From the Guest's Perspective: There's nothing like waking up in the morning at the home of family or friends and experiencing the aroma of a breakfast casserole in the oven.
From the Host's Perspective: There's nothing like waking up before your guests, having some quiet time to yourself to make coffee and to mix up the breakfast casserole to serve your household when they finally emerge from their rooms.
On a chilly morning, a breakfast casserole in the oven may be just what the household needs to warm up the kitchen. It also makes for an easy, mess free and stress free breakfast. Keeping it simple is preferred. Keeping it healthy by using good quality farm-raised eggs and lean bacon or sausage, as well as a high quality cheese, then your family and guests will truly appreciate the hearty breakfast you have prepared.
There are many ways to make a breakfast casserole and the styles and ingredients can vary as much as the fonts available on your computer. Here in Texas we like spice – jalapeños, habanera cheese and poblano peppers can all add a kick to a southwest-style breakfast casserole. Some cumin and paprika added to the eggs when mixing and a true Tex-Mex flavor emerges first thing in the morning. Top the casserole with sour cream and hot sauce if you like.
Many people like to use biscuits or a type of bread as the bottom layer of a casserole. Others like to use potatoes or hash browns. I have found that croutons make a nice and stable option for the first layer. They don't get soggy during the cooking time, and they prevent the eggs from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
If your guests are particularly gourmet minded, then maybe a breakfast casserole with a French flair would be most impressive. Using ingredients like brioche bread, shallots, diced ham and Gruyere cheese would make the casserole taste similar to Quiche Lorraine.
Chives or thinly sliced green onions complete the dish. Growing up, my mother always scrambled eggs with green onions. The French add fine herbs to their eggs. I love the crunch and flavor that finely chopped chives add. Grow them in a pot outside your front door and they'll be accessible always. Fresh thyme also adds an earthy flavor to eggs and can be mixed right into them while whipping.
Many prefer a sweet breakfast to a savory one. One of my favorite options is just about one of the easiest ones. Brie, brown sugar and almonds all melted together and served with plump croissants makes a scrumptious meal to wake up to. Bake it in the oven on 325°F for 5 minutes or until slightly melted. Or, the microwave will also work well, but be careful not to overcook. One large wedge of Brie, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and ½ cup of sliced almonds would pair with 3-4 croissants. Your guests can use a serving knife to spread the cheese on their croissant. Sometimes I cut the croissants in half or buy the small one because it does make for a rich breakfast.
Here's to hoping your holidays are simple and stress free and that making these easy breakfasts it will free you up for more visiting time.
Perfect Holiday Breakfast Casserole
- 12 slices bacon
- 3 cups croutons (preferably home made)
- 2 cups grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese
- 6 eggs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 cups half & half
- 1 thinly sliced white onion
- 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook bacon until crispy in a skillet as directed.
- Drain, crumble and set aside.
- Sauté onion until golden in olive oil, about 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Rub olive oil in the bottom of a 9x12-inch baking dish.
- Place croutons in the bottom of the dish and sprinkle with grated Cheddar cheese.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl, whisking to break up the yolks.
- Add half & half, sautéed onions, peppers, mustard, salt, and pepper.
- Beat until well combined.
- Pour over the croutons and cheese, and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.