Ultimate Breakfast Casseroles

By Bill Turner

It’s easy to become grumpy in the wintertime. Sometimes the weather can get to you, especially due to the lack of sunlight. And as much as we look forward to the holidays, let’s face it, they can be very stressful. We have a large family, so the holidays mean a lot of cooking. Sometimes I could easily stay in the kitchen all day. Breakfast can be especially trying as everyone chooses their own time to rise and still expects mom and dad to serve them something.

Tired of hours in the kitchen? Try some of these breakfast casseroles and life will get better quickly. All but one can be made the evening before and quickly slipped into the oven while you have your morning coffee and tell Alexa to play some quiet music. Here are some of my favorites:

THE BIG BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

Remember the McDonald’s Big Breakfast? This recipe reminds me of that in an easy-to-serve casserole format. It is as complete a meal as you could want. And, when it comes out of the oven it is golden brown and puffy like a quiche. The crowd will go wild.

Servings: 12

Ingredients:
  • 8 cups (loosely packed) brioche bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes. (One loaf will give you more than enough)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. ham (thickly sliced), diced
  • 12 eggs
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (about 8 ounces)
Directions:
  1. Prepare all of the ingredients so you will be able to quickly assemble the dish.
  2. Grease a 10″ x 14″ baking dish and line with cubed bread.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium to low heat. Add the onions, salt, and sugar. Sauté until they are lightly caramelized (a medium golden-brown color), about 15 minutes.
  4. Add the ham and cook about 5 minutes more.
  5. Spread onion and ham over the bread cubes and sprinkle the grated Gruyère on top.
  6. Whisk together the eggs, milk, dry mustard, nutmeg, and thyme in a separate mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, ham and onions.
  8. Press down on the top gently, so that all the bread cubes get soaked with the egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  9. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 F. Take the casserole out of the fridge while the oven is preheating.
  10. Bake, uncovered, for 50-60 minutes, or until the edges are bubbling, the top begins to brown, and the whole dish puffs up. Make sure the entire top is puffed up including the very middle.

Serve with some fresh fruit, or just a tall Bloody Mary.

 

SHANNON’S QUICHE CUPS

These little cups are extremely versatile. If you are having a fancy breakfast, they really fit the bill and you will get lots of compliments. Kids and grandkids also love them, and you can pop them into the oven whenever needed. They take a little more time to make, but they are worth the trouble.

Servings: 24, but some will easily eat two

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage
  • ½ cup onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup green pepper, diced finely
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup of white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 10 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup scallions
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup sour cream
The Gear:
  • Muffin tin
  • 24 Muffin cup liners
Directions:
  1. Put the liners in the muffin tin and spray the insides of the liners with non-stick cooking spray or rub with olive oil.
  2. Sauté onion, pepper and mushrooms in olive oil, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add sausage, salt and pepper and cook until done. Set aside to cool.
  4. Whisk together eggs, milk, cheese and scallions.
  5. Combine meat and egg mixtures and ladle into muffin cups. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Let the tin warm to room temperature while the oven is preheating.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool, remove liner, and serve with a dollop of sour cream.

BISQUICK COFFEE CAKE

Sometimes we need something a little sweeter for breakfast and this casserole offers that and more. Even though you have to make it the same morning, it’s quick and easy. This is a great dish to take to church or to a family brunch.

Servings: 12

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 4 cups Bisquick
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar

Topping:

  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 oz. butter (one stick)
  • ½ cup raspberry or blackberry jam
  • 1 cup of raspberries or blackberries
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F.
  2. Grease a 10″x 14″ baking dish.
  3. Mix the dough ingredients and pour into baking pan.
  4. For the topping, cut the butter into very small pieces and cream together with the Bisquick, brown sugar and cinnamon. Use your fingers or a fork and mix until it has texture like oatmeal.
  5. Fold in the jam and spread topping mixture over the top of the dough with a rubber or silicone spatula.
  6. Use a butter knife to make a checkerboard pattern with 1″ squares on the top. The objective is to push some of the topping down into the cake.
  7. Add the berries and press down into the top surface.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until done in the very center of the cake. Insert a table knife and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.

THE FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE

So if you have tried the Big Breakfast Casserole and want to change it up a bit, here is a good alternative — the French Toast Casserole. Everyone has a version of this recipe, but there is a reason for that. It’s very good and very easy to make.

Servings: 12

Ingredients:
  • 1 baguette, sliced about ½” thick
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
For the topping:
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
Directions:
  1. Grease a 10″ x 14″ baking dish and carefully arrange the bread slices. You should be able to get two layers with one baguette.
  2. Mix together eggs, milk, half-and-half, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over bread.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Let the dish warm to room temperature while the oven preheats.
  5. To prepare the topping, combine the brown sugar and flour in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the sugar-flour mixture. With your fingers or a fork, cream butter into the sugar-flour mixture until it resembles oatmeal. Mix in the walnuts and raisins and spread the topping over the bread and egg mixture.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 25 minutes or until golden brown and puffed up like a soufflé.
  7. Serve with maple syrup, jam or marmalade. A cold glass of Sancerre can really add a pleasant touch.
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