Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Morning Casserole

Every year for as long as I can remember, my dad has been in charge of making the Christmas morning casserole.  This breakfast bake involves cubes of bread, milk, cheese, and ham and is placed in oven in the morning when the late-rising child (ahem, me) finally crawls out of bed and comes down for presents.  While the presents under the tree are ransacked, the casserole bakes for about an hour, usually finishing as soon as we are done untying the last ribbon and are surveying our hoards of presents.  We eat the piping hot casserole and eagerly await the stockings sitting in the next room.  Once we have finished breakfast, the stockings are emptied faster than Santa filled them.  

This year, since I was hosting my family for Christmas, I decided I wanted to carry on the Christmas Morning Casserole tradition, but put my own spin on it.  I'm not much of a ham-kind-of-gal, so I went with sausage instead.  Perhaps next time I'll use sausage and bacon to make it a real gut-buster.  Plenty of sharp cheddar cheese, loads of whole milk, almost a dozen eggs, and cubes of Italian bread fill up the rest of this breakfast treat.  While Christmas is long gone, I still wanted to share this recipe with you in case you are ever in charge of feeding a family on Christmas morning or perhaps have a brunch to serve.  It's easy to make, and best of all, sits in the fridge overnight so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven on the day you want to eat it.

Not a person (or puppy) went hungry on Christmas morning because of this sausage casserole.  (Don't worry, we didn't give Harper any.)

Sausage Breakfast Casserole
From Simply Recipes

1 pound Italian pork sausage (I used sweet, not spicy)
4 1/2 cups day-old Italian bread, cubed (I used one large loaf)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
10 eggs, slightly beaten
4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Slice links open and discard casings.  Break into small pieces and cook until browned on all sides.  Do not overcrowd or the sausage will not brown.  When fully cooked, place on paper towels to drain (and crumble into smaller pieces if necessary).

Butter a 9x13 pan and place cubes of bread inside.  On top of bread, spread out 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.  Combine 10 eggs (lightly beaten), 4 cups whole milk, 1 teaspoon dried mustard, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper in a very large mixing bowl.  Pour mixture over bread and cheese.  Sprinkle cooked sausage on top and cover and chill overnight.  The next morning preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Bake (uncovered) at 325 degrees for about an hour. When the top is browned, it should be done.  Serves 6-8 people.

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