Since holidays + food are 2 of the very best things in life, it was only natural to chat Christmas recipes (on a budget) with one of my favorite people, Rachel Cruze.
We chatted about 2 recipes that are both cozy + yummy, yet don’t break the bank. These two recipes can literally make up your entire holiday menu and are simple to prepare (even ahead of time)!
Breakfast: French-Toast Casserole recipe
There’s something about waking up to the smell of warm cinnamon on Christmas morning. A French Toast Casserole offers all the tastes and smells of cinnamon rolls, but this version is gluten-free and much easier!
This is a great dish to prepare the night before, and finish baking in the morning. You can do this by following steps 1-2 in the recipe, then finishing steps 3-4 in the morning.
French Toast Casserole Toppings Bar
I love the idea of a topping bar for the French Toast casserole to let everyone customize their breakfast. Here are some ideas on what to include:
- sliced fruit (strawberries, bananas, etc.)
- chocolate chips or mini chocolate chips
- dried cranberries
- whipped cream
Variations & Ideas
- Any bread can be used here. If gluten-free isn’t necessary, you can sub any bread you wish! A plain bread or a thick sliced challah bread (available at most grocery stores) would be delicious!
- Leave pecans out of the ‘pecan topping’ and instead add pecans to the topping bar for those that don’t prefer nuts.
- If you want a more complete breakfast with eggs, serve this Bacon, Sweet Potato, Sun-Dried Tomato Breakfast Casserole with the French Toast casserole.
Gluten-Free Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Casserole
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 13×9 inch glass pan, lay 6 slices of bread on each half of the pan (they will overlap).
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, coconut sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour mixture over the bread, making sure to get between each slice so that everything is fully saturated. Cover with aluminum foil and bake. (At this point you can cover, and let it sit in the fridge overnight, then pull it out when ready to bake)
- Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients from the Pecan topping. Once the casserole has been baking for 30 minutes, uncover it, and spread the pecan topping evenly over the top (cut around the perimeter of the bread to loosen the edges so the pecan mixture can drip into the bottom of the pan). Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.
- Once it is finished, let the casserole rest for 5-10 minutes to set the topping. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy!
Lunch or Dinner: Pasta Fagioli recipe
Pasta Fagioli is a super easy, stick-to-your ribs meal and comforting soup to make with pantry staples.
Pasta Fagioli (Gluten-free)
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 4 ounces sweet onions
- 1 tablespoon garlic, , minced
- 2 ounces whole carrots
- 2 ounces celery
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 each bay leaves
- 48 ounces beef broth, or chicken broth
- 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, , drained and rinsed
- 8 ounces marinara sauce
- 6 ounces gluten-free pasta shells, , or elbows
- 2 ounces parmesan cheese
- sea salt
- black pepper
- Place herbs into a tea ball or wrap in cheesecloth, set aside.
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, drizzle in avocado oil and saute onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the ground beef, breaking apart with the tip of a spoon. Cook until meat is cooked throughout.
- Meanwhile, blend 1/2 the beans and half the broth until they reach a smooth texture. Add bean puree, marinara, and remaining beans and broth. Add satchel or teaball of herbs. Bring soup to a boil.
- In a separate pot, cook the pasta. Once the water comes to a boil, salt the water, add dry pasta, and cook for ~6 minutes until it is el dante (I undercook the pasta a bit because it will finish cooking in the soup). Drain the pasta and set aside.
- Add the pasta to the soup and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Instead of a handful of fresh herbs from the produce section, buy an entire plant for the same price. Rosemary especially is very hearty with little maintenance, so is the gift that keeps on giving!
- Make your own instant pot bone broth ahead of time for $$ savings and an extra nutrition boost too!
- Leave meat out of the recipe completely. For extra protein you can add more beans (try cannellini beans/ great northern beans for a great combination of flavors and textures)
- Serve pasta fagioli as a starter to your main holiday meal to fill people up beforehand which will cut down on the amount you need to prepare for the main course.
- If you’re serving soup as the meal, serve with grilled cheeses. Using homemade bread would be an added touch of special and be EXTRA budget-friendly!
If you are looking for more gluten-free holiday recipe inspirations, I highly recommend this cookbook!
I would love to hear about your simple holiday traditions and go-to Christmas recipes!