One of the things I’m looking forward to when I someday retire is having time in the mornings for breakfast. You know, an honest-to-goodness meal where I get to sit down and actually enjoy eating at a leisurely pace. Until then, I at least have weekends.
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Here’s the thing, though, as much as I enjoy a slow paced breakfast, it’s actually the one meal I really don’t like having to prepare. Maybe it’s because I still have to rush to get things done on the weekends before returning to work the following Monday. The time cooking takes away from time for getting tasks done, something that will also be resolved in retirement. Soon. It needs to be soon. 🙂
Until then, weekend breakfasts that are easy and quick to prepare while still being the meal that I want to enjoy will be the focus. Our family thoroughly enjoys a hearty egg breakfast, which aren’t always the quickest and easiest dishes to prepare, especially with sides. That is unless you bake them somehow. Baked eggs are ridiculously simple, and while they are tucked away in the oven, you have time to prepare anything else you wanted to serve or just go and kick back for a bit until they are done. Oh, and they are done quickly so no long waiting time, either.
For us, no egg dish is complete without toast and a side of something meaty. Think bacon or sausage, maybe even a slab of ham. Again, these are things that take additional time to prepare. Wouldn’t it be nice to just have everything done all together at once? Yes, yes it would.
We often think of casseroles as something made for dinner, but breakfast present a perfect opportunity to prepare the same kind of meal. Casseroles allow for an easy way to use up odds and ends of ingredients, but there’s nothing that says you can’t make them just because. This dish is a great way to use up stale bread, bits of cheese, and any type of sausages you may have. The end result is a deliciously hearty, yet easy meal that combines a variety of breakfast staples in an all-in-one dish.
Some quick notes before you begin:
This recipe has been written in a way that it is easy to adjust to accommodate the number of people you plan to serve. If you are making a large amount, you may want to divide it up into smaller dishes to cook faster. If you use a larger dish, you’ll need to give more time for it to be done.
The bread you use should be somewhat dry already in order to prevent the dish from becoming mushy. If you don’t have stale bread ready to use, you could toast the slices lightly first to help dry them. You could also slice them in advance and leave them out overnight uncovered to dry.
I didn’t specify quantities of cheese so you can put in what amount suits you. I recommend a firm and flavorful cheese that will melt readily. Sharp cheddar or a Monterey Jack would work very well, but a wet cheese like feta would not. I also find that mild flavored cheeses don’t contribute enough flavor.
The amount and type of sausage is up to you, as well. However, be sure to use one that is already cooked. The amount of time that this dish will be in the oven may not be enough to safely cook it.
Be sure to use evaporated milk and not regular milk, or sweetened condensed milk! Evaporated milk has 1/2 the water content of regular milk and so has a more concentrated flavor and does not add excess moisture. Sweetened condensed milk has added sugar and is just not where we are going with this dish. Even cream will not be a good substitute because of its fat-to-water ratio. Evaporated milk also adds a unique flavor because of how the milk sugars caramelize during the canning process.
Cheesy Egg & Sausage Casserole Recipe
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For each person you plan to serve, use the following amounts:
- 2 1-inch thick slices dry French or Italian bread, cubed
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. evaporated milk
- 1 Tbsp. white wine (I like an inexpensive Chablis)
- a generous pinch of ground sage, or to taste
- firm and flavorful cheese of choice that will melt well (for example sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- cooked sausage of choice, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- salt & pepper to taste (keep in mind the seasoning from your cheese and sausage)
- olive oil for greasing the pan
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Lightly oil an oven safe dish large enough to hold the amount of ingredients you are preparing. Be sure to choose a more shallow pan vs one that is deep.
In a large bowl, scramble the eggs with the milk, wine, sage, salt and pepper. Toss in the bread, cheese, and sausage and mix until all the ingredients are equally coated with the egg mixture. Pour everything into the oiled dish and level out the surface without smashing the bread down. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the surface lightly, but do not crimp it down.
Bake the casserole for 15 minutes (20 if using a larger dish), then remove the foil. Continue to bake until the eggs are set in the middle, 5 to 10 minutes or more. Remove from the oven and allow to set for a few minutes before serving. This will give a chance for the moisture to be dispersed inside. This tastes great served alongside fresh fruits. Enjoy!
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