Breakfast for Lazy Misers

19 Sep

For many years, my mom made egg casseroles for special occasions like Christmas brunch.  Now, I have to admit that this dish needs a PR makeover, because who wants to eat something that sounds as unappetizing as an egg casserole?  I really urge you, however, to give this poor, unappreciated dish a good look, because it is awesome in so many ways.

First, it is cheap.  Unless you put caviar in it, which I wouldn’t recommend.

Second, it is easy.  Way easier than you think.

Third, it is something you can prepare in a half hour the day before (in fact, it must be prepared the day before) and then all you have to do in the morning is shove it in the oven while you’re pouring your coffee.  It’s a wonderful way to feel like you’re having a decadent breakfast when you have really done nothing at all.

Fourth, it is fabulously delicious.  I say that with confidence because, unless your family can’t eat eggs (and I know this is true for some) you can totally customize this dish to contain whatever your family loves.

For those of you who have never had an egg casserole, let me assure you that it’s not the nasty-sounding thing you picture.  It’s not sliced eggs or runny yolks or any such thing.  Instead, it’s like a quiche or a souffle without the crust.  It can be rich and cheesy or light and fluffy.  It can be chock full of your favorite breakfast veggies or it can also contain any type of ham, bacon, or breakfast sausage you like.  In other words, it can be a lot of things to a lot of people.

The basic ingredients you will need in order to pull this off are as follows:

8 eggs

4 C milk

Some kind of soft bread, buns, or rolls

then, of course, a 9×13 pyrex dish (or a square one for half recipe)

For couples or smaller families, just cut this in half and you can use a square pyrex dish instead of a 9×13.  My pictures below show the smaller dish.

I used to use white loaf bread and cut off the crust.  I tried wheat, but I did find it gave a strong flavor to the casserole I didn’t love.  You can judge for yourself.  I recommend letting health go in this case.  What I have recently become totally enthused about, however, is taking whatever freezer-burned, sad hot dog buns or kaiser rolls I have in the chiller and using those.  Oh!  The result is egg casserole light and fluffy as a cloud.  The baby loves it, and so do we.

The other ingredients can be culled from your pile of “things I need to use up.”  Some ideas:

mushrooms

spinach

onions, chives, or scallions

peppers (hot or sweet)

sausage, ham, or bacon

cheese, glorious cheese.  I prefer cheddar, but you could use almost any cheese of similar texture such as muenster, American, or mozzarella (although fresh mozzarella would be too watery).

Gather together these ingredients and let’s go.

Cloud-like Eggy Miser Breakfast

Take roughly six of your sad, neglected rolls and chunk them up into pieces about an inch square (or a little smaller).  Spritz your pyrex dish with cooking spray and cover the bottom with bread.  However much it takes.  This isn’t a task of precision – it can be piled a little here an there.  No biggie.

Chunk your rolls!

Take whatever hard veggies you want to use (this would include mushrooms, peppers, or onions other than chives) and saute them in a little oil, spray, or butter. You want the peppers/onions to be soft and the mushrooms to release most of their moisture.  If you don’t do this with the mushrooms, they will make your casserole watery.

Any uncooked sausage should be browned and bacon should be cooked.  Cooked ham, of course, can go in the way it is.  You could even use smoked salmon or proscuitto.

Shred up your cheese.  I do love the sharp flavor of cheddar, but you could put in strips of any leftover sliced cheese you had, too.  I tend to keep a block of cheddar on hand all the time, which works great, but even that leftover pizza or taco cheese?  Use it!  The amount is up to you.  I usually cover the entire dish with a single layer.

Spread your cooked veggies and/or meat over the cheese in an even layer.

Ready for the egg mixture...

Crack your eggs into a large bowl.  Whisk them.  Then pour in the milk.  Whisk to blend nicely.  Don’t forget to whisk the eggs before adding the milk or you’ll make a sloppy mess.  Yes – I learned that the hard way.  Genius.

Pour the eggy liquid evenly over the casserole.  It will not rise higher than the contents of the dish.  Don’t worry!  The egg fluffs up as it cooks and will be really nice when it comes out of the oven.

Sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper.  By “to taste” I mean you may have to guess and experiment over time.  Obviously, don’t taste the raw egg.  Remember that salty meats like bacon may make extra salt unnecessary.

Cover with saran wrap and put in the fridge to set overnight.  If you want a denser casserole, but another same-size pyrex dish nesting on top of this one, pushing down the saran wrap and the contents of the dish.  This compacts the ingredients for a richer effect.  If you don’t do this, you’ll have more of a fluffy souffle-like dish, which is also cool.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the casserole uncovered for about one hour.  When it comes out, insert a knife in the center.  You want very little liquid.  If you see liquid, put it back for 10 more minutes and test again.  My casseroles have taken up to 1 hr. 20 min. to cook.  If you start to see too much browning around the sides of the casserole, try taking it out of the oven and letting it sit for 10 min.  You may find it’s really done and just needs to rest.  If it’s still too full of liquid, put it back in!  Nobody likes a runny casserole.

How do I love thee, eggy miser casserole?  Let me count the ways.  If you just keep eggs and milk on hand,  you can almost always find a few other ingredients to make this.  With a small amount of forethought, it can also be made on the side while you’re cooking dinner.  For example, I was making an appetizer yesterday that contained bacon.  I just cooked up half the bacon in one pan and half in another and used the second batch in my casserole with some frozen kaiser rolls and chives from my garden.

What's better than ONE pan of bacon?

There is also a lot of room for adaptation, according to your diet.  For example, there’s no rule that you can’t use eggwhites (or some eggwhites).  You will have to experiment with the amount, but this is not brain surgery.  Skim and 2% milk also work, but I caution you to use less milk when it is not whole, because the full amount just makes the casserole runny.  Maybe start with 1 1/2 C milk, for example, if you prefer skim.  These compromises will make the casserole less rich, of course, but you can amp up flavor with zesty veggies and spices.

My littlest one loves this for breakfast.  I take out a nice, soft center section, break it into little bits, cool it, and he devours with a rubber-handled spoon and demands more.

Baby loves him some eggy miser breakfast!

This dish also reheats really quickly in the microwave for a snack or a quick lunch later  I have to say the leftovers never last long at our house.

And this goes

Cormac at Breakfast

with mimosas, people.  Just sayin’.

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13 Responses to “Breakfast for Lazy Misers”

  1. kim September 19, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Yay, I love this post. I’ve been looking for a company-friendly breakfast that won’t keep me in our little galley kitchen all morning, cooking instead of visiting. Thank you, foodie lady!

  2. Brenna September 20, 2010 at 9:22 pm #

    My mom also makes a version of this and I love it. I was even able to eat it doing Weight Watchers (I know, every party needs a pooper…). Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner?!

    • frazzledfoodie September 21, 2010 at 7:12 am #

      Brenna – I, too, am a lifetime Weight Watchers sufferer, and it was probably when I was losing baby weight that I tried it with eggwhites and light bread, although I probably just had to use more bread that way. I’m thinking using the kaiser rolls has to be fewer points than the regular bread, though. It is when it’s in a sandwich, right?

  3. Elena Potter October 7, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    PR makeover has already been done— this breakfast is also known as a strata! Yum 🙂

    • frazzledfoodie October 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

      True. Have you seen the movie The Family Stone? Best cameo of an “egg casserole/strata” evahhhhh.

  4. thesaltedtomato October 7, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Hi Frazzled Foodie- I just found your blog, and I love it! Thank you for sharing- I must try this miserly eggy lazy breakfast someday soon. Thanks again!

    • frazzledfoodie October 7, 2010 at 6:27 pm #

      That’s great! I love to spread miserly meals. 😉

  5. mealsbysheri October 18, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I have made a recipe similar to this for many years from one of those recipes books one buys at their childrens school fundraiser. It’s called Brunch for a Bunch. It uses the frozen hashbrown patties on the bottom of the pan and other meats and veggies one has on hand. One year I made a Thanksgving version with sage sausage, dried cranberries, fresh chopped spinach and swiss cheese! But my recipe cannot really be made in advance, I love that I can make this one while making my dinner one night! Keeping this one! Thanks for sharing! Happy Cookin!

  6. thesaltedtomato October 18, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    I just had to tell you- a few days after I read this post and decided I must make this meal someday, my husband (who is currently living in a different town and commutes to see me every weekend) mentioned to me that “hey, my landlady makes this delicious thing you might like. It’s kinda like a quiche, but not really…”

    Apparently she does something very similar to your miserly breakfast, but makes a sweet version using cinnamon raisin bread and chopped apple. He brought some home for me to try, and it was good! Now I am absolutely determined to make a savoury version as soon as possible.

    • frazzledfoodie October 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

      That’s so cool! I’ve never heard of the other, although it actually sounds like french toast casserole (which I’ve never made, but have heard about often).

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  3. Quiche Is No Quandary « The Frazzled Foodie - May 18, 2011

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