Take a break for breakfast!

The truth? I love breakfast. I’ll eat breakfast food any time of day. I love scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, omelets, hashbrowns, muffins, pancakes, French toast, and bagels. A nice cup of coffee, a little juice, and I’m set. I seriously could eat breakfast food every meal of the day. I’m guessing I’d probably get tired of that after awhile, but it would take a significant amount of time.

One of my favorite breakfast dishes is the breakfast casserole. So a few days ago, I decided to liven up my breakfast by making a strata. It’s apparently an Italian layered casserole featuring bread and eggs. The recipe I’m presenting here is adapted from a recipe for Cheesy Sausage Strata in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. But it called for sausage (which I didn’t have), so my recipe is sans any sort of breakfast meat. Let’s see how my Saturday Morning Strata went down:

1. Cube day old French or Italian bread—or use some bread you made in the bread machine a week ago and need to get rid of. You’ll need about 4 cups of cubed bread. Sprinkle it in the bottom of a small baking pan that you have sprayed liberally with Pam.

2. Chop 1/2 of a large onion and mince one clove of garlic. Saute these together in a skillet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When cooked through, sprinkle the onions and garlic mixture over the bread cubes in the baking pan.

3. Wash a few mushrooms and slice enough to fill one cup. Saute these over medium heat in the skillet with a few more tablespoons of oil. Cook until golden, then sprinkle over the onion/garlic layer.

4. I had some grape tomatoes that were about to become tomato raisins, so I decided to throw those in, too. Plus, they’d give the strata a nice burst of color. I halved enough of them to make about 1/2 cup and sprinkled them on top of the other layers in the baking pan. Pretty!

5. You’re going to need about 1 cup of grated/shredded cheese for this recipe. I used Colby Jack because I like it and I had a block of it. You could use Monterey Jack or cheddar or whatever floats your boat. At this point, sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the cheese over the layers in your baking pan.

6. In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup heavy cream. In all honesty, you could use 2 cups of milk. I just had some cream and wanted to see what it would do to the eggs. (It made them very fluffy and creamy. It was a delight!) You’re also going to want to add salt and pepper to taste and any herbs you want to feature in your strata. I just used some parsley I had on hand, dried parsley at that. Adding the seasoning with the eggs ensures that it goes throughout the entire casserole. Because I didn’t do this and my strata could use a tad bit more salt.

7. Pour the egg mixture over the layers in the baking dish, then use the back of a wooden spoon to gently press down the layers, making sure that the bread and everything is bathed in the egg mixture. Top with the remainder of the cheese.

8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. The casserole should be fairly firm and the cheese fully melted and slightly browned. Then, pour some coffee, get a little glass of juice, and sit down to a yummy breakfast.

4 cups bread, cubed
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup cheese of your choice
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
Herbs to taste
Olive oil for cooking (about 4 tbsp)



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