Christmas morning breakfast casseroles
Isabel Reis Laessig spends her days preparing and comparing dinners for her website, sundaysuppermovement.com. But on Christmas Eve, she focuses on the next morning, making a breakfast casserole for the day after the gift giving.
“Our Christmas Day tradition is always this delicious sausage breakfast casserole made with croissants and candied bacon,” said Dunedin’s businesswoman, mother and grandmother. “I do everything the night before and cook it in the morning while everyone opens their presents.”
That’s the gift of the breakfast casserole dish – it sits in the fridge overnight and cooks in minutes for archery presentation and taste. And he can feed a crowd.
Whether sweet or savory, the basis of breakfast casseroles, aka strata, is eggs, bread and milk or cream. From there it’s a chef’s choice and a 9 x 13-inch buttered casserole dish.
My family members prefer a sweet casserole when they retire to the kitchen after browsing Santa’s bounty. Our favorite became a cream cheese French toast casserole with just enough eggs to make it look somewhat nutritious.
Laessig said the casseroles are especially useful on mornings like Christmas, when home cooks can also make a spread for a family dinner later in the day.
The casseroles are free ingredients for everyone. It’s easy to get creative and include whatever meats, cheeses, vegetables, or herbs your family prefers.
Janet Keeler, former food editor and current editor-in-chief of the Penny hoarder, whip up a creme brulee French toast casserole dish with an aroma that draws family members to the table before they even tear themselves into gifts.
These bread pudding-like creations pair easily with a side salad if it’s brunch time, or herb cookies if your family members are early risers.
Laessig’s Christmas casserole includes breakfast sausage, Colby Jack and mozzarella cheeses, and heavy whipping cream. The croissant rolls absorb all the ingredients. She adds candied bacon for a touch of sweetness.
“It’s an amazing combination of flavors, and my kids look forward to this special treat every year,” she said. “As a busy mom with four children and other important people, a grandchild and my parents, the pans are the perfect solution for vacations and gatherings. “
I use challah bread for an extra sweet touch to my morning casserole. Large pieces of bread add a consistent texture to the dish.
Part of the appeal of casseroles is experimenting with different options. Laessig said his popular Mexican Street Corn recipe, for example, was the inspiration for his Mexican Street Corn Casserole which is “wildly popular.”
“Pans are no longer our grandmothers’ pots,” she said. So grab a mimosa and pour some of these options onto your breakfast plate on Christmas morning.
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Amazing Sausage Breakfast Casserole
1 pound of breakfast sausage (no sausage ties)
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy or half and half whipping cream
½ teaspoon of salt
teaspoon of pepper
teaspoon of onion powder
teaspoon of paprika
1 cup grated Colby Jack cheese
1 cup of mozzarella, grated
16 ounces of chilled croissants
1 to 2 green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Put aside. Brown the sausages in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Make sure to break up the sausage while cooking. Remove from the heat and drain the fat. Put aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, pepper, onion powder and paprika until completely incorporated. Add cheese and stir to combine. Put aside.
Open croissants and roll according to package directions. Arrange 15 buns in the prepared baking dish in three rows with 5 buns in each row.
Add the sausage to the baking dish, spreading it evenly over the pressed rolls. Pour egg mixture over rolls and sausages. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Carefully remove from the oven. Leave to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle top with green onions, if desired. Serve hot.
This croissant breakfast casserole is excellent with a little hot sauce on it.
You can also replace the sausage with bacon or ham in this casserole dish.
Prepare it like a Philly cheese steak by adding sirloin shavings.
Use Tex-Mex with salsa in place of sausage and replace it with Mexican cheese.
You can add candied bacon to the recipe or sprinkle it on top after cooking.
Cream Cheese French Toast Casserole
1 loaf (12 to 14 ounces) French bread, sourdough or challah bread
8 ounces brick cream cheese, softened at room temperature
2 tablespoons of icing sugar
3 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
8 large eggs
2 ¼ cups whole milk
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅔ cup packed light brown sugar
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with butter or non-stick cooking spray. Slice, then cut, the bread into cubes, about 1 inch in size. Spread half of the cubes in the prepared pan. Using a hand mixer or on a stand with a whisk, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth. Stir in the icing sugar and ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract until blended. Drop random spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture onto bread. Layer the remaining bread cubes on top of the cream cheese. Put aside.
Whisk the eggs, milk, cinnamon, brown sugar and remaining vanilla together until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Pour over the bread. Cover the mold tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and remove the pan from the refrigerator.
Prepare the breadcrumb filling by whisking the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon together in a medium bowl. Cut into the cold butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Sprinkle the filling over the soaked bread.
Bake uncovered for 45 to 55 minutes or until top is golden brown.
Notes: day bread is preferable. I used a loaf of challah bread which was 3 days old.
I recommend using whole cream cheese. I also use a little less cream cheese than necessary as this is what my family members prefer. I often garnish the finished casserole dish with fresh fruit and a little icing sugar.
Creme Brulee French Toast
Janet Keeler says, “My biggest tip is to do this in a lighter pan because you have to turn it over while holding the pan and the pan. The syrup is at the bottom and you want it at the top for presentation. In addition, it is hot! I never leave anyone in the kitchen when I do this in case it is a disaster.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons of corn syrup
1 challah bread
5 large eggs
1 ½ half and half cups
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of Grand Marnier
¼ teaspoon of salt
Berries, for garnish
In a small, heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Cut 1-inch-thick slices in the center of the loaf, reserving the ends for another use, and trim the crusts. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer in a baking dish, pressing them lightly to fit.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, vanilla, Grand Marnier and salt until combined and pour evenly over bread. Refrigerate bread mixture, covered, for at least 8 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bring the bread pan to room temperature. Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in the middle of the oven, until puffed and edges are light golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. To serve, invert onto a large plate, sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with strawberries or blueberries.
Breakfast casserole loaded with vegetables
2 tablespoons of oil
8 to 10 mushrooms, sliced
½ red onion, diced
2 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 bell peppers, diced
2 cups packed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
20 ounces of grated potatoes, thawed
⅓ half and half cup or milk
¼ cup hot sauce (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper
1 cup of grated cheese
In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 4 minutes or until just starting to brown. Add a small pinch of salt with the onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add a second tablespoon of oil, if necessary, and sauté the peppers for 1 minute. Add the spinach leaves and let wilt, remove from the heat, then set aside.
Liberally spray 9×12-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the grated potatoes on the bottom of the dish and press down to make sure they are evenly distributed. Add the vegetables (mushrooms and mixed peppers) to the potatoes, then set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, hot sauce and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the prepared vegetables. Sprinkle cheese on top and another small pinch of salt and pepper.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight and let come to room temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
Bake at 375 degrees, uncovered, until cheese melts and top is golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Note: Half and half can be replaced with any non-dairy milk such as almond, soy, cashew, etc.
Recommended cheeses are cheddar (mild or strong), mozzarella, pepper jack or Swiss.