I Cooked Like Joanna Gaines for a Week. Here’s What Happened

Joanna Gaines' new cookbook, Magnolia Table, is a gorgeous book that helps transform your cooking. Seriously!

I’m not going to lie, I bought this book because I aspire to be Joanna Gaines. Not only is she an entrepreneur, but from her house decor to simple but beautiful clothing designs and everything she does in the kitchen, Joanna is the organized, modern, working mom that I envy.

Before Magnolia Table, I cooked for my family, but never really made things from scratch. I often baked from boxed mixes, found already prepared foods that were easy to throw together and, if I’m being completely honest, I bought most of my vegetables and fruits pre-cut and washed.

This book has completely changed my outlook on making meals for my family—and helped me understand my own capability as a cook!

Joanna Gaines' Favorite Foods
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Breakfast: It’s What’s for Dinner

I have a 3-year-old and I work, so things are often hectic. I don’t typically prepare large breakfasts unless we’re having a less scheduled weekend. However, the first recipe I tried was the Sausage Hash Brown Casserole (see this recipe below), which I served for dinner with fresh fruit and veggies. Not only was it easy and delicious, but it was a hit with my toddler and totally reheat-able for other meals throughout the week. Next time, I plan to add Joanna’s Simple Spring Quinoa Salad as a dinner side.

For any family that loves breakfast casseroles, you can’t go wrong with these recipes either!

Baking from Scratch Isn’t So Hard

I remember watching my grandma baking from scratch and being in awe. But as an adult, the mess, making sure you have the ingredients, etc., seemed overwhelming to me. I tried the Bacon and Gruyere Drop Biscuits (below) as my first journey into straying from buying a boxed mix or refrigerated dough—and it was 100% worth it! I talked about these biscuits on social media because I couldn’t believe how amazing they were (and I devoured more than my fair share).

Not only was it easier to make them than I thought, but it gave me such a great sense of accomplishment when they were done. And did I mention that they were delicious? I’ve gotten brave enough that I plan to make a birthday cake from scratch soon!

Eggs Are Amazing

Eggs are the perfect food for any meal. They help you stay healthy, are packed with protein and are something that everyone in my family enjoys. I made Joanna Gaines’ Three Cheese Quiche and really got to know the fancy cheese section at the grocery store. For the second time in a week, I enjoyed gruyere cheese. Who knew?! This was another family favorite that I’ll be making again. Not to mention it’s quick, easy and can be reheated for any meal after.

New Ways to Cook Fresh Foods

My husband loves asparagus and I love peaches. I made both the Peach Caprese and Roasted Asparagus this week. The caprese is something I wouldn’t typically try because the ingredients listed didn’t sound like they would mesh well, but they REALLY did, and this is a dish that’s going to be in my regular rotation. The roasted asparagus was very yummy and…I don’t even like asparagus. (A big “thank you” to Joanna Gaines for getting me to love something new!)

To add more vegetables to your menu, whip up Joanna’s asparagus or another veg-packed side dish.

Overall, this was a very therapeutic thing for me. It was enjoyable to shop for new foods, try new things and mix up my regular meal rotation with some new recipes. Though cooking can be a stressful end to a busy work day, the beauty of the Magnolia Table text and the easy-to-read recipes were relaxing. The end result was so worth the effort!

Joanna’s Recipes

These recipes are found in Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines with Marah Stets, published by William Morrow, 2018.

Sausage & Hash Brown Casserole

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 lb. loose breakfast sausage
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 32-oz. container frozen diced hash brown potatoes
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
  • Pinch of ground sage
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 8 oz.)
  • 1/4 cup minced chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×13-in. baking dish with vegetable oil.
  2. Line a plate with paper towels. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes, breaking it up with the side of a spoon. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to the paper towels. If there is very little oil left behind in the pan, add some olive oil. Saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the hash brown potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Stir in the reserved sausage. Remove the pan fro the heat.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, garlic powder, paprika, sage, salt and white pepper. Whisk in the cheddar. Stir in the sausage/hash browns mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake until the top is browned and the center is set, about 45 minutes. Cover the baking dish with foil if the top begins to brown before the center is set.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chives on top before serving.
  7. The casserole is best served the same day it is baked. Store leftovers in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Bacon & Gruyere Drop Biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. thick-sliced peppered bacon
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 8 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Arrange the bacon slices on a baking sheet. Bake until crispy, about 20 minutes. Line a second baking sheet with paper towels and transfer the bacon to the paper towels to drain. Set aside.
  3. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, garlic salt, salt and white pepper. Pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the butter on top of the flour and pulse until the dough resembles coarse pebbles.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the milk and Gruyere. Crumble the bacon into the bowl. Mix with your hands just until the dough comes together. Don’t overmix.
  6. Use a 4-oz. ice cream scoop to drop uniform biscuit mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the edges are crispy, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool sightly in the pan on a rack.
  7. Biscuits are best the day they are made, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Warm in a preheated 300 degree oven.

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Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter began her career as a high school English teacher in Brooklyn, NY and has taught college courses since 2008. Her personal interests include reading, writing, traveling and experiencing new cultures. She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter and a rambunctious Australian Shepherd.