Bake it for breakfast

 

Breakfast casseroles, like this

Breakfast casseroles, like this "eggsquisite" choice made with bacon and beef, are a convenient way to please a fall brunch crowd. Or, make one for yourself and enjoy a serving each day for the rest of the week. Photo by: tasteofhome.com

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

There's something about the teasing taste of fall we've had that stirs thoughts of plaid stadium blankets, wood smoke, cozy sweaters -- and comfort foods. Like seasonal clockwork, our palates begin that inevitable transition from summer's salads and poolside fare to visions of satisfying casseroles, chili and soups, foods we picture ourselves enjoying in front of the fireplace or around a table decorated with autumn colors. I, for one, am ready.

 

We all have certain foods that fall and winter bring to mind, that tickle our memory. Breakfast casserole is one of those for me. On long-ago holiday mornings when we would visit my brother's family, hot breakfast casserole was often center stage on the table. Who can argue with eggs, cheese, bacon, sausage or ham all together in one helping? Options are endless: shredded potatoes, mushrooms, grits, onions, green peppers. Or you might lean toward the sweet side, like a French toast or fruit-filled pancake casserole.

 

Yes, these popular dishes tend to be heavy on carbs and fats, but you can trim them up. Seek out recipes that use whole wheat flour or quinoa. Spinach, kale, chia seeds and nuts can have a role to play, says eatthis.com. Use zucchini, broccoli or squash to bulk up a savory casserole. Read up on substituting cauliflower for calorie-laden bread. Oats, berries and chickpeas can be included, good sources of fiber.

 

 

Breakfast casseroles are big on convenience. Instead of the frenzy of trying to make separate dishes all come out at the same time the morning-of, prepare your casserole the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. Some recipes can be made in a slow cooker.

 

Complement your casserole with muffins, biscuits or bagels. Add a cold fruit salad to the feast, maybe a medley of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew, or an ambrosia salad with pineapples, mandarin oranges and coconut.

 

You don't need a special occasion for a delicious casserole. Make one up at the beginning of the week and savor a serving to begin each day. Cooking for one or for a brunch crowd, today's recipes are suited to the season.

 

 

EGGSQUISITE BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

 

Prep time: 20 minutes

 

Bake time: 55 minutes

 

Makes 12-16 servings

 

 

1 pound sliced bacon, diced

 

2 packages (4-1/2 ounces each) sliced dried beef, cut into thin strips

 

1 can (4 ounces) sliced mushrooms

 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

 

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

4 cups whole milk

 

16 large eggs

 

1 cup evaporated milk

 

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

1/4 cup butter, cubed

 

Chopped fresh parsley, optional

 

 

  • In a large skillet, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to paper towel to drain; discard all but 1/4 cup drippings. In the same skillet, add the beef, mushrooms, flour and pepper to the drippings; cook until thoroughly combined. Gradually add milk; cook and stir until thickened. Stir in bacon; set aside.

     

  • In a large bowl, whisk eggs, evaporated milk and salt. In another large skillet, heat butter until hot. Add egg mixture; cook and stir over medium heat until eggs are completely set.

     

  • Place half of the eggs in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish; pour half the sauce over the eggs. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350° for 55-65 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com/Bess Fischer)

     

     

    SLOW COOKER BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

     

    Prep time: 20 minutes

     

    Cook time: 8 hours

     

     

    1 package (32 ounces) frozen hash brown potatoes

     

    1 pound sausage browned and drained or 1 pound bacon cooked and crumbled (or use both)

     

    1/2 cup green onions, diced optional

     

    1 medium green pepper, diced optional

     

    1/2 teaspoon salt

     

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

     

    2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or Colby jack divided

     

    1 dozen eggs

     

    1 cup milk

     

    1/4 teaspoon dry mustard optional

     

     

  • Spray a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker with no stick cooking spray or use a slow cooker liner and spray it.

     

  • Layer frozen potatoes, bacon or sausage, onions, green pepper, salt and pepper, and 1 cup shredded cheese in the crock pot in two or three layers.

     

  • Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup shredded cheese over the top evenly.

     

  • Beat the eggs, milk, and dry mustard together.

     

  • Pour the egg mixture over the cheese layer evenly in the crockpot.

     

  • Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or until eggs are set and thoroughly cooked, start this at midnight and wake up to a delicious breakfast!

     

    Notes: With a base of a dozen eggs, 1 cup milk and hash browns, you can play around with the rest of the ingredients. Exchange the meats for mushrooms, spinach, or other veggies for a vegetarian option. Add cumin, canned green chilies, pepper jack cheese, and serve on a tortilla with salsa as breakfast burrito. You can also make the slow cooker egg casserole in your oven by baking it for 1 hour at 350 F.

     

    (Source: uwyoextension.org)

     

     

    OVERNIGHT BLUEBERRY FRENCH TOAST

     

    Prep time: 15 minutes

     

    Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

     

     

    12 slices day-old bread cut into 1-inch cubes

     

    2 8-ounce packages cream cheese cut into 1-inch cubes

     

    1 cup fresh blueberries

     

    12 large eggs beaten

     

    2 cups milk

     

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

     

    1/2 cup maple syrup

     

    Blueberry syrup

     

     

  • Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish, and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese, and top with remaining bread cubes.

     

  • In a large bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Pour over the bread cubes. Press the bread cubes down into the egg mixture with a spatula so they soak it up. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.

     

  • Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

     

  • Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until center is firm and surface is lightly browned. Serve with blueberry syrup.

     

    Notes: Depending on preferences, use whatever type of bread you choose. The heartier the bread, the more filling the casserole. Crusty French or Italian bread works well. Blueberries can be substituted for any type of fresh fruit. Apples and chopped nuts would be really good. Also, if you would like your French toast casserole to have more of a bread pudding texture and not be as crusty, decrease cooking time by 10 minutes. Check to make sure the center has set up and is not runny.

     

    (Source: uwyoextension.org)

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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