Who wants to be a slave to the kitchen on Christmas morning? You’ve probably stayed up late wrapping, baking or putting toys together ala Santa. So cooking a meal for a host of people the next morning when you should be relaxing in that new robe or enjoying the new flatscreen is over the top.
The answer? Put the main dish together the night before, then bake it off the next morning just before you finish the last round of gifts.
Stratas – layered casseroles built around a bread pudding-like recipe – are as versatile as they are tasty.
Make it vegetarian – use spinach, tomatoes, onions and peppers with feta and ricotta for a Mediterranean version.
Give meat eaters what they want with crumbed country sausage or bacon and cheese. Or chopped ham, turkey or chicken, with cubed cooked sweet potatoes and chopped onion.
Take it South of the border with chili, cheese, jalapenos and a little enchilada sauce, with cheese on top.
For a pizza-like flavor, use marinara sauce, Italian sausage or pepperoni, green peppers and Parmesan – with garlic bread cubes.
Really – this breakfast casserole is limited only by your palate choices. And the amounts aren’t hard and fast. If you don’t have
Here’s what you need to start with – remember to start at least 4 hours before serving; best overnight.
5 cups cubed French or Italian bread, crusts removed (about 1/2 pound)
spices or herbs to taste, tossed with bread cubes
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup milk (low fat preferred)
1/4 cup heavy cream
Add ins: 1- 2 cups vegetables (chopped appropriately)
3/4 cup crumbed or sliced meats
1 cup cheese – divided (use some on top)
1/2 cup sauce (marinara or enchilada, for example, or a white sauce)
1 to 2 teaspoons seasonings (spices or herbs)
Start with a 9x13x2 inch casserole dish. Start by layering the bread with your add-in ingredients – a cup of cooked, or frozen (thaw and squeeze) spinach, a small chopped onion, 1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled and 1/2 cup ricotta. Pour the liquid mix over all. Top with a sprinkling of Asiago cheese if you like. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to bake, heat oven to 375 degrees (350 convection). Bake for 45 minutes, or until mixture has set and vegetables and meats are done. Let sit for 10 minutes for easiest slicing; slice into squares to serve.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Serve the casserole squares with fresh rolls with jam, a big bowl of fruit or a green salad, some sparkling non-alcoholic cider mixed with orange juice, a bowl of yogurt with a bowl of granola for garnish – and you’re set.
You can find the classic Cheesy-Egg-Sausage Bake – a make-ahead-casserole – at the Betty Crocker website, where there are dozens of other breakfast and brunch recipes perfect for your brunch.