Wednesday, December 20, 2017

easy make-ahead breakfast casserole

Every year, beginning in October or so, I start thinking about possible Christmas gifts for my friends. I look through endless cookbooks for cookies, breads, or candies, I Google, I invent ideas, and then I finally land on something.  It's a fun process, but I really want the end result to be enjoyed, useful, and - of course - straight from the kitchen.  

This year, I thought about what could be tasty AND helpful, and I came up with the idea of gifting a breakfast casserole.  I had in mind several of the recipients who were hosting their in-laws, their college kids, or just their own immediate families, and I thought it might be neat to have a frozen, ready-to-thaw-and-bake breakfast on hand.  At least it would be one meal taken care of for them. For a few, I paired the casserole with the cinnamon swirl bread from my last post, and for others, I par-baked and froze these cinnamon rolls.  All of them I tied off with a small bag of flavored coffee.  

I have to say this casserole is one of the tastiest I've ever had.  The array of vegetables absolutely makes it and the ability to adjust and customize to one's liking is its best feature!  For the casseroles I gave away, I did a combination of breads for the bottom layer - sourdough, country white, and whole wheat.  For ours here at home, I used this sandwich bread, which I've been using for the last few months as I watch my carb intake.  The bread could easily be left out or replaced with some kind of potato, if desired.  To gift, I made the casserole in an aluminum pan through the last step before baking, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, and then froze it completely over night.  I provided the instructions on how to thaw and bake when I delivered the final product.  

If you are needing an idea for breakfast, brunch, or even a dinner over the next couple of weeks, I think you will find this recipe a winner.  You can sub and adjust to your heart's desire... any kind of protein, bread or vegetable, it's your choice!  And I love options, don't you?  But more than anything, I love great flavor.  Bon appetit!  

Easy Make-Ahead Breakfast Casserole

makes one 9x13 or two 8x8 pans

  • 3/4 lb uncooked sausage, casings removed (or meat of choice)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary (optional)
  • 2 bell peppers, diced ( I used yellow, orange and red)
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 slices day-old bread of choice, cubed (you can put in 400 degree oven for a few minutes, if needing it quickly)
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used whole, but any milk will work)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (again, choose your favorite, but I used pepper jack 
1. Cook sausage (and rosemary, if using) until fully browned.

2. Once some fat has been rendered from the sausage, pour a couple of tablespoons in a separate pan and cook the onions and peppers until tender, about 7-10 minutes while sausage finishes cooking.  

3. Add in garlic and mushrooms and cook a couple of minutes before adding spinach.  Cook briefly until spinach just wilts. 

4. Pour vegetables and sausage into large bowl and thoroughly combine, adding salt and pepper to taste.

5. Place bread in bottom of pan/s coated with butter.  

6. Beat eggs, milk and 1/4 cup of the cheese until well blended.  Pour half of the mixture over the layer of bread.

7. Layer the sausage/vegetable mixture over the eggs and pour remaining egg mixture over that.  

8. Finish with the remaining cheese and another sprinkling of salt and pepper.  

9. If freezing, wrap in plastic and then foil and place in the freezer for up to three months.  When ready to use, thaw in fridge overnight, bring to room temperature and cook at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until good and browned and center is set.

10. If using next day, cover casserole and place in fridge several hours, or overnight.  Bring to room temperature, and cook at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until good and browned and center is set.

11. Cool for 10 minutes, slice and serve.

Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction