Breakfast easy for gift opening

Published 9:09 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2007

By Staff
In last week's column I said I was going to share drink recipes with you. I realized that I have already shared some drink recipes with you. Please forgive me. I am getting a little old and we all know how hectic December can be for folks. In my haste and lack of memory, I had forgotten what I had already shared.
In light of that, I'm changing gears a little bit and have decided to share some recipes you can use for Christmas morning.
My family usually has two celebrations for Christmas. My husband's family usually gathers at my house for Christmas Eve and my family gathers on Christmas for our annual celebration.
With all of the hustle of a Christmas Eve party and planning for a big lunch the next day, Christmas morning breakfast is usually not at the top of my list of preparations. Because of that, I've decided to share some ideas for a quick and easy Christmas breakfast.
I started the tradition of having a breakfast casserole on Christmas morning at my house about seven years ago. I did it in self-defense.
Although my family does like sausage, eggs, grits and biscuits for breakfast most days, they have to settle for something else on Christmas morning.
I created my own recipe for a casserole all those years ago but I have found many other recipes that are very similar to mine. You can spice yours up anyway you like using the ingredients your family enjoys most. I have said many times that recipes are only a guide and the same holds true in the case of casseroles like the ones you'll find here today.
These recipes are all easy to make ahead and keep in the refrigerator until the big morning. I usually get up a little bit ahead of anyone in my house on Christmas morning, so I take the casserole out of the refrigerator to come to room temperature before putting it in the oven to bake. Just as everyone gets their gifts opened, I put the dish into the oven. By the time everyone has given their gifts a good look, the casserole is ready to serve, giving me plenty of time for breakfast cleanup before cooking the feast for later Christmas day.
This first recipe is very close to the one I use at my house. I hope you can use this and other recipes as a guide to creating a dish your family will enjoy.
Christmas Breakfast Casserole
7 slices white bread, crusts removed and cubed
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
In a greased 11x7x2 baking dish, combine the bread cubes and cheese. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper; pour over bread and cheese. Top with bacon. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
If you prefer the flavor of sausage instead of bacon, this next recipe will cover that for you. This is actually closer to my recipe than any other I've seen. As a matter of fact, if you omit the bread and milk in this recipe and replace it with three cups of prepared grits, you'd pretty much have my recipe.
Sausage Bake
1 pound ground pork sausage
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
6 slices white bread, toasted and cut into cubes
8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
Crumble sausage into a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown; drain. In a medium bowl, mix together mustard powder, salt, eggs and milk. Add the sausage, bread cubes, and cheese, and stir to coat evenly. Pour into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover, and bake 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover, and reduce temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until set.
If you're not having a ham for your Christmas feast, you may want to include it in your breakfast meal. This next recipe is one that is a little different from the others in this column. I may give this one a try myself this year.
Ham Casserole
2 cups diced cooked ham
1/2 cup diced sweet red pepper or green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
6 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup cottage cheese
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
In a large ovenproof skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, saute the ham, red pepper and onion until ham is lightly browned and vegetables are tender. In a bowl, combine the eggs, cottage cheese and pepper; pour over ham mixture. As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath. When the eggs are almost set, broil 4-6 in. from the heat for 1 minute or until top is set. Top with tomatoes and cheddar cheese. Broil 1 minute longer or until cheese is melted.
I hope these recipes give you a chance to get a head start on your Christmas morning breakfast or brunch. Any of these recipes can be made ahead for an easy morning giving you more time to spend with your family on the biggest holiday of the year.
I wish all of you a wonderful holiday. May you be blessed with the love of your family and a bounty of good food.
Merry Christmas from my kitchen to yours!