Cook's Corner

Published 4:14 am Wednesday, December 21, 2005

By Staff
Christmas morning is a time of hustle, bustle and wonder for the entire family. That is not the time you want to worry and fuss in the kitchen trying to get a breakfast ready while the kids are opening gifts from Santa.
This week's column is dedicated to recipes you can prepare ahead of time and simply slip in the oven or microwave on Christmas morning. This will help to keep the confusion and the missed ooohs and aaahs to a minimum for the cook in the family.
My family has enjoyed a delicious breakfast casserole with hot biscuits for as many years as I can remember. It's easy to prepare the day before and put in the fridge. When the little ones wake up and head to the living room, turn on the oven and pop in the dish. By the time you're finished with the gift opening and picking up the wrapping paper wads, the dish will be ready for the family to enjoy while playing with the newfound toys.
Preparation beforehand also keeps cleanup to a minimum. Lord knows you'll need as little cleaning as possible, because we all know that as soon as breakfast ends, preparation for the big holiday meal begins. (It's also a good idea to get your shower before going to bed on Christmas Eve. The morning will be so hectic you may not have time for a refreshing shower!)
This first recipe is for the casserole I prepare for my family. I hope you'll give it a try. Served with toast or hot biscuits, this one is a full meal without a whole lot of fuss.
Breakfast Casserole
1 lb. bulk sausage (we prefer the hot kind)
4 cups prepared grits
8 eggs, beaten
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
Crumble and brown sausage in a skillet until no longer pink. Drain well. In a 3 quart casserole dish, combine prepared grits, sausage, cheese and melted butter. Mix well to combine. Make sure that the mixture is somewhat cool before adding eggs. Stir in beaten eggs to combine well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 35-45 minutes until eggs are set and casserole is light brown and bubbly.
If you like something a little more on the sweet side, this next recipe may be something that will fit your family's appetite.
Baked French Toast
1 (1 pound) loaf French bread, cut diagonally in 1 inch slices
8 eggs
2 cups milk
1 and one-half cups half-and-half cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract
One-fourth tsp. ground cinnamon
Three-quarters cup butter
1 one-third cups brown sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture. Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
This next recipe sounds a little complicated but it's really not all that hard. It is a little time consuming since you have to prepare all the ingredients prior to constructing the final product for baking. If you have the abilities to do so, you could prepare the ingredients the night before and simply construct the pies in the morning with little work. I'm not sure about putting everything together and into the pie crusts the night before. I have never put a wet filling into a pie crust and allowed it to sit overnight. For some reason I have an idea it might make the crust soggy and unable to brown properly. You may know the answer to that question. I'll let you use your own judgment on that one.
Breakfast Quiche
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
One-half pound fresh mushrooms, finely diced
2 cups finely diced smoked ham
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
8 ounces Cheddar cheese, shredded
4 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
8 eggs
1 and one-half cups half-and-half cream
1 tbsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble, and set aside. Cook spinach according to package instructions. Allow to cool, then squeeze dry. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Saut

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