Making breakfast for a group always seems to be one of those things that sounds a lot easier than it actually is. When your breakfast crowd ranges from the early riser to the wake-up-at-noon'ers and everyone in between, the last thing you want to do as host is to also become a short order cook who is on call literally all morning. Pancakes and waffles are great too, but then again you -- the hostess with the mostess -- are stuck tending to batter, flipping, serving and keeping those hungry mouths fed. You'll be the last to eat, meanwhile the first-served are now done and ready to move on from breakfast.
There's always continental breakfast to answer the problem, but honestly I'm more apt to skip breakfast than munch on a bunch of sweet breads and doughnuts. (don't get me wrong, I love a good doughnut, but more as a special dessert treat than a sugar blast first thing in the morning). Or cereal. I've tried so hard to like adult cereal, but to no avail. I crave homemade breakfasts.
So when I have a crowd and I want to make a special breakfast, I turn to my mom's famous Breakfast Casserole. For many years, it was the stuff dreams were made of because we only ate it once a year on Christmas mornings. I was the little girl who, instead of having visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, as the story goes, had visions of breakfast casserole freshly steaming from the oven. Pillowy eggs and sausage and cheesy and bready goodness all in one delightful dish.
But it is now the answer to my breakfast dilemma, so I make it much more than once a year. It is our official Polar Bear Plunge team breakfast on New Year's Day, my go-to dish when its my turn to bring Friday Breakfast to work, and an easy fix in situations like beach house vacations.
This recipe is meant to be made the night before, refrigerated overnight and then cooked in the morning. You can make a healthier version by substituting low fat products and skim milk. If you've got anyone you're not sure eats pork, use another kind of sausage meat. I do recommend a breakfast sausage (I like to use Jimmy Dean regular, hot or reduced fat) -- I've made the mistake of using Italian sausage before, and also Jimmy Dean's maple and sage flavors...it's just not the right taste.
Mom's Overnight Breakfast Casserole
Makes one 9" x 13" dish, approximately 10 - 12 servings.
- 1 lb ground breakfast sausage
- 6 eggs
- 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 2 Cups milk
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 Slices white bread
Spray a 9" x 13" glass dish with cooking spray and set aside. Cook the sausage over medium heat in a pan, drain it and set aside to cool. Beat eggs in a large bowl. Add cheese, milk, cooked sausage, dry mustard and salt, stirring to combine. Tear slices of bread into 1" - 2" pieces and add to mixture. Stir lightly to combine. Pour into prepared dish, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, preheat the oven to 350F and set the dish on the counter to release some of the cold from the fridge. (If you put it straight from cold fridge to piping hot oven, your dish could crack. Those few minutes on the counter are important!). When the oven is heated, bake for 45 - 50 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve hot.
For those late-risers, this reheats well in the microwave or in a covered pan.