Saturday, April 4, 2009

Breakfast the Night Before

On holiday mornings, I like to serve a hearty, satisfying breakfast. Preferably one that has been all but cooked the night before. Who wants to spend a festive morning in the kitchen while the rest of the family is enjoying the day in the next room?

So, here is a recipe that I made last year on Easter morning. A sausage and cheese strata. I think it's nice to serve something with a little protein on a day that will be infused with sugar. Of course, you might be thinking that the fat and carbs loaded into this dish are hardly a way to balance out all the sugar intake of Easter. You would be right. But it's sooo good. And I don't even like sausage! If you feel you must round out the meal with something a bit more healthy, serve it with a nice big bowl of fruit: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and melon or kiwi might be nice. That's what I did last year. And it almost made up for the handfuls (bagfuls??) of these that I inhaled that day:

Oh, Cadbury. First you had me with your Creme eggs, and now these addictive little nuggets!

But, back to the strata. Here is the recipe. Hope you like it!

Sausage and Cheese Strata

NOTE: This makes TWO 2-quart dishes. Divide ingredients by half if you only want to make 1 8x8 (or 9x9) square pan of strata. But it's so good that it disappears fast. I made only 1 8x8 last year and I wished I had made two!

10 cups French bread cubes (about 1/2 inch size)

12 oz. cooked smoked sausage links, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained (can use fresh if you prefer)

1 cup green sweet bell pepper, chopped

6 oz. (equals about 1 1/2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

4 oz. (about 1 cup) Monterey jack cheese, shredded

7 beaten eggs

3 1/2 cups milk

2 Tbsp snipped chives

1 Tbsp snipped fresh oregano OR 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Divide half of the bread cubes between 2 greased 2-quart casserole baking dishes. Top with sausage, mushrooms, and sweet pepper. Sprinkle with cheeses. Place remaining bread cubes on top.

Combine eggs, milk, chives, oregano, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Pour half of the mixture over each baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2-24 hours (yay! Your work is finished. Now all you have to do is pop it in the oven tomorrow morning!).

Bake in a 325 degree oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes. (Now go hunt for those Easter baskets and munch on some chocolate while you're waiting!)

Check for doneness by inserting a knife in the center. Like a cake, it should come out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving it up!

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