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Photos by James River Media


’Tis the season of gathering and enjoying cozy, hearty and often decadent meals with family and loved ones. It’s undoubtedly my favorite time of year to be in the kitchen! It can be the season of feeding more people than you are used to, and while we love that, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming parade of fussy recipes. 

May I suggest the ease and deliciousness of a casserole to make those holiday spirits and tummies bright?! These three recipes are great for a crowd and make amazing leftovers. They can be made ahead or frozen. I adore these recipes because they go any direction you like! If you need breakfast, lunch or a dinnertime meal, go for it. Happy Holidays to all and to all a good casserole!

Brie and Sausage Bread Pudding

  • 4 eggs
  • 3 ½ cups whipping cream + more if needed*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 cups sourdough, dried & cubed
  • 1 ½ cups sausage, cooked & crumbled
  • 5 ounces brie, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ⅓ cup scallions, snipped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat the inside of 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, garlic, salt and pepper and thyme. Gently stir in bread cubes, sausage, brie and scallions. Pour into the casserole dish. “Smush” the pudding a little to make sure there is enough moisture. If it’s not wet, add more cream or milk. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until set and golden brown!

*Half & half or whole milk may be used as a substitute.

Panettone Casserole 

  • 1 loaf panettone 
  • 1 cup butter (halved)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • 3 Tablespoons sage, finely chopped or dried (halved)
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup dried sour cherries, chopped
  • ½ cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Boiling water
  • 1 ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the panettone into 1-inch squares, and set aside. Melt half the butter in a saucepan (be careful not to burn, but brown until it reaches a nutty aroma). Remove from the heat, and add salt, pepper, nutmeg and half the sage. Pour over the panettone and toss together. Spread out on baking sheets, and bake for about 10 minutes. Set aside in a large bowl. 

While that is baking, place the dried fruit in a bowl, and add boiling water to cover the fruit. Set aside to plump and soften. Once softened and plump, drain the water. Heat the remaining butter in a saucepan, and add onion, celery and carrot. Cook over medium heat until softened. Stir in the fruit and remaining sage. 

Pour over panettone, and add the broth to moisten. Pour into a 9 x 13 casserole dish, and bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes.

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

  • 1 pound “twisty” pasta (cooked al dente)
  • 6 Tablespoons salted butter + more to grease
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound sharp cheddar, grated + more for topping
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano, grated
  • 1 ½ cups whipping cream*
  • 1 ¼ cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ¼ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup pepitas, raw

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole pan and set aside. In the same pot you cooked your pasta in, brown your butter over medium heat. It will turn golden and get foamy and should smell nutty. Turn the heat down to low, and add the pasta. Toss with the butter. Add the salt, pepper, three-quarters of the cheddar, Pecorino and cream. Stir until you have a creamy sauce. Mix in the pumpkin puree and nutmeg. Turn off the heat, and transfer to the casserole dish. Sprinkle cheddar, panko and the pepitas seeds over the top and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the panko is toasted! 

*Half & half or whole milk may be used as a substitute.

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