Have you been the recipient of many notes or perhaps emails that drip from their written word with judgment, disdain, and patronizing tone? I know a few teachers who are great at it. I will paraphrase the note (since it was 8 years ago now) but it is not the only note to the same effect I have received from a teacher regarding school supplies, so it goes about like this:

Please send the requested Crayola 12 pack Washable markers with your daughter immediately. I am sure it is important to you that she be adequately supplied each and every day of school in order to not hamper her learning this year.(that last sentence is a direct quote, BTW) As per ABC County School policy we place all school supplies in bins for the entire class. Do not continue to write GirlChild’s name on her supplies. All markers, etc will be placed in their appropriate bins and we do not want the children to argue over the quality of brand of their supplies, and after all, I am sure you would not want GirlChild to be the child who brought the inferior markers.

 If you can’t see what’s wrong with the above note, please stop reading, walk away from my web page, we can’t be friends.

For the rest of us… Really?! How many 5-year-old “brand snobs” do you know? Have you  ever heard (or read I suppose) such complete crap? And toss in a little Mommy Guilt, wow, f you too Mrs. Soandso. I have received a note along these lines any time I have not sent in exactly what was on the list, down to the brand. (At this point I have accepted defeat and just buy the damn Crayolas for the school and we use perfectly good whatever brand at home)

Other Pseudo basics (these items don’t belong to your kid, they belong to the whole class, which is my problem. I don’t mind buying supplies for my kid. I will even donate a few items to the “wish list”. But I don’t want to contribute an entire additional child’s worth of supplies to each of my children’s classrooms):

*BTW these are real examples & quantities requested on Supply lists for at least one of my children*

12 solid colored pocket folders-no fasteners (I have never seen one of my kids use more than 4 in a school year and that includes the year that BoyChild II lost his “homework folder” and I had to buy him another one, right, not  the teacher replaced it from the class bins, I had to buy another folder, in orange specifically)

15 glue sticks (I want to know who is eating the glue, cause if each of 30 children sends 15 glue sticks, plus the Elmer’s liquid glue on that year’s list, that’s a lot of glue)

12 pack Crayola Colored pencils (again with the brand prejudice)

7 Composition notebooks-black and white only (That is just lame, in my opinion)

6 packages of #2 pencils (again, who is eating these supplies, each package has at least 12 pencils, x 6, x 30 kids…)

Minimum 30 black/blue ink erasable pens (these are impossible to find & almost as hard to write with, why are we still bothering with them?)

That’s obviously not all, but you get the idea, I’m sure. Then they toss Non-supplies on the list. What are Non-supplies you ask? Things the children do not use, that are on the supply list, not the wish/donate/please list, the you-must-have-all-of-these-things-on- the-first-day-or-you-are-interfering-with-your-child’s-schooling list.

Again these are actual “supplies” and quantities from years past.

Non-supplies:

3 reams copy paper (this one has appeared many times, my problem is despite me sending the paper, none of these kids can operate a copy machine. Maybe this year I’ll send 4 and a request for extra practice…)

7 packages of Post-it notes (so that the teacher can send as many disdain filled notes as she/he likes)

4 bottles hand sanitizer (#1 I have a child who can’t use this stuff. #2 why is this ok but sunscreen is a dangerous topical drug? #3 And again with the supply drinking…)

Paper clips/staples/red ink pens/dry erase markers (again things I would totally donate, but be real, none of these things are being used at my kids desk)

And then the completely ridiculous: (I feel like these mostly stand on their own ridiculous feet despite their craft potential)

200 small-dessert sized- paper plates

2 boxes snack sized ziplock bags

4 boxes sandwich sized ziplock bags

Inexpensive small toys for our Prize Box- minimum of 10

2 packages Brown paper lunch bags

Saran Wrap

Aluminum Foil

See what I mean? I am poor. That’s no one’s fault but my own, I get that but why add to that burden? Each year I work extra shifts in order to pay for these lists. This is not even covering the new clothes that kids end up needing each year, I’m not talking expensive clothes, I mean the jeans I bought this weekend at $7.50 a pair at the consignment store (Once Upon a Child– I love them) for BoyChild I who gained 3 inches in height and 22lbs in weight this summer and no longer owns a single item of clothing for school that fits. All in all I spend an average of $125 per child. I make about $700 every two weeks, before I do things like buy $300 worth of meds and therapy co pays each month and even more frivolous things like rent for example. When I read this article and it said this was the second busiest time of year for retailers I believe it. After Christmas I start saving for back to school shopping. The rest of the school year has its own mishaps but damn do I hate Back to School Shopping.

Do you also hate this time of year? Am I overreacting to the supply lists? Does your local school system do the same? Also, someone make me a drink, it’s gonna be a long year…