1 pound black eyed peas, sorted and rinsed
1 LARGE Vidalia onion, chopped
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 ounces pork belly, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can chopped green chiles, drained
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 tablespoon FRESH minced thyme
4 cups homemade chicken stock
FRESH ground sea salt and black pepper
2 ham hocks

  • Place peas in a large dutch oven. Add water and cover by 2 inches.
  • Bring to a boil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, cover and let stand 1-2 hours.
  • Drain and rinse peas. Set aside.
  • In the dutch oven heat oil over medium heat.
  • Add onion, sauteing until tender.
  • Add pork, garlic, green chiles, thyme, pepper flakes, FRESH ground salt and pepper, cooking 1 minute more.
  • Add the broth, peas and ham hocks.
  • Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered 35-40 minutes or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more broth as necessary.
  • Remove ham hocks, cool and remove meat from bone.
  • Finely chop meat and return to the pan.
  • Discard bones.


12 slices thick BRIOCHE bread
2 cups whole milk
6 LARGE eggs
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons PURE vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon QUALITY cinnamon

  • Cut bread into 1 inch cubes.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
  • Place bread cubes in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a small bowl whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon.
  • Evenly sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over bread cubes and toss.
  • Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla and sugar.
  • Pour evenly over bread cubes and toss to coat.
  • Fold in raisins.
  • Arrange an even layer in the baking dish.
  • Cover tightly with saran and chill overnight.

1/4 + 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon QUALITY cinnamon
6 tablespoons melted butter

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Uncover casserole.
  • Mix together 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle over casserole.
  • Drizzle melted butter over casserole.
  • Bake 35-45 minutes until browned and baked though in the center.

2 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon PURE vanilla extract
4-6 tablespoons whole milk
2+ cups powdered sugar

  • Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add vanilla and 4 tablespoons milk, blending until smooth.
  • Gradually add powdered sugar until well incorporated.
  • Add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach a pourable desired consistency.
  • Pour over slightly cooled french toast casserole and serve.


I’ve been making this recipe for many years. It’s a really easy and delicious meal that can be pulled together quickly! It’s really great comfort food for a cool evening – warm, tasty, creamy AND crunchy!  My copy was handed down by grams and was probably a Campbell’s Soup label recipe originally that was shared by her grandmother’s club.  I’ve been seeing versions of it pop up around social media and pinterest A LOT lately.  My version has been changed up A LOT, but hubby ALL but licks his plate when I make it.

3 cups of diced rotisserie chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup or soup substitute
2½ cups cooked rice
½ cup sliced almonds or cashews
½ cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce (optional)
¾ cup diced celery (about 3 stalks)
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3/4 cup crushed potato chips (see notes) OR corn flakes, crushed into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Toss chicken pieces with hot sauce.
  • Place carrots in a microwave safe bowl and add 2 tablespoons of water.  Cook 1 minute so carrots begin to soften.
  • Combine all ingredients together a spread into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
  • Combine the crushed chips with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the casserole.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes or until casserole is heated through.


  • You can really change up the flavor by using different flavored rotisserie chicken or different flavored potato chips. I also like to use sweet potato chips 😀 or sometimes, crushed saltines or rice krispies or ANY combo of the above!
  • We like to serve it with either shoepeg corn or green beans to round out the veggies 😀


3 cups dry elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions and drained
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons WONDRA flour
1/2 teaspoon FRESH ground sea salt
1/4 teaspoon FRESH ground black pepper
1 cup milk
1 1/4 + 1/4 cups shredded SHARP cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup Ken’s Caesar salad dressing
1 1/2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken pieces
10 pieces bacon, diced, cooked and crumbled

  • Add cooked macaroni, chicken and 3/4 of the bacon pieces to a large baking dish.
  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Lightly spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat.
  • Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth and golden.
  • Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a SLOW boil, stirring constantly until thickened.
  • Stir in the cheeses (except the 1/4 cup SHARP) until well blended.
  • Stir in dressing.
  • Pour mixture over macaroni and chicken and fold together until well coated.

1/3 cup Panko
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon minced FRESH parsley

  • Toss Panko crumbs and melted butter until well blended.
  • Sprinkle over the macaroni mixture.
  • Top with remaining cheese.
  • Top with remaining bacon pieces.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


20 whole Jumbo Pasta Shells, Cooked And Drained
2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts or 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
FRESH ground salt And pepper, to taste
Avocado Oil
3/4 cups ricotta cheese (whole milk, NOT low-fat))
3/4 cups SMALL CURD cottage cheese (whole milk, NOT low-fat)
3/4+ 1/4 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
2+ 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese
2 whole LARGE eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup minced FRESH parsley
2 tablespoons minced FRESH basil
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 cloves garlic, minced

  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a grill pan or iron skillet over medium heat, drizzle with avocado oil.
  • Cook the chicken on both sides until cooked through.
  • Remove and shred with two forks and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, cottage cheese, mozzarella, 1 cup of the Parmesan cheese, eggs, 2 tablespoons of the fresh parsley, salt, pepper, and chicken, stirring to combine. Add heavy cream as necessary 1 tablespoon at a time. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sprinkle with the flour. Whisk and cook until the roux turns golden brown.
  • Pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly, and cooking for a few minutes, until thickened.
  • Add the garlic, the additional 1 cup Parmesan, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon minced parsley, and minced basil and stirring until well blended.
  • Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
  • Add 1 cup sauce to the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  • Using a spoon, fill each of the jumbo shells generously with the chicken/ricotta mixture.
  • Lay them face down in the pan, then pour the sauce all over the top.
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheeses.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is golden.


I usually make my version of  HOT BROWNS from THE BROWN HOTEL recipe from the OFF THE EATEN PATH cook book by Morgan Murphy. BUT, tonight we’re trying DAMARIS PHILLIPS’ version and fell in love with the different assembly method making it a casserole instead of a knife and fork dish. Next time we will be using a new combination of our norm and DAMARIS PHILLIPS’ assembly version. 😀 I also use the sweet & spicy bacon – YUMMY!

1 skin-on, bone-in turkey breast half (about 2 pounds)
4 teaspoons avocado oil
FRESH ground sea salt pepper
4 ounces slab bacon, chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
2 slices stale sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (2 heaping cups)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Rub the turkey with 2 teaspoons vegetable oil; sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Place turkey on baking sheet and roast until the thickest part registers 160°, about 45-55 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let rest 15 minutes before chopping; the internal temperature will rise to 165°.
  • Meanwhile, place the bacon on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 250°.
  • Coat the tomatoes with the remaining 2 teaspoons avocado oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the tomatoes cut-side up on a separate parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until they start to dehydrate and wrinkle, about 45 minutes.
  • While the tomatoes are cooking, start the Mornay sauce.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Heat the milk in a separate small saucepan over medium heat.
  • When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir continuously so the roux doesn’t scorch, but becomes golden, about 2 minutes.
  • When the milk starts to simmer, slowly add it to the roux, stirring continuously so lumps don’t form.
  • Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the cheddar and roasted peppers and stir until smooth.
  • Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.


  • Preheat the broiler.
  • Distribute the bread cubes evenly among four 6-inch cast-iron gratin pans (or use disposable pie plates or other small pans).
  • Cut the turkey into 1/2-inch pieces; discard the skin and bones.
  • Divide the turkey evenly among the pans.
  • Spoon the Mornay sauce over the turkey, then top with the tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle with the Parmesan and bacon and broil until golden and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.


This recipe is SOOOOOOO versatile.  You can add tons of flavor if you use a rotisserie chicken by choosing an Italian herb or lemon or BBQ, etc… My favorite grocery store carries rostisserie chickens by “parts” in a mesquite flavor that I REALLY like in this recipe. By “parts” I mean you can get all white meat or my favorite all dark.  It takes about 4 thighs and legs to make the chicken pieces for this casserole.

You can also change up your soup flavor cream of mushroom, cream of onion, cream of poblano or jalapeno, etc… You get the idea. I also “adjust” the vegetables to what I have on hand. Sometimes I add green beans or mushrooms or snap peas, etc… just until I have an even mixture of a nice protein to vegetable ratio that is still creamy.

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or chopped**
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
6 ounces (2 sleeves) Ritz*** crackers, crushed into fine crumbs
4-6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  • In a large bowl stir together the soup, sour cream and chicken.
  • Fold in peas and set aside.
  • In a hot skillet add 1 tablespoon of butter and avocado oil.
  • When melted add carrots, sautéing 3-5 minutes until beginning to soften.
  • Add green onions and saute’ a minute more.
  • Fold carrots and onions into chicken mixture.
  • Pour into prepared baking dish.
  • In a small bowl combine the melted butter, crushed crackers and paprika until the mixture looks like wet sand. Start with 4 tablespoons of butter and add more as necessary.
  • Spoon over casserole evenly.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
  • Serve warm.
  • ENJOY!


  • ** You can easily substitute 3 cups of rotisserie chicken and quite honestly these days that is my preferred way to make this recipe.
  • *** You can also use Kebbler Garlic butter crackers, Ritz are the preferred cracker.
  • This recipe freezes well also so I often make extra in these small foil bakers for easy weeknight prep.


For some reason hubby LOVES Hamburger helper. Must be left over from his bachelor days BECAUSE IT IS NOT SOMETHING I HAVE EVER MADE. Since I can’t have pre-prepared foods I made him a substitute recipe for his favorite box that he says tastes even better. I make in advance too which makes a great weeknight casserole ready to pop in the oven when you get home. Hubby likes the texture of Velveeta, but I find it a bit rubbery. So I tried Land of Lakes American cheese and it slices great while still giving you that smooth creamy cheese texture when it melts. 

6 bacon strips cooked crisp and crumbled
1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 small Vidalia onion, chopped
2 cups green giant frozen corn, thawed
2 large Yukon potatoes, sliced
Land o’ Lakes American Cheese Slices
Grated Cheddar for garnish
Corn chips (optional)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Toss bacon and corn together.
  • Layer potatoes over top.
  • Generously salt and pepper the potatoes.
  • Place a thin layer of cheese slices over potatoes.
  • Brown hamburger and onions together. Salt and pepper well while meat is browning. Drain off fat.
  • Layer over the potatoes and top with another layer of potatoes.
  • Salt and pepper again and layer with another layer of cheese.
  • Cover and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

NOTE: **I like to make these back to back (that way I also have 2 meals ready to go with half the mess) so the left over bits of browned sausage and caramelized onion add flavor to the hamburger.